I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me โ€” that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter โ€” except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

February 07, 2015 - 2:39 p.m.

Three Quarks for Muster Mark

Here's the problem. I am in a lot of pain. My right arm is killing me. It started with the shoulder then moved to the elbow then the wrist and hand. Now it's from the shoulder blade to my fingers. I'm going to the doctor in a few weeks. I hope I can hold out till then. This makes typing difficult.

I did not leave the house yesterday. That is probably not a good thing. It certainly isn't good for writing. Did I cook anything interesting? Well yes. For breakfast I made grits, ham, cheese, and eggs. The thing is that I mixed them all together. Now before I cooked the eggs separately and added them in. Christine said it's a southern thing to hollow out a space in the grits and cook the egg in that. But that's not what I did. I mixed it in with the grits as soon as I cracked it. And I mixed in the ham. OK everyone does that with cheese. It was great I really should try adding peanut butter.

Diaryland the site that hosts Wise Madness was down the last few days. The old entries were there but I couldn't add a new one or edit the old ones. So what did I do? I opened a WordPress account. Horvendile wasn't available! Someone in Scandinavia already had it. That isn't shocking as it's origin is Norse. In the original version of Hamlet, that Shakespeare based his play on, Hamlet's father's is Horvendile.

I wasn't happy with WordPress. If you don't pay you can't personalize it much. I didn't like the look and found it hard to read. But Carolann found it easier to read. What do you think? Take a look, Wise Madness on Wordpress. Jory always thinks I should revamp this page. what do you think? I this readable? That's my prime concern.

I got reminded of something good yesterday. I'm going down to Philly to be LORi's post surgical nurse next week. That's not the good thing. Seeing LORi and Steve is good but the surgery isn't. But I was reminded that RUNA is playing at the Landsdowne Folk Club on Thursday so I'll get to see them. They are one of the bands that I wanted to follow around in VW microbus with a psychedelic paint job. But I haven't seen them in over a year! It might be two! This is ridiculous. I don't even have their most recent album. So now I'll get to see them.

I'm still catching up on Doctor Who. I think I have learned to enjoy finding fault in it. I sit there and think about all the stupid things. The theme of the Matt Smith episodes seem to be "emotions are all powerful and reasoning is for losers." You can just will yourself to do anything. Time is rewritten? Fine you can still remember things if you love enough. Tiny robots convert you into a Dalek? Won't work if you love enough. Converted to a Cyberman? If you love your child it won't work. I guess all the millions converted in all the previous episodes were just bad people without love.

But know something? the New Doctor Who companions are more beautiful than the original series. I'll take Sarah Jane over any of them but on looks Clara, Amy, and Rose win.

Ackk. I got interrupted while writing this and forgot all about it.

OK now for something I've been thinking about for ages A dream of mine is to write a book "What everyone should know about science." If everyone knew what everyone should know about science we wouldn't have nearly as many public policy disasters. I wouldn't need to give a lesson in quantum mechanics to explain why I am afraid of getting cancer from WiFi or cell phones. Yes the answer involves quantum mechanics and it's obvious if you know it.

So here's an experiment. I'm going to write give a science lesson ala Isaac Asimov. His essays for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

So what is the world made of? Democritis asked the basic question. How small can you divide a substance and have it still be the same substance. Can you infinitely divide water and have it still be water? If not what's the smallest unit of the water. Democritis dubbed the smallest unit atoms. We still use the word but it doesn't quite mean the same thing.

So this is what we know now. You can't infinitely subdivide water, there is a smallest unit but we call that unit a molecule. The smallest unit of any chemical is a molecule. Yes water is a chemical. Salt is a chemical. But air is not a chemical. It's a mixture of chemicals, mainly oxygen and nitrogen. A chemical is made of all the same kind of molecule. Mixtures are made of several types and can be separated by physical means. You can separate air by cooling it till the different chemicals liquefy out at different temperatures.

OK so chemicals are made of molecules. What are molecules made of? There are thousands and thousands of types of molecules. That led people to think they must be made of something simpler. They are, they are made of atoms. Things made of one type of atom are called elements. Oxygen is an element but a molecule of oxygen is made of two atoms. That's why I said chemicals not compounds. Compounds are made of more than one element.

