April 15, 2007

$20,000 Away From Time Traveling

Yes. John Cramer, a physicist of the University of Washington, is traying to get $20,000 to carry out an experiment which aims to find evidence of a photon traveling back in time.

Although, if succesfull, it would grant the world an explanatión for the quantum entanglement and, of course, evidence proving that the Delorean might exist one day, not even he thinks it would work: "It doesn't seem like it should work" said Cramer. In fact, when an experimetn is too weir even for DARPA, it must be extremely weird("the guy from DARPA decided what I was trying to do was too weird even for DARPA." Said Cramer.).

On the other hand, is the try not worth $20,000? What if Dr. Cramer is right? What if even if he isn't right, he finds something else out? One has to give a man like Dr. Cramer some credit, he is not just anybody, he is the author of The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, (Here it s explained very summarized). History is full of weird ideas with a succesfull ending and $20,000 shouldn´t be a barrier.

Hasn't he thought about a personal credit? Or he has, but he thinks it would be a waste?

Is it not enough proof of the impossibilty of time travel, the absence of time tourists from the future (argument by Stephen Hawking)?

If Cramer is right, will we be able one day to wake up at noon, and be at work on time at 8:00am?

February 21, 2007


"Man is what he believes."

-Anton Chekhov (1860 - 1904)

"I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong."

-Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

-Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Degree of Intelligence

I happen to feel that the degree of a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting attitudes she can bring to bear on the same topic.
-Lisa Alther, 1975

Quality of Men

"Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way... you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions. "

-Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

February 20, 2007

The Five States of Matter

Five states of matter? Yes, it is not a mistake. Beside the three (and suposedly only) states of matter; solid, liquid and gas, I have to tell you that there are two more states nobody told us about, probably for practical and didactic purposes. Nevertheless, in my opinión, everybody should know the different states in which matter might appear in front of them, so let's see the two less known states.

Plasma, the Fourth State

Yes, plasma. Thanks to my plasma tv, I discovered the complete range of the states of matter. One day, I was sitting watchin the tv (the tv itself, not what was on) and I asked myself: what the hell is plasma? Of course, that drove directly into the net. And I started to find out about plasma:

Plasma is one of four states of matter (...) plasma is actually the most common form of matter; in fact, plasma makes up 99% of all visible matter in the Universe.

99% of all visible matter and I hadn't even heard about it before the plasma screens came out. Putting it very simply, plasma is an ionized gas. Ionized means that an atom has lost or gained electrons becoming an ion, with an electrical charge. In the case of plasma, all the electrons have been stripped from it, so we can say the composition of plasma is bare nuclei and free electrons.
Even though 99% of matter in the universe is plasma, on Earth it is not so common because it is too col here for it to form: plasma is created at several million degrees Celsius, and as the temperature goes down, the electrons recover their position in the atom leaving, therefore, the state of plasma.

Where can you find plasma?

  1. All the space (meaning the space in between planets and stars) is filled with plasma (eventhough it is very cold in most points. I don´t understand how is this possible, let me know if you do please).
  2. Stars, including the sun of course, are made out of plasma.
  3. Lightnings are plasma.
  4. The ionosphere is made out of plasma.
  5. Plasma tvs.
  6. Fluorescent lights.
  7. Neon signs
  8. Rocket exhaust
  9. And many more places.
After this short introduction to plasma, let's take a look at the fifth state of mater.

Bose-Einstein Condensate, the Fifth State of Matter.

It is, basically, the reverse of plasma. It is matter formed by bosons cooled to temperatures very near to absolute zero. At a certain temperature, the atoms collapse into a state in which quantum effects become visible on a macroscopic scale. What happens is that all the atoms become one single super atom, occupying all of them the same space!

These state of matter was predicted years ago by Nath Bose and Einstein, but the Bose Einstein condensation wasn't achieved until 1995:
"It really is a new state of matter," one of its discoverers said. "It has completely different properties from any other kind of matter."

