Paul Tries to Understand Science
When I was young, I read a lot of science fiction, but I also read lots of factual science writing, particularly that done by those who were also science fiction writers, such as Arthur C. Clarke. I found the science of the day very interesting, but there were many parts of it I couldn’t really grasp, and had to take on faith. In my mature (ha) years, I’m finding myself taking a renewed interest in assorted bits of science, but now when I run into a part I don’t understand, I know that I have the resources to learn how it actually works, and finally get some actual comprehension into my brain. In doing so, I end up writing out my understanding.
These articles are not my attempt to educate readers, but my process for educating myself. I learn as I write, and write as I learn. But the result may be of value for others. I hope that, inspired by the science writers of my youth, I produce something which occasionally helps someone get a grasp on a difficult topic, without being difficult to read. Additionally, there are some smaller articles where I just had a thought or a point to make about some scientific topic.
This is an outgrowth of “The Future!”, a page of articles about what is coming and what we might want to do about it. Both of these sets of articles mostly started out as blog posts, which then got promoted and expanded.
Our science topics are:
A Possibly Inept Attempt to Understand the Hidden Variable Problem in Quantum Mechanics was my first attempt at wrapping my head around a really difficult subject, looking at a conundrum of quantum mechanics which remains less than fully resolved. There are several competing viewpoints.
Special Relativity — space is warped and time is bendable! At least this is easier to cope with than quantum mechanics.
Light looks at the nature of light, radio, and other electromagnetic waves.
Consider the Roundworm takes a brief look at animal evolution.
The Dimensionality of Torque: a small rant about the unfortunate practice of measuring torque in newton-meters or pound-feet, which leads into a look at how we systematize dimensions of measurement.
Rocket Efficiency — why do rocket surgeons always want more “specific impulse”, and how far are they willing to go to get it?
Is There Only Spacetime? I investigate a remarkable outsider theory of physics. This was intended to be Part One of a series, but I’m afraid I bit off more than I could chew. Part Two is postponed indefinitely.
The Great Filter looks at the big picture: whether there are other planets with intelligent life, besides this one, and whether intelligence and civilization are likely to be widespread in the cosmos.
Cosmic Inflation looks at the even bigger picure, namely, current theories about the origin of the universe.
And finally, The Theory Of Funniness looks at a scientific question much closer to home: what it is that makes something funny, and why we have a sense of humor. There are a bunch of competing ideas in this field.
Coming soon: chemistry, and a bit of thermodynamics.