Amazon Spectrum Analysis

01-05-2015 16-32-01Do you use the Amazon Music player? Yes? Did you ever watch the small orange “bar graph” display?

You might want to watch it a little closer. I realized only now that this is a simple animated display which bears no correlation to the audio stream, let alone a result of real time spectrum analysis.

Well, maybe it’s better that way. I need my CPU for things that matter to me. But I am fascinated to notice how easily fooled I was, and how this dumb animated picture gives the illusion of science, high-tech, something sophisticated.

So, I reckon it’s a pretty clever piece of engineering given how dumb it is.

Falling Sea Levels

DSC_0017Do you remember the good old days?

The good old days back some 5.3 million years ago, when the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea were separated?

When the rock of Gibraltar crumbled away, the strait of Gibraltar formed and the Zanclean Flood occurred, a lot of water rushed in from the Atlantic.

The word on the street is that sea levels within the Mediterranean rose by as much as 10 metre a day, for months. Just picture that. Incredible, isn’t it?

I wonder how much the ocean’s sea levels outside the Mediterranean dropped during that period.

The Truth About Manned Spaceflight

12111615093433184189What did the Romans do for Britain [^], one may wonder. Others asked what we ever got out from manned spaceflight.

Well, we all know the answer to that, don’t we? First, there’s Velcro, then there’s the crystal alarm clock, and of course the non-sticking frying pan.

Right? Right:

Velcro was invented in 1948 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral.

No direct link between the crystal alarm clock and spaceflight is evident, especially given that the first quartz clock was build at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1927 [^].

Teflon, the stuff from which the non-sticking frying pan gets its special properties, was discovered in 1938 by Roy J. Plunkett by accident, and without any direct link to spaceflight.

Surely, this must be one of the more frustrating truths in modern history.

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Scientific Discoveries

DSC_0572Scientific results published in the Lancet medical journey suggest that after receiving extensive training in government-sanctioned violence and murder, and after being deployed to do so, after getting accustomed to problem-solving with violence and after getting used to an exceptionally high emotional threshold for shock and horror, retired armed forces are more likely than the rest of the population to commit violent offences.

You don’t say.

I’d think it naive to expect any different, and almost have sympathy with those committing violent offences as a result of alcoholism. At least they might be trying to forget.

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The Universe And Everything Else

universeDo you understand string theory? M-theory? The consequences of the discovery of the Higgs boson? Or just the Higgs boson? Parallel universes?


Me neither.

Oh, here’s one thing I do understand, and yet another one which I don’t:

I understand part of this is to do with where the Big Bang came from, and what was before absolutely everything went Boom. I’m sure I am being very, very, ignorant here, but I can’t help thinking that everything oscillates. The tides come and go, and so does the new moon, Christmas and knitted hats. Ice ages run in cycles, and even the fashion of the 1970s is coming back! With this sound proof in mind, I cannot understand why all else shouldn’t oscillate as well.

universe-contextThe nucleus explodes, the universe grows, then collapses into nothingness of infinite density, at which point it explodes, expands, … It seems so obvious. At the very least someone could explain why this thought it nonsense rather than indulging in fascination with weird and complex theories.

So far, I have found only one fault in my theory: it is the fact that science claims the universe is still expanding while we clearly seem to be on the declining branch, at least as far as I can tell for this planet.

Maybe the universe is a little bigger than this planet after all. I’ll think about it and make a little drawing when I figured it out.

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Homo Bratwurstensis

DSC_0053I never thought I needed an Irishman to explain what is now blindingly obvious to me. But I can answer the last question he left open, so I think of this as helping each other out:

Dara O’Briain’s Science Club reminded us on the fact that Homo Sapiens did not descent from Homo Neanderthalensis. They form two different branches of the evolutionary tree, and both descent from Homo Heidelbergensis. Well, there you have it. Homo Heidelbergensis lived practically in our home region of the Pfalz (especially considering the fact that Heidelberg University, after which Homo Heidelbergensis is named, is closely linked with Neustadt). It is very obvious to me, now, that modern man descents from the Pfalz. Africa was just a little trip down south.

No wonder everybody likes a Bratwurst.

Dara also explained that there was some interbreeding between Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalensis for a while, but he wasn’t sure which one of the two species was the more sexually aggressive or submissive one. Dara you fool! It was the males on either side of the evolutionary fork shagging the females, you can put a bet on that. Evolution hasn’t come that far enough in half a million years for such basic behaviour to change.


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Space Hoppers, Life, the Universe, and All Else

DSCF2191Watching a science program on the telly, I wonder what’s wrong with physicists. We’ve all heard of parallel universes, and some of you will have heard of hovering membranes in no less then ten dimensions of space, plus time. Others speak of time itself suddenly jumping into existence. Wobbling strings, and what-not’s, all trying to explain the ultimate root from which you and I, and the universe around us, grow.

I realize that I am no more than a couch physicist, but as one of those, I find the whole thing straight forward: a star collapses into a black hole. Sometimes, a very big star collapses into a large black hole. The combined nuclei now may take more space than a pin head, if the collapsed star happens to be big enough. Every now and then, this black hole is near enough, and big enough, another  cosmic corpus to suck it in. Once in a very rare while, this becomes a self-propelling ever-sucking, ever-growing black hole, with a core of infinite density where all the nuclei combine. This grows to ping-pong ball size, then a football, then become even as big as a Space Hopper! Just when the core size hits the magical Space Hopper threshold, the density in its own very core is big enough for the whole thing to explode. I’m sure you can imagine that this will make a pretty big bang. Once in a while and by pure chance, the dust settles and becomes a universe like ours, our galaxy, our planet, you and I.

Our universe will probably end as cosmic dust, to play no further role. The chances of being part of the extraordinarily unlikely circumstances leading to the big bang in the first place, let alone to you and me (as detailed in the W7 theory, see above), multiplied by the chances of being part of the same thing again, is a number tiny enough to defy even the most imaginative of minds. In other words, it won’t happen.

So, face it. We kind-of know where we come from (see above). We will never know anything about life our ancestors prior to the big bang. We also know that we will, in all probability, play no further role in the universe. This one, and all parallel ones.

So, face it. Enjoy life and make it as peaceful and long-lasting as possible.

Forget what lies an unimaginable time ahead, or in the past. Focus on the present, give or take a few million years if you like, and get on with business.

I am quite sympathetic to the urge to research, discover and explain, but there are limits. Some things are just they way they are, whatever these ways may be, and there is not even a need to invent a God to explain any of that. Just life with it.  I do, and I recommend you do, too.


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