Archive for the ‘Science/General Science’ Category

A Quick Scientific Limerick :)

March 30, 2010

Here’s one way I can show my  love for science and poetry. 🙂 I’m quite sure a lot of you guys out there can also think of your own science, math, or any other limerick under the freethinking Sun no? :)

There was a guy named Schroedinger

who was quite an exceptional thinker

He posited that

there’d either be a dead or live cat

Even before you laid down a finger

(to appreciate my limerick even more, here’s a good reference on Schroedinger’s cat) 🙂

And I don’t want to leave another favorite subject of mine (among others) without its own limerick. ;)

Newton discovered calculus

So did Leibniz, plus its use

There was some dispute

on who’d bring the discoverer’s loot

But Isaac won over a ruse.

(to appreciate my math limerick, please see the Wikipedia article on the Calculus discovery controversy) 🙂

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Short review on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ episode ‘The Einstein Approximation’

February 3, 2010

Warning: For those who haven’t seen this episode, spoiler alert!

This is the first, and hopefully won’t be the last, of a series of short reviews I’ll try doing each week for ‘The Big Bang Theory’.

This week The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) episode ‘The Einstein Approximation’ came out,  and is the 14th episode of the show’s 3rd season.
Let me just start this quick and short review of the episode by further stating what the guys there and I have in common, apart from the quite obvious facts that we’re all geeks/nerds by heart.
Even before TBBT, I’ve admired and idolized Einstein myself, because of his great mental feats (which were of course, backed up by other physical theories and experiments at his time). Great because by just the power of his mind Einstein was able to revolutionize our lives and the 20th century, paving ways for faster transportation, not to mention telecommunication and computing, which drove and is still driving the information revolution today. And of course, so much more benefits which we more or less take for granted in our daily lives. In fact, Einstein is oftentimes synonymous with the word ‘genius’.
Einstein was also very much interested in philosophy and politics, not just physics. He’s written several books, articles, letters to people outside the scientific community. He also has a quirky sense of humor, as seen from this  picture of him. At first I thought this photo of Einstein was edited. But as it turns out it was really him, tongue hanging out and all. 🙂 It was at the time he was making fun of people taking pictures of him. Great stuff.

Silly Einstein
Of course Einstein is not without criticisms. Great and accomplished a scientist he maybe, history tells us he left much to be desired when it came to being a father or a husband.

Now, back to the episode review of TBBT. At this point I shall establish a partially objective, partially subjective point system of each episode based on the earlier 2 seasons (which I have watched at least 2 times…).
Let me just start off by saying this is a classic Sheldon episode, which is great in itself. Again we expected lots of ‘weird’ humor: Sheldon’s ability to complicate relatively simple things, as well as him belittling his friends, most noticeably Penny. Hilarious stuff once again. Bravo to TBBT production team.
Not a lot of scifi or comic book references were made though. But lines such as:

Howard: How long has he been stuck? (referring to Sheldon)
Leonard: Umm…intellectually about 30 hours, emotionally about 29 years.

And

Howard: Have you tried rebooting him? (referring to Sheldon)
Leonard: No I think it’s a firmware problem.

Are classics. 🙂

The part where Leonard and Sheldon were arguing inside the ‘ball play room’, with Sheldon going ‘bazinga’ everytime, was also hilarious.

Sheldon, and of course the rest of ‘the guys’ are fans of Einstein no doubt. Sheldon of course thinks he’s at the same level with Einstein so he tries to do what Einstein did in order to come at the epiphany that is the special theory of relativity: to work for a menial job so he can occupy his basal ganglia with a routine task so he can apparently free his pre-frontal cortex to solve his physics problem.

Another classic moment in this episode is the guest starring of Yeardley Smith, the not so well known voice actor behind the famous cartoon character Lisa Simpson (yes, in The Simpsons fame). Absolutely entertaining piece of the episode.

