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    Free Essay
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    The fossil record and creation science

     

    Young earth creationists commonly point to the fossil record in order to support their position. In one instance, the article "The Fossil Record: Becoming More Random All the Time" by John Woodmorappe, has some very good points to it (Footnote 1). Read it if you like, (its a long one), but you don't have to much farther than the abstract to see problems. Actually, some are problems, and some are deceptions. The abstract states that "The reality of the geologic column is predicated on the belief that fossils have restricted ranges in rock strata." Of course it is...this has been the "reality" all along. His wording makes it sound as if the geologist has been up to some deceit...but this is not the case. He goes on to claim, "as more and more fossils are found, the ranges of fossils keep increasing." Welcome to the world of science! This is nothing new. As new discoveries are made, the timelines that we thought species were living is extended. So what! He states that stratigraphic-range extension is not the exception but the rule. OF course it is, by its very nature it HAS to be. You are not going to "shorten" ranges...the only way to go is to extend them. It has always been this way, and always will be this way. It in no way makes dating through the use of fossils invalid. Does it make "it easier for the Genesis Flood to explain an increasingly-random fossil record" as the author claims? Yes, if it were "increasingly random," but it is not. Because you increase the range of an organism's lifespan on earth does not prove more "randomization." He states further down, when expressing questions from evolutionists, "why a layer of rock containing trilobites is never found to contain dinosaurs," and vice-versa. Great point...if we are to suddenly find a trilobite in a dinosaur layer...great, they lived longer than expected. If we find a trilobite with a human fossil, then great. It has no implications for young or old earth creationism. The author is trying to establish credible proof for a completely random fossil record. A completely random fossil record should have been created from the Flood, if you follow the model proposed by young-earth scientists. What is meant by "random?" If the fossil record was random, we should have humans, and dinosaurs, and trilobites all together...but we don't. In fact, look at the Grand Canyon...you would expect many fossils in the rocks at the bottom, but starting from the bottom, you have to go thousands of feet up the rock strata before you even get to any vertebrate fossils. Why are they not lower down? By the flood model, while these thousands of feet of strata were laid down, all the vertebrates were busy "treading water" for months, until they finally died and sank? Not only is this not possible, it is not supported in the fossil record. The fossil record shows increasingly complex organisms, as you go upward (or, younger) in the geologic column, which is exactly what you would expect in an old earth. Boundary Fossils Many points on the geologic time scale were made with the use of boundary fossils. This is a means of dating a rock, albeit not precisely, by using the range that an organism existed as a boundary. In other words, for instance, the Cretaceous period ended 65 million years ago. You could use a dinosaur fossil in a rock layer, and state with certainty that the rock is older than 65 million years. Yes, boundary fossils are used to create imaginary timelines, so that earth history can be better understood. Does finding a boundary fossil outside their previously-believed range invalidate the timeline...no, it just increases that organism's life range. So what if new timelines are made. That's just science reacting to a change of the "evidence" in the rock record. Is it a perfect system? No. Is it a reliable method that considers all the evidence fairly, and reaches a logical, reliable conclusion? Yes. What's So Hard to Understand? That's what we call science...something familiar to a scientist, but for some unknown reason it is a hard concept to grasp for a young-earth scientist. When new discoveries are made, theories change, textbooks re-written, research articles published. It is a great process. Why do young-earth scientists like to disavow scientific methods? Mud-slinging, mis-statements, and controversies over ages which are taken out of context are all the weapons that a young-earth scientist has left, because they can't prove a young earth from science. The author claims, "Creationists, including myself, have provided a variety of alternative explanations for fossil succession." Have they been accepted by the scientific community...NO, because there are no facts to back them up from the geologic record. They are only accepted within the small community of young-earth scientists, and their devoted followers. They say the world scoffs at them, because the Bible says they will be persecuted for holding to their faith...no, that's not true. The world scoffs because they hold to an unprovable, unbelievable theory based on an inaccurate interpretation of the Bible and science. The God of the Bible is real, and yes, the earth is old. God's creation testifies to this. The Bible says, "speak to the earth, and it will teach thee" (Job 12:8). Let’s all listen to what the earth has to say. Conclusion The author assumes that the fossil record is becoming more random, and will eventually prove the flood. Unfortunately for him, this is far from the truth. Randomness will never be proved. In fact, the rock record has already disproved it. Footnote 1: "The Fossil Record: Becoming More Random All the Time" (answersingenesis. org/home/area/magazines/tj/v14n1_fossil-rec. asp)

         
    The fourth law of robotics

     

