Ramblings on Einstein

My Facebook feed has become a swamp of framed platitudes, cute animal photos, bad puns, and old people acting superior because they know how to tell time and write in cursive and once knew how to dial a phone. Of course I’m just being cynical and there’s some good stuff, too. In the platitudes category, I just saw a whole list of quotes from Albert Einstein, most of which we’ve all seen before, but this one struck me: “Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. Matter is spirit reduced to point of visibility. There is no matter.”
As a physicist, he was a pretty good poet. I mean, that is one way of looking at it, and it’s a very beautiful way of looking at it, which has the advantage of being the literal truth, but to see ourselves as beings of energy, frozen light, is not exactly a practical way to view the world. I mean, if you’re riding down the road and your buddy whose driving starts saying things like “I am pure spirit, and the car is pure spirit, and we are vibrating at the frequency of the air and there is no past, present and future (that was another of the quotes) and we and that truck heading toward us are one” you’re probably going to freak out a little bit.
Even though he’s right.

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Determining L

When the Drake Equation, or ‘the Drake Checklist’ as I prefer to think of it (perhaps because there are so many variables, the numbers are literally astronomical, and I suck at math) was formulated back in 1961, no human beings had been to the moon, the Hubble telescope was decades away, we did not know if water existed outside Earth and we had not discovered a single exoplanet.
Science fiction existed, but it didn’t have as much real science to draw on as it does today.
Now we know that exoplanets, and water, are very commonplace things throughout the universe, but we’re still no closer to discovering any other technological, space faring species. Of course, we don’t have any control over the various factors in the equation. There were either going to be exoplanets or there weren’t, there was either going to be water or there wasn’t, and so on.
But L is entirely up to us. L is the average lifespan of a technological species, measured from the time somebody invents radio (I’m not sure of the start point in the official equation. Maybe they measure from the invention of the steam engine, maybe from the beginning of space travel) up to the time that civilization ends. Civilizations can and do end due to war, plague, drought and all sorts of other things, and there’s no reason to think that global situations are exempt.
But, as it stands now, all we know is that one such civilization (our own) has existed for about 100 years, maybe two or three hundred at the most liberal definition. So, it’s not out of line to say that the average such society only exists for a couple of centuries. If so, the idea of space travel is pretty much dead in the water.
But I suspect the number is actually much, much higher. I suspect that most societies which reach a point where they can stabilize their atmosphere, end wars, develop defense strategies against drought, floods, hurricanes, asteroids, etc…, will do so.
We have not done so, so far, even though we have the technology. If we did so, we would have to revise that estimate upward, maybe to 100,000, or a billion, or a trillion years if we get interstellar ships developed before our sun goes kerphlooey in the next 5 billion years or so.
We can increase the odds of other intelligent species existing by prolonging the existence of our own. Whether that is quantum physics or magical thinking, we should give it a shot.

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Everything Has Meaning

I don’t remember too much of my dreams last night, except there were several scenes of falling from a great height into deep snow, but then I remembered the last words of my dream, as I was waking up. “0210420, sounds tropical but I don’t know” It rhymed. I wondered if it had any real life meaning, like a zip code in Hawaii (too many numbers) or something like that.
So, I googled it, and got a peek inside a window to a room of the global hive mind I don’t think I’ve ever been in, and am highly unlikely to ever visit for legit reasons, but glad to know it exists. The world of published papers on physics and mathematics. That particular number sequence seems to have been (as many things in dreams are) entirely meaningless, as far as my life is concerned. Our dreams are filled with very random things. I believe they are important, and may sometimes give us great insight into our own minds, but it’s basically a question of your brain relaxing and not even trying to self-direct. There might be meaning, but it’s thrown in with all the dirty socks.
That is to say, 0210420 was not even the title, or an important sequence, in any of these papers. It’s just that when you are covering pages with numbers, any set of digits is bound to appear. I suppose. I didn’t actually click on any of the papers because I didn’t even understand the headlines.
But, I decided to experiment. I googled a few sets of random, top of my head, 7 number sequences. One led directly to outboard motors, another to a computer game, and a third to dish cloths, of all things.
The internet is a vast and infinitely complex place, and more things exist there than any one person can ever experience. You may swim in the ocean, but you will never swim in ALL of the ocean.

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Turner v. Brown

“There is no such thing as an honest politician.” This is often said, and nearly but not quite literally true, but it very often pisses me off when I hear people say it, if they did not support Bernie Sanders. America had a chance at an honest, decent, intelligent president and America blew it.
With Nina Turner, I have no reason to question her honesty and integrity. She supported Sanders, she has always been forthright about her stands on the issues, and she answers questions directly, without using a cackling sort of laugh to deflect, as Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton tend to do.
Her opponent, on the other hand, is dishonest, and corrupt, and should be in prison rather than politics. She is currently under investigation for steering government contracts to her boyfriend’s company (we know for a fact that her boyfriend’s company got the contracts – it’s proving the quid pro quo that’s the hard part, and that’s what keeps so many politicians, e.g. Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein, out of prison.
Then, there was this: At a recent speech, Turner’s opponent used fake applause. It’s hard to know why, there was no way she was fooling the people present. I watched the video, there weren’t more than a couple dozen people there altogether, including the local news and her own sound person. Of those definitely fewer than 30 people, quite a few were not clapping and one person was walking away, like he’d just been walking through the park and stopped to see what all the hubbub was. I guess, like Pete Buttigieg, it was planned for a campaign ad, but with Buttigieg, he added the sound LATER. This was the equivalent of adding a laugh track in a live comedy club, it’s as if they shortened the basket at one end of the court because one team just isn’t as tall as the other.
I’m not making any predictions about the election. Hillary Clinton and the powers that be in the so-called democratic party are doing everything they can to sabotage Turner, and we know they’ve rigged elections before and gotten away with it. I’m saying Nina Turner SHOULD win because it’s blatantly obvious that her opponent, Shontel Brown, is a liar and a crook.

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The Separation of Sex and Sports

There have been a few stories, from a few different sports, about the women’s uniforms, as in the women (not the spectators, the athletes themselves) don’t like them. A little bit too close to actual nudity for comfort, for some. Some have mentioned the discomfort of such skimpy attire.
The story I just read five minutes ago said the Australian women’s volleyball team is being fined, because they don’t want to wear the official Olympic beach babe bikinis. On the other hand, the German gymnastics team (I think it was gymnastics, if I’m off on the details, no matter) is showing up in a one piece that carries on to mid-thigh, and I guess that’s O.K.
Different standards for different sports, maybe. But it all seems like a mountain of crap to me. It’s not a beauty pageant. Sure, guys pay a lot more attention to women’s sports if the women are good looking, just like guys will turn into a news station if they think the announcer is hot. Guys are pigs. We really are.
But, this is the Olympics. It is to determine who are the best athletes in the world, and keeping the uniforms skimpy doesn’t actually aid in that. If any female athletes are uncomfortable with the uniforms, any of them at all, then they should be able to choose different uniforms.
Certainly, the IOC shouldn’t be fining anybody over it. That is way uncool.

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