Comments of the Week: Final edition?

“You endure what is unbearable, and you bear it. That is all.” -Cassandra Clare

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. A little over a week ago, Scienceblogs announced to us writers that they no longer had the funds to keep the site operational, and so they would be shutting down. They asked us to keep quiet about this, people didn’t and now you know. As of the end of this month, there will be no new articles here on Scienceblogs, and hence, no more comments of the week or synopses, or a chance to interact here.

So what can you do? Well, the top thing I’d like you to do is support me on Patreon, where I can start posting all the same content I would normally post here, and you can:

  • comment,
  • respond to one another,
  • post your own inquiries,
  • respond to one another’s inquiries,
  • and where I can respond to comments as I choose.

It’s the best option I can offer, as I’m already on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and even Google+, and try to respond to as many comments in as many places as I can.

Book cover for my new book: Treknology. Image credit: Voyageur Press / Quarto Publishing Group.

Also, for those of you who want to order an autographed copy of Treknology from me, I have the first copies of the book, mailers and other shipping materials are due to arrive on Tuesday, and then I can head to the post office for pricing on shipping. Expect US copies to run about $30, Canada copies to run about $40, and elsewhere in the world to be somewhere in the $50-$60 range. (Sorry, international folks!) Or, you know, just buy it now from Amazon and don’t wait! (But if you get it from a third-party seller, know that neither me nor my publisher makes any money.) If you want an unbiased opinion of the book, here is the official TrekCore review.

Either way, I’ll have the full and final update next week. So I’m sorry to lose this forum and this archive of articles going back nearly a decade, and especially this bizarre and unique community we’ve built here. But like everything in the Universe, the past is gone and we can only move forward into the future as best we can. So with that said, let’s take our last look back at what this past week has held…

And now, for perhaps the final time, let’s dive on into our Comments of the Week!

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Tomruen, viahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lunar_libration_with_phase_Oct_2007_450px.gif.

From Art Glick on how the near side of the Moon never sees Earth rise or set: “If you were an observer on the Moon, the Earth would hang there eternally in the same exact location, day after day, year after year, century after century. It would never move!”

Yup. I have no disagreement with this, the mild, tiny effects of lunar libration (shown above) aside. In fact, many years ago, I wrote a piece entitled It’s never night on the moon, where I talk about what you’ll see from the lunar surface at various locations and under various conditions. In the end, however, I do mention the one reprieve you’d get from seeing the Earth all lit up:

Lunar eclipse

Image credit: JAXA / NHK, Kaguya / Selene, of a lunar eclipse as the Earth rises over the lunar limb.

During a total lunar eclipse! Pretty beautiful, no matter how you slice it.

Perceived knowledge vs. actual knowledge. Image credit: Justin Kruger and David Dunning, 1999.

From Alan G. on the fight club of reason: “The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger Club is that it’s members aren’t ware they are in the Dunning-Kruger Club.”

You know, this is not only true, but I love the (sarcastic) way that John Cleese, who happens to be friends with David Dunning, puts it.

It isn’t stupidity, per se, but rather expertise in any arena. For example, you may think you know all there is to know about cars, since how complicated could they possibly be? But then when your car fails to start, can you make it start immediately? On the first try? Do you know how to diagnose the problem, and which parts to check? Do you know whether it’s a fuse or the starter or a problem with the ignition switch or a dead battery?

And if you don’t know, could you admit to yourself that you don’t know, and that you need to take it to a professional? The lack of respect for those who are experts is a symptom of a larger problem, often on display here, that people think they know more than they do, and simultaneously think that bona fide experts know less than they do. So you pick the expert opinions you can find that agree with your opinions, and use that to justify your reasoning. That’s thinking like a lawyer, and that approach is fruitless in science.

The Universe is what it is. It’s up to us to figure it out. If you want to learn, you must be humble before the Universe. Many of you do this; the rest of you can start today if you choose. It’s up to you.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Sam Derbyshire.

The gaussian curvature in three dimensions can produce interesting two-dimensional effects. If we want our 3D space curved in a particular way, we’d need to look at it from a 4th spatial dimension. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Sam Derbyshire.

From Frank on the curvature of the Universe: “What if Universe is surface of a 4d sphere where 3d surface (space) curved in the 4th dimension (time)?”

Well, there is curvature in the fourth dimension, but the laws of relativity tell you how the relationship between space and time occur. There’s no wiggle-room or free parameters in there. If you want the Universe to be the surface of a 4D sphere, you need an extra spatial dimension. There are many physics theories that consider exactly that scenario, and they are constrained but not ruled out.

A Universe that expands and cools today, like ours does, must have been hotter and denser in the past. Initially, the Big Bang was regarded as the singularity from which this ultimate, hot, dense state emerged. But we know better today. Image credit: NASA / GSFC.

A Universe that expands and cools today, like ours does, must have been hotter and denser in the past. Initially, the Big Bang was regarded as the singularity from which this ultimate, hot, dense state emerged. But we know better today. Image credit: NASA / GSFC.

From Steve Blackband on other Big Bangs: “I am struggling with how to think about ‘other big bangs’. There is nothing, not even space or time, then there is our big bang, the expanding universe and outside of that no space and time.”

You are thinking of the Big Bang as meaning “the birth of space and time.” This is no longer the definition of the Big Bang, and it was always an assumption that turned out not to be very good. Here is an article I wrote years ago (before you started reading me, I bet!) that might help clear things up.

Image credit: © 2015 Shaper Helix — II Demo, via http://www.alevelsolutions.com/pure-mathematics.

From Michael Mooney on a math lesson he’s about to get: “So when there is no end to how close the repeating .999 decimal gets to 1, the convention is to call it 1. But no matter how close it gets to 1, it’s still not there yet. Like .999 % of a pie still has an ever-diminishing missing slice gap.”