You will not encounter this state as often as plasma, because it is a very fragile sate and although the possibilities are endless, still not many aplications (for us regular people, physicians are having their fun) have been found but the revolution has not stopped yet.

August 19, 2006

The War in Lebanon: Why?

(Picture By Sebastian Scheiner)

One aspect that all wars have in common, is the imposibility to understand certain lines of action. But this past (past?) war on Lebanon has left one unusual question unanswered. An essential piece of information is missing, thus we are unable to understand what's happened. The question is no other than, WHY WERE ISRAEL AND HEZBOLLAH IN WAR?

We, western world, are used to hear about those far away middle-easters killing each other, and seem to be comfortable with the situation. But when some of us go out to find out more, to listen what the political parts have to say, what newspapers have published, we end up with lots of contradicting information. Its normal. War is also fought in the media. But is tiring.

"According to some this is a ‘war on Israel’ by Islamofascist forces supported by Iran and Syria. Others claim it is a ‘war of resistance’ by Hezbollah, which is now apparently part of an ‘arc of resistance’ in the Middle East standing up to Western-backed Israeli aggression. Others still say that Israel’s incursions in Lebanon are the latest stage in an American grand plan to topple hostile regimes across the Middle East and replace them with US-friendly puppets. Or, if you listen to Israel itself, then this is a ‘war against terrorism’ to force Hezbollah 13 miles north of the Israeli border; if you prefer to believe Hezbollah then it is a ‘brave war’ by the guerrilla group to secure the release of their comrades from Israeli jails. Take your pick." Full Article from Brendan O'neill.

I have tried to simplify the situation to myself, to try to get to a reasonable conclusion. In any given war there is an attacker and a defender, (at least at the very begining of the war, later on the roles might change). The defender is obviously defending himself. Therefore, the reason why the war started, why the attacker attacked, must be something the attacker wants.

Going back to the war in Lebanon and adding the above conclusion, plus the fact that Hezbollah is military very inferior to Israel, so inferior that makes it unthinkable that they were looking for war, we obtain that we have to look at Israel and/or its allies for the reason of the war.
We were told during the first days of the crisis, that Israel's attack was in response for the capture of two soldiers by Hezbollah. Of course, the whole world protested for the completely out of proportion sionist response.
Israel's answer was, Wait a second. We are not only fighting for the two soldiers, we are also helping the world fighting terrorism, and helping Lebanon itself to get rid of the terrorist militia." There was less disregard this time (because nowadays, just saying that you are doing war on terror, you can do what you please) but still many people was asking how is it fu***ng possible to continuosly bomb civilians little kids included, saying that your aim is to defend them.
The third time they tried, they finally got to an answer that quieted most of the public. Ok, ok. Yeah, we didn't express ourselves correctly. What we want is to push Hezbollah, 30km into Lebanon, so they can't reach us with their rockets.

We cannot take any of these reasons as the real one because they don't make sense. Well, the last one might be half way right. Might it be that what they really wanted was something situates on those 30 Km? Certainly the reason is not only for the rockets not to get to them, because the rockets would have never been launched, had Israel not initiated the war.

So here we face, the first possible reason of being of this war (Sorry for getting here so slowly, but I find it necessary to show you how I arrive to my conclusions.): WATER.

While the US tries to capture the energetic resources in Africa, Eurasia and South America, Israel is looking for the control of river Litany in south Lebanon, as Terrell E. Arnold points out. But why? One of the main lacks of the hebrew state is water, and the reward for their incursion in Lebanon and the "cleaning out" of the 30 km in the south, is the water of the strategic river Litani. According to Arnold, from Israel'e perspective, there is no other potential source of drinkable water or for irrigation in the region. Since the 30's Ben Gurion, one of the founding fathers of modern Israel, ceived the borders of Israel reaching the Litany river, and others have designed pipelines and tunnels to transport its water to israel. If we have in mind that water equals life, that might explain Israel predisposition to kill and destroy to get those 30km.

