Wednesday, June 24, 2009

RBOC - Light summer reading

This will be about as random as it gets.

I won't spoil this for you. Go read it right now while keeping in mind the question of whether the Federal Reserve's pronouncements would generate more surprise and get more attention if Bernanke spoke in a garden under a tree.

Thought provoking (although I am old enough to have seen this topic debated and discussed many times in two different centuries) and also making clever use of some great academic cartoons.

A great article pointing out the Nobel-worthy contribution Fred Hoyle made to our understanding of the production of the elements in stars. This contribution to nuclear physics helped destroy the Steady State theory that Hoyle promoted until his death. How? It showed how nuclei beyond He could be produced in thermonuclear reactions, making Big Bang predictions of the production of only a few isotopes of the lightest elements consistent with what we see in nature.

Would it have helped or hurt the Civil Rights movement if something like this had happened in August 1963?
In 1963, as King delivers his famous speech to the March on Washington, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev delivers a public message of his own to the protesters. “We would like to tell these brave voices of freedom,” Khrushchev says, “that they have the full support and solidarity of the USSR. The Soviet Union and the United States Communist Party are ready and willing to perform any measures within our power to help our American brothers and sisters obtain their rights from this oppressive regime. And although Dr. King pretends that he holds no hostility toward the American capitalist system of government itself, and wishes only to secure the ideals of the American founding for all of its citizens, we all know that he and his supporters really yearn for complete regime change in Washington. We in Moscow will do whatever it takes to help you achieve this goal.”

Did Osama bin Laden help or hurt Kerry by endorsing him just before the election, and did bin Laden do it to keep Bush (and his dis-engagement from al'Qaeda) in office? Imagine what would have happened if he had endorsed Bush ...

Like it says. Go look at the video and pay attention to the last few seconds.

My analysis of the analysis is that the author's video interpretation results in a major underestimate of the velocity of the hammer after the explosives detonate. It is only in frame for a short time, and is slowing via both gravity and an interaction with the person holding it during that time. The energy in the hammer was surely much greater than estimated, so the question might really be "How high would he have gone if he had not let go of the hammer?"!

Now go watch it again. Clearly this person is using much more explosive than the others. See how theirs just go off? Notice how several people are doing this before he walks out, but then the area clear completely as he prepares to try his experiment? Right now I am speculating whether you could pull yourself off the ground by swinging a sledge hammer if you had it tied to your hands.

BTW, I wasn't too impressed with an earlier article. As Uncle Al noted, the Magnus Effect (what makes a baseball curve) was first seen with musket balls and studied with curved barrels (much like the paintball guns mentioned in the Wiki article he quotes) centuries ago. It is quite an oversight to leave that out, but even Wiki understates how big it can be: ever watch a golf ball rise when driven by a real pro? Lift from the Magnus Effect is why the optimum launch angle for a golf ball is only about 12 degrees.

This last one makes for some great summer fun!

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