Archive for July, 2008

Truth and Knowledge

July 31, 2008

“For it is easy in experimentation to be deceived, and to think one has seen and discovered what we desire to see and discover.” —Luigi Galvani

I’ve starting reading The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments, by George Johnson. The book is ten short chapters describing how early thinkers and scientists figured out some of the basic scientific truths that we take for granted today. Galileo and gravity, Harvey and blood circulation, Newton and the spectrum of visible light, Lavoisier and oxygen, and Galvani and electricity and muscle contraction are the first 5 chapters that I read yesterday.

I’m struck by two themes that are repeated in each of the stories. First, the diligence each of these men needed in working through the discovery methods to “discover” the truth. Sometimes it took years of work to learn something that today seems so basic. Each of them not only had to think through the problem, they had to invent the equipment and the methods of experimentation to test their ideas. Everything was from scratch. The second theme was opposition. Each of them had to overcome the accepted false “knowledge” of their time. Sometimes, the accepted ideas of how things are dated back hundreds of years. Their discoveries of true principles weren’t accepted by those in power because they didn’t conform with the accepted “facts” of the day. The false status quo often had more strength than the newly discovered truth.

We need to be truth seekers, even when it might not be popular.  The truth is waiting to be discovered.  We just need to be diligent to find it—and also not be blinded by the opinions of so-called experts.

Earthquake

July 29, 2008

We had a pretty good earthquake a few minutes ago. It was a 5.6 in the Chino Hills area, about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. I was on the phone with a co-worker in Ontario. He was about 10 miles from the epicenter and about 37 miles from me. He felt it a good 10 or 15 seconds before we felt it in downtown LA.

We got bounced around pretty good. I’m on the 7th floor of our building, so there was some pretty good swaying. Wendy was down the street in federal court on jury duty. We were planning on meeting for lunch, but the phones were jammed and it took a while to get in touch with each other.

Here is the information from the USGS website:

A moderate earthquake occurred at 11:42:15 AM (PDT) on Tuesday, July 29, 2008.
The magnitude 5.8 event occurred 3 km (2 miles) SW of Chino Hills, CA.
The hypocentral depth is 12 km ( 8 miles).


Magnitude 5.8 – local magnitude (ML)
Time Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 11:42:15 AM (PDT)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 18:42:15 (UTC)
Distance from Chino Hills, CA – 3 km (2 miles) SW (235 degrees)
Diamond Bar, CA – 8 km (5 miles) SE (127 degrees)
Yorba Linda, CA – 9 km (5 miles) NNE (23 degrees)
Pomona, CA – 11 km (7 miles) S (178 degrees)
Los Angeles Civic Center, CA – 47 km (29 miles) ESE (103 degrees)
Coordinates 33 deg. 57.5 min. N (33.959N), 117 deg. 45.1 min. W (117.752W)
Depth 12.3 km (7.6 miles)

Some Things Can’t Be Made Over

July 29, 2008

Sometimes when we are watching ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, I wonder what happens after the cameras leave. Can the families handle the upkeep of the usually overbuilt homes? Are the property taxes raised so high on the new homes that the families have a hard time taking care of them?

Today, we learn about one of the Extreme Makeover families’ situations: foreclosure.

Three years ago, Extreme Makeover demolished a home in Georgia and replaced it with a beautiful 4-bedroom home. More than 1800 volunteers worked on the one-week project. According to an AP article, “Materials and labor were donated for the home, which would have cost about $450,000 to build. Beazer Homes’ employees and company partners also raised $250,000 in contributions for the family, including scholarships for the couple’s three children and a home maintenance fund.”

The family used the home as collateral for a $450,000 loan to start a construction business. The business failed and now the home is up for foreclosure auction.

Let’s hope that they are better stewards of the scholarship money.

No Thoughts, Random or Otherwise

July 28, 2008

Just in case you were wondering, I haven’t given up on the blog. I just haven’t had the motivation to write. The title of this blog isn’t exactly right. I have had some thoughts, I just having felt much like writing about them. Perhaps a little later.

Wendy and I did have a very nice vacation–a 14-day trip to the mid-West and New England. 14 states and 1 Canadian province in 3400 miles of driving. We flew into Chicago and out of Boston and visited Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

The photo at the top of this post was taken at the high point (elevation-wise) of our trip–Mt. Washington, NH. We were laughing at the fine views from the top. The visibility was about 50 feet when Wendy took the picture.

My intention was to write a short paragraph and include some photos about each day’s activities. By the time we got to our motel room, I just didn’t have the time to work on it. I’ll post about the trip later.