warraba Issue Number 2
MY MUSINGS. 1
Self-evident Things. 1
Big Bang. 2
CURRENT AFFAIRS. 4
Climate Change. 4
THIS BLOG IS EVOLVING.. 5
NOTES on RECENT READING.. 5
I will use this section to work my way through thoughts that have developed from my reading over recent years and which I hope may find an audience somewhere of folk who find some attraction to the ideas. If it seems arcane information please be patient as the path I follow will lead to considerations that should affect you more personally.
My first step is to spell out some of the thoughts I mentioned in the last post, and I quote:
“I start from the point that is available to each of us at any time. We may each stop at any moment and consider what there is that we actually know in an unequivocal fashion. I suggest that each of us is fully aware that:
• I am unique – I am not anyone else
• I am constant – I was present to myself yesterday and I will still be present to me tomorrow
• My thoughts are private – While I keep my trap shut
• I am “here” – I am not anywhere else
• “Here” is part of a wider place – Space
• Where I am, changes – Time is a measure of that change
• I am present in both space and time or, more correctly, space/time”.
This approach developed for me when I first started on my scholarly approach to a study of evolution which arose from the question “How did we get here?”
I wanted to picture how a mature human awakening from amnesia or from a Rip van Winkle sleep and having all cognitive abilities operating but being free of all cultural influences would make of what she found. This seemed too hard to picture so I tried to picture an alien arriving here and asking the same questions. I then thought of the likelihood that many 18 year-olds do “wake up” and find themselves in this foreign place and ask all those questions. These both seemed to be too artificial so instead I tried to spell out what I was doing in my own head. This 83 year old is asking those questions and has to identify all the cultural elements and, examine and assess them and then filter out the dross.
At first my questions were “Why” questions as we all seem to look for signs of why we are here. Many of the cultural answers offer myths that are intended to explain why we are here.
A supernatural being put us here and gave us responsibilities according to the great Western faiths and many others. Some explanations place ancestors, who can help or hinder and need to be placated, at a peak of society. Some Eastern explanations seem to be free of a supernatural source and aim at teaching how to behave.
These days there are people, mostly younger than I, who grew up in a culture free of concepts of any sort of supernatural being, but it seems that even they have a need to pause and re-examine that culture to see if their adult mind can accept all that the culture fed them. Having grown up in a particular culture means that the tenets of that culture were given to us and have become part of what we are and how we behave.
Whatever the cultural effects, either baggage or benefits, we may carry, it should be beneficial to give consideration to their relevance to our understanding of what our life is all about and what our behaviour should be. How independent can we be? How should we treat others, both those near and far?
I will try to concentrate my first examinations of my (for each one of us) questions into looking at –
How did everything get here?
First we need to look at the Cosmos
I have read on my Kindle, “Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe” by Simon Singh. This will be my reference book. The author gives the history of the study of the Cosmos from the theories of the ancient Greeks up to the current Standard Model. The historical trail led through theoretical consideration through the evidence uncovered by the well known expertise of Copernicus, which includes I am interested in the tracking back (is it reverse engineering?) from the evidence for the increasingly rapidly expanding universe, via the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) leading to the theory that there was variation – quantum fluctuation – from the beginning of the universe and that variation is intrinsic to everything that followed. Then variation led to opportunity for change (variation) in things that replicate and those changes could survive of fail in competition with other things.
The nature of sub-atomic particles is such that, in the beginning, at the Big Bang, there were only these particles which were then subjected to enormous heat and were forced into a configuration that resulted in atoms, the first of which were hydrogen atoms. As the universe of sub-atomic particles and hydrogen atoms expanded there was a conflict between the force of gravity and the expanding forces resulting from the Big Bang.
It is conceivable that some balance between the pull of gravity and the expanding force could have led to a perfectly balanced relationship with the universe being a uniform mass of particles or matter spread equally throughout space/time. This is obviously not the case so it seems that there were early variations that allowed some particles to be attracted to others by gravity leading to the formation of galaxies held in place by gravity while separated from one another by the force of expansion.
Some of the physics behind the standard model of particle physics and of gravitation is available at entry level on Wikipedia. The Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. The standard model does not completely account for gravity but the basic forces or attractions in the universe are gravity, electro-magnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear forces or attractions.
So ,,,,,,? What is the significance of this for a person ruminating about “How did everything get here?”
Following the Big Bang the particles expanded away from one another at great speeds, cooled down and because of the built-in variation some became misaligned and grouped together forming bigger particles which then became attracted to one another eventually forming other atoms, gases, galaxies, stars, and planets including our home planet. It was, and is, in the stars that the heavier atoms which are so familiar to us on Earth – iron, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen etc. – are formed and distributed throughout the universe following explosion and disintegration of stars.
