RanchoBozo Science Circus

Rancho Bozo Science Circus

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A famous scientist who's name you would imediately recognize once said "time is the most elusive of all illusions" . . . There is a time for many things in the
history of time . . . now is such a time for us. Science is to some beyond reproach to us that notion is nonsense . . . David P. Spector Ge.Dwe need a science editor with uncanny sensibilities and a publisher with courage and an undaunted commitment to the absurd . . . it is with this spirit we at RanchoBozo.com launch the RanchoBozo Science Circus. I am proud to introduce our science editor David P. Spector Ge.D . . . Mr. Spector holds several patents for designs and processes in the field of high tech industrial optics.

Hey David this mysterious email showed up one day with a question to the RanchoBozo.com Science Editor (on hiatus) it's an interesting question that strikes to the heart of cosmology in my opinion: The question that was asked is "What is the speed of Dark?" hint: If it always precedes light wouldn't that make it faster?

While my unavailability really is structural, I have to admit I have been wondering what it would be like to get a technical question, as opposed to a political joke or semantic riddle. Just in case this wasn't intended to be a semantic stratagem:

The "speed of light" is shorthand for the speed at which reality can be perceived. The rate at which any change becomes discernable at a distance is constant for any particular observer is constant. And as dark preceeds light, so does light proceed dark. Turn, turn, turn.

Pray continue. D.P. Spector Ge.D

If we, meaning those who drive gas-O-leen powered vehicals continue to drive at the current rate we do, when will the ice caps melt? And if they melt -- what will we do with all our SUVs?
Ms. Carmela: Los Angeles, California

This question will be answered in two intallments: part 1

Well, this touches on three of the biggest problems in science: economics, the weather, and mob psychology. Until the advent of chaos theory, science had no answer.

Take Jeeps for example. SUV's, once called Jeeps, appealed only to the lunatic fringe, due to their low cost, fuel efficiency, sporty image, ease of parking, and genuine go-anywhere wilderness capability. But mob psychology, sometimes called "fashion", changed all that. To understand this scientifically, we must look back to the controversial theories of French scientist Benoit Mandelbrot.

Mandelbrot had been in a slump since his early success in developing a synthetic form of mildew, which was never commercialized due to the high cost of platinum. In 1970, while studying the effect of Boone's Farm Apple Wine on Seconal, he was seriously injured in a terrible cat vacuuming accident. Historians generally attribute his breakthrough discovery of Chaos Theory to the effects of his ensuing brain surgery, although there are some who claim this was just a cosmetic procedure popular among scientists at the time.

Chaos theory is the study of a family of simple but highly nonlinear functions which exhibit very complex behavior when driven hard and put away wet. Mandelbrot and his contemporaries proposed thought-experiment examples wherein, for example, the shape of a snowflake could evolve to enormous complexity by many iterations of a simple computation. Modern computer graphic imaging uses these equations to produce natural patterns of snow, clouds, fur, flame, and plague infested rats for the movies.

Under these rules, a seemingly insignificant event could ripple through history with devastating consequences. This is the famous "butterfly effect", which is now affecting the butterflies themselves. Chaos theory doesn't so much produce specific predictions as it does probabilites, mainly grotesque and horrible possibilities for our purposes, but when a system in equilibrium becomes chaotic, things happen fast. Here is is my first attempt to crunch the numbers.

The following takes place between 2006 and 2026 AD:

- July 14th, 2010: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency announces that the polar icecaps have shrunk by fifty percent... D.P. Spector Ge.D

from Dr. Daves secret lab for reconfiguring domestic illumination devices

Through out the year middle school and high school students filter in some enthusiastically some reluctantly with the the idea that some lucky Goodman employee will build their science project or beer bong for them . . . you are not alone in your SCIENCE CIRCUS

That's right Science Circus Cadets! Dr. Dave and Captain Wayne-O have devised a clever little cyber tool that will trigger oodles (that means alot) of ideas for future science projects. First study this picture. Don't even try to identify what these things might be. Next imagine how they could be used in a science project. Pick three or four objects that could be re-arranged in a way that looks scientific. Imagine how your back board might be decorated (tip: black back boards always look way more scientific).thank you science circus 2005 Don't forget the boxes can be carefully painted with flourescent poster paint and glued to your back board. Think of what concept of science you could demonstrate with some of the larger objects. Finally ask yourself questions like these: What does this stuff have to do with astrophysics? What does this stuff have to do with an inclined plane? What Goodman employee will build it for me? If this doesn't get your science juices flowing and get you to think of some great ideas for science projects . . . you might consider making an appointment with your guidance counselor or check out one of those fully illustrated 101 easy ideas for science projects books at the library. .
Capt. Wayne-O

In the begining . . . . . it's possible that this could help: Merriam-Webster on line

Childhood Heroes of a Science Editor:

In the pre-digital age, multiplexing (sending multiple signals down the same pathway in a way that allows them to later be seperated) was mostly done by "frequency division", a method still used in FM stereo broadcasting. Shannon and Sakharov decided to use a variant of this technique to allow the two world leaders to encrypt their conversations.

