Archives for: "May 2006"

Russia regressing further into fascist barbarism

"We were expecting this. It's the authorities that are allowing this to happen," said a woman holding a limp red carnation who identified herself only as Anna, a lesbian.

Talking to the press after the religious and nationalist groups violently interfered in a gay parade in Moscow. Yuri Luzhkov Moscow's mayor simply said "as long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades".

Police detained the rally's main organizer, Nikolai Alexeyev, as he attempted to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a symbol of the Soviet Union's victory against fascism in World War II, just outside the Kremlin wall.

"We are conducting a peaceful action. We want to show that we have the same rights as other citizens," Mr. Alexeyev had told a news conference a few hours before the rally was to have begun.

But police closed the entrance to the garden where the tomb is located, and the first half-dozen activists arrived carrying flowers were set upon by about 100 religious and nationalist extremists who kicked and punched them.

Unfortunately those fascists and religious nutcases that the Soviet Union smashed during the second world war, are back, and are on the streets of Moscow.

"Moscow is not Sodom!" they shouted. Women wearing head scarves held up religious icons while men in Cossack white sheepskin hats and black-and-red tunics stood by.

"Both the authorities and the fascists had the same objective — to suppress the Moscow gay pride," Mr. Tatchell said.

By the time of the start of the rally, more than 100 youths were standing in the square opposite the mayor's office, chanting: "Glory to Russia!"

Several trampled on a rainbow-coloured ribbon — a symbol of gay rights — into the ground.

"This is a perverts' parade," said one protester holding an icon of the Madonna. "This is filth, which is forbidden by God. We have to cleanse the world of this filth," said the woman who gave only her first name, Irina.

The law and social attitudes need to return to the original Soviet position. In that there can be no crime without a victim. Anyone can do what they like - so long as it does not negatively effect somebody else. The way legal and social attitudes should be taken. A victimless crime is not a crime.

I would like to see the communists provide escort for future gay parades in Russia, and other countries with similar problems, it's clear the religious and nationalist groups are well organised to counter these parades with force and communists need to take a positive step to defend them. The fascists are much less likely to do anything when they're outnumbered 20 to 1 by the communists.

A380 is big but not that big

Saw on the news tonight somebody saying the A380 is the biggest aircraft ever. Well actually it's not the biggest ever, it's either the second or third biggest ever, it is however the largest commercial passenger aircraft.

The biggest aircraft in the world is the Antonov An-225 Mriya, pictured below carrying the Soviet space shuttle Buran. Buran is a bit larger than the US space shuttle to give you some scale.

Buran being carried by an Antonov An-225 Mriya

The Big Bounce

According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, the Big Bang represents The Beginning, the grand event at which not only matter but space-time itself was born. While classical theories offer no clues about existence before that moment, a research team at Penn State has used quantum gravitational calculations to find threads that lead to an earlier time. "General relativity can be used to describe the universe back to a point at which matter becomes so dense that its equations don't hold up," says Abhay Ashtekar, Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Physics and Director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at Penn State. "Beyond that point, we needed to apply quantum tools that were not available to Einstein." By combining quantum physics with general relativity, Ashtekar and two of his post-doctoral researchers, Tomasz Pawlowski and Parmpreet Singh, were able to develop a model that traces through the Big Bang to a shrinking universe that exhibits physics similar to ours.

In research reported in the current issue of Physical Review Letters, the team shows that, prior to the Big Bang, there was a contracting universe with space-time geometry that otherwise is similar to that of our current expanding universe. As gravitational forces pulled this previous universe inward, it reached a point at which the quantum properties of space-time cause gravity to become repulsive, rather than attractive. "Using quantum modifications of Einstein's cosmological equations, we have shown that in place of a classical Big Bang there is in fact a quantum Bounce," says Ashtekar. "We were so surprised by the finding that there is another classical, pre-Big Bang universe that we repeated the simulations with different parameter values over several months, but we found that the Big Bounce scenario is robust."

While the general idea of another universe existing prior to the Big Bang has been proposed before, this is the first mathematical description that systematically establishes its existence and deduces properties of space-time geometry in that universe.

The research team used loop quantum gravity, a leading approach to the problem of the unification of general relativity with quantum physics, which also was pioneered at the Penn State Institute of Gravitational Physics and Geometry. In this theory, space-time geometry itself has a discrete 'atomic' structure and the familiar continuum is only an approximation. The fabric of space is literally woven by one-dimensional quantum threads. Near the Big-Bang, this fabric is violently torn and the quantum nature of geometry becomes important. It makes gravity strongly repulsive, giving rise to the Big Bounce.

"Our initial work assumes a homogenous model of our universe," says Ashtekar. "However, it has given us confidence in the underlying ideas of loop quantum gravity. We will continue to refine the model to better portray the universe as we know it and to better understand the features of quantum gravity."

