Singularity as Stone

Five Day. Counting down until I can visit specialist and see how big the pain (and money) bill will be for this illness. Assuming, of course, that it can be accurately diagnosed and treated. 

Other than that, a day of waiting looms, as much for the coming arrival of the dread Polar Vortex raid as for the trip to the midicalist singularity. No gym this morning so I was able to eke by with a bit of pedaling and some reading. Much easier to concentrate when one is doing boring things. Like exercise,

On which azimuths, the BIG Physics guys have announced their “discovery” – detection seems more accurate – of gravitational waves.[Link] I am uncertain since the waves were predicted by the second Great Isaac – Einstein – something like a century ago. I am fuzzy on this, general relativity course was a bit too intensive to permit any deep learning, but I suspect it’s a combination of a mental itch and a way the equations could be manipulated. Regardless, this is another case of theory being confirmed by experiment and observation. Mostly observation. Astrophysicists don’t really do experiments. Beyond our technology level. 

Over the years there have been numerous attempts to observe gravitational waves, the first, so far as I know, by Joseph Weber at the University of Maryland (?) [Link]

Weber’s approach was to take jolly big cylinders of metal, put detectors on them and look for effects of coupling of the waves with the BIG cylinder. Then he did all sorts of what we now call data mining on the observations. Around 1970 he announced that he thought he had detected gravitational waves.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, commented on the aftermath of this yesterday on the Facescroll and was kind enough to share an extended version with me:

Back in 1971 – I think – Joseph Weber gave a seminar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign physics department on his detection of gravitational waves. I was working on a graduate degree in chemical physics and knew little about gravitational waves and had little interest. But I could sense this was a moment to watch some physics in the making and so I attended

The seminar room, usually a hall that could handle a hundred, was a pit auditorium normally used to freshman service courses, and full. I nabbed one of the last available seats – still a half-hour shy of start time – and avoided having to stand in the clouds on sit on the steps. Weber came out, a bit of a stereotype of a bushy-haired scientist and gave his presentation. Only a few questions were broached and things seemed to be rather too pat.Then the Q&A began.

Several grating questions were asked and immediately fielded by Weber with nods of agreement and approval from the questioners. Then John Bardeen spoke up and the room hushed. He asked a question and Weber answered. Another question. Another answer. Bardeen became a bit intense, seemingly finding a trail of ill scent. But Weber kept coming back with what seemed good answers. Obviously he had trod this ground thoroughly before.

All of a sudden the atmosphere became more active. Q&A turned into a discussion between Bardeen and Weber with a thousand eves-droppers. It continued for a half-hours or so with no conclusion. Bardeen was still unsatisfied and Weber had not admitted any shortcoming. 

I left that seminar a different person. That interaction between Bardeen and Weber had been metamorphosing to me. I thought on the things said and heard for weeks, chewing on them mentally and with readings. In retrospect I learned more physics that afternoon than during the rest of the year. And almost didn’t go to the seminar.

Weber was eventually determined to be wrong and basically pilloried. That happens. Science is a cold mistress. Bardeen was already a laureate for inventing the transistor and went on to secure a second for his work on superconductivity.  

Weber’s effort, nor any of the others, ever had any real doubt of the existence of gravitational waves. Their failure was one of technology, not physics. And finally the technology has gotten there. This is, at best, another anti-climactic confirmation akin to the Higgs.

Winter Wonderings 1

Musings on a winter morning:

“I am cold.”

Meaningful communication. You have a sensation called “cold”. This sensation is thermodynamically meaningless but the words do convey that you are sentient, intelligent enough to learn speech, and are at least minutely uncomfortable.

“This room is cold.”

Amusing or frustrating communication. You are uncomfortable with the sensation “cold” and you attribute this to the room having inadequate heat rather than your body not producing enough heat to allay your sensation. Contraindicates the previous indication of intelligence. 

“Is it too cold to go outside?”

