|Comments for Sunday, March 24,
2019, thru Sunday, March 31, 2019:
March 31, 2019 - While I still think my paper about photons should be finished in a week or ten days, I'm feeling I need to add more references. So, I browsed through the 4th edition of a college textbook titled "Optics," by Eugene Hecht. It generally supports the idea that light consists of photons, but it also endlessly explains light by using wave theory.
It says this on page 51:
Light is absorbed and emitted in tiny discrete bursts, in particles of electromagnetic "stuff," known as photons. That much has been confirmed and is well established, but the question of whether or not light is "really" a stream of photons is far from settled, and that issue will be revisited several times to come.*Who said light is a stream of photons? Photons do not travel in streams. Photons are usually emitted randomly and travel individually.
The asterisk at the end of the quote leads to a note at the bottom of the page which says:
*Thus whenever, for brevity's sake, an expression such as "a beam of photons" is used, the reader is advised to keep in mind that although the light-is-corpuscular model has wide acceptance (especially in high-energy physics) and is a crucial part of the contemporary discourse, like almost everything else in physics, it is not yet established beyond all doubt. See, for example, the summary article by R. Kidd. J. Ardini, and A. Anton "Evolution of the modern photon," Am. j. Phys. 57 (11, 27 (1989)How can there be any doubt that light consists of photons, not waves?
I found a copy of the Kidd article, and it does indeed argue that light consists of waves, not photons, and that all the evidence to the contrary could be wrong. But the evidence it uses is historical arguments, not modern-day experiments that anyone can perform to remove all doubt that light consists of individual photons.
Hecht's book also quotes Richard Feynman on page 139 (the same quote that I have used many times on this web site):
Feynman was rather unequivocal in his stance regarding the nature of light:Again Hecht talks about "a stream of photons," as if that is the only way photons can exist - as streams. And, evidently, Hecht believes photons travel in streams because their "behavior en masse can be determined statistically." So, the only argument against photons is a statistical (mathematical) argument. It appears that Hecht purposely ignores the reason Richard Feynman gave for stating that "light behaves like particles." The quote Hecht used is from page 15 of Feynman's book "QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter." On page 14 of that same book it says,:
We know that light is made of particles because we can take a very sensitive instrument that makes clicks when light shines on it, and if the light gets dimmer, the clicks remain just as loud—there are just fewer of them. Thus light is something like raindrops—each little lump of light is called a photon—and if the light is all one color, all the “raindrops” are the same size.And Feyman then goes into great detail explaining how photomultipliers work, and he even says,
You might say that it’s just the photomultiplier that detects light as particles, but no, every instrument that has been designed to be sensitive enough to detect weak light has always ended up discovering the same thing: light is made of particles.All this is on the page before the quote that Hecht used to create an argument that the matter is not settled.
I also browsed through the 3rd edition of the book "Polarized Light" by Dennis H. Goldstein. It only uses the word "photon" about a half dozen times, but it uses the word "wave" countless times, and it says this on page 3:
We now know that electromagnetic radiation is a transverse wave; that is, an oscillation of electric and magnetic fields in a direction perpendicular to the direction of propagation.This morning I looked for the word "photon" in another text book, the 4th edition of "Physics for Scientists and Engineers" by Douglas C. Giancoli. It generally describes light as consisting of photons, but it also says you have to understand wave theory to fully understand light. I also browsed through a couple other books, but they were just more of the same: they explained light as both photons and as waves. One book, "Fundamentals of Photonics," edited by Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri even makes describing "the dual nature of light" a task for the student. It's a "goal" stated on page 2:
Describe the dual nature of light, as a continuous wave and a discrete particle (photon), and give examples of light exhibiting both natures.To me, if we don't know the exact nature of light - i.e., whether light is a particle or a wave - the #1 task scientists should have in this field is to FIND OUT how a photon works. As anyone can see from Richard Feyman explanation, we know without any doubt that light consists of photons! So, the question becomes: how can a photon appear to be a wave? That question is what my paper tries to answer. It makes understanding light relatively simple and straightforward. But will anyone accept a simple and straightforward explanation for how light works when the whole world seems to be blissfully content with a complex "dual nature" explanation of how light works? Time will tell.
March 29, 2019 - Once again I've managed for several days to focus on writing my scientific paper about photons. But it was done at the cost of not posting any comments here. I'm hoping to be finished with the paper in a week or so. The trick seems to have been to reduce the scope of the paper. As it exists right now, the paper will just be about visualizing photons. It essentially says, "Since we know these facts about photons, a photon must look and work this way." When I've finished the paper and have put it on Vixra.org, I can then move on to work on a separate and different paper about how photons operate in the Double Slit Experiment. That material is no longer included in the current paper.
