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Latest atmospheric CO2 data
Historically, Earth's natural CO2 levels
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  1. "The idea that quantum measurement involves an almost magical transformation is now dead"
    Comment: quantum mechanics will always be weirder that classical mechanics but it now appears the multi-worlds interpretation is now dead. In fact, it is not even necessary. Personally, I always disliked the multi-worlds interpretation for these two reasons:
    1) if more than just a mathematical tool, the energy demands to support such a thing were too large (in fact, they were infinite)
    2) it sent a signal to the non-scientific public that it was acceptable for them to believe in fantastic non-verifiable hypotheses because scientists were doing the same
  2. Rammstein - North American tour
  3. author: Gwynne DyerTrump and his anti-Chinese bigotry:  When the real delay happened, it had nothing to do with when China reported the disease. The point is that Western countries did nothing serious about the pandemic for an astonishing two months after that It was completely predictable that U.S. President Donald Trump would try to blame China for the fact tens of millions of Americans are unemployed and more than 80,000 Americans have already died of COVID-19. His polling numbers are down and the election is only seven months away. What else was he going to do? Blame himself? That’s why we’re now getting the good old “Yellow Peril” defence, fresh from the late-19th century. As a memo sent out by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to Republican candidates put it: “Don’t defend Trump. Other than the China Travel Ban — attack China.” The novel coronavirus now spreading death across the world certainly originated in China. The Chinese government itself said so before it started prevaricating after Trump began using China as a scapegoat. There was at least a week’s delay in late December when officials in Wuhan didn’t report the outbreak to Beijing, fearing they would be blamed for alarmist or simply for letting it happen. That’s when Dr. Li Wenliang wrote in a private WeChat group: “7 confirmed cases of SARS were reported [to hospital] from Huanan Seafood Market.” It wasn’t really severe acute respiratory syndrome. It was a new coronavirus closely related to SARS, which had caused a much smaller, but lethal epidemic in 2002. But Wuhan officials didn’t want to believe it and, on Jan. 3, Li was warned by local police to stop “making false comments on the internet.” Six days later, the first person in Wuhan died of what we now call COVID-19. On the same day, Jan. 9 , the World Health Organization (which Trump now vilifies as “China’s public relations agency”) announced that China had reported the emergence of a new coronavirus like those that caused the SARS and MERS epidemics. So, there was at least a week when Chinese officials at the local or national level had the information and hesitated to publish it, partly because they weren’t sure yet themselves. But only two days later, Chinese scientists published the full genetic sequence of COVID-19 so researchers everywhere could start working on potential treatments and vaccines. Other East Asian countries that had experience of SARS understood the seriousness of the WHO warning and promptly began diligent testing, tracing and isolation of infected persons. As a result, they never had to go into lockdown (South Korea has had 250 deaths; Taiwan had six). China did a partial lockdown, but is now up and running again. But then the real delay happened — and it had nothing to do with when China reported the disease. The point is that Western countries did nothing serious about the pandemic for an astonishing two months after that. Trump boasts that he banned travel from China to the United States early, but in fact, the United States was the 41st country to declare such a ban, on Feb. 2. And it was a very leaky ban, affecting only non-U.S. citizens. Another 40,000 U.S. citizens and permanent residents flew in from China during the next two months, many not being checked for coronavirus at all. Italy started locking down some municipalities in the country’s badly hit north in late February, but no European country went into national lockdown until March 9. The United Kingdom waited a further two weeks after that, until March 24. The United States never did a national lockdown, but most states had physical-distancing policies in place by early April. Those even longer delays explain why the U.K. and the U.S. are on track to be the two countries with the highest COVID-19 death rates, but why did they all wait so long? Why weren’t they at least setting up comprehensive testing, tracing and contacting systems and making more ventilators and protective clothing back in January? Did they think they were exempt? That’s probably what they did think — and their people are now being punished for their governments’ arrogance. But Trump’s attempt to shift the blame for a huge U.S. death toll and a looming economic disaster onto China is utterly cynical and false. The problem wasn’t a week’s delay in China; it was a couple of months’ delay in America. If it should turn out that the first human infections with COVID-19 were due to a leak from the biosafety level 4 Wuhan Institute of Virology, not at the Huanan Seafood Market in the same city, it changes nothing. BSL4 labs (there are about 20 in the world) routinely work with dangerous viruses, because otherwise we’d never develop defences against them. An accidental leak from a BSL4 lab would be a rare and very serious mistake, but that’s probably not what happened in Wuhan. In any case, it’s clear no hostile intent was involved. The U.S. national intelligence director's office has determined COVID-19 “was not manmade or genetically modified.” That will not stop Trump from scapegoating China, even at the risk of causing a new Cold War. Never mind the fate of the world — it’s the fate of Trump’s presidency that’s at stake here.
  4. author: Gwynne DyerWhat will working and income look like once this pandemic is finally over? The First World War speeded up the emancipation of women; the Second World War led to the creation of welfare states in all the industrialized countries. What great change will the coronavirus crisis bring us? This crisis has not yet killed tens of millions, and it probably never will. No great empires have fallen and no human villain can be blamed for the problem. Yet there will probably be changes as great as those after the two world wars. One great change will be in the pace of automation. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put it, we have seen “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two weeks,” as tens of millions of people stayed at home and worked online. A great many of them will not go back to working in an office when the threat of the coronavirus recedes. But for the considerably larger number of people whose occupations do not allow them to work at home, the news is not so good. For them, the digital transformation means automation and unemployment. In a recent survey of company executives in 45 countries, auditors Ernst and Young found that 41 per cent of them are investing in greater automation of their work processes. More will follow. The reason that the service industries (apart from retail sales) have largely escaped automation so far is that the new technology is expensive, disruptive and annoys the customers, not that it doesn’t exist. But now the crisis is forcing the customers to get used to that kind of service, at the same time that the owners and managers are realizing what a nuisance it is to depend on human employees. The process that has already destroyed the assembly lines (and given us Donald Trump) will continue through the workforce until around half the existing jobs have been destroyed, as Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University predicted in their famous 2013 study. Their prediction was for the year 2033, but the coronavirus may be bringing that date forward. However, the other great change wrought by the coronavirus works in the opposite direction. When unemployment suddenly leapt to 30 per cent as lockdowns spread across the world, we were suddenly confronted with a working model of that future — and the social and economic changes that might deal with the mass destruction of jobs by automation are actually being road-tested right now. In some countries, like the United States, it is real unemployment, only slightly alleviated by handouts like a $1,200 cheque signed by Trump. In most richer countries, it is some form of “furlough,” with the government paying 75-85 per cent of people’s wages, up to a limit that is high enough to let them live in modest comfort, until their jobs resume in two or three or four months’ time. Either way, it does concentrate people’s minds, rather like the prospect of being hanged in the morning. A lot of them will notice a) that this is the level of unemployment that already lies in wait for them down the road; and b) that there is still enough money around to keep them going anyway. Or, in the case of the U.S., that there could be if the government was willing to try. It’s a small step from there to the concept of a guaranteed basic income as the long-term solution for a society where half the jobs have been destroyed by automation, but productivity is higher than ever. There are, of course, a number of codicils to this conclusion. The current levels of income support could not be sustained long-term without a significantly higher rate of tax. Widespread job-sharing would be needed to avoid creating a permanent underclass of the unemployed and to keep people connected. There are no magic bullets. We were already sleepwalking toward this level of unemployment anyway, just over a much longer period. At least now we’re awake to the fact that such things can happen, and we know that they can be managed. More or less normal service will probably be resumed in a few months, or at worst in a year or so, but automation is getting a big boost and from now on it will be an ever-present companion. But the experience we are going through right now makes it a lot less scary. 
  5. StarTalk: Neil deGrasse Tyson reminds us why we celebrate Earth Day