You know, I remember being unconvinced that 0.99999…. would equal 1, so I set out to test it out. Mathematics is a wonderfully self-consistent system, so you can do this experiment yourself. You don’t need advanced math. In fact, consider this your very, very first algebra lesson.

Imagine we have this repeating decimal, 0.99999…., and we’re going to call that x. Okay? So we can write:

x = 0.999999…. and so on. As many 9s as we can write, and then they go on forever.

Now, let me ask you this: what if you had ten xs all together? In other words, multiply both side of that equation, above, by 10. What do you get?

10x = 9.999999….. and again, so on. So we have two equations: x = 0.999999…. and 10x = 9.999999….

Let’s subtract the first equation from the second equation. Ready?

10x – x = 9.9999999…. – 0.99999999….

So we do the subtraction, and can you see what happens here? The left side just becomes 9x, but the right side becomes… just 9, all on its own!

If 9x = 9, then x = 1.

Now, I had the same question as you, once, but once I learned how to do this proof, there was no more questioning. I had proven it, just as countless others before me had, and countless others after me will. x, which we had defined as 0.99999…. is also provably equal to 1.

The USS Discovery, NCC-1031, is perhaps a very thinly-veiled reference to Star Trek's 'Section 31,' and things could get a lot darker before anyone goes back to being an explorer. Image credit: Star Trek / CBS Press Kit.

The USS Discovery, NCC-1031, is perhaps a very thinly-veiled reference to Star Trek’s ‘Section 31,’ and things could get a lot darker before anyone goes back to being an explorer. Image credit: Star Trek / CBS Press Kit.

From Sinisa Lazarek on Swear Trek: “– we get a first ever “FUCK” word in Star Trek… ever. And that by a Cadet in front of officers. Not only is phrase never spoken in ST universe… but we even get more fucks with 2 other people there. Like ST script was only missing that word, and now we’ll multiply.”

Yeah, Tilly swears. And then others do it, too. Honestly, I didn’t even notice until someone I was watching it with pointed it out. But Tilly is pretty much the audience surrogate: an awkward superfan of everything in the show who gets to be roommates with Michael Burnham. I seriously think Burnham could blow up the entire Earth and Tilly would still be her fan. I am doing my best with this show to “chew on the meat and throw away the bones,” otherwise I think, like many others, I’ll wind up disappointed.

The warrior that Burnham kills is given the traditional Klingon death ritual… and then predictably used as a political tool to start a war. Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive.

From Denier on the role of the Klingons in episode 5: “Klingons were back to being one dimensional villains who all spoke English and served their regular role to move the plot along. That, more than anything else, made this episode better.”

You know, I did notice this change, and I liked it very much. Hopefully, we’ll see less of the fundamentalist theocrat Klingons speaking Klingon and a lot more of… well, everything else.

Burnham, in the first two episodes alone, gets a fatal dose of radiation poisoning, activates a Klingon probe and kills its guardian, mutinies against and knocks out the Captain, and then kills the Klingon leader. Image credit: Jan Thijs, © 2017 CBS Interactive.

From Anonymous Coward on the end of Scienceblogs: “Ethan, I read both you and Orac here on ScienceBlogs and Orac has just mentioned that ScienceBlogs will soon be shutting down for good at the end of the month. There going to be another place where we can see your article summaries and make discussion like this, other than on Forbes itself?”

Unfortunately, unless you come and join my Patreon (asking at least $1 a month is a lot, I know), there’s nothing else quite like what we’ve been doing here. I used to run startswithabang.com and would consider it again, but I simply don’t have the time to run my own blog and deal with all the hacks and updates that routinely happen on top of all the things I’m creating at this time.

In the final moments of merging, two neutron stars don't merely emit gravitational waves, but a catastrophic explosion that echoes across the electromagnetic spectrum. Image credit: University of Warwick / Mark Garlick.

In the final moments of merging, two neutron stars don’t merely emit gravitational waves, but a catastrophic explosion that echoes across the electromagnetic spectrum. Image credit: University of Warwick / Mark Garlick.

From Michael Tiemann on neutron star collisions: “When two neutron stars have been circling each other for 11 billion years, what is the relative velocity of their “collision” when they do collide?”

About a third the speed of light. Pretty impressive, don’t you think?

Geordi’s VISOR from Star Trek: TNG. Image credit: Memory Alpha.

From Gail Farley on a new Treknology that’s been developed quite recently: “Thank you for educating people about technology on Coast to Coast last night and in your book. You stated last night that you were concerned about a technology that can implant memories, and effect the body, including the loss of sight. Please tell me what kind of technology that is, so that I can research it further.”

In 2012, a group at Monash University build a working device to transmit optical information directly to the wearer’s brain, through an implant in the visual cortex. If you want to get even deeper into the real-life science than my book does, you can read the 2016 article: Monash Vision Group’s Gennaris Cortical Implant for Vision Restoration.

We knew that when two neutron stars merge, as simulated here, they create gamma-ray burst jets, as well as other electromagnetic phenomena. But whether you produce a neutron star or a black hole, as well as how much of a UV/optical counterpart is produced, should be strongly mass-dependent. Image credit: NASA / Albert Einstein Institute / Zuse Institute Berlin / M. Koppitz and L. Rezzolla.

From Omega Centauri and Michael Kelsey on the newest LIGO/Virgo/EM discoveries:

“(1) What is the estimate of the NS masses?
(2) How did they come up with the age of the NS system?
(3) What is the estimated rate of mergers per cube a billion light years on a side?
(4) If both NS are near the minimum mass of a NS, can we get a NS rather than BH.
(5) Do we expect of significant gamma-ray burst from a BH NS merger?

