Some Interesting Science Facts You May or May Not Know

Being the science buff that I am, I thought it would be fun to assemble a few basic science facts you may or may have not known. Wherever necessary, sources are cited. Enjoy.

Nuclear Energy

One atom of carbon, such as petroleum fuels, under combustion such as in the engine of your car, produces 1.4 eV of energy. One atom of uranium converted to energy via nuclear fission, such as a nuclear reactor from a nuclear power facility?fission[1] 210,000,000 eV. (No, that is not a typographical error). The same amount of fuel is literally 150,000,000 times more efficient.

The “Observable” Universe

Ever hear the term, “The observable universe?” The “observable” part has to do with the speed of light. If you look up in the sky, you are seeing light that has had time to reach you. So if something were 1 light year away, and it were a year old, it’s in the “observable” universe. If it is 1.1 light years away, and only one year old, it would NOT be in the observable universe. How could you observe it when its light hasn’t gotten here yet?

How Orbits Work

Many people believe that astronauts on the space station, the moon, the planets, etc., are floating in space with no real understanding of why they’re in orbit. Orbit just means that they are actually falling towards other objects they’re orbiting.

Imagine Earth as a big ball, which it is, and you’re standing on top of it. You hold a gun  horizontally and fire it. The bullet, like the ball’s shape, will have an arc to its trajectory. Gravity will pull the bullet to fall towards the ball. If the bullet goes too slow (Figure A), the bullet’s trajectory arc will be shorter than the shape of the ball’s arc, and the bullet will fall onto the ball. Orbit

But if the bullet is too fast, the bullet’s trajectory arc will be larger than the ball’s arc (Figure B) and it will go away from the ball as the ball falls away from it.

Get it just right however, and the bullet will circle around the ball, falling forever. This is what constitutes orbit.

So when astronauts in orbit are ready to return to Earth, all they do is decrease their speed (They are doing about 18,000 mph while in orbit), and gravity does the rest.

Obedience

After the holocaust, many people were skeptical of Nazi soldier’s claims that they weren’t necessarily in support of the movement, they were just doing what they were told. How could acts so heinous be done by people for no other reason than they were just following orders? Stanley Milgrim, a psychologist at Yale University, in 1963, aimed to find out.

He devised an experiment with “teachers” and “learners.” The teachers were the experiments, the learners were just actors playing a part.

Stanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram

The teachers were to ask the learner a question via intercom in a separate room (the teachers could not see the learners, only hear them). If the learner got the answer wrong, the teacher was to administer a shock. The shock wasn’t real, but the teacher’s didn’t know that, since they were part of the experiment. The learners got the questions wrong of course, and the teachers started shocking them, upping the voltage with each successive wrong answer as instructed by the person running the experiment.

As the learners cried out in pain, some learners even indicating they had a heart condition (remember, this was all a rouse, there were no actual shocks), the teachers kept shocking them. Some teachers expressed concern, and a few did stop, but most indeed did as they were told.

Unlike Nazi soldiers, the experiment directors were neither armed, nor threatening the teachers in any way, thus demonstrating that many Nazi soldiers indeed may have not been doing anything more than doing as they were told.

Sonic Booms

So why the boom? This has to do with the speed of sound, obviously. Imagine a plane were stationary, and sound was emanating from it. That sound is actually waves of energy hitting you at very fast intervals. We’ll say a thousand times a second for convenience’s sake, but that interval changes with frequency.F-14 Sonic Boom

That sound takes time to get to you, and in that moment between the sound being created and you hearing it, you’ll hear nothing, even though the plane is making a sound, because the sound hasn’t gotten to your ears yet.

Now imagine the plane is coming to you at the speed of that sound (the speed at which a sonic boom is created). So its sound waves are traveling at you at a thousand times a second again, but each successive wave of that one thousand waves per second is 1/1000th of a second closer to you than the last one. Therefore, the plane, and all of those one thousand waves in that second are going to hit your ears at exactly the same time, instead of 1000 times over the course of one second, and BOOM!

