Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quick ideas

I think we're all pretty bogged down with work, so, of course, I'm taking a break to make a post about some science.

Go figure.

First, some basic figures, which I think are pretty cool.

The orbital speed of the earth is right around 30 kilometers a second. That's roughly 10 times the speed of a bullet out of a rifle. Yet, we do not feel the motion because we're in a relatively stable inertial frame of reference. Like being in a speeding car, as long as the car isn't accelerating or decelerating, you can't really "feel" the motion. This is partially why open country roads on flat land are really dangerous: without any reference frame (i.e. hills, telephone poles, houses, etc) in the near distance to gauge your speed by, you can slowly accelerate to huge speeds and just daze out, not even knowing how fast you're going.

Also, the earth rotates at just about a thousand miles an hour (at the equator). The poles don't really rotate much at all. For the same reason as above, we don't really notice it. But, you might ask, what then is the rotational speed of my location?

Well, it turns out you can take the cosine of your latitude (getting more complex: vector calculus! Figure out your orbital speed by combining your rotational velocity and the velocity of the earth around the sun!) to find out your rotational speed. For my location (roughly 41.8 degrees north), my rotational speed is right around 745 miles an hour! Nice!

More below the fold.

Okay. A little more mathematics, then I'll move on to more interesting things.

Homeopathy. Homeopathy. Homeopathy. When will the quackery end? Let's take one of the most basic principles of homeopathy: "less is more," in the sense that the more you dilute a solution, the more powerful it becomes.

Try and wrap your mind around that one for a little bit.

The extra bit that is required to make any sense of it whatsoever is that apparently "water has memory," and thus retains some "memory" of substances it comes into contact with.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find this thought experiment enlightening for this. Think about the 4.5 billion years of the earth. Try to imagine the water cycle. Statistically, there are probably a lot of random water molecules out there which have been floating around in someone's bladder at some point. Now...if we combine "water has memory" and "dilution makes it more potent," well...I think you can see where we're going with this.

Another thing: the 30C dilution. I'll link here for a humorous discussion of it (good to see that the first responder to the post was basically a shut down).

30-C basically means that one part "medicine" is diluted into 1 x 10^30 parts water. That's a really big number. How big you ask? Well, I've done some calculations:

If we create an arbitrary cylinder in space, defined with a radius of 1 AU (astronomical unit, the distance between the sun and the earth, 149,597,870,691 meters, or, if you prefer, 149.6 x 10^6, and the thickness of the sun's diameter (6.955 x 10^8 meters) (Bad Astronomer! Please don't kill me for this! And if any of the math needs to be updated, let me know!), then, converting our values to centimeters (we're going to discuss volume, and hence, cubic centimeters), we have have roughly a radius of 14,960,000,000,000 (149.6 x 10^11 centimeters) and a thickness of roughly 69,550,000,000 centimeters (6.955 x 10^10 centimeters). Thus, we have an area of 703,093,462,421,641,470,437,121,129 centimeters squared (7.03 x 10^26) (pi x r^2). To find the volume, we simply multiply by the thickness, leaving us with roughly 4.87 x 10^37 cubic centimeters of volume in an arbitrary cylinder between the earth and the sun.

Let's compare. 4.87 x 10^37 and 1 x 10^30. Now, there is a several order of magnitude difference here. One away from the difference between a millimeter and a kilometer. That's nothing to sniff at; but there is a very important point to be shown here. The pure volume which they are talking about (assuming they use milliliter drops, which, would seem reasonable) is comparable to the volume of space between the suns and planets. There simply isn't enough water on earth to dilute something that much! We have about 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water on earth. That would be 130,000,000,000,000 cubic centimeters, or 1.3 x 10^14 milliliters.

Think about that for a second. There are many, many orders of magnitudes difference between the amount of water on earth and the supposed dilution ratio of homeopathic remedies. At this point, we are left with two conclusions. A) There really is no "medicine" in them at all - they're just some saline solution; or B) The dilution rate is actually much less, and by homeopathy's own reasoning, it shouldn't work very well at all. If it does "work" so well when the dilution is less...well, this is in fact a good sign that homeopathy's principle about dilution is simply false (how could it be otherwise), and that modern medicine is actually doing something pretty good for us. Thanks chemists and medical technicians!

I doubt this will convince any homeopathic users out there...most would still go on using it because they feel it "works for them." Well, as long as you admit it's nothing but a placebo effect, or some condition that can clear up quite naturally on its own, then, okay. But are you really willing to spend the often ridiculous amounts of money on a mere placebo?

Okay, on to different topics.

A good, brief abstract of research done on the Burgess Shale, one of the most fascinating fossil finds in biology. I'm sure some creationist is going to tout this as some proof of a global flood, never realizing how many problems there are with that.

1) If, as you say, everything was created just as it is now 6,000 years ago, then why the hell the funky body designs here? Granted, in the Burgess Shale we can see the beginnings of all the major body plans found today; but this simply tells us that there was a lot of experimentation in body plans early on. Go pick up Neil Shubin's book, Your Inner Fish. He has a great section where he discusses this. Also, catch him on a podcast talking about the book!

2) If, as you say, there was a global flood, why do we not see more evidence of these kinds of mass deposits of fossils all over the planet? Oh, that's right...because this was a pretty special case where a mudslide buried them to such a depth that normal decay couldn't occur and thus preserved them...and they just happened to be in that localized place. Sorry, no real evidence for that whole "global flood" thing. Come back later when you have some science to back you up.

3) Why are there no modern fish looking things (or, hell, a bunny rabbit) sitting in the Burgess Shale? Well, the quite obvious answer, for the evolutionist, is that those creatures had not evolved yet. This happened in the Cambrian period, before modern fish-type things had evolved, and hence long before mammals. Sorry, creationists, but no rabbits before fishes in the fossil evidence. You'd have us stumped if there were.

For a bit more frightening look into the mind of a creationist/fundamentalist Christian, check out Rapture Ready. They're so...happy...about it. It's a little sickening. Okay, I take that back, it's incredibly sickening.

Need a vaccine against mindless inanity? Check out Thuderf00t's channel on YouTube. It's quite excellent, especially the "Why do People Laugh at Creationists?" series. He's up to 17 right now, and they're all worth it. Thunderf00t, if you're anywhere near 41.8 north latitude, I'd love to buy you a beer sometime.

Lastly, someone's doing research into the great ape's representational cognitive abilities. This should be very interesting to follow, and if I catch anything else on it, I'll try to keep you updated.

Okay, that's enough for now. I must get back to the grind and study.

No comments: