Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

fromquarkstoquasars:

What is a Billion?
We live in a time of billions; billions of a galaxies, stars, people, light-years…but how do we put something like this into perspective?
Can we really understand what a “billion” means, or its significance?
Find Out: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/what-is-a-billion/
You can see a larger info-graphic here; http://ow.ly/sRLu8

fromquarkstoquasars:

What is a Billion?

We live in a time of billions; billions of a galaxies, stars, people, light-years…but how do we put something like this into perspective?

Can we really understand what a “billion” means, or its significance?

Find Out: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/what-is-a-billion/

You can see a larger info-graphic here; http://ow.ly/sRLu8

As a fraction of the lifespan of the universe as measured from the beginning to the evaporation of the last black hole, life as we know it is only possible for 1/10^30 of a percent. And that’s why, for me, the most astonishing wonder of the universe isn’t a star or a planet or a galaxy. It isn’t a thing at all. It’s an instant in time. And that time is now. Humans have walked the earth for just the shortest fraction of that briefest of moments in deep time. But in our 200,000 years on this planet we’ve made remarkable progress. It was only 2,500 years ago that we believed that the sun was a god and measured its orbit with stone towers built on the top of a hill. Today the language of curiosity is not sun gods, but science. And we have observatories that are almost infinitely more sophisticated than those towers, that can gaze out deep into the universe. And perhaps even more remarkably through theoretical physics and mathematics we can calculate what the universe will look like in the distant future. And we can even make concrete predictions about its end. And I believe that it’s only by continuing our exploration of the cosmos and the laws of nature that govern it that we can truly understand ourselves and our place in this universe of wonders.

Brian Cox, Wonders of the Universe

(via thedragoninmygarage)

Psychologist William James, in his 1890 text Principles of Psychology, wrote that as we age, time seems to speed up because adulthood is accompanied by fewer and fewer memorable events. When the passage of time is measured by “firsts” (first kiss, first day of school, first family vacation), the lack of new experiences in adulthood, James morosely argues, causes “the days and weeks [to] smooth themselves out…and the years grow hollow and collapse.” In the early 1960s, Wallach and Green studied this phenomenon in groups of younger (18-20 years) and older (median age 71 years) subjects through the use of metaphors. Young people were more likely to select static metaphors to describe the passage of time (such as “time is a quiet, motionless ocean”). Older folks, on the other hand, described time with swift metaphors (“time is a speeding train”). In research by Joubert (1990), young subjects, when asked, said that they expect time to pass more rapidly when they become older. In the first study (2005) to examine the subjective passage of time across the lifespan, Marc Wittman and Sandra Lehnhoff of Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich recruited 499 participants ranging in age from 14-94. Each subject filled out a series of questionnaires. The first part included questions on a Likert-type scale (ratings from -2 to 2) with answers ranging from time passing “very slowly” to “very fast.” The second part consisted of statements and metaphors about the passage of time, and subjects were asked to rate each sentence from 0 (“strong rejection”) to 4 (strong approval”).

jtotheizzoe:

What’s a day to a mayfly? 
What’s a decade to a man?
What’s a millennium to the universe?
It’s time to put time in perspective with this awesome graphical journey from Wait But Why. <- Start there, and then we’ll continue our adventure.
Our brains have a hard time putting the immense scale of Time (as in “all of it”, which is why it’s capitalized) into perspective. We’re just not built for that kind of thing. While we’re at it, scales of size throw us for a loop too.
That scale of that time, be it seconds, years or atomic oscillations of cesium atoms, is just the construction of humans, signposts along the way so that we can mark how different now-now is from then.

But wait, is now inherently different from then? Yes. That’s where time comes from in the first place. Time only moves in one direction. There’s a reason that the universe can not be reversed, a rule that makes today different from yesterday.
The arrow of time points forward. As long as the universe is getting messier, time will continue to tick on. Entropy, man. All the things are in a more disordered place than they just were, just then.
Life itself depends on the fact that the universe is not in thermal equilibrium. There are simply many more ways that matter can be disordered than it can be organized neatly, and our biochemical reactions take advantage of that. Be thankful for entropy.

Like Brian Cox says, there are more sand dunes than sand castles. I mean, probability says sometimes you’ll get a sand castle spontaneously forming on the beach, but you’ll get a gazillion random piles of sand in the meantime. So entropy marches on, and the universe gets disordered, and new nows become different from just thens.
Then why isn’t our world just some strange exception among the mess?

