Who Says Kids Are Out of Touch Because of their Techie Toys?

I, for one, don’t.

I am getting the feeling that my optimism about the future is actually growing.

First there is Hans Rosling and his new effort to get people to unlearn what they think is true but isn’t.  And kudos to him, and good luck!

Then there is Matt Ridley, who calmly and realistically points out how WELL we are doing in the world right now, contravening every “Common Wisdom” that the modern-world-haters spew out day after day.

Then, the other day my girlfriend was bemoaning the fact that kids walk down the street with earplugs or several sit in a coffeehouse at the same table focused on their smart phone apps, with the world around their physical bodies focused completely out.  As is typical with most people over 50, she said, “That is terrible! There are all their friends right there! And what are they doing? Tapping away on their cell phones! They don’t even talk to each other anymore!”

Me? I get the exact opposite impression.  These are people doing exactly what they want to do, which in my mind is the absolute best way to learn anything.

Long ago, I looked round me and saw kids – damned near all of them – playing and playing and playing, and smiling all the while, while adults – damned near all of them – were droning through their days with frowns and looks of quiet desperation.   Continue reading

Looking Into Resveretrol a Bit

Let’s see if I can present this in an intelligible way…

The pertinent research papers and passages are linked of presented at the end of this post.

I DISCOVER RESVERETROL

About 2 years ago someone in a nearby town asked me to pick up some resveretrol while in the US and bring it back for her.  At the time I looked it up and it looked like she wanted it for its skin benefits.  No problem.  I picked it up, but then she never came and got it, so it sat on my bathroom shelf for almost 2 years.

Getting a little on with age and having fairly good skin tone myself, one day I thought it might be good to look into the info on resveretrol again.  Why not use something if it might help?   I’d spent the money, after all.  So, online I went.

I found assertions that resveretrol was tested in mice and helped them avoid diabetes and helped them live longer.  Okay, that isn’t too bad.  It also said that some research and found out more of interest to males of my age. Some of the actual scientific research clearly found benefits to male erectile function and sperm counts.  This was just about the very first thing I found out about resveretrol, so along with the purported longevity claims, it raised an eyebrow or two.

Now I assure you that guys my age do not necessarily want high sperm counts. We certainly don’t go around perusing scientific journals to find out what the latest sperm booster is….LOL

I TRY IT OUT

I am NOT an exhibitionist.  Nor do I want to blab my sex life to everyone on Earth.  So it takes a bit of guts for me to talk about this stuff. Continue reading

The Air Conditioner Effect – Part of the Urban Heat Island Effect

I would point people at this article from 2010 as a starting point.

Think about this:

We wouldn’t put meteorological stations (met stations) right by the exhaust of smoke stacks, would we?  Of course not.  And why not?  The air coming out is HOT.  And what is the air coming out of an air conditioner’s outside compressor unit like?  HOT.

The smokestack effluent is hot because of some heating process.  Normally there is some process in a plant that uses heat and that heat is disposed of out the stack.

Similarly, an air conditioner has a process going on within IT that warms up its exhaust air.  That process is the operating of the compressor unit.  The compressor unit essentially forces a building’s inside air through nozzles, and as the air passes through the nozzle it expands rapidly – which cools THAT air.  But that cooling doesn’t come free.  Compressing that air THROUGH the nozzle means heating it up FIRST.  It has to have a certain velocity in order for the cooling to happen as it exits the nozzle.  So pressure is needed.  And when that coolant is compressed, it heats up and up and up.  Compressors run quite hot, in fact.  And they need to be cooled down.  That is the other side of the air conditioning equation – if you want cool on one side (inside) you have to deal with the heat produced on the other side, and send that heat outside.  The last stage is to run the heated fluid through tubes in front of a fan which blows over them, cooling the fluid in those tubes.  And where does that heat end up going?

OUTSIDE.

