Archives for category: Science

I’ve paid attention to climate change my whole life. In my youth, it was pollution, soot and sulfur compounds, etc., that were causing, not only dirty, unhealthy living conditions, but coming ice sheets as our current ice age deepened and the glaciers reasserted over most of the northern hemisphere. Later, that fear morphed into global warming, now, just change. Of course, change is the only constant, and we hear most everything blamed on this supposedly alarming change in the undefined and undefinable climate.

Trying to keep things simple, I take advantage of the fact we humans are inherently religious. No matter what we are talking about, we frame it in a religious framework. Currently, the high priests, the bishops, and the popes, like Algore, tell us we are sinning by burning things, especially in our motor vehicles, and by eating (which is still burning). The alarmist religious leaders pretend we can be absolved if we drive unsafe tiny cars (and drive less) and if we eat unhealthy foods (meaning only plants grown in manure).

Of course, there are bigger sins, like coal, but that is a slow-motion effort that mostly hurts people directly involved in coal, and less coal does amount to less pollution to deal with for the rest of us.

Since essentially all of us are unwilling to repent of our sinful ways, the powers that be preach that “god” (Gaia, in this case) is punishing us with weather. All of what we used to call weather (which we admitted everyone talked about, but no one could do anything about) is now hailed as proof that we sinners must repent and stop burning anything and stop eating anything.

Again, we humans are going to continue eating. As we grow wealthier (in the developing nations) we will eat more meat. We will burn more fuel. That is the fact. It isn’t going to change. We will consume more and more energy (food is simply our tasty form of energy). It is inexorable. If you oppose it, you espouse death and slavery. Harsh? Not at all. The internalization of the fact that every individual has independent intrinsic value and the fact of the industrial revolution, specifically the burning of fossil fuels in productive industry, have been the significant factors in the reductions of slavery and death and abject poverty in the world.

I think that worth emphasizing: Understanding the worth of every individual as an independent good and the burning of fossil fuels are why things are better now than they were a century ago. We can step that back by century, still seeing progress for a few, but the same cannot be said of a couple millennia ago. Specifically, at that time, only the powerful were valued. All wealth was merely the effective use of enslavement. Life was dirty, brutish, and short unless you were powerful enough to use slaves. Restricting the use of energy, even fossil fuels, is turning to slavery and impoverishment.

The big picture is that energy is the single most important factor to the flourishing of humanity as a whole. Energy causally correlates to societal wellbeing.

Deficient engineers and bad politicians devised means of producing power without directly burning fossil fuels. These so-called renewables meet our religious need of blood sacrifice. These sacrificial altars kill insects by the millions, bats by the thousands, and rare birds by the hundreds continuously. These sacrificial altars provide us self-flagellation as well, at least for those forced to live within proximity. Eventually, the harm caused by renewables will be so self-evident that the religious leaders of environmentalism will turn the tables, and these will be the new sin. (Over and over for over 3,000 years, we have abandoned windmills. We will this time, too, and someone will have to clean up the mess.)

It cannot be over emphasized that the ready availability of energy as inexpensive, reliable electricity and fuel, is the essential requirement for a flourishing human society. It is globally and locally true. We must have more and more reliable energy availability. The alternative is death and slavery. It is harsh, but those are the cold equations (reference Tom Godwin).

Much of what we humans do is not life or death. Energy is.

Such notions as the “green new deal” deny reality and physics.

Such notions as socialism deny reality and human nature.

To deny reality is to invite death.

Is climate changing? Yes. It always has. It always will.

Is climate changing because of our consumption and burning? Is it because of the new sins of the new environmentalist religion? I can’t see that it matters. Climate has changed far more in the distant past than it can in the near future. I don’t think we can define climate in the near-term. I think climate must be defined over several generations. It isn’t useful to define climate in terms less than several centuries. Too many other factors affect all we are considering when looking at averages of various factors of weather.

I assert we are in no danger societally from any pending climate change. Our sins of burning are not going to kill us, and Gaia simply doesn’t care. Climate and earth will not kill us. (That big rock coming our way might, but we can’t say much about when.)

Teach your children the historical fact that fear and alarmism have never accomplished anything good and usually result in grave harm.

Bottom line: We must have more energy. It must be more readily available to all, and it must be reliable.

There is a clear and proven way to make more energy available in an environmentally responsible way, nuclear.

Nuclear fission power production is our only long-term option.

Repeating the bottom line: We must have more energy, and nuclear is the only realistic way to do it.

Ever heard that water is an incompressible fluid? Well, that is an approximation, and it is reasonable in freshman physics classes.

However, water compresses plenty. All matter will compress. An increase in pressure on the matter will compress it. This compression is work. This work is lost (used up) and unavailable for other purposes. The work typically heats the material, increasing its temperature.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had many arguments about this bit of oversimplification throughout my years. It is one of those situations where a little knowledge (an inadequate amount of knowledge) is dangerous. Fortunately, it is only the kind of danger that is annoying, not destructive.

My point is when we consider a hydraulic system, we generalize and simplify, and we say that a force acting on the water or hydraulic fluid within an enclosed system will act on all surfaces equally. Yes, kinda. Nature will not let you get away with the approximation.

