Neil S. Rieck
Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.
Hi-tech Community of Laptops and Lederhosen (Leather Pants)
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  1. In his latest book titled Light of the Stars, astronomer Adam Frank presents convincing information that term 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 we 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.
    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 that added oxygen to the atmosphere in the first place.
  2. It would be churlish to ask what took them so long. Let us be grateful, instead, climate scientists are finally saying out loud what they all knew privately at least 10 years ago. What 16 of them are now saying, in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is that if we don’t soon get off the highway we are travelling on, we will be irrevocably committed to a “Hothouse Earth” in no more than 10 to 20 years. That’s the last exit. The article has the usual low-key scientific title: Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. The authors never raise their voices, but they point out the likeliest of those trajectories — the one we will stay on even if all the promises in the 2015 Paris Accord on climate change are kept — runs right off a cliff. Hothouse Earth is not very hospitable to human life. Hundreds of millions or even a billion or two would probably survive, but the damage to agricultural systems would be so extreme that billions more would die. (The authors don’t say this, of course, but the people who have to think about these contingencies, like the military in the developed countries, know it very well.) What the authors are saying is that global warming driven directly by human emissions of greenhouse gases is only smaller part of the problem. The real threat is the unstoppable natural feedbacks, triggered by the warming that we have caused, that will take us up to the killing temperatures. They list 10 of them, the biggest being loss of Arctic sea-ice, melting of the permafrost zone, dieback in the boreal and the Amazon forests and changes driven by warming in the ocean circulation system. Just triggering one or two of these feedbacks could cause enough additional warming to set off others, like a row of toppling dominoes. Yet the role of these feedbacks was not discussed in the scientific journals, not included in the predictions of future warming issued every four or five years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and definitely not part of the public debate. Why not? When you make a statement in science, you have to be able to prove it, generally with hard numbers and testable predictions. The hard numbers weren’t available. So the climate scientists didn’t make grand assertions – but they did manage to get the threshold of two degrees Celsius higher global temperature adopted as the never-exceed target for the IPCC’S efforts to get the warming under control. (Nobody said publicly how they arrived at that number, but it was because the scientists thought that it was about where the feedbacks would start kicking in.) The scale and trigger-points of the feedbacks have finally been calculated, more or less, and the news is as bad as the scientists feared. We have passed the point where a return to the stable climate of the past 14,000 years is possible, and we are on course for Hothouse Earth. The best we can do is try to stabilize the warming at or just below plus two degrees, and that will not be possible without major human interventions in the climate system. It would require “deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, protection and enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, (and) possibly solar radiation management ...” Geo-engineering (“solar radiation management”) is already part of the package, and that it will be down to human beings to manage the entire ecosystem to keep it stable. As Jim Lovelock, the creator of earth system science, wrote 39 years ago, we may “wake up one day to find that (we have) the permanent lifelong job of planetary maintenance engineer.” I haven’t bothered to ask Lovelock if we are there yet. Of course we are.
    Gwynne Dyer (2018-08-13)
    comment: Gwynne Dyer's book 'Climate Wars' was published ten years ago in 2008. Unfortunately, almost every word in it is still true.
  3. This is Armageddon Summer in the northern hemisphere: out-of-control wildfires all around the Arctic Circle (not to mention California and Greece), weeks-long heat waves with unprecedented high temperatures, torrential downpours and Biblical floods. And yes, it's climate change. It's quite appropriate to be frightened, because the summers will be much worse 10 years from now, and much worse again 10 years after that. Prompt and drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions now might stop the summers of the 2040s from being even worse, but they wouldn't do much to lessen the mounting misery of the next 20 years. Those emissions are mostly in the atmosphere already. Besides, we're not going to see 'prompt and drastic cuts in greenhouse emissions' any time soon. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better — if it ever does get better. And so it is probably time to ask the obvious question: where will it all end? The worst case isn't the only case, or even the most likely case, but there may be some value in understanding how bad it could get if we miss all the exits on the highway to Hell. And here I'm going to quote from an interview I did 10 years ago with Dr. Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center. It's all still true today. He had been talking about the 'feedbacks' (melting permafrost, warming oceans, huge releases of methane and carbon dioxide). Because they cannot yet be fully incorporated into the computer models of climate, they lead to systematic underestimates of future warming. And then he cut to the chase. "If you take all these feedbacks into account, the estimates are that by 2100, instead of two to six degrees Celsius rise (in average global temperature), it looks like a possibility of six to 12 degrees ... These temperature changes would change the ocean circulation patterns and end up with much of the oceans going anoxic — very low oxygen content — which would then promote bacteria which produce hydrogen sulphates. These would rise and take out the ozone layer, and also make it somewhat difficult to breathe. This is by 2100." What Dennis Bushnell was referring to was 'Canfield oceans,' now strongly suspected of being the cause of four out of the big five mass extinctions. Everybody knows about the huge asteroid that struck the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years and wiped out the dinosaurs. Fewer people know that there is no trace of an asteroid strike associated with the other four 'great dyings,' 444 million, 360 million, 251 million and 200 million years ago. So what happened then? One common factor was that the planet was unusually hot at the time, but the real clue was that the deep oceans were anoxic. There was no oxygen down there, and therefore no life that used oxygen. When the oceans are very warm, the 'overturning circulation' (like the Gulf Stream) that carries vast amounts of oxygen-rich surface water down into the depths simply stops, and the oceans stratify into an oxygenated surface layer and an anoxic deeper layer. But there was still life down there: sulphate bacteria that normally hide in the silt, away from the oxygen that would destroy them. In an anoxic ocean, they come out and multiply — and eventually, if the conditions are right, they rise all the way to the surface and kill all the oxygen-based life in the sea. Not only that, but hydrogen sulphide gas, a waste product of their metabolism, rises into the atmosphere, destroys the ozone layer, and drifts over the land where it also wipes out most life. This has happened not once but at least four times in the past. Even if we avoid that fate, we may be heading for a mass dieback, including of human beings. Food is the key issue: as warming depresses productivity and turns whole regions into desert, mass starvation is imaginable, although actual extinction seems improbable. The situation is already quite grim. Bad news, of course, but when you find yourself in a high-stakes game you should know what the stakes are.  
    Gwynne Dyer (2018-07-31)
    comment: Gwynne Dyer's book 'Climate Wars' was published ten years ago in 2008. Unfortunately, almost every word in it is still true.
  4. BREXIT: the Disaster Movie! :: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAK-gSYtv3w
    comment: we're going to give the British people what they voted for, but if anything goes wrong it will be the fault of the European Union
  5. A "black elephant" event is a cross between a "black swan" - a rare, low probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications - and "the elephant in the room: a problem that is widely visible to everyone, yet that no one wants to address, even though we absolutely know that one day it will have vast, black-swan-like consequences. Currently there are a herd of environmental black elephants gathering out there" - global warming, deforestation, ocean acidification, and mass biodiversity extinction, just to name four.

