Thursday, December 3, 2015

Singularities, Black Holes and the Big Bang

Stephen J. Crothers of the Alpha Institute of Advanced Study, Brisbane, Australia, who is also a well-known Rational Scientific Methodist, has written a new "scientific paper" about "singularities" and black holes.  It seems he paid $470 to have it published in a "scientific journal" of dubious worth called "The American Journal of Modern Physics."  In the paper he argues that black holes are impossible because singularities are illogical.   According to Mr. Crothers:
"the whole theory of black holes is fallacious"
"Just as people who believe in ghosts assign the action of ghosts to that which they do not understand, cosmologists assign the action of black holes to that which they do not understand."
 "The intellectual decrepitude of modern physics and astronomy is clear indication that they are diseased and dying sciences."
The paper can be found at the link HERE.   Some information about the so-called "scientific journal" in which the paper can be found is available at the links HERE and HERE.  Note that it is also not listed on Wikipedia nor in the list of ranked physics journals.  The name of the "journal" is very similar to the real scientific journal, "The American Journal of Physics," so don't be confused.

What Mr. Crothers apparently fails to realize is that the existence of black holes is generally considered to be a proven fact, while the existence of singularities is generally considered to be purely theoretical. One concept does not depend upon the other.

It's always been my understanding that "singularities" are just what you get when you do not have all the information needed to make a calculation.  Personally, I think there are probably spheres of super-dense matter at the center of black holes, since we know there are "regular" sized black holes that are formed when a star goes supernova, and there are super massive black holes at the center of galaxies.  How can a "singularity" with no dimensions come in sizes big and small?  The problem is, at this moment there is no way to prove what is at the center of either size black hole.

But, we can do research to get more information about "singularities."  I spent a couple hours on such research, and here is what I found:

Yahoo has this question: "How does a gravitational singularity work?"
With this answer:
"A gravitational singularity, that is, a place where the known laws of the universe break down, is a "solution" to Einstein's theory of gravitation. But it is known that Einstein's equations are only a partial description of reality. What is lacking is a theory that integrates gravity with quantum mechanics. If and when a "theory of everything" is developed, we may have some idea what really lies at the center of a black hole, but until then all we have is Einstein to go on. The notion of a singularity, infinite density in an infinitely small volume, is anathema to physicists; physicists detest infinities. Infinities in an equation are always a sign that something is wrong. One way to avoid infinities is to adopt a different theory of space and time. One such theory is loop quantum gravity which says that there is a minimum unit of space and a minimum unit of time. Once a minimum unit of space is filled, nothing more can be crammed into it. If anything more is to be added, it has to fit into the next minimum unit of space. Hence, no infinities and no singularities. But so far loop quantum gravity is only the outline of a concept, a concept that eventually will have to reconcile gravity with quantum mechanics if it is to have any validity."
Wikipedia has this comment:
"Many theories in physics have mathematical singularities of one kind or another. Equations for these physical theories predict that the ball of mass of some quantity becomes infinite or increases without limit. This is generally a sign for a missing piece in the theory, as in the ultraviolet catastrophe, renormalization, and instability of a hydrogen atom predicted by the Larmor formula."
Another scientific web site has this comment:
"The existence of a singularity is often taken as proof that the theory of general relativity has broken down, which is perhaps not unexpected as it occurs in conditions where quantum effects should become important. It is conceivable that some future combined theory of quantum gravity (such as current research into superstrings) may be able to describe black holes without the need for singularities, but such a theory is still many years away."
Yet another scientific web site has this comment:
"Most people worry about singularities involving general relativity: two examples being a black hole and the singularity that classical general relativity predicts was our universe at the moment it began. If you try to apply the laws of general relativity in these situations you will inevitably find the same 1/x singularities I've been talking about. How are we going to resolve these singularities? We expect quantum mechanics to do the job, since it is the theory that correctly describes physics at small distance scales. Unfortunately, while we have good theories of atomic physics, we don't real have a good theory of quantum gravity. Many of us think string theory will ultimately provide the resolution to these problems.

"In short then, a singularity represents an infinity and we generally don't think nature is infinite. The problem arises from not having some kind of 'floor' built into a theory that keeps you from taking the limit of 1/x as x goes to zero. The way out is to apply a new theory that has such a floor, such as quantum mechanics or string theory (quantum gravity)."
In Stephen Hawking's book "The Grand Design," Hawking wrote this about the Big Bang, where there are also calculations resulting in "singularities":
"Measurements of helium abundance and the CMBR [Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation] provided convincing evidence in favor of the big bang picture of the very early universe, but although one can think of the big bang picture as a valid description of early times, it is wrong to take the big bang literally, that is, to think of Einstein’s theory as providing a true picture of the origin of the universe. That is because general relativity predicts there to be a point in time at which the temperature, density, and curvature of the universe are all infinite, a situation mathematicians call a singularity. To a physicist this means that Einstein’s theory breaks down at that point and therefore cannot be used to predict how the universe began, only how it evolved afterward. So although we can employ the equations of general relativity and our observations of the heavens to learn about the universe at a very young age, it is not correct to carry the big bang picture all the way back to the beginning."
In other words, the fact that singularities are illogical cannot be used to claim that black holes (or the Big Bang) are illogical. Black holes (and the Big Bang) are confirmed by massive amounts of data which does not include singularities.  Singularities are simply mathematical results that show that something is missing or unknown in the mathematical equations.

