Recent posts by Yreval on Kongregate

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Topic: Serious Discussion / The SAT?

Review Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry. Make sure you’re proficient in this material, since it will be the only real “curriculum” included on the test. Be especially sure you can handle diagrams/graphical questions and word problems.

A lot of people recommend vocabulary lists, but I don’t think they’re especially useful. There are well over a hundred thousand words in the English language, and you won’t be able to memorize all the “tricky” ones. Instead, I think you’re a lot better off if you devote all that time to reading—preferably reading outside of your comfort zone. Read a few pages of difficult text at a time and see if you can tease out the meaning of words you don’t know from their context. Check the actual definitions of those words and see if you were close. Summarize the meaning of everything you just read in your head. Go back, and make sense of each individual paragraph. If a paragraph is tricky, dissect it sentence by sentence.

The SAT reading section will expect those skills from you. They’ll give you 5 paragraphs of text and ask you the author’s purpose for the whole section, and then they’ll pick out the hairiest sections to see if you understood the details. My general approach during that section of the test was to read through the whole passage once, get a feel for what it’s all about, and then refer to the exact lines that the questions refer to as I got to them (reading the lines before and after as necessary.)

As far as the writing section goes, just be very careful. The grammar questions might involve a few strange rules (or exceptions thereof) but if you’re meticulous you should do well. The biggest challenge on your essay will be the time constraint, so rather than stressing about grandiose language or the artistry of your introduction, I’d recommend quickly planning it all out in your head, then work on just banging it out and making sure each section flows smoothly.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Evolution vs Science

Yikes, this thread’s gone all sorts of places since I was here last.

Anyway, somebody613,

How can you prove against the (theory/claim/hypothesis/whatever you like to name it), that the world was created to LOOK whatever age one wants it to look?

So first of all, we have to mention (for the umpteenth time on these forums) that the burden of proof lies with the claimant of an argument, not its opponent. You’re the one claiming that the world is created young, but created to look old. It’s your job to provide the facts that back that up, not our job to provide facts to refute it.

If I made the claim that Redem is a peculiarly intelligent cat who types all of his responses on an extra large keyboard made to accommodate his paws, would you have to accept that claim as truth until someone gave us pictures of Redem to prove me otherwise? Or would you think that I’m talking hogwash until I gave you a video of a cat logging into Redem’s account and typing up posts on this forum?

This is really the tip of the iceberg that is your misunderstanding of science—not just a misunderstanding of evolution, but a misunderstanding of the scientific method itself.

“It doesn’t make sense” is absolutely a scientific attitude. Nearly half of science is taking sets of facts that don’t make sense and figuring out how to make sense of them. Most of the rest is making hypotheses that do make sense from the sense we made of those facts, and then testing them to see of those sensical hypotheses are correct (much of the time they’re not.) These experiments give us new sets of facts and we start all over.

Scientists don’t go out and test hypotheses that make no sense because that’s a waste of time and we’re not like to learn anything that we don’t already know.

Pioneering can only happen when one is doubting, and “using the best available option” is very unlikely to make one search for a NEW one.

This is absolute jibber-jabber. Pioneering can only happen when you stand on the shoulders of the men before you; if we never accept the work of our predecessors then we rework the same problems over and over and never make any progress. Doubt is important in the process of reviewing new science but most scientific knowledge (indeed everything I’ve ever seen discussed anywhere on the kongregate forums) has already been doubted, reviewed, replicated, and demonstrated countless times. That’s why it gets accepted into the canon of the field. The whole point of science is to figure out that “best available option” and then use that option to generate new ideas and tests, and use those tests to refine or expand our best option to be even better. It’s a continuous process.

The problem here is that science is about testing hypotheses, and you’re offering an untestable hypothesis. So SCIENCE has nothing to say about whether or not the Earth is several billion years old or if a divine creator created a world that appears to the most minute detail that it is several billion years old when it’s not. If there’s no way to tell the two apart, then the answer to that question is part of some vague philosophy and not of science.

The real question here is that if all the evidence points to the Earth being billions of years old, why would you complicate the picture and assume that it’s instead much younger but built to look old? If you saw a beat-up old Pontiac Trans Am would you assume that it’s actually a 2008 car that’s been purposefully rusted, rotted and patina’d to look older? Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Evolution vs Science

So two other guys already kinda jumped on your post, but I asked you to brng up the objections, and I think it would be rude of me to not hold up my end of the bargain.

Originally posted by somebody613:

OK, I’ll choose a few of the links for specific discussion:
1. Abiogenesis
Evolution says nil about how the life came to be.
Creation ISN’T abiogenesis in the scientific sense, lifeforms were created in their full form, not “built from LEGO”.
Abiogenesis IS about building (working) LIFE from DEAD “bricks”.

