Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Category: Science (Page 1 of 4)

All about science

Three Quotes That Define America

When I saw the last quote I was reminded of the other two. I think all pretty define the problem we face in America. But is it really a problem? Short answer Yes. Long answer,  I’ll try to explain in a later post.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

Newsweek: “A Cult of Ignorance” by Isaac Asimov, January 21, 1980, p. 19.

Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1995

Americans are, of course, the most thoroughly and passively indoctrinated people on earth. They know next to nothing as a rule about their own history, or the histories of other nations, or the histories of the various social movements that have risen and fallen in the past, and they certainly know little or nothing of the complexities and contradictions comprised within words like “socialism” and “capitalism.” Chiefly, what they have been trained not to know or even suspect is that, in many ways, they enjoy far fewer freedoms, and suffer under a more intrusive centralized state, than do the citizens of countries with more vigorous social-democratic institutions. This is at once the most comic and most tragic aspect of the excitable alarm that talk of social democracy or democratic socialism can elicit on these shores. An enormous number of Americans have been persuaded to believe that they are freer in the abstract than, say, Germans or Danes precisely because they possess far fewer freedoms in the concrete. They are far more vulnerable to medical and financial crisis, far more likely to receive inadequate health coverage, far more prone to irreparable insolvency, far more unprotected against predatory creditors, far more subject to income inequality, and so forth, while effectively paying more in tax (when one figures in federal, state, local, and sales taxes, and then compounds those by all the expenditures that in this country, as almost nowhere else, their taxes do not cover). One might think that a people who once rebelled against the mightiest empire on earth on the principle of no taxation without representation would not meekly accept taxation without adequate government services. But we accept what we have become used to, I suppose. Even so, one has to ask, what state apparatus in the “free” world could be more powerful and tyrannical than the one that taxes its citizens while providing no substantial civic benefits in return, solely in order to enrich a piratically overinflated military-industrial complex and to ease the tax burdens of the immensely wealthy?

Three Cheers for Socialism
Christian Love & Political Practice
By David Bentley Hart February 24, 2020

Things We Should Be Using

  • Metric system
  • Human Era calendar
  • Tau (τ) instead of pi (π)

I’ll try to elaborate more later but wanted to get that idea out there. The first one should be familiar to you. Technically the US uses the metric system and converts those measurements to English units.


The Human Era or Holocene calendar simply adds a 1 to the front of the year. So it’s 12,018HE instead of 2018AD, and next year will be 12,019. It’s based on the premise that we should make our Year Zero when the first city (town) was built some 12,000 years ago in Turkey. It’ll be easier to remember dates. It basically marks the beginning of civilization.


Tau is simply 2 Pi. Mathematically they are the same. But it is easier to understand the math around this irrational but very important number around 6.28318… and not 3.14159…


11,000 BC

I just saw an article about how ancient carvings in Turkey recorded a comet swarm that hit the earth 13,000 years ago.



I have no idea if that is true, but I recall reading about something similar that a comet struck the Earth about the same time and struck North America.


We know that a little over a century ago, in 1908, a comet struck Siberia in the Tunguska Event and it was devastating for the region, but because it was so remote and so little population that few were affected.  Explorers took several years before they could even visit the site. There was no crater, but trees for miles around was flattened by the blast. If something similar had happened, 13,000 years ago by an even larger comet striking the glaciers in North America there’d be very little evidence to show for it today.

And even more recently in 2013 a meteor exploded over a populated Siberian city,  Chelyabinsk, but because it was so much smaller than Tunguska the damage was relatively minor, 1100 were injured and thousands of windows destroyed.

I’m writing about it as a reminder to dig a little deeper to see if the evidence supports the theory. Catastrophic events have shaped human evolution and history, so it is possible, but is is true?

As a side note: It really should be the Year 12017 HE (Holocene or Human Era)



Yeah, I don’t know what it stands for either*. It’s the acronym for the Berkeley distributed computing project. Back in the late 90’s I participated in the SETI@Home project. You let the software use idle CPU cycles to search for artificial signals from deep space. I participated for a few years and ended up earning 2000 credits. I printed out my certificate and it’s laying about someplace. Anyway the distributed computing project was so popular Berkeley created a platform called BOINC and now there are dozens of projects. Tens of thousands of computers have participated creating vast networks of supercomputing power very cheaply.

I’ve got two old laptops I’m using as home servers (one is for web development work). Originally the laptops were used to play around with Linux and also to do development work for clients. I ended up turning the first one into a print server on our home network. Now we don’t have to take our laptops into my office to print. Since this server is on all the time heating up the room (slightly), my mind harkened back to SETI@Home. I knew there were other projects so I looked at the list to see what struck my fancy. I found two. MilkyWay@Home and climateprediction.net.

MilkyWay@Home uses data from the Digital Sloan Sky Survey to help generate an accurate 3D model of our own galaxy. The other climatepredition.net is to run climate models and test the accuracy of climate models up to the year 2100. I chose the latter first as it seemed to be more practical. Actually I ended up choosing both, and I’m running each on their own laptop.

Although I accept the science for global warming, if I discuss it I don’t need to base my arguments on climate models. There’s plenty of hard evidence that humans have altered the climate. However, we do need to be able to predict the climate if people (mostly Americans) do not change the way they live to stop climate change. Computer climate modeling got underway in the 1970’s and those models have gotten more accurate and computers have gotten immensely more powerful since them. It would be useful to test to verify how accurate those models are. And if they are off then they can be improved.

If it turns out the climate models predict less serious consequences of human activity and those models have been made more accurate then that would be a good thing. I think it’s unlikely but we won’t know until we look. I suspect (and computer models have already predicted) that human caused climate change is going to be very bad for us. But we still have a window of opportunity to mitigate the worst consequences. We can’t stop it, but can slow it and eventually reverse it, but that will take centuries. However, that window is closing, and I don’t know how much time we’ve got.

Whether it’s for fun or serious reasons these distributed computing projects allow citizens to participate in large projects. And as computing power continues to improve these projects will help to solve pressing problems.

*Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing
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