1) About a solar mass each.
2) Use PSR B1913+16.
3) Not as high as for BH mergers.
4) Yes.
5) Yes.”

You may also really, really appreciate the information I gleaned from the theoretical end from an interview a few days ago with Chris Fryer at Los Alamos. That article, in case you missed it, is here.

The quasar QSO J0842+1835, whose path was gravitationally altered by Jupiter in 2002, allowing an indirect confirmation that the speed of gravity equals the speed of light. Image credit: Fomalont et al. (2000), ApJS 131, 95-183, via http://www.jive.nl/svlbi/vlbapls/J0842+1835.htm.

From CFT on the speed of gravity: “IF gravity traveled at the speed of light, how do you explain the actual orbits of planets around the sun?”

Not that you’ll learn anything from this, but the actual answer is that, in the context of General Relativity, if gravity moved at any other speed, we wouldn’t get the orbits that we see! I wrote an article on the indirect evidence (independent of any gravitational wave detections) that the speed of gravity is equal to the speed of light some time ago, and all that analysis is still valid today.

Since, CFT, you’re such a fan of getting info from “real” experts, you know, experts not named Ethan, maybe you’ll listen to the research of the awesome GR expert Steve Carlip, who wrote up this account of the actual evidence you claim is missing?

The soft capture mechanism installed on Hubble (illustration) uses a Low Impact Docking System (LIDS) interface and associated relative navigation targets for future rendezvous, capture, and docking operations. The system’s LIDS interface is designed to be compatible with the rendezvous and docking systems to be used on the next-generation space transportation vehicle. Image credit: NASA.

From Elle H.C. on kickstarting the saving of Hubble: “Get a Kickstarter-thingy and you might get enough funding by the end of the month.”

Well, let’s do the math on that. The most Kickstartered-thing ever, as far as I know, is Pebble Time, which is a smartwatch company that had a couple of successful Kickstarters. They raised just slightly north of $20 million. Only three things (two of which are Pebble) have crested the $10 million mark, and there are only about a dozen more that are over $5 million.

On the other hand, to boost Hubble would require approximately $500 million, if I’m ballpark-estimating appropriately. You are way better off going to an Elon Musk or a Richard Branson or Roscosmos if NASA won’t do it. That sort of money just doesn’t seem feasible.

This diagram shows the novel 5-mirror optical system of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). Before reaching the science instruments the light is first reflected from the telescope’s giant concave 39-metre segmented primary mirror (M1), it then bounces off two further 4-metre-class mirrors, one convex (M2) and one concave (M3). The final two mirrors (M4 and M5) form a built-in adaptive optics system to allow extremely sharp images to be formed at the final focal plane. Image credit: ESO.

From lyle on the oversimplified joke-science that is IFLS: “Further if this article is correct : http://www.iflscience.com/space/telescopes-ground-may-be-cheaper-hubble-shows-why-they-are-not-enough/
“When E-ELT observations start in 2024, the state-of-the-art correction for atmospheric distortion will allow it to provide images 16 times sharper than those taken by Hubble.”

This is the big problem you get when you get your science from not only non-scientists, but non-journalists. They are, over at IFLS, basically news readers and re-writers, and they rarely know (or care) enough to put it in context. I’ve written, recently, about the ELT at length, and it’s true that it will have 16 times the resolution of Hubble at certain wavelengths and for certain classes of observations in the cases where atmospheric distortion can be 100% removed, which is never.

The scientific fact is there are a whole slew of observations, including UV observations and IR observations, that Hubble can make that no ground-based observatory can. Hubble’s lack of atmospheric distortion is incredible, and something no ground-based observatory, even with the best AO there is, can match.

In summary, F IFLS, and please don’t ever expect anything beyond superficial, partially correct information from them.

The possibility of having artificial gravity is tantalizing, but it is predicated on the existence of negative gravitational mass. Antimatter may be that mass, but we don’t yet know, experimentally. Image credit: Rolf Landua / CERN.

From Omega Centauri on the problem of artificial gravity: “Even if anti-matter produces anti-grav, you would need a heck of a lot of it to get 1G. How much mass is needed to create 1G (depends on density, at the average density of about 5 the mass of the earth is needed. Denser matter, and you could get by with less. But, its a huge amount no matter how you do it, and presumably it is also inertial mass, which kind of makes spacecraft difficult to accelerate.”

All true. But I will say that I am much more excited about a problem that it is physically possible to solve than one that isn’t, and antigravitating antimatter would enable that transformation when it comes to artificial gravity. Now, who has the stable white dwarf matter to build your spaceship out of… and the anti-white-dwarf antimatter, too?

Captain Gabriel Lorca aboard the bridge of the Discovery, during a simulated combat mission with the Klingons. Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive.

Captain Gabriel Lorca aboard the bridge of the Discovery, during a simulated combat mission with the Klingons. Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive.

From Douglas Robertson on artificial gravity vs. life support: “What I find funny about fictional artificial gravity is when they are experiencing an emergency. All life support is shut down, but they still have gravity.”

Must be a passive system, then. See, not so hard to explain!

Neutron stars, when they merge, can exhibit gravitational wave and electromagnetic signals simultaneously, unlike black holes. But the details of the merger are quite puzzling, as the theoretical models don't quite match what we've observed. Image credit: Dana Berry / Skyworks Digital, Inc.

Neutron stars, when they merge, can exhibit gravitational wave and electromagnetic signals simultaneously, unlike black holes. But the details of the merger are quite puzzling, as the theoretical models don’t quite match what we’ve observed. Image credit: Dana Berry / Skyworks Digital, Inc.

And finally, from Adam on the origin of gamma rays from the NS-NS merger: “Could the omnidirectional gamma ray bursts be coming from the ejecta themselves? It seems like the process of going from a lump of neutronium to all those heavy elements is a lot like the fission reaction of an atomic bomb – just one the with the mass of 30 to 40 Jupiters.”