    From an online comment:

    Winner of 8 awards, "Silent Spring" is the history making bestseller that stunned the world with its terrifying revelation about our contaminated planet. No science-fiction nightmare can equal the power of this authentic and chilling portrait of the unseen destroyers which have already begun to change the shape of life as we know it. "Silent Spring" is a devastating attack on human carelessness , greed and irresponsibility. It should be read by every American who does not want it to be the epitaph of a world not very far beyond us in time.”---Saturday Review quote about Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring", which was published in 1962!!! This book was required reading when I was in school in the 60s. Rachel Carson must be turning in her grave.

  6. Eurythenes plasticus
    Newly discovered species found deep in the ocean contains microplastic

    THE beautiful, interlocking, armored plates of this amphipod are meant to keep it safe from predators and other threats. But they can’t protect it from plastic pollution, which is how this creature got its name. Eurythenes plasticus is a newly described shrimp-like species found between 6 and 7 kilometers down in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana trench, where Earth’s deepest waters are found.

    Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24532750-200-newly-discovered-species-found-deep-in-the-ocean-contains-microplastic/
  7. Getting a Stimulus Check? Trump’s Name Will Be on It

    NSR Comment: Every day I see more similarities between Donald Trump and the Roman Emperor Nero. Nero acted like he didn't want to be in power so played musical instruments and wrote poetry (but laughing or falling asleep could get a citizen killed). According to an interview with Don Trump Junior on FOX, his father didn't expect to be president and repeatedly assured Melania that she had nothing to worry about since his run for president was only meant to building up interest in a new book. Now Trump proves the point by only talking about "his ratings" and "wanting to put his name on everything". Like Nero, people will know the name "Trump" many years from now but it won't be in a positive light.
  8. Coronavirus: Can it even be stopped?
    ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ERi2cL730o )

    Everyone in our society needs to watch this video which was produced by working scientist Phil Mason (BSC, PhD) who goes by the internet nom-de-plume "thunderf00t". His video shows that if even a small fraction of society chooses to not comply with self-isolation (and there are a lot of internet idiots saying to ignore government advice) then we will all be screwed and many more people will die.

    NSR comments:
    1. Even though Phil had been publishing videos on youtube for more than a decade, Google has decided to not include Phil's content in their searchable index. So I would like to encourage anyone who can spare a few dollars per month to join me in supporting Phil on Patreon ( https://patreon.com/Thunderf00t )
    2. Last month (~ March 20) I read a report published by Imperial College London where their computer models predicted that the COVID-19 death toll in the United States would be anywhere between 1.1 million and 2.2 million. Apparently these high numbers were mainly due to a mix of government unpreparedness (in 2018 the Trump administration really did fire the entire pandemic response team just to save money) coupled with inconsistent information (we've all seen the flippant remarks made Boris Johnson and Donald Trump;  States Governors; television talk show hosts (both political and financial); church leaders; online internet science deniers). In Philip Mason's video "Coronavirus: Can it even be stopped?" he shows an extrapolation of the currently published statistics projecting the fatality count to be 3 million (or 1% of the American population) unless Americans accept the truth (something many are not doing). Warning to all readers: STAY AT HOME until this pandemic is under control. And even when the health agencies sound the "all clear", be very cautious and never resume the social practice of shaking hands. Limit grocery shopping to less than an hour every two weeks and do not take your family on a grocery shopping outing.
  9. Podcast with Emmy and Peabody Award–winning science writer, producer and director Ann Druyan talks about Cosmos: Possible Worlds, the next (2020-03-xx) installment of the Cosmos series.
  10. Podcast with Charles Fishman author of One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew us to the Moon
  11. The other day I was playing the video game adventure "THE LAST OF US" (2014) by Naughty Dog and Sony. Joel's daughter Sarah is reading an Austin Texas newspaper with this headline: "ADMITTANCE SPIKES AT AREA HOSPITALS! 300% INCREASE DUE TO MYSTERIOUS INFECTION!" This got me thinking that because of the way that Trump and his administration f'd up the COVID-19 crisis by first declaring it a hoax, the video game might be renamed: "THE LAST OF U.S."
    Then later that same week I heard Joel say this "Yeah, everyone barricaded themselves in their homes. Then supplies started runnin' low. That's when you saw what people are really capable of."
  12. When I was a teenager in the 1960s, many people (except medical and legal professionals) aspired to be scientists, engineers, technologists or technicians. It seemed that everyone was reading magazines like Scientific American, Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. A real "can do" attitude existed everywhere in our society. For example, when President John F Kennedy announced America's intention to visit the Moon before the end of the decade, naysayers complained that the goal was impossible because the technology did not exist. Meanwhile, once funding was in place, other "can do" engineers and scientists simply created the technology. Both the internet and "personal computers" are two spin-off technologies which were never dreamed of by anyone when Kennedy publically gave his moon shot speech in 1962 but by the mid 1970s it appeared that everyone was building computer kits (like the Altair 8800 or the Heathkit H8) or were buying personal computers (like the Apple-2 or the Radio Shack TRS-80). Within 5 years it seemed that everyone was reading Byte magazine and/or attending nightly college courses to learn computer programming and/or digital electronics. Life today is much different. It appears to me that life this side of 1995 is considerably different with many people aspiring to be politicians, political advisors, political aids, or just political pundits with a YouTube channel. The "can do" attitude has been replaced with a "can't do" political divisiveness with wannabe millionaires calling for taxes cuts and austerity (why should I be expected to pay for that?). Just at a time when humanity has become dependent upon science and technology, western civilization has decided to replace scientific facts with political opinion.
    Now watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D99qI42KGB0
  13. Isaac Newton - 1689
    Isaac Newton - 1689
    In 1665, Cambridge University closed for 2-years (due to bubonic plague) sending all the students home to self-isolation including Isaac Newton. The year-plus he spent away was later referred to as his annus mirabilis (Latin: "wonderful year", "miraculous year" or "amazing year") where he worked on:
    1. developing fluxions which became the basis for calculus
    2. using toy prisms to develop a new theory of light which became Newton's Theory of Optics
    3. developing theories of motion (now known as Newtonian Mechanics) and Gravity