As the others have said, the fact that the theory of evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life isn’t a flaw in the theory. General Relativity and Set Theory don’t explain the origin of life, either, and we’re perfectly happy with that. Science’s current best guess at how life came to be is called Abiogenesis (as you alluded to) and it’s actually a pretty well developed theory of its own.
2. Misconception about religion
Or rather, the point I mentioned to DR several times – the “god of gaps” is the “fanatical antireligionist’s stance”.
This has two faults:
1. There are things we’ll NEVER know, due to inability to travel back in time.
2. Religion and science are NOT incompatible; actually there’s a JEWISH notion of “using as much scientific innovations to SPREAD G-dliness in this world”.
“Science vs religion” is either a thing of 500 years old, or is just a political notion, misused for personal gains.

So, here I was thinking that this was a discussion about Evolution as a science, and you’re bringing religion into it. The “God of the Gaps” idea is not part of the theory of evolution. Now, whether we need to be able to travel back in time to complete our scientific understanding of the universe is also probably not true, but the specifics of that really escape the scope of this discussion.
3. Intelligent evolution, right?
Just read the last sentence…
And all this, alongside “random mutations”…

I don’t think so… Let’s explore the reasons for this. Giraffes within a population that are born with longer necks without the musculature to support them are going to suffer from obvious problems—fatigue, clumsiness, possible trauma—that make them less likely to survive and reproduce. Now, the advantages to extra musculature are also obvious… they’re the opposite of all the problems for an underdeveloped musculature, and will be selected for for the same reasons that lack of muscle won’t be selected for. But the thing is that having that extra muscle also allows for extra neck length, allowing for farther reach while feeding, without suffering the clumsiness and fatigue of a longer neck with only the muscle for a shorter neck. So the incremental evolution of muscle and then length is not surprising.
4. I so love the STAGE
Just read through this “scientific experiment”…
I call it “faking is OK, if it helps to prove my point”.

It seems to me that they explain in the link you provided that it wasn’t faking, and that the moths do rest on tree trunks and branches… The only faking here is a photo composite for textbook covers, which isn’t so much faking in science as it is faking in graphic design.
5. What is species?
I especially love this point, cause there is a much higher taxa hybridization in NATURE, that totally destroys the validity of using species as a “unit”.
(You know, liger and tigon, also there are some birds that have intergeneral hybrids. Check wiki for more.)

I won’t deny there’s some problems in the talk origin page there… double standards and special pleading. But this is a semantic argument that really doesn’t deal with evidence for or against evolution. Notably however, cross-species hybrids that are unable to reproduce, such as the liger that you mentioned, don’t really get their own taxonomy. The liger is considered Panthera leo × Panthera tigris.
6. Wings
The problem – the closest resemblance of a “proto-bird dino” is the non-flying fast-running ostrich…
Which has wings, but doesn’t even try to fly.
So, how did birds ever started flying?
(This disproves the idea that wings helped to run faster – ostriches don’t use them for this, AT ALL.)

This seems like you’re going for a sort of “irreducible complexity” argument. So what’s the use of half a wing, or wings on an animal that can’t fly? Well, check out the wiki on gliding and parachuting animals for starters. Basically, it can help to be able to slow a fall, glide a short distance, look bigger to scare off predators, et cetera while you still can’t fly. In fact, the link you have mentions all of these functions and more… and I don’t see if mentioning the idea that wings helped run faster. Did you read what you linked to?
7. Living fossils
Ahem, but if they were “worse” than the “new” species, how did they ever survived?
WITHOUT evolving for MILLIONS of years?
(This applies to any “more primitive” type of organisms, the “better” ones were supposed to simply EAT the worse ones, directly or ecologically..!)

Once again… did you read what you linked to? There’s no language about “better or worse” species… evolution doesn’t have a direction like that. Instead, the creatures that haven’t changed in millions of years have been so suited to their environment that there’s not significant pressure for them to change (additionally they also may not reproduce very frequently or be exposed to mutagenic factors, but let’s keep the picture simple for clarity.) Other species evolved because they had to change to survive in different environments (and then to live in competition/balance with other species that evolved to those environments. So the nautilus is well-built for living far beneath the ocean’s surface, so it’s stayed the same down there, where relatively few other creatures vie with it for food or hunt it. But it’s ill suited for treetops, which is why we don’t see anything that looks like the nautilus on treetops.
8. Stories, hmm…
I found a very interesting SCIENTIFIC THEORY about the Flood.
Sounds quite scientific – not less than any other “story”.
NONE can be PROVEN anyways (until the time machine), so it’s a matter of personal preference, which to choose. :DDD

I worry over your use of the words “scientific theory,” because you make it immediately clear that you don’t know what that means. A scientific theory isn’t something you can just post on a webpage. It’s a model that comes out of several tested hypotheses that provides more testable predictions of its own. It has substantial evidence, and is not merely an interpretation of earlier facts. The “theory” you linked to could at most be called a hypothesis, but the problem is that it goes against other facts we already know about.

