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Friday, February 6, 2009

Things

I think there is a list of things one should do before becoming compost. Here are a few items on my list:
1. Discover a body.
2. Spend a night in jail.
3. Have a beer or cup of coffee with your State's Governor.
4. Reproduce.
5. Love someone you are not related to.
6. Eat an animal you have personally killed.
7. Buy a house or two.
8. Drive a car that you paid less than a hundred bucks for.
9. Make a difference that will outlive you.
10. Fly an airplane.
11. Make art.
12. Speak truth to power, and mean it.
13. Take a hit without retaliating.
14. Learn how to cook beans.
15. Be questioned in a murder case.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You Aren't Going To Like This

Several nations, Germany among them, are trying to measure gravity waves that can, as it is postulated, be caused by super novas or merging black holes. The method that has the most chance of detecting these unseen waves seems to involve two beams of split coherent light shined down mirror ended trackways set at right angles with known multi kilometer distances. The beams are recombined, and the interference pattern should detect the elusive waves. Funny thing happened. A white noise like background interference that cannot be explained or tuned out. 

While waiting to iron this little wrinkle out, on the other side of the world Craig Hogan at FermiLab had an idea on how to test the untestable. The Holographic M theory universe.  These guys MAY have found evidence proving all of existence may well be painted on an enormous two dimensional membrane in quantum grains of space/time. Those grains have a sub Planc radius that make them insanely small. I'm talking the size of a proton is to one of these grains as a grain of sand is to our galaxy.

Living on this Membrane or "brame" universe makes no sense from our vantage, but is rooted in observation and mathematics. And you thought  "Lost" was hard to wrap your mind around. M theory has the potential to explain both quantum mechanics and gravity in the same neat package. Cool. 

I've been reading about physics for thirty years, and for the first time I think the guys are really looking at the road to the theory of everything. Remember, I'm the grossest amateur so read really dumbed down versions of this stuff, but real scientists live to shoot their colleagues' out of the saddle so if the M Theory folks are wrong, it won't take long for the scientific method to correct the error. That's the beauty of the scientific method.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Earthquake. Man Made? If The PRC Has Their Way, We'll Never Know

The 7.6 magnitude Sichuan earthquake of last year in Southwest China may well have been brought on by the stresses caused by the 511 ft-high Zipingpu dam's reservoir changing the dynamics on an underlying fault. According to Slashdot.com the PRC is doing its best to suppress any study of the possibility of this mega-project causing the quake that killed well over eighty-thousand Chinese citizens. The geometry is simple to visualize. You put up a dam in a narrow gorge and back up 350 million tons of water on one side of the already stressed fault. Can this scenario be proven or falsified? We may never know because the PRC denies any possibility of faulty engineering. Anyone living in Eastern Europe in the era of Soviet control knows that engineers and cadres ruled and public interests took the back seat.  A sooty, corrupt, inefficient environmental wasteland was the result. The dam is still there. The fault is still there.