The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees is left this vault to blog of.

Hello and good morning, all.  Though I suppose I should leave it up to each of your own individual intuitions and criteria about whether it really is a “good” morning, and indeed, what such a term even could mean.  But, really, it’s what they call “a polite nothing” I suppose, because it has no other purpose than being a ritual greeting.


It’s June 8th.  In 10 days it will be “Fathers’ Day” (I’m not sure about the “official” placement of the apostrophe).  In 21 days it will be my wedding anniversary, so to speak; anyway, it will have been 32 years since I got married, and I will have been divorced for 2 years longer than I was married, which is a crappy, crappy milestone.  I’ve also already gone roughly 10 years without seeing my kids in person, which is getting close to being as long as I was a part of their lives.

What an utter waste of years and effort it has been for me to be alive since then.

I’m writing this on my phone still/again, at the house, before heading for the bus stop.  There’s not much going on so far today, except to note that I had an unusually bad sleep last night, even for me, so I’m starting the day already feeling exhausted.

As you may recall, yesterday I did not take any “antidepressant”, and I likewise have not taken any today.  I did feel less tense yesterday than I had the days before, and that was certainly a relief, but it’s the sort of thing that happens whenever I change something like that.  I had a brief elevation in my mood when I started the Wort, also.  I suspect it’s just a placebo effect, and/or a reverse version of the same.

Anyway, I can’t blame either starting or stopping the stuff for my sleep problems.  They were there before any meds and they’ll be there after them, probably for the rest of my life.  Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to keep having sleep problems after I die.

Well…yes, I would.  Both the fact of still having sleep problems and having the ability to be aware of them would be quite surprising to me after I’m dead.  In fact, the ability to be surprised would be quite a surprise after I’m dead.  It would certainly be intriguing, as would the fact of being capable of being intrigued.  In fact, it’s hard to see that, if one is capable of surprise or intrigue or any other emotion, one should actually be considered “dead” in any useful sense.

Of course, I don’t think any of that is possible, really.  I’m quite convinced (provisionally, as always) that death entails merely oblivion, which is one of the things that makes it so appealing.  Indeed, my “Bayesian Prior” on that is so high that I would, so to speak, be willing to bet my life on it.  Admittedly, that’s a cheap bet, from my point of view, but I don’t have any right to bet anyone else’s life, so it’s all I have, worthless and disgusting though it may be.

Almost none of the various antidepressants I’ve taken have ever seemed to help my sleep.  Tricyclics, Effexor, Trazodone, Wellbutrin, Celexa/Lexapro and most other SSRIs…they didn’t make it better and some made it worse.  Only Paxil seemed at least to make me enjoy sleeping, which had never happened to me before, but its other effects were not good.  One downside was that I gained a lot of weight, and that’s not good in someone like me, who is constitutionally prone to overweight and its related effects.  That wasn’t the only problem, either.

Anyway, I don’t know why, but my depression, after initially responding to meds and therapy, has become tougher to treat over the years.  I don’t know if this is partly related to my apparent ASD, or whatever form of atypical, non-human neurology I have, or to something about the nature of depression, or to these and other factors mixed together.

What’s more, I don’t think anyone else in the world could actually know, either.  At most, at best, hypotheses could be made and tested, by me and by other medical/scientific people.  But it’s simply a fact that “we”, meaning all consciousnesses of which any of us are actually aware, don’t know well enough the nature of the normal functioning of the brain, let alone the nature of things like depression, dysthymia, autism spectrum disorders, insomnia (or in fact what sleep really does at all levels) very deeply and/or causally.  It’s extremely complex, and not enough resources have been or are put into the study.

We do spend a lot of money on science, but still more on war, and on politics, and on sporting events and so on.  Actually, I don’t know which if any of those things receives a greater proportion of civilizational resources than science does, but it feels as though it would be nice to divert at least some of the resources away from such things and into science.  The advancement of science is something that can benefit everyone, current and subsequent, especially since, once the information is learned, is discovered, it can (in principle) be shared at vanishingly small cost, to the potential benefit of the whole planet and its future inhabitants.

Of course, the company Elsevier apparently owns many of the premier scientific journals‒it did not originate them, it just bought them and is now rent-seeking through them‒and it not only charges a frankly obscene amount for subscriptions, but it even charges scientists who want to publish in the journals.  That is, in a sense, an actual white-collar crime against humanity, against civilization.

Such people deserve to be strapped down onto tables and have one drop of liquid Drano applied to their skin every hour, or perhaps even just every day, or somewhere in between, until it finally dissolves them away enough for it to kill them.  They could be kept alive in the meantime, and suffering for as long as possible, by IV infusions and naso-gastric feeding.

It’s just a thought.  Probably, even if I were given the power and resources to do so without the risk of consequences for me, I wouldn’t actually torture such people.  They’re just monkeys doing what monkeys do, after all.  But I might take away all their wealth and make them work at subsistence level jobs for the rest of their days.  It’s not the worst punishment, maybe, but getting medical and scientific knowledge out of the control of such people would be the real goal.

Anyway, I’m going to need to head to the bus stop here in a moment.  I feel tired and grumpy, and I’m not looking forward to anything about today at all, not even to its end, since the end of each day is merely a prelude to the dismal cycle of the next day and the next and so on.

I never look forward to going to bed, because going to bed merely ushers in the beginning of the next dreary, worthless day, probably to be faced with too little, too fragmented sleep, and with ongoing pain, and without being around or with any of the people I love.  It’s not the sort of thing to which one would look forward with anything better than weary resignation, and often with frank horror and disgust…and sometimes, honestly, with something akin to terror.

What are you gonna do?  That’s life.  It’s not for the faint-hearted.  And I cannot, in good conscience, recommend it without significant caveats and reservations and misgivings.


broken wine glasselectronic

There are many different sos to speak, as it were

Well, it’s Saturday, and I’m at the train station instead of the bus stop, because I was able to ride my bike this morning.  I’m not going to have time to finish this post’s first draft before the train gets here, because I took a little too long getting ready at the house, dilly-dallying and puttering around because the first train on Saturday comes thirty-five minutes later than the one I would catch—if riding my bike—during the week.

Still, I had time to park and lock up my bike with two cables, one of them through the seat, and my U-lock thing, or whatever the proper term is.  I don’t see how someone could easily or readily steal the bike or any of its parts, including the front tire.  If such a thing nevertheless happens, I think I’m probably going to give up on the bike.  Then again, I’ve thought that way before.


I’m on the train now, and it’s not too crowded, which is one of the nice things about riding on a Saturday.  The horrible rain and consequent flooding seem largely to have tapered off, though I don’t imagine they are entirely gone.  Still, I was able to walk back to the house from the train station last night, and though I encountered about three minutes of very modest rainfall—prompting me to get my umbrella out, which I then carried, uselessly, the rest of the way to the house—I had much more irritation from gnats, which appear to have been given a boost by the rain.

I was quite nervous about termites swarming, honestly.  They tend to do that after the first big, heavy rain, when it’s followed by more pleasant, warmish weather.  Well, there were definitely termites in the air in the neighborhood near the house, and even a few of them around the outside lights, but it wasn’t a too-irritating and annoying batch, and none of them seemed to be swarming inside the house.

