Ed Lake's web page
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If you want my opinion ......
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Welcome to Ed Lake's web site!
 
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I also have an interactive blog open for discussions
at this link: http://oldguynewissues.blogspot.com/


My latest comments are near the bottom of this page.
You can go directly to them by clicking HERE.

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Click HERE to go to my web site about the anthrax attacks of 2001.
Click HERE to go to my interactive blog where the anthrax attacks of 2001 are discussed.
Click HERE to go to my Facebook group about Time and Time Dilation. Click HERE to go to my notes about scientific topics discussed on this web site.


My interests are writing, books, movies, science, psychology, conspiracy theorists,
p
hotography, photographic analysis, TV, travel, mysteries, jazz, blues, and ...

just trying to figure things out.


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A major interest: Fact Finding
                                  I have a fascination with Time and Time Dilation.                                Another interest: Movies Click on the above image to view a larger version.

My Latest Comments


Comments for Sunday, March 24, 2019, thru Sunday, March 31, 2019:

March 24, 2019 - One of the biggest problems I have with completing my paper about photons is that I keep getting sidetracked.  Mostly it is because I enjoy research.  I enjoy just looking things up and finding articles and web sites about things of interest.  That's a problem when the objective is to produce a scientific paper.  The things that I find are often not quotable sources.   Even worse, the non-quotable things I find are sometimes fascinating, and I spend a long time studying them.

Yesterday, I found a YouTube video about polarized light that I ended up watching parts of over and over:

 

After watching it, I tried stretching some plastic wrap to see if I could repeat the experiment in the video where stretched plastic is used as a 45 degree angle polarizer between horizontal and vertically polarized lenses.  All that happened for me was that the plastic ripped in two.

Polarized plastic wrap

I thought I had discovered something of interest when I looked at my 46-inch flat screen TV through my polarized sunglasses.  It appeared that when I turned my head sideways, the TV image didn't start to go black until I passed the 45 degree angle point.  Then I tried the same thing using the 23 inch TV that I use as my computer monitor.  With the 23 inch TV, the screen started turning darker as soon as I turned my head just slightly, and the screen just got darker and darker until the screen went totally black at around 90 degrees.

Some videos seem to show this, too.  There is no change in the amount of light coming through two polarizing lenses until you pass the 45 degree angle point.  Others seem to show the amount of light is reduced as soon as you start turning one lens away from the vertical.  I'm not sure what is causing the difference.

Then there is the problem of  understanding what the person on the video is actually saying.  While researching something else, I found this short video about polarizing light (it's only 37 seconds long):



At one point, the narrator says: "The amount of the ray that passes through the filter is proportionate to its verticality."

What does that mean?  He seems to be saying that part of the ray gets through and part does not.  What would part of a ray look like?  He doesn't say.  Or maybe he is saying that the amount of light that passes through the filter relates to the amount that is more vertical than horizontal.  That would make more sense.  Everything that is closer to vertical than horizontal gets through.

The video ends with this sentence: "The waves that pass through are polarized to be completely vertical."

Ah!  The light photons (or waves) that pass through the filter are re-oriented to be "completely vertical."  So far, I think that is the only source I've found that makes that point clear.

I generally use Google's search engine when I do Internet research.  A couple days ago, someone suggested I try some other search engines, specifically duckduckgo.com.  When I search for ed-lake.com using Google, it shows my web site right away.  When I searched for ed-lake.com using duckduckgo.com, I definitely got different results than with Google, but I'm not sure that they are "better" results.  I got a link to my site, but I also got a link to a Driver's Ed course in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and a link to the Education Foundation of Lake County, Florida.

That caused me to research search engines.  Using Google I found a bunch of articles about the "best" search engines.  The differences between the lists was interesting, but the best list I found was titled "The Best Search Engines of 2019."  It lists only 9 search engines, but it states what is best about each one and what is not so good about each one.  #1 on the list is Google.  #2 is Duckduckgo. #3 is Bing.  #4 is Dogpile

Dogpile?  That's one I never heard of before.  I tried searching for ed-lake.com and mostly what I got was web sites for erectile disfunction ("ED").

#5 on the list is Yippy.  That's another search engine I had never heard of before. I did a search for www.ed-lake.com and again got very different results.  The description for one link informed me that:

There are 90+ professionals named Ed Lake, who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities
Hmm.  I'm not one of them.  I do not use LinkedIn.

#6 on the list is Google Scholar Search, which I use from time to time.  But I use a different link.  The one in the article seems to be for Canadians.

#7 on the list is Webopedia Search, which I had never tried.  I tried it, but it didn't give me anything I was really looking for.  I'll have to study it when I find some time to see what it is good for.

#8 on the list is Yahoo!  I think I used to use Yahoo! before I discovered Google long long ago.

#9 on the list is The Internet Archive Search.  I think I've used a version of that in the past when I wanted to see an archived version of some web site created by the "Wayback Machine."  When I just now entered www.ed-lake.com, it advised me that the last time the Wayback Machine archived a "snapshot" of the first page of my web site was on November 7, 2018.  I then wondered if it also archived my blog.  The last snapshot it took of my "My Thoughts on The Changing World" blog was on January 3, 2019.  So, if that blog is deleted by Google on April 2, there will still be some partial copies available via the Wayback Machine.         

Looking at the other search engines listed in other articles, I found AOL.com.  I think that is the first search engine I ever used.  I'm surprised it is still around.
I also found Ask.com, which I think I may have used long long ago.  Other search engines seem to be Russian or Chinese.  I didn't try the Russian one, but I see the Chinese Baidu spider prowling my web site nearly every day.  So, I tried it.  The page is in Chinese.  The search results are similar to Google. 

The searches I did yesterday for ed-lake.com made me curious about what my web site logs would show for such accesses via the various search engines.


When I did an image search for www.ed-lake.com via Bing, the logs showed all the images from my site that were accessed, and it showed that they had been accessed via Bing.  Here's the entire log entry for the image of the Time magazine article that is at the top of the page (I've replaced my real IP address in the entry with a phony IP address):
249.0.249.0 - - [21/Mar/2019:09:13:36 -0500] "GET /Time-02.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 215858 "https://www.bing.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0 SeaMonkey/2.49.4"
When I access my web site by typing in my address in the address box at the top of the page instead doing a search for it, the result for that same Time magazine image looks like this:
249.0.249.0 - - [22/Mar/2019:08:40:49 -0500] "GET /Time-02.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 215858 "http://www.ed-lake.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0 SeaMonkey/2.49.4"
Note that they both show I use SeaMonkey as my browser.  It is my primary browser.  (It also has web site creation and maintenance capabilities that I use to maintain my site.)   I'm not sure why the log entries also show I use Firefox.

When I search for my web site using Google instead of going to it directly, and when I use Firefox as my browser instead of SeaMonkey, the result on my log looks like this:
249.0.249.0 - - [23/Mar/2019:09:52:57 -0500] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 319269 "https://www.google.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:65.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/65.0"
I looked for log entries for all the accesses I did via other search engines, and I found only one:
249.0.249.0 - - [23/Mar/2019:17:49:04 -0500] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 319531 "https://www.discretesearch.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; rv:65.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/65.0"
When I accessed that link, I found there is such a thing as a Discrete Search search engine.   But I don't know how I happened to use it.  And I'm guessing that none of the accesses I did via the other search engines showed up on my logs because my computer didn't actually access my site those times.  After the first time, all the other searches just accessed a copy of my site that was cached in my computer.  I should have done a "refresh" each time I accessed my home page.

And I just spent the entire morning writing this comment.  Is it any wonder I'm getting very little done on my paper about photons?


Comments for Sunday, March 17, 2019, thru Saturday, March 23, 2019:

March 21, 2019 - Besides checking my web site statistics, another thing I do every morning after turning on my computer is to check my two Blogs to see if there has been any interesting activity:
http://anthraxdebate.blogspot.com/
http://oldguynewissues.blogspot.com/
The last time I put something on the anthrax blog was on April 2, 2018, when Scott Decker's book was published.  And the last time I put something on the oldguynewissues blog was on February 26, 2018, over a year ago.   I think the last time any reader made a comment about any of my posts was in July 2018.

Starting about a month ago, however, when I went to the owner's page which shows the blog statistics, I started seeing this message at the top:

Following the announcement of Google+ API deprecation scheduled for March 2019, a number of changes will be made to Blogger’s Google+ integration on 4 February 2019.

Google+ widgets: Support for the “+1 Button”, “Google+ Followers” and “Google+ Badge” widgets in Layout will no longer be available. All instances of these widgets will be removed from your blog.

+1 buttons: The +1/G+ buttons and Google+ share links below blog posts and in the navigation bar will be removed.

Please note that if you have a custom template that includes Google+ features, you may need to update your template. Please contact your template supplier for advice.

Google+ Comments: Support for Google+ comments will be turned down, and all blogs using Google+ comments will be reverted back to using Blogger comments. Unfortunately, comments posted as Google+ comments cannot be migrated to Blogger and will no longer appear on your blog.

I had no idea what any of that means.  And I didn't have the time to try to figure it out.  Then, a couple days ago I got an email from Google that said,

You’ve received this email because you have content in Google+ for your personal (consumer) account or a Google+ page you manage.

This is a reminder that on April 2, 2019 we’re shutting down consumer Google+ and will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted.

Downloading your Google+ content may take time, so get started before March 31, 2019.

No other Google products (such as Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive, YouTube) will be shut down as part of the consumer Google+ shutdown, and the Google Account you use to sign in to these services will remain. Note that photos and videos already backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.


I'm still not sure exactly what is going on, but it seems like they are going to delete my two blogs.  Clicking on the links doesn't help.  They talk in a language that is Greek to me.  Evidently, everyone in the world does things with blogs in a different way than I do them.

It's no great loss to me if those blogs are deleted.  I will go through the process of saving copies of them, however.  The anthrax blog was started on October 6, 2011.  So, there are about 140 posts from me with hundreds (maybe thousands) of reader comments in response to my posts.  I'm not sure what I will do with the copies, but it's better to save copies than to wonder if I'm making a mistake by not saving them.  It's a good thing that I have a 1 terabyte auxiliary hard drive that still has about 25% empty space. 

It will be interesting to see what happens on April 2.  If the blogs are deleted, then it will mean there are two things that I will no longer have to do each morning.  If the blogs are not deleted, then I'll have another unsolved mystery on my hands: What were those messages all about?  


March 20, 2019
- Every morning I check my web site statistics to see who has visited this web site in the past 24 hours.  This morning, the graph showing "Daily usage" for the month of March looked like this:

Month to date web site statistics

Hmm.  Obviously, something unusual happened yesterday.  The number of visitors was about normal, but there were an unusual number of "hits" and a lot more "files" were visited than was normal.  That's usually the sign of a hacker.

But, when I checked the logs to see who it was, it turned out to be the Kentucky Department of Education.  Other statistics pages informed me they had visited just 4 times, but they had accessed 34 different "pages" and registered 347 hits.  The first "visit" occurred at 8:36 in the morning and lasted until about 8:43 a.m., but it appears to have been seven identical computers accessing my site at about the same time (08:36:41, 08:36:42, 08:39:54, 08:40:15, 08:40:28, 08:41:00 and 08:42:56).  Since they all used the same IP address and were accessing my site at the same time, they all registered as just one "visit".  (Each seems to have visited the main text file and the 8 picture files that are part of the main page.  I have no idea why only 34 files were counted as having been accessed.  It should have been 4x9=38.)  The second "visit" began at 9:48 a.m. and lasted until about 9:50 a.m., again with multiple computers  The third "visit" began at 12:19 p.m and lasted until 12:27 a.m., with about 20 computers accessing my site.  The fourth "visit" began at 1:30 p.m. and lasted until 1:49 p.m., with only about 5 computers.

Okay.  It seems that a teacher in three different morning classes and one afternoon class had his or her students access my web site.  Why?  Did it have something to do with my comment about photons on March 17?  Or was it something else entirely?  None of the accesses went beyond the main page, so whatever they were looking at must have been on the main page.

All the accesses were via Google.  They didn't directly access www.ed-lake.com. But I've seen that when most people want to access ed-lake.com, they do not go direct, they type ed-lake.com into Google's search engine and Google provides a link to my page, which they then click on to get to my page.

I suppose it could also have been just the teacher who accessed my page to show something to the class on a big screen TV, then showed some other web site, then back to mine, and then another web site, going back and forth.  I don't know what that would look like on my logs, but I suspect it wouldn't show as 347 hits.  The first visit would be registered and subsequent visits would get the 8 picture files from the computer's cache, not via totally new accesses to my site.

All I can say with any degree of certainty is that it is something I've never seen happen before.

March 18, 2019
-
I recently finished listening to "Trust No One," an audio book which contains a collection of 15 "X-Files" short stories by 17 authors.

X-Files: Trust No One

I borrowed the audio book on February 27, and have been listening to a short story from time to time when I had nothing better to do.  While the book certainly wasn't a waste of time, and there were no stories in it that I just stopped listening to because they were bad, there also wasn't a single story in it that is worth mentioning or discussing.  Like the TV series, the "X-Files" short stories generally have some supernatural element to them which FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are never able to fully "solve" and present to the FBI or to the world as a "case closed."  Instead, cases are usually closed because the mystery stopped occurring and all the evidence vanished after Mulder and Scully barely escaped with their lives.  It's an ending, but it's not a satisfying ending.


Plus, I'm evidently not someone who really likes short stories.  I prefer novels, although funny short stores (like those by Spider Robinson) are an exception.  I enjoyed those.  But are there any other authors of funny short stories?  I dunno.

Meanwhile, this morning, I downloaded eleven podcasts by national security expert Richard A. Clarke.  I haven't yet fully listened to any of them, but they are discussions with people like President Bill Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice, Secretary Madeline Albright, and reporters Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz.  They were all recorded in 2018, just before the mid-term elections.  I heard about them on Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast #334.  Clarke discussed his podcasts on that podcast, and it seemed like they could be very interesting and something I really want to listen to.  All I need now is to find the time to listen.  

March 17, 2019
- For most of the past week I've been working on my scientific paper tentatively titled "Visualizing Photons."  I hesitate to write anything about it here, since whenever I did that in the past, I ended up changing things, which would mean that what I had written in a comment here was no longer what I was thinking.  Coin-shaped photons, for example.  For awhile it seemed that a photon had to be coin-shaped if it is going to fit through the slots in a polarizing filter.  But I was misled by all the drawings the text books and web sites have which show how polarization works for waves.  One example: 
polarizing light
When you see a diagram like the one above, it suggests that only something tall and flat will get through the filter.  It also suggests that maybe one wave in ten (or one wave in ten thousand if light waves truly "vibrate in any direction") gets through the filter. 

Here's how Encyclopedia Britannica illustrates light waves going through a polarizing filter:

polarizing light

It looks like one wave in four gets through.  But, in reality, just about exactly one half of the waves (i.e., half of the photons) get through the filter.  That is a VERY important fact, since it means that waves (i.e., photons) that are 1 degree to 45 degrees off of vertical get realigned to be vertical.  They are not vertical when they enter the filter, but they are vertical when they come out.  

And how can anyone believe that light consists of waves which are comparable to water waves or sound waves?  How can you have water waves oriented in every direction?  Or sound waves?  There is absolutely no comparison between how light works and how water waves and/or sound waves work.  

To confuse matters even more, an electromagnetic wave is typically visualized as shown in the illustration below (except that magnetic fields are more often colored blue and electric fields are colored red):

electromagnetic waves

In the illustration above, which wave is depicted in the illustrations showing light being polarized?  You have two waves working together.  Which gets polarized by a vertical polarizer?  The sources rarely say.  You have to research that specific question to find that it is the magnetic field that is usually shown in the polarized light illustrations.  If the electric field is oscillating in the same direction as the slit-openings in the filter, the entire photon or wave will be absorbed by the filter (and presumably re-emitted in some random direction away from the filter, although the sources never mention that).

Awhile back, I decided that the electric and magnetic fields of a photon must radiate away from the photon itself.  So, I decided a photon looks something like the image below when one field is half-way contracted and the other field is half-way extended:
Photons with fields
Now I see I'll have to change it to have the blue arrows pointing toward the photon instead of away from the photon, because while the electric field is expanding, the magnetic field is contracting.  Again I was misled by what is shown in all the texts and web pages about light waves.  They show the two fields extending at the same time, just in different directions.  

And, too, the illustration above does not explain how a photon that is tilted less that 45 degrees will get through a filter, or how a photon that is tilted more than 45 degrees will be absorbed by the filter.  If you assume that the filter has openings only wide enough to allow photons that are tilted less than 45 degrees to get through without bumping into the sides, you soon realize that makes no sense.  It demands high precision that just isn't required when making polarizing filters.  The answer seems to be that the fields are not two-dimensional as shown in the illustration.  In reality, it appears the photon is spherical, but the intensity of the electric field varies from 100% at vertical to zero at horizontal. 

I'm still working out the details, but it looks like a pretty good theory.  I have no idea how long it will take me to finish the paper, but I'm hoping it will be a matter of weeks, not months.

Meanwhile, another mystery distracted me for a short time last week.  On March 13, nine people accessed my paper about Einstein's First Postulate and six people accessed my paper about Einstein's Second Postulate.  That is definitely not normal.  Normal for the Second Postulate paper is about 4 unique readers per week, although there have been  a few one-day surges in the past.  However, there have been only 84 unique readers of the First Postulate paper since I  uploaded the first version on September 21, 2017.  There were 10 unique readers on the first day, but since that time it's been less than one unique reader per week.

Why did nine people access the paper for their first time on March 13?  I have no idea.  It can't be just some coincidence, so there must be some "word of mouth" involved.  But who?  Where?  When I checked my web site logs, I found that someone from Drexel University in Philadelphia visited my site for the first time on March 13.  Is there a connection?  I have no idea.  There doesn't appear to be any way to determine where the nine first-time readers were located, much less who they were, or so it's a mystery without any means to solve the mystery.


Comments for Sunday, March 10, 2019, thru Saturday, March 16, 2019:

March 13, 2019 - I haven't been posting any comments here for the past few days because I've been busy working on my scientific paper about Visualizing Photons.  I don't want to comment on what I've been writing, since every time I did that in the past I quickly realized that what I had just written might be wrong. It's better for me to do the writing on the paper, instead of on this web site, since writing here leaves a trail of my mistakes.  Plus, I see nothing happening at the moment that cannot keep until my Sunday comment.  

March 10, 2019
- Around 3:40 p.m. on Friday afternoon I finished listening to the audio book version of "The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs" by Ed Asner.

The Grouchy Historian
 
I considered writing a comment about it at that time, but I decided I needed more time to think about what I'd just heard.  I could have written about it on Saturday, too, but the book seemed to fit in with other things I wanted to write about, so I decided to save my comments until today, Sunday.  Plus, I needed more time to think about it.

There were several occasions early in the book when I considered abandoning it and moving on to something else.  But then I'd digest what I'd just heard, and I'd continue listening.  I think the problem was that I didn't know what to expect from the book.  It was a book written and narrated by an 86-year-old actor who clearly dislikes Conservative Republicans.  I also couldn't tell where it was going and what Asner was trying to argue - other than that Conservative Republicans are lying hypocrites.  But I gradually came to see that his point was much MUCH bigger than that. Unfortunately, since I listened to the audio book version, I can't copy and paste sections from it.  The best I can do is transcribe things, either from Amazon's "look inside" option or by finding sections in the audio book and transcribing things from that.

The book begins with this:
Nobody thumps the Constitution like a Right-Wing Republican.  Conservatives love the Constitution, invoking its very name - even more than the Bible and Ronald Reagan - as all the proof they need that God is on their side.  It's not enough that they think they own the Constitution; they act as if they wrote the damn thing.
Asner then describes how he researched the Constitution and found that nearly all the claims made by the Conservatives are totally false.  The Conservative claims are not only false, they are in direct contradiction to what the Founding Fathers wanted for this country when they wrote the Constitution.  Here are a few quotes from page 4:
The Framers wrote the Constitution in order to form a strong central government, giving powers to Congress (not the states) and balanced by an equally strong executive branch.

Nothing in the Constitution suggests, let alone enforces, the concepts of limited government, limited taxes, and limited regulations.

The Framers did not hate taxation.  They needed taxes, desperately.  They had a war to pay off.
America was colonized by people who came here looking for a better life and by people looking to get away from religious persecution.  Unfortunately, people looking to get away from religious persecution are generally also people who want everyone to follow their religion, which they feel is the only correct religion.  And they don't want any heathens around them who believe differently from what they believe.  So, 11 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when the Convention was held in Philadelphia to draft and sign a new Constitution, we had a country full of clusters of people with conflicting religions, all looking to create an America in which everyone would be required to believe as they believed.  And, if they couldn't create a country that works that way, they would try to make their state work that way. 

The Founding Fathers realized this.  Washington and Hamilton were Deists, as were many others.  The definition of Deism is as follows:
Deism: belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.
In other words, they believed a God created the universe, but God had nothing to do with anything that happened after that or with anything humans did.

The point is: The Founding Fathers wanted to create a country where people of all religions could live together without everyone trying to convert anyone else.  The Founding Fathers were all land owners and wealthy people, most of whom owned slaves.  The idea of giving women the right to vote would have been totally crazy to them.  They just didn't want the states fighting with one another, and they wanted a government that could defend itself from anyone anywhere who might try to take over and make the country operate their way.  Interestingly, the Founding Fathers wanted the country to have a standing army, while the states were generally opposed that idea, since they saw a standing army as being able to come into their state to force them to do things the government's way.  Plus the states felt that a standing army was a temptation to go to war.

In short, the Framers of the Constitution wanted a country where people could negotiate solutions to disagreements without fighting and without creating pockets of zealots who want everyone else to do things their way.  Creating a Constitution was a matter of argument and compromise.  As soon as the Constitution was written, some of the Framers saw problems with it.  So, they then added the Bill of Rights at the end. 

Here's some information in the book that is also available at another source:
The original states, except Rhode Island, collectively appointed 70 individuals to the Constitutional Convention, but a number did not accept or could not attend. Those who did not attend included Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams and, John Hancock.
There were 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, but only 39 actually signed it.  Of the original 13 states, Rhode Island was the only state to boycott the convention - because their delegates were all Baptists who evidently wouldn't meet or argue with anyone who was not a Baptist.   

So, when today's "strict constructionist"
Conservative Republicans argue that they are following Constitution even though they are preaching beliefs that directly conflict with the Constitution, what they are saying is that they know what the Founding Fathers really meant when they wrote the Constitution.  And they spin things to make them fit their own beliefs and agendas.  Here are a couple examples of claims by "them" versus what Asner says is true:
THEM: The Constitution gives everyone the right to own a gun.
ME: The Framers didn't want everyone to have vote, let alone a gun.

THEM: James Madison is the "author" of the Constitution.
ME: The Constitution is the greatest"cut and paste" job since the New Testament.

THEM: The only way to interpret the Constitution is to determine what the Framers were thinking when they wrote it.
ME: You can't even figure out how the Framers took a piss in pants without a fly.  How do you expect to figure out what they were thinking?     
I could go on and on.  There are lots of absolutely fascinating things in the book. And sometimes it is also very funny.  But when you stop and think about it all, it is also very depressing.  You come away with the feeling that it is nearly impossible for human beings to get along with one another.  You also get the feeling that the Founding Fathers realized that and tried to create a country where you could negotiate differences instead of slamming doors or starting fights.

I was also a bit stunned when I finished the book and started listening to the next podcast on Sean Carroll's science web site that I felt might be of interest to me.  It turned out that Carroll's guest for the Feb. 4, 2019 session was Naomi Oreskes, author of the book "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming."  (It's now on my "wish list" at the library.)  They talked about global warming, which is something else that Conservative Republicans disagree with.  Her book shows that while the vast majority of scientists believe global warming is a real problem, there is a tiny group of scientists who disagree.  And some of those scientists work for the companies that are the causes of the problems. 

Most stunning of all: The same scientists who argue that smoking does not cause cancer also argue that global warming isn't real. 

Professor Carroll explains:
Well, it is one of the things about how science works, in combination with how law works and legislation works and journalism works, is that even if there are 100 people on one side and two people on the other side, it’s still two sides. And so…
And so, if you ignore who has the better facts and what the facts actually say, you can argue that it is just a matter of opinion. And that is what the Conservative Republicans do.

Interestingly, Naomi Oreskes doesn't argue the the naysayer scientists are lying and just making claims to get money from their employers, she feels those scientists (who she names in her book) actually believe what they claim.  It's just that, as with so many scientists I've encountered on the Internet, their minds are closed to any possibility that they might be wrong.  So, you cannot reason with them.  If you try, they just shake their heads and chuckle at your stupidity.

And in a country where everyone is entitled to vote, the person who believes what he or she wants to believe has the same power as a person who examines the facts and accepts what the facts and evidence say.  President Trump got elected by people who ignore facts and believe what they want to believe.  And in spite of what two years of facts and evidence show about Trump's lack of intelligence and leadership abilities, it seems there is an excellent chance that those same people will again vote for Trump in 2020.

We're all doomed!   
   

