Mind of Nerd

I might have entitled this Mind of STEM Nerd or even Physics Nerd. But yesterday I had to take FD SCP to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for some circulatory system ameliorations and by chance of vertical copulation the day actually turned out to not be crushingly painful.

Not for FD SCP. But she got the anesthesia and so was out and cared for most of the time.

Normally this is done in a facility that incorporates the world’s largest, nastiest, most nauseating waiting area ruled by medicalist Gestapo. This waiting room is so unpleasant it makes a Soviet-era Russian bus depot seem comfortable, sanitary, salubrious, and palatial. All courtesy of the Shining City’s largest hospital and their mistreatment of responsible adults.

The last time I had to occupy that waiting room, several months ago, it was for eleven hours and I came very close to having to be admitted to hospital for physical and nervous collapse. It often reminds me of the old Chicago stockyards supporting the slaughter houses. 

But while FD SCP was directed to this facility, that was erroneous – surprise! surprise! – and we actually went to a quite pleasant – relatively – day surgery facility that actually doesn’t abuse the demanded responsible adults. And we only had to stay six hours!

But in the process I got to thinking about how Nerds and Introverts look at the world and society. We think differently. In fact, it may be argued that Intros are smarter because of the way Extros try to kill us by denying there are such folks. It’s not as brazen as harvesting us for body parts like elephants or rhinos but it’s blatant and painful. So to survive, we have to out-think the Extros?

I reflected on an article [Link] I had seen in Physics Today, which is itself an EXTRO gush journal for the American Physical Society. It used to have useful articles but evidently it is now run by public affairs types and is rather a pseudo-nerdy physics equivalent of something like Time magazine.

Anyway, the title of the article is “The image of scientists in The Big Bang Theory” and it strains the trust of any physicist who actually watches the program. The article is very positive and up-beat on the whole thing, quoting,

“The Big Bang Theory is the finest and best fictional portrayal of scientists in any current media—and a series that is carving out a place for itself in the annals of television comedy.”

but it actually has some serious veracity problems.

The biggest problem is that none of the STEM principals talk like real STEMs. Yes there is a bit of techno-babble that has some roots in actual STEM, but the characters do not act like STEM Nerds. Rather, they act like Geeks who are pretending to be STEMs which is pretty close to what the situation is. Actors are often Geeks and in this case it’s painfully apparent to any actual STEM. 

The most glaring thing is that the humor is false. The number of instances of actual STEM Nerd humor is less than 0.01 of the total. The jokes told are usually of the Geek variety akin to “X walks into a bar….”. This is a blatant necessity that the producers of the program ignore out of necessity. Real NERD Stem humor would be unintelligible to 0.98 of the population. And hence unfunny. And thereby, no success as a TV program.

Ditto the discussions among the principals. They are Geek discussions, not Nerd discussions. They’re about collecting rather than doing. Yes, they have STEM stuff injected but it’s injected as Geeks would. 

Not that the program isn’t worthwhile and beneficial, but it isn’t really about STEM and STEMs. But one of its benefits is showing us how NERD STEMs don’t think.

Transcending DST

Seven Day. Slightly less colding than yesterday. And hopefully not too unpleasant. Especially after the rigors of today being Daylight Savings Time fall transition day. 

Did I mention I HATE DST? OK. Consider it ranted upon. And politicians who continue it properly cursed. Preferably in terms of their fertility.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me a link [Link] to a blot by Chad Orzel on the Forbes website about how much math you need for physics. I read Chad occasionally. He is a young physicist who writes well but is rather too wordy for my attention span. This is probably because he is very good at explaining things to Bogs. I usually read his blots on Uncertain Principles but lately he has been blogging on Forbes and I avoid Forbes as a tool of the Capitalist Oligarchs. He gets, I am sure, a larger audience there which gets him more mana points from his college’s administrators which improves his job security and future, so I don’t blame him for being serfish but I don’t have to actively support the tyranny.

Anyway, his discussion is that different types of physicists need different amounts and types of maths. He illustrates this by talking about how he never studies the proof of Noether’s Theorem. This intrigued my colleague and, by transfer, myself, so I reflected on this. I realized that the grrr brrr with Noether’s Theorem is a relatively recent “social justice” thing. When I went through university, the physics books mainly talked about Hamilton’s Principle and Euler’s Theorem and Lagrange’s Equations. 

This reminded me that physicists tend to have rather different naming conventions than mathematicians. But also that perhaps Chad wasn’t exposed to Noether’s Theorem in university? To estimate this, I proceeded to review Noether’s Theorem. I went through several textbooks on mechanics. Only one of the latest in my collection – a copy of Goldstein I purchased when I taught out of it in the Eighties, talked about Noether’s Theorem and that was in terms of the use of the Lagrangian Density in Quantum Mechanics. This was buried in the back of the book where no one goes since they primarily use only the first five chapters or so to teach classical mechanics.

Hence the conjecture that this is more about broadcasting the role of minorities in Physics than gaps in education. I have expressed my opinions on the role of theorems and proofs in physics before and will not repeat. 

What is important about Noether’s Theorem and Hamilton’s Principle and Lagrange’s Equations is that they made the transition from looking at mechanical systems in terms of forces to looking at them in terms of energy. That’s the physics, the math is just the bridge, not the cargo. 

But reading Goldstein’s development of Noether’s Theorem, which was in a relativistic framework where all four coordinates are variable, I was reminded of the different types of time. 

