P.I.D. Radio 6/14/15: Timey-Wimey, Wibbly-Wobbly

timeAS THE classic rock song goes, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…into the future…” Thanks to quantum physics. it seems those lyrics might not be technically correct.

A recent experiment with helium atoms demonstrated that, at the quantum level, time may run backwards, and reality does not even exist until it is observed. Some New Age teachers take this as confirmation of the Law of Attraction, or mind over matter — much to the annoyance of quantum physicists.

Also: MERS and Avian flu continue to spread (and Ebola in West Africa is not quite dead); organ harvesting in China; the Bilderberg Group meets this weekend; “Contact in the Desert” spreads the ancient alien gospel; California moves to eliminate personal belief exemptions for unvaccinated children;  and a child dies in Mexico, apparently sacrificed to Santa Muerte.

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2 comments on “P.I.D. Radio 6/14/15: Timey-Wimey, Wibbly-Wobbly

  1. Dr. Barton

    On the whole, not a bad episode. I thought that I’d add a few points mostly to expand on yours.

    1) Although the MERS-CoV is genetically identical, the population group into which it has moved (mostly Koreans) is not. We have known for a long time that different populations have different resistances to diseases. It seems likely that something in the korean population make it more susceptible to MERS-CoV than Arabs.

    2) You made a point of describing how medical officials have underestimated the Ebola virus at each step of the way. I would counter that and say that, when medical officials have stripped away variables related to the spread of Ebola virus, they have often uncovered other aspects of Ebola virus behavior that was hidden by confounding data or undetected by insufficiently advanced technology. It is unfair to the people working in this field to treat their accomplishments as bunglings rather than the building blocks of better understanding that they are.

    One day, perhaps, we’ll be able to determine the genome of an emerging virus, reveal its operating characteristics, perform Monte Carlo simulations of the breadth of characteristics changes due to mutations, computer model and manufacture counter-agents and / or vaccines, simulate the spread on a global susceptible polymorphism model and predict the most like ways that it will spread and the best places to employ medical relief and counter-measure to bring it under control swiftly and mercilessly. We’re not there yet, so we’ll continue to work our way through these problems in the lab.

    3) I believe that your assessment of the vaccines involved in the California requirements is off. These vaccines are ones that have a long history of efficacy and millions from whom we have learned of potential side-effect. You claim religious objections to vaccines yet I know of know mentions of vaccines in the “Bible”. God required circumcisions. Jesus spoke of rendering unto Caesar. In this case, it is your society asking (very strongly) that you contribute to the health of your society.

    With vaccines, significantly fewer children die of some of the most common childhood diseases. Some still get the disease. A very few suffer negative reactions to them. However, as hard as these individual losses are, they pale compared to the benefits to society. For a, say, $100 vaccine, the state saves potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars when these diseases enter life-threatening stages. Some of that cost is borne by insurance companies. Much of it is borne by taxes. In addition, the reduction in cases and transmission helps significantly with those individuals who cannot take the vaccine and / or are immune compromised.

    So, here’s the question from the other side of the disease transmission line. If (and it may happen someday soon) government officials can trace the infection of one or more children (perceived healthy or immune-compromised) back to transmission from your non-vaccinated child, then why shouldn’t you be financially (and even criminally) liable for the medical care of that child (or the death of that child). The vaccine wouldn’t have guaranteed that your child wouldn’t have gotten infected but it would have been a good faith effort. By not bothering with that good faith effort, I could see very good reasons to consider you negligently responsible for that child getting the disease. If we can draft young people and force them to fight in wars, then we can darn well legally require people to contribute to the overall health of the society. Liability can get a bit grey with less effective vaccines but the California-required ones are very effective.

    4) You mentioned that the CDC’s (I think) had moved the accounts of court cases in the U.S. in which vaccine manufacturers had been losing. You seemed to consider this a concession of the ineffectiveness and / or side-effects of vaccines. Civil court cases are decided by civilian juries and / or judges, few of whom have received a foundational understanding of human immunology and epidemiology. In addition, they only require probable guilt as opposed to almost certain. As such, court cases do not decide the medical validity of vaccines. The increased number of decisions in favor of the plaintiffs in these cases may have been little more than a judicial fad of the day.

    5) It should be noted that, contrary to what was said on your show, vaccine safety and efficacy has never been higher.