Comments for Sunday, March 3, 2019, thru Saturday, March 9, 2019:

March 7, 2019 - Last night, I listened to another fascinating podcast from Prof. Sean Carroll's Mindscape web site.  In the podcast, Prof. Carroll has a discussion with astronomer Mike Brown about the nature of planets.  Brown is the author of the book "How I killed Pluto and why it had it coming" (which I have in my Kindle).  The podcast was about how it was decided that Pluto shouldn't be considered to be a planet, and about a lot of other things in the solar system, including the real possibility of there being a new 9th planet beyond the orbit of Pluto that could be 6 or 8 times the size of the Earth.  Here's part of the discussion about it:
Sean Carroll:  You’re optimistic about finding it? By finding it we mean literally taking a picture.

Mike Brown:  Yes. In the end, it’s a hypothesis that I am convinced is true. No one else need believe it until we go see it.

Sean Carroll:  Are people basically optimistic about it? Or are people scoffing?

Mike Brown:  Some of each. There’s a whole group of people who are desperately trying to find it because they’re convinced. We had a workshop here at Cal Tech in late spring of all the people around the globe who are in search of it and exchanged ideas on where we thought it was and who was searching and how they were finding it. There are people who are like … There are the general skeptics, like I think most scientists should be, who’ve probably not looked very hard at the evidence. Until you look at it really carefully your default is always going to, “Come on, really? Planet?”

Sean Carroll:  It should be. Right.

Mike Brown:  That’s right. That’s the way to be. Then there are the no way, it’s impossible, I’m going to prove you wrong. They try.

Sean Carroll:  Yeah, knock yourself out.

Mike Brown:  Yeah. They haven’t succeeded yet.
There are only 36 podcasts on the Mindscape site.  I've got 9 left to check out before I move on to some other web site. 

This morning I realized I should search for podcasts about photons, and when I did so, I found that the British BBC-4 web site "In Our Time" has a 43 minute podcast about photons. (I then listened to it.  It was excellent, but I'll probably have to listen to it a second time to grasp all that it contains and to transcribe a key part about photons surrounding electrons.)  When I finish going through the Mindscape podcasts, I'll then have to decide which collection to focus on next.  Or should I intermix humor podcasts with science podcasts?  I may get tired of listening to podcasts someday, but right now I'm finding it totally fascinating.  I'm doing it in the evening instead of watching TV.

The strangest thing about podcasts is that I do not know anyone else who listens to them.  And yet they are undoubtedly extremely popular.  It makes me think of all the entertainment options we have today.  There was a time when we only had a few local radio and TV stations and everyone you knew listened to or watched the same things.  Now it seems that everyone you know is listening to or watching something different.  Is that good or is that bad?

Uh oh.  I was just notified that the audio book version of Ed Asner's book "The Grouchy Historian" was automatically borrowed and placed in my library file.  Sigh.  When I turned on my computer this morning, I was advised that I'd automatically borrowed the audio book version of Robert A. Heinlein's sci-fi novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress."  So much to do and so little time to do it. 


March 6, 2019
- I'm learning a bit about podcasts - particularly science podcasts.  I've been sampling science podcasts from various sources, but mostly I've been listening to Professor Sean Carroll's Mindscape podcasts.  I began by picking about ten that I thought would be most interesting based upon how they are described on the Mindscape web site.  It turned out that some of them I just didn't find interesting and stopped listening before they completed, and some others were okay but not worth mentioning or writing a comment about.

Then I started going through the remaining episodes that I felt might possibly be of interest, and right away I found one that was to me absolutely fascinating.  It was an interview with an science fiction author, Annalee Newitz, who talked about the process of writing books and how different authors have different methods.  It really hit home with me, since I'm constantly writing.

This morning I finished listening to an interview with social psychologist Carol Tarvis which I also found absolutely fascinating, even more so than the Newitz interview.  Mostly it was about cognitive dissonance, which is the process of justifying one's own beliefs in the face of contradicting evidence.  Tarvis wrote a book titled "Mistakes were made (but not by me)," which is on the subject of cognitive dissonance.  (I just added it to my "wish list" at my library.) The interview was so fascinating that I downloaded a transcript of it to save and to quote from.  Here's part of that transcript, beginning with an example of someone demonstrating cognitive dissonance:
Carol Tarvis: A person who smokes knows that smoking is dangerous and stupid. So they will be in a state of dissonance, “I smoke, but I’m doing something dangerous and stupid.” This discomfort is cognitive dissonance and Leon Festinger, who developed this theory in the late ’50s, described it as being as uncomfortable as being hungry or thirsty. It’s so uncomfortable that you’re really motivated to reduce it in whatever way you can. Well, if you’re a smoker, you need to quit smoking or you need to justify smoking. You need to say, “Well, it’s unhealthy. But I’ll be thin and being thin is good. And besides that, Myrtle lived to be 97.”

Sean Carroll: “I look cool.”

Carol Tarvis: “And I look really cool.” So cognitive dissonance… You know, I don’t think I took it terribly seriously. I thought it was really an interesting theory, but I didn’t have much appreciation of its depth of application. And then, after George Bush got us into the Iraq War, Elliot and I were sitting around talking about…

Sean Carroll: Sorry, which George Bush and which Iraq War are we…

Carol Tarvis: Oh, Dubya. Dubya. Yeah, so this was, yeah, the 2003. So several years later, when it was abundantly clear that the justifications for going into Iraq were completely wrong, there were no weapons of mass destruction and so forth. And of course the whole country had noticed that Bush did not say, “Gee, we were wrong. So sorry, we made a really bad mistake about spending a trillion dollars in going into Iraq.” Instead, he found other justifications for the war, “Well, we’re bringing democracy to the region,” and so forth. So, Elliot and I are having this conversation, and he said, “You know,” he said, “I disagree with those Democrats who thought that Bush was lying to the country.” He said, “I don’t think he was lying to the country. I think he was lying to himself. He was doing what all of us do when we have made a decision to do something, is we screen out discrepant, dissonant information that suggests our decision is wrong. We focus, we cherry pick the information that tells us our decision is the right one and we go forth. So, we make the decision and then we justify it.”

Carol Tarvis: He said, “I think that George Bush had made the decision to go into Iraq and therefore ignored the arguments from his own intelligence community that that might not be a good thing to do.”
That part of the interview probably stands out as most interesting because it so totally fits with Donald Trump's thinking.  Trump can never admit to making a mistake, so he finds ways to justify what he does and believes.  And he sees nothing wrong with arguing that he is right and all of the intelligence experts are wrong.  He and his supporters somehow believe they are right in rejecting climate change, even though there is a mountain of evidence that says climate change is real.  It's a perfect example of cognitive dissonance.

Another very interesting part of the discussion was about how Republicans view Democrats and vice versa.  Here's just a small part of that: 
The average Republican thinks over a third of Democrats are gays or lesbians and the correct answer is closer to 6%.

The average Democrat thinks that 44% of Republicans earn more than $250,000 a year, and the real number is 2%
I first came across the term "cognitive dissonance" in the 1984 book "The March of Folly" by Barbara W. Tuchman, which I have in hardcover on the bookshelf behind me.  I remember getting into lots of arguments about cognitive dissonance while discussing the anthrax attacks of 2001.  I have web pages which mention cognitive dissonance HERE and HERE, and I mentioned it in my May 30, 2010 comment HERE, and in my very long May 26, 2013 comment HERE.

I just never used it when discussing Donald Trump before.  I suspect I'll be mentioning it a lot more from now on.


March 5, 2019
- I had to re-do my Wisconsin state income tax forms this morning.  The automated on-line procedure worked, but I while laying in bed this morning I realized the result was wrong.  Fortunately, it appears that you cannot file Wisconsin tax forms on-line.  So, I had to go to the Wisconsin State Department of Revenue web site and fill out the forms there.  There I corrected the problem.  Then I printed them out so I can mail them.  It took about an hour.

Meanwhile, someone who read the comment I wrote yesterday mentioned a book that he felt might interest me.  It's "The Grouchy Historian" by Ed Asner (who played Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.)" 

The Grouchy Historian

At first, it didn't seem all that interesting.  I checked my local library, and they had two audio book copies of it, but none immediately available.  My "hold list" is currently filled to capacity (10 books).  Putting it on that list would mean that it would be automatically borrowed when a copy became available.  I couldn't add it there without taking something off the "hold list," so I added it to my "wish list," which has a capacity of 5,000 books.  I currently have 17 books on that list.  Putting it on that list means I'll have an opportunity to borrow it if it becomes available and I can grab it before anyone else does.  I just have to check the list once or twice a day.

After thinking about it a bit, I decided to listen to the 4 minute free sample the library provides for audio books.  Somehow, I assumed the book was written long ago.  It turns out the book was published on October 10, 2017, and the 4 minute sample has Ed Asner (who narrates the book along with John Amos) grumbling about Donald Trump.  Ah!  That suddenly made the book a hell-of-a lot more interesting.  I moved a Janet Evanovich detective novel from my "hold list" to my "wish list" and put Asner's book on my "hold list."  It'll go near or at the top of my priority list when it is automatically borrowed. 