Modern popular music sometimes employs a device called a "vocoder", with which notes or chords played on a keyboard can be modulated using the volume and tonal envelopes (formants) of a vocal input. Peter Frampton popularized an acoustic version of this device; I have one and used it on the kazoo solo of my version of "Johnny Get Angry"; my pitch was all over the place on the first take, so I taped the Frampton tube to the kazoo and played the part on my old wooden Casio keyboard. Mixed with the original take, it was just right.
Merriam-Webster on line

Shannon and Sakharov used the same idea. They encoded the speech of their respective heads of state seperately as pitch and envelope, then inverted the pitch a la the single-sideband effect in the first "Star Wars" movie fighter plane scenes, and transmitted it openly as unintelligible squawk. I have a cheap encrypted cordless phone which does this- works great. When Moog, Stockhausen, Allen R. Pearlman, Oberheim, et al came along, they picked this up and made it a standard feature you hear on Peter Gabriel and Prince tunes. If I hear this effect on a current top-40 song, maybe we can do a Rancho Bozo story on it. David P Spector

the emails . . .

Hey David,
I rushed to my computer with hopes to find the answer to that perplexing question. I think I need to confiscate a white lab coat (any ideas) and a flourescent pocket protector . . . Capt. Wayne-O

Naturally I have a white lab coat, and I dont believe in pocket protectors (they take up room that could be used for more pens), but I do have a bright yellow slide rule around here somewhere. And I have a bud vase that looks a lot like a Florence flask- we could make it smoke with a rinse of muriatic acid and a drop of ammonium hydroxide from the paint department.

You aren't getting answers right now because I'm having a little trouble with the communist Chinese. But like all writers, when it looks like I'm asleep, that means I'm working. D.P. Spector Ge.D

google da
earth "around the world in 80 bots" I learned today from DaWitt that Google Earth is finally working right. I compared it to Globexplorer/ImageAtlas.com, which I had been using to monitor the condition of my roof shingles from outer space, and it's the same imagery with a much cooler interface and way less intentional corruption for the non-fee paying visitor. I think we should link to it for science stories with a topical/geographical genesis, although I guess we don't have the resolution to do justice to the Cheney/Chavez butterfly barbecue in Caracas last week.

random notes from our science editor:
this product is not yet on the market Apropos of nothing, let me remark upon another modern problem which has me concerned. The other day in the break room, I was trying to read the paper when a commercial fragment from CNN slipped through my defenses: there is a kind of health food for dogs now that can "extend your pet's life by Two Hundred Years"! Are these people mad? I don't think anyone's really thought this through, but it's too late now. Once the pet lover constituency starts writing letters, no politician in her right mind will dare stand in the way. I foresee a desperate President Bush proposing an economically crippling medical entitlement for pets which would ruin the country And guarantee him a third term. Has anyone considered the sociological implications? And as if that's not enough, this could be devastating to Sausalito's bid to be a center of excellence for pet replication.

I was pretty worked up about this, and was attempting to express these sentiments in Punjabi when the commercial ran again. This time I paid closer attention; they were saying "extend your pet's life by two Healthy years". Close call, eh? D.P. Spector Ge.D

If there really is gravity, why do flames go up? Paul Rienke: Richmond, B.C. Canada

Paul asks several interesting questions. As to "Why", who knows? The very question seems almost French. As to Paul's next question, "do flames go up?", well, they go whichever way the wind blows, and more on that later. But the really good question is the one about if there really is gravity.

When I lived on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, there were giant bonfires on the beach at night, and the fog made sparks fly from the power lines along the Great Highway, and the seawall was covered with esoteric graffiti. One recurring theme was "Gravity is the Fourth Dimension". I thought I knew from science fiction that 'Time' was the fourth dimension, but the other graffiti themes were "Rust Never Sleeps" and "White Punks on Dope", and I knew those were true. Yet Einstein said that "space-time" is the fourth dimension, and now so does Stephen Hawking. I needed the facts.

