No Illusions Podcast #47 – I Can Haz Higgs Boson?

My first podcast in several months is a bit of a rant and a bit of science – a basic primer to help you understand yesterday’s announcement of the discovery at CERN of a “Higgs-like particle” and a rant on why it’s important that we all try to understand the basics of physics and the hard sciences. I’m so sick of the MSM dumbing down announcements like this and I was hugely disappointed last night to see even the host of the 7:30 Report asking dumb questions. The internet is supposed to make us SMARTER, not DUMBER, people.

How Old Am I?

Convention says that today is my 41st birthday.

It depends on how you look at it though.

Which part of “what-I-am” is really 41 years old?

My body?

My body is made of cells which are constantly replaced. Between 50 and 70 billion cells die each day due to apoptosis in the average human adult. The whole body is comprised of totally new cells from 7 years ago. So my body isn’t 41 years old.

And by the way, most of the cells in this body aren’t even human.

According to researchers at the 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston, the number of bacteria living within the body of the average healthy adult human are estimated to outnumber human cells 10 to 1. You might think “I am my body” but when only 10% of the cells in the body are actually even human cells…. what does that mean for your identity?

The cells themselves are made of atoms which themselves come and go from my body very rapidly. In fact, studies have shown that 98 percent of the atoms in the body are replaced every year.

The human body is roughly made up of:

• 63% hydrogen;

• 24% oxygen;

• 12% carbon.

How old are these atoms?

Most of the hydrogen in the universe was created between 3 minutes and 20 minutes after the Big Bang, which makes it about 13.7 billion years old.

The oxygen and carbon are around 4.6 or 4.7 billion years old, being the remnants of one or more supernovae that occurred just before our Sun itself formed.

So… how old am I?

If I date my age from when my body was made, I’m about a year old.

But if I date myself from when my components were themselves made, then the atoms that make up my body are somewhere between 4.6 and 13.7 billion years old. Let’s take an average of 9 billion years.

All of a sudden, 41 doesn’t sound that old.

I could argue that I’m the age of my DNA. I was formed about 41 years and 9 months ago. The pattern of my DNA has been passed on from cell to cell for 41 years and 9 months, providing a recipe for creating this particular body. So my “pattern” is 41 years and 9 months old.

But we also need to think about our concept of “time” itself.

We tend to think of time as something that flows or unfolds, moment by moment. It seems to us that the future hasn’t happened yet and that the past is long gone.

Physics, however, tells us something completely different.

Einstein was the first to realise that time and space are actually the same construct – therefore we now refer to it as “spacetime”.  Time is really just another dimension that we add to the three dimensions of space. Spacetime therefore has four dimensions: height, width, length – and time. Essentially Einstein demonstrated (and subsequent experiments have extensively confirmed) that time exists as a dimension of space. As Einstein once wrote to the wife of a recently departed friend, “For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.”

Just as all of space exists “now”, all of time also exists “now”. How we experience time is merely a matter of our relative perspective (or “relativity”, as Einstein pointed out).

Here’s how theoretical physicist Brian Greene explains it in his excellent book “The Fabric Of The Cosmos“:

In this way of thinking, events, regardless of when they happen from any particular perspective, just are. They all exist. They eternally occupy their particular point in spacetime. There is no flow. If you were having a great time at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1999, you still are, since that is just one immutable location in spacetime. It is tough to accept this description, since our worldview so forcefully distinguishes between past, present, and future. But if we stare intently at this familiar temporal scheme and confront it with the cold hard facts of modern physics, its only place of refuge seems to lie within the human mind.

So let’s summarise.

The cells in my body come and go constantly, totally replaced every seven years.

So too the atoms in my body. And the ones in my body right now are an average of 9 billion years old.

But time doesn’t really exist. All of time exists NOW. Our “path” through time is simply a persistent illusion.

My DNA is about 41 years and 9 months old, but it’s just a pattern, a recipe.

So how old am I?

It’s Official: The World’s Finances Are In The Hands Of The Few

I wonder how closely the names on this report map to the Bilderberg Group?

A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world’s finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. This is the first clear picture of the global concentration of financial power, and point out the worldwide financial system’s vulnerability as it stood on the brink of the current economic crisis.

A pair of physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did a physics-based analysis of the world economy as it looked in early 2007. Stefano Battiston and James Glattfelder extracted the information from the tangled yarn that links 24,877 stocks and 106,141 shareholding entities in 48 countries, revealing what they called the “backbone” of each country’s financial market. These backbones represented the owners of 80 percent of a country’s market capital, yet consisted of remarkably few shareholders.

The most pared-down backbones exist in Anglo-Saxon countries, including the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. Paradoxically; these same countries are considered by economists to have the most widely-held stocks in the world, with ownership of companies tending to be spread out among many investors. But while each American company may link to many owners, Glattfelder and Battiston’s analysis found that the owners varied little from stock to stock, meaning that comparatively few hands are holding the reins of the entire market.

via Research – ISNS.

Perfect Timing and Inches

I’ve been thinking tonight…. that it’s all about INCHES.

Okay… so I stole that line off of Al Pacino and Oliver Stone, but it’s been in my head tonight, so I’m claiming it.

Life is a lot about timing.

When you meet someone special, if it’s a month too soon, or a month too late, it doesn’t work out.

If you start a business, and you’re a year too soon or a year too late, it can make all the difference.

I don’t know how you know when the timing is right. Maybe people smarter than me know. Or maybe we don’t ever know. Maybe it’s just chance, or the holographic universe frakking with us. Maybe things are either meant to be or not. Maybe it’s all a cosmic joke.

All I know is that timing is a magic ingredient that either makes it work… or not.

I’ve been very lucky in my life. I’ve had good and bad timing with a few things. I started working at an ISP in 1996. That was good timing. I started working at Microsoft in 1998. That was bad timing – the share price that had climbed for 12 years climbed for another two years – then plummeted. I started podcasting in Nov 2004 – that was good timing, too. Maybe sooner than the market was ready for it, but early enough to get an opportunity to study the market from the outset and build a bit of a brand in an industry from the ground floor.

“In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s going to win that inch.”

In my personal life, too, I’ve had good and bad timing. I’ve met people exactly when I needed to and I’ve met people when it was too soon or too late, either in my life or theirs. You can’t predict that. And you can’t do much about it when it happens. It’s just timing.

In retrospect though, perhaps when I thought the timing was bad, it was actually right. The person/business/job that I thought would have been perfect for me, actually wouldn’t have been.

I know people will say “you make your own luck” but that’s VERY unscientific. It might sell self-help seminars, but it doesn’t stand up to examination. There is no free will. There is only physics. Or the hologram making it LOOK like there is physics. Either way, we ain’t in control.

Perhaps it’s like poker. Sometimes you get the right cards in the right hand and if you know what to do with them, it works out profitably. But if you get the right cards in the wrong hand… well, you can lose your wallet.

I don’t know. Too deep for this time of night. I just thought I had to get it out there. Timing. Inches.

G’Day World #358 – Greydon Square is back!

greydon square cpt theorem

Rapper Greydon Square joins me again on the show to talk about his new album The CPT Theorem.

If you haven’t heard of 27 year-old Greydon before (or heard my first interview with him), his story is interesting: he grew up (as Eddie Collins) in a Group Home in Compton, California, got involved with a gang at a young age, was busted for a crime, and given the choice of prison or joining the US Army. He chose the latter and ended up in the US Army in 2001 and Iraq in 2004. During this time he was a committed Christian who studied the Bible. The more he studied the Bible the more questions he had about his religion which lead to his becoming an atheist, with many of the lyrics of his rap songs focus on atheism and the skeptic inquiry. He also is completing a physics major. His fans include Richard Dawkins, Penn Jillette… and yours truly.

This time, instead of focusing on his atheism, I wanted to talk to Greydon about how he writes his music. He’s a one man band – producer, composer, lyricist, performer, businessman. And, as you’ll here on the tracks I’ve laid into the interview, his shit is excellent.

You can buy his albums through iTunes or from the link on his MySpace.