(From http://www.HowStuffWorks.com) Notice that orange/yellow arrow representing a heated air plume being sent out into the external atmosphere.  Now do that tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of times within a city area.  The insides of buildings get cooler, and the outside – what happens to IT? The heat gets dispersed and blended with the ambient air, warming it.  That warming is not zero. Not individually nor collectively.  Collectively those non-zeros adds up.

That is why you don’t put a met station right by the exhaust of an air conditioner – because the air there is HEATED.  So that we can be cool inside, the outside has to get warmer.  In short, the air in our cities is cooler inside and warmer outside.

Now guess where the met stations are – inside or outside?  Right – outside. <i>Where the heated air conditioner exhaust goes.</i> Continue reading

THE TORTURE PROBLEM – WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

On December 3rd the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence released its long overdue “Findings and Conclusions” on the CIA’s “Detention and Interrogation Program” during the George W Bush administration.  Almost all of us know this by now.

The editors of the New York Times on December 21st wrote an Editorial entitled “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses”.  This editorial ended with:

Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate’s report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions.

The US military is as bound by more than one law from engaging in torture by the UN Convention Against Torture (1994), which the USA signed but has not yet ratified in Congress, but still is bound by.  The US military is also bound by The Geneva Conventions, Article III of 12 August 1949.  It should be noted that the United States was THE major force in the creation of the Geneva Conventions, and is thus doubly responsible for the rules (laws) as they are written. In addition, by ratifying the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations itself, the US Constitution declares such treaty signings as being part of “the highest law of the land”.  This means that all OTHER laws are under them and must obey the treaties exactly as written.  AND that federal prosecutors must bring violators to justice.

The famous Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions includes:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: Continue reading

I Am Not a Fan of Chaos Theory or Uncertainty (as it is applied)

I was just looking into a book called “Chaos or Complexity in Economic Systems” by one Fernando Alcoforado, and it appears that it will be a real slog.  Quickly I ran across the following:

Efforts of Poincare and Lorenz were added to the contributions of Benoit Mandelbrot(communications engineer), Edward Feigenbaum (math), Libchaber (physical), Winfree (biologist), Mandell (psychiatrist) and others. Chaos Theory or the new Science of Complexity suggests that the world should not strictly follow the deterministic Newtonian model, predictable and certain, because it has chaotic aspects. The observer is not who creates instability or unpredictability due to their ignorance because they exist in nature.

A typical example is the weather. The processes of reality depend on a huge set of uncertain circumstances that determine, for example, that any small change in one part of the planet, there will be in the coming days or weeks a considerable effect on the other part of the Earth. This condition also applies to the economic system. According to Chaos Theory or Complexity Science, chaos is a “mixture” of disorder and order that born of new structures, structures called “dissipative”. Chaos theory suggeststhat the Universe has a cycle of order, disorder, order, and so on. So that one leads the other and so on, perhaps indefinitely. One of the main implications of Chaos Theory hasto do with the return generated in chaotic situations. While closed systems have a negative feedback, open systems evolve chaotically by positive feedback… [emphasis added by me]

See, this is where I disagree.  The bold part is an assertion that the author fully accepts at face value.

I don’t.  Those “uncertain circumstances” are NOT uncertain, not to the real, physical atoms and molecules.  Each of them is being affected by forces and processes and conditions acting upon them.  And each, in its turn, passes on some portion to other atoms and molecules.

The fact that HUMAN SCIENTISTS are uncertain about those “circumstances” does not make the physical circumstances uncertain; those circumstances are REAL, whether the scientists can measure them or not. Continue reading

Something Just Phor Phun and Let You All Sort It Out or Scratch Your Heads…

You can all label me as certifiable now if you want…

This is about ice ages.  Some portions about the ice age theory – as presented – have holes in them.  So, I am arguing those points and you see if my points are valid in your own minds. . .

