Monday, October 31, 2005

My blog's name doesn't exist....

Howdy there scinece fans. I know that many and most of you are not in fact big fans of science, but I found somthing that i thought was very intersting. A paper was recently published in, you guessed it, a peer reviewed journal about the existance of dark matter. Now, as a brief introduction, if you have ever wandered down the halls of your University's Astronomy dept. then you probably saw a poster with a pie chart on it telling you what the universe was made out of. It would tell you that ordinary matter makes up ~10% of the universe. that 25% was 'dark matter' and that the rest is 'dark energy'. "Dark Matter" was concieved to explain why galaxies (like our own Milky way) behave the way that they do. The idea was you look at the stars and estimate how much matter there is, and run some calculations and they come back wrong. But, if you throw in some 'dark matter' that you actually can't see or detect in any way, then you get the answer you expect. This has been widely accepted for some time now. Dark Energy, while sounding like something that Darth Vader uses, is actually contrived to explain why the universe appears to be expanding. (and its a totally different topic). anyway, the title is a link to a recently published paper where some clever grad student thought to run through the calulations using General Relativaty (GR) math instead of Classical Newtonian (CN) math. GR is a very sucessful theory which describes things that newtonian math can't. (for example, GR explains why the orbit of Mercury behaves the way it does. CN physics doesn't quite predict the orbit of Mercury properly unless you invent an even closer planet that is somehow hidden by the sun ( someone did so and named the planet 'Vulcan'. (no joke)). But we are pretty sure that there is no Vulcan. Anyway, the whole point of this, is that this dude used GR to calculate the orbits of some galaxys and his answers were right on without having to invoke "Dark Matter". I think this is freakin awesome if it turns out to be true. It more appealing because it describes what we see with without having to invent some matter that we can't see and have never measured. Anyway, I know that you all stopped reading about 20 lines back, but if you want the paper Here it is.

Friday, October 28, 2005

too funny

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wedding photos and Pumkin Carving

I need to get out of the habit of joining two topics that are entirely unrelated. Or do I...
Here are some of the higlights of the pictures I took at Kelby and Elizabeth's wedding. I didn't take many pictures becuase they will have a ton, and I only want some to give them that would be nice, and that perhaps their photographer wouldn't take. Anyway, here are the lovely coupple:

Here were an already married coupple showing what marriage is like:

Now we turn our attention to pumpkins. Last night, I invited some people over to carve pumkins. Some actually came!

And we carved pumkins. You will have to guess which one is mine, but I will give you a hint: Mine is the darth vader one.

Unphotographed here were the king of all cosmos in pumkin form, a vampirish ghost with some bats, and some japanese characters that mean love or some junk.
Ok. Thats all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I like this...

"Men became scientific because they expected a Law in Nature, and they expected a Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator."
-Alfred North Whitehead, 'Science and the Modern World'

Monday, October 24, 2005

Congrats Kelby and Elizabeth!

My roomate and neighbor were married this weekend in a beautiful ceremony followed by a lovely reception. I snapped a few shots, but, alas, you will have to wait a bit for them. In other news, recently married coupple B & D returned from thier late honeymoon in Crete. Ah Crete. What does the Bible have to say about people from Crete? Its not pretty. I wonder if a 'cretan' has been an insult for 2000 years, or if it came on the scene more recently?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What I did on my Fall Break Vacation:

Unfortunatly, I am having to work. I know that not everyone gets a fall break, but I am supposed to, and my boss scheduled us to have time on the accelerator for these days. This saturday, my soon-to-be former roomate Kelby, will be united in matromony to his Elizabeth. Awww. To celebrate this event, I bought new plates for our house, since he will be taking his plates with him. In other news, I was exhausted yesterday from getting up early to meet some friends and then going out to visit chuck and andie and new-to-this-world Rachel-Pamela. She is cute, but a bit young for me. In my exhaustion, I ended up falling asleep around 6:30 pm and deciding to just ride it all the way through to this morning. That never works the way its supposed to. I was smart enough to pack a lunch and dinner knowing that I would be heald hostage here at TUNL (where I work) until late tonight. Anyway, I will shortly post some pictures of Chuck and Andie's most recently beggotten.
Aww.. I like this one.

The source of all of Chuck and Andie's new problems and joys.

Is it me, or is chuck distracted?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Congrats Chuck!

Chuck gave birth to a beautiful baby girl yesterday morning. A woman was probably involved. Pictures to come.
Also, help me out with this expression... "We all know what the cows say when the milkers are late." No, I don't what do they say?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Predestination: A lesson in Quantum Mechanics.

