"...even if we don't understand each other, that's not a reason to reject each other. There are two sides to any argument. Is there one point of view that has all the answers? Give it some thought." -Alder, from Pokémon
It’s been a fantastic week here at Starts With A Bang, with stories ranging from the beginning of the Universe to how we do business here on Earth in 2016. We've got a topic picked out for our next podcast on SoundCloud, on the Big Bang and what it does (and doesn't) mean, plus I'll be recording a radio show with Dr. David Livingston of The Space Show this Tuesday night! Thanks as always to our generous Patreon supporters, who make our podcasts and ad-free reruns on a 7-day delay over on Medium possible. What did we cover last week? Let's take a look back:
- Where did the Big Bang happen? (for Ask Ethan),
- Why some galaxies appear dustier on one half than the other (for Mostly Mute Monday),
- Young stars are missing from our galaxy's center,
- Where does the mass of a proton come from?,
- The 'awesome' Perseid meteor shower is awfully overhyped, and
- Newt Gingrich exemplifies just how unscientific America is.
And before we get into it, some amazing news: Forbes no longer blocks ad-blockers! Check it out! And with that out of the way, let's dive into your comments of the week!
Tom and Will Riker, together on the Enterprise after the former's rescue. Image credit: Memory Alpha Wiki, by user ThomasHL, from the TNG episode Second Chances.
From ptmnc1 on the philosophical difficulties inherent in the transporter: "But at the end of the day the scientific answers to transporter-related philosophy questions can only be had from experiment: but presuming that a post-transport individual is a sufficiently close replicate of the pre-transport individual then they cannot be expected to report a difference in their consciousness."
Let's go one simpler: what's the difference between moving a file and copying a file and deleting the original? To someone who knows where the 0s and 1s were written, you can definitely detect a difference. Moving a file keeps those 0s and 1s written in the same place, while only the metadata (of where the file is "located") is different. But copying creates an identical set of 0s and 1s elsewhere, and then the original is overwritten.
To someone who didn't know that exact information beforehand, though, who could only look at the initial contents of the file and the end contents of the end file, there would be no difference. So when you transport someone -- destroy their original, read in all their bits, and print out those bits against elsewhere in a final copy -- the copy emerges identical to the original... except it isn't the original.
As many point out, how would you design an experiment to even detect the destruction and death of "you"?
From Sinisa Lazarek on microlensing: "Thanks so much for clarification on magnitudes and macho content. Much appreciated. What I was missing was that original estimate on macho contribution. I thought (wrongly) that they would contribute at least several % to galaxy’s matter content."
The initial results from research programmes like EROS and OGLE were able to show that no more than 10-20% of dark matter was from MACHOs, but when we look at positive detections rather than upper limits, the estimates come down to be ≪ 1% across the full spectrum. The total baryonic matter content of an object like a Milky Way-sized galaxy is ~15%, with gas, plasma and stars making up the majority of what's available.
From dean on a section of the above image: "Astounding. What size is that “small region of space?”"
There are a little over 40,000 square degrees on the entire sky; the full view of the northern galactic cap is a little under 20% of that figure, going out to a remote distance of around 25% of the visible Universe. I had cropped out around 40% of the image to display it to you, which means we're looking at roughly 0.2 * 0.25 *0.4 = 0.02, or 2% of the observable Universe. Pretty impressive!
Artist’s logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe. Image credit: Wikipedia user Pablo Carlos Budassi.
From Andrew Jenkins on where the Big Bang occurred: "If we are living in a presumably ~roughly spherical expanding universe, there must be a center point."
It is only spherical from our perspective. And from our perspective, based on what we can see, we would conclude that the center is only a few million light years from our location, or approximately 0.01% off from our location relative to the scale of the full Universe. Of course, every single observer would conclude that, because we are not living in a roughly spherical Universe. What you see is not all you get.
From philip coleman on young stars missing from the galactic center: "Amazing the how distance becomes parsec and the recycle continues. Our life is a random gift of nature."
Well, let me offer a different interpretation of this finding. There are some interesting dynamics going on the closer you get to the galactic center: matter moves faster, gas accelerates and collides at a higher rate, and outflows from the intense star formation occurring at the very center (the inner ~1,300 light years or so) of the galaxy all play a role. And on top of that, you have the fact that our galaxy spins, with spiral arms, obeying the density wave theory of differential rotation. (Shown at right, below.)
From Denier on colliders: "Whenever someone talks about the need for new particle colliders, as this article does, they often talk about diameter. Occasionally I’ll even read an article where it is stated to probe a particular phenomenon it would require a collider the size of our solar system, galaxy, or even universe. Why is this?"
There are only a few factors that determine what energies a circular collider can reach:
- diameter of the ring,
- strength of the electromagnets,
- the actual mass and the charge-to-mass ratio of the accelerated particles,
- and the speed of light.
You're not changing the speed of light or any other universal constants. If you accelerate electrons, they're lighter, so it's easier to get them to go faster, but the charge-to-mass ratio is very high: 1836 times higher than it is for a proton, so synchrotron radiation (or the radiation emitted by charged particles accelerated in a magnetic field) is very efficient. This is why LEP, the Large Electron-Positron collider (in the same tunnel that the LHC is in now) could only reach ~115 GeV of energy inside, rather than the ~13 TeV the LHC reaches. (The electrons moved faster, by the way, and still hold the close-to-c record of any accelerator-created particles on Earth!)
For protons, synchrotron radiation is low enough that it doesn't (yet) matter, but the strength of the magnets is much more limiting. A particle with twice the energy needs twice the field strength to bend it over the same distance, so you need to either double your magnet strength or double your circle's diameter to achieve twice the energy. Electromagnets at the NHMFL in Tallahassee, FL, have obtained field strengths of up to 80-100 Tesla in very short bursts, about ten times as strong as the magnets in use at the LHC. But they need to be sustained and 100% tunable and reliably controllable to achieve not only high energies, but large luminosities (resulting in high collision rates). We're not there yet.
Image credit: LEP / CERN, via http://www.madrimasd.org/.
More good (and it's his specialty, so I defer to him!) information from Michael Kelsey on this issue: "The radiation problem is the critical item for electron machines. Why? Because at a given bend radius, the amount of energy lost by the beam scales like 1/m^2. The bend radius is determined by the magnet strength. If you put electrons or protons into the same machine, the electrons would radiate about 3.3 million times as much energy as the protons would.
If you want your beam to go around the machine multiple times, you need to keep the synchrotron losses to a minimum, or have enough input power to keep pumping into the beam. The beam composition, energy and plausible magnet strength, then, are all you need to calculate what size you have to build your collider."
From ACORN on a mistake I appear to have made: "So when I add the masses from the table for 2 Ups and 1 Down I get 9.4 Mev/c^2. If the proton mass is 938 Mev/c^2, wouldn’t that be ~1% instead of the ~.2% stated?"
Yup. My mistake! We need 99% of the proton's mass from QCD/binding energy, not 99.8%.
Screenshot from the Alisyn Camerota / Newt Gingrich interview on CNN. Full interview available here: https://www.facebook.com/AlisynCamerota/videos/10153845308112547/.
From Omega Centauri on lying about facts to promote your own (fill_in_the_blank): "For the world that Gingrich occupies, a world of promotion and marketing, his observations are correct. Your product may be a piece of junk, but if you can create an exciting image, it will sell like hotcakes. Probably more people make their living out of marketing style endeavors, than make their living trying to wrest truth from nature, so for them his mode of thinking is correct (promotes personal success)."
I can only refer you to Richard Feynman, who, when talking about nature and the rules of the Universe, had the following to say: "You don't like it? Go somewhere else! To another universe! Where the rules are simpler, philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy. I can't help it! OK! If I'm going to tell you honestly what the world looks like to the... human beings who have struggled as hard as they can to understand it, I can only tell you what it looks like."
Although Feynman was talking about a particular physical theory that some objected to because it wasn't "appealing" enough, this applies to facts of any type. We may disagree with one another on what the policy should be in response to facts, but we ought to be able to agree on the facts. We really ought to.
Public perception of whether crime rates are up as compared to one year ago (top line) vs. the actual crime victimization rate (bottom line). Image credit: Gallup's annual Crime survey, conducted Oct. 3-6, 2013.
From eric, restating the problem quite accurately: "So, yes, (a) crime rates are dropping nationwide, (b) Newt implies that he actually accepts this to be true, but then (c) basically admits that he, as a conservative politician, cares more about catering to people’s feelings than what’s factually true about the world."
