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Friday, March 21, 2008

My Role Model Given The Bum's Rush

The 'Ole Perfesser PZ Myers got ejected from the line waiting to get into a free showing of the creationist scree "Expelled", and he had a cameo role in the film. When I say film, I think I mean that greasy crud that builds up on bachelors' kitchen counters. The corner of the Inter-Web tubes in which I dwell is presided over by the likes of Richard Dawkins, notorious heathen and PZ Myers, author of science blog "Pharyngula". (I would love to paste a link here, but for some reason Google Blogger doesn't support pasted links, but uses a circuitous bit of windows jiggery pokery that I never have learned). Those that know me, know that in my opinion creationists are perhaps the lowest form of political huxters living off the faith and ignorance of the great unwashed, and I don't mean hippies. The creationist idiots are a knife in the heart of our culture of naturalist science, humanism and enlightenment. They are the talaban of christianity, and in league with their front group, The Discovery Institute, and front man, Ben Stein have produced a movie that warps science into knots, whines about their inability to get scientists to take them seriously, and brings juvenile mockery to the debate. (I am a big fan of sophisticated adult mockery).

So far the producers of "Expelled" is trying to do the "Passion of The Christ" thing by showing their work, invitation only in church basements in order to gin up the  box office if they ever do have a general theatrical release. As far as I know Stein doesn't have a distribution deal yet. If it ever does get released, it is destined to be the "Reefer Madness" for the next generation.

Birds and bees

The emerging majority view among Paleontologists is that birds are dinosaurs. Not just related to dinosaurs, but actually dinosaurs. So how did that chicken in the red and white striped bucket evolve from monstrous scaly creatures like T Rex? There had been a lot of speculation about sort of dino flying squirrels, but there has been no fossil evidence of that linage. Since the amazing feathered dinosaur finds in Northern China it looks like there is much evidence that feathers predated flight, and were probably sexual display adaptations. Birds are notoriously flashy in their mating habits, and I can't think of a better girl getter than a nice big bunch of colorful feathers that embellish a mating dance that wows the ladies. Fossilizing feathers is a tricky thing, and requires a fine grained volcanic ash covering that will preserve the imprint of the delicate structure. The feather fossils have been found only in relation with smallish carnivores, up to and including the velociraptor (in actuality a much smaller german shepherd sized creature rather  than the seven foot killing machine featured in "Jurassic Park"). 
How do females determine which male to chose for a mate? Males aren't all that picky in any species that I know. Apparently the females of the species Homo is drawn to the Governor of New York. We are drab, shallow creatures.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Truth, Beauty

Can you describe all of existence in mathematical terms? Perhaps, but the expression is gong to need one hell of a blackboard. As I've said before I've come to a personal acceptance of quantum inscrutability and the probable idea that our universe is only one expression if a shadow of an unimaginable multiverse, but as of last week, I'm beginning to think our professional proton bashers are just starting to make it up. Everyone knows about the classic double split interference pattern made by photons when the energy packets apparently interfere with themselves. The current thought is that photons exist to some, and varying a  extent in several dimensions, and the self canceling action happens in unseen and unseeable places in the multiverse. The description of this action is both observational and mathematical, and makes some sense. But Woah! Now comes the concept of the guiding field that is part and parcel of a photon stream. This steering field is apparently a vectored field that paves the way for the onrushing photons. The way I understand this concept is that it creates an entirely new force beyond electroweak, strong and gravity. Do we hate the multiverse so much that we are willing to mess up the physics sandbox? Is quantum unpredictability so odious as to invent new stuff just to make the universe run to our liking? Religion started with such thinking.

Obama Doomed

In the last four days "The Speech"®  has been deconstructed to the point where hell won't have it. So, not being one to miss an opportunity to flog a dead horse, here's my take. Barack, Barack. You can't talk to voters as if they are adults. If every politico did that, the electorate would be forced to actually understand the issues and watch CSPAN instead of American Idol. If we remove politics from the entertainment realm then Fox News will go dark in a week. If everyone were to have to justify their prejudices then the folk that have based their careers  in feeding the rage that glows in the dark corners of people's hearts would have ot go back to work selling used cars. Barack, people love cartoons, and don't do nuance. Case in point: Saddam and 9/11. Moslems with turbans committed the crime, the Iraqis are Moslems with turbans, ergo, Iraq did the deed.