Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 16th, 2011

4-dimensional space-time and 4-dimensional momentum space embedded in higher reality

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Fascinating article, difficult (as you see) to capture in a headline. It’s in New Scientist, it’s by Amanda Gepfer, and it begins:

It wasn’t so long ago we thought space and time were the absolute and unchanging scaffolding of the universe. Then along came Albert Einstein, who showed that different observers can disagree about the length of objects and the timing of events. His theory of relativity unified space and time into a single entity – space-time. It meant the way we thought about the fabric of reality would never be the same again. “Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade into mere shadows,” declared mathematician Hermann Minkowski. “Only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”

But did Einstein’s revolution go far enough? Physicist Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, doesn’t think so. He and a trio of colleagues are aiming to take relativity to a whole new level, and they have space-time in their sights. They say we need to forget about the home Einstein invented for us: we live instead in a place called phase space.

If this radical claim is true, it could solve a troubling paradox about black holes that has stumped physicists for decades. What’s more, it could set them on the path towards their heart’s desire: a “theory of everything” that will finally unite general relativity and quantum mechanics.

So what is phase space? It is a curious eight-dimensional world that merges our familiar four dimensions of space and time and a four-dimensional world called momentum space.

Momentum space isn’t as alien as it first sounds. When you look at the world around you, says Smolin, you don’t ever observe space or time – instead you see energy and momentum. When you look at your watch, for example, photons bounce off a surface and land on your retina. By detecting the energy and momentum of the photons, your brain reconstructs events in space and time.

The same is true of physics experiments. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 August 2011 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Science

Grotesque overreaching by Long Beach police

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I am staggered by the effrontery of a police department hauling people in for violations of police department aesthetic standards. Is this a new development we can expect all over this great (and fearful) nation of ours? Take a look.

I wonder if galleries in Long Beach have to get a police permit when they show art to prove that the art is police-approved?

Written by LeisureGuy

16 August 2011 at 10:52 am

Posted in Art, Government, Law

Red herring: Soap brushes v. Shaving-cream brushes

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I posted the following on wicked_edge, but it has not proved popular. I believe that the notion (that some brushes are soap brushes and some are shaving-cream brushes) is strongly embedded in some of the forums, in the “not to be questioned” category. If anyone knows a brush for which the claim is made that it cannot get a good lather from soap, I’d like to know.

Here’s what I posted:

A persistent but (in my opinion) wrong-headed belief is that some brushes work well for soaps but not so much for shaving creams, and some work well for shaving creams but not so much for soap.

So far as I can tell, any brush will work equally well (or badly) at shaving creams and soaps once you learn how to use the brush. That’s the tricky bit, of course, and it involves:

a. Making sure you are using sufficiently soft water
b. Loading the brush with sufficient soap or shaving cream
c. Working up a good lather (in bowl or on beard)

Shaving creams are easier to lather, I assume because of their formulation, and they may be less affected by the hardness of the water. But show me a brush that does a good job with shaving cream, and I will use that brush to get a good lather from shaving soap.

The common misconception is that a “soap brush” must be stiff and scrubby to scrape off enough soap (presumably the way the beard scrapes soap off a shave stick). Some even put water on top of the soap to help in this effort—so far as I can tell, a completely unnecessary step.

Obviously, getting a good lather from soap works better if the water is reasonably soft. You can test this by buying a gallon of distilled (aka “purified”) water at the drugstore (about $1, sold for use in steam irons, vaporizers, steamers, and the like) and using that for a shave. If your lather is noticeably better than usual, your tap water is probably hard and you might want to consider getting a water softener if your circumstances permit. (Water softeners that regenerate based on volume of water used rather than time work best and automatically accommodate temporary changes in water usage—as when you’re on vacation or when you have house guests. Twin-tank softeners provide uninterrupted soft water.)

Make sure the brush is sufficiently loaded: wet the brush (boar brushes require soaking immediately before use; synthetics, horsehair, and badger don’t), then rub the tips briskly over the soap for 30-60 seconds. For Creamy Lather, continue working the brush on the soap until the lather is fine-bubbled and thick; for Frugal Lather, stop loading the brush once the lather starts to form. In either case, continue working up the lather, in a bowl or on your beard.

“Soap brush” v. “Shaving-cream brush” is a false dichotomy. Examples of true dichotomies: “Good brushes” v. “Bad brushes” (actually those are extremes from a continuum); “Good lathering technique” v. “Bad lathering technique” (two points from another continuum).

