Archive for the ‘physics’ Category

What Waves Do

May 22, 2019

Pushed and pulled by forces from sun and moon

waves rolls across entire oceans

until they strike some thing.

Some waves pound upon a sandy shore and climb

until they can climb no more

and so they recede.

In great rounded loops they fall back into the sea.

Yet somehow their rounding retreats

striate into crisscross lines in sand.


Some waves slap on roots, or reefs and rocks;

swiftly they swing and swerve in uncertainty

recasting light as swirly pearls.


Some waves churn up discrepant truth by summoning stuff

into yon distant slick of dubious flotsam fluff:

Is it mirage or mire or  mystery oil or what?


. . . as seen plainly from a plane ! a glut of what?

Glass Chimera


the Word BigBang

January 18, 2019

Way, way back in time, before all this stuff was here, even back before the Big Bang, something very amazing happened.


I was wondering about our universal origin, so I  took a chance on a Wikipedia entry about it. This is what I found:

The (Big Bang) model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state.”

Scientists and dreamers like me have, for many and many a year, puzzled about what that “very high-density and high-temperature state” might have been.

I was pondering this development. My irrational dreamer self was wrestling with Reason as I attempted to figure out what that very high-density pre-Bang substance might have been. Being the 20th-century educated baby boomer that I am, my mind stumbled into an idea that I must have discovered in a science classroom somewhere along the line. Therefore, E=mc² banged into my big (bigger than a chimpanzee’s) brain.

Energy = mass x the speed of light squared.

Which means something like: When a very small chunk of (mass) material stuff gets its atomic parts whirling around at a certain  extremely high speed, and when that speed is zipping along at a rate of that same velocity multiplied by itself (faster than I can imagine), the whole baleewick crosses some kind of transformational threshold and suddenly that mass of nuclear stuff gets changed Presto Chango! into something fundamentally different— Energy!

Waves and waves of energy . . .

Energy. . . hmm. . . whataboudit . . . Now I do know that there are many different forms of energy. There’s kinetic energy, like a bat hitting a ball, which then suddenly propels that ball to an absolutely reverse direction from the direction in which the pitcher had pitched it. Pretty amazing thing for a batter to do, when you think about it.

Amazing. Lots of amazing in this universe. Moving right along. . . don’t blink or you’ll miss something.

And then there’s potential energy, like Mr, Newton’s apple, which was, naturally, connected to an apple tree until, all of a sudden, something gave way and the apple dropped to the ground, which provoked Mr. Newton to ask:

Say what?

Which translates from 17th-century English to: what the heck is going on here? Or, if you’re an out-of-the-box kind of thinker . . . what the hell is going on here?

Potential energy instantaneously being converted to kinetic energy! That’s what.

Perhaps it’s a little microcosm of the Big Bang, but on an exponentially smaller scale. The apple does make, you know, a kind of thud when it hits the ground, and then it transforms into a treat for an itinerant traveler to partake thereof.

Meanwhile, back at the tranche,  back to the the case of the macrocosm, the, as it were,  Big Bang, which was hypothesized as high-density matter being converted suddenly into kinetic energy, and subsequently expanding outward . . . (as John Lennon sang back in the day) across the universe . . .

and then, along the way, settling into a reverse of the mass-to-energy scenario, back into the energy-to-mass state of being, which brought forth . . . mass, stuff . . .

a Universe, duh . . .

I can only wonder, well, it is what it is, or . . . or it is what it has a become, as a result of all that instantaneous transformation, which has been transforming itself over 14.5 billion years to ravel as what we call “the Cosmos,” and everything therein.

14.5 billion years of unfolding Universe.


Francis Collins’, in his book the Language of God, described the beginning of the phenom, this way:

“For the first million years after the Big Bang, the universe expanded, the temperature dropped, and nuclei and atoms began to form. Matter began to coalesce into galaxies under the force of gravity. It acquired rotational motion as it did so,  ultimately resulting in the spiral shape of galaxies such as our own. Within those galaxies local collections of hydrogen and helium were drawn together, and their density and temperature rose. Ultimately nuclear fusion commenced.”

All of this posited data reverberates in my 21st-century brain, settling into my born-again spirit, and restates itself as an expanded statement of Moses’ ancient, pre-science explanation:

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light; God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”

Makes sense to me. You?

