Emerson and Cosmic Inflation

September 22nd, 2014
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The Visible Universe
In his essay "Circles," Ralph Waldo Emerson writes:
St. Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose centre was everywhere, and its circumference nowhere.

The center of town is toward Public Square. The center of the Earth is always down. The center of our solar system moves from east to west every waking day. The center of our galaxy is toward its black hole in Sagittarius. But, the center of our universe is ... everywhere!

The scientific method runs from observing the physical world, to making a theory that describes and predicts its behavior, to testing the prediction. The best theory accounts for the most behavior in the simplest terms. Albert Einstein brought forth the theory of general relativity, and defined it with ten mathematical equations. But, he found that he could simplify to one equation with the assumption that, in the long view, the universe is the same everywhere -- without much variation, without direction, without a single center. That assumption is called the cosmological principal.


Heat Map of the CMB
Further observation has borne out the cosmological principal. Looking up in any direction, we find the same types of galaxies, which are bunched into galactic clusters, which are strung into superclusters. As we look further out, we look further back in time. To the Sun we look back eight minutes -- the time it takes light to travel from there to Earth. To the center of our galaxy, we look back 26,000 years; to the next nearest major galaxy (Andromeda), 2.3 million years; to the nearest large galactic cluster (Virgo), 52 million years; to the next nearest large supercluster (Centaurus) 140 million years. And to the furthest point we can see, we look back 13.7 billion years -- just 380,000 years after the Hot Big Bang. That furthest point is at the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). We find the CMB in every direction up. And its heat map is without much variation -- in fact, it is 99.999% uniform. From any other galaxy in the universe, an observer that looked up would see virtually the same picture that we do.


Timeline of the Universe
What lies beyond and back in time before the CMB we cannot directly see, because the universe was then opaque. But the CMB, by its very presence, and the intensities of energy over its frequency spectrum, fulfills predictions of the Big Bang Theory -- the current standard model of the universe. So we know that there was a Hot Big Bang -- when the universe was extremely hot, dense, and rapidly expanding. And by its highly-uniform heat map, the tiny temperature variations across the heat map, and the imprint of gravity waves in the heat map's variations, the CMB fulfills predictions of Cosmic Inflation Theory. So, though we await confirmation of the gravity waves finding, which was just announced this year, it is now likely that our universe's region of space inflated -- stretched from sub-atomic size to macro size in a split instant. As inflation ended, much of its expansion energy may have changed into particles, changing the universe from extremely cold and empty with accelerating expansion to extremely hot and dense with decelerating expansion, and feeding into the Hot Big Bang.


Cosmic Inflation popping-out universes
What lies beyond and back in time before the onset of cosmic inflation? We don't know, but by most variants of Cosmic Inflation Theory, cosmic inflation goes on forever, screamingly stretching space. And if cosmic inflation has fed into one hot big bang and popped-out one universe, then it would also pop-out many, or infinitely, more such universes. So Cosmic Inflation Theory, which has many correct (and no known incorrect) predictions, also predicts parallel universes! And the march of science goes on: As one wonder is described, proven and woven into the tapestry of human knowledge, another arises -- it too wanting description and proof. Emerson writes:
Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

~~~

Terms

Big Bang: Some take "Big Bang" to mean the Hot Big Bang, some the onset of Cosmic Inflation, and some Time 0 -- the very beginning of everything. The Hot Big Bang has heat and rapid expansion. The onset of Cosmic Inflation is cold, but has screamingly rapid expansion. But Time 0 is unknown. Rather than a big bang, it may be a wee whisper.

Universe: Brian Greene writes: "There was a time when "universe" meant "all there is. ... Sometimes "universe" still connotes absolutely everything. Sometimes it refers only to those parts of everything that someone such as you or I could, in principle have access to. Sometimes it's applied to separate realms, ones that are partly or fully, temporarily or permanently, inaccessible to us; in this sense, the word relegates our universe to membership in a large, perhaps infinitely large, collection."

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Wildflower Islands

July 23rd, 2014
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A bee curls around a clover flower.
Three years ago, I wrote about my plan to keep a yard of wildflowers by mowing just once a year, in early spring. But, after a glorious first year, the yard came to fill with much tall grass and few wildflowers. This year, I have a new plan. While mowing, when I come across a nice patch of wildflowers, I mow around it. If at the next mowing the patch still shows bloom or promise, I keep it. During the last mowing, as I came up on a patch of clover and ground ivy, I weighed whether it had bloom enough worth saving. Then I saw a bee working the flowers there, and chose to mow around that patch. In this way, I hope to keep a mowed lawn with wildflower islands, enjoyed by both human and bee.

A Bee Movie -- Bees on the Wildflower Islands

Wildflower Islands

Ground Ivy, Clover, Yellow Wood Sorrel

Bumble Bee on Ground Ivy

Orange Hawkweed

Alfalfa

Daisy Fleabane

Buttercup

Queen Anne's Lace

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Independence Day Acrostic

July 4th, 2014
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Out of many Equals, one more perfect union.

Out of many Peoples, one nation conceived in liberty.
Out of many Labors, one shared prosperity.
Out of many Urgencies, one fear, of fear itself.
Out of many Rights, one government of, by and for the people to secure them.
Out of many Individuals, one we the people.
Out of many Beauties, one brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
Out of many Unknowns, one first obligation to the truth.
Out of many Strivings, one equal protection of the laws.

Out of many United Nations, one world with freedom of speech, of worship, from want and from fear.
Out of many Needs, one purpose to promote the general welfare.
Out of many Undertakings, one purpose to secure the blessings of liberty to our posterity.
Out of many Movements, one long arc of the moral universe bending toward justice.

