Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

But imagine a world without tomorrow, a world tidally locked to its sun (much as our moon is to earth) with one face perpetually in light and the other the void of night.  What sort of life would evolve on such a planet devoid of a regular reminder of time.

No days, no night, no seasons.  No sleep, for in a world of forever light, sleep would bring the certainty of rapid predation, but then, on such a world what would be the value of sleep?  Would it ever have evolved?

Moments would pass unmarked - birth, growth, eat, procreate, die.  Just a continuum.

On such a world, would intelligent life ever conceive of time?  No stars, moon, seasons, day and night to tell us that anything exists beyond the here and nothing to indicate the presence of time itself except perhaps the momentary fall of an object or the passage from one place to another (but then without seasons why should you move?)

Without tomorrows, and seasons and stars at night, we would never have developed our calendars and our clocks and our perception of time itself - even though we still don't understand exactly what it is...

Perhaps we 'fools' strut upon our stage because we have an understanding of the existence of time and indeed of space itself.

Enjoy today and look forward to tomorrow.

A Walk Through Time

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Destroying the Conservation of Momentum.

A thought experiment.

Take a sealed system, a container.

Inside the container, against one wall, eject an electron.  It will have momentum mv and will have imparted an equal and opposite momentum into the wall of the container.  Left to its own devices, the electron will fly across the container and impact the opposite wall, when the two momenta will cancel one another out.  If we had been able to look carefully enough, we would have seen the container jiffle slightly as it momentarily held the created momenta component.

But what if...  part way across the container, the electron met a wanton positron and together they fused in the perfect dance of energy creation.  Energy does not have momentum, so where did the electrons momentum go ??

More to the point, the container is now left with unresolved momentum and will continue to move under its influence until some external force steps in and stops it.

Action begat reaction, but action got itself totalled leaving only reaction.

Keep this up and the container will start to wiz along without any interaction on the outside world - reaction without action (granted, the formation of all that energy within the container is going to make it one smokin hot pot), but it is a pot that is breaking the law of conservation of Momentum - or is it ??

e in different bases -- 2.B 7E 15 16 28...

If aliens sent us the constant e, would we recognise it?

The constant e in decimal to 20 places is  2.71828 18284 59045 23536...  sure, you spot that one without any trouble.

But what about --

In binary it is 10.101101111110000101010001011000101000101011101101001...

In ternary it is  2.20110112122110201101222210201102...

and in hex it is   2.B7E151628AED2...

Would you have spotted any of those ?

courtesy of http://www.easysurf.cc/cnver17.htm#b10tob2