1. ## iNow

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3. ## studiot

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4. ## MigL

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## Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/19/21 in all areas

1. ## Hiatus

Dear All, I am going to take a hiatus from the forum from today. As some of you might know, the natural sciences are not my only area of interest; in particular, I am committed to a form of spiritual practice as well, and have been living in a Buddhist monastery as a lay person for the past few years. I have made the decision to deepen this practice further by ordaining as a monk in the Theravadin Thai Forest tradition, and for various logistical and monastic-political reasons this should ideally happen at a traditional training monastery in Thailand. So tomorrow I will be departing for Thailand to seek ordination there. I think it doesn’t need pointing out that forest monks generally don’t spend a lot of time on Internet forums, so chances are that I will only get to check in here very occasionally, if at all. That being said, there are a lot of question marks and uncertainties, particular in terms of immigration formalities, so it is possible that I need to come back here to Europe in a few weeks once my initial entry permit runs out, and make alternative arrangements from here (meaning I’ll have to find another place to ordain). I will only know once I get to the monastery and start dealing with the local immigration authorities (I see frustration and nightmares on the horizon!), but I’m willing to take that risk. I have been debating whether it is useful to present my reasons for going this path - you have seen me here being on about physics and equations all the time, so this might appear strange to some of you. But I’ve decided not to, because when it comes down to it, I can’t really present a convincing rational argument - this decision simply didn’t come about as the result of reason. I will say only that I’ve seen and understood enough in the spiritual practice that I have already done in the last few years, to know that this is the right path for me. The argument is a phenomenological one, not the result of rationality, so it cannot be easily conveyed in a written post. Spirituality ultimately expresses itself in the kind of person you become by engaging in it, and that’s not something you can fake or wear as a mask. You also cannot reason yourself into the monastic life - that is far too weak a basis for anyone to be at peace with that form of life, never even mind to be able to derive any benefit from it. It needs to be a true conviction that arises somewhere deep within, and that cannot be verbally communicated to others. I will add here that for me there has never been any contradiction between scientific endeavours, spiritual practice, and philosophical enquiry. Not only is there no contradiction, for me these are just aspects of the same underlying motivation to better understand the human condition; hence, if engaged with in the right way, they are complementary and inform each other. I have always felt strongly that it is necessary to achieve some kind of synthesis of these three things for us as a species to make any kind of real long-term progress, since each one in isolation can be misused for harmful and even destructive purposes, as history has sadly shown us all too often. So anyway, thank you everyone for sharing in these discussions, and I hope I have been able to make some kind of contribution - no matter how small - to this forum. In case I’m not back here for a while, I wish all of you the very best, and hopefully we’ll cross paths again. Keep my account open, just in case
12 points
2. ## I got a major award today (plaque, not a sexy leg-lamp) for my "staunch defense of US

I got a major award today (plaque, not a sexy leg-lamp) for my "staunch defense of USNO's interests" in a project I'm working on
8 points
3. ## Mike Smith Cosmos

I was reading through Mordred's long standing thread on space and I came across some posts from Mike in the early part. Members may wish to know that Mike passed away earlier this month after a long standing degenerative illness (not covid). Mike was an interesting character, an artist with a degree in Physics and the founder of a successful manufacturing business before retirement to Cornwall. His artistic (dreamy) side gave him an unusual and sometimes frustrating perspective on Physics, especially later in life when we knew him. But he was a genuine character and sometimes offered suprising insights as well.
8 points
4. ## Jordan Peterson's ideas on politis

You can label it Political Correctness, or whatever you wish. The fact is that our Western societies are now almost at a point where the individual right nt to be offended, trumps society's right to free speech. And where your own personal, subjective reality can be forced, under threat of law, on the rest of society. If it was someone in authority doing this to society, you would all label him a despot, or dictator, or fascist. When it is anyone with a gripe against the rest of society, or a pretentious, virtue signalling university student, who has no clue what being underpriviliged really is, you guys all stand and cheer, while disparaging those who stand up against the nonsense, claiming they are out of their area of expertise, or just in it for popularity and money. You guys need to give your collective heads a shake !
7 points

7 points
6. ## What taxes a billionaire?

There are several parallel issues here. One is that wealth acquired by the ultra wealthy tends to get put into tax shelters and nebulous investments so it grows (but remains outside the system), whereas that same money in the hands of the less fortunate goes IMMEDIATELY into the community around them. They spend it on groceries and vehicle repairs and school clothes for kids and paying the electricity bill so it’s not dark in their apartment anymore at night and their kids can read. The providers of those goods and services in that community where this money is being spent ALSO spend the money once received for THEIR groceries and THEIR service needs and on THEIR kids. Dollar for dollar / unit for unit… the money in the hands of the less fortunate does more net good than money in the hands of the already fortunate. Yes, spending from the wealthy also creates jobs and injects money back into the system, but very little relative to money used in “trickle up” stimulation packages. Also, a bit of extra money in the hands of someone who already has a bunch of it doesn’t tend to change their behavior or encourage extra spending. Getting $1,000 tax break when you’re sitting on$50M isn’t going to suddenly result in them finally making a call to a plumber or the purchasing a new dishwasher… but for the person living paycheck to paycheck that money literally changes lives, gets spent and injected back into the system quickly, and results in lasting reductions in poverty and suffering. When you’re living at the margins, every dollar counts. It also costs a lot to be poor. When the washing machine breaks, you can’t afford a new one but you can afford to pump quarters into the machine at the laundromat… but that ends up being more expensive on net. When the car breaks down, you don’t get to work on time and you get fired. The rich, however, have tax protected ways of growing their wealth and can afford tax attorneys to hide it. Paying more tax has more impact on their ego than on their lived experience. The anger at the rich is out of hand, though. We need better policies and enforcement mechanisms, not more hate and vitriol directed at those doing better than us. Sadly, the anger is probably in large part intentionally being amplified by the very people on the receiving end. If they can keep everyone mad and focused on the wrong things, then the status quo remains stable and no progress or change gets made. Like most issues in economics, we make a huge mistake by treating it as a moral failure when at its core it’s a policy failure. Fixing the policy is just super hard because the people with the power to change the laws tend to be the same ones benefiting the most from them… and also because focusing on wonky policy details is hard for a public who’s often just trying to survive through to tomorrow and who’d much prefer throwing stones and being distracted with us/them tribalism. Perhaps this thread could try focusing on wonky policy details instead of distractions like yachts and steel boats… or not.
6 points
7. ## Delta variant, breakthrough infections and related consequences

