physics and human knowledge, paint hand print wallpaper, ww II tattoo, faith in an elusive purity

One of the things brought up in this article is we don’t have rock-star scientists like Einstein anymore. Not a good thing because the general public likes to put a face on knowledge. That might not be a great situation, but people like personalities and science as such seems like something distant, disconnected from their lives. With the possible exception of medicine, science is something some eggheads do somewhere. Terrible introduction since the substance of the interview/article is more about communicating science to the public and the limits of knowledge. Experimental Physics and The Limits Of Human Knowledge. “We Are Crossing the Boundary Between Knowledge and Belief”( the interview is with Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director of the European Organization for Nuclear Research and also oversees the vast CERN laboratories in Switzerland.)

The European: What fascinates you about these very theoretical questions?
Heuer: It’s a quest for knowledge. The questions we are examining have been asked since the beginning of mankind. We are humans, we want to understand the world around us. How did things begin? How did the universe develop? That distinguishes us from other creatures. If you go outside at night and look up into the sky, you cannot help but dream. Your fantasy develops, you are naturally drawn to these questions about being and existence. And at the same time, our work has very practical consequences. When antimatter was introduced into the theoretical framework 83 years ago, nobody thought that this had any practical relevance. Yet today, the concept is used in hospitals around the world on a daily basis. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is based on the positron, which is the anti-particle to the electron. Or take the internet. The idea of a worldwide network started in 1989 here at CERN, because we needed that kind of digital network for our scientific work. That’s the beauty of our research: We gain knowledge but we also gain the potential for technological innovation.

In the U.S. there is a constant pressure, especially under economic circumstances  to have any government investment in science have a quick payoff. That’s nice when it happens and it does happen fairly often, but sometimes asking a theoretical question and pursuing it – basic research – does not pay off for years.

The European: Can something as vast and as complex as the universe ever be reduced to the scope of human mental capacities, or are there natural limits to what we can know?
Heuer: That is a difficult question. Every time we discover something, we open the door to new knowledge but find new sets of questions that are more complex and dig deeper into the subject. So there is no real limit, the process of discovery never stops. Maybe the time to answer these questions, i.e. to open these new doors, will increase, but eventually we will be able to open them.

having acknowledged that knowledge seems to have no limits, just unanswered and unasked questions Heuer has to ruin it with the end of the answer to this question,

The European: Let us talk about the idea of the divine. For much of human history, religion and science were deeply intertwined. Galileo was expelled from the church for questioning those links. How would you separate the two realms?
Heuer: We separate knowledge from belief. Particle physics is asking the question of how did things develop? Religion or philosophy ask about why things develop. But the boundary between the two is very interesting. I call it the interface of knowledge. People start asking questions like “if there was a Big Bang, why was it there?” For us physicists, time begins with the Big Bang. But the question remains whether anything existed before that moment. And was there something even before the thing that was before the Big Bang? Those are questions where knowledge becomes exhausted and belief starts to become important.


To inject “beliefs” into the answer has the potential to cause confusion. There are justified beliefs which have some evidence and then there are the type of beliefs which are a form of mysticism as in all organized religions. I think it in the context in which he addresses the issues of knowledge Heuer is leaning toward justified beliefs or at least beliefs which do not defy gravity. The very next two follow-up questions he seems to confirm the context,

The European: What is the difference between justified opinion and belief?
Heuer: Justified opinion or knowledge is something that you can at least partially prove. Belief or philosophical thought cannot be examined through experiments.

The European: For Aristotle, physics was the primary science that could tell us almost anything about the cosmos. But he also thought that all things had an innate capacity – the telos – to develop to their full potential.
And so it fell to philosophy to investigate the nature of things.
Heuer: At the edge of physics, it becomes linked to philosophy. But in the case of particle physics, it is really not a question of “believing” but of deducing something from a larger theoretical framework or from experimental data. Once you can prove something, it is no longer a question of philosophy.

To tie this back into the intro,Rolf-Dieter Heuer is a modern Einstein yet few people would know his name.Sarah Palin writes some garbage on her FaceBook page and the media echoes everything she says. One of the world’s great minds has an interview in a magazine and few people take notice.

paint hand print wallpaper

Republican Preachers: Believing What You Know Ain’t True

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain makes a stinging observation on the overtly religious. “Faith is when you believe something you know ain’t true.” This is a perfect description of the religious asylum that is now the Republican Party and the tortured gospel they are spreading all over the country. Virtually the entire barnyard of their presidential candidates are preaching a mix of born again religious revivalism and brutal 19th century industrial capitalism, that they “know ain’t even remotely true.”

[   ]…Almost as irritating is the chorus sung over and over by Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and 99% of Republican Congressmen proudly declaring their Huckleberry Finn type faith that an unfettered free market is the only way to create to millions of new jobs. “Stop choking businesses with excessive regulations!” they chant. All businesses, all regulations. Really, Mitch? Never mind that it was precisely the elimination of, inadequacy of, or lack of enforcement of federal regulation that allowed Wall St. to drag the economy to the edge of the apocalypse and the very reason why there are no jobs. Never mind that it was poor regulation and free market cost cutting that brought us the Deep Water Horizon, Kalamazoo River, and now Yellowstone River oil spills. 1,800 oil spills have occurred in this country in the last five years totaling 16 million gallons of oil contaminating our land and water. And Mitt, you want regulators to get off the backs of the oil companies? Really?