    Yet somehow this has not penetrated the mass consciousness of Washington D.C. or the Republican party. "During the cold war we wrote a blank check to deter a low-probability event (nuclear war) with high-consequence" observed Robert Litwak. "Now we won't even spend a nickel [tax] on gasoline to deter a high-probability event (climate change) with high consequence"
    Page-158 of: Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman
  6. A renewables revolution is afoot – but who will benefit? Donald Trump's commitment to coal is short-sighted and wrong-headed. A 100 per cent renewable future is coming – and other countries will reap the rewards
    LAST week, President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Energy to “prepare immediate steps” to prevent the closure of unprofitable coal and nuclear plants. This comes almost a year to the day after he withdrew the US from the Paris climate agreement. The move was dressed up as a way of ensuring the country’s electricity grid remains reliable and secure. But given Trump’s campaign promises, and recent reports identifying no immediate threat to US grid reliability, it is hard not to conclude that his true aim is to prop up the dying coal industry. It is a stance as forlorn as it is misguided. In the US as elsewhere, it is because of sound economic reasons, not just environmental concerns, that coal and nuclear are struggling to compete with natural gas and renewables such as wind and solar. Thanks to an explosion of technology designed to counter the variability of wind and solar (see “How to keep the lights on without burning the planet”), the reliability issue is a red herring that’s getting redder. Covering 100 per cent of our energy needs through renewable resources is no longer the impossible dream. The question is whether we can muster the political will to make it happen by mid-century, as we must do if we are to limit dangerous climate warming. Political will is a slippery concept, typically defined only in its absence. While clearly not present at federal level in the US, it is thankfully emerging elsewhere. Individual US states and cities are falling over themselves to commit to ambitious renewables targets, as in Europe. China, meanwhile, is investing heavily to position itself as a global leader in renewable technology, a strategy that will only accelerate its rise. Trump’s short-sighted vision is ultimately America’s loss. When it comes to 100 per cent renewables, the answer is clear. Yes, we can. comment: prevent the closure of unprofitable businesses? Sounds like corporate socialism to me but that can't be right because the yanks are always banging on about being anti-socialists, right?
  7. Climate's Surprise Effect on Plants: NO ONE expected this. In the longest-running experiment of its kind, plants that were supposed to thrive in higher carbon dioxide levels have instead done less well. The finding suggests plants won’t take up as much CO2 in the future as climate models assume – potentially leading to greater warming in the long term. “To get this result is startling,” says Peter Reich at the University of Minnesota in St Paul, whose team ran a 20-year study of how high CO2 levels affect grasslands. This study shows we must be cautious when predicting how complex systems behave, he says. “There could be surprises.” Plants make themselves out of the carbon they get from CO2. For most of Earth’s history, levels of the gas in the air were higher than today, and the planet was hotter. But 30 million years ago, CO2 levels fell and the ice ages began. Low CO2 is a huge problem for plants because the enzyme that captures the molecule often grabs hold of oxygen instead – a mistake that wastes lots of energy. The lower that CO2 levels fall, the more often this mistake occurs. But some plants, known as C4 plants, have evolved a solution. They concentrate CO2 in their cells, effectively recreating the ancient atmosphere. These plants outcompete normal “C3” plants. Just 3 per cent of plant species on land – mostly grasses – are C4, but they make up a fifth of plant biomass. It was thought that C4 plants wouldn’t grow more if CO2 rises, but C3 plants would. This idea was well on its way to becoming a “scientific fact”, as it has been seen in many short experiments in which plants have been exposed to higher levels of CO2. It is also what Reich saw during the first 12 years of his study, which involves more than 300 grassland plots planted with C3 and C4 plants. But then C3 plants grown in higher CO2 began producing less biomass than the same plants grown in ambient CO2. Meanwhile, the C4 plants grown in higher CO2 started outperforming those grown in normal levels (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.aas9313). “It’s a result that contradicts well-established theory,” says Belinda Medlyn at Western Sydney University in Australia. “It is indeed surprising.” Further studies by Reich and his team suggest a reason. In high-CO2 air, less nitrogen is available to the C3 plants while more is available to the C4. They think this may be because the extra CO2 is affecting either the symbiotic fungi associated with the roots of plants, or the soil microbes that break down organic matter and release the nitrogen. If they are correct, land areas are likely to soak up less carbon in the future, as most plants are C3. The findings shouldn’t apply to crops fertilised with nitrogen, though. “I really think the study should be replicated elsewhere, though I’m not aware of such a long-running experiment anywhere else,” says David Ellsworth, also at Western Sydney University. Satellite studies show Earth is getting greener due to climate change, but for complex reasons. For instance, trees are sprouting in northern regions where it used to be too cold for them.
  8. 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.
  9. Quote: "Politics and religion are obsolete. The time has come for science and spirituality".
    Often quoted by Arthur C. Clarke as one of his favorite remarks of Jawaharlal Nehru, (who was attempting to nudge India into the direction of non-violence and tolerance), some of the earliest citations indicate that Nehru may himself been either quoting or paraphrasing a statement of Vinoba Bhave.