If ordered piles of molecules named Joe are just some rare, low-probability fluctuation in a universe that would much rather be in all kinds of disordered non-Joe-ness, then why does so much of the universe seem to look organized? I mean, there’s you, and there’s the rest of Earth, and the rest of everything. Why isn’t this the only planet, star, galaxy, etc?
Well, maybe we’re only a chicken that’s come out of a larger egg. Maybe we’re not a closed system. Maybe, there’s more beyond this universe?
That’s Sean Carroll’s idea anyway. Well, it’s not just his, but here he is talking about it in rather entertaining form at TEDxCaltech:

If any of this time business turns out to be too stressful, there’s a way out. But there’s a catch, it involves moving close to the speed of light. And if you dilate yourself out of this time scale, you’ll leave all of us behind, and we don’t want to see you go. Unless you take us with you. It’s that pesky twin paradox:

Gotta stop now. I’m out of time.

jtotheizzoe:

What’s a day to a mayfly? 

What’s a decade to a man?

What’s a millennium to the universe?

It’s time to put time in perspective with this awesome graphical journey from Wait But Why. <- Start there, and then we’ll continue our adventure.

Our brains have a hard time putting the immense scale of Time (as in “all of it”, which is why it’s capitalized) into perspective. We’re just not built for that kind of thing. While we’re at it, scales of size throw us for a loop too.

That scale of that time, be it seconds, years or atomic oscillations of cesium atoms, is just the construction of humans, signposts along the way so that we can mark how different now-now is from then.

But wait, is now inherently different from then? Yes. That’s where time comes from in the first place. Time only moves in one direction. There’s a reason that the universe can not be reversed, a rule that makes today different from yesterday.

The arrow of time points forward. As long as the universe is getting messier, time will continue to tick on. Entropy, man. All the things are in a more disordered place than they just were, just then.

Life itself depends on the fact that the universe is not in thermal equilibrium. There are simply many more ways that matter can be disordered than it can be organized neatly, and our biochemical reactions take advantage of that. Be thankful for entropy.

Like Brian Cox says, there are more sand dunes than sand castles. I mean, probability says sometimes you’ll get a sand castle spontaneously forming on the beach, but you’ll get a gazillion random piles of sand in the meantime. So entropy marches on, and the universe gets disordered, and new nows become different from just thens.

Then why isn’t our world just some strange exception among the mess?

If ordered piles of molecules named Joe are just some rare, low-probability fluctuation in a universe that would much rather be in all kinds of disordered non-Joe-ness, then why does so much of the universe seem to look organized? I mean, there’s you, and there’s the rest of Earth, and the rest of everything. Why isn’t this the only planet, star, galaxy, etc?

Well, maybe we’re only a chicken that’s come out of a larger egg. Maybe we’re not a closed system. Maybe, there’s more beyond this universe?

That’s Sean Carroll’s idea anyway. Well, it’s not just his, but here he is talking about it in rather entertaining form at TEDxCaltech:

If any of this time business turns out to be too stressful, there’s a way out. But there’s a catch, it involves moving close to the speed of light. And if you dilate yourself out of this time scale, you’ll leave all of us behind, and we don’t want to see you go. Unless you take us with you. It’s that pesky twin paradox:

Gotta stop now. I’m out of time.

Nature is evidence for God like rainbows are evidence for Leprechauns’ gold. Like the rainbow, nature is perceived as having a beggining and an end. But we know that there is no end to a rainbow; that the arc is just an illusion of perspective, and where we can’t see we fill in the gaps with pots of gold and spirits and, in the big picture, gods.

skeptv:

Distant time and the hint of a multiverse - Sean Carroll

Cosmologist Sean Carroll attacks — in an entertaining and thought-provoking tour through the nature of time and the universe — a deceptively simple question: Why does time exist at all? The potential answers point to a surprising view of the nature of the universe, and our place in it. (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.)

via TED Education.


Sean Carroll - Origin of the Universe & the Arrow of Time

What is Time?
What is Entropy?
Why does it only move in one direction?
What happened before the Big Bang?
What is the fate of the universe?

jtotheizzoe:

For those of you who enjoyed yesterday’s thought experiment/mindfreak about how our perception of now is never really “now”, check out this episode of Vsauce.

This video starts with a focus on the time lag that occurs in our visual system, and how what our brain tells us is “now” is actually 80 milliseconds in the past. He also digs into the question we talked about with simultaneous tapping of noses and toeses.

The more we talk about this, I just can’t help but think of a particular scene from Spaceballs:

Colonel Sandurz: Now. You’re looking at now, sir. Everything that happens now, is happening now. 
Dark Helmet: What happened to then? 
Colonel Sandurz: We passed then. 
Dark Helmet: When? 
Colonel Sandurz: Just now. We’re at now now. 
Dark Helmet: Go back to then. 
Colonel Sandurz: When? 
Dark Helmet: Now. 
Colonel Sandurz: Now? 
Dark Helmet: Now. 
Colonel Sandurz: I can’t. 
Dark Helmet: Why? 
Colonel Sandurz: We missed it. 
Dark Helmet: When? 
Colonel Sandurz: Just now. 
Dark Helmet: When will then be now? 
Colonel Sandurz: Soon. 