    The movie "I, Robot" is a muddled affair. It relies on shoddy pseudo-science and a general sense of unease that artificial (non-carbon based) intelligent life forms seem to provoke in us. But it goes no deeper than a comic book treatment of the important themes that it broaches. I, Robot is just another - and relatively inferior - entry is a long line of far better movies, such as "Blade Runner" and "Artificial Intelligence". Sigmund Freud said that we have an uncanny reaction to the inanimate. This is probably because we know that – pretensions and layers of philosophizing aside – we are nothing but recursive, self aware, introspective, conscious machines. Special machines, no doubt, but machines all the same. Consider the James bond movies. They constitute a decades-spanning gallery of human paranoia. Villains change: communists, neo-Nazis, media moguls. But one kind of villain is a fixture in this psychodrama, in this parade of human phobias: the machine. James Bond always finds himself confronted with hideous, vicious, malicious machines and automata. It was precisely to counter this wave of unease, even terror, irrational but all-pervasive, that Isaac Asimov, the late Sci-fi writer (and scientist) invented the Three Laws of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. Many have noticed the lack of consistency and, therefore, the inapplicability of these laws when considered together. First, they are not derived from any coherent worldview or background. To be properly implemented and to avoid their interpretation in a potentially dangerous manner, the robots in which they are embedded must be equipped with reasonably comprehensive models of the physical universe and of human society. Without such contexts, these laws soon lead to intractable paradoxes (experienced as a nervous breakdown by one of Asimov's robots). Conflicts are ruinous in automata based on recursive functions (Turing machines), as all robots are. Godel pointed at one such self destructive paradox in the "Principia Mathematica", ostensibly a comprehensive and self consistent logical system. It was enough to discredit the whole magnificent edifice constructed by Russel and Whitehead over a decade. Some argue against this and say that robots need not be automata in the classical, Church-Turing, sense. That they could act according to heuristic, probabilistic rules of decision making. There are many other types of functions (non-recursive) that can be incorporated in a robot, they remind us. True, but then, how can one guarantee that the robot's behavior is fully predictable ? How can one be certain that robots will fully and always implement the three laws? Only recursive systems are predictable in principle, though, at times, their complexity makes it impossible. This article deals with some commonsense, basic problems raised by the Laws. The next article in this series analyses the Laws from a few vantage points: philosophy, artificial intelligence and some systems theories. An immediate question springs to mind: HOW will a robot identify a human being? Surely, in a future of perfect androids, constructed of organic materials, no superficial, outer scanning will suffice. Structure and composition will not be sufficient differentiating factors. There are two ways to settle this very practical issue: one is to endow the robot with the ability to conduct a Converse Turing Test (to separate humans from other life forms) - the other is to somehow "barcode" all the robots by implanting some remotely readable signaling device inside them (such as a RFID - Radio Frequency ID chip). Both present additional difficulties. The second solution will prevent the robot from positively identifying humans. He will be able identify with any certainty robots and only robots (or humans with such implants). This is ignoring, for discussion's sake, defects in manufacturing or loss of the implanted identification tags. And what if a robot were to get rid of its tag? Will this also be classified as a "defect in manufacturing"? In any case, robots will be forced to make a binary choice. They will be compelled to classify one type of physical entities as robots – and all the others as "non-robots". Will non-robots include monkeys and parrots? Yes, unless the manufacturers equip the robots with digital or optical or molecular representations of the human figure (masculine and feminine) in varying positions (standing, sitting, lying down). Or unless all humans are somehow tagged from birth. These are cumbersome and repulsive solutions and not very effective ones. No dictionary of human forms and positions is likely to be complete. There will always be the odd physical posture which the robot would find impossible to match to its library. A human disk thrower or swimmer may easily be classified as "non-human" by a robot - and so might amputated invalids. What about administering a converse Turing Test? This is even more seriously flawed. It is possible to design a test, which robots will apply to distinguish artificial life forms from humans. But it will have to be non-intrusive and not involve overt and prolonged communication. The alternative is a protracted teletype session, with the human concealed behind a curtain, after which the robot will issue its verdict: the respondent is a human or a robot. This is unthinkable. Moreover, the application of such a test will "humanize" the robot in many important respects. Human identify other humans because they are human, too. This is called empathy. A robot will have to be somewhat human to recognize another human being, it takes one to know one, the saying (rightly) goes. Let us assume that by some miraculous way the problem is overcome and robots unfailingly identify humans. The next question pertains to the notion of "injury" (still in the First Law). Is it limited only to physical injury (the elimination of the physical continuity of human tissues or of the normal functioning of the human body)? Should "injury" in the First Law encompass the no less serious mental, verbal and social injuries (after all, they are all known to have physical side effects which are, at times, no less severe than direct physical "injuries")? Is an insult an "injury"? What about being grossly impolite, or psychologically abusive? Or offending religious sensitivities, being politically incorrect - are these injuries? The bulk of human (and, therefore, inhuman) actions actually offend one human being or another, have the potential to do so, or seem to be doing so. Consider surgery, driving a car, or investing money in the stock exchange. These "innocuous" acts may end in a coma, an accident, or ruinous financial losses, respectively. Should a robot refuse to obey human instructions which may result in injury to the instruction-givers? Consider a mountain climber – should a robot refuse to hand him his equipment lest he falls off a cliff in an unsuccessful bid to reach the peak? Should a robot refuse to obey human commands pertaining to the crossing of busy roads or to driving (dangerous) sports cars? Which level of risk should trigger robotic refusal and even prophylactic intervention? At which stage of the interactive man-machine collaboration should it be activated? Should a robot refuse to fetch a ladder or a rope to someone who intends to commit suicide by hanging himself (that's an easy one)? Should he ignore an instruction to push his master off a cliff (definitely), help him climb the cliff (less assuredly so), drive him to the cliff (maybe so), help him get into his car in order to drive him to the cliff... Where do the responsibility and obeisance bucks stop? Whatever the answer, one thing is clear: such a robot must be equipped with more than a rudimentary sense of judgment, with the ability to appraise and analyse complex situations, to predict the future and to base his decisions on very fuzzy algorithms (no programmer can foresee all possible circumstances). To me, such a "robot" sounds much more dangerous (and humanoid) than any recursive automaton which does NOT include the famous Three Laws. Moreover, what, exactly, constitutes "inaction"? How can we set apart inaction from failed action or, worse, from an action which failed by design, intentionally? If a human is in danger and the robot tries to save him and fails – how could we determine to what extent it exerted itself and did everything it could? How much of the responsibility for a robot's inaction or partial action or failed action should be imputed to the manufacturer – and how much to the robot itself? When a robot decides finally to ignore its own programming – how are we to gain information regarding this momentous event? Outside appearances can hardly be expected to help us distinguish a rebellious robot from a lackadaisical one. The situation gets much more complicated when we consider states of conflict. Imagine that a robot is obliged to harm one human in order to prevent him from hurting another. The Laws are absolutely inadequate in this case. The robot should either establish an empirical hierarchy of injuries – or an empirical hierarchy of humans. Should we, as humans, rely on robots or on their manufacturers (however wise, moral and compassionate) to make this selection for us? Should we abide by their judgment which injury is the more serious and warrants an intervention? A summary of the Asimov Laws would give us the following "truth table": A robot must obey human commands except if: Obeying them is likely to cause injury to a human, or Obeying them will let a human be injured. A robot must protect its own existence with three exceptions: That such self-protection is injurious to a human; That such self-protection entails inaction in the face of potential injury to a human; That such self-protection results in robot insubordination (failing to obey human instructions). Trying to create a truth table based on these conditions is the best way to demonstrate the problematic nature of Asimov's idealized yet highly impractical world. Here is an exercise: Imagine a situation (consider the example below or one you make up) and then create a truth table based on the above five conditions. In such a truth table, "T" would stand for "compliance" and "F" for non-compliance. Example: A radioactivity monitoring robot malfunctions. If it self-destructs, its human operator might be injured. If it does not, its malfunction will equally seriously injure a patient dependent on his performance. One of the possible solutions is, of course, to introduce gradations, a probability calculus, or a utility calculus. As they are phrased by Asimov, the rules and conditions are of a threshold, yes or no, take it or leave it nature. But if robots were to be instructed to maximize overall utility, many borderline cases would be resolved. Still, even the introduction of heuristics, probability, and utility does not help us resolve the dilemma in the example above. Life is about inventing new rules on the fly, as we go, and as we encounter new challenges in a kaleidoscopically metamorphosing world. Robots with rigid instruction sets are ill suited to cope with that. Note - Godel's Theorems The work of an important, though eccentric, Czech-Austrian mathematical logician, Kurt Gцdel (1906-1978) dealt with the completeness and consistency of logical systems. A passing acquaintance with his two theorems would have saved the architect a lot of time. Gцdel's First Incompleteness Theorem states that every consistent axiomatic logical system, sufficient to express arithmetic, contains true but unprovable ("not decidable") sentences. In certain cases (when the system is omega-consistent), both said sentences and their negation are unprovable. The system is consistent and true - but not "complete" because not all its sentences can be decided as true or false by either being proved or by being refuted. The Second Incompleteness Theorem is even more earth-shattering. It says that no consistent formal logical system can prove its own consistency. The system may be complete - but then we are unable to show, using its axioms and inference laws, that it is consistent In other words, a computational system can either be complete and inconsistent - or consistent and incomplete. By trying to construct a system both complete and consistent, a robotics engineer would run afoul of Gцdel's theorem. Note - Turing Machines In 1936 an American (Alonzo Church) and a Briton (Alan M. Turing) published independently (as is often the case in science) the basics of a new branch in Mathematics (and logic): computability or recursive functions (later to be developed into Automata Theory). The authors confined themselves to dealing with computations which involved "effective" or "mechanical" methods for finding results (which could also be expressed as solutions (values) to formulae). These methods were so called because they could, in principle, be performed by simple machines (or human-computers or human-calculators, to use Turing's unfortunate phrases). The emphasis was on finiteness: a finite number of instructions, a finite number of symbols in each instruction, a finite number of steps to the result. This is why these methods were usable by humans without the aid of an apparatus (with the exception of pencil and paper as memory aids). Moreover: no insight or ingenuity were allowed to "interfere" or to be part of the solution seeking process. What Church and Turing did was to construct a set of all the functions whose values could be obtained by applying effective or mechanical calculation methods. Turing went further down Church's road and designed the "Turing Machine" – a machine which can calculate the values of all the functions whose values can be found using effective or mechanical methods. Thus, the program running the TM (=Turing Machine in the rest of this text) was really an effective or mechanical method. For the initiated readers: Church solved the decision-problem for propositional calculus and Turing proved that there is no solution to the decision problem relating to the predicate calculus. Put more simply, it is possible to "prove" the truth value (or the theorem status) of an expression in the propositional calculus – but not in the predicate calculus. Later it was shown that many functions (even in number theory itself) were not recursive, meaning that they could not be solved by a Turing Machine. No one succeeded to prove that a function must be recursive in order to be effectively calculable. This is (as Post noted) a "working hypothesis" supported by overwhelming evidence. We don't know of any effectively calculable function which is not recursive, by designing new TMs from existing ones we can obtain new effectively calculable functions from existing ones and TM computability stars in every attempt to understand effective calculability (or these attempts are reducible or equivalent to TM computable functions). The Turing Machine itself, though abstract, has many "real world" features. It is a blueprint for a computing device with one "ideal" exception: its unbounded memory (the tape is infinite). Despite its hardware appearance (a read/write head which scans a two-dimensional tape inscribed with ones and zeroes, etc.) – it is really a software application, in today's terminology. It carries out instructions, reads and writes, counts and so on. It is an automaton designed to implement an effective or mechanical method of solving functions (determining the truth value of propositions). If the transition from input to output is deterministic we have a classical automaton – if it is determined by a table of probabilities – we have a probabilistic automaton. With time and hype, the limitations of TMs were forgotten. No one can say that the Mind is a TM because no one can prove that it is engaged in solving only recursive functions. We can say that TMs can do whatever digital computers are doing – but not that digital computers are TMs by definition. Maybe they are – maybe they are not. We do not know enough about them and about their future. Moreover, the demand that recursive functions be computable by an UNAIDED human seems to restrict possible equivalents. Inasmuch as computers emulate human computation (Turing did believe so when he helped construct the ACE, at the time the fastest computer in the world) – they are TMs. Functions whose values are calculated by AIDED humans with the contribution of a computer are still recursive. It is when humans are aided by other kinds of instruments that we have a problem. If we use measuring devices to determine the values of a function it does not seem to conform to the definition of a recursive function. So, we can generalize and say that functions whose values are calculated by an AIDED human could be recursive, depending on the apparatus used and on the lack of ingenuity or insight (the latter being, anyhow, a weak, non-rigorous requirement which cannot be formalized).

         
    The history of calendars

     

    Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7. Their "old new year" is a week later, on January 14. It is all Julius Caesar's fault ... The Romans sometimes neglected to introduce an extra month every two years to amortize the difference between their lunar calendar and the natural solar year. Julius Caesar decreed that the year 46 BC should have 445 days (some historians implausibly say: 443 days) in order to bridge the yawning discrepancy that accumulated over the preceding seven centuries. It was aptly titled the "Year of Confusion". To "reset" the calendar, Julius Caesar affixed the New Year on January 1 (the day the Senate traditionally convened) and added a day or two to a few months. He thus gave rise to the Julian Calendar, a latter day rendition of the Aristarchus calendar from 239 BC. After his assassination, the month of Quintilis was renamed Julius (July) in his honor. The Julian calendar estimated the length of the natural solar year (the time it takes for the earth to make one orbit of the sun) to be 365 days and 6 hours. Every fourth year the extra six hours were collected and added as an extra day to the year, creating a leap year of 366 days. But the calendar's underlying estimate was off by 11 minutes and 14 seconds. It was longer than the natural solar year. The extra minutes accumulated to one whole day. By 325 AD, the Spring Equinox was arriving on March 21st on the Julian Calendar - instead of March 25. The First Ecumenical Council met in Nicea in 325 and determined that the date to celebrate Pascha was on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox on March 21st. In other words, it enshrined the Julian calendar's aberration. Thus, by 1582, the Spring Equinox was arriving on March 11. Half-hearted measures by Popes Paul III and Pius V failed to restore the essential correspondence between the calendar and the seasons. Pope Gregory XIII decided - in his tenth year in office - to drop 3 leap years every 400 years by specifying that any year whose number ended with 00 must also be evenly divisible by 400 in order to have a 29-day February. This would have the effect of bringing the Julian calendar closer to the natural length of the solar year - though an error of 26 seconds per year would still remain. To calibrate the Julian calendar with the Gregorian one and to move the Spring Equinox back to March 21, 10 days were dropped from the civil calendar in October 1582. Thursday, October 4 was followed by Friday, October 15. People rioted in the streets throughout Europe, convinced that they have been robbed of 10 days. But this was merely a convenient fiction. The Spring Equinox in the Gregorian calendar was, indeed, celebrated on March 21 in perpetuity. But, according to the Julian calendar, in the 17th century it arrived on March 11th, in the 18th century on March 10th, in the 19th century on March 9th, and in the 20th century on March 8th - 13 days earlier that even the erroneous date adopted by the Nicea Council. The Gregorian calendar was controversial in Protestant countries. Britain and its colonies adopted it only in 1752. They had to drop 11 days from the civil calendar and move the official new year from March 25 to January 1. For centuries, dates followed by OS ("Old Style") were according to the Julian calendar and dates followed by NS ("New Style") according to the Gregorian one. Sweden adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1753, Japan in 1873, Egypt in 1875, Eastern Europe between 1912 to 1919 and Turkey in 1927. In Russia it was decreed by the (bourgeois) revolutionaries that thirteen days would be omitted from the calendar, the day following January 31, 1918 becoming February 14, 1918. It was Pope Pius X who, in 1910, changed the beginning of the ecclesiastical year from Christmas Day to January 1, effective from 1911 onwards. All that time, the Christian Orthodox continued to observe the Julian calendar. In 1923, a Conference of Orthodox Churches in Constantinople reduced the number of leap years every 900 years and attained a discrepancy between the calendar and the natural solar year of merely 2.2 seconds per year. According to this calendar, the Spring Equinox will regress by one day every 40,000 years. They, too, had to drop 13 days to bring the Spring Equinox back to March 21st. Hence the gap between December 25 (Gregorian calendar) and January 7 (revised Julian-Orthodox calendar).

         
    The hoodia scams have lasted long enough

     

    The big news about Hoodia supplements is that almost all Hoodia Gordonii products available today are ineffective – using fake hoodia. A well respected health author claims over 90% of the hoodia gordonii are known to be fake. This data seems to be backed up my major testing facilities who are claiming similar numbers. So we did some research of our own and there's buzz on a newer Hoodia Gordonii product called Hoodia Prime. We used it on our test subject to see what she would say. The results aren't what you might think they would be. But more on that in a minute. When was the last time you stopped and thought about the companies that create the natural health supplements you take? Often times, it is easy to assume that the regulatory forces that ensure our food is safe, our water is clean, and our medications are effective will ensure that everything we put in our bodies is safe and sound. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Industries such as the natural health industry can be harder to regulate and with products like Hoodia Gordonii, which is supposed to be produced almost entirely in South Africa, and the shortcuts and scams that exist are more widely spread than many purchasers realize. So we tried Hoodia Prime. Our test subject took the suggested dosage. Nothing happened. We continued trying it, still nothing. It sure did seem like this was another hoodia Gordonii product that fell into the scam category. But then by the end of day two, something happened. Our test subject said she was not hungry for dinner. A fluke? Perhaps. Read on. The very next day she awoke and again was not at all hungry. This was definitely not the norm for this person, who typically ate a hearty dinner and would almost always eat a breakfast. She took her recommended dosage of two Hoodia Prime capsules in the morning with a glass of orange juice. Again, throughout the day, no hunger whatsoever. She said she had to literally remind herself to eat, and when she did eat, it was a forced action, only because she knew she had to eat. This Natures Biology Hoodia Prime was definitely working. But was it real Hoodia or some other ingredient that was causing the appetite suppression? Companies have been known to put other things in their capsules, and we were going to find out if this was the case here. The lot # on our bottle had been part of a large lot that was independently tested at Alkemists Pharmaceuticals. This company tests the majority of the Hoodia on the market and has found more fakes than you'll find at a plastic surgeons office. Theses were the three tests performed: Analysis of Identity and Purity Analysis of Chromatagraphy Analysis of Macroscopy and Microscopy Using these three tests, a company isn't going to fool anybody with any fake Hoodia. There are things they can do to get around each test, but you can't fool all three tests at once. What we found by reviewing the tests conducted on Hoodia Prime is that it's the real deal. It passed all three rigorous tests without a hiccup, and was proved to be pure South African Hoodia Gordonii. In a world where 9 out of 10 Hoodia Gordonii products are scames, Hoodia Prime stood out and shined. Not only did it pass the lab tests, but it passed our own test where our very own test subject used the product and verified its effectiveness. Natures Biology, the company that makes Hoodia Prime, also says it conducts its own lab tests at yet an additional lab facility. So, our hats come off to the folks at Natures Biology for bringing a quality product like Hoodia Prime to the market. Bravo. Having said that, if you are contemplating any other product other than Hoodia Prime, keep in mind that your Hoodia Gordonii supplement may be packed with things you don't know about. Since Hoodia took off as a weight loss option in recent years, manufacturer have been using it as a front to sell essentially useless products to buyers who don't know any better. The main concern for many people, especially those who regularly take health supplements, is that they are getting what they paid for. The product needs to be the exact ingredients that are listed on the bottle – this is the very reason that there are laws in place requiring such labeling, to ensure those with allergies and special needs are able to accurately measure what they intake. Yet, these safety protocols are worthless when manufacturers like those that make counterfeit Hoodia Gordonii lie on their labels and produce products that are full of fillers such as sawdust, random plants from other countries, and cheap ingredients that can by highly allergenic. Not only that, but often times these cheap ingredients will interact with existing medications that a consumer may be taking, causing an increased risk of liver, heart, or brain damage. So tread carefully before you buy something. Pure Hoodia is certainly effective at appetite control, as proven via our test. But just remember, 9 out of 10 Hoodia Gordonii products are believed to be fake.

         
    The interesting eagle nebula

     

    The Eagle Nebula, associated with open star cluster M16 of the Milky Way, was named for its dramatic similarity to the appearance of an eagle. Located 7000 light years from Earth, it is a component of the constellation Serpens (for Serpent). It was discovered in 1746 by P. L. de Cheseaux but it was not until twenty years later that the famous astronomer Charles Messier discovered it nebulosity. Not naked to the naked eye, it can be seen under the power of a low-to-moderate power telescope. The Eagle Nebula is what is categorized as an emission nebula. An emission nebula is created when electrons are stripped away from molecules through the process of ionization and then recombine with protons emitting quanta of light. Usually the photons emitted lie in the red end of the spectrum creating a red-looking nebula. This is largely true for the Eagle Nebula with much of its glory being due to a brilliant display of red colors in addition to blue and white light. The Eagle Nebula is a heavenly wonder. The source of the ionization in emission nebula is energetic ultraviolet light created from hot stars shining on a cloud of hydrogen gas. In the case of the Eagle Nebula, the ultraviolet energy comes from the blue and white stars of the M16 cluster. These stars are interesting in that they are only approximately two million years old compared with our own sun’s age of four billion year. However, they are considerably heavier which is responsible for the shortening their lifetime to the order of a few million years. The resemblance of an eagle is due to the presence of three tall dark pillars of EGG’s, or evaporating gas globules. EGG’s are composed of hydrogen gas and dust and are so dense that their constituents actually condense under the force of gravity to form new stars. These pillars are light years in length. The dust referred to absorbs much of the pillars’ light, giving it a dark appearance. These dust particles are not like ordinary household dust due to being both microscopic and asymmetrical in shape. Very little is known about them, as they have never been viewed first hand. However this interstellar dust makes up a large component of the universe. Although somewhat complicated, the scientific origin of the Eagle Nebula is both rich and fascinating. The nebula itself is breathtaking, and any chance to view it should be undertaken if at all possible. There are many different types of classifications of nebulas with as many different visible manifestations as the number of identifiable nebulas themselves. Many beautiful images of the Eagle Nebula have been captured by the Hubble telescope, and like all images of nebulas are wonders of nature. 1) Bill Schoening/NOAO/AURA/NSF

         
    The invention of television

     

    The transmission of images obsessed inventors as early as 1875 when George Carey of Boston proposed his cumbersome system. Only five years later, the principle of scanning a picture, line by line and frame by frame - still used in modern television sets - was proposed simultaneously in the USA (by W. E. Sawyer) and in France (by Maurice Leblanc). The first complete television system - using the newly discovered properties of selenium - was patented in Germany in 1884, by Paul Nipkow. Boris Rosing of Russia actually transmitted images in 1907. The idea to incorporated cathode - ray tubes was proposed in 1911 by a Scottish engineer, Campbell Swinton. Another Scot, John Logie Baird, beat American inventor C. F. Jenkins to the mark by giving the first public demonstration of - a dim and badly flickering - television in 1926 in Soho, London. Britain commenced experimental broadcasting almost immediately thereafter. Irish actress Peggy O'Neil was the first to be interviewed on TV in April 1930. The Japanese televised an elementary school baseball match in September 1931. Nazi Germany started its own broadcasting service in 1935 and offered coverage of the 1936 Olympics. By November 1936, the BBC was broadcasting daily from Alexandra Palace in London to all of 100 TV sets in the kingdom. At the beginning there were many competing standards on both sides of the Atlantic. Baird's technological solutions were trounced by Isaac Shoenberg and his team, set up in 1931 by Electric and Musical Industries (EMI). RCA refined its own system, as did the Dutch Philips. Not until 1951 were the standards for public broadcasting set in the USA and in Europe. But the Americans were the ones to grasp the commercial implications of television. Bulova Clock paid $9 to WNBT of New York for the first 20-seconds TV spot, broadcast during a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies in July 1941. Soap operas followed in February 1947 (DuMont TV's A Woman to Remember) and the first TV news helicopter was launched by KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles on 4 July 1958. The first patent for color television was issued in Germany in 1904. Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, the Russia-born American innovator, came up with a complete color system in 1925. Baird himself demonstrated color TV transmission in 1928. Various researchers at Bell Laboratories perfected color television in the late 1920s. Georges Valenso of France patented a series of breakthrough technologies in 1938. But color TV became widespread only in the 1960s.

         
    The invention of the atomic clocks

     

    Louis Essen was born in 1908 in a small city in England called Nottingham. His childhood was typical of the time and he pursued his education with enjoyment and dedication. At the age of 20 Louis graduated from the University of Nottingham, where he had been studying. It was at this time that his career started to take off, as he was invited to join the NPL, or National Physics Laboratory. It was during Louis’s time at the NPL that he began working to develop a quartz crystal oscillator as he believed they were capable of measuring time as accurately as a pendulum based clock. Ten years after joining the NPL Louis had invented the Essen ring. This was an eponymous invention which took its name from the shape of the quartz which Louis had used in his latest clock and which was three times more accurate than the previous versions. Louis soon moved on to newer areas of research and began to study ways to measure the speed of light. During World War II he began to work on high frequency radar and used his technical ability to develop the cavity resonance wavemeter. From 1946 it was this wavemeter which he used, along with a colleague by the name of Albert Gordon-Smith, to make his lightspeed measurements. It has been acknowledged recently that Louis’s measurements were by far the most accurate to have been recorded up until that time. During the early part of the 1950’s Louis began to take an interest in research which was being carried out at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in the United States of America. He learnt that work was being carried out to invent a clock which was more accurate than any other. The American scientists were using the idea of maintaining a clock’s accuracy by using the radiation emitted or absorbed by atoms. At that time the Americans were using a molecule of ammonia but Louis felt that this was not working as well as if they were using different atoms, such as hydrogen or caesium, and so he began working on his own clock using these materials instead. 1953 saw Louis and a colleague, Jack Parry, receiving permission to develop an atomic clock at the NPL based on Louis’s existing knowledge of quartz crystal oscillators and other relevant techniques he had learned from the cavity resonance wavemeter he had previously designed. Only two years later Louis's first atomic clock was running, Caesium I, designed by the UK scientists. Development in the United States had all but stopped due to political difficulties. Louis continued to work on his atomic clock and by 1964 he had managed to increase the accuracy of the atomic clock from one second in 300 years to one second every 2000 years! The continued success of Louis’s work resulted in the definition of a second being changed from 1/864000 of a mean solar day to being calculated as the time it took for 9192631770 cycles of the radiation in an atomic clock. Louis Essen died in 1997 and before his death had been honoured with, amongst others, an OBE and the Tompion Gold Medal of the Clockmakers’ Company.

         
    The invisible ether and michelson morley

     

    The concept of the invisible ether or 'aether' is an old concept dating to the time of the ancient Greeks. They considered the ether as that medium which permeated all of the universe and even believed the ether to be another element. Along with Earth, Wind, Fire and Water Aristotle proposed that the ether should be treated as the fifth element or quintessence; this term which literally means 'fifth element' has even survived down to the present day to explain an exotic form of 'dark energy' which is crucial in some cosmological models. These ideas spread throughout the world until the advent of a new springtime in scientific thought. The first person in the modern era to conceive of the idea of an underlying ether to support the movement of light waves was seventeenth century dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens. Many others followed in expressing their opinions on the ether concept. Whilst Isaac Newton disagreed with Huygens wave theory he also wrote about the 'aethereal medium' although he expressed his consternation in not knowing what the aether was. Newton later renounced the ether theory because in his mind the infinite stationary ether would interrupt the motions of the enormous masses (the stars and planets) as they moved in space. This rejection was reinforced by some other problematical wave properties which were not explicable at the time; most notably, the production of a double image when light passes through certain translucent materials. This property of matter known as 'birefringence' was an important hurdle to be overcome for a proper understanding of the wave nature of light. Some time later (1720) whilst working on other astronomical issues related to light and the cosmos, English scientist James Bradley made observations in hopes of quantifying a parallax. This effect is an apparent motion of foreground objects in comparison to those in the background. Whilst he was unable to discern this parallax effect he happened to reveal another effect which is prevalent in cosmological observations; this other effect is known as stellar aberration. Bradley was able to easily describe this aberration in terms of Newton's particle theory of light. However, to do so in light of the wave or undulatory theory was difficult at best since to do so would have required a 'motionless' medium; the static nature of this ether concept was of course the property which had originally caused Newton's denial of the idea. But Newton's acolytes would find themselves in a difficult position when it was shown that birefringence could be explained through another interpretation of the nature of light. If light was treated as being in a side to side action or 'transverse motion' then birefringence could be attributed to a light wave rather than the particle or corpuscular theory of Newton. This along with the detection of an interference effect for light by Thomas Young in 1801 renewed the ascendancy of the wave theory of light. These findings however carried with them all of the preconceived notions prevalent in the scientific mind. Since it was assumed that waves like water and sound waves required a medium of propagation, it was similarly assumed that light still needed a medium or ether for its waves to be transmitted across the universe. However, further problems would afflict the ether theory. Because of the unique properties of a transverse wave it became apparent that this hypothetical explanation required the ether to be a solid. In response, Cauchy, Green and Stokes contributed theoretical and mathematical observations to an 'entrainment' hypothesis which later came to be known as the 'ether drag' concept. But nothing would give more impetus to these ideas than when James Clerk Maxwell's equations (1870s) required the constancy of the speed of light (c). When the implications of Maxwell's equations are worked out by physicists, it was understood that as a result of the need for a constant speed of light only one reference frame could meet this requirement under the teachings of Galilean Newtonian relativity. Therefore, scientists expected that there existed a unique absolute reference frame which would comply with this need; as a result, the ether would again be stationary. As a consequence, by the late nineteenth century the aether was assumed to be an immovable rigid medium. However, earlier previous theories existed as to the nature of the aether. One of the most famous of these is known as the 'aether drag' hypothesis. In this concept, the aether is a special environment within which light moves. Also, this aether would be connected to all material objects and would move along with them. Measuring the speed of light in such a system would render a constant velocity for light no matter where one tested for light's speed. This 'aether drag' idea originated in the aftermath of Francois Arago's experiment which appeared to show the constancy of the speed of light. Arago believed that refractive indexes would change when measured at different times of the day or year as a result of stellar and earthly motion. In spite of his efforts, he did not notice any change in the refractive indexes so measured. Many other experiments would follow; these were performed in order to find evidence of the aether in its many different abstractions. However the most important of these was conducted by american scientists Michelson and Morley. Their experiment considered another alleged effect of a different aether theory which came to be known as the aether wind. Since the aether permeated the entire universe, the earth would move within the ether as it spun on its axis and moved within the solar system about the sun. This movement of the earth with respect to the aether gave rise rise to the idea that it would be possible to detect an 'ether wind' which would be sensed because of the aforementioned movement. Thus, their experiment was essentially an attempt to detect the so-called ether wind. This mysterious zephyr would be nearly impossible to detect because the aether only infinitesimally affected the surrounding material world. Michelson first experimented in 1881 with a primitive version of his interferometer; a mechanism designed to measure the wave like properties of light. He would follow this by combining forces with Morley in the most famous 'null' experiment of physics. In this investigation, Michelson utilized an improved version of his interferometer device. Michelson's apparatus would help him win the Nobel prize for his optical precision instruments and the investigations carried out with them. His most important study being what became known as the Michelson Morley experiment of 1887. Michelson and Morley used a beam splitter made of a partially transparent mirror and two other mirrors arranged horizontally and vertically from a light source. When a beam of light traveled from a source of coherent light to the half-silvered mirror (the semitransparent mirror) it is transmitted to either of the horizontal or vertical mirrors. When the light returned to the eyepiece of an observer the separately returning light waves would combine destructively or constructively. This phenomenon is known as the interference effect for light. It was hoped that a shifting of the interference fringes from that which was normally predicted would be able to ascertain the existence of the aether wind. To detect this effect, the Michelson interferometer was prepared in such a manner as to minimize any and all extraneous sources of experimental error. It was located in a lower level of a stone edifice to eliminate heat and oscillatory effects which might comprise the experimental results. Additionally, the interferometer was mounted atop a marble slab that was floated in a basin of mercury. This was so that the apparatus could be moved through a variety of positions with respect to the invisible ether. But despite their many preparations the experiment did not yield the expected fringe patterns. Thus, Michelson and Morley concluded that there was no evidence for the existence of the ether. Others would replicate the experiment in different incarnations which modified the premise of the experiment. Each and every one returning a similar negative result. Modern theorists have taken these results and those of many other experiments as being indicative of the non-existence of the aether. However, even the negative result of Michelson Morley has come in to question as far back as 1933. In that year, Dayton Miller demonstrated the fact that even though the duo's experiment had not specifically found the expected range of interference patterns, they had found an interesting little noticed effect. Miller then went on to suggest that Michelson Morley had found an experimental sine wave like set of data that correlated well with the predicted pattern of data. He also described how thermal and directional assumptions inherent in the experimental arrangement may have impacted badly on the fringe interference data. Thus, the test may have been performed in an imperfectly conceived experimental setup and with a built in mathematical bias against the detection of an appropriate outcome. Thus, in the future the aether theory in some form or another may still be sustainable as a foundational theory of physics. Perhaps it is best to leave with these ideas as expressed in 1920 by Einstein who stated that he believed the ether theory to still be relevant to his ideas on space and time: "More careful reflection teaches us, however, that the special theory of relativity does not compel us to deny ether. We may assume the existence of an ether" he continued: "Recapitulating, we may say that according to the general theory of relativity space is endowed with physical qualities; in this sense, therefore, there exists an ether" and finally: "According to the general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for in such space there not only would be no propagation of light, but also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time (measuring-rods and clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals in the physical sense. But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable media, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it."