    comment: Both politics and religion are divisive; often resulting in conflict which many times results in violence. Liberals and Conservatives talk past each other with closed ears and minds. Meanwhile, Catholics blame protestants for the "big schism in Christianity" while ignoring their role in the larger East-West Schism where Rome attempted to excommunicate the Eastern Orthodox world. I still do not understand how some Christians can be anti-Semitic while being ignorant of the fact that Jesus was a Jew; one who was NOT trying to start a new religion. I do not understand how many Christians are able to support violence of any kind, including war, when they know that Jesus professed non-violence. Two thousand years after Jesus, the world appears to be more violent which prompts me to believe that the only path forward is to replace "Politics and Religion" with "Science and Spirituality"
    comment-2: If the Eastern church is orthodox then doesn't that make the Western church (and everything that descended from it) unorthodox and heretical?
  10. X-Files for Nerds: 2018-02-28 episode (that's Feb-28 for you Yanks) of The X-Files was titled "Rm9sbG93ZXJz" which is base64 for "Followers". But I am surprised that no one is talking about the base64 error seen at the start of the program. It reads "VGhlIFRydXRoIGlzIE91dCBUaGVyZQ=" which translates to "The Truth is Out There" but there is a problem. The base64 encoding algorithm requires that "one-to-three characters be encoded by four" and this means padding. So the resultant base64 message should have read "VGhlIFRydXRoIGlzIE91dCBUaGVyZQ==" (notice the equals sign?). You can verify this at anyone of the online base64 encode-decode sites (here is one example) or do it on your own computer "from the command line" if the full OpenSSL package is installed. And IIRC, isn't "THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE" always displayed in uppercase?
  11. quote: You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch'
    Edgar D. Mitchell - Apollo 14
  12. powel and haley
    Colin Powell and Nikki Haley selling religious war at the United Nations.
    Deism is so much more than simply something interesting to talk about. It is offering us an opportunity, right now, to, as Thomas Paine wrote about the American Revolution, "begin the world over again." This fact is much more important than many people realize.

