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I am a science nerd extraordinare, and am somewhat of a compulsive teacher, so for anyone who has any curiosities whatsoever - how does something work, what does a scientific concept really mean, what the hell is a dimension, that kind of stuff, or anything really. I study everything, and I enjoy flexing the curiosity muscle as much as possible, so consider me your Q&A guru forever more. No question too big, no question too small.

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Comment by John Camilli on January 6, 2011 at 2:45pm

Keith, the bells you hear when running water is one of several things, or a combination of them all. It depends on your sink, but here is what it could be.

 

Most likely, it is the cumulative effect of the water molecules baging against the piping that makes that little din. Depending on your water flow, it may also be the sound of the air being pushed through the pipe, if it is forced through a small enough opening at a high enough rate to producing a whistling sound. Or it could be the water hitting the drain after it comes out of the faucet, if you have a metal ring around the drain. If it doesn't stop when your hands are between the water and the drain, then it is in the piping and is probably the banging water molecules or the whistling airflow, or both.

Comment by John Camilli on January 6, 2011 at 2:37pm
Greg, yes I think we should take the free will discussion elsewhere. It looks like this post will get lengthy rather quickly, and that discussion alone could be pages and pages. Go ahead and start on when you like, or I will get to it once I sort through the rest of these questions, lol.
Comment by John Camilli on January 6, 2011 at 2:34pm

Lol, you might be right Glenn. Some of these questions are certainly difficult. I was wrapped up with Hayley's question about time travel, but here it is, and now I'll be looking at the others...

 

Okay, Hayley back to your question of time travel. The short answer is both yes and maybe, but that's not helpful, so I'll explain.

If it becomes possible to manipulate space via something like a wormhole then time travel becomes possible in the sense that we can move instantaneously, taking no time to get from point A to point B. The concept of time is ultimately based on distance, so if we figure out how to manipulate distance, then we figure out how to manipulate time (or at least our concept of time). But that is not what most people mean when they ask about time; they mean 'can we go backward or forward in time?'

The answer for those are 'probably and maybe,' lol, so I'll explain further. Forward time travel seems to be allowed in relativistic mechanics because a particle has a finite amount of energy with which to travel through both space and time. If the energy is put into the particle's velocity through space, then it slows down in time, and vice versa. This is why a clock at low altitudes flows marginally faster than a clock at high altitudes; the higher altitude is covering a larger circumfrence as the earth spins on its axis, so is moving faster than the lower altitude, but the difference is only noticeable in very fine experimentation. It becomes more noticeable at much higher velocities. As a particles approaches the speed of light, its advancement through time approaches zero, so to travel into the relative future would only require going very very fast.

Traveling backward in time might be a problem. First of all, is brings up logical paradoxes, like going back in time and killing your grandparents so you were never born to go back and kill them. Logically, it seems impossible, but that may just be a flaw in our thinking. Physically, backward time travel seems like it might be possible, but it depends on whether or not nature is entirely symmetrical, which it may not be. I will illustrate with an analogy. Consider something like a basketball, maybe spinning on someone's finger. If it were spinning fast enough, and you were listening closely enough, you could hear that there are soundwaves radiating outward from the ball. That would be from where the roughness of the ball is hitting the particles in the air and pushing them away. Now consider that the ball is spinning in the opposite direction. There would still be soundwaves emitting outward from the ball, they would not be sucking back inward. This represents a localized asymmetry because no matter which way the ball in spinning, the soundwaves radiate outward, not inward. If all of nature were symmetrical, then it should be possible to do something with the ball that makes the waves radiate inward. However, it seems that there are some processes in nature that always go one way, never the other, and time seems to be one of them. However, it is still a question because we have only one actual example of asymmetry in nature (the decay of nuetral kaons), and it's still possible that the asymmetry can be explained as a localized phenomenon that is actually part of a larger symmetrical process.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on January 6, 2011 at 1:28pm
John, did you bite off more than you can chew or did the mouse trap capture its creator too?
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on January 5, 2011 at 10:22pm

John, aka Mr. Knowitall, an enviable title if you are worthy, do you think natural selection and mutation account for all of the remarkable adaptations in nature? Is vitalism or Lamarckism in the mix?

