On an Unexpected Beauty

Knowledge is soon changed, then lost in the mist, an echo half-heard. (Gene Wolfe, writer)
Music is the harmonious voice of creation; an echo of the invisible world. (Giuseppe Mazzini, activist)
Embed from Getty Images
Fame is the echo of actions, resounding them to the world, save that the echo repeats only the last art, but fame relates all, and often more than all. (Thomas Fuller, clergyman)
If you’re in a forest, the quality of the echo is very strange because echoes back off so many surfaces of all those trees that you get this strange, itchy ricochet effect. (Brian Eno, musician)
I recently saw this 5+-minute report from CBS News about a place that is old, but special – simple, yet complex – beautiful, yet haunting. All this equals a sum of amazing. Enjoy.

On Hot Air

Although we don’t mean to make generalizations inaccurate, they are not the full story. After all, these statements are, by definition, generalizations. Sometimes people generalize the generalization, but failing to remember that continual generalization moves one further from the truth – thus eventually turning the generalization into misinformation that leads to misunderstandings.

Repeat after me – Hot air does not rise.

Just to make sure, let’s try again – Hot air does not rise.

Regardless of the links you can provide to the contrary, or ever provide a reference for a reputable textbook, hot air does not rise – it never has and I very much doubt ever will. Yet, how many times have we heard or said, Hot air rises? (Yes, I cringe when I hear TV weather forecasters use it.)

Nah baby nah … hot air does not levitate. Hot air does not move upward on its own – It is pushed upward by more dense cold air that displaces it – Just has bathtub water level moves upward on the sides when one takes their seat in a bathtub. However, there is no need for you to run down the street naked like Archimedes yelling, Eureka, eureka, I found it!

Here’s the story. During my science teaching days, we were preparing a lesson for the next day. Because my colleague had not seen this activity, he took one set of the materials to the location of the ice machine – the boys’ locker room.

My colleague returned saying it worked great, but shared an interesting story. One of the physical education (PE) teachers watched without knowing any details, and then said, “This means hot air doesn’t rise.” Bingo! Meanwhile, this gave me an opportunity to have some fun with the good-natured PE teacher.

During the eventually discussion with the students after the activity – and knowing students would quickly deliver my comment – I stated, “If a PE teacher like Mr. X can figure this out on his own, surely this is easy to understand.”

We had fun with it through the years, for as students are so predictable. But the point remains the same – Hot air doesn’t rise because it is pushed upward when it is displaced by more dense, colder air.

By the way, here’s a similar activity – but ours was better. Yo, Starla, show Navar.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 148

On Politics
Cheers to Republican Jon Huntsman for these words: “I will not be attending this year’s convention, nor any Republican convention in the future, until the party focuses on a bigger, bolder, more confident future for the United States — a future based on problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits. … I encourage a return to the party we have been in the past, from Lincoln right on through to Reagan, that was always willing to put our country before politics.”

I enjoy listening to a radio station dedicated to politics (POTUS, XM). However, my channel-changing urge kicks in when I hear any of these voices: Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Besides the campaigns for US president being too long, this one is quite boring.

This David Brooks’ column about opportunity ended with these words: “Political candidates will have to spend less time trying to exploit class divisions and more time trying to remedy them — less time calling their opponents out of touch elitists, and more time coming up with agendas that comprehensively address the problem. It’s politically tough to do that, but the alternative is national suicide.”

On Headlines from The Onion
Highest Blender Setting Drowns Out Angry Jamba Juice Customer
ESPN Poll Asks Readers if They Like Sports
Grandpa Used as Yard Sale Greeter
Roommate Eats Emergency Preparedness Kit
Washington Monument Set Up with Date with Eiffel Tower
Player Asks Stadium Crew to Turn Off Lights so Team can See the Stars

Interesting Reads
The Subtle Science of Scotch Whisky
Math and the musical genius of the Beatles
A high-performance electric car
Myths about the Financial Meltdown
Blogger Alisha about happiness
About Charles de Gaulle
50 years of Bond’s style – that’s James Bond

On Potpourri
The World Choir Games ends its first time run in the US run this weekend. It’s been a surprising success as tickets are difficult to get and one has to go early to get a seat at the free events.

Some readable potpourri about the God Particle
An infographic
Naming
A humorous look
Blogger Nancy chimes in

Artists to see who are connected to this blog in some way: African art and watercolors from Greece.

A reminder to everyone: Check your Spam folder on your dashboard to see if comments by regular visitors are unexpectedly going there.

While in the Spam folder, you may find some gems – like the one about Christmas music on my recent post about Education: Texas GOP Style.

I will have a classic cartoon post this weekend.

To send you into the weekend, here’s a tribute to the dedicated people of the U.S. Coast Guard. Have a safe weekend everyone. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Falling Tree

Everyone knows this riddle: If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Here is the good news – I will answer the question. – However, the bigger question is will you agree?

The key is in the definition of two key words: sound and sound waves. The question is whether one considers these two terms as the same or different.

Sounds waves are sequence of a repeating pattern of high and low pressure waves passing through a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma. Waves can be of different frequencies, the number of repeated waves over a period of time (usually seconds). Think of different musical notes having different frequencies.

Sound is the interpretation of sound waves. From an organism’s point of view, in order for sound to occur, the organism needs a mechanism that converts sound waves into nerve impulses that are another mechanism translates them into a sound.

Does a dog whistle make sound waves? Unquestionably yes. Does it make sound? To a dog, yes – but to humans, no.

Does the symphony make sound waves? Yes. Does a totally deaf person in attendance hear the sound? No – not to them; but to one with healthy hearing, yes.

Therefore, the falling tree unquestionably produces sound waves – but if nothing is there that is capable of translating sound waves, there is no sound.

On a Quantum Thought

Many of us had a traditional/classical physics course in high school. In not, you received an introduction in a physical science class. Today though, we must lightly differentiate classical physics and quantum physics.

While the foundations for classical physics are more than 500 years old, the formations of quantum physics dates back to the early 1900s. By the 1920s, the work by famous names as Max Born, Neils Bohr, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, and others began to bring quantum physics into the main stream. Today, quantum physicists led advanced developments and a deeper understanding in physics.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle examines the limits of accuracy in the interactions between matter and energy – or as I have like to think, an explanation of the certainty of uncertainty and how uncertainty is definitely certain.

Because I’m not a physicist, there are several purposes of this post. First, in my studies of the intersection of religion and science, authors frequently used quantum physics in various explanations. Interestingly, several theologians specializing in this subject are also physicists.

Secondly, I share an interest about the intersection with Nancy, the author at Conversation in Faith as she wrote, not so long ago, this worthwhile post about Physics and Faith.

Lastly, I have featured Symphony in Science on more than one occasion – and one of the more recent ones is about quantum physics. Enjoy the learning experience to music.

On Human Ingenuity

The human brain is one factor that differentiates humans from other animals. Through music, art, engineering, science, and other forms, this complex three-pound mass of interconnected neurons delivers many expressions of human ingenuity – and wait until you see these strandbeests. Oh – not sure what they are, well, I guess you better watch. Enjoy the journey.

On Random Science Thoughts

On a New Header
As I stated on the first post of the year, my plan is to dedicate the 2010 to the Hubble Telescope by changing headers throughout the year. As I have stated several time, I find great awe in Hubble images as they display play my belief in continual creation.

I started the year with an image of the Veil Nebula, and now I change to the Trifid Nebula. Here are two links to learn more about Trifid: Wikipedia and Science Daily.

Interestingly, yesterday NASA released images from the WISE Mission.

To see the previous header, click the Past Banners tab along the top.

On the European Telescope
I recently discovered the images from the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Their telescope, Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), recently released new images – simply amazing. Here is the click to their gallery, and I added it as a Potpourri link.

On Watts Up with That?
While visiting Basic Blogonomics (of my friend Dave), I discovered an interesting science site – Watts Up with That?: Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts. Interesting reading here.

On Masdar City
Masdar City in Adu Dhabi, UAE is a planned city that will rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. It is quite intriguing and worth searching on your favorite search engines.

On Global Warming
Although I realize that global warming is a controversial topic, much of it is due to misinformation and selective use of statistics. There’s no doubt in my mind that the debate is actually about economics, I’m still amazed how some people seeking power play on the ignorance or stupidity of others. Let’s take the Virginia state Republican Party officials who use this winter’s storms in their area to fire doubt about global warming. Time had this to say about the situation:

Weather is what will happen next weekend; climate is what will happen over the next decades and centuries. And while our ability to predict the former has become reasonably reliable, scientists are still a long way from being able to make accurate projections about the future of the global climate. (Click for full article)

On Learning Physics
Years ago, I learned about this site and its creator. Whether you are a parent of a student, a student, or just a person who has always enjoyed physics, this is a the Physics Classroom.

Here are a few other sites to enjoy.