I doubt it. The ejecta occur on the timescale of hundreds of milliseconds, but the gamma ray burst occurred 1.7 seconds after the gravitational wave signal arrived, so I don’t think that’s a dealbreaker but I also don’t think that lines up. Moreover, the ejecta come mostly from wind interactions in a disk surrounding the neutron stars, so I also don’t think that’s as likely a source as the ultra-high energies released in the star-star collision. I think it’s likely where the surfaces collide that produces such a high-energy, transient burst, but as with all things science, it’s going to take some additional evidence to know for certain!

Thanks for a great everything, everyone, and we’ll have one final just-for-you article next weekend. See you then!

Comments

  1. #1 dean
    October 22, 2017

    “Now, I had the same question as you, once, but once I learned how to do this proof, there was no more questioning. I had proven it, just as countless others before me had, and countless others after me will. x, which we had defined as 0.99999…. is also provably equal to 1.”

    That proof assumes the existence of limits and the convergence issues of the decimal, but it is a good demonstration. The problem is with the lack of knowledge of the targets who don’t believe the equality. There is too much lack of understanding of mathematics to get past. I don’t think it’s simple coincidence that people who won’t take the time to learn the math also won’t take the time to learn anything about science (or, more commonly here in West Michigan, vaccine safety).

    Best of luck in your future endeavors. Will there ever come an explanation for why the overlords here decided to shut down everything?

  2. #2 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    October 22, 2017

    So you pick the expert opinions you can find that agree with your opinions, and use that to justify your reasoning.

    Or, quite often, you find those with opinions that you find appealing or subversive, and that’s how you decide they’re an expert.

    Must be a passive system, then.

    Pretty much. The TNG Technical Manual writers addressed that by inventing devices that produce pseudo-gravitons by spinning at several tens of thousands of revolutions per minute, suspended magnetically inside their containers. They don’t need to be fed power continuously and will produce synthetic gravity for several hours after last receiving a “kick” from the power grid.

    Of course, I’ve always been dubious of how much power the life support systems could even be using compared to stuff like the engines or shields. It seems a bit like a nuclear aircraft carrier captain trying to squeeze out more speed by turning off the freezers where they store the food. But, drama.

  3. #3 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    October 22, 2017

    @dean: Ad revenue has imploded this past year, so I assume the site is just broke. At least one site I frequent gave up on ads entirely because they were no longer worth the hassle for how little money they were bringing in, and it now depends on subscriptions and donations to pay for hosting and writers.

  4. #4 MobiusKlein
    October 22, 2017

    The mathematical sleight of hand in the proof is saying 10x = 9.99999…
    You have not exactly defined how multiplication works on non-terminating numerical representations, and instead used the tradition of ‘shifting the decimal point’.

    But as a general illustration of the point, it will do.

    #mathpedant

  5. #5 CFT
    October 22, 2017

    I am familiar with limits in calculus, and No, I don’t agree with certain assumptions being made about them in the name of convention and how they are used. Calculus wants it both ways, it wants to expand something small and straighten it out for ease of computation to discern difference (a la .999 vs .99999 or 1), then pull back and claim there is no difference, they are a point, you can’t actually have it both ways except as an illusion of perspective and convenience. If two points appear close, you can pretend they are the same, but they aren’t. It does not matter how far you pull back, they still aren’t. For the sake of pushing your calculation (good enough for union work) you can treat them that way, but that changes nothing. If I pull away from the earth by a billion light years and then observe how our entire solar system appears, I could call it a point. It still isn’t.
    .
    Anyone who has played with several different calculators and computers also knows that different systems have different numbers of decimal point accuracy. This can become a problem in math classes especially when in relation to how numbers are rounded or handled in calculation, and is a huge problem in reiterative calculation where the limitations of decimal approximation can become quite large. Calling .999… =1 is an approximation as far as computation goes. Hackers and accountants have been playing with loopholes in these discrepancies in actual computations for decades and they aren’t trivial. The thing I love about computation is that it demonstrates where the edges of human mathematical assumptions of convenience part ways with what the actual operation of the computation is itself. To a calculator or computer, calculation is never abstract, there is no such thing inside a computer, it is always finite. .9999… is an abstraction because it actually isn’t a fixed number at all, its actually a repeating process that keeps getting longer forever, that’s what ‘infinitely repeating’ means, you can talk about it, but you can’t actually do it, it’s equivalent to ‘keep going that a-way!’ and pretend it’s a finite set amount or set length. In practice, you can use the first tiny part of PI, but NO, you can’t actually use the entire number, you will only approximate it in calculation, and YES, that is a big deal, you can read up on how many digits you calculate PI to IS important to various scientific calculations, especially reiterative calculations (rinse, repeat 10 billion times, etc) which are things computers excel at.
    .
    .99 =/= .999, .999=/= .9999, .9999=/= .99999 . You can have your .999 etc approximated by any FINITE number of 9s, and then someone else comes along and makes the calculation with one more decimal place of accuracy with another 9, and there would be a difference. Ethan is also sidestepping the entire issue with what he is actually doing, if you don’t have the infinite time to add up each of the ‘9s’ in your infinite series, you certainly don’t have time to subtract them or multiply them either, except as hand waved shorthand inference, which is where he was in the first place with summing over an infinite series, sleight of hand by moving a decimal is all he did and called it proof. You can infer and assume, but you can’t actually do an infinite number of operations in a proof, neither can a computer, eventually it too is limited to what it can do in a finite amount of time with a finite number of decimal spaces with a finite amount of memory.
    .
    In answer to question #2,
    I tried looking into this. It’s messy. The site was started with a grant from SEED media group by a man named Adam Bly. There are a lot of organizations involved with SEED media group, and it does explain a lot about the left leaning political social-engineering undercurrents of many of the sections. ScienceBlog.com was involved in a scandal of sorts in 2010 when it was being accused of outright propaganda due to some corporate sponsored articles involving PesiCo. I don’t think it ever fully recovered.
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ScienceBlogs
    .
    Since then, it would appear there might have been some sort of financial damage done, and advertising revenue wasn’t enough.
    Long story short,
    .
    They ran out of money.