Another classic dialog is again with Sheldon and Penny:

Penny: What are you doing here?
Sheldon: A reasonable question. I asked myself, what is the most mind-numbing, pedestrian job conceivable? And 3 answers came to mind: toll booth attendant, an Apple Store “Genius”, and “What Penny does”. Now, since I don’t like touching other people’s coins, and I refuse to contribute to the devaluation of the word “genius”, here I am (meaning at the cheesecake factory).

Lines like these make me think of the real meaning and application of LOL. 🙂

I suppose myself and those guys, as well as the show’s production team, can’t help cracking jokes at Apple. 😀

Overall I’d give this episode the following scores:

* reference to sci-fi, comic books, and other geek/nerd pop culture: 6/10

* reference to physics and other fields of science: 9/10

* dialog humor factor: 9/10

* techie/technology factor: 8/10

which gives an overall score of: 8/10

🙂

Holey Space

November 8, 2009

Nope that’s not a typo and this isn’t technically about religion. This post is about holes in space, namely black holes, wormholes, and the lesser known white holes, and their implications to the physical and metaphysical. The arrangement or flow of exposition of this article, from black to worm to white hole, will become much clearer as you read along the article. So get ready for a quick rundown on holes (cosmic ones of course), thought experiments, sci-fi love, paradoxes, and various possible implications in our lives and the universe we live in.

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Falling In Love: The Physics Of Attraction

October 12, 2009

This article discusses why the colloquial expressions such as “That’s why I gravitate towards you”, “I’m falling for you”, and “She is attracted to me” can be quite scientifically accurate. The following article muddles up the meanings of casual words like “falling” and “attraction” with the currently accepted theories, studies, and findings of physics on the related matters. I’ve done something like this before , similar in fashion to how the word “God” is poetically and figuratively used in relation to the “religious”  views of Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and other physicists . This time, it’s love. 🙂

First we have Space-Time

Space-time or spacetime is a mathematical model that you get when you combine the 3 dimensions of space with a 4th one,  the dimension of time.  In a nutshell, space-time is similar to a landscape where a point locates an event i.e. a 3 dimensional location + the time when it happened, instead of just a usual, spacial point in space like in maps, even if it’s a 3D map. Since space-time involves 4 dimensions, even most scientists find it very hard to imagine what 4 dimensions would look like, since us humans are accustomed to only 3 dimensions of our space. We always look at time as something that is fixed and unchanging. Newton certainly did when he wrote the laws of motion. One of the most impressive feats of Einstein was that he showed this was not so, and that time is as maleable as space.

To see this graphically, observe the image above. Since scientists are only humans, they have difficulties imagining warped 4 dimensions, and so 2 dimensional analogs are used, which are enough to illustrate the point. The image above shows a distortion in space-time.  These imaginations of space-time were first thought of as what are famously now known in science as thought experiments, with one of the most popular users being Albert Einstein himself.

Then there’s Gravity

General relativity describes gravity as a curvature in space-time and that, again in a nutshell,  gravity is a dent in space. To further picture this, consider again the image above. Ordinary matter, which makes up everything we see in the universe, causes space-time to warp and bend around it. The more matter there is in a given object or point, the more warping, denting,  and bending of space time, and therefore the stronger the gravity. The image shows the Earth, which is relatively quite massive, making a dent in the space-time continuum, thus creating a gravitational effect which pulls us, the moon, and other objects in space towards it, even including the Sun. The Sun of course has the strongest gravity or pull in the Solar system, since it’s the most massive object in it. Again, remember that the image is just a 2D analog of a 4D space-time continuum. The Earth does not immediately plummet towards the Sun since the Earth has its own gravity, which counteracts the Sun’s pull. But nevertheless the Earth is slowly circling down the drain/dent of the Sun in the space-time continuum (Sun’s gravity) and in a few billion years, the Earth and everything less massive than the Sun will quite likely plummet towards it. In other words, gravity is just an illusion since we can’t quite really conceive a 4th dimension in our minds, and that gravity is really just a warping of the space-time continuum.

You can then further imagine or create a thought experiment that other less or more massive bodies than the Earth in the Solar system create their own dents or warps in space-time. These include the other planets, asteroids, and even us humans, albeit in a very minute fraction only.

In fact, one of the suggested ways of mitigating a future asteroid impact on Earth is based on the premise that mass causes denting or warping in space-time. The gravity or gravitational tractor, as it is known, deflects an asteroid many years prior to its impact on Earth, by simply hovering or “parking” beside the asteroid. This form of asteroid mitigation does not really require cutting edge scientific discoveries or engineering feats, it does not need to physically contact the asteroid, and does not necessitate the need for the mechanical and structural composition of the asteroid in advance. Simply put, it works by allowing the relatively massive object, the gravity tractor, to “pull” the asteroid towards a direction which will lead it away from a future Earth impact. The “pull” comes from the fact that, slowly but surely, the tractor’s warping of space imposes a pull, albeit tiny, to the nearby asteroid.

Finally, Falling in Love

So, by now perhaps you’ve already surmised my coy and sly use of the words “falling” and “attraction” with respect to falling in love, as well as how physics currently views gravity and space-time. In other words, geeks and nerds like me often joke about how a girl could “fall” for you if you simply sit near her, since you do have mass, however minute. That mass of yours will eventually make her notice you, or perhaps not, but it will certainly impose a “pull” on her towards you, or vice versa. Of course technically speaking, it will take millions to billions of years before the more massive one between you two finally pulls the other. In this case, it’s better if you just ask her out, and that sometimes physicists, geeks, and nerds like me don’t really give that much good an advice. Still, as I mentioned earlier in this article, phrases such as “I’m falling for you” and “We’re attracted to each other” are quite scientifically accurate. Ah, love in geek or nerd speak. So romantic. 🙂

Which brings to mind the fascination of some men in today’s times to skinny women. Based from what I’ve pointed out here, it’s physically (by this I mean in physics) understandable why some men would prefer heavier or more massive women, but what about skinny women? I suppose the social sciences have more to learn and discuss in these matters. 🙂

Resources, references, and further reading:

Towards healthier skepticism: Correlation does not imply causation

October 9, 2009

This post will attempt to repeat, clarify, and elucidate the need for the remembrance and understanding of the phrase “correlation does not imply causation”. Scientific studies will be given, and the words in the phrase, which vary in meaning depending on usage, will be defined accordingly.

Scientific studies

Please take a moment to go through the following actual, summarized scientific research results:

1) In a previous scientific research using quantitative assessment, numerous epidemiological studies showed that women who were taking combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) also had a lower-than-average incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), leading doctors to propose that HRT was protective against CHD.

2) From a study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, young children who sleep with the light on are much more likely to develop myopia in later life.

We will get back to them in a moment. Now we focus on correlation or co-relation, and why scientists, statisticians and skeptics, at the very least, should always maintain and promote the phrase “Correlation does not imply causation”.

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My list of most attractive females in Star Trek TOS

September 5, 2009

The original Star Trek TV series simply known as, Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) and  which started airing in 1967, is one of the great backbones of sci-fi media in my opinion, whether it be film or television. The series was riddled with attempts (sometimes successful sometimes not so in my opinion) of profundity, and at times humor.  The themes of several episodes are recurring themes in succeeding sci-fi series and movies. The series though was conceived as a ‘serious’ primetime science fiction series, which I think means adopting or applying currently known scientific facts and researches at the time, instead of more often than not making things up without scientific temperament.

Here now is my list of the most physically attractive females (enemy or friend) in the whole 3 seasons of the series, in no particular order. Note that these are only the one-time female characters who are not part of the enterprise’ crew, as otherwise I would have included the lovely Nyota Uhura and other officers.

