Comment Archives: Stories: Life + Outdoors: Field Notes

Re: “Theory of Anything

Actually, the quote was from an interview of Lenny by Amanda Geftner of New Scientist about his book and I was in Peter Woit's forum the day that she showed up there to ask for input for her upcoming interview with Lenny. In fact it was *I* who prompted the question and response from him...

All of which has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I said... other than the "undeniable (fact) that the universe appears to be designed".

String theory has virtually nothing to do with the point beyond the fact that it is necessary for the selection principle to be valid.

Posted by Rick Ryals on 05/31/2015 at 10:27 PM

Re: “Theory of Anything

Thanks for your comments, Rick.
I suspect you didn't actually read Susskind's book from which you quoted (The Cosmic Landscape) because it's the weirdest defense of string theory ever written. (Check out… for instance.) String theory is dead (as is an anthropic string theory landscape): no evidence, no predictions, no falsifiability.
(BTW, Leonard Susskind is a delightful man, who talks MUCH better than he writes!) (and who was ONE of the fathers of string theory)

Posted by barryevans on 05/31/2015 at 5:31 PM

Re: “Theory of Anything

barryevans says:
"A fine-tuned universe without apparent cause is an accidental universe: "We're here because we're here because we're here," as the song goes."

But there *is* an "apparent" although willfully ignored cause, as famous theoretical physicist, ("the father of string theory") Leonard Suskind says... "The appearance of design is undeniable".

Actually, a scientist would interpret this as... 'The appearance for a logically meaningful law of nature that requires life... is undeniable...'

And I say that it is willfully ignored because the direct observation implicates a true cosmological principle that defines the structuring of the universe from first physics principles rather than chance and selection effects so this implication takes theoretical precedence over all others because...

1) Your asserted 'incidental universe' is not what is indicated by the observation so the assumption requires that you produce a cosmological principle that explains the structure of the universe from first principles that also explain why the observed "bio-orientation" is just a consequence of the physics rather than the reason for it.

2) The unobservable multiverse assumption requires a complete and tested theory of quantum gravity to justify the assumption.

IF YOU KNOW HOW TO FOLLOW THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD... then the "anthropic principle" is "most apparently"... a bio-oriented cosmological principle.

But scientists are far to dogmatic to actually recognize and research their strongest lead...

and they wonder why they have no ToE... *eyeroll*

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Posted by Rick Ryals on 05/31/2015 at 9:57 AM

Re: “Theory of Anything

I confused my "C"s. Alan Guth developed inflationary theory at Cornell (and later at Stanford), not Caltech. (Thanks, Katie!)

Posted by barryevans on 05/29/2015 at 6:44 PM

Re: “The Great Bike Helmet Debate

Good read. Statistics don't take into account 99.9999999+% of all bicycle rides, which begin and end without incident. The minute you start proposing or supporting mandatory helmet laws, check your own head. Bicycles should always be free jump-n-go fun and transportation for the masses.

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Posted by No more stupid laws, please. on 05/19/2015 at 7:30 PM

Re: “Dodgy Diets

...also, an obese person attempting to run even 100 yards is going to burn far more calories than an average person running an average mile. An obese person attempting to run only 100 yards a day could easily knock off ten pounds after the first week alone, diet be damned. Exercise is relative to pushing one's personal limits.

Posted by Fun for Run on 05/11/2015 at 12:39 PM

Re: “Dodgy Diets

Hmm...well, barry, it's true that a genuinely obese person might not be able to run per se, but relative to that, I'd consider an obese person doing as best they can to actually run, to be actually running, even if for brief moments at a time. Repeat, rest, repeat. It's exhausting, full body exercise at its best. The way you argue it is pretty stubborn, that for initial weightloss running is not so good. A person's gotta take the first step, just like with dieting. For initial weightloss, dieting isn't great either. You could go a few days without eating and only emaciate, but over time....etc.

Posted by Fun for Run on 05/11/2015 at 12:32 PM

Re: “Dodgy Diets

@runforfun--well, yeah, sort of: you have to run 35 miles to lose a pound (very roughly--100 calories/running mile, 3500 calories/lb. weight). The problem is that few obese people are up to running one mile, let alone 35 miles.
OTOH, I do believe fast walking/jogging/running is the best for maintaining a decent weight, not so much for losing in the first place.

Posted by barryevans on 05/10/2015 at 12:28 PM

Re: “Dodgy Diets

hmmm...didn't barry post a playfully sarcastic comment on another editorial recently about dieting (media maven, maybe?) in which he said something like "if you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight, dummy!", saying that the diet guru being referenced must have "rewritten the laws of physics" to have made some sort of suggestion regarding consumption vs. weight loss results. Well, barry makes that same flawed logic himself in this column when he says "you can't run the pounds off..." etc. Silly! You're just not running enough! Running...not walking or jogging, but real, hands down, the most complete and effective weight loss exercise. If you're not losing weight from running, you're simply not running enough!