At breakfast this morning I started reading the Kindle version of "Team of Vipers," by Cliff Sims, another book about Trump and his Presidency.  It looks interesting, too. 

March 4, 2019
- Yay!  I completed doing my income taxes.  It took all morning, but I think I'm done.  I've received notice that my federal forms were accepted, and now I'm just waiting for email notification that my state tax forms were accepted.  That's one item that is now off my mind and is no longer preventing me from focusing on other things. 

At lunch I completed reading another book on my Kindle.  It was "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic" by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted

I decided to read the book because I'd just finished reading "The Shadow President: The Truth about Mike Pence," and I was looking for something funny and enjoyable after that depressing read.  "Mary and Lou" seemed like it might be what I was looking for, and I enjoyed "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" when it aired from 1970 to 1977.  (It's hard to believe it first aired 50 years ago, and Mary Tyler Moore died at age 80 in 2017.)  The book, however, turned out to be more sentimental than funny.  While there were certainly funny parts in the book, and it was definitely worth reading, by the time I was about half way through I decided to finish it as fast as I could, so I could start something else.  First I just read for hours at a time in the afternoon, and then I began speed reading.  Now I'm done and I need to make up my mind what to read next.  I suspect it will be another book about politics.  I'll make up my mind tomorrow at breakfast.

March 3, 2019
- I seem to have hit a thick fog bank in my quest to understand and visualize photons.  But, it's my own fault.  I set out with the relatively simple goal of explaining the Double Slit Experiment using photons instead of light waves, and I somehow got bogged down on how photons work inside an atom and IF photons exist inside an atom.

It is generally agreed that when a photon hits an atom, the atom absorbs the photon, which causes the atom to become unstable, and the atom then emits a new photon so that the atom can be stable once again.
  That is how light is created.

How light is created

One question that pushed me into the fog bank is whether or not there are already photons inside the atom acting as "glue" to hold the atom together, as claimed by Cal-Tech's Prof. Sean Carroll.  Another question is whether the photon combines with the outermost electron or just pushes the electron to a higher energy level. 
There are sources which explain things both ways.  But, either way, it really doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Double Slit Experiment.

The Double Slit Experiment is really all about diffraction

Diffraction refers to various phenomena that occur when a wave encounters an obstacle or a slit. It is defined as the bending of waves around the corners of an obstacle or aperture into the region of geometrical shadow of the obstacle.
But instead of studying diffraction, I've mostly been studying refraction:
Refraction: deflection from a straight path undergone by a light ray or energy wave in passing obliquely from one medium (such as air) into another (such as glass) in which its velocity is different
I need to understand how photons work in both situations, but it is much more important to understand photons and diffraction.  That is where all the texts just talk about waves.  The idea of light photons being diffracted is addressed in many "single photon" experiments, but no one seems to try to explain how such experiments work.  They just describe it as a "mystery."

It certainly didn't help me to focus on the problem when I discovered podcasts.  Podcasts have been distracting me for weeks now.  Yesterday I spent nearly the entire day browsing through science podcasts, downloading those that seemed interesting.  And, in the evening I listened to parts or all of a half dozen of them.

Prof. Sean Carroll's site https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/ has 35 podcasts in which he interviews scientists such as Kip Thorne, Brian Greene, and Carlo Rovelli.  

The Big Picture Science web site http://radio.seti.org/episodes doesn't number their podcasts, but they seem to have many dozens, if not hundreds.

5 Live Science https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02pc9ny/episodes/downloads  is a British radio channel BBC 5 web site, and it seems to have hundreds of science podcasts.

In Our Time, another BBC 5 science program, also seems to have hundreds of back episodes available: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01gyd7j

BBC 4 has  https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w/episodes/downloads  which is titled "The Infinite Monkey Cage," and it seems to have dozens of science podcasts featuring British physicist Brian Cox.
 
People Behind the Science http://www.peoplebehindthescience.com/podcasts/ has 490 podcasts, each one seems to be an interview with a different scientist in virtually every area of science.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has StarTalk podcasts at https://www.startalkradio.net/category/startalk-radio/ which seem interesting, particularly since you can browse for interesting topics, instead of just listening to the latest show.

And there seem to be a lot more that I haven't yet browsed.

It doesn't help to have many many humor podcasts that also seem interesting. 

Pick a subject and there are probably podcasts about it.  I also browsed some travel podcasts and crime podcasts, but it soon became apparent that I really needed to stick with science and humor.  And I really need to find a way to stop browsing those subjects so I can get back to work on my scientific paper about photons.  And I probably need to stop writing comments about photons on this web page until I complete the paper.   


Comments for Friday, March 1, 2019, thru Saturday, March 2, 2019:

March 1, 2019 - Yesterday evening, at around 6 p.m. I finished listening to another science fiction novel on my MP3 player.  It was "The Rolling Stones" by Robert A. Heinlein, first published in 1952.

The Rolling Stones by Heinlein

The book attracted my interest because it was by Heinlein and it was considered one of Heinlein's best works.  That fact that it was written for teenagers wasn't enough to deter me from reading it.  It turned out to be an enjoyable 7 hours and 2 minutes of listening time, with quite a few laughs.  Wikipedia summarizes the story this way:

The Stones, a family of "Loonies" (residents of the Moon, known as "Luna" in the book [from the Roman goddess]), purchase and rebuild a used spaceship and go sightseeing around the Solar System.

The twin teenage boys, Castor and Pollux, buy used bicycles on Luna to sell on Mars, their first stop, where they run afoul of local regulations but are freed by their grandmother Hazel Stone. While on Mars, the twins buy their brother Buster a native Martian creature called a flat cat, which produces a soothing vibration, as a pet.

In preparation for the asteroid belt, where the equivalent of a gold rush is in progress prospecting for "core material" and radioactive ores, the twins obtain supplies and luxury goods on Mars to sell at their destination, on the principle that it is shopkeepers, not miners, who get rich during gold rushes. En route, the flat cat and its offspring overpopulate the ship so the family places them in hibernation and later sells them to the miners.

The novel ends with the family setting out to see the rings of Saturn.

The book contains a lot of details about orbits, about using gravity to gain speed when going from place to place, and about living in zero gravity and on moons and planets with less than 1G of gravity.  No one travels faster than light, and it takes many months to get from the Earth's moon to Mars and from Mars to the asteroid belt.  And the book is also about getting sick while you are millions of miles from the nearest hospital.  The mother of the two teenage boys is a medical doctor, and she has to transfer to another ship while they are on their way to Mars because a "neo-measles" epidemic has broken out on that ship, and that ship's doctor was one of the first to die from it.

The science described in great detail in the book is generally solid, although a bit dated.  It contains some details about Martians and the Martian landscape that we now know is totally wrong.  Today, no one would ever write a science fiction novel in which there are ancient cities on Mars.  We've sent robots to Mars and they've explored Mars, so we know there are no ancient cities (or canals) there, much less life forms.  Fortunately, Martians and Martian cities are not critical to the story.  They are just mentioned as part of the sightseeing experience on Mars.  And it appears that the cuddly, purring "flat cats" that live on Mars have a well-known connection to "The Trouble with Tribbles" on Star Trek.


Comments for Sunday, February 24, 2019, thru Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019:

February 28, 2019 - Yesterday, when I did my daily visit to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website, I was presented with this image:

polarized light from the Orion
                                Nebula

It shows polarized light coming from the Orion Nebula.  The explanation that came with the picture was as follows:

Can magnetism affect how stars form? Recent analysis of Orion data from the HAWC+ instrument on the airborne SOFIA observatory indicate that, at times, it can. HAWC+ is able to measure the polarization of far-infrared light which can reveal the alignment of dust grains by expansive ambient magnetic fields. In the featured image, these magnetic fields are shown as curvy lines superposed on an infrared image of the Orion Nebula taken by a Very Large Telescope in Chile. Orion's Kleinmann-Low Nebula is visible slightly to the upper right of the image center, while bright stars of the Trapezium cluster are visible just to the lower left of center. The Orion Nebula at about l300 light years distant is the nearest major star formation region to the Sun.
I must have stared at that picture for at least an hour.  I just couldn't wrap my brain around it.  The polarization was caused by the alignment of dust grains and the magnetic fields associated with those grains?  So, it's just like a polarizing lens created by stretching a polymer.  And that means the stretched polymer lenses in 3D movie glasses also have aligned magnetic fields, and that is what polarizes the light.  I know all that, but I've never seen polarized light presented as it is in the picture.  I guess I just need time for the implications to sink in. 