    Objectively looking at our world today, we see there are literally billions of people who believe man-made books that are steeped in ancient fear, ignorance and nonsense while claiming to be God's communication with humanity. Books which promote religious violence on a global scale and which teach that The Supreme Intelligence/God ordered people to commit acts of genocide against their neighbors. Is it any wonder our world today suffers from so much religious violence?

    All of the Abrahamic "revealed" religions have "holy" scriptures and books which promote religious violence. The Abrahamic "revealed" religion that arguably has the most influence on US government policy makers, policy makers who have the very real ability to start wars, is Judaism. This is due primarily to the raw political power of the Israel lobby and to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament based neoconservative movement.

    These two powerful and influential organizations were successful in getting US politicians from both parties to start the Iraq War for the benefit if the Jewish state of Israel. They are now working, in much the same way as they did 15 years ago to start the Iraq War, to get US politicians to start a war for the same reasons against Iran.

    Fifteen years ago Lawrence Wilkerson was US Secretary of State Colon Powell's chief of staff. He was involved in helping Powell sell the lie that Iraq had nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction in order to win support for a US war against Iraq. Wilkerson has written an important article in the New York Times about the parallels between that successful effort to start the Iraq War and the current effort to start a war against Iran. (Click here for an article about the pro-Israel editorial policy of the New York Times.)

