Thursday, September 11, 2008

Physics Lesson.

There’s a moral to this story, and only a few will get it, so if you get bored somewhere near the middle, just speed-read until you get to the moral. I love stories with a “Moral”, it reminds me of the good old days when everybody spoke in parables.

Just like language snobs are a pain to me, because I don’t write good English, It bothers me when amateurs start talking about things being too warm or cold, so I get my turn to be a pain, because I am qualified! (Not to be a pain, but to explain hot and cold) I consider myself kind of a cold expert, being a refrigeration contractor and all.

First, there is no such thing as cold… Don’t go off on me yet!!! I know what you are thinking, and that’s not nice. But, there is no such thing as cold.

Everything has heat in it, clear down to 460 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. So, if there is any place that is 460 degrees below zero you can say it’s cold. Until then, it has heat… got it? Actually, because this is kind of scientific, and I know that there is some pretty smart people out there, I should tell you that absolute zero Fahrenheit is actually -459.67 degrees. Having cleared that up, now I’m an honest person again, but just for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to call it -460, okay?

At absolute zero all molecules stop moving, that’s because they have no energy. If you had a wire that was at absolute zero, electricity would flow through it endlessly, without any resistance at all. Anything at absolute zero is a super-conductor. But, don’t worry, nobody has gotten anything down to absolute zero yet, so all those thoughts about free energy are all wasted. Scientist’s have gotten things pretty close to absolute zero, and electricity flowed with way less resistance, but they never got to zero. Same as an absolute vacuum, there is no such thing. Even in outer space there are a few molecules floating around fouling up the otherwise perfect vacuum. So, absolute zero, and an absolute vacuum only exist in theory. That’s why we have what they call “theoretical scientists”, to study such abstractions. Hey, it a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

To explain heat to you, the English people invented a unit of heat that they called the British Thermal Unit. Most people just call it a BTU. It is the amount of heat that is used to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. So if you had one pound of water at absolute zero, and added one BTU of heat to it would become one degree warmer, and become -459 degrees. Actually you might have guessed that at -460 water is ice, so you are right about that. Now if you add 459 more BTUs, you would have zero degree ice, and if you add 32 more BTUs. You would have 32 degree ice.

Now for the fun part, if you add 100 BTUs you will still have thirty two degree ice, in fact you will have to add 144 BTUs to melt one pound of ice into thirty two degree water. The 144 BTUs of heat that it takes to melt 1 pound of ice is called the latent heat of fusion.

So, now you have invested 1,146 BTUs of heat to make yourself a glass of ice water. Are you beginning to see that there is no such thing as cold. If you add 180 more BTUs you will have boiling water. Then you will have to add 970 BTUs to turn your boiling water to steam. By then you will have added 2,296 BTUs of heat to your water to turn it to vapor. The 970 BTUs are called the latent heat of vaporization.

If you are still with me and not bored spitless, you should also know that there is no “up or down” when it comes to expressing temperature. Temperature is expressed as hotter or less hot. There is no such thing as cold, remember. If you ask me to “turn up your freezer” I will have no idea what you mean, I won’t know if you want it hotter or less hot. So, to be polite I might ask you something like: “What is the temperature now, and what would you like it to be.” When you say: “I don’t know, just turn it down” I will ask you if it’s to warm. “Warm” is kinda’ okay to use because it doesn’t acknowledge that cold exists, and that’s a good thing. So I will turn your freezer a few degrees less warm.

I judge everyone by how well that I think that they might be at building a refrigerator, so most people look pretty bad to me. Everybody uses a refrigerator, or a freezer and everybody knows what temperature that they are the most comfortable at, but few people are experts. Most people are real nice and they deserve to be treated decently, so I don’t correct them about there being no such thing as cold when they make that mistake. As you might guess I spend a lot of time not correcting people that make that mistake, and I know that most people are nice to me and don’t tell me that I don’t use very good English, so I guess that it all works out.

I guess the moral would be that we are all good at different things, and we are all deserving of respect. And you got a very simple physics lesson for free. Cool… I mean “not warm“, right?


spyrock said...

it really amazes me how in tune we all seem to be, like some kind of harmony. they whole time i'm thinking about the indian glyph rocks, i'm thinking quantum physics but i'm writing something esle. because i'm still trying to figure out what quantum physics is or how to put it into words that someone can understand. and leave it to ernie to lay it down in common language.
the observer effects the experiment, in other words, we are the creators. the trick is to get yourself out of the way of the flow that is coming from within you or to just try to flow along with it. it's all downstream after that. what they call "chi" is what manifests when there is no resistance. well, i'm trying to get this as simply as i can. maybe i can get some help with this thing called "resistance." from some of you other points of light out there.

Ernie Branscomb said...

My whole life I have wondered about how things work, and I have tried to simplify things down to the point that I could understand them, whether it was Einstein’s theory of relativity, or how do you make an ice cube with warm air. I worry about how things work constantly. I have gotten pretty good at picking up on the way that people act when they really don’t understand things. They slip into big words that only confuse things, with the hope that you will become boggled in there oh-so-clever wording that you won’t notice that they don’t have a clue.