I agree with this interpretation of the problem. The professor and moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt wrote an incredible 1986 essay, "On Bullshit," where he talks about the modus operandi of the liar: “Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point. . . . In order to invent a lie at all, [the teller of a lie] must think he knows what is true.” Newt is not a Bullshit artist; he's simply telling a lie. A very focused lie to promote his own, fear-based and feeling-based agenda.
The Major Cities Chiefs Association data from the first quarter of 2016 vs. the first quarter of 2015. Image credit: MCCA, via the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/13/us/document-violent-crime….
And finally, from Denier on the possibility that the facts actually support Newt's position: "The truth is after a long and steady decline in violent crime rates since the 90’s, the crime rates bounced and are on the rise. In the first half of 2015 violent crime was up 1.7% nationwide over the same period in 2014 ... When you look specifically at homicides in the nation’s 56 largest cities the rates were up by 17% in just one year!!!"
I actually like part of the full comment quite a lot, and think it's worth highlighting. Because we should be able to all agree on the facts. If crime is up over a certain time period, or in a certain class/set of locations, or a certain type of crime is up, that's something we should be able to agree on. If crime is down over a longer-term period, or over the country as a whole, or across an aggregate class of crime, we should be able to agree on that as well. We can argue over what should be done about it (policy), what the importance of various facets are, etc. But the facts should be something we all agree on.
That is the specific thing Gingrich was arguing against. If you don't like the John Oliver cut (it was what was embed-able on YouTube), watch the full video on Alisyn Camerota's facebook page here, and observe how Newt does exactly the following three things I called him out for doing:
- lying by omitting/denying the full suite of facts and focusing on a few tidbits that mislead the public into disbelieving the actual facts,
- successfully misleading the public into believing incorrect facts and that a factually incorrect position is universally true, and
- that the public's feelings about that “truth” will be more important than the actual facts.
This is kind of Colbert's definition of "truthiness" and I do assert that we should all be against it.
If crime -- violent crime -- is ticking up in a handful of major cities, that might be a problem independent of broader trends. If crime is continuing to drop but still remains higher than we're okay with it being, that might be a problem that requires further measures to be taken. And if crime rates rise in specific quarters (or other periods) of a year, that might be a fact worth investigating, understanding and doing something about. But we must begin by agreeing on the facts, otherwise... otherwise the cake is a lie.
And a world where we agree on facts, even where we disagree on policy and what to do about those facts, should be a rewarding enough step forward for us all.
As many point out, how would you design an experiment to even detect the destruction and death of “you”?
This has traditionally been referred to in terms such as "1000 mics of LSD." It really does nothing to address the philosophical "problem," which is the illusion of the constancy of the personality.
@Ethan: You wrote, "some amazing news: Forbes no longer blocks ad-blockers! Check it out!" I did, and unfortunately the news was just a little too amazing...to be true, that is.
"Looks like you might have an AdBlocker on.
Please whitelist Forbes.com OR log in to enjoy an Ad-Light experience."
Can you try clearing your cache? It was promised to me that it was fixed, and I've experienced it being fixed, earlier this week.
“… exactly the following three things I called him out for doing:
1) lying by omitting/denying the full suite of facts and focusing on a few tidbits that mislead the public into disbelieving the actual facts,
2) successfully misleading the public into believing incorrect facts and that a factually incorrect position is universally true, and
3) that the public’s feelings about that “truth” will be more important than the actual facts.”
If you find these three things so odious, then,
why did you vote to re-elect Obama?
And why are you voting for Hillary?
“If crime — violent crime — is ticking up in a handful of major cities, that might be a problem independent of broader trends.”
A “Handful” of cities?
One more time:
“Homicides increased 9% in the LARGEST SIXTY-THREE (63) CITIES in the first quarter of 2016; nonfatal shootings were up 21%, according to a Major Cities Chiefs Association survey. Those increases come ON TOP OF LAST YEAR’S 17% rise in homicides in the FIFTY-SIX (56) BIGGEST U.S. cities, with 10 heavily black cities showing murder spikes above 60%.”
That's quite a "handful".
It's working for me on an ancient Safari (with less ancient Webkit) that used to be blocked even if the site was whitelisted.
If you find these three things so odious, then,
why did you vote to re-elect Obama?
And why are you voting for Hillary?
This is perhaps the saddest attempt at threadjacking I've ever seen.
