I Haz Free Will!

I just have to monitor my breathing and tell my inner body signals what I want to do…


Honestly the entire free will issue makes my head hurt. I can’t be sure I wanted to do this post, but my fingers type anyway.

I find it interesting our readiness potential (RP) which is an active signal in our brains that happens, before we even know we are about to do something. I don’t know if there is an acceptable amount of lag time between our brains initial readiness to act and our bodies intention to act (W time, the urge or intent to act.) But we are creatures of electrical signals between neurons, and it makes sense to me that an inherent lag time would be reasonable, between the RP, the W time, and the signals sent to muscles required to follow through.

I also have no idea at all how that might have anything to do with me having some ice cream later. But I do know I like ice cream. Well I think I like ice cream, my body may just be demanding it…



Check This Out

There is a guy who blogs about pseudoscientific nonsense here at WP that I followed long ago. He consistently puts out great stuff and I love most of his postings. Just thought I’d give Mr. Emil Karlsson @ Debunking Denialism a shout out, and recommend his blog. It is well worth hitting the follow button when you get there.

This post made me do it 🙂 Though probably should have recommended him sooner…


So, What Does Gravity Look Like?

We can push a book off of a desk and see the effect of gravity, but that leaves a lot to the imagination. We could spend some time under an apple tree as Newton…

Or you can check out this post from one of my favorite blogs, Bad Astronomy. I apologize for a simple redirect, but Mr. Plait’s post is done way better than I could attempt it. It really is pretty cool or I’d not bother to send you off on the internet  🙂



Water Miracles

So I’m sitting in the library…

My son had some homework to do. It required putting together a PowerPoint presentation and we do not have PowerPoint. The computers at the library were the obvious choice right after I decided that it wasn’t worth the download for a one time use. At least I hope this is a one time issue. We all know how that goes.

So after the trials and tribulations of getting to the library, it was a trip laced with difficulties that were unforeseeable. My son had lost his library card. We needed a dollar for a replacement card. I hardly ever have cash in my pocket anymore due to the reliance on debit cards. Tried to buy something cheap at the Dollar Store and get some cash back, could not read my debit card. Tried with a credit card, could not get cash back on it! Finally went to a damn ATM and pulled 20 bucks out so I could pay for a one dollar library card! Are we having fun yet??! Nothing in my life, even the acquisition of one stinking dollar, is never as easy as it should be.

Anyway by now you must be wondering how this all ties in to the title of the post. We finally got the library card squared away, my son was able to use the library computer and I had some time to kill. Being in a library, I wisely sought something to read to occupy my time. I found some Popular Science magazines that piqued my interest and started with my page turning enjoyment.

I got to the end of an issue and there was a 2 page advertisement for some device that will deplete the deuterium from your water! And it has all kinds of health benefits! I found this quackery in a Popular Science mag? I guess they will take any old crackpots money!

Here is a link I found that has much of the same wording as the advertisement I came across. It is good for a laugh, there is even some reference about this miracle device fulfilling biblical prophecy, which makes it much more believable (I know…right?) They also go on about the angle of the hydrogen bond in the treated water and how it can save a foot in need of amputation, supposedly grow hair on a bald scalp, and apparently kills Ebola! And much much more! :


I thought about debunking this crap but then found a page that had already done the legwork. The guy at this link goes to great lengths debunking all kinds of new age nonsense and there is a lot of it unfortunately. Some people do have such open minds that their brains fall out and their wallets are magically lightened.  🙂


Amazing how much fun you can have at the library, well with your clothes still on!  🙂

What? No Jumper Cables?

Scientists at UCLA have developed and used an ultrasound technology to stimulate the brain of a man in a coma. The results were astounding. Within 3 days after the treatment the man had improved dramatically, I’ll quote: “Before the procedure began, the man showed only minimal signs of being conscious and of understanding speech for example, he could perform small limited movements when asked. By the day after the treatment, his responses had improved measurably. Three days later, the patient had regained full consciousness and full language comprehension, and he could reliably communicate by nodding his head “yes” or shaking his head “no.” He even made a fist-bump gesture to say goodbye to one of his doctors.”

Now granted this guy already had very limited cognitive ability to start with, but I’d say the immediate improvement is quite noteworthy. They did however take a cautious approach with this statement: “It is possible that we were just very lucky and happened to have stimulated the patient just as he was spontaneously recovering.”

This looks to be promising tech with a bright future, or it could have been a fluke, but definately worth watching how this plays out. If this proves to be as good as it seems this would be a breakthrough technology. Being the kind of guy I am I hope it works on a regular basis.  🙂


Now Can They Find Our Missing Socks?

In case you haven’t heard, astronomers have discovered the missing matter in our universe. According to the current cosmological model, matter is dispersed through the universe in a 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and 5% ordinary matter ratio. The ordinary matter, like we all know and love, has only been measured to around 50% of what they thought was out there. This missing matter was hiding where they thought it might be, but had no direct evidence to show. Until now. This matter was assumed to be in gaseous form residing in the vast distances of space, but we had no way to measure it.

There are these occurences known as FRB’s (Fast Radio Bursts) A FBR was caught recently (last year sometime). With very quick follow ups with other observational telescopes they were able to pinpoint the location of the FRB. Using the redshift analysis they determined this galaxy is 6 billion light years out.

While we can detect FRB’s, they havent been able to get a location on one quick enough to determine it’s location. They got this one. Which is only part of the challenge. Knowing the distance is only 1 key aspect, but a big one.

