Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Some more cool moments in Physics

James Clerk Maxwell unifies the world of the electricity and magnetism on a theoretical level and shows how the speed of light in a vacuum is a function of two key constants that govern each of the electric and magnetic fields. Maxwell’s work gives rise to the notion of electromagnetic waves two types of which will be identified by Heinrich Hertz (Radio Waves) and Wilhelm Roentgen (X Rays)

Max Planck solves the Blackbody Radiation Problem by arguing that energy is produced in discrete packets called quanta and that the Energy of each quanta is directly proportional to the frequency of oscillation of the quanta. Planck’s model answers the challenge of the UV catastrophe which classical physics had failed to adequately address. I developing his concept of the quanta Planck borrows heavily from the work of Ludwig Boltzmann, the father of statistical mechanics.Planck, himself is regarded as the Father of Quantum Mechanics (and indeed Modern Physics)

JJ Thompson determines the ratio of the mass of the electron to its charge. Robert Millikan will follow on later with a determination of the charge of the electron (through his oil droplet experiment) allowing for the eventual determination of the mass of the electron. Quantum nature of charge will play an important role in future developments in Modern Physics.

Henri Becquerel documents the realities of radioactive decay. Work will continue thanks to the research by Pierre and Marie Curie

Michelson and Morley Experiment shows that the Aether wind (thought to be the background of space) does not exist.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Muhammad Ali

News outlets are falling over each other in praise of Muhammad Ali. While there is no doubt that he was a tremendous athlete and iconic figure whose story translates itself well into the 60's narrative I have always found the superlative Great as used with the man to be somewhat misapplied.

For one he was not a great human being. Look no further to his treatment of arch-rival Joe Frazier before their third fight in Manila (the notorious thriller). His use of the ‘gorilla’ term to taunt his opponent on looks alone was classless at best as was his use of racist language to imply that Frazier (who was Black) was the White Man’s Champion but was essentially an Uncle Tom when juxtaposed against Ali himself.

Not only were these slurs cruel and unnecessary (and bothered Frazier for the rest of his life) they were especially vile as it was Frazier who gave Ali financial support during his ban from boxing and it was Frazier himself who lobbied hard to have Ali reinstated as a fighter.

Ali was arrogant, continually mocked ‘whitey’ but was never to high above the moral quandary to reject the money that came his way from a largely Caucasian audience. In fact it was white journalist such as Howard Cosell who played a huge role in creating the legend that was Ali as was his legendary trainer Angelo Dundee.

That he was a skilled fighter is a given but his record doesn’t standard head or shoulders above some of the other heavyweights of renowned fame. In fact one could argue that it was less impressive than some of the sport’s leading lights. He did not retire undefeated like Rocky Marciano (39-0) or have the knockout record of Foreman (76 wins 68 by knockout compared to Ali’s 56 wins 37 by knockout), nor did he come close to holding on to the title as long as Joe Louis who carried the belt for 12 years (that included 25 an unbelievable defenses).

He did win the Heavyweight title three times but that was largely a consequence of circumstance (the Don King Rumble Initiative and Leon Spink's suspect decision to avoid Ken Norton the #1 contender at the time and defend against Ali instead).

In fact a breakdown of Ali’s key fights shows a spurious win against Sonny Liston (Phantom Punch…likely a fix), controversial use of the rope-a-dope tactic (arguably illegal) in the Rumble, a wrong victory decision against Ken Norton in the Third Fight and a over hyped win over Frazier in Manila (when Ali’s corner were seconds away from throwing in the towel themselves).

While he was quick to talk the talk when it suited him Ali was too often caught up by his own hubris. He refused to retire with grace and was taken to task for his efforts by both Larry Holmes and the less than stellar Trevor Berbick.

Ali defined an era but had feats mired in hyperbole and for this he will be remembered. Boxing will forever be indebted to him but to call him the Great (or any fighter for that matter) simply overlooks the bigger picture that necessitates such a call to glory.