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there have been key findings that have altered our understanding or required responses to this disease. For example, the realization that pre- or asymptomatic persons might be infectious has required a different approach to masking and social distancing. While we have several threads discussing the pandemic, I feel that recent developments justify a new topic, especially as it could be used to clarify potential misunderstandings. With the delta variant (B.1.617.2) gaining dominance we are seeing yet another change that requires us to re-think the trajectory of the pandemic. First of all, the transmission rate of this variant is much higher than estimates for the original strain. The CDC has compared it to chicken pox, which has a basic reproduction number (R0) of >10. What does it mean? First of all, this might indicate that vaccine-based herd immunity is entirely out of the picture. With a R0 of 10 you would need to have a total protection of >92% of the population. Since the effectiveness of the best vaccines against the delta variant are a bit lower than 90%, it means that even with no vaccine hesitation and even if we could vaccinate children with it, we won't hit the required target for herd immunity. This has been assumed to happen for a while now, and might be the least surprising bit of news. However, there are a few recent findings that have prompted changes in messaging, for example with regard to masking. The key issue here are the finding that folks with breakthrough infections have similar viral loads as unvaccinated folks. What does it mean? Fundamentally there some vaccinated folks that get infected with SARS-CoV-2. That in itself is not surprising. Historically, breakthrough infections happen for most vaccinations at low frequencies. Most of the time the focus is on illness, i.e. symptomatic manifestations of infections. However, as mentioned, the possibility of asymptomatic spread has changed that. The fact that vaccinated folks still have high titers means that folks with breakthrough infections could infect others and especially unvaccinated folks are at risk of becoming seriously ill. Vaccinated folks, for the most part do not seem to develop serious symptoms anymore, but it means that vaccinated folks could unwittingly infect and endanger un-or undervaccinated folks. This has prompted a reversal in the masking recommendation. Moreover, it has made many infectious disease experts nervous as in many countries mask mandates are being lifted. Unknowns: There are still many open questions. For example, in the US, the delta variant is causing more illness in younger folks, including children. It is not clear whether this is really a property of the virus, or just because younger folks tend not to be vaccinated. It is not certain whether the vaccine effectively protect from long-haul COVID symptoms. The rate of breakthrough infections is unclear, we know the lower end of the estimate based on detected cases, but since folks without symptoms typically do not get tested, we do not know exact numbers. Even in a highly vaccinated community it is possible that there is a large enough reservoir to allow new variants to develop. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7031e2.htm?s_cid=mm7031e2_w https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.31.21261387v1 Discussion points: As a whole it means that we are heading into new territory during fall and winter. The big question is whether the current vaccination rates are good enough to prevent mass hospitalization or will easing of restrictions make folks forget that the disease is still there and cause a new surge. Vaccine hesitancy will add fuel to this potential fire. The communication in many countries/states/provinces have been confusing to say the least and quite a few folks I have talked to seem under the impression that there is little danger left, despite the fact that even in highly vaccinated countries, especially younger folks are barely hitting 50% of full vaccinations. Moreover, most folks in the world are still unvaccinated, meaning that we will need to prepare for more variants. Everyone is being sick and tired of the situation, yet undoubtedly the world has changed yet again (and will continue to do so). A big decision at some point is to establish how many deaths we are comfortable with. With regard to flue, for example, the number is surprisingly high across countries and by any estimate, COVID-19 is going to eclipse it, unless very high vaccination rates are maintained, which is notoriously difficult. Edit Aug, 19, 2021: A new preprint has come out indicating that with the Delta variant Pfizer might only be 42% effective at preventing infections (not disease!) and Moderna was about 76%. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.06.21261707v1 This seem to highlight that behavioral prevention is still going to be important.
6 points
8. ## Are there more than 2 sexes?

I think we can all agree that for the purpose of reproduction of the species ( human, that is ), only two sexes are needed. One is not enough, and three ( or more ) are superfluous. That doesn't mean that there are not people who don't fully fit into the male, or female, grouping; but for the criteria of reproduction, there is no third ( or 4th, or 5th ) category to place them in. One has to ask, then, what is the purpose ( or agenda, if you will ) for having more than the male and female sex classifications. Please explain. Thank God he's not Mexican, or you'd imply he was lazy. Or Oriental and a bad driver. Or Italian and a mobster. Can you see what is wrong with that line of thinking, Stringy ? I had hoped this thread had died, because I really don't like having people I consider friends call each other 'dicks', or make thinly veiled implications of transphobia, homophobia or racism, so this will be my only post on this thread. But I would like an answer ( I will still read ) as to WHY a third sex is needed, and what is the PURPOSE of the differentiation. Is more 'separation' really desirable to more 'inclusion' ? Is this just another social engineering exercise ? Is it to make some people, who feel 'different', feel better about themselves ? What am I not seeing ?
5 points
9. ## Fake News

The attachement from the international libraries association is self explanatory. Although not specifically for scientific matters I thought it was particularly well presented and a good candidate as a sticky on this site.
5 points
10. ## NASA discovery proves Dark Matter doesnt exist and disproves standard model of cosmology [FALSE!]

