Friday, September 19, 2008

Don 't Eat the Rocks

We have symbols for everything, things that represent something else. You can point to almost anything and think of some way of referring to it other than by the thing itself. Why do we do that? Why not just let things be whatever they are without investing them with extra meaning?

We have become so accustomed to using symbols that conversation is almost impossible without them. But what did people do before they decided to adorn their speech with symbols? Would religion have even been possible, or tales of love and danger and valor and cowardice or greed or charity? Would those ideas even be possible without their symbolic ornamentation? Could we even have ideas at all? Odd that the basis of civilization is language and language rarely refers to anything directly.

Then again, our obliqueness of expression may be significant. It may be that symbols are the means to visualizing events so that we can talk about what might happen later. The event itself is the interaction of things, like an avalanche. It doesn't really help much to talk about each rock tumbling down a mountain and it would take a really long time to pass along any information that way. So we group the whole event together as if it were a single thing and give it a name. The name becomes the reality.

It's been said that we humans have been around for a couple of million years yet we've only been interesting for about six thousand. What were we doing before that? Why did it take so long for us to become whatever it is we are now? Did it really take almost two million years for humans to discover the bow and the arrow? Without language there isn't a medium for thought, we see stuff but are unable to comprehend events. The rules of life would be simple: "Don't eat rocks", "Kill the Mammoth before skinning it", "Don't fart next to the campfire". These kinds of rules were obvious and required only minimal awareness.

It may also be that simple tools were invented many times. The arrowhead, for instance, is sharp making it a danger to both the its target and the one wielding it. How many times did some Paleolithic dude cut himself with an arrow and then immediately swear off arrowheads? The guy opts for nice round stones instead and the arrowhead has to wait a few generations before someone else invents it. Same with fire. To the non-thinking man of pre-history there is only the thing itself and its physical properties. The first word ever uttered was, "Ouch!" the second was, "Dammit!". The first attempt at something resembling thought was, "I'll never do that again!".

It wasn't until a woman invented dusting that humankind began the process we call history. Before that invention there was no such thing as dust and certainly no one had ever thought to remove it. But the removal of dust led to the concept of "tracking in" and that led to the concept of, "Bitch!". Now it became necessary to skin animals "outside" (another strange concept with which men had to grapple). The ragged rock outcropping where generations of foul and dusty men had gathered to skin their prey was transformed into a "home" and pretty soon the woman was making the children of the clan "Wash Behind Their Ears!".

Men began inventing things in self defense. First the broom so the woman could finish her damn dusting sooner, then the bow so he could spend the whole day chasing after his arrows instead of moving rocks around to satisfy his woman's sense of order. The evolution of thought had begun. At first is was simple work-avoidance strategies but soon mutated into a whole suite of philosophical musings having the sole purpose of allowing the man to sit around idly pondering the meaning of it all. He soon discovered the benefits of religion: the gods required him to be dirty and lazy and stay out all night. Next came the idea of government and royalty and privilege. Pretty soon no one knew the difference between invention and necessity and fiction became fact. And that pretty much brings us up to the present.

The symbols we use exist to perpetuate the whole superstructure of the societies that we've concocted over the millennia but no one knows that anymore. We have come to believe that they actually represent something. All of our thoughts depend, fundamentally, on symbols and apply to nothing real. Money, national boundaries, class and caste, good and evil, all political, philosophical and theological beliefs are wholly symbolic and have no substance. We have invented a world that is only perceptible to humans and exists only in the human mind. The "Real" world, the world of "Nature" is "out there" somewhere and not directly relevant to the world we care about. Nature is a stage, an inert environment having value solely because of our presence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Pi-angle

It has been assumed for eons that the universe could be explained as containing dimensions and that these dimensions were sequential. One dimensional space is an indivisible point, two dimensional space is at least two one dimensional points connected by a line and three dimensional space is at least three of these two dimensional lines on at least two planes. There may be other dimensions but they're too hard to explain so I'll just ignore them. There is a problem however: There is no two dimensional space, it's just a convenient abstraction.

The absence of a second dimension is only apparent with an object having some curved component, a circle for instance. We are taught that circles are derived by multiplying the diameter of a circle by pi which will give us that circle's circumference. Thing is, pi is ugly. It's an irrational number not only because the decimal portion of the number continues forever, but also because it makes no sense. The fractional part of pi assumes that there really are two dimensions when it actually comes from trying to render a two dimensional object in three dimensions.

The constant, pi, is just an unnecessary complication. In reality it's a rendering error (RE) of just over 4% (4.7197551% to be fairly precise) that results from trying to render three dimensions as two dimensions. What this means is that the diameter of any circle actually 4% longer because it's really a curve that we insist on seeing as a straight line. What happens is that we look at the diameter of a circle from above so it appears as a line. Rotate it 90 degrees and we can see its curvature. Since we don't think we can rotate a two dimensional circle in three dimensions, we never see the curve.

So why care? Will correcting this error really change anything? Consider that the standard circle using pi doesn't exist in nature, it's wholly artificial, a shortcut. This error is incorporated into everything we build having curved elements. This include machinery, architecture, bubble gum and sport equipment. But there's more.

Since we try to force three dimensional shapes into a fictitious two dimensional space, things never fit together quite right. A "round" shaft, for instance, is made to rotate in a "circular" bearing. Since neither the shaft nor the bearing are fabricated in three dimensions, there is always friction, leading to heat and finally, failure. If these rotating parts had been manufactured without resorting to pi, they would be frictionless and would last forever.

The 4.7197551% rendering error also exactly matches the ratio of Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the universe to that fraction of the universe that can be "observed" by science. The 95.2802449% of the universe we can't observe occupies that part of "space" we think of as empty. All of everything we thought was in between "things" (sub-atomic particles, atoms, elements and molecules, people), is actually filled with dark matter and dark energy. The universe is really a solid mass. The part we see is just a frothy mass bubbling up from the underlying dark matter and dark energy.

What we think of gravity is really the exact opposite of attraction, it is the absence of a force holding things apart. We don't fall because there's a force pulling us down but rather the lack of a force holding us up. The tides we believe are caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon are really the result of the earth's spin. As the earth rotates on its axis, the oceans bulge upward at a right angle to the spin. The land masses move into that bulge to create tides. The whole universe works the same way.