Meanwhile, I've made Firefox my main Internet browser. I had no choice. I kept running into situations where SeaMonkey wouldn't work. More and more companies with web sites appear to be using new options that SeaMonkey doesn't handle. The first one I encountered was RedBox. SeaMonkey doesn't allow me to access RedBox to see what movies are available to rent. Then the web site run by one of my local grocery stores wouldn't work with SeaMonkey. Then one of my blogs. I still prefer SeaMonkey, but if it doesn't work when I need it to work, I have no choice but to switch to FireFox -- mostly. For some reason, the Amazon site where I check on the sales for my books won't work with Firefox, but it works fine with SeaMonkey. And I need to keep SeaMonkey around because I use it to maintain and update this web site. Firefox has no such capability.
Also meanwhile, my scientific papers seem to be getting more views than was the situation in the past. The increase is particularly noticeable on Academia.edu where I also have copies of most of my papers available. I haven't been putting all of my papers on that site because it is cumbersome to work with and it doesn't get anywhere near the same number of readers as Vixra.org. Right now it shows only 137 total views for all the papers I have on the site. Vixra.org, on the other hand, has 442 views for just my Time Dilation paper, 390 views for my paper on Einstein's Second Postulate, and more than 137 views for each of three other papers. But, when I can find the time, I'm going to have to figure out the best and simplest way to put papers on Academia.edu.
March 26, 2019 - As I mentioned yesterday, I've been studying an article titled
"Introduction to Polarized Light" that I found on the Nikon camera company's web site. The first illustration in the article looks something like this:
That image is very similar to many other descriptions of polarized light that I've seen (and have shown on this web site). The problem I've been having is not the image, it's in the description of what is shown in the image. The article says in the second paragraph:
The basic concept of polarized light is illustrated in Figure 1 for a non-polarized beam of light incident on two linear polarizers. Electric field vectors are depicted in the incident light beam as sinusoidal waves vibrating in all directions (360 degrees; although only six waves, spaced at 60-degree intervals, are included in the figure). In reality, the incident light electric field vectors are vibrating perpendicular to the direction of propagation with an equal distribution in all planes before encountering the first polarizer.In plainer English, they are saying that light waves are moving in a straight line toward the first polarizer while the light waves are also going go up and down in all directions, not just the 6 directions depicted in the illustration. Okay. No problem. However, it's even easier to understand when thinking of photons. The oscillating photons are oriented in all directions as they travel in a straight line to the first polarizer. The problems come in the next paragraph:
The polarizers illustrated in Figure 1 are actually filters containing long-chain polymer molecules that are oriented in a single direction. Only the incident light that is vibrating in the same plane as the oriented polymer molecules is absorbed, while light vibrating at right angles to the polymer plane is passed through the first polarizing filter. The polarizing direction of the first polarizer is oriented vertically to the incident beam so it will pass only the waves having vertical electric field vectors. The wave passing through the first polarizer is subsequently blocked by the second polarizer, because this polarizer is oriented horizontally with respect to the electric field vector in the light wave. The concept of using two polarizers oriented at right angles with respect to each other is commonly termed crossed polarization and is fundamental to the concept of polarized light microscopy.Okay. The filter contains long-chain polymer molecules that are oriented in a single direction. Got it. Presumably, "Polarizer 1 (Vertical)" in Figure 1 shows the orientation of those molecules. The molecules are oriented vertically, creating the vertical bars.
But then it says that only the light waves that are going up an down in that same plane are absorbed. Huh? And light waves that are going up and down at right angles to the polymer plane pass through the filter. Huh?!
Isn't that the exact opposite of what is shown in Figure 1? It took me awhile to figure out what I was misunderstanding. It only makes sense if the "long-chain polymer molecules" are oriented so that their electric fields are horizontal and their magnetic fields are vertical. But the word "magnetic" is never used in the article, much less "magnetic waves." The entire article is about electric waves.