To expand of swansot's post: When you look at the spectrum of a distant light source like a star or galaxy, the spectrum will contain bright and dark lines. These are the emission and absorption lines from the different elements in the source. Every element has a distinct pattern of lines that occur at a particular point of the spectrum. If the light from the source is absorbed/scattered, you will see a dimming of a certain part of the spectrum, but those lines will still be there, in the same pattern and same part of the spectrum because all that is happening is that you are receiving a smaller proportion of light from one end of the spectrum. With red/blue shift, what we see is all these spectral lines shifted to new positions in the spectrum. So for example, a pattern that normally is in the yellow part of the spectrum will move towards the orange. You may not even notice much of a change in the overall "redness" or "blueness" in the spectrum as a whole, as non-visible frequencies shift into the visible at the red end, and visible light at the blue end shifts into the non-visible range.
5 points
11. ## Jordan Peterson's ideas on politis

It is a bit annoying that you just put up a link without seemingly having read it (or scrutinized it). Let me do your work for you. First of all these are not three comedians, the first and third link both refer to the same case in which a comedian (Mike Ward) was fined for making fun in his piece of a disfigured singer (Jeremy Gabriel). I am not sure why you think this is about insulting the LGBTQ community and ultimately the comedian did not have to pay on the grounds of freedom of speech. So that leaves one example in which a comic used slurs against a lesbian couple. I will add that this happened in 2007, so quite a bit before C-16. Now, while this may be a good starting point to discuss limits and issues of freedom of expression as well as the issues of anti-discrimination laws- none of these two cases has anything to do with pronouns or misgendering. As such it seems like a poor attempt to find something resulting in lazily posting a quora answer of all things that does not even address the main part of your claim. Darn, that was annoyingly similar to grading assignments.
5 points
12. ## why 0/0 is NOT defined?

If 0/0= a then 0 X a= 0 is also "well defined". a/0, for non-zero a, is "undefined" because if we set a/0= b then a= bX0= 0 which is not true. 0/0 is not defined because if we set 0/0= b then 0= bX0 for any b. Many people say 0/0 is "undetermined" rather than "undefined". But there is no good reason to set it equal to 0.
5 points
13. ## Jordan Peterson's ideas on politis

If we go back to the topic of C-16, it seems to me - and correct me if I'm wrong, his objection is that by disallowing discrimination of people based on gender identity or expression, that would prevent him from refusing to use a person's preferred pronoun, thus limiting his free speech. 1) There is a non-trivial proportion of humans who are actually born biologically intersexed, or conditions such as androgen insensitivity that will cause an individual's genitals to change from female to male during puberty. Not to mention the significant body of research demonstrating the neurological basis of transsexuality. He is basically asking that his delusional denial of biological reality be protected, which to me, seems pretty fragile and snowflakey. 2) Based on 1), how would he know an individual's sex at birth, or current physiological state? If someone says they are he/her/they, how is he to know the phenotypic or neurological reality of that? Even if it changes mid semester? If you tell me you're a Christian, and I deliberately call you a Muslim and presume you follow the tenets of Islam - that would currently be discrimination and he doesn't seem to have a problem with that. It would appear that applying it to gender identity is cherry picking. 3) No one is forcing him to believe in gender dysphoria, or accept the biological fact that gender is not fixed at birth. They are compelling him not to discriminate against those who do. As such, his right to question the validity of gender fluidity remains protected. The only thing being taken away is his "right" to discriminate against specific individuals based on their identity. Which brings the argument down to "You are denying my "right" to treat people differently based on their gender identity" which, yes - is the intent of the law. Watch me play this tiny violin.
5 points
14. ## What keeps the universe going and will it stop or go on forever?

If by 'keep on going' you mean do things, like work, then it is energy that keeps it 'going'. Energy has some funny properties. If you have a box divided by a partition, where one side has a more energetic gas than the other side, the partition will be accelerated, and move. That is an example of doing work ( much like the pistons moving in your car's engine let you travel down the road ) When the gas on both sides of the partition has equal energy, obviously the partition will stop moving, and no more work can be done. Notice that the total gas still has energy, but it is the difference in energy that allows work, and processes to happen. So, we have useable energy, which can do work, and un-useable energy which cannot. We call this process, of converting useable energy into un-useable, entropy. Entropy can also be a measure of the 'order' of a system, which means that, although it can be reversed locally ( life is proof of that ), it must always increase globally. That is where the idea for the 'heat death' of the universe comes from. Once entropy of the universe is maximized, and there are no more energy differences, all work and processes will cease, and the universe will essentially be dead. This is a rather simple explanation, which is, hopefully, suitable for your level of understanding. If you should need elaboration, don't be afraid to ask.
5 points
15. ## Is Gravity a Force?

Yes @joigus, I lurk in the shadows and follow proceedings here whenever I get the opportunity At present I live in the jungles of Thailand, having recently been ordained as a monk, and do not have access to anything other than an old mobile phone with spotty and slow internet access, so I’m not really in a position to participate in discussions. It’s just too slow and painful to type this way. I will return once I get access to better infrastructure - perhaps some time next year. Satellites in orbit are in free fall - place an accelerometer into them, and it will show exactly zero at all times. No proper acceleration -> no force acting on them. And yet they don’t fly off into space, but remain gravitationally bound into their elliptical orbits. Clocks in them are also dilated wrt to far-away reference clocks, which is also a gravitational effect. Thus, no force, but still gravity. Newtonian forces are simply bookkeeping devices, and as such they often work well - but only in the right context. Their nature is descriptive, but not ontological. They are not very physical either, given that they are assumed to act instantaneously across arbitrary distances. The strong, weak, and EM interactions aren’t ‘forces’ in that sense at all, since they work in very different ways. They are only sometimes called ‘forces’ by convention, for historical reasons. They ultimately arise through the breaking of symmetries, with the particles involved being irreducible representations of symmetry groups. Finally, it should be noted that physics makes models, that’s what it sets out to do - and as such it is always descriptive rather than ontologically irreducible. So, asking whether gravity “really is” A or B, or whether A or B are “true” is fairly meaningless, since both A and B are descriptions of reality, but not reality itself. Like maps of a territory. The correct question is thus whether models A and/or B are useful in describing gravity, and in what ways and under what circumstances they are useful. So - Newtonian gravity is sometimes useful, but GR is more generally useful, as it gives more accurate predictions for a larger domain. So for now the best answer to “what is gravity” that we have is a purely descriptive one: it’s geodesic deviation, and thus a geometric property of space time. To put it flippantly, it’s the failure of events to be causally related in a trivial manner. Future advancements may upend this picture in the high-energy domain, perhaps radically. We’ll see. I’m sorry I can’t contribute much at the moment, but I’ll leave you with the above thoughts. I could have written much more, but it’s too much of a pain on a small mobile phone screen.
5 points
16. ## Transgender athletes