Saying that men used to live for up to 1000 years goes against all of modern medical science and biology (e.g. all of your telomeres will be depleted and you will get cancer long before then.) The distribution of landmass on the Earth’s surface accounts for very, very little of the Earth’s mass and shifting that distribution won’t change the period of Earth’s revolution. It goes on from there.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Two Black Holes

Originally posted by Epsilon_Omega:

Originally posted by Yreval:

Sorry,I came to that deduction for the reason that Super-massive black holes may be in the center of our galaxy. The only possible reason for those to form is through a lot of collissions. Meaning at some time frame of our universe there was A lot of black hole collisions. (if you take into account the other pinwheel galaxies"

Perhaps. It’s not clear to me that the formation of a supermassive black hole should occur from the collision of many stellar-sized black holes rather than the accretion of “normal” mass at the center of a forming galaxy. In fact, the lack of evidence for a significant population of stellar (“mid-sized”) black holes in the observable universe makes me tend for the latter explanation.

It’s true that the death of very high mass stars (say 10 or 20 solar masses) should result in stellar black holes, but I can’t think of any reason objects from star forming regions of the galaxy should move from their orbits to the center of the galaxy (sure, some might get catapulted through interaction with other objects… but not many. Remember that a galaxy is mostly empty space.) Not to mention you really need that central black hole in order to develop the density waves (spiral arms) of galaxies where most stars (especially the high-mass stars that become black holes) are formed.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Evolution vs Science

Originally posted by somebody613:

Me being one of them – exactly what I did in my second post, #3.
EDIT: How to link to POSTS?
(The same site link, or did you put it on purpose?)
I made a long list of what looks like nonsense in the RESPONSES by “scientists”.

I’m saying that posting a bunch of links isn’t conducive to discussion. Frankly, I’m not really clear on your objections to most of those links anyway.

If you want to discuss the scientific merit of evolution, then let’s do it. Bring up some points and we’ll talk. But don’t just link to a wall of text

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Evolution vs Science

Posting a several-page-long article on a discussion forum and asking responders to sift through all of it and tell you where it goes wrong is a little unreasonable. Luckily, there are people on the internet who have already done the legwork for most of the claims mentioned here: Talk Origins, for example.

If you want to discuss any specific points mentioned in your article in more detail, then bring them up as you will. You’re going to have to put a little effort into this discussion if you expect any effort in response, though.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Drink?

Originally posted by BryceK:

So basically the only good reasons I should drink is to socialize and let lose with very few positive health affects.

No, you shouldn’t drink if you don’t want to. It’s not for everyone, and if you really feel the way you say you do, then you probably shouldn’t drink at all.

That’s fine. Some people like it and are very comfortable with it. Many people find certain drinks that they just enjoy drinking. But chances are, if you open a discussion the way you did, you either won’t enjoy the kind of socialization that drinking invites, or you won’t be able to find an environment to enjoy it maturely and responsibly.

That’s okay, too. I rarely drink myself, and I know plenty of fine people who don’t drink at all. Just understand that not everyone who does drink is an idiot (though a lot of them might be.)

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Two Black Holes

Originally posted by Epsilon_Omega:

If they are close in mass, then I would imagine the intrum would be a gravity well of which each other black hole would absorb one another, the intrum would literally stretch reality and cause another force to form in place.

Enough said;
Two wrongs make three.

When two objects collide it typically has to do with momentum(mv) And because of the sheer gravitional forces produced by the black holes, the collision would be inelastic, resulting in the masses adding.
In astronomy it is widely believed that black holes collide all the time, because of their attraction to other massive objects

Black hole collisions are actually exceedingly rare. The only black holes that astronomers are confident actually exist are the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. Contrary to what you may think of black holes if you watch a lot of SciFi, they don’t just go sucking everything up, either. Instead, the galaxy orbits about the central black hole, and very little matter actually falls into it. When there is matter falling into supermassive black hole, it is called “active” (because the matter falling into a black hole releases special kinds of radiation as it accelerates inwards.) Very few of the galaxies we can see in the sky have active nuclei.

Really the only way for two black holes to collide, then, is in a galactic merger. Galactic mergers aren’t super rare, but they are a multi-billion year process. The thing about black hole interactions is that the actual moment of their collisions are very, very quick. They spend most of the time in the galactic merger orbiting each other until they collide or one black hole catapults the other into the vacuum of intergalactic space. So when we look in the sky for the small fraction of galaxies that are currently colliding, in very, very few (if any) of them can we actually see the black holes merging. When they do merge, the physics is actually super complicated (check out the video I posted earlier.) The classical Newtonian physics you mentioned about elastic versus inelastic collisions actually has nothing to do with it; it’s a complicated general relativistic matter.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Drink?