So much to do, so little time to do it! 


February 27, 2019
- This morning I woke up wondering about photons acting as "glue" inside atoms.  How come photons are never shown in illustrations of atoms?  I've looked at hundreds of illustrations of atoms, and not a single one of them shows photons.  Here is an illustration of a sodium atom:

Sodium atom

Note that the electrons all have positive charges, and the protons in the nucleus all have positive charges.  The neutrons in the nucleus supposedly have no charge and are thereby neutral.  Yet, the neutrons somehow keep the positive charged protons from flying away from each other.

The illustration above is misleading, since the protons and neutrons are not lined up in rows as the illustration shows.  The photons and neutrons are actually bundled together in the center to form the nucleus, but not exactly the way shown in the illustration below.
Sodum atom - version 2
The illustration above is incorrect, of course, because we can see (and count) all of the protons and neutrons.  In reality, they would be in the form of a tight ball and some particles would be hidden behind others in the illustration (which means we could not see and count them).

The real problem is that you can look at atom illustration after atom illustration and the question still is: Where are the photons?

Just as in the nucleus, something has to keep the negatively charged electrons from repelling each other and flying away.  Here is how Professor Sean Carroll at Cal-Tech describes the situation:
There are two kinds of elementary particles in the universe: bosons and fermions. Bosons don’t mind sitting on top of each other, sharing the same space. In principle, you could pile an infinite number of bosons into the tiniest bucket. Fermions, on the other hand, don’t share space: only a limited number of fermions would fit into the bucket.

Matter, as you might guess, is made of fermions, which stack to form three-dimensional structures. The force fields that bind fermions to each other are made of bosons. Bosons are the glue holding matter together.
Electrons, protons and neutrons are fermions.  They contain the mass of the atom.  And photons are the bosons holding a sodium atom together.  They are the "glue" that keeps the negatively charged electrons from flying away from each other, and they might also be the "repellent" that keeps the negative electrons from binding with the positive protons.

The only way I can see this working is if the photon works as it is generally described, with a fluctuating magnetic field and a fluctuating electric field that operate at right angles to one another:
Photon field fluctuations
The fluctuating electric field glues the electrons to each other and to the protons in the nucleus while the fluctuating magnetic field keeps the electrons and protons from getting too close to one another.  All the fields in the atom fluctuate at the same vibration rate, so there is no way for an electron to get released between fluctuations.

And that brings us back to how atoms emit light.

How light is created

There's a photon gluing the outermost electron to the other electrons in the atom.  When a photon from the outside hits the atom, there is too much "glue" holding the outermost electron to the other electrons and there is too much "repellent" pushing the electron away from the nucleus.  The atom, therefore, immediately ejects a photon in order to re-stabilize itself.

While the photon's fields just fluctuated (at the speed of light) within the confines of the atom when it acted as "glue," when a photon is ejected its unconfined electric and magnetic fields immediately extend to their maximum diameters, pushing the photon away from the atom at the speed of light. 

Okay, that all makes sense to me.  I'll have to research it further to look for flaws in the theory.  And I'll have to figure out how to show an illustration of an atom with its internal photons.  Clearly this illustration doesn't do it:

atom absorbing photon
It says there are no boson photons acting as "glue."  It says the electron absorbs the photon, giving the electron too much energy.  And then the electron ejects the photon.  The problem is that this explanation doesn't explain what keeps the negatively charged electrons bound to the atom, while not merged with the positively charged protons in the nucleus.  It seems to conflict with the boson "glue" theory.   
    
Or maybe I'm still not understanding something.

February 26, 2019
- I can't stop thinking about the image of a photon I created for my Sunday comment.  It has electric and magnetic fields surrounding a nucleus, which I see now was incorrect.  A magnet is a magnet.  Its magnetic field is not part of the magnet.  The magnet generates the field.  It is not a nucleus.  And so it must be with a photon.  The photon is what generates the fields.  The fields are not the photon.  So, here is a corrected illustration of a photon and its electric and magnetic fields:
Light
                                photon with its fields
Everything else I wrote about photons on Sunday remains the same.  But since then I've been thinking about bosons.  A photon is an elementary particle that is classified as a "boson".  Wikipedia says this about bosons:
In quantum mechanics, a boson is a particle that follows Bose–Einstein statistics. Bosons make up one of the two classes of particles, the other being fermions.  ... Examples of bosons include fundamental particles such as photons, gluons, and W and Z bosons (the four force-carrying gauge bosons of the Standard Model), the recently discovered Higgs boson, and the hypothetical graviton of quantum gravity. ... An important characteristic of bosons is that their statistics do not restrict the number of them that occupy the same quantum state.
A college course guidebook titled "Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe" by Professor Sean Carroll of Cal-Tech says this on page 24:
Photons are what hold electrons together with atomic nuclei.
and this on page 25:
Force-carrying particles are called bosons after Satyendra Nath Bose; photons and gluons are examples.  Unlike fermions, bosons can pile up on top of each other, which is exactly what happens when we observe a macroscopic force field, such as an electric or magnetic field. Such a field is a large number of bosons, each contributing just a little bit, that combine to create a noticeable amount of force. One of the great conceptual unifications of physics is the realization that photons, in various configurations, can account for so much—electric and magnetic fields, light waves and other forms of electromagnetic radiation, as well as radiative heat.
Hmm.  That says that, while waves supposedly interfere with one another, photons do not. That certainly makes sense if you visualize countless photons from countless stars passing through a spot in space.  They must either travel through one another as if the others were not there, or they must somehow glide around one another.  And yet, if you add a photon to a stable atom, the atom will not be able to contain that photon and will eject it.  Supposedly, that is because it already has the maximum number of photons holding the electrons to the nucleus.

Technically, I suppose, the photons do not interfere with one another. But they do not merge, either, as waves are fantasized to do.  One photon can push aside another, but only inside an atom.  Or do they also push aside each other when meeting in space, instead of passing through one another?  It's difficult to imagine two photons almost colliding in space, but one just side-steps or slides around the other without altering its course and while traveling at the speed of light.  But that makes more sense then two photons passing through each other.

Photons change their orientation while traveling at the speed of light when they are polarized, and they do it without changing direction.  However, photons change their direction slightly while traveling at the speed of light when they pass near a relatively large gravitational mass.  It's called refraction.

One thing photons do NOT do is annihilate each other, as waves are fantasized to do in the Double Slit Experiment when the crest of one wave combines with the trough of another wave to create the dark lines on the wall.  It is a fundamental law that energy cannot be destroyed, but the wave model does it when crests meet troughs.  With a photon model (or electron model), the dark lines are simply shadows where no photons (or electrons) hit.

The Double Slit Experiment
The Double Slit Experiment

But, I'm just rambling.  I need to write this all down in a paper.  Writing it here first helps organize my thoughts, but the objective is to get into the form of a scientific paper.

Added note: Professor Sean Carroll has a podcast called "Mindscape" which contains terrific interviews.  I just downloaded about 20 hours worth, which I'll listen to when and where I can find the time.

February 25, 2019
- At about 8:30 p.m. last night, I finished listening to another science fiction audio book on my MP3 player.  It was "Future Crime" by Ben Bova:

Future Crime by Ben Bova
 
The book consists of two novellas with a half dozen short stories in between.  I wasn't in the mood to start with a novella, so over the course of two days I listened to the six short stories first, then the novella ("Escape") that ends the book, and then the novella ("City of Darkness") that starts the book.  It's a good thing that I did things that way, because if I had started with "City of Darkness," I would probably never have listened any further. 

All the stories are imaginings of how crimes would take place in the future.  It's not about detectives in future, it's more about sociology.  "Brillo," is probably the best story in the book.  It's about a robot cop (named "Brillo" because he is metal "fuzz") being taken along on patrol to learn the ropes of being a police officer.  The human cop who is in charge can't make the robot understand the nuances of the job, i.e., when to arrest and when to just warn someone.  The robot does everything according to the law, which leads to one problem after another.  "City of Darkness" is about New York City in the distant future when it has been abandoned, covered over with a glass dome, and turned into a museum that people can visit in the summertime.  At the end you learn that the city wasn't actually abandoned, all the white people moved out and imprisoned the blacks inside.  A white tourist gets his ID stolen while visiting the city during the summer.  No one is allowed out of the dome without a proper ID, and violators are automatically sent to prison for life (which is totally unbelievable in itself).  So, the tourist has to remain inside the dome.  That's when he finds out the whole city is run by street gangs, both black and white, who remain inside the dome all year round.  The blacks living in the dome are called "Muslims," presumably because Black Muslims were considered to be a problem when the novella was originally published in 1976.  And they are basically the "good guys" in the story who save the main character.  I'm not sure what the lesson is, but I cannot recommend the book.  