    6) You also made a mistake regarding the president’s legal ability to declare war. In fact, that is exactly one of his abilities. He may declare war unilaterally and he is the commander-in-chief of all the U.S.’s military forces. Congress’s ability in all this is to vote to not fund the war. If they choose to do that, then the U.S. has very limited ability to fight a war.

    7) The good news is that it is likely that it will radically decrease in the next several decades. The technology for manufacturing patient-derived organs is developing rapidly. Once truly functional organs become available and affordable, organ transplant economics will probably collapse quickly. In the meantime, illegal organ harvesting remains a blot on human society.

    8) Terri Shiavo was not self-aware. Her brain had shriveled from degradation to but a fraction of its original sign and she showed no signs of higher brain activity. There comes a time when there has been enough medical intervention and it is time to turn off the life-support and Ms. Shiavo had gone well past it.

    9) Oh my goodness! You’ve actually seen the “Clonus Horror” as well? What an awful, awful movie. I was so scarred by it that I’ve never had the nerve to watch the “Island”.

    10) Science presents a story that generates (often) reproducible and constructive answers and generates more of them all the time. Of course, it also generates a lot of questions. I’m rather comfortable with that. Frustrated sometimes but comfortable. One can have believe in science because is produces novel “things”.

    The “Bible”, on the other hand, presents a story that generates almost no verifiable or reproducible answers. One can believe the “Bible” with faith but that same faith can be used to believe any “religious” book from Dianetics to the Book of Mormon, to the Kephalaia of Mani, to Satanic Bible of Anton Lavey.

    11) The Philae probe is not looking for life. It is trying to get a better idea of the chemical composition of the Early Solar System. We have information about metallic objects in the Solar System, carbonaceous meteorites that have been cooked by travel into Earth’s atmosphere, an a lot of spectrophotometric data about a variety of planets, moons, and solar emissions. One key bit of information that we’ve been missing has been detailed information about the composition of comets especially the organic chemicals that may have developed there.

    12) If time is a coordinate like spatial coordinates, then it makes sense that their is a general direction of the universe along the time coordinate (just as objects are moving) but each particle and sub-particle is moving about its time coordinate as it is along its spatial coordinates in a relatively independent fashion. Thus, one might expect to see time reversals on a quantum level that one would not see at a microscopic or higher level. It also means that one should probably not think of the universe as having a past, present, and future but of it having an eternal now that is constantly shifting like a kaleidoscope.

    13) The U.S., Europe, and Japan don’t seem to be moving towards a more pagan culture but towards a more agnostic culture.

  2. Dr. Barton

    Oh, I think that you also mentioned an experiment to drain the van Allen belts. I’m not sure which experiment that you’re referring to but there are two possible ones that I can think of.

    The first, which was actually conducted from a space shuttle in 1996. This didn’t so much use the van Allen belt but just the Earth’s magnetic field. This did drain some energy from the magnetic field but that energy came partially from the shuttle momentum and, more importantly, from the Earth’s core which is spewing out more magnetic energy all the time. The experiment worked but it was also a spectacular failure. The cable started generating energy but snapped. After recovering the pieces that remained (including the section that fell to Earth!), we discovered that flaws in the materials designs had, essentially turned the cable into a series of micro-plasma welders which melted the cable. Disappointing, yes but also fascinating as heck!

    Here’s a Wikipedia entry to get interested people started: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrodynamic_tether.

    The other idea (which, as far as I know remains theoretical) that I found did involve the van Allen belts directly. As far as I know, the twin satellites mapping the van Allen belt right now are only involved in mapping. The idea remains theoretical. That idea is stripping the van Allen belt from the planet. Now I always that that the van Allen belt was protective, that the magnetic fields protected us from a lot of high-energy particles from the Sun. Well, it seems that the magnetic fields do do that. The van Allen belts, on the other hand, are actually the high-energy particles trapped (or, at least, funneled) around the Earth. These particles pose a constant hazard to satellites and astronauts. The ideas proposed in this paper:

    http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/doc/EVENTS/InnovativeSystemWorkshop2/ACT-ART-Bridge2Space-Yakovlev.pdf

    and in this more speculative article:

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/astrophysics/hacking-the-van-allen-belts

    seem to propose a way to “push” the trapped high-energy particles away from the Earth thus reducing the radiation levels around the Earth. The math is way beyond me and I didn’t see anything about long-term consequences but it’s an interesting idea. Basically, it would drain the van Allen belts of their most dangerous components while leaving the protective effects of the Earth’s magnetic fields intact.

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