Applying 1 pound-force on 10 in2 allows us to calculate 10 pound-force on a 1-in2 ram, but not all the 10 pounds-force is actually there on the ram. Some of it was lost in work compressing the fluid, and some more was lost in friction acting on the liquid moving through the ram channel to push against the 1-in2 ram.

Accountants make up all kinds of formulas and rules. Each has its purpose and use, and some are limited and not usable in all situations. No amount of accounting can eliminate cost incurred. Obfuscating it somewhere other than final price is sleight of hand.

When a petroleum company incurs cost, such as gross production or severance tax, and every other tax they incur, the petroleum company must account the cost, and somewhere, they must pay it. Revenues must be higher than costs, or the company goes bankrupt (and all the employees become unemployed). Sooner or later, in all circumstances, increasing costs, even gross production taxes, increase the price the petroleum company must charge in sales or fees.

Refiners will pay more. In turn, they must cover the costs with revenues, and the end result is a rise in the price every poor sod pays to fill his vehicle so he can get to work and feed his family. If fuel costs increase, and his paycheck doesn’t, he will have less with which to feed his family.

Real life, be it accounting or physics, never lets us get away with anything. Everything has its costs. To do anything, one must expend time and energy. For anything to happen, time and energy are used up. (That is the purpose of the universe, to use up all time and all enthalpy.)

We all know these things when we pay attention. Pay attention. One can never be so poor as to be unable to pay attention.

In physics, if work is done, it is used up. We have to get energy from somewhere again to do more (or just to do it again). The same goes for money and costs. If we had to pay it, it is gone. We have to get money from somewhere else, or we fail. In the world we live in, you and I, the end consumers, pay that extra money. It doesn’t come from anywhere but us (in general, the business owner, even an oil baron, is one of us; not so the government; they don’t make money; they only take it). Everywhere (like a bank or the government) that has money got it from us. We paid. To the bank, we hope we get more (in interest or intangibles) than we put on deposit. With the government, we can only hope they don’t waste it all, and we live in fear they will only keep coming for more.

Source: Climate Change Debate Education

I happened upon wattsupwiththat.com nearly a dozen years ago in its beginnings. I’ve been a fan and regular reader ever since. If you are concerned about the future, as regards the climate, there is no more thorough source of information than WUWT. Given my devotion, and effort, and the fact I have been unable to read all the articles, much less all the discussion and comments, I know no one can review the entirety of the contents archived here, but if you do so with an honest heart and determination to consider all things, you will be an expert. (You’ll need some other research sources as well, of course.)

I encourage anyone and everyone to regularly visit https://wattsupwiththat.com/ and learn. Scott Adams asserts it is too hard to become an expert in a field without actually earning your living in it, but I am confident he’s wrong. I think he is, too, but that isn’t persuasive, and persuasion seems to be Adams’ core.

I can’t persuade you. Anthony can’t either, but you might grow and change if you try to educate yourself, if you try to prove assertions wrong by looking at the actual data rather than putting your faith in the high-priests of the technocracy. I say persuasion is an illusion. The only true persuader is pain, the pain of trying and failing, not the pain of coercion or force. Humanity seems to have abandoned the false alarm of climatism, but the alarm wails on. The sirens are funded by autocratic billionaires, but even more so by our governments. I’m worried the alarms will be loud enough to continue the failing efforts too long. Money corrupts science, government money even more. Humanity seems to be reluctant to let go of alarmism, and it seems determined to try all the failed and failing efforts. Humanity seems always ready to try anything rather than do nothing, no matter the likely suffering resulting from ill-conceived plans. The efforts for environmentalism accomplished the good they could. Then they went past. Now, they cause more harm than good. The efforts now called “Green” are causing suffering. Gradually, people are realizing the facts. “Green” is now a synonym for unnecessary suffering and coercion by force, the monopolistic force of the state. Eventually, the pain caused by “Green” will become too much, and people will turn on it. I hope we can walk away from “Green” with excess suffering resulting from a lust for revenge upon the needless suffering caused by the perpetrators of “Green.”

Fox News recently ran a story on a young boy who seems to have set up a tabletop fuser. Impressive kid. https://www.foxnews.com/science/teen-builds-working-nuclear-fusion-reactor-in-memphis-home

Here is a better article: https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2019/01/28/beifuss-file-memphis-youth-jackson-oswalt-builds-home-nuclear-fusion-reactor/1977266002/

And there is this: http://discovermagazine.com/2010/extreme-universe/18-do-it-yourself-basement-fusion

If deuterium is injected into a 20k- to 50k-volt vacuum, it will ionize and some of it might fuse. If it is fusing, half will result in tritium and a proton, and half will result in helium-3 and a 2.45 MeV neutron. The D-T might fuse to helium with a 14.1 MeV neutron, and the D-He3 can fuse to helium and a proton (but it needs a much higher temperature to matter). Temperatures are near a billion degrees, so too high to imagine. Given a good vacuum, there is nothing to heat except the injected deuterium, and since there is so little of it the extremely high electrical energy input results in extremely high temperature for the very few atoms.

High enough vacuum and high enough electrical energy should make it possible, but I’m skeptical.