         
    The life cycle of science

     

    "There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe that there ever was such a time... On the other hand, I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics... Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, 'But how can it be like that?', because you will get 'down the drain' into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that." R. P. Feynman (1967) "The first processes, therefore, in the effectual studies of the sciences, must be ones of simplification and reduction of the results of previous investigations to a form in which the mind can grasp them." J. C. Maxwell, On Faraday's lines of force " ...conventional formulations of quantum theory, and of quantum field theory in particular, are unprofessionally vague and ambiguous. Professional theoretical physicists ought to be able to do better. Bohm has shown us a way." John S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics "It would seem that the theory [quantum mechanics] is exclusively concerned about 'results of measurement', and has nothing to say about anything else. What exactly qualifies some physical systems to play the role of 'measurer'? Was the wavefunction of the world waiting to jump for thousands of millions of years until a single-celled living creature appeared? Or did it have to wait a little longer, for some better qualified system ... with a Ph. D.? If the theory is to apply to anything but highly idealized laboratory operations, are we not obliged to admit that more or less 'measurement-like' processes are going on more or less all the time, more or less everywhere. Do we not have jumping then all the time? The first charge against 'measurement', in the fundamental axioms of quantum mechanics, is that it anchors the shifty split of the world into 'system' and 'apparatus'. A second charge is that the word comes loaded with meaning from everyday life, meaning which is entirely inappropriate in the quantum context. When it is said that something is 'measured' it is difficult not to think of the result as referring to some pre-existing property of the object in question. This is to disregard Bohr's insistence that in quantum phenomena the apparatus as well as the system is essentially involved. If it were not so, how could we understand, for example, that 'measurement' of a component of 'angular momentum' ... in an arbitrarily chosen direction ... yields one of a discrete set of values? When one forgets the role of the apparatus, as the word 'measurement' makes all too likely, one despairs of ordinary logic ... hence 'quantum logic'. When one remembers the role of the apparatus, ordinary logic is just fine. In other contexts, physicists have been able to take words from ordinary language and use them as technical terms with no great harm done. Take for example the 'strangeness', 'charm', and 'beauty' of elementary particle physics. No one is taken in by this 'baby talk'... Would that it were so with 'measurement'. But in fact the word has had such a damaging effect on the discussion, that I think it should now be banned altogether in quantum mechanics." J. S. Bell, Against "Measurement" "Is it not clear from the smallness of the scintillation on the screen that we have to do with a particle? And is it not clear, from the diffraction and interference patterns, that the motion of the particle is directed by a wave? De Broglie showed in detail how the motion of a particle, passing through just one of two holes in screen, could be influenced by waves propagating through both holes. And so influenced that the particle does not go where the waves cancel out, but is attracted to where they co-operate. This idea seems to me so natural and simple, to resolve the wave-particle dilemma in such a clear and ordinary way, that it is a great mystery to me that it was so generally ignored." J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics "...in physics the only observations we must consider are position observations, if only the positions of instrument pointers. It is a great merit of the de Broglie-Bohm picture to force us to consider this fact. If you make axioms, rather than definitions and theorems, about the "measurement" of anything else, then you commit redundancy and risk inconsistency." J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics "To outward appearance, the modern world was born of an anti religious movement: man becoming self-sufficient and reason supplanting belief. Our generation and the two that preceded it have heard little of but talk of the conflict between science and faith; indeed it seemed at one moment a foregone conclusion that the former was destined to take the place of the latter... After close on two centuries of passionate struggles, neither science nor faith has succeeded in discrediting its adversary. On the contrary, it becomes obvious that neither can develop normally without the other. And the reason is simple: the same life animates both. Neither in its impetus nor its achievements can science go to its limits without becoming tinged with mysticism and charged with faith." Pierre Thierry de Chardin, "The Phenomenon of Man" I opened this appendix with lengthy quotations by John S. Bell, the main proponent of the Bohemian Mechanics interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (really, an alternative rather than an interpretation). The renowned physicist, David Bohm (in the 50s), basing himself on work done much earlier by de Broglie (the unwilling father of the wave-particle dualism), embedded the Schrцdinger Equation (SE throughout this article) in a deterministic physical theory which postulated a non-Newtonian motion of particles. This is a fine example of the life cycle of scientific theories, comprised of three phases: Growth, Transitional Pathology, and Ossification. Witchcraft, Religion, Alchemy and Science succeeded one another and each such transition was characterized by transitional pathologies reminiscent of psychotic disorders. The exceptions are (arguably) medicine and biology. A phenomenology of ossified bodies of knowledge would make a fascinating read. Science is currently in its Ossification Phase. It is soon to be succeeded by another discipline or magisterium. Other explanations to the current state of science should be rejected: that human knowledge is limited by its very nature, that the world is inherently incomprehensible, that methods of thought and understanding tend to self-organize to form closed mythic systems and that there is a problem with the language which we employ to make our inquiries of the world describable and communicable. Kuhn's approach to Scientific Revolutions is but one of many to issues of theory and paradigm shifts in scientific thought and its resulting evolution. Scientific theories seem to be subject to a process of natural selection very much as organisms are in nature. Animals could be thought of as theorems (with a positive truth value) in the logical system "Nature". But species become extinct because nature itself changes (not nature as a set of potentials - but the relevant natural phenomena to which the species are exposed). Could we say the same about scientific theories? Are they being selected and deselected partly due to a changing, shifting backdrop? Indeed, the whole debate between "realists" and "anti-realists" in the philosophy of Science can be settled by adopting this single premise: that the Universe itself is not immutable. By contrasting the fixed subject of study ("The World") with the transient nature of Science - anti-realists gained the upper hand. Arguments such as the under-determination of theories by data and the pessimistic meta-inductions from past falsity (of scientific "knowledge") emphasize the transience and asymptotic nature of the fruits of the scientific endeavor. But such arguments rest on the implicit assumption that there is some universal, invariant, truth out there (which science strives to asymptotically approximate). This apparent problematic evaporates if we allow that both the observer and the observed, the theory and its subject, are alterable. Science develops through reduction of miracles. Laws of nature are formulated. They are assumed to encompass all the (relevant) natural phenomena (that is, phenomena governed by natural forces and within nature). Ex definitio, nothing can exist outside nature - it is all-inclusive and all-pervasive, or omnipresent (formerly the attributes of the divine). Supernatural forces, supernatural intervention, are contradictions in terms, oxymorons. If some thing or force exists - it is natural. That which is supernatural - does not exist. Miracles do not only contravene (or violate) the laws of nature - they are impossible, not only physically, but also logically. That which is logically possible and can be experienced (observed), is physically possible. But, again, we are faced with the assumption of a "fixed background". What if nature itself changes in ways that are bound to confound ever-truer knowledge? Then, the very shifts of nature as a whole, as a system, could be called "supernatural" or "miraculous". In a way, this is how science evolves. A law of nature is proposed or accepted. An event occurs or an observation made which are not described or predicted by it. It is, by definition, a violation of the suggested or accepted law which is, thus, falsified. Subsequently and consequently, the laws of nature are modified, or re-written entirely, in order to reflect and encompass this extraordinary event. Result: Hume's comforting distinction between "extraordinary" and "miraculous" events is upheld (the latter being ruled out). Extraordinary events can be compared to previous experience - miraculous events entail some supernatural interference with the normal course of things (a "wonder" in Biblical terms). It is by confronting the extraordinary and eliminating its "abnormal" or "supernatural" attributes that science progresses as a miraculous activity. This, of course, is not the view of the likes of David Deutsch (see his book, "The Fabric of Reality"). Back to the last phase of this Life Cycle, to Ossification. The discipline degenerates and, following the "psychotic" transitional phase, it sinks into a paralytic state which is characterized by the following: All the practical and technological aspects of the dying discipline are preserved and continue to be utilized. Gradually the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings vanish or are replaced by the tenets and postulates of a new discipline - but the inventions, processes and practical know-how do not evaporate. They are incorporated into the new discipline and, in time, are erroneously attributed to it, marking it as the legitimate successor of the now defunct, preceding discipline. The practitioners of the old discipline confine themselves to copying and replicating the various aspects of the old discipline, mainly its intellectual property (writings, inventions, other theoretical material). This replication does not lead to the creation of new knowledge or even to the dissemination of old one. It is a hermetic process, limited to the ever decreasing circle of the initiated. Special institutions govern the rehashing of the materials related to the old discipline, their processing and copying. Institutions related to the dead discipline are often financed and supported by the state which is always an agent of conservation, preservation and conformity. Thus, the creative-evolutionary dimension of the now-dead discipline is gone. No new paradigms or revolutions happen. The exegesis and replication of canonical writings become the predominant activities. Formalisms are not subjected to scrutiny and laws assume eternal, immutable, quality. All the activities of the adherents of the old discipline become ritualized. The old discipline itself becomes a pillar of the extant power structures and, as such, is condoned and supported by them. The old discipline's practitioners synergistically collaborate with the powers that be: with the industrial base, the military complex, the political elite, the intellectual cliques in vogue. Institutionalization inevitably leads to the formation of a (mostly bureaucratic) hierarchy. Emerging rituals serve the purpose of diverting attention from subversive, "forbidden" thinking. These rigid ceremonies are reminiscent of obsessive-compulsive disorders in individuals who engage in ritualistic behavior patterns to deflect "wrong" or "corrupt" thoughts. Practitioners of the old discipline seek to cement the power of its "clergy". Rituals are a specialized form of knowledge which can be obtained only by initiation ("rites of passage"). One's status in the hierarchy of the dead discipline is not the result of objectively quantifiable variables or even of judgment of merit. It is the outcome of politics and other power-related interactions. The need to ensure conformity leads to doctrinarian dogmatism and to the establishment of enforcement mechanisms. Dissidents are subjected to both social and economic sanctions. They find themselves ex-communicated, harassed, imprisoned, tortured, their works banished or not published, ridiculed and so on. This is really the triumph of text over the human spirit. At this late stage in the Life Cycle, the members of the old discipline's community are oblivious to the original reasons and causes for their pursuits. Why was the discipline developed in the first place? What were the original riddles, questions, queries it faced and tackled? Long gone are the moving forces behind the old discipline. Its cold ashes are the texts and their preservation is an expression of longing and desire for things past. The vacuum left by the absence of positive emotions is filled by negative ones. The discipline and its disciples become phobic, paranoid, defensive, and with a faulty reality test. Devoid of the ability to generate new, attractive content, the old discipline resorts to motivation by manipulation of negative emotions. People are frightened, threatened, herded, cajoled. The world is painted in an apocalyptic palette as ruled by irrationality, disorderly, chaotic, dangerous, or even lethal. Only the old discipline stands between its adherents and apocalypse. New, emerging disciplines, are presented as heretic, fringe lunacies, inconsistent, reactionary and bound to regress humanity to some dark ages. This is the inter-disciplinary or inter-paradigm clash. It follows the Psychotic Phase. The old discipline resorts to some transcendental entity (God, Satan, or the conscious intelligent observer in the Copenhagen interpretation of the formalism of Quantum Mechanics). In this sense, the dying discipline is already psychotic and afoul of the test of reality. It develops messianic aspirations and is inspired by a missionary zeal and zest. The fight against new ideas and theories is bloody and ruthless and every possible device is employed. But the very characteristics of the older nomenclature is in the old discipline's disfavor. It is closed, based on ritualistic initiation, and patronizing. It relies on intimidation. The numbers of the faithful dwindle the more the "church" needs them and the more it resorts to oppressive recruitment tactics. The emerging discipline wins by default. Even the initiated, who stand most to lose, finally abandon the old discipline. Their belief unravels when confronted with the truth value, explanatory and predictive powers, and the comprehensiveness of the emerging discipline. This, indeed, is the main presenting symptom, the distinguishing hallmark, of paralytic old disciplines. They deny reality. They are rendered mere belief-systems, myths. They require the suspension of judgment and disbelief, the voluntary limitation of one's quest for truth and beauty, the agreement to leave swathes of the map in a state of "terra incognita". This reductionism, this schizoid avoidance, the resort to hermeticism and transcendental authority mark the beginning of the end.