    When we stop and realize the religious basis for the Iraq War and for the desired war against Iran, the vital importance of Deism becomes clear. If enough people were educated about Deism and held Deistic beliefs instead of nonsensical and harmful beliefs promoted by the "revealed" religions, it would be much more difficult for the powers that be to wage religious wars, and we would have a much better world for ourselves and for future generations.
  13. ecologic brandsAre you concerned with the amount of waste plastic that your purchases are responsible for releasing into the environment? If so, consider the BodyLogix protein supplement pictured to the right. The container shown is not a plastic bottle. It is a recycled cardboard container made by Ecologic Brands with a thin plastic liner to protect the contents. The only plastic seen in the photo is the black lid and the tiny white ring seen just below the lid. The container weighs less than a plastic bottle so would consume less energy (and money) during shipping. Pulling out the white ring (which retains the inner plastic liner) allows the cardboard to be collapsed into two crushable pieces.

    On a related topic, every modern citizen should watch the 2016 movie titled Plastic Ocean.

    Questions:

    • Why do we make single-use disposable containers out of an indestructible substance (plastic) made from a non-renewable substance (petroleum) which we throw away?
    • Do we really need plastic stir sticks or drinking straws?
    • Do coffee cup lids and creamers really need to be made of plastic?
    • Why can't we go back to glass for water and soft drink bottles?
    •  Why do protein supplements need to be sold in a huge plastic bottle? 
    • Why are protein supplements sold in plastic bottles which are never full? (many times they are only filled to the two-thirds mark)

  14. New science proves why "dogs are smarter than cats" and "humans are smarter than gorillas". Even through elephant brains are three times larger, why are humans smarter? Click here to learn more.
  15. 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 requisite 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
  16. Artificial Neural Nets
  17. Excerpt from New Scientist letters: I congratulate Tiffany O'Callaghan for keeping the warning about the hazards of sugar alive and in our faces (New Scientist: 9 September, p 52). It's all too easy to say, “Oh, I know all that. One jelly bean won't hurt.” The undeniable science now is that it will hurt. Sucrose is the perfect slow poison – a 40-year poison. Not even Hercule Poirot could have connected the dots, the effect being so delayed. But sucrose is toxic; make no mistake. Before 1874, when the UK abolished a tax on sugar and was suddenly flooded with it, myocardial infarction was extremely rare in the literature. By 1900, we see the first myocardial infarction ever recorded. There was no name for type 2 diabetes before 1900 because it was so rare as to be considered a medical curiosity. By the early 20th century, there were over 30 million cases in sugar-rich countries. Nowadays, we don't have to wait 40 years to see sucrose's effects: childhood obesity is pandemic.
  18. Science is Bigger Than Politics - Neil deGrasse Tyson on: Science, Abraham Lincoln, Immigrants, Immigrant Nobel Prizes, Protectionism, Science Denial, and the Fading of America (this side of Y2K)

    The downfall of Islam - Neil deGrasse Tyson
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHPfAtPiXXs (5:58 video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvkBlpfbFJM (13:45 video)
    I post this because the rise of Christian religious fundamentalism in North America appears to be following a similar path to that of Islam after Al-Ghazali a millennia ago. Does any rational person believe that a deity will answer prayers to save us from ourselves? It is more likely that we are meant to use the natural gifts we have been given to workout solutions for ourselves.
  19. “HELLO, I’m Claude Shannon, a mathematician here at the Bell Telephone Laboratories,” says the lean man in a suit and tie as the camera zooms in and a jaunty jingle plays. It is 1952 and for engineers and mathematicians, Shannon is already a legend who needs no introduction. To the millions of viewers across the US, he is still unknown – but not for long. Shannon was in a promotional film to demonstrate Theseus, a wooden mouse with copper whiskers that was about to become a national sensation. Like its mythological namesake, the mouse was an expert at solving labyrinths. After finding its way through a metal-walled maze to a piece of metallic “cheese” by blind trial and error, Theseus (video) could recall the path and navigate the maze perfectly on its next try. It could even adapt if the maze’s walls were moved. As Shannon tells the camera, “solving a problem and remembering the solution involves a certain level of mental activity, something akin, perhaps, to a brain”. For the Americans watching, Theseus was astounding: nothing less than a thinking machine.