The visible universe "floats" in a sea of dark matter and energy and, since there is no force (gravity) to affect movement, things settle into stable trajectories (orbits) determined by sea of dark matter and dark energy. Is any of this important, are there any practical consequences of this delusion? Not really. All it shows is that the impossible is commonplace and we will never understand it because we think it's impossible. Academics Top Blogs

Zero Space

After watching the Discovery Channel the other day, I now know that the universe is really just a matter of opinion. Based on the cosmological speculations of eminent scientists, it seems almost certain that there’s nothing certain about the universe even when we believe we’re certain of the various odds and ends contained therein. The universe remains a mystery. It is because of the admitted ignorance of these scientists that I discovered that my opinions are as likely to be “right” as any others.

This revelation led me to ponder the universe from my own perspective rather than just accepting the authority of those claiming expertise. I began at the beginning, the Big Bang and it became clear that the whole thing was much less clear than I thought.

If the Big Bang started with a singularity, a point so small that it had no dimensions, what did it expand into? What was the stuff surrounding the singularity into which it could Bang? The Big Bang must have created its own space during its expansion but what of the pre-Big Bang space? Space as we know it now is not a vacuum, it’s not empty, it teems with infinite quantum events, it is the medium through which light is propagated and in which matter exists and where gravity operates. What about the vast hollowness surrounding this space?

This proto-space is not what we can experience by any possible means because it is, by definition, not there. What if the expanding space created by the Big Bang wasn’t uniform or wasn’t continuous or didn’t completely fill the proto-space? What if space was full of holes and these holes were actually regions of proto-space? Would it be possible to cross the boundary between Big Bang space and proto-space? Maybe this is interesting.

It seems that light that crossed this boundary would no longer have a medium through which to travel; it would just wink out. Since light cannot be sustained, there can be no matter. The proto-space would remain empty forever. Then again, light may be refracted at the boundary, bent away from its original trajectory, analogous to the way a massive body bends light. But what if this refraction changed the velocity of light? If light was slowed somewhat, it would become matter, would it not?

If this is possible, the boundary of proto-space would be rich in the creation of new matter. All round the boundary would be matter boiling into existence, kind of like the fizz around Alka-Seltzer. As new matter is created it would crowd into the already existing matter increasing the density of the existing matter all along the boundary. As more matter comes into existence, the collisions between the particles of matter would increase, resulting in an increase of heat until something like a nuclear reaction resulted. The entire boundary region would catch on fire. All of this occurs with no gravitational compression, just the creation of new matter jammed into existing matter.

This creates a Blank Hole. The hole itself is completely empty but its edges are bubbling with activity. Light becoming matter, matter compressed into increasingly dense areas, creates a region of turmoil with all the appearances of a Black Hole event horizon. Thing is a Black Hole is a busy place, things are happening. A Blank Hole is nothing, it contains nothing and it’s doing nothing. A Blank Hole is at the very edge of the universe even if surrounded by the universe. It’s an area where the universe isn’t. Unlike people, the universe is not full of itself, nor can it be. The belief that the universe is all there is, should be amended to, “The universe is all there except where it isn’t”.

While it’s generally believed that there are Black Holes at the center of galaxies, a more likely possibility is that it’s a Blank Hole and the galaxy is the result. A Black Hole will destroy a galaxy, a Blank Hole will create one.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Our Friend the Electron

The Universe Explained

The electron is an odd little thing. We are told that it is the basis of all things electronic, computers, TVs, DVDs, etc. yet no one really knows just what an electron is. While there are elaborate and outrageously detailed descriptions of what it does, there is no cogent and convincing description of what it is. The electron is a genuine mystery.

It's not even possible to know where one is and where it is going at the same time. It's just a little fuzz ball of probability, areas where it is likely to be and places it might be going.

Even so, the world of Man has become totally dependent on the insubstantial little electron. There is a considerable body of evidence emerging that the devices that employ the electron are really just channels through which we invoke the quantum powers underlying the universe itself. The conventional descriptions given to the lay public and taught in the classrooms are merely a pedagogical convenience, a means of communicating information about processes that don't really exist.

These methods rely on the fact that humans prefer linear logic where information is wholly sequential and predictable. The illusion of linearity is cultivated because textbooks are required to have a ordered structure: Table of Contents, Bibliographies, Foot Notes, Appendices and Indices, chapters, page numbers and so on. To satisfy this requirement, knowledge is packaged in tidy units as if the universe the text "explains" is likewise a hierarchical structure, neatly ordered for our convenience.

The truth is much less malleable than our representation of it. The universe conceals far more than our discoveries reveal and certainly more than our hubris admits to. Mysteries exist because their resolution have unwelcome consequences and persist because we deny their existence.

One such mystery is the electron. This little packet of stuff is not real, it doesn't actually occupy space or time, it is a mathematical entity, a thing that exists because theory requires it. Before they were posited, there were no such things and the universe got along just fine anyway. Because the electron exists only to satisfy a particular view of the nature of the universe, it depends entirely on the strength of those beliefs for its power.

There was a time, long before men thought themselves omniscient, when people knew a universe of "powers" and "forces" and "entities", a place where intelligence and purpose inhabited every little corner and niche. It was believed that everything either possessed in itself or was connected to one of these powers.

One gaining mastery over one of the powers could cause events to occur that would not otherwise and stop events that were destined to occur in the absence of their intervention. There were several ways these people went about doing this. There was incantation where one called out the power using special words spoken a special way. There was the combining of various odds and ends that would enable changes of various kinds and there was ritual that would obligate a power to do this or that.

The great mistake of these people in those times is that they kept their discoveries secret so that the same things were done many times, over many generations. There just weren't enough people working on the same problem to ensure any consistent successes. The success of modern science is not that the descriptions of reality are more accurate or precise or correct but that there are many more people involved in investigating each question being asked. These people agree with each other for the most part so that there is the appearance of certainty in their pronouncements.

The "fact" is not about the thing studied but the consensus of those studying it. The reality of reality is that everything is only appearance. More specifically, reality is how things appear to us, to human beings. We are, after all, the only ones interested. The electron exists not because it's there but because someone was looking for it. There is, for example, a species of electron that exists only in the southern hemisphere. This electron has the unusual property of turning blue and ceasing all motion as if frozen.

This behavior is entirely random. The Paraguay Telephone Company implemented this electron since its erratic behavior made it unsuitable for other uses and electricity generated using this electron was therefore less expensive. The PTC sold this technology to a U.S. corporation which incorporated it into their product line. The corporation, who I will not name here (its initials are, Microsoft) and the products it created (Windows Operating Systems) was able to prove that the behavior of this electron at the atomic level could be duplicated in their products. They called this a "feature".