  14. I fund a half-dozen at my own expense to support folding@home at the Stanford school of medicine (I have been doing this since 2008). I noticed that some of the computers have not been able to pickup new assignments lately and just learned that this is due to COVID-19 but not in away you would think. So checkout the following alert from this site:  https://foldingforum.org/

    Welcome to the Folding Forum! Before you start, there are a few things we need to tell you:

    • The Folding@home team know about the work unit shortage.
    • It's happening because of an approximately 20x increase in demand.
    • The Folding@home team are working on it and hope to have a solution very soon.
    • Keep your machines running, they will eventually fold on their own.

    We thank you for your support of the project!

    So it looks like a lot more people are suddenly interested in looking for a high-tech solution to COVID-19. See: https://foldingathome.org/covid19/
    And then there was this: https://www.extremetech.com/computing/308332-foldinghome-crushes-exascale-barrier-now-faster-than-dozens-of-supercomputers
  15. I am still surprised about all the conspiracy theories and scaremongering regarding the fifth generation wireless technology colloquially known as 5G. Some of the conspiracy theories come from the United States and are unfairly directed at the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huauai. Imagine my surprise while reading page-12 of the 2020-03 issue of Scientific American where I learned that the American FCC is intending to auction 5G spectrum in the 24-GHz band at levels which will interfere with the detection of a 23.8-GHz signal emitted by natural water vapor. According to many organizations including NASA and NOAA, this would result in as much as a 77 percent reduction in "water vapor data" which would introduce a 2-3 day delay in weather forecasts. This would throw the USA's satellite-based forecasting abilities back to 1980 levels. Read the article here:
  16. Hacksmith Truck
    Hacksmith electric truck
    (50% smaller than the Tesla Cyber Truck)
    Hacksmith caveat: Unfortunately, Hacksmith is not related to this web site in any way (although I am a software hacker)
  17. Earth from Cassini
    Earth as viewed from Cassini-Huygens
    NASA recently used modern software to re-master their "Pale Blue Dot" photo (taken by Voyager in 1990) for the thirtieth anniversary of that event.

    comment: But I have always found this photo (right) of Earth taken by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft to be much more beautiful. In this case, Cassini-Huygens is on the far side of Saturn looking back at Earth which can be seen just under Saturn's rings. Since two of the three space agencies involved are European, many people refer to this photo as "Europe's Pale Blue Dot"
  18. Darwin's Apostles
    All modern people with a passing interest in science will love reading this new book: Darwin's Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues
    • Review by Harriet Hall MD https://www.skepdoc.info/darwins-apostles-the-battle-continues/
      quote: Our world is under threat, and science is our only hope. At the end of this book, the authors say, “Sadly, we live in an era when the idea of scientific truth itself is being disparaged by some of the most powerful people in the world…Today’s tenacious evolutionary biologists, climate scientists, and even national park employees are showing themselves to be some of the unlikely heroes of our time. They will need their apostles too. Their apostles are us.”
    • My Review: here
  19. Science is Bigger Than Politics. Neil deGrasse Tyson on The rise (and fall?) of America (from Abraham Lincoln's founding of the National Academy of Sciences in 1863, to the US currently leading the world in the Nobel Prize count (a third of which we owe to immigrants), America was built on science. What happens when we doubt and defund it?
    Transcript: I have to chuckle a little bit when I'm approached by anybody, but in particular journalists, and say, “Are scientist worried that the public is in denial of science or is cherry-picking it?” And I chuckle not because it's funny but because they're coming to me as a scientist when they should be going to everyone. Everyone should be concerned by this, not just scientists. In fact, scientists will just continue as they're doing. You might withdraw funding, but then there isn't any science done—okay. You are transforming your civilization if you choose to either stand in denial of science or withdraw science funding from those who are actually doing the research. Everything we care deeply about that defines modern civilization pivots on innovations in science, technology, engineering and the math that is the foundational language for it all. Everything: transportation, your health, your communication through smart phones that talk to GPS satellites to find out where Grandma is. To make a left turn to find her address or the nearest Starbucks. Whatever is your need, whatever is your want, the emergent innovations in science and technology are not only enabling it, they are creating for you solutions to challenges you always lived with but never thought that they could be solved. The message is clear: if you do not understand what science is and how and why it works—by the way, I'm not even blaming you. I look back as an educator, I look back to K through 12, kindergarten through 12th grade, and I say there's something missing there. If you, as an educated adult, can say, "This is what these scientists agree to, but I don't agree with them." If that sentence even comes out of your mouth it's like: oh my gosh. Okay, well, we live in a free country, you can say and think what you want. I'm not even going to stop you. But if you rise to power and have influence over legislation and that legislation references what you think science is but is not, that is a recipe for the unraveling of an informed democracy. So I'm not even going to blame you. It's not your fault. Click here to read more
  20. I just heard this on the CBC radio program IDEAS which I publish as food-for-thought: Get thee behind me, tech: putting humans before social media
    Digital media theorist Douglas Rushkoff remembers when the military offered the internet — the entire internet — to AT&T for a dollar, and AT&T politely declined. He also remembers believing in its original promise: that it could be a place where human beings would encounter one another authentically.  He remembers the initial attempt to monetize the web at the dawn of the millennium, and how relieved he and fellow early web denizens were that big business had been rebuffed. All that is ancient history now, and a rather quaint tale at that. "When the dot-com crash happened, people like me, we all celebrated! The internet fought off another infection," Rushkoff said in his keynote address at the 4th Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, organized by the Centre for Security Governance — the basis for this IDEAS episode.  
  21. George Clooney speaks against Rampant DUMBF**KERY on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! 
    • If you see the world through the prism of politics then this message is for YOU!
    • If you are an American, Canadian, or British politician then this message is for YOU!
    • If you think you are smarter than climate scientists or vaccine scientists then this message is for YOU!
    • If your idea of "doing research" involves looking up stuff on the internet then this message is for YOU!
    • if you think the world is less than 10,000 years old then this message is for YOU!
    • UDUMASS - United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation And Support Science
  22. Officially, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization of 1949) requires member countries to spend 1% of their annual GDP to purchase military arms for themselves so they will be able to contribute to "collective self defense" (the original threat was Joseph Stalin and his USSR). Despite the fact that the USSR ceased to exist in 1991, NATO members in 2014 agreed to increase spending to 2% of GDP by 2024. comment-1: the combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total and many people wonder if this is desirable or sustainable (think about that during your Christmas quiet time). comment-2: The USA and Canada also contribute to NORAD (North American Air Defense)

    Meanwhile, the EU (European Union) requires that member countries contribute 2% of GDP to peaceful R&D (Research and Development) and this got me thinking: One organization supports the creation of weapons of defense (which could also be used offensively; witness the recent aggressive action of NATO member "Turkey" against the Syrian Kurds) while the other is committed to the peaceful exploration and sharing of scientific knowledge.

