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Bill Angel

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  1. Here's a question related to the findings about black holes.
    The image released yesterday is of a black hole with a mass of 6.5 billion suns.
    That is apparently a mass sufficient to ensure that nothing, neither energy nor mass, can escape the black hole's gravitational pull.
    When the universe came into existence the total mass created was far greater than that of 6.5 billion suns. And the mass was concentrated in a volume as small or smaller than the volume of a black hole. So how could this mass overcome its mutual gravitational attraction to fly apart and create what we presently observe as the universe? There seems to be something of a conceptual contradiction here. A black hole is supposed to be a region of space that represents a singularity in which the laws of physics and SpaceTime are unknown. But the moment that the “Big Bang” occurs, a moment when the total density of mass is greater than what it would be in a black hole, is supposed to be a moment where the properties of SpaceTime and the laws of physics are both knowable and are the same as what we presently observe in the universe. 

  2. That black hole at the center of Messier 87 has a mass of 6.5 billion solar masses.

    One wonders if any of those 6.5 billion suns had planets which supported intelligent life.

    It would be a real bummer if the astronomers of an alien society had to inform their population that in the distant future their sun and the planet that this alien society occupys are going to be sucked into their galaxy's black hole and annihilated. 


  3. Could the entire universe be considered as having a single quantum mechanical wave function?
    At the time of the Big Bang the universe was extremely small, of dimensions in which quantum phenomena were dominant compared to gravity, as the entire universe was smaller than a proton.
    As the universe expanded, matter filled a much larger region, but particles whose wave functions were entangled would have remain entangled. A textbook analogy would be what happens when two elections with equal but opposite momentum are emitted from a source.  The resultant particles can become separated by the size of the universe, but their total wave function won’t collapse from its range of probabilities until a measurement is made determining the properties of one of the electrons, such as its position and its direction of spin. 


    Likewise as the universe expands, would its properties such as the total amount of matter, dark energy, etc. be probabilistic unless some observation could be made of the universe as a whole that would measure that property?

    And would the measurement of that property result in the quantum wave function for the entire universe collapsing to yield a single resultant measurement as happens when a measurement is made on an election as described above?

    This above questions are related to the issue of whether our universe is really one possible universe in a manifold of universes that would make up a multiverse. 

  4. Interesting article for the non specialist reader:

     "Study finds 'dark matter' and 'dark energy' may not exist – here's what to make of it" — http://theconversation.com/study-finds-dark-matter-and-dark-energy-may-not-exist-heres-what-to-make-of-it-88181

    What is worth mentioning is that the authors' theory and its confirmation by astronomical observations only deals with the rotational motion of galaxies, but makes no mention of the observations of "gravitational lensing" which result in the light from distant galaxies being bent when it passes near galaxies that are closer to the Earth. "Gravitational lensing" would seem to be the more direct evidence for the existence of dark matter.

  5. Here's the question that I think the moderator should ask the Presidential candidates at one of those debates: "If you are elected President, would you invite Vladimir Putin to address a Joint Session of Congress?"

    Also check out:

    U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections


  6. Here's the question that I think the moderator should ask the Presidential candidates at one of those debates: "If you are elected President, would you invite Vladimir Putin to address a Joint Session of Congress?"

  7. Ben Carson isn't the only neurosurgeon espousing strong religious/spiritual beliefs. Another is Eban Alexander https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eben_Alexander_(author)

    Eben Alexander III (born December 11, 1953) is an American neurosurgeon and the author of the book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, in which he describes his 2008 near-death experience and asserts that science can and will determine that the brain does not create consciousness and that consciousness survives bodily death.

  8. There are meds, of course. I hope they've improved, because I used to hear about how the high cholesterol meds raised your blood pressure, and the high blood pressure meds raised your cholesterol levels. Could be just old people bitching though. I've never taken either yet.

    I'm 68 and my doc has me on Simvastatin to control my cholesterol level and Losartan together with Amlodipine to control my high blood pressure. The meds appear to work well together.

  9. When I was growing up a lot of the kids including myself were active in religious-based youth groups. Are there youth groups for atheists? I'm assuming here that the parents of these children are atheists, otherwise their kids would likely be active in these groups.

  10. What Trump has managed to do is engineer a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, much as a businessman might engineer a hostile takeover of a corporation. But the product he is attempting to sell, a political agenda tailored to the perspective of disaffected uneducated white males, doesn't have enough appeal to other groups of voters to enable him to beat his competition.

  11. The brain is a machine, and purported "out of body experiences" can be explained as manifestations of alterations or disruptions of its neural activity.

    Here is one such example:

    Recreational Drug Creates Out-of-Body Illusions

    Recreational users of a substance called ketamine often report having felt like they left their bodies or underwent other bizarre physical transformations, according to an online survey conducted by psychologist Todd Girard of Ryerson University in Toronto and his colleagues.