The significance of all this is that, since an electron owes its existence to our perception of it, its properties are variable.

While PTC and the un-named U.S. corporation (Microsoft) will vehemently deny the existence of the Blue Electron, their denial has no effect on its existence because they know better. There are many other instances of electrons being modified to suit a particular need. There is the Red Electron used in TV remote controls and CD players, the Gray Electron used in dimmer switches and volume controls, The Green Electron used in those self-flushing urinals and many other electron types.

Once the electron is believed into existence, unbelief has no effect on its continued existence; it actually exists from it inception unto forever.

The electron used in the computers is specialized as well. An electronic circuit is a kind of maze through which the electron must pass. As the electron progresses through this maze it begins to "learn" its position and is able to advance more quickly through the remainder of the maze.

This increase in the Maze Rate is exponential so that by the time the electron has passed through the first half of the maze the remainder of its journey exceeds the speed of light. This is why electrons are introduced into a computer where the maze is simplest, the Power Supply. Experimenters discovered a unique power source of immense potential using this "Thinking Electron". Rather than introducing the electron flow into the simplest part of the computer circuitry, they connected it to the most complex circuit: the Esc key on the keyboard.

As expected the electrons quickly learned the maze and the Maze Rate began to increase. By the time the electrons reached the power supply their increase in speed was such that their increase in mass (recall E=MC^2) was equivalent to over 4500 X 10^9 camels. This much mass confined to the volume of an electron is simply not allowed by any known Law of Physics. These electrons congealed in to a small Black Hole that immediately consumed all matter within 100m (the exact distance limit allowed for an Ethernet Segment), all the tables, the chairs, the desks, grad students and Principal Investigators fell into the event horizon.

This experience led to very stern warning labels on all electronic devices to ensure that small black holes would not proliferate. Fortunately this phenomenon has been limited, so far, to just a few research laboratories so the risk of annihilation is quite small.There is yet another aspect to the existence of the electron but I hesitate to publish it here. Since an electron is believed into existence, the power of belief is the only power in the universe and all other powers are merely derivative. If you, as an adult, are prepared to venture where few others dare, Read on ...

The Universe Explained Part II

The following material has been collected from various sources both modern and ancient. The information that you will find here is considered highly secret and there are those who will kill you if you read further.

It was known from the beginning of human consciousness that things exist because they can be perceived. We do not perceive things that are not there. It was a just a small step from that obvious fact to the insight that it is perception itself that creates the things perceived. What we "see" has no existence independent our perception. That discovery led to people perceiving things into existence that were destructive and dangerous. Things like dragons and griffons and seven headed Hydras and spiders and boogey-men and other scary stuff.

To limit any further chaos and remedy the worst abuses of casual creation, a gathering of the most adept masters of the Art of Creation was convened on the Day of the Equinox in 6546 B.C. to establish the Rules of Secret Knowledge. Prior to this convocation, there had been no secrets and all there was to know was known by all. Because of the severity of the chaos threatening to overwhelm all humankind, it was decided that, from that time forward knowledge was to be reserved to those who proved themselves capable of using it responsibly. Rather than letting children learn spontaneously, they would be "taught" by which they meant that knowledge would be dispensed gradually over many years.

They also decided that the acquisition of knowledge should become difficult and challenging so that additional knowledge could not be discovered through extrapolation. To this end these Guardians of Order, decided to encapsulate all knowledge in cryptic symbols and to encode all information in an obscure vocabulary.

At that time it was also agreed that knowledge would be divided into categories so that mastery of one "kind" of knowledge would not easily lead to mastery of another kind. Each category was to be overseen by a group of Masters in what we would call a committee. And each committee would develop its own vocabulary and symbology.

These groups have existed since that time and continue still. What we encounter now as education exactly follows that original regime. Modern science is but latest of a variety of ways the Guardians of Order have developed over the millennia to both disseminate and limit knowledge. Science still relies on multitudes of complicated symbols and arcane vocabularies to communicate knowledge and it still compartmentalizes that knowledge into "disciplines". For many eons the Guardians required that those learning the deepest secrets keep them secret.

Knowledge was only imparted through a long and complicated initiatory period and those not in the process were told nothing. This necessarily limited the spread of knowledge and admitted only a very few practitioners.It was decided at the 7646th Symposium of the Adept in 1544 just after the death of Mikolaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus) that it was time to extend the benefits of knowledge to a wider sampling of Humankind. It had become obvious that the carefully crafted ignorance of earlier times had become hazardous. Following that meeting the Guardians began releasing their knowledge through various of their number so that more people in more places could "discover" the obvious.

What all this means is that you have been cheated. You have believed that were gaining knowledge through education yet you were only being allowed to diminish you ignorance somewhat. All that there is to know you have always known but, for your own good, the knowledge of your omniscience was hidden from you. You can file a suit against the various educational institutions you have attended for a full refund and compensatory damages for time lost but they'll just deny it. You can also send me money and then at least one of us will feel better.

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CERN Discovers Nothing!

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Researchers at CERN in Geneva Switzerland have discovered one end of the universe which, they believe, suggests what we should expect to find at the other. At the smallest scale of existence, far tinier than atoms, The Large Hadron Collider has found proof of the existence of nothing. All that exists is composed of the /dev/null non-particle which is, of course, profoundly empty. From the CERN website:

"The LHC is an international research project based at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, where scientists, engineers and support staff from 111 nations are combining state-of-the-art science and engineering in one of the largest scientific experiments ever conducted.

The LHC is the latest and most powerful in a series of particle accelerators that, over the last 70 years, have allowed us to penetrate deeper and deeper into the heart of matter and further and further back in time. The next steps in the journey will bring new knowledge about the beginning of our Universe and how it works, as the LHC recreates, on a microscale, conditions that existed billionths of a second after the birth of our Universe." (From the http://www.lhc.ac.uk website).

The LHC is based on the theory that all matter is composed of lots of little particles that clump together to form other, larger particles which combine with other clumps to form still larger particles until, eventually, the sub-atomic positrons, neutrons and electrons are created. Once these sub-atomic particles exist, they combine to form atoms and, ultimately, the entire universe. The Large Hadron Collider is designed to test this theory by working backwards down this series of particles to the find the smallest, indivisible, particle.

The LHC will accelerate massive particles and crash them together. The resulting stuff will reveal the various parts that make up the particle. The collision will also release energy which can be measured to determine how much mass was converted to energy (recall E=MC^2). All this will show what pieces make up the particles under test. However, the tests revealed something the scientists at CERN weren't prepared for and are unwilling to explain: the existence of the Negatorius Profunda (NeP).