Rational Scientific Methodists, however, appear to believe that to NOT have an answer to a scientific question is to admit to being ignorant or stupid. They seemingly feel it is better to BELIEVE that black holes are impossible than to accept that there is something unknown about what exists in the center of a black hole.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Antares October 28, 2014 explosion pictures

Skimming through The Huffington Post this morning, I came across a story titled "NASA Releases Stunning New Images Of 2014 Antares Rocket Disaster."   The article shows this image:

It is indeed a "stunning" image.  So, naturally I hunted for the link to the NASA flickr site where the full size image would be available.  There was no link in the article.  There was a link to a Huffington Post article from October 31, 2014 which shows this animated gif of the explosion.

So, I did a Google search for NASA-flickr and that led me to Flickr's NASA HQ Photo page.  There, I clicked on "Albums" and started hunting for the "stunning" pictures of the Antares explosion.  I did a search for "Antares" and found all the images from the Huffington Post article and more.  Here are some of them (you can click on them to see larger versions, but you need to go to the NASA Flickr "Orb 3 Mission album" site to see the biggest collection of full size versions I could find):

I never cease to be amazed by what is available via the Internet.  I save these pictures as if they are as valuable as gold, but they are free and instantly available to anyone and everyone on the Internet.  The only advantage to saving them is that if I want to view them again, I don't have to hunt for them again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Me and my new MP3 Player

Yesterday (Tuesday), I decided I needed to get further into the 21st Century and buy an MP3 player.  I wanted to try listening to audio books while at the gym -- and possibly at home.  I'd spent nearly a whole day on Monday going through audio books available on-line from my local library, and there were a lot of them I wanted to try.  I read science books every day while eating breakfast and lunch.  I can usually read them in 10 minute segments while eating (It takes about a month and a half to get through a book that way), but I can't read and enjoy novels in 10 minute segments.  I had tried reading science books and novels while on the treadmill and the Exercycle at the gym, but I need to wear my glasses to do that.  That meant that, at the start of the exercise session, I would take the book (or Kindle) with me and would wear my glasses while I did my "warm up" 30 minutes on the treadmill.  Then I'd have to take the glasses and the book back to the locker.  Then after about 20 minutes of various arm and stretch exercises, I'd have to go back to the locker for the book and my glasses before getting on the Exercycle the final 20 "cool down" minutes of the session.  It was just too much trouble - not to mention the fact that I couldn't easily hold and read the book while walking at 3.2 miles per hour on the treadmill, so I quickly gave up on that and only read while on the Exercycle. 

Yesterday, I looked on-line for the best local store to buy an MP3 player and went out and bought one.

The first startling discovery was that the MP3 player I wanted was a LOT smaller than I expected.  I was accustomed to seeing people at the gym with iPods and iPhones strapped to various parts of their bodies or falling off equipment and crashing to the floor as the owner exercised.  In the package, the MP3 player that best suited my needs looked to be about the size of a postage stamp.  When I got it home, it turned out to be about the size of a cigarette lighter.

Yet it has the capacity to store "up to 3,000 songs" and presumably dozens of books.  It comes with a clip that allows me to clip it to my belt or to the neck of my gym shirt.  (It weighs only 1 ounce!)  It seemed perfect for my needs, so why did it seem that everyone else was using an iPod or some other much larger and heavier gizmo?  Furthermore, my MP3 player cost less than $50, and iPods cost 3 to 4 times that much - or more.

I didn't have any answers.  And I needed to figure out how the thing works.  The first task was to charge the battery.  The instruction manual says that I do that my connecting it to my computer -- just the way I usually charge my Kindle.  (Or I also charge it by using my Kindle electrical plug adapter.) 

While the battery was charging, I downloaded a Jack Reacher short story called "Deep Down" into the player.  On the first try, I put it in the wrong folder.  The instructions are all about using the "Drag and Drop" method, which I couldn't make any sense of.  I think it's for people with iPads and tablets.  On my laptop computer, I used Windows Explorer to create a new folder in the MP3 player called "Books," and put the short story there in a folder called "Deep Down."  Then in the process of trying to figure out how to play it, I found that it should have gone into an existing folder called "Audiobooks."  The instructions say nothing about such a folder.  They say I should Drag and Drop it into a folder called "Audible."  But, no harm done.  I just cut and pasted the files into the Audiobooks folder and deleted the "Books" folder along with the sub-folder I'd created for "Deep Down."

This morning, I downloaded two science books I got on loan from the library into the Audiobooks folder and a free copy of "The Peter Gunn Theme" into the Music folder.  Everything seems to work fine.     

So, I'm all set to go.  In theory, I can start listening while making lunch.  Then I can continue while eating lunch, while changing clothes, while driving to the gym, and while doing all the various exercises at the gym.  I just need to take it off while taking a shower.  But, it's time to stop learning and planning and to start doing.     


I quickly realized that making lunch (or breakfast) is NOT an automatic (subconscious) chore I do without really thinking.  Plus, eating while I have plugs in my ears is awkward and uncomfortable.  So, I continued reading from my Kindle while eating breakfast and lunch.  Right now I'm reading a psychology/sociology book titled "Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference."

I also realized that it's not a good idea to drive while you have ear plugs plugged into your ears.  So, while driving, I'm listening to CDs I burned for "The Mental Floss History of the World," a light-hearted history book that required 17 CDs.  I'm really enjoying listening to it.  Previously, I just listened to a "oldies" music station because there is no station in my area that plays jazz.  It's much more enjoyable listening to amusing and interesting history tidbits than to music I don't really enjoy.  The only "problem" I had was that I didn't realize that I could pause the CD when I needed to get out of the car to open or close my garage door.  So, I missed about 20 or 30 seconds of the first part of the book before I discovered the pause button.

Meanwhile, I found that I can listen to my MP3 player from the time I've changed into my workout clothes at the gym until I take them off again to take a shower.  There's no problem counting repetitions while listening to someone reading the popular science book "What Einstein Told His Barber."  Counting reps is evidently a nearly automatic (subconscious) activity.  So, I'm getting over an hour's worth of listening done per day, which means I should be done with the book in about 8 or 9 workout days.  