Friday, March 25, 2016

JFK on Economics

JFK's greatest success economically was championing a policy of lowering tax rates on average earners. This unfortunately was only realized after his death with the passing of the bipartisan Revenue Act of 1964. His approach was neither that of a strict Keynesian nor that of a supply-sider but hogged the midpoint with the intent of increasing demand via disposable income. It worked. The mid 60's was a Golden Era in US Economic history. Unemployment sat at a low of 3.8 % in 1966. GDP growth was in the 5% range. You are correct Nixon's record is poor but it wasn't all of his doing. The ongoing Vietnam War impacted the Federal budget. It also didn't help that he introduced wage and price controls to curb the inflation that resulted from Johnson's Great Society spending Initiatives.

Logic and Sense Knowledge

I think that logic can be viewed as a type of gradualism that is water tight and invaluable in moving us toward a genuine source of knowledge or truth. However it does appear that there are other mechanisms which use a more punctuated approach, that while not as stringent in its application, and indeed not as gradual, use value judgement acting on sensory information to reach a similar conclusion. Is the latter a type of reason? I too would argue yes. Can it be reduced? Possibly. But perhaps something is lost in doing so. Maybe it functions on a level that bypasses the need for mini-steps, chunking information in bigger bytes to reach its endpoint with a greater efficiency.

On Philosophy

I started my own personal study of philosophy by making sure that I had a strong general overview of the key thinkers before going into any great detail about any one individual specifically. Philosophy is best understood by acquainting oneself with the history of the discipline as many ideas put forward essentially arise out of a critique of an earlier philosophy and build on each other. Hegel's March to Reasons sums up this idea but is not the overriding factor. Avenues of thought can splinter in many directions and these can be difficult to predict. I think that the key point in philosophy is to work with, and in a way, celebrate the idea. Examine thoughts from different angles and avoid the temptation to expect eureka moments at every turn.

The West - A Wake up Call

The West in its present state is weak. Leadership is poor, priorities are wrong and more than anything else most Westerners can't even articulate what our civilization stands for. Jihadism will not bring down the West but the inability to champion our exceptionality and defend the essence of what we have on all fronts will most certainly do. We no longer believe in ourselves and this is tragic.

The Post-Modernist leaderships that dominate most Western Government are partly to blame for fostering such a malaise but so has the culture of guilt and self-flagellation that has worked its way from academia into mainstream society.

While the US –the epicenter of the West - is still ten or fifteen years behind a moribund Europe in this regard but its path has been accelerated by an abysmal Presidency that has to be routinely prodded to recognize evil for what it is and continues advocating for an appeasement of such malignancies. However the opposition has not been much better. While it talks with an air of authority from the other side of the aisle, when in office, it too often succumbs to the lure of a ‘Realpolitik’ that short-changes our values for the sake of political expediency.

It is most obvious that the West is in a demographic death spiral (certainly with respect to birth rates). Entitlement is rampant, education standards are falling, illegal immigration is out of control, and our manufacturing sectors have been gutted by a free trade mania and crony capitalism has shifted power away from the vital middle class to a worthless financial elite that has no loyalty to anyone other than themselves. A fixation with identity politics – both race and gender – has further poisoned the water and encouraged an odious narrative that has proved to be extremely divisive.

Add to this a growing national debt load (19.1 trillion dollars in the US for example and increasing) and the future does not bode well for the next generations. Partisan Hacks will point to declining unemployment numbers when convenient, but these rarely tell the full story and conveniently leave out the growing number of people who have dropped out of the labour market altogether and no longer factor in such statistics. With a weak manufacturing sector and the hypnotic appeal of open border economics this troublesome pattern seems likely to continue.

While we still have the luxury of the circus shows that engulf the lives of so many of us we need to move against apathy and indifference. What is needed is a broad movement centered on the engine of the middle class that cuts across ossified party lines and places at its core the Western values of free speech, rule of law, rationalism, an emphasis on necessary tradition, earned respect, and ultimately self-sufficiency built on a strong work ethic. The People can still take back the nations of the West. In fact not only can they, it is becoming increasingly important that they must.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Obama Doctrine - My take.