The LHC was intended to investigate what remains after particles collide but as the energies applied were increased to the just over the hadron disintegration threshold, the expected reaction (particle fragments) didn't occur. Instead there was the complete absence of anything, no matter, no energy, nothing at all. The collision resulted in the complete annihilation of everything with no remainder at all, the Negatorius Profunda.

What this means (besides the obvious fact the Swiss are perverse and devious) is that beyond this energy level, there's nothing at all. If a particle disappears without any remaining trace of its constituent mass and energy it can only be because it had none in the first place. A particle having neither mass nor energy is exactly the same as nothing at all, a featureless, dimensionless point, lacking any possible characteristics.

Yet all of nature is believed to consist of particles having mass and that mass represents a definite quantity of energy. If one digs deep enough, as with the LHC, and finds that the smallest possible particle vanishes when smashed, with nothing at all left over, it must be that the universe itself is made from nothing. All the particles eventually resolve down to a point beyond which no existence is possible.

But it gets worse. When the LHC nibbles at this edge of existence, it reverses the process by which the universe was developed. The phenomenon of a Black Hole is based on the idea of gravity compressing matter until it implodes but CERN has proved that the reverse is true: nothingness is converted to somethingness at the so called "event horizon". Right at the very edge of the Black Hole, matter and energy are being created as little regions of nothing become encapsulated in a wrapper of proto-matter and proto-energy. The Large Hadron Collider will undo the whole process by un-creating matter and energy, leaving a region of naked nothingness instead. This nothingness will of course cause all adjacent matter and energy to disintegrate. After this massive state change we will be left with, well, nothing.

This is not a good thing. We know now that the universe we see came from nothing but we have no idea of how it happened. All we see is the end result. If we undo the process by creating a Black Hole, there is no way start over; we'll simply disappear. The LHC must be stopped! Paradoxically, the only way to safely stop the LHC is by pointing it at a mirror so that it absorbs itself into its own Black Hole. If done right the only real danger will be the instantaneous disappearance of the CERN labs and, possibly, Geneva.

This entire phenomena has been known for decades but most studiously ignored by the demented experimenters at CERN. The letter above was written to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge by a group of scientists urging the development of the ultimate Death Ray. President Coolidge refused to fund the project so this cabal of reckless researchers moved their labs to Switzerland to continue their work in secret. I only found out about it this morning, in fact.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Problem of Roundness

Modern geographers proclaim that all the great mysteries in this world have been discovered and explained, all that’s left is some fine tuning here and there. But one of the most mysterious of these mysteries is also assumed to be one of the most obvious. While it’s assumed that the roundness of objects is well understood, our current knowledge barely scratches the surface.

Why is it that writing that originated near the equator is written from right to left while writing originating at higher latitudes goes from left to right? Why is it that a door with the knob on the right on one side has the knob on the left on the other side? How come stars appear so small? Can a person who is a straight shooter also talk in circles?

Spherical Relativity
It is generally believed that spherical objects are well understood and conceptually simple. We've been taught that a sphere can be fully described as "the set of all points in three-dimensional space (R3) which are at distance r from a fixed point of that space, where r is a positive real number called the radius of the sphere. Thus, in three dimensions, a mathematical sphere is considered to be a two-dimensional spherical surface embedded in three-dimensional space, rather than the volume contained within it (which mathematicians would instead describe as a ball). The fixed point is called the center and is not part of the sphere itself. (Wikipedia)" This, however, only describes a sphere at rest.

When a sphere (see more detail, Here) is not moving then all points are exactly equal and there is nothing to distinguish any one point on the surface of the sphere from any other. While this is the normal state of spheres we generally encounter on earth, there's more to the story. If a sphere acquires spin it simultaneously acquires an axis which will include poles. Every point on the surface of a spinning sphere can be plotted by its angle from the nearest pole (the latitude of that point). Any point at an angle of 90 degrees from either pole will lie on the sphere's equator. On earth latitude is calculated from the equator since the axis is tilted 23.5 degrees from the plane of its orbit. Pretty boring stuff.

Ethelburt Maloderus Discoverer of Spherical Displacement

Notice though that just adding spin to a sphere changes everything. A sphere at rest has no reference points; every place is just like every other. A sphere with spin now has poles, an equator and latitudes. This spin also introduces the phenomenon of a period of rotation (time) so that one complete rotation can be determined by observing a point in relation to some other point beyond the sphere. We now have both location and time to specify any point of the surface of a sphere. It's at this point that an especially strange phenomenon becomes apparent.

This phenomenon has been aggressively ignored over the centuries since it introduces all manner of bizarre and unwelcome paradoxes. If this phenomenon were to be taught in public schools the social and political upheaval certain to follow would surely render civilization impossible. Being indifferent to the confusion of future generations, I will explain this phenomenon here. If you are secure in your knowledge of the nature of Nature, read no further, Leave Now!

The Law of Smallness

On earth latitude is measured from the equator. As one moves away from the equator toward either pole, the angle from the equator is the latitude. Notice in the drawing (from the writings of the Medieval Astrologer, Ethelburt Maloderus in his Fragnopolitic Exegesis, Volume 6) that a right triangle drawn from the equator to the point where the latitude intersects the circumference of the sphere yields a circle of less circumference than that at the equator.

As the angle of the latitude increases, the circumference of the circle at that latitude decreases. This smaller circle describes a proportionally smaller area at that latitude. The second part of the Maloderus drawing shows that the time for a complete rotation is likewise truncated with increasing latitude. This is beyond merely interesting.

Since units of measurements of length remain the same at all latitudes, it follows that they must also get smaller. A mile at the equator is 5280 feet and is 1/24000 of the circumference at the equator. That same mile at any other latitude will be less yet will still be 5280 feet which means the a mile is actually shorter. An inch, a foot, a yard and a mile shrink as one moves away from the equator.

A mile at 22.5 degrees from the equator will actually be 25% shorter than at the equator. At 45 degrees, 50% shorter, at 67.5 degrees it will be 75% shorter and at the pole it will shrink to a one dimensional point. A person who is six feet tall at the equator will be less than three feet tall in Paris France. Since everything shrinks at the same rate and to the same degree, there is no way to detect the change by any comparison to anything else at that latitude. A person walking either toward or away from the equator will gain or lose height at the at the same rate as his (or her) surroundings so the change is never noticed.

