Posts Tagged ‘science’

the Uncomfortable Side of the Brain

October 13, 2013

We all have it, that area of the brain where our thoughts just do not seem to jibe.

Many who are mathematically inclined cannot seem to communicate well on emotional wavelengths, though some can.

Many who are quite well-versed in other areas have difficulty resolving some higher math concepts.

Other artists can grasp the technical side of music and excel in the math but seem to fail at being creative in their field. Their “technical proficiency” seems to hamper creativity.

Everyone has some area they do not feel real comfortable being, or thinking.

So, we should cut others some slack simply because they cannot see or visualize some things as clearly as we.

Because, rest assured, there are subject areas where you too could be called less than average.


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the Magic World of Harry Potter

October 6, 2013

hogwarts

The novels of Harry Potter deal with an under-culture of magic in our modern world. Why is it then that the magical sub-culture lives in a medieval setting?

I would assume that if they had separated from us in the Middle Ages they would have evolved along similar lines even if they had kept separated from the muggle world. So wouldn’t they have evolved more than they have?

And the flying brooms… is it the power of the magician to make the broom go, or is it the spell in the broom?

Or is it both?

It seems that the scene where Harry makes the broom jump up into his hand makes one of those hypotheses wrong but the later appearance of the more powerful broom makes the other one wrong.

Even all the spells seem to be in Latin… another medieval hangover.

Can magic exist in a scientific world and if so, where is it?

Has science put something into the ether (some sort of mental magnetic fields) to prevent magic or is it just the scientific attitude that dominates our present world?

Strange, but the Star Wars franchise also seems to be steeped in the medieval flavor as well. Jedi knights, light-sabers, and channeling the force.

Why do we see so much of the “magical” clothed in medieval garb?



the Magic of Middle Earth

September 29, 2013

rivendell

A world of magical creatures and many lifeforms that can DO magic. Spells, potions, amulets, the power of magic permeates all things.

How different is that world than the one in which we now live, but there are those who hold that the legends of a magical “Middle Earth” portray the true history of our world. Before the scientific world came into being, this world was the magical world of Middle Earth.

Some psychics have even said that before Middle Earth was a former world of science, and before that an even earlier world of magic.

Back and forth from science to magic, and back again, they would have it.

If the world switched from one to the other, what could cause the change? If the civilization was advanced along either scientific or magical lines, why would they discard their mode of operations?

I can see that IF this scientific world led us to WW III, the remnants might distrust the “evils” of science and so go toward magic.

But what sort of thing would drive people from magic to science?

It is probable that not everyone could do magic – just as in today’s world not everyone can “do” science – and that led those who could to take advantage of the have nots. Possible, since we see a lot of that happening in our present world.

This is all hypothetical, of course… or “impossible” if you are of the scientific bent… but it could answer a few questions…

If they were the right questions, that is.


Stupidity

September 22, 2013

genius

I have seen a lot of people over the years mock and deride others for “being stupid”.

What they seem to forget is that it is an inherent human right to be stupid or smart or anything else for that matter.

And just because one may assume they are being stupid about one subject, let me assure you there is someone else thinking you are being just as – if not more – stupid.

So, let’s just all agree that we can be considered “stupid” by other stupid people and leave it at that.

Einstein, a brilliant mind if ever there was one, probably could not bake a puff pastry if he tried. Does that make him stupid?

Aristotle was adept at a wide variety of mental feats but he could not program a VCR.

Sure, I’m stretching things to make a point but isn’t that really what this talk of “stupidity” is really all about? Not everyone can be expected to be as brilliant as us on what we consider to be the correct mindset.

Differences of opinion are nothing more than “opinion” and most of the verbal flaming begins from those differences (and the ego to back it up).

It has nothing to do with “science” and “facts”, but everything to do with ego.


Who said “size doesn’t matter?”


Specialization

September 15, 2013

My feet are specialized for what they do… I would hate to try it on my elbows. But some people – without feet – have adapted to let their hands or elbows do the job.

My stomach has a specific function too and I don’t think we have a backup organ to do what it does. Specialization is great but with the connective systems to keep them working together, they would flounder around with no purpose.

The same is true for people.

Specialists in chemistry or law, history or astronomy are great but without a few interdisciplinarians, where would we be?

This becomes especially important in today’s world where the specializations are getting more and more narrow, experts have less knowledge of the current development in other fields, even some whose work is closely aligned.



Da Vinci a Fraud!?

August 11, 2013

leonardo

I read an article online some time ago (I wish I could recall where but I don’t… I did not even consider writing about it until this moment) about Da Vinci being something of a fraud.

It seems he wasn’t real original in a lot of his “inventions”.

Yes, other inventors previously had designed submarines, helicopters, and even a flying apparatus.

And Da Vinci had access to those other writings.

I recall the author let Leonardo somewhat off the hook by saying that he did make revisions to many of the designs he “stole”.

Funny thing, I do not recall Leonardo anywhere claiming to have created any of these ideas.

Perhaps he did not give ample citations in his mirrored upside-down and backward mirrored notations but I don’t think that was the norm at his time anyway.

