Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Comic Strip
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."
Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Measuring the age of time
One of my old bugaboos is the age of the universe. How do we measure it? In looking into that, I came across formulas that are just way to complex for someone with limited mathematical skills, such as myself. Algebra I and Plane Geometry do not provide a sufficient foundation for understanding such things as the Friedmann equation.
I understand the concepts involved to some extent; radiation measurements and known observations of how radiation "ages" or weakens over time from which you can determine constants which then get plugged into equations as constants; the rate of expansion (which has since befuddled scientists); and so on.
But we fool ourselves all the time. We learn, from time to time, that what we observed was not what we thought it was. So all we need to be is a little wrong about our observations.
As I recall, it was easy to solve an equation where all but one variable was an unknown. And, most times, even when two or more were unknown but the relationship to other knowns were fixed. I still thought of these as a "leap of faith", however. I was accepting something (a given value or a given relationship) as "true" without requiring proof.
We laymen do that all the time, don't we? Someone tells us something is so and we accept it. Sometimes it seems its true because it "feels" inherently true. That is, it seems logical.
I was thinking about this after giving some tips to a guy just learning to hit a golf ball. He would like to play and so he must learn the basics. He is going about it the way I think aspiring players should: Start on the range, learn to hit the ball with some semblance of confidence before stepping onto the first tee box on an actual golf course.
I first played golf back in 1974. I had hit some balls when I was 7 or 8 or 9 but never actually played the game in any form until I was 24. A neighbor and friend took me to a "pitch and putt" course nearby and got me started. Being the curious type (and one who thinks almost anything can be learned from a book), I started researching it in order to learn to do it right. I took that "leap of faith" that what I was reading was accurate. I have since decided that some of the "constants" in golf, some of the commonly accepted truths are perhaps wrong. I won't go into those now because this isn't about golf.
It's about the age of the universe. And how we could be wrong about it.