I watch MMA. Some women in the sport have raised concerns about transgender athletes, which is how it came to my attention. Some in the medical have put forward scientific reasons to legitimise this concern, others refute these reasons, and that debate continues within the medical community (links have been provided in the course of this thread). To have these concerns just brushed away as ridiculous, and to equate them with resistance against gay marriage is unhelpful at best. It's the sort of rhetoric that pushes people toward Trump and Brexit, as it exacerbates the us vs them attitude that precludes nuanced debate - the nuance here being that having concerns about transgender athletes does not automatically make you transphobic (although it's likely true that all transphobes oppose all trans athletes and will leverage legitimate concerns to muddy the waters). It may turn out that these concerns are unfounded, but i would hope, on a science forum of all places, that the concerns were addressed rather than being dismissed simply ridiculous. It is patronising.
5 points
17. ## Billion-year-old fossil reveals missing link in the evolution of animals

Technically, I already have. Thanks, though
5 points
18. ## Biden and the \$15 minimum wage

Nobody here gives a shit what you believe, Jay Tony. This is a topic where facts both exist and matter. https://www.statista.com/topics/5920/minimum-wage-in-the-united-states/ https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/03/15-minimum-wage-black-hispanic-women/
5 points
19. ## I will no longer post on your forum for the following reasons.

Lol I’m reminded of this
5 points
20. ## BLM, Capitol Riot, Hypocrisy and False equivalency -Split from: Blow to US Democracy

We can all agree that violence on either side is wrong and should be avoided. What we seemingly cannot agree upon is why so many feel the need to engage in whataboutism and mention a protest in favor of following our laws done in Portland with an insurrection on our democracy itself trying to dismantle our laws in Washington DC. Whether intentionally or not, this suggests an equivalence between the events which is false and which only distracts us from dealing with each separately, appropriately, and in accordance with our laws. Person A: Climate change is a major problem. Person B: What about covid?! That’s a problem, too. Me: Both are. They’re not equivalent. They’re not mutually exclusive. We must deal with both at once. Walk and chew bubble gum. Simply replace climate and covid with DC and Portland. This isn’t exactly rocket science.
5 points
21. ## A very tough (and possibly controversial) poll about sexual abuse and rape

While this thread is closed and (I think) being the only person who identifies as female in this thread, I just wanted to provide a little food for thought. Of all the women in my life with whom I am close to, I can't think of a single one who hasn't been sexually assaulted or raped by a man at some point in her life. I cannot say the same about the men I know wrt to false accusations. Anecdotal I know, but something to think about.
5 points
22. ## Newton knew that his law of gravity is not final

I think it is still very much open. GR is an accurate and very valid description of gravity (within its domain of applicability), but it isn’t an explanation, because it has nothing to say about the underlying mechanism. We simply don’t know yet how and why macroscopic spacetime with its observed degrees of freedom comes about; we can only describe its dynamics. This is why research into quantum gravity is so important.
4 points
23. ## A Riddle Or Not + Zeno's Moving Arrow

This Zeno paradox is deeper than any of the others and was not properly answered for 150+ years after the others. The other Zeno paradoxes rely on sequences of integers and their reciprocals. This one relies on something deeper. The solution came after it became necessary to integrate many functions that could not be integrated by the Riemann integral, commonly taught in high school today. As you likely know, the Riemann integral is the sum of lots of small rectangles that make up the area under a curve. In fact it is the limit as the width of these rectangles ten to zero. But Zeno's question is what happens when that limit is reached ie the width is zero? The generalisation the the Riemann integral was introduced by Lebesgue (1875 - 1941) adn this ushered in what today is known as measure theory. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Lebesgue The other approach to this issue was also developed in the first half of the 29th century by Paul Dirac and is known as the Dirac Delta function.
4 points
24. ## Human Rights in a pandemic

In this thread I would like to explore the legal and ethical basis of pandemic (or public health in general) related restrictions of human rights. I will focus on human rights as outlined by the universal declaration of human rights https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx. Specifically Article 12 of the covenant is important here: In a specific comment the office of the high commissioner for human rights outlined that: In other words, they see a close connection between these rights. Yet certain health measures might curb rights. The basic framework to realize health within a human rights framework is therefore that any restrictions need to be implemented in a way that maximizes the outcome but must also be lawful, proportionate, necessary and applied fairly. These limitations have been outlined in the Siracusa Principles https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/1984/07/Siracusa-principles-ICCPR-legal-submission-1985-eng.pdf So independent of the actual implementation in the last years, there are guiding principles for the lawful implementation of public health measures. As such implementing public health measures, including isolation or other mandates are not necessary at odds with human rights principles. In fact, I would argue it is dangerous to frame it that way as it would necessarily decrease compliance and delegitimize the measures themselves. That being said, it can be argued that many implementations might have been insufficient in following these guidelines. Fore example, self-isolation can result in the loss of job. While many countries have provided some worker benefits, that may be insufficient. Likewise, it can be argued that many of these measures are not applied equally. Low-income folks have a harder time following many measures as they are strapped for means, while higher income folks or folks with jobs that allow remote work are barely affected. This is not only exclusively a human rights argument, but also one of public health, as folks with economic constraints are often less likely to get tested in the first place, in fear of losing their jobs. We can explore the intersection of each of these rights with a view on public health and discuss their implementation (and potential violation) of a given right. For example: Quarantines and lockdowns are obviously a limitation of the the freedom of movement. In order to ensure lawful implementation several aspects must be safeguarded. These include: - only implement mandatory restrictions when scientifically warranted and only when individual health and safety can be safeguarded. This includes ensuring that folks can continue to secure their livelihood, have access to necessities and have access to other necessary services (e.g. support for disabled). Fundamentally speaking, mostly voluntary measures in conjunction with education, widespread screening and contact tracing are in fact likely to work better in most areas as it will increase cooperation. Erosion of public trust on the other hand is likely to result in more folks trying to evade these measures.
4 points
25. ## Are there more than 2 sexes?

Ok, So a person born with a single X chromosome is not karyotypically male (XY) or female (XX). They have female gonads, and can typically reproduce with fertility treatments, but often display masculine secondary features. Typically, they have a female gender identity, but not always. Ergo, such a person exists in a genotypic/phenotypic state between the general definitions of male and female. The medical diagnosis they would generally be given is that of Turner's Syndrome. Yes, they are medical diagnoses of intermediate states. As an analogy most humans have 46 chromosomes. Some have 47. They are typically diagnosed with Downs, Edwards, Patau etc Syndrome - just because there are medical diagnoses for trisomies doesn't mean that ALL humans have 46 chromosomes - because people with 47 chromosomes do exist. Yes I am, and no, it's not about inclusiveness necessarily - it's simply factual accuracy. Intersex people exist, which means that sex is non-binary for a proportion of humans. Stating that they somehow don't count because of the associated diagnoses for these states doesn't make people with Turner's, Klinefelter's AIS etc disappear. As I alluded to previously, you wouldn't throw all the cyan lizard specimens out the window just so you could put the lizards into jars labelled blue and green, so why would you do it with human sexes?
4 points
26. ## Are there more than 2 sexes?

There is not necessarily a need for one. I.e. if we only want to discuss reproduction, we certainly can ignore infertile groups for the most part. This is one of the various cases where a binary classification is useful and as routinely done. However, I interpreted the OP as broader, as in: "does sex only exist in a binary classification system". As a biologist the almost automatic answer is "no" as basically every classification scheme we have is just a simplification in which almost always cases are found which do not fit these schemes (there are many things that are taught as being universal, except when they aren't, such as e.g. species, or the genetic code). Whether we need to use or address those elements in our scheme depends highly on what we use the classification for. If, for example we solely look at reproduction as a particular trait, then of course we would not need to consider infertile variants. If, on the other hand the question is can we cover the whole human variety that exist just using two sexes, well, in this thread no one managed to create a definition that would have not at least some group falling outside of it, which by definition does not cover the whole variety that exists. To provide an alternative approach to visualize but also categorize sex, which biologically exists in a continuum, in a more concise way some developmental biologists in the 50s tried to create a model of sexual development in humans. Fundamentally the idea is to look at the various steps starting from the karyotype to the full development of sexual organs and organize them into layers. So for example the karyotype would be considered the first element or layer which would be the genetic basis for the following development. The second layer is then when embryonic endocrine organs are formed that make hormones that push development more toward a male or female direction. Then in interaction with those, the next step would be the formation of internal reproductive organs then shaping external sexual organs etc. (I am sure that I missed some finer points but you get the idea). However, the folks who developed this model where especially interested in what they called intersex- i.e. those where either one or multiple of these layers where not clearly in the one or the other extreme. The karyotype could be fully male for example, but much of the internal and external organs would look female (so you could classify layer one as entirely male, but layers two is a bit indetermined resulting in the following layers looking female, for example). Each of the layers is non-binary as individuals would fall somewhere between the two extremes. A person that we would consider archetypical male would therefore fall mostly on the male side at each of these layers, a female on the opposite. However, persons that do not consistently are in or the either end (or perhaps are somewhere in the middle in some of those layers) could be considered intersex or at least on the extreme end of one of the genders (e.g. someone with a micropenis but otherwise fitting in the male categories in the other layers otherwise). So that is an example of an alternative model of sex, which tries to capture the complexity of sex and was developed in order to understand the concept of intersex. And before someone accuses science of following some current political agendas, this model was developed sometime in the 50s which, to my knowledge, is not generally considered to be overrun by SWJs. But at the same time, the folks stopped short of developing a new classification scheme, it was more a descriptive model to a broader range of human sexual elements which would not be possible if we just ignored the presence of those falling outside an exclusive binary scheme. These thoughts have been polished over the years and the mechanisms in each of these layers have been more tightly connected to complex signaling networks which are not simply on or off (i.e. binary) but you can imagine various parts of the network pushing into one, whereas other elements pull in another direction (for each element, i.e. gonadal development, sex organ development etc.) and as such at each step you have a range of possible outcomes (which also depends on external factors, such as exposure to xenoestrogens). But that being said, it is a model used in a particular context, but is likely to unwieldy if one is really not interested in the finer developmental differences between individuals.
4 points
27. ## Is the Earth Really Flat?

! Moderator Note We don't delete anything, but we also won't direct traffic to obviously incorrect science. I will ban you though. Sorry, but I hope you have horrible luck with that website of yours, and I hope you don't mess up too many of your fellow humans with your ignorant misinformation. Please study some science.
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28. ## Jordan Peterson's ideas on politis

As a biologist I know that not to be true. What you state is part of a larger evolutionary narrative where biological structures, such as brains are build up successively from simpler to more complex form. Only, that is not the case, it is more like a broad branch of different structures to fulfil sometimes similar functions. It is like saying that modern microchips incorporate vacuum tubes. Specifically, the "old" structure, responsible for fear and aggression is mostly the amygdala, but is only found in vertebrates. Lobsters, for starters do not even have a brain and we do not share the same structures or responses. I.e. it is not more insightful than e.g. saying that folks should always stand their ground, like trees. Those that uproot themselves will die of nutrient deprivation. Or men should never procreate otherwise the women will behead them and use them as snacks. It only sounds insightful if you do not think about it. Also delicious (actual) brains.
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29. ## Jordan Peterson's ideas on politis

Yeah, it can get very messy from what I've read. Ultimately, when studying nature, I think we are superimposing theoretical frameworks on nature that may or may not be durable and are, in fact, pertinent only under certain conditions. For example, as in this discussion, how increasingly tenuous the binary theory of gender is... it only works viewing through a coarse lens.
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30. ## Jordan Peterson's ideas on politis

Phi provides his opinion on the usage of "suffer fools", and Intoscience provides his alternate opinion, yet Intoscience is accused of 'judging' by Dimreepr, and of being intolerant of other's opinions by others. Then INow chimes in with the implication that ... Intoscience has a problem with Trans people. IOW, transphobic. I, and anyone else reading this, expect better.
4 points
31. ## Jordan Peterson's ideas on politis

