Thursday, December 18, 2014

Of Space-Time and Clock Towers

by Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

Brian Greene is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist who has worked on mirror symmetry since 1996 while a professor at Columbia University. As a result, he believes that in “infinite” universes, matter can arrange itself in an infinite number of ways. Eventually, a “universe” is repeated. Such a parallel universe would look very much like the one we live in.

Therefore, Greene says, if the universe is infinitely large, it is also home to infinite parallel universes.
As a string theorist, he believes that apparent conflicts between current cosmology (Relativity theory) and quantum mechanics is resolved with string theory –his 'specialty' for the past 25 years. Greene believes that the entire universe is explained with small strings vibrating in as many as 11 dimensions. Moreover, within our single universe time is relative to where you are and how fast you are going at any given instant.

Therefore, time is always local even within the single universe we live in. For example, time is slower for anyone who is moving. As Einstein demonstrated, time stops for anyone traveling at light speed.

Einstein imagined a street car leaving the clock tower in Bern. As long as his speed was less than that of light, the clock viewed from the street car would appear to be moving forward, marking the 'forward' progress of time. But –should the street car exceed the speed of light, the hands of the clock would appear to go backward as the street car catches up with and passes light beams.

This effect can be simulated with an oscillator or an old 33 and a third RPM album turntable with a disc of concentric hash marks calibrated to appear stationary under florescent (pulsing) light. If the turntable is too slow, the hash marks will appear to rotate in one direction. If the rotation is too fast, the marks will appear to move in the opposite direction. At the desired turntable speed, the hashmarks will appear absolutely motionless. By the same token, time STOPS for one traveling at the speed of light.

The downside is that many other unfortunate things will happen to you at that speed. So –don't try this at home or without the supervision of experts. You are safe if you confine your experiments to an old 33 1/3 RPM turntable and some old Rolling Stone LPs.

A few years ago, Julian Barbour “shook up” readers of “Discover” magazine when he denied the existence of “time”. He may have been correct. In fact, he is consistent with Einstein. Einstein posits that time is merely one's local' movement relative to the speed of light. Young Einstein lived in Bern (Switzerland) where he worked at the patent office. He often took the tram home in a direction away from the famous Bern clock tower. He imagined how the clock might appear should his tram exceed light speed.

He immediately concluded that the hands on the clock tower would appear to move backward relative to the forward movement perceived by pedestrians on either side of the street. The explanation is simple: at faster than light travel, the tram overtakes light that had already left the tower. One looking back at the tower would see the hands run backward.

That, of course, is a dramatic example that drives home the point for anyone daring to imagine faster-than-light trams. The conclusion is simpler: time is different for every person occupying a different space from every other person. For that matter, time differs from every point to every other point in the universe.Barbour believes the past, present and future all exist in what may be called a timeless 'super-verse'. Barbour posits a series of “NOWS” like individual frames on a motion picture film strip. 'Nows' exist for actual events but, interestingly, many 'nows' are alternate possibilities, i.e, virtual universes.

This view is consistent with Einstein's analogy re: the Bern clock tower. To use Barbour's film strip analogy, NOW is a single frame. The universe is the entire film strip. Parallel universes may be compared to alternate "film strips", thus Barbour's views are consistent with Greene's "parallel" universes. If Barbour's timeless universe is akin to a film-strip, then Greene's parallel universes are a shelf full of film-strip canisters –each containing a feature-length film. In this case the feature-length movie is the universe as it unfolds. But as long as we travel at sub-light speeds, we move forward in time as "light" over-takes us. But if we should exceed light speed we will eventually see the big bang! In fact, we can see remnants of the big bang now. This "object", astronomers tell us, is some 13.7 billion years old and as many light-years distant.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why You Should Never Kill A Slow Roach

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

I wanted to post a status that says: "Never kill a slow roach, you just improve the breed!" But --I can't find the origin of it. All my google searches take me to my own blog : ). So --if Google says I said it, then I risk their ire if I should deny it. Google has spoken!!

I cannot believe that at a time when the right wing and many throughout the ranks of the GOP have most vociferously attacked Darwinism no one but me would have summoned up the wisdom of cowboys with respect to the propagation of cockroaches in order to refute them. Cockroaches are a species which, by Darwinian standards, typifies "natural selection", less accurately, the "survival of the fittest". Like Republicans, cockroaches can be depended upon to crawl into and spoil stuff.

Cockroaches are a species which, by Darwinian standards, typifies "natural selection", less accurately, the "survival of the fittest". Critics of Darwin have said that no one has yet produced an entirely new species by selection. But they have indeed done precisely that! Consider wheat! Wheat does not grow in the wild. Wheat is related to ancient grasses, clearly the result of an ancient application of "artificial selection." Had wheat evolved naturally, it would be found growing wild like prairie grass.

