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Posts posted by gib65

  1. I am told that scientists don’t know what happened within the first picosecond of the universe.


    If this is true, I have a question:


    How do they know it was a picosecond? I guess the assumption is that if you extrapolate the current expansion of the universe back to its origin, you don’t have to assume anything unusual in the first picosecond. But what if scientists could somehow see into the first picosecond? Is it possible that what they find is that it was way longer than a picosecond? In other words, the universe originally started expanding very slowly, and for the longest time didn’t grow much bigger than its original size, and then for some reason went through the explosive expansion scientists are familiar with?

  2. Hello,

    I'm wondering if there are any books out there on the subject of finding substitutes to drugs. Specifically, I'm looking for substitutes to caffeine. It doesn't have to be other substances either like yerba mate or probiotics, but lifestyle changes or changes in perspective as well.

    I figure that finding substitutes to drugs is such a common approach to overcoming substance abuse that there must be tons of research on it. <-- That's what I'm looking for.

    Can anyone help me out? Thank you so much.

    PS - I realize this is not the place to ask for medical advice (or any kind of advice) so please take this as a request for information resource (books, articles, studies, etc.). Thank you.



    I've been doing some research on hypnosis. Trying to understand how it works. I came across this website here:


    I thought I'd ask about this on a science forum like this one.

    According to the link above, the way hypnosis works is by inhibiting what they call "top down" thinking thereby allowing "bottom up" processing to work more effectively. Top down thinking is the way our expectations and assumptions influence the way we interpret our immediate experiences. One example they site is this:

    A group of participants were asked to take a wine taste test. They were given two choices: A glass of “expensive” wine and another of moderately priced wine. The truth was: Both glasses were the same wine. But participants expected the expensive wine to taste better, and therefore, they gave it much higher marks for taste.

    So their expectation of how the wine should taste, which was set by being told it was more expensive, determined how the wine actually tasted. Their expectation is an example of "top down" thinking.

    The link suggests that hypnosis inhibits top down thinking so that whatever is suggested to them (which would count as bottom up thinking) has a much more powerful effect.

    How established is this theory in science? Should it be dismissed as bunk? As well established? Unknown? And what's everyone opinion on it? 



  4. I've quit consuming caffeine. I no longer drink coffee. But on occasion, I will order a decaf. Now, it may just be the placebo effect, but I swear on some occasions, the decaf gives me a slight buzz. Is decaf coffee really 100% caffeine free? Or is it more like 99%? 95%? Maybe only 90%?

  5. Hello,

    Some people just don't listening. Everyone's encountered them. I usually get them on the phone--the customer service reps--and when they talk, they don't listen to me when I try to intervene with my own input. For example, I was on the phone the other day with a bank rep. I had transferred some funds from them to a different institution and was charged a $50 fee for doing so. The other institution I transfered money to was willing to compensate me for the $50 fee but wanted proof that the original institution charged it. The rep on the phone was explaining to me that they don't issue out statements indicating the fee but it is their policy to charge $50. While he was rambling on and on about it, I tried to intervene with the suggestion that if it is a policy, they must have it written somewhere and that if he could direct me to their terms and policy on their website (where presumably the $50 fee is stated), I could forward that to the other institution. But I tried 3 times to suggest that to him without his hearing me at all. He just kept rambling on for 5 minutes. Finally, when he was done, I repeated my question for the fourth time, and then he heard me, forwarding me to the excat spot where the transfer fee was stated.

    But my question is not about banking or self-absorbed bank reps... it's about how the human brain listens when interupted. I'm wondering if some people's brain literally block other people out when they're talking. Was the bank rep really that self-absorbed or could he literally not hear me while he was talking. I've only ever noticed this while on the phone. In person, it seems people generally notice when I've trying to intervene and stop talking. So it might require some visual cues for some. Then I wonder if everyone's like this--even me. I do remember plenty of times being interrupted (and stopping to listen to the other person), but do I remember every time? And do I remember times like this while on the phone with someone?