Before the advent of fast transport, this phenomenon had no noticeable effects since people would grow or shrink at a rate too slow to be noticed. When travel began to exceed 60 miles per hour (a mile a minute) those traveling due north or south began to discern unpleasant side effects. Those going toward the equator began to feel lightheaded and confused as their bodies expanded, those going way from the equator felt the compression caused by shrinkage and became irritable. With air travel these effects became even more pronounced.

NASA discovered the only way to launch people into space at escape velocity (24000 miles an hour) was to launch the spacecraft either east or west, never north or south. At the speed necessary to attain escape velocity any trajectory away from an east-west line would either crush astronauts going away from the equator or cause them to expand until they exploded if heading toward the equator.

The Russians, being at higher latitudes, had smaller brains and were therefore unable to figure this out. They would launch their spacecraft due south (there's not much room in Russia to go north). When the spacecraft was recovered they discovered that the cosmonauts had turned into raspberry jam. They blamed the CIA for years until they finally discovered their error by listening to Sesame Street on Radio Free Europe.

Symposium of the Learned Deniers Asembled in 1223 in Tours France to suppress the discoveries of Ethelburt Maloderus as anathema to correct misunderstanding.

Even now aircraft do not fly directly north or south since people going away from the equator get progressively dumber while those flying toward the equator get lazier. Only those flights to places that no one cares about will risk a rapid change of latitude. People flying to either pole are the most severely affected since they will shrink to a singularity once reaching the pole. Most of these people will simply implode which is why the last 40 miles or so before reaching the pole, they will switch to dogsleds for the final approach.

Notice also in the Maloderus map that the length of an hour at the equator is greater than at the higher latitudes. A 24 hour day at the equator is only 12 hours in Hrvaska Croatia which means the Hrvaskanians only work a 4 hour day. This may explain why nothing much gets done there. It's even worse in Moscow where the day is only about 8 hours long and probably explains why the Soviet system never worked very well. At the poles there's no time to get anything done so everything is just frozen in both time and place.

The latitude where these affects of latitudinal discontinuity are least disruptive is within a few degrees of 35°. At this latitude the adverse intellectual displacments are at the minimum possible value. It is no accident that the Institute for Creative Cosmology and Hair Design is located at precisely 35° North and 97° West in the Acme Generic Research Mall (Where the best ideas are always on sale).

The problem of intellectual disparity between the people living near the equator and those at latitudes above about 40° means that those at higher latitudes have to think twice as hard to get half as much done while those nearest the equator are too smart to care that much (See Rasta Canticle 26, Vol. 23, Bob Marley, "Don't worry, bout a ting, cause every little ting, gonna be alright"). This disparity generally balances out since people at higher latitudes try really really hard to figure things out and people in the tropical latitudes don't think too hard about much of anything. Ironically, folks at the higher latitudes think they're more intelligent than those living in the lower latitudes. The exact opposite is true obviously so any differences can be attributed to the variation in attitudes, and probably ganga of course.

The time differential is also something of a paradox since a year in, say, London Engand is only about six months long in the standard equatoral time base. Oddly the little town of Greenwich, near London, is where scholars decided to put the prime meridian from which world time is measured. This is further evidence that the brain at that latitude is quite small since it was the scholars at this latitude who thought the whole thing up in the first place. Everyone at a latitude other than Greenwich (51.29°) has to adapt to a clock that's only accurate about half the time.

One of the most deceptive affects of Spherical Relatvity is the disparity in aging at different latitudes. People at lower latitudes (nearest the equator) age slower that those at higher latitudes since time is distorted by latitudinal displacement. Some guy in Sweden who thinks he's 40 years old would really be 80 at the equator since a day for him is so much shorter than at the equator. Shorter days means there more of them so 365 days in a year comes much sooner.

What is even less obvious is that the time it takes for news to travel from Sweden to, say, Quito Equador slows down. An event at the Arctic Circle cannot be known at the equator until much later. This implies that the speed of light (the time it takes information to get from one place to another), is variable. If the speed of light varies then there is no such thing as absolute time, no stable reference for determining when something actually happens. The speed of light changes so all measurement of time likewise changes.

This means that cosmology and astronomy, even space travel are only valid at one latitude. At some other latitude the observations won't work. Thing is, since everything varies at the same rate, there's no way to know; the observational errors are distributed to every measurement so all the relationships appear valid. Spherical Relativity doesn't apply only to the earth but to the entire universe and that must mean that every point in the universe is on the surface of a spinning sphere (something really hard to think about for very long). Most mysterious.

It should be obvious by now that all of this is far too difficult to imagine so it's better to just ignore it. It's better to think about stuff wrongly than think about things impossible to comprehend. Even so, I feel it's my duty to provide this insight into the absurdity of reality before we humans get too arrogant about the usefulness of human intelligence.

Should we care? Everything seems to work pretty well doesn't it? Well, maybe not. See This


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Other Side of Elsewhere

I read that the average speaker of English has a vocabulary of maybe 20000 words. Of those there are a great number describing things that don't exist. There are words for unicorns, dragons, griffins, minotaurs, elves (sorry Samwise), demons, gods, honest politicians and innumerable other mythical beings. Since these words refer to nothing that actually exists, why do we have them? With only 20000 words at our disposal, why waste a very significant fraction of that number on words describing things that aren't real?

It could be that people once believed that these "things" existed so they made up words to describe them. Those words have been a part of our language for so long that we're kind of stuck with them, knowing they have no explanatory value. But of all the words in this category of null content, the one that intrigues me most is, hole.

Now people have to have always known that a hole really is nothing, a description of "something" that ain't there. We can't pretend that the word hole ever pointed to anything real, it has always meant a place wherein nothing exists. Yet a hole is a real thing by virtue of the absence of whatever contains it. It is explained as a discontinuity, an interruption in whatever is supposed to be there. A hole, then, is another way of describing the thing that contains it, kind of like the linguistic analogue of a photographic negative. A hole exists because we expect something to be "there". We expect a material continuity and, since there is this interruption, our expectation is thwarted. In a way a hole is kind of creepy; something is missing. A hole should not be there. The worst kind of hole is one that goes completely through whatever contains it. A crater or a cave is really just a distortion of an otherwise regular surface; it is still contained and limited. A tunnel or a doorway penetrates all the way through so that it is most definitely not the same as what it penetrates. A hole is unexpected.

