Workout notes -3 F outside but sunny; still I ran inside.
First I went on treadmill 1: ran at mostly 0.5 incline and changed speed every 5 minutes. Then at 10:10 mpm I did 10 x (2 minutes 0 elevation, 2 minutes at elevation) going 1-2-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 and then 2 minutes to get to 1:01:55 (6 miles).
Switched treadmills then varied the speed to make 2 more miles (21:22).
the plan was to really gun the last 2 miles (at a tempo pace) but the hill repetitions took more out of me than I had anticipated. The intensity: what I call “projected marathon pace”: no I couldn’t actually run a marathon at 10:10 minutes per mile, but this is still a useful training intensity for me, especially for hill repetitions.
Note: I still have to focus; I almost stepped off of the treadmill surface when a nearby woman went into “child” pose (facing away from me, of course).
Stephen Hawking has some questions about black holes, with regards to the “event horizon”. Of course, it was known long ago that one could have some “Hawking radiation” from these; basically particles can materialize from the quantum vacuum (pair production) and then one of the newly created particles could get sucked into the black hole, leaving the other suddenly unpaired particle as radiation. (yes, this is grossly oversimplified)
But there are unsolved problems, and so Hawking’s new paper deals with these.
But the headlines read: “Hawking says that black holes don’t exist”. Uh…no. He didn’t say that.
But this is the idea: it took science a long, long time to accept Copernicus’ heliocentric astronomy. True, Galileo saw the phases of Venus and the moons around Jupiter which blew conventional geocentric astronomy out of the water, but there was a “every planet except the earth orbits the sun” model which kept earth fixed.
Why the fixation on keeping the earth fixed? Yes, there were religious objections, but there were scientific objections as well:
1. The earth was known to be massive and scientists at the time knew that it was difficult to move heavy objects. What in the world could move something as massive as the earth?
2. Instruments of the time couldn’t detect stellar parallax. This meant that the stars were a huge distance away. But notice that the stars appear to have a measurable width to them; in fact they should be a “point” of light but that light is smeared out into a disk. At the time, this effect was NOT understood. Hence, a star that was so absurdly far away (as to not show parallax) that appeared to be that wide would have to be absurdly huge, even when compared to our sun.
How do you resolve these two “facts”: great distance and huge size?
Even when heliocentric astronomy became accepted, scientists admitted that there were other problems that cropped up; these problems were not to be resolved until much later.
So, the push-back against Copernican astronomy was NOT entirely religious; scientists of the day had reasonable objections to the theory, and defenders of the then-new theory resorted to….well…appeals to the supernatural and to philosophy to explain away the difficulties.
RANT TO FOLLOW
I admit that I cringed when I saw the title of the article and started to read it. Yes, it was a well written, very intelligent article. And yes, I’ll gladly recommend it to my smarter, more scientifically minded and interested friends. But….there is this…..
“SEE, Science is wrong all of the time!”
(uh, on the whole, science eventually gets it right….you are seeing this on a computer, aren’t you? )
“Hey, they laughed at Einstein”
(uh, as a unknown graduate student, Einstein got his work published in a top flight peer reviewed physics journal; in fact he got 4 of them. Where are your peer reviewed publications? Besides those who came up with the big new ideas are intellectual outliers who completely understood science and the then current theories. You are not one of those, and no, having a good SAT score, passing an undergraduate course or even getting a Ph. D. doesn’t make you that sort of outlier.)
“My ideas are new and radical”
(yes, and most non-mainstream ideas are completely wrong; it is just that we never hear about the vast majority of the wrong ones. What reason have you given for anyone to take the time to listen to you?).
Bottom line: established scientific ideas are sometimes overthrown or superseded or modified, but only rarely and only after a LOT of difficult checking and cross checking by a LOT of smart people ….and they find the new idea promising enough to give in a thorough examination.
Economics Austerity: does it work? Evidence is scant.
We are adding jobs. All isn’t rosy but things are somewhat better:
Still, unlike some other months that presented decidedly contradictory signals, many of the underlying factors identified by government statisticians at least pointed in the right direction. Hourly earnings, as well as the length of the typical workweek, both increased. The overall labor participation rate, while still low by historical standards, rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 63 percent.
At the same time, jobs were added to a broad range of sectors, rather than restricted to a few, lower-paying areas.
Manufacturing, closely watched because its ups and downs serve as a bellwether of the overall economy, added 27,000 workers. Besides that jump, Mr. Gapen of Barclays said he was also glad to see that the construction sector gained jobs for the third month in a row, indicating that housing continues to rebound.
Protons, of course, are made up of subatomic particles. It turns out that the total mass of a proton doesn’t change over a superlong period of time. One might ask: “well, why would it?” But this is one of those fundamental questions that should be asked.
Lots of times, authors of pop-science articles and books will take a routine fact, loudly proclaim that this fact “kills well known theory/hypothesis/metaphor X” (even if all it does is kill a simplistic caricature of it) and then get blistered by other scientists. Here is such a case; here someone claims that the “Selfish Gene” metaphor is dead. Richard Dawkins says: “Really? I think not.”:
Over at Richard Dawkins’s own site, he’s responded to Dobbs’s misguided critique of the “gene-centered” view of evolution as described in The Selfish Gene. Richard’s piece is called “Adversarial journalism and the selfish gene.“ He’s remarkably polite for a man who’s been trashed in such an unfair (and erroneous) manner, and politely though firmly explains that, yes, he knows about regulatory genes and that, as we know, they’re simply selfish genes that regulate other selfish genes. He compares the toolbox of regulatory genes (a simile the biologist Sean Carroll also uses) to the subroutines of a Macintosh. and then notes:
Does Dobbs, then, really expect me to be surprised to learn from him that:
“This means that we are human, rather than wormlike, flylike, chickenlike, feline, bovine, or excessively simian, less because we carry different genes from those other species than because our cells read differently.”
Does Dobbs really think the existence of genes controlling the expression of other genes is either a surprise to me or remotely discomfiting to the theory of the selfish gene? Genes controlling other genes are exactly the kind of genes I have in mind when I speak of “selfish genes” as the “immortal replicators”, the “units of natural selection”.
Jerry Coyne (a biologist) says more here.
Larry Moran (a biochemist) mostly likes Coyne’s critique, but has some quibbles with it.
The upshot: a biochemist looks, of course, at the molecules and is apt to characterize evolution (a change in the frequency distribution of alleles with time) at the molecular level; the biologists tend to look more at the bodies, organs, etc.
In this case, Moran is more from what I’d call “pluralistic mechanisms for evolution” camp (assigning heavier weight to thinks like random genetic drift, in which neutral mutations (no effect on reproductive success) account for much of the variation) whereas Coyne has been called a neo-Darwinian (Natural Selection is the overwhelming factor, though other factors (such as drift) influence evolution).
This is the type of thing smart accomplished scientists argue about.
Speaking of evolution and biology This is an interesting result in cancer research.
The rough idea is this: cells use something called a “replication fork” when they reproduce. Sometimes this fork breaks. Healthy cells use one mechanism to repair a damaged “replication fork” whereas cancerous cells use a different one.
This might provide insight on how to fight some cancers.
Politics What is the US political center anyway? Basically, there are populists (socially conservative, but shares “economic fairness” arguments with liberals) and libertarians (socially liberal, but staunchly pro-free market) among others; the upshot is that there is really not a situation to make a party out of this group.
Medicine and anatomy
This is astonishing to me:
WHEN the news broke recently that a team of Belgian scientists had “discovered” a new body part — a ligament located just outside the knee — the first place my mind went was to Padua.
Padua is the small city in northern Italy where the 16th-century Brussels-born scientist Andreas Vesalius taught anatomy and created his history-making masterpiece, “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” (“On the Fabric of the Human Body”), published in 1543. The old man would have been delighted by the news, I couldn’t help thinking.
Really: we are still learning things AT THIS LEVEL? Well, read the article to see the various factors as to why this really isn’t that surprising after all. This is probably why medicine is so difficult.
“Open minded-ness”: To me, a “good” open mind is one that is open to new EVIDENCE; remember that there is more “noise” than signal out there.
One often hears about how “even Einstein had something good to say about religion (“science without religion is lame”); but remember that Einstein rejected the idea of a personal deity. Jerry Coyne explains it further in this New Republic article.
The bottom line: science is hard and some scientific facts, even non-quantum physics facts, are difficult to impossible to grasp without a command of mathematics (e. g. angular momentum) I’ve linked to other examples here.
But on the other hand, “good math” doesn’t mean “accurate model”.
Traffic jams: I don’t like them either, but some of these can be modeled by using the principles of fluid dynamics. Upshot: proper speed changes can avert SOME of these.
Some fluids change their viscosity and can turn into a solid, albeit briefly.
Evolution in action
This insect has evolved “ant” mimics on its wings to deter predators.
Galaxies can take several shapes; this article is about “ring” galaxies.
Here is a demonstration of angular momentum.
It is a non-intuitive concept; Mano Singham (physicist) explains it here.
A physics note: Englert and Higgs won the Nobel Prize for physics for their work on how particles acquire mass (by passing through a field).
Ying/Yang of living in the United States of America
On one hand: we have MIT. Here, scientists have developed a new type of self-assembling robot.
At Livermore Lab: scientists have gotten nuclear fusion past the break even point (more energy released than used to start the reaction to begin with.
So, on the coasts, some interesting science research.
But in the halls of Congress: we have a US Representative (Michele Bachmann) babbling about “end times”. Yes, there are millions of Americans who don’t find such talk “crazy”. Sigh.
I chuckled at this “poe” meme:
But that reminded me of a question I had when I was a grade school kid. I have an interest in astronomy but I was, well, very naive. I had read that solar eclipses were rare things but I didn’t understand why they were rare.
Our school had something similar to this model of our solar system, and our version had a moon that went around the earth.
So, I asked the teacher about the model; she attempted to explain it to me. Then I asked: “why isn’t there a solar eclipse every time the moon goes around the earth…she didn’t get the question at first. So I showed her that, according to the model, the moon would frequently be between the earth and the sun at least once every lunar orbit.
She “got it” and then said “I don’t know”.
I looked for the answer in astronomy books (I didn’t know educated people) and it took a while for me to find the answer. Reason: my question was not the kind of question that elementary school teachers thought of, and it was too dumb of a question for a “serious” astronomy book to handle.
I wonder if there are other questions of this type out there.
Forget the upside down joke. Why can’t you weigh the earth in this manner? Or…can you?
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