Tag Archives: good stuff

Viewing The World As Richard Feynman

Richard Phillips Feynman was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as his work in particle physics for which he proposed the parton model. For contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 jointly with Julian Schwinger and Shin’ichirō Tomonaga.

Feynman developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions describing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world. In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World, he was ranked the seventh-greatest physicist of all time.

A few days ago, one of the Lexicans posted this to the Facebook Group:

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Go Like Hell

The Ford-Ferrari War

Ever since I saw the movie Ford vs Ferrari, I had a curiosity about Shelby-American. The more I delved into its history, the more I felt that it was an amazing little company. I made a few posts of it here.

In less than 4 short years, they developed a car – The Cobra – that ended up winning the manufacturer’s world championship, beating the likes of Ferrari and Jaguar. And the Cobra could have gone even further, but for the fact that Shelby was under tremendous pressure from Ford to refine the GT-40 prototype and make the Mustang GT 350 (30,000 ended up being produced). .

Factory efforts to campaign the Cobra ended in 1965, but that is another story.

So I just finished the book Go Like Hell, by A.J. Baime. The movie relied heavily on this book.

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The Nature of Our Reality

I know next to nothing about quantum physics. But for years I have often wondered what is the nature of our reality? Are we like goldfish in a bowl who may see blurry and undefined things outside but find comfort in their own world? Is Man so arrogant as to know that he is rapidly learning all there is to know about his world? I suppose that Man has always had a strain of arrogance about his world.

Well, some.

A few years ago, while going through the Wayback Machine , I came across an intriguing post by Lex on the subject.

The universe, many physicists agree, is “fine tuned” * for life. If any one of a number of different of fundamental, physical constants  * were altered only just a little, life – at least as we know it – would not be possible.

One of these fundamental constants is the so-called “fine structure”  * constant, so named because by multiplying a number of other fundamental constants together a pure, unitless number is attained. The fine structure constant, known to physicists as α is elegantly dimensionless, and utterly mysterious, as quantum mechanic Richard Feynman  * wrote:

Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It’s one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don’t know how He pushed his pencil.” 

…Or put another way, and in another context,  * “What we’re suggesting is that something that can’t interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed.”

Today, I came across a recent article in the Scientific American giving the odds of our being in a simulation at 50-50.

Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality. Such public intellectuals as Tesla leader and prolific Twitter gadfly Elon Musk have opined about the statistical inevitability of our world being little more than cascading green code. Recent papers have built on the original hypothesis to further refine the statistical bounds of the hypothesis, arguing that the chance that we live in a simulation may be 50–50.

…This helps us arrive at an interesting observation about the nature of space in our universe. If we are in a simulation, as it appears, then space is an abstract property written in code. It is not real. It is analogous to the numbers seven million and one in our example, just different abstract representations on the same size memory block. Up, down, forward, backward, 10 miles, a million miles, these are just symbols. 

What is height? distance? If this is all a simulation, then what is the function of our consciousness?

Quite frankly, I have to reread this article a few times to get a full understanding. But to be absolutely certain that all we know in our environment here on earth is all there is to know…is either arrogance or ignorance. But that of course, is just my belief.

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Spycraft

I think it can be said that countries have at times won or lost wars based on efforts by their intelligence agencies. I remember reading one of Lex’s posts on the subject of the US nuclear submarine Scorpion. I doubt that we will never know what caused her sinking.

Reading up on John Walker awhile back, I shudder to think had we been at war with the Soviet Union, what would have been the outcome with our naval forces. He had given them the same kind information that we had on the Japanese in WW2 – cryptographic codes that let them know of not only naval unit movement, but intentions such as orders to launch missiles from our submarines.

I wrote on the Marburg Files, and how the efforts of Edward VIII may have helped the Germans in their invasion of France. One of the most amazing successful intelligence efforts was convincing the Germans that the D-Day invasion would occur at Calais, and not Normandy. It was so successful that even when Normandy was underway, Hitler believed that it was a feint and held his armor back waiting for the Calais invasion. Stalin refused to believe his spy telling him that the Germans had planned on invading the Soviet Union.

Aldrich Ames decided to betray his country – knowingly causing the deaths of 13 CIA assets in the Soviet Union, because he was going though a costly divorce and had a Columbian girlfriend with the tastes of Imelda Marcos.

Money was also the motivation of Robert Hanssen, who informed the Soviets of our counterintelligence efforts of the FBI. He cause the deaths of a number of Russians who were working with us. He was finally caught by the smallest of oversights.

I just finished a fascinating miniseries on Spycraft, which dealt with techniques, means of communication, and motivations of spies. It includes interviews with former CIA officers, and a colleague of Ames. It’s on Netflix.

I will also have to reread a book I read years ago, Secrets of D-Day. There were some surprising revelations. One of the biggest mysteries to me was the loyalties of the head of the German Abwehr, Wilhelm Canaris. How much he helped the Allies will probably never be known. He was executed by the