What I need to do is check to see if I can find a device that would allow me to play the MP3 player via speakers in addition to using earplugs.  That way, I can switch back and forth between ear plugs at the gym and the speakers at home without losing my place in the book, since the MP3 player controls where I am in the book.    

Friday, October 23, 2015

A FAKE picture of the REAL Earth and REAL stars

Today, I discovered a new NASA web site that provides daily images of the Earth taken by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, which is in an orbit around the Sun, 924,777 miles away from the earth.  The satellite is in orbit around a Lagrange point where the Earth's gravity is exactly the same as the Sun's gravity.  So, the satellite is, in effect, orbiting the Sun just inside the Earth's orbit, moving in sync with the Earth, and it can continually take pictures of the side of the Earth that faces the Sun as the Earth spins on its axis.

Because the exposure time to take a picture of the Earth from that satellite is much faster than an exposure time that would be needed to take pictures of the stars, the pictures do not show stars.  They show the Earth and a black background. 

I wondered what the Earth would look like with a starry background, and I created this FAKE image of the REAL Earth (from HERE) and REAL stars (from HERE):

You can click on the image to view a much larger (and more spectacular) version.

The images were combined using

Someone advised me of a REAL picture that does show the Earth and stars.  Here it is:

Of course, the only reason you can see both the Earth and background stars in the picture is because the Earth is so small and isn't significantly brighter than a star in the picture.  As a result, the same exposure time will capture the Earth, the moon and some of the brighter background stars.   

Looking around the Internet, I found a picture HERE taken by US astronaut Reid Wiseman on the International Space Station (ISS) that shows part of the earth and plenty of stars:

The problem with it, is that he had to use a 3-second time exposure from the moving ISS, so the stars are blurred and so is anything else that moved relative to the ISS. 

And the fact that the above picture was a time exposure reminded me of the time (about 60 years ago) when I went down to the shore of Lake Michigan to take a time exposure photo of the moon over the lake.  Here it is:

There are no stars visible in the photograph, yet it was a beautiful night and the sky was full of stars.  (That white dot just above the horizon on the right could be Venus, or it could be a blemish on the color slide.) The time exposure just wasn't long enough to make the stars visible.  If I would have left the shutter open longer to capture the stars, the moon would have moved and turned into an oblong shape.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Do you HATE your pillow top mattress?

I HATE my pillow top mattress.

It was an expensive purchase, but I thought my pillow top mattress was terrific for the first year after I bought it.  Then I realized the top is a pillow that cannot be refluffed.  If you are a male who weighs more than 130 pounds or so, that means your upper body will slowly create a "trench" in the pillow top.  If you sleep in the same position all night, that might not be a problem.  But if you are "an active sleeper" like I am, i.e., someone who rolls over from time to time and shifts around to get into a more comfortable position, it creates a serious problem.  You find you are not only sleeping in a narrow trench, you can feel every bump in the bottom of the "trench."  And it is very difficult to roll over when you are sleeping in a narrow trench.  There is no longer a "pillow top" where you sleep.  If you try to sleep outside of the "trench," it's like sleeping on the side of a hill.  You'll just end up rolling into the "trench." 

I'm not the only person who has problems with pillow top mattresses.  Click HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for a few web pages created by other people who also HATE their pillow-top mattresses.

Unlike a regular mattress, you cannot turn the pillow top mattress over when you've created a "trench" on one side.  There is only one usable side to a pillow top mattress.  

You can, however, laterally rotate the mattress 180 degrees, putting the head of the mattress where the foot of the mattress was.  But that just creates a DIFFERENT problem.  If you are male, the trench was most deeply dug under the upper part of your body - your chest and shoulders - the heaviest part.  So, when you've rotated the mattress, you find that the upper part of your body is on a pillow top mattress that is almost like new, BUT your legs and feet are in a trench.  It's like sleeping on the bed while your legs and feet are on a chair next to the bed. 

I found that I could temporarily "solve" that problem by laying pieces of a thin foam mattress pad into the "trench" to fill it up.  But, after a few months I had created a NEW "trench" under the upper part of my body.  And then I had to fill that trench with pieces of foam mattress pad, too.  Then you start having problems with the foam being uneven and in the wrong places.

Right now, I'm experimenting to see if I can get the foam pieces into the right places AND cover it all with a complete foam mattress pad AND a mattress cover.  If you get a foam mattress pad that is too thick, you have a bed that is too soft.  That can be worse than sleeping in a trench.          

I could just buy a new (regular) mattress, but I haven't given up on trying to find a "fix" for my pillow top mattress.  It's become a science project.

I just don't understand why more people aren't making a roaring fuss over the STUPIDITY of stores selling pillow top mattresses without giving CLEAR WARNINGS that they may not be suitable for males who weigh more than 130 pounds.  The heavier you are, the more problems you'll probably have with any kind of mattress, but I'm 6 feet tall and weigh 185 pounds, which is not overweight.  I'm just too heavy for a pillow top mattress, and I SHOULD HAVE BEEN WARNED.    

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Some of my favorite Apollo missions archive photos

I've been going through the newly released Apollo Moon Mission photo albums, and I've downloaded and saved about 315 pictures so far.  Initially, I made a mistake of just saving the photos using the NASA file numbers.  For example, this is photo #21062657803_1b5573f7dc_o.jpg:

I'd downloaded about 50 pictures when I suddenly realized that if I wanted to mention them in a comment, I had forgotten in which album the photo was located.  And there is no way to tell from their photo number what mission or album the picture is from.  I couldn't tell anyone where I got it or where they could find a full size copy.  Duh!

