Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Existential Comics

A philosophy comic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. The offering for today is entitled Philosophy Tech Support.

Where Are The Natural Philosophers?

Much of the following was taken fm an essay by Wal Thornhill

Modern day "progressives," and communists, and fascists think the way they do because they believe they understand the universe better than "conservatives." Additionally, it's next to impossible to explain to any one of them that their view may be just as unyielding and ethnocentric as anyone else's. And so, this is how the world staggers from one false assumption to another and how evil is perpetuated -- by basing practical belief on false assumptions.

“Those who regard philosophy as a ‘soft’ and unscientific discipline, in contrast to the ‘hard’ and scientific fields of mathematics and physics, have accepted a Big Lie. The ideas of mathematicians and physicists can be no more objective or certain than the philosophic ideas on which they depend. Philosophy is the discipline that tells us how to be objective and how to achieve certainty. Without a theory of knowledge, how would mathematicians or physicists know the relationship of their concepts and generalizations to reality? It is the inductive science of philosophy that teaches the ‘hard’ scientist how to be scientific.” — Leonard Peikoff in The Logical Leap by David Harriman

When one finds something that works, one is likely to stick with it, eh? The same goes for theoretical physics, mathematics, and the internal combustion engine.

Regrettably, the inductive principle of natural philosophy has been dismissed in the ‘mob rule’ culture of science today. And modern philosophy may be the culprit. The corruption in philosophy seems to have spread from Immanuel Kant’s 18th century philosophy that led to ‘positivism,’ which limited the goal of science to merely describing regularities in the behavior of appearances. Peikoff writes:

“When, thanks to Kant, the most advanced science departs from the proper method—for example, when physicists renounce causality in the subatomic realm and revert to the menial job of ‘saving appearances,’ or when they entirely detach theory from reality and wander around in an eleven-dimensional geometry of spacetime — the cultural consequences are devastating. People hear about such views and conclude: If this is rationality, who needs it? There must be something better.”

Stephen Hawking (correctly for once) declares in his latest book, “Philosophy is dead.” But so is modern physics, and for the same reason, although the corpse refuses to lie down. Kant’s influence has morphed into the oxymoronic “thought experiment.” Science has become surreal and illogical with the sainted Einstein as its exemplar and holy relic. A return to classical natural philosophy is urgently needed to restore sanity.

Isaac Newton -- like a Rock Star.
“Natural Philosophy” is the name by which “physics” was known in the time of Isaac Newton, and well into the 19th century. We return to it mainly in order to emphasize that the more profound and circumspect approach to nature during those years is needed once again. We seek renewed respect for philosophy, especially for logic; and also for the everyday application of reason and of respect for evidence known as common sense — which should be considered a foundation for, rather than a contrast to, genuine science.

The award namesake, French physicist Georges Sagnac (1869-1926), was an associate of Nobelists Pierre and Marie Curie, Jean Perrin and Paul Langevin at the Sorbonne in Paris. Sagnac conducted experiments in 1913 demonstrating a net difference between light paths moving in opposite directions on a rotating platform. Many alternative scientists believe his ‘Sagnac Effect’ challenges the theories of Sagnac’s contemporary, Albert Einstein. Yet in spite of its challenge and repeatability, Sagnac’s experiment receives only passing mention, if any, in physics textbooks, and little is known about Sagnac himself. So just as Sagnac was not recognized for his major contributions, the Sagnac Award is intended to honor those unsung heroes making largely unrecognized, but significant contributions to science today.

The Australian, Arthur Lynch wrote in The Case Against Einstein:

“I have no doubt that there will arise a new generation who will look with a wonder and amazement, deeper than now accompany Einstein, at our galaxy of thinkers, men of science, popular critics, authoritative professors, and witty dramatists, who have been satisfied to waive their common sense in view of Einstein’s absurdities. Then to these will succeed another generation, whose interest will be that of a detached and half-amused contemplation; and in the limbo of forgotten philosophies they may search for the cenotaph of Relativity.”

That it has taken so long for the blinders to begin to fall away speaks volumes for how difficult it is to shake beliefs. We seem incapable of learning from history so we are repeating the Galileo story in the 21st century. This time it is the creed of scientism and the pseudo-religion of the big bang that stands in the way of progress. In truth, we have no real understanding of matter, light, magnetism, gravity, quantum behavior, subatomic particles, stars, galaxies, or… need I go on? Stories of creation and what did and did not happen in the universe over the past 13.7 billion years are crackpot schemes by celebrities of less talent than many in the NPA but greater prestige. We have too much information and too little real understanding. Many of the things we are taught “just ain’t so.” This realization frees the mind to view everything afresh. It is the spark required to rekindle enthusiasm for science and drive progress. There is so much to be discovered.

In an editorial written in Nature magazine by Dr. Michael Turner titled, “The dark clouds over US astronomy,” Turner bemoans the cuts in funding for astronomy and NASA. He writes:

“It is barely 12 months since US astronomy was shown the future, with the release of New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, the latest decadal survey by the National Academy of Sciences. The survey offered a strategy — based on realistic budgets and leveraged by international and private partnerships — to realize dazzling opportunities, including searching for life on other planets, identifying dark matter and understanding dark energy. It also promised to reveal the evolution of the first stars and galaxies and to probe whether supermassive black holes are accurately described by general relativity.”

These projects would merely add to the phenomenal waste of time, manpower and public funds by many top scientists today. I need only cite the Large Hadron Collider search for the mythical Higgs boson; the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) which is supposed to produce fusion power “like the Sun”; and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory to detect something we do not understand. The ITER began in 2007 and the first plasma is not expected until 2019! Not a single one of the proposed NAS projects mentioned is based on any real physical understanding. Turner says, “NASA is going to need a steady stream of exciting science results to capture the public’s imagination.” What NASA gets is a steady stream of surprises, which proves my point. NASA has wasted countless billions in ill-advised space research. Turner exposes the importance of ‘showbiz’ to fund this misguided activity. But with no real understanding the “science results” become virtual-reality fiction in the media. If only education taught critical thinking instead of mesmerizing fiction, the meaningless language and illogicality of science programs would be obvious. For example, I endured a BBC program last evening, “Who’s Afraid of a Big Black Hole?”, where Prof. Douglas Leonard pontificates that black holes form when stars implode in less than a second “…and stars continue imploding all the way down to a point.” A “point” is a location in a coordinate system: it is not an object, much less a meaningless “black hole.” Such gobbledygook could not survive if inductive natural philosophy were reinstated to its primary position in science.

How can science be so far ‘off the rails’ when it is supposed to be self-correcting? The mistake comes from believing that science is a perfectly rational human pursuit, unlike any other. The polymath psychoanalyst Immanuel Velikovsky was perhaps uniquely qualified to declare in an interview, “Man is irrational in everything he does.” To restore rationality we must first understand ourselves. In an extraordinary multidisciplinary forensic investigation, which Velikovsky published in his 1950 best seller, Worlds in Collision, he uncovered mankind’s forgotten experience of doomsday — the end of the world — and our (understandable) irrational response to the trauma. “Man is a wounded animal. His survival is astonishing. But his inability to heal his wounds is tragic,” wrote Dr. Roger Wescott.

The striking red cover of Velikovsky’s Macmillan edition of Worlds in Collision was like a red rag to a bull for astronomers. The publishers were forced to transfer the best seller to Doubleday by unprecedented threats from academics.

Since Velikovsky’s discovery was a prehistoric cosmic drama involving the Earth and other planets, some of our craziest collective behavior surrounds astronomy and its antecedent astral religions. He wrote:

“I was greatly surprised to find that astronomy, the queen of sciences, lives still in the pre-Faraday age, not even in the time of kerosene lamps, but of candles and oil.”

This referred to Faraday’s study of electricity and the fact that the cosmic thunderbolt was memorialized in all ancient cultures as the primary ‘weapon’ during planetary encounters. Therefore, electricity must play a role in the cosmos, particularly at times of orbital chaos. But our high-priests of astronomy deny it. Meanwhile, spacecraft and radio telescopes routinely reveal magnetic fields in space, which are the signature of electric ‘dark currents’ flowing in the thin plasma.