What they where not expecting is that at last and international force will occupy that piece of land. Now they have to start worrying about how they'll manage to get water from the river. Stephen Farrell and James Bone from The Times announce the sterilization of the south of Lebanon. Israel has called thousands of soldiers to its north frontier to stablish a cushion zone against Hezbollah. As the Libanese refugees are pushed north of the Litani river no civilians are allowed back in the "cleaned" area. House would also be destroyed so nobody could leave there. Is this not an ETHNIC CLEANSING? But that is out of subject. Let's look at another possible reason.

As you'll notice, the reasons I'm posting are not exclusive one with the others. The next reason I take as real is US's PLANS FOR THE MIDLE EAST. Although there countless interest in the area that might "justify" the attack, we are only going to look at the most direct one. Israel's attack on Hezbollah, rather than defending itself from the shiite party, its eliminating the elemts that disuade George Bush from attacking Iran.

According to Edward Luttwak, after meeting with several US's government members the attack on Iran's nuclear installations was discarted fearing that Hezbollah's response would be bombing Israel. Ephraim Kam, expert in Iranian affairs from the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies in Israel in 2004 also wrote that the threat by Hezbollah to the north of Israel, was one of the main reasons US had to avoid attacking Iran. With this preventive attack, Israel has made Hezbollah "waste" their rockets being this launched without preparation, doing only a fraction of the damage they could have provoked with appropriate preparation and planning. Gerald M. Steinberg from Bar Illon University, said that "Israel pretends a US stand in which launching an attack on Iran is the only option."

Bush knows that confrontating Iran while Hamas and Hezbollah are strong in the area would have a high cost in every sense. In order to negotiate with Iran, they will be in a better position now that Hezbollah has been weakened. Matthew Kalman from the San Francisco Chronicle sent a report from Jerusalem according to which the campaing against Hezbollah has been months in preparation, even when the casus belli has been the capture of the two soldiers. "More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified." Read it all here.

If we have this in mind while recalling the declarations from the Bush administration that never opposed Israel's attack, we might be facing one of the true reasons for the war.

I will probably come back to this issue, but this is all for now. As I always tell you, there are many more facts out there. In my opinion, after searching and searching these are, simplified, the real reasons for the war. But you can too build your own opinion searching on your own.

Some interesting readings:

A Just War?

War on Lebanon

Autopsy of the War

July 05, 2006

Towards a Biparty State

Have you ever felt that you don't have a real political choice? Have you ever had the feeling, that no matter who you vote for, the effect would be the same? Many, many people from the first world have that feeling. Would you like to stop feeling that way? If you are a risponsible citizen of your country and the world, I bet the answer is "Yes".

The first thing you need to know is that, that feeling of not having a real choice because of the little difference among the parties is a weapon against you. Making people think that there is no real difference in voting one party over another, makes people loose interest in politics. Why should they worry, or care, or even go to vote, if what ever happens will make no difference? The result: people end up voting by simpathies, tradition or just not voting at all. But this is the situation today. Let's travel some decades back, and seewhy is this happening.

Every first world country has passed by hard political and/or economical and/or social domestic difficulties. In the US the civil war, fight for civil rights, etc, in France the revolution, in Italy and Germany dictatorships, as well as in my country, Spain, and of course the World Wars. During and after the hard times, historically, people become very interested in politics. Usually become more active, more eager for information and watching over their parties and government. In most nations, the begginings of democracy has been the only real democratic time they have lived; with clearly differentiated parties; several mayor parties not only two; high rate of activism and electoral participation, and a serious and risponsible checking on governments action with little tolerance to lies and manipulations. What has happened since then?