Bubble neutron detectors are reported as reliable for a few months after manufacture.

https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/34/083/34083281.pdf and Youtube videos available. The neutron bubble tubes should bubble only for neutrons (and stray cosmic rays), not x-rays or other likely background radiation.

So, again, it should be doable, and fresh bubble neutron detectors should be reliable, but I remain skeptical.

The bottom line for me, putting a few thousand dollars and oodles of hours into generating a few bubbles in a dosimeter which will remain unconvincing to someone who worked in nuclear fission and fusion science, well, it just isn’t impressive as hobbies go. I do suppose there are very many options that would be more time consuming, more expensive, and less rewarding, so to each his own.

What would convince me would be regular checks of the vacuum equipment with a regular Geiger counter. Once it is reading significantly, then I’d believe you were fusing atoms and generating neutrons that activated your steel. But then, all you have to show for it is a high electric bill and the hassles of disposing of low-level radioactive waste.

Putting together a high-vacuum system is nontrivial.

Detecting protons outside the vacuum chamber is impossible because the chamber walls absorb them. X-rays are plentiful because the ionized deuterium smacking the chamber walls causes x-rays. Nothing nuclear required. So, the only evidence of fusion is neutrons. Given there are reliable ways to detect neutrons, proving fusion isn’t terribly hard, but neutrons with megaelectronvolts energy are true nanocanons. Most of the neutrons produced will be absorbed by the vacuum chamber walls, but many will get through, especially through a viewport. MeV neutrons do extensive damage (on a nanoscale) to anything they hit, including you. Working with the fusion device will give the user significant radiation dose. So, knowledge of useful safety precautions is advised.

Back to the kid who prompted my thinking, his setup is impressive. I’ve worked with such vacuum systems, and the challenges are daunting. A turbopump is a difficult and finicky machine. (It is an electric jet engine working opposite as one does on an aircraft; it sucks instead of pushes.) I know what would be involved with the electrical system, but I’ve never worked with that level of voltage. The young man’s accomplishments are significant. I suspect he has a solid radiation-safety knowledge, too. (And his parents probably did their homework, too.) All in all, good stuff.

Will amateur accomplishments in fusion, in combining deuterium into tritium and helium isotopes, lead to breakthroughs in energy production? I can’t imagine how. It might lead to some technically skilled and ambitious people who do other good things. I’ll stay hopeful.

Scientists expect to be able to test everything. Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. There are things that might be real that might be untestable, unverifiable. Multiverse is untestable, yet many believe. It is equivalent to deifying infinity to the infinity power. Hawking recognized and devised maths to limit the possible number of universes to a finite set. Yet, the notion is still totally untestable. To me, the notion of the transcendent is required. Denying anything other than the quantum foam and the matter/energy of space-time, quite frankly, denies the possibility of knowing anything. It denies rationality and reason itself. I simply don’t find that reasonable. It is irrational. I suspect science will find reproducible ways to test for transcendence. I’m not sure the results will actually tell us anything useful. I suspect proving the existence of “a transcendent” will not make us wiser. It won’t answer the big questions. It won’t answer the ultimate “Why?”.

Simplistic, but valid: From nothing comes nothing.
Either something exists, or nothing exists.

We can side with the likes of Stephen Hawking and assert eternal existence of gravity and quantum vacuum and, also, assign it practical [and mindless] divinity. Then we can reasonably speculate that myriad minuscule fluctuations in the quantum foam converged to burst forth from the singularity. Inflation, then space-time, which is running down, back down to the nothing.

Or, we can assume transcendence. That is, we can assume an eternal something that is truly beyond nature. Eternal is the key, and transcendence is required, or it is just natural, and we are back to nothing. There are some significant hurdles to deal with in assuming the divine, but an eternal transcendent actor can only be referred to as god. (Peterson says as much, often.)

If we hold to the first, methodological materialism, or naturalism, or atranscendence, then we are stuck with nothing and there simply is no such thing as agency. No choice is any more significant than any event. It takes two things to do anything: Time and Energy. States and systems exhibiting disequilibria will tend to equilibrate, taking time and using energy. Disequilibrated systems do anything that takes time and uses up energy, as long as it lessens the disequilibration. Often, order arises, emergent phenomena. A simple example is a dust devil in a dirt field. The ground heats unevenly under the sun, and the air warms slower, disequilibria. A warm thermal begins to rise, often beginning to spin, and up arises a dancing, self-organizing, dust devil, chasing the warmest spot near it. It is a dissipative system, more efficient at increasing entropy than simple convection. Assuming atranscendence, the dust devil is the same as any choice I make, any idea I conceive, any action I take. It all, only, tends to use up time and energy bringing the universe back to closer to the absolute and eternal nothing of its beginning.

Given my definitions above, the options are god or not-god.

That is, god is that which is eternal and transcendent.

Not-god is that which is yet eternal but nothing, that which momentarily and currently is subject to unwinding the initial winding of the singularity, and the unwinding is simply the using up of time and energy. (It makes no difference in this assumption whether the big bang is a single freak occurrence, or if it is quasicyclical, repeating randomly for all eternity.)

If we accept the god assumption, we are faced with eternity. We exist in time, but we will exist in eternity (and perhaps have always existed in some sense). The questions religion and philosophy address boil down to this: In eternity, with-god or without-god? One choice with two options. We will enter eternity having chosen god or refused god.