    Continued here: New Scientist (12 August 2017)

  20. Starting in the 1950s, the big three American TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) provided news as a non-profit service. The PBS News Hour started in 1975. CNN began offering 24 hour news in 1980. FOX NEWS and MSNBC both started in 1996. On slow news days, the big networks will fill the gap with political banter from talking-heads "which is not news". The pursuit of corporate profit was taken to extremes by Les Moonves of CBS who decided (during the presidential primaries) to preferentially air Donald Trump interviews because "It May Not Be Good for America, but It's Damn Good for CBS". Have you noticed that news content from PBS, BBC America, and RT America is totally different from big corporate for-profit networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX and MSNBC)? In fact, a lot of the Russian collusion theories seem to consume most of the bandwidth of for-profit corporate news outlets.
  21. Okay so here's what I don't understand: The United States claims to be a purveyor of democracy and yet it is best friends with Saudi Arabia (a theocratic monarchy without elections) while it dislikes Iran (a theocratic democracy with elections). To make matters worse, America sells military hardware to the Saudis who use it to attack countries like Yemen. After an attack, the people of Yemen pick up metal scraps with a manufacturing stamp of "made in the USA". And Americans wonder why people don't like them
  22. 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
  23. 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 2-brothers 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 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
  24. In 2014, NATO member countries agreed to increase the amount they spend on military defense to 2% of GDP within a decade (caveat: The 2% target is described as a guideline; There is no penalty for not meeting it). EU member countries are required to invest 2% of their GDP in EU scientific R&D (Research & Development). 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.
  25. 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
  26. A cult of ignorance in the USAThere 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
    Newsweek 1980-01-21

    Fact: this quote now also applies to larger population English-speaking countries including Britain, Canada, and Australia to only name three.

    Questions:
    • 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?
  27. Carl Sagan on Global Warming (Cosmos Update - 1990)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ5u-l9Je0s
    quote: For our own world the peril is more subtle.  Since this series was first broadcast the dangers of the increasing greenhouse effect have become much more clear.  We burn fossil fuels like coal and gas and petroleum putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and thereby heating the Earth.  The hellish conditions on Venus are a reminder that this is serious business. Computer models that successfully explain the climates of other planets predict the deaths of forests, parched croplands, the flooding of coastal cities, the environmental refugees, widespread disasters in the next century unless we change our ways. What do we have to do? Four things ...
  28. Anti-Vaxxers, Conspiracy Theories & Epistemic Responsibility: Crash Course Philosophy #14
    Includes the work of W. K. Clifford who stated things like this:
    • "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything based upon insufficient evidence."
    • "If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it — the life of that man is one long sin against mankind."
  29. A few neat quotes from Winston Churchill which are at odds with stuff I hear when passing by talk-radio programs
    • A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject
    • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
    • 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.
  30. Nuclear Fusion
    1. Fusion research is typically based on tokamak (easy to build; hard to control) or stellarator (harder to build; easier to control)
    2. First proposed by Lyman Spitzer in 1950, the stellarator was meant simulate conditions found in stars.
    3. German universities began work in the mid 1980s on a device named the Wendelstein 7-AS (Advanced Stellarator)
    4. Advances in computer technology in the early 2000s allowed them to develop computer models of how the plasma should flow. This allowed them to refine their design further until they began building the Wendelstein 7-X in 2005 which concluded in 2014
    5. recent news:
  31. Andrew Dressler (Texas A&M) on Satellite Temperature Measurement Errors
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-NFUgFU0EM
    Is it really a matter of "models vs. data" as some claim, or is is more an example of "models vs. models" because raw satellite data must first be run through a model-derived algorithm in order to infer the temperature.
    Now read this: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Satellite-record-vs-thermometers.htm
    Then this: http://www.remss.com/research/climate
  32. 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 is a proposed explanation
      1. the Sun moves around the Earth (jump to step 3a)
      2. the Earth moves around the Sun (jump to step 3b)
    3. Theory is a tested Hypothesis
      1. test of hypothesis 2a...
        • passes (until the era of precision measurements) so jump to step 4 to build models (mathematical, mechanical, computer-based)
        • fails during the era of precision measurements (Tycho Brahe) so go back to step 2 to develop hypothesis 2b
      2. test of hypothesis 2b passes (we have a theoretical understanding of the issue) so jump to step 4
    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)
      • a successful theory produces yet-unobserved predictions (eg. Atomic Theory, Theory of Gravitation)
      • improved observations (new facts) through newer instrumentation may force us back to step 2 (eg. General Relativity)
  33. 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 Newtons' 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
  34. Science under Siege is a three part radio program aired on CBC Radio's Ideas with Paul Kennedy (this should be required learning for all citizens in the western world; it applies to Americans as well as Canadians). Here are the mp3 downloads: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/documentaries/the-best-of-ideas/
     