Wheat can be compared to a thoroughbred, but more evolved and, therefore, a better example of evolution at work. A thoroughbred, for example, is still a horse but wheat is no longer mere prairie grass. It's something entirely "new". It is a new species.

Social Darwinism has harmed mankind. It rationalizes and justifies the perpetual and deliberate impoverishment of large segments of our society. The GOP will support this as a matter of policy so long as someone like Ronald Reagan can, nevertheless, make them "feel good about themselves". Alas --the GOP will face its own extinction, a process that I believe is underway as we write.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Why Space Aliens Never Came Back to Earth

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

IF you think the politicians, the beauracrats, the asshole pundits in DC or NY et al, et al care about you --just REMEMBER VIET NAM!

Kent State, the Woodstock generation was a generation not afraid to take it to the streets, the campuses, the media! Alas --neither Democrat nor GOP administrations gave a shit! Viet Nam was in no way "improved" by U.S. presence; nor was it liberated by the sacrifice of thousands of young lives in a dank, fucking swamp.

I see little chance of improvement today, tomorrow nor several years down the road. The U.S. has squandered the seemingly endless resources for which they murdered entire Native American tribes. Even now --at this moment --the United States is on the very bottom of the list with the World's Largest NEGATIVE Current Account Balance (formerly called the Balance of Trade Deficit). China Owns US!

Or --as Charles Fort put it: "We are property!" He was right but got the "owners" wrong. He thought our owners were space aliens. Reality was and remains much simpler. We may have been better off if "space aliens" had been benign, all powerful and landed! Hello Klaato! Loved your movie. You should have won the Oscar and --to wow the crowd on Oscar night --beamed up to the "big mother" ship.

Interestingly --UFO sightings seem to have diminished to near nothingness over the last 60 years or so. I have a "theory": Aliens came, they saw, they were disgusted! They returned to whence they came and vowed never, ever to come back!

Monday, April 14, 2014

NASA Plans: A Warp Drive, Visit to Alpha Centauri

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

A triple star system associated with Alpha Centauri is now targeted for a visit by NASA! The triple-star system is composed of a binary system - two stars akin to the Sun --and another, larger and hotter star Called Alpha Centauri A.

Two other stars are smaller, cooler. Alpha Centauri B is itself orbited by a red dwarf and is more distant. A third star may or may not be a part of the "systems". Called Proxima Centauri, it is just 4.22 light-years from Earth --the closest star outside our Solar System. Recall that our own sun is a star.

This is a "big deal" for at least two reasons.
  1. Alpha Centauri is the closest star system in the sky. Because of that it’s very bright, and because it's very bright, it is well studied. It has been the object of "planet searches" for decades.
  2. At one time and for awhile some toyed with the idea that the small red dwarf Proxima could boast a planet.
Alas --if it has a planet, it may be too small or too far out to be detected.

Dopplar Shifts

The signal from the planet is very weak; it was located only because its gravity tugs on the star. The effect of the "tug" is detectable and measurable: it's a wobble! Predictably, a massive star tugs harder on the star it orbits, smaller planets less so. The "wobbles" are very nearly imperceptible. In the case of stars, the "wobble" almost always means: planet!

With planets of "low mass" the doppler shift is less apparent!

Don't Forget the Aliens?

Relatively speaking, the "system" is in our "backyard"! Additionally, the stars seem very much like our own old Sol --the Sun. UFO aficionados have said that this is the most obvious location of "aliens" that some believe have already visited earth. Some believe that one expedition crashed in the planes of South Eastern New Mexico in the 1940's.

Some writers have said that "... we are very close to finding a planet with the same mass as Earth." It is also said that these planets may have water. Liquid water may very well equal life. It is one thing to find planets of the "correct mass". It is quite another to find planets having both ideal position vis a vis "their" star as well as having the "right mass".

Several writers, scientists, astro-physicians have said that it is only a matter of time before the first life sustaining planet other than Earth may be discovered.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

My comments are inspired by a story that Jay Diamond had posted on Facebook:
Federal investigators have opened an inquiry into the tragic case of a high school student in Bastrop County, Tex., who suffered severe brain damage and nearly died last fall after a deputy sheriff shocked him with a Taser, a high voltage electronic weapon.
In North Carolina, civil rights lawyers have filed a complaint with the Justice Department, charging the Wake County school system with violating the constitutional rights of minority children by subjecting them to discriminatory arrest practices and brutality by police officers assigned to schools. In one nightmarish case described in the complaint, a disabled 15-year-old was shocked with a Taser three times during an interrogation at school, resulting in punctured lungs. And in New York, civil rights lawyers have sued the city of Syracuse on behalf of two students. One was shocked three times, not for threatening behavior but for lying on the floor and crying, they say, and another was shocked while trying to break up a fight.
--Torturing Children at School
Psychopathic cops should be locked up and tried; in those cases resulting in death i.e, "murder", they should be tried and, when found guilty, executed!