That was the post. One comment talked about “subjectivity”, but of course the post is not on subjective matters. A subjective issue would be whether you like lather from a soap vs. a shaving cream—purely a matter of personal preference, and no one would deny that is subjective. OTOH, when one states that a given brush cannot generate a good lather from a shaving soap, the discussion has left the subjective realm and the statement can be submitted to objective testing. And if I can make a good lather using the brush on shaving soap, the statement is found to be false, not “subjective.”

Written by LeisureGuy

16 August 2011 at 9:54 am

Posted in Shaving

Cool visual illusions

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Take a look. Then take another look.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 August 2011 at 8:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Can powerful people be brought to justice? Maybe

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Some signs of hope, that I’m sure the Obama Administration will pull out all stops to quash. Dahlia Lithwick at Slate:

Last week, a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., determined that a lawsuit filed against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by a former military translator who claimed to have been tortured by U.S. forces at Camp Cropper in Iraq could go forward despite claims from Rumsfeld and the Obama administration that he should be immune from suit. After assessing the claims of “John Doe,” Judge James S. Gwin found that American citizens don’t lose their constitutional rights simply because it’s wartime. “The court finds no convincing reason,” wrote Gwin, “that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously-declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad.”

On Monday, a three-judge panel from the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals came to pretty much the same conclusion. Reviewing a different lawsuit, filed by two different military contractors, alleging similar forms of abuse at the same camp, the panel determined, with one judge filing a partial dissent, that their suit against Rumsfeld could proceed.The case of Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel reads like Catch-22, updated for an even sillier war. In a 2006 profile of Vance for theNew York Times, Michael Moss laid out the story: Vance was “a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the FBI about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading. But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there [Ertel] were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.”

Vance and Ertel became suspicious about activities at Shield Group Security the Iraqi security firm that employed them—activities that included stockpiling weapons and offering liquor to U.S. soldiers in exchange for bullets and weapon repairs. When he became an informant for the FBI, he was risking his life to protect national security. Shield Group Security began to suspect Vance and Ertel and things got hairy. A military team sent in to rescue them ended up shipping them to Camp Cropper and warehoused them at Compound 5, the maximum-security unit where Saddam Hussein was held.

Overnight, Vance and Ertel went from U.S. contractors to “enemy combatants,” and both were allegedly subjected to sleep deprivation, aggressive interrogation, blindfolding, shackling, hooding, and “walling.” Both were denied access to legal counsel for their appearances before the Detainee Status Board, and neither was allowed to see the evidence against them. Writing for the majority today, Judge David Hamilton doesn’t mince words about this treatment: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 August 2011 at 8:26 am

Synthetics week officially begins with Lucretia Borgia

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This is the Week of Synthetic Brushes, a festival that is celebrated in my apartment. I don’t have six synthetics, so I began yesterday with the Wee Scot, entranced by using a brush smaller than the shave stick. But the Wee Scot, of course, is a high-quality badger brush, so now I embark upon the synthetics. This Omega Lucretia Borgia model was my first “artificial badger” synthetic and remains a favorite: excellent performance, good feel, and (to my eye, at any rate) an attractive appearance.

I did the lengthy loading that Creamy Lather requires and I got a fine, rich lather from the Geo. F. Trumper Rose shaving soap. This is a tallow-based, triple-milled shaving soap that delivers great lather. Nothing wrong with quality, if you ask me.

I really like the Merkur Progress and if you’re considering an adjustable razor, think about this one. Nice chunky feel, and the closest modern equivalent to the redoubtable Mikron Apollo.

A commenter had asked about rose-fragranced aftershaves, since he wanted to continue the theme of the soap. Rose is a classic English men’s fragrance—from the Wars of the Roses, perhaps?—and a real delight, but I drew a blank on the aftershaves. “Coral” doesn’t connect with “rose” in my mind, but Coral Skin Food is indeed rose-fragranced, as is D.R. Harris Pink Lotion. And of course there’s Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner (toner=no alcohol, astringent=10% alcohol, highly astringent=20% alcohol, in the Thayers line) is nice, but a trifle lacking in zip. (The Thayers Sampler Pack is a good way to try out their product line.)

Written by LeisureGuy

16 August 2011 at 7:44 am

Posted in Shaving

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