Consider that a wall exists to either keep things in or keep things out. The whole point of a wall is to distinguish "inside" from "outside". Poking a hole in a wall defeats its purpose of course but it's necessary since it's the only to get in or out of the place the wall contains. But why build a wall if you're just going to poke a hole in it? That hole is both inside and outside at the same time so the wall is made pointless. Recognizing this as a potential source of insanity, the wall builders invented the door. By using a door, the hole can still be used to let people pass through the wall, yet covered by the door to preserve the integrity of the wall. An ingenious innovation. Because of the door we don't have to think about holes anymore.

Even so there are holes that have no doors, places where you can go from one side to the other, places where there is neither inside nor outside, where every side is the other side. These kinds of holes are the ones that most disrupt our sense of order. To pass through such a hole takes us someplace that is totally different, someplace that is exactly not the place we came from. This is what happened to Alice when she chased that silly rabbit.

The word hole means that there's another side, a place that is not here. We can convince ourselves that the other side is just like this one but, since we can't be on both sides at once, we can't prove it. We tell ourselves that the other side has always been pretty much like this side so going through a hole is harmless. Even so, there is not much comfort in repeating that formula since no two holes are exactly alike. We know at some very primal level that there is a hole somewhere where the other side is radically different.

Einstein understood this. Since space is warped by objects of great mass, it becomes wrinkled like a piece of cloth. Light (and therefore information) follows the contours of the wrinkles. Where the wrinkles are large (near massive objects), the light will follow a longer path, taking longer to get from one point to another. Conventional motion through this kind of space will follow the same path as light. All this becomes interesting if we imagine that a hole can exist that bypasses the wrinkles and follows a straight line. Rather than following the contour of warped space, we can tunnel through and come out at some point unreachable by any other means.

Since the very nature of a hole prohibits knowing what's on the other side while we're on this side, there is no way we can know in advance where a hole in warped space will deposit us. Since we know that all physical phenomena exists only in warped space and not in the holes that pass through it, we will be outside of the phenomenal universe as long as we are in the hole. On the other side we will once again merge with the phenomenal universe. But the only thing we can be sure of is that the place where we end up will contain phenomena but there's no way to know what that may be. Traveling through space is equivalent to traveling through time so we can't even know when we'll end up. About the only certainty is that wherever and whenever we emerge from the hole, things will be very different.

That's what so scary about holes. You go in one end believing that when you come out on the other end things will still be pretty much the same. There are holes that lead into the distant past and others that end up somewhere in the future but we don't know which ones. Each hole carries this risk. Every time you enter a hole (including doorways), you believe that you'll come out on the other side and everything will be what you expected. This comforting delusion helps us forget the very real possibility that we may just disappear. This is why doors are made with peepholes and windows and why some are entirely glass - so we can verify that the other side is just like this one.

If I go through enough holes (doorways, etc.) I'll eventually come out in some elsewhere and find the unicorns, dragons, griffins, minotaurs, elves (hey Samwise), demons, gods, honest politicians and innumerable other mythical beings frolicking in their happy obscurity content in the knowledge that no one believes in them. I'll probably stay.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Lost in Place

The Crown of Creation?

I made another mistake today. Even when I'm really careful I still misunderstand stuff and I've been wondering if it's even possible to ever get it right. First mistake was reading the newspaper. I'll bet if I could find a paper from Sumer from six or seven thousand years ago, it'd be the same stories about the same things. The various people would be different but they'd be doing the same stuff. They'd be worried about drought and famine and war and bandits, revolutionaries, violence, moral decay, crowded streets and clogged pipes. People have devised some pretty clever technology since then but that's about the only measurable difference.

Another mistake was reading a news magazine, one of those full of opinion and commentary. These people seem so sure of themselves, as if everything were so obvious and any disagreement was pointless and, probably, criminal. Odd that someone else in the same magazine holds an opposite opinion with at least the same degree of certainty. Now they can't both be right if they so adamantly disagree - but they can both be wrong. The very fact they do disagree so vehemently suggests to me that they are both probably wrong and I should look somewhere in the middle or just ignore the whole issue. It does seem that the stronger one holds to some opinion the more desperate their need to be right. Scary stuff that.

So then I tried TV. Always a mistake. Some sleazy dude is selling insurance. He looks just the way he should, perfectly coiffed shiny white hair, expensive suit, nice tie, practiced and articulate delivery. A hollow and insubstantial symbol of successful middle age. He's telling me that I should buy his insurance to protect those “left behind” when I die. Why, Social Security only covers a fraction of the cost of my burial! Who's going to pay my “final expenses”? How could I be so thoughtless and selfish (he implies, all syrupy and smooth) as to keep my money for myself! Fact is, my heirs have been getting their inheritance for decades. There will be nothing left because I gave it to them already. Sadly, this is one of the least offensive assaults to my intelligence that TV offers so routinely.

Ok then, I'll go for drive, it's a nice day after all. Big mistake. Traffic everywhere. Great huge SUVs everywhere, packed with fat people going to the great huge malls, to buy bigger clothes, no doubt. Those going to or coming from the malls head straight for the fast-fat-food restaurants, the donut shops, Ben and Jerry's. Some of the more adventurous are going to a theater, after their snack. The roads are packed, the gas stations are full of gluttonous SUVs, all the Wall Marts and Kmarts are jammed. There's no place to go and a peaceful drive in the country means navigating through the traffic and the endless strip malls wedged between fat cars with loud sub-woofer blasting Rap and bad attitude dudes.

Now I'm pretty sure that this is not the world I belong in and I kinda suspect no one else belongs here either. We can't really believe that this is the best we can do. What's happened? What can we do? Was this the whole purpose of the Big Bang and ten zillion years of evolution? Compared to the universe and all of human history we seem not only insignificant but absurd.

Plodiphany

The Pursuit of Plodiphany


There is really so little to think about, when you think about it. Most of the stuff we think about refers to things that don't even exist and, when they do, we are more concerned about what they mean than what they are. Very little of the natural world that is available to be xperienced is thought about simply because it's obvious already. We don't just enjoy a sunny day, we analyse it, comparing it to other days in other places with other people. We think about how it makes us feel rather than just feeling it as it is.

The world outside the human mind is far less important than the one we've constructed within it. Our mind is our world, everything else is mere ornamentation. Over thousands of years we have learned to devise all manner of realities so that now the products of the mind are far more real than anything we experience in nature.

