Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Like I Was Saying About Time.

If you mean "dimensions" in the sense commonly used by mathematicians and physicists, these are a human concept, invented to simplify mathematical descriptions of the physical world.

- Dex, Karen and presumably Cecil of The Straight Dope (www.straightdope.com).

That is way better than the four times and ten ways I tried to put it!

"All of space has three dimensions; time does not exist. / As we approach the speed of light, the clock remembers this"

Now that quote is by no means The Straight Dope. And is Cecil really an intellectually self-deprecating heterosexual or what? "The Straight Dope?" What's he trying to tell us there.

But in any case, for the record: and purely for conceptual purposes, the best humans at it calculate reality along twelve dimensions. Nine of space, and two of time. Four extended and perceptible at our scale of observation, all the rest curled up tinier than our highest-resolution devices can measure or perceive, metaphorically at least you might say they were curled up so tight they were approximately the size of quanta. But put 'em all together, three of space and one of time all unfurled, plus seven more of space and one more of time all curled, they could go like so:

1. height
2. width
3. depth
4. time
5. space (curled up)
6. space (curled up)
7. space (curled up)
8. time (curled up)
9. space (curled up)
10. space (curled up)
11. space (curled up)
12. magic (no I'm kidding, it's more space curled up)

As you can see, humanity has never bothered to name the curled-up ones, because they aren't perceptible to us. There's no social or cultural reason to name them. At no point are you ever going to be leaning back eyeing some girl's behind which happens to be extra-well endowed in the 10th dimension for some reason, and remark, "Wow, check out the zidth on THAT! HOWZA!!" It'll never happen. Imperceptible dimensions add nothing to our experience.

I'm mostly only putting this numbered list here because...embarrassingly enough, I keep forgetting how many curled-up dimensions there really are. Can you believe it? "How many dimensions total again? Ten or eleven," I'll ask - like I'm going to get that answer right! Try twelve, jackass. Because it's twelve.

Anyway, now I'll have one easy place to look next time I need to know. But if you're asking yourself, "well that's well and good for him, but what do these extra dimensions mean to me?," well, to return again to the Straight Dope, the chief point to remember is -

"So what we're telling you is, there's nothing magical or mysterious about dimensions. They're just notions scientists dreamed up to help them describe the world."

— Dex

Quite so, Dex. You go, motherson. Couldn't have said it simpler m'self, and I should know, having tried.

Footnote.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1655/how-many-dimensions-are-there-and-what-are-they

All further references within text.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Chronicle of Day: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: He Stood Up

He arose from his prone position in bed, lowered his feet to where they were pressed against the floor, and leveraged himself to his full height using the muscles of his legs, counterbalanced by his rippling torso. His feet were pressed to the floor now by gravity. The soles of them spread slightly, capillaries engorged. As his head became vertical, the world, too, adjusted itself in his mind and eyes, so that its orientation was now up-down with sides spreading out - instead of the reverse. His clothes, too - he wore a full set of pajamas - adjusted themselves. Now they hung and swung and swayed against his body, slowly yielding from a state of static cling and inertial stasis, giving in to gravity's inexorable pull. The room he was in was now revealed to him in its proper orientation. It was a place within which he could advance or retreat, a medium through which his body could take action. It was spread out before him now, ready for him to go stooping over things and examining them - or lifting them, rearranging them to suit his will or whim. He could have done most of this from a prone position as well - crawling, stretching with his hands to grasp and move what he could reach - but it would not have seemed as dignified, somehow. It would not have been true to his feelings about himself, and the world in which he found himself. It would not have correctly expressed the power he now found in his position.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Intriguer" (Crowded House)



Now why they left the delightful title track off the album I have no idea!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

YOUR PUBLIC ARREST RECORDS - on a T-Shirt?

And rightly so! Arrest records are a matter of public record. That's to punish the guilty with what they done, and reward the inquiring minds who want to know.

But I believe they should go one step further: Law Enforcement Retail Arrest Record Memorabilia Outlets. Right downtown, right there in the community, offering YOUR mug-shot tees for sale to the public! Awesome!

Now I fought with the concept a bit, thought: should the store be located right within the precinct house? Like a museum gift shop situation? It would certainly deter shoplifters! But let's face it: most p.d.'s are in bad retail locations. I think it's best to have these retail outlets located downtown, in that cute block of stores where the shoppers looking for knick-knacks are. Or in the mall! Depending on your community.

So what they would do is: print up 20 XL shirts per offense. No more, no less. Limited edition - and all XL, because that's the most popular size. Let's not make a simple thing complicated and expensive! And after they release you, they'd be like, "OK, these shirts go on sale in the store for $20 each on Tuesday. Any shirts left unsold by the end of 30 days will be donated to the homeless."

Perfect setup, right? You'd be like "OH SHIT! What do I do - spend $400 on the most humiliating t-shirts possible? Or face the specter of everyone I know being confronted everywhere they go with homeless people wearing my mug-shot t-shirt?"

Either way it's a win-win - for the community. Not to mention for liberty, for freedom of access, and for your tax dollars. And think of all the other stuff your local Law Enforcement Retail Arrest Record Memorabilia Outlet could sell! There could be all sorts of arrest-record related merchandise, available for lookup or purchase. Mugshot coffee-cups, fingerprints pint glasses, arrest report stationery. You name it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why Trust Science? Pt. 3 of a 2-Parter

Just a footnote, really, about fallibility. A lot of people seem to think science is infallible, or thinks its infallible, or acts like its infallible. These people are talking out of their hat. They have no idea what science is, or how it works.

Science does not pretend to infallibility, and indeed: scientists have no use for infallibility. As Sir Karl Popper put it ages ago, in his paper Science as Falsification: "Irrefutability is not a virtue of theory ... a theory that cannot be refuted by any possible event is non-scientific." Just so.

Moreover, scientists know science is fallible because scientists know science is a human endeavor. Humans active in any system, using any organized method, will quite naturally be fallible in their use of it. Fallible in their observations, fallable in their interpretations. Well-designed systems and methods are built to take this human fallibility into account.

The scientific method is exemplary in this regard. It not only takes human fallibility into account, it harnesses it to drive human understanding. Fallibility is the engine of the scientific method. Scientists engaged in active science are always in disagreement with each other in the places science can't yet reach, to test. Science runs by coming up with as many plausible theories as possible. Science knows that between the various competing theories advanced, there are always wrong theories in play. Science knows theory is subject to refutation by evidence, and science deliberately sets in motion all possible events, purposely, with the goal to falsify theory. To prove it wrong, any way they can.

By designing experiments to conclusively test between competing theories, science discards theory that proves false. By the same continuing experimental means, science refines and better-defines promising theory, until a workable, useable truth is established about what reality actually is - and how it works. And how it can be worked.

Why Trust Science? Pt. 2 of 2

The second good reason to trust the modern scientific community is: predictive theory that gives you the promised results. Because long before Hiroshima was destroyed, Einstein knew enough about the power locked in atoms (which we now call the strong nuclear force) to sign his name to a letter to the President, warning him about atomic bombs. Scientists had glimpsed how reality worked on the smallest scales. They knew there was a danger, more importantly: they knew why there was a danger. They had figured out how reality operated on those scales. All they needed to prove it was to bring it into testable range, and after years of work they did bring that reality into testable range. And the fact that they had understood it correctly was proved.

The worth and validity of "done science" (the facts predicted by and then established by the scientific method and no longer in dispute as "active science"), is proved conclusively by its fruits: motorcars, microwaves, rocketships, radar, nuclear weapons, satellite, telecommunications, on and on. Is science a good thing?

Well, ask yourself: are you reading this article using the internet?

OK. Is science a moral thing, then? Well, ask yourself: have you ever murdered anyone? And maybe the answer to that last question is "yes." But if you committed an atrocity, even if you used a gun, or a bomb, or some other technological wonder, it was not science that corrupted you. Science is concerned solely with how things work. Science has nothing to say about what you do with what reality is, and with how it works.