Gravity

Imagine you were to drop a bowling ball and a feather, which will hit the ground first? Everyone knows that the bowling ball, and the belief is because it’s heavier. But this isn’t really true, instead it’s about wind resistance. Gravity pulls on all items equally, and if there were no air to slow the feather down, which the bowling ball bores through much easier, the two would strike the ground at exactly the same time. Don’t believe me? See below.

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What Constitutes A Fair Share?

As the president’s State Of The Union speech came and went, we were again reminded how he feels that everyone should get their “fair share;” he brought it up twice.

I couldn’t agree with him more; each person does deserve their fair share. But here’s the rub, he isn’t actually promoting policies that would garner us citizens our fair share.

Your fair share consists of two things: that which you have earned and that which you are entitled to.

What you have earned is simple enough, you work forty hours, you make $20 an hour, you’ve earned $800 of your employer’s revenue stream that week.

If you want more, you must either negotiate for more, find an employer willing to pay more, or start your own company and make more, but you agreed to $20 an hour when you were hired, so that’s all you can rightfully lay claim to.

What you’re entitled to however, is any amount people have voluntarily directed towards you, or which you are owed; a somewhat more complex amount to explain, as there are many possible examples.1151px-Wounded_Warrior_Project_logo.svg[1]

If you’re a soldier who has lost a leg in battle for instance, and you were to contact the Wounded Warrior Project for help, you would be entitled to your fair share of what the WWP receives in donations, since helping soldiers like you is their raison d’etre.

If you own stock in a company that pays dividends, you’re fair share are the dividends your shares in that company earned.

But one example I think is most egregiously violated by government would be if a relative gives you what they earned or inherited, either through death or good will. It was their property, and they wanted you to have it. Yet Uncle Sam, via death taxes, feels that they are entitled to a portion, which is upsetting since this money was already taxed when your benefactor earned it.

So what isn’t your fair share? Despite Obama’s best efforts to convince us otherwise, what someone else has earned or is otherwise entitled to. That is their fair share, not yours, and you have no reasonable claim to it.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

When Obama suggests people aren’t getting their fair share, he’s actually proposing legislation to equalize shares. He wishes to close the gap between the richest and the poorest under the guise of compassion. While this is a noble goal, so long as people are inherently different in intellect, skill, luck, and motivation; this type of equality can never fairly exist.

Statists feel that definitions of “fair” and “equal” are synonymous. But equal implies a like amount, fair applies an amount that you can fairly lay claim to. So why does Obama use the word fair instead of equal?

As I pointed out in my last post, tests with Capuchin monkeys showed that humans aren’t the only animal with the innate understanding of a fair share.

These monkeys were trained to give the researcher a piece of granite. In return for this bit of “work,” they were given their “pay;” either a cucumber, or a grape. The grapes being significantly more preferable than the cucumbers to the monkeys, were effectively the “greater” share for purposes of the experiment.

As you can see, when the monkey’s weren’t given their “fair share,” they reacted as anyone else would act—they were furious. They did equal work, but didn’t get equal pay.

What Obama’s doing by using the term fair share, is appealing to that sense of fairness instilled in our genetic code. But he’s doing so behind a fallacious argument.

If I were to walk up to you, put a gun to your head, and demand you give your money to the person next to you, whether they are poorer or not, it’s a felonious crime. Yet somehow, when we vote for government officials to do that exact same thing (the IRS is armed after all), it’s miraculously, and rather contrarily, deemed compassionate.Statism-c-c[1]

There is no feasible argument one can make to explain away this blatant hypocrisy by statist-minded politicians and their supporters—ideology has tainted their sense of reason here.

I don’t profess to know what is in Barack Obama’s mind. Maybe he feels that “equal” and “fair” are synonymous, and therefore isn’t purposefully being misleading.

While the experimenters tested the monkeys for their concept of fairness, they didn’t test to see if the monkeys have statist instincts. But, do you believe that the monkeys, if given two grapes for their work, would just give one of the grapes to a random third “Welfare-monkey,” who could have done some work, but chose not to? I doubt it.

But wouldn’t giving money to the needy help them and therefore make society better as a whole? That’s the argument being made.