February 24, 2019
- Last Sunday, I wrote a long comment about how it makes no sense for an atom to absorb or emit a particle or wave that is more than a thousand times larger than the atom.  Yet, that is how light photons are generally thought to be created:


How light is created

A sodium atom that is 0.38 nanometers in diameter will supposedly emit a yellow light wave that has a wavelength of 580 nanometers, which is 1,526 times the size of the sodium atom.  That 580 nanometer wave can then be absorbed and re-emitted by a silver atom in a mirror, even though the silver atom is just 0.33 nanometers in diameter, or 1,758 times smaller than the wave.

How can that make sense to anyone?

I asked myself that question, slept on it, and awoke with the only answer that my subconscious mind could come up with.  And it involved a radically different view of a photon.

Here is what one source says a photon supposedly looks like:

photon

I've used the illustration many times in arguments, but it makes no sense to me anymore.  According to the web page source of the image, "In quantum theory, we can observe that waves also have particle properties. The photon is the particle of the wave. It is a fixed amount of energy depending only on the frequency of the wave."  Huh?

To me, fields do not exist all by themselves.  Magnetic fields surround a source of magnetism, a typically a magnet.  And according to Wikipedia, "An electric field (sometimes abbreviated as E-field) is a vector field surrounding an electric charge that exerts force on other charges, attracting or repelling them."

The fields in the illustration above surround nothing.  They just exist because the waves supposedly exist.  But there are no waves, so the whole thing is nonsense!

The way my subconscious saw things, the energy fields must surround the source of the energy.  My subconscious had produced a very different vision of a photon.  When I woke up, I took the above illustration and changed it to have the fields surround a nucleus.  Like so:

A photon with a nucleus and fields
When viewed this way, everything suddenly makes sense.  Now an atom can easily absorb a photon by simply absorbing the nucleus.  The photon's nucleus can be about the size of an electron.  What is viewed as being a photon in books and papers is actually the fields surrounding the nucleus.  The atom just needs to absorb the nucleus. When an atom does that, the fields surrounding the nucleus are either absorbed along with the nucleus or they are simply turned off. 

When scientists measure light wavelengths, they are measuring diameters of electric fields.  


So, I can now visualize a photon as a tiny nucleus of stored energy surrounded by electric and magnetic fields.  However, unlike the image I just created above, the fields are NOT two dimensional.  In reality, the electric field is just strongest at the vertical and gets weaker the further it is from vertical.  And the magnetic field is strongest at the horizontal, and gets weaker the further it is from horizontal.  So, the fields that surround the photon are most likely in the form of sphere.  Or, if the magnetic field is weaker than the electric field, it can be in the shape of a spheroid or flattened sphere. 

And it is now easy to see how a photon can pass through solid glass.  The tiny nucleus easily passes between and through the spaces inside the much larger atoms which have no effect on the fields surrounding the nucleus.  Everything slows down a bit in the thicker medium, but the photon is otherwise unaffected.

I need to think about it a lot more.  It seems so simple and straightforward that I cannot understand why this isn't how photons are pictured in every college and university textbook in the world.    

On the other hand, the idea also poses a lot of questions about what a field is made of.  The fields do not consume energy from the nucleus, so the photon can travel across the universe without any energy loss.

And how does this model work when discussing polarization and refraction?  I suspect it will work very well and totally demolish a lot of mathematical models, but I need to figure out all the details - or get my subconscious to do it for me.   



Comments for Sunday, February 17, 2019, thru Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019:

February 20, 2019 - This afternoon, while driving around doing chores, I finished listening to CD #4 of the 4 CD audio book set for "The Order of Time" by Carlo Rovelli.

The Order of Time
 
While it was generally worthwhile, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend the book.  Too much of it is philosophy instead of science.  But Rovelli does make some good scientific points.  For example, he says this on page 43:
For millennia before clocks, our only regular way of measuring time had been the alternation of day and night. The rhythm of day followed by night also regulates the lives of plants and animals. Diurnal rhythms are ubiquitous in the natural world. They are essential to life, and it seems to me probable that they played a key role in the very origin of life on Earth, since an oscillation is required to set a mechanism in motion. Living organisms are full of clocks of various kinds—molecular, neuronal, chemical, hormonal—each of them more or less in tune with the others. There are chemical mechanisms that keep to a twenty-four-hour rhythm even in the biochemistry of single cells.
Later on the same page, Rovelli says,  
Aristotle is the first we are aware of to have asked himself the question “What is time?,” and he came to the following conclusion: time is the measurement of change. Things change continually. We call “time” the measurement, the counting of this change.
and
So if nothing changes, if nothing moves, does time therefore cease to pass?

Aristotle believed that it did. If nothing changes, time does not pass — because time is our way of situating ourselves in relation to the changing of things: the placing of ourselves in relation to the counting of days. Time is the measure of change: if nothing changes, there is no time.
I agree with that, although I wouldn't phrase things that way.  Its a philosophical view, not a scientific view where (in my view) time is simply particle spin.  Change and other effects of particle spin are measurements of time, not time itself.

Quantum Mechanics, of course, looks at time differently.  It quantizes time.  It requires that time consist of multiples of a specific unit ("quanta").  On page 54, Rovelli writes this about how time is viewed in Quantum Mechanics:
The time measured by a clock is “quantified,” that is to say, it acquires only certain values and not others. It is as if time were granular rather than continuous.
and
The “quantization” of time implies that almost all values of time t do not exist. If we could measure the duration of an interval with the most precise clock imaginable, we should find that the time measured takes only certain discrete, special values. It is not possible to think of duration as continuous. We must think of it as discontinuous: not as something that flows uniformly but as something that in a certain sense jumps, kangaroo-like, from one value to another.

In other words, a minimum interval of time exists. Below this, the notion of time does not exist—even in its most basic meaning.
It's difficult for me to make any sense of that, and Rovelli doesn't try to.  He just describes it as another way for a philosopher to view time.

The books provides a lot to think about, particularly about how entropy relates to time, but the net result of spending 4 hours and 23 minutes listening to the book while two weeks went by is more akin to confusion than enlightenment.

February 18, 2019
- I my February 16 comment I mentioned that I had accessed some podcasts for the first time.  It was the first time I found podcasts that didn't require joining something and paying a fee.  The podcasts were on a web site titled Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, and there are currently 348 podcasts available.

I began by listening to episode #348 in which the host of the show, David Barr Kirtley, interviews astrophysicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford.  While the whole interview was enjoyable and worthwhile, I
found something very interesting near the end, at about the 1 hour, 2 minutes and 40 seconds mark.  At that point Benford says,
I'm always trying to use my unconscious as much as possible in order to avoid extra labor. I think one of the great [mumble] about people is whether they've learned to use their unconscious to solve problems.  I use it every day.

I review all the things I'm working on just before I go to sleep, and when I wake up in the morning I do not open my eyes, I lie there and recall what I was working on.  And about one time in three there is an idea there - for free - and it almost always works!  And it's been produced by your unconscious, which has still been working while you were asleep.
That's exactly what I do!  I've mentioned it in comments I've written here many times.  Recently, I've been thinking about photons just before going to sleep, hoping that my unconscious mind will figure out something while I'm asleep.  I think it needs more information.  So, I'm going to have to do more research.

In the Interview, Benford also mentions discussing the unconscious mind with another scientist, and together they wondered:  

We evolved with an unconscious.  Why?  Why did we evolve with an unconscious mind?
They had no answer to that.  Maybe they need to think about it just before going to sleep.  Or maybe I do.

After finishing Episode #348, I started on Episode #347.  In it,
David Barr Kirtley interviews three different science fiction writers about a science fiction anthology TV series titled "Dimension 404."  The series is on Hulu, and I'm not a subscriber, so I've never seen it.  I don't even know how to access Hulu.

But, very little of the show was about "Dimension 404."  Mostly it was about other things.  They talked past TV anthology series such as "The Twilight Zone," "The Outer Limits," "One Step Beyond" and "Amazing Stories."  And there is also a series titled "Black Mirror" on Netflix, which I've also never seen.  They also talked about a book called "The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos," which I had never heard of before.

I was probably ten minutes into the show when I had to grab a pen and a piece of paper so I could start making notes.  I didn't know Jeff Bezos had a company called "Blue Origin" which is involved with space exploration.  I may have read about it or heard about it before, but it never registered the way it did while I was listening to that podcast.  

I listened to all or parts of about 6 other episodes, working backward through the list, and while they weren't all as interesting as the first two I'd heard, they sometimes caused me to grab that paper and pen again to make notes.  In one episode they mentioned other podcasts, such as Hardcore History, and shows by Joe Rogan.  I downloaded samples of those to check out.  I think I've just sampled a tiny tiny fraction of all the podcasts that are available.  Just prowling around this morning, I found that Science magazine has a web site of podcasts.  I downloaded a couple samples to check out when I find the time.  Meanwhile, someone sent me a link to a talk by an American doctor who was asked to fly to India in 1989 to treat Mother Teresa, who appeared to be dying.  I could only listen to it on my computer, but I'd like to save it as an MP3 file.  It's fascinating and funny, while at the same time being very serious and bizarre.

It appears that I'm going to be listening to a lot of podcasts in the future.  I might even start taking my MP3 player with me again when I go to the gym.


February 17, 2019
- Sometimes when I'm researching how photons and light waves work, I just feel like just giving up.
  Things make no sense.

Last week I researched the size of various atoms.  The books and articles and web sites all seem to generally agree on these sizes for various atoms:
Barium (Ba) has a radius of 0.253 nanometers (253 picometers)
Strontium (Sr) has a radius of 0.215 nanometers (215 picometers)

Calcium (Ca) has a radius of 0.197 nanometers (197 picometers)
Sodium (Na) has a radius of 0.190 nanometers (190 picometers)
Lithium (Li) has a radius of 0.167 nanometers (167 picometers)
Silver (Ag) has a radius of 0.165 nanometers (165 picometers)
Copper (Cu) has a radius of 0.145 nanometers (145 picometers)
And they also seem to generally agree that wavelengths have these sizes:

table of color wavelengths
And they all seem to agree that light is created this way:

How light is created

So, a photon hits an atom and is absorbed, which causes the outermost electron in the atom to jump to a higher, unstable energy level. The electron then falls back to its original energy level and the atom releases the extra energy in the form of a new light photon.  According to an on-line source:

During the fall from high energy to normal energy, the electron emits a photon -- a packet of energy -- with very specific characteristics. The photon has a frequency, or color, that exactly matches the distance the electron falls.

You can see this phenomenon quite clearly in gas-discharge lamps. Fluorescent lamps, neon signs and sodium-vapor lamps are common examples of this kind of electric lighting, which passes an electric current through a gas to make the gas emit light. The colors of gas-discharge lamps vary widely depending on the identity of the gas and the construction of the lamp.
A frequency that matches a distance?  What does that mean?
 
You can also cause light to be emitted by applying heat to an atom.  Heat will cause the electron to jump to a higher level and then back down again to emit a photon.  The type of atom being heated will determine the color of the light that is emitted.  According to an on-line source,

Sodium Na produces yellow color,
Copper Cu gives blue.
Barium Ba emits green and
Strontium salts and lithium salts produce:
Lithium carbonate, Li2CO3 emits red
Strontium carbonate, SrCO3 emits bright red.
Okay, so a sodium atom that is 0.38 nanometers in diameter will emit a yellow light wave that has a length of 580 nanometers - or a photon that is 290 nanometers in diameter.  And if that wave or photon hits a silver atom that has a diameter of 0.33 nm, it will be fully absorbed, and the silver atom will then emit a totally new 290 nm photon or new wave that is 580 nanometers long.

How does an atom that is 0.33 nanometers in diameter absorb a light photon that is 879 times larger than the atom?   Or how does an atom absorb a wave that is 1,758 times the size of the atom? 

Someone on Quora.com asked the question "How big is a photon?" and the general consensus seems to be that there is no answer to that question.  The answer that received twice as many "up votes" than everyone else put together was from a
Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of British Columbia who wrote:

I’m pretty sure there is no possible answer to that question. A photon is a wave — usually a wave packet, which limits and fuzzily defines its net “length”, but it can occupy any number of different volumes and still be the same quantum.

What is the size or volume of a shout?

How can such a basic question have no possible answer?  Is it because no one is looking for an answer?  Because no one cares?

While trying to find an answer (because I care) I found a link to a book that says this on pages 21 and 22:
Physicists had known for nearly three decades that something was wrong, that a change was desperately needed to understand what was happening in the world of the very small—the world of atoms. But they were working blind. Atoms are simply too small to see through any normal microscope, no matter the magnification. The wavelength of visible light is thousands of times larger than the size of an individual atom.
That's exactly what I just wrote.  Going back to the start of the book, I found this on pages 5 and 6:
Despite the fact that every physicist agrees that quantum physics works, a bitter debate has raged over its meaning for the past ninety years, since the theory was first developed. And one position in that debate—held by the majority of physicists and purportedly by Bohr—has continually denied the very terms of the debate itself. These physicists claim that it is somehow inappropriate or unscientific to ask what is going on in the quantum realm, despite the phenomenal success of the theory. To them, the theory needs no interpretation, because the things that the theory describes aren’t truly real. Indeed, the strangeness of quantum phenomena has led some prominent physicists to state flatly that there is no alternative, that quantum physics proves that small objects simply do not exist in the same objectively real way as the objects in our everyday lives do. Therefore, they claim, it is impossible to talk about reality in quantum physics. There is not, nor could there be, any story of the world that goes along with the theory.
The book (published in 2018) is "What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics" by Adam Becker.  The book goes on to say,
The popularity of this attitude to quantum physics is surprising. Physics is about the world around us. It aims to understand the fundamental constituents of the universe and how they behave. Many physicists are driven to enter the field out of a desire to understand the most basic properties of nature, to see how the puzzle fits together. Yet, when it comes to quantum physics, the majority of physicists are perfectly willing to abandon this quest and instead merely “shut up and calculate,” in the words of physicist David Mermin. 
and,
This is an astonishing state of affairs, and hardly anyone outside of physics knows about it. But why should anyone else care? After all, quantum physics certainly works. For that matter, why should physicists care? Their mathematics makes accurate predictions; isn’t that enough? 
No, it is not enough.  I could quote endlessly from the book, even though I've only read the first 22 pages so far.  The point seems to be that Quantum Mechanics is not about the real world, it is about calculating probabilities.  And the book doesn't seem to provide any answers, it seems to just describe the reason no one is even looking for answers: Physicists are fully satisfied with calculating probabilities.  As long as they can calculate probabilities and get good results, no one cares what is actually going on at the atomic level.

When looking at the book on Amazon's web site, they displayed another book published in June of 2018 that looks interesting and similar: "Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray Hardcover" by Sabine Hossenfelder.  I mentioned that book in my June 2, 2018 comment, when it first came out. 

And that book led me to another book published in 2018: "Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different" by Philip Ball.  It has this famous Richard Feynman quote on page 6:
“I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”
And then it goes on to explain what Prof. Feynman meant:
In case we didn’t get the point, Feynman drove it home in his artful Everyman style. ‘I was born not understanding quantum mechanics,’ he exclaimed merrily, ‘[and] I still don’t understand quantum mechanics!’ Here was the man who had just been anointed one of the foremost experts on the topic, declaring his ignorance of it.
The book goes on to say,
Feynman’s much-quoted words help to seal the reputation of quantum mechanics as one of the most obscure and difficult subjects in all of science. Quantum mechanics has become symbolic of ‘impenetrable science’, in the same way that the name of Albert Einstein (who played a key role in its inception) acts as shorthand for scientific genius.

Feynman clearly didn’t mean that he couldn’t do quantum theory. He meant that this was all he could do. He could work through the math just fine – he invented some of it, after all. That wasn’t the problem. Sure, there’s no point in pretending that the math is easy, and if you never got on with numbers then a career in quantum mechanics isn’t for you. But neither, in that case, would be a career in fluid mechanics, population dynamics, or economics, which are equally inscrutable to the numerically challenged.

No, the equations aren’t why quantum mechanics is perceived to be so hard. It’s the ideas. We just can’t get our heads around them. Neither could Richard Feynman. His failure, Feynman admitted, was to understand what the math was saying. It provided numbers: predictions of quantities that could be tested against experiments, and which invariably survived those tests. But Feynman couldn’t figure out what these numbers and equations were really about: what they said about the ‘real world’.
The existence of these three books, all published in 2018, tells me that others are bothered by the problem.  And they aren't afraid of writing about it.  So, I'm not alone.  But it sometimes seems like I'm the only one who is trying to make sense of it all.  They write about the problem, not about attempts to solve the problem.

No one is saying that it is impossible for an atom to absorb and emit a photon that is a thousand times larger than the atom.  It is just not something that happens in the visible universe.  Or does it?

snake can surprise  








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fake picture of snow on
                    the pyramids
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