September 23rd, 2010

#2308: Our understanding of gravity is almost right.

Way back here I wrote:
Einstein himself hated the use of constants; he figured that any physical equation that required a constant was not fundamental. (Example: the equation we use to determine the gravitational force between two bodies relies on the gravitational constant G, which is 6.67300 x 10-11m3kg-1s-2. Which means, in Einstein's view, that the classical understanding of gravity is almost right, but not quite.)
As I've said before: sometimes when I'm trying to get to sleep, I think about some of the intractable problems of physics and engineering that I've enountered over the years.

Sometimes I come up with some interesting ideas.

Gravity, though--that one's a puzzler. Unlike the other four fundamental forces of nature we can't get it from the standard model of particle physics. It's the weakest of the four, and its scale is far greater, extending farther than even electromagnetism can. (EM must obey the red shift limit; gravity does not.)

Einstein was frustrated that his theory of general relativity needed the Fine Structure Constant (which we abbreviate as "alpha") in order to work; he felt that mean that general relativity was almost right, but he couldn't figure out what was wrong with it and reduce it to a more fundamental equation, one that didn't require a constant.

His most famous equation, E=MC2, does not require any constant to function. You put in the mass and the speed of light, do a little math, and you know how much energy you get.

But what could possibly be missing from our understanding of gravity? Why is the constant necessary?

Well, if you look at electromagnetism, you find that you need a constant to determine the force between two charges...but this constant turns out to be the permittivity of the medium surrounding the charges. Vacuum, a piece of metal, water, whatever, but we usually consider the charges to exist in a vacuum and use the constant which corresponds to it.

And that constant is determined by the application of what we know about how electromagnetic waves behave; it's generated only by arithmetical operations on known values.

...getting into a discussion of whether or not a constant is "fundamental" would make for a major digression. My point is, a constant may take the place of a more fundamental understanding of the property in question.

If the gravitational constant ("G") is in fact necessary, it may itself be similar to the vacuum permittivity constant required by the electromagnetic equations.

But gravity is a very weakly-interacting force. It takes the entire mass of the Earth to hold a paperclip on the top of your desk and keep it from floating away; but a magnet no bigger than the tip of your finger can exert enough force to lift that paperclip against the force of Earth's gravity.

Gravity's weakness makes it hard to measure and very difficult for us to play with, in order to figure it out. Electromagnetism is strong enough that we could do all kinds of experiments and learn all its properties, thus giving us enough information to generate equations which describe all its behaviors--and six score years or so later we're doing incredible things with electromagnetism because it's so easy to play with and learn about.

Gravity isn't so convenient. One can imagine Cavendish tearing his hair in frustration because his careful measurements were ruined when someone's horse clopped by at the wrong moment.

No one has managed to build a gravity wave detector that ever detected any gravity waves. (Of course, the gravity wave detector is a type of interferometer, and a gravity wave changes the shape of space, so the laser light probably wouldn't notice...but that's an entire other discussion in itself.)

(As you can see, the gravity question is one I keep coming back to, time and again.)

It really is a shame that we can't seem to crack this one. Imagine how useful it would be if we could manipulate gravity the way we manipulate electromagnetism.


Thanks, Democrats! Thanks, Obama!

My health insurance premium, July 2010: $460

My health insurance premium, October 2010: $550

...when I first got this plan it cost about $130 per month, paid quarterly; even the last payment before the ObamaCare increase wasn't too far above that and it had taken a couple of years to rise to that level (about $153 per month). Now, in three months, it's risen to $183 per month.

Look: it took two years for my premium to rise by $20 per month, and half of that increase took place in 2010. Now it's done that again in just three months.

So my health insurance has gone up by $30 per month since ObamaCare was signed into law.

Look: I'm one of the people Obama says he's trying to help with this shit. I'm unemployed; I was earning beneath the poverty line even before that. Until about a month after 9/11 I was middle class, but I've been considered "poor" since October of 2001.

Fortunately I have help. Even so, the help I'm getting is from a retiree on a fixed income, which is another demographic which Obama and the Democrats say they're trying to help with this shit.

So basically I have one message for Obama and the Democrat Regime:



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Trust me, this is not coincidental. "New Health Care Benefits to Start Thursday" including a 20% hike in your freakin' insurance premiums!

Thanks, Obama! Thanks, Democrats! I HATE YOU ALL

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Sarah Palin: "In fact, fueled by reports that insurers expect premiums to rise by as much as 25 percent as a result of Obamacare, Senate Democrats are contemplating the introduction of price controls. Mine's gone up 20%.

Price controls! Oh, Jesus.

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You have got to be kidding me. Apple trademarked a common English word? "POD" is a registered trademark of Apple Corporation?

How the everloving shit did the Registrar of Copyrights let that get past? (Wait, I know--Apple has enough money to buy a Congressman or two.)


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Ann Coulter is awesome.

"Goldwater wasn't our guy; Reagan was." AMEN SISTER! PREACH IT!!!

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On my way home from Subway this afternoon I got behind a Ford Focus, Indiana license plates, with a couple of anti-Toyota bumper stickers:

"Toyota: brought to you by the people responsible for Pearl Harbor!"


"Friends don't let friends drive Toyotas!"


"UAW union baby," I said.

That former bumper sticker is, by the way, wrong. Toyota didn't have much, if anything, to do with Pearl Harbor. Those planes were made by Mitsubishi.

It is, in fact, a bunch of UAW bullshit, because the UAW has a special hatred in its heart for Toyota. See, Toyota closed the NUMMI plant in California, which was its only unionized plant--and the only reason that one was unionized was that it had been a joint venture with GM, which had previously pulled out of the plant leaving Toyota holding the bag for all those overly expensive UAW employees. In a plant it didn't even need, particularly with the world economy hitting the skids and a huge recall or three in the offing.

The UAW doesn't really care about the little things that automakers have to worry about, you know, like actually being able to remain in business. UAW would rather suck a company dry and let it go out of business (thus laying off UAW workers) than give up so much as a single dollar of wages or benefits.

Or, more importantly, their own power.

Ultimately that's my primary problem with unions: they don't give a rat's ass if the companies they inflict are able to survive, and they couldn't care less if their members actually have jobs. They don't bother to look at the long term: "If we do this, will our guys have jobs in five years? Ten? Twenty?" No; they care only about their political power in the short term, about lining their own pockets and feathering their own nests--and everybody else be damned.

That's why GM had to declare bankruptcy; the UAW bled them dry--and then Obama stepped in and made sure that the UAW was protected from any negative consequences while assraping everyone else involved to pay for it.

If GM had been allowed to go through a proper bankruptcy, the UAW would have taken it in the ass; everyone would have, but more or less equally. Obama's unconstitutional meddling protected the UAW and fucked everyone else that much harder.

Now I should feel sorry for the UAW because Toyota closed one plant? Fuck them. The UAW is part of the problem, and the people who work for Toyota know it; that's why the UAW hasn't been able to unionize any of Toyota's plants.

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Coming back into town after visting the sandwich shop, then, there was a couple police cars beside the road. They'd pulled over some guy; and when we got close enough to see, the "why" was obvious.

Take a typical mid-90s Ford F-150. Now pile all kinds of scrap galvanized culvert piping on it. Pile it extra-high, so the pile is about half again as tall as the truck; and have some hunks hanging over the windshield and tied to the front fenders (!) with string.

Yeah, just slightly overloaded with your scrap metal bonanza, there, pal.


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If you're the praying kind, include Dick's dad in them if you would.

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I got this link from Ace, and I'm going to steal his comment about it too:

"Everything they said [about ObamaCare] was a lie; everything we said was pretty much true."

We don't have a crystal ball. We just have the example of every other attempt in history at socializing medicine to demonstrate why ObamaCare won't--can't--do what the Democrat Regime says it will do.

Then Ace goes on to cite four five reasons ObamaCare is the Democrat Regime's Waterloo.




You exercised raw political power without regard to our opinions, just to show you could. [They're] stupid animals, you thought; these stupid animals will all fall in line when we tug on the leash hard enough.

No. And we're not just tugging back. We're going for your fucking throats.

You exercised raw political power.

Our turn, bitches.
Emphasis his.

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Obama sez, "My work here is done." How much demotivation do you need?

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The US delegation to the UN walked out on Amahdinejad when he started with the 9/11 truther bullshit. Good for them!

Ms. Malkin comments, "Glad to know the Obama administration draws the line somewhere.", I'm pretty sure that Obama's going to take them to task for being "rude".

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OMG she's a woman with breasts ban her from the sight of children! MAKE HER WEAR A BURQUA AT ALL TIMES!!!


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Look at the graph in the first part of this post and read the text about it.</a> Then tell me that the Iraq war is the cause of the economic downturn.

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This is the first time I've seen anyone other than my Dad refer to a "crocogator":

funny pictures-Am no cuddly panda  Am daingerus crocogator

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This kid's Mom is awesome:

funny facebook fails - Mom FTW!

#2310: Well, Texas is out.

I'm not going to move to Texas.

Look at "K" on the "Chemical laboratory apparatus" list.

Transformer--electrical transformer.

That means that if you have an electrical transformer, the police have probable cause to bust you for manufacturing drugs. (The charge may not stick, but they can bust you on it.)

You have to have a permit from the State of Texas to buy a transformer.

And look at the list of "chemical precursors": "Pseudoephedrine". That means you need a special license to buy Sudafed.


But back to the thing about "transformer": do you have any devices which are powered via a "wall wart"? Guess what? That's a transformer!

Own a UPS for your computer? Guess what's in there?

I probably have about 20 transformers, not including the ones in my pile of electronics parts and tools.