That happened a year or two ago, and at least once before that, though it was when I lived in a different room.  It was horrible, mainly because you certainly couldn’t ignore it, and they got into everything, and we literally had to suck them up with a Shop-Vac and find their holes and seal them up.  It is rather disgusting.  It’s not as big a problem for the house structure as it might be up north, because, like many slightly older houses in south Florida, the one in which I live is basically cinderblock with aluminum framing.

There are wood parts of some of the structures, I think, but nothing load-bearing in any sense.  This is a house that barely notices anything short of a category five hurricane.  If civilization ended, and assuming the sea level doesn’t rise too much, I could imagine much of the basic outline of the structure enduring for thousands of years, perhaps to be discovered by some future archeologist.  Cinderblock is tough stuff.

Of course, everything will fall apart eventually; but perhaps everything will then happen again.  The laws of nature (even discounting cyclical cosmologies like “the big bounce” or Conformal Cyclic Cosmology) seem to allow  for random fluctuations to lead, perhaps, to the spontaneous ne occurrence of concentrated inflaton field* and thus to a new period of inflation and a new universe in our future.

And if that universe has the same constants of nature that we have now, and infinite space—as we seem to have—then we will all happen again, and do so in infinite profusion, because in any given region of space, there are only a finite number of possible quantum states, and with any finite number of configurations happening in an infinite range of available slots, they will eventually repeat—and repeat infinitely.

I’m sure I’ve talked about this before.  I’ve probably even talked about my notion that the inflationary burst could go in both “directions” in time, and that our own inflationary burst could also have happened in the other (so to speak) direction even “when” it happened with us (so to speak), and that the future history of our universe could be peppered with “big bangs” coming and going, analogous to the way the present universe is mostly empty space, but there are pockets of places where matter has condensed into local regions where gravity makes the concept of an “up” direction and a “down” direction locally relevant, unlike everywhere in between.

And just as our kind of life can only really apparently happen on the surface of particularly hospitable local globs of heavy matter that we call planets, using the very up/down, purely local dichotomy as one of the facts that makes it possible, so life may also only be able to come into existence near the “surface” of these regions in time in which there is a gradient in entropy that makes “past” and “future” meaningful, though globally (so to speak) time may be nondirectional.

This last bit is all, by the way, my own speculation.  Inflationary cosmology is mainstream physics, but my own thoughts on the omnidirectionality of time are just that—my own thoughts.  I’ve encountered at least one real physicist who discusses something somewhat similar, but I get the impression that the idea is not generally paid much attention.

Still, it’s interesting to speculate.  And now, I have to draw to a close, because my stop is approaching, or we are approaching my stop—either description can be valid.  I hope you have a good remainder of your weekend, and I hope that Monday morning I’ll again be able to ride my bike.

cyclic cosmos

*This is, of course, if inflationary cosmology is the correct description of the universe.  That is by no means certain, but the theoretical structure of inflationary cosmologies answers many questions about the large scale structure of the universe, the horizon problem, cosmic uniformity as evidenced by the nearly completely smooth CMB, where the “bang” part came from, the power spectrum in the tiny variations in the CMB, and so on.  But it’s not the only dog in the race, and there is much that isn’t well known about the nature of, for instance, the inflaton field, whatever it may be.

But that state of not knowing is part of what makes science enjoyable and gratifying.  I may have mentioned this before, but the most exciting non-personal thing I’ve encountered in my life was when Perlmutter et al’s work showed that the universe’s expansion was accelerating.  No one had really even considered such a thing seriously, and so it radically changed the cosmological picture, at least regarding the future.  It was amazing and thrilling—the discovery of our time—and I felt privileged simply to be able to witness it.

It’s an okay Friday, at least, I guess

Well, as the titles says, it’s Friday, and I’m on the early train heading to the office.  I actually don’t feel terribly well this morning, and probably should just have stayed home, especially since I have tomorrow off and would thus have had a three day weekend in which to rest from whatever is ailing me.

However, I got my new bike seat post and portable tire pump with pressure gauge yesterday, and I wanted to be able to try out and ride my bike today.  So, last night I put the thing together and put it in place—more or less—and this morning I rode it to the station, getting on the second train of the day.

I say “more or less” because the seat still needs a bit of fine, and not so fine, adjustment.  For instance, the clamp that holds the seat post in place* seems to have been thrown out of whack a bit when whatever little mutant troll goblin stole my prior bike seat.  I tried to put the new seat a little higher than I’d had the one before, because they say that having your legs more extended makes for more efficient biking, but as soon as I sat on it the seat slid down into the frame pretty much as far as it would go.

Still, I really don’t like the feeling of not being able to put my feet securely on the ground, so that isn’t such a terrible thing.  Maybe, if I get more used to biking and feel thoroughly at home doing it, I’ll feel better about adjusting it higher.  In any case, I ended up having to bring the seat and post with me on the train, and to the office, because I found that my cable was too thick to fit between the spaces in the frame of this bike seat, and I didn’t want to leave the seat unsecured on this, my first day using it, especially since it’s a holiday and foot traffic in and around the station might be light, and so make the seat more prone to be stolen.

I hate the fact that I have to worry about such things.  It’s one thing to need to worry about mechanical failures and the like; things fall apart, as the poem says.  But people who do things like steal someone else’s bike seat need just a quick death and an anonymous burial.

At least, that’s how I feel about it.  Fortunately (for me and for others) I don’t consider feelings to be reliable guides to action.

It’s amazing how out of condition my legs and everything else has gotten after only a week without using the bike (and despite having walked about forty miles so far this week).  It was really a bit of a struggle to keep going at times, and I rode in low gear at least half way to the station.  I really feel fatigued to an inordinate degree.  I suppose that will go away relatively quickly, unless there is something truly wrong with me physically**.

Oh, right!  The conductor made her announcement and thereby reminded me that it’s “Good Friday” today, and will be Easter on Sunday—the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, as my sister taught me decades ago, and which I still remember in precisely those words.  I guess there’s nothing remarkable about the fact that the specific words are how I recall it.  After all, they are concise, precise, and clear.  Why change them?

Anyway, for those of you who celebrate these holidays, please enjoy them.

I hopefully will make use of my new bike a bit this weekend.  At least having the seat with me today will allow me to adjust the pitch of it slightly, because this morning it was leaning back somewhat, and I didn’t want to get out my socket wrench—which I have brought with me, oh yes—and adjust it early in the dark of the morning.  That’s one of my difficulties when it comes to getting such things done:  I am only at the house before dawn or after dusk, so it’s a pain to do anything that requires light, even though there is, of course, a good outdoor porch light in my entry area behind the house.

I still feel a little fatigued and out of breath, even as I write this, and it’s been more than half an hour since I got to the train station.  We’re almost to my stop.  I hope this doesn’t persist, because it’s annoying.  If there’s something wrong with my lungs or heart, I wish it would just go full catastrophic and kill or at least thoroughly disable me, rather than lead to some gradual, annoying deterioration.

But nature doesn’t respond to requests, unfortunately.  I was going to write that it doesn’t take them, but it takes them fine—you can request things all you want.  It just doesn’t respond.  It doesn’t know you’re making a request.  It doesn’t know you exist, frankly, as far as we can tell.