And Leonardo did say he was trying to make an encyclopedia of all human knowledge. It is natural then that he should try and assemble everything he could get his hands on.

We know from history that he performed an amazing amount of experimentation in a variety of fields. Researchers are still – amazingly – discovering things from his writings.

Perhaps he was negligent in crediting his sources but I think he falls well short of being termed a fraud.

But that’s just one opinion.

Loosen Up, It’s Just Science

April 29, 2013

There are so many people who get irate when debating religion. The same is true for science.

If the article infers that “nature” may have a few more tricks up her sleeve than Man understands, the commenters will claim the writer is talking about religion.

Religionists and those of a more scientific bent seem to be missing the “flexible thinking” gene, if there is one.

I saw a recent article about the “God gene”, for those people who seem to have a predisposition to following that sort of thinking. So, I assume there must be a gene for those of the scientific mindset. I mean, if you think such things are ruled by something like genetics.


In the old days, what passed for “science” would today be called “philosophy of science”. People developing anything from the knowledge learned were called “artisans”.

Today, it is a little different. Even the technicians, developers, and engineers are included in the grouping of “scientists”. Yes, the discipline has moved away from the idea of merely observing nature to gain a greater understanding of life – though this is still done in many areas – most are concerned with how it can be manipulated for our benefit. Well, of course! That’s where the money is.

Science has always been knowledge and the studies toward that end. Today, many say science is “truth” but that was never its goal.

There is a famous quote by Isaac Asimov that I love: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…'”

It sounds as if something unexpected is what he was talking about. Unexpected and not something already supported by all the theories.

I find it very sad, especially around the web, that there are so many commenters railing again writers and websites for being such obvious idiots!

These types of people act like they know-it-all. In other words, they are not scientists.

And their flaming comments can be ignored.


Laws?… More Like a Guideline

April 28, 2013

I just love cruising “scientific” blogs, facebook pages, and websites. Not primarily for the articles – which are usually quite interesting – but for the comments.

And I just love when someone suggests ‘x’ might be an interesting experiment and someone comments that the writer is an idiot for even suggesting such a thing. “It violates the first law of…” whatever science is under discussion.

Or the commenter says “evolution disproves that” or even “that flies in the face of common sense”.

This sort of person actually believes there is a “law” proclaiming how the world and the universe needs to behave.

Well, there is no “law”, only an observation by a researcher who seemed to notice it held true in every instance they observed.

Calling it a law does not automatically extend it to all portions of the universe as yet unobserved. Yes, this “law” is the same as a “theory”.

And contrary to what many commenters claim, theories do not “prove” anything. Facts may support theories but theories cannot – by their very definition – prove anything.

Nor, as many seem to forget as well, theories do not “disprove” any idea. The theory may or may not support an idea but it cannot do more.

And, I should also mention, though this should not have to be mentioned (but it does), you cannot disprove anything!

I wish the people claiming to be “scientific” would stop acting like such know-it-all, pompous gasbags.

Unless, of course, they think that’s what scientists really are.


Therapy

March 5, 2012

Why does the public have this crazy notion that therapists are a good thing?

If you went to a doctor in pain and he worked on you for twenty years without doing anything to correct it, would you keep going? Hell, no!!

But people act as if it is quite all right to go to a therapist for twenty years and still have the same complaint. Are people really that stupid? No, just that desperate for help… and the scam artists leech onto them under the protective guise of the American Psychiatric Association. Am I trying to provoke the APA? Hell, yes! Even an ignoramus – or someone with a psychiatric degree – could figure that out.

My Father started college with a psych major because he wanted to know what was wrong with him. Shortly, he realized everyone else there was thinking it would help them figure out what was wrong with themselves… even the professor. When it became obvious that the professor still did not know, even after teaching the subject for twenty years, Father knew it was time to change majors.

In my years of delivering mail for the US Post Office, I have only run into three customers who gave me grief. Need I say all three were psych professionals? No, I think it is already obvious.

I am not saying that all therapists are bad – there are always exceptions to any rule – but the successful ones are good in spite of being trained by the same university.

Just as some pastors are better, some teachers are better, and so forth, there are those in any profession who can rise above the mediocrity of the fold through the dint of some God-given ability within them to do the right thing, rather than the textbook answer.

It just seems like it’s harder to find those better examples in that field.

On the History of the History of Science

February 29, 2012

Any professional in a scientific field that has not learned, studied, or at least comprehended the history of science is going to look like an idiot.

Why? Because they keep repeating the age old error of ridicule, marginalize, and trash any new theory that does not fit into their concept of the current mainstream theories they happen to believe this week.

Over and over throughout history, new theories have come up to scorn and ridicule by the scientific establishment and been shoveled into the dustbin only to be dragged out years later and verified as the then current truth.

I am not saying that every new theory will be correct in the future, or that all theories require the same level of discussion. Van Daniken’s ancient astronauts do not require the same amount of scholarly investment as does a corpus like Immanuel Velikovsky’s.

