Non-thinkers…

Have we become a society of non-thinkers? Or, collectively, have we always been shallow in our thinking and reasoning processes? With the advent of social media, has this phenomenon just been more evident?

I dare say, we’ve all seen a sensational, attention grabbing headline online, or in the news. But upon reading the news article, we discover that the story behind the headlines, sometimes has little to do with the original impression the headline had given. The headline was nothing more than a ‘hook’, to get the audience to read the article. The problem in that, is a substantial portion of the general public, won’t bother to read the article. But, they will regurgitate the misleading headline as if it were gospel. Maybe they do this because it somehow fits into their political agendas? Into their limited world views? In other words, it fits into their confirmation bias.

One would think, with the world wide web at our disposal, people would take the time to at least do a Google search and gather additional information about a subject matter. Sadly, that usually isn’t the case. 

 

 

What is Time?

Q: What is time?

A: Time is movement (distance), divided by intervals (units of measure).

Just a thought… Time is a human construct. Time is only the measurement of distance or expansion, as it pertains to the universe. Is time constant? Maybe, but if time also has to do with expansion, and the expansion of the universe is accelerating, then I would hazard to guess that time is not constant.. at least in that case.

Evolution of the Universe

 

 

By figuring out how fast the universe is expanding, scientists can calculate when the Big Bang occurred.

The universe was created from a super dense spect of pure energy, the size of a single atom. In a fraction of a second, the size of the universe grew from the size of an atom to the size of a baseball. In another fraction of a second, it grew to the size of the Earth.

When our universe was only 380,000 years old, it was trillions and trillions of miles across. It would take another 200 million years before the first stars were created. One billion years after the Big Bang, the first galaxies formed. Nine billion years after the Big Bang, our solar system comes into being.

Our universe had a beginning, and at some point, it will come to an end.

 

Our backyard, our Universe

The heavens have fascinated mankind since the dawn of time… well, at least for the last 240,000 years after man evolved enough to climb down from the trees. But I digress. 

This past century has unquestionably added to our knowledge of our solar system and the cosmos. What have we learned? I’ve compiled a few things that I find interesting. 

-Patrick

A forming planet has to reach about 500 miles across in order to have enough gravity to crush itself into a sphere. Four and a half billion years ago, roughly 100 baby planets were circling our Sun. In time, they slammed into one another, resulting in the formation of our current four rocky planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

All four of our gaseous planets have rings. Jupiter has thousands of ringlets, many only a few miles wide. Gas planets also have magnetic fields. The auroras at their poles are proof of this. So, how does a gas planet, without an iron core, create a magnetic field?

Scientists have tried to recreate the core of Jupiter in order to study why it has a magnetic field. In the lab, scientists used an array of 192 laser beams focused on a sample of hydrogen gas, to simulate the pressures of Jupiter. As the pressure upon the sample reached over a million times the pressure on Earth, the hydrogen becomes a liquid. But, upon reaching tens of millions the amount of pressure, similar to that of Jupiter’s core… the resulting pressure changes the structure of the hydrogen atoms into a metallic form. Scientists think that this is what is happening within Jupiter’s core. In January of 2017, a scientist at Harvard University successfully created metallic hydrogen. 

The moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are at least 50% water. Nearly 4 billion years ago, asteroids delivered the water we now have on Earth. Seventy-one percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. Still, water only makes up 0.05 percent of Earth’s mass. We enjoy just the right amount of water. Less, and we would be a dry planet with the land masses soaking up the water. More water, and the Earth would be a water world. 

The average galaxy may contain 100 billion stars. Until a hundred years ago, scientists believed the universe contained only the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists of the day called it our ‘island universe’. In 1924, Edwin Hubble discovered other galaxies outside our own. In that year, our knowledge of our universe went from just knowing about the Milky Way galaxy, to realizing that there were billions of galaxies out there.

Galaxies are massive. On Earth, we measure distance in miles, kilometers, or leagues. In space, we measure using astronomical units (1), parsecs (2), and light years. A light year is just under 6 trillion miles. Earth is 25,000 light years from the center of our Milky Way galaxy, and our galaxy is over 100,000 light years across. Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbor, is over 200,000 light years across. Our universe is estimated to be 93 billion light years across.

