Everything Tagged "Science"

(In reverse chronological order)

FTL drives: unsafe at any speed

We got to talking about space warfare last night, and I realized something pretty weird: FTL drives effect massive shifts in velocity.

Almost every FTL spacecraft, in fiction, is capable of moving between planets in different star systems. The ship starts out roughly stationary relative to planet A, and winds up roughly stationary relative to planet B. How fast are A and B moving compared to one another? How fast do stars move?

Humans aren't herbivores

Killing animals and eating them may be immoral, but can we please stop claiming humans are “naturally” vegetarian? We’re opportunistic omnivores, which probably has something to do with why vegans need to watch their diets carefully in order to have working blood cells.

Look at your teeth. Now back to me. NOW BACK TO YOUR TEETH. That’s generalized dentition, and appears in classic omnivores. Look left. It’s a chimpanzee, our nearest evolutionary relative. He’s killing and eating a Colubus monkey, their most frequent prey. Look down. What’s that in your gut? Oh that’s right; it’s a lack of a fermenting vat, efficient digestive enzymes for grasses, and inability to synthesize key vitamins and amino acids. Look again. THOSE DEFICIENCIES ARE NOW A COLONY OF SYMBIOTIC BACTERIA WHICH METABOLIZE ANIMAL TISSUES. I’m eating a horse.

IPCC challenge/response

Some recent reports have suggested incidents of scientific misconduct in the climate science community. While that is not evidence of incorrect conclusions, it does cast some doubt on the findings of the organizations involved–and right so, I believe. The APS newsletters for December and January have been chock-full of climate discussion–arguing for the retraction of the APS’s climate change statement or alteration to reflect uncertainty, counterarguments, and so forth.

My personal take on it is this: climate is really effing complicated. I know a little about the scientific method, publishing, data analysis, and review, but basically have no awareness of the intricacies of modeling the world’s atmosphere and hydrology. I’m also aware that plenty of people have significant personal and economic interests in the matter, and an underabundance of understanding. The only reasonable conclusion I can come to is this: trust the people who spend their lives trying to understand climate, and maintain some awareness of their methods. It is my belief, from the limited reading I’ve been able to do, that the vast majority of climate researchers are doing good science, and working hard to understand and explain to others a very complex problem.

Transverse Laser Modes

These are pictures of various transverse electromagnetic modes for the laser we’re working with.

Laser beams aren’t constrained to being nice little smooth dots, though that’s one of the possible modes (TEM00). Since TEM00 has the most tightly focused beam, and the fewest irregularities, it’s the one many laser manufacturers force their device to operate at. There are other possible solutions, with varying patterns. The subscripts here indicate the number of divisions in the beam—I’m guessing on some of the higher ones. There’s also a strange pattern which looks like it has radial, not rectilinear, divisions; I’m not sure what that is, exactly.

Skill Set

You know what’s going to be awesome? When I have to get a normal job.

"So, why do you think you'd be great at Jimmy John's Sub Shop?"
"Ummmm... I can compute first-order perturbations to degenerate Hamiltonians. Please hire me?"
"What else?"
"I can design your web site and ordering system..."
"Nope, already got one."
"I can be thrown around safely!"
"Next please."