We all know that it takes money to make money. You give Warren Buffett $100,000, he will very likely double it in seven years or less. You give a career welfare earner the same amount, you will likely find that they’ve spent it on frivolous items that will eventually lead to them no longer having $100, nevertheless $100,000.

Don’t believe me? In 2010, researchers from Vanderbilt published a study showing that people who won between $50,000 to $150,000 were far more likely to file for bankruptcy than those who won lesser amounts, such as $10,000 or less.

What does this show? Even if you take money from earners and give it to the non-earners, that money will eventually just find its way back to the earners, because…they are earners.

Removing those who are truly disabled for purposes of this discussion, the only way to help the non-earners of society is to force them into a sink or swim situation where they are forced to either be productive or face societal banishment, shaming, isolation, and possibly death. Much like electricity and water, people will choose the path of least resistance. Give them something they didn’t earn, and they often won’t bother to earn for themselves.

Income redistribution is not fair, it does not advance our species, nor is it logical. So I am all for fair share, I just wish Obama and his supporters understand the term better.

 

Money Is Not The Root Of All Evil

“Money is the root of all evil.” How many times have you heard this phrase from someone?

There’s a number of reasons why people might feel this way, but none of the arguments amount to anything more than a logical fallacy. But let’s examine the different truths and psychological aspects of this sentiment.Burning Money

One reason for such a belief is from the idea of overt greed that is assumed to go with people who have money—one person, trying to collect it all, often at the expense of others. It’s a popular Hollywood storyline, but is it true?

It’s certainly consistent with dictators who take it all by force, but that’s usually one sociopath ruling over many victims. And I say they’re sociopaths, because they are often committing genocide, or at least routinely kill their ideological components.

But applying that sentiment to CEO’s and other rich people in a free country is usually just the product of jealousy and ignorance. Firstly, America’s richest make their money by providing a product the rest of us voluntarily buy—not compelled to buy, such as the services offered by a tyrant. But also, the rich have historically been quite charitable. And this makes perfect sense.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Humans have two qualities that are fairly consistent among all of us—competitiveness and empathy.  Sociopaths lack empathy, but as near as I can tell, there is no word for people who lack a competitive spirit, but I suppose they could be called competipaths for the sake of our discussion. It is believed sociopaths make up a mere 4% of the population, but who knows about competipaths? No such research exists.

But nonetheless, I highly doubt they’re in greater numbers. Competition fuels adrenaline and provides a rush, leading us to strive to earn more. If you have ever competed in a sports activity and were upset about losing, or mad that a coworker earned more than you, you have a competitive spirit. But even if you’re very competitive, at some point empathy causes us to want to help those when we can.

Many of us want to win, but we don’t necessarily want others to lose. Ever watch two fighters in the UFC’s octagon beat each other to a pulp, then hug each other when the match is over? Then you’ve witnessed what I’m referring to.

While we have an innate self-preservation instinct that keeps most of us from being too giving, some people don’t even seem to have that; exhausting themselves and their resources trying to solve other people’s problems.

Rich people are not a different species, they just have more drive, luck, intellect, or any combination of the three. Some are sociopaths and will never be charitable, but the rich are no more likely to be sociopaths than the poor—they’re just more successful.

But moving from the psychology aspect to the facts, the truth is that money is nothing more than an instrument of trade. If we go back to a time without money, when the barter system would have been the norm, imagine you built wooden widgets from an oak tree you’ve chopped down out of the oak forest in your back yard. Your neighbor, however, builds stone gadgets carved out of rocks from a mountainside on his property.

Now imagine you find that you have a need for a gadget, and because you have an oak forest, you have an abundance of widgets you’ve made. So you go to your neighbor and offer him one of your widgets for one of his gadgets. If he has a need for a widget, transaction complete—all is well.

Bartering
Bartering

But what if you break your gadget? So you ask your neighbor if he’ll swap again, but you’re neighbor’s widget is still fully functional, and he has no need for another. Now you’re screwed if you have nothing else to offer him, and this is essentially how money was born.

Because your neighbor has no need for another widget, your widget has no value for him, but money is a universally accepted instrument of trade that has universal value to everyone.