         
    The mystery behind saturn s moon enceladus

     

    The Cassini-Huygens exploration of Saturn, a seven-year joint venture of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, is getting a closer look at its current subject of attention, the small moon of Enceladus. Enceladus is one of the most innermost moons of Saturn which scientists had assumed to be largely dead. With a very bright surface it reflects nearly 100 per cent of its heat and thereby has a very cold temperature, minus 330 degrees Fahrenheit. A surprising discovery was that Enceladus, unlike nearby similar moon Mimas, is geologically active due to the emission of ice particles propelled by water vapor into the atmosphere from its south pole. Enceladus is a small moon of approximately 300 miles radius and the existence of any geological activity for a moon that size has scientists pleasantly baffled. Discovery of geological activity on any moon has been a rare phenomenon so far. The wonderful unexplained mystery behind Enceladus is the cause of the tremendous heat source that is warming the ice. Scientists can only guess that it is due to tidal activity or radioactive mechanisms for now. At one time it was believed that the heat was being emitted from the mid-latitude tectonic gashes that circumscribe the south polar region. This was what Cassini’s approach in July seemed to imply. However in contrast to that orbit of 286 miles, Cassini’s more recent closer approach of 109 miles confirmed that the heat was actually being emitted from what are known as the tiger stripes of Cassini. The tiger stripes of Cassini are 80 mile long fissures running parallel to each other spaced about 25 miles apart. Cassini is only 314 miles across. The hottest spots were found in the south polar region of the tiger stripes. Cassini determined there were two types of ice on Enceladus. An older amorphous variety was due to the constant characteristic of the surface of the planet. However the ice particles vented through the tiger stripe fissure were fine crystalline particles. This ice averaged ten microns in size. It is these tiny ice particles escaping the moon’s atmosphere that are making up the composition of Saturn’s broadest ring, the E ring. In March of 2008, Cassini is scheduled to visit Enceladus again. Perhaps then more light will be shed on the mystery behind Enceladus. 1) Enceladus Erupting – A Nasa Report – 12-7-05 2) Enceladus Plume – Jet Propulsion Laboratory – 12-6-05 3) Possible Source of E Ring – Bill Arnett – 2-17-05 4) Saturn: Moons: Enceladus – Nasa: Solar Systems Exploration – 10-6-03 5) Enceladus’s Tiger Stripes are Really Cubs – Nasa Release

         
    The odd seven continents theory

     

    Viewed from space, the Earth appears to have four or five major landmass areas depending on your viewpoint. Despite this, we hold on to the illusion there are more continents. As we all learned in grade school, there are seven continents. A quick look at a globe, however, reveals this basic assumption is just flat wrong. In particular, how can Europe be considered a continent when there is no clear division with Russia? To the surprise of many, the Arctic is not classified as a continent. Instead, it is divided up between North America and Asia. Yes, Asia because Russia is considered to be part of it in the seven continents model. Following are the accepted seven continents in alphabetical order. Africa is undeniably a continent by any definition. It is also the second largest one as a measure of landmass, covering over 11,700,000 square miles and making up 5.9 percent of the total surface of the Earth. As a measure of population, Africa is second most populous continent with over 840 million people. Antarctica is also considered a continent, if a particularly barren one. 98 percent of Antarctica is covered in ice and it is the only continent neither considered a country nor claimed by any other country. Based on sheer size, Asia is the dominant continent in the world. It has the largest landmass area and is home to over 60 percent of all humans. Talk about traffic jams! In truth, the measurements on Asia can be a bit misleading. Under the seven continents methodology, Asia extends over much of Russia, the Mideast and even parts of Egypt. Often referred to as the forgotten continent, Australia is the fourth continent. Incorrectly referred to as an island for significant periods of history, Australia is undoubtedly a continent. That being said, it is the smallest in landmass with just more than 4,000,000 square miles, but has a healthy population of over 20 million people. Europe is also considered a continent, but there is little geographic evidence supporting this claim. The continental designation is primarily a political and historical development. Regardless, Europe covers an area of 4 million square miles, but is heavily populated with over eleven percent of the world population at 705 million people. North America is our next continent. Once again, we run into the practical issue of boundaries. Using the seven continent methodology, North America extends into the arctic as expected, but is also considered to include much of Central America. The total landmass is 9.45 million square miles. 514 million people are estimated to live in North America. Our final continent is South America. Covering 6.9 million square miles, South America covers 3.5 percent of the total surface of the Earth. With a population of 371 million people, it ranks as the fifth most populous nation. The misleading nature of the seven continent theory has to do with Europe. If the countries of Europe weren’t such powerful entities through history, would we really consider it a continent? Not likely!