Two years ago, over at WattsUpWithThat.com, my friend Canadian climatologist Rodney Chilton posted an article on the Younger Dryas and the Thermohaline Conveyor shutdown that is supposed to have happened.  I was one of the people who vetted and edited Rodney’s paper, so it is something I had a little hand in. Rodney duly gave me credit in the Acknowledgements, even. I was quite pleased to see how many commenters at WUWT had positive comments.

Especially this one:

Mike M. says:

thank you very much for posting. i have a scientifically minded teen and have used this article to demonstrate “the way science is done”.

I am not going to comment directly on either of the topics, but will instead disuss a comment by a guy named commieBob, which was replied to by a handful of people, with a couple of them actually not having any idea what they were talking about or what science’s take was on the point of commieBob’s comment.

commieBob says:

Ice age – What ice age?

Here’s a link to a really skeptical article:http://www.blavatsky.net/science/atlantis/emails/ice_age.htm There is ‘evidence’ that the ice ages, as we understand them, did not happen.

The first thing that attracted my attention when I found the above link was the name Blavatsky. “Verrry interesting” The new age movement might be termed “Blavatsky for dummies”. In other words, although I do not personally have the knowledge and skill to refute the information and conclusions in the above linked article, I’m darn sure it’s garbage. It is, isn’t it? Help …

I did myself read the linked article, which had some valid points and some mish-mash in it.  I will pass on the mish-mash and address what I think are valid points.

To this, one comment was the following. I will comment here on the bolded parts of davidmhoffer’s comment:

davidmhoffersays:

commieBob;
I’m darn sure it’s garbage.
>>>>>>

It is worse than garbage. The article rests upon this argument:

********************
[Quoted improperly from the article:]

“A first and perhaps prime fact you need to know is that ice does not go uphill. Water doesn’t and ice doesn’t and glaciers don’t. Even over level ground ice doesn’t go very far. Specifically it goes up to 7 miles on level ground. Ice just can’t push ice further than that. If pressure is applied to push more than 7 miles worth of ice then it gets crushed or melts instead.

A look at the map shows that the ice would have to be pushed much farther than 7 miles.
With just this info you can see, the ice-age didn’t happen!”
********************

An “ice age” happens when the total amount of snow that falls in winter exceeds the amount that melts in summer.

If that happens over a large area, you get a large ice sheet, it doesn’t have to “travel” to get anywhere. As for the 7 mile limitation, it all depends on speed. If the ice only moves a small amount year over year, then no crushing or melting occurrs [sic]. FAIL on the first two points of the article, no further reading required to conclude that it is drivel.

So what am I going to write about this?….

Hoffer cheated a bit on his quote of the article, by leaving out the middle paragraph of what he pasted in.   Continue reading

A Change of Pace – 3D Body Parts

Move over Captain Kirk!  Or take a bow, Gene Roddenberry!  Your Replicators are developing almost as fast as they are printing out “stuff.”

FIRST STUFF?  NEW AORTAS, FROM YOUR OWN CELLS

You knew this was coming:  3d printed body parts.  Main blood vessels would seem to be made to order for 3D printers.  They don’t have permeable walls – all they are is tubes to move the blood from one part of the body to another.  As long as the material is not rejected by the body and does not break down, it would seem that aortas would be a perfect application of 3D printing.  And if they can make it out of our own cells, the rejection problem should be completely eliminated – and breakdown should pretty much gone, as well: The 3D printed one should last as long as the original, perhaps the rest of our lives.

Will they be able to make new livers and kidneys and pancreases, complex organic factories?  Certainly not at this stage, but given time, it seems possible, if not altogether doable.

THE PIECES START TO COME TOGETHER – Circa late 1990s

About 15 years ago or so, I first heard of 3D printers, and the first thought in my mind was Star Trek transporters.  Don’t laugh!  We are well on our way!

To transport, the Star Trek idea was to disassemble an object or organism by full body scanning and disassembling the body molecule by molecule, and then transmitting the pattern to another location and re-assembling it.  It was similar to replicating, but had the extra steps at the transmitting end of identifying every molecule in the body and, one-by-one, removing them from the object or organism.  From that point on, the two are pretty identical. (Except for how to deal with the consciousness/personality/memories.)

