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Monday, April 20, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2020 10:48:55 AM
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Last 10 Posts
Is the Earth Flat?
Saturday, November 17, 2018 1:44:55 PM
I met one of those guys! I had the most fascinating, if not enlightening conversation with him. Some of his claims were absurd, as you would expect, but the common thread seemed to be that whenever I challenged his assertions with observable fact, he brushed it all away as a conspiracy perpetuated by the government/NASA/the FAA, et cetera.
This gave me some insight into the sort of thinking that denies the moon landing and the holocaust, along with other events. Once you start to believe that a deception is taking place, it is easy to filter out any non-confirming information that comes your way.
What I find interesting about the moon landing is that you could (somewhat) reasonably argue that for the money spent over 6 trips, NASA could have created a convincing sound stage and save a lot of risk. The problem with that theory is the incredibly simple yet incredibly complicated task of walking. To simulate walking in 1/6 gravity, some sort of cables would be needed to slow the astronaut's return to the surface with each step. It could be done, but probably not convincingly. When I questioned my new friend about the famous
"blue marble" picture
, he brushed that off as an obvious forgery. The thing is, how would anyone know what a spherical earth would look like from space?
If you want to make an argument about the relative sanity of Americans, based on our last presidential election, you should keep in mind that we are always confronted with a binary choice. Will we make it 250 years or not? I like our chances, based on history.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 6:17:32 PM
I read an interesting book in the 1970's entitled "Ancient Engineers" or something like that. Written mostly to debunk a popular book in that era explaining how aliens from outer space gave us all our technology.
For the Egyptian pyramids, the main points to keep in mind are: On an evolutionary scale, people were no less smart or clever than us just a few thousand years ago; all they lacked was technology. To construct a pyramid was to construct a tomb for your leader ("Oh, king, live forever!"), so there was no reason to even appear to be in a hurry to complete the project. If you need a perfectly level foundation, and you don't have a laser level, just put up some short walls and flood the construction site, then work the base until the water is at an even depth. If you want to align a corner of the pyramid with due North, just observe the movement of the stars over the course of time. In the Northern Hemisphere, Polaris will give you a pretty good direction -- it's the only one that does not move throughout the night.
The point is that whatever the obstacles to building such a structure, they are engineering problems, and they are all solvable, even if we cannot currently see how it was done.
Another notion of the Von Daniken book was that UFO's flew all over the earth, inspiring people to build pyramid-shaped structures. However, if you are stacking rocks, your structures will easily tend to be larger at the base and tapered toward the top. No communications between civilizations was necessary for this.
Eleven rules by Bill Gates
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 1:46:01 PM
Beautiful children, JJ!
As to the rules, that list has certainly been around a long time, and the reference to a car phone sorta proves that.
Thursday, April 23, 2015 1:00:10 PM
I would add, that during to apology stage, apologies should not be made when the recipient would be made uncomfortable by it. This is what I understand from people who are closer to the process than I am. So I think that the advice you have already received is sound.
Driving too fast.
Saturday, April 11, 2015 6:19:41 PM
Driving too fast may entail driving faster than what the law allows, driving too fast for conditions, driving too fast for your vehicle's capabilities or driving beyond your skill level. Personally, I always attend to the last three.
How well people abide by the rules is affected by how closely law enforcement is watching. I have seen a substantial portion of U.S. society that abides closely to the rules in all cases. In Germany, the vast majority of people obey the rules because they are
In other countries I have been in, you would think that people make up their own rules.
national characteristics of the U.S. and westward movement's role in this term?
Friday, April 10, 2015 11:50:29 AM
To me, being an American means living in a country that holds individual liberty and freedom as being significant ideals. Indeed, these are considered to be basic rights, and that they are not granted by government but by God. Of course, these rights come with responsibilities as well, but that is part of living in a civilized society.
As FounDit said, the first people to migrate here from Europe were mostly escaping oppressive governments or social caste systems. I would add that many were seeking religious liberty, which drove many of the decisions about how a new government should be set up. For instance, Pennsylvania was founded on the principal of religious freedom, and became settled by peoples of many different beliefs, which can be seen to this day. This segment of the population wanted to live peaceful lives apart from outside interference.
My forbears, on my Mother's side of the family, migrated from England to North Carolina, and were part of a religious sect with strong beliefs about morality and non-violence. As they saw the slavery of Africans and how they were treated, they objected by moving westward, to Indian territory. They re-settled in what is now Indiana, where they supported themselves through agriculture and somehow lived side by side with the so-called natives. These ancestors of mine were also quite active in helping black people from the South find their way to freedom in the North in the time before the Civil War.
Of course, as Drag0nspeaker points out, people are mean, violent, greedy and selfish, at least apart from the British Isles.
The segment of the new American population that was unwilling or unable to live peacefully with others saw new opportunities as they moved further westward, and so the ones most on the fringes of society were found on the western edge of European expansion, until they ended up in California, where they were stopped by the sea. Those who couldn't abide with the society that was already there, having been started by the Spaniards, moved north to Alaska, where wildness still exists. (I say this tongue-in-cheek; it is a varied and multicultural society.)
Meaning of magnitude and direction
Thursday, April 9, 2015 8:18:41 AM
But...I just want to point out that you don't "need" to know the wind direction for all applications. For example, for a wind turbine that automatically points toward the wind, the direction may be unnecessary information since the magnitude of the wind is all that is needed to determine the output of the generator.
And for my example of speed and velocity, the officer doesn't need directional information in order to write you a ticket.
True, but if you are driving in the wrong direction, you will get another ticket for that!
The Philly Cheesesteak
Tuesday, March 31, 2015 12:21:31 PM
There is an authentic Philly Cheesesteak place near my apartment. A delicious treat I enjoy from time to time. All things in moderation.
Voltage or current...
Friday, March 27, 2015 8:58:54 AM
...and now for an essentially unrelated comment: In the petroleum industry, advanced drilling techniques are now fairly common, such as directional drilling. The sensors and actuators for mapping and changing direction are close to the end of the drill string, which, as they say, is "down hole". In this harsh, high-pressure environment, the communication to and from ground level is done through the drilling mud. Drilling mud is used to cool and lubricate the drill bit and flush out the rock chips. Current technology uses longitudinal pressure waves to modulate the mud. You would think that running cables down the center of the pipe would work better, except that the drill string has new pipe added on to it every 31 feet as the drilling progresses, so the cable management would be complicated.
Moore's Law or END of Electronics era ??
Friday, March 27, 2015 8:47:30 AM
Moore's Law gets extrapolated into all sorts of predictions about future technology, but every technology follows an "S" curve. Advances are made over time until incremental improvements become smaller for a given amount of effort. So, at some point, you arrive at the absolute limits of things like the speed at which you can force electrons through a semiconductor, the smallest size of a feature you can write with UV light and photoresist methods. At these limits, the only significant advances come when a new technology is developed, like computing with light waves.
If photonic computing is the next technology, I would expect that we would still have electronics for interfacing, so it would not necessarily spell the end of the electronics era.
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