@Ethan #3, Narad #5: Hmmm. I cleared cache and history both, and I'm still getting the whiny "oh please, please turn off your Ad Blocker..." page. No worries. I will take both of your words that it's changed. I'm going to be doing a restart fairly soon anyway (I've delayed installing some updates) and I can check again after that. No need to further beat this dead horse ;->
You seem very confused about Newt's position. Very understandable as that was both Alisyn Camerota's and John Oliver's intent. They are feeding their audience the narrative that Trump supporters are stupid, fearful people who are being lied to by the GOP and Trump in particular to reinforce a false sense of fear for political gain. That line of attack seems to resonate so that all you took in was the narrative they fed you.
I'm going to take the time to transcribe the pertinent part of the exchange from the original video. You have the 'actual facts' showing the rates of violent crime up in 2015 and up even more so far in 2016. Keeping that in mind, here is what you wrote:
lying by omitting/denying the full suite of facts and focusing on a few tidbits that mislead the public into disbelieving the actual facts,
successfully misleading the public into believing incorrect facts and that a factually incorrect position is universally true
that the public’s feelings about that “truth” will be more important than the actual facts.
For your third point, remember that the question was about the appropriateness of the tone of the speech. Should a leader address the concerns of his or her constituents? Absolutely. Without question. It doesn't matter at all if it is possible to tilt your head and squint your way to a different point to view that invalidates your constituents concerns. As a politician, and especially in the middle of an election, you address the concerns.
CNN's and especially Oliver's slight of hand was very good and it is easy to forget the question is about the tone of the speech even while they paste it in the middle of the screen.
Read through the transcript with an objective eye and show me exactly where Newt did what you allege.
A: Some people think it was too bleak. That he painted too bleak a picture of where we are in America. Crime is down in America. Violent crime is down. The economy is ticking up.
G: Not down. It is not down in the biggest cities.
A: Violent crime, murder rate is down.
G: Then how come it’s up in Chicago? Up in Baltimore and up in Washington?
A: There are pockets where… cer…certainly we’ve not tackled murder..across..,
G: Your National Capitol and third biggest city…
A: …but violent crime across the country is down. We’re not under siege in the way we were in say the ‘80s.
G: The average American looking at Dallas policemen, Bal…, and look at the list of cities, coun..,er states he listed. The average American, and I will bet you this morning, does not think crime is down. Does not think they are safer.
A: But it is. We are safer and it is down.
G: No. That’s your view.
A: Those are facts.
G: Okay, I just…Now..
A: These are national FBI facts.
G: But what I said..what I said… Now what I said is also a fact. The average American feels…When you can, you can walk into a night club and get killed...When you can go to a party at a..th..a county government building and get killed…people don’t think their government is protecting them. When you have Baltimore. When you have policemen ambushed in Dallas. Now that, your view, I understand your view. The current view is liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right but it is not where human beings are. People are frightened. People feel that their government has abandoned them. Twenty-five million Americans have dropped out of the middle class according to Gallop.
A: Yes, well that is the economic figures you are saying, though unemployment has ticked down, but what you’re saying is….now hold on, but hold on Mr. Speaker because you’re saying ‘liberals use these numbers, they use this sort of magic math. This is FBI statistics. They are not a liberal organization. They are a crime fighting organization.
G: What I said is equally true. People feel more threatened.
A: Yes. They feel it, but the facts don’t support it.
G: Fine. As a political candidate I’ll go with how people feel and I’ll let you go with the theoriticians, but the same thing comes down to the whole pattern of things Trump is talking about….
It is always best to go directly to the source. But I think, Denier, you'll find that most of us think the direct quote supports Ethan's main point, it doesn't undermine it.
Should a leader address the concerns of his or her constituents? Absolutely. Without question.
Agreed. But when ones' constituents are misinformed or getting something wrong, good leadership means having the courage to tell them that (and explain why they're wrong, if needed). One doesn't 'address public concerns' over vaccines by claiming the jury is still out on their safety - that's just lying and pandering. One doesn't address public concerns over evolution by claiming ID is science - again, that's just lying and pandering. And in a direct analogy, its lying and pandering to 'address public concerns' about crime by claiming statistical trends over the past 10, 20, 30 years are just a liberal theory.
"They are feeding their audience the narrative that Trump supporters are stupid, fearful people who are being lied to by the GOP and Trump in particular to reinforce a false sense of fear for political gain."
The narrative is correct, as demonstrated here multiple times, notably by the supporters who continue to believe local statistical fluctuations mean something significant about overall trends, beliefs fueled by a combination of ignorance of statistics, racism, and bigotry.