Simplyfing the answer, we have become accomodated, lazy and have lost all trace of social risponsibility. But most of all, we have become too selfish and individualistic. We live in the culture of the individual. "Get the most you can get, the fastest you can get it, and don't look around you." We have lost solidarity, and any sense of team spirit, neither as a region, nor a nation, nor as humanity. May be some feel patriotic, and feel they are in the same team, but still push each other to become the star of the team. As I was saying before, in almost every first world country we have come to an almost total biparty state. This has happened for two main reasons
  1. First, the lost of interest I mentioned. Loosing interest in politics, means not wanting to "loose" your time learning about the political choice represented by each party. That drives people into not seeing the differences between APPARENTLY alike parties. This caused that people with a left ideology ended up voting the same left party, probably the one with more resources to make it self more heard and seen. Same with the right.
  2. Second, the influence of the economical powers. It has been easy for economical powers such as corporations to influence parties, by making big contributions to them. Obviously it is much easier for them, if they only need to influence two parties; the two parties that alternate in a nation's government. This influence, makes the two main parties have a huge advantage over the rest, having an overwhelming difference of power even when they are not running the government. There is literally no space left for the rest of the parties to breath.
What are the consequences? The loss of political ideology. In the biparty situation, both parties know that sooner or later, they are going to be in the government. They don't need to make a great effort. One mistake in the opposition is enough. The party itself, becomes more important that its ideology. It makes no sense. A party that has been founded to defend an ideology, has become more important than the ideology itself. So the main two parties look after the same objective, to keep as much time in power as possible.

Who do they get the benefits from? The president of the US's salary is $400,000, paid by the citizens. What is that compared to, for example, the millions that Rumsfeld made with the bird flu (Look at the "Good Old Bird Flu" post in this same blog), or the Bush family´s profits? Pocket change. So, who you think they are going to be most eager to please, the citizens, or the corporations, individuals and associations that provide them all that money? But the opposition will do the same once in power, because in a biparty state, ideology is no longer important. Presence in media, publicity, image is what is important. Have you not noticed that in the last years the only thing politicians talk about, are the dirty affairs of the opposition, and how thay mess up in this or that? Of the two parties, the one with a better image will win the elections (Unless somebody plays around with Florida's votes.)

So, who is to blame for this disaster? OURSELVES. It is true that it is inmoral and low and outraging that political parties are acting this way. But we are letting them. Democracy is the people's sovereignity, the people's power, but it is useless and pointless if we don't exercise that power. And to exercise that power in a risponsible way, we need to inform ourselves of the options we have, and ultimately, if we don't like any, to found, or promote, or help in some way the creation of another party. One of our greatest enemies is to think that voting a minor party is wasting our vote. It is not. It is an error to think that if you are not voting a winner you are wasting a vote. First of all, because that way, it will never become a winner. And second, even if that party is not a winner, it will achieve a little more representation in the political scenario. Also, we seem to think that if we don't belong to one of the two leading parties we are outcasts, marginals, weirdos. Remember that that is a weapon used against you to keep the power among the same people. Don't you think it is senseless, untruthfull, irresponsible and even dumb, to not vote who you really think deserves your vote?

What can we do now? We need to make the two main parties feel unsafe. Make them now that they are not the only choice. Find a smaller party that fits your believes and vote for it. Make them really worry again for the voters. Let them now that they need real thought through programs fitted to the needs of the nation if they want to govern you. Like that, it will be more difficult for the corporations to execute their influence. If they have to diverge their contributions among more parties, they wont have enough. And if they happen to have enough money to do it, they wont anyway. What kind of company supports every party? What would that say of their loyalty and what image would it give out?

And if you don't find any party that really represents your principles, vote blank. Your vote is an extremely valuable good. Don't give it out to just anyone. If no party convinces you, let them know by voting blank. Can you imagine what would happen if a high percentage of the populaiton voted blank? That would definetely bring a change. About that, I suggest you read the novel "Essay on Lucidity" by José Saramago.

The only thing I think is a pity, is that probably most of the people who read this, already care about democracy and politics. The rest probaly stopped reading after the second sentence. I still have hope, and will continue to write, hoping to inspire somebody who does not participate, to do it.

Hope to see you around again.