As the saying goes, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”  Of course, you cannot do anything other than obey nature.  That’s the nature of nature.  That’s why we refer to “laws of nature” rather than “suggestions of nature” or “requests of nature”.  Wishes don’t do anything—but learning about nature, learning its rules, and applying them to your best advantage can be useful.

This is what lies at the heart of the saying.  It’s not implying that you could choose not to follow the laws of nature, merely that, if you want to get things done, you should know how nature works as well as you can and apply that knowledge with creativity, with determination, with discipline.  Then you’ll be able to achieve remarkable things.

You won’t be able to revoke or waive the law of gravity, for instance, but you may be able to use fluid dynamics and chemistry and thermodynamics and the like to make a structure that will use the air to create a force powerful enough to overcome the pull of gravity, and which will let you fly through the air at speeds never achieved by any organism in its “natural” state.

Wishing won’t get you from Detroit to Florida in two hours, but science and technology can.  Science and technology can even get people to the moon and back.

Anyway, that’s enough for this week.  Have a nice weekend, whether you celebrate it as a holiday or not.  I’ll do what I can at least to get some rest and, hopefully, to get a bit more adjusted to my bicycle again.

happy easter basic

*I don’t really know any of the “proper” terminology, so if there are bicycle aficionados reading and they can give me better, more useful terms, I would welcome the input.

**One can always hope.

Bad ingestions and good intentions at the start of Spring (in the north)

I apologize, right at the start, to anyone who was disappointed that I didn’t write a blog post yesterday.  I was home sick, having gotten a bad GI reaction from some Chinese food that I ordered and ate Sunday night.  The food was the gastric equivalent of Rocky Balboa; it simply did not want to stay down.

I’m back now, though, and have just arrived at the train station after a morning walk, and am waiting for the train I would have boarded anyway had I taken the bus.  I’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of getting a bike—not a fancy, lean-over-the-handlebars type—to go to and from the train station.  But to do that entails thinking of something long-term, as a long-term solution to the problem of time in my daily life, and I have no desire to think long-term.  I honestly don’t really want a long term.  I barely want a short term.  I barely want a single day more, to be honest, especially when I’ve been feeling sick and my back is hurting especially badly.  Oh, well, that’s nothing new.

I suppose I should welcome you all to Spring, which officially started yesterday, when the equinox happened—or autumn, in the southern hemisphere, apologies for the apparent dissing.  I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to write about it yesterday.  In many ways, the equinoxes are more global than the solstices, because (although one is heading toward summer and the other heading toward winter) the two hemispheres all go through the same equinox at the same time, and it means, roughly, the same thing.

I was listening to an audiobook while walking this morning, as I often do, but this was a non-fiction book.  The author, a highly intelligent investigator, often refers to “authorities” regarding certain subjects*, sometimes seeming a bit tongue-in-cheek as he does so.  This raised for me a notion that I think is not reinforced often enough in the world:  when it comes to matters of science, there are no authorities.  There are experts, but there are no actual authorities.  No one has authorship of nature—no human or other mortal, anyway—and so no one has authority.

Stephen King can rightly claim authority over the works of Stephen King, as no one else can.  But nature, reality itself, is not subject to human authority.  And that includes other humans.  Governments also don’t really have authority, since none of them actually made society, nor do they “run” their nations.  At best, they are managers.

I’ve said this before, but no human civilization was ever created, nor is any such thing ever run, by individual humans.  They are spontaneously self-assembled and self-organizing systems.  Each individual member of the system is responding to local incentives, and this generates the overall pattern emergently.

This brings me to another issue that occurred to me while listening to the book, and that is the notion of intentions.  We all know the cliché that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and these good intentions are mentioned frequently regarding the people who have made scientific errors or presumptions as described in the book to which I was listening.  And it occurred to me that not only are good intentions not any adequate guarantee of good outcomes; they can be actively corrupting, in many ways more so than greed or lust for power.

While a person who is greedy and self-serving can certainly do great harm, part of their very impetus is to continue getting away with what they are doing, to continue to prosper, and so they tend to want to fly under the radar—at least until they begin to feel insecure in other ways, perhaps.  But ideologues, people who truly believe that what they are doing is right and is best for the greatest number of people, can justify performing horrible acts that might put off any but the worst of psychopathic sadists.

The perpetrators of various witch-hunts and inquisitions and reigns of terror and pogroms and purges and great leaps forward and killing fields and the like—and even the less-destructive Twitter mobs—are often people who are truly and thoroughly convinced that they are acting in the best interests of everyone in the world, and possibly even in the best interests of those they torture and murder in some cases.

But the desire to do good and the question of actually doing good appear to be almost orthogonal in reality.  Certainly their alignment is not reliably one-to-one.  Thus, any person who actually wants to do good—not just to be able to tell themselves that they are doing good—must always be amendable, at least in principle, to learning that they are wrong, in their methods or even in their ideals.

Dogmatism tends to be catastrophic.  Certainty kills, in the words of a person whom I cannot recall.  Or to paraphrase another source of which I’m not certain, good intentions can be and have been used to fumigate the worst of possible deeds, even the slaughter of a continent.

As Richard Feynman** said, reality has to take precedence over politics, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Anyway, that’s enough of that.  All these things apply in the long run—relatively speaking, anyway—and while I’m interested, in principle, in long walks, I can’t actually envision a future for myself, other than the inevitable one.  I have no goals or plans or aspirations, I desire no “beliefs”, and I don’t foresee any beneficial change in myself, whether beneficial to me or to anyone else.  If I could find the will to override the irritating biological drives that lead me to keep eating and drinking and all that crap, I would do so, and would consider it sensible.  But that’s not readily accomplished, so I am forced along other, sometimes potentially very long, paths.

Ah, well.  I’m stubborn at least, even if I’m not dogmatic.  Or so I believe.

It's spring!

*I’m not going into the subject matter because I don’t want to distract from my point.

**Of course I tend to remember when I’m quoting him.

Some musings on brane-worlds, “dark matter”, and even “dark energy”, with apologies

I told you yesterday  that I would be writing another post today, since I’m going into the office, and here I am, writing another post.  You were given fair warning—or at least, you were given adequate disclosure.

Yesterday (and into today) I was listening to an episode of Sean Carroll’s Mindscape in which he spoke with Adam Riess, one of the discoverers in the late 1190s of the increasing rate of cosmic expansion—the single most exciting scientific discovery I recall happening in my lifetime.  In the podcast, the two physicists spoke, of course, of “dark energy” and “dark matter” and the “Hubble tension” between two different ways of predicting and/or calculating the Hubble constant*, and that all reminded me of something that I’d thought of more than twenty years before.

If M-theory (an overall theoretical structure that subsumes “string theory”) were to be right, and we are merely living in a 3-brane embedded in a higher-dimensional “bulk”, then perhaps the explanation for “dark matter” could be simply the gravitational effects of matter in a nearby, parallel 3-brane, or perhaps even more than one (since, if more than one, why not more than two?).  I had first tried to give myself a very simplified model on which to do some calculations about the possibility just for fun, way back in a lunch break during my first year in private medical practice, but I didn’t get very far.  My schedule was rather busy, and I had many good and interesting things going on in my life that drew my attention.  That last part, at least, has changed almost completely.

Despite all the theoretical and proposed notions for what dark matter particles might be (WIMPS, Axions, lots of primordial black holes, etc.) there has not been a single detection of any of them.  There hadn’t been any twenty years ago, and there haven’t been any as of this writing, unless they’re keeping it under their hats, which is unlikely for something of such importance.  Nobel Prizes will be won by those who discover convincing evidence of any dark matter particles!

The evidence for dark matter in general. though, is tremendous and all but unassailable, coming from multiple fronts in astronomy/cosmology/astrophysics, but its specific nature is still not known.

So, yesterday morning, I decided to retry the notion I’d had twenty-odd years ago, just for fun.  I don’t expect to make any particularly interesting breakthrough here, obviously, but it was just my way of seeing if my notion has any modicum of worth at all, or if it’s totally self-contradictory.

As before, I needed to set up a highly simplified situation, just so that it would be within the wheelhouse of my very limited mathematical skills, which are rusty to say the least, and which were never nearly advanced enough for any serious work in GR or M theory (I often consider trying to work my way up to better, more useful such skills, but I don’t know whether that will ever happen).

So, I took my model down to being just a plane rather than a space, which makes the strength of gravity fall off linearly with distance, rather than as distance squared.  Then I just took a line of identical masses, x, (x0, x1, x2 etc.) all separated by an even distance, which I called y, and so the gravitational force on my x0 mass due to any other was just proportional to x over some multiple of y.  I made my gravitational “constant” just 1, so the force would literally be x/y or x/2y, and so on.

Really, in the first universe, though it was in principle two-dimensional, I only had to deal with one dimension of additive forces.  This will make my model not terribly useful with respect to the actual universe, but I wanted just to get a feel for things.  You’ve gotta crawl before you can walk or run or fly.

Then I took my “parallel” brane to be also y distance away—to keep applications of the Pythagorean Theorem and such simple—but obviously in a direction that’s orthogonal to every direction within the original brane.

According to the ideas in M-theory/string theory, most particles—photons, electrons, quarks, gluons, neutrinos, etc.—are described as “open” strings, with free ends, and as such, they cannot leave the brane in which they exist (apparently their ends are “sticky”)***.  But gravitons, as proposed in string theory (they were one of the main things that first led people to take string theory seriously as a potential theory of quantum gravity) are closed strings, and they can go between branes and into the “bulk”, the larger, overarching spacetime in which lower-dimensional branes could be embedded.  Thus, one brane can gravitate with respect to another, and this tendency of gravity not to be confined within a brane could explain the relative weakness of gravity compared to the other forces of nature.

Okay, so I did my best to try to work out the situation relating the additional strength of gravity felt by my initial, single particle due to the added gravity from masses in the parallel brane—and then two parallel branes or so, just to see.  I made some mathematical errors that I caught, and I’m sure I made others than I didn’t catch, so I’ll include my—utterly chaotic and not really annotated—worksheets here below, in case anyone is masochistic enough to want to look through them.

I don’t think I produced any startling insights, of course, but one thing that became more obvious on working it through is that, as parallel masses get farther away as measured in the plane of the original universe, their gravitational effects become more like that of the masses within the original brane.  This makes sense, because the farther away they are, the less the effect of the separation of their branes has relative to that distance; so the angle of that force relative to the plane of the first universe is smaller, and its within-brane component is larger****.  The “nearer” masses would have gravity that was barely felt, or not felt at all, within the original brane (or universe), but the farther out the masses go, the more they would be felt as if they were mere additional mass within the original brane/universe.

Could a situation analogous to this but in higher dimensions explain why dark matter acts as though it is a halo going through and around galaxies, and doesn’t seem to clump together?  And could such a description, in the absence of any detectable particles of dark matter, constitute a test of the notoriously difficult-to-test M-theory in the real world?  At least, the longer we go on being unable to find a direct dark matter candidate particle interaction, the more the Bayesian prior for a string/M-theory explanation might go up.

I don’t know.  I’m way too out of my depth.  But it is an interesting thought, and I invite any readers who have actual expertise in such matters please to give me their reactions.  I don’t think my thoughts are anything that’s useful for anyone, but it is kind of cool.  I think.

For those of you who aren’t interested in such things, I apologize.  It is a Saturday post, so you can consider it a weekend indulgence (though I did the figuring on Friday morning, really).  It’s the sort of thing I think I previously would have confined to Iterations of Zero, and I’ve skirted the topic in the past there and here.

I have to have things like this to do from time to time.  If I weren’t able to think about such things to distract myself from my own awfulness, I would already have killed myself a long time ago.

Maybe that would have been better for everyone.  But the past cannot be changed without making a completely new universe that wouldn’t benefit anyone in this one.  So, it is what it is.

Have a good weekend.

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0001

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0002

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0003

*It’s either roughly 67 or roughly 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec**, which is the overall rate of expansion of the universe.  These values do not have overlapping error-bars, and they both have become tighter over time, so something is being missed.  It’s not a huge difference, but there should be no difference at all if the models are correct in all aspects.

**The parsec is not a measure of time, of course, but of distance, and a mighty big distance at that.  A parsec is a little over three light-years (which is about 30 trillion kilometers), so a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years.  Big!  With this measure of the Hubbles constant,  you can see why, at close distances, attractive gravity vastly supersedes expansion; the expansion tendency doesn’t become very large—indeed, expansion doesn’t even happen—until distances become truly cosmic in scale.  The Andromeda galaxy is less than one megaparsec away (not by much), and its net movement toward “us” is about 110 kilometers per second.  I suppose that implies that if it were not for the Hubble expansion, it might be coming toward us at about 180 kilometers per second, and might “collide” with the Milky Way in only two or three billion years instead of four or five.  Oh, well, we’ll just have to wait.

***The thought just occurred to me that branes, like strings, are thought to be composed of some form of “energy”, admittedly a nebulous term and a place-holder—there’s always more to learn.  But uniform energy creates a negative pressure, which in General Relativity produces repulsive gravity…the very cosmological term/constant Einstein proposed and discarded, but which has come back into its own as a descriptor of “dark energy” and even cosmic inflation.  On the scale of individual strings, say, even though the energy density would be high, the Lambda term would be too small to lead something the size of a typical string to expand at all, but in a brane—2 dimensional, 3-dimension, or more—if it’s large enough, the very energy that constitutes the brane might be enough to explain the existence of repulsive gravity, from inflation to the current “dark energy”.  Or am I totally off-base here?

****The vector component of their gravitational force that can be felt within the first brane should be the cosine of the angle between the second-brane mass and its analog in the original times the total gravitational force it would exert on the first.  Any other component would be felt between the branes.  Such possible inter-universe gravitation is in the source of the threatening catastrophe in my book The Chasm and the Collision.  Don’t worry, the book doesn’t dwell much on any technical aspects of this.

Brief thoughts on candy, carbon, communication, and a shared “video”

Well, it’s Wednesday, the day after Valentine’s Day.  I know it’s not technically the Ides of February or anything—at least I think I know that—but there ought to be an official day for the day after Valentine’s Day, some equivalent of Boxing Day after Christmas.  Maybe we could call it Barfing Day; that might be both fun and appropriate.

I was thinking that yesterday would have been an excellent day for me to have a heart attack.  It seems an appropriate potentially fatal healthcare crisis to have on a day when everyone is sharing “heart-shaped”* treats, many if not all of which are not great for the coronary arteries.  However, though I did in fact find myself once sprinting to beat a light and then later sprinting to catch a bus—one can’t get much more cliché than that when it comes to myocardial infarctions—I felt not a hint of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or what have you.  Disappointing.  And the only nausea I felt was that sort of subjective nausea that isn’t a true physical feeling, but which is a projection of disgust over the very silly and stupid things people say and do.

This queasiness was not in response to Valentine’s Day activities!  Don’t get me wrong.  I thought Barfing Day was a good follow-up day because eating too many sweets in one day can lead to GI upset.  For the most part, I think it’s nice that people express love, romantic and/or otherwise, to those important to them.  It may be frustrating that it’s such a ritualized, scheduled expression of love, but unfortunately, if it were not for such rituals, it’s probable that many people would never make or think of any such expression at all.

Sometimes, it seems, humans need rituals to make them realize their own feelings, and perhaps even to confront their own feelings.  This can apply to bad feelings as well as to good, as when, on the approach to a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, someone realizes that the person with whom they are currently linked is someone with whom they don’t really feel that strong a bond.  Hopefully such a realization occurs before too much has been invested in a relationship.

I suppose the need to act in recognition of such a fact can sometimes lead to a stereotypical Valentine’s Day breakup, which is harsh, but perhaps better than the alternative of a long, unpleasant relationship with increasing acrimony and emotional (if not physical) abuse.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I don’t know; I’m making this up as I go.

In distant parallel to the above, I sometimes think that maybe we should lace all Valentine’s Day candies with hormone blockers or something along those lines to diminish the sex drive of those who eat them.  Surely, anything that can be done to decrease the breeding of new humans is probably going to be a benefit for the rest of the planet, and evolution just isn’t likely to get to that solution on its own.

On second thought, that may actually be a foolish notion.  Honestly, I’d worry more about people if they didn’t have any children, because the nurturing of children is one of the most potent triggers and encouragers of love—not to mention forethought—in humans.  As I think Fagin said in the musical Oliver, I think I’d better think it out again.

Anyway, that’s all for you guys to worry about.  I’m giving up on it, and with any luck, none of what humans do will have any impact on me, other than perhaps to alter slightly the rate of decay of my corpse.  Though it would be useful, I think—and as I’ve written before—to enact a policy, or even a tradition, of storing the bodies of the deceased in deep ocean subduction zones, to get them out of the carbon cycle.

Cremation seems like a terrible idea; it just gives everyone one last lunge to increase their individual carbon footprint!

It probably doesn’t make much difference, though, honestly.  Such minor sequestering and the like on local, individual level is unlikely to accumulate into anything of significance to the global atmosphere.  I think it will only be the development of new science, technologies, and processes that will engineer out the excess carbon from the atmosphere, perhaps using some adjusted and enhanced equivalent of photosynthesis on an industrial scale (among other thing).  After all, photosynthesis takes carbon dioxide and water—potent greenhouse gases—from the atmosphere and ultimately converts them into carbohydrates and fats and such.  These can then be sequestered, if necessary, or converted to bioplastics, and biofuels, to use for things we currently do with fossil fuels.

The local energy for those processes can be derived from the products of the photosynthesis (ultimately from the sun) and so on, so that even when not truly “carbon-negative” it will be at worst “carbon-neutral”.

Of course, it’s stupid to be carbon neutral as a matter of personal, aesthetic judgment.  Carbon is the backbone of life as we know it, and probably will be for most if not all other life in the universe, if there is any.

I know, in these matters, “carbon” is just a shorthand for greenhouse gas reduction and whatnot, but I wonder how many people really think about that when they use the term, especially when one considers that water vapor, which is more potent than CO2  as a greenhouse gas, has no carbon in it at all, and methane, which is also more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, has only one carbon atom for every four hydrogen atoms.  And a molecule of methane burns to make one molecule of CO2 and two molecules of water.

If more people were more scientifically literate and careful in their thought, a great many of our problems would probably be diminished, so my biggest local lament here is that many of the more vocal activists on all sides may refer to things like carbon and economics and communication and the like without even really thinking about the words they are saying.  Such words in such cases aren’t tools of communication, but are, as Eliezer Yudkowsky notes, just soldiers going into battle.  What a horrible bastardization of the greatest invention of the human species.

In closing, I just want to let you know that I recorded myself reading aloud the last blog post I made on my alternate blog Iterations of Zero, and I’ve turned it into a video to put on YouTube.  I’ve embed it here, below.  It’s only three minutes long, and some of that is a lead-in moment of silence.

You can read it or listen, whatever you like, but I hope if you “watch” it you’ll give it a “thumbs up” on YouTube.

It’s a brief discussion of a thought experiment or story of a person trapped in a peculiar prison and trying to send messages for help without alerting the jailer, but it’s not as simple as it seems, and it’s not actually fiction.


*And they are truly sort of heart-shaped, especially if you look at the interior shape of a heart.

I blog not you, you elements, with unkindness

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, February 2nd, and the day of the week on which I’ve long done my semi-traditional blog posting.

I don’t know whether I have the energy to hunt for a Shakespeare quote to alter and/or a picture to put at the bottom, both vaguely related to whatever “subject” I address in the blog.  But, of course, by now, you readers will know what decision I, the writer, will have made, even as you read the words I’m writing while I do not know.

It’s a bit wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, isn’t it?

Of course, the biological experience of time is much more malleable and irregular than the actual nature of time, but time is not a simple, straight, linear dimension.  It’s warped by the planet beneath your feet, among many other things.  Your physical body’s tendency to want to follow the most “direct” path through it‒and the fact that the planet is in the way, preventing you from following that path‒creates what we call gravity, locally.

When you’re free-falling, you’re coasting through time (and space, of course), and it’s the ground that actually accelerates you once you reach it.  It’s a hell of an acceleration if you’ve been pursuing your geodesic unimpeded for long by the time the ground throws itself into your path.  Human’s aren’t built to withstand that kind of acceleration.

I’m writing with my smartphone again, today, by the way.  It’s just too annoying to deal with the laptop at the bus stop.  I also wrote more words than I really had meant to write yesterday, probably because I type faster on the laptop, but I don’t think the increased number of words was associated with an increase in actual content.  I think the signal-to-noise ratio, if you will, of my blog post yesterday was lower than it has tended to be with the phone.  That’s not an objective measure, however, and others may disagree.

As for my thumbs, they already feel a bit better than they did, and they’re not giving me too much trouble now.  I have some Voltaren cream (or is it an ointment?) that I can apply to the joints if necessary, though I already take round-the-clock NSAIDs every day for my chronic pain, so it’s not really recommended that I add the Voltaren, a strong NSAID in it’s own right.  It increases the risk for kidney damage and liver damage and stomach issues and so on.  But I’m already at risk for those things (though I take Omeprazole for my stomach protection) and I don’t see easy short-term solutions to the problem.

This is one of the conundrums (conundra?  Probably not) that make opiates and opioids both necessary and yet culturally difficult‒our non-psychoactive pain medications are literally toxic to our bodies above a quite low threshold relative to their analgesic powers.  Yet pain does not easily just go away on its own in many cases‒biology is subject to much stronger pressures for pain to persist than to allow it easily to be relieved, and those incentives will remain so in any evolutionarily stable form of life.

Opiates and the like can work against nearly any degree of pain with limited direct toxicity, but with diminishing success and tolerance, requiring increasing doses over time*.  But they do affect neural circuitry, reward, and motivation, among other things, and so their use is complicated‒and it’s additionally complicated by the fact that the treatment of pain, physical and psychological, is somewhat taboo in our society.

The use of various substances in one’s own body is even criminalized, and so black markets arise to take advantage of the inevitable demand.  And without matters being out in the open and subject to expert scrutiny and monitoring and education, various abuses and issues relating to lack of access to appropriate guidance and treatment and support arise and worsen.

And they will persist.

Do you think continuing to criminalize the use of drugs of various kinds will decrease abuse and death and even violence related to the drugs?  You hypocrites!  I say to you that it is the criminalization of that use that created the black markets and abuse and danger and sordidness‒and, indeed, the majority of the deaths‒in the first place!

You punish people for trying, however imperfectly, to treat chronic pain and those who suffer from it from addressing it, and are surprised that sufferers turn to the market you have created for illicit meds.  You have the temerity to be “shocked” that people die from the unmonitored, unregulated, inexpert use and manufacture of these things which you have removed from the bailiwick of expert awareness and oversight and monitoring.  You took an area that should have been medical and made it criminal and are stupid enough to be surprised that opportunistic criminals (whether they be gangs or governments or otherwise) are not as careful and caring as actual medical professionals.

And sometimes you are so hopelessly moronic as to imagine that further punishments of both producers and suppliers‒and even users‒of drugs will change the problem or decrease it or make it go away.  As if making an already suffering person’s life even more difficult and miserable is going to diminish their urge for relief and escape from at least some forms of pain, and their willingness to risk the permanent end to their pain that is death by overdose.  I’d need to exist macroscopically in all the ten spatial dimensions of M Theory to be able to give that the eye roll that nonsense deserves.

Phew.  That was a heckuva tangent.

I don’t actually use opioids or related medications, though I have been prescribed them in the past.  They interact with my rather peculiar nervous system in ways I find truly unpleasant, though they can help with pain.  So, instead, I suffer constant daily assaults on my kidneys and GI tract and my liver, and I accept that.

It’s not as though I will seek treatment if my organs fail.  I have no insurance, for one thing, but also, I just don’t see any point in trying to preserve my existence.  Heck, I’ve been told I have a possible recurrence or deterioration of my congenital heart problem‒I’m not fully convinced that it’s really any kind of recurrence‒for which I had heart surgery when I was 18, but I have no interest in pursuing possible further exploration or treatment of it, anyway.

Let my kidneys fail, let my liver fail, let my heart fail!  Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks!  Why would I try to preserve or prolong my existence when I don’t even like myself, let alone have anyone else nearby who likes me and spends time with me***?

Anyway, that went off the rails pretty quickly, didn’t it?  It also got longer than I expected.  Sorry.

I still don’t know the answer to my initial wondering about titles and pictures‒but you all do.  And I love you for it.



*Though at least they don’t directly poison livers and kidneys, and the needed doses don’t keep going up without limit, though they are nevertheless often higher than most doctors are willing to prescribe.  This is largely because doctors fear having what happened to me happen to them, and who can blame them?  The only exception to this general hesitancy is with cancer.  People with cancer are allowed to be treated with whatever level of pain medicine it takes to reduce their pain, because in the typical human “mind” having cancer pain is different, and people with cancer are special.  They’re allowed to be dependent on pain medications, because surely they have the only type of pain that can go on and on without resolving and can steal all the joy from their lives, eventually killing them.  Anyone else is just a disgusting drug addict, a scum of the Earth, and deserves merely contempt**.

**The latter portion of the above paragraph is sarcastic.

***I cannot blame them, so don’t be defensive on my behalf.  I find myself infuriating and disgusting.

Wandering through fields of deer

I work in a city in Florida called Deerfield Beach.  People often refer to it simply as “Deerfield”.  Being who I am, I can almost never hear or see that word without thinking something along the lines of “What kind of field is a deer field?”. Then I usually begin some lighthearted speculations on the matter.

I will now share some of these with you, because why should I be the only one to suffer from such stupidity?

I often speculate to myself that perhaps the deer field is a recently discovered quantum field, along the lines of the electron field and the gluon field and all the rest.  If that is the case, what we see as “deer” would be, fundamentally, just local disturbances or vibrations in the “deer field”.

Obviously the deer field interacts with the Higgs field, because although deer can be quite speedy, they never move anything close to the speed of light, and they can even be at rest; they clearly have a rest mass.  As everyone knows, “massless” particles, the ones that don’t interact with the Higgs, always travel at the speed of light*, which is just another term for the speed of causality.

Speaking of which, of course, an individual deer is very massive for a fundamental particle.  The median mass of a deer is around 50 kg.  Putting that in terms more typical of particle physics, it’s roughly 3 x 10^30 eV**.

To give you some perspective, the most massive of the quarks, the top quark, which is (I think) the most massive previously recognized fundamental particle is about 170 GeV (giga-electron-volts).  That’s 170 billion eV, or 170 x 10^9 eV, or 1.7 x 10^11 eV.  That would make a typical deer particle nearly 2 x 10^19 times as massive as a top quark.  Writing that out in terms that might hit home more powerfully, that’s 20,000,000,000,000,000,000 times as massive.

No wonder it’s never been produced in any of our particle accelerators!

Yet the deer field must have very weak coupling with other fields, because individual deer particles are extremely stable.  We can feel reasonably confident that not one single deer particle has decayed spontaneously into other, less massive particles in all of human history, because if it did, the energy released would dwarf the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by humans.

Recall that the explosive force of the original atom bombs at Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki was produced by the conversion of less than a gram of matter into radiant energy, yielding a blast equivalent to the explosion of about 20 thousand tons (aka 20 kilotons) of TNT.  The energy released by the “decay” of a single deer particle would be about 100,000 times as great, if my figuring is right, or 2 gigatons.  I’m sure you’re all aware that the Tsar Bomba, the largest ever nuclear explosion set off by humans, was “only” about fifty megatons, or about one fortieth as large.

So, don’t stand too close to a decaying deer…and “too close” would probably be “within a few hundred kilometers”.

All this leads me to speculate, given their mass and stability, that perhaps the deer is one of the theorized “supersymmetric” particles, thought to be paired with each of the more “typical” particles of the Standard Model, but which have not yet been detected in any particle accelerators‒again, given the rest mass of a deer, we should not be surprised.

I don’t know whether deer are fermions or bosons; my initial thought is that they would be spin-zero, since I’m not aware of deer showing, for instance, any tendency to align with magnetic fields.  Then again, maybe they’re too massive for spin-related magnetic alignment to be detectable.  They certainly appear to be electrically neutral, though again, if they had a charge comparable to an electron or proton, its effects might hardly be noticeable given their mass.