  6. #6 CFT
    October 22, 2017

    Ok, as to whole Gravity plate in the deck thing, what happens when you stand on a diving board? You are pushing down on it with your weight. If I could some how make the decking pull you down to it using gravity, why would this not in turn push against the deck? This is what you are doing. Gravity is not magnetism. You would actually start to propel your ship in the direction of the gravity drive pulling or pushing you (this trick can actually be exploited in Space engineers, you merely orient a mass block below your gravity generator, and it falls, pulling your ship with it. If this was intentional and you want to go that direciton, great, otherwise, it might make steering a wee bit difficult if your ship is always having to correct for all the mass pushing in one direction (relatively downwards to the decking). I’m thinking of Star Trek, Star Wars horizontal deck layouts in this scenario

  7. #7 dean
    October 22, 2017

    CFT, you contradict yourself immediately. You clearly don’t have any understanding of limits or calculus in general. We do not make any distinction between the non-terminating decimal of 9s and 1. That is simply your failure to understand.

    “No, I don’t agree with certain assumptions being made about them in the name of convention and how they are used. ”

    That simply means you are wrong. How did you fail so monumentally at so many areas of educationm

  8. #8 Elle H.C.
    October 22, 2017

    @Ethan,

    Mh, it’s a numbing feeling to hear that your blog is going to stop (here). I had some great times and learned a lot, you’re quite unique!

  9. #9 CFT
    October 22, 2017

    Mathematicians often forget that even abstract operations imagined outside of time are not possible in actual calculations. Every mathematical operation ever done takes some non zero amount of time to perform. There are no exceptions, unless the mathematician is going to delve off into the pure fantasy of meta time, sequentially observing time outside of time, which is just an attempt to evade the issue.
    .
    When you multiply a .999 by 10, logically and mechanically, you aren’t just moving one decimal point, you are moving every single number in the series one decimal place to the right. The visible shorthand convention is not what is actually happening (the movement of one “.”), you have to analyze the change that is occurring to each and every decimal place in the series. If you were to actually multiply an infinitely repeating number by 10, you would also be moving an infinitely repeating number of decimal places. In fact this is just sleight of short-hand, it’s the same issue as before with the summing over problem, just with rearranged terms (he’s just surreptitiously moved the ball from one hand to the other and claimed it disappeared). This is why I eschew operations involving infinity in actual calculations, as any good programmer should, it’s considered a no-no, an infinite loop error, and it really mucks things up with memory and gets your boss mad at you.

  10. #10 Michael Mooney
    October 22, 2017

    Ethan: ” In fact, consider this your very, very first algebra lesson.”
    How utterly, presumptuous and condescending! I said I am not a mathematician, not that I never took a class in algebra.
    See my comments in the “Finite or Infinite” post, #79 for a reality check outside the games mathematicians play.

    Note: It figures that your new propaganda platform for fame, fortune and fantasy/ opinion (presented as established science) will require payment for membership. Count me out.
    I imagine a sigh of relief. You sure don’t tolerate criticism, which makes you a very biased non-scientist.

  11. #11 dean
    October 22, 2017

    CFT, the issue with the changing decimals is what the details if limits and series explains. Study it.

    Mooney, your outrage is false. Your comments in the math have never been a reality check — they’ve always been the rants of a person who took trivial and non-substantive classes in areas not related to science but pretends to know something useful.

  12. #12 MobiusKlein
    October 22, 2017

    @CFT: the mathematical underpinning for the real numbers is a wonderful course to take in college, and one I loved in my Math degree.
    Taking such a course would help you understand exactly how real numbers make sense, and what mathematicians use to justify it all.

    For example, the square root of 2 can be represented by an equivalence group, ‘all series of positive rational numbers that converge to a value, that squared equals 2’
    And yes, by this point, we are no longer talking about concrete number values, but things that behave so much like numbers that well, let’s just treat them as actual numbers.

    And when you complain about abstraction vs reality, you may as well throw out all of Euclidean geometry, since in real life, no two physical lines are precisely parallel. Or even infinitely thin!

    And yes, I say this a a computer programmer who strives to avoid dumping infinite loops on my users.

  13. #13 CFT
    October 22, 2017

    @Michael Mooney,
    Like many experts, he thinks because he knows something others don’t, that he’s been elevated to the elite peerage and doesn’t have to watch his tone. I beg to strongly differ. Ethan has a nasty habit of glossing over truth in favor of his questionable ‘narrative’:
    .
    http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2017/10/i-totally-mean-it-inflation-never.html
    .
    Simple rule of thumb, when your ‘brilliant’ expert is condescending and insults you:
    1.) Ignore/Fire them, they are just like light bulbs, they are replaceable and there’s more than one that shines just as brightly, and…
    2.) Get another expert who understands that ‘arrogance’ is not an irresistible cologne from France.

  14. #14 Narad
    October 22, 2017

    I’m sorry to lose this forum and this archive of articles going back nearly a decade

    You’re not even going to archive the data?

