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Cullion
4th March 10, 04:26 PM
I thought that sociocide might benefit from it's own 'badass of the month'.
Revolutionaries. Political leaders. Authors. Scientists. Artists.

People who shook things up.

I'm going to try and kick things off with the great physicist Richard Feynman.

http://lifeboat.com/images/richard.feynman.jpg

Out of all the iconic figures of 20th century science, I chose Richard for two reasons.

Firstly, unlike Einstein and many other great scientific figures who could be aloof, and somewhat cold or even cruel to those close them, Feynman was by all accounts a warm, loyal and gregarious teacher and father.

Secondly, whilst his image and popular science lectures might be familiar to many English speakers, I don't think his work is as widely understood as those of Crick and Watson or Einstein, because much of it deals with the mysterious quantum world.

His Nobel Prize was awarded (jointly with the other 2 luminaries) for his founding role in the field of Quantum Electro Dynamics. QED is the study of how light (or other electromagnetic waves such as radio) and electrically charged particles (like electrons in an atom's shell) interact. It is the most accurate scientific theory ever devised by mankind (the predictions of Newton and Einstein deviate from observations further than QED does).

It essentially allows one to explain all observed chemistry from first principles, and a good chunk of the physics of matter and light.

Now, I'm not even vaguely conversant enough with this theory to try and teach QED to people,
so I've picked out a short video that I thought explained the importance of this theory quite clearly:-

I8R4Tz_vKEE

If this grips your interest, it should. QED is the hidden brilliant scientific truth that explains with world-beating accuracy many of the questions you had about the world as a kid. Why is so-and-so a certain colour? How does dynamite work? How does a solar cell work ? Why do I get copper on one electrode when I dip the wires from a live battery into copper sulphate solution ?

If you want to work these things out from first principles with real mathematical precision, then QED is where it's all laid out, everything else is pretty much a simplified special case based on QED (except where gravity or some of the strange interactions that only happen within atomic nuclei are concerned). But they don't tell us about it at school because the specifics are judged just too complex for us at that age, and some of the ideas are just too.. weird.

Later this month, I hope to give you something about Feynman the man. His wives, his kids, the strip clubs, the pot, the bongos..

danno
4th March 10, 05:28 PM
this is a great idea and a good start.

Cullion
4th March 10, 05:30 PM
Thanks danno. I've always looked up to Richard Feynman, he's a hero figure for me. Not because I imagine him to have superhuman qualities, but because I think he navigated his humanity well.

There's so much I want to say about him as a man that I think we could all learn from, but I need time and thinking space to put it together. I wish DAYoung were here, because I think he would delight in Feynman. Feynman is a person who, IMHO, wasn't just good at his job, but got 'life' right.

Feynman is the beacon that brought me back to attempt the serious study of physics as a 30-something after years of wallowing in practicalities as a software engineer and businessman.

As a small taste of Feynman's awesomeness, he was a devoted husband to two women (the first wife died of TB and he looked after her right to the end), but he also loved a touch of freeky sex culture and was a regular at his local strip clubs.

When one of his favourites was threatened with closure by local government, most of the patrons were too embarrassed to show up at the hearing.

But not Richard, he went up in public, with a smile on his face and willing for his name to be in the local papers and said 'look, we love watching pretty girls dance nude, and it's relaxing and natural, and we treat the girls well, and all levels of society socialise from plumbers to physics professors, I don't think this place should be banned, we have nothing to be ashamed of, what's your problem?' (I'm paraphrasing, but paraphrasing honestly).

That takes guts and honesty, and a lot of places would be better off for a few extra Feynmans.

This was a truly awesome man, not just a clever dork.

If this works out, I hope you'll teach me as much about one of your favourite thinkers/artists/revolutionaries/anything some month in the future.

WarPhalange
4th March 10, 05:55 PM
*cums*

Cullion
4th March 10, 05:58 PM
Poops, as you're now into condensed matter, in that area where the physics of atoms and materials, and chemistry come together, I'm guessing the QED is part of what you do? Or am I off base?

Anything you've got time to explain on the subject would be really appreciated.

bob
4th March 10, 06:06 PM
In addition, he had some degree of synesthesia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia) for equations, explaining that the letters in certain mathematic functions appeared in color for him, even though invariably printed in standard black-and-white

That's a neat superpower.

Cullion
4th March 10, 06:15 PM
It's not a superpower, it's just a weird thing that made them stand out and help him overcome his often short attention span. How do I know? Because I get it too, but instead of colours I see shapes. I get mathematical problems wrong all the time, but I love them.

I know what a genuine mathematical genius is like, and I know I'm not one.

Feynman was a fallible normal human being who you would be quite capable of out-arguing on many subjects. He just never got bored of the maths and the physics, so he was always one step ahead through sheer love of the subject. A big part of it was probably because he was seeing pretty colours whilst he thought about it.

Zendetta
4th March 10, 06:29 PM
Wasn't he also a superstud that got tons of poon?

Cullion
4th March 10, 06:50 PM
He had two happy marriages with no divorces in the mid-20th century. Any poon on the side is therefore a scurilous rumour. He loved strip clubs, and did some of his most creative math on the back of napkins in them, whilst sketching the nude female form. If neither of his wives judged him then we shouldn't either.

(Yeah, it sounds like he had as much poon as he wanted, but he got away with it and raised his kids right)

AAAhmed46
4th March 10, 07:07 PM
*cums*


Cumms in MOUTH

Zendetta
4th March 10, 07:11 PM
He loved strip clubs, and did some of his most creative math on the back of napkins in them, whilst sketching the nude female form. If neither of his wives judged him then we shouldn't either.

Agreed. That is awesome.

How can we get Poop Loops (also a Pollack) to embrace his Inner Feynman?

Cullion
4th March 10, 07:15 PM
Poops is a virgin living in california with new disposable income, away from his parents for the first time. He probably knows all about strip clubs, but it's up to him when he wants to talk about it.

WarPhalange
4th March 10, 10:36 PM
Poops is a virgin living in california with new disposable income, away from his parents for the first time. He probably knows all about strip clubs, but it's up to him when he wants to talk about it.
You forget that I'm also a shut-in and barely leave my house. Also, 20k/year isn't what I'd call "disposable" income.

To answer your questions on QED: I know exactly dick about it. I kind of saw a hint of it earlier this week when the professor wrote some stuff on the board without explaining it, so my friend asked him where one of the variables came from and he replied "That's from second quantization", whereby the entire class went "lolwut".

As I understand it, QED deals mainly with individual particles interacting, say the electron and proton, proton and proton, etc. You've probably heard of Feynman diagrams? QED is part of that, where it describes how electromagnetism works on the quantum level. But the thing is, you pretty much only deal with a few particles interacting at a time, whereas in condensed matter you have 10^23 of those particles, so that's impractical. Also, at the end of the day, it's electrons that decide the properties of molecules, crystals, etc., so the main focus is understanding that. Basically, you don't really need QED to understand bulk materials.

DAYoung
5th March 10, 02:53 AM
More proof of how emasculated and lazy the West has come: a scientist as 'badass of the month'.

Fail.

Here are some more noble suggestions:

- Ronald Reagan (defeated communism)

- George Bush Sr (helped Reagan and was military hero)

- George Bush Jr (defeated terrorism)

DAYoung
5th March 10, 02:54 AM
Also: good job, Cullion.

This is awesome, and when I've something helpful to contribute, I will.

Steve
5th March 10, 04:04 AM
My new name is Jeb. Am I awesome now?

danno
5th March 10, 04:10 AM
More proof of how emasculated and lazy the West has come: a scientist as 'badass of the month'.

Fail.

Here are some more noble suggestions:

- Ronald Reagan (defeated communism)

- George Bush Sr (helped Reagan and was military hero)

- George Bush Jr (defeated terrorism)

but they didn't do any of these things! you're just parroting right wing propa-

oh... oh you mongrel bastard, you got me that time! lawlz

Cullion
5th March 10, 06:00 AM
To answer your questions on QED: I know exactly dick about it. I kind of saw a hint of it earlier this week when the professor wrote some stuff on the board without explaining it, so my friend asked him where one of the variables came from and he replied "That's from second quantization", whereby the entire class went "lolwut".

As I understand it, QED deals mainly with individual particles interacting, say the electron and proton, proton and proton, etc. You've probably heard of Feynman diagrams? QED is part of that, where it describes how electromagnetism works on the quantum level. But the thing is, you pretty much only deal with a few particles interacting at a time, whereas in condensed matter you have 10^23 of those particles, so that's impractical. Also, at the end of the day, it's electrons that decide the properties of molecules, crystals, etc., so the main focus is understanding that. Basically, you don't really need QED to understand bulk materials.

As I understand it, QED is as you say, the quantum theory of electromagnetism, and is mainly concerned with the interactions of photons and electrons, and virtual particles. I remember some luminary saying something like 'QED explains all chemistry and half of physics'. But looking at the equations, I can see that it would become a computational nightmare to try to use precise QED first principles to make predictions on the larger scale of crystals etc..

I'm going to do some reading on the experimental predictions, and technological applications of QED now.