Monday, August 8: Still getting the "It appears you have an ad-blocker on. Please whitelist ..."
from Forbes (and cache was freshly cleared.
Then you agree with Newt's position. That in a nutshell is exactly what Newt was saying.
when ones’ constituents are misinformed or getting something wrong, good leadership means having the courage to tell them that (and explain why they’re wrong, if needed).
You've ventured into the realm of 'opinion'. It is an opinion I agree with but it is still opinion. However, in this case the constituents aren't wrong. They simply have a short attention span. To them it doesn't matter that we were in greater danger back in the 90's. What matters is that we are less safe today than we were 2 years ago and the trend is going the wrong way. That is a perfectly valid concern and should be addressed.
One doesn’t ‘address public concerns’ over vaccines by claiming the jury is still out on their safety – that’s just lying and pandering. One doesn’t address public concerns over evolution by claiming ID is science
None of this was in anything Newt said.
... in a direct analogy, its lying and pandering to ‘address public concerns’ about crime by claiming statistical trends over the past 10, 20, 30 years are just a liberal theory.
Newt also doesn't say this anywhere. Newt admits flat out that what Alisyn Camerota is saying is fact, BUT what he's saying is also fact. There are 2 points of view: a multi-decade view and short attention span view. Alisyn Camerota is arguing one point of view and Newt is saying a majority of Americans subscribe to the other. However the argument over which point of view is the more valid is entirely immaterial because as a politician his job is to take the temperature of the room when determining what is an appropriate tone of a speech. Newt believes the tone of the speech was correct.
But I think, Denier, you’ll find that most of us think the direct quote supports Ethan’s main point, it doesn’t undermine it.
I know. It is a sad commentary on people. People make up their minds and warp what they perceive to fit preconceived notions.
I can show hard evidence from neutral sources showing crime has ticked up and those with the short attention point of view do indeed have a point. I can transcribe text to show the point of a discussion was an opinion over appropriateness of tone rather than denying science. In the end it likely doesn't matter because even with contrary evidence right in their face, people willfully won't see it.
The narrative is correct
Maybe it is. Maybe people who are panicked by the short term trends and anecdotal events are being silly, but the real point here is that people don't listen. People will fail to hear what is said and will even make up things that were not said to fit the reality they want to see. It is not just stupid people who do this. You could be a well educated astrophysicist and still fall prey to a good storyteller selling a narrative you want to hear.
" "The narrative is correct"
Maybe it is."
No, it IS.
YOUR problem is you're not willing to look at reality, you're only looking for confirmation of what you had already decided must be there.
And until you get your eyesight checked and show that you ARE able to withstand realty, there is NOTHING you can do about any problem in reality.
If you can't "see" that you're standing on thin ice, there's no way your conclusions about what to do about the warming weather.
..no way your conclusions about what to do about the warming weather can be of any use about the weather.
To eric #10:
“But when ones’ constituents are misinformed or getting something wrong, good leadership means having the courage to tell them that (and explain why they’re wrong, if needed).”
Then, why hasn’t the good Democrat leadership, and the good leadership of Ethan and eric,
-Explained to the Black Lives Matter movement that they’re misinformed/wrong?
-Explained to an Obama complaining about unjust, racist incarceration rates that he’s misinformed/wrong?
-Explained to the national minimum wage’rs that they’re misinformed/wrong?
sn, you (and others of your low level of integrity) lie about the statistics at the core of the story. Your cherry picked and poorly presented "facts" do not change the facts about the downward trend of crime in this country.
Explained to the Black Lives Matter movement that they’re misinformed/wrong?
–Explained to an Obama complaining about unjust, racist incarceration rates that he’s misinformed/wrong?
–Explained to the national minimum wage’rs that they’re misinformed/wrong?
are not the same. Each of those is an opinion, and simply saying "these are wrong" without providing any evidence to support them shows only one thing: you don't have any evidence to support them. I realize that in the creationist circles you run in evidence is not needed. In the real world it is.
Taking the file move/copy analogy and using it with virtual reality; one could say that moving a human’s perspective of where they are is like moving a computer file. Like the physical file, the human is still in the same place but he perceives himself in a new location.
aking the file move/copy analogy and using it with virtual reality; one could say that moving a human’s perspective of where they are is like moving a computer file. http://www.websohbet.com