  15. #15 CFT
    October 22, 2017

    @MobiusKlein #10,

    I have never claimed Euclidean Geometry was reality, or even any other abstraction for that matter, quite the opposite , as it contains no time, which is actually one of the greatest problems with importing time into geometry, it wasn’t designed for it. I have also been very vocal about the misuse of points, lines and planes, (infinitely thin or otherwise, makes no difference), and other geometrical constructs having their definitions ignored and being misused as magically reified physical objects imported into physics to carry mass or represent indestructible substances (like point masses and super strings) without even having volume. It even gets more complicated where circles are concerned, as movement in a circular motion has very different constraints than a static fixed circle diagram.
    .
    There are uses of geometry that overlap in places with reality, obviously, but that does not make one system equivalent to the other any more than two intersecting lines being called congruent because they occasionally intersect at several points.
    .
    I’m not going to play the ‘what is a number game’, it has become an unworkable mess of obfuscation that seems to designed just to say “I gotcha!” and count coup. Any time I can attempt to define how a number is used in computation, a mathematician can create yet another abstract layer of manipulation on top of that which skirts it. It goes nowhere fast, like an existentialist discussion about meaning, EVERY SINGLE TIME. So No, I’m not going to conflate things which aren’t numbers but some insist treating like numbers in yet another form of highly abstract circular numerical onanism.

  16. #16 MobiusKlein
    October 22, 2017

    CFT, I think your error is in looking at the discussion as an opportunity to count coup, rather than explore ideas.

    I play with the concepts of numbers not to find the True Meaning Of Number, but to explore and expand my mind a bit.

    I utilize concepts of numbers in the discrete math world of computer science as part of my day job. Which is a different world than quantum mechanics. Could we invent FFT without the mathematical rigor of Real & Imaginary Analysis? nope.

  17. #17 CFT
    October 22, 2017

    @MobiusKlein,
    You can play with numbers as much as you like, but with each layer of abstraction you add, you are actually moving further from not closer to the subject you would model with them.
    .
    Quantum mechanics is a statistical gloss of some underlying system that really isn’t understood, much like trying to understand the roll of a couple of six sided dice by using statistical outcomes, without knowing what dimensions the dice have or what a physical motion like rolling was, and what other things would be involved for that to even happen, i.e. a hand to roll the dice, a surface for the dice to roll on, a certain amount of friction, the construction of the dice and how much they weighed, the air the dice travelled through, the aspect of gravity allowing the dice to be rolled and come to a halt.
    .
    However things work on a small scale, it isn’t statistical math and blatantly fudged solutions like renormalization in QED.
    There is something there, it just isn’t known. I’m fine with working with QM until a better understanding arrives, But I’d be delusional to think QM is a complete (or coherent) explanation or the best that we can do.

  18. #18 Michael Mooney
    October 22, 2017

    @CFT #13
    ” I have also been very vocal about the misuse of points, lines and planes, (infinitely thin or otherwise, makes no difference), and other geometrical constructs having their definitions ignored and being misused as magically reified physical objects imported into physics to carry mass or represent indestructible substances (like point masses and super strings) without even having volume.”

    Me too. (I have been very vocal, as you said.)

    I like the head game where an “unstoppable object” collides with an “immovable object.”

    Of course, neither exist.

  19. #19 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    October 22, 2017

    Ethan wrote:

    “From Frank on the curvature of the Universe: “What if Universe is surface of a 4d sphere where 3d surface (space) curved in the 4th dimension (time)?””

    “Well, there is curvature in the fourth dimension, but the laws of relativity tell you how the relationship between space and time occur. There’s no wiggle-room or free parameters in there. If you want the Universe to be the surface of a 4D sphere, you need an extra spatial dimension. There are many physics theories that consider exactly that scenario, and they are constrained but not ruled out.”

    Then what if I propose, gravitational field across the Universe is the fifth dimension (for the Universe to be the surface of a 4D sphere)? (And also think about why it seems gravity is the only fundamental force that effects all dimensions. Couldn’t it be because gravity itself is a dimension, so it must be included together with other dimensions (of spacetime) in physics calculations.)

    More speculations from me if Ethan or anyone interested:
    http://fb36blog.blogspot.com/2017/10/geometry-of-our-universe-2.html

  20. #20 MobiusKlein
    October 22, 2017

    @CFT: abstractions, when done right, let us peer deeper into the structure of numbers and systems.

    The Fast Fourier Transform would never have been created without imaginary numbers, irrational numbers, and many other high level abstractions.
    But damn, it’s some awesome code when you turn it into some reality.

    And yes, there is some high level wankery you can get lost in, on the math side. That’s life, though.

  21. #21 CFT
    October 22, 2017

    @MobiusKlien #18,

    I can appreciate that math has uses, but, and there is a ‘but’, there is a point where you have to just stop and take a look at where things are actually going.
    .
    The last I knew, Superstrings theory predicted there might be around 10^500 possible geometries, or landscapes they would have to sift through to get to one that MIGHT be a description of our universe. That number is now, very conservatively calculated to be about 10^272755, that is 10 to the 272,755th power. That is a level of numerical wankery I don’t even pretend to consider seriously anymore. As Lana Kane on Archer would say, “NoooooOPE”.
    .
    At some point someone is going to have to set down the bong and sober up. This is not new physics. This Is what being lost looks like. This is NOT abstraction done right. This does NOT lead to ‘insights’, this is throwing money, resources, and people’s entire professional lives down into an abyss no one can ever dig out of.
    .
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=9649
    .
    Occam’s razor should have killed this undead mathematical turd of a theory a long time ago. The fact that the highest levels of the physics community still strongly support it tells me:
    1.) They are utterly desperate, and as Peter Woit warned,
    2.) They have no plan B, and no plan to have a plan B.
    3.) They intend to keep digging themselves deeper until they a.) reach China or even better, b.) get lucky and run across a Balrog, at which point they will c.) claim success and write many fine papers about how they predicted that we actually live in the Middle-Earth universe and that this would happen.

  22. #22 MobiusKlein
    October 22, 2017

    @CFT: Goal post shifting noted.

