Sunday, May 31, 2009
The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, the golden mean, or golden section, is a number often encountered though out nature. The Ancient Greeks usually attributed discovery of this concept to Pythagoras or his followers as they discovered the frequency of the ratio’s appearance in the geometry of nature around them.
The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.618, and it is denoted by the Greek letters ф (phi), or sometimes τ (tau)
The Ancient Greeks applied the ratio into their art, music, and architecture.
It has been pondered and debated the basis of its ubiquity and appeal when this ratio is applied into architecture designs, drawing the human face, etc that we unconsciously find the building or the artwork identified as the lines of classical beauty.
One of these early enlighten educators was Plato. Plato started out in the military service from 409 BC to 404 BC during the Peloponnesian War, but at this time he wanted a political career rather than a military one.
It was the excesses of Athenian political life during this time that persuaded him to give up political ambitions. The execution of Socrates in 399 BC because he was teaching what the established political leaders disagreed with and this had a profound effect on Plato. Socrates's death was the cause for Plato to decide that he would have nothing further to do with politics.
Plato's contributions to the theories of education are shown as he started his own Academy and his idea of what constitutes an educated person. Over the door of the Academy was written: "Let no one unversed in geometry enter here."
Plato's Academy flourished until 529 when it was closed down by the Christian Emperor Justinian, who claimed it was a pagan establishment. Having survived for 900 years it is the longest surviving university known until it was closed because the Christian Emperor decided it went against his religious beliefs.
It was not until the Renascence period that the effort to relearn the Ancient Greek's math and sciences but those pursuing this knowledge were aways under threat of death by the Religious Inquisition.
No matter how persistent religious political powers try to squelch educational facts, the truths will always return as being self evident and this ratio is still being discovered universally. The Ancient Greek's math related to our natural world are still be applied today.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I thought that now would be a good time to pass on how to explain global warming when confronted by someone who has only heard conservative talk radio / television tout that the experts are still undecided on this issue. This is understandable because I have seen many articles simplifying the issue by referring to the carbon dioxide as a problem when burning coal, oil, or natural gas.
First let’s start with the basics. The ozone layer acts like a giant sunshade, protecting living things from much of the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. When you stay out too long without a shirt in the summer, you get a sun burn. A very bad sunburn is sometimes call “sun poison” but it is really radiation poisoning.
The fact is that you get carbon monoxide (one carbon atom and one oxygen atom) when you burn any of the hydro-carbon fuels. Example, the person who wants to commit suicide pulls the car into the garage, closes the door while leaving the car running. It is the carbon monoxide that will poison you to death.
Some of these carbon monoxides get into the upper atmosphere where the ozone layer is. Ozone (three oxygen atoms) has a very week electromagnetic attraction. It is the sun’s light ray’s energy radiation that separates the three oxygen atoms apart allowing the atoms drift around until they are drawn back together again as ozone or to link up to other molecules making up new substances. (Electricity, light, radio waves, and radiation are the same energy. It is the frequency of the energy that decides). When one of these oxygen atoms is electromagnetically linked to the carbon-monoxide molecule, it then becomes carbon-dioxide (one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms). This molecule has a very strong electromagnetic attraction that now is much harder for the sun’s rays to break apart. It is the accumulation of carbon-dioxide in the upper atmosphere that is getting into the dangerous levels which means less ozone to carbon dioxide ratio that has protected the earth like it has for millions of years. Bottom line is that this is just simple Chemistry 101.
Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s upper atmospheres causing the temperatures to rise.
Now I have been asked if trees and plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen and why is the carbon dioxide a problem. My first reply is that this does happen in the Troposphere (closest to earth). The problem is that we are not growing trees that are seven miles tall to remove it from the Ozone layer this way.
The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, it is already starting to happen and that it is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence. The evidence is overwhelming and undeniable. We are already seeing changes. Glaciers are melting, plants and animals are being forced from their habitat, and the number of severe storms and droughts are increasing.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Arktos is the Greek word for bear. The Arctic (North Pole) was derived from this Greek word because of the polar bears that were found there. An enlighten person could then conclude that the Antarctic’s name (South Pole) came about because it means that there are no polar bears. As a side note, they do have penguins and the Arctic does not.
There are those that make the statement that they do not believe in global climate change yet there are plenty of images and factual documentation of the ice sheets melting and falling into the ocean at both ice capped poles. The polar bears are loosing their habitat at a very rapid pace endangering their survival as a species.
With this posting, I will be presenting examples on how you are being misled with information propagated by the hydro-carbon related industries i.e. Natural Gas, Coal, Gasoline, etc.
Let’s review the documented facts below:
Letter to Exxon Mobil from the U.K. Royal Society, September 4, 2006
“At our meeting in July, I also told you of my concerns about the support that ExxonMobil has been giving to organizations that have been misinforming the public about the science of climate change. You indicated that ExxonMobil would not be providing any further funding to these organizations.”
Senators Rockefeller and Snowe Letter to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. October 27, 2006
“We are convinced that ExxonMobil’s longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics’ access to and influence on government policymakers have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.”
Article by Jeffrey Ball in “The Wall Street Journal,” January 11, 2007
ExxonMobil has announced that they were no longer going to fund the organizations like the, “Competitive Enterprise Institute” and six other groups that have been active in the misleading and fabrication of misinformation related in the global climate change debate.
Now in conclusion to reiterate the above articles, ExxonMobil’s campaign to fund “think tanks” and organizations that have fabricated and spread misinformation about the scientific facts and policies of global warming is now widely known. ExxonMobil’s multimillion dollar campaign has undoubtedly contributed to public confusion and government inaction on global warming over the past decade, especially over the last eight years of the George W. Bush / Dick Cheney administration. Under increasing scrutiny and pressure over the past two years from scientists, policy makers and the public, the company was forced to reveal that they had stopped funding a handful of organizations identified as part of the company’s denial campaign on global warming.
It has also come to light that despite the rhetoric, ExxonMobil continues to fund the majority of the organizations which have been central to the global warming denial campaign that the company has run for the past 10 years or more.
So when you hear someone parroting the, “I don’t believe in that global warming crap,” ask them how if feels to be one of ExxonMobil’s stoogie bitches. At least those who are part of the fabricated false sciences being transmitted on conservative radio / television are getting paid for it. These other poor bastards that are passing on this misinformation without really understanding or knowing the science involved about the subject…are doing it for free.
There may come in our life time when the only polar bears seen will be in a Coca Cola ad. The only positive thing may be is when one of these uneducated poor souls could be correct when they refer to either one of the poles by just one name…Antarctic.
Monday, May 25, 2009
The fossil record is fundamental to an understanding of evolution. Fossils document the order of appearance of groups and they tell us about some of the amazing plants and animals that died out long ago. Fossils can also show us how major crises, such as mass extinctions, happened, and how life recovered after them. If the fossils, or the dating of the fossils, could be shown to be inaccurate, all such information would have to be rejected as unsafe. Geologists and paleontologists are highly self-critical, and they have worried for decades about these issues. Repeated, and tough, regimes of testing have confirmed the broad accuracy of the fossils and their dating, so we can read the history of life from the rocks with confidence.
Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods. Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better. Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating. These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views. Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data.
On the other hand, the rejection of the validity of fossils and the dating of the fossils by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them because their claims can be so easily discredited.
1. They cannot deny that hundreds of millions of fossils reside in display cases and drawers around the world. Perhaps some would argue that these specimens of huge skeletons of dinosaurs, blocks from ancient shell beds containing hundreds of specimens, delicately preserved fern fronds, have been manufactured by scientists to confuse the public. This is clearly ludicrous.
2. Otherwise, religious fundamentalists are forced to claim that all the fossils are of the same age, somehow buried in the rocks by some extraordinary catastrophe, perhaps Noah’s flood. How exactly they believe that all the dinosaurs, mammoths, early humans, heavily-armored fishes, trilobites, ammonites, and the rest could all live together has never been explained. Nor indeed why the marine creatures were somehow ‘drowned’ by the flood.
3. The rejection of dating by religious fundamentalists is easier for them to make, but harder for them to demonstrate. The fossils occur in regular sequences time after time; radioactive decay happens, and repeated cross testing of radiometric dates confirms their validity.
Below are the documented facts that will disprove the religious fundamentalist’s claims.
Fossils occur in sequences.
Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution. Early geologists, in the 1700s and 1800s, noticed how fossils seemed to occur in sequences: certain assemblages of fossils were always found below other assemblages.
Accuracy of the fossils.
Since 1859, paleontologists, or fossil experts, have searched the world for fossils. In the past 150 years they have not found any fossils that Darwin would not have expected. New discoveries have filled in the gaps, and shown us in unimaginable detail the shape of the great ‘tree of life’. Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide. All these labors have not led to a single unexpected finding such as a human fossil from the time of the dinosaurs, or a Jurassic dinosaur in the same rocks as Silurian trilobites.
Paleontologists now apply sophisticated mathematical techniques to assess the relative quality of particular fossil successions, as well as the entire fossil record. These demonstrate that, of course, we do not know everything (and clearly never will), but we know enough. Today, innovative techniques provide further confirmation and understanding of the history of life. Biologists actually have at their disposal several independent ways of looking at the history of life, not only from the order of fossils in the rocks, but also through phylogenetic trees.
Accuracy of dating.
Dating in geology may be relative or absolute. Relative dating is done by observing fossils, as described above, and recording which fossil is younger, which is older. The discovery of means for absolute dating in the early 1900s was a huge advance. The methods are all based on radioactive decay. To reiterate, Fossils may be dated by calculating the rate of decay of certain elements.