I appreciate the sentient, but your words leave me wondering where accountability, personal responsibility, and progress fall in all of this. “Stop being so sensitive. All I did was refer to her as sugar-tits. She’s got a great bosom… it’s a compliment!” ”Stop being so sensitive. All I did was call him a commie. It’s a joke… live a little.” ”Stop being so sensitive. All I did was call him a kraut. He is from Germany, after all.” ”Stop being so sensitive. All I did was call that blackie a nigger. It’s just a word… sticks and stones and whatnot.” What is deemed acceptable to a civilized society rightly evolves with time. We must each ask ourselves if our own ambiguous connection to words from history is somehow more worthy or important than the very real connection others have with cultural acceptance and belonging. After all… Perhaps the world would be a better place for all of us if more people were just a little bit more sensitive. Food for thought.
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32. ## The use and value of Philosophy to Science.

I think one should not see philosophy too much as a separate subject, but looking in a special way to a subject. When a physicist is trying to find a particle at CERN he is doing physics. When a physicist is trying to find a new theory he is doing physics. Both activities are about physical reality. However, when it e.g. turns out that a conceptual framework does not work anymore (e.g. rise of quantum theory in the 1920s), when there are questions about the validity of certain methods, or about a demarcation criterion for science (e.g. string theory, multiverse) then one is doing philosophy. And one does not necessarily need a philosophical education for that: the interest in conceptual clarity and the intellectual capacity to do so, are enough. Latter should not be a real problem for physicists. First of course is really a question of what one is interested in. It's not everybody's thing. So not philosophers should push scientists to philosophical questions, so to speak from another discipline; the need for doing philosophy should arise in themselves because e.g. methodological or conceptual problems. Philosophers might be helpful in methodological and conceptual discussion, they are well trained in such discussions.
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33. ## The UK as an American State or States

Oh sure, you say that now, you gorgeous bastard! Then we let you move in, you force us to clean chicken without bleach, make us give up our cookies for biscuits, and before you know it we're all sleeping together on the wrong side of the road! OTOH, if we get British television series standards, I vote LEAVE. It's the rare US show I like, while it's rare for me to find a British show I don't like. You seem to look for actors who can act rather than actors with no physical flaws, and your writers write the way people talk.
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34. ## Frank Sinatra is not a poached egg

Whoa! Remind me to visit your house some day, sounds like the place to be... I must admit I am baffled by this - you are a philosopher yourself, so surely you must see the issue with this? When you probe a sample of matter on atomic scales, what are you really going to find? Will you find ‘atoms’? Of course not. What you will find are ensembles of electrons, protons and neutrons, in various configurations, plus an abundance of vacuum. That is all. What we call ‘atom’ is a convenient convention to give a short name to such quantum mechanical ensembles, largely for historical - not scientific - reasons. They are real, but only in a conventional sense; ontologically there is no such thing. No experiment will ever detect the ‘atom-ness’ of an atom, because the only thing there is on that scale are electrons and nuclei. But it gets worse. If we decide to crank up the energy and probe said protons and neutrons, we find that they themselves are also ensembles of more fundamental particles, being quarks and gluons. So on subatomic scales, there’s no such thing as protons and neutrons either, they are convenient conventions too, but don’t exist as independent entities in and of themselves. So what about quarks and electrons? Surely they are ‘real’? When you try and take a closer look at them, they turn out to be pretty slippery bastards - try to confine them into smaller and smaller areas, and they move about more and more wildly. Try to measure their momenta, and suddenly you can’t pin them down any more. Send them through a double slit, and they behave like waves; try to measure their spin vector, and each time you laboriously determine one component, the other two get erased! It’s like trying to nail jelly to the wall. So to our dismay, even the very notion of ‘particle’ turns out to be just a convenient tool. Even such a seemingly innocuous concept as ‘number of particles in a given volume’ turns out to depend on who’s counting them! There’s not really such a thing in reality - there might be something there, but it’s nothing like our intuitive notion of a particle, unless you zoom out far enough so that quantum effects become negligible. So what are we left with? The most basic elements of reality we currently know of - and this is almost certainly not the deepest level - are quantum fields. So we don’t have a universe with 10^120 particles with independent existence - all we have is one spacetime with 37 (depending on how exactly you count) quantum fields. That is all. You don’t have any more independent existence than does that flock of birds, since both are just complicated ensembles of the same 37 quantum fields (according to current knowledge). On those scales you are not different from those birds, and on other scales you are not the same. There’s no contradiction - both are correct. You take what is found on human scales to be absolutely real only because that happens to be the scale your sensory apparatus is able to probe. And that’s my central point - if you probe reality on human scales, then you and me and the birds are ‘real’. If you probe it on molecular scales, then atoms are ‘real’. If you probe it on atomic scales, then ‘subatomic particles’ are real...and at the bottom, what is real are quantum fields, according to current knowledge. Hence, there is no one reality - what is real depends on the scale of the instrument that probes reality. It is scale-dependent. This is called contextuality. You will never find a ‘bird’ if you use the LHC to look - even if you look in the same region of spacetime. And when you look at subatomic constituents, then sometimes you’ll find waves, sometimes various quantum objects, depending on how you set up the probe. Mostly, you’ll find nothing at all. I will for now forgo any mention of counterfactual definiteness and the empirical violation of Bell’s Theorem, which puts further nails into the coffin of ‘reality’. Or what might happen if you look still deeper, beyond quantum fields. Or you could go the other way - what happens if a hypothetical very large organism (~10 billions of light years in size) tries to build a machine to observe my cat? Because the speed of light is so slow on such scales, metric expansion would rip this life form apart long before he could become conscious of the outcome of that measurement. My cat could never become part of his reality. So what is real depends on how you probe! That is why both ‘bird’ and ‘37 quantum fields’ are equally valid realities, but in different contexts and on different scales. Neither one is more ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ than the other, but both are contextual and scale-dependent conventions. They are both real enough and useful, but only in their own contexts. I will leave it at this for now. Personally I think the rabbit hole is much deeper than this still - I happen to think that reality doesn’t just depend on how you look, but also on who’s looking. But I won’t get into this here.
4 points
35. ## Is Gravity a Force?