Another amusing/frustrating communication. Your intelligence now seriously in doubt, presumed non-existent. Since you are the only one who can sense you are cold, the only way to determine if the outside is too colding – the proper thermodynamically pseudo-meaningful term – is for you to go outside and find out for yourself.

“This heater isn’t warming up the room.”

More amusing than frustrating. Indicates a serious absence of any idea how a thermostat works and based on previous communication, probably incapable of learning. Warm is the complement of cold. It’s a sensation. Compound the previous statements in the complement. 

At this point we depart in search of either quiet, or, at least, a person who is sentient and intelligent. 

Fog of Science

Thor’s Day and done with gym for the week. Podcast yuh. Why can’t these podcasters be consistent in their durations. I have needs for short and long but it is horribly frustrating when one plans on a duration and it is significantly different. Rather seems deceptive and cheating in a way.

A bit of fawg this morning. Just barely. The halos around the street lamps are not very large. So not much optical depth of the scattering gender.

Yesterday was a bit of a cropper. Supposed to be a nasty snow/ice day. Rain instead. Overcast. Chilling more than colding although I stayed uncomfortably chilled all day. 

Did run across this cartoon: [Link]

which rather brightened my day. Illustrates all sorts of things. The difference between bogs and nerds, for one. Of course, science doesn’t give answers, Science is about understanding and understanding is never complete, nor finished. So what science provides is at least partly wrong but dedicated to getting better.

Everything Else, of course, says it’s right from the get go, so its wrongness is that of prevarication, delusion, and denial. 

I also had to chew a bit, mentally, on the complex. There are complex phenomena, although complex has a rather exact maths meaning which is different from complicated. Which is what I was trying to determine, if the cartoonist meant complicated. I finally decided to accept the term because science does incorporate complexity and thereby becomes complex, or emergent, itself. In fact, emergence is a good model of science.

In which case, the only problem is the metaphor of dropping off the cliff. In reality, those folks don;t drop off the cliff. They become ignorance, superstition zombies and become a nasty nuisance sort of survival threat. Sadly, reality isn;t as simple as the cartoon.

But we can wish it were.

Heat Mumblage

I do hate winter. To be fair, I also hate summer, but not quite in the same way. What is common however, is that I feel both are killing me.

Mundane Day. Twenty-two degF a few minutes ago according to both my external sensor and the Arab weather station. And supposed to be even less in the morning.

Went to gym despite. Sparse. No educationalists and only one weight bouncer. The majority ORF. Podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about apology. Too long, information density too low. Very EXTRO, more so than usual. Not that INTROs don’t apologize. In fact, INTROs apologize more than EXTROs. Probably because we understand it better? 

I did get reminded of what a politicians promises and apologies have in common. Both are lies. But at least the apologies have the benefit of inconveniencing them and making them uncomfortable. Even if they are lies and unmeant. 

I ran across a cartoon: [Link]

and it struck all kinds of thought. First was the rather nasty use of the word “cool” I ran to dictionary to assure myself:

Cool 1. Moderately cold; between warm and cold; lacking in warmth;      producing or promoting coolness.      [1913 Webster]   2. Not ardent, warm, fond, or passionate; not hasty;      deliberate; exercising self-control; self-possessed;      dispassionate; indifferent; as, a cool lover; a cool      debater.      [1913 Webster]

Since cold and warm are both subjective, non-thermodynamic terms and thereby cool is subjective as well, it seems rather a disparagement of Maxwell. I suspect however, it is an indication of the cartoonist’s BOGgery. The misuse of cool however, is necessary for the rather strained humor, so if we accept the common – inaccurate – use of cool as a measure of heat, the matter is not without a groan or so.

So far as I can tell the term “nerd” was not in use in Maxwell’s day, so that association of cool and nerd and Maxwell is miscarried.

What is actually humorous but missed by the cartoonist (?) is that nerds do often get inspiration from bogs. It isn;t intention, just that the modal inane, irrational behavior of bogs strikes cords that lead to epiphany and insight. Irrationality -> Rationality, if you will.