Certain naturally occurring elements are radioactive, and they decay, or break down, at predictable rates. Chemists measure the half-life of such elements, i.e., the time it takes for half of the radioactive parent element to break down to the stable daughter element. Sometimes, one isotope, or naturally occurring form, of an element decays into another, more stable form of the same element. By comparing the proportions of parent to daughter element in a rock sample, and knowing the half-life, the age can be calculated. Older fossils cannot be dated by carbon-14 methods and require radiometric dating.
Scientists can use different chemicals for absolute dating. The best-known absolute dating technique is carbon-14 dating, which archaeologists prefer to use. However, the half-life of carbon-14 is only 5730 years, so the method cannot be used for materials older than about 70,000 years.
Radiometric dating involves the use of isotope series, such as rubidium/strontium, thorium/lead, potassium/argon, argon/argon, or uranium/lead, all of which have very long half-lives, ranging from 0.7 to 48.6 billion years. Subtle differences in the relative proportions of the two isotopes can give good dates for rocks of any age.
The revelation of the landmark scientific fossilized remains of a primate is the most complete fossil primate ever found. It is of a young female specimen, known as “Ida,” is thought to revolutionize our understanding of human evolution. Twenty times older than most fossils that explain human evolution, “Ida” is a transitional species showing characteristics from the very primitive non-human evolutionary line but she is more related to the human evolutionary line. This places Ida at the very root of anthropoid evolution when primates were first developing the features that would eventually evolve into our own homo erectus.
Jørn Hurum from the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, uncovered the primate through a chance encounter with a fossil dealer in Hamburg. Immediately recognizing its significance he procured it for his museum. Remarkably, it had been hidden from the world for 25 years in a private collection.
The fossil has been anallized and verified by the best in the science community. The primate lived in the early Middle Eocene during a critical period in evolutionary history when the extinction of the dinosaurs had occurred and mammals first began to thrive on the planet.
The Earth was beginning to take the shape as we would know it today. The Himalayas were forming, and early horses, bats, whales and many other fauna and flora started evolving. In the primate evolution, our own lineage, the anthropoids (monkeys, apes and humans), split from the branch leading to modern prosimians (lemurs, lorises and tarsiers).
It is the remarkable preservation of Ida's bones along with an imprint of her soft tissue and fur outline that makes this find so outstanding. The fossil even has evidence of her last meal. The wealth of information she provides will open a new chapter in the study of primate evolution.
Scientists have worked to identify the fossil and place it within the primate family tree. Ida was originally thought to be a primitive lemur, but comparative tests revealed her to have anthropoid features. This indicates that she is a transitional species between primitive primates and the human lineage. Two of the key anatomical features found in lemurs, a grooming claw on the foot and a fused row of teeth, a toothcomb, in the bottom jaw, are not present on the fossil. Instead she has a short face with forward-facing eyes, like ours, as opposed to the long face of a lemur, nails instead of claws, and teeth similar to those of monkeys.
The fossil's hands have five fingers and exhibit human-like opposable thumbs. These would have provided a "precision grip" which, for Ida, was useful for climbing and gathering fruit. In our case it enables important human functions such as making tools, and writing. Like us, Ida also had flexible arms and relatively short limbs.
Extensive X-rays, CT scanning and computer tomography have revealed Ida's age, sex and diet. Digital reconstructions of Ida's teeth reveal that she has unerupted molars in her jaw, indicating that she was about 9 months old, or the equivalent of a 6 years old human. The shape of Ida's teeth provides clues as to her diet; jagged molars would have allowed her to slice food, suggesting that she was a leaf and seed eater. This is confirmed by the remarkable preservation of her stomach content. Furthermore, the lack of a baculum (penis bone) means that the fossil was definitely female.
X-rays also reveal that her left wrist was healing from a bad fracture, which may have contributed to her death. The scientists believe she was overcome by carbon dioxide fumes whilst drinking from Messel Lake. Hampered by her broken wrist, she slipped into unconsciousness, was washed into the lake and sank to the bottom, where unique fossilisation conditions have preserved her for 47 million years.
I have been a guest writer / poster to a couple of very fine blog sites that I have enjoyed very much.
I am a moderate Republican which those extreme right wingers in the part would call me a RINO (Republican In Name Only). There are many people in the Republican Party like myself that are working to bring the party back from the extreme viewpoints like Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. As the last two elections have shown, the country is done and feed up with the policies that have damn near ruined this country.
There is the old adage of, “Power corrupts and Absolute power will corrupt absolutely,” but I prefer the quote from John Steinbeck, “Power does not corrupt, fear corrupts. Perhaps the fear of the loss of power.”
So in closing, I will wish every blogger who is exposing the corrupt and failed policies of the extreme right views especially those of the last eight years, I say GOOD JOB. It is important to keep the truth upfront and in the public domain.