The consequences of the false beliefs of the ‘blinkered’ herd are immense due to the widespread impact, not only on science, but on human culture too. There should be no need to list examples of mankind’s irrational behavior. It is plainly evident in our wars, religions, politics, business, economics, etc. War is a surrogate for doomsday, which we have a dreadful impulse to repeat under the aegis of our various gods. When faced with cataclysm, our response can be to misinterpret or to deny it. Our religions misinterpret it by anthropomorphizing the behavior of the capricious astral gods and assuming the catastrophic references are metaphors. Our sciences deny it by clinging to a Newtonian ‘clockwork’ planetary system, undisturbed for eons, despite the clear evidence of devastated landscapes on rocky planets and moons, the Earth included. Meanwhile, we behave like ‘Chicken Little’ at the appearance of a comet and subconsciously find fleeting catharsis in a glut of disaster, war, and mayhem on TV and in movies.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Minerva's Soul (Harry Irons Trilogy, Book 3)

Harry Irons has been infected by the kitzloc, an enigmatic alien species. As a result, he's losing his mind. It's a race against time as Harry and his team attempt to locate one of the creatures in the sands of the Great Wahabi, a desert on the newly colonized world of Mirabel. A difficult task becomes impossible as they encounter disgruntled colonists, a security force from Earth, off-world aliens, and the mind-bending powers of the kitzloc.

Minerva's Soul takes readers on a thought-provoking adventure and is the third book in the Harry Irons Trilogy. The first two books are To The Stars and Stolen Worlds. Among The Stars is the sequel to the Harry Irons Trilogy and is also available in either ebook or industrial paperback at most online book retailers.

Preview and Purchase: Amazon Barnes and Noble Smashwords Apple iBooks

Truly a fantastic book! July 9, 2013
By Darren
"This series was extremely well thought out and well written. I will definitely recommend this to anyone. There is so much action it keeps your head spinning. I won't be a spoiler so you must buy it and read. Thomas Stone deserves an award for writing awesome material"

 Loved the trilogy May 14, 2014
By Opus22
"I found the series some of the best SiFi I've read in years. It cost me some sleep as I could not put it down. Very believable characters and science - expansion into consciousness itself in a universe billions of years old and what could and maybe does happen to a given species that has been around for a long time is both profound and captivating in a very pragmatic and real sense."

A superb adventure, continuing the saga August 5, 2013
"You definitely won't be disappointed with this, the third of the trilogy which has apparently evolved into a quadology. Thomas Stone is an excellent writer. Read on. You'll love it!"

Another awesome book by a very talented writer!, July 6, 2014
Fred Mankins
"This is a book that keeps you on your toes, and you never want to put it down. You really want to read all the series. Thomas Stone is one of those talented writer's that knows how to keep the reader wanting more, and on suspence. He is one of my favorite authors.

 Well integrated syfi, August 9, 2013
Altar Boy "Pax Vobis" (USA)
"Probably the best syfi book series I have read. Love the characters and story-line."

Reviews taken from actual verified buyers. And, thanks for reading!

Dwarf Planet Ceres

Ceres was named after the Roman goddess of the harvest, of growing plants, and motherly love. It is the smallest of the dwarf planets, a new category of astronomical bodies created by the International Astronomical Union in 2006. Dwarf planets currently includes Pluto, Eris, and Ceres.. Pluto's demotion from the list of solar system planets grabbed front-page headlines in 2006. But the debate over the qualifications for planethood reaches back to the discovery of Ceres.

Ceres was discovered on January 1, 1801 by astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, a monk in Sicily and the founding director of the Palermo Astronomical Observatory. Ceres was found within a gap between Mars and Jupiter where a planet was expected to reside, based on the spacing of the known planets in the solar system. Known as the Titius-Bode Law, this prediction was named for the astronomers who had noticed in the 1760s and 1770s that the relative distances of the six known planets from the Sun fit a mathematical relationship. Although it is called a "law," it has no basis in physics.

According to Titius-Bode, a planet should exist between Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers had been hunting for this phantom planet since Uranus was discovered in 1781. Uranus, too, was at just the distance where the law predicted a planet should be.

Nestled between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres was in just the right spot. So astronomers called it a planet. Piazzi initially named the new planet Ceres Ferdinandea after the Roman goddess of the harvest and King Ferdinand IV of Naples and Sicily. Ferdinandea, however, was later dropped.

Ceres's discovery was just the beginning of a landslide of small bodies spotted between Mars and Jupiter. A year after Ceres was discovered, astronomers found another body between the two planets that was almost as bright as Ceres. Heinrich Olbers unexpectedly found the second body, which he called Pallas after Pallas Athena, an alternate name for the goddess Athena.

Many astronomers realized that neither Ceres nor Pallas fit the conventional idea of a planet because their disks were so small they could only be resolved through telescopes. Because of their star-like appearance, Sir William Herschel coined the term "asteroid" for such bodies, writing in 1802: "They resemble small stars so much as hardly to be distinguished from them, even by very good telescopes." Herschel, therefore, argued that Ceres and Pallas were different from other planets.