In that assertion, I’m assuming the god condition of eternal and transcendent reality. Given that assumption, the choice, the ultimate choice, true agency, is between with-god and without-god.

There either is choice, or there is nothing.

I admit I am defining nothing as meaninglessness.

I’m defining eternal and transcendent as meaning, reason, and rationality. It is my assertion, my premise. It is fundamental within me. (It is fundamental within the universe.)

Choice, agency, is the only thing that matters. If not-god is the reality, then there is no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason, nothing. If god is the reality, and there is no choice, no agency, regarding eternity with god or eternity without god, then we are back to nothing, back to no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason.

Given any reality approximating that, truth has no meaning in any case where choice, true agency, isn’t foundational and intrinsic. Individual agency must be real or there is not even anything that can be called truth, not in the abstract, not in the concrete, not in the ideal, not even in the notional. If I have no choice in the matter, no agency, nothing matters and nothing is the only true reality. If there is such a thing as reality, choice is real; agency is real.

Obviously, I cannot get away from the notion of truth, and one might argue such persistence makes it deeper, more real, than choice. No. First, we must not conflate Truth with Reality. That which is real is not the same as that which is true, not even in the ideal. It goes to meaning. If the not-god reality is real, then all that we seem to know is simply a random confluence of quantum fluctuations that happen to have congealed into a mass hallucination. If my mind is merely matter and energy and chemical processes running in patterns dictated by quantum fluctuations, I have no mind, and I have nothing on which to base any assumption. I can have no reason to assume any of it will continue. I have no real reason to base any of it on.

In that case, I have no reason. There would really be no reason and no such thing as reason, only matter, only energy, only a persistent, sequential running down and unwinding.

Frankly, I find it unreasonable to assume there is no such thing as reason.

I find it irrational to assume there is no such thing as rationality.

It seems as certain as anything else that there must be an eternal transcendent actor. Being confined to time and nature, we cannot hope to know this super-nature directly. We can only hope to systematically and rationally investigate it and aim at truth, as we do with all of nature. The nature of nature, our reality, seems to include something transcendent that we typically call mind. There isn’t a significant difference between “mind” as we use it, and “spirit” as we use it. There is no quantifiable reason to suppose mind is any less real than matter. Consciousness is really a thing, a thing we do not understand. Our religions may be so far from truth as to be laughable, but so may our sciences.

Again, without choice, there is no truth.

If I am not really a free agent capable of making real choices with meaningful consequences, then there is simply nothing, at least nothing that has any meaning, nothing that matters.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-017-0034-6

“Meta” is an overused prefix that is often used as a standalone word. It is hard to know what it means in many contexts. In metalens, it is used to mean a lens (for focusing light) that isn’t really a lens in the generally understood sense.

Here, they are figuring out how to make surfaces that are flat (not curved) macroscopically, but with nanofins that are tuned to affect light rays the same through all the visible wavelengths. The point is to make a thinner, lighter, less complicated lens for optics. They are aiming at cheaper, too, but I bet it is overly expensive in the current state of research. Cheaper in the long run seems likely to me.

The article, which is $5 to have for a few hours for reading, or $20 to keep (I did neither), indicates the lens works from full red through blue. (Purples, apparently, will not be properly focused.) It also indicates its efficiency is 20% so far. Not adequate. I bet they figure it out though. It almost sounds too good to be true, but the engineering looks like the hard part, and that is just a matter of time, just a matter of trial and error. It might make cell-phone cameras as good as the best SLRs.

The supplemental information file is available free here: https://static-content.springer.com/esm/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41565-017-0034-6/MediaObjects/41565_2017_34_MOESM1_ESM.pdf

The supplemental file is useful, and I figure everyone with some understanding of optical wave mechanics should get an intuitive feel for what is going on just from the first figure, a simple schematic showing how the surface is saw-toothed (nanoscale) to accommodate the fact that prisms spread white light into the rainbow colors as the light passes through. (The prism tips interact with the waves, too, keeping the light together, not spreading into a rainbow.)

The supplemental videos aren’t useful, and only the last two (essentially the same) are cool to watch. (The videos show the thing works. Good to know, but worthless for intuition and understanding.)

BTW, “An optical system with the ability to produce images with angular resolution as good as the instrument’s theoretical limit is said to be diffraction limited.” That is, the discussed metalens is theoretically as good as possible in focusing potential.

After thought: Journals, especially Nature, are much too proud of their status. This research was paid for by public money (USAF & NSF tax-funded research). The journals argue that the fees for articles (or subscriptions) pay for their services, primarily peer review and editing. Well, maybe a bit, but it is overpriced and overrated. Journals provide piss poor quality of service in the majority of instances.

A few additional references, information found by searching for the contract number (indicating it is giving out several millions of dollars, which I deduce considering all the references):

https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/muri_metasurfaces/overview

https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/muri_metasurfaces/publications

https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/muri_metasurfaces/people/federico-capasso

This chunk has given out $3M so far:

https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1541959

Get this: It is impossible for us and our universe to be some sort of computational simulation. Impossible.