That is how our earth got here.
But we still need to know how non-living matter led to living things – beings – and then we need to know how humans got here.
I refer to these two things as the Other Bangs, the occurrence of life and of consciousness. I will write more about them soon.
When we understand these processes we can possible appreciate the mysteries of imagination and creativity.
How did everything get here? Some understanding of the Big Bang will help my reader appreciate future articles that will look at processes of change in their various forms including erosion, entropy, evolution, emergence, complexity and human intervention.
Stay with me on the journey as we may eventually get to you, standing there wondering what it is all about.
Chasing up some information for a friend who is looking into climate science and, apart from ignoring the output of the IPCC as some sort of grand international conspiracy, he is fixated on “CO2 is not a potent greenhouse gas compared with water vapour”. This is clearly true on its own, but that is not the whole story so I looked up some information and found that historically, the proposal that increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, resulting from human activity would lead to an increase in the greenhouse effect and thus to global warming, was made way back in 1956. There are a couple of quotes from what appear to be significant sources:
Revelle, however, was getting personally interested in the gas. He had heard the lonely voices of G.S. Callendar and Gilbert Plass, who were arguing that if CO2 ever did accumulate in the atmosphere, it would have a strong greenhouse warming effect. Not long after Revelle took up the problem, he began to say publicly that it was possible there could be great and perhaps harmful effects as early as the end of the century.(18) Meanwhile he and Suess began to apply carbon-14 methods to the question of how the oceans take up CO2.
For well over 100 years it has been known that increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide will warm the planet. As the lowest layer of the atmosphere, called the troposphere (surface to ~7 miles), is warmed, the air becomes more humid because warmer air holds more water vapor. This “tropospheric water vapor feedback” approximately doubles the initial warming caused by carbon dioxide. The new study shows that in addition to the well-understood tropospheric water vapor feedback on climate change, there is also a significant amplifying feedback associated with water vapor in the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere that extends to ~30 miles above Earth‘s surface. This “stratospheric water vapor feedback,” although hypothesized by previous studies, has remained elusive to quantification. The new results suggest that the stratospheric water vapor feedback may be an important component of our climate system. The researchers estimated that at a minimum this feedback adds another ~5-10% to the climate warming from the addition of greenhouse gases, and is possibly substantially more than this amount.
As an aside I see that Prince Charles, though a supporter of alternative therapies, including homoeopathy, has supported the science of climate change. See Peter Fitz Simons in the SMH.
“On Thursday, in London, Prince Charles – the man Flint and Jones eternally champion to become the King of Australia – described denialists as a ”headless chicken brigade,” wilfully ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence, while also mounting ”a barrage of sheer intimidation” against all who speak sense on it.”
Of course we need to develop alternative sources such as photo-voltaics (solar) and wind power but also hydrogen is starting to look good – see: Why is hydrogen fuel making a comeback?
Some of my Grandchildren have recently attended meditation training in the Blue Mountains and I looked up the website and found an outline of their approach at The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation . The wording probably suffers in translation, from some Indian language or is either Buddhist (Indian variety) or new ageist (things like iniquities; mental impurity; defilements; negativities; with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity; holy indifference). To me it sounds very like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. As it is one of the ways for people to learn how to meditate it is a good thing.
The prospect of learning techniques of “self observation” so that we can see “things as they actually are” looks good enough to encourage participation.
THIS BLOG IS EVOLVING
Since the first blog I have mastered the use of HYPERLINK with help from a friend and I have used “Table of Contents” from WORD to allow you to click on an entry in the TABLE to get to the Chapter concerned. Now I need to find help on other layout mechanics and how to jazz up the appearance of the site. I am most concerned with the ideas and their meaning, but do recognise the need to facilitate use of the blog and for marketing ploys.
I have tried to set up two columns but cannot do it yet.
I have tried to include a link from the Contents list at the top to the major headings in the post but failed.
All ideas are acceptable. You can communicate by comments on the blog or by email to:
NOTES on RECENT READING
There is a good site called ALDAILY which was drawn to my attention some years ago by my old friend, the late Greg Woodburne. It has a new entry each day under three headings Articles of Note, New Books and Essays and Opinion. Each one is hyperlinked to the source.
My American correspondent has sent me this one about the efforts of some atheist groups in USA to press their point. See Atheist ads
One of my favourite blogs is a treatment of current topics compiled by a consortium of Australian Universities. See The Conversation
There is a particularly interesting piece today on pseudoscience mentioning some alternative medicinal claims and includes this paragraph:
“This level is also where the waters are muddiest in terms of understanding science for much of the population, as seen in comments on social media posts, letters to the editor, talkback, television, media articles and political posturing.”