I would hope that particle physicists would flock‒or perhaps “herd” would be a better term‒to the places where these amazingly stable particles are plentiful, the better to study their characteristics.  Ironically, although I work in Deerfield, I have never seen a single deer particle there, but up north‒particularly in New Jersey‒I’ve seen many.

What is it about New Jersey and similar locales that leads to the local aggregation of so many of these ultra-massive “particles”, which seem likely to be primordial remnants of the big bang***?  Is it perhaps that they interact somewhat strongly with the prominent local corn fields?

Wait a minute!  Corn field?  What’s the nature of that quantum field and particle?!?!?

Anyway, this is the sort of shit that goes through my mind almost every time I see or hear the word “Deerfield”, and it’s only one example of that sort of thing.  There are countless others.

Just in case you ever wonder why I’m always so depressed.


*The two most well-known such “massless” particles are the photon and the graviton.  Of course, the graviton has not ever been measured as an individual particle, but it has been confirmed‒as expected‒by LIGO, VIRGO, et al, that gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, and so are massless.  I can’t help think that’s a good thing, because if gravitons had/have mass, there would be what I would assume to be some quite complicated self-interactions‒gravitons would themselves interact strongly with the gravitational field‒that would make their theoretical characteristics and so on quite complicated.  The very fact that they carry energy means they must self-interact at some level, since energy interacts with gravity, but they are expected individually to have very low energy, gravity being far weaker than the other “forces” of nature.  Of course, gravity is in some ways not quite like the other forces in character, but don’t get me started on that.

**Short for electron volts, defined as the amount of energy gained by an electron from being accelerated through a potential difference of one volt.  It’s a measure of energy, and it’s used as a measure of mass as well, because in the realm of fundamental particles, E=mc2 really comes into its own.

***It’s hard to imagine any subsequent processes generating such particles, though perhaps supernovae could occasionally create a few.

Cycles both vicious and viscous

It’s Monday again, the start of a new work week.  I guess this must be the 4th week of the year, since Saturday was January 21st, and 21 is 3 times 7, and this year and month started on a Sunday.  I’m at the bus stop again, writing this on my phone again while waiting for the first bus.  It’s generally better, for me at least, to wait somewhere to which I’ve already traveled, rather than waiting before I travel.  That way I can just sit still until the next stage of my journey.

Unfortunately, this bus stop has a strong smell of human urine this morning.  I don’t know if that’s because the weekend just passed, and people get drunk and pee in inappropriate places on the weekend sometimes, or if that homeless person spent more time here than expected and had to pee during that time.  I’ve not noticed the smell before, so it doesn’t seem to be a frequent thing.  I suppose if it had rained there would probably not be any residual odor, but it’s not the rainy part of the year down here in south Florida.

I had thought to myself, if the homeless person were to have been lying out at the bus stop again, I would go to the other nearby stop that I had (internally) recommended to her a few days ago.  That’s where I usually get off the bus at the end of the day, so it wouldn’t be a strange one for me to use.

It is curious‒I don’t know if other people do this or notice it or what have you, but I often take slightly different routes when going to and from a place.  Some of that is probably just a byproduct of perception, in that certain paths look or seem easier from one angle compared to another.  They can even be easier to see from one direction compared to another.

Sometimes it’s a matter of lighting and timing, such as the fact that, on my way back to the train after work, I take a slightly parallel portion of the route (which in the morning just goes on down the main road) because there’s a nice, quieter, tree-lined block behind the regional courthouse, and in the evening, when there’s light and I’m done with the work day, it’s more pleasant to walk there.  It also goes directly to the side of the tracks where I catch the train in the evening, whereas when I’m getting off the train, it would require a significant detour.

All this is trivia, but my point is that having these different routes when going one direction compared to another seems to be ubiquitous, at least for me, and I suspect I’m not alone in this.  This means, of course, that the routes become a kind of circle, rather than simply a reversible, oscillating process.

Of course no macroscopic processes of that sort are actually reversible, anyway, because of friction and the creation of increasing entropy, but even if one could eliminate such things, a to-and-from trip that takes different routes could have a net gain or loss*‒I think loss would be most likely‒and this loss could be perpetual and steady.

It’s a bit like that economics or game theory or decision theory idea whereby if someone prefers place A to place B, and prefers place B to place C, but prefers place C to place A, one could effectively be induced to pay to go in an endless cycle, from A to C to B to A to C to B, etc.  Of course, it would be profoundly irrational for someone to do such a thing, but people get caught in even stupider cycles all the time, which are even more costly, but because they rarely pay attention to the nature of their actions as if from the outside, they often don’t even realize they’re doing something thoroughly irrational.

I return again to my musings on the myth of Sisyphus‒the actual myth, not the book by Camus, though I still haven’t answered his main question to my own satisfaction‒and how horrifying it is that Sisyphus is the one doing his own punishing.

Say what you will about the horrors of Prometheus’s fate, at least he was the passive, chained victim of it**.  That may not make it better, and it may indeed be worse, but it is different.  Sisyphus’s very mind has been changed, so that he feels an irresistible urge, or drive, to push his boulder, despite the fact that he never gets it to the top of the hill (or mountain or whatever) without it rolling back down again.

But, of course, we all do very similar things all the time.  We eat to stay alive, and that eating gives us some pleasure, but the pleasure is transitory (as it must be) so soon we feel the urge to seek food again, and continue the cycle, which just spirals its way from bassinet to coffin, with the only certain outcome being that entropy in the universe will have been increased as part of the process.

Of course, the very universe itself may well be Sisyphean in nature‒see for instance my musing on Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, though even Inflationary cosmology can produce endless recurrences and infinite repetition.  Heck, even the old-school Boltzmann type of heat death of a universe implicitly produced endless cycles as, eventually, entropy would occasionally dip low enough to regenerate all the “stuff” in a universe, before making its way back up again.

And, of course, if the universe were “closed”, which it doesn’t seem to be, it could expand, collapse, “bounce”, reexpand, etc.  And if some of the “braneworld” scenarios in M Theory are right, there’s a cycle of brane-universes smacking into one another, restarting the hot Big Bang conditions over and over as they do***.

I don’t know where I’m going with this discussion, but in a way, that demonstrates my point.  I write my blog post every workday, for no particular reason, but because various confluent and complex drives in my nervous system lead me to do it.  Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Except, it’s not really “needed” in any deep sense.  It’s just an urge.  Even life itself is just a habit.  And it’s not always a good one, is it?

*Of course, one’s potential energy returning to it’s original point in a reversible system means that no net “work” has been done, no matter what path has been followed, but I’m leaving aside such idealized systems…though at the tiniest level they may be more accurate representations of reality than any more “realistic” macroscopic analogy.

**Who else thought of The Big Lewbowski when reading that line?

***This is the sort of “collision” to which the title of The Chasm and the Collision refers.

Another restless wind inside a letter box

Okay, well, it’s Saturday, and I’m now, more or less, at the bus stop, waiting for the bus.

It’s mildly interesting that the Saturday schedule for my first bus of the day is the same as its weekday schedule.  That will get me to the Tri Rail station in time for the second train of the day‒they run on a reduced schedule on Saturdays‒which will board only about 20 minutes later than the one I’ve been catching during the week.  So that’s rather nice.  I don’t even really have to change my commuting schedule, even though it’s Saturday.