Another thing that has always bothered me is the people that seem to understand how the English Language should be spoken properly. But, if you listen to the way people talk, and the way that they write, the rules go out the window, because people don’t communicate that way. Rules really don’t work all the time, like never start a sentence with a conjunction. Or, never end a sentence with a preposition. People just don’t talk that way, and the people that listen to them would be confused and distracted by the stilted sentence structure. Oops, there I go using big words that nobody uses, it must mean that I’m getting over my head so I’m starting to obstruficate the words. Dang… You see what I mean?

Anyway, the English language is dynamic, and any rules that apply should reflect that. Go to any high school today and listen to the kids talking to each other. Chances are that you will not be able to follow what is being said, but the kids understand each other perfectly. So who is right them or us.

If you read any Old English literature, you will have difficulty understanding it unless you are used to reading it. So who is right, them or us. I think that much of the beauty of our language is lost if we try to follow too many rules.

Robin Shelley said...

Will Rogers said: "Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects" and
Saul Bellows said: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance."
These are two of my favorite quotes.

gb05 said...

Ernie, here's a similar physics subject to think about. Light vs Dark. I was taught that dark is the absence of light, just as cold is the absence of heat. And, in the metaphysical domain, evil is the absence of good. Of course, we experience varying amounts of heat, light and good.

Also, the glass is always half full (never half empty). :-)

Ernie Branscomb said...

I have trouble understanding an ice-cube, yet there are people like Einstein, that could put together how everything had to work. He knew how everything worked, and how it all went together. His only problem was explaining it in terms that the common person could understand. Einstein must have been remarkably intelligent.

Robin, those are great quotes. I find myself to be at least a little bit ignorant on all subjects, but I have wasted a great deal of my time wondering about them. Some people can look out their window and see God, and all the things that he gave us. I look out my window and see trees, flowers and the birds and the bees and wonder how it all happened. If God really gave us all of these things, what gave us “God“, and that is the question that I wonder about.

GB05, Good and evil exists only in how we treat one another, so when we learn to contol ourselves we will be able to control good and evil, unfortunately we won't be able to control human nature, so evil will always exist.

Wow! arn't we deep this mornig???

Robin Shelley said...

Ernie, to my way of thinking, "God" is faith-based while "science" is logical & the two are exact opposites.

gbo5, I submit that the glass is half full or half empty depending on if I am drinking or if I am pouring. (:

Ernie Branscomb said...

"God" is faith-based while "science" is logical

Just call me "Mr. Spock".

It has to "work" for me. There has to be a real explanation that I can understand. Or, I just can't make that leap.

For you "God always was, always is, and always will be".

For me "God is an intangible, and I see no proof of existence.”

Robin Shelley said...

"For you "God always was, always is, and always will be".

Surely that comment is NOT meant for me?!!

Robin Shelley said...

For me "God is an intangible, and I see no proof of existence.”

Nor do I.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I should have known that, you being a smart person and all. I am so used to being called a fool for being "Godless" that I flinch to easily.

Anonymous said...


Robin Shelley said...

"Don't want no smart people.
Don't want no smart people
round here."
Oh, wait! That's short people. Um, well... when two fools collide?
Obviously, you are not alone, Ernie.

Anonymous said...

By your own words, you seem to be caught in a conundrum.

“It has to "work" for me. There has to be a real explanation that I can understand. Or, I just can't make that leap.”

Someone says they see "no proof of the existence" of God, yet, they cannot explain away how "nothing" can become "something" without a creator. Why put the burden of proof on God to reveal himself further when the physical realm around us is already apparent?
I dare say we all believe in gravity when no scientist has ever been able to understand and explain it. Given what we don't have the ability to understand, wouldn't it seem more logical to say, “I see no way to DISPROVE the existence of God“?
Otherwise, it's like saying, "Lots of mysterious things exist that I can’t explain, but God can’t be one of them”.

Local Dem said...

To admit even the possibility of a higher power is to instill hope, and hope is all we have sometimes. It is yet to be revealed just why this hope can be turned so readily into mind-control, but it may have more to do with the Almighty Dollar than with Almighty God.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Anon, I believe in existence, but I don’t believe that just because there is a rock over there, that I believe an “All Powerful God" made it. I believe in the rock, but the modern day definition of “God” is out of the dark ages, where everything was based on superstition and hearsay.

First, I seldom engage in the God conversation unless I know the person fairly well, because I don’t want to shake anyone’s beliefs. Most people that believe in God have invested a lifetime of building that belief, and I don’t want to be the one to tell any of them that there is room for doubt. People that have the ability to engage in a blogsite conversation are pretty open minded, and have worked to expand their world, and are comfortable with thinking about new thoughts and new ideas. So, I’ll share my doubts with you.