Dick's at the Beach was an old jazz haunt right on the edge of the Pacific, where Burt Bales and his English trio held down the fort, and players from all over the world would drop by after their gigs downtown, and jump in. I figured I could get a little background on the fourth dimentional thing from those guys. That's where I got the English angle, after they turned out the lights. Those of us with nowhere else to go were relaxing in the back room...

It turns out that Sir Isaac Newton pretty much owned European science in 1700. The most prestigious scientific fellowship at Cambridge University is named for him, and although he spent quite a bit of time trying to turn lead into gold (science note: see Fleishman and Pons*), his name is synonymous with gravity. We all know he discovered the law of gravity, but we also mostly believe that the law of gravity has to do with the behavior of apples. Wrong!

It was Adam and Eve who found out about apples. What Newton dicovered was exactly how gravity acts. The boring version is: (I can't type math notation in Hotmail, so forget this and skip ahead to the next paragraph) gravitational attraction= mass A(apple) x mass B (Earth), divided by how far apart they are, squared, equals how much I weigh. (I left out a fudge factor called "G", the gravitational constant, which makes everything come out in Earth logic.)

Well, that's not very exciting except that it predicts a few unexpected far out possibilities. It's natural to understand that if the world were a ball of water you would sink to the center and be stuck there. If you burped out a bubble, it would race back to the surface, of course, but why? Because gravity (see formula above, or just trust me) favors the heavier water and the air gets displaced. And if it rained meteors, which are heavier than you, gravity would make the meteors force you back up to daylight, probably in a nutricious paste form . And -this is the good part- if the Earth was hollow in the center, there would be no net gravity at all inside, and you would float freely. Everything would cancel out.

But that was the 18th century Newton version, which works fine, but which disagrees with the 20th century Einstein version, which doesn't work yet because we haven't convincingly proven the existence of gravity waves. So; gravity: eh, semantics. Falling pianos: still a real concern.

a flame without a discernible point of reference knows no up nor down wind velocity almost nilBack at the pub, I fired up a smoke. I spun a rough steel wheel against a brittle flammable "flint", and pieces of the flint were so violently heated and scraped away that the particles sparked in the air, causing some of the hydrogen atoms in nearby butane molecules to be torn from their comparatively weak carbon bonds and freeing them to react with the oxygen in the air- the most powerful chemical reaction known to rocket science.

The superheated H2O molecules thus created rapidly spread out, losing density and being forced upward by cooler, heavier molecules of the surrounding air. Those carbon atoms remaining from the original butane molecules clustered together as incandescent soot, rising in the blue plasma column until they encountered free oxygen and burned in a yellow flame. Or something like that.

But that flame was just a candle in the wind. Except in old Buck Rodgers movies, plasma phenonena flow from hot to cold, torch to weld, one end of a neon sign to the other.

To summarize, there's no currently accepted scientifc theory of gravity, and flames don't go any particular direction. I know my editor will shorten all of this to "Maybe! No! Next question?", but I get paid by the word. D P Spector Ge.D . . . . get paid? Cpt. Wayne-O

How does a syphon work?

Well, if we could just get back to the point here, a Siphon does not actually work. The siphon is a mythical device once thought to explain the mysterious behavior of toilets (and since replaced by the more familiar demonic possession theory). A simple experimental demonstration can be done in your kitchen sink using a milk carton, candle wax, and a "Krazy Straw". Unfortunately, they don't make those anymore, so let's head out to the garage and employ the same principle to get some gas for the lawn mower right out of the family car. We won't need a pump- we're going to use a Siphon! Now first let's understand the theory involved...(cut to punchline, trip to emergency room, etc.). D.P. Spector Ge.D

What is the Bernoulli effect on meat balls?

meat ball in flightYou have the temerity to ask a man of my, uh, well anyway, to explain the Bernoulli effect on meatballs? You might as well ask "Why are we here?" I believe it was the great philosopher Ernie Kovacs, who, if nothing else, proved that Edie Adams had a sense of humor. However;

I'm sure we've all wondered why a spinning meatball curves in flight.
Merriam-Webster on line

Lorenzo Bernoulli did. In 1723, as Landing Signal Officer for the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, Lorenzo was puzzled by the errratic behavior of planes attempting to land whenever he happenned to be on duty. Through careful measurements, he was able to show that when air molecules are forced to speed up, some of their potential energy is converted to kinetic (motion) energy, so that they move faster and exert less pressure on their surroundings, kind of like Randy Moss in a contract year.

We see this effect around us every day, whether it's a tennis ball sailing past Andy Roddick to knock us out of the Davis Cup, or Sean Connery's wig flying off during a chase scene.

Bernoulli realized he was witnessing a previously unknown phenomenon of physics, and left the Air Force to to begin what eventually became a vast chain of low-quality Italian restaurants, not unlike the Olive Garden. He was later forced to change his name to Doug, after a labor dispute with Actor's Equity, and now resides at the Chateau Marmot, a trendy Sierra resort catering to ground squirrels. D.P. Spector Ge.D

How does an ordinary tube amplify sound?

I'm glad you asked. Sound amplification has been pretty much all transistors since 1963, but since tubes are complicated, expensive, and poorly understood, they are much in demand by guitar players, wealthy audiophiles, and the bloodsucking parasites who hold them in sway.

The way they work can be easily understood in terms of everyday experience. Physics teaches us that there are two basic types of tubes: vacuum tubes, and toilet paper tubes. One exception to this is the space shuttle, where they pretty much use vacuum for everything.

Vacuum tubes (those little glass light-bulb thingies that you sometimes see at garage sales or in state-of-the-art Russian computers) are easy to understand; they work on static electricity. The "vacuum" in the tube is just so little submicroscopic things like electrons can fly around like tennis balls at a dog park, instead of being bumped into before they ever really get going. Think of bits of confetti being drawn to your static-charged finger; if some other charged thing- somebody else's finger, is closer, you lose out. But otherwise, in a nothing-in-the-way vacuum, when the confetti bits do get all the way to your finger, they're really moving. So the weak-but-close finger (from the guitar pickup) controls the electon/confetti stream that ultimately reaches your distant loudspeaker/finger with a full head of steam. Kind of like "the early bird gets the worm".

not a vacuum tube Toilet paper tubes, which I assume you're already somewhat familiar with, work differently. They don't really amplify sound, they focus it, in two ways, neither of which, I'm starting to realize, is particularly amusing.

Once sound waves enter a tube, they can't spread out anymore, so they arrive pretty much full-force at the other end, even over significant distances. This is equivalent to the Stones playing Hong Kong, then going staight home, which is why they're still the only band currently using this technology.

The other thing toilet paper tube-like things do is resonate; they selectively respond to sounds having a wavelength related to their length. This is why you can never tell what hip-hop song any of the low-riders at the gas station is playing; they all sound like a really boss sewer-pipe sized tube. D.P. Spector Ge.D

on mini science videos:
The idea of demonstration videos is intriguing, except for the, you know, actually making them. We could have a time-filling stock prologue in which I instruct young science afficionados to "always wear safety glasses, and never, ever mix Tequila with Schnapps".

Parenthetically Speaking: (Can you tell I'm hurrying ineffectively?), I've been producer or talent in a bunch of videos, and always editor (at Criterion in Oakland, which unfortunately (not joking) was located under that freeway that collapsed in the '89 quake). I'm Barbra Streissand picky. Try not to alarm me with your demands. I'll create, under your direction. You edit. Things will work out.

1.) There's a serious electronics glitch with my kinetic sculpture electronics in Shanghai, and I'm trying to deal with it. The 17 hour time difference isn't helping.

2.) In the course of dealing with this tech support correspondence, I found my "Bernoulli" notes and found the aircraft carrier angle that was nakedly unexplained in the short version.

3.) There is a reallly loud Salsa band on some sort of raft assaulting my houseboat, and it's distracting.

4.) The aircraft carrier reference in my jokey reply to your question has to do with the influence of "meatballs" on Bernoulli's principal, rather than the opposite. I thought this was within the bounds of comprehension, but then I cut out the connecting narrative, thus rendering the naval aviation reference absurd- but you didn't object to that.

5.) I admit that I didn't really base my edit-to-fit on the well-known Berkeley Monthly algorithm, and further admit that there isn't any such thing; but I still think it's acceptable shorthand, in glibspeak, for "I acted somewhat arbitrarily".

So I wasn't trying to modify my my answer, merely to embellish it.

Invention: Laminated lens wafers Year Description 1991 Invention patented by David P. Spector on February 18th, 1991. Abstract: A series of back wafers for a laminated ophthalmic lens, wherein successive members of the series have a diopter difference in their concave curvature which is sufficiently small to enable a member of the series to be used in combination with any design and power of front wafer to produce a finished lens within the normal tolerance for such a lens. Preferably the diopter difference is 1/8 of a diopter. The invention also comprises a method of producing a laminated lens from the wafers. The series of back wafers enables the production of a finished lens within the normal tolerances for such lenses.

David P. Spector © 2006

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