I appreciate not having to change my routine.

Speaking of not having to change my routine‒and of being “more or less” at the bus stop‒I’m not sitting down to write this because someone is using the bus stop bench as a place to lie down, or at least to recline.  I think it might be that shouty lady from earlier this week.

I’m quite frustrated that anyone is using a public spot, paid for to at least some degree by the people who ride the bus, as a place to lay out, but when I calm myself down, I can sympathize with the fact that she doesn’t have anyplace to go.  Still, why lie out at the bus stop at an intersection that’s busy even on Saturday mornings?

The main road is six lanes wide here, and though the crossroad is not as big, it’s still a pretty busy road.  I would think it would be preferable to go someplace where there was greater peace and quiet.

I suppose one might be more vulnerable in more secluded places, but one could pick a spot with relative care, and I would think it would be more pleasant.  Heck, just on the other side of the crossroad, there’s another stop with a bigger bench and a better shelter, where one would still be close to the intersection and protected by the relatively high traffic from at least any unobserved crime.

Sigh.  It’s so wonderful to have worked hard all one’s life and tried to do the right thing and be very highly educated and to have striven to be a benefit to the world and then be stuck at age 53 not being able to sit at the bus stop early Saturday morning because a homeless person is using it to recline…and to muse about the ins and outs and safety concerns for such a homeless person, because it’s not completely impossible one might be such oneself (I have been in close to that situation, sleeping in the back of a rental vehicle for which I was not paying on a few nights while out on bail).

I know that the universe promises us one thing and one thing only, and it certainly doesn’t make bargains or special deals with anyone.  But it’s still frustrating.  I feel like I’ve wasted so much time and effort.  I feel like I’m still wasting time and effort.

Of course, all time is wasted in some sense; in any case, it passes‒or we pass through it, or whatever‒no matter what we do in it.  And, of course, even the nature of time itself is unclear.  It certainly isn’t one vast, monolithic, singular thing that is the same for everyone in the universe.  As I’ve speculated before, it may even have more than one past-future orientation, just as up-down changes depending where you are on the surface of the Earth.

It’s partly because of that fact of time’s locality that one can actually model a universe that begins at a finite place‒say, the isolated collapse of a hypothetical inflaton field‒and yet becomes an infinite space to those within that bubble.  Because time is local and causality only proceeds at the speed of light, at least in our part of the universe, it can all depend on one’s point of view.

Of course, it’s by no means certain that inflationary cosmology describes the way our universe came to be, though it is internally consistent.  Other possible models include Roger Penrose’s Conformal Cyclic Cosmology‒which I like a lot, aesthetically*‒in which the accelerating expansion in a universe, leading to eventual increase of entropy to where nothing can really exist any longer, leads to or simply becomes the highly uniform, comparatively low entropy state of the next universe, just on locally small scales.  Entropy, after all, is not necessarily on a fixed, absolute measure, nor is space itself.  Entropy can be small in a tiny region that then expands to become a much larger one, still with low local entropy.

It’s a bit analogous, I think, to taking a number line and multiplying everything in it by two, so that the space between any two previously chosen points on the line is doubled, but the number line itself is just as infinite as it was before.

The nature of the real numbers being what it is, there’s an uncountable infinity of numbers between any two points on the real number line, and so there’s room to grow a universe of any size you might like from the space between any two locations on a number line‒or in a 4-D spacetime.

Penrose has posited that it would be conceivable for the residents of such a universe, if they knew and understood the kind of universe they were in, to leave behind messages in the very fabric of mass and energy arrangement in their universe for the people in the next universe‒nothing very complex, I would guess, but maybe just enough to make it clear that they had existed.

I’m not sure why people who were approaching the heat death of their particular universal iteration would bother with doing that, but maybe they would.  A bigger question to me would be, how would they target it?  If spacetime were expanding exponentially, as it seems to be doing even now, then every future “observable” universe would lie only within a tiny tiny tiny chunk of what was left of the previous universe.  So how would a previous universe’s intelligent life choose where to leave the message?  Would they try to encode it in every possible tiny region of their spacetime?  That would require engineering on a cosmic (but highly detailed) scale, and if you can do that, why not alter the expansion of the universe in the first place?

Of course, that’s not relevant to whether the notion of CCC is correct, just to the question of if such messages would be possible and how they might be carried out.  My more itchy question is, whence would the energy and particles of each new iteration of the ever-expanding universe arise?

In the Inflationary model of cosmology, all the immense energy that suffused our early universe was “created” when the hypothetical inflaton field underwent a phase transition and dropped to a lower energy state, so the local inflaton particles quickly decayed into all the particles of our more familiar quantum fields.

Inflation is not universally (ha ha) accepted, but certain aspects of it are certainly plausible and are supported by at least some data.  For instance, our universe is currently inflating, based on our best data and understanding.  That’s the Dark Energy stuff about which you’ve probably heard.

Exponential expansion is exponential expansion.  The doubling rate can change, but it still blows up at ever-increasing speeds.  If you compress or stretch your time axis, all exponential growth curves look the same.  It’s a little like that Conformal Cyclic Cosmology notion.

Anyway, as far as the source of the “reheating” of the universe in CCC as opposed to inflation, I doubt that Sir Roger Penrose has overlooked or missed that question.  He frikking brilliant‒even when he’s wrong he’s smarter than most of us are when we’re as right as we ever get**.  I just need to read a little more deeply into his model to figure out where that comes from.

Perhaps that will also allay my puzzlement about the “leaving a message” notion.  I simply haven’t finished his book on the subject.  It didn’t help that, as of last check, it wasn’t available in e-book format, and so I only have the paperback.  Not that there’s anything wrong with paperbacks, but it’s less convenient to carry 400+ of them around with you at any given time than Kindle format books, and so you’re less likely to have any one of them with you on any given day.

Oh, well.  I’ll see what I can do about learning more.  That’s rarely a waste of time, at least.

Wow, this post has really meandered from one thought to another, going truly across the universe‒and beyond, depending on how you define the word “universe”.  Perhaps it would be best to use “Omniverse” when describing the totality of all possible realities, as the wizard does in DFandD.

Speaking thereof, if any of you have read it and would like to make any comments about it, I’d be delighted to receive them, either here or on the blog post proper that entails my sharing of that story (so far).

In the meantime, my train should be here in 5 minutes (I rode the bus in between these two times).  My estimate of the schedule was correct, as is usually the case when I bother to check and when people and organizations keep to their own, voluntarily chosen schedules, on which numerous people act in reliance.  Don’t get me started on that topic.  I’ve already written way more than I would have expected from such inauspicious beginnings.

Have a nice weekend, all.  I won’t be posting tomorrow, barring the unforeseen, but I will be back on Monday‒again, barring the unforeseen.  Those unknown unknowns can strike at any time.  Take care, and be as prepared as you can reasonably be.

penrose by any other name

*This is no reason to think it’s more likely to be correct than any less aesthetically pleasing model, but it keeps it fun.

**He also looks rather a lot like my former Uncle Barney.  That’s neither here nor there, but I wanted to make sure I said it at some point.  So, there, now I have.