Most other astronomers, however, disagreed. These two new additions to the solar system were listed with the rest of the planets.

The rush of small bodies continued to pile up. Astronomers nabbed Juno in 1804 and Vesta in 1807. The growing list of small objects raised concern that the asteroids were debris from a planet that had somehow disintegrated. Nevertheless, Juno and Vesta joined Ceres and Pallas as planets.

By the 1820s, astronomers counted 11 planets in the solar system. Introductory astronomy texts of that time listed the planets as Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Vesta, Juno, Ceres, Pallas, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.

Astronomers found another body, Astraea, near the end of 1845, almost 39 years after Vesta was spied. Three new objects were spotted in 1847. By the end of 1851, there were 15 known bodies between Mars and Jupiter.

Finally, astronomers realized that this large number of similar bodies all in orbit between Mars and Jupiter represented a new class of solar-system object. They called them asteroids, the name Herschel had coined 50 years earlier. Instead of listing them by distance from the Sun, as they did the planets, astronomers categorized them by their order of discovery. Astronomers today list about 100,000 known asteroids as large as 6 miles (10 kilometers) across located between Mars and Jupiter, a region now called the asteroid belt.

So Pluto's dismissal from the planetary ranks is not unique. Ceres, Vesta, and the other asteroids found in the 1800s, suffered the same indignity. In fact, their stories are similar. Astronomers began to question the planethood of Ceres, Vesta, and the other asteroids as they spotted more objects in the same region. Likewise, Pluto's planetary pedigree was put to the test when astronomers began finding other icy rocks in the planet's neighborhood, a region now called the Kuiper belt. In fact, one of the objects discovered, Eris, is even larger than Pluto. Ceres, Vesta, and Pluto also are among the most massive bodies in their respective regions, the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) attempted to settle the ongoing debate by adopting a new planet definition. One proposal would have defined a planet as "a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet". If this proposal had been adopted, Ceres would have become the fifth planet in order from the Sun. Because of some of the complications this proposal would have caused, it was not accepted. Instead an alternative definition came into effect which defined a "planet" as "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." The newly adopted definition was bad news for Pluto but good news for Ceres. Pluto was demoted to a category called dwarf planets, and Ceres was promoted to the same category. Dwarf planets share some, but not all, of a planet's characteristics. Both bodies are round like planets but do not clear out their orbits of debris.

The long debate on the definition of a planet is a textbook example of how scientific concepts are not etched in stone but continue to evolve with new discoveries.

With a diameter of about 975x909 km, Ceres is by far the largest and most massive (9.5 x1020 kg) body in the asteroid belt, and contains approximately a third of the mass (0.2 x1021 kg) of all the asteroids in the solar system. However, it is not the largest solar system object besides the Sun, planets, and their moons. Larger bodies have been found in the Kuiper belt including Pluto, 50000 Quaoar, 90482 Orcus, 90377 Sedna, and Eris. Recent observations have revealed that Ceres is nearly spherical in shape, unlike the irregular shapes of smaller bodies with less gravity. Having sufficient mass for self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces is one of the requirements for classification as a planet or dwarf planet.

German mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss calculated from Piazzi's few observations that Ceres circled around the Sun once every 4.6 years or about 4 years, 220 days. Its true sidereal period is 1679.819 days. Ceres has a very small axial tilt of 4±5 degrees.

Ceres has a very primitive surface and like a young planet, contains water-bearing minerals, and possibly a very weak atmosphere and frost. Infrared observations show that the surface is warm with a possible maximum temperature of 235 K (-38°C). Ceres ranges in its visual brightness magnitude from +6.9 to +9.. At its brightest point it is just barely too dim to be seen with the naked eye.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope observed that Ceres' surface has a large dark spot as well as a bright spot which are presumed to be crates. A second explanation for the dark spot it that it may be a darker substance in the asteroid's soil. Studies have shown that Ceres probably has a differentiated interior with a rocky core, an icy mantle that is betwee 60 to 120 km thick, and a thin dusty surface.

More will be know about Ceres when the Dawn spacecraft visits the dwarf planet in 2015. The Dawn mission is set for launch in September 2007. It will explore asteroid 4 Vesta in 2011 before arriving at Ceres.