  23. #23 Julian Frost
    October 23, 2017

    I take it that you will still be posting on Forbes.

  24. #24 John
    Baltimore
    October 23, 2017

    CFT,
    If you follow the link below and read what Ethan posted, you’ll see Ethan’s opinion about String Theory.
    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2008/04/18/on-string-theory-from-a-string-theorist/

  25. #25 CFT
    October 23, 2017

    @John,
    I don’t think Ethan is responsible for SuperString theory, (his albatross is inflation), I blame the physics community and academia for that monstrosity. Superstrings has been very good for them financially, it pulled in a lot of money, government support, and public interest…despite the fact it was bunkum. Super Strings are good to bring up because it is a living demonstration of how the scientific community doesn’t self correct very well when it is being paid handsomely not to. It has become a big business with an insular tone deaf culture more concerned about continued funding than discovery.
    .
    I do think Ethan and most anyone else in the physics community with any sanity left should be very actively speaking up and trying to shut this train wreck down instead of just raising their eyebrows, and passively watching it crash and burn. Professional courtesy should have its limits.

  26. #26 CFT
    October 23, 2017

    @MobiusKlien #22,
    By shifting the goal posts do you means changing the subject? I don’t have any problem whatsoever with Fourier Transforms, they have a lot of applications in technology and signal processing and are highly useful. I simply don’t equate them with ‘too big to fail’ theories which make no testable predictions about the entire universe we live in, making them de facto ‘useless’ as science.

  27. #27 Narad
    October 23, 2017

    The last I knew, Superstrings theory predicted there might be around 10^500 possible geometries, or landscapes they would have to sift through to get to one that MIGHT be a description of our universe. That number is now, very conservatively calculated to be about 10^272755, that is 10 to the 272,755th power.

    Congratulations, you can blindly cut and paste from Peter Woit’s joint. I don’t imagine that you can comment there.

  28. #28 Narad
    October 23, 2017

    Quantum mechanics is a statistical gloss of some underlying system that really isn’t understood

    All this bloviation and general asshurt about not being treated with the respect that you think you deserve, and you barf up hidden variables? This is just sad.

  29. #29 Narad
    October 23, 2017

    I don’t think Ethan is responsible for SuperString theory

    Witten seems to be responsible for the name (sans erratic capitalization), but I didn’t realize that it was ever much in currency, and certainly not at this late date.

  30. #30 CFT
    October 23, 2017

    @Narad 28,
    No, I did not piss in your Wheaties.
    No, I also didn’t ‘cut and paste’, blindly or otherwise, but I did do several double takes when I saw the size of the number I was transcribing for the new calculated size of the multiverse landscape. I actually thought Woit was trying to be funny by gross exaggeration, but no, that is the actual estimate. If you don’t like it, feel free to clutch your pearls in indignation, and then gloss over it.
    .
    “When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.”
    .
    Since I don’t respect bitter harridans much, forgive my bluntness, but your snarky comments sound more like a particular conceited mainstream ‘interpretation’ than actual understanding. Hidden variables have been considered and examined by folk far more informed than you, If any of numerous ‘interpretations’ turns out to be wrong, the whole game changes, so save your ‘barf’ outrage. All you have is a black box (or, Chinese box if you like) with a heuristic solution slapped on it, and no internal mechanics for causation, just outcomes expressed in probabilities that magically coalesce…or not into reality. Did it occur to you that you can do the exact same thing to almost any system, deterministic or not, and be completely ignorant of how it works? Even Feynman knew there were problems, Dirac as well, short cuts had been taken that merely pushed math. Next to their not so ignorant concerns, your smug conceit is what’s pathetic. Listening to you squeal indignantly about hidden variables when your entire quantum theory has no actual mechanics to assign your numbers to, (everything but the outcomes is hidden) is the real tragedy.
    .

    I actually stopped trying to comment on Peter’s site after the last election when his personal political bias filter broke down entirely and he slid hysterically into Trump derangement syndrome… with a passion. When you start insulting everyone who didn’t vote for your candidate, and are calling over half the nation racists, sexists, deplorables, etc, you need to get a grip, stop and calm down. Mr. Woit didn’t take kindly to this advice. Peter has his own hang-ups, much the same as Ethan in some ways. I’ve come to expect it from academics who don’t live in the real world and have no real interest or clue where money comes from and what economics is or how it works to fund their little activities. Very unlike Ethan however, Peter is very strongly against using bogus science PR propaganda to advance or popularize ‘understanding’ of big science (a thinly disguised vehicle for convincing people to fund, er, support certain enterprises).

  31. #31 Narad
    October 23, 2017

    I actually stopped trying to comment on Peter’s site after the last election when his personal political bias filter broke down entirely and he slid hysterically into Trump derangement syndrome

    I am mildly amused.

  32. #32 Ragtag Media
    October 23, 2017

    Thanks Ethan the Atheist for explaining to me awesome stories about our universe and putting up with my differing opinions.
    You are a great American.
    Here:
    http://fanbrowser.com/groups/starts-with-a-bang/
    I made a section on a site that I am a developer of that compiles all your work that is publicly available along with what you wish to publish. No Fees, no Charge nothing, nada..
    I pay for the server time
    So all your facebook, twitter, will be there and there is a chat room/ comments section. I can make you an admin and give you the keys if ya wish..
    There are so many options
    Just my simple way of saying thanks to an Atheist science teacher that has shown respect and decency to us believers.

  33. #33 Narad
    October 23, 2017
  34. #34 Narad
    October 23, 2017

    I made a section on a site that I am a developer of

    I suppose that explains the nested scroll bars.