~~~

Note: An acrostic is a line-by-line piece of writing where the first letter, or other certain letter, in each line forms a message when read from the top - down. In the above piece, read down through the first (boldfaced) letters after "Out of many " to see the message.

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Payback: A Model Bill for ALEC

May 6th, 2014
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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a shadow legislature that has given us many lousy laws. Populated by corporate agents and Republican office-holders, ALEC passes "model bills," which its lawmaker members take to their statehouses and push into law. In 2011, news journals dragged ALEC into the light, and later pinned it as the source of the "shoot first" law that helped the killer walk in the Trayvon Martin case. With the bad press, ALEC began losing membership, and disbanded its gun proliferation and voter suppression committee. But, ALEC still drives its evident core mission to shackle democracy, and to unleash big money and mega-corporations, with such laws as those:
Today, ALEC fights against clean energy with its current package of model bills:

For all the lousy model bills-come-law that ALEC has given us, and for those it still seeks to give us, let's give a really good model bill to ALEC. Our model bill does not need a shadow legislature. Like many of its kind, it was written and passed by a real legislature during the "Progressive Era" of the early 20th century. Our model bill does not need the input of corporate agents. It serves only the public interest, and recognizes the profit-taking corporation as a special and powerful corrupting influence on government. In fact, our model bill bans corporations and their agents, outside of narrowly defined and well-lit lobbying channels, from any try at swaying public policy. Under its terms, corporate agents voting in a shadow legislature would face prison time, and the corporation that sent them could face dissolution. From the Wisconsin law book of 1919 -- here is a model bill for ALEC:


No corporation doing business in this state shall pay or contribute, or offer consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office.

Penalty: Any officer, employe, agent or attorney or other representative of any corporation, acting for and in behalf of such corporation, who shall violate [this act] shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not less than one nor more than five years, or by both ... and if the corporation shall be subject to a penalty then by forfeiture in double the amount of any fine so imposed ... and if a domestic corporation, it may be dissolved, ... and if a foreign or nonresident corporation, its right to do business in this state may be declared forfeited.

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It’s Axiomatic — A Free Press Needs Net Neutrality

March 9th, 2014
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Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. (Washington, D.C.) (public domain)
Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. A.J. Liebling minted that axiom in the New Yorker magazine in 1960. Later that decade, researchers began work on creating packet-switching networks, and a U.S. government project created a network of networks called ARPANET, the forerunner to the Internet. And with the rise of the Internet came the fall of that axiom. Today news organizations, as well as individual persons, can freely publish, without an expensive printing press, to a wide audience.

All bits are created equal. That axiom sums up the rule of net neutrality -- that the Internet moves data packets from end to end, blind to their content, and without bias to their origin and destination. That equality came naturally from the plain old telephone system that most persons once used to get on the Internet. Like the telegraph system that came before it, a telephone system is deemed a "common carrier," a public delivery service that treats all cargo -- phone call communications in this case -- equally. By law, the telephone company could not interfere with a phone call, whether dialing Mom or dialing-up one's ISP. The system heeded the rule of net neutrality, which gave us the open playing field for uncensored and inexpensive publishing, and the rapid rise of the Internet to become one of the greatest achievements of humankind.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Today, freedom of press and speech is threatened by the big telecommunications companies. No longer do most persons pick from one of many ISP's to dial-up. Now they must use the only available ISP -- the telecom that owns their DSL, cable or cellular network. And no longer are those telecoms classified "telecommunication services," which are common carriers. During the Bush II administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) instead classified those telecoms as "information services," which are not common carriers. The FCC at that time also issued openness principles that tend towards net neutrality. But in 2010 a federal court, in a case brought by Comcast, ruled against the FCC enforcing those principles for an "information service." So the FCC turned those principles into its Open Internet Order. But just this year a federal court, in Verizon vs. FCC," ruled against the FCC enforcing that order for an "information service." In court, Verizon claimed that it had "editorial discretion" over data that travels on its lines. With that claim, and with the known cases of big telecoms fiddling with data flow, we can foresee a rollback of press freedom, and the rise of an axiom like the old one -- "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own an Internet gateway."

Where there's a will, there's a way. That timeless axiom often runs up against another old one -- "Money talks." Right after the "Verizon vs. FCC" ruling, press and Internet freedom organizations began a campaign to reclassify the telecoms as common carriers. And two weeks later, they delivered a petition with a million signatures urging that to the FCC. But Michael Powell, who headed the FCC when it first freed big telecoms from common carrier responsibilities, and is now the head lobbyist for the telecoms, warned that such an act by the FCC would bring "World War III." And so the battle line is drawn: on one side the will of the masses of Internet users and news organizations, and on the other the big money of a few mega-corporations. So far, Chairman Tom Wheeler has said the FCC will not reclassify, and will pursue new (most likely weaker) rules. And while some Democrats favor making net neutrality the law of the land, such a bill would face a stonewall of virtually all Republicans.

If you want something done right, do it yourself. But the fight for press and Internet freedom goes beyond the FCC and Congress. One way to get around big telecom high prices, low speeds, and their plans to control the Internet, is to have your local government build its own network. Such publicly owned networks and ISP's now operate in cities such as Chattanooga; Bristol, Virginia; and Lafayette, Louisiana. Each of those cities' systems runs on fiber optic lines, offers 1Gbps speed, and serves residential, as well as business, customers. Those customers get much more speed and reliability for their dollar. And they get a connection with net neutrality -- the freedom to read and publish without interference.

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