The Feasibility of Interstellar Propulsion

Recent revelations of NASA’s Eagleworks Em Drive caused a sensation on the internet as to why interstellar propulsion can or cannot be possible. The nay sayers pointed to shoddy engineering and impossible physics, and ayes pointed to the physics of the Alcubierre-type warp drives based on General Relativity.

So what is it? Are warp drives feasible? The answer is both yes and no. Allow me to explain.

The empirical evidence of the Michelson-Morley experiment of 1887, now known as the Lorentz-FitzGerald Transformations (LFT), proposed by FitzGerald in 1889, and Lorentz in 1892, show beyond a shadow of doubt that nothing can have a motion with a velocity greater than the velocity of light. In 1905 Einstein derived LFT from first principles as the basis for the Special Theory of Relativity (STR).

So if nothing can travel faster than light why does the Alcubierre-type warp drive matter? The late Prof. Morris Klein explained in his book, Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty, that mathematics has become so powerful that it can now be used to prove anything, and therefore, the loss of certainty in the value of these mathematical models. The antidote for this is to stay close to the empirical evidence.

My good friend Dr. Andrew Beckwith (Prof., Chongqing University, China) explains that there are axiomatic problems with the Alcubierre-type warp drive theory. Basically the implied axioms (or starting assumptions of the mathematics) requires a multiverse universe or multiple universes, but the mathematics is based on a single universe. Thus even though the mathematics appears to be sound its axioms are contradictory to this mathematics. As Dr. Beckwith states, “reducto ad absurdum”. For now, this unfortunately means that there is no such thing as a valid warp drive theory. LFT prevents this.

For a discussion of other problems in —> Read More

Science Magazine Officially Retracts That Discredited Gay Marriage Study

Science magazine officially retracted a major study on same-sex marriage and public opinion on Thursday without the consent of the lead author, UCLA graduate student Michael J. LaCour.

The events leading to the retraction became public on May 19, when the article’s second author, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green, issued a request for the retraction based on evidence that the study data were at least in part falsified.

As The Huffington Post reported last week:

The LaCour-Green study had examined the work of activists with the Los Angeles LGBT Center. After California’s gay marriage ban passed in 2008, activists at the center had more than 12,000 one-on-one conversations in Los Angeles neighborhoods with people who overwhelmingly supported the ban. LaCour’s idea was to see if those conversations produced any lasting change. He purportedly designed a randomized experiment to replicate those conversations, with a series of follow-up surveys online to test how the anti-gay voters felt about gay rights and gay marriage over time. Those who were contacted by the openly gay canvassers showed substantially more positive attitudes toward gay marriage as much as nine months later.

But according to a report issued Tuesday [May 19] by two University of California, Berkeley, graduate students and a Yale professor, there are enough questions about the data to warrant retracting the study. Retraction Watch broke the story Wednesday [May 20] about what students David Broockman (soon to be an assistant professor at Stanford) and Joshua Kalla and Yale professor Peter Aronow found.

After the LaCour-Green study was published, Broockman and Kalla were impressed by its findings and wanted to extend the research. In January 2015, they found some patterns in the data that seemed to be too perfect — statistically speaking, there was —> Read More

Here’s More Proof That We Shouldn’t Stereotype Dogs By Breed

dog bites

If you’re hoping that restricting dogs by breed will lead to fewer dog bites, well, you’re barking up the wrong tree, according to the author of a study published last month in The Veterinary Journal.

Páraic Ó Súilleabháin — a doctoral candidate in psychology at National University of Ireland, Galway, who focuses on human/canine interactions — looked at government-collected hospitalization records to see if dog bites had gone up or down since Ireland imposed breed-based dog regulations in 1998.

What Ó Súilleabháin found might come as a surprise to those who still believe breed specific legislation, or BSL, leads to safer communities: Hospitalizations due to dog bites have gone up since Ireland’s Control of Dogs regulations went into effect.

Under this legislation, 11 types of dogs — like Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, Rottweilers and Dobermans, plus related mutts — must be muzzled and on a short leash in public, and walked by someone over the age of 16.

The law was intended to reduce the number of dog bites. It hasn’t worked, Ó Súilleabháin tells The Huffington Post — and may even be contributing to the increase in bites, by encouraging the misperception that keeping some dog breeds muzzled is the beginning and the end of dog bite prevention.

“Bites have been continuously rising since its introduction in Ireland,” Ó Súilleabháin said. “In reality, BSL could very well be adding to the likelihood of people being hospitalized.”

Here’s a visualization of the number of dog bites per 100,000 people since Ireland’s BSL went into effect, according to Ó Súilleabháin’s findings. The Irish Times published two other tables of the results, showing both increases in the per capita number of dog bites and the number of dog —> Read More

FINALLY: Science Figured Out Where The Holes In Swiss Cheese Have All Gone

New research is poking holes in old thinking about Swiss cheese. Namely: Where do cheese holes come from, and where have they all gone?

Those questions have plagued Swiss cheese producers who, in the last 15 years, have seen the signature holes in their product decrease for no apparent reason. Thanks to Agroscope, a government-funded Swiss agriculture institute, we now know it all comes down to hay.

In a report released Thursday, Agroscope and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology revealed microscopic hay particles are believed to be responsible for the creation of holes in cheeses such as Emmental and Appenzell.

Cleanliness has increased in cheese-making facilities in the last 15 years, virtually eliminating the possibility for outside particles to enter the milk before it’s converted into cheese and stored. That, in turn, has prevented Swiss cheese from developing its characteristic holes.

Agroscope spokesman Regis Nyffeler told The Telegraph the primary difference in cheese manufacturing methods has been “the disappearance of the traditional bucket” used during milking. Before, small amounts of hay would have entered the bucket; now, sealed milking machines send the milk straight to a filter.

Agroscope arrived at their newest hay-pothesis after taking multiple CT scans of cheese as it developed over a 130-day period, reports the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. The research overturns a prior theory, held since at least 1917, that concluded the holes were created by bacteria that produced carbon dioxide bubbles.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

—> Read More

How To Cook Perfect, Fluffy Rice Every Single Time

rice cooking

Rice is trouble.

Yes, it’s delicious, and rice cookers are an appliance bestowed upon the home cook by the food gods. But it’s far too easy to end up with grains that are globby, mushy and sticky (not in a good way).

The fine folks over at America’s Test Kitchen have some wizardry for wannabe rice masters, and it’s all about the ratios.

Conventional rice packaging lists different amounts of water based on the type of rice being cooked: 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water for short grain white rice; 1.5 cups of water for long grain or medium grain white rice; and a massive 2 cups of liquid per cup of brown rice.

ATK tested 17 different types of rice under controlled circumstances — they put each variety in a sealed bag with one cup of water — and found that every single type cooked perfectly with a 1-to-1 ratio of rice to liquid.

So what’s the deal with the packaging instructions?

It actually comes down to the vessel used to cook the starch. Different pots with different lids under different heats can cause the water in the pot to evaporate at varying speeds. The rice only needs to absorb one cup of water, but the additional liquid is boiled off, which is why longer-cooking types like brown need more water. If you use too much water, the grains can become mushy, and too little water can re-harden the rice, causing it to stick to the bottom of the pan.

But there’s a catch to the perfect 1-to-1 ratio: You need to test out your own ratio based on your heat source and intensity, as well as vessel size and shape. The test kitchen used 2.25 cups of water for 1.5 cups of white —> Read More

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