From Brain Pickings – The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story

I expect that the viewpoint of this particular article could bother some folks – depending on how one sees the world. I found it thought-provoking.

This posting led me to do some investigating of my own. I was taken up by the science involved, and the apparent universality of some mathematical concepts in nature. I learnt about the concept of Chirality – about how chirality appears in nature, and how chirality extends even down to the genetic and atomic level. In general terms, left-handedness and right-handedness in nature can sometimes even lead to widely different properties of the objects in question. I also looked into how the Golden Mean, or the Golden Ratio, manifests itself in the world – even in the shapes of snail shells!

Go ahead and look it all up. The natural world is fascinating.

Transitions

We are in a seasonal transition in our neck of the woods. It is a truth – as true as anything and everything else that is real and factual. There is no way that somebody can refute my statement, right? Winter is around the corner in Maryland.

Unfortunately, facts seem to be more and more difficult for people to accept in today’s world. It is the belief that counts, and a lot of our actions will be based on these beliefs. I could have edited those pictures I am showing you, or even picked pictures out from my collection from a different year, to state something that is untrue. You believe that I will not do that. There is an element of trust involved. You believe that I will not lie to you.

It is a sad thing that active efforts are being made to destroy the trust that people in the US have in their electoral system. When this happens, the truth, and the facts, do not matter. The lies are considered credible. And the lies can become a matter of faith. Living in a virtual world of computers and social media makes this process even easier. Facebook’s algorithms have no means to separate out truth from lies. AI technology is also not necessarily based on starting from truths. Scientific truths have no basis in a virtual world, facts have no foundations there. These days you can argue that the world is flat, that man did not land on the moon, and that a conman won this election – and the algorithms in the computers will say, fine, we do not care if this is true or not, and we will proceed as if this is fact.

All real facts point to the successful and honest conclusion of the election process in the US, a process that was as fair as it could be. Unfortunately, apparently 70% of Republicans, at this time, believe that the election was really won by the candidate who actually lost it – the two-bit huckster, the conman. Unfortunately, this fantasy is also not explicitly repudiated by the people in power who are in a position to state the facts. They are afraid. They are hypocrites who look out only for themselves. People lie, these lies are amplified, and these lies are believed because of the kind of world we live in. The facts have no place here. There is more chaos, uncertainty, and anxiety, in the transition that is taking place in our country because of all of this. This is nuts!

Nobel Prize for CRISPR honors two great scientists – and leaves out many others: The Conversation

I have written blogs about CRISPR in the past. In one of thses blogs, in 2016, I talked about the possible ethical ramifications of the use of the technology in the future. My other blog, the next year, was just a link to a description of how the technology works. The scientists who developed this technology have now received the ultimate recognition, the Nobel Prize. But, as happens in many cases, there is some controversy about whether other deserving people have been left out of this honor. This article gives a broader perspective on this subject, including some history.

https://theconversation.com/nobel-prize-for-crispr-honors-two-great-scientists-and-leaves-out-many-others-147730

How to Measure the Speed of Light in your Kitchen- Ask a Spaceman! – YouTube

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light
There are other interesting articles that can be found on the Internet that describe methods that have been used to measure and establish the speed of light.

The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow | Quanta Magazine

Even if these are just theories at this point, these are fascinating concepts.  Imagine the possibility that all of the natural processes, of different kinds, of different orders of scale and magnitude, can be defined by similar sets of simple rules at a macro level.   Consider the concept of “The Arrow of Time”, and how it fits in with the fundamental structure of our universe.

via The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow | Quanta Magazine

Meanwhile, 55 Million Light Years Away

A black hole spins!

Watch the video!  Young people like Katie Bouman are helping us see things that have never been seen in the past.  They have now managed to obtain the first picture of a black hole!  This video is from a couple of years back.

via Katie Bouman: How to take a picture of a black hole | TED Talk

PS.  I got the link for this video from a friend.

Physicists Discover Exotic Patterns of Synchronization | Quanta Magazine

This is fascinating stuff!  There is synchronization happening naturally everywhere, and a lot of it is unexpected and non-intuitive, at least for me.  And there seem to be mathematical ways to characterize these synchronization processes.  There could be ways to harness the power of synchronization.

Caution that the article is a long read.

via Physicists Discover Exotic Patterns of Synchronization | Quanta Magazine

When Science Veers toward Elements of Belief and Disbelief

The following article is about the Theory of Everything (TOE) and more specifically about String Theory and where it stands today.  I do not expect anybody to understand the “science” of the article, but I hope that you get a sense of the tone.  We have entered a realm of scientific investigation where the mathematics far exceeds what can be experimentally shown.  It will probably remain that way for a long time because the energies required to create the conditions under when the theories can be proved or disproved are not practical.  For example, what if a certain phenomenon can only be observed under conditions that exist related to the energies involved in the presence of a black hole?

I used to think that science needs to keep digging deeper and deeper into the fundamentals of existence, but I am beginning to wonder if there is a useful purpose to this endeavor beyond a certain point.  Does any of this really help us understand more about ourselves or have the potential to help us in some way in the future?  Even if the experiments to prove something about the TOE were to become practical some time in the very distant future, what if the energies required to set up the experiment to prove it are of an order of magnitude that would change the conditions under which the experiment has been conducted in some irreparable way?  Would there ever be a reason to conduct such an experiment?  It would be like eating the apple in the Garden of Eden.

The comments related to this article below (seen at the end of the article) may be more enlightening than the article itself.  You get to a point where the conversation can seem to have overtones that are similar to those when talking about religion.  Does science as defined today become pointless beyond some point?

https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-is-m-theory-the-leading-candidate-for-theory-of-everything-20171218/