Dark Stuff: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Antigravity.

Gratuitous space image. Dark matter and dark energy are invisible.

This is an overview of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, that was started back in 2016 but published until I was recently asked again. The TLDR; is that no-one knows what dark matter or dark energy are, and it is not even absolutely certain that either exists. In fact, my addition to the official version, is that neither need exist. Both dark matter and energy are possible explanations for for things we do not understand, but not the only possible explanations. That being said, a significant majority of physicists do believe dark matter does exist, and many are looking to find it.

  • Dark Matter:
    • What does ‘dark matter’ mean?
    • Why? Because known matter does not explain observed gravity.
      1. So there must be matter we don’t know about: Dark Matter.
        • Its hiding. Dark matter is just matter we have not found.
        • Or, It is matter, but not as we know it.
      2. Or, maybe we have gravity wrong!
  • Dark Energy.
    • What is dark energy?
    • Why? Something is accelerating the expansion of the universe?
  • Antigravity.
  • The unofficial explanation: food for thought?
Continue reading “Dark Stuff: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Antigravity.”

A Timeline of Our Solar System.

I feel this a useful reference. It is just collation of data from a variety of resources, as in the table below, and then mapped onto one year, to give perspective of ‘how long through the year’ various events are.

The timeline is based on the life of the Sun from formation through the inevitable ‘red giant’ phase when the Sun will expand to either engulf, or almost engulf the Earth. The ‘green’ section indicates the short time during the ‘life’ of the solar system that the Earth can support ‘life as we know it’ on land. The orange section is the time before the atmosphere could support life on land, and the red section represents the time when CO2 levels can no longer support plant life, and the earth is set to become like Venus. On the one year time line, we need to find another home by tomorrow, and that is without climate change or any problems created by people.

Key Timeline Observations & Discussion Points.

  • Life On Earth Began Early and without oxygen.
  • It took around half the time there has been life, to evolve to, but Evolution started slowly.
  • The Brief Burst of Life on Land.
  • Cyanobacteria: The first photosynthesis.
  • Thermal Runaway.

First On Earth Began Early: But Evolution started slowly.

Life began within 500 million years, which may sound like a long time, but considering the Earth was formed as a result of a sequence of collisions, and would have taken time to become even close to stable. Life had to form in the oceans given that land was inhabitable at the time, and we have evidence of life going back as far as we have evidence of oceans.

Given how quickly life arose, it seems surprising that it took another 2 billion years to single celled organisms, and 3 billion years to get to multicellular organisms. For 3/4 of the time there has been life, all life was single cell life, and there were no animals at all. Evolution was slow to get started!

The Brief Burst of Life on Land.

On the ‘annual calendar’ life on land provides only three weeks to live on land. Life on land becomes possible in early June, and ends before the month is over. This is become by the time the plants have transformed that atmosphere to have enough Oxygen to form ozone to block deadly radiation reaching the Earths surface, the CO2 supply is running low. Plants keep compensating for the ever increasing heat from the Sun by consuming CO2 and reducing greenhouse gas during the first half of the life of the solar system, but once CO2 levels are two low for plants to continue, all life will end as the planet enters thermal runaway, unless the Earth finds a new solution to controlling the temperature for the second half. The Earth will join Venus as a planet with temperatures beyond the temperature where water boils.

The Earth will have supported life on land for less than 1/20th of the life of the solar system.

Cyanobacteria: The first photosynthesis.

The current building block of life, photosynthesis, was not even present during the first billion years of life, and green plants were not present during the first 3 billion years, evolving only 1 billion years ago.

Thermal Runaway.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is goldihz_flux.jpg

You may have heard of the ‘goldilocks zone‘. The distance from a star that is ‘not too hot’ and ‘not too cold’. The Earth is now at the very edge of that zone, as the zone continues to move away from the sun and will soon encounter thermal runaway, where temperature increases add more water vapour to the atmosphere. Since water vapour is a greenhouse gas, the Earth then heats further, adding more water vapour as a result. The end result: Earth will become another Venus with temperatures rapidly soaring beyond those where life is possible.

Given the rapid pace of technological advancement, 25 million years should be more than enough time to find a solution, but in geological time 25 million years is not that long. All things considered, humans only just managed to evolve in time!