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Posted by Run for Fun on 05/04/2015 at 12:30 PM

Re: “Dodgy Diets

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Posted by Autumn Gigi on 05/04/2015 at 12:06 PM

Re: “Dodgy Diets

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Posted by Binay Ray on 04/30/2015 at 3:47 AM

Re: “Dodgy Diets

The best diet I ever tried is Paleo. Lost weight, and feel much better and healthier.
The meals are also much better and tastier than other diets. I use the paleo grubs cookbook,
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Posted by Heather Brook on 04/30/2015 at 2:22 AM

Re: “Symbiosis: Evolved Evolution

Posted by Robert Lockett on 04/28/2015 at 8:57 PM

Re: “Elevator to Space

Oops. Carbon: atomic no. = 6; standard atomic weight = 12.011. Most common isotope, carbon 12, has 6 protons + 6 neutrons. Best thing is 4 of its 6 electrons are available to form covalent bonds. (Thanks, Don!)

Posted by barryevans on 04/16/2015 at 6:47 PM

Re: “When Life 'Just Happened'

His ideas helped me "see" a different perspective in my spirituality. Was that the workings of of my right brain hemisphere? :-D

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Posted by Fabi Quitales on 03/23/2015 at 4:10 PM

Re: “The Curious Case of Pluto

of course I respect what they have decided about Pluto but in my heart Pluto remains a planet in its own right.

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Posted by Nicola Marte on 03/14/2015 at 6:58 AM

Re: “The Curious Case of Pluto

The author seems to have a sense of glee at the demotion of Pluto. Rubbing it in, as it were. All with old arguments and without any historical account of how the vote in 2006 went down. Only 232 or so members of the 10,000 strong IAU voted to demote Pluto in Prague on the last day of the General Assembly. Members who the Executive Committee and their lackeys knew were for Pluto's demotion were asked to stay for the surprise vote. The fix was in. Pro-Pluto speakers who happened to be at the session were cut off in mid-sentence. I watched the entire session on video.

Dwarf stars like our sun are still considered stars. Dwarf galaxies are still considered galaxies. Dwarf planets should be a subcategory of planets, like rogue planets should be. The definition of planets needs a redux.

The writer, instead of being excited about 2015 being the year of the dwarf planet, viz., Ceres, Charon, and Pluto, seems to gloat in the old hackneys arguments of Pluto haters who claim to have killed the planet and have stooped so low as to actually behead a Disney doll of Pluto.

The demotion of Pluto has nothing to do with Science. It was political, and it will not last. I am Ceres.

Posted by Mike Wrathell on 02/26/2015 at 12:20 PM

Re: “The Curious Case of Pluto

Pluto is still a true planet. There is absolutely no reason why the IAU definition, which constitutes one view in an ongoing debate, should be given privileged status as the "official definition" when the reality is it is just one of many currently in use.

Pluto is not suspect as a planet. Why should an object have to orbit in the same plane as Earth to be considered a planet? That type of thinking goes back to the pre-Copernican view in which Earth was seen to have a privileged position. The ecliptic is not even the path of the Sun; it is the path the Earth takes around the Sun. Mercury also has an elliptical orbit that is inclined to the ecliptic. Does this mean Mercury isn't a planet?

Pluto's orbit may be eccentric, but it is stable. Pluto will not crash into the Sun or into any other planets. Significantly, astronomers have discovered many giant exoplanets with orbits around their stars that are far more eccentric than Pluto's around the Sun. Does that mean these giant objects are not planets? Some hot Jupiters have close orbits that are not even stable, meaning they will eventually fall into their stars.

Many astronomers and planetary scientists never stopped viewing Pluto as planet. Only four percent of the IAU voted on the controversial demotion, and most are not planetary scientists but other types of astronomers. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition of hundreds of professional astronomers led by New Horizons Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern. Ironically, Stern is the person who first coined the term "dwarf planet," but he did so intending to designate a third class of planets in addition to terrestrials and jovians, not to designate non-planets.

Stern and like-minded planetary scientists prefer an alternate definition, the geophysical planet definition, according to which a planet is any non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star, free floating in space, or even orbiting another planet. The only size that matters is that the object is big enough and massive enough to be squeezed into a round or nearly round shape, a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium. Pluto well exceeds that threshold, as does its moon Charon. Since Pluto-Charon orbit a barycenter outside of Pluto itself, that makes them a binary planet system.

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Posted by Laurel Kornfeld on 02/26/2015 at 9:36 AM

Re: “The Curious Case of Pluto

In my opinion, there's nothing to argue about here. I just wonder why some people are constantly trying to "denigrate" the 9th planet?

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Posted by Pavel Rezvushkin on 02/26/2015 at 5:53 AM

Re: “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Thanks for keeping books in our mind, especially in the health issue! Another local institution is the Northcoast Great Books Discussion Group, started in 1993. The rather advanced for its time website is We are coincidentally reading Don Quixote next month, so it would be a great time for folks in Northern Humboldt to join in the discussion.

Posted by Solomon Everta on 01/25/2015 at 5:56 AM

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