Which gives us a (rare) example of the value of bogs to the species.

Technology Trysts

Saturn’s Day. No constitutional today. Or likely tomorrow. Above the phase change temperature for dihydrogen oxide but below the cardiologist lower limit. So make do with stationary bicycle. No outside. No Nature. No uplift.

I ran across a cartoon: [Link]

yesterday that led to some cogitation. I have experienced this but I had not really explored the situation in depth. Now I am not completely technically illiterate. I can design most of a missile and even build some of the part myself although I don’t like to. I can make minor repairs on computer HW and SW. I could probably write a BIOS but again, I don;t want to. Nor do I want to learn how to do CUI coding. I am perfectly happy with comma delimited output.

But I am also not about to build a toaster or a television. At least not unless the apocalypse occurs and I am needed to restore civilization. I judge this eventuality to have probability O(0). But this does give some insight.

What I can handle in “hooking up” are tools but not appliances. Happily most appliances require no “hook up” beyond power plug and maybe time setting on a clock. The exception is TV stuff. When the cable tyranny went from analog to digital push and I had to upgrade, I tried seven (or nine?) times to follow the setup instructions. Complete failure. Finally called the office and had them send technician. Happily this was older fellow who shared that the instructions were “dead wrong bull shit” and fixed me up in ten minutes (two boxes to be set-up.) 

I am not too embarrassed by this. I have noted that the bogs are the opposite, which is probably why they exist. They can set up appliances but not tools. Much as I hate to admit CSPdatter has been known to buy new box rather than ask me to fix her old one. Otherwise she is a good person. Mostly. 

She is also a Winders person. But then so is FD SCP. Not everyone can be on the light side. To use a somewhat odious metaphor. But is still accurate. So I was not surprised to see an article [Link] entitled “No escape: Microsoft injects ‘Get Windows 10’ nagware into biz PCs” because it upholds my basic hypothesis that MegaHard is fundamentally stupid. Why do this? The last place you need to advertise is with corporate serf user organizations. But after a while it made some sense. Obviously, MegaHard has failed to sell WX to the corporate IT types. There is yet hope for civilization if this be the case!

I was, however, bemused by another article [Link] entitled “Microsoft finally has a proper way to opt out of Windows 7/8 to Windows 10 upgrades” which is highly confusing since it seems to contradict itself repeatedly and wander off as often. Probably the high standards of contemporary journalism. But I suspect that MegaHard may be backing off because too many of their serfs – corporate and individual – are running away to other OS. 

One has to be very sorry for MegaHard these days. After all Apple makes more money and LINUX has more installs. But we also felt sorry for Typhoid Mary even as we were putting her under glass. Those who spread evil, however innocently, cannot be permitted. Not that MegaHard is very innocent.

Makes me happy I run Linux. And sad that FD SCP doesn’t. And I have to care for her boxes.

Sleep Stupidity

Conflicted. This has not been a good week. It has definitely been winter. Not yet dripping temperatures but more than close. So lots of tension each night retiring and again in morning. And the weather beavers foretell even worse next week.

Meantime, today and tomorrow seem fallish. Almost 50 degF when I sallied forth to the park this morning for an atypical constitutional. It rained all night and while the paths were wetted they were not africtive and so I was able to enjoy an excellent constitutional and shudder at what I had been missing and how mentally deprived winter is.

On which azimuth, I ran across an article – second handedly – claiming that intelligent people are more nocturnal than unintelligent people. Sadly the thing screams of patronizing journalism attempting to justify dissipation and aproductivity. We already have a nation whose citizens suffer from a lack of sleep, both in quantity and quality. And this crass journalism, citing only a psychology popularization periodical, itself journalistic in nature, invites – tacitly – people to deprive themselves of what sleep they get in a vain, vacuous attempt to demonstrate intelligence?