Years Relative to NowdateSource
Sun Formed-4,600,000,0001/01/2020Discover Magazine
Earth Formed-4,500,000,0004/01/2020Discover Magazine
First Life-4,000,000,00023/01/2020Livescience
Cyanobacteria-2,700,000,00013/03/2020Scientific American
o2 – Oxygen-2,400,000,00024/03/2020Great Oxygen Event
Eukaryotic (modern) cells -2,000,000,0008/04/2020New Scientist
Algae-1,200,000,0009/05/2020Scientific American
First Animals-800,000,00024/05/2020Natural History
Plant Life On Land-470,000,0006/06/2020New Scientist
First Insects-406,000,0008/06/2020AAAS.org
First Dinosaurs-231,000,00015/06/2020BBC Science Focus
First Mammals-160,000,00017/06/2020Livescience
Humans-500,00023/06/2020Discover Magazine
Civilization-10,00023/06/2020
now023/06/2020
Thermal runaway25,000,00024/06/2020
Sun Is A Red Giant5,000,000,00031/12/2020

The Limitations of Perception

What humans can perceive is not reality in full, but our own picture of reality, constructed by our brains from clues to reality collected by our senses. Science allows us to understand far more, and provides instruments to extend our perception, allowing continual improvement of our picture of reality, but know we do not yet have a complete picture.

A famous thought experiment by Plato is referred to as the allegory of the cave:

In the ‘allegory of the cave’, Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality but are not accurate representations of the real world. Three higher levels exist: the natural sciencesmathematicsgeometry, and deductive logic; and the theory of forms.

From Wikipedia page on Allegory of the cave

This page looks at a simpler more direct view on how ‘there is far more to the universe that our senses reveal’, the counterintuitive things we have already learnt and what is still to be learnt. Perhaps, less profound than the point made by Plato, but still an interesting perspective.

Continue reading “The Limitations of Perception”

What the F is 5G? What is new, and what are the risks?

Now for something not Covid-19, which is a rarity lately! A different topic for this blog, but 5G came up in a recent conversation, and what I thought I ‘knew’ about 5G was:

  • significantly higher mobile data rates were possible (true)
  • 5G is based on higher frequency radio than 4G etc (false)
  • 5G works for far more people even in a crowded spaces (true)
  • towers for 5G must always be close in order us 5G (false)
  • 5G data rates could potentially match/replace fibre optic cable (false)

As you can see, turns out what I had thought prior to research, was all a collection of misunderstandings. From what I had heard, it seemed to be there was revolution taking place in mobile networks, and 5G meant giving up much of what we have now, all for very little gain. If the case for moving to 5G is questionable, then is there a reason for the conspiracy theories? So I thought I should become more informed, and this page is the result. There has been a lot of confusing information about 5G.

When I started looking, I found conspiracy theories and discussion in complete ignorance of 5G actual technology, and alternatively, deep technical discussion on details of the technology that can seem biased towards selling why we all need 5G, with its wonderful technology and ultra fast speed. So I looked to distil what seemed relevant to me about 5G itself and real health risks. This page is the result, and perhaps others may also find the content relevant.

Key Points:

Continue reading “What the F is 5G? What is new, and what are the risks?”

Photons: What is electromagnetic radiation?

Radio waves, microwaves, millimetre waves, infra-red, visible light, ultra violet, x-rays, gamma rays…
…… can seem so different, yet they are all electromagnetic radiation.

All are composed of the same fundamental particle: the ‘photon’.

All photons, travel at the ‘speed of light’ (or the ‘speed of photons?’), have the properties of a wave, and interact with electrons.

Photons can be absorbed by an electron, and when this happens, the electron takes on additional energy, and with sufficient additional energy electrons move to a higher energy state. Electrons can then release energy and drop back to a lower energy state, emitting a new photon when they do.

This cycle of being absorbed by electrons, and emitted by electrons, is the main interaction between photons and other things. It is the basis of how we see, how heat is radiated, how radio signals are transmitted and received, and how microwave ovens work. There are countless photons everywhere, being absorbed, and being

Every ‘photon’ has carries a specific amount of energy, which determines the ‘frequency’ of that photon. The total extra energy delivered to an object by a stream of photons is the energy per photon multiplied by the number of photons. Any object with energy will also be radiating some energy out by emitting photons. So an object which is otherwise stable, will either gaining energy, which will most often indicated by an increase in heat, or lose energy, typically be getting cooler, depending on whether there is more energy in the photons being absorbed, or more energy in the photons being emitted.