Van Daniken’s is a rather straightforward piece on a singular topic and since the whole of it cannot be proved or disproved, it can only be set aside until further evidence comes in. Should the evidence be found that even one of his instances did in fact belong to ancient astronauts, his disciples will claim the theory proved while scientists would say that only that one has been. And having one prove correct does not make all of them correct but it certainly does open the door for further investigation. (Funny that they should take this “wait for proof” attitude about something like this theory but completely forget about such criteria when it comes from one of their “own”. Outsiders, beware, and remember whose playground you’re goofing around with!)

Before Newton’s time, the scientists thought they had a pretty good bead on the universe. Newton changed that. By the end of the nineteenth century, scientists thought everything was pretty well settled – to the extent that some said the patent office should be closed, as everything had been invented.

Then came Planck and Einstein and ushered in another entirely new world view. Today, the scientific community is confident that they will have the Grand Unified Theory finished soon and we will finally have the keys to understanding everything.

Wake up call! People, don’t you understand it is simply the same old attitude over again? You have not “closed in on understanding everything”, you have only come to the end of the computations put in place by Planck and Einstein.

And a set of equations do not a universe make.

Scientists like to use a “yardstick” to measure how good a theory is by its predictive abilities: Can this theory predict something we don’t know yet? And if it does, they usually keep it around to see if it correctly predicts anything else.

The variations on this are: 1- if Einstein did it, we keep adjusting things so everything keeps fitting, and 2- if Velikovsky did it, nothing will convince us to keep it no matter how much closer his predictions were over the Einsteinian model.

But, of course, this also applies to a pseudo-science like astrology. No matter how many times it has been proven to be a workable tool, they throw out the evidence without a glance. But meteorology? Hell, no!! Who cares about the predictive model? We’ll just call it a science anyway!

With all their blunders of the past to use as a guide, I do not see how scientists could think they’ve got a firm grip on anything.

Most articles I read – and I do read a lot of them – mention geologic ages and the causes of some astronomic catastrophe as something that has been proven. I must apologetically mention that none of this has been proven yet. When I was a youngster, I was taught Atomic Theory in school. My children received the same instruction but without the “Theory” attached to it. I asked the teacher when was it proven and he hummed and hawed and eventually came to the point that it had not, in fact, actually been proven. But since it worked on all levels, it must be fact.

O, the undeniable folly! If it indeed worked on all levels I would say that it could be called a fact rather than a theory but the sad fact is there are innumerable anomalies to the Atomic Theory that cannot be made to gibe with the “theory”, and that’s just what it is.

Calling it a fact does not make it so.

And, in college, I learned of the portions of the relativity theory that talked about dying stars and what happens to them. A small star would collapse some and become a brown dwarf. A larger one would collapse more violently, crushing the atoms themselves and send out a rain of neutrons, becoming a neutron star. Very large stars would collapse with such speed and violence that the atoms would be compressed to such a degree that nothing could escape, to become a “black hole”.

Well, brown dwarves had already been known, so they set out to find a neutron star. What they found were some things that did not quite fit the theories: Pulsars and Quasars. These were very strange birds and were not accounted for anywhere.

Until one bright guy decided if you adjust the formula a little bit, you had a pulsar rather than a neutron star. Bingo!

And the race to find the first black hole was on…

Velikovsky had hypothesized that Mars and Venus had collided with Earth in historic times and this was thrown out by the scientists as “impossible”. Most said the orbits of the planets has been unchanged for millions of years, since the Solar System was first formed.

Now, exactly how they could know that – other than making another Theory turn into Fact without any proof – is certainly beyond my understanding. But Velikovsky was raked over the coals for even suggesting such an insane idea. Scientific American refused to publish anything about it because the very idea of the planets switching orbits was rubbish, not science.

How thrilling to see, then, a month after Velikovsky’s death, the front page article of the Scientific American was about the changing orbits of the planets. Yes, apparently someone had figured out that they had not always been exactly as they are now for millions and millions of years. Of course, they still said it took millions of years for them to settle into their current orbits. And of course, no mention was made of that charlatan Velikovsky.

So, in thirty years, what had been impossible was suddenly scientific “fact” – or rather just another theory – and this is the primary point I am trying to make here.

No matter how much we know, or think we know, or what we may know is impossible or wrong, tomorrow we may know something completely different and so we should never close the door on any theory as it may prove to be of greater importance than we know.

And the theories we currently embrace are liable to find themselves on the trash heap in the future. But discarded theories have sometimes come back to give us more insight and we should remember that too.

Scientists are only human, and I really don’t think they do these things over and over again, one century following another, because they really think they have a leg up on the truth; I seriously doubt if any scientist today is really looking for truth. What they all are really in search of is patronage. Yes, the good old almighty dollar (yen, pound, euro, whatever) because they are only human, and the human attitude often leans very heavily toward survival.

Only when our society reaches the paradigm of utopia or paradise will we ever see people (in large groups) who search for the truth for its own sake. In other words, I don’t really foresee that happening at all.

Until that time, scientists who continue making the same old mistakes over and over again will look like idiots through the lens of history because that action is, after all, the working definition of insanity.