But science can tell you, more and more every year, what reality is, and how it works. We know it is trustworthy by the fruits that have come from it.

"Two Kinds" Tuesday #1: The Kind.

There's two kinds of people in this world: the kind, and the unkind.

Life's Little Ambitions

I want to be Oscar nominated for Best Documentary Screenplay.

Why Trust Science? Pt. 1 of 2

There are two good reasons to trust the modern scientific community: one, because they use reality to settle their arguments. Human nature: some of these people can't stand each other, but in any case, those on opposite sides of a theoretical debate disparage the other side, believe their side is right, and they want to win. Reality is the thing they use, to beat the other side, to settle their disagreements. If one faction's argument can be overruled, the other faction is going to keep at it until it will be. The scientific community isn't a coterie of like-minded conspirators, getting their fake story straight in a back room so they can put one over on you. No, it's made up of faction vs. faction vs. faction, each with its own story of how things work, all working on the furthest-out reachable theories they can. They call each other and each other's theories wrong-headed, ill-considered, even crackpot! And eventually, reality is what settles their hash.

Controversy is largely limited to the cauldron of "active science": the area of theories whose predictions reach out further than what can currently be tested. While the practical scientists and engineers figure out ways to make the just-a-bit-out-of-reach theories testable, theoreticians continue to argue and refine their theories and predictions. Both sides look forward to what will eventually be experimentally confirmed, and every year, that's exactly what journals are filled with: controversies about new theories (that aren't yet entirely testable, or tested), and controversies about new experimental methods that have just been developed, and are being used to put past years' controversies to the test. The result that comes is an upset to the faction that believed the other thing, and you better believe they are going to scrutinize the results, and do it again. And do it again. And maybe even do it again.

But science eventually stops publishing do-overs. Science loses interest in deniers of reality, after reality has been proved by sufficiently conclusive and repeatable experiments. Active science is just a question of getting predictive theory into testable range.

Reality then wins every argument that science ever has. That's the first good reason to trust the modern scientific community.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

vs. Grammar

I am so sick of my knee-jerk staid and uptight grammatical precision! It gets to the point where my words are being straightjacketed. Or...to the point were a case could be made for it, at least.

Sunday Theology God Blog Post: Open Letter To God: Watch It With The Miracles, Please

DON'T GO BENDING AND BREAKING FUNDAMENTAL LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE WAY OUT IN SOME OBSCURE FAR-FLUNG CORNER OF REALITY, OUT BEYOND THE CURRENT EXPANSION OF MATTER AND ENERGY INTO INFINITE EMPTY SPACE AND THEN COME CRYING TO ME TO STRAIGHTEN ALL THAT SHIT OUT FOR YOU! YOU HAD YOUR FUN, GO CLEAN IT UP! YOU KNOW HOW THIS SHIT WORKS, DAMN IT. YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE INFINITE, OMNIPOTENT ONE OKAY? FOR MAN'S SAKE, GOD UP ALREADY!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Conversations with a Solipsist.

A: "Reality is entirely in your mind! All you ever know is your own perception. Your self is the only thing you can be sure exists. All other beings you perceive could very well be imaginary projections - creations of your own mind!"

B: "Are you trying to convince me or yourself?"

Friday, October 05, 2012

PERSONAL UPDATE #5: How I Smell.

Damn I smell good. I mean, pretty much everybody says. 

I just got a good snootful of my masculine odor. WHOOOOOWEEEE! It's nice. Light and subtle. Just a hint of salt tang, a slight bite of citrusy musk, notes of outdoor dark stain wood varnish and dew-damp cut grass, plus the hintiest hint of b.o. from a hard and honest day's work. Okay, actually the b.o. note is a bit more to the fore, but I'm being totally straight - despite my own high standards, olfactory acumen and critical brute honesty, people do just love how I smell. 

Even my FEET don't stink. Ever! I could hike for ten miles in a wet woods, nothing!

I'm not egotistical about it. Shoot, I don't get any credit for this! How could I? It's just how things turned out.