Of course, we can throw caution to the wind and suppose anything we want. Reasonable people will ignore us when we do that.

Spooky when you think of it:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/physicists-find-we-re-not-living-in-a-computer-simulation

Not only can we not investigate the supernatural from the natural standpoint, we seem to not be able to investigate all the natural, at least not at its extremities. Some problems are truly intractable.

Bonus: Quantum Hall Effect is Beautiful

First, if it seems to be trying to catch your attention by sensationalizing and instilling fear, be skeptical. I’m astounded how many fake news stories I’ve seen about things getting worse at Fukushima. No, they aint! One can no longer trust news sources. One must find multiple sources and evaluate each one. It is generally difficult. Do the hard work, or be duped. Sadly, fake news seems to be more abundant than actual factual reporting now.

Source: Radiation Levels Not “Soaring” At Fukushima Daiichi | ANS Nuclear Cafe

Eternity is not a long time. It is characterized by the absence of time.

It is unreasonable to try to describe eternity in concrete quantifications. It is even more than infinite, more than infinities and what mathematics and number theory can tell us about such.

Eternity is less comprehensible than the vastness of space. We cannot comprehend size. There is too much. We deceive ourselves into thinking we know something about it because it is easy for us to measure things from fractions of micrometers to thousands of kilometers. But the vastness is beyond that, beyond our ability to reason or analogize.

A rough approximation of the basics of small goes like this: If you place a sewing pin in the middle of the field of a domed football stadium, and then increase one of the iron atoms, proportionally, to where the nucleus was the size of the pinhead, then the rest of the atom would be close to the size of the domed stadium, and the electrons would still be too small to see even with a microscope. And that is only the beginning of small. Consider the Planck Length, at 1.6 x 10^-35 meters.

That brings us to a beginning of comprehending how utterly incomprehensible size and space really are. Think of all the empty space, the percentage of volume, within the atom, and remember that atoms cannot approach one another closely under the conditions in our living world. What we call solid matter isn’t solid in any quantitative mathematical sense.

Then we go the other way. There are many examples, and graphics, and short videos, and these help us realize that our whole planet is incomprehensibly tiny in light of the approximate 8.6 x 10^26 meters estimated for the observable universe. Then, how much bigger is what we can call space-time? Yeah, we don’t get it.

Eternity is even more. We don’t even have anything to compare it to.

We try to use time to comprehend eternity, especially since we do understand time, but we can’t.

We pretend we consider time. We always ask what time it is, but we don’t care. We know we have limited time, so we prioritize. Keeping time helps with that, but we don’t consider time, and we really don’t know, nor care, what time it is.

We all know we have very limited time, especially when we consider the span of history, and prehistory, and the time of the universe. We all die young. One hundred years is longer than most of us get, but even that is short. A single human life is a trivial amount of time in the scheme of history.

Yet, so many manage to do something of significance, by human reckoning. All of us do something significant for our loved ones. Sadly, that is sometimes a sad thing, but most of us have our moments where we positively affect others and improve our world. We don’t all get our 15 minutes of fame on the big stage, but we all do for a few.

Still, there are a few names that gained worldwide fame, and lost it. A few names have survived the millenia, but no name is known by every living soul on earth. Eventually, no name will be remembered among human descendants that we know today. If we continue for eons, it all obviously matters to us, but sooner or later, after some long time, all of humanity and our descendants will be gone, even erased. Even if we assume humanity spreads throughout the galaxy, even if we assume some means of spreading to many galaxies, eventually, it will all be gone. Millions of year? Billions of years? Even if we assume our descendents persist to the end of the universe, it will then all be gone.

See, we know where we sit there. We can comprehend the time. We know it all turns out insignificant in the end, but it is significant now, and some of us are better at using it well than others, but then again, “well” is subjective. Do we define doing well as becoming famous? By doing something important on the grand scale? Don’t we mostly define it as doing what we need to do, fulfilling our obligations, coming through when people are depending on us? Yeah. We advance mostly by people just doing what they need to do. We hold back the night by each of us keeping our candle and doing what good we can, and refusing to do something wrong, at least most of the time. Time. It will end.

All of space-time will end.

Will there be nothing then? Or will there be something still?

I am as confident of being there to see what it is, and I am as confident about it as I am of anything in the future.

Eternity. Don’t ask what will happen after some time. There is no time. We can’t think of before and after. That pertains to time, to space-time.

What will be after space-time is gone is simply unknowable.

In the meantime, don’t get hung up on how long things take. They really don’t take long.

 

 

I came across an article about, Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife, by John Martin Fischer, Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin.

I’m writing a bit more below the block quote, but in response to an article in Slate, I posted, to Facebook, the following:

Quite interesting. I don’t suppose I’ll read the book, but the article is interesting.

They talk of meaning. Generally meaning must be more than physical and naturalistically materialistic.They do qualify meaning as meeting reality, relevant in the waking world, as it were. I suppose one can hold meaning to only mean so much. Kinda meaningless, though.

He describes some evidences taken as establishing reality and some more-than-natural essence (supernaturalism, of course), but everyone will weight such differently. I particularly don’t accept the argument that blind folk having visual content in their NDE makes it more real and stronger evidence of supernatural, because I don’t see sight as evidence of supernatural.