Glass half-Full

Elemental shenanigans

August 20, 2018

At the Start, Hydrogen heaved ho.

Helium laughed. Lithium lay low while Beryllium became bemused.

But Boron bore the burden of all the work yet to be done.

Periodic Table

Then Carbon was conceived, and came forth in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, surrounded by angelic hosts of other elements, celebrated as the great center-point of history. He would go on to  bring myriads of other elements together in peace and productivity, but in latter days was criticized for attaching himself to everybody’s business.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, good ole Nitrogen nourished all the stuff that came later.

Oxygen got involved and opened a whole new way of life.

Fluorine flew flags of fluorescence for all to see.

Neon knew nothing but nonsense, but was neutral enough to practice non-intervention.

Sodium solved a lot of problems, and he’s all over the map with that

Magnesium managed to make itself useful.

Aluminum lightened everybody’s load.

Silicon solidified his/her position, early on in the sands of time, and then later went on to establish a ubiquitous presence in the science of small smart circuits.

Meanwhile Phosphorus flamed along, brightening the path for others.

Sulfur suffered through a lot.

Chlorine clung to just about everything, cleaning house along the way, but has been known to kill when too excited.

Argon atoms are gone until somebody proves their actual existence.

Potassium produces plenteously.

Calcium is known as a great  collector of a lot of stuff.

Scandium is scant. Titans use Titanium to tighten up their tridents.Vanadium is very strong, while Chromium captures all the attention. Manganese manages to make good use of itself.

Iron Age innovations initiated innumerable inventions.

Cobalt combines with others to combat corrosion.

Nickel has made itself a necessity.

Copper’s a good cop,  conducts a lot of traffic.

Amazing Zinc sets up rustless zones wherever it goes. Thank God.

And then there’s Gallium; it has the gall to call itself a metal, as if it were a major player along with iron and nickel and all those other big-time movers and shakers.

Germanium is a dope in silicon valley. Arsenic is also a real dope, but reputed to be a pathological killer when let out of his cell. He hides behind old lace.

Selenium periodically illuminates this end of the Table, while Bromine combines medicinally and then resigns.

Krypton is a rare super-phenom found only in old comics of the 1950’s.

Now here’s the line-up for the second Period:

Rubidium rules while Strontium drools— radioactivity, that is— 90 times a second, I think, and then renders all those other metalistic johnny-come-lately wannabees as metalla non grata.

 If we keep this mining expedition going long enough, we could  find  lucky ole  Silver hiding under the Table.

Along the way we’re bound to kick up that perennial  also-ran can—Tin— he comes to town and makes the rounds, but always  ends up  wasting away in a landfill, a real slacker if there ever was one.

And I mean, sure, there are some bright spots on the Periodic Table. There’s the star of the show, gold, hiding down there in the middle of the pack, and glinting in at a clandestine #79. Highly-prized all the time, but he’s oh-so-hard to find, unless you’ve got a really big credit line.

Every now and then you may catch sight of that tempereal Mercury, but its hard to pin him down.  He never stays in one place long enough to amount to anything. He’s got a really hot temper, but, I’m told, a cold personality.

Down there in the middle of the defensive line there’s the Lead heavyweight– not very fast, but good on the line– a good blocker for those fast Uranium backs.

 Uranium backs are the stars of the show, you know, forever racking up the big stats. But most of them are real hot shots, and if their temper gets worked up, you can’t get rid of ’em. The refs kick ’em out of the game, but they hang around for a long time like they own the place and make trouble for anybody who crosses their path. Don’t cross ’em. If they get really fired up they’ll go plutonium on ya and that’s all she wr

Glass Chimera

The Mysterious Door

June 24, 2018

The great physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, had a problem in 1867. It was a very old problem; many had tried to solve it before he came along. It wasn’t actually his problem to fix, but merely to figure it out; his objective was to try and determine who or what had already solved “the problem”. Because, you see, the matter had already been taken care of long, long ago.

Otherwise none of us would be here; nothing would be here.

The actual problem-solver who had worked it out was not thought to be credible at the time of Maxwell’s work. The problem-solver’s presumptuous  representatives had made such a mess of things.

Consequently, in the 1800’s, the scientific community placed little or no credence in what the so-called Church had to say about anything—especially presumably scientific matters like the origin and unfolding of the Universe.