         
    The origins of biological and chemical warfare

     

    Chemical and biological warfare are not an invention of the 20th century. Solon (638-559 BC) used a strong purgative, the herb hellebore, in the siege of Krissa. During the 6th century BC, the Assyrians poisoned enemy wells with rye ergot. In the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), the Spartans flung sulfur and pitch at the Athenians and their allies. In the Middle Ages, besiegers used the bloated and dripping bodies of plague victims as readymade "dirty bombs". In 1346, during its siege of Kaffa (present day Feodosia in Crimea), the Tartar army suffered an outbreak of the Plague. They hurled the corpses of their infected dead over the city walls and into the city's water wells. The resulting epidemic led to the city's surrender. It is widely believed that people afflicted with the horrendous disease fled the place and started the Black Death pandemic which consumed at least one third of Europe's population within a few years. Russian troops adopted the same tactic against Sweden in 1710. Smallpox was another favorite. Francisco Pizarro (1476-1541) gave South American natives clothing items deliberately contaminated with the variola virus. During the French and Indian wars in North America (1689-1763), blankets used by smallpox victims were given to American Indians. General Jeffery Amherst (1717-1797) gifted Indians loyal to the French with smallpox-contaminated bedspreads during the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1767. An epidemic broke among the Native American defenders of Fort Carillon and they lost it to the English.

         
    The physicist with a hangover. thought experiment illustrating microcosmic research

     

    Thought Experiment Illustrating Microcosmic Research (The physicist with a Hangover) I Assume that a certain physicist-experimenter has the task of determining the coordinates of a certain micro-particle on the X-axis at a determined instant, T1 with an arbitrary accuracy. Can this be accomplished? Generally speaking, in the act of measuring in the microcosm, there are determined limitations expressed by Heisenberg’s uncertainty, or indeterminacy principle. These limitations touch some combinations of parameters of micro-particles which cannot be simultaneously measured with arbitrary accuracy. But in this case, it is only one act of measuring a simple parameter on only one axis. So even the most rigorous physicist will say, it is possible with no limitations. This job is quite feasible. So, our experimenter starts the matter. If in the assigned instant T1 he pushes a red button starting the measuring experiment, he will determine the coordinate of micro-particle X1 with arbitrary exactitude. What will it be? It is important to underscore, that there will not be a blurry spatial cloud of probability values, not the abstract mathematical matrix, not transformation of any mysterious function ?, but a concrete point on an abscissa axis. It is a precise measurement result localized in time and along one spatial axis of coordinates. However, this situation is complicated by fact that the experimenter has begun his work having a strong hangover after yesterday's major junket. It was difficult for him to hit the red start button, so he missed and did not start the experiment. The act of measuring was not taking place. There are no problems. It is possible to make the measurement a little later. Assume that our physicist has decided to postpone the act of measuring till the moment of time T2 = T1 + t, where t = 1 minute. As the first act of measuring had not taken place, the situation basically did not change. Limitations have not been set. A new admissible measurement was made with arbitrary accuracy. If all is correct, the experimenter will get the precise coordinate of micro particle X2. It too will be a point on the abscissa axis, but in another place. Some have already guessed that our physicist has missed the red start button again. Again, measurement did not take place. He repeats the experiment and again misses at point X3. So, we shall interpret the situation. Our experimenter has had a series of opportunities for fulfillment of the act of measuring in instants T1, T2, T3 … T(n) … with an inter-spaced t. In any of these, he can get the precise coordinate of a micro particle on the abscissa axis X1, X2, X3 … X (n) …. Using the fact that in thought experiments, it is possible to allow some amusing things, we shall force a time interval t tending to zero. In total, we shall get an infinite series of points on an axis whose spacing will approach zero. The points actually merge into one curve. What is this curve? It is the diagram of precise coordinates of a micro particle along an abscissa axis within some time interval. Thus, at any instant within this space, there will be a point on a curve, having a precise coordinate on an abscissa axis. To say it in another way, each point on this curve can be found if the experimenter at the appropriate moment will start the act of measuring. Evidently, rigid determinism here takes place; there are no loop-holes for randomness and probabilities. But this is not all. We shall assume that our physicist was so clumsy that he has touched the apparatus and has unintentionally changed the shoulder of the measuring instrument from an X-axis to the Y-axis. Now all measurements will be valid for an axis of ordinates. In total, the concrete curve with potentially measurable coordinates of a micro particle will again be obtained. All axes in our case are equal, so as a result of the same mental trick, we can get the precise coordinate curve along the Z-axis. So, we have determined three curves along three axes. They can be integrated into one spatial curve which can safely be named "trajectory". If the experimenter performs only one act of measuring on any of the three axes at any moment within the given inter-space, he establishes a point on this curve (and nowhere else!). On the other hand, each point on this spatial curve can be found if we measure in the appropriate instant any of three axes of coordinates that we choose. There is a complete unique correspondence which does not allow for different interpretations. As a result of this thought experiment, we come to the conclusion that the curve of locomotion of a micro particle really exists, has a precise local in space and time and can be easily found with arbitrary accuracy at any point on any chosen axis. This is quite a deterministic routine. II Problems will arise when we set a task to receive, say, precise coordinates of two or more points at once. Here the key limitation characterizing the nature of our relationships with the microcosm already comes into operation. We have termed it “a problem of the second measurement”. Physicists of the twentieth century have described it with the help of the uncertainty, or indeterminacy, principle of Heisenberg. There are events in the human experience of the macrocosm; there are events in the microcosm. And there is a process of transfer, of presentation of events of a microcosm in our macrocosm. It is important to underscore that the above-mentioned problem does not touch on events in the human macrocosm and microcosm. It touches only the process of translation. Here on border of two worlds, there are key difficulties about which we have already written in the article “Ring Determinism and Probability”. It can be primitively described how difficult it is to transfer more than one precise (with the arbitrary accuracy) measuring value from a microcosm to a human macrocosm. How will it be with other necessary values? Now that a defect in our habitual deterministic exploratory methodology is detected, that inevitably opens the gates for indefiniteness and randomness. It is necessary in the capacity compensation to resort to the usage of indirect descriptively - computational procedures: blurry spatial clouds of probability values, the abstract templates and artful transformations of mysterious function ?. It is important to underscore once more, that all these indirect procedures have no direct association to actual events and processes in the microcosm. These are only computing - descriptive procedures simply convenient for physicists, permitting somehow, to tackle a problem of presentation of events in one pattern to another. In the above-stated Thought experiment, it has been demonstrated, that the curve of motion of the micro particle (trajectory) really exists. Also, each point can be found experimentally with arbitrary accuracy. However, it is not possible for us to map this curve on a diagram with arbitrary accuracy (though roughly it can be made in a bubble chamber or an expansion (cloud) chamber). Positivists (physicists and philosophers) in this situation draw an amusing conclusion;, that the trajectory does not exist in the microcosm, that the micro particle is not a point object precisely localized in space, but represents a probability cloud, blurring space and time, and other nonsense. Materialists, physicists and philosophers, should answer this ugliness in a strictly scientific way with a differentiated approach: separation of recent descriptively-computational models of reality from physical reality in itself. Eventually, it will allow its removal from modern microcosmic physics, already confused by the domination of the superficial descriptively-computational methodology, and achieve successes in a deeper understanding of the essence of relevant physical processes.