I covered the trial of two Houston cops who were charged with having beaten hell out of an Hispanic war hero who got a little rowdy in club. Twenty-three year old Joe Campos Torres [at right], a 23-year-old Vietnam Veteran, was was beaten by several Houston police officers and then taken to jail. The jailer refused to admit him and ordered the cops to hospitalize him. Instead, the cops (whose trial I covered) took him --in the dead of night --to a bridge over Buffalo Bayou where they beat him to a pulp. Just barely alive, he was leveraged over the bridge and dropped into the inky dark waters of buffalo bayou some 15 ft below.He drowned.

I covered the trial after both cops were charged for murder. Both were acquitted! Outrageous! His death sparked protests and the outcome of the trial was met with rioting.

It is apparent to me that "police brutality" has only gotten worse, has spread like a virus, and routinely goes un-investigated, un-punished! It is apparent to me that COPS have gotten even worse, increasingly psychopathic, poorly trained and recruited from among the DREGS OF SOCIETY.

In a civilized society, a police force is expected to uphold the "rule of law"; they are not required or expected to take the law into their own hands. At the very least, rogue and criminal cops must be arrested, arraigned and made to stand trial for felonies to include assault and battery and murder!
My two cents worth: a nation, an empire is finished when it cannot rule itself, when it cannot distinguish between the rule of law and the ABUSE of law!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Why GOP Administrations Do Not Create Jobs

by Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

What tycoons of old understood was that if wage earners earn more, they spend more. Jobs are created. Even more spending follows the additional jobs. That's the left/dem/progressive model. But the GOP method is just the opposite and so --too --the miserable results.

The effects of the GOP model are confirmed with official stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Commerce Dept and various other studies.

A GOP tax cut --from which only elites benefit --is invariably followed by a recession/depression, increased joblessness, higher prices and the export of jobs, most often, to China. [See: CIA'S World Fact Book, online] For example, Reagan's "infamous" tax cut was followed quickly by a depression of some two years (or longer). It was the LONGEST, DEEPEST depression since H. Hoover's GREAT DEPRESSION.

The Axis of Reagan/GOP are wrong. Wealth does not and has never trickled down. "Suppy Side Economics" was and remains a scam, a con job sketched out, it is said, on a napkin by Arthur Laffer. Laffer is remembered for his "Laffer curve" illustrating the theory that reducing taxes for the very wealthy would result in increased production. That has never happened. It's either a lie, a fraud, a fairy tale or all of the above. The Axis of Reagan/GOP are wrong. "Suppy Side Economics" was and remains a scam, a con job sketched out, it is said, on a napkin by Arthur Laffer. Laffer's curve, it was said, would result in increased production. That has never happened. It's either a lie, a fraud, a fairy tale or all of the above.

GOP tax cut for its elite base was quicklly followed by a recession of some two years. It was the deepest, longest depression since H. Hoover's big one! Not addressed with Laffers curve is the fact that elites have the purchasing power to bid prices UP! They also have offshore bank accounts. The results are not inflation! At least since Ronald Reagan occupied the White House, the GOP has tried to peddle tax cuts that have benefited only the elite classes with various forms of trickle down theory. No GOP plan has ever worked!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Of War and Murder

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The following joke is attributed to Hermann Göring who was at the time on trial in Nuremberg, charged with conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war-crimes; and crimes against humanity:
One Englishman --an idiot; Two Englishmen --a club; Three Englishmen --an empire! One German --a scholar; Two Germans --an army; Three Germans --a war!
A mere joke, in bad taste! But consider the source. It is also a simple, if simple-minded, analysis of data. It even hints at the science of emergent properties but I seriously doubt Herr Göring had that in mind.

Across the English Channel – before Herr Göring would have the opportunity to expose the world to his brilliant wit - Lewis Fry Richardson, a brilliant theoretician and mathematician whose work inspired the science of fractals and war gaming, dared to ask: is war inevitable? can it be predicted? can it be prevented? why do we go to war? do war and murder differ? These are hard questions which resist reduction to number. Richardson himself may have had William Butler Yeats in mind when he observed that wars merge and split, or have no clear beginning or end; he said of them: “Thinginess fails.”

Nevertheless, when Richardson reduced war to data he concluded:
  1. War and murder are equivalent – differing only in magnitude.
  2. Wars may be categorized logarithmically like hurricanes and earthquakes.
  3. Arms races leading to wars may be modeled with differential equations.
  4. The occurrences of war may be plotted in a Poisson distribution –like cancer clusters and tornado touchdowns.
Richardson was not the first to explore these possibilities and mathematical models have been refined since. Arguably, however, Richardson himself developed his hypotheses much further and in many ways went off in different directions. His work is still available in journal articles, pamphlets, two posthumous volumes from 1960, and a two-volume Collected Papers of 1993. His work on arms races may be found in "Arms and Insecurity"; his statistical studies are published in "Statistics of Deadly Quarrels".