    I think it is safe to say that military spending shifts the emphasis from "R" to "D" but people today forget that World War 2 was won by the countries with the smartest research scientists. Everyone knows that creation is more difficult than destruction but most rational people would agree it is worth the effort. Perhaps humanity's future would be better off if half the money allocated to military spending was diverted to scientific research. Perhaps this could be written into the next NATO agreement.
    comment-3: it was candidate Trump who, in March 2016, declared NATO as expensive while obsolete. Perhaps now is the time to get rid of it.
  23. My few thoughts about the 50th anniversary of the Apollo-11 moon landing.
    Meanwhile, I celebrated this anniversary by reading this book about the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) titled: SUNBURST and LUMINARY: An Apollo Memoir by Don Elyles (software engineer at MIT's Instrumentation Lab which is now known as Draper Laboratory )
  24. I just heard this on the CBC radio program IDEAS which I publish as food-for-thought: Reclaiming Marxism in an Age of Meaningless Work
    comment: While it is true that Marx published some wacky stuff (the communist manifesto first springs to mind), Marx's description of how capitalism failed Europeans of the 1840s (after the promises  by Adam Smith in the middle to late 1700s) sounds very familiar to how extreme capitalism is failing most people today, except the very rich. In Marx's time, he worried that the very rich "didn't ever think about the rest of humanity" and I fear the same is true today. Listen to the program at least once even if you don't agree with everything that is presented. At least you might get a handle on some of the ideas of the economic theory known as Marxism.
  25. Okay so here's what I don't understand: The United States claims to be a Christian nation as well as a purveyor of democracy and yet it is best friends with Saudi Arabia (a theocratic absolute monarchy without elections who citizens were been behind the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington -and- recently murdered Jamal Khashoggi) while it dislikes Iran (a presidential republic with elections). To make matters worse, America sells military hardware to the Saudis who use it to attack countries like Yemen. If you claim to be a Christian then you need to ask yourself what Jesus would think about all this? Check out this bible quote:

    Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
    BTW, it is the United States who is in violation of the 2015 non-nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran, not Iran. Most observers agree that this agreement worked well until the United States unilaterally exited the deal in 2018 then followed up with economic sanctions. It is this political action taken by the United States which is making the world a more dangerous place to live. Because of the unwarranted sanctions, Iran had no choice other than to resume uranium refinement in order to bring the US back to the table.
  26. Ecologic BrandsCanada has just announced following the lead of Europe in banning single-use plastics by 2021. This is a good thing because most people would agree that using petroleum (a non-renewable resource) to create single-use plastic products (drinking straws, knives, forks, spoons, coffee cup lids, and cream containers) is wasteful and stupid. This is made worse by the fact that less than 20% of all plastic is recycled with the remaining amount going to land fills or, eventually, the ocean. Did you know that those resin identification codes imprinted upon plastic products is almost useless? Numbers "1" and "2" can be easily recycled while numbers "3" through "7" can only be recycled with great difficulty so are usually shipped elsewhere or discarded.
    1) Almost all powered protein supplements are retailed in large, heavy (thick) plastic containers so view the container pictured to the right. This is not a plastic bottle. It is a much lighter, crushable cardboard container employing a thin plastic bag to protect the powered protein inside (too bad they have not yet ditched the plastic lid). Although the protein is from Bodylogix, the container was manufactured by Ecologic Brands. Click here, here and here to learn more.

    2) Question: What's wrong with these pictures of two competing toothpaste products? Answer: the second product employs more waste plastic in the lid which YOU pay for then discard. Suggestion: always buy the product with the smallest ecological foot print.
    crest colgate
    coffee creamer3) More Insanity: Manu people drink multiple cups a coffee each day then throw in one to two creamers each time. Now you have really got to think about this one: an inexpensive biologically replaceable resource (cow's milk) is served up in a one-time use plastic made from a non-renewable resource (petroleum). Suggestion: until dairy producers move their product into cardboard containers, we must reduce or eliminate the use of plastic creamers
    Recent bad news (2019-12-xx):
    Whale dies with a 100 kg ball of plastic trash in its stomach
    ‘Huge ball’ of nets, ropes, plastic cups, bags, gloves, packing straps, tubing found in sperm whale
    Recent bad news (2019-03-xx):
    Dead whale washed up in Philippines had 40kg of plastic bags in its stomach
  27. Commenting on Huawei: It appears to me that people in the west only support capitalism when the west wins. When a Chinese company, like Huawei, becomes the next Nortel, then ridiculous conspiracy theories are invoked. IIRC, Huawei was one of many companies that bid on the sale of intellectual property, as did Apple, Google, Blackberry and others. Huawei was not one of the winners which forced it to increase its own R&D operations (estimates put Huawei R&D in 2019 at a massive 40% of net income). People claim that Huawei steals IP but this ignores the fact that many experts agree that Huawei is 19-24 months ahead of everyone else on 5G. Anyway, western companies accuse each other of the all the time of IP theft. For example, Apple is constantly in court for stealing IP (witness Broadcom – Qualcomm). Other western companies are no better (Apple has sued Google; Facebook is currently suing Google). The CEOs of these western companies justify this by saying "this is just the way business in done ".

    On a related note, Huawei telephone hardware is nothing more than a special-purpose programmable computer made in China which is almost always installed along with a CISCO firewall. Firewall transactions are almost always logged and monitored so someone would need to show me proof that spy packets were seen going back to China (or show how packets could flow from China back to the west for any nefarious purpose). On top of all that, Apple manufactures their equipment at Foxconn in China. Same place where Microsoft manufactures the Xbox One and Sony manufacturers the PlayStation4. HP desktops are manufactured by Megatron in China. So why is Huawei being singled out? Shouldn’t Trump blocks the imports of all these companies as well? Heck, many of these consumer and small business appliances are seldomly protected by firewalls.

