It’s Also Isaac Newton’s Birthday

 ..although that depends on which calendar you're using:

Some years ago, the evolutionist and atheist Richard Dawkins pointed out to me that Sir Isaac Newton, the founder of modern physics and mathematics, and arguably the greatest scientist of all time, was born on Christmas Day, and that therefore Newton’s Birthday could be an alternative, if somewhat nerdy, excuse for a winter holiday.

All very jolly — but then, ’tis the season. Yet things are not so
simple. It turns out that the date of Newton’s birthday is a little
contentious. Newton was born in England on Christmas Day 1642 according
to the Julian calendar — the calendar in use in England at the time.
But by the 1640s, much of the rest of Europe was using the Gregorian
calendar (the one in general use today); according to this calendar,
Newton was born on Jan. 4, 1643.

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Merry Ho Ho

And Happy Ha Ha:

Best wishes to all for a safe and warm holiday, wherever you are whatever you’re having.
–Ann, Paul… and Zoe

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“Free Energy” ?

Here’s a ten-minute interview with Paul LaViolette, author of “The Secrets of Anti-Gravity Propulsion”

“He discloses the existence of advanced gravity-control technologies, under secret military development for decades, that could revolutionize air travel and energy production. Included among the secret projects he reveals is the research of Project Skyvault to develop an aerospace propulsion system using intense beams of microwave energy similar to that used by the strange crafts seen flying over Area 51.”

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Now Playing At A Theater Near You

Those of you who have been following along will recall that the original 1951 release of the “The Day The Earth Stood Still” was one of Townsend Brown’s favorite movies.  The story is he shut his lab down for an afternoon so that everybody could go see the film together.

But it’s hard to imagine what he would think of the remake, which opens nationwide today:

So far, the reviews I have read have not been kind. Typical is this synopsis from A. O. Scott of The New York Times:

Long after we are gone, science fiction movies about our impending extinction will instruct whoever comes next that we were a strange, neurotic species indeed. We could not — cannot — get enough of fantasies of destruction, meant at once to inflame and soothe our fear of vanishing altogether. We know we have it coming, and a movie like “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” either in its 1951 version or in this “reimagining,” invites us to feel fleetingly bad about that even as we are encouraged to laugh it off. Any hope that the new “Day,” directed by Scott Derrickson from a script by David Scarpa, might also someday rise above its pulpy, corny, somber silliness rests mainly on the shoulders of Keanu Reeves. Those shoulders are perfect for filling out a dark, narrow suit, just as Mr. Reeves’s deadpan basso and permanently perplexed features make him an ideal Klaatu, as the space visitor is called. Klaatu’s job is to assist, calmly and methodically, in the extermination of the human race, a task he tries, with evident fatigue, to explain to his hysterical, violent would-be victims.

The good news I did not know until I looked at the clip on YouTube is that one of the stars of the film is Jennifer Connolly. Who needs plot, theme, or production values when you can sit in a darkened room and look at her for two hours… ?

Klaatu barada nikto,anyone?

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Seen In Portland, OR

At an Espesso Shop:Seen In Portland, OR

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Mathemeticians at the Bar

You probably don’t want to share a room in a motel with these guys, either:

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a beer. The second orders half a beer. The third, a quarter of a beer. The fourth mathematician orders an eighth of a beer.

And so on, ad infinitum.

Finally, the bartender says "You’re all idiots", and pours two beers

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What If The “Multiverse” Is Real?

Don’t ya just love when the guys with all the degrees start
  we’ve been tossing around here for years now?

Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest
problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many
physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but
one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.

The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a
scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be
proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the
multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for
what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation
that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the
emergence of life.

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A “Quantum Theory of Gravity”

…and "fuzzy time."

Quantum theories of gravity have been tossed about for decades, in an attempt to do for quantum mechanics and gravity what General Relativity does with gravity, i.e. explain it.  Since General Relativity (the theory of the really, really big) and Quantum Mechanics (the theory of the really, really small) don’t always see eye to eye, the Quantum types have always felt they needed to come up with their own variation on the theme.  Now they’ve got a machine:

In a classical view of the world, space and time are smooth. The minimum scales at which, according to quantum mechanics, the smoothness breaks down — the Planck length and time — can be derived from other quantities, but they have not been tested experimentally, nor would they be, given their impossibly small size.

Yet if Hogan’s ideas are right, noise associated with this fundamental fuzziness should be prominent at GEO600, a joint British and German machine operating near Hannover, Germany, that is searching for gravitational waves. These waves are thought to arise during events such as the massive cosmic collisions of black holes and neutron stars. Confirmation of the idea — which could come as experimental upgrades to GEO600 are put in place over the coming year — would be a big step towards a verifiable quantum theory of gravity, a long-sought unification of quantum mechanics (the physics of the very small) with general relativity (the physics of the very big).

This is all being discussed in our forums, starting with this post from skyfish. Good luck following the thread…

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Well Sure, Why Not??

Just something I found sifting through some un-opened e-mails from a few weeks ago:
Could a Warp Drive Engine Travel Faster Than Light?.

Two Baylor University physicists believe that if the 11th dimension could be shrunk behind a spaceship it would create a bubble of dark energy, the same dark energy that is causing the universe to speed up as time goes on. Expanding the 11th dimension in front of the ship would eventually cause it to decrease, although two separate steps are required. One slight problem though is exactly how the 11th dimension would be expanded and shrunk is still unknown.

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John Hodgman Explains It All For You

I think this is the kind of intellect we need to lead us to the bottom of the rabbit hole: somebody who can ramble through a story about aliens, physics, time, space and the way all of these somehow contribute to a sweet, perfect memory of falling in love.

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