In considering energy arriving from absorbed photons, a useful analogy to consider bullets being fired at a wall. You can deliver the same total force to the wall by either doubling the number of identical bullets, or doubling the mass for the same number of bullets. If the bullets are so small they just bounce of the surface of the wall, then increasing the number of bullets will still result in all the bullets just bouncing off, even though the total push against the wall has doubled. Similarly, while doubling the number of identical photons will increase the energy or heat delivered, if those photons do not do enough to the electrons to change the structure of the molecules, receiving more photons still will not change the structure. This is why the frequency of the photons is so important. It is not just the total energy that determines the impact, it is also the power of the individual photons.

Note that 1Mhz is 106 Hz, 1Ghz = 109 Hz, 100Ghz – 1011 Hz etc.

Generally, individual photons with an energy much higher than visible light are considered ‘ionising photons‘. While photons below this energy level can make us feel warm, photons above this energy level can damage our cells. We definitely know that higher energy UV, or X-Rays or Gamma rays can cause cancer. We aware of no side effects visible light photons at the level we experience on a sunny day, and generally it seems that this same number of photons, or less, at even lower frequencies should pose even less risk. However there is always the risk of something we do not know. In terms of risk, the higher the frequency the photons, the more care warranted in ensuring the quantity is not too high.

What really killed the dinosaurs?

485176_441599455926469_1655029236_nWhile I do literally mean the actual dinosaurs, there is also a lesson in the answer for the metaphoric dinosaurs that big companies can become.

“A giant meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs” is the catch phrase.  But have you ever wondered “why the dinosaurs, when so many other animals survived?”.  The alligators survived, fish survived, mammals survived, even other reptiles survived, and even frog species that seem so sensitive to any change in environment survived that meteorite.

So why the dinosaurs?  And what is the lesson? These answers after first some background and myth-busting. Continue reading “What really killed the dinosaurs?”

The ‘perfect’ everyday bag: messenger bag, shoulder bag or backpack?

dressingsuitcase3
Not everyday bags

I am on the hunt for the perfect bag to carry things with me, but is this a backpack, a messenger bag, or some hybrid of the two. The strongest candidates right now, are the peak design backpack, or the ‘urban disguise’ series from Thinktank. Peak design make a messenger bag the can work as a backpack, or a messenger bag like backpack, but there is not a single review I have found evaluates use of the backpack as a messenger.  Given how frequently I see people with backpacks slung over one shoulder, surely someone else cares about how a backpack performs in messenger mode? The perfect bag? John Steed and the Avengers? All will be revealed! Continue reading “The ‘perfect’ everyday bag: messenger bag, shoulder bag or backpack?”

No new Surface ‘Pro 5’ after all?

Lots of others ‘crystal ball gaze’ into the future of Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ products. Here is another perspective. A lighter tone than the usual post, here is a look at both what Microsoft are likely to do, and what they should do. 🙂  Ok, it is largely crystal ball gazing, but so it seems is every other prediction on the ‘Surface Pro’, so here is a different perspective.

1) There may be no ‘Surface Pro 5’, as a name change really makes sense.

Since releasing the original ‘Surface’ and then ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface product line’ has evolved to a point where the original names are in serious need of review. Which is the most ‘professional’ product of the current range? The ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface Book’ or the ‘Surface Studio’?   The ‘Surface Pro’ was ‘Pro’ relative to the original ‘Surface’, and the two names made sense.  Now ‘Surface’ is a family and ‘Pro’ does not describe where the ‘Surface Pro’ fits in that family.  How about ‘Surface Tab Pro’ or ‘Surface Pad Pro’?  Microsoft can afford to pay people to come up with a better name, but a new name is needed.

2) Two new products, one Qualcomm based, one Intel Based!

“We need to be willing to lean in to uncertainty, take risks and move quickly when we make mistakes, recognising failure happens along the way to mastery,” Nadella wrote in a 2015 memo to Microsoft employees

So what will be the new ‘non pro’ device?  The philosophy of the ‘Surface’ products is to do things differently and take risks. Innovation. But as the most successful product in the Surface line-up, there is a limit to the risks that can be taken with the Surface Pro.  Which is why, beyond the logic for the name change, there will logically be a new Kaby Lake CPU based device to follow on from the Surface-Pro.