19th-century scientists and other serious researchers like Darwin, Marx and many others were all in a tizzy about throwing the God idea out with the bath water. It was a leap of faith instead of a rational inference. They did have some legitimate arguments about the Church’s faith-based input, because the so-called Church had made such a mess of things while they were running the show back in the middle ages. Two especially bad screwed-ups the Church had done happened when they had, earlier, rejected the findings of Copernicus and Galileo.

But you betcha the mystery still lay unsolved when the science boys took over, long about 1800 or so. They were working on the mystery intently. And so Mr. Maxwell, diligent Scot that he was, took hold of the mantle in 1867, as many others were doing at the time, and he gave it a shot—solving the riddle.

The question of how all this happened.

This existence, this world we live in—how did it get here?

There was, you see, a piece missing in this great puzzle of existence.

In the chain of events that ostensibly took place when the universe was made, there was a missing link that no one had been able to figure out. So, James Clerk Maxwell tackled the question, striving to solve the riddle of the missing link.

Therefore Dr. Maxwell came up with what he called the “Demon.” My unschooled opinion says he could have chosen a better word. . . something like what Rene Descartes had termed it, the Prime Mover.

As Peter Hoffman gives an explanation of Maxwell’s work, the Scot posed this profound question:

“How can molecular machines extract work from the uniform-temperature environment of cells without violating the second law of thermodynamics?”

In other words, how can atoms and molecules organize themselves to become something more than what they already are—just a bunch of damn molecules kicking around like unemployed vagrants?

Or to put it yet another way: How could life have come out of dead particles?

And so, as Dr. Maxwell pondered the problem of the missing link in 1867, he came up with the idea of (what was later called Maxwell’s. . .) Demon.

Peter M. Hoffman explains it, in his 2012 book, Life’s Ratchet,       this way:

“Maxwell’s demon . . . was a a tiny hypothetical creature who controlled a little door separating two gas-filled chambers, which initially have the same average temperature. The job of the demon was to separate gas molecules into fast and slow molecules. . . Starting from a uniform-temperature system, the demon had created a temperature gradient—making one side cold and the other side hot. . . This temperature gradient could now be used to do work if a little turbine could be placed in the demon’s door.”

The analogy of a demon is not, of course, to be taken literally. James Maxwell was a brilliant physicist whose work paralleled Einstein’s. His use of the hypothetical creature is merely a literary device to communicate the function of an unidentified catalyst that makes something constructive happen in an environment in which (theoretically) nothing can happen.

Obviously something did happen, back in the days of universe origin, or we wouldn’t be here. Nothing would be here, if the problem had not been solved. Someone, demon or otherwise, must have worked it out.

Rene Descartes, a mathematician who lived in the 1600’s, had stumbled upon the same dilemma. He had posited the idea of a Prime Mover, which seemed pretty logical at the time.

Still does, if you ask me.

An original cause (as in cause in effect), that caused everything else to happen, big bang blah blah etc. and so forth and so on.

But what diligent mathematicians and scientists neglected to mention was that the problem had long ago been solved by a mysterious entity who had been so erroneously represented by the so-called Church: God.

Not a demon, but God. The demons were the created beings who tried to pull rank on the Creator, YWHeh.

Therefore, in order to now— in the 21st-century— give credit where credit is due . . .


I say it was a notable accomplishment what YWHeh did, when he solved the problem of the missing link, way back in time. And he said so.

He said it was good— in the first chapter of his bestseller, Genesis.

It was good when He separated light from darkness. Genesis 1:4:

“God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”

This “separation” function is no chance development. It needed to happen. It’s no coincidence that Maxwell’s demon and Creator YWHeh both are depicted as having “separated” something from something else. . .  The Separator’s accomplishment was functionally something like Maxwell’s presumed demon’s task of separating molecules into two different energy levels in order to create

“a temperature difference between the chambers without expending work, thus seemingly violating the second law.”

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is the law that YWHeh seems to have broken when he started the ball of the universe rolling. But it didn’t matter if he broke that “Law” because he set up the whole kitnkiboodle anyway, back in the Day. That 2nd Law of Thermodynamics was an idea that we came up to try and explain it all. It wasn’t something that YWHeh declared when he declared Let there be light and so forth and so on.

On Day 1 (whatever that means to you) the Prime Mover separated light from darkness, and the rest is history.

Not bad for a day’s work, YHWeh. Keep up the good work.

Glass Chimera