Originally posted by Yurii_74:

Amaretto liqueur. In small doses (20-40 ml) after work. Because it tastes good.

You should try Frangelico. It’s hazelnut liqueur, rather than almond like Amaretto. Phenomenal, though. Sipping it is like opening up a whole box of fine chocolates inside of your mouth.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Drink?

Originally posted by issendorf:

Because vodka is delicious, especially when mixed with tonic water and a lime.

Replace that vodka with gin and then we’re talking.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Do You Drink?

Because if you have self control, then you won’t have any problems. Although you may not like the taste, plenty of people do. If you develop a palate, there’s a world of fine wines and scotch explore. Some people love trying out beers—the selection is endless.

So anyway, when it comes to college parties and binge drinking, people do it because its fun, socially acceptable, its easy to meet people, easier to have sex, and no one really considers the likelihood of vomiting or breaking stuff in their decisions to drink. And if they do, then “fuck it, live and let live.” It’s bad for the liver, but ultimately pretty fun in the short term.

If you drink in moderation, then it can be a fun social lubricant that helps everyone laugh easier, tell stories, feel a little warm, and generally have a good time. It can taste great on its own, or be the perfect compliment or counterpoint to your main course (soda rarely is.) A glass or two of wine each day can promote good heart health, and all sorts of wine and spirits may have antioxidant phenols and tannins. In many countries now, and for much of civilized history, beer has been an important part of one’s diet.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Black Holes in Relation to An Expanding Universe

The analogy is pretty accurate, it’s just not perfect. That’s expected because the point of using the analogy is to describe complex phenomena in simple, easy to understand terms. It wouldn’t be useful to just spit jargon at you. A sheet with marbles is good too, but it has the problem that the marbles kind of sit on top of space instead of being embedded in it. Anyway, to be perfectly honest, I believe that the glue blobs are accurate in that they really prevent the expansion of space itself (locally) but I’m not positive. It may just be the case that gravity holds things together against the the locally negligible effects of expansion, but what little I understand of GR and the state equations of the universe lead me to believe that gravity actually holds the fabric together, too.

Anyway, I made a quick illustration of the differences between space doubling and matter shrinking to try and elucidate the distance dependence I keep talking about. Hopefully this is helpful.

As a reminder, we don’t measure astronomical distances and velocities with rulers that would shrink with us. We use things like light intensity/radiant flux, parallax, wavelength shift, light curves, power spectra, et cetera.

Not to mention that the shrinking of matter introduces a lot of weird physical problems like increasing density, increasing gravity, increasing the pressure inside of stars (changing its fusion processes and possibly causing violent variables), et cetera.

In any case, you’re right that expansion probably isn’t the only explanation for our observations. It is, however, currently our best explanation. Not only does it match our observations, but it does so without causing problems with all of our existing physics, makes very few new assumptions, and it has led to multiple new (tested and confirmed) consequent hypotheses and theories. Better still, we actually have a way to explain the expansion and a reason to expect it—Einstein’s field equations in General Relativity (which refined and redefined our understanding of gravity) actually predicted the expansion of space. That gave Einstein a bit of a spook, since everyone at the time assumed the universe was infinite, flat, and constant, so he added a fudge factor to his equations called the “cosmological constant” to make them agree with a constant universe. Then, when Hubble later discovered the expansion, Einstein removed the cosmological constant and called it his “greatest blunder.”

so there’s like an omnipresent electromagnetic field everywhere? what’s that made of? heh! questions.

So this is actually a bear of question. Classically speaking, fields radiate infinitely outwards from charges, and they get weaker with the square of the distance from the point charge. They’re not really made of anything, they just translate force between charges depending on distance. Rather than thinking of a single omnipresent electromagnetic field, think of electromagnetic fields the same way you think of gravity, stretching out infinitely but getting weaker the farther you get away from the source. For a single negative charge around a single positive charge (or vice versa), the earlier description of a potential well is completely analogous; for a positive charge around a positive charge, it’s opposite, where getting closer increases the potential instead of getting farther away (infinite distance is still zero potential.)

In the modern particle physics picture of things, fields don’t really exist anymore. Instead forces are mediated by the interaction/exchange of “force carrying particles.” For the electromagnetic field, the force carrying particle is the photon (this is also the light particle. So just like light is a wave in an E&M field, it’s also the force carrying particle of the E&M force. Point is, light is electromagnetic radiation.) The exact mechanics of how this stuff works are immensely complicated, and I haven’t studied them in much depth yet.