So I have a half hour before my bus comes and (when I began to write this this was true; I have since edited and amended this post) I thought that I might start a conversation about predestination. I was raised to believe that God knew who was going to be saved, as opposed to God choosing who was going to be saved. I now attend a presbyterian church which believes that God chooses who will be saved, and not only that, but that salvation is only offered to those he chooses. The argument in a summed up form, is that it would diminish God's soveriegnty if we were able to resist his offer of salvation, therefore, salvation is an irresitable offer. If not every person is actually a christian, then salvation must not be offered to everyone. Now it has come to my attention that C.S. Lewis writes in his book Perelandra about predestination and that his views seem to be closely aligned with mine. I almost dislike that this is true, because it is harder for me to be sure that these thoughts are my own, and that I am not just a C.S. Lewis fan-boy. The scene is the hero, Ransom, is wrestling with the thought of a physical confrontaion with the villian. The quote goes thus: "...The future act stood there, fixed and unaltered as if he had already performed it. It was a mere irrelevant detail that it happend to occupy the position of time we call the future instead of that which we call the past. The whole struggle was over and yet there seemed to have been no moment of victory. You might say, if you liked, that the power of choice had been set aside and in inflexible destiny substituted for it. On the ohter hand, you might say that he had delivered from the rhetoric of his passions and had emerged into unassailable freedom. Ransom could not for the life of him, see any difference between these two statements. Predestination and free will were aparently identical. He could no longer see any meaning in the many arguments he had heard on the subject..."
Now I will admit that I am reading into this quite a bit and I do not mean to speak for Lewis, who has likely amply spoken for himself. For quite sometime I have been of the mind that the only real differenece between how I was raised, and how my church believes now, was the words 'knows' and 'chooses'. Some prefer to think of God knowing; some prefer to think of God choosing. I have tried to develope a slightly more sophitcated idea about the issue, but my opinion has not changed much to date. On the one hand it is imposible to read the new testement without encountering the word 'predestined' or some synonym used in the context of a christians' salvation. Also, no christian I know has a hard time thinking about the Children of Israel as God's chosen people. God chose people in the old testement. It could stand to reason that He would chose the people with whom he enters into the new covenant. On the other hand, free will has such an intuative appeal to it. I am responsible for the bad things that I do. I chose to do them. The one good thing I did was to choose salvation, not that I was smart or brave or strong enough to do it, but that the Holy Spirit enabled me to choose it and then I did. I don't know enough theology to know if there is a belief structure that suggests that a man chooses independant of the will of God to allow him that choice. I'd bet that there is, but that is not what I am talking about here. Also, its hard for me (it may not be hard for others) to believe that God does not offer salvation to everyone. The whole issue raises many questions. -Even among the children of Israel, A non Israelite could join the lot. ( Forgive me for not having the reference, but if you know it, I would thank you kindly)
My point of most interetst rest on Lewis' thesis that predestination and freedom are somehow the same. It is interseting to me as a physicist because this is a phenomeon that we see in nature. Quantum mecahnics is a wildly sucessful theory that describes what happens in the regime of the very small. When you are dealing with an atom, or an electron or what have you, you have to consider "quatum effects". One of QM's chief engineers was Schrodinger, whose claims of the realities of QM fly in the face of the rigid modernist. The example of 'schrodingers cat' is this: Put a cat in a box with a vile of a toxic poison which will at some random moment in time, burst. Now for you the observer of the box, you cannot know if the cat is alive or dead unless you make a measurement; that is, you open the box. So while the cat is in the box he is best descibed, quatum mechinically speaking, as simultaneously being in the state of being alive, and being dead. Until you open the box, the cat is both alive and dead, and when you decide to open the box, you have destoyed the former quantum state of being alive and dead, and measured the cat to be either alive or dead.
I think that this is not only a brilliant explanation of some of the oddities of quatnum mechanics, but more. The lessons learned are: (1) Things may exist in a state where they are best descibed as being simultaneously in two (or more) mutually exclusive states. (2) Measurment effects the outcome of an experiment. This post is getting long, so I will let you draw your own conclusions for now and perhaps put a part II with the rest of my thoughts.

Monday, October 10, 2005

this is funny

webcomic at Some humor more off color than this.


So it occured to me as I am re-reading Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, that I love books. I don't have the book with me, but I think that I might just post quotes from books that I like when i can't think of anything to say. Many times, authors like Lewis say what I think about a subject only more eloquently than I. What are your favorite books?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I didn't mean that I was going to quit... mostly I meant that I might not post as often as I have in the past. But thanks for the re-assurement.
Peace yall.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The will to blog

I'm losing it. The will to keep blogging. We'll see. I just have a lot to do right now, and blogging is losing precidence as a priority. Topic for dicussion:
is the word "straight" perhaps the longest one syllable english word?