In truth, money only has value because we all agree to it, which is an interesting thought in its own right. Some want us to return to the gold standard, but the fact is that gold only has value because we agree to it too. If I were to somehow stumble upon a lode of 50,000 tons of gold, or gold somehow otherwise became undesirable, gold’s value would plummet tremendously.

The reality is that the only things that will always have value are air, food, and water, because we need them for life.

But back to the subject of money. Now that we understand it’s an instrument of trade, let’s get back to the greed aspect.

I know that many in the religious community take issue with evolution, but I think most people understand the concept well enough, and accept the basic principle that animals have evolved. It’s not like we don’t have an abundance of proof. There are new species of animal discovered often, and a significantly great number of extinct species as well. Not to mention, DNA indicates we’re all descendents of what scientists call LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor).

The basic concept behind evolution is the advancement of our species, which means every life form that has ever existed, has instilled within its DNA a need to advance itself. So people think that greed is a uniquely human trait, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a completely natural trait in all living things, some more complex than others.

Certain trees grow taller than those around them so they can “steal” the sunlight from shorter plant life. My cats hiss at each other when one tries to eat the other’s food. Studies found that Capuchin monkeys would get mad when they felt they weren’t given their fair share. (See video above) But as long as they were given enough food to survive, why be greedy?

Many people want to believe that this monkey experiment showed a desire for fair share, effectively arguing the monkeys are socialist. But this is actually quite wrong. Yes they wanted a fair share, but the monkeys don’t want other monkeys who didn’t do anything to get free treats, and they certainly aren’t interested in giving the treats away to welfare monkeys. They want paid for the work they did and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Those monkeys are capitalists.

So money isn’t the root of all evil, it’s an instrument of trade for people who are willing to produce and be a productive part of society. It’s the statists who exhibit traits we would sometimes call evil, they want money for what they didn’t do. If anything is unfair, it’s that.

 

Anarchy versus Libertarianism

I suppose it could accurately be said that all anarchists are libertarians, but not all libertarians are anarchists.

But I believe anarchists are to libertarianism what socialists are to Democrats. They are the extremists of the wing, and by no means the norm.

In my experience, most libertarians, including the Libertarian party, believe in the rule of law, and a government designed solely to protect rights, such as those enumerated in the United States Constitution. Anarchists of course, want no government nor laws whatsoever.

Libertarian Party Logo
Libertarian Party Logo

There are anarchists I’ll call the “Chaos Wing” who just want to “burn it all down, ” take whatever they want, kill whomever they want, etc.

Conversely, there are also anarchists I’ll call the “Utopian wing,” who are more practical. They think if we’re all free from any rule of law enforced by government, that we’ll all peacefully coexist.

As with anything in life, there are two sides to an opinion, and then there’s the middle ground that is likely closest to the truth. While I feel both anarchists are misguided in such beliefs, let’s explore the two sides, and what I believe to be the actual truth.

The Chaos Wing think it would be great to just steal whatever they wanted, but let’s think about this. Imagine you steal some rich guy’s Corvette, for instance. At first, it’s great, you have a free Corvette. But with a little critical thinking, it starts to display its problematic logical outcomes.

  • Why would anyone buy a Corvette if they knew that it was just going to get stolen, and they’d have to risk their life in an act of vigilantism to recover it?

    Corvette ZR1
    Corvette ZR1 executing a rather nice burnout
  • Why would Chevrolet build cars at all if they knew no one would pay for them or buy them because of the above?
  • Why would oil and gas companies dig oil out of the ground if they knew people would just steal it so you could drive the Corvette or any other car?
  • If you get shot or harmed in some way while stealing the car, where are you going to go for help? There won’t be hospitals with doctors in them, because they won’t show up if they aren’t getting paid.
  • Why would people go to work to earn money at all if stealing it were the path of least resistance?
  • If no one is working, who is going to build the things you want to steal?

Eventually, there would be no nice things to steal, no technology to enjoy, we would essentially be living the lives of cavemen.

While that seems silly, look at some third world countries that are largely defunct of any government. That’s effectively how they live, like modern day cavemen. The idea of such violent anarchy as a Utopia, is truly an delusional idea. I rarely take the chaos wing seriously, they lack the vision to understand the implications of their ideas. Many are simply violent psychopaths desiring to be unobstructed in life.