So, I started methodically going through albums to try to identify where I'd found those 50 pictures, so that I could rename them.  The photo above is one that took a long time to locate.  I knew it wasn't from the Apollo 11, 12, or 14 missions, since they didn't take a "moon buggy" along until Apollo 15.  Finally, by using TinEye, I found it was from album Apollo 15 Magazine 82/SS.

The photo below is a favorite from the first mission to land on the moon: Apollo 11.  There are 8 albums of photos from Apollo 11.  The picture below is from the Apollo 11 Magazine 40/S album.  It's the 8th picture I saved from that album, so my photo number is: A11-M40S-08.jpg.

I cropped the above picture to create the picture below as photo #A11-M40S-08A.jpg:

Here's a cropped version of a picture the astronauts took during the Apollo 16 mission.  Interestingly, they got dirt on the lens and nearly all of the photos in magazine 114/B show the smudge:.

Here's a cropped shot from the Apollo 16 mission after they put in magazine 117/F and cleaned the lens (or maybe it was shot by the 2nd astronaut who didn't have smudge on his camera lens):

Here's a cropped favorite from the Apollo 17 mission, film magazine #134/B:

Below is another shot from the same film magazine, but this shot shows the astronaut holding the corner of the flag to straighten it out.  The lower gravity on the moon apparently was enough to cause the flag to straighten out all by itself.

When I mentioned this collection of photo albums on a Facebook page, it didn't take long before someone wrote: "Sure. Kubrick was such a genius."  I think he was joking, but I had been wondering how long it would take before a "Moon Landing Truther" would argue that all the pictures are faked.  And I was also wondering if there was anything in the pictures that might convince a "Moon Landing Truther" that we actually did go to the moon.  Probably not.  But, would Stanley Kubrick's special effects experts have created dozens and dozens of pictures that look nearly the same?  Would he have created smudged pictures and partial pictures from the end of a film roll?  Looking through the albums, I could not help but think how the astronauts weren't taking time to compose artistic photographs.  They were photographing everything, and the result was often a dozen pictures of the same rock from slightly different angles.  A "Truther" might argue that a picture was faked, but it gets pretty hard to say a picture is a fake when it is one in a series of thirty shots taken from the moon buggy as they drive across the moonscape.  Where on earth would anyone find such a landscape and such a sky?        

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Newly Released Photos from Apollo Moon Landings

While browsing the Huffington Post web site, I came across an article titled "Now You Can Watch Amazing Stop Motion Video of Apollo Space Missions."  That video led me to the Project Apollo Archive on Flicker.  And that in turn led me to the page that shows the available albums of photos from the Apollo missions.  I don't know how many images there are, but they number in the many hundreds, they are full size and they are in the public domain.  Most may never have been released to the public before. 

As an example, here is a 1600 x 1569 pixel photo from Apollo 11 Magazine 40/S:
You can click on the link above to see how large it really is.  It's 4048 x 3968 pixels, but Google won't allow me to provide a picture that large on this blog.  Of course, you can download the pictures and crop them or resize them to fit your needs.  Here's a cropped shot I created from an original in the Apollo 16 Magazine 107/C album:
The photos include dozens of shots of the earth taken during the trip to the moon and from orbit around the moon.  An example:
I could go on and on.  But,  I recommend that you view the images yourself at your leisure.  If you are a science nut like me, you'll want to save copies.  If you are not familiar with the way works, it may take a few minutes to figure out how to best go through the albums and how do download pictures, but it's definitely worth the effort.

Friday, October 9, 2015

weight & balance issues on an airplane

I took a round-trip flight recently from Milwaukee, WI, to Lynchburg, VA, with a stopover to change planes in Charlotte, NC.  On the flight from Milwaukee to Charlotte, and again on the flight from Charlotte to Milwaukee there were "weight and balance issues."  It was 14 years since the last time I was in an airplane, but I'd only encountered "weight and balance issues" on a plane once before in my life.  That was on a small plane hopping between islands in the Caribbean.

Anyway, on the flight out of Milwaukee, shortly after everyone was aboard, the flight attendant got on the speaker and said that they had a "weight and balance issue" and they needed someone to volunteer to move from one of the first four rows back to the rear of the plane.  I was in seat 3A, from where I'd just taken this picture:
It looked like everyone else in the first rows were couples, so I raised my hand and volunteered.  I moved back to seat 10C where I took this picture:
On the return flight from Charlotte to Milwaukee it happened again.  Only this time the flight attendant asked that TWO people volunteer to move from the first four rows to the back.  I was in seat 4F, but someone in row-1 immediately volunteered, and while he was getting up to move to the rear, someone in row-2 also volunteered.  So, I remained in seat 4F.

But the experience made me wonder about "weight and balance issues."  On the schedule I'd printed out for my flight, it said that there were occasional delays on the flight from Charlotte to Milwaukee.  Was it because no one volunteered to change seats?  What would they do if no one volunteered?

So, when I got home I did some research.  It turns out that "weight and balance issues" are fairly common on smaller airplanes.  And they are particularly common on the CRJ-200.  Here's a picture I took of the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) aircraft shortly after I'd gotten off in Charlotte:
And here's a stock shot of a CRJ-200 I found on the Internet:
Looking around the Internet I found a web site HERE which calls it a "Barbie Jet" and says that there are also other names for it: Satan’s Chariot, Climb Restricted Jet, Mini Lawn Dart, the Flying Bus, and Future Beer Can.  The person writing that article tells of being asked to move from seat 2D to 12D for "weight and balance purposes."

Personally, I had absolutely no problem with the aircraft or the flight.  I just thought the "weight and balance issue" was interesting.  And I wondered what would happen if no one volunteered.  But, further research indicates that it might be more common for the flight attendant to TELL someone they need to move to the rear for "weight and balance purposes."  The instruction carries the weight of law, since the flight attendant is an acting agent of the captain.

