The theory of inflation and Marilyn Monroe

Ripples-from-the-big-bang

OK, here’s one of those complicated science stories that make sense to maybe three dozen people on the planet. The chart above represents a confirmation of a hyphothesis on the Big Bang theory. As the chart says, physicists have been studying this for the past decade, and the result is one of those things that end up winning the Nobel Prize for Physics, but I can’t understand it any more than I can explain the theory of relativity. However, if you ever saw the movie “Insignificance,” you saw Marilyn Monroe (played by Theresa Russell) give a pretty good explanation of it to Albert Einstein (played by Michael Emil):

Anyway, the theory of relativity and the Big Bang theory are two of the most important findings in physics. In the scientific community, the discovery of the waves shown in the chart above is huge. According to the Washington Post:

Yet the theory of inflation has an even more profound implication. It suggests that the universe we can observe, everything we have seen or known on Earth and in the sky and ever will, is just an accident, and that the forces that caused inflation — whatever they may be — might have created other universes elsewhere, forever hidden from us by the laws of physics. What “elsewhere” means in this context, though, is uncertain.

But the theoretical physicists who posited the theory of inflation, an explanation that the universe went from nothing to … the universe in “a billionth of a billionth of billionth of a millionth of a second,” was overwhelmed to find his theory was proved.

Again, the physicist and his wife hear what was only random numbers to me, but they realize “discovery.”

So, why do I believe this, even though I don’t understand it, but I can’t believe the creationist concept that the world was created 9,000 years ago and man roamed the land with the dinosaur, which is a hell of a lot easier to understand?

I’ll quote an architect here. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said:

“God is in the details.”

He was talking about restraint in design. The physicists who gave us relativity and Big Bang and inflation are what “intelligent design” should stand for … a meticulous examination of science and physics delving into billions of years of possibility. A theory is presented and they test it and test, in this case over decades, it until it’s either proved or disproved. That’s the epitome of restraint in design.

And the result of scientific discovery is that we live in a world where our everyday luxuries are things that would have been designated as “magic” a century ago. Think of smartphones and iPads. Things that weren’t even conceivable 40 years ago. These are the products of physics and chemistry and science.

But the “intelligent design” of creationism boils down to: “I can’t figure this out, so let’s just say God did it. After all God is all knowing and all seeing, and I’m not God, so why should I worry my beautiful mind about it.” And what do we get out of that? At its high point, witch burning. At its low point, an embrace of ignorance that has set us back centuries in development and brought us closer to extinction.

I posted a few days ago on the mistake Bill Nye “The Science Guy” made in going to the Creation Museum in Kentucky to hold a debate on evolution. Today I read something that boiled down in fewer words what I meant to say in that post:

The choir hears someone saying “Hey, can you believe that in 2014, some crazy person still believes the earth is flat?” But someone else hears, “Some people still believe the earth is flat. Others call them ‘crazy.’ ” Every time the Round Earthers resoundingly win a debate, you perpetuate the notion that it’s a debate, not a set of facts that are simply not up for discussion. This is probably making a mountain out of a little good-natured Twitter fun. Still, it’s worth considering every time you “win” an argument over a fact that you SHOULD NOT EVEN BE ARGUING ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So the way to win arguments is to make discoveries like the theory of inflation. And don’t “debate” the matter with people who are unwilling to examine their own theories because their belief system encourages them to to ask questions.

Welcome to the Anthropocene

Scientists are now examining the current epoch in geologic science as the Anthropocene. According to the site Welcome to the Anthropocene:

Our species’ whole recorded history has taken place in the geological period called the Holocene – the brief interval stretching back 10,000 years. But our collective actions have brought us into uncharted territory. A growing number of scientists think we’ve entered a new geological epoch that needs a new name – the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene period appears to encompass the past 250 years, prompted by the Industrial Revolution. The impact on the planet is noted in urbanization, global warming and diminishing water resources (the video above). Click here to learn more about how human activity has transformed the Earth’s geology.

More evidence of the mass extinction

There are a number of books out referring to how we’re in the midst of another mass extinction. I’ve recently finished reading “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction,” and have just picked up “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.”

As the promotional material for “The Sixth Extinction” explains:

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

(First of all, to the creationists: Yes, the Earth is billions of years old.)

That’s the theme of both books. We regularly see stories about disappearing bees, millions of dying bats and regular mysterious deaths of sea creatures.

But let’s look at what this really means. This is a chart of the total weight of land animals on Earth (via XKCD):

land_mammals

There aren’t that many wild animals left. Human behavior is killing everything. Mass extinctions take thousands of years. None of us will be around when the one we’re currently in is over, but more important, the way things are going, the human species may not exist when this mass extinction runs its course.

Was it really that cold, recently?

cold

It used to always be cold, but with global warming, when it gets cold today, we think it’s colder than usual. Which means, were getting used to global warming. Like the frog in boiling water.

Hey, folks. That sudden jolt Al Gore is talking about is our freaking out about cold temperatures that were once something we were used to.

Which means we’re acclimating to warmer weather.

Which means the planet is warming.

The lion whisperer

A long, long time ago, when I was young and stupid, I visited a guy in Florida who raised wild animals that performed in television shows and movies. So, as part of the story I was writing, I went into a cage with a lion and with a tiger.

The thing I learned was to make sure the animals had already been fed, and to keep the guy who owned the animals between me and the “pet” at all times.

With that in mind, I still think the guy in this video does not want to be out and about in the wild on a day when these animals are hungry.

I’m freezing out here!

It’s cold outside. I hate cold weather. Right now, it’s 2 below zero in Louisville and 21 in Washington, so if I passed out outside, I’d probably freeze to death a couple of minutes faster in Louisville.

But in Washington, it’s windy. Can someone explain the wind chill factor to me?

Screen-Shot-2014-01-06-at-12.35.11-PM

OK, so with a 25 mile an hour wind, it’s the equivalent of 3 degrees in D.C., and a 15 mile an hour wind it’s the equivalent of 24 below in Louisville.

So passing out is not an option in either place.

For some reason, the only thing I remember about the cold is at 30 below zero in 30 mile an hour winds, flesh freezes in 30 seconds.

I’m frozen, and it didn’t take that long and it didn’t get that cold.

Oh, yeah. And if someone says “Al Gore is fat,” I’m gonna punch him in the mouth.