The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

A380 lands at Heathrow

The Airbus A380 "super-jumbo" touched down at Heathrow airport today. Pictures borrowed from various places on the internet.

Airbus A380

Airbus A380

Airbus A380

A way to bring Wester back

I've been thinking, so often in particle physics we have anti-particles, perhaps the reason Wester has been so quiet lately is the anti-Wester no longer exists. A particle needs its opposite to funkify itself up.

Perhaps the solution is the same, we bring back the anti-Wester, and Wester will come back to life.

Signs

Did I ever tell you I thought it was crap? Never thought I'd find someone who could explain why it was crap in just four little images though.

Signs

Signs

Signs

Signs

The Earth is older than 6000 years

Woolly Mammoth

Hi, I'm a woolly mammoth. Me and my kind were mooping around on Earth for about 1.5 million years, my ancestors originally came from Africa but over 6 million years or so we spread out quite a bit. It was pretty cold up north and the poor mammoths that weren't as woolly died out and soon we were all woolly. We died out completely around 10000 years ago, we know this because you guys haven't found any of my kind younger than that.

The creationists claim I died out in a giant flood which wiped the Earth clean of all life (apart from what Noah could fit on his boat). These guys claim I was around for about 2000 years, after some guy created the Earth 6000 years ago.

So when did I really live?

Well according to my digital watch synced with the atomic clocks in Germany I was born on the 17th of October 36000 years ago. Oh dear, for that time I must have been floating around in nothing, because apparently there wasn't an Earth or anything else. Well I can tell you first hand that was pretty wrong, I was definitely mooping around somewhere above the frozen North Sea 36000 years ago (we had GPS too).

We know I'm telling the truth (well I might be exaggerating a little bit about the digital watches and GPS) because you can date me from my carbon-14 atoms.

Normally all life on Earth is made up of carbon-12 and carbon-13. But a certain percent is carbon-14, this percentage is the same in all life on Earth. It happens like this:

Cosmic rays are constantly hitting the Earth from space. In fact every day a person is hit about 8000 times a minute by cosmic rays as you can tell they usually don't do a lot. But sometimes a cosmic ray neutron will hit an atom of nitrogen in the atmosphere, actually a nitrogen-14 atom (7 protons, 7 neutrons). As the neutron smashes into the atom it knocks a proton away (a hydrogen atom) and adds itself to what was the nitrogen-14 atom, this is an atom with 6 protons and 8 neutrons - which is a carbon-14 atom.

Through photosynthesis plants suck up CO2, which includes carbon-14 atoms. This is how these atoms find their way into all life on Earth. A certain percent of the plant will be made from carbon-14 atoms, if an animal eats the plant a certain percent of his body will also be made from carbon-14 and if somebody else eats him he'll have that percentage of carbon-14. These carbon-14 atoms make up 0.0000000001% of all carbon on Earth.

The cool thing about carbon-14 though is it's unstable, it's radioactive. It has a half-life of about 5730 years. So if we've got some carbon-14 atoms, within 5730 years half of them would of decayed through the process called radioactive decay they'll turn back into a nitrogen-14 atoms, we can use these atoms to date things to about 60000 years - the amount of time it takes for most of the atoms to decay completely. That's how we work it out, we work out the number and type of atoms I'm made out of.

This is how scientists can work out roughly how old I am, it's called radiocarbon dating, it's not accurate enough to days, or even years, but it's accurate to within a few hundred years. So they can work out and tell that I'm not lying when I say I'm 36000 years old.

So why do you creationists call me a liar?

Baby woolley mammoth

Creationist anti-science

The Daily Creationism:

Q: Why do creationists fight against science?

A: That question has me confused.

It wouldn't be the first time.

Most major branches of science were started by creationists.

Care to back that up with evidence? 2 million years ago on the planes of Africa. A child looked up at the sky. What would of been his or her thought when looking upon a star....? What is that? Or that was made by god. The question comes before the answer, you must ask the question before you can answer it. The start of science is the wonder at what is.

Creationism is only a flawed answer, Christian creationism which is what you seem to support, probably the most flawed. At least Hinduism has some basics almost right, death and rebirth everything is in a vast cycle, their dates are more accurate too, claiming the present cycle of the universe to be 8 billion years or so. Not bad for a number pulled out of a hat by some priest, a lot better than that 6000 years, pulled out of a hat by a much more unlucky priest.

I can understand how such ideas come about, for hundreds of thousands of years our species had to work all the time to make enough food to survive, production wasn't high enough for a parasite class to emerge - a parasite class that had the time to dabble in thought. The only thought people had the time for was that a giant man moved the Sun across the sky - they had not the time nor the production or technology needed to understand.

And so began the birth of gods - but these are not your god of today. There were many gods, a god who moved the Sun, a god who moved the Moon, a god who showered the land in rain and so on.