OK let's stick to water. A water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen. Thus the designation H2O. So are atoms the basic unit? For a time it was thought so but it turned out there were 92 types of natural occurring atoms plus some that are manmade. Not only that but atoms seem to have structure that can be observed when they are smashed together. It turns out that atoms are made of three kinds of particles, protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and Neutrons are found in the center, or nucleus of the atom and the much lighter electrons surround them. We often talk of them orbiting but they don't actually move. Thanks to quantum mechanics we just don't know exactly where they are.

Most hydrogen is made of one proton and one electron, the simplest of all atoms. Most oxygen is made of eight protons and eight neutrons. The number of electrons always matches the number of protons, Protons are positively charged and electrons negatively. Neutrons as the name implies are neutral.

But it isn't quite so simple. You can add a neutron and the atom remains the same sort of atom. some hydrogen atoms have a neutron. Some have two neutrons. Oxygen can have eight, nine, or ten neutrons.

But OK that's not too bad. all the myriads of chemicals are made up of just three kinds of particles That sounds like a reasonable plan for the universe. Too bad it wasn't true.

We started smashing particles into each other and producing new particles. The aren't found in ordinary matter and they aren't stable, they decay into simpler things, but they exist. Not only that but protons and neutrons have structure, like they are made of more elementary particles. Electrons don't.

Soon scores of new particles were discovered. Physicists called it the particle zoo. One again came the thought that protons and neutrons and the new particles are made of something simpler. Murray Gell-Mann came up with a name for them and more importantly a theory. He called the more basic particles quarks. The name comes from Finnegan's Wake. Physicists can be whimsical. Originally there were three "flavors" of quark, up, down, and strange. I told you think whimsy. And each flavor came in three colors, red, blue, and green. They don't represent the actual colors. The idea is thaw those are the three primary colors and if you combine then my get white which has no color. If you combine the three colors of quark the resulting particles has no color. The theory is called quantum chromodynamics. Chromo means color. Eventually three more quarks were discovered, charm, top, and bottom. So there are six quarks.

There were also other light particles like electrons that were elementary, not made up of anything, They are called leptons. The three leptons are electrons, muons, and tau particles. Don't ask me why they aren't called tauons. If I were in charge they would be. Then they found a super light perhaps massless particle associated with each lepton, They are called neutrinos. There's an electron neutrino, a muon neutrino, and a tau neutrino.

OK we are almost there. Each quark and each lepton (including neutrinos) is not made of anything smaller. All that's left is the particles that carry the forces that hold things together. Electromagnetism is carried by photons, the particles of light. There are three other forces, Gravity, the weak force, and the strong force. The last two only operate at short range, the size of the nucleus of an atom. Gluons carry the strong force and The W and Z particles carry the weak force. Gravitons carry gravity.

There's one other particle, the Higgs Boson that was in the news so much. It is created by the Higgs field which give the other particles mass through the Higgs mechanism. Got it? So everything is made of 18 particles. Here is a diagram of all but the graviton which does not work or play well with the others. It isn't part of what is known as the Standard Model.

If you look around you everything you can see is made of up and down quarks and electrons. So that's pretty simple. You are seeing them with the aid of photons, the particles light.

Ok let's summarize. Everything you sense is made of one ore more type of molecule. The molecules are made of atoms. The atoms are made of electrons, protons, and neutrons. 'The protons and neutrons are made of quarks. And that's what the world is made of. I said the world not the universe, because out there "normal matter" is the exception not the rule. But that is another lesson.

OK did you learn anything? Did I make a zillion mistakes? I deliberately wrote this without doing research as the point is that if I think everyone should know this stuff I should already know this stuff. This is lesson one. Why? Perhaps I was influenced by Richard Feynman. He said:

If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms โ€” little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another.

OK now I can post this and finally shower. I already ate. I know that matters to you. I had sausage, egg, and cheese on a roll. It was delicious. And now you know what they are made of.





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Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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Horvendile February 07, 2015
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