  1. Astronomical Unit = Approximately 1.5 million kilometers
  2. Parsec = 3.26 light-years (30 trillion km or 19 trillion miles)

The Big Bang occurred about 13.7 billion years ago.

IC-1011 is the biggest galaxy yet found. It is 60 times larger than the Milky Way and extends six-million light years across.

Studying the center of our own galaxy, scientists discovered that the stars revolving around the center, were moving at speeds of several million miles an hour. The only force powerful enough to sling stars around at those speeds had to be a super massive black hole.

Even with super massive black holes at the center of all galaxies, it doesn’t exert enough gravity to keep the galaxies together. So, what keeps galaxies together? Dark matter. Dark matter makes up roughly six times as much matter as regular matter that exists in the universe. We know dark matter exists because of what it does to light emanating throughout the universe. Dark matter bends light in a process called gravitational lensing. It does this by magnifying the brightness of the light but also distorting the image. We cannot see or directly detect dark matter, but we know it exists. Without it, galaxies would fall apart. Dark matter is the glue holding together the whole structure of our universe.

So why is dark matter important? Scientists believe that dark matter slowly created strands of itself across the universe. Dark matter are the building blocks for our universe. Upon these weblike strands, are built the galaxies. Of all matter comprising the universe, dark matter makes up 23%. Regular matter accounts for only 4%.

As you’ve probably noticed, both dark matter and regular matter together, makes up 27% of the universe. What comprises the rest? Dark energy… it makes up roughly 68%.

Using type 1 supernova to measure distances, scientists found that galaxies weren’t slowing down due to gravity after the Big Bang, but rather they were accelerating. How could this be? The answer, dark energy.

Dark matter checked dark energy until about 5 billion years ago. Dark energy started winning the tug of war with dark matter. From that point on, the growth of the universe started speeding up. Dark energy was, in essence, stretching space.

Nature vs Nurture

On occasion, I’ve been asked “What is I.Q.?” Is it nature, nurture, or some combination of the two? I make no claim knowing the answer to this question. But, I do think it’s both nature and nurture… mixed in with a bit good fortune.

People all have their own personal experiences. I like to think, that maybe having such a spread of years within my own family’s generation, contributed to my knowledge base. My generation, on my mother’s side of the family tree, spans more than 100 years. My eldest cousin was born in 1915, two years before the United States entered the first World War.

Having such a wide span of years, does have a few benefits. For instance, many of my family members were witness to events of historical significance. Some have even participated in, and can give a first-person account of, those events. I didn’t have to run to the library to read war stories, or how rough living through the Great Depression had been. I had a rich source of information… all I had to do was ask a close relative.

So, I can see how nurture can have a great impact on a person’s I.Q. Nature, admittedly, must also be a major player in the I.Q. debate.

 

OBDEleven

I’ve been an Audi enthusiast for many years. But, as any Audi guy knows, Audis can be problematic at times. That’s very true when it comes to clearing alarm codes on the more recent models. In my search, I’ve found a device that gives the end user the flexibility to clear those pesky alarm codes and even modify how your Audi is set up. That device is OBDEleven.

OBDEleven is awesome! It’s simple to use and is wi-fi based, easily connects to your laptop or smart phone… no cables required! No more going to the dealership to clear the yearly maintenance code or the occasional ‘check engine’ codes, saving you time and money. It gives you the ability to chart what your Audi is doing in real time. Checking misfires, torque, etc., it’s just a few clicks away. And you can store those charts on your smart phone for future playback. You have the option to send all sorts of data to anyone via email as well.

 

Aside from clearing ‘check engine’ codes,  OBDEleven enables the user to modify their Audi to fit their individual personalities. You may want your car to always have the running lights on when the ignition is on… no problem. Maybe you want to adjust the illumination of your inside lights or external lamps? Still, no problem. Utilizing the many options available on the OBDEleven app, you can change these settings and many more with just a few clicks.

 

One really nice feature that I like with this device is that you can check your lighting systems right from your laptop or smart phone. You can walk around your Audi while checking the blinkers, parking lights, etc. No need to have someone sitting inside the car to step on the brake pedal or to switch on the turn signal. It can all be done by clicking through the OBDEleven interface.

The device works on 1991 – 2018 models of Audi and VW. The Pro model unlocks several features that the regular model restricts. Cost is about $75 on Amazon at the time of this publication.

 

Gratuitous pics of my current Audi A4 Quattro…