The really interesting thing here is that there are some behaviors of light that require you to think of it as a particle (photon), and others that require you to treat it as a wave. So in some sense light isn’t either just a particle or a wave, but is some weird combination of both, and the way you observe it depends on what you’re looking for. (Feynman believed that all the wavelike behavior of light could be explained in a particle-only model within Quantum Electrodynamics, but my Optics professor, whose life’s work is the study of light, disagrees and says there are some cases which even this does not cover. Who knows?)

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Topic: Serious Discussion / NEW VIRUS !

Originally posted by Stiltonchees:
Originally posted by Mlemort:

Call the police when it happens

I always call the cops when I get a virus on my computer.

Really though, don’t do this.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Trivial Logic Buster (Solution)

Like I said in the last thread, the problem here is your very imprecise translation from formal logic to English.

You didn’t use propositional logic. You used the English language. People responded to the English language question.

You didn’t use Boolean Algebra. You used the English language. People responded to the English language question.

You didn’t use First-Order Logic. You used the English language. People responded to the English language question.

You didn’t use Modal Logic. You used the English language. People responded to the English language question.

To reiterate:

[T]he complaints of ambiguity in the question made it patently clear that it was not necessarily true anyway.
Like I said in the last thread, the problem here is your very imprecise translation from formal logic to English.

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Topic: Off-topic / Cigarettes are fucking disgusting

Because I want to be Donald Draper.

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Topic: Off-topic / Post for a my opinion on you.


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Topic: Serious Discussion / Black Holes in Relation to An Expanding Universe

Originally posted by OmegaDoom:
that means the balloon example, which i’ve seen before, is a horrible way to explain it.

I don’t think so. First, remember that the balloon analogy is just that—an analogy—so it will inevitably have some shortcomings. But hey, let’s improve the analogy a little bit anyway. So a marker dot on a balloon surface isn’t going to expand a whole lot when you blow it up, but you’re right that it will expand some. So to represent the triumph of local gravity over the expansion, let’s replace those marker dots with globs of super glue. Now we get the same observational effects between galaxies, but the galaxies (glue globs) themselves stick together and won’t expand in size with the universe. Better still, we can represent the mass of a galaxy by the amount of glue we use and the size of a galaxy by the area we spread that glue out. Now if we imagine a galaxy with only a little mass spread across a big enough area, and then blow up the balloon a lot in a short amount of time, the glue might crack and the galaxy will expand anyway. This isn’t the case for any galaxies in the real world, but if there was a galaxy large enough and the expansion was a few orders of magnitude faster than it is now, it could happen.

In either case, though, you’re getting caught up in the details of the analogy, but the important take-home message is the same. When you expand space, the speed at which distant objects will recede away from you depends on how far away they are to begin with. This matches our observations.

ah ok. so what that means is due to dilusion of density (tautology?), the gravitational pull of the universe gets smaller and smaller. what should that do?

Well, if the collective gravity of all the mass in the universe can’t stop the expansion of the universe, then conceivably everything will eventually be ripped apart and the universe will end with everything cold and lonely, unable to see the last light of distant stars, and ultimately unable to do any thermodynamic work. If that’s not the case, then the expansion could slow asymptotically to a stop at a finite size, or even get turned around and have everything come crashing back towards each other eventually into a reverse-Big-Bang (Gnab Gib.)

Currently the expansion of the universe seems like it’s not slowing down, but actually accelerating. I don’t think we know enough about cosmology yet to responsibly say we can predict what will be the ultimate fate of the universe, though.

also couldn’t the opposite be true? that all matter decreases in size? is that even different?

Well, first consider that this doesn’t give us the distance dependence we need. If everything is just shrinking, then the really distant objects will appear to move away at the same speed as the close ones. There’s actually a whole slew of philosophical and physical problems here, but that’s the most important one.

well, first of all, the balloon analogy fails, because using that, the wavelength-measuring device would have also increased in size, causing the wavelength to appear unaffected.

Nope. First remember that locally the expansion is mitigated by gravity, so its really mostly just the space between galaxies that’s expanding, not us or our devices. But also remember that space expands more where there’s more distance, so even if your spectrometer was expanding (and I won’t go into why making a spectrometer bigger won’t affect our analysis, but bear in mind that it doesn’t work like a ruler) it wouldn’t expand as much as the light incoming from distant galaxies. So you can still tell.

secondly, how come it doesn’t affect matter, but does affect radiation?