I agree in general with his statement, “We offer an explanation of NDEs that is naturalistic but that also preserves the beauty and meaning of these experiences. NDEs are awesome, wondrous experiences. We explain how they can have these characteristics within the context of the natural world.” Where I diverge is I do not accept that such ephemeral essences of beauty, meaning, awe, wonder, etc. can be explained purely in context of the natural world.

Ultimately, universally speaking, we’ve had 13 billion years to find some evidence of the foundation of meaning, the underlying and overarching reality that is more than our natural universe, and the only real evidence we have is our sense of awe, our sense that there must be more. The fact that it just seems wrong that the truly good is impermanent. The fact that we know there is such a thing as good, even when people disagree exactly how to define it, is our only real evidence that there is anything real at all.

I am more than a random confluence of quarks, strings, and quantum states, and I honestly am not sure I will ever consider that proven. I do honestly believe that sooner or later, in terms of a human life or in terms universal, I will step out of time, space, matter, and energy, and enter eternity. It is my true desire to be ready. I and my understanding are not all that I am, not all that is, not the sum of all that matters to me. There is something more. I call it God. I endeavour with open heart to be subject to God and that which can truly be called good.

We take the reports very seriously; indeed, we take them at face value. People really do have NDEs with the content they report. And they are beautiful—deeply and profoundly transformative in positive ways, altering their moral and spiritual outlook, and diminishing their fear of death. We offer an explanation of NDEs that is naturalistic but that also preserves the beauty and meaning of these experiences. NDEs are awesome, wondrous experiences. We explain how they can have these characteristics within the context of the natural world. We do not have to give up the tools of science in order to understand NDEs, and we do not have to give up the beauty and awesome nature of these experiences in order to explain them in terms of the natural world.
We believe that the key to reconciling naturalism with the deep meaning of NDEs is to recognize two important parts of the human attempt to come to grips with the world. One part of this inquiry seeks understanding, and the best way to achieve understanding is through science. But another part involves seeking to feel comfortable and at home in the world; this is not merely a cognitive project, but one that engages our emotions.
Stories are the best way to achieve this kind of emotional resonance. Human beings strive to understand the world, but we also aim to be at home in it. Thus, we are storytellers as well as scientific inquirers. Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife explains how storytelling and scientific understanding fit together in a coherent way. Seeing this helps us to present a naturalistic interpretation of NDEs—an interpretation that is nevertheless deeply respectful of these awesome experiences.

He addresses the deep meaning, yet what can that mean in a purely naturalistic context?

He asserts the best way to seek understanding is through science, yet it is not the only way, and “best” is lacking. Science is our only repeatable way to verify reality and how things work. Whether it is best or not is subjective and depends on value, which itself is subjective. Subjective things can be monitored over time for evaluation, but so much of what is involved depends on the individuals examining and evaluating.

Scientific investigation lets us share our investigations and findings. It helps me check you, and you check me, to try to ensure that we are not fooling ourselves, and we really must admit we are the easiest to fool. Check Scott Adams’ (Dilbert) blog. He likes to point out how we fool ourselves and can hardly do differently. (But that is a different topic.)

As a Christian, I hold certain views of eternity, the afterlife.

I like to say eternity because it necessarily steps outside time, and time, space, matter, and energy, are all that is, all that makes what nature is, all that can be called naturalistic and materialistic. Science has us convinced the universe is not eternal. It is well confirmed, and thorough thinking confirms it. Nature is temporary. Our universe, all that is and all we know of it, is only about 13 billion years old. Science differs on how it might end, and how much time will elapse before it ends, but no scientific evidence suggests our universe will continue. It will end.

If there is no eternity, there is, in a very real sense, nothing, nothing at all.

Is it reasonable to suppose that in 100 years I will be exactly as I was 100 years ago?

It is a possibility. I accept that, but nothing in me can believe it. There is more, and I am, and always will be, part of that more.

If all that is me, all consciousness, all essences, ends up as it was before me, then nothing different can be supposed of the universe. If all the matter comes apart, all the energy dissipates, all the subatomics cease, even space will cease to be, and time. With no time, there is nothing. With no time there is no time to change. There will be nothing, nothing in any sense we can understand from science. Only the supernatural can still be, and it must be eternal or exists not at all.

Back to NDEs, I suppose all such experiences are limited by our brains, by our understanding, by all that makes us individual. Near death experiences, out of body experiences, are necessarily limited by ourselves, by our capacities. Even if such a spiritual experience exceeded all bounds of human intellect and capacities, the experience could be retained in this natural life only as some vague knowing, with no expressible understanding. That is, anything learned or experienced beyond natural capacity while unconstrained by anything natural would be lost as soon as it was restrained to the natural world, body, and mind.

In short, there either is only the natural, or there is more. I believe it is inherently impossible to quantify the supernatural in any way. I likewise hold it impossible to find any naturally observable phenomenon that exceeds natural scientific investigation and explanation with the laws of nature. I still believe in miracles, but I expect we will always be able to explain the ones we can catch and quantify, but miracles are not always so. Some miracles are truly unique, and such cannot be investigated and quantified. Some things just can’t be explained. Even science tells us that.