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

abaldwin360:

Visualization of evolutionary time scale relative to one calendar year.
Full resolution here
Just to give an idea of how much time it took like to go from early self replicating life forms, to single cell organisms, to animals.

abaldwin360:

Visualization of evolutionary time scale relative to one calendar year.

Full resolution here

Just to give an idea of how much time it took like to go from early self replicating life forms, to single cell organisms, to animals.

darwinsminion:

thomas-ehehehiddleston:

dedickation:

t-ranquilitate:

stadography:

l0sth0pe:

retroyouth:

savcreeps:

hereewegoagainn:

elphabaforpresidentofgallifrey:

cherryflavortears:

karochina:


my favourite photo on tumblr

mindfucked me for a lifetime

this is creepy i want a hug


I reblog this every time I see it

Time is relative. Who are we to say sixty seconds equal a minute…

Exactly

Shit

That wall speak the truth.

well damn

whoa

Time is a human concept created to, in theory, make the time we have living more “useful”. Time doesn’t exist, time was created because of the human fear of death. Unconsciously, we all know we are going to die so we create a system that allows us to enjoy our time living. That’s all, time is a fiction in our heads that makes us believe we live shorter than we actually do.

I don’t know what you guys are on, but I’m 100% sure that time exists.  Maybe not in the way that you thought of it before, but time is a part of the universe.  Clock are our way to measure that dimension.  A similar situation, 12 inches does in fact equal a foot, and they are both abstract concepts, but they measure something we know to be exact, distance.  My two cents.

darwinsminion:

thomas-ehehehiddleston:

dedickation:

t-ranquilitate:

stadography:

l0sth0pe:

retroyouth:

savcreeps:

hereewegoagainn:

elphabaforpresidentofgallifrey:

cherryflavortears:

karochina:

my favourite photo on tumblr

mindfucked me for a lifetime

this is creepy i want a hug

I reblog this every time I see it

Time is relative. Who are we to say sixty seconds equal a minute…

Exactly

Shit

That wall speak the truth.

well damn

whoa

Time is a human concept created to, in theory, make the time we have living more “useful”. Time doesn’t exist, time was created because of the human fear of death. Unconsciously, we all know we are going to die so we create a system that allows us to enjoy our time living. That’s all, time is a fiction in our heads that makes us believe we live shorter than we actually do.

I don’t know what you guys are on, but I’m 100% sure that time exists.  Maybe not in the way that you thought of it before, but time is a part of the universe.  Clock are our way to measure that dimension.  A similar situation, 12 inches does in fact equal a foot, and they are both abstract concepts, but they measure something we know to be exact, distance.  My two cents.

thenewenlightenmentage:

“The Universe is Timeless” —A Radical Theory of Spacetime (Weekend Feature)
Scientists at the Scientific Research Centre Bistra in Ptuj, Slovenia, have theorized that theNewtonian idea of time as an absolute quantity that flows on its own, along with the idea that time is the fourth dimension of spacetime, are incorrect. They propose to replace these concepts of time with a view that corresponds more accurately to the physical world: time as a measure of the numerical order of change.
Continue reading “”The Universe is Timeless” —A Radical Theory of Spacetime (Weekend Feature)”&#160;»

thenewenlightenmentage:

“The Universe is Timeless” —A Radical Theory of Spacetime (Weekend Feature)

Scientists at the Scientific Research Centre Bistra in Ptuj, Slovenia, have theorized that the
Newtonian idea of time as an absolute quantity that flows on its own, along with the idea that time is the fourth dimension of spacetime, are incorrect. They propose to replace these concepts of time with a view that corresponds more accurately to the physical world: time as a measure of the numerical order of change.

Continue reading “”The Universe is Timeless” —A Radical Theory of Spacetime (Weekend Feature)” »

pretendy:

Some perspective
Light travels at a speed of 299,792,458 metres per second exactly. No matter how fast you, or the light source is traveling, go try measuring it and you’ll find that this is exactly the case.
At this speed, it takes light:
18 milliseconds to travel between London and New York
0.13 seconds to circumnavigate the equator of the Earth
1.4 seconds to travel to us from the Moon
8.4 minutes to travel from the Sun
4.15 hours to travel from the Sun to Neptune, the most remote planet in the Solar System
17 hours to travel to the current location of Voyager 1, the farthest man made object from Earth
~0.8 years to travel from us to the Oort Cloud, a hypothesised spherical cloud of icy comets centered around the Sun, which marks the boundary of the solar system
4.2 years to travel to us from Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to Sun.
1,100 years to travel to us from the centre of our own galaxy, the Milky Way
100,000 years to travel across the whole disc of the galaxy itself
2.5 million years to travel to us from the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest neighbour
110 million years to travel across the Virgo Supercluster, our small, local little corner of the universe
After this it stops making sense to say “a distance x”, as the expansion of the universe warps our perception of distance on these immense timescales. Therefore, when you hear radio static, 1% of that is said not to originate from a place, but rather a time, roughly 13.5 billion years ago - the cosmic microwave background from the time of recombination at the dawn of the universe.
TL;DR: The universe is big.
(Photo: pretendy)

pretendy:

Some perspective

Light travels at a speed of 299,792,458 metres per second exactly. No matter how fast you, or the light source is traveling, go try measuring it and you’ll find that this is exactly the case.

At this speed, it takes light:

  • 18 milliseconds to travel between London and New York
  • 0.13 seconds to circumnavigate the equator of the Earth
  • 1.4 seconds to travel to us from the Moon
  • 8.4 minutes to travel from the Sun
  • 4.15 hours to travel from the Sun to Neptune, the most remote planet in the Solar System
  • 17 hours to travel to the current location of Voyager 1, the farthest man made object from Earth
  • ~0.8 years to travel from us to the Oort Cloud, a hypothesised spherical cloud of icy comets centered around the Sun, which marks the boundary of the solar system
  • 4.2 years to travel to us from Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to Sun.
  • 1,100 years to travel to us from the centre of our own galaxy, the Milky Way
  • 100,000 years to travel across the whole disc of the galaxy itself
  • 2.5 million years to travel to us from the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest neighbour
  • 110 million years to travel across the Virgo Supercluster, our small, local little corner of the universe

After this it stops making sense to say “a distance x”, as the expansion of the universe warps our perception of distance on these immense timescales. Therefore, when you hear radio static, 1% of that is said not to originate from a place, but rather a time, roughly 13.5 billion years ago - the cosmic microwave background from the time of recombination at the dawn of the universe.

TL;DR: The universe is big.

(Photo: pretendy)

Dear Conservatives

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I know some of you are worried sick. I understand that you feel that God is being driven from our culture and strange customs are being tolerated and embraced: People are learning that sexual orientation is a varied spectrum of preferences rooted in genetics and not a binary conscious decision. Many people, even the President supports equal rights for all to marry and have families regardless of these preferences. Behaviors that used to be taboo are all over your televisions and are being generally accepted in mainstream society.

Women are in the workplace, they are moving into positions of power and they are seizing control of their reproductive systems and expressing their sexuality if/as they see fit. Even different races and ethnicities are mixing and demanding equal access to all areas of society. People are finding that the bedrock of family values is not sexual or ethinic composition but love, support and understanding.

Science education is dominated by the theories of the big bang and evolution by natural selection. Children are learning that the universe is 14 billion years old, the earth over 4 billion and that we evolved ultimately from single celled organisms and more recently from lower primate ancestors along with the other modern “great apes”. We’ve also learned that the balance of our world’s ecosystems is not static, but very much susceptible to the actions of humans. The Bible’s account of creation and balance has been completely usurped.

I can tell that some of you think this is some secular liberal plot to overthrow Christianity and force everyone to be gay atheist evolutionists. But I’m here to tell you, what you are witnessing is not some conspiracy to destroy America. It is simply that the earth is turning and time is rolling forward. The world is progressing and society is evolving. Populations are growing, science is uncovering the mysteries of the universe and humans are rethinking some of our more archaic beliefs and customs. The spread of technology is giving more people access to information that is naturally expanding their minds. It is a process that has been underway for all of human history and has indeed been met by opposition all along from those who were happy with the way things were and who saw change as decline and destruction.

I can understand why this is unsettling to an ideology that is dedicated to conserving tradition, one rooted in one book that was written before humans knew what a star was. But your efforts are futile, no matter how angry or violent your response, you can not stop the steady march of time and the tide of discovery. No matter how much shelter you find in your faith, the world around you is changing; It always has and always will. To stop this would amount to stopping the earth from spinning, or to resisting the invention of the wheel, resisting desegregation or rejecting heliocentrism. It turns out that the values that you see as objective and eternal are actually as subjective as “spicy” and “bland” and the knowledge that you seem to see as complete and everlasting is a constantly evolving body of human work. There is no war being waged on your values, no enemy in these developments but discovery itself, and if your beliefs are threatened by progress and discovery, perhaps they should be.

A failure to embrace these progressions will no doubt lead to further anger, fear and confusion amongst you as the changing world becomes a stranger and stranger place. Instead, smile and find joy and pride in human progress and discovery. Join us in welcoming tomorrow and whatever new knowledge it brings. You are invited.