    I think this is an interesting question for neurology and I wonder if any studies have been done to answer it.

  6. ...I feed them only fruit.

    I found over the years that while it can be difficult to get my kids to eat their vegetables, it's easy to get them to eat fruit. So I figured: why not just feed them fruit? Fruits are, after all, just vegetables with a higher concentration of sugar.

    ^ Is this right though? Am I causing my children an imbalance in their diet by feeding them only fruits and no vegetables?

  7. If I'm trying to get over my caffeine tolerance by abstaining from caffeine, what would be the more effective approach:

    1) When I feel tired, try to resist going to sleep. This way, the body will get the message: better adapt to staying awake since that seems to be the general rule.

    2) When I feel tired, sleep. This way, the body will get the message: better try to stay awake more since I seem to be sleeping way too much.

    Or do neither have any effect on how quickly my tolerance goes down?

  8. Hello,

    I'm on a diet, trying to lose weight, and I'm wondering why some days I gain weight and some days I lose weight. I'm monitoring my calories and being sure I'm under 2000 every day. I also commute to work on my bike everyday, half an hour per leg.

    Two days ago, I weighed myself. I was at 175 lb. Then yesterday, I weighed myself. I was at 176 lb. This morning, I was at 177 lb.

    Here's what I ate yesterday:

    yogurt for breakfast: 35 calories

    soup for lunch: 200

    crackers with the soup: 100

    chicken salad for supper:

    romain lettuce: 10

    roma tomato: 35

    carrot: 25

    1/3 yellow bell pepper: 20

    4 or 5 broccoli spears: 10

    mushrooms: 5

    cucumber: 5

    1 chicken breast: 150

    blue cheese dressing: 240

    croutons: 60

    parmesan cheese 240

    TOTAL: 1135

    I munched on a few snacks throughout the day, but it couldn't have been more than 200 calories worth. So let's bring the total up to 1335. <-- Well under 2000 calories, plus the bike riding, yet I still gained a pound since yesterday.

    The day before was a similar diet: yogurt for breakfast, soup with crackers for lunch, a salad for supper. The only difference in the salad was that the meat was fish, not chicken. Fish is typically less than chicken in terms of calories but this fish was 1.5 to 2 times bigger than the chicken breast I had last night, and I also battered it with oil. My batter recipe consists of crushed bread crumbs, whipped egg, and oil. If I were to guess, I'd say the fish was between 300 and 400 calories. That's a difference of 150 to 250 calories from the chicken. Let's say 250. Add the same 200 calories for snacks, I estimate that yesterday I consumed 1335 + 250 = 1585. <-- Still under 2000.

    Yet I still seem to be gaining weight. Why?

  9. The thing about the Atkins diet I don't understand is that it just seems like putting off fat burning 'til later.


    Suppose you consumed enough carbs to last you 4 hours. After that 4 hours, your body starts burning fat, right?


    But if the carbs you consume were to increase insulin levels, some of the energy from those carbs gets turned to fat. Suppose the carbs you consumed raised insulin levels enough to convert 2 hours worth of the total 4 hours worth into fat. Now you only have 2 hours of carb energy flowing through your veins. Now, after the 2 hours is up, that's when your body starts burning fat. But wouldn't it be burning the fat that your insulin just previously converted to fat? So on the whole, it seems to me that you burn just as much fat either way?


    Is my logic wrong?

  10. Hello,

    According to this website, which explains how the Atkins diet works, it says that cutting out the carbs works better for losing weight than cutting out other source of energy because the body stores fat when it detects that sugar levels are higher than a certain point. Thus, consuming, say, 300 calories of carbs is more likely to cause you to gain weight than 300 calories of fat.

    Is there any truth to this, and if so does anybody recommend the Atkins diet for losing weight?

  11. Yeah, I was thinking of the actual separation perhaps giving you psychosomatic effects after every time you saw your kids.

