Saturday, September 20, 2008

Paging Dr. Heddle (or Some Other Physicist-Type Person)!

Thanks to a lack of posts that I feel I can competently comment on or are worth commenting on (I blame you UD and AtBC!), I was wandering down one of my favourite site, What You Ought to Know, and watched the episode, Gravity, You Failed Us.

I want to know two things:

1. Explain in layman terms - or maybe undergrad physics terms - what the big deal is with solving for a Three-Body System, and

2. Is there something to this "Electric Universe" thingy?

Feel free to discuss here,

Cooption Confirmed?

I'll just point you to Mike Gene's blog post and you can come back and discuss here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

WTC7 and ID

During the comments of a recent post, it was suggested I look into the collapse of WTC7 from September 11, 2001. A theory going around the web suggested that the collapse was due to a controlled demolition. Not being a big fan of conspiracy theories (which this sounded like one to me), I was skeptical, but I looked into it and found this briefing from the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST) dated August 21, 2008. The following is from the linked briefing:

Determining the probable collapse sequence for WTC 7, NIST found that the impact of debris from the collapse of WTC 1 ignited fires on at least 10 floors of WTC 7, and the fires burned out of control on six lower floors. The heat from these uncontrolled fires caused thermal expansion of the steel beams on the lower floors of the east side of WTC 7, damaging the floor framing on multiple floors. Eventually, a girder on Floor 13 lost its connection to a critical interior column that provided support for the long floor spans on the east side of the building. The displaced girder and other local fire-induced damage caused Floor 13 to collapse, beginning a cascade of floor failures down to the fifth floor. Many of these floors had already been at least partially weakened by the fires in the vicinity of the critical column. This collapse of floors left the critical column unsupported over nine stories.

“When this critical column buckled due to lack of floor supports, it was the first domino in the chain,” Sunder explained. “What followed in rapid succession was a progression of structural failures. Failure first occurred all the way to the roof line—involving all three interior columns on the most eastern side of the building. Then, progressing from east to west across WTC 7, all of the columns in the core of the building failed. Finally, the entire fa├žade collapsed.”

The investigation team considered the possibility of other factors playing a role in the collapse of WTC 7, including the possible use of explosives, fires fed by the fuel supply tanks in and under the building, and damage from the falling debris of WTC 1.

The team said that the smallest blast event capable of crippling the critical column would have produced a “sound level of 130 to 140 decibels at a distance of half a mile,” yet no noise this loud was reported by witnesses or recorded on videos.

As for fuel fires, the team found that they could not have been sustained long enough, could not have generated sufficient heat to fail a critical column, and/or would have produced “large amounts of visible smoke” from Floors 5 and 6, which was not observed.

Finally, the report notes that “while debris impact from the collapse of WTC 1 initiated fires in WTC 7, the resulting structural damage had little effect in causing the collapse of WTC 7.”


A chain of probable causes was discovered and laid out in detail by the NIST investigative team. The bottom line: the evidence did NOT point towards controlled demolition.

This parallels the situation of ID: how can we determine if design is a legitimate explanation? At first glance, it may look like design, but peer deeper into the details, and the design may show itself to be an illusion.

Mike Gene has laid out how we may investigate our suspicions in The Design Matrix, but he leaves it at the investigation stage. This is perhaps due in part to ID being "a nascent protoscience".

So let's open the floor for comments. The theme is "By purpose or by accident: how can we tell?"

Welcome to BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA!

It is BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA time! The rules are simple: how many posts and comments can I do in a 48-hour period?

Remember, it's not just any old blog-o-rama: it's BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA!!!

Post Count:
1. WTC7 and ID
2. Cooption Confirmed?
3. Paging Dr. Heddle...

Comment Count:
1. EE (yes, my blog counts too) ;P
2. Thought Provoker
3. Thinking Christian
4. Exiled From GROGGS
5. EE
6. EE
7. EE
8. EE
9. Reasonable Kansans
10. Coincidence Theories
11. EE
12. Reasonable Kansans
13. Reasonable Kansans
14. Coincidence Theories
15. Coincidence Theories
16. EE
17. EE
18. EE
19. Coincidence Theories
20. Coincidence Theories
21. EE

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Paging Dr. Phil (Plait That Is)

Many of you may have noticed a link I have to Dr. Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy site that debunks the Moon Landing Hoax theory quite nicely. Well, I have a bone to pick with Dr. Phil.

It's kil-AW-met-er, not KILL-o-mee-ter. So :P

And those "right-thinking people" who applauded you either don't follow hockey (which means they're not real Canadians) or they're geeks who live in their mother's basement own little world. So double :P

And yes I know I'm just a little bit late in responding to this, but hey, this makes a good "unofficial" start to BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA*, eh?

The comments for this post are reserved for humourous verbal smackdowns (but leave yo' mama out of it).

*Just for Dr. Phil, it's pronounced BLAWG-OH-RAHMAH-RAH-MAH

BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA This Saturday!!

It's not very often I have time to roam the blogosphere and leave comments here and there. This Saturday (and possibly this weekend) will be one of those times.

So I'm having fun with this. I hereby christen this weekend BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA! Tune in for comments galore and maybe even a post or two!

BLOG-O-RAMA-RA-MA! Buy all our playsets and toys!

Side note: I am disabling comment moderation on a trial basis. Your comments should be appearing in real-time now.

UPDATE: It has occured to me that many may ask "What exactly is BLOGORAMARAMA?" I will set up a post listing all the comments I've left behind at various blogs on Saturday night (maybe I'll cheat and start Friday). Any bets I can make 100?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Moderation Policy

Due to recent events, I've had to change EE's Comment Moderation Policy. Up until now, all comments were posted real-time and without moderation. Now, all comments go through moderation and if I find that the insults go too far, then I reject the comment and ask that the comment be re-posted without the insults.