The realist of our realities is our belief that our personal reality is really real. We don't care about things but rather what we believe about things. The ultimate Truth is our wholly subjective belief in the accuracy of our own understanding. This devotion to the validity of our beliefs is our most defining characteristic.

If we were interested in what is True about this world, we would have all agreed to some minimum standard of civility long ago. There would be no controversy over what constitutes justice or duty or good or evil nor would we thrash around from one moral dilemma to the next. Since no such standard exists, it follows that there is no serious interest in the Truth. We are far more fascinated by what we believe about the Truth than Truth itself.

It's odd that it is thinking that distinguishes humans for every other life form yet we only think about our thoughts, believing them real. If intelligence is the highest achievement of nature and if it's only purpose is to stare stupidly at it's reflection, why are we so proud? Why do we keep telling ourselves that our narcissism is proof that we are indeed the Crown of Creation?

As proof of this strange phenomenon, I believe that all of this is an accurate description of the human psyche because I believe that my beliefs are True. If it's true of me and I am (as I further believe) perfectly representative of humankind, then it must be true of everyone. Hence the belief is justified. From this I can reasonably conclude that any disagreement is both mistaken and perverse.

All human reason is likewise diluted by this inescapable circularity and there is no remedy. As long as we continue to append reason to the necessities of our survival, we will continue to befuddle ourselves with the inevitable contradictions reason creates. Stranger still, the products of our reason directly diminish not only reason itself, but our survival. While we trust in the utility of reason, we employ reason unreasonably, to denigrate, diminish and destroy those our reasoning has de-humanized.

Revenge is a good example. If someone kills your brother, you are justified, through reason, to kill him (or possibly, her). What's odd is that it isn't the act of murder that offends but, rather, who is murdered. If I believe that murder is wrong then it's the murder I condemn, regardless of who the victim might be. If I kill my brother's murderer then I am saying, in effect, that killing doesn't bother me or, more directly, it's ok to kill the “right” people. Now we can layer all manner of clever exceptions over any prohibitions on murder, disguising it as best we can, but the underlying logic exposes the fallacy.

What this means is that reason is indifferent to how it's applied; it can “prove” a fallacy while simultaneously disproving it's own proof. It depends on how deep you want to dig. Most of the time we stop well short discovering the weaknesses in our own reasoning. We will prefer that reason substantiate what we wanted to be true before we even thought about it. If the reasoning we prefer to accept more firmly establishes our opinions, we are satisfied to stop there. We are reasonable only to a point.

Some of us become very attached to some point of view or other and we are comfortably certain that reason is on our side. If that point of view is threatened, we trot out our tried and true arsenal of “facts” and “proofs”, the citations of Great Thinkers, all the arguments that have seemed to work before and circle the wagons, ready to do battle. At some point this defensiveness transcends mere intellectual assent and becomes, belief. We have invested our reason with emotional content and what we believe becomes who we are. Now we mutate from a marginally functional rationality to a dangerous and deadly intolerance.

While some will argue that this phenomenon only affects those defending this or that religious dogma, it is, alas, universal. Everyone falls prey to their own zeal. One of the most obvious and most often occurring manifestations of this grim mutation is Patriotism. The sure and certain belief that one's group is so precious and so worthy and so nearly perfect that its defense can justify any measures is one of the mostly deadly beliefs we humans have yet devised. It infects us all, all the time and it has nothing to do with religion.

What plagues us is not the other guy, it the other guy's beliefs and what we believe about those beliefs. These beliefs spring from our disdain for following our reasoning through to wherever it may lead. Are we just too lazy to do the work or does the world we've created reward our quiet conformity and punish our dissent? Maybe there is just no payoff to honest reflection and the pursuit of Truth. Odd that we honor those who go off into the desert seeking enlightenment, calling them righteous ,yet we ignore anything they may have to say. Could be that we prefer them in their deserts and their monasteries and their ragged retreats,quaint symbols of things we'd rather not think about.

What does all this mean? Is it even important? Is anything different even possible? It might be a worthwhile use of our reason to at least wonder about it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Psychotic Episode, No.34, Vol.3

The Easter Bunny and His Friends


The world can be strange and confusing place, populated with all manner of non-existing "things". It may well be that most of what we so casually refer to as real, is merely a linguistic convention. We may know that what we are talking about does not actually exist but we talk about it anyway simply so we have something to talk about. I think myths are like that. We intend them to be explanatory in some way, to inform or enlighten yet without taking the myth itself seriously. Even so, we get confused sometimes and forget that the myth is only a means to some other end.

I could, for instance, talk at great length and in excruciating detail about Unicorns as if they actually existed. In fact there people who have written entire books on just that. Yet I know that I'm talking about something that does not exist and probably never has. The non-existence of "things" is no real impediment to conversation and certainly not to scholarship. Yet there are those who will understand a Unicorn as not only a symbol of something else, but as having actual existence, if not now then in some long lost Golden Age at the beginning of time. I kind of like the imagery. It describes a world that I would enjoy far more than this one and it would be so much easier to determine the rightness and wrongness of things. Alas, the universe is supremely indifferent to what I like. The imagery is all I can have.

While I feign a kind of superiority here, as if I, at least, am above being seduced by my delusions, I don't believe it. I am just as tempted as anyone else by the lure of a perfect world and the strength of my desire for escape is powerful. It's just that I've become cynical. I can't let myself believe in much of anything however much I want to. It's an odd dichotomy: on the one hand I know that most of what I most want to believe is just frivolous nonsense and, on the other, the desire to believe is a deep compulsion of great power. If little kids can do it, why can't I?

I think I like the idea that dragons are really a dim memory of dinosaurs but I'm told that the great beasts were exinct long before there were people to fear them. Being familiar with the arguments put forth for that view, I can find enough holes to at least admit the possibility of our co-extence with the Thunder Lizards. Besides, it's enjoyable to imagine a world that is incredibly alien and strange.

Did our most ancient ancestors just make stuff up to amuse themselves or were their tales a clumsy attempt to descibe their reality? If these first humans were truly human then they would have possessed the same raw intelligence as humans today and that would imply that they were capable of thought. If reason is a necessary component of thought, they must surely have understood the difference between empirical reality and mere fantasy. In fact, inventing strangeness and fear in their intellectual landscape would be counter productive; the world would have been scary enough without making stuff up.

While I remain mostly cynical and am skeptical of every assertion of every kind about everything, I still enjoy the possibility that the certainty we are so certain about may be yet another self-delusion. Our smug pretense of knowledge may nothing more than our remedy for a fear of the unknown. Wrapped in our security blanket of omniscience, we whistle in the dark, hoping the dark doesn't whistle back.