With the increase of production and the formation of class society, came a class of people with the time to spend on thought and reason. They developed reading and writing vast amounts of information could be stored and shared, our knowledge was no longer limited by the capacity of our brains.

So we come to Alexandria - the greatest city of the ancient world and of course the Great Library, housing over a million scrolls. The collected knowledge of civilisation. Some of the greatest achievements in human understanding occurred here some 2300 years ago.

The realisation that the world was a sphere - calculated to be 40000km in circumference, only wrong by a couple of %. The realisation that everything is made from tiny particles - atoms. The realisation that it was the Earth that went around the Sun. The realisation that all life is connected. The engineering of steam power and the first books on robotics among many other things.

Back then there were battles between idealists and materialists too. Aristotle, Plato and co arguing that all scientific analysis and understanding of the world should be carried out only in your head, that after all was the source of all that was real. Ptolemaic times were warping and folding under this pressure. The slave societies after all were weak to the social forces within. Gradually the slave societies weakened, with this weakening came an explosion of almost paranoia as the ruling class desperately tried to hang onto power destroying all the former glory of free-thought and knowledge before it. The Romans went as far as adopting Christianity - the religion of the slaves to try and tie them together, of course the Romans heavily modified Christianity, taking out most that was anti-Roman. But it held off collapse for a while, as the new Christian Church began to build upon it's new found power it destroyed all that was "anti-Christian". These Christian mobs roamed everywhere especially Alexandria, one example of their brutality can be traced back to the Archbishop Cyril, who set his fanatical mob of parishioners upon Hypatia, one of the most important symbols of learning and science of the day, brutally murdered, she was pulled from her chariot, and had her flesh ripped from her body while still alive she was then burned and her works obliterated and her name almost forgotten, how many of these cases were forgotten forever? Cyril was made a saint.

One of the largest tragedies in human history being the burning the Great Library of Alexandria in their purges against "paganism", the only scrolls spared were those of Aristotle and co. The scientific method was lost in over a thousand years of darkness, humankind barely advanced one inch.

The time of the organised religion, far different from the doctrine of self-liberation of early Christian sects fighting against the Romans, far different from the gods of past who were answers to questions, this was an ideology of telling you what to believe and not of you asking questions and studying the world for yourself. It became a huge brake upon society and set us back such a long time, in some cases it was 2200 years until we re-discovered some what was lost in the fires of Alexandria. But of course most was lost forever.

You are the destroyer of civilisation, the destroyer of imagination, the destroyer of ideas, the destroyer of knowledge, the destroyer of science. Do not claim you are the foundations of these things.

The capitalists of today's society pushed religion back and smashed the religious feudal states over the last several hundred years, science came flooding back and we've advanced faster than ever before. But just like the ancient societies the societies of today too have contradictions, religion is advancing as these frictions in society grow. Are our societies doomed to another thousand years of darkness? Not this time, we have the knowledge of the past, we have the production levels to give science and knowledge not to the few - but to everybody in the world. The billions of people will absorb knowledge like water to a sponge. Not the knowledge of one book, but the knowledge of billions of books, the collective knowledge of all society and all of human history.

All we need to do is act before our societies fall apart around us, we need to remove class, property, wage-labour. You and your kind will find yourself irrelevant and confused in a heaven on Earth.

Creationists and more words

The Daily Creationism guy:

If evolution and the big bang is true then that meant that all of the matter in the universe was squished in to a dot no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.

That is one crowded dot!

Then boys and girls the dot span faster and faster and faster and faster until bang the dot exploded and formed the whole universe.

Billions of years ago there was a big bang in space. No body knows what caused the big bang it just happened.

Oh jeez. The Big Bang wasn't a Big Bang in space. Space-time didn't exist, the Big Bang was the expansion of space-time. Also the matter wasn't contained with the "dot" it's my understanding that some energy was converted into matter with the expansion.

The size of the "dot" is meaningless, how can you measure it? Spin of the dot? How can you measure that? It certainly didn't spin so much to "blow up" as you claim. There's a lot of difference between a dot and a singularity that is everything.

The Theory of Evolution and Big Bang Theory are two separate things, one deals with the origin of species, one deals with the origin of the universe.

Evolution itself has been proven as near to absolutely as you can get. In a 150 years or so years zero contradictionary evidence has been found, the only thing being found are mountains of evidence that support it every year.

Big Bang Theory has many issues that need to be resolved, and there are many scientists actively working on it, and those issues shall be resolved and the theory adjusted or a new one built to fit with the data.

If you really want to make a mess in the scientific world, picking on evolution is just folly, pick on the theories that have contradictionary evidence, or hell why don't you find some evidence yourself and put forward your own hypothesis.

Flight Simulator X rocks

FS2004 vs FSX

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