But more importantly, I think they are the more delusional of the two wings, because the evidence clearly shows that human nature is such that we’re typically not sociopaths like that. Humans are pack animals who have arisen on Earth as the most dominant species, in large part because of our inherent social nature.

Don’t believe me? How do you think democratically elected governments arose in the first place? It’s literally part of mankind’s natural evolution.

The more serious anarchists however, are of the Utopian wing. They are at least more thoughtful in their ideas, but I fear they are still eronious when considering the actual outcome compared to their desired and predicted outcome.

These folks believe that if people were free to do whatever they wanted, humans are inherently good and won’t harm others due to our genetic predisposition to be social creatures.

They rightly point out that many violent acts towards our fellow-man are because of government laws against things like drugs and prostitution, which encourage people to lash out because of the oppression of such laws, and to defend themselves violently against those who might infringe on their ability to do them freely.

They feel that if you get rid of victimless laws, certainly drug use, prostitution, gambling, etc., will occur, but will occur peacefully between two consenting adults.

In Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legalized, crime rates did indeed go down, despite the adamant belief by prohibitionists that the other would occur. It’s as if these folks forgot we had Alcohol Prohibition from 1920-1933. Not only did it not stop the consumption of alcohol; it drastically increased crime as well.

Marijuana Harvest
Marijuana Harvest

If you look at the number of violent crimes and people in jail because of marijuana consumption and distribution, the parallels to alcohol prohibition are so obvious, I can never fathom how any reasonable person could suggest that repealing alcohol prohibition was the right thing to do, but ending marijuana prohibition isn’t.

However, if I agree that humans are inherently kind to one another, why do I support a government to protect rights versus the rational anarchist system?

Because there are victimful crimes like murder and theft that occur all of the time, for one. And I don’t think the average citizen is capable of processing a crime scene for another. Again, let’s apply some logical thought to this theory.

  • If someone were to steal from me, I may be carrying a gun and shoot them. But what if I come home and my stuff is just gone? Are you really OK with me grabbing my gun and perusing the neighborhood, breaking into homes until I find my stuff? Because that’s the only way I can get justice in a governmentless community.
  • If I were to come home to a murdered relative, do I have the ability to process the crime scene, do a DNA test, and all the other staggeringly expensive investigative processes the police do? Maybe rich people could afford a private investigation, but most couldn’t. So do we want the poor having to resort to vigilantism where they just go after the person they think is guilty?
  • If there is no government to enforce contracts, how many businesses will willingly do business with another knowing there’s no recourse in case of a breach of contract? Most of the goods we have today are because companies have such contracts, so there is no doubt, we wouldn’t enjoy most of the technological advances brought to you by the cooperation amongst vendors.

In America, our government was established by the people and for the people. We have essentially agreed to pool our resources collectively for the purposes of protecting all of us from those who would do us harm. There are non-elected governments who oppress people, but by design, ours is supposed to essentially be an extension of our social nature.

Libertarians like myself, have a decent understanding of the ramifications of passing victimless crime laws, but we also understand the ramifications of anarchy. We want our rights protected honestly and fairly, something government is generally pretty good at in this modern technological era, and certainly better at it than your random individual. But we believe government would be better if it weren’t distracted by all the victimless crimes it’s currently far too involved with, which is why we non-anarchist libertarian fight our fight.

Liberty Is The Only True Moral. The Rest Are Differences Of Opinion

Republican staffer Elizabeth Lauten was recently under fire for making a moral judgment about Malia and Sasha Obama’s chosen attire. She rightfully resigned her position at the GOP; it was a stupid thing to do and would only hurt her party going forward if she stayed.

Lauten stated that the girls needed to show “a little class,” that they should “act like being in the White House matters to you,” and that they should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”

Elizabeth Lauten
Elizabeth Lauten

Certainly Lauten has the right to her opinion, but that’s just it, it’s her opinion. I saw the outfits in question, (see pic below)and considered them not even remotely offensive or suggestive.

Elizabeth Lauten is everything that is wrong with the GOP in a nutshell, because she is behaving like the Democrats that her party rightfully condemns for sticking their nose into people’s personal lives.