Other writers claim that Richardson's decision to lump murder and war together was deliberately provocative. Richardson's retort must be considered in the historical context: “One can find cases of homicide which one large group of people condemned as murder, while another large group condoned or praised them as legitimate war. Such things went on in Ireland in 1921 and are going on now in Palestine.” His remarks are as true today as when first uttered over 50 years ago.
Richardson categorized war logarithmically –magnitude one, two, three and so forth –as determined by total deaths. It was an idea borrowed from Astronomy. In a war of magnitude one, 100,000 people will die. Both World Wars I and II exceeded magnitude seven, recording deaths in the tens of millions. Ten or so deaths equals magnitude one; a single murder is magnitude zero. Interestingly, the two World Wars are the only magnitude seven conflicts. However, the number of conflicts of any given magnitude rises exponentially as the magnitude decreases. There are, for example, some ten million conflicts of magnitude zero and the number of deaths by murder is roughly equal to the number of deaths by world war. Richardson listed seven megadeath conflicts in tier two, i.e, magnitude six. They are, in chronological order:
  1. Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864)
  2. North AmericanCivil War (1861–1865)
  3. Great War in La Plata (1865–1870)
  4. Sequel to the Bolshevik Revolution (1918–1920)
  5. First Chinese-Communist War (1927–1936)
  6. Spanish Civil War (1936–1939)
  7. Communal riots in the Indian Peninsula (1946–1948)
Richardson had hoped that by understanding war, war might be prevented. He ultimately concluded that war –like hurricanes, tornadoes, and cancer clusters –is remarkably random and inevitable. Richardson modeled a “death spiral”, an escalating arms-race in which nations respond to one another by adding armaments to its arsenal. Such an arms race may stabilize if and only if the “fatigue and expense” becomes greater than perceived threats.

Richardson had hoped that by tracking armament expenditures, wars might one day be predicted like the weather. Other conclusions –no more optimistic –are based on statistical correlations:
  1. Richardson found evidence of “contagion”; an ongoing war increases the probability that a new war will start.
  2. Richardson drew upon Graph Theory and Topology to determine those nations most likely to go to war.
  3. He found that of 94 world conflicts, only 12 were between combatants which shared no border. The inevitable conclusion: war is a “neighborhood affair”.
  4. Religion is clearly a factor, perhaps a major one. Nations of differing religion are more likely to fight than nations sharing a single religion. In Richardson's study, Christian nations seemed more bellicose, engaging in a disproportionate number of wars.
Like John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), Richardson was nearly ignored. Others now carry on his work. Lars-Erik Cederman of Harvard University’s John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies has replicated Richardson’s results in a new computer model. (Richardson's work largely pre-dated the computer) In the new model, a state of equilibrium between nations is temporary; small disruptions may unleash a “cascading instability”. Princeton University professor Robert Gilpin is likewise studying the small events which “cascade” to chaos –the conditions in which a state of equilibrium moves to one of disequilibrium. Shades of Jurassic Park! Vanderbilt University professor John Vasquez, likewise, explains the very size of wars in terms of cascading system instability.

It must be pointed out that statistics do not govern events; they describe them. A murderer is not likely to win acquittal by pleading that his behavior is within known statistical norms.

Are nations, then, to be absolved for merely playing out a terrible fate? Are religious wars to be tolerated because both sides are convinced that God is on their side? Will neighboring nations be given leave to attack across shared borders? Are we to make war lightly because we have been wronged? Are wars of pre-emption ever justified. Perhaps those questions are unanswerable!

Consider the alternative: by Richardson's scale, a war of magnitude 9.8 will leave no one behind to ask the questions. William Butler Yeats wrote the most appropriate conclusion in 1922 –a year of great disillusionment with World War I:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
  1. International Military Tribunal, The Nudremberg War-Crimes Trial
  2. 1945/46 (Göring was found guilty on all four counts but cheated the hangman with cyanide.)
  3. Hayes, Brian, Statistics of Deadly Quarrels,
  4. American Scientist, 2001, pp. 10-15.
  5. Hayes, Brian Ibid. pp. 10-15. (Richardson's biggest problem was getting data.
"Richardson argued that theories of war could and should be evaluated on a scientific basis, by testing them against data on actual wars....Several lists of wars were drawn up in the early years of the 20th century, and two more war catalogs were compiled in the 1930s and 40s by the Russian-born sociologist Pitirim A. Sorokin and by Quincy Wright of the University of Chicago. Richardson began his own collection in about 1940 and continued work on it until his death in 1953. His was not the largest data set, but it was the best suited to statistical analysis.") Forrest, David, The Edge of Chaos.