Watch these:

Nine Months that Made You

Find the episodes on TV or watch online. The first episode is available already, and the remainder should be available shortly after airing. (Episode two aired just before I decided to write this note.)

We must stay open minded, and we must learn. We do not have full truth, and we cannot, but we can know more, and we can understand each other better.

Do you part, and do your research. These shows are a good start for many concerns at the forefront today.

This image is pasted in as a link from PBS.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/02/07/a-note-about-bad-losers-and-global-warming-on-super-bowl-sunday/

A story well told and worth my time.

I offer here a hodgepodge of thoughts provoked by the author, Caleb Shaw.

For context, read the article, quoting:

“It continued long after the Boston Tea Party sparked a Revolutionary War, where the good idea of Liberty cost the young nation 1% of its population. A half-century later Oliver Wendell Holmes demanded doctors wash their hands (a decade before Louis Pasteur got the credit for discovering germs), and inadvertently this caused a crisis in the Church at a time when New England was the “Bible Belt,” (because germs were an invisible power other than God.) Not long after that other redefiners pushed the radical idea that slavery should be abolished in all places, which rather than mere paper legislation inadvertently led to the horrible slaughter of the Civil War, which cost nearly as many American lives as all the nation’s other wars combined.”

Along with the author’s point, I’m emphasizing the lack of vision in those who saw germs as an affront to God’s supremacy. How small minded can people be? If you think like this, I assure you, your God is too small. (Reference JB Phillips.)

Also, “redefinition is no laughing matter, and nothing to take lightly. You can’t blithely reform things like the Ten Commandments or the American Constitution, without facing reverberations of a magnitude that is far from blithe.”

Also, “When we experience loss we replay it in our minds. The psychologists may call it “Post Traumatic Stress”, but we are replaying the films of the past game, noting the mistakes, and planning to play better in the next game. We own a craving to improve.” And that is good, if we have our foundation firmly grounded in something greater than ourselves, and if we keep proper perspective and proportion.

Also, “politics does involve winners and losers, and a rule book called our laws, and the temptation to “amend” the laws, and to “redefine” how the game is played, and even what constitutes “winning”. It requires we be civil, if we are to call ourselves “civilized”, and that we follow certain set procedures we call “civil procedures”. And here again we see two basic types of laws that restrain man within certain limits: Physical laws and spiritual laws.”

I believe in these laws, and I am convinced we cannot attain the good of them by ignoring that which is inconvenient within them. There aren’t any politicians in the limelight today that I think are trying to account the full perspective of such law. The foremost of the conservatives seems willing to compromise anything for the sake of political expedience. He says one thing, and many repeat what he says, but does another. Perhaps that will get us by, perhaps it will buy us time, but it will fix nothing.

Feynman taught us the truth that we are easy to fool, but nature will not be fooled. So, we must try hard not to fool ourselves. We still have a problem, though, because of how shortsighted we humans are, especially en masse.

Caleb Shaw goes on to relate a personal anecdote about a shortsighted friend who didn’t listen to her plumber. But this friend of his learned. It may have cost her monetarily, but she could afford the lesson with respect to time and life. Hopefully she learned well and became wiser for her future. With many things, nature is too forgiving, too long suffering. Nature will not be fooled, but she is never in a hurry. Mostly, she just doesn’t care. Nature operates by laws, and to our detriment, those laws often allow for extremes in human suffering, suffering we humans caused, and could have prevented, had we just not been so shortsighted.

“The physical laws are easier to deal with, because they are more obvious, though not always clear to a layman. […] Physical laws represent Truths that will not be mocked.”

Sadly, nature often affords us far too much time to dig our own graves, as it were.

The global warming alarmists assert that we are being shortsighted by continuing to burn fuel to keep ourselves alive, but they ignore history, and they especially ignore prehistory as revealed to us by the palaeosciences. The facts in evidence show clearly it is shortsightedness that leads to alarmism. Shortsightedness has always lead to alarmism. It is so again. In this case, the evidence available shows that it has been warmer in the past, much warmer, many times. The available evidence shows clearly that cold kills and warmer is better. The earth clearly is an equilibrium machine, and with all the water, it has lots to work with. The nature of the universe is to alleviate imbalance. Emergent phenomenon self-organize to increase the efficiency of dissipation. Complex dissipative systems arise, grow, and grow more complex to alleviate imbalance more efficiently. If energy in the global system increases, the global system doesn’t warm appreciably, it just runs faster and grows more complex. It grows more complex with living systems, communities, and entire ecosystems, and it grows more complex in its weather and transport systems in atmosphere and ocean. These factors attain from extra energy and from extra resources, such as carbon dioxide that allows plants to flourish and use water and nutrients more efficiently. It matters not how the extra becomes available. Nature simply uses it to more efficiently dissipating differences and imbalances. Nature doesn’t care. Nature just works, and it has worked to keep earth’s climate quite constant for as far in the past as we can tell. As well as we can tell, for over two billion years, the approximate average temperature of the planet in absolute terms has been 290±8 Kelvin. That is constant within less than 3%. Reference http://scotese.com/climate.htm. Note that he currently draws the graph well into the future. Note where he marks “today.” I like to emphasize this quote, “During the last 2 billion years the Earth’s climate has alternated between a frigid “Ice House”, like today’s world, and a steaming “Hot House”, like the world of the dinosaurs.” I like to also point out that most of the time in the past it was hot-house. Life has always prospered during the warm periods. You will notice a spike in temperature in the Tertiary. It was in the Tertiary, near this hot time, that primates first evolved. Also, the ungulates. Obviously, we primates, and our tasty grass-eating co-inhabitants love warmer climate, much warmer, relatively speaking, plants too, and they especially like more carbon dioxide. Regarding temperature stability, bringing things even closer to home, note that for the last several centuries temperature has varied only about 1%, and for the last century, including through today, it has varied no more than about 0.1%. That is better than the air conditioning system in your insulated house. Don’t you think our water-covered planet is regulating itself with weather and circulation systems? Such a regulating system would necessarily run faster with more energy available. It would necessarily increase in complexity and efficiency, and that is why there is so much evidence of such stability.