There is considerable buzz on the air waves and data world about Jeffrey Goldberg's overview article in The Atlantic concerning the Obama Doctrine (whose exact nature is proving as elusive as the Higgs-Boson particle once was to determine). Goldberg looks at the history of Obama's actions in office and outlines some key points that shed light on the POTUS' way of thinking. Here are a few:

1. Obama has a great affection for Brent Scowcroft - National Security Adviser under George HW Bush - he likes the concept of limit engagement ;

2.He has clashed with Hillary Clinton, Chuck Hagel and John Kerry repeatedly on the use of force in Syria - Kerry prefers a tougher approach;

3. Does not view the Middle East as a significant region in general;

4. Is obsessed with avoiding the same pitfalls that impacted the Presidency of George W. Bush;

5. Believes that any extended involvement in the Middle East by the US is likely to be problematic and cost lives with limited likelihood of success;

6.Sees the US as an internationalist force that should be more concerned with existentialist threats such as Climate Change;

7. Although he chose Samantha Power to be the American Ambassador to the UN he is not sold entirely on the 'Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect' that is the mainstay of her political ethos;

8. The pullback from the Red Line decision in Syria (2013) was largely motivated by a fear of pushing the US into a protracted war that would cost more lives.

9. He champions the idea of Drone Strikes (as do Republicans such as John Bolton) which in a way reflect the limited engagement philosophy;

Missing from the whole Goldberg analysis (perhaps conveniently) was the Libyan invasion affair that may have bearing on several of these points.

As someone who takes issue with Obama's position on Iran, his handling of Arab-Israeli issues and his relativistic posturing regarding the identification of the Islamist threat domestically, I find myself in unusual agreement with the President on Syria. I think he is correct to avoid a deeper involvement in this troubled country especially in a Civil War that has the potential to cost so many American lives. There is no positive force here and the optimum approach would be for the US to keep funding the Free Syrian Army as the lesser of the evils.On one level this seems harsh but in the context of the greater good of the US makes much complete sense.

However, what Obama needed to do (and may still have time) was communicate this resolve more efficiently. The populace need to be allayed of the fear that the US is in decline. The Pentagon has the ability to act with great efficacy and can as the Drone Strikes have shown eliminate its enemies with a fair degree of success. The electorate must be reminded of this.

The US must act with strategic intent that places the Nation's interest first, The Doctrine of the "Responsibility to Protect' makes sense in a Rwanda-like situation but cannot be applied universally. Neo-Conservative forays are fraught with a deadly blow back and although America has the military might to potentially serve as a Global Police Force it should avoid this responsibility unless driven to do so by calculated reason. This could be the legacy of the Obama Doctrine although I suspect that it may be lost to the great deal of jitter that has come along for the turbulent ride.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Multiverses....A quick summary

On the Multiverse. There are a variety of multiverse models but the most common one is that developed by Hugh Everett III to explain the phenomenon of Wave-Particle Duality. It is also known as the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). According to Everett all possible alternate histories and futures are real so that the various outcomes are realized over the sum of the many worlds. We live in a world which displays one of those outcomes. Like the other three explanations for Wave-Particle Duality (Collapse, Pilot and Copenhagen) the mathematics checks out.
Multiverse modelling occurs in other areas of Physics. Max Tegmark, arguably one of the most brilliant physicists alive today, posits a classification system that consists of four levels that can be used to describe Multiverses.

Level One – Multiverses produced by cosmic inflation that have same physical constants and laws as does our universe;
Level Two – Multiverses produced by Chaotic inflation that have different constants and laws and are produced by a bubble effect (Andre Linde calculated that there are 10^10^10,000,000 of these);
Level Three – MWI Interpretation described above
Level Four – Constructs within Tegmark’s own mathematical universe hypothesis (a Theory of Everything that sees physical reality as a mathematical structure).

