Friday, March 14, 2008

Physics 101

Just a quick note to keep you guessing.

There is a law of physics that says that energy is constant. It is the law of "conservation of energy".

This law tells us that energy cannot be created, it can change forms but it can be neither created nor destroyed.

For instance you take a ball and place it at the top of the ramp. It takes a certain amount of energy to place the ball at the top of the ramp. When the ball is at the top of the ramp, the ball has all that energy stored. As it goes down the ramp the energy is released in the motion of the ball.

My question has always been, where did the energy go?

Now lets blow this way out of proportion.

At this very moment humans are 'consuming' vast quantities of stored energy in the form of fossil fuels, wind, solar, nuclear and hydro power.

But the law of the conservation of energy says that the energy was not 'consumed' but rather changed form, or was dissipated.

So where did it go?

There is another law, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"

Now I don't know if there is a law about this or not, but Superman used to fly around the world backwards, so fast that he would change the rotation of the earth and time would reverse.

He was using energy (that he got from our yellow sun) and expending it in such a way that it was reversing the rotation (re-storing the energy) and then for some reason we all went back in time....

So can we do that?

If we all jumped in our cars and drove to the west at the same time, would it have an effect on the earth's rotation?

What effect does it have on the earth's rotation anyhow, even when we aren't all going in the same direction? Or on the earth itself?

Think about the trillions of watts of power we as humans switch from the stored form into a heating/cooling/moving form..... per hour!

And as you think about that.... here is another puzzle to ponder:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Paradigm shift

There is a radio commercial here, it may be local or may not. There is this guy who speaks jargon and some guy who 'translates' for him.

It starts off, "We needed a shift in our spending paradigm"

A paradigm as used above means: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

So the commercial's translation, "We needed a way to save money" was not entirely correct.

Here in Mississippi, we usually have some of the lowest gas prices in the country. Last week they started creeping up. We are now paying over $3.00 a gallon.

This is probably cheap compared to some parts of the country. I hear tell, that last time someone saw prices under $3.00 a gallon their children were in diapers. Well here is Mississippi we are a bit slower then some I guess.... and sometimes it pays off.

So now I am hearing from others (at last) that we need a shift in our paradigm. Granted they do not use such words, but of course we talk a lot down here, so explaining it the long way around seems just natural.

My son an I were talking the other day about the end of the world..... He actually knows the date, which I can't remember.... its a few years from now. I remember going to Universal Studios in California the last time the world ended. It wasn't too bad if I remember right and my sister didn't even get eaten by Jaws (family joke.) He explained to me that it was based on the Mayan calender. However I am also a big fan of the history channel and I saw more than one program on this whole Mayan thing (not to mention a couple of classes at college about the concept.) You see the Mayans didn't do time like we do time. Their time is circular, ours is linear. If you can imagine a small circle with a guy inside of it. Like a hamster wheel. The guy runs and the wheel goes round in circles. Then stick that wheel inside a bigger wheel. As the guy runs, he moves his concept of time (his wheel), which moves the bigger wheel which is a larger concept of time (like a millennium). You keep getting larger wheels and larger concepts of time until you get to the biggest wheel of all. It would be the wheel that started moving when the earth was created. THAT'S the wheel that makes its full revolution in a few years. Under the Mayan concept of time, the world cannot end, because there is no such thing as an end, only a new beginning. I would think that its a time of celebration as we all celebrate the coming of spring, or the anniversary of our birth. After all, the Mayans are dead now.... maybe they get to come back and join our world again :)

History repeats itself, that is the Mayan concept. As we look upon our world which is rapidly heating up, scientists point to "THE LAST TIME" there was such global warming. History repeats itself. We have cycles of global warming, and global cooling going back to the beginning of time. History repeats itself. Also in the weather, there are cycles of drought and rain, there are cycles of sunspot activity. We know about these cycles because history repeats itself.

There was a time a few thousand years ago, when the Athenian empire expanded their reaches across much of Europe. Those in Athens had it pretty easy, but change was coming, and a paradigm shift occurred.

Then the Romans took over, conquered 1/3 of the known world. Those guys in Rome had it pretty easy, in fact they made it so if you joined their army, you got to be a Roman citizen and lots of people all over the world had it pretty easy. But change was coming and history repeats itself.

There were more empires, there were more shifts. The Eastern Block vs. the Western Block, paradigm shift and history repeats itself.

Now we are looking once again at a paradigm shift. The guy that makes $100,000 a year and drives a Hummer, is looking at spending 10% of his pay to keep the Hummer on the road. The guy who makes $15,000 a year and drives a '62 ford falcon, does not have the $65 it takes to fill the gas tank. He no longer can drive to work.

I see this as I tool along in my bus. One young guy walks to work every day. He got a job about 3 miles from his home and is walking to it as I drive by in the bus. Sometimes he is on his bike, and sometimes he is walking in the rain.

There was a time in my memorable past, when there was a phrase, "Sunday Driver." It was referring to those who only drove on Sundays. They drove for recreation, they were typically not the best drivers since they did not have the daily experience driving like many of the others. They were dinosaurs, remnants of a past when people did not drive, except as a hobby or a sport. When the only driving done was for recreation.

When I first moved to Mississippi I remember going to a "walking trail." This was a trail that wound around back and forth in the space of about 1/4 a city block. You could not get anywhere walking on that trail. You could walk a mile and find yourself right back where you started. Then repeat yourself. At some point in time my doctor told me to start walking 2 miles a day. I would get on the trail, always with a clear vision of the end which was also the beginning and walk around in those tight little wandering paths not going anywhere.

Thats what you do for recreation when you drive everywhere. Unfortunately in Mississippi, not too many people are into recreation and so there is a big campaign from the Governor's office called, "Walk Mississippi" which is suppose to get people moving, and lower our obesity rate.

But history repeats itself....

Gas prices are getting to the point that people can no longer fill the cars. The economy is either doing an about face (I remember the last recession, and history repeats itself) or at best not doing to well. (more on that later)

People are starting to look at where their new job is. How far do I have to drive, can I walk? Taking that job that makes $1000 a month more isn't a great deal if you have to spend $1200 a month to get there.

The Mississippi Mountain Man is working towards a shift in the paradigm of his city. He has proposed to the city, that they 'encourage' city businesses to become bicycle friendly by installing bike racks at their locations. Our little community has already a network of "multi use" trails that dissect the city. They are currently used for recreation. In the paradigm shift that I foresee, they will become arteries for people getting to work, going to the movies, grabbing a gallon of milk, going out to eat.

I came to the realization the last time that I filled the tank of my truck (yes we Mountain Men are required to drive pickups.... its in the rules somewhere, just can't remember where), it cost $71.50 to fill. It costs $53 plus tax for a bicycle at Walmart. $15 for a helmet. Nothing to drive it the next 1000 miles....

Now in actuality I already have a bike in my garage, so what else does $71.50 buy? 3 trips for two to the movies with popcorn and drinks. 11 Little Ceaser's pizzas. Cable TV with HBO for a month. A family outing to the minor league baseball game (including the gas to get there and back). What can you do with $71.50?

Then I really got depressed....

I fill up my truck 2.5 times a month.

$71.50 x 2.5 = $178.75

The payment on my first house was $174.00 a month.

Its time for a shift in our spending paradigm.