Thursday, April 21, 2011


I don't know if I have philosophized about 4 dimensional complex fractals yet. But here goes...By now you probably know I like fractals. Well, this guy does too (Be sure to check out the fractal teddy bear.) [ On the note of "."s and ")" I invented a new emoticon. .) I call it "Smiley lost an eye in the war." Now back to your regularly scheduled diversion.] To quote the source of the image above, "it can be thought of as how much viscosity a particle passing through a Mendelbrot set would experience." The parts I like about it is that it resembles the Buddha whose infinity exists simultaneously inside of and outside of itself. The Buddha is meditating as are his very cells. In fact, the entire existence of the buddhabrot is in a state of meditation . Its a four dimensional complex object so we wouldn't actually be able to see this--hmm kind of like divinity its self. Being 4D this object is outside of time also metaphoric of divinity. If we wanted to trace the edge of or in other words to place limits and understand the full extent of this creation it could not be done, yet by looking we can see that even this infinite creation has a definite existence and a fixed form. We cannot know every detail of the buddhabrot but we can create it using a relatively simple equation. It is the same everytime it is created but it can be viewed through infinitely many perspectives appearing slightly different each time. The equation is simple yet it contains infinite insights. Totally a great metaphor for spirituality and religion and just to make it better it is also based on math.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Astrobiology Dichotomy

For today's post I want to compare two places in our solar system. You dear readers will be asked to guess what and where these places are and to surmise if life could be possible in either of these environments.

The first is place found to be nearly devoid of water. Any possible nutrients are relativly far flung. Each daily cycle can see temperature changes of 100 degrees or more. For days on end the sun beats down this environment with its harsh unrelenting rays. Anything that might reside here, when not buried under intense incoming solar radiation is beset with life threatening storms one after another for months on end. There is a relatively thin atmosphere in the locale described but fully 1 out of every five atoms is a toxic gas known to strip electrons from every tissue in your body. Under laboratory conditions this gas has been known to cause profound chronic wasting age accelerating conditions. It gets better because more than three quarters of this locations "atmosphere" contains elements bound together in a stiffleing combination barely able to be metabolized only by the heartiest of organisms.

That was environment number 1. Now let's compare this with environment number 2.

Imagine a place that never changes. Shelter is not needed because as far as is known, there are never any storms. The temperature has the temperature of a cozy heated bath, all day, all year for years on end. Food is piled upon you in heaps 15 stories high! Water is plentiful and readily abundant. In location #2. The equivalent of the entire volume of the world's ocean flows every few million years. In short it seems like a biotic paradise.

So what and where were these two locations I described? Surprisingly, they were both here on Earth. Location number 1 was the Tiaga of Northern Russia, one of the largest land ecosystems on Earth! But what about all of that horrible stuff you mentioned? Its all true. Russia holds the record for greatest temperature change in one day. -20 F just before dawn +80 F around noon. The Russian winter is famous for wiping out intrepid life forms brave enough to attempt conquering it. Two known species were nearly driven extinct because of it e.g. Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler. But what about that toxic gas you mentioned? Is there really a toxic gas leak in Russia? No. The toxic gas I mentioned is Oxygen. We take it for granted that we can breathe it, but one only needs look at what it does to a banana or an apple to realize its toxic effects. Does it really strip electrons from every tissue in your body? Yup. That's how we are able to get energy from food. Oxygen is the final electron acceptor in our electron transport chains. Because of oxygen's greed for electrons we are able to make 18 times more ATP than organisms that don't utilize this toxic substance. And the 78% of the atmosphere we can't guessed it--Nitrogen. N triple bonded to N is ridiculously hard to break apart, only a select few bacteria found in peas and other legumes can even tackle the immense task of splitting this titanic bond.

Environment number 2, also here on Earth, is a deep sea vent less than an hours walk from the surface--assuming you could walk a matter of miles straight downward AND resist the 100 atmospheres of pressure crushing you into oblivion. Though we are not able to metabolize the hydrogen sulfide running rampant in these deep sea oases to chemiosynthetic bacteria this IS their food source.

In light of the present argument I am inclined to believe the John Corliss argument. I think if life had to originate in one location it was probably a deep sea vent. It seems a lot more difficult for life to start in a shallow sea with dilute nutrient concentrations than in a place with a 150 foot pile of food replaced continuously. Ladies and gentlemen Beware your land based mammal biases on the world. Did I mention the deep sea vent is home to approximately 1,000 different species-- roughly 120 times that of a rainforest if is correct in its analysis!

And now to alienate the rest of you!

Since this is my forum, I can choose to talk about what I would like. Today I would like to wax prosaic about politics. I have a strong scouting background and tend to lean Democratic (Think "lean" as in a motorcycle sport bikist leaning into the turns of a grand prix at 100 miles per hour and not "lean" as in a positively phototropic chlorophyll laden eukaryote producing a little too much auxin.).