Lauten attempted to make a moral judgment, but there is only one true moral—liberty. The rest of these issues are differences of opinion.

If you look at laws that we all generally agree on, they’re laws against assault, murder, theft, and other victimful crimes.

But if a moral judgement in question is deemed by some people to be perfectly moral, that’s a good sign maybe your “moral” issue is not in fact affiliated with morality in any way.

Things like homosexuality, drug use, prostitution, and clothing choices are matters of opinion and have nothing to do with morality, except in the context of a particular religion—a belief system a growing number of us are not encumbered with.

Pic of Malia and Sasha Obama that Lauten was offended by.
Pic of Malia and Sasha Obama that Lauten was offended by.

So when politicians and their staffers are considering making a moral judgment about someone, then opt to share via social media or interviews, they need to think about what they’re about to say before they say it.

So I’ve prepared a simple checklist for politicians to consider before spouting off:

  1. Is the person I’m about to character-assassinate harming anyone in the act I’m about to criticize them for?
    1. If the answer is no, stop and don’t say a thing.
    2. If the answer is yes, have at them. Most people will agree if you can show causational harm being done. You’re on solid ground in such arguments
  2. Can science back up the thing I’m about to present as fact?
    1. If yes, cite sources. You’ve done your homework.
    2. If science refutes it, are you educated in science?
      1.  If no, stop! Don’t say a thing. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so let it go. Debunking controlled studies is not in your wheelhouse and you’ll look stupid doing it.
      2.  If yes, unless you can cite a study as noted above, feel free to point out the flaws in the study as you see them, but be prepared for other peers to either side with you or against you. Good luck.
    3. If neither you, nor scientists have done any properly controlled studies you can cite, it’s likely a matter of opinion, not fact, and you should present it as opinion with a clear omission of any intent whatsoever to impose that opinion on others. If you can’t handle that, then stop, don’t say a thing.

Sarah Palin was ridiculed for wanting schools to teach intelligent design. While as an atheist, I am not in favor of this in the science classroom (it’s OK for social studies), to her credit, she stated she was not pushing for this legislatively, it was just her belief. While I may not be Palin’s biggest fan, that’s how it’s done when speaking on matters of opinion—all credit to her.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

The word moral is defined as concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.

So if something is immoral, it must contain an interaction between two people, where one of them is harmed. Unless Elizabeth Lauten wants to argue her eyes were intentionally damaged by Malia and Sasha while looking at these pictures, she should have kept her opinion to herself.

I think the majority of us feel Elizabeth Lauten showed a far greater lack of moral character by verbally attacking the two daughters simply because she didn’t agree with their fashion choice than Malia and Sasha ever showed with their fashion choices.

The issue here is a simple enemy complex. Those of us who are not hip to the president’s policies are split into two groups.

Logical people like me, who can offer praise to the president when he does something I agree with, remain neutral on things that I could care less about, and disagree when I feel like we have a moral dilemma we can never agree on.

But then there are people like Elizabeth Lauten who are so full of hate for the president, that they will latch on to any opportunity to bash the president, even going so far as to attack his children’s clothing choices. It’s as if she was going to make some brilliant argument about how the Obama’s are poor parents, but it failed miserably.

She became a blight on her party, thereby hurting her cause, not helping it. This was not that dissimilar to when Senator Todd Aiken foolishly spoke about “legitimate” rape; a comment that somewhat haunted the 2014 Mitt Romney effort.

Todd Aiken
Senator Todd Aiken

Such over-enthusiastic hate for the president, which results in an attack wherever one is seen possible, is no different than the nonsense Rev Al Sharpton brands as racism which usually isn’t. It’s the “crying wolf” dilemma where constant attacks from everywhere destroy your credibility, instead of targeted attacks when they are truly warranted.

Too often, those of us on the side of liberty forget that most voters are independent and could be swayed one way or the other. We will not help our cause be being the Al Sharpton’s of the right—people will run away from us in drives. Sometimes, it’s better just to shut the hell up. If you’re opponent is behaving in a way that many people do not like,  let them harm themselves. Most people will naturally take notice, you don’t always need to point it out yourself.