I found a blog HERE where 37 passengers were asked to get off the plane in England because someone had accidentally put too much fuel in the tanks.  I found a BBC News article HERE where 71 passengers on another flight from England refused to stay on board because of "weight and balance" issues and demanded to get off the plane.  Apparently it was because a cargo door was jammed and they couldn't use that space for luggage, so it created a "weight and balance issue."   It doesn't say how many were asked to move, only that 71 got off.

A blog HERE says:
The CRJ-200 can be a pain when it comes to weight and balance. It is usually no big deal where the people are seated when it is under about 40 passengers. It's only when it is nearly full that you often have to make sure the empty seats are toward the front.
RJs can be VERY sensitive to W&B issues. Part of the issue is that each person in this example is 2% of the theoretical total pax weight load, instead of say .5% on a 200-pax plane. So yes that's definitely an issue for small planes. 
I could only find one place on the Internet where someone refused to change seats.  Click HERE:
Aircraft less than half full. Me sitting over wing in an aisle seat, vacant middle seat and a person at the window.

Just before take off, a female cabin crew approaches me and states

"I am sorry sir, but due to weight and balance reasons, you will need to move three rows back"

What the is this about... seriously. If an 80kg person moving 3 metres is so critical to the W&B of a 400+ton aircraft, then we are all in trouble. Hopefully no-one leaves their seat during the flight.

Unfortunately, the request was so stupid, that I politely refused, told her I was comfortable where I was and asked her to explain her why.

Just a thought.... if you treat passengers like idiots... they might just take offence and become uncooperative.

Could someone shed some light on this ridiculous request. Is it used often for some reason? Why would the request be made... keeping in mind the aircraft was less than half full... and CC are not Load Controllers.
I haven't found anything in that blog which explains exactly what happened when the guy refused.  I assume that someone else simply volunteered.  The passenger says that the Flight Attendant just went about his/her business as if nothing had happened.  But, it's interesting that the guy felt it was some kind of demeaning request and that it was beneath him to submit to such a request.

For what it's worth, there were no "weight and balance issues" on the much smaller planes I took from Charlotte to Lynchburg and back again.  Here's a photo of one of those planes (a Dash 8-300) at the airport in Lynchburg, VA:
(I thought it was also unusual that of the 8 times I had to get on or off an airplane, only once did the passengers use a loading ramp (when boarding in Milwaukee).  All the other times we used stairs to the pavement and a ground-level door in the terminal.) 
And now I think I know all that I need to know about "weight and balance issues."  It's "normal," particularly on the CRJ-200, and most of the time people just volunteer.  But it was relatively new to me.  The time I encountered the issue when I was in the Caribbean, I thought it was because of the heat and the air being too thin or something.  But, it was probably just a "weight and balance issue" there, too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cleaning up photos using

On July 13, 2016, issued an update.  The update caused to sometimes start up in a virtually worthless mode that doesn't include the cloning tool and the "Auto-Level" feature described below. I'm not sure what causes it, but it usually goes away when you start it a second time.

When I digitized all my photographs that were in slide format, I also converted about 2,400 regular photographs to digital format.  About a third of the photos were in black and white.  The rest, of course, were in color.  Color negatives look like faded color photographs, and the gizmo I used to do the digital converting also converted the negative images to positive color shots.  But, it appears that some of those photos were also slightly faded and also have blemishes.  Since I'm working with negatives, the dirt spots and blemishes tend to be white, not black as they were with slides.

Here's a photograph I took in Venice as it looked before I used the "Auto-Level" adjustment feature in (you can click on the image to view a larger version):

There may not be any way to tell if the color needs adjusting or not, until you do it.  It could have just been a purplish day in Venice.  But, it's clear that the dark line down the right side shouldn't be there.  Evidently, the negative just wasn't properly positioned in the gizmo device I used to convert the color film negative to digital format.

There were no blemishes to eliminate, so here's the same photo after I used the "Auto-Level" adjust feature to adjust the colors and after I used the cropping feature to eliminate the black edge:

Obviously, the colors did need adjusting.

I also found a photograph I took in Monaco that had a bad scratch that definitely needed fixing.  The colors looked in need of adjustment, too. Here's what it looked like:

There is not only the white scratch in the lower right corner, but there are also lots of white dust spots in the sky and elsewhere.  Using's "Clone-Stamp" tool, I fixed the blemishes.  And here is what the final image looks like:

The next step for me was to figure out what the building was in picture.  I always thought it was the Grand Casino in Monaco, but when I looked for current images of it on the Internet, I found that it could also be the Monaco Opera House, which is part of the Casino Royale in Monaco (or vice versa).  I finally figured out that it's the view of the side of the building that faces the Mediterranean.  That's the Opera House side.  The main entrance to the casino is on the opposite side of the building.  

Live and learn.

Another thing I learned is that I should have spent more time during the digital conversion phase figuring out when the pictures were taken (or developed) and using that date as part of the names of the picture files I was creating instead of letting the conversion program assign file names.  I think the pictures above where taken sometime in the 1980s, but I'd have to find the packet with the negatives to be certain.  The develop date is usually on the packet, and it could also be on the end or side of the strip of negative film.  Most of my photographs are also in albums where photographed dates and other information is included with the photos.

For my experiences color adjusting and repairing digitized slides, click HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cleaning up slides using

About five years ago, I bought a gizmo that allowed me to digitized all the photographs and slides I'd accumulated during more than a half century of taking photos.  Some of the slides were faded and the conversion software that came with the gizmo couldn't fix them.  While looking around for software to use to create images for my web site and this blog, I came across, which is available for free.  To my great surprise, it has an option that will put color back into faded slides.