OK...this is Don Lincoln here. My name was invoked and a little bird came and suggested I pop in. I have not read all of the chat above. Regarding gravity and belief. First, belief is a non-scientific word....or at least it has lots of really ridiculous connotations. When a scientist says that they believe in a theory, they're just being sloppy. (And I include me in that. But language is language and we do the best we can.) "Belief" to a scientist simply means in this context, that the theory is consistent with all relevant known data and we can take it as an approximation of the truth. Now, on gravity. It's very clear that Einstein's formulation is more accurate than Newton's or, for that matter, any other suggested theory of gravity. It's also eminently clear that general relativity fails at small sizes and very high gravitational fields. For that, we will need a theory of quantum gravity. Some ideas have been put forward, but none have been validated in any way, meaning to all intents and purposes, we have no believable theory of quantum gravity. However, given the established validity of general relativity, it follows that that when quantum gravity is evaluated for gravitational fields not strong enough to manifest their quantum behavior, that the predictions will be effectively identical to general relativity. From that, we can infer that the bending of spacetime will be valid in quantum formulations as well, although there may be additional explanatory insights. Accordingly, I feel quite comfortable in saying that I believe in general relativity in the realm in which it is applicable. Similarly, I believe in Newtonian gravity in the realm in which it is applicable. After all, we shot the New Horizon probe to Pluto - traveling billions of miles, passing by several planets, and NASA hit a target 10 km in size. Newton works. Einstein works. Well, until they don't. That's all of science. Theories work as long as they work. One other piddly point. Our current understanding of gravity is qualitatively different from the other known forces. Sure. Some of you have been discussing the meaning of the word force. Classically, it means something that has the potential to cause an object's velocity to change according to some reference frame. At the quantum level, it has a somewhat different meaning. There it means that the phenomenon can effect some sort of change, be it changing velocity or causing particle decay. The fact that the word has a nuanced meaning depending on the size scale at which it is being evaluated implies that the word is fuzzy and anybody trying to nail it down, will fail. This brings up a more important point is that the mapping of words onto scientific concepts is a dangerous endeavor. It is highly unlikely that any word can be mapped into a concept so well that it is impossible to find an exception. There will aways likely be a qualification of some sort. Accordingly, don't hold onto words very hard. They will fail you. Instead, understand the more nuanced scientific principle for which the word is nothing more than an imperfect and ultimately inaccurate placeholder. For the person who complained about the videos being at a commercial site. Well, I've worked for over three decades learning this stuff. I spent half a year writing the lectures, which comprise 12 hours of clearly-explained advanced science. I spent a week filming the project and many hours ensuring that the quality of the video and audio product was high. And someone has the temerity to suggest that I and the production company shouldn't be compensated for that effort? It's like whining that someone won't come and paint your house. Go ahead - enroll in the streaming service - you will have access to an astonishing amount of knowledge and expertise, translated in such a way that non-experts can understand a portion of the more complex ideas. BTW I was a solid presence at SPCF for a long time, but I will not be a regular here. I have just contracted my 5th or 6th book and that will take enough time that active involvement here is simply not in the cards. Cheers....
4 points
36. ## What makes the bulb glow?

I'm really sorry to you all, I only watched half the video. Here is the link: In the end he tells that all this is fake and he has been hiding his tesla coil under the table. Really sorry for wasting your time. Sorry @studiot @Intoscience and @iNow
4 points
37. ## If highly advanced civilization were found to exist other than the solar system what would its effect be on humanity?

Without a doubt it would result in an increase in gun sales in the US.
4 points
38. ## Transgender athletes

INow, Your out of context quotes seem not to address my actual points or examples. I could suggest reading my post again, bearing in mind that I'm trying to describe how actual sports fans approach issues of fair competition, but I can't tell if you're really open to that. As regards "I reject your premise that allowing transgendered females to compete in sports as female is unfair. " this was not my premise. Indeed, prior posts of mine pointed out that some sports are finesse-based to where body mass, fast-twitch muscle and aerobic capacity don't much matter. Some sports are about endurance, where size may even be a slight detriment. But one can't simply duck the issues in sports where those physiological factors do matter, and paste smiley-faced stickers of acceptance without looking at evidence. I am probably somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders on some issues, and it may turn out trans females can play fairly in almost all sports, but that doesn't mean I can join in any cancellation of real questions and concerns people have about the physical disparity issues. My offered scenario may prove to be a bogeyman, but it's the right of anyone, especially people with daughters in sports, to voice their concerns without being belittled or vilified. Asking questions is where good science comes from, and I always have to put science before politics. Always.
4 points
39. ## From the past

I'm 61 years old and was born in Liverpool, England. As a child (perhaps 8 or 9) my mother saw an ad in a magazine to buy a set of children's encyclopedias, with this deal we got all the books at once and simply paid the small monthly fee until paid off, we were poor so this was not trivial. I was actually unwell the day these books arrived, I was lying under a blanket on a couch near our coal fire when she walked in and announced this purchase and carried in these two large heavy boxes, dumped them by the couch and left me to read, this was a life changing event for me and led to my interest in all matters technical and scientific. The books were these: Now long lost I still have very fond memories of sitting around our house on a quiet sunny day or winter evening, deeply immersed in these books. There was a structure that included history, religion, science, art and so on, also a fun section "Things to make and do" which also leaned in a science direction. Later as an adult I stumbled upon a complete set of these and bought them (52 weekly magazines stored in two binders): These were published in the 1930s, shortly before WW2 and would have been extremely interesting to me as a child, I still peruse these from time to time. The point of this post is to ask whether others here initially learned about science in this way and what do you think of todays options, do children still read books like this? are there magazines published like these? I have absolutely no idea how my learning experience would have gone had I had access to the web as we do today, I work in technology and use the internet heavily so I'm aware of its nature, I kind of think that it would not be as rich an experience as it was back then but this is inevitably subjective.
4 points

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41. ## When eye doctors check the the back of eyes. why sometimes they can not see the retina clearly?