Contrary to other suggestions, the USB-3 port should stay, and instead the mini-display port should upgrade to Thunderbold-3.  Re-chargeable pen, improved battery life, incremental improvements.

3. The ‘Surface’ replacement, the bold step!

This is where the room to take risks exists.  The recently demonstrated ability to run full windows on a Qualcomm CPU opens the door for something new, lighter and with LTE connectivity.  Such a device would be the logical reason for display at MWC 2017.  Running full windows on such a CPU enables a phone, but this new device needs to be another leap, and something targeting both phone and tablet is the logical solution.  Phones today are ready for the next step, with so many people using hands free or earphones/headphones, do we really need a device designed to be held to our head anymore?

The Canary: part II

typewriter2My previous post was a diversion for the usual, and this post is a continuation of the diversion, but normal topics are set to return!  For now, a little more the episode of the early warning of failing journalism.

In the previous ‘canary post’ I outlined reasons why the almost universally reported ‘Microsoft will not release new Surface Devices because they have to wait for the new Intel processors’ at least from my analysis seems an example of the press simply getting in wrong, as the processors concerned are actually well know to be already available. (example of reporting here: note the words “because it’s too early to put Intel’s next-gen Kaby Lake processors and chipsets into the devices” and here and here. And this is reporting after the even has announced.  Before the event was announced there was even stronger repetition of the clear error. Over and over.

If the press can get something as simple and as obvious as this wrong, what else can they get wrong?   Most disconcerting in a society that requires a functioning press for the protection of democracy. After further analysis of what is misreported, I will look at just what are the possible reasons for this misreporting.

Back to the innocent little canary, the misreporting of the environment for a tech company to release new products.   As of today, October 16,  an actual Microsoft press event is now scheduled for October 26, and yesterday,  the first signals that my analysis which just two days ago ran contrary to almost all press reports, may indeed be correct.  That evidence is that Amazon now lists current surface products as ‘(OLD VERSION)’.  Now finally there are journalists suggesting that this may be due to an update of current surface models to the new Kaby-Lake cpu. This is yet to be confirmed, so stay tuned for confirmation.

There is also a second part of this story.  Journalist predictions were in two parts:

  1. current surface products cannot yet be updated as they must wait for the new CPU
  2. instead a new ‘all-in-one’ surface desktop will be released

It has already been discussed that in fact the currect surface products do not have to wait for the new CPU as the ‘mobile’ versions of this CPU are already released.

The important point for ‘part 2’, the release of the all in one, is that this idea is impacted by the fact that the desktop versions of this new ‘Kaby-Lake’ cpu are in fact not available.  Despite the mobile new CPUs actually being available and the Desktop versions not available, all the reporting was the mobile devices cannot be released and no discussion at all on the need for the new CPU in a desktop.

Microsoft may be about to announce a new ‘all-in-one’ device, but the lack of new desktop CPU being available means either:

  1. the new ‘all-in-one’ device will be announced but not available until next year
  2. or this new ‘all-in-one’ will actually function like an ‘all-in-one’, but actuallybe something different and be more a modular system and allow a choice of using current surface devices for CPU and disk, or offering a CPU and disk drive as a separate module.

I can add more at a future date, but this is probably enough discussing of this now to illustrate the point, and refer back to in a future post it this turns out correct.

Significance?

It is only about laptop computers, and I am only interested because I wish to buy one by a specific date for a present, so just waiting is not appealing. But the significance of what is clearly an error that could be discovered with even the research available to an outsider, being reported and echoed throughout the press is a great concern.  Is this also happening with respect to the war in Syria for example.  Or reporting on the candidates in an election?  I feel the age of the internet has eroded the business model of journalism, and we all may pay the price.  More news, but the same news repeated without any fact checking.

Surface Pro update: Canary for the problems in journalism?

typewriter2Ok, so this post is about what is happening with updates for the Surface Pro and the Surface Book, but is also about the problems in technology reporting, which themselves are symptoms of a wider problem.

Firstly, to the Surface Pro/Book.  There are lots of rumours of an update, and rumours there being rumours is understandable, but the rumours seem to all contain the same conclusion, despite logic to the contrary.  Why the continually repeating the same mistakes, and missing key points.  I mean, one person making an error….ok.  But so many websites repeating the same errors?  What is going on? Continue reading “Surface Pro update: Canary for the problems in journalism?”

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