January 1st, 2013 by Michael Tabor
Neurons communicate with each other and the number of neural pathways we can possibly create is for all intents and purposes, infinite. Nevertheless, unlike all of the other cells in our body, neurons do not undergo mitosis (cell division) and therefore we are all allotted a certain number of neurons that will never, ever be replaced (a heavy night of drinking alcohol kills many, many brain cells) . Fortunately, we have a lot of them + we have a prodigious number of synapses (connections with which to make those neural pathways). We start out in life with about one hundred billion neurons with an average of 1000 + (probably more) synapses for each neuron; in fact a small child has 1 quadrillion synapses or 10 to the fifteenth connections. By the time we reach middle age or older we are left with about 100 to 600 trillion synapses. However, it’s not necessarily the number of synapses you have but rather the number of connections you’ve made that keeps you smart. So the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is absolutely false. The more connections or neural pathways you make, the more intelligent you become (Alzheimer’s is a disease and is an exception to the rule). So the more you think and especially the more you read, the more apt you’re to keep your marbles as you get older.
So WHADAYATHINK? What do you think ?
December 29th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest man – made machine ever built – 17 miles long and between 165 to 575 feet in circumference. It is a circular tunnel – shaped structure below ground, situated near Geneva and it is so huge that it crosses the border between France and Switzerland four times. Its function and purpose is to unfold and reveal to mankind the seemingly untenable mysteries of where human beings came from, a much deeper understanding of the laws of nature, and how the universe got started. This unfathomable feat is accomplished in a nutshell, by accelerating sub – atomic particles (protons) in opposite directions to the speed of 186,000 miles a second (speed of light) and then smashing them together to create new particles, particularly the particle of all particles – Higgs Boson or “The God Particle.” (don’t ask me for the specifics of Higgs Boson, I’m not a physicist and I just have a general understanding of it).
In the process of colliding these prodigiously small particles (when I say small. I mean unimaginably small. We human beings can never see an atom, not even with the most powerful microscopes in the world and we’re smashing stuff even smaller than atoms —- sub – atomic [protons] particles. This is all approximate, but we can fit 100 trillion atoms nicely on a pinhead and to get an image of how small a proton is [located in the nucleus] just imagine if an atom was the size of Giant’s Stadium, a proton would be the size of a marble. Wild stuff – ahh?) we will also learn all about different dimensions (String Theory), dark matter, supersymmetry, and a whole lot of other stuff that physicists will finally get to discover and with which, advance our understanding of the natural world in which we live.
I won’t overwhelm you with all the technical specifications (most of this is over my head anyway) but I had to simply just write a little about, what in my mind, is one of man’s most important achievements.
So WHADAYATHINK? What do you think ? It’s simply hard to fathom how these brilliant scientists were able to conceptualize and then build something so prodigious, complex, and precise as the LHC. It’s also hard to wrap your mind around the fact that this incredible structure is used for the sole purpose of accelerating and then subsequently smashing infinitesimally tiny sub – atomic particles (invisible particles) traveling at the speed of light.
October 1st, 2012 by Michael Tabor
The OED states briefly that reality is everything that exists. However, this includes not just material things such as rocks, lampshades, computers, and water but intangible things such as ideas, consciousness, and the fact that 2+2 =4. It also includes everything that ever WAS, including material and immaterial entities. Most people may say that if use your five senses and you’re sane (not hallucinating or delusional), one can discern what’s real by seeing, hearing, smelling, touching or tasting something. However, there are many things that are real and exist that go beyond our 5 senses e.g. bacteria, cells, viruses, and atoms; they’re physical tangible things but we can’t see them without the aid of a microscope.
How about sound? Sound is certainly real but we can’t see sound waves, nor are we aware of radio waves but our radios, televisions and computers reveal to us that they exist. How about light? If we remember high school science we were taught to commit to memory that light travels 186,000 miles per second ((186,282 miles per second to be perfectly precise) and what’s interesting to note is that the very sense – sight, that we rely on most heavily to determine what’s real is not always dependable. For example, Our sun is 8 light minutes away, so if our sun were hit by a gigantic comet and blew it up, it would take 8 minutes for us, if we were staring at the sun, to visualize the destruction; and then of course that would be the end of us too (let’s hope that does not happen any time soon).
I’ll make this a short blog and leave you with just one more thing to think about: We live in the Milky way galaxy (with approximately 100 billion stars, many of which are not unlike our very own sun) and our nearest neighboring galaxy is the Andromeda galaxy, which we can only see with a telescope. However, even with Hubble telescope, we are seeing stars that are two and a half million light years away, so the reality is that you’re seeing the light of stars that have died a looooooong time ago but are only seeing that now. So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Oh, how about dark matter, we can’t even see dark matter with a telescope, okay – another blog. Have fun and please weigh in, I’d love to get everyone’s thoughts.