! Moderator Note This is NOT the philosophy section. If you can't help, don't post.
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4 points
43. ## Will COVID be eliminated once everyone is vaccinated?

Polio is still endemic in Afghanistand and Pakistan and I believe there have been irregular detections elsewhere. To OP, at this point it is not clear. If vaccination was available early in the pandemic and/or if the infection levels where kept at a low level until now, and if everyone was getting vaccinated, then the answer would have been a yes. However, one should take a step back in understanding how eradication works. It is not necessarily just a matter of vaccination, but it is about creating a situation where an infected person is unable to infect enough folks to sustain pathogen spread. Herd immunity could be achieved by a combination of vaccination, immunity, as well as social measures (e.g. distancing) for example. But right now we have still over 14.8 million detected infections (and likely many more undetected) which is a huge reservoir for the virus and has a high risk of the creation of new variants. I have lost track of how many variants there are now in circulation, though only relatively few are classified to be of concern. Nonetheless, there is a big risk that for at least some of the variants, the vaccine will be less effective. We have already observed across the world that the UK variant (B.1.1.7) has displaced the wildtype. And this also affects how we should interpret vaccine efficacy data. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna efficacy data were generated earlier in the pandemic where mostly the wildtype was around. However, AstraZeneca already included data from patients with the B.1.351 (South African) strain, against which the vaccines might not work as well. Some smaller data sets indicate for example that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is about 89.5% effective against any infection with the B.1.1.7 variant and only 75% against B.1.351 in some groups (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2104974). However, they still protected with over 90% against severe diseases. The issue there is that while it prevents hospitalizations, it is still possible that folks get infected and may potentially transmit it to vulnerable persons. Aside from variants we got the issue that in many (most) populations we will not achieve anything close 100% compliance. Surveys in various countries, including the US, UK and Canada, indicate that up to 35% of those surveyed indicated that they won't get the vaccine. Another big issue is worldwide-timing. If vaccines are only provided in richer countries, then those who cannot afford it are basically a reservoir for the virus. If we take another year to vaccinate them, it will be a full year where new variants can rise. But even if just focus on local issues (and I want to emphasize that this would be really stupid to address a pandemic), we can do a little bit of a back-of-the-envelope calculation here. Let's focus on vaccination as the sole measure and let's assume we need ~80% immunity in the population to reach herd immunity. Let us further assume that the vaccines have an effectiveness of 90%. In order to achieve 80% immunity, it would be necessary to vaccinate 89% of the population to reach the herd immunity target. Only few countries (according to polls) are at that level of theoretical compliance. If we use US polls as an estimate of vaccine willingness (~75%), we can estimate that with a 90% effective vaccine we will have ~68% immunity, lower than almost all current estimated requirement for herd immunity. If the vaccine effectiveness goes down to 80% (due to variants for example) we would need to vaccinate every single person. So even if there are no barriers to providing vaccines to folks, it is tricky to rely on it alone to push down viral numbers to a degree that there is no net transmission. So no, based on the current situation I actually do not think that the current rollout in practice is likely going to eradicate the virus completely. The more likely scenario (I believe) for now is that it will become endemic. However, the optimistic scenario is that it will be better controlled via regular vaccines (and treatments) and won't have the same horrible death toll in the future. It might indeed become something like a flu, which, I want to emphasize has regularly costed many lives and is not really harmless either (though compared to COVID-19 it is comparatively tame). And as a minor sidenote, I would like to emphasize how behavioral changes have affected flu-related deaths. In the years prior 20-50k folks are estimated to have died each year from influenza in the US. Last year it was a few hundred reported so far.
4 points
44. ## My sci fi art

Although I have a certain interest in science, and have even done my own research, my job is an artist. I decided that art is a great way for me to convey an idea and give something to think about. This is my oil and acrylic paintings Antigravity girl Space conquerors Spaceship Earth Rocket people Rocket fish Elon Musk spaceman city Flying saucer principle Dark city Darkest night Robots bar UFO contact
4 points
45. ## Alternatives to the World Health Organization

Unfortunately, those of us in the US weren’t able to dismiss him out of hand. And yet his administration’s response seems to not have much to do with the information he got, since he largely ignored it and did almost nothing. Which is one reason I want to know why it would have mattered knowing the details of how the virus originally spread. Would Trump have done a different kind of nothing? Would governors have changed their push to repeatedly reopen too soon? Would they have done something different in avoiding mask mandates? How were these decisions based on the WHO's investigation?
4 points
46. ## I Nearly Forgot!!

Happy St Patrick's Day!!!
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48. ## Could someone give me an appropriate criticism for this?

Slightly less useful; you couldn't even fertilise the rose-beds with it.
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49. ## Frozen chips

If you expose frozen chips to air, more moisture will condense on the chips from it. Every ml of water condensed from the air adds 1g to the chips.. The chips, after baking, lose moisture, which concentrates the calories, so if you now weigh 100g of baked chips there are more calories.
4 points
50. ## Quick question about perpetual motion.

I'll try a logical explanation with more detail without referring to math of specific laws of physics this time: Let's say two hypothetical devices are working perpetually* as a unit without external energy source. Perpetual motion device A feeds energy (1) into device B and then device B feeds energy (2) to device A. Since no external energy is added and operation is perpetual there is no internal energy wasted; efficiency is 100%. Device A runs from the energy provided by B and B runs from the energy provided by A. Hence, over time, A must supply B with the same amount of energy that A would require to operate in isolation. And B must provide A with the same amount of energy B would require to run in isolation. So the result is that the only way the device A and B could work as a 100% efficiency perpetual motion device together is if they could do so in isolation. A and B are perpetual devices on their own or the device (A+B) is not a perpetual device. In other words you can not build a perpetual motion device unless you have a set of perpetual motion devices. This does of course not alter the fact that perpetual motion machines is not possible. It is just a way of showing how OPs setup is not working in a general case. (I answered from phone earlier and was unable to use an image. This is pretty much same as @Janus but I had started drawing already so posting probably does not harm.) *) Not possible! Only used to setup the explanation.
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