There’s no property of matter that makes it unaffected by the expansion, it’s just that the way matter is distributed in the universe is clumpy. Because of gravity, the expansion can’t really pull these clumps apart, but it can stretch out the space between the clumps. Radiation in free space doesn’t have a whole lot of gravity. So as the primordial light from after the Big Bang flies through billions of lightyears of free space over billions of years, its wavelength gets stretched from very energetic at the start to low-energy microwaves now.

also the space-expansion explanation to this effect seems merely hypothetical, when it could merely be some effect of temporal decay.

But that energy would have to go somewhere. Energy cannot and does not just disappear. If the universe is expanding, however, we’re not losing energy by the reddening of light. The total energy remains the same, but the size of the universe increases, so the energy density has to decrease, which is why the background radiation is in the microwave range now but used to be much, much more energetic.

it also doesn’t say much so long as one doesn’t understand what “wave” means for light radiation. it obviously doesn’t swerve left and right for real, so what is that supposed to represent?

The medium that light waves travel through is the electromagnetic field. Sort of like sound being waves of higher and lower pressure in the air, light is waves of higher and lower E&M field strength. See the Poynting vector

Einstein believed that to be possible. that was his goal.

Einstein spent years studying math and contemporary science. He got degrees in math and science. He spent two years teaching math and science before he took on his famous patent office job. He reviewed patents for electromagnetic devices, and he was qualified for this job because of his education. He regularly met with other intellectual to debate and discuss the works of famous mathematicians and philosophers. He worked with an advisor to publish a thesis and received a Ph.D. before he published any of his most famous works.

By no means did Einstein just ponder physics. He spent many years formally studying the field, its “dogmatic” current state, and the mathematical language that describes it. If you want to muse out the nature of the universe and shake the scientific world like Einstein, you have to first understand why scientists currently have the theories that they do, and that takes a lot of formal study.

isn’t that general relativity?

It’s both. To reiterate, special relativity is a special case of general relativity (the case with no acceleration.) Einstein published special relativity before he published general relativity, though, so that’s where the idea originally comes from.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / The Mind-Body Problem

Originally posted by issendorf:

This sounds really interesting – did he write a book by chance?

Also, for the dualism, you mention the triangle analogy. I feel like color could probably also be incorporated in there since we still don’t know if the green I see is the same that other people see, that there may not be one color that is green, but a bunch of shades of it that each person sees.

Yes, Descartes wrote several books. His most famous is probably Meditations on First Philosophy, which contains the argument for Dualism described here. Interestingly, I think Descartes was also one of the first to imagine, as you suggested, that we may not all see the same colors.

The reason the rainbow has seven colors is because Newton considered seven a holy number and believed the rainbow should reflect that. Personally, I don’t really regard the indigo as separate from the blue or violet.

Anyway, you did a pretty good job representing Descartes’ argument for dualism, HeyItsRay, but just to reiterate and clarify:

Because Descartes was able to doubt the existence of his body, but not able to doubt the existence of his mind (cogito ergo sum), he reasoned that they could not be the same stuff. There exists at least one difference between the two, so the mind and the body are separate.

My main problem with this argument is that I’m not convinced that one’s ability to doubt the existence of something is an inherent attribute of that something… I’m not sure the difference is actually manifest in the body and mind themselves. I think the difference might instead be imposed upon them.

To borrow language from Hume, this would be a “secondary attribute,” an abstract descriptor imposed by the mind, as opposed to concrete “primary attributes” like temperature, mass, duration, and hardness. Here it’s the primary attributes that matter. Primary attributes are manifest in the objects themselves and therefore define the actual differences between forms.

To borrow language from Kant, “existence is not a predicate.” This is traditionally a response to the ontological argument for God, but I think it applies here too. That is, existence is not an attribute itself, but rather things that exist have attributes. We don’t say “my coat is blue, weighs three pounds, has a zipper, and oh yeah, it exists.” Being is not a quality that describes the essence of an object, but instead indicates its occurrence in reality.

So not only do I question the doubtability of existence as a useful attribute, I’m sure that existence itself isn’t. I don’t think Descartes’ distinction is one that actually pertains to the essence of the mind and the body, and therefore shouldn’t be used to conclude that they’re different.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Two Black Holes

There’s a video of Neil deGrasse Tyson answering this very question for a young boy at some sort of Q&A session. He doesn’t actually directly answer the question until the very end of the video, but he gives some interesting information about the weird stuff that happens when black holes collide, and the entire explanation is a pretty good level for this discussion.

Here you go

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Trivial Logic Buster (Solution)

Here you’ve introduced the words “necessarily follow” that you did not use when posing the original question. If you had clarified that rather than asking “is this true?” you would have gotten noes across the board rather than claims of ambiguity. If, as so many suggested originally, there is an ambiguity and the case may or may not be true, then obviously the case is not necessarily true. I’m pretty sure nearly every responder to your original question answered correctly given how you phrased the question. You’re being a stickler for stipulations that you didn’t originally make. Multiple people described the exact counterexample you’ve depicted here.

Moreover, we may know that S is not a subset of B and B is not a subset of K, but the chief problem is that we don’t know whether or not K is a subset of B or B is a subset of S. This is a very important distinction. If the converse is the case (that B is a subset of S and so forth) then it certainly is the case that some scientists have broken noses. Your question, however, doesn’t tell us anything about this condition. Once again, asking if it was necessarily true would have made this point moot, but you didn’t do that, and the complaints of ambiguity in the question made it patently clear that it was not necessarily true anyway.

Like I said in the last thread, the problem here is your very imprecise translation from formal logic to English.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Black Holes in Relation to An Expanding Universe

Originally posted by OmegaDoom:

the claims are counter-intuitive, nad the evidence is incomprehensible and vague. if this is supposed to be fact, they’re doing a horrible job at making it seem like anything else than esoteric make-belief.

Then I have done a poor job explaining. What are you confused about? The ideas are somewhat deep, but I assure you that they are very well-defined.

there’s a whole bunch of claims like that that have become dogmatised by large groups of scientists and enthausiasts that over time less and less people subscribe to until it is forgotten. the whole M-theory of temporal dimensions for instance.

M-theory is not and never has been widely accepted, and it has absolutely not been dogmatized in the scientific community. Nor has it been abandoned or forgotten. It’s actually a very young theory (and here I use the term lightly) with some very powerful implications, but none of its claims have been proven experimentally. Someone very clever with a lot of funding will have to come along and figure out how to put it to the test.

There are, of course, many past theories that dominated the scientific world of the time that have turned out to be wrong (the luminiferous aether, for example.) But they were the best explanations of the time and they fit the data well. It’s okay to be wrong in science, what we really want is just the best explanation currently possible. In time new experiments will show the errors and the theory will be scrapped or refined (a paradigm shift.) Currently, the The Big Bang and the metric expansion of space are our best ways of explaining some of our astronomical observations (bar none.)

Also, M-theory predicts extra spatial dimension, not temporal.

[D]oes this expension only increase the distance between objects, or do the objects increase in size? or what about molecules and atoms?

Only the distance between objects. Locally the expansion is entirely dominated by gravity (or other forces as the case may be) so galaxies and solar systems are neither inflated nor torn apart by this expansion. Remember that the speed at which something flies away depends on how far away it is (specifically, at about 70 kilometers per second per 3 million lightyears away) so on small scales (like galaxy sized or smaller) the expansion is slow enough that the acceleration due to gravity completely outweighs it. On an atomic scale, this expansion is completely negligible.
what about forces like gravity and magnetism, do those effects decrease from the increased distance?

Yes and no. These forces will get weaker as distance increases, but most objects with meaningful gravitational and E&M interactions are not being pulled apart by the expansion anyway (see above.)

in fact, if space itself were to genuinely expand in the way explained with your balloon analogy, this would make exactly 0 difference to us and shouldn’t even be noticed until it breaks, because every means of observing such an effect increases proportionally with it.

This is not true. Consider the case of a wave of light traveling through an expanding universe. As the distances along the wave expand, the wavelength gets stretched out . We do see this happening.

naw, if it’s really as serious as you claim, all it does is cause me to lose all faith in science, really.

I am very sad to hear this. I wish you would be more willing to spend time researching the ideas and evidence for the theories you’re writing off, though. There are literally decades of work by countless scientists formalizing these ideas and testing them experimentally. If you could understand all of science just by spending an afternoon pondering how you think the universe should work, well, my degree would be a lot easier. Just because something is surprising or counterintuitive doesn’t mean it’s not right (believe me, there’s a lot of counterintuitive physics out there.) In science we follow the evidence.

and wasn’t Special Relativity about how if i stand close to a lightning flash and therefor see it before you do standing a couple miles away, that instead of it just seeming to happen earlyer, it actually happened factually earlyer in my time-reality compared to yours?
that’s how i saw it explained, which is also more of a spiritual than a scientific idea.

Either you or the person who explained special relativity to you was deeply confused. Yes, special relativity can break simultaneity (I think that’s what you’re driving at) but it requires different inertial reference frames.

The most important ideas of special relativity can be summed up like this: the coordinates of time and space are relative (they depend on how fast you’re moving) but the laws of physics are always the same. Also, the speed of light in a vacuum is the speed limit of the universe. Massive objects can approach the speed of light, but can never travel exactly that fast. Finally, mass and energy are equivalent, and the conversion between the two is described by Einstein’s famous formula, E=m_c_2 .

I can teach you more specifics if you want. The implications of these simple rules actually turn out to be very strange (but once again we have tested them and they turn out to be true, even though they are surprising to us.)