September 26th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
If you are a religious believer, you know what question I am going to pose: If you claim that “God” created the world then it stands to reason to ask– Who created God and who was the intelligent designer who created the God who created God, ad infinitum – an infinite regress. Conversely, what was going on before the big bang? What banged and why? A plethora of scientists can explain what happened 1/1000 of a second before the bang but they’re all clueless in terms of what was going on before – perhaps, nothing? Can anyone wrap his or her brain around absolutely nothing existing for a long period of time?
There is a Russian physicist, Andrei Linde, who claims that we humans, will sometime in the near future, be able to create our own universe in a lab if we like. He has a theory called chaotic inflation, which in a nutshell states that we need 100 thousandth of a gram of matter and some negative energy and BAM – we’ll have created billions and billions of galaxies – no supernatural abilities necessary. However, is this something we would want to do? And, wouldn’t making another universe crowd in on the one in which we live now? Actually, Linde stated that the universe would just simply expand into itself, so there would be no danger of the aforementioned. How about this: would you want to have some sort of control over your creation – Creator and Creation just like the religions (myths) we have now. Just think (this is out there, but…) our world maybe some higher power’s physics project, after all our world is VERY weird and it’s certainly far from perfect. “Your grade for the creation of the Milky Way Galaxy – C-.”
The real question is – Why is there something rather than nothing? To think about this too long can literally drive you crazy. Sir Bernard Lovell claimed that “pondering it could tear the individual’s mind asunder” and William James said that this is the “darkest question in all of philosophy.’ Some physicists are now asserting that there is something to nothing – it’s actually something you can measure, something akin to dark matter.
So does anyone out there have a clue about creation? Since the beginning of mankind, all civilizations have had creation myths i.e. Christian- Judea has Adam and Eve, etc. This is quite interesting – there is a tribe in Africa called the African Bantus who claim “The entire contents of the universe e.g. sun, stars, land, sea, animals, fish, man, woman were literally vomited out of the mouth of a nauseated god called Bumba. ” Sounds crazy, right ? But is it any crazier than the whole Adam and Eve rib story? What do you think ? WhaDaYaThink ?
May 7th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
How many times have I heard people say something to the effect i.e. “If there is no God, then life is meaningless. “This assertion has always left me scratching my head and utterly perplexed. “Why bother raising a family if they’re all going to perish and die someday… ” This sort of illogical thinking has reinforced my belief that man is a strange species indeed; smarter yes, but stranger than any other primate is. I hear this time and time again from Christian fundamentalists who make the claim that if we don’t live for eternity and there is no afterlife then life ceases to matter. One might argue that since our time is limited, then life ought to be all the more important.
I’ve written before about how living forever would be a Kafkaesque nightmare, and I now want to just touch upon how foolishly inane this notion of thinking that a life that goes on and on and on and on – forever and ever without end is the only existence that would render life important and meaningful. This is just nonsense. The fact that we will one day no longer exist should not nullify or marginalize our life one iota, no matter how long or short of a time we live.
I must admit that I have been guilty of this sort of wrong-headed thinking when I was in college after a friend of mine had died at a young age. That semester and the semester after that , my grades dropped precipitously. “What is the point of studying and getting good grades if we’re going to die someday?” I suppose the fact that my friend’s death was unexpected and premature – he died way too young; was really the cause of my angst. The real issue at hand was that anyone of us can die at any time, but since I was 20 years old, wasn’t diagnosed with a terminal disease, and dying from an accident or mishap was remote, my emotional response was inappropriate. There are no guarantees as to when and how long we live but the fact that we are going to die doesn’t make life meaningless. Having stated the aforementioned, I personally think that most people do however die too soon; life is so ineffably rich and beautiful (often – it can be awful and ugly too)that I can envision myself living for centuries (this is science fiction here but ..) even thousands of years without getting bored, as long as my body held up.
But, even if I died tomorrow, and there was no afterlife,etc. I would still be full of gratitude and would consider myself an incredibly lucky person to be born and had had a life at all.
I’m going to conclude this blog with a little something that Shelly Kagan from Yale put together to illustrate and put into perspective how mind-bogglingly amazing it is that you and I are here alive. Here we go – If there are 5 billion people in the world today and roughly 2.5 billion are men and 2.5 billion are women the potential birth algorithm would be calculated as follows: 2.5 billion women x 30 years of childbearing years x 12 eggs x 2.5 billion men x 50 sperm producing years x the unbelievable average of 40 million spermatozoa per ejaculation the number you end up with is 1.5 million, billion, billion, billion potential births and after this generation gives birth you would then end up with more potential people than all the particles in the known universe.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Just think if your great, great, great, great grandmother had a headache and perhaps had sex 5 minutes later, you would not be here.