Most of what we claim to be certain of is a transitory mythology. We hold some description of events and things to be "true" for a while and then we move on to some other, more complete description. The old descriptions influence us in our decisions and then are replaced by new ones and forgotten. We then adapt the decisions made on "flawed data" of the earlier description to agree with the new, improved descriptions. Our mythology is in constant flux and can't endure for even a single generation. If we stumbled across an Absolute Truth we wouldn't have to resort to mythology at all but the fact that facts are infinitely malleable ensures that there will always be myths. Myths fill in the gaps and provide explanations until replaced by an upgraded version. Not a very stable trajectory for an increase in knowledge.

The reason I mention all this is not to diminish your confidence in the knowledge you believe you have acquired; that knowledge is real after all. The point is that the "things" we think we know may not exist so that knowing about them doesn't gain us much. Additionally, our knowledge is mostly about what others have said about what they think they know. The knowledge we claim to possess is not even our own and is so far removed from the object of study that we are wholly dependent on the competence and integrity of the original investigators. We have to believe someone else to tell us what is real. We have to trust the whole apparatus of education and have faith in those who teach us. This seems like fertile ground for the creation of imaginative myth and empty knowledge. While your knowledge does really exist, it may well be without empirical content.

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Perfected Ignorance

Why is it So Hard To Know stuff?


I was looking up a number in the phone book the other day and someone said, "The names are in alphabetical order so Mumwat Hennel will be under H". Man, I'd been starting at the beginning of the phone book and working my way through for two weeks trying to find this guy. Suddenly I realized why nothing I'd learned made any sense. Alphabetical order! What an incredibly perverse way to to present information.

I had assumed that information was supposed to be sequential, one fact leading to another in a nice tidy progression. I mean that's the way the other books I've read were written. Except for the Encyclopedia of course. Now there's one book (26 actually) that nearly made me despair of ever learning anything. Now it all makes sense, it's in alphabetical order! I spent three years reading an entire 26 volume encyclopedia thinking it was revealing knowledge in some really strange sequence. I figured that I'd eventually discover whatever magical code was secretly embedded in all those apparently random articles.

a cappella:
(Italian: "in the church style"), performance of a polyphonic (multipart) musical work by unaccompanied voices. Originally referring to sacred choral music, the term now refers to secular music as well.

The a cappella style arose about the time of the composer Josquin des Prez, in the late 15th century, and reached preeminence with Palestrina in the late 16th century in the music ...

Followed by:

a lo divino:
(Spanish "in the sacred style" or "in sacred terms") in Spanish literature, the recasting of a secular work as a religious work, or, more generally, a treatment of a secular theme in religious terms through the use of allegory, symbolism, and metaphor. Adaptations a lo divino were popular during the Golden Age of Spanish literature during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Now so far I could believe the first volume of the encyclopedia was going to reveal some kind of religious Truth. But then comes:

a posteriori knowledge:
knowledge derived from experience, as opposed to a priori knowledge (q.v.).

And it gets worse:

a priori knowledge

'A'ishah
A'sha, al-
A-ch'eng
A-erh-chin Mountains
A-kuei
A-mdo
A-pao-chi
Aachen
Aakj‘r, Jeppe
Aalen
Aalsmeer
Aalst
Aalto
Alvar
Aarau
aardvark
aardwolf
Aare River

I read volume one and kept on going believing I would find some deep meaning in the bazarre ordering of apparent non sequiturs. I think that explains why I can't maintain a conversation for more than the time it takes to read two paragraphs. Why would the people in whom we have entrusted with all human knowledge devise such a cruel decpetion? Why would they force us to jump from here to there and back again to learn even the simplest detail? Could it be that they are laughing at our credulity the whole time, snickering at the thought of my befuddledment?

I am on to them now though. Alphabetical order, ha! Their foul conspiracy is exposed. Let's see just how smart they really are and challenge them to create an encyclopedia in topical order, a collection that can be read from front to back like any other book! Take that!


The Great Secret of Geography Revealed at Last


Islands float you know. People will tell you that an island is really the top of a mountain rising up from the bottom of the ocean, poking through the water. That's a myth, of course. It's something we are told so we'll believe that the earth makes sense. If we knew just how senseless the earth really is, we wouldn't take things so seriously and nothing would get done. We'd just meander aimlessly from place to place for no particular reason, frolicking happily, smiling and laughing and accomplishing nothing. To keep us occupied and productive, we are told all manner of fables and fanciful tales. One of those is about islands.

I discovered the secret of islands while standing on one of the beaches ringing the tiny island of Puerto Rico. Now Puerto Rico is between two large bodies of water. On the south is the Caribbean and on the north is the Atlantic. Puerto Rico floats in the middle, drifting around in a circle. You can tell because the wind blows from the east almost all the time. This is because there are whales on the west coast of the island pushing the island to the east causing this breeze. As soon as the sun goes down the whales go to sleep and quit pushing and the island stops drifting. About this time the manatees and dolphins on the eastern end of the island begin pushing it back the other way. By the time the sun comes up again, Puerto Rico is back where it was the day before.

Columbus discovered all of this when his ships got to Puerto Rico a day sooner than he had planned. This made him believe that Puerto Rico was a much larger island so he called it Cuba. He sailed on past and, on his way back, the island had drifted again so he got there a day later than he expected. This time he thought the island was much smaller so he called it, St. Thomas. He left the next morning but during the night the island had drifted back west again so he got to back Spain a day later than he expected and thought he was in Italy. All the maps we now use are based on these voyages. Geographers know that there is no such island as Cuba and that Italy is really Spain but they won't admit it. Even now there are people who believe they are speaking Italian rather than Spanish and insist on calling western Puerto Rico, Cuba. It's all so confusing.

It wasn't until NASA sent up an astronaut that this mistake was finally acknowledged. John Glen looked down and said, "What's Italy doing in the Caribbean?" The resident geographer, Dr. Spindle Awry, explained Glen's observation on an LSD flashback and the mission was immediately aborted postponing the invasion of Cuba indefinitely. Dr. Awry was dismissed soon thereafter. To minimize the embarrassment to NASA, the whole incident was deftly misunderstood and blamed on the Italians.

Even now scientists (and geographers) continue to defend the accuracy of their maps and we still haven't invaded Cuba. Dr. Awry was lost at sea trying to locate Puerto Rico and I'm still sitting on the beach enjoying the breeze.


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