Jan 28, 2010

Where the Evidence Leads; An Apology for Science and Reason

Marshal Bass and I recorded our first podcast last night with Prof Segei Shandarin From KU. It was interesting and alot of fun.
We started out by reading A Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. With the Prof we only went into the big band and the cosmological argument out of the book but digressed wonderfully into many different areas of cosmology and partical physics.

Jan 23, 2010

Schrödinger's cat

This was a thought experiment to show how Schrödinger thought of the way in which the quantum world influenced the our world.

The interpretation he disagreed with was that particals exist in all states until acted upon, or measured. For an example, an electron would exist in all possible places around an atom at the same time. Only when you measure/observe does it actually show up in one place. Hence the "superpostion" of existing in all states at once.

Schrödinger disagreed with this view on quantum mechanics. He found them to be absurd. To show how absurd this is, he created the cat in a box experiment. Which has been misinterpreted to be a real experiment in which the cat, unobserved, would exist in all possible states at once.

The mechanics of the box, are controlled by a quantum event, the decay of an radioactive atom, which is subject to the rules of quantum mechanics. Thus tying the quantum conditions to the macroworld and the cat would be in all states at the same time.

It doesn't matter weather or not there is any one to hear the tree fall, it still falls and all the physical interactions that would make "noise" still happen. The cat is either dead, alive or dying, regardless of the cat being observed.

Schrödinger's cat thought experiment was not to be taken as if the cat really was in a quantum state but that the inherent uncertainty of the quantum world does not make the world above the quantum level uncertain as well.

Jan 17, 2010

Scotch, Double Blind and Coke

After a double blind taste test I've found Clan McGregor is not as good as Johnny Walker Black, my poison of choice. Though Clan is THE best bar (or well) Scotch I have ever had.

How does one go about doing a double blind study? It helps to have a willing wife and daughter. Fix two samples the same, glass, ice and portion. Then my daughter brings them to me one at a time. I'm literally blind folded, so only my sense of taste and smell come into play. After doing this twice, I decide which one I like best. Then the results are reveled.

So how is this double blind? The subject, me, doesn't know which one is being served. I'm blind, literally. The one serving me doesn't know either. The one setting up the test isn't involved in giving the test, only recording the results.

This way the person setting up the test doesn't give any clues as to which I'm tasting or introducing any bias into the results and neither does the sever. If we were to do a real world study to find out which Scotch I did like best we would follow stricter blind rules and due the test for a longer period of time.
To start my wife would put both liquors in two different bottles that looked the same, mark them A and B and then put them in plain paper bags. My daughter now marks the bags 1 and 2. At this point none of us know what containers hold which Scotch. Then my daughter or my wife would fix me a drink as I would normally consume them alternating between the two and recording the data. This method although thorough, would take far to such time effort. I usually take about six months to a year to drink a bottle of Scotch.

But why would such a level of detail ever be needed for a taste test? Ask Coke about the Pepsi challenge. Coke never challenged the study, didn't due a controlled study, and their conclusion was that people like the taste of Pepsi better. They reformatted the formula, and because they didn't follow a strict scientific methodology, Coke almost went out of business.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Jan 15, 2010

Parasites one a day

Bumped into this web site and had to pass it along!

Parasite of the Day its a new parasite every day wow!

If you like parasites and you haven't read Parasite Rex, it's a must read!
The wasps as my daughter says "ARE MEAN!"

Jan 10, 2010

Ten Questions Presentation

Fun night at the Midwest Skeptic's Science Night Meetup. I gave my Ten Questions stand up talk to a packed room. Great crowed last night and a lot of fun. Got some really good feed back and enjoyed it allot. Looking forward to doing this again I'll have to find anew topic. Anyone have a good idea?

Afterwards we went to Callahan's and I discverd a new. Brand of Scotch ...
Clan Mcgreggor has to be the drink of gods.

Jan 3, 2010

Russian Rocket, Twin Towers, Big Foot, UFO's

Russian Rocket, Twin Towers, Big Foot, UFOs and the little Kodak Camera I had when I was ten. What do they have in common.

With the spectacular failure of the Russian rocket being caught not only with cameras but on damn good video, by mere phones. Lots of them to boot. With pretty good quality especially at night. This just boggles my mind. Shooting with cameras at night is hard even when prepared, but video!

I love the camera in my blackberry storm, hell I loved the crappy camera in my old flip phone. I love them for the same reason Chase Jarvis loves his iphone camera. Its always there. The camera you have with you is infinitely better than the one you left at home. You can't use the one you didn't bring.

For my tenth birthday I got a Kodak Instamatic. I took that thing with me every where I could. The pictures sucked but I loved it. Latter I would graduate to better film cameras and then digital. Same with video started out with relatively poor equipment and moved on to a digital hand held devise smaller than my old instamatic.

Now my Blackberry does more and better in both still and video. I'm not alone it seems they are every where, absolutely every where. It is truly ubiquitous technology.

Less than ten years ago the world was amazed that some one had actually caught the first plane to striking the Twin Towers on video. Now not only would we expect it we would get it in spades.

It seemed it was only seconds after the video hit the web that the UFO crowd began railing and saying how this was a portal, aliens warping in, all that crappy scyfy channel technobabble bs.

That is what it was, bs easily dismissed. It did however get me to thinking allot about UFOs and something the head of MUFON said a few years ago when asked about the lack of good photographic evidence for flying saucers. He said, "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

Let's take a look at that statement by it self. Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence. That statement does not lend itself to say big foot. What is the number of North American hunters, Hikers and Naturalist, let's say allot. How many of them have phones? Most of them. How many of the phones have a camera? Most all of them. So now who out of our sample would take a picture/movie if they saw a big foot? Every single one of them. So how many pictures of Big Foot have been taken in the last ten years? How many were taken in the seventies? The difference is not huge but the number of available cameras has increased significantly. With less overall results and an increase in equipment,people and time, there is now good evidence that Big Foot as postulated is not real creature.

Now I can apply that same logic to the claims of extra terrestrials visiting earth by space craft. How many people in the north hemisphere have phones with a camera or just a camera and even a video camera? If you take into consideration just north America and Europe, the number would be just about everyone. Now let's apply the big foot process. How many available cameras in the last decade vs how many in the seventies? Now compare the number difference in just the number compared with available cameras and opportunity to take them. The number of photos is less. Want an example look at the number of videos as well as photos taken of the lights over the New Mexico Mt range just a few years ago. There isn't an event of interest that happens that is not photographed, videoed and almost immediately uploaded to the net.

So yes the absence of evidence can lead to the evidence of absence. Just use critical thinking and you will find the flaw in the most stubborn of the non-rational.