    I think it was Deng Xiaoping who once said "The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earth". Since modern electronics is dependent upon rare-earth materials then it should be no surprise that Chinese-made electronics is much less expensive. Speaking of Deng for a moment, in the mid-1980s I was attending school in the Boston area where it appeared to me that Chinese students were everywhere. Apparently, Deng was sending a million Chinese students to the USA every year to receive a top-quality western education paid for by China (one of my more-gifted Chinese class mates was accompanied by two minders who were there to ensure that he returned to China). Unlike Mao, Deng saw great value in education and realized that this was the best way forward for China. Thirty five years later, China has moved more than 350 million Chinese citizens from poverty into the middle class. This number is greater than the current population of the USA so is it any surprise that China is doing well? Meanwhile, there is a movement in the west to label "an educated person" as "an elite". It seems to me that the world has flipped.
  28. Now here's a smart idea. The European Parliament (EU) just voted to end daylight savings time in 2021
    The main reason given was that Europe's closest trading partners, China and Russia, do not shift their numerous number of time zones, and having Europe change its clocks twice annually was bad for business between all. But as a computer programmer and system admin, I can tell you that not having your computer systems change their internal clocks is a huge advantage.
  29. Debt and Tyranny
    About 200 years ago, Scottish professor Alexander Fraser Tytler said (paraphrased): that no democracy can survive much more than 200 years without collapsing from its own debt. He went on to say that this is the natural consequence once people discover that they can vote for the politicians who give them the most gifts; and the politicians know it. He also said tyranny always follows.
    comment-1: As of 2018 the the American Federal debt sits at 21 trillion (21 followed by twelve zeros) dollars. Meanwhile, the Canadian Federal debt sits at slightly over 630 billion dollars (provincial debt puts total debt well over 1 trillion)
    comment-2: Anyone with a basic understanding of economics will quickly realize that servicing this debt will divert a huge amount of money away from desired social programs. For example, 2% of 21-trillion, compounded annually, is 420-billion (America). Meanwhile, 2% of 1-trillion, compounded annually, is 20-billion (Canada).
    comment-3: Most people in the west, including me, prefer democracy over communism. And yet, China seems to be doing a lot better. Let's put the debt-to-GDP ratio aside for a moment and only consider population size versus total debt: China's population is four times larger than America's while China's debt is four times smaller at 5 trillion. Therefore, China's debt-to-population ratio is ~ 16 smaller.
  30. co2 across the ice agesChildren born now could live to see the oceans rise well over 1 m (3.2 ft) by 2100. Even conservative forecasts of sea level by 2100 are now rising above the meter mark for high emission scenarios. The last report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013 concluded that sea level could rise between 0.3 and 1 meter by 2100 depending on how much carbon dioxide we emit. Now a study by Tamsin Edwards of King’s College London has added 0.2 meters [to the IPCC report]. “Our likely range is about 20 centimeters higher” says Edwards. Other studies have come to similar conclusions. In fact, the IPCC is set to up its projections: according to a leaked version of an upcoming IPCC report, sea level will rise by as much as 1.3 meters by 2100. In the US alone, a 0.9 meter rise in sea level rise would displace 4 million people. Global average sea level has already risen around 0.3 meters since 1880. There are three key questions about what happens next: How much higher will the sea rise for a given amount of warming? How fast will it rise? And will the loss of some ice sheets become unstoppable once set in motion, as several recent studies suggest? The only way to find out is by looking at the past and using computer models. But our knowledge of past sea level changes is poor, and computer models of ice sheets are relatively new and crude, so there are huge uncertainties. The 2013 IPCC estimate of up to 1 meter assumes hardly any contribution from Antarctica. However, as the report itself acknowledged, many researchers think the unstable West Antarctic sheet could start to lose a lot of ice long before 2100. continued here...

    1) according to tide gauges by sea-faring nations, sea level increased by 19.5 cm (~ 7.7 in) between 1870 and 2004 which equates to 1.44 mm per year. Radar measurements by satellites show the new value as 3.3 mm per year. So even if you do not accept the fact that the rate-of-rise is accelerating, sea level is absolutely guaranteed to rise an additional 33 cm (~ 13 in) in the next 100 years but remember that this rise is vertical. Beaches are sloped which means that tide-surges will make things a lot worse much sooner.
    2) Ocean rise should not be a surprise to anyone educated in ice ages where CO2 levels normally bounce between 180 ppm (when in an ice age) vs. 280 ppm (when in an interglacial). Why? During an ice age a lot of water accumulates in glacial ice. But humanity's industrial age has pushed co2 levels more than 130 units past 280 which is pushing "the melting of ice" to a totally new place. Had we known this earlier, then none of us would have built large cities so close to the coast. I fear that Venice Italy stands as a symbol for American cities like New York, San Francisco and Miami to only name three of many.
    3) Some climatologists have hypothesized that sea level on Earth (where water covers 70% of the globe) has a near-linear relationship with co2 levels where 100 pm translates into ~ 100 ft. When I first heard this I was skeptical of the units and values until I later learned that "one foot" was just their lowest starting point. But where did they get that number? Well, is now commonly accepted that humans walked to North America via the Bering Straight at a time when the ocean level was much lower than it is today. These migrations happened numerous times so it is difficult to determine the exact time periods BUT some ancient human artifacts have been located 120 ft below the current surface. So here's what worries me: let's assume that an increase in co2 levels triggers new melting which causes the ocean levels to rise even more. The industrial age increased co2 from 280 to the current value of 410 so can we assume that we will see the oceans rise another 128 feet?

  31. Economists' dogmas don't always add up (from New Scientist Letters):
    In comparing the opinions of economists with those of the general public, Pascal Boyer makes an interesting point (22 September, p 40). But from there he works on the assumption that the economists are right. As a scientist, I prefer to use observation rather than opinion in my work, and the 2008 global financial crisis is enough to make one suspicious of economists. Let's take one of Boyer's examples: “While 69 per cent of the public saw excessive executive pay as a reason the economy wasn't doing better, just 12 per cent of economists did.” Yet in the two powerhouses of the post-war economy, Germany and Japan, executive salaries are much lower than in the US, UK and Australia.
    continued on page-52: New Scientist (27 October 2018)
    comment: during post-WW2 reconstruction, both Germany and Japan were advised by Americans to place upper limits on executive income. During their powerhouse decades these countries limited executive pay to 20 and 25 times the average wage of rank-and-file employees.
  32. In his latest book titled Light of the Stars, astronomer Adam Frank presents convincing information that variable 'L' in the Drake Equation should be changed from "self destruction through nuclear war" to "self destruction though climate change". He argues that even if some extraterrestrial civilizations had never developed nuclear weapons (as humanity did), all would eventually grow to a size where their collective actions would change their climates, and possibly outstrip their natural resources. This is an extrapolation of the predator-prey model (described in the book) which was previously used to model the collapse of various civilizations where local people outstripped their resources (Easter Island, The Mayans, etc.)