For example, here's a faded slide from my collection (you can click on it to view the full size version):

Note that the picture is not only faded, it also has a black line along the right edge where the scanner captured part of the cardboard holder for the slide.  Plus, there are tiny hairs and spots on the picture as a result of leaving the slide laying around in a closet for decades.

Using, I found that I only had to click on "adjustments" and then on "Auto-Level" to automatically bring back the color:

But, it also made the tiny hairs and spots more visible, particularly a faint dark streak of some kind that runs from the upper right corner of the photo to the bridge.

And, also has a cloning tool that I can use to get rid of all those spots, hairs and blemishes.  They call it a "Clone Stamp."  You select the size of the cloning tool by choosing a brush size, then you press CTL while you left-click your mouse to select the area you want to clone - a piece of unblemished sky next to a dirt spot, for example.  Then you move the cursor to the area with the spot and when you left click the mouse again, the clear piece of sky is cloned and placed over the spot.  After that, the area to be cloned will move when you move the mouse, and you just need to click on the spots you want to correct (being certain that the clone area doesn't also contain a spot), or you can hold down the mouse clicker while you clone over the entire bad area.

I used the "Clone Stamp" to get rid of all the hairs and spots and the streak, plus the dark line down the side.  Here's the result:

And, just because I found it to be interesting, here's a photo I found on the Internet which shows the same scene as it looks today:

I'm not sure exactly how the "Auto-Level" adjustment feature works, but here's another faded photo of New York City from the 1950s:

Here's the color corrected and cleaned up version:

And here's a photo from the Internet showing what the location looks like today:

Now I just need to clean up about a thousand other slides in my collection.  

For information about color adjusting photographs from negatives, click HERE.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rationalized SEMANTIC Methodist cartoons

Arguing with Rationalized SEMANTIC Methodists is providing a warehouse full of ideas for cartoons.  Here are some I've used in my Facebook group:

Here's another:
And another:
And another:
And another:
And another:
And another:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bill Gaede's Misinterpretation of Time Dilation

When I checked the Rational Scientific Method ("RSM") Facebook group page this morning, I found that RSMer Bill Gaede has just created a brand new YouTube video in which he attempted to debunk Einstein's theory of velocity-based Time Dilation.

 It's interesting how professional the video looks.  Mr. Gaede is either very skilled in creating videos, or he has a very skilled professional working for him.  I strongly suspect it is the latter, since Mr. Gaede clearly has at least one other person handling the camera work when he gives his sermons before audiences.

Interestingly, the new video quickly shows where Mr. Gaede misunderstands Time Dilation.  Not surprisingly, it has to do with a definition of a word.  The word is "year."  At about the 2:15 mark in the 4¼  minute video, Mr. Gaede explains that "a year has always been defined as one revolution of the Earth around the Sun."  And he asks if the Earth went around the Sun one time or 50 times during the traveler's trip into space.  "It certainly couldn't be both," Mr. Gaede observes.  And then he preposterously argues that the traveling twin said that the Earth went around the Sun only once.   Of course, the traveling twin never said any such thing.  He said he aged one year.

The Earth went around the Sun 50 times for BOTH twins.  Using the orbit of the Earth around the Sun as a clock is very much like the way I describe using a pulsar to keep time on my Time Dilation web page.  But, Mr. Gaede somehow seems to think that the Earth could only have gone around the Sun once if the traveling twin only aged "one year."  He concludes his new YouTube video with this: 

Someone might ask, "Where's the catch?  GPS would not work if the twin paradox were to be found to be wrong."
That "catch" lies in the fact that Relativity is offering an irrational physical interpretation to an observation.  Irrational explanations are the sole province of religionIt does not follow that the Earth goes around the Sun fifty times for one sibling and one time for his twin simply because a clock runs slower or faster in outer space.     
It's more mumbo jumbo having to do with what is "rational" and what is "irrational" according to RSMers.  And it is suspiciously similar to the recent discussion I had with "Clapton" on my blog page about Time Dilation. "Clapton" also argued that Einstein and I were saying that Time Dilation is caused by a clock running slow.  "Clapton" wrote:

"The analogy is perfectly valid: if "Time Dilation" is caused by slowed down clocks, then "Space Expansion" is caused by a shrunken yardstick.
It's the same thing." 
Of course, no one claimed that Time Dilation is caused by "slowed down clocks." Previously, I thought that "Clapton" was "DXer" using a different name.  Now this new evidence seems to very strongly indicate that "Clapton" was actually Bill Gaede.  It seems highly unlikely two people could have that same bizarre misunderstanding about what causes Time Dilation while at the same time having a fixed and inviolate definition of the word "year."

No one said that the Earth went around the Sun a different number of times for one twin than the other.  Just the opposite.  Time Dilation says that the Earth went around the Sun the same number of times for both twins, BUT the traveling twin physically aged only one year while the stationary twin aged 50 years. 

For Mr. Gaede, however, his apparent word-based religion says the word "year" is sacred and a twin cannot "age" 1 "year" while the Earth orbits 50 times.  It is evidently blasphemous to claim the traveling twin "aged" 1 "year" when the word "year" decrees that he MUST have aged 50 years, just like his twin.

Yes, both twins aged 50 "years," based upon the number of times that the Earth went around the Sun, but the traveling twin could OBSERVE the Earth traveling faster based upon how time was measured aboard his space ship.  This is where "Clapton" argued that two different "standards" for one year were being used.  To Mr. "Clapton," fifty years passed for both twins, based upon the "standard" he uses for one year, and that is all that is important. 