    Comment:
    while science does not appear to be under siege in mother Britain, the story is much different out in the colonies (America, Canada, and Australia). While I am not certain of the reasons, this chart may shed some light on the situation
  35. 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"

    1. algebra with fruitThis graphical algebra problem employs picture symbols rather than x, y and z. Calculate the answer.
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    2. "All flowers need water. All roses need water. Therefore, all roses are flowers". Is this logically true?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    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?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    4. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    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?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    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?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
  36. Science is a way of thinking by Carl Sagan
    • www.sciencefriday.com/segment/12/27/2013/carl-sagan-science-is-a-way-of-thinking.html
    • www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iyFw8UF85A (clip - 2:33)
    • www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8HEwO-2L4w (full - 20:27)
    • Food for thought: I recently stumbled across this quote
      "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people."

      Admiral Hyman G. Rickover

      which, I think, can be applied to everything from religion to Hollywood pop culture. It got me thinking about sectarian conflicts brewing throughout the world where just attempting to engage in an open minded discussion about religion can get you charged with apostasy then put to death. But the west is no better. I just learned that the funding of the National Science Foundation is ten times smaller than the tax breaks given to religion in the USA
  37. 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
  38. chloroplastThe computed World Human Population Limit
     
    A little math proves the current human population is already too large at 7.57 billion. 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.
  39. Near Earth Objects (comets and asteroids) are a clear and present danger to all human culture as well as Earth's current biosphere.
    1. If dinosaurs had developed technology then they could have protected themselves from the asteroid strike associated with Chicxulub Crater on the coast of Yucatan, Mexico.
    2. Humanity has developed the necessary technology but political-ideological pressures have neutered NASA's ability to proceed beyond primitive NEO detection.
    3. Developing and implementing planetary protection technology just may be an evolutionarily survival prerequisite (so Tea Party thinking will doom us all). Think of this as a protective immune system for the whole planet.
    4. NASA NEO links
    5. Mark your calendars for February 15, 2013 when Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass under the orbit of Earth's geosynchronous satellites.
      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwidzVHvbGI (NASA video)
      • It is expected to pass over Indonesia at 14:30 EST
      • If it were to impact the Earth (but it will not), the estimated energy release would be 3.5 megatons tons of TNT (220 times bigger than the Little Boy bomb dropped on Japan at the end of WW2)
      While this rock is only 50 m (~150 ft) wide, remember that similarly sized rocks were responsible for:
      1. the 1908 Tunguska Event in Russia
      2. as well as Meteor Crater approximately 43 miles (69 km) east of Flagstaff, Arizona.
    6. Oops, on the morning of February 15, 2013 while we were waiting for the approach of 2012 DA14, an asteroid approximately 15m in size became an air-bursting meteor in an event now known as 2013 Russian meteor event. More than 1,200 people were injured by shock waves to buildings.
    7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceguard quote: Arthur C. Clarke coined the term in his novel Rendezvous with Rama where SPACEGUARD was the name of an early warning system created following a catastrophic asteroid impact.
    8. B612 Foundation (who are looking for private donations so they can launch their own NEO monitoring satellite)
    9. Near Earth Objects and Planetary Defense documentary videos
  40. Attention Computer Technologists: George Dyson just published a book titled Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe which appears to be a must-own gem.
  41. Isaac Asimov on PBS

    Isaac Asimov PhD
    (Biochemistry)

    "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: read more Asimovian quotes here
  42. Carl Sagan

    Carl Sagan PhD
    (Astronomy and Astrophysics)

    "We have designed a civilization based on science and technology and at the same time have arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster. We may, for a while, get away with this mix of ignorance and power but sooner or later it is bound to blow up in our face."

    -- Carl Sagan

    "Science is a way of thinking"

    -- Carl Sagan

    "Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary proof"

    -- Carl Sagan

    NSR Comment: this last quote also applies to religious assertions so maybe fundamentalists need to calm down a bit.
  43. Arthur C Clarke

    Arthur C Clark (B.Math)

    In 1974 Arthur C. Clarke told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that every household in 2001 will have a computer and be connected all over the world

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OIRZebE8O84

    (sounds like the internet to me)
  44. Today it appears that religious, political, and economic extremists are actively cultivating ignorance.

    For this reason, I hope the following 7-minute video will help end the madness.
    This video is based upon Isaac Asimov's rebuttal to a letter he received from an "English literature" student who was critical of science and progress. The original letter can be found here

    --- xxx ---

    While on this topic, here is an essay titled The “Threat” of Creationism published in the 1984 book Science and Creationism.

    Quote: Scientists thought it was settled. The universe, they had decided, is about 20 billion years old (now refined to be 13.7), and Earth itself is 4.5 billion years old. Simple forms of life came into being more than three billion years ago, having formed spontaneously from nonliving matter. They grew more complex through slow evolutionary processes and the first hominid ancestors of humanity appeared more than four million years ago. Homo sapiens itself—the present human species, people like you and me—have walked the earth for at least 50,000 years. But apparently it isn't settled. There are Americans who believe that the earth is only about 6,000 years old; that human beings and all other species were brought into existence by a divine Creator as eternally separate variations of beings; and that there has been no evolutionary process.
  45. I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
    John F. Kennedy (D)
    Sept. 12, 1960
  46. Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
    April 16, 1953
  47. In 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.
    Observations/Explanations:
    • 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.
  48. Isaac Asimov PhD
    Isaac Asimov PhD
    Isaac Asimov = Hari Seldon?
     
    Back in 2004, Isaac Asimov (already dead for 12 years) sent all of humanity a message from 1988. Does this remind you of the posthumous messages sent by Hari Seldon to all of humanity? Click here for more information.
     
    p.s. this has nothing to do with the occult (nothing at this web site does)
  49. Folding@Home and BOINC. Learn how YOU can utilize spare resources on YOUR computer to cure human diseases by helping scientists discover how protein molecules fold and misfold. Isaac Asimov would have loved this (click the link to learn why).
  50. Guaranteed Human Life Extension - quantity as well as quality. This is not a joke or scam but it will cost you $6.00 per month and you must act now.
  51. What are the  Blue Zones  ?
  • Humanity's Coming Dark Age moved here
  • Climate Science moved here
  • STEM Book Recommendations moved here
  • Subdirectories of this site
Humanity
  • Thomas Paine
    Thomas Paine
    Thomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote many things including "the importance of the separation between church and state" and "racial equality" (he even 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 those people who were about to be displaced by the industrial revolution. After reading Smith's book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, I have 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 book. On top of this, Adam Smith is considered one of the founders of anti-mercantilist thought. I think it is safe to say that he would be against economic globalism.
  • The $2 Trillion Dollar War by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E Stiglitz
  • Humanity's Coming Dark Age
  • 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

Visit the Dilbert Zone... Dilbert Zone:

Personal e-mail: Neil Rieck

Spirits In The Material World

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution

We are spirits in the material world

Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail you
They subjugate the meek
But it's the rhetoric of failure

We are spirits in the material world

Where does the answer lie?
Living from day to day
If it's something we can't buy
There must be another way

We are spirits in the material world

The Police (Ghosts in the Machine)
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