  35. #35 CFT
    October 23, 2017

    @Narad #33,
    Interstellar had great music, a good director, top notch actors, cool special effects, contained almost as many plot-holes as ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’, and a story that was almost but not quite as scientific as ‘Attack of the 50 foot tall Woman’, but not quite as ‘science-y’ as Disney’s “The Black Hole”…which is kind of sad…yet at the same time terribly funny for some reason.
    .
    I’ll proudly stand by that particular post you linked to. Du jour science literally IS magic in the movies and television, and it is responsible for a tremendous amount of outright hilarity and confusion of the human race.
    .
    MILHOUSE: ‘I thought radiation causes cancer, not superpowers…’
    BART: ‘Well, now you know better.’

  36. #36 Ragtag Media
    October 23, 2017

    @ Nared #34
    Well MORON WTF can you contribute???
    NOTHING,ZERO,NADA…
    At least I am putting my money where my mouth is and offering up.
    What The fk are you doing?
    RETARD!!!!!!!!

  37. #37 gahermit
    U S
    October 23, 2017

    @ cft #5 rounding works for finite calculations, not so much for infinite calculations

  38. #38 gahermit
    October 23, 2017

    @cft #25 consider continous multiple big bangs

  39. #39 gahermit
    October 23, 2017

    oh no, don’t close down, where else can an amateur (me) get involved in a scientific explanation of the mysteries of the universe with actual physicists and mathematicians

  40. #40 CFT
    October 23, 2017

    @gahermit,
    At any give time, we know parts of the universe are exploding, supernova are everywhere, Nebulae are spewing out stars. As to whether the whole shebang is from one bang, you have to pull a lot of interstellar taffy to make that work in the allotted time, they call it inflation, granting intrinsic material properties to empty space itself by reifying mathematical spaces. I call it desperation trying to prop up the big bang by coming up with a stop-gap explanation borderlining on unfalsifiable when they try and squeeze everything we can now observe into roughly 14 billion years of time.
    .
    I’d rather they just say they don’t know for sure than tortured explanations that give rise to more problems than they resolve.
    .
    As for physics forums,
    Look around, there are many other physics sites. Many do not welcome non-experts, some are far more friendly, a lot of them will have differing internal politics of what they do or do not favor in physics, ie. Lubos Motl (a very difficult person to agree with) has physics blog that is very harsh to anyone who does not completely support Superstrings as de facto truth. Another site called Not Even Wrong is coming from the opposite direction, and pushes the idea that superstrings aren’t even science at all and should be jettisoned into the math departments. Ethan on the other hand was pushing the very observably inaccurate view that there is some kind of super majority or consensus about what is and isn’t going on, which is just wishful thinking on his part. High energy physics is having an identity crisis right now, trying to decide if it wants to remain testable science or become a new branch of purely mathematical metaphysics, so you are going to see a wide spectrum of opinion even among the ‘experts’.

  41. #41 John
    Baltimore
    October 24, 2017

    CFT,

    As the social portion of the Natural Sciences is inseparable from the rest, I suggest there was, is, and always will be a consensus view on most, if not all, of them.

    They are, after all, practiced by humans.

  42. #42 John
    Baltimore
    October 24, 2017

    Ragtag Media,

    Your site is a very useful resource. Thank you.
    I hope it does not go to waste.

  43. #43 Ragtag Media
    October 24, 2017

    Thanks John, it’s a heck of a lot of work and money.. things are still a bit janky and glitchy. I just need a few million dollars to hire a real tech team in the U.S. The indie and paki coders are killing me LOL…
    Here is a ravens section for ya:
    http://fanbrowser.com/groups/baltimore-ravens/

  44. #44 Michael Mooney
    October 24, 2017

    @CFT #15: “… a mathematician can create yet another abstract layer of manipulation on top of that which skirts it. It goes nowhere fast, like an existentialist discussion about meaning, EVERY SINGLE TIME.”

    Mathematicians can create whatever they want as long as the math is internally consistent, following the rules of math.
    Super-strings, malleable spacetime, shrinking objects and distances, new names for unknown particles, fields and forces… with math to make it sound like science.

    Existentialism was my favorite philosophy to apply to counseling psychology. It wasn’t so much about the cliche’ search for the “meaning of life.” It is about a radical philosophy of freedom which can inform the “therapist”… to be passed on to the client/patient to help free him/her from whatever dilemma, anxiety or neurosis which brought him to seek help. Of course it’s all just talk until the patient realizes the potential for a greater “degree of freedom” in his life.
    That’s not science either, nor on a particular topic but what the hell!
    One must study existentialism before one criticizes it. It’s “hard work,” but the reward is a “new dimension of freedom.”

  45. #45 Narad
    October 24, 2017

    Well MORON WTF can you contribute???

    “Don’t use nested scroll bars.”

    RETARD!!!!!!!!

    Once again, an epithet the use of which immediately designates someone as not being worth the time of day.

  46. #46 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    October 29, 2017

    @Ragtag Media #32:

    Is your site have all posts together with the comments since the beginning of this blog?

    Because if so or you can make it so then it is or would be a really great reference for Ethan and all of us commenters here.

    Even with what I saw so far thank you very much pal.

  47. #47 Sinisa Lazarek
    October 29, 2017

    as far as I can see, rag hasn’t actually mirrored science blogs, he just placed it inside his site. When science blogs goes down, so will his “project”.

    if you want to back-up starts with the bang, I suggest booting your favorite linux distro and go wget on it. SWTB is about 12 gigs.

  48. #48 Li D
    Australia
    October 31, 2017

    Sometime ago Ethan used something I said to make sense of something else . Like an analogy sort of .
    I have never felt so honoured in an academic way and was amazed Ethan had even read my blatherings.
    I just wanted to thankyou and am very sorry to see Scienceblogs possibly folding.
    Dialog and interaction between laypeople and academics is a
    wonderful thing.

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