Gravity is a good example to use. I believe in gravity because it is tangible, even though we don’t know WHY it works we know it does work. I know that to PRAY that gravity won’t work while I step off a bluff is not going to have a good result. As soon as you say something like that, the religious people fall back on all of their religious mantra that they have been taught to believe: “Thou shalt not test God”, “Ye shall believe as little children believe”, “God always was, always is, and always will be”. They find great comfort in that belief, they are wrapped in the arms of “Their Father” that will protect them as long as you never doubt “Him”. We have been taught to believe that any form of blasphemy will be punished, and the true believers think that they will be struck down to even have doubtful thought.

I do believe that we are all here, and although “only God can make a tree”. I seriously doubt that God is what the Bible describes, or any other religious teaching describes Him to be.

I am interested in finding out were we might have all came from, and how “existence” came about, and that thought doesn’t live well in an atmosphere of “God did it” and “ye shall not doubt.”

And, oh yes, I do believe seriously in “The Golden Rule”, and treating each other decently, and with respect. Just because I am “Godless” doesn’t mean that I am heartless.

short person said...

"The longest journey you will ever make in life is from your mind to your heart" Chief Joseph (Nez Perce)

Earnie, to know 'God' you must be Godless. One would like to have the answer to the question of whether or not there is a 'God' and be done with it. But you can't know who 'God' is, or "how existence came about", or what was before time, or what space exists within, etc. etc. etc. in the same way that you can know that 2+2 = 4. Knowledge of 'God' isn't something that you can accumulate or possess. You can't own it or store it in your memory or on a slip of paper in your back pocket.

It's not something you can put on your shopping list and check off when you 'get it'. You can't get it. Or have it.

It's not a matter of faith or belief or suspending disbelief either. However... you can be aware of God's presence from moment to moment, but as soon as you try to name or define or isolate it --wipeout!

Like Spyrock said, it flows when you don't resist it. I.E. when you don't define it or have any preconceived notions about what it is. When the mind is quiet.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I believe that we are all here. What I don’t believe in is that it will make any difference what I believe. I don’t believe that there is any God micromanaging my life, I don’t believe in any prayers, and I don’t believe that there is any Heaven or Hell as defined in the Bible.

I believe in the power of positive thinking, and that the world is a better place if we try to treat each other decently. If there is any form of God at all, it is not as described in the bible, and I don’t fear him. If there is a god, I would see it as what we are, and where we came from, and I try to understand, and seek that knowledge. If you are comfortable with the thought that God made everything, and that God just happened, that is okay with me. Just don’t go killing of large groups of people in the name of God, as has happened in the past, and as still happens in parts of the world.

And spare me from the fools that think non-believers have to die as infidels. (I hope nobody puts a Fatwa out on me.) I don’t think that not believing in God is anything that has to be “cured”.

Bunny said...

I just got home from work and this thread and the physics lesson has been a interesting read. Thanks Ernie for teaching me something.... or two.

bunny said...

an interesting read.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Hi Bunny, What did you learn?

This is the only blog that I know of that can make a post about latent heat, and the English language, and have all of the comments be about religion.

I guess I'll do a post about the birds and the bees, and see what the comments are like.

bunny said...

Hi Ern, I learned there is no hot or cold. I learned there is no absolute zero or vacuum. I learned how you feel about God. I learned again that you're a damn good writer. Have you started THE book? Sat. Night Live is great tonight so tape or tivo it if you can't stay up.

spyrock said...

i didn't know that this would turn into a religious question either. to me religion is a personal thing.
i forgot that i gave away all my quantum physics books to people that are dealing with cancer and other physical problems in their lives. the fact of the matter is that the last thing that a scientist wants to prove is the existance of god. they would kick him out of the club. he would lose his credibility and he would never get on oprah. so when i read about scientists that make experiments involving quantum physics just to disprove things like the power of intention in terms of the past, present or future and they get the opposite results or that a wave and a particle are basically the same things in eternal vibration in that things only change form but the soup is indestructible i'm wondering how long are people going to hang on to physics from the "dark ages". quantum physics has been around awhile. but the fact is, these old structures have their own priorities and have no intention of changing. the new science is revolutionary. it will create an entirely new world just by validating the existence of the one that's been here forever. everything is the same sacred stuff. everything is worthy of respect. the honey bees, the birds, you and me, we're all connected. even the so called religions that are trying to destroy each other over their respective sacred right to oil. it's probably going to take a quantum leap for everyone to figure this out. but the number of scientists that are crossing over is increasing all the time. if anyone knows of one who can do like lucy, and splain it to me.
i'm all doctor spock ears.

Anonymous said...

Physics lesson for you Ernie.
My refridgerator stays at 35°. So the question is, do you know how I got that little 0 up there?


Ernie Branscomb said...

I don't know how you got yours, but I stole my widget from you!

°°°°° niener°

I highlighted it with my curser, I pushed control & C to copy it, then I just push Control & V when I want to paste it. Thanks! °°°°°°