TIme Machine: Charlie Chaplin (1914)

Charlie Chaplin started making movies 100 years ago this year, including this one:

It’s called “Making a Living,” and Chaplin isn’t the Little Tramp in this one. He’s the Swindler. It’s possible the Little Tramp hadn’t been created yet, but the slapstick quality of that character is seen in this one.

I don’t know much about the West Coast, but I’m guessing this is Los Angeles. My limited knowledge of streetcars and Los Angeles comes from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” though. But then I saw the palm trees and the Fremont Hotel, though the hilly streets threw me off and made me think of San Francisco. I guess I have no idea where this is.

Anyway, as I usually point out in these Time Machine posts, look at the technology. The automobiles are essentially new. The mode of mass transportation is the streetcar. Roving photographers appear to have been pretty common, and it seems newspapers were printing photos at the time. Plus, we get a chance to see the movie world’s perspective on how a newspaper was put together in 1914.

By the way, the police in this movie? Those are the Keystone Kops.

The theory of inflation and Marilyn Monroe


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.