Scouting has badges in both personal finance and environmental science scouting is apolitical. Why should scouting suggest the left as opposed to the right or any party in between? Consider the Scout Oath, "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty, to God and country. To obey the scout law. To help other people at all times to keep myself, physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." Its that "help other people at all times" clause I really like.

Some would question the logic of helping the impoverished class suggesting that there is a certain percentage that abuses the system, that milks us the tax paying citizenry for all our generosity is worth and still chooses to remain poor. To them I say, this is probably true, but lets give them the chance. I would shudder to think what America would be if the American Dream had an exclusivity clause. Though the impending international debt implosions implore us to introspection, I suspect that even in a recession our country is strong enough and powerful enough that we can pull those stuck in the mire of poverty free without being pulled in by those who relish its murky embrace. Should we cast aside our corrupt capitalism for the chagrined communism? Nay. Capitalism has been given its chance and though its ideas are noble, in practice there will always be greed and thus an inequitable allocation of wealth. People should be able to work hard, work for their entire life and have something to show for it. People should be able to accomplish their dreams and become whatever their heart desires. The altitude of one's ambitions should not be abridged by another's intent.

But there is a temperance to this lofty idealism. In our race for our personal summits I do not believe we should walk on another nor should we destroy our environments. The analects of scouting again offer us a creed:

As an American I will be clean in my outdoor manners, be careful with fire, considerate in the outdoors and conservation minded.

I think art, music, theater and all the trimmings of a well enlightened society are essential to the education and empowerment of the human soul. All of these are completely necessary to the human experience. I think in addition to this we must preserve and protect the breeding ground for such ideas. I believe we need to protect our American environments and uniquely American vistas, else what good is an American Dream if the world we live in isn't worth aspiring too? Whether you are globally thermophilic or thermophobic protecting our planet offers unimaginable dividends. As Dr. Ghistle once said humming fish do not hum if their gills are all gummed. All of America is a crowning gem of beauty. But how can we appreciate our fabled spacious skies and purple mountains of majesty if all we can see is smog? How can we live in a land were the people are free but the water is dammed? What would it be like if our national bird, the majestic bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus )symbol of kings and nations existed only in zoos and aviaries instead of wild and free? America is America and it is up to us to protect what makes us unique, our people and places not just our things.

I have one more thought to add to my stream of consciousness political ramblings. We cannot achieve any of our ends if we are always embattled asses ( Equus democratis) versus mammoths (Elaphus republicansis). How did that ancient proverb go? " A house divided under Republican control?" Sorry. If one side refuses to give a little, refuses to work for the better good and refuses to represent his/her constituents and not his/her pocket book then that man or woman is a Utah State legislator.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011 Outstanding Tutor of the Year

So today I was officially dubbed " Outstanding Tutor of the Year 2011!" Its probably because I keep making things like this:

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Comedy is Tough.

And now for a comic that needs no introduction. The winner of "Last Comic Chatting"--Boom

Before I begin, I would just like to give a little shout to my friends and family.


Online comedy is a little different than stand-up. There are just some things you can't do in online comedy. You see stand up comics say things like: "Hey its great to be here in the great city of Los Angeles!" Or "Let me hear it New York!" Well, "Are you excited citizens of server number 010011.508!" You hear things like stand up comics going on tour--for me that's easy: Just last week I visited 15 chat rooms. Doing online stand up is pretty rough. As a comic I never see my wife or kids. Its probably because my wife divorced me and I don't actually have any kids. Sadly though, I don't think my dog appreciates my humor.

On the note of appreciating humor, comics often perform in bars, clubs and other places where they serve alcohol. The idea is that a few drinks will loosen up the crowd and generally the comedian does better. Where comedians should be performing is in hospitals. Who needs liquor to loosen up a crowd when you have Loritab and laughing gas.

Another difference between online comedy and in person stand up is that "in person" you are able to see the person. You have some idea of what to expect. The next comic walks on stage, its a Hispanic transvestite leprechaun--you KNOW what he's going to be making jokes about. Its ok though--he is a Hispanic transvestite leprechaun she can make fun of them like that. the rest of us couldn't but she can. Me, you have no idea who I am, which group I am going to mock and ridicule. I have to introduce myself first. I am a mathematician approaching 26 from the left. I represent the underprivileged inner suburb white protestant middle class male not in politics. Its ok though I can make fun of white middle class males I am one. This economy is so hard I had to pretend I was part of the GOP just to get an interview.

There is an upside to online comedy though--Not as much fruit thrown at you. Though last week someone posted a comment that said tomato.

Thank you and goodnight. Start autosaving.