Caleb continues, “Spiritual laws are harder to deal with, because they often run counter to more selfish laws that politicians deal with, that are tantamount to a sort of Law Of The Jungle. For example, a politician needs to curry favor among constituents, and this sometimes tempts them to hand out money and jobs inappropriately, with the money diverted from the people and the job it was earmarked for. In the case of the levees of New Orleans, very little of the money Washington sent to improve the levees was actually spent on the levees, while a lot went to various sorts of “inspectors”, and to lawyers involved in endless environmental lawsuits. The result of this was that, when Katrina arrived, the levees were not ready to hold back the flood. It did not matter that the Law Of The Jungle had been obeyed, when The Law Of Nature arrived.”

It is internal, spiritual even, what drives politicians, and therefore, politics. Greed and lust for power often override our better angels. Eventually, though, truth wins out. Nature, be it physical or human, will not be fooled long enough to get away with disregarding truth. Our sins will out. We do reap what we sow. Sure, there are those con artists that get away with it, but others pay the price, especially those close to them. It is a sad legacy. In truth, it is a sad life. It is only delusion that lets an evil man justify that he is simply winning. Truth will not be mocked.

Regarding many things in politics and government, especially with regard to education, I assert that it is not about the money. That is, more money will not fix the problems. (For that matter, less money will not fix the problem on its own either.) Mr. Shaw adds, “Politicians always claim they need more money, but money is useless if corruption misappropriates it.” Is that a truism? Regardless, it is obviously true. Corruption exists in all power structures, because power corrupts. (If you deny that, you need to step into the real world and shun your fantasies.) The US education system has lost sight of the point of education. The US education system from the local school, through the board, through the district, and State, and Fed, is only about power and control. It is especially true of the unions. A union, by definition, pits the unionized against the “boss.” There is no getting around the fact that the boss of the school is ultimately the parents. All of the machinery of the school system from the classroom teacher through the superintendents, including State Superintendents, align against the parents, and thereby, the students that they claim to try to serve. That is an inherent opposition that cannot work. It is a fundamental, unavoidable conflict of interest. It is fundamentally a conflict, a coercive tool of the educational system against the very customers it pretends to serve.

Coercion is evil.

Compulsory educational attendance laws are fundamentally coercive.

Coercion is evil.

The government education system is founded on evil. It cannot thrive.

We are not Borg. Resistance is far from futile. Resistance does actually succeed most of the time.

Referring to Boston’s Big Dig, failed bureaucratic weapons for the military, bad bridges, and other government-sponsored engineering and science, Caleb correctly observes, “The sad fact of the matter is that we are likely to see more of these costly mistakes, not fewer, as long as we allow the political Law Of The Jungle to rule science and engineering. The sooner we erect some sort of barrier between politics and science the better off we will be.”

I agree.

I point to separation of church and state. The churches, indeed, all religions, in the United States have flourished since the founding primarily because the government leaves them alone. It is only in recent decades with meddling from secular wimps that problems have arisen. Yet, even in the repressive government climate of today, there are many communities among us with churches practically on every corner, including multiple Christian and non-Christian religions.

Where would we be with science if government had the same hands-off restrictions with research and laboratories as with religion? Of course, the paranoid raise the alarm. They imagine atrocities and insist on government regulation. Well, frankly, many do the same with religion, especially certain sects regarded as dangerous. If not for our longstanding laws and traditions, the world would be the worse, unimaginably worse, and no man would be allowed to express freedom of religion.

The same separation should be applied to education and state.

Consider: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or education or scientific research, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This rule has been the soil within which the roots of liberty and self-determination have flourished. Should we not expand the scope of this rule, this requirement, to such obviously bedeviled essentials of society? Government has disrupted and corrupted so many fundamental goods in our lives. We must restrict government from our educational and scientific institutions.

My proposal will not eliminate abuses and failures, but it will rid us of the institutions that perpetuate failure and prohibit accountability.

Caleb Shaw makes many good points in the article at WUWT. I thank him and Anthony for hosting it.

Finally:
The gods of the copybook headings with terror and slaughter return.

Would to God we would learn our lessons and quit repeating the mistakes that cause so much of our suffering and loss.

A side distraction that I came across while running searches:
http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/kling/paleoclimate/

Interesting points and subtle details.

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