    Ketamine, an anesthetic known to interfere with memory and cause feelings of detachment from ones self or body, reduces transmission of the brain chemical glutamate through a particular class of molecular gateways. Glutamate generally jacks up brain activity. Ketamine stimulates sensations of illusory movement or leaving ones body by cutting glutamates ability to energize certain brain areas, the researchers propose in a paper published online Feb. 15 inConsciousness and Cognition.


    Ketamine may disrupt patterns of brain activation that coalesce to represent an integrated body and self, leading to out-of-body experiences, Girard says.

    See http://www.wired.com/2011/02/ketamine-drug-hallucinations/
  12. Do be careful, being closed-minded includes automatically rejecting that, that is difficult to understand or that doesn't fit with purely logical constructs, don't forget the emotional aspect of humanity.


    Emotional intelligence has far more potential to rule the world.

    Scientists can do good work and then for problematic reasons, such as emotion triumphing over reason, become proponents of repugnant ideologies.


    Here is one example. Philip Lenard migrated from being an honored physicist to being an ardent Nazi.


    Philipp Eduard Anton von Lenard (7 June 1862 20 May 1947) was a German physicist and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1905 for his research on cathode rays and the discovery of many of their properties....

    An advisor to Adolf Hitler, Lenard became Chief of Aryan physics under the Nazis.



  13. There is serious speculation that Donald Trump might pick Newt Gingrich as his running mate.




    Donald Trump shouldn't get all the attention for suggesting goofy ideas in the context of a Presidential election. In 2012 Newt Gingrich suggested that someday the moon might become America's 51st state!


    See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/27/gingrich_moon_base/


  14. Here is a good quote from Carlo Rovelli, an Italian theoretical physicist, which would seem to apply to Donald Trump, especially because of Trump's pronouncements concerning the Global Warming controversy.

    "To trust immediate intuitions rather than collective examination that is rational, careful, and intelligent is not wisdom: it is the presumption of an old man who refuses to believe that the great world outside his village is any different from the one that he has always known."
    From the essay "Probability, Time, and the Heat of Black Holes" by Carlo Rovelli


  15. One wonders if holding this

    direct referendum to decide an important issue will be setting a precedent for the future. For example will Great Britain first hold a direct referendum to gauge public support before deploying its military forces into an active combat situation somewhere in the world, like Syria?

  16. Oliver Sacks, professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, wrote in his book "The Mind's Eye" in 2010:

    I was reminded of a patient I had seen in the hospital some years before, who had overnight become totally paralyzed from a spinal cord infection, a fulminating myelitis. When it became evident that no recovery was forthcoming, she fell into despair, felt that her life was over not only the great things of life but the little familiar pleasures of each day, like doing the New York Times crossword, to which she was addicted. She requested that the Times be brought to her each day, so that at least she could look at the puzzle, get its configuration, run her eyes along the clues. But when she did this something extraordinary happened, for as she looked at the clues, the answers seemed to write themselves in their spaces. Her visual imagery strengthened over the next few weeks, until she found that she was able to hold the entire crossword and its clues in her mind after a single, intense inspection, and then solve it, mentally, at her leisure later in the day. This became a source of great solace to her, in her paralysis; she had had no idea, she later told me, that such powers of memory and imagery were available to her.

  17. There is evidence that engaging in activities such as doing crossword puzzles can delay the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

    An advantage of overlapping domains [in the brain] can be seen in the newly discovered phenomenon of cognitive reserve. Many people are found to have the neural ravages of Alzheimers disease upon autopsy but they never showed the symptoms while they were alive. How can this be? It turns out that these people continued to challenge their brains into old age by staying active in their careers, doing crossword puzzles, or carrying out any other activities that kept their neural populations well exercised. As a result of staying mentally vigorous, they built what neuropsychologists call cognitive reserve. Its not that cognitively fit people dont get Alzheimers; its that their brains have protection against the symptoms. Even while parts of their brains degrade, they have other ways of solving problems. They are not stuck in the rut of having a single solution; instead, thanks to a lifetime of seeking out and building up redundant strategies, they have alternative solutions. When parts of the neural population degraded away, they were not even missed.

    Page 128 of Incognito:The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

  18. Hello lovelies.

    I write to you today to ask you all a question, I am attempting to assemble my own homemade Fusion reactor, just finalizing everything I need and then I will start the equipment assembly process.

    That's quite an assertion, that you know how to do that. I hope you're not planning on taking us down the path of "I need your advice, but I'm not going to tell you how it works because then I'll be giving away the secret of how it operates".
  19. Since you posted your query to the Science Education forum, you might wish to check out the books and videos of Lawrence M. Krauss. His books are usually stocked at good public libraries, and lectures by him are available on youtube. His aim is to impart an understanding of what is interesting and important in modern physics without assuming that the reader (or audience member at a lecture) is particularly proficient in mathematics.

    He is first rate at what he attempts to do. Sadly, most college professors are not. Speaking from experience, trying to prepare for college science examinations based on class material delivered by 2nd rate teachers is a real bummer!

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