    comment-1: What does this say about what humanity is currently doing to planet Earth? In the era of mutually assured destruction (MAD), a large number of western citizens advocated for nuclear de-escalation because the thought of an accidental conflict seemed too great. Today, many people seem to think that a healthy economy is more important than a healthy biosphere. In fact, many people with financial ties to the old economy are actively working to speed the collapse by denying that the climate is warming or that is is human induced.
    comment-2: Many climate deniers do not believe it is possible for modern humans to change Earth's atmosphere. And yet, it was the action of microscopic stromatolites (cyanobacteria) that added oxygen to Earth's atmosphere ~ 3.5 billion years ago.
  33. beach covered with one-time use plasticThe European Union has just announced that they will ban one-time use plastic products by 2021. This includes: stir-sticks, drinking straws, cutlery, soft-drink containers, and shopping bags. They stated that if something isn't done now, then by 2050 there would be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
  34. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 16 times larger: There’s even more plastic in the Pacific than we thought. At least 79,000 tons of plastic are floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That’s four to sixteen times as much as was estimated by two studies in 2014. The Garbage Patch is an area of 1.6 million square kilometers between Hawaii and California. There, floating debris – from microscopic particles of plastic to large pieces like ropes and fishing nets – is carried by currents and accumulates. Similar patches exist in other oceans. Researchers gathered data from aerial surveys and nets towed by ships, and fed it into a computer model. This showed there is around one kilogram of plastic per square kilometer in the outer regions, rising to more than 100kg/km2 near the center. Earlier studies probably greatly underestimated the mass of plastic because they were not as comprehensive. For instance, they had to rely on spotting flotsam from boats, rather than on aerial surveys. But the team that carried out the latest study says there has also been a real increase in the mass of plastic.
  35. Computers speak a simple language known as binary. The lexicon is built from digital 0s and 1s, so the “C” letter at the start of this box would be represented as an elaborate code: “01000011”. The dominance of binary is partly due to computers being built from transistors, electrical switches that either allow current to flow or not, and nothing in between. These two well-defined states stand in neatly for 0 and 1. But there’s a newer electrical component on the scene called a memristor (see main story). These devices are becoming more and more useful in computers built to mimic the brain, and they are plenty more versatile than the transistor. Rather than being simply on or off, they can adopt several different states of resistance. Last year, researchers led by Vikas Rana at the Peter Grünberg Institute in Jülich, Germany, got a set of memristors successfully performing calculations in a ternary language, which uses the digital equivalent of 0s, 1s and 2s. This means memristors could allow computers to compute much more efficiently. And it doesn’t have to stop at base 3; memristors can reliably adopt at least seven, and possibly more, resistive states.

    Continued here: New Scientist (2 August 2017)

    Comment: quantum computing (as opposed to quantum communications) is the focus of much research because (entanglement aside) it primarily moves from two digital states (0+1) to three (0-middle-1) but most punters overlook the huge liquid nitrogen cooling tanks. It seems to me that memristor-based technology (with 7 or more states) might be a better candidate for certain applications like neural nets and artificial intelligence. Sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov, employed the phrase "positronic brain" as at literary device meaning "fill in the blank". I wonder if memristor technology could fill this roll
  36. Our culture is awash in lies, dominated by streams of never ending electronic hallucinations that merge fact and fiction until they are indistinguishable.  We have become the most illusioned society on earth.  Politics is a species of endless and meaningless political theater.  Politicians have morphed into celebrities.  Our two ruling parties are, in reality, one party - the corporate party.  And those who attempt to puncture this vast, breathless universe of fake news, designed to push through the cruelty and exploitation of the neoliberal order, are pushed so far to the margins of society, including by a public broadcasting system that has sold its soul for corporate money, that we might as well be mice squeaking against an avalanche, but squeak we MUST
  37. A conservative friend of mine was fond of asking me (I am a centrist) political questions then would cut me off mid-sentence before I finished answering because he didn’t value my (just starting) response. Apparently he was the only conservative amongst his family of brothers, sisters and parents but had no problem thinking he was right while they were wrong. How could this be? This thought rattled around in my mind until I stumbled across a book titled “The Republican Brain” which was positively reviewed by liberals and conservatives alike. The book contains several points which I will pass along here:
    • Size differences in two brain structures, the amygdala and the anterior cingulate, bias human perspective of the world. Therefore ...
    • Conservatives see things as “black and white” while liberals see “shades of gray”
    • Conservatives play politics as a team sport so will almost always vote their party while Liberals will split their vote choosing alternate parties (now you know how Trump got in)
    • Conservatives (larger amygdala) are more fearful of others so are more easily encouraged to vote for POPULIST issues like restricting immigration by voting for Trump or BREXIT (funny point: Britain had the lowest number of Syrian immigrants but apparently the highest political reaction against them)
    • Since conservatives only see things as black and white, they try (and sometimes succeed) in converting liberals over to their way of voting. It seems to me that the reverse never happens
  38. Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? No, me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data. Creationists, for example, dispute the evidence for evolution in fossils and DNA because they are concerned about secular forces encroaching on religious faith. Anti-vaxxers distrust big pharma and think that money corrupts medicine, which leads them to believe that vaccines cause autism despite the inconvenient truth that the one and only study claiming such a link was retracted and its lead author accused of fraud. The 9/11 truthers focus on minutiae like the melting point of steel in the World Trade Center buildings that caused their collapse because they think the government lies and conducts “false flag” operations to create a New World Order. Climate deniers study tree rings, ice cores and the PPM of greenhouse gases because they are passionate about freedom, especially that of markets and industries to operate unencumbered by restrictive government regulations. Obama birthers desperately dissected the president’s long-form birth certificate in search of fraud because they believe that the nation’s first African-American president is a socialist bent on destroying the country. Click here to read more.
    Quote: There is research indicating that misinformed people rarely change their minds, even when presented with facts. They merely pursue alternative facts which creates a stupidity feedback loop. Read more here: Religion in politics
  39. Skeptic Magazine ( http://www.skeptic.com/magazine/archives/20.3/ ) contains a story about a contest Alfred Russel Wallace entered in 1870 to prove the Earth was round. (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Russel_Wallace#Flat_Earth_wager for a less detailed version of the story)

    Every citizen today should read this story paying special attention to the reactions of his opponent, John Hampden, who believed data from Wallace’s experiment proved the Earth was flat. Wallace was declared the winner and so won 500 pounds but lost it all in court costs when Hampden would not stop personal attacks while refusing to acknowledge the evidence. Why would the courts allow this? Remember that this occurred in Victorian England at a time where many respectable people were séance-attending spiritualists. I find it difficult to understand that this could happen in the country of Isaac Newton approximately 150 years after Newton's death. The point I am trying to make is this: today’s climate change deniers claim to be on the side of Galileo but they are really Flat Earthers
  40. Isaac Asimov on PBS

    Isaac Asimov PhD

    "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

    -- Isaac Asimov (Column in Newsweek, 21 January 1980)

    Excerpt from Wikipedia: Isaac Asimov was an atheist, a humanist, and a rationalist. He did not oppose religious conviction in others, but he frequently railed against superstitious and pseudoscientific beliefs that tried to pass themselves off as genuine science. During his childhood, his father and mother observed Orthodox Jewish traditions, though not as stringently as they had in Petrovichi, Russia; they did not, however, force their beliefs upon young Isaac. Thus he grew up without strong religious influences, coming to believe that the Torah represented Hebrew mythology in the same way that the Iliad recorded Greek mythology.