I countered by arguing,


It EXPLAINS why clocks run slower on satellites than on earth. It EXPLAINS why muons traveling at high speed exist longer than muons traveling at slower speeds. It EXPLAINS why an atomic clock flown across the Atlantic on an airplane will show less time has passed than a clock that did NOT move.

You appear to be arguing that you do not want any explanations. The only thing you seem to care about is that the clock that did not move is the "CORRECT" time.

No one is arguing against your belief. I'm just trying to EXPLAIN the scientific concept of Time Dilation and why it happens. Time Dilation EXPLAINS things that happen in the universe. If you do not care about such things, then why argue with people who want to understand science?
It appears that this is an "irrational physical interpretation" for Mr. Gaede.  To be "rational" one can have only one definition for "year" and one definition for "aged."  Definitions are sacred and to use them incorrectly is blasphemous and "irrational."  A NEW WORD is needed to describe the physical change and the different view of Time the traveling twin experienced.  Thou shalt no use "year," and thou shalt not use "age," since RSMers hold those words to be sacred and their definitions cannot be violated.

Among truly "rational" people, of course, some common ground could be found.  But the RSMers have blocked me from posting to their Facebook page, and the ability to post comments has been disabled for the new video.  That way they do not need to discuss anything or answer any questions.  On the RSMer Facebook page, Mr. Gaede wrote this:

Einstein's Twin Paradox should be used to measure the level of idiocy of people. If you accept that a traveler will be 50 years younger than his twin brother simply because he travels fast, we violate not only the definition of the word 'twin', but more importantly of the word 'year'. Anyone believing this nonsense is really hopelessly hypnotized by authority.
He makes it very clear: To RSMers, words are sacred and inviolate.  Period.

"Idiots" like me and Albert Einstein should have used different words.  Of course, RSMers have the final authority on how every word is defined.  So, in effect, all explanations of real science are forbidden by the RSM word priests.

How can you communicate or discuss anything with a Truther who believes his definition of a word is the only valid definition (i.e. "the truth"), and he creates his own definitions for key words used in science?


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rational Scientific Method Analyzed

A description of "The Rational Scientific Method" (RSM) can be viewed by clicking HERE.

The more I think about the RSM, the more irrational it seems.  So, I've created this blog page to see if any RSM advocate can answer questions about their "method."  From recent experiences, it appears that they would rather pull out their fingernails than to explain anything.  They feel it is all explained at the above link.  I attempted to ask some questions on their Facebook page HERE, but they just started attacking me personally, and then they deleted the entire discussion (claiming I had somehow deleted it).  That left me with lots of questions but no way  to ask them.  So, I'll ask them here, with the hope that some RSM advocate will respond.  If not, maybe someone else can figure it out.

What is the RSM supposed to accomplish?

The "mainstream" scientific method is for finding answers to questions. You BEGIN with a question. That is Step #1.

Step #1 in the RSM is to create an hypothesis. An hypothesis about WHAT? Just any old hypothesis for the fun of it?

It appears that the RSM "hypothesis" is the first step in coming up with a BELIEF. But, from what I see from RSM advocates, it could also simply be a way of coming up with an alternative argument to a scientific finding by "the establishment." If so, Step #1 should be "Find an establishment theory to dispute."

Obviously, the objective is NOT to find a BETTER theory. No attempt is made to explain how or why the RSM theory is better. It is only to find a theory that the theorist can VISUALIZE, believe in, and use to ARGUE against "the establishment."

The value of such a "method" appears to be ZERO. It accomplishes NOTHING except to create a basis for endless arguing against "the establishment."

The Rational Scientific Method" seems neither rational, nor scientific, nor a method.

To be a method, the STEPS should be described. What is "Step 1"? The word "step" isn't even used in "The Rational Scientific Method." It first appears in the introduction to "The Gaedean Scientific Method" where it seems to say that the "GAEDEAN method" "consists of three steps: 1) hypothesis, 2) theory, 3) conclusions." It's anyone's guess what the steps are in the "Rational Scientific Method."

In the "mainstream" scientific method, Step #1 is to "Ask a question." Step #2 is to do research into possible answers to the question. Step #3 is to construct an hypothesis answer to the question based upon the research. Step #4 is to TEST the hypothesis with experiments. If it fails the experiments, you go back to Step #3 and revise the hypothesis. Only when you pass all experiments do you go to Step #5 which is to publish the "theory" that answers the original question.

It appears the both the "Rational Scientific Method" AND " The Gaedean Scientific Method" skip those first two steps and go straight to creating an hypothesis.

It appears that the hypothesis is really a BELIEF, which is then justified with exhibits, definitions of terms used, and a statement of facts and/or assumptions.

Somehow, the hypothesis is then turned into a "theory" Step #2 is to create a theory based upon the exhibits, the definitions and the assumptions. How the "hypothesis" differs from the "theory" is not clear. There's a diagram missing, but it seems that SPECULATION is added to the "hypothesis" to turn it into a "theory."

The key point in creating a "theory" using the "Gaedean method" seems to be to create something that is "VISUALISABLE." It appears that that means it CANNOT be a mathematical equation, it MUST be an illustration or a series of illustrations, i.e., "the Universal Movie inferred from assumptions and reasoning." My attempt to decipher "The Rational Scientific Method" results in the same thing: The result MUST be "visualisable."

The final "step" is not called a "step," for some reason it's called "Stage 3" in the Gaedean method. Stage #3 is "CONCLUSIONS." And it says reaching this point "Tells us what experimentation or data we may need to verify the theory."

So, evidently tests and experiments are done AFTER you have come up with a theory. That seems to confirm that all you have is a BELIEF that your personal logic accepts as valid.

"Stage 3: Conclusions" also contains this point: "Multiple opinions may be formed and debated over, given that both parties forming these opinions accept the theory."