  • Mental Time – this is the time in our heads. It’s subjective, if not relative;
  • Metabolic Time – which is variable somehow but also regular. Why do we defecate on a schedule most of the time?;
  • Mechanical Time – which is the time of pendulums and clocks and toothbrushes. The latter reminds me every time I use it that mental time is subjective; and
  • Relativistic Time – which is dependent on the environment be are embedded in.

Maybe I’ll compromise my standards a bit to spend more time reading Chad and getting good thoughts perking?

Self-Examination 1

No, this blot is not about tactiling one’s body parts. It’s about a mental self-examination. The first in what may be a series.

I seem to fundamentally be a reader. When I was a child television was stercus, especially in Alibam, and I learned to read at four. By adolescence I had read every obvious book in the house (my father’s dirty magazine collection was covert) and was raiding the Carnegie library thrice a week. And that ending was delayed by a year spent plowing through my father’s correspondence course textx from his navy days. Sic Transit Algebra et Trigonometry.

But I came to the conjecture that reading is my natural (?) mode of learning when the internet ripened and videos proliferated. When I was in high schule and college I abided films, mostly as entertainment but never as anything substantive. In fact, I mostly assumed the film was a means for the teacher/lecturer to stand down.

When TED came along I tried it because I knew several of the speakers and knew they were good.

But they weren’t. They were bad. Disengaging and stuffy. And the ones by people I didn’t know were worse. Absolutely painful and boring. I thought it might be the restrictive format rules imposed. Surely these people aren’t really boring.

But this morning I found an article [Link] entitled “Top 10 Smart Alternatives to TED Talks” on LifeHacker. It proclaims it’s a review of sites for people who can’t stand TED. Are other people downed by TED?

So I did the Rikki Tiki Tavi thing; I went and looked see. And it was terrible. None were engaging. None were learnable. Other than that I should not spend any precious time on them.

So I can only hypothesize that I am a fairly monochannel learner.

Alas. 

Ice Cream Musings

A bit less BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! this morning than yester. So I was distracted less by the shivers and a need to keep firm control of my jaw. So more opportunity to cogitate. My short walk encompassed several thoughts, some of which need a bit more nurturing.

But it did occur to me that one of our problems in this country is the holding the delusion that we can pick which of the two realities we accept.

What two realities? Why, physical reality and social reality, of course. And only Nerds and a few Geeks accept both. Mostly, the Bogs exclusively, it seems, ignore/deny physical reality and only embrace social reality. 

This is reflected in almost everything we see and do. Our politicians deny physical reality to the point of actually suppressing and abusing science. Scientists are terrorists in the mind of the politician. Political office holders seem bent on the destruction of Amerikan science. All they seem to care about positively is advancing their positions in social reality.

This political behavior is an epitome of general life. Bogs ignore science and do everything they can to avoid it. It is impossible now to get any decent science education in the public schules. Only commissars are permitted to “teach” science courses. Only in the most insulated of universities is science still taught.

Modern life does everything it can to ignore physical reality. Media presentations, dramatic and commercial alike, deny science and present wild unreality as actuality.

I can only hope that other countries will retain sanity and save humanity.

But not in Amerika. 

Phonium?

Ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and took a bit of a laugh.

Reason: A charged battery has more mass than an uncharged/discharged battery. (Admittedly we’re talking about wee differences. So don’t try weighing your cellular telephone at home for this.) Hence, since the more apps a phone has the faster the battery discharges, the lower the (time averaged) weight of the phone. So the opposite of the cartoon is actuality.

Now, the question is, does that make or break the funny?

The Good of a Pen

Five Day. Last day of gym under the new schedule. And an intense hope the weekend will actually be enjoyable.

The first morning of BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Bundled up like Nanook. Southrons and heat are nasty but Southrons and not-heat are just plain pathetic. Even more pathetic than Clinton-Trump supporters. 

The podcast this morning was the second half of an episode of Linux Luddites. Passable. Consumed the time well. But not much in the way of ideas. So my mind wandered to the subject of writing and then to pens.

I sometimes listen to Brad Dowdy’s “The Pen Addict” [Link] podcast, mostly when walking. He sometimes has useful things to say about pens. But mostly he waxes adoringly on Field Note paper. Not that it isn’t good paper but pocket notebooks aren’t real notebooks. At least in my frame of reference.

Which brings me to note taking and composition and writing. One of my colleagues, Force Spring Constant, gave me an Economist article entitled “The Comeback of Cursive” [Link] about why cursive is making a comeback in schules mostly because – they claim – of push-back from Common Core and the extra-office existence of corporate serfs these days. Neither seems a good reason but then humans almost never do things for good reasons. Mostly they glandular. 

I have nattered on writing and note taking previously so I won;t compete with a search of the blog site. And get to the marrow. How do I rate a pen?

Importance 1: How well does the pen put into on the page? This is primarily about the interstices of the pen. Does it skip? Does it drag? Yes to either question is failure. And the pen ends up next the telephone to write down pointers.

Importance 2: How well does the pen feel. Is it comfortable both at rest in the hand and while writing? No to either is a fail.

Importance 3: Is the pen painful in any way? Is it unendearingly ugly? Or nastily garish? Depending on the depth of 1 and 2, a Yes may be a fail. But not usually. This is a distant 3.

The problem is that we can assess these with opposite order of ease. A glance and a touch answer 3, A bit of manipulation and test writing answer 2 and much of 1. But a new pen does not perform like a developed pen. So sometimes we buy and then amass at the telephone. 

So when someone tells you they buy pens for visual appearance or cheapness, you know they are a BOG. Pity them. Perhaps they will abstain from reproduction.