I apologise for the inconvenience. I hope to have an open door policy again in the near future.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Redundancy - A Mark of Design?

Staying up until 3am does have its upsides. I stumbled upon an excellent NOVA episode in the wee hours of Sunday morning called "Building on Ground Zero". The program went through both the ASCE and NIST investigations into the collapse of the Twin Towers (WTC1 and WTC2). Both reports came to similar conclusions (impact and explosion of airplane coupled with weakening of steel trusses by fire brought the Twin Towers down), but attributed different mechanisms (pancake floor collapse as opposed to truss connection pulling columns inward causing fracture).

"Building on Ground Zero also focused on a design feature used frequently by structural engineers called redundancy. In structural engineering, redundancy generally means multiple load paths. The ultimate goal of a structural engineer is to safely transmit the loads to the ground. This is usually done by focusing on a primary load path. But what happens when the primary load path is compromised? If the load cannot safely get to the ground, then the equilibrium of the structure is shot and collapse (in part or in whole) occurs. If a structure is said to be redundant, then there are multiple loads paths. Redundancy is also a means to prevent progressive collapse where the failure of a single member causes the failure or collapse of the structure (in part or as a whole). In part, it was the redundancy of Twin Towers' structural design that allowed them to remain standing despite multiple columns being severed, thus allowing several hundred occupants the ability to escape.

So can redundancy in a natural object point towards design? Possibly. Taking the Mike Gene approach, let's grant that a redundant feature in a natural object is possibly the outcome of a purposeful design. In order to progress to plausibility, I propose one of the things that needs to be looked at is the context of the redundancy (i.e. does the redundancy serve a purpose?). Redundancy without meaning or context points more towards a "Myopic Tinkerer" than a "Rational Engineer".

However, there is an interesting flip side to this: I don't believe the designer of WTC1 and 2 intentionally incorporated redundancy for the events of 9/11.* This would mean that redundancy was an accidental outcome rather than purposely used for the case that several columns at a certain point would be missing. So where does this fit in to the "design paradigm" and it is possible to even know if the redundancy was purposely designed or not?

The asylum is now open. Let the comments commence!

*The tubular structure of WTC1 and 2 were designed to resist wind and earthquake loads, as well as the impact of a Boeing 707. I don't believe that the impact studies looked at the possibility that the 707 would take out several columns at a certain elevation, but I could be wrong.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It Is Official: Football Season Is Upon Us!

With the NFL regular season about to kickoff on Thursday, I hereby declared the season of football officially open. Any given weekend, I now have up to four teams to follow from the NFL, NCAA, CFL (Canadian Football League) and CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport - not the OTHER CIS).

I am pumped about my 7-2, 1st place Riders, and am looking forward to the second-half of the CFL season.

I am pumped about the prospects of my NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks. Loudest stadium in the league, an experienced and speedy defense, and Matt Hasselbeck at the reigns means high expectations. I'm always nervous about those 10am PT starts, though, and of course, the Hawks play in Buffalo on Sunday 10am.

My college teams are enigmas.

Each year, I never quite know how the University of Saskatchewan Huskies are going to do, but they're usually near the top of the Canada West conference. A 25-0 stomping of the U of Calgary Dinos was a good start!

And then there's the Michigan Wolverines. New coach, new system, no players. Could be a long year. A bowl game would be an awesome year (how's that for reduced expectations, eh?) But that loss to Utah last weekend was painful.

Oh well, my pro teams will keep me interested.

Comments open: Are you pumped about football returning?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blog Posts That Interest Me (For One Reason Or Another)

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I have quite a few blogs listed at the right. Following what they all have to say can be quite the task. Here are some posts from the listed blogs that have caught my eye for one reason or another:

JFS Special: Eleven things you may not know about food irradiation - Junkfood Science

This blog is a personal favourite and the comprehensive post on food irradiation is one of the reasons why. Sandy Szwarc is level-headed yet not afraid to push back at the scare-mongerers.

Is evolution theory important in medical research, or not? - I'm From Missouri

I'm not a fan of the name-calling (on both sides), but this topic really needs to be looked at more closely (cue the comment flood!).

An interesting comment quoting Jerry Coyne:


"To some extent these excesses are not Mindell’s fault, for, if truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably."


Lying to Advance a Cause - Telic Thoughts
Bio Prof: "It Is OK to Use Some Inaccuracies Temporarily" to Sell Evolution - Darwinian Fundamentalism

I really hope this is only one man's opinion on teaching evolution.

UPDATE (03-Sept-2008): This is an awesome comment by Thought Provoker at TT. It's also entertaining to read his responses to this Coturnix fellow.

Why I'm not a Behe fan, Part I, Why I'm not a Behe fan, Part IIA: the malaria scam, Behe botches basic probability...how likely is that?, Why I'm not a Behe fan, Part IIB: abusing genetics - Quintessence of Dust

Me thinks Dr. Matheson is not a Michael Behe fan. Seriously, I have to read EoE and re-read these posts to get some proper perspective.

Please fire U.S. gymnastics coach and poor sport Martha Karolyi - Coincidence Theories

The U.S. got beat by 13-years olds. Neener! Neener! Nee! Ner!

Slavery Revisited: the lesson of John Newton - He Lives

An excellent post on one aspect of Christianity. A good lesson to all that once you accept Jesus, you do not magically become perfect.

Consider this an open thread to discuss any topic of interest.