But ten years ago, where was the scanner?

Aha! THAT, dear reader, had been invented LONG before – around 1980-ish – with NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance.  NMR is now usually called MRIs. MRIs display IN 3D and only display (usually).

Enter CNCs for a moment, just for illustrative purposes:

Computer Numerically Controlled machining centers are the current way that metal parts are made these days. A CNC takes a computer generated “model” of a part – that is EXACTLY the same size and shape as the finished part needs to be.  That model LOOKS like the real 3-dimensional part – with holes and notches and chamfers and shoulders and hubs and bosses and all sorts of shapes.  There was a transition period for CNC machines, when a person would have to take a 2-dimenional drawing and, using proper commands, create the 3D model for the machinist.  But at this point in tech history the 2D drawing is done away with.  The designer now creates the object’s shape in 3D exactly as he wants it.  That is the “model” – the cyber-equivalent to the real thing.  There is no extra step anymore – software now directly takes that cyber model and from it generates all the steps needed by the machining center (the CNC).  And the parts come out super accurate.

THAT tech has been with us now for a long time.  CNC tech, like all machining, is basically a SUBTRACTIVE process – you start with a chunk of metal slightly too big, and then you start removing metal until the shape is 100% correct. 100% of the unneeded material is taken away, leaving only what you want, in the shape you want.  What is NEW is that the 3D printer is not subtractive but is instead ADDITIVE.  And THAT is pretty cool.  You start with nothing, and then keep adding the material layer by layer until you’ve got the finished part.

And that is EXACTLY what a replicator or a transporter needs to do at the “building” end – keep putting more material in until the thing is 100% built – 100% of the needed material has been ADDED.

It is, I found, very apropos to call it “printing,” by the way.  Watching a 3D printer is like watching now-obsolete large format ink printers for technical drawings.  But it is also like watching the really old teletype type printers from the 1950s.  And it right now is just about that slow, at least for some of the current printers.  It is also a bit like watching fax machines print out.  But as teletypes and faxes got faster and faster, and as new innards are developed, the 3D printers of 10 years from now will probably be 10 times faster.  Perhaps 100 or 1,000 times faster.

PATTERNS AND MODELS

The Star Trek shows usually used the term “Pattern Buffer.”  Basically, and perhaps literally, that is the same thing as saying a “3D computer model.”  Once the model is created, it is stored in a computer file, and many copies of the object can be made from that one cyber model.  Making copies does not degrade the file in any way – it is just a template.  Template, model, pattern buffer – same thing.

So now, we have had the two main rudimentary elements of Star Trek transporters around for over 10 years.  The early “builder” elements, however were only capable of dealing with one material at a time – the early 3D printers. (It was called stereolithography then.)   I could see that at the time, and that that would change.  I figured that in time people would ask if a second and third material could be added.  After all, how many different elements are in a human body?  How many different molecule types?  I guessed that someone was already thinking about those other materials and how to incorporate them into the 3D printers.

It turns out that I was right to expect that.  I see these articles now, and I smile. We are on our way, Captain Kirk!

As far as body parts go, we may be able to – SHOULD be able to – repair many or most or maybe someday ALL of our organs this way. We may be able to pre-print them and keep them in cry-stasis, waiting for the day when we need them.  Just thinking about what all this might do for human longevity makes my head spin.  We may be close to 200-year-old people – perhaps 1,000 year old people.

We may not be able to transport ourselves, though.  Doing that will mean transferring the consciousness to the new body location.  Can we do that? That will have to be proven before I will believe it.  But it MIGHT HAPPEN!  I honestly do not know. But at the same time, just replacing body PARTS is something FAR beyond what Mary Shelley could have envisioned in “Frankenstein.”  Is it better to re-animate dead tissue or to keep the tissue alive in the first place?

What do you think?