The entire reality based community is looking at the last two and half years and wondering, frequently out loud, did these people learn nothing from the Bush years and the recession he left. Hard boiled communist frequently claim (actually less so in the last decade as China became an authoritarian capitalist state – they were the last hope as it were) the reason communism did not succeed was it was never practiced in its pure form. The conservative movement has turned increasingly further to the Right, in increments which coincide with each failed presidency since Nixon. Each time claiming they need to get back to their roots – that elusive pure conservatism that apparently every Con from Nixon to Reagan to Bush 43 did not practice, thus each leaving a mess to clean up by their Democratic successor. Like hard-core communists, conservatives refuse to learn the lessons of history. They not only repeat the same failed policies, they add some steroids every few years, thinking the next monster will be better than the last.

world war II tattoos. if the guy on your right did all those tattoos with what looks like an improvised tattoo gun, he had some skills.

Anyone looking for some wood background textures can find some free ones here, Weekly Freebies: Exclusive Wooden Texture Pack Pt. 2

your memory and transcranial magnetic stimulation, southern oceans summer wallpaper, sarah palin’s sugary lies

Study demonstrates how memory can be preserved — and forgetting prevented

As any student who’s had to study for multiple exams can tell you, trying to learn two different sets of facts one after another is challenging. As you study for the physics exam, almost inevitably some of the information for the history exam is forgotten. It’s been widely believed that this interference between memories develops because the brain simply doesn’t have the capacity necessary to process both memories in quick succession. But is this truly the case?

At one point I read through a few books on improving memory. All of them them had a few sugesstions that worked to some degree. They were basically techniques or memory tricks. In some caes it is possible, and concentration is key, to assimilate a fair amount of information in one’s short term memory – for the next few hours ( helpful for tests and business meetings). The tricks are not foolproof, but they are worth learning. And you don’t need an expensive magnet,

“Because brain cells communicate through a process of chemical and electrical signals, applying a mild electrical current to the brain can influence the signals,” Robertson explains. In this case, the researchers targeted two specific brain regions, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the primary motor cortex. They discovered that by applying TMS to specific brain areas, they were able to reduce the interference and competition between the motor skill and word-list tasks and both memories remained intact.

This is pretty amazing yet the resrechers did not adress the issue of how the rest of us might gain some immient benefit, only saying this reserch provides insights into the organic mechanims of memory. I like insights as much as anyone, but it feels like a big tease. Here’s how to acheive something, to overcome a common problem, yet you’ll need your own transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine.

MY cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I ’m feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings

From Time and Eternity by Emily Dickinson

southern oceans summer wallpaper

Sarah Palin writes from behind her mote at FaceBook, The Sugar Daddy Has Run Out of Sugar; Now We Need New Leaders

Barack Obama’s big government policies continue to fail. He should put a link to the national debt clock on his BlackBerry. The gears on that clock have nearly exploded during his administration. Yesterday’s terrible job numbers should not be a surprise because it all goes back to our debt. Our dangerously unsustainable debt is wiping out our jobs, crippling our economic growth, and jeopardizing our position in the global economy as the leader of the free world.

The same “experts” who got us into this mess are now telling us that the only way out of our debt crisis is to “increase revenue,” but not by creating more jobs and therefore a larger tax base; no, they want to “increase revenue” by raising taxes on job creators who are taxed enough already! As Margaret Thatcher said, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Palin left the town of Wasilla, of which she was Mayor, an historic $20 million dollars in debt. She endorsed the $24 million dollar Road to Nowhere than lied about it. Someone who has a clear record of poor money management might consider having a little more humility on the subject.

Barack Obama’s big government policies continue to fail. He should put a link to the national debt clock on his BlackBerry. The gears on that clock have nearly exploded during his administration. Yesterday’s terrible job numbers should not be a surprise because it all goes back to our debt. Our dangerously unsustainable debt is wiping out our jobs, crippling our economic growth, and jeopardizing our position in the global economy as the leader of the free world.

We now live in a socialist country? If true chalk up it up as yet another in socialism’s long list of failures. Wall Street is doing well, corporate profits are so high they’re seating on trillions in cash ( is that because of  Marxism one wonders) while corporations are handing out huge bonuses but not hiring. The U.S. has one of the lowest tax burdens of any western industrial free market economy. As a matter of fact the federal tax rate is the lowest it has been since 1950. Does she do any research before she rights or is it that she does not want any facts to get in the way of her rant. President Obama has enacted three tax cuts since 2009. Palin once described herself as a “western conservative in the spirit of Ronald Reagan,” she also implored Americans to “reconnect” with the Reaganesque principles of limited government. Reagan raised taxes at least four times because he saw that we had a revenue problem. Bush 41 raised taxes once. The proposed $4 trillion dollars in spending cuts proposed by the Obama administration put him well to the Right of Reagan. Because they lie so often and with such zeal it is not even ironic that House Leader John Boehner(R-OH) and House Republicans have rejected the Obama proposal, but have voted for the Paul Ryan plan(R-WI) which actually increased the debt -, not once but twice. Without the Bush tax cuts and the costs of two wars the deficit would be at least half what it is now. Obama’s “big government”, which she partly means the Recovery Act is a very small fraction of the deficit.

Bush tax cuts and contribution to continued defcits

The thin blue portion represents the total of all stimulus measures. The smallest part of the problem. If Palin can read graphs she would see we have a revenue problem. The stimulus package passed in 2009 contained  a tax cut for 95% of working families. While current job figures are tremendously disappointing, in 2008 the economy was hemorrhaging job loses at a rate of 750,000 a month. So while the current situation needs improvement, the economy is much more solid as a result of the Recovery Act than if Congress had chosen the radical laissez-faire policies that Palin advocates. Palin seems well schooled in the conservative art of lying and spreading talking points which are easily disproved. Is this what passes for good citizenship and patriotism on the Right. A salad of lies and inflammatory language whose sole purpose is to mislead the American public. How can the average person make sound rational decisions based on extremist propaganda.