Lebell
5th March 10, 09:12 AM
the explanaton in the video comes pretty close, but they do not discuss the interloops?
why?
it's that terribly difficult, ive been saying these things for years.
but just cos i dont have a phd people think im talking outta my ass.
oh well.
btw the 0 amount on the checkingsaccount should be x amount.
i would have explained it like that.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
5th March 10, 01:18 PM
You forget that I'm also a shut-in and barely leave my house. Also, 20k/year isn't what I'd call "disposable" income.

stop making excuses
i want you to go out to the quad right now and make friends with some potheads, smoke a little and get invited to a party
i expect you to get laid before the year is up

WarPhalange
5th March 10, 04:03 PM
Shut up, you're not my real mom. >:-(

Ajamil
5th March 10, 04:36 PM
If you make friends with potheads, don't tell them you're in Physics. They'll try to talk science with you and hurt your brain more than weed ever will.

WarPhalange
5th March 10, 07:36 PM
I'm grading midterms right now for intro to physics. My brain already hurts. People calculated that if you hang two masses slung over a pulley, they will just both fly upwards.

Syntactical Disruptorize
5th March 10, 08:08 PM
God, I love freshman problem sets. I recall one bunch of nudniks using Kepler's Third Law to determine that the moon orbits around the Earth with an orbital radius of 10 meters.

syberia
5th March 10, 09:37 PM
Nice. Syberia approves of this.
Feynman is very deserving of the BoM award.


People calculated that if you hang two masses slung over a pulley, they will just both fly upwards.

Lol. Pulleys.
I miss physics. I was thinking that in Bioscience yesterday, while meant to be learning about sugar, i stopped listening after i realised there was no actual sugar and started typing random expletives.

danno
5th March 10, 10:47 PM
pulleys are cool.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Polispasto4.jpg

WarPhalange
6th March 10, 01:12 AM
The questions asked of them are nowhere near that complicated yet.

Cullion
6th March 10, 08:00 AM
Freshman physics is just a basic intro which people who won't necessarily major in a science would take, right ?

danno
6th March 10, 10:16 AM
just had a thought - the weight in that diagram would be moving upwards at 1/4 the speed of the rope moving down?

i have a very rudimentary understanding of maths, but i'm just curious.

it's such an elegant design...

Cullion
6th March 10, 10:58 AM
Yes, you're exactly right.

For every foot of rope somebody pulls through, each of the four lengths twined around the pulley's will only shorten by 3 inches, but the force they used to pull the rope through is magnified by four (as shown in the diagram).

Work = Force x Distance.

The pulley gives you less distance and more force for the same amount of work.

Ajamil
6th March 10, 11:21 AM
They have a science center in Harrisburg with 3 500lbs. weights hooked up to just a rope, a double pulley, and a quad pulley. It's great fun.

Edit: Yay tendency to exaggerate! I don't know the exact weight in my head, but I doubt the kids lifting the one on the quad pulley were applying anywhere near 125lbs. of force.

WarPhalange
6th March 10, 11:26 AM
Freshman physics is just a basic intro which people who won't necessarily major in a science would take, right ?

There are two sequences in my school. A 4-quarter sequence for physics and engineering majors, and a 3 quarter sequence for bio/pre-med majors. The 3 quarter series is harder I'd say because all that shit is just packed in there and also related to biology/medicine.

Cullion
6th March 10, 03:11 PM
Well, I've been looking into the nuts and bolts applications of QED, and it basically looks like you can forget much of the progress in lasers, solar cells or microelectronics from the 60s onwards without it.

Now, I'm not going to talk about QED any more, as I've already exhausted my
current knowledge of it, but I've managed to track down Feynman's famous lectures for the public on the subject.

These 4 lectures (each video is over an hour) comprise the man himself's explanation of this weird but useful physical theory. They were delivered at the University of Auckland in 1979 for the Douglas Robb memorial lectures and are preserved for free public use here (sorry I didn't embed them, I couldn't find youtube versions):-

http://www.vega.org.uk/video/subseries/8

And he also wrote a very well-reviewed popular book on the subject (it includes some quantum math for those interested, but it's not a text book) called 'Quantum Electrodynamics: The Strange Theory of Matter and Light' which I'll be getting my hands on ASAP:-

http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Electrodynamics-Advanced-Book-Classics/dp/0201360756

Now I've talked about the theory for which we consider him a scientific genius today, I'll try and put some more pieces together on the man himself; career, teaching methods, opinions, personal life etc..

danno
6th March 10, 04:42 PM
Yes, you're exactly right.

For every foot of rope somebody pulls through, each of the four lengths twined around the pulley's will only shorten by 3 inches, but the force they used to pull the rope through is magnified by four (as shown in the diagram).

Work = Force x Distance.

The pulley gives you less distance and more force for the same amount of work.

i really enjoy looking at things like pulleys and gears because i can understand them visually. i can look at basic physics problems and figure them out intuitively better than most people, or so my ego tells me.

Cullion
6th March 10, 04:52 PM
You almost certainly can. If you forced yourself to learn the notation of mathematics like somebody learning to read music who can already play by ear, a whole new world would open up to you.

Once the symbols feel natural enough to you, you can turn them into mental images of the kind you're more comfortable working with, and then back.