The better exercise of intelligence would seem to be finding the fallacies embedded in this article. 

Yes, intelligent people do stay up later. If one is on a creative, mentative trail then sleep is banished. But the relationship is unidirectional. One cannot evade sleep to empower creativity or mentation. Rather the opposite. lack of sleep is mentally debilitating. 

A better approach is to try to sleep and if one’s thoughts and ache for progress precludes sleep, then stay up and work that thought and ache. It cannot be summoned. But once emerged, it must be exercised or lost. One cannot put inspiration in the deep freeze. It sublimes immediately. 

Nerd Labeling

Ice Cream day and that is actually what is. Air temperature up a bit from yesterday but still below the solid state limit of dihydrogen oxide. So ice cream left outside will still be there.

Needless to say I did not go to park. I did pedal on my stationary bicycle and I am not uplifted by the experience. Although I did have some occasion for mentation.

First, some work [Link] that puts human diddling of the environment back to 6 KYA. So much for GMO being a new thing. Don;t eat any corn, folks, it’s all GMO! And guess what, the ears you buy at the farmer’s market aren’t labeled as such. 

Which gives us several azimuths for thought. One is the murk of absolutism that brings the whole labeling thing into the dark. Almost everything we have been eating for centuries is gene modified. Farmers are notorious practitioners. But is that temporal inertia a valid reason not to label modifications made by evil Capitalists? And more importantly, would it make any difference?

I have already ranted about the pain and torture of other peoples’ lists of the most important xxx of 2015. Since I am a nerd, xxx is most often nerd things. I am not given to pornography like football or mind slavery like celebrities so I just trash any such lists of them. 

But I skimmed one such[Link] to reinforce my aversion of such and it was not disappointing. Journalistic feces! I was particularly taken by one blurp,

“We spilled some electronic ink looking at what it’s like to be a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professional. One of our most active stories all year on social media made the case that workaholism isn’t a valid requirement for advancing in science… nerve hit, anyone? We investigated why beliefs about innate talent may dissuade students from STEM. The message: It’s OK if things are challenging; you don’t take classes in things you’ve already mastered. We also explored the question of underrepresented groups in STEM. What’s going on with sex bias in STEM positions? Where do long, poorly paid postdoc positions leave women who want to start families?”

It struck me that the tirade against long hours is at the root of a lot of this. Especially the themism.

The workaholism isn’t internal. It’s external. When I was an undergrad I got by with about forty hours of effort a week. That left plenty of time for bodily functions and the occasional social activity. But when I got to graduate schule the weekly required hours got closer to eighty. More time with books, more time with homework, more time with research, more time with whatever paid for the privilege. 

Giving up football games and social activities – other than the departmental required ones – was no problem. Sleep and sanitation wasn’t. But I did cut back haircuts to twice annually. Yes, two a year. Usually first thaw and mid-fall. Had to have a full head grown by winter. 

Nothing made you do this, nothing except survival. If you didn’t put in this time, and you weren’t rich or genius – BIG genius – you got dropped. First from your research group/adviser, and then from schule. You weren’t called lazy. Laziness was considered a good trait if it was constructive. No, you were deemed to be insufficiently dedicated. Not called enough? So you had to be dropped. Banned to some high schule to teach the schmuckerate. No graduate degree. No research life. 

As far as I can tell, it’s still that way. Constructive laziness is good; time wasting goof-off is just that, a sign of lack of dedication. Waste of space and time. Waste of resources. Unworthy.

The idea was that you were supposed to like what you were doing well enough to do it all the time, Even when you were asleep. Other things were supposed to be secondary as a maximum.

It ain’t about gender, or ethnicity, or anything social. It’s about dedication. Maybe it’s a hold-over from religionism. But it’s there. And that’s a big factor not acknowledged when we bemoan the lopsided demographics. Except real nerds don’t do that? Only the fake ones? The ones who skate by on insufficient dedications.

Sorta like gene modification?