         
    The role of private enterprise in putting man into space

     

    Has NASA, the monolithic space agency, failed in it's quest to put man out into the cosmos? Will profit coupled with man's need to explore be the driving engine which sends man into the cosmos? Think about what has moved technology forward within the American society over the past 100 years or so. Was Orville and Wilbur Wright employed by the government. Of course not. Most of their research and development for the invention of the airplane took place within a small bike shop in western Dayton, Ohio, the birth place of aviation. Thomas Edison, who is accredited with 1,093 patents earning him the nickname "The Wizard of Menlo Park" used his own money to build the Menlo Park research labs in New Jersey. In 1889, Thomas Edison established the Edison General Electric Company. Thomas Edison is considered the most prolific inventor of our time and his inventions were created within the realm of private enterprise. Did the seed for the invention of the personal computer germinate within a government lab? The invention of the personal computer came from an assortment of various inventions and from the tinkering of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Job's garage in an area now called Silicon Valley, the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. Their tinkering led to the development of Apple Computers. The story of Bill Gates and the development of the Microsoft family of operating systems took place within private enterprise. The Windows family of operating systems is the most widely used on earth and has been a major player in bringing information technology to the developed world. Examples of major technological advancement within the realm of private enterprise are numerous. Most major technological advancements within society have occurred outside the purview of government intervention. Governments were intended to govern the people. The governments role is to preserve the environment of freedom and democracy so that intellectual curiosity can flourish within this environment. The governments role is also to provide funding, and should not be in the nuts and bolts operation of putting man into space. The ingenuity of man within the realm of private enterprise has resulted in most of the technological advancements we enjoy today. The cosmos will be explored by man operating from the base of private enterprise and the technology needed to explore the cosmos will be developed within that enterprise. Why is this so? NASA is an agency driven by fear of tragedy. More mishaps will decrease the probability of sufficient government funding. This cycle of fear, mishaps, and the hope for continual funding is one that seems to have no end. But mishaps are part of the business of putting explorers into space. What can better withstand the expected mishaps. A government agency or private enterprise. If a private enterprise fails, it's competitor can step in to fill the gap and the engine of private enterprise can continue to push man into space. NASA is not a private enterprise competing within the world market place. NASA is not what it used to be during the Apollo days. Given it's current mind set and culture, it will be difficult within this framework to send man out into the cosmos as true explorers. They have given the nuts and bolts of putting man into space to private contractors. But these NASA contractors have the same NASA mind set because they are under the dominion of NASA. There is a fear of mishaps within contractors without true competition within the market place. NASA awards contracts to the lowest bidder. Does the lowest bidder provide the highest level of safety. Once a company is awarded a contract, they remain a NASA contractor for many years and simply become an extension of NASA. NASA has become a autocratic agency with it's arms extending outward to many companies. NASA's manned space flight program can do no more then low earth orbit. Year after year of low earth orbit does not excite the American people. Astronauts today are no longer household names. An American president here and there will give a speech saying we are going to Mars. Even President Bush's January 14, 2004 speech seems to have already been forgotten by the American public. When we went to the moon this was the start of an exploration. A goal was set on May 25, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, during a speech before a Joint Session of Congress, to reach the moon before the end of the decade. NASA kicked into high gear and achieved one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of mankind. We took the first step into space and then just stopped. Since then all of the manned space missions have never gone beyond low earth orbit, and the American public becomes bored easily. To gain the American interest and support of the Apollo days, we must send true explorers out into space. NASA wants to take such small, time consuming incremental steps that by the time comes when the really exciting work begins, the American support and interest may be eroded to the point where NASA may no longer have the financial means by which to accomplish such an endeavor. Hence, the need for private enterprise to accomplish such an endeavor. If we are going to go into the cosmos, then lets do it and stop the futile activity. A private enterprise is not a bureaucracy. If safety issues arise from qualified personnel within a bureaucracy, these issues may not resonate to the proper people within the organization. A case in point, the knowledge of a strong potential for a O-ring failure at low temperatures between the segments for the solid rocket boosters of the space shuttle, existed within the bureaucracy of NASA before the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. More specifically, this critical information in terms of probability of O-ring compromise was expressed by engineers at Morton Thiokol, the contractor for the development and production of the solid rocket boosters. This information never percolated upward from Morton Thiokol to the proper people within the NASA organization. In private enterprise, which is non-bureaucratic by nature, a relatively small group of people are working toward a common goal. In this situation, safety issues which arise will be known by all members of the organization. Safety issues will not get lost in a bureaucracy. NASA depends on it's contractors to deliver a high level of safety. A private enterprise depends on itself to provide a high level of safety. The structure of a private enterprise is more suited to the endeavor of sending out explorers into space. The government should award grants to the most promising companies with the understanding that the sending out of explorers into space does indeed benefit mankind. Americans are at their best when they competepetition is an integral component of American society. What was the driving force that put us on the moon. It was the competition with the Russians. At the present moment in time, this type of competition does not exist. Although, it appears as if China may be a future competitor. Americans need to compete to accomplish something. It is competition which drives the advancement of technology. Why not let companies compete for government funding and let the research and development occur within these companies, and most importantly let them compete. Space companies can have the same characteristics of any company that wants to produce a viable product. They will not be under contract from NASA and will operate as a separate private enterprise entity. A company can make money from space tourism and the same company can be involved in sending explorers out into space. Government grants can be awarded based on how strong the potential exists for space exploration. A company can be involved in space tourism, exploration, or can provide a research and development platform. This is the future of man's endeavor into space. Man will be exploring the cosmos with private enterprise being the driving engine. If one enterprise fails, one of the competing enterprises will win out. Sure there will be some disasters and risks will be taken because that is the nature of the business. But when unfortunate disasters or mishaps do occur, the private enterprise engine will not grind to a complete halt. Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites team have taken the first steps toward this archetypical dream of exploring the cosmos, and they did it with a fraction of the budget that NASA uses and with a team of 130 or so people to boot. They won the Ansari X-Prize by sending a man into space and returning him safely to earth and then they repeated this within two weeks. An absolutely unbelievable accomplishment given the facilities and resources which were available to them. This could only occur within a society where freedom and democracy are regarded as a right to all individuals. The United States is such a society. Burt Rutan has said that he has never worked a day in his life. He only plays. His passion for his work is what produces results. Burt Rutan and his team represent the core of what makes the United States the greatest country in the world. May be terrorist can get it through their thick heads that freedom does work. Most importantly, Scaled Composites has shown the world what private enterprise can accomplish. Even if Scaled Composite's endeavors never go beyond earth orbit, they have taken the first step within the proper mind set and culture, and this is what will put man into the cosmos. This mind set and culture of pure unadulterated intellectual curiosity is what really will put man into the cosmos. Not NASA's mind set of fear. NASA has played it's important role by lighting the torch in sending man to the moon. We are now at a point in the history of mankind where that torch should be passed to private enterprise. The developer of the Ansari X-Prize I'm sure shares my thoughts. God has placed the planets and all the stars within the universe there for a reason. It is God's intention for us to move outward into the final frontier. We do this to fulfill the natural curiosity that God has given to us and in the process we better the lot of mankind. Lets go...

         
    The science of astronomy really is fascinating

     

    Galaxies, the cosmos, astrophysics, observatories, telescopes: How do we possibly comprehend the reality that the universe is beyond measure, infinite, and endlessly mesmerizing? We can't; that's why astronomy remains so completely fascinating. It's the things in life we do not understand that most often draw our interest; that's simply a natural human impulse -- to be curious, to wonder and to want to be in awe of something far beyond and outside ourselves. We know that stars, like everything else, live and die and that there are scientifically "correct" patterns in the remote sky that both perplex and bewitch us. If astronomy fascinates, it is because there exists in everyone a profound empathy with a world that is inaccessible in its complexity. Who among us has not felt, even fleetingly, spellbound by the immensity of this cosmos, this universe? Modern observatories regularly function as educational centers, providing this feeling of entrancement by presenting the wonder of the cosmos directly to the audience, short-circuiting the intellect for an hour or so and uncovering the wonder at the magic of theuniverse; promoting a sensory, visceral feeling for the human condition and its place in the great book of the cosmos. Astronomy, the science of stars, planets, galaxies, and black holes, is the oldest science, yet it is the most intriguing because the study of the universe will help answer the most important questions human beings can ask, such as: How did the universe begin? What is the structure of the universe? How will the universe change in the future? How do the planet Earth and its inhabitants fit into the larger universe of space and time? Though we may never know the answers to these kinds of questions in our lifetime, we're always thankful for those who will follow us, prepared, with a scientific brain, to one day provide answers -- and maybe more -- to humankind. It's difficult to understand our own galaxy, and we're constantly "adding to it," or discovering new frontiers and small, more distant planets than those we're already familiar with. The sun, and the concept of the planets just in our galaxy alone, provoke wonder and all kinds of speculation. It's food for our brain; it's one of those applications of learning that so enthrall, it doesn't seem like we're "studying" anything. It's an effortless exercise in the Unknown Sphere of the Universe. What better way to pass the time, to postulate upon, to have an intellectually stimulating discussion, maybe with people you don't even know yet? And what about the theories of particle physics that have been developed in conjunction with the standard Big Bang model to explain the origin, evolution and present structure of the universe? What about the origins, evolution, interiors, and energy production of the stars themselves? How are they formed? Why? And we've all heard of "interacting galaxies," but just what, exactly, does it mean? It all sounds like, well, a kind of heaven -- a place we know exists, but that we cannot quite see or understand. Then, there's Newton's laws, the concept of work and energy, momentum, gravitation, sound and light waves. If you haven't felt a slight thrill yet, it's eitherbecause you already know about these atmospheric wonders, or you've been living under a local rock. So get out there and Observe the Universe! It's absolutely spellbinding!

         
     
         
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