Comment by Keith O'Connor on January 5, 2011 at 7:32pm
Why do we hear bells when we run water? It always seems like the phone is ringing when I run water in the bathroom sink. I've tried to look up an answer for years, but never found it. I'd love to know.
Comment by John Camilli on January 5, 2011 at 6:44pm
No problem at all greg. In fact, I should go ahead and welcome anyone to provide answers here, since it looks like there will be lots of questions. Medical issues are difficult to diagnose without knowing anything about your biology/physiology, psmitheist, so greg may be correct, or it could be any of a host of other issues. If it is an allergy, you may be able to find out by switching to a soda with different ingredients and using process of eliminiation to decide what was effecting you. However, it could also be something to do with how your body processes the sugars, or you could have an over-production of digestive enzymes. Because soda is basic, perhaps you have an acidity imbalance that reacts to the bi-carbonate. Sorry I can't be more specifically helpful, but bodies are pretty different after all.
Comment by John Camilli on January 5, 2011 at 2:29pm

Keith, I am also writing a science novel, although I am trying to make it as little fiction as possible. I am attempting to surmise what the world will be like when humanity invents The Matrix. I don't think it'll be anything like the movie, but I do think it is an inevitable consequence of human progress, and that it will be reached in my lifetime. I suspect it will make immortality possible, as well as a collective consciousness. Moreover, I think it will completely change the way humans experience life. There will be no more going to work; there will be no need for economy or representative government; there will be no need for competition, and no ability to harm our brothers and sisters. These seem like fanciful ideas, but they are my honest conclusions after pouring myself into scientific and technological research for the last decade.

 

More importantly than the science though is the philosophy. Humans are not at all prepared for such a world, and will be facing a mass meltdown when it gets here. Many will fight voraciously to prevent it and much damamge will be done, unless we start changing our minds now. That is why I am writing.

 

I would be happy to give you my thoughts on the writing you mentioned. You can e-mail me at camilli_john@yahoo.com if you like, and I will make sure you don't sound silly, lol.

Comment by Richard Healy on January 5, 2011 at 2:21pm

I had someone on facebook challenge me the other day that expressing an opinion about a scientific hypothesis regarding higher dimensions was equivalent to a belief in god.

 

You can come explain to them what a dimension is.  But only if I can watch.

Comment by John Camilli on January 5, 2011 at 2:12pm

Hayley, although I have no personal experience with UFOs, and am quite suspicious of the reports of encounters about which I have heard, I cannot reasonably doubt that there is something out there besides us. The universe has been around for a long time, and humanity evolved in a comparably short order. And since we've honed our observations of gravitational lensing and spectral analysis so much more finely in the last couple decades, we are finding a great number of planets around other star systems. No Earth-like planets yet, but that is because the technique needs a little more refinement still. I suspect they are out there, and will be discovered soon.

 

As to whether I think we have had visitors, I am more doubtful. The universe is just so BIG; there's almost nothing in it at all. And even though we've been broadcasting signals into space for potential ETs to hear, they are not reaching very far into space before the signal becomes distorted beyond recognition, and we have not even been broadcasting them for even a hundred years yet. Very few star systems are in range to receive our signals, and we have closely observed our near neighbors, so it is unlikely anyone is that close.

 

That is not to say that ETs havent sought us out, and found us on their own, as we are attempting to do. It seems a natural course of action for any intelligent species that reaches for space. However, I cannot reconcile the idea of abductions with what I think I know of science because any civilizatiow that can travel through space would be able to observe everything we are doing from far far away. They would never need to come here to know how we behave, what we eat, and what we are made of. They could use the same techniques we are now refining - spectral analysis - to observe us from afar, and with just as much accuracy as if they were here. Think about our own capabilities now: we are told we can read the words on a dime from a satellite. I suspect we can look closer than that, but the government has to have its secrets you know. We can also look right through walls, or any other substance, and analyze the chemical make-up of ...whatever we look at. ETs would be able to do it much better, so why come here unless it is to influence us directly, in which case why all the secrecy? Presumably, such an advanced civilization could influence us however they chose, without the need to sneak around. And if the point is to influence without us knowing they are influencing, they could also do that from afar.

 

I think a simpler explanation of UFOs is that they belong to us. Like I said, governements have to have their secrets, and while I am not much for conspiracy theories, there are certainly technologies being developed, about which the rest of us aren't told. It's for our own safety, you know, lol.

 

Time travel is...a whole other ballgame. Oh boy. Ima address that in a later reply cuz it makes my head hurt to think about it.

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