Brian Greene has a different classification system that has nine types and looks at simulations, holographs, cyclic phenomena, Branes etc.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Twenty five things that I have learnt from facebook

1. People are more limited in their sense of humor than they let on.
2. Half the people love Donald Trump the other half absolutely loathe him.
3. You can say anything ridiculous if you prefix it with a quote from a famous person
4. Conspiracy theories are alive and well.,,,unfortunately
5. Those in disagreement with said person on any post, are either ignorant or evil.
6. Most Americans (but not all) cannot talk politics without slipping into the partisan two party dichotomy.
7. Mark Zuckerberg has his head up his ass half the time but its okay as he is a billionaire and we use his product (oops I may get banned over that one).
8. Nothing gets more likes than a dog licking his balls. Yes I know I am jealous.
9. With enough assumptions you can make anything sound feasible
10. The biggest threat to humanity is Gluten.
11. Stupidity spreads faster than the Rage Virus.
12. Feminists are just not funny (although I didn't need fb for that one).
13. Very few people understand how science works including Bill Nye on occasion.
14. I am always open to seeing more pictures of Melania Trump.
15. Egoism is alive and well.
16. Once in a while you need to purge your friends list. I expect that I may be at the brunt of this for some who read my post.
17. There is no bias like a Confirmation bias.
18. For many, a Rant counts as a logical argument.
19. Never argue (as a friend of mine put it) with a skunk.
20. Everyone has their sacred cows that too often defended by generous use of the ad hominem.
21. SJWs are idiots.
22. There are still very intelligent people out there, who should know better, but who still can't see the problem with Islamism
23. I am sick of seeing posts with French Flags. You would think that only one country has experienced terrorism.
24. Star Wars is a movie it shouldn't be a life philosophy.
25. Never grant friendship status to your mother. Sorry mom I couldn't resist

Sunday, January 31, 2016


I am a huge proponent of SETI and a great fan of Science Fiction. About ten years ago I wrote a book the HISTORY OF THE FUTURE detailing a world where contact with alien species is made and our species is forced by necessity to enter into a new geopolitical reality. Odds are that if we are to be immersed in a world where we are less sophisticated than the extra terrestrials than it will not work out well for us. However there is an unpredictability with all encounters that may prove refreshing. Lately though I have become somewhat disillusioned, not so much in the way contact will play out, but whether contact will occur at all. Based on scientific assessment the odds of another humanoid type species evolving ( or even some type of facsimile) to make contact with us appear to be close to zero. A subtle interventionist deity could rig the odds but that seems to be wishful thinking. One can take solace in the Drake Equation but there are so many unknown variables in that equation that it seems to be practically meaningless. My heart wishes that this weren't so but looking just at the probability game and the levels of fine tuning that are necessary it may just be the case that we are simply alone.

Thoughts on Deism IV - Some Quick Ones.

Einstein himself was not a fan of cultural relativism and I believe detested the way his theory was applied to other areas outside physics. Much the same way that Darwin was not in favour of the way his ideas of selection were used by those advocating Eugenics.

On Absolute Truth....The Laws of Thermodynamics viz. Conservation of Energy, Increasing Entropy of the Universe plus Absolute Zero are probably as absolute as one can get. Gravity has been reworked with General Relativity to better understand Newton's Inverse Square Law however it has some problems at the quantum level. The jury is still out with respect to the fundamental Graviton particle (although odds are that we will likely find it).  Chemical Reactions are largely manifestations of the electromagnetic force so I agree that the theory here is very solid. Absorption and Emission of Light can be described by Quantum Mechanics which at present seems to be well supported empirically. I would add to this list laws regarding both linear and angular momentum as well as certain symmetries that are consistent with conservation laws.

Special Relativity....Einstein's special theory broke the notion of absolute space and time. It also showed the energy and momentum require relativistic analysis. However in many ways its most perplexing outcome was the death blow for Simultaneity. Events that are simultaneous in one frame of reference need not be simultaneous in another. What does this mean? Observer 1 concludes that event A happened before event B. Observer 2 in another frame of reference concludes that the events were simultaneous (happened at the same time). Which one is correct? The answer - Both of them. This can influence, although I would urge much caution, our perception of events at least on a theoretical level for now.

US Election Race Debates

I can barely sit through the agony of Republican debates not to mention the Hillary-Bernie roadshow. Now they want four more. Why not save your time and work on some self induced waterboarding technique?