    It's an interesting theory. Just keep in mind I've had this stomach bug before the separation. I don't know if it was consistently on Mondays or not at that time, but I do know that I only started worrying about my work thinking I was playing hooky (trying to get an extra day out of the weekend) only in the last year or so.

    A mixture of stress, psychosomatic reaction and confirmation bias sounds like a likely culprit to me.

    So nobody knows of any case on record of a stomach bug that lays dormant until awoken by an immune response to other viruses/bugs going around (like a cold)?

  12. I wonder if it's possible that instead of developing these symptoms due to re-infection by a foreign pathogen, could they be triggered by your own immune response based on that first exposure you experienced several years ago - almost like an allergy?

    That's exactly what I'm thinking. A cold goes around (or germs/viruses of any kind), my immune system has an initial reaction (not enough to catch a cold or feel the symptoms), and that wakes up the stomach bug. Meanwhile, whatever it is that my immune system is reacting to get taken care of before I even feel it. <-- That's my theory anyway.




    Bear in mind that I'm not a medical professional, so my question is more directed to others that may read his thread and not something that may be relevant to your individual situation. An internet forum is a really bad place to get actual medical advice.


    I know. I don't consider this looking for advice, more like bouncing thoughts off people with some knowledge/experience in these matters.



    Could it be stress-related?


    I doubt it. My kids aren't that much of a handful.


    It probably doesn't help that I don't see them for two weeks. It's like the colonists bringing new diseases to the natives.

  13. Hello,

    I have a weird stomach bug that I'd like to understand better.

    Every since about 5 or 6 years ago, I contracted a stomach bug (bacteria of some kind I think) that only comes alive when I'm around people with colds. I don't actually catch the cold. Instead I get sick in the stomach--with vomiting and diahrea. It didn't used to be this way: whenever there was a cold going around, I would just catch the cold. But now it seems to transform into some kind of stomach flu in my body.

    I once went a whole week with the bug eating me up inside (or so it felt) and so I went to the doctor to get myself checked out. He thought it might be e-coli (but that was unofficial). He gave me some anti-biotics and almost immediately they started working.

    But the bug never went away for good. In the last year, I've been getting the bug pretty consistently on Mondays. Not ever Monday, but every time I catch it, it's usually a Monday. I finally figured out why (or so I think): my wife and I are separated. I get the kids every second weekend. It's been pretty consistent, as far as I can remember, that when I get sick, it's on the Monday following my weekend with the kids.

    They don't always have a cold, but you know what they say about children: little germ factories.

    Do you think there's anything to this theory? What else could explain it? What else should I know?

  14. Thanks Janus and md for answering my questions (the world is right again for me :) ).




    People will fill in their own details and interpretations unless everything is unambiguously specified




    I've cautioned you on this before.


    I hope my questions aren't offensive to you guys. I'm not a scientist and my understanding of this stuff is at an amateur level. Your answers do help though, so I'm thankful for that.

  15. Just to be clear why do you assert that the gap changes?

    It's the answer I got to the question in the OP:

    For an observer in another frame, the length contracts, which would include the length of space between them. if the trains were 100m long and 100m between them, and they moved such that gamma=2, then each train would be 50m and there would be 50m between them.

    So just to be clear, I'm thinking of it like this:
    The |||||| are the trains and the ...... is the track. If this is what the trains look like when they are at rest, then my understanding is that this is what happens when they start accelerating at the same time at the same rate:
    This is what it would look like from the point of view of someone not moving relative to the track. Is this wrong?
    (Note that the last ... is not the track contracting, just the space between the trains.)

    If you force various points to remain synchronized in the track frame What do you mean by points being synchronized?, the distances between those points will remain the same in the track frame. Effectively you'll be stretching the distance between points (the gap will be increased in the moving train's rest frame) to exactly counteract length contraction. This is set up like Bell's paradox. The answers to your questions can probably be found in an explanation of the paradox. I read some of the wiki article on Bell's Paradox. It says that due to the relativity of simultaneity, the distance between the trains (or rockets in the original formulation) will increase from the train's reference frame because from the train's reference frame, the front train begins accelerating first followed by the rear train. Is this what you're talking about?.

    If you don't want to deal with the details of relativity of simultaneity, just give the train a fixed rest length, and let it remain moving inertially throughout the experiment. Don't worry about how it accelerated.
    So if the trains are moving at a constant and equal velocities, it wouldn't matter how much they or the gap between them are contracted, the rear train would not look like it was catching up to the front train. Is this right?
    What does it mean for something to "move inertially"?
    If you want to have the train switch inertial frames, You mean accelerate? I think you are going to have to factor in the details of relativity of simultaneity, and you may need to decide on a few more details than you're giving.
    Yeah, I figured the relativity of simultaneity figures into this somehow--if train Tn1 is length contracted, what that means is that the rear of Tn1 is reaching points on the track sooner in the track's reference frame than it is in the train's reference frame (or the front is reaching it later...).
    But still, I can't shake the odd conclusion that when both trains are on the track together and accelerated at the same time at the same rate (from the track's reference frame), it will appear that A1 > A2, whereas there would be no reason for this to be true (from the track's reference frame) if the trains were accelerated on different occasions.
    I think it's fairly common that people want to figure out one aspect of relativity that they don't get, and they completely avoid another aspect like it's too complicated to consider. It's like trying to figure out how 2+3=5 without considering the 3... "how does 2 add up to 5, relativity makes no sense!"


    I'm probably making this mistake in some way. My problem is I don't understand relativity well enough and my brain isn't used to thinking about it in the proper way.


  16. Here's something that confuses me about length contraction:


    Suppose you had a toy train Tn1 on a straight track at position P1 (at Tn1's center). You turn on the voltage and watch Tn1 accelerate. It accelerates at rate A1 for an amount of time T1, covering a distance D1, and arriving at position P2 (again, at its center). (Note that Tn1 doesn't stop or slow down on or before P2, it just arrives there).


    Now you remove Tn1 and place another train Tn2 on the track, only this time you position Tn2 at position P3 which is 20 meters ahead of P1 (where D1 > 20 meters). Again, you switch the voltage on. Tn2 accelerates at A2 for time T2, covering a distance D2, after which it arrives at position P4.


    Now, given that the conditions of the track do not change throughout this experiment and that Tn1 is identical to Tn2, it would be fair to say that A1 = A2 and that if T1 = T2, then D1 = D2 and P2 - P1 = P4 - P3.


    So far, none of this denies that Tn1 and Tn2 length contracted as they accelerated. We can say that Tn1 contracted by an amount L1 and that Tn2 contracted by an amount L2, and that L1 = L2.


    But now, you conduct a third experiment. You repeat the previous two experiments in tandem: both Tn1 and Tn2 are placed on the same track at positions P1 and P3 (respectively). The track is turned on. One would expect both trains to accelerate at A1=A2 and if allowed to continue for time T1=T2, then they should each individually cover distance D1=D2 to arrive at position P2 and P4 (respectively). In other words, nothing from the previous two experiments should change just because we allow the two trains to accelerate at the same time.


    I would expect both to still contract by L1=L2, but the part that has me confused (still) is that the space between them will also contract. What this seems to mean to me (from my most likely inadequate understanding) is that, from the point of view of a person standing still watching the trains go by, the Tn1 will look like it is "catching up" to Tn2--either that or Tn2 is "slowing down" (or at least not accelerating as fast) compared to Tn1--they are closing the gap between them, in other words.


    This is what it would look like, at least, from the point of view of someone standing still watching the trains go by.


    So, that person would have to measure that A1 > A2.


    Maybe that's just the case. Maybe that's just what happens according to relativity. But it seems really odd that simply adding an extra train to the track would change the results of the experiment. Something's not right here.

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