There's no explanation for what that means. But, "The Rational Scientific Method" ends with this: "Once the theory is presented, science is done! The conclusion is left up to each individual." And this is stated earlier, "Conclusion: possible or not possible? Everyone decides for themselves."

That would appear to an outsider to be neither scientific, nor rational. Scientists do not decide for themselves if something is possible or not possible. They produce EVIDENCE to show whether something is possible or not possible.

The Rational Scientific Method says, "Belief, truth, evidence, and proof are not part of the [rational] scientific method."

If there is no need for evidence, the Rational Scientific Method is NOT rational nor scientific.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Science Truthers

I looked into the "scientific" theories believed by various "Science Truthers," i.e., people who believe that only they know "the truth" about some scientific subject.  My 13 years of research into the anthrax attacks of 2001 had shown that each Anthrax Truther seems to have his own theory explaining who was behind those attacks. The only thing they have in common with other Anthrax Truthers is that they all disagree with the "established authority" (in that case it is the FBI).  So, I wanted to see if the same holds true with Science Truthers.  They clearly all disagree with the established scientific authorities (in this case it is Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Edwin Hubble, Stephen Hawking, etc., etc.).  But, does that mean they also all have their own unique scientific theories?  Apparently so.

The first Science Truther I had researched was Bill Gaede, who did presentations of his theories at the 2rd annual "Rational Physics Conference" in Salzburg, Austria, in April 2014.  In one of the videos of the presentations, he explains his theory that the moon held in orbit by invisible "ropes" instead of by gravity.

The next Science Truther I researched was "Mr. W," who sent me an email to make me aware of his theories and his blog.  One of his theories is that the earth is a "dead sun" that was wandering through the universe and just happened to join together with other "dead suns" to form the solar system.  According to Mr. W's theory, the Sun was the last or one of the last objects to join the solar system, which is evidenced by the fact that it is still glowing and is not yet "dead."

Then I researched Dr. Srinivasa Rao Gonuguntla, who I had come across when I was doing research for my web page about Time Dilation.  He has his own web page on the subject.  Like most Science Truthers, Dr. Srinivasa rants on and on about how all the "mainstream scientists" who accept Albert Einstein's theories are "stupid."  But, I never tried to figure out what theory Dr. Srinivasa promotes that is not accepted by those "mainstream scientists."  One of his theories is that the long-abandoned theory that space is not empty, but is filled with a medium known as the "ether" (or "aether").  Dr. Srinivasa believes that ancient theory is totally valid and should be resurrected. 

Another Science Truther whose name I'd come across when researching Time Dilation is Mr. Bernard Burchell.  I discovered he believes in something he calls "Propellantless Propulsion."  It seems a little like "perpetual motion," but my purpose wasn't to debunk his theory, it was only to figure out what unique theory he is promoting.

Another Science Truther whose name I'd come across while researching Time Dilation is Dr. Thomas Smid.  His web site is very difficult to wade through, and he doesn't seem to have any specific page where he explains some primary and unique theory that conflicts with "the establishment's" theories, but he writes a lot about an "intergalactic plasma," which, among other effects, causes the "red shift" that the "establishment" says is caused by galaxies moving away from one another (the original discovery behind the Big Bang Theory).  I found a web page about "Alternative Cosmology" which says:
Plasma Redshift Theory
The Plasma Redshift Theory has been advocated by a number of independent researchers. It is most notably supported by Ari Brynjolfsson in a number of papers in fringe physics journals describing his theory (see here and here). Thomas Smid has a variant of the theory based on the activity of plasma fields. Robin Whittle also has a website describing the theory. The theory should not be confused as a "tired light" interpretation of the redshift. The plasma redshift theories deny the need for black holes, dark matter and dark energy. The only supporters of these theories seem to be Electric Universe theorists, such ideas are considered fringe physics by the scientific community.
Stephen J. Crothers was another speaker at the 2nd Rational Physics Conference in Salzburg.  A little more research found that he doesn't believe that black holes exist.  That belief might not be totally unique, but it's short enough to fit one of the "talk balloons," so I used it.

Dr. Hartwig Wolfgang Thim was another speaker at the conference in Salzburg.  His unique theory is that Albert Einstein's light speed postulate is illogical.  In a video HERE, he explains that Time Dilation is also not logical.  His reasoning is a strange misunderstanding of Einstein's Theory of Relativity that seems to be shared by many Science Truthers.  (I created a blog page about it.)  He incorrectly argues that, according to Einstein, either twin in the "Twin Paradox" could be moving, so it is not logical that one can end up older than the other.

That left one last "talk balloon" to fill in my cartoon.  So, I researched Alexander Unzicker, another person who gave a talk at the conference in Salzburg.  His big unique belief appears to be that String Theory is nonsense, and all the scientists who believe in it have been "brainwashed."  At the conference in Salzburg, his talk was titled "The Higgs Fake – How Particle Physicists Fooled the Nobel Committee."  The belief that String Theory is fake fitted the space available in my cartoon, so I used it.

The resulting cartoon is shown at the top of this thread.

What my research showed me was that I could easily have added a couple dozen more unique theories to the cartoon, if there was room.  Judging by what I see on the Wiki page about "Alternative Cosmology," and on their page about "cranks," I could probably add a few hundred more theories to the cartoon.

They don't seem to believe in any conspiracies, and they don't seem to think there is any kind of sinister organized plot to try to convince the world to believe what the Truthers see is nonsense.  The Science Truthers just think all the mainstream scientists in the world are stupid.  And they probably believe their fellow Truthers are screwed-up about some things, too.   Each Truther apparently sees himself as the lone exception, the only truly gifted person with a unique and brilliant theory that the "mainstream scientists" stupidly refuse to accept as the gospel truth.