    NSR Comment: The "ignorance" quote now seems to apply to other English-speaking countries including Britain, Canada, and Australia to only name three of many.
    • why is it that English-speaking countries have less respect for science and scientists than other European countries?
    • why does this not apply to people from New Zealand and Tasmania ?
    • does the internet provide a venue where wacky people can meet up with other wacky people to share dopey ideas while trading conspiracy theories? Perhaps, but why are New Zealand and Tasmania immune?
  41. Two neat quotes from Winston Churchill which seem at odds with conservative talk-radio programs
    • The independence of the courts is, to all of us, the guarantee of freedom and the equal rule of law... It must, therefore, be the first concern of the citizens of a free country to preserve and maintain the independence of the courts of justice, however inconvenient that independence may be, on occasion, to the government of the day.
    • On August 17, 1949, on the occasion of the first session of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, Sir Winston Churchill expressed the wish that once an agreement on Fundamental Human Rights was achieved on a European level, it would be possible to create an International (European) Court before which any violation of such rights might be submitted for judgment by the civilized world.
  42. Facts, Theory, Hypothesis, Law: Explained!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqk3TKuGNBA
    1. Facts are observations
      • the Sun rises in the morning then sets in the evening
    2. Hypothesis (hypo-thesis literally means 'below thesis') is a proposed explanation; here are three of many:
      1. the Sun moves around the Earth (jump to step 3a)
      2. the Earth moves around the Sun (jump to step 3b) in circles
      3. all planets moves around the Sun in elliptical orbits (although they all have different elliptical eccentricities)
    3. Theory is the result of an experimentally tested Hypothesis; at this point a scientist will write, then publish, a thesis 
      1. experimental test of hypothesis 2a...
        • passes (until the era of precision measurements) so jump to step 4 to build models (mathematical, mechanical, computer-based, etc.)
        • fails during the era of precision measurements (Tycho Brahe) so go back to step 2 to develop hypothesis 2b
      2. experimental test of hypothesis 2b...
        • passes for a time (we have a theoretical understanding of the issue) so jump to step 4
        • fails during the era of evermore precise measurements so jump to hypothesis 2c
    4. Law is a detailed mathematical description
      • develop a model to test the hypothesis with greater precision (early physical models were machines; modern models employ computers)
      • many times, a successful theory produces yet-unobserved predictions (eg. Atomic Theory, Quantum, Theory of Gravitation)
      • improved observations (new facts) through newer instrumentation may force us back to step 2 (eg. General Relativity morphs into General Relativity)
  43. A.I. has been shifting from an "engineering discipline" ("expert systems" was their most visible practical success before IBM's Watson) to a "cognitive science" discipline for a while now. This shift has forced researchers to view the human mind from a different perspective. One proposal by Daniel Kahneman separates the human mind into two abstractly labeled modules colloquially referred to as system-1 and system-2 (or S1 and S2). S1 is a high-speed parallel processor evolved for avoiding predation by lions but also handles wrote intelligence (what is "2 plus 2"?) while S2 is a serial processor which deals with higher level procedural intelligence (what is "19 times 21"?).
    S2 requires more energy and concentration (not something you want to be doing while being chased by a lion) so idles until activated by S1.
    Notes for examples below:
    • Example 1: "S1 immediately engages S2 but fails to pass accurate information to S2 (causing S2 to make an error)"
    • Examples 2-5: "S1 will answer incorrectly without ever engaging S2"
    • Example 6: "S1 immediately engages S2; S2 employs a little algebra to compute the answer then notifies S1; S1 doesn't believe S2 so requests S2 to double-check; S2 repeats the solution then notifies S1; S1 still doesn't believe S2 so requests S2 to perform a detailed rationalization of where S1 had gone wrong"

    algebra with fruit
    1. This graphical algebra problem employs picture symbols rather than x, y and z. Calculate the answer. (answer)
      Calculation: 2 + 12 + 7 = 21 (one picture contains three bananas)
    2. "All flowers need water. All roses need water. Therefore, all roses are flowers". Is this logically true? (answer)
      S1 usually answers "yes" but this is logcially false as many things require water
    3. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? (answer)
      S1 usually answers 10 cents but the correct answer is 5 cents (Proof: 1.05 + 0.05 = 1.10)
    4. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? (answer)
      S1 usaully answers 100 but the correct answer is 5
    5. A patch of lily pads are found in a lake. Every day the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of it? (answer)
      S1 usually answers 24 but the correct answer is 47
    6. Three people check into a hotel room. The clerk says the bill is $30, so each guest pays $10. Later the clerk realizes the bill should only be $25. To rectify this, he gives the bellhop $5 to return to the guests. On the way to the room, the bellhop realizes that he cannot divide the money equally. As the guests didn't know the total of the revised bill, the bellhop decides to just give each guest $1 and keep $2 as a tip for himself. Each guest got $1 back: so now each guest only paid $9; bringing the total paid to $27. The bellhop has $2. And $27 + $2 = $29 so, if the guests originally handed over $30, what happened to the remaining $1? (answer)
      The misdirection in this riddle is at the end of the description, where a bunch of unrelated totals are added together, and the listener assumes these numbers should add to 30 (should be 27 after the 1 dollar refund)
  44. chloroplastThe computed World Human Population Limit
    A little math proves the current human population is already too large at 7.57 billion (this is a real-time counter BTW). Anything higher (caveat: humanity adds 1 billion every 12 years) is certainly out of the question. Why?

    Higher temperatures reduce the efficiency of photosynthesis resulting in a loss of agricultural productivity (biologists estimate a 10% drop for every degree increase). This is a shift in the direction of famine, disease (due to compromised immune systems), war (due to food and water shortages), and death. Since photosynthesis is required to replenish atmospheric O2 (oxygen), then we can expect O2 to drop as well. So I guess it should be no surprise that...

    Atmospheric oxygen levels have been dropping ever since measurements began in 1990. While CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies promise to limit some CO2 releases, any burning of fuel will continue to consume atmospheric oxygen. So when calculating the optimum human population we also need to include the number of large internal combustion engines. (for now, just think about the number of ocean-going boats, jet airplanes, locomotive engines, and one billion functional automobiles). Now for one additional thought...

    Many people mistakenly believe higher CO2 levels "are good for plants" and "will trigger plant growth" (some people call CO2 the gas of life). First off, atmospheric CO2 levels have risen from 315 to 405 ppm (an increase of 28.5%) ever since direct annual measurement began in 1958 but humanity has not noticed any explosion of plant life to compensate for the increase (if we did, we might not have seen an increase in CO2 levels). Secondly, this schematic diagram of photosynthesis shows the first stage involves the photolysis of water by sunlight (this is the only place where oxygen is released to the atmosphere). This diagram is proof that sunlight (input 1) and H2O (input 2) are more important than CO2 (input 3) but each ingredient is considered a limiting factor to maximum photosynthetic productivity (it goes without saying that there is no release of oxygen on short days, cloudy days, or at night). The majority of plant life acquires water through roots rather than the atmosphere. Higher temperatures will evaporate a greater volume of water into the atmosphere making it bio-unavailable to plants. While more evaporation usually translates into more rain fall, higher temperatures will send it back into the atmosphere sooner.
  45. Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch Jewish philosopher (1632-1677). He was known for his radical views on religion and politics. As a young man, he was banned by his own religious community for his scandalous ideas. He made his living by grinding precision lens for scientists. He died young, at the age of 44, presumably from inhaling glass dust. Spinoza did not believe that God created the heavens and earth - the universe.  For Spinoza, God was equivalent to all of nature. He believed that "false religion" created superstition.  A "true religion," on the other hand, was liberating because it allowed freedom of thought. The Europe of 17th century was a place  of stifling religious orthodoxies, strife and war. Spinoza believed in freedom of thought and the principle of religious tolerance. Spinoza also had radical ideas about the nature of politics. He believed in democracy. He is credited with helping to shape the revolution in human thought known as The Enlightenment.
    CBC IDEAS host Paul Kennedy explores how Spinoza's thoughts on God, the universe, ethics and politics helped ignite the flame what became known as the Enlightenment.
    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/spinoza-1.2913483 Audio: 53:59
  46. RadiometerIn 1873, while investigating infrared radiation and the element thallium, the eminent Victorian experimenter Sir William Crookes developed a special kind of radiometer, an instrument for measuring radiant energy of heat and light. Crookes's Radiometer is today marketed as a conversation piece called a light-mill or solar engine. It consists of four vanes each of which is blackened on one side and silvered on the other. These are attached to the arms of a rotor which is balanced on a vertical support in such a way that it can turn with very little friction. The mechanism is encased inside a clear glass bulb which has been pumped out to a high, but not perfect, vacuum.
    • When sunlight falls on the light-mill, the vanes turn with the black surfaces apparently being pushed away by the light. But there is a problem with this explanation. Light falling on the black side should be absorbed, while light falling on the silver side of the vanes should be reflected. In that case the mill is turning the wrong way.
    • In 1901, with a better vacuum pump, Pyotr Lebedev showed that the radiometer only works when there is low pressure gas in the bulb but the vanes stay motionless in a hard vacuum. This is proof that the thermal properties of the low pressure gas are responsible for the motion, not the direct action of photons. Climate-Warming Food-for-thought: too much gas traps too much heat causing the machine to stop working.
    • The radiometer can also be made to rotate backwards in a refrigerator.
    • Other mistaken explanations for the radiometer: Since the black side of each vane would absorb heat from infrared radiation more than the silver side, then this would cause the rarefied gas to be heated on the black side.  In that case, the obvious explanation is that the pressure of the gas on the darker side increases with its temperature, creating a higher force on the dark side of the vane which thus pushes the rotor around.  Maxwell analyzed this theory carefully and discovered that, in fact, the warmer gas would simply expand in such a way that there would be no net force from this effect, just a steady flow of heat across the vanes.  So this explanation in terms of warm gas is wrong, but even the Encyclopedia Britannica gives this false explanation today.  A variation on this theme is that the motion of the hot molecules on the black side of the vane provide the push.  Again this is not correct, and could only work if the mean free path between molecular collisions were as large as the container, instead of its actual value of typically less than a millimeter.
    • The correct solution to the problem was provided qualitatively by Osborne Reynolds in 1879 in a paper to the Royal Society in which he considered what he called "thermal transpiration". To explain the radiometer, therefore, one must focus attention not on the faces of the vanes, but on their edges.  The faster molecules from the warmer side strike the edges obliquely and impart a higher force than the colder molecules.  Again, these are the same thermo-molecular forces responsible for Reynolds' thermal transpiration.  The effect is also known as thermal creep, since it causes gases to creep along a surface that has a temperature gradient.  The net movement of the vane due to the tangential forces around the edges is away from the warmer gas and towards the cooler gas, with the gas passing around the edge in the opposite direction.  The behavior is just as if there were a greater force on the blackened side of the vane (which as Maxwell showed is not the case); but the explanation must be in terms of what happens not at the faces of the vanes, but near their edges.
  • Humanity's coming Dark Age
  • STEM Book Recommendations (Dark Age antidote?)
  • Thomas PaineThomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote about many modern topics including "the importance of the separation between church and state" and "racial equality" (he proposed "abolishing slavery" 100 years before Lincoln). The following three titles are a "must read" for all modern citizens:
  • Adam Smith (1723-1790) was a self titled "moral philosopher" who developed economic theories with the intent of redistributing wealth to workers who were about to be displaced by the industrial revolution. Anyone reading Smith's books will come to the conclusion that American capitalism is based upon a synthesis of Adam Smith and Charles Darwin (survival of the greediest). Many things Americans attribute to Adam Smith are not found in his books (the 'invisible hand' is mentioned only once in a revised edition of WoN). What would he think about hedge funds and activist investors?  
  • The $2 Trillion Dollar War by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E Stiglitz
  •  Comparative Anthropology
  • the Enlightenment (my favorite topic)
Religion Health
TVO Logo Perimeter Institute Sentinel Mission Khan Academy Wikipedia Affiliate Button Way Back Machine science friday
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
A mysterious monolith awakens the imagination of humanity's distant ancestors.
A second monolith awaits humanity's giant leap to the moon. And in orbit around Jupiter,
a third monolith beckons humanity to transcend beyond the limits of of body and machine.
Click: 2001: A Space Odyssey @ Wikipedia

Feynman Diagram (animated) Feynman Diagram (static)
"All forces in the universe are mediated by particle exchange"
This "Feynman Diagram" (of electron repulsion) depicts the movement of two electrons (1 to 3 and 2 to 4) in space and time. A virtual photon transfers energy between them (5 to 6) causing them to repel each other.
To learn more:
1) brief explanation
2) detailed explanation
Legend: Y-Axis (up-down) is time while X-Axis (left-right) is space

Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Yes, this is the old "Laptops and Lederhosen" site