Thursday, December 8, 2005

The origin of the universe, chaos, fractals and "God"

by Elaine Walker, Dec 8, 2005
Current mood:  peaceful

Hi folks. I'm writing a series of essays about the stuff I think and wonder about. I hope to get some feedback as I go so I can keep improving them. My goal is to eventually write a book. Here are some of the topics I'll write about just to give you a preview: 

The origin of the universe - Was there an actual beginning in the Big Bang, or more of a "fuzzy" beginning with no actual pinpoint of origin? Are we holograms? This is a new idea that might bring together quantum physics and relativity. I personally like the idea of the universe starting from a perfectly symmetrical point of pure energy - what could be more wonderful than that idea? I even wrote a whole song about that entitled Big Bang, but I might have to let go of that if other theories explain things a bit better. Darnit. So I’ll be looking beyond the Big Bang theory and looking at new scientific inquiries. It can’t hurt to look. But my main focus, and what disturbs me most about the origin of the universe, is the “first cause problem”. “What caused the first cause”? seems like a silly question since “caused” is past tense, yet used to inquire about something that was before time. Yet, it is an obvious question coming from a creature living in a seemingly causal universe.

God - Is God logically necessary? In other words, does there really need to be a mystical entity to explain the origin of the universe, or is it possible that the explanation is contained within the universe itself? The universe is filled with paradoxes, and the idea of infinity is impossible for us to grasp, yet scientists still hope to explain the universe with rational explanations. Perhaps both of these ideas need reexamining. Maybe there was no mysitcal entity involved and the universe really did bootstrap itself into existence, but even so, perhaps we still need to let go of rational thought to a degree if we want to get to the bottom/beginning of things. The idea of letting go of rational thought is not easy to think about. 

Chaos theory and fractals - Can everything in the universe, besides intelligently designed objects, be explained on a certain level with chaos theory and fractals (ie. dynamical systems, complexity theory, etc)? I think so. Mandelbrot himself said this. It must be true! I've thought about this for many years and cannot find any examples of structures in the universe that don't appear to me to be fractal in structure, including timelines. History repeats itself in self-similar forms. There is no denying that! In fact, the more in tune I get (developing my “fractal geometer’s eye”) the more surprising places I see chaotic patterns and fractals. For the layman, chaos theory and fractals are intimately related. Chaos mathematics involves functions where the output is fed back into the input (the seed value), like a mathematical feedback loop. The resulting output would be a tree, or a cloud, or a mountain scape, or the stock market, or what have you. The output of these iterated functions is often fractal in nature, where there are self-similar structures at different scales. This is easy to imagine if you've ever stared at clouds out of an airplane window - close up they have certain shapes, and farther away you see the same shapes on a much larger scale. Mountain sides tend to look similar from far away or close up. That is precisely why geologists often put a knife in the picture for scale. Often a tree will be the shape of it's individual leaves. 

Consciousness - What is it, really? I do not believe we have a separate spirit that contains our consciousness. I don't deny that there might be something more to us other than our bodies and minds, but that is a different topic. What I'd like to expand upon is the actual mechanics behind consciousness. In brief, I believe it is somehow an overflow of our intelligence that is meant to act as a filter so that we can function properly. Not that we function properly anyway, but imagine if our brains were left to process everything they possibly could with no filter or self controlling mechanisms. I believe our consciousness has a specific function - to act as another layer on top of our subconscious that allows our brains to grow more complex without going haywire.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Grammar lessons

There’s vs. There Are

Sunday, November 13, 2005 
Current mood: confused

Perhaps every now and then I will post pet peeves of mine, in no particular order. I will start with this one because it is in the forefront of my mind. Maybe if I type it out here, in this venue, I will stop thinking about it. Pet Peeve 1: Everybody in the world except a couple of brave people, like me, say "there's" when they mean "there are". It drives me nuts. Just pay attention for one day and count how many times people, including yourself, say "there's" when they really mean "there are" or "there're". This includes well educated people, news broadcasters.. everybody! I'm not sure what the problem is. It's not that hard to say it correctly. You can just sort of blur together "there're" so that it sounds almost like "there". THERE! See how easy it is? It's doesn't have to be a tongue twister. I think it actually sounds fairly normal to say "there are". It doesn't sound too proper or too British or anything. "Wow, look at those birds! There are so many of them!" or "Look! There're so many of them!" as opposed to, "Look at those birds! There's so many of them!" AAAAHHHH! Make it stop! oops, ok I've just caught myself saying "there's". Blah! I guess I do it too. How annoying. 


Lie vs. Lay grammar lesson! 

Sunday, November 14, 2005 
Current mood:  jubilant

This is a different sort of Pet Peeve because I only annoy MYSELF by it. I never know how to use "laid" or "layed" or "lied" or "lie" or "lay" properly in a sentence, unless I'm talking about sex. I have been struggling with this one for many years. I drive myself nuts! My Mom explains it to me whenever I ask and I promptly forget. I don't care when other people mess this up because I never KNOW when they're saying it incorrectly. But guess what! I did some intensive research today and I think I've finally figured it out! I'd be willing to bet that some of you struggle with this same problem, so here's a quick grammar lesson! Firstly, "layed" isn't even a word. Doh! Lay and lie are hard to get right. Remember, lay means "to place." Lie means "to recline." People confuse lay and lie because the past tense of lie is lay. Check it out... Present tense: lay Past tense: laid Past Participle: laid "Now I have to lay this tomato on the cutting board." "Yesterday, I laid a tomato on the cutting board." "I had just laid the tomato down when you called." Present tense: lie Past tense: lay (!) Past Participle: lain (!) "I think I’ll lie down for a while." "Yesterday I lay awake instead of napping." "I could have lain there fruitlessly, but instead I got up and vacuumed." When I finally figured this out, I realized WHY I never know what word to use - BECAUSE NO ONE IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE SAYS LAY AS THE PAST TENSE OF LIE OR LAIN AS THE PAST PARTICIPLE!! Do you? If so, you're a freak! I admire you and I'm jealous, but you're a freak! However, from now on I too am going to say things correctly. I, Elaine Walker, am going to start saying, "Last night I lay in bed with insomnia. I could have lain there fruitlessly, but finally got up and vacuumed." And wadayaknow. If you say it over and over enough times it starts to sound normal! heeheeeee!