Now what they know about these FRB’s is the radio waves disperse as they travel through matter in space. The radio waves with higher energy/frequency arrive before the lower frequency waves. The amount of dispersion depends on the amount of matter they encounter. This discrepency combined with the location of the event that caused the FRB allowed them ( I am not sure who they are) to indirectly measure the matter these radio waves traveled through. It fits the model!

This is kind of a big deal actually. When data comes together to confirm a working theory we have what is known as science. Science being the best way known to understand this big old universe we live in. It works so much better than those other ways of knowing, and they can show their work!

I caught this first from Science Daily:


Also Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy did a great write up. I borrowed some of his knowledge of the radio wave dispersion in my write up. Mr. Plait goes into much detail, and considers the causes of FRB’s:


So, How Long Until Production?

I guess there is hope for Texas after all. A group of chemists and engineers from the University of Texas, have devised a way to use concentrated light, heat, and high pressure to, in a one step process, convert carbon dioxide and water directly into liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

The obvious immediate impact would be using carbon we already do not need in the atmosphere, to create fuel. However it would seem to me that using this new fuel would put the carbon dioxide right back into the atmosphere. But, hopefully there would be a small net gain. Even if it is a break even proposition it should long term, reduce carbon content in the atmosphere. It has to, right? If you are taking away the carbon already there, then putting it right back, has to be better than not taking any away at all. The process also supposedly has oxygen as a by product!

They don’t get into specifics with the numbers, it would be nice to have a figure to see if this process is actually beneficial, once you consider the entire production process from start to finish. It said in the article they use titanium dioxide (TD) as a main ingredient. I know they manufacture that not far from where I live. It has to be mined and processed before it becomes well, TD. So there is a lot of dozers, trucks, forklifts, and furnaces involved. I also know they use chlorine gas in large amounts as well. (I worked for an on site contractor at Dupont, where they make TD for a few months a while back. I was waiting out the winter so I could get back in the water as a diver.) Anyway it is a huge operation manufacturing TD. And the carbon footprint from manufacture of TD alone will be very large.

As I was saying the carbon footprint for the entire production of this new liquid hydrocarbon fuel has to be considered before it is really a viable alternative. According to the article another plus is there would be no need for infastructure changes, because we already live in a liquid hydrocarbon society. So that would be huge.

If, and this is a big if, this new fuel passes the sniff test for viability, it has the potential to make quite an imact on our carbon problem. At any rate it could slow our carbon output some as we try to forestall our own demise from our excesses. This conjecture assumes the oil companies don’t buy up the rights to the new tech so they can conveniently “lose” it.






New Planet? In our Solar System?

At first I thought we are a long ways off from an April fools prank. This appears to be for real. A couple of Caltech researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, have formulated a very intriguing argument for another planet on a widely eccentric orbit, far beyond the Kuiper belt.

There are some known Kuiper belt objects that all seem to have a related orbit. After ruling out a couple of scenarios they found one theory that aligns with the evidence in hand. There is another planet out there.

As of now this is all theoretical, no one has observed this new planet. But there is a lot of evidence indicating it is out there. Stuff like this is what gets me up in the morning. I have said for decades that if you do not learn something every single day, you were not paying attention. These guys were paying attention. Even if this all gets washed away with upcoming observations or new evidence to the contrary. They were still paying attention, and using their skills to solve a solar system oddity. Click the link!



I Want To Be E.O. Wilson When I Grow Up

I caught a PBS presentation last night by the name of “Of Ants and Men” It is a documentary on E.O. Wilson and covers his life as a scientist and his personal history. All I can say is I am blown away by the accomplishments of this man, and the show was spectacular. I highly urge anyone who hasn’t seen it to do so at your earliest opportunity.

It is so good, I was watching a baseball game last night with playoff possibilities, and thought I’d go back and forth between commercials and keep up with the game. I still have no idea who won the game and don’t even care. It is that good.

Mr. Wilson is the father of sociobiology and popularized the term biodiversity. He took a lot of heat for sociobiology as it ran counter to popular thinking of the day, but I believe over time his sociobiology has been vindicated. It appears to me to have been almost as profound and as important as the work of Darwin himself.

Sociobiology is the assumption that our social aspects evolved as we did, which to me isn’t that far off base. The heat he took was from other scientists who believe that our social aspects are genetic in nature. I fail to see the problem here, as I feel that in the bigger picture, both are correct. Social behavior had to evolve with us, or we would not be what we are today. Genetics are of course a grounded standard for the way we may be wired. Finally culture or environment, and our life experiences, polish up the who and what we may have become. I see it all as one large system incorporating all of these conditions. Hell I am no scientist, I am not university trained in any particualr field, I am just a guy who has been paying attention through life, watching, learning, and trying in my own way to make sense of my surroundings. It all made good sense to me.

They also covered group selection, kin selection, tribal groups, among other things, and every single point to me was spot on.

Now Mr. Wilson, it could be said from a few things I have read, may be a little soft on religion, but I think I can forgive him that considering his massive achievements. Anyone who has a ken to understand evolution, social evolution, see a lot of fantastic science, and finally, sort of,  get to know a guy anyone would desire as a friend, has got to see this show.

“Of Ants and Men.” Look for it.

There Is No Such Thing As Transitional Fossils

Except for maybe this 4 legged snake.



Granted I only see one in this photo, but the information looks good.

This looks like an artists representation:



This pic shows a better look at the hind legs:


Then there are these, while there are some duh moments there from creationist sites, many are very good :


And these:


And these:


Let’s not forget this one: