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Archive for the ‘physics’ Category

Physics and Chai Tea

I was reading my own Facebook profile last night, and laughed when I saw my list of activities and interests.  Like this blog, it’s a bit eclectic.  I like etymology and prayer, baking and ecclesiology, physics and family.

 

Just now, mixing myself a cup of Vanilla Chai, I was thinking of reviewing the drink.  (Because I know all my readers would try and like something just because I said it was good.)  Since a friend introduced me to chai, I have tried various mixes.  King Soopers brand was the best for a while, but only comes in very small containers.  Other brand powders tended to have a grainy taste or that bitter mixture settling to the bottom that wouldn’t dissolve.  I can brew and mix my own from a tea bag, and then add first honey and then milk (and sometimes vanilla or mint extracts).  That tends to taste bitter.  But I feel very cozy and British making hot tea.  Oregon Chai makes single-serving packets, which are convenient but expensive.  There is the concentrate, to which you add milk.  The concentrate must be refrigerated after opening.  It’s basically just a lot of work.  Costco sells a big can of chai mix, which doesn’t taste all that great.  (I suppose I should mention that I like my chai a little weak, and usually reduce the mix to water ratio.)  Most recently I found a 32 ounce can, produced by Caffe D’Amore, of Vanilla Chai.  It has no hydrogenated oils, though it is not all natural.

 

I have purchased Chai lattes from several stores, including Starbucks, Caribou, some little tea shop in the Cherry Creek Shopping District, a shop run by Somalis near my work, and Panera.  Of those, I prefer the independent tea shop and Starbucks – though their prices are pretty outrageous!

 

I like the strong, spicy flavor of a good Chai.  The cinnamon and cloves and ginger and other spices keep me warm hours after I have enjoyed the last sip.  With milk in it, a Chai latte makes a satisfying snack or morning kick.  It pairs well with cookies or sandwiches or a lot of fruits.  My favorite is the gentling silkiness of vanilla mixed in.  There are all kinds of Chai, including vanilla and mint and mango and chocolate.  The first two, and plain Chai, are my favorites.

 

When I put the mix in my mug today, I poured the hot water over it and watched before stirring.  The water took over the clumps of floating powder in a way that made it look like a volcano.  As the grains of mix soaked and dissolved, those from underneath floated up and then they got soaked, causing this rolling surfacing that was fascinating to watch.

 

That’s physics.  Physics is way more than number-crunching or astronomical calculations.  You don’t have to study physics to appreciate it.  To me so much of my love of physics is awe at how things work.  That they work.  How beautiful they are while they’re working.  Look at clouds.  And ripples of water.  How trees bend in the wind.  The way powder dissolves into hot water.  Falling things.  Pushing things.  Flight.  Floating.  Sinking.  Magnets.  Aren’t they marvelous?

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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This is an exercising post. I want you to stand up and try the following:
Look at your clock.
Jump. You probably moved up and down.
Slide left. Slide back to the right.
Slide forward. Slide backward.
Stand still.
Step left. Step right. You probably moved both up-and-down and left, up-and-down and right.
Look at the clock. How much time has passed?

Refer back to your exercises to help you answer the following questions.
Can you move in one dimension?
Can you move in two dimensions?
Can you move in three dimensions?
Can you do any of those without moving through time?

In science today, there are four accepted dimensions. We tend to call these space-time. There are three spatial dimensions (sideways, forward, vertical), and one dimension for time. These four dimensions are connected, sometimes in mysterious ways allowing for the concepts of wormholes and time travel. More practically, these connections are used in Einstein’s famous Special Theory of Relativity and General Theory of Relativity, which are applied all over physics today with some very helpful results.

I don’t know if this is Einstein’s own illustration, or some textbook writer’s, but the principle belongs to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity: Time is relative. This is proven, supposedly, by the fact that if you were to throw a clock at the speed of light (something no one has done), the hands would shorten, and thus they would travel the dial at a different speed. Since we use a clock to measure time, obviously time is relative to the speed at which one is traveling. That is what a physics book once taught me. What nonsense! The measurement of time does not equal time. Time is not contained in the length of the hands on a clock; it is described by them. So while I’m not arguing necessarily that time is not relative, I am saying that the reasons we think it is are less than persuasive.

In the very least, we ought not classify time in the exact category as the spatial dimensions, because, as shown, we can move in any one of those dimensions without moving in another one. We can also move in two or even three of those dimensions, but the choice is ours. Human experience has not produced a circumstance in which anything has moved in a spatial dimension without moving in time. In fact, we cannot even fail to move spatially and keep ourselves still in the “dimension” of time. Hypothetically we could stand still in time, moving outside of time or existing without time. But there is no observational evidence of this phenomenon.

So I remain a little skeptical of the description of our universe as four-dimensional (let alone boasting more dimensions, as some theoretical physicists like to suggest). How tied is our matter and energy reality to time? What is time? Is it linear? Does perception define time? What is the meaning of action, thought, or existence outside of time? Can time really accelerate? Can it change direction? Some physicists are suggesting, based on observations, that space is actually stretching. Can time stretch?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Lately I’ve been in a state of mind that can soak up information, and comes up with really good questions – well I think they’re interesting, leading me to more and more questions (and occasionally to comprehension).  One field that’s been appealing this week is physics.  I’m reading a book, Reinventing Gravity, that has me thinking about the basics of physics – and marvelling at how much of our universe we humans don’t understand. 
 
So I would be ok with exhaustive comments answering the following questions, or referrals to books or websites that could help me understand these things.  I took physics in high school, no problem, and have given a great deal of skeptical thought to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.  This is because I’m fairly convinced the speed of light is not constant.  So if you mention the speed of light in your answer, I’ll probably enjoy it more.  I understand that I’m missing a few levels of knowledge between high school physics and the edges of theoretical physics I’m trying to reach.  Give me your best shot. 
 
You can also use the comment section to add your own questions.  The compilation of questions is great food for thought and theory. 
 
Some physics questions:
Are forces energy? 
What is light? 
     Does it have a constant velocity? 
     Is its speed constant? 
     If the velocity of light is not constant, what force acts on it? 
          What is the equal and opposite reaction? (Whence is the energy subtracted?)
 
What is electricity? 
What is magnetism?
 
What is heat? 
     Is it motion in and of molecules,
     or that which causes motion in and of molecules,
     or the output of motion in and of molecules?
 
What is gravity? 
How is gravity related to attraction and acceleration (gravitational mass and inertial mass)?     
     What is the significance of the relationship? 
     Does the resistance or escape of an object from gravity take any energy away from the gravity-exerting objects? 
     Does gravity curve space, or is it the effect of curved space? 
 
If gravity is the effect of curved space, what makes space curved? 
     Matter and energy? 
     Is anything else (such as time) curved by these things as well? 
     If spacetime can be curved, what else can be done to it? 
 
Can spacetime be stretched? 
     If spacetime can be stretched, what stretches it? 
     Are opposing forces of gravity like Curling brooms, creating a smooth path for matter and energy? 
 
 
How do permittivity and permeability relate energy, electricity, gravity, and matter? 
     What does density have to do with them? 
     What force causes nature to abhor a vacuum?  
 
 
(To quote The Little Mermaid), What is fire and how does it burn? 
     Must fire produce light? 
     Can light be produced without fire/burning? 
     Must fire produce heat? 
     Are there other ways to convert matter to energy? 
 
Oh my goodness, does time have to come into this? 
     How is time related to the measurement of time? 
          Must there be a direct correlation?
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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One of my good friends smiled when I told her I was reading a book about aliens.  “You read such varied subjects,” she laughed.  And I do, but I definitely see them as connected.  In the same way that there are so many points in which I am disappointed with traditional (as opposed to biblical) church because they are all connected to a basic definitional idea of church, these varied subjects (Iceland, aliens, church, relationships, history, biography, philosophy) are part of a worldview.  You may call it the homeschool culture.  Or maybe it is the Christian bookstore (I doubt it).  A lot of my connections come from being a Creationist.  I’m a fan of logic and words (logos), two indivisible concepts.  The history of God, the world, science, cultures, languages, laws, and on and on all fascinate me. 

 

In this case I can trace my reasons for reading this book (Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates) to several things.  First of all, when I was in grade school my dad got Chuck Missler’s newsletter from Koinonia House.  These newsletters promoted edgy concepts of apologetics and Bible interpretation/prophecy such as the Bible code, Edenics, a variable light speed (he’s big of physics, and smart enough to handle it), and aliens.  Chuck Missler has tapes on the Martian Monuments, the Nephilim, and the alien phenomenon in general.  Though I haven’t read or heard much from him on the subject, the impression I get is that Alien Intrusion is in majority agreement with Missler’s position. 

 

Secondly, who is not fascinated by accounts of alien encounters and UFOs?  I’ve seen the TV specials, watched Star Wars and Star Trek.  I read CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy in which he invents a population on Mars and another on Venus in order to delve into the idea of free will.  Stars and astronomy and theoretical physics all hold that appeal for me, too.  And I cheer for the underdog.  All these ordinary people have experiences that the official authorities deny or deride.  HOWEVER, whenever I watch a TV special about aliens or read an account purported to be true, I get the chills.  I am assaulted by fear and nightmares, and a sense of spiritual attack – doubt. 

 

Answers in Genesis advertised Alien Intrusion on its website, a Creationist, Christian investigation into the phenomenon.  I knew what to expect from the book just from things I’d heard suggested as explanations for the alien phenomenon in Christian circles.  Intrigued to get one well-researched, relatively safe treatment of the subject, when I saw the book at our Christian bookstore several years ago, I picked it up.  The cover is a pretty, typically alien teal with the curvy shapes and stark glaring brightness contrasted with shadow (covers – I’ll admit – are big sellers to me).  And initially I took some casual Sunday afternoon time (commercials during a Bronco game) to flip through the contents.  What I read so disturbed me that I once again got chills and fear, and had to set the book aside. 

 

In the intervening years, I have picked the book up a few more times, re-read the back cover, and scanned the contents page.  Finally this month I had the guts to sit down and start reading Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection from the beginning.  Some friends were discussing aliens and Nephilim; Dad and I attended a Steeling the Mind Conference at which the book was being sold again.  And my walk with God is in a good spot, well-supported by regular Bible study (alone and with groups) and frequent prayer.  I would not recommend that a Christian read this book outside of such precautions. 

 

The content of this book is definitely for mature audiences as well, since it describes (with proper restraint, but also with enough detail to establish patterns in sightings and encounters) disturbing physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual occurrences. 

 

There are several benefits of reading the book straight through.  The first is perspective.  Gary Bates starts slow and gradually builds, almost imperceptibly delivering the clues that led him to his conclusions.  Another advantage is the tone.  Rather than moving from intense moment to new revelation to intense moment, the book breaks up the information with summaries, inserts about sci-fi books and movies, and gradually more Bible verses.  A final plus from reading the text is that the book is an apologetic for more than just an explanation of UFOs.  Through descriptions from witnesses, historical comparison/research, and logic, the book defends belief in the supernatural, absolute truth, creation versus evolution; and the Bible as the reliable and honest account of history, supernatural beings and intentions, and even the future. 

 

Alien Intrusion isn’t some wild call to a UFO cult or to buy gear from Roswell.  It isn’t a conspiracy theory pamphlet (at 340 pages with so many footnotes, that would be a stretch of a definition anyway).  Nor is Mr. Bates an indiscriminate believer in every UFO and alien claim made by anyone all over the world.  He is interested in evidence, in logic, in corroborating witnesses – and he is out to find the truth. 

 

One of the most interesting discoveries uncovered by this book (not that the author made the discovery, but he is surely one of the biggest providers of the information to the public) is in the field of alien abductions.  The abduction responds to an abductee claiming Jesus’ name.  In fact, researchers have collected descriptions of interrupted abductions, all of which ended when Jesus was spoken.  Some abductees who experienced this said that the presence abducting them seemed pained by the name, and the abduction did not resume.  Several claimed to be Christians, while others came upon the name by chance. 

 

Abductions and alien encounters are universally acknowledged to be much more frequent among those who have at any point in their lives dabbled in the occult: in New Age, in psychics, witchcraft, or even Satanism.  The after-effects of an encounter are typically deeper and more devoted involvement in New Age beliefs and practices.  Even the crop circles hoaxes were, when infused by willing visitors, sites of unusual paranormal feelings, sightings, and events. 

 

This book considers the possibility and probabilities of aliens and UFOs having an extraterrestrial “natural”/evolutionary origin.  Are they really space-creatures who journeyed from other planets to meet us?  The frequency of sightings, the distances from which they must come and resultant time involved, along with the lack of any evidence of these beings communicating with us through radio waves or other indirect methods – or even signs of entrance into our atmosphere, make such an explanation virtually impossible.  The UFOs and beings act in a way more consistent with an inter-dimensional being (yes, in the scientific, physics sense).  They appear and disappear, change shape, and move at velocities that defy the laws of motion. 

 

Are the aliens good?  Are they our space brothers sent to help us reach the next stage of our evolution?  No, they are known liars (until we discovered there was no life on the moon, they said they were from the moon, the Mars, then Venus, then every other planet in our galaxy until they said they were from the Pleiades and Sirius and far away stars systems; their foretelling of future events has also proven false) whose impact on lives is in the negative.  They create pain, confusion, withdrawal from friends and family, and fear in their contactees.  Certainly some people become willing to endure these encounters, and enjoy the profit and attention generated by their experiences.  Many people have ended up harming themselves and others, submitting themselves to abuse or even death, as a result of encounters with these beings. 

 

Are aliens new?  No.  The history of the world is filled with accounts that, names and stories apart, tell of the same phenomenon of supernatural visitors with the same message, the same techniques, and the same affects as aliens today.  These include elves, fairies, pagan gods and goddesses, and even demons.  The world’s most reliable history book and document on spiritual realities, the Bible, also describes these phenomenon, giving the origin of these beings and their purpose.  According to the Bible, men have worshiped these beings in conjunction with the starry hosts, sorcery, channeling, and witchcraft throughout history.  These beings consistently reject a literal understanding of an authoritative and infallible Bible, though willing to plagiarize the Bible and to claim to be characters from it. 

 

The Bible also warns against interaction with these beings, predicting the harmful results to individuals who do.  It warns against behavior and worship often connected with these encounters, the same behavior on which the New Age philosophy is built.  Historically, every extra-biblical religion has incorporated some or all of these things, and many religions and cults have founding stories similar to abduction or channeling accounts (including Islam, Mormonism, New Age, and Scientology). 

 

Why now?  Why in this century is there a massive increase in the number of sightings?  The Bible describes a time of deception and world unity under this deception.  Given other biblical prophecies compared to the times in which we live, many Christians would agree that end times events are advancing towards the climax of the spiritual battle being waged for millennia over the souls of men.  Another reason for the flood of alien sightings and paranormal encounters is the cultural openness created by people and by the church.  The world has embraced relativism.  It has reacted against two world wars and nuclear weaponry.  Men and women have embraced lewd sexuality like never before in this country.  Evolution is the common theory of origins (universally taught by any alien visitor or proponent).  And the Church, those who have been saved by Jesus’ blood shed as he substituted Himself to take our punishment for rebellion against God, has been silent and wishy-washy on truth.  We have compromised the Bible, leaving truth up for grabs or a popularity contest.  A world desperately seeking answers, craving authority, and coping with the inherent longing for purpose and connection with their loving Creator God has been left in the dark because the Church will not be salt and light. 

 

Get informed.  Accept the biblical description of a supernatural (spiritual) reality.  Proclaim the truth.  Live by it. 

 

For my part, this book challenged me in my willingness to believe in a supernatural world.  It’s all safe and comfortable to believe in a supernatural God if He doesn’t do anything supernatural.  If He just sort of works circumstances out for the best, I’m ok with that.  But what about miracles?  What about angels and demons?  What about supernatural judgment?  Reminded of the spiritual war being waged, and of the power of the beings deceiving men who have no accepted the truth (found in the Bible, enabled by an “encounter” with Jesus that is utterly unlike the alien encounters), I am challenged toward compassion on the foolish people I see wandering my world.  How can they believe abortion is ok?  How can they give themselves over to extramarital sex?  How can they not see that an economy built on debt is destructive?  Why are cults and false religions so popular?  The answer is that they are deceived.  A battle is being fought in the “inter-dimensional” realm of the angels and demons.  To these people, their senses are out of their control.  Reality really does feel like it is relative or changeable or insignificant. 

 

Like all of the Masterbooks I have read, Alien Intrusion includes a strong defense of biblical inerrancy and a frequent, well-explained and relevant description of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I’m not a physicist. For years I’ve tried really hard to understand all this, but I admit I have found my mind going in circles (G.K. Chesterton says that is a sign of insanity). This is the problem when your IQ is only “gifted” and not “genious.” My contribution to this subject, then, is only to stimulate thought.

You have very likely heard of Einstein’s equation: E=m(c squared) Meaning that energy in the universe equals the product of matter and the speed of light times the speed of light. The speed of light is usually assumed to be constant.

There is some doubt as to whether c (the speed of light) has been the same throughout recorded history. What consequences does this have?

You have very likely heard of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that in a closed system, entropy increases: energy becomes less usable as it is used. A heat-containing system is winding down. This law was discovered by observing our little universe. Why then do some physicists insist that the universe, far from being a closed system, is infinite?

Compared to the geologic clock, the atomic clock is slowing down. (I think this has to do with the electromagnetic force that holds atoms together.) Everything on the atomic level is very small, so the difference is not very relevant presently. What does it mean, though, that an atomic clock is slowing? Then again, if Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is true, then we can only ever say something is faster or slower compared to something else. Compared to a clock not changing at all, the geologic clock may be speeding up and the atomic clock the same, or faster but not as fast. Both may be slowing, only with the geologic clock slowing more rapidly (doesn’t that sound paradoxical?). The only thing we can know for certain is that the two clocks don’t match, and in what relation they are different.

What is the source of the energy (E in the famous equation?) What is the source of the matter (m in the equation)? Who created the light (velocity of light is c in the equation)? See Genesis 1:2 (esp. the Hebrew word for moved: rachaph), Genesis 1:1, and Genesis 1:3. How are these maintained? Colossians 1:16-17

In algebra, if there is an equals sign, and on one side of the equals sign something is happening, it must be happening to the other side. You can multiply both sides by three, or by one half – and the equation is still true. If an equation is a law, like E=mcc, and there is a change in the value one of the letters represents, it affects the other side of the equation. In this case, if c is slowing down, then at least one of the other terms is changing, and possibly both.

The First Law of Thermodynamics indicates that the sum of matter and energy in the universe is constant. Is that true? God is not creating more matter or energy (which are, if you consider the atomic level, very closely related), but is some of it decaying? If light is slowing down, then I propose there is less energy. This loss of energy is reflected in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which turns out to simply be a symptom of a deeper principle.

What can be our conclusions? So much has been done with Einstein’s equation, that I leave it to your imagination to consider the consequences on a theoretical application level. If you wish for a few of the applications in physics, I refer you to Barry Setterfield, a biblical physicist who has models of these things, and whose understanding of history and science will blow your socks off. Philosophically, however, a universe that is fundamentally winding down must also be two things, based on our observations: 1) It will have an end, and so had a beginning. 2) It is finite.

Obviously Christians knew from the Bible, and most would agree it is common sense, that the universe had a beginning. It was created by God. Revelation tells us how the universe will end, and how it will be replaced. I ask you: why would God create a world that had no limits? What was His purpose in creating the world? What are the implications of a limited world? How do naturalists deal with this concept?

My brothers and sisters tell me they get headaches when they think of a finite universe. If it has an edge, what is beyond the edge? We are so trapped in space. Eternity gets them likewise. If God is outside of time… usually they can’t even figure out how to ask that question.

1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

To God be all glory.

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