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why are you Atheist?

Originally posted by slasher:

[T]here are multiple definitions for faith such as “A belief in anything”, which would support my use of the word. I really don’t even think it matters, though.

We should be careful to consistently use a definition of faith that is useful to the the discussion, though. I think we can probably agree that faith in God is quite a bit different from “faith” that your desk is a real object. Conflating different definitions just serves to muddy the argument.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Universal Healthcare

You make a lot of good points, but I think we need to be very careful about how we interpret this kind of data. You’re implying a causal connection between a collection of facts that may or may not be there. Can you provide more evidence to back it up?

Originally posted by elsaltenio:

The primary reason the United States needs to follow the rest of the world in adopting a universal healthcare system is because its own system is failing. U.S. citizens pay 2-5 times what the rest of the economically developed world pays to receive health care. For this they have one of the lowest lifespans in the developed world. Shouldn’t it be pay more get more? There is no focus at all on preventative medicine which leads to record numbers for obesity, childhood obesity, lung cancer, and deaths from other curable diseases which simply doesn’t exist on this level in any other highly developed country(HDC).

When you say we pay 2-5 times more, what do you mean? Is that cent-for-cent, or is it adjusted as a percentage of income or living costs? What metric of life expectancy are you using? Does it include infant/childhood fatalities, motor accidents, and suicide, or is it an expectancy for a healthy adult who dies at old age of natural causes? How are you certain that this life expectancy is directly correlated to our healthcare system? Isn’t it likely that our obesity and cancers result from our lifestyles and our environment more than anything else? I think there are too many confounding factors here to really conclude much about the effect our particular health insurance infrastructure has on these health problems. Perhaps changing to universal healthcare will only make the problems worse? (I doubt it, but who knows.)

You don’t even really have a demonstrable trend here, much less a controlled experiment showing the exact cause and effect. What we do have is a bunch of public health figures that result from a very complicated mess of factors including diet, occupation, wealth, pharmaceutical intake, sleep patterns, environmental pollution, individual psychology, and even weather. I think you need more data.

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Topic: Off-topic / Do you want some fries with that?

Some of the most successful people in the world are high-functioning alcoholics. Just ask a finance major.

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Universal Healthcare

Originally posted by scoopolard:

And where are these moral obligations coming from?

Where do any morals come from? You’re asking a pretty deep and pretty personal question here, and I’m not certain you’ll find my answer satisfying. It certainly won’t be exhaustive.

We could talk theology and Plato’s Euthyphro, but we’re already pretty far afield here. I think our morals come from empathy, a desire to see others happy, and probably a fair bit from societal expectations and the way we were brought up.

In order to examine moral obligations, though, we should first examine our rights.

And no, unfortunately for you, the Constitution is not a living, breathing document. The Constitution can be amended, but the rights and freedoms given in it are never meant to be taken away (i.e.: the freedom to choose your own medical practitioner.)

So first off, the Bill of Rights doesn’t really touch on anything close to “the freedom to choose your own medical practitioner.” If you consider that a natural extension of some nebulous idea of personal liberty embodied by the document as a whole, then I feel like I’m being held up to a double standard in your earlier criticisms.

While I certainly agree that none of our constitutional rights should be retracted, I’m not sure I agree that they can not, or even that they were meant to be written in concrete. Every word in our constitution is subject to revision and amendment, including the Bill of Rights. The process for doing this is included in the document itself, and it doesn’t have safeguards for any particular portions or ideas contained within. The sanctity of those freedoms is instead protected by the beliefs of the people and the representatives we elect, and the checks and balances of power between the different branches of our government. And the constitution was absolutely intended to be a living, breathing document in every regard. In particular, Thomas Jefferson thought it should be rewritten from scratch every 19 years.

But I’m not just interested in the legal rights granted to US citizens by the constitution. When I talk about moral obligations, I’m concerned with natural rights—rights inherent to all human beings. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote about our “unalienable” rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Locke believed in a hierarchy from life to liberty and then to property. These aren’t rights granted to us from any document or government; the founding fathers believed them to be part of human nature, granted to us by God.

So where does moral obligation come into play? Well, I think of a right to physical wellbeing as an integral part of both our right to life and our right to a pursuit of happiness. And I think both of those rights are more fundamental (higher on the hierarchy) than a right to property.

Consequently, my attraction to universal healthcare really boils down to two ideas based on the morals and rights described above: One, that everyone deserves the best healthcare available, and that personal wealth should have absolutely no bearing on the quality and extent of healthcare received. Two: it behooves us as a society to try and realize the health and bodily welfare of our citizens as a social project before almost anything else, including the economic wellbeing of our citizens.

Sorry for the wall of text, by the way.