1. Nona from the second season episode of Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) entitled “A Private Little War“. She was played by actress Nancy Kovack. Interestingly enough, Nancy has quite a similar last name to a certain famous Watchmen character. 🙂  Unfortunately Nona became an antagonist and died for it. Still, she had a really beautiful face and a wonderful body 🙂

2. Eleen from the second season episode of Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) entitled “Friday’s Child“. Eleen was played by the beautiful Julie Newmar who is more famously known as one of 3 women who played Catwoman in the 1960s live action television series Batman. Eleen started as an antagonist though she decided to become otherwise at the end of the episode. Eleen was very beautiful, not to mention the way she pronounced Bones’ last name was really hot. 🙂 She pronounced it “Mac-coy” in a very sexy way 😉

3. Miramanee from the third season episode of Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) entitled  “The Paradise Syndrome“. Miramanee was a hot female Indian who seemingly became Pocahontas to Captain Kirk. In fact, she was so hot that Kirk had a child with her. Unfortunately, she died at the end of the episode 😦

4.Zarabeth from the third season episode of Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) entitled  “All Our Yesterdays”. Zarabeth was a lonely woman who was sent back in time to live in a cave amidst an ice age, since her planet at the time she came from was about to end. Thus she lived alone wearing only loin clothes. She had a very pretty face with a nice body. Thank you loin clothe 🙂

Comments in a ruly manner are most welcome 🙂

Quite Quotable Quotes: The Big Bang Theory

July 29, 2009

The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) is undoubtedly my favorite sitcom so far. I’ve never really been into sitcoms actually. Some of the last few ones I watched were (believe it or not) Seinfeld, Fraser, and Friends, and I didn’t really get into them that much. I just watched a few episodes here and there, usually with my dad or with my sister when we were much younger. TBBT has fervently rekindled my attention towards sitcoms, in such a magnitude I can only describe as the energy needed to accelerate an electron to 0.99% the speed of light 🙂

Needless to say, there are quite a lot of sources on the Internet for what TBBT is all about. Wikipedia or a simple Google search or a quick visit to the official site should do fine for a start. What it is to me however, is a brilliant show that combines geeks, nerds, comic books, sci-fi, technology, physics , science, and jokes together, and still be absolutely entertaining and humorous. In other words, much as what the Gay Liberation has done to reinvigorate gay pride, TBBT has reinvigorated the geek pride in me. The writers and producers are themselves geeks and nerds, watch Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica and read comic books. But they also treat the characters in the show with such respect that even if you’re not one of “them” (or in this case, one of “us”), you’d still find respect for them (or “us”). TBBT has I think, no doubt inspired many reluctant geeks and nerds, not just in America but across the globe where TBBT is being shown, to go out and be really proud to be geeks.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite quotes from the first season:

From the season 1 Pilot episode:

Leonard: We need to widen our circle.
Sheldon: I have a very wide circle. I have 212 friends on myspace.
Leonard: Yes, and you’ve never met one of them.
Sheldon: That’s the beauty of it!

And yet another from the same episode:

Penny: I’m a Sagittarius, which probably tells you way more than you need to know.
Sheldon: Yes, it tells us that you participate in the mass cultural delusion that the sun’s apparent position relative to arbitrarily defined constellations at the time of your birth somehow affects your personality.
Penny: (puzzled) Participate in the what?

And another:

Sheldon: Okay, look, I think you have as much of a chance of having a sexual relationship with Penny as the Hubble telescope does of discovering that at the center of every black hole is a little man with a flashlight searching for a circuit breaker. Nevertheless, I do feel obligated to point out to you that she did not reject you. You did not ask her out.

another:

Leonard: (talking about him and Penny) Our children will be smart and beautiful.

Sheldon: Not to mention imaginary.

And from the succeeding episodes:

Sheldon: You have to check your messages, Leonard! Leaving a message is one-half of a social contract, which is completed by the checking of the message. If that contract breaks down, then all social contracts break down and we descend into anarchy.
Leonard: It must be hell inside your head.
Sheldon: At times.

Wolowitz: If it’s “creepy” to use the Internet, military satellites, and robot aircraft to find a house full of gorgeous young models so I can drop in on them unexpected, then FINE, I’m “creepy”.

😀

Sci-fi ponderings when (almost) idle

June 22, 2009

I was talking to one of my housemates last night while I was taking a break from using my PC when we came to the topic of Terminators.  Being sci-fi fans (me especially) we talked about the realism of robots and computer software taking over the world.

The proposed problems pertaining to plausibilities

Now, my housemate proposed that Skynet, the autonomous computer program that took over the world and is responsible for the decline and domination of the human race, isn’t very plausible, or at least isn’t ‘too’ smart. His propositions are the following:

a) Skynet should have made the Terminators smarter so as to make them more adaptable to human circumstances, issues, and environment.

He mentions that though they look like humans, they (or at least the ones in the movies, unlike in the Terminator TV series) they still act relatively cold and robot-like. Adapting to human behavior, emotions, idiosyncrasies, at least temporarily, may help them perform their missions better, i.e. terminating their targets.

b) Skynet, at least in the future (so my housemate concedes), should have made itself connected/linked to Terminators so that it can use it’s powerful processors and information on humans, including their tactics, to finally wipe out the human race and leave nothing to stand up against it.

I made my housemate actually concede early in this proposition that this can only work in the future, because how would Skynet of the future control and communicate with Terminators it has sent to the past? It could be quite given that future Skynet would be linked to the Terminator pawns via some wireless technology, but wireless technology across time? Dubious.

The proposed answers to the problems

a) Now this one has been answered already in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, when John Connor asks (approximately at 1 hour 6 minutes of the Special Edition of the movie) if Terminators (or at least the T-800 model 101 Terminator a.k.a. Arnold model/line of terminators) can learn new things so they can be more human. The terminator responds by saying that Skynet “presets the switch to ‘read-only’ when terminators are sent out alone”, to prevent them from “thinking too much”. This then prevents terminators by default, or at least the movie terminators such as the T-800, T-850 T-1000, and T-X, from learning a lot of things about what makes humans humans.

b) One solution I’ve thought about for this specific conundrum in the Terminator universe, which could also be said in real life hardware/software,  is that if Skynet ‘hooks’ itself up to every terminator walking around trying to find, infiltrate, and terminate humans, i.e. connect its thinking to the terminators, then that would lead to a vulnerability. The vulnerability comes from the fact that by doing so (hooking up/connecting to terminators in the field) would allow humans to insert a virus or ‘anti-Sknet’ software to one or more captured terminators, which could then be uploaded to the main Skynet program and destroy Skynet entirely. This is possible because Skynet has to maintain a duplex connection to the terminators in the field if Skynet is to control them and still be in sync with the main Skynet program. I think this is a risk Skynet would not dare take.

Questions/comments/arguments? Feel free to post them as long as they’re calm, ruly. 🙂

Quite Quotable Quotes: Star Trek (2009 film)

May 11, 2009

From the new (and I should say fascinating) Star Trek film comes the following quotable quotes.

From Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) at the end of the film, the updated Star Trek mantra is as follows:

Space: the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.

And from Scotty (played by actor Simon Pegg):

So, the Enterprise has had its maiden voyage, has it? She is one well endowed lady! I like to get my hands on her ample nacelles if you’ll pardon the engineering parlance

And  from “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) and young James Kirk’s (Chris Pine) exchange:

Bones: Don’t pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait till you’re sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you’re so relaxed when your eyeballs bleed. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.
Kirk: I hate to break it to you, but Starfleet operates in space.
Bones: Yeah. Well, I got nowhere else to go. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I’ve got left is my bones.

Finally, what would Spock and the Vulcans be without the Vulcan salute coupled with

Live long, and prosper

😀

And some thoughts immediately after watching Star Trek:

1. Fascinating.

2. Can’t wait for the DVD and Blu-ray to come out.

3. Can’t wait for a TV series.

4. Can’t wait for the sequel (as confirmed by this site, the major cast  and crew are signed up for 2 more sequels. Yay!)

5. Can’t wait for more official books and comics.

Quite Quotable Quotes: Mulder and Scully

April 1, 2009

These are from FBI special agents Mulder and Scully‘s conversation on the X-Files episode “The Unnatural”, season 6 episode 19:

SCULLY: Mulder, it is such a gorgeous day outside. Have you ever entertained the idea of trying to find life on this planet?

MULDER: (looking at the record book) I have seen the life on this planet, Scully and that is exactly why I am looking elsewhere.

🙂