When you stretch a sheet of transparent plastic, what happens to the magnetic and electric fields of the atoms in the plastic? A little research found a physics web site titled "Focus: Magnetic Field Aligns Polymer Structures" which is all about how magnetic fields are used to create polymer structures. The article contains this bit of information:
Researchers have previously used electric fields to align block copolymer domains , a technique that relies on the difference in the electric field response of the two polymer blocks. However, the effect is weak, which means that strong electric fields are required, and these fields can damage the polymers.Ah! So polymers are mostly about magnetic fields. Strong electric fields are a problem. That means that, when you stretch a piece of plastic polymer and create a polarizing filter, the filter theorectically looks like the grid below:
The openings in the filter are the spaces between the columns. If a photon hits the filter with its electric and magnetic fields aligned in the same way as the fields in the filter, the photon will be absorbed. However, if the photon hits the filter with its electric field aligned perpendicular to the electric fields in the filter, then the photon will pass. Photons that have electric fields that are not exactly vertical will either pass or be absorbed, depending upon how close the electric field is to being vertical.
The Nikon article also says,
When the polarizers are partially crossed at 30 and 60 degrees, the light transmitted by the analyzer is reduced by 25 percent and 75 percent, respectively.In other words, when you have two polarizing filters, one vertical and one turned 30 degrees away from vertical, 25% of the light passing through the first filter will be absorbed by the second filter. And if the first filter is vertical and the second is turned 60 degrees away from vertical, 75% of the light that passed through the first filter will be absorbed by the second filter.
It was just this sentence in the article that confused me:
The polarizing direction of the first polarizer is oriented vertically to the incident beam so it will pass only the waves having vertical electric field vectors.I would have written that sentence this way:
The electrical fields of the first polarizer are oriented horizontally to the incident beam so it will pass only the waves having vertical electric field vectors.There's another section in the article that I disagree with and would have written it differently. It relates to Figure 6 and starts with this sentence:
Rotating the analyzer [i.e., second filter] transmission axis by 30-degrees with respect to that of the polarizer [i.e., first filter] reduces the amplitude of a light wave passing through the pairIn the Cambridge dictionary, "amplitude" is defined this way:
Amplitude: the strength of a wave of sound or electricity, measured at the strongest repeating part of the wave. Amplitude is also the height of a wave from top to bottom.Polarizers do NOT change the amplitude of light photons (or waves). Polarizers change the NUMBER of photons that pass through. When you have fewer photons getting through the filter, the light is dimmer, but each photon still has the same amplitude (the same field strength) as it had before reaching the filter. I don't think there is any way to change the amplitude of a photon. The article seems to be totally in the fantasy world of light waves on that subject.
Nevertheless, the article seems to have fully clarified for me how polarization and polarizing filters work. Now, hopefully I can get back to work on my paper about polarization.
March 25, 2019 - This morning I started working on a comment about a web page titled "Introduction to Polarized Light," which is operated by the Nikon camera company. It's a very interesting web page, mostly written in plain English instead of mathematical equations, and it seems to explain a lot of basic things. But you still have to decipher some of what is being said. By lunchtime, I was still working on the comment and it seemed like I was nowhere near being done. So, I saved what I'd written and I'll try to complete it tomorrow.
Meanwhile, yesterday I tried accessing this web site via three different search engines, and I "refreshed" the content each time to make sure I actually accessed my site instead of pulling the information from a cache in my own computer. Here are the log entries to the main page:
255.0.255.0 - - [24/Mar/2019:12:24:35 -0500] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 282519 "http://www.yippy.com/search/?v%3Aproject=clusty-new&query=ed-lake.com&xtoken=18427888605c97bd3a546b8" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0 SeaMonkey/2.49.4"
255.0.255.0 - - [24/Mar/2019:14:55:58 -0500] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 304 - "https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrJ7J7J4JdcyrUAP1VXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEybzQwNWh1BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ
255.0.255.0 - - [24/Mar/2019:14:58:28 -0500] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 304 - "https://r.search.aol.com/_ylt=A0PDsBte4ZdcpnEAfFRpCWVH;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWNote that all three show which search engine visited my site (yippy, yahoo and aol) and yippy shows what my query was: "ed-lake.com". Something must have changed, because years ago the query info or "search string" was part of every search and my statistical reports even included a list of what people were looking for when they accessed my site. Here's part of the December 2002 list for my anthraxinvestigation.com site:
That information is evidently still provided on my statistics files, but lately there aren't more than a half dozen entries per month. I have no idea what changed.
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.
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 opportunitiesHmm. 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):
255.0.255.0 - - [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:
255.0.255.0 - - [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:
255.0.255.0 - - [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:
255.0.255.0 - - [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:
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:
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,
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:
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.
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:
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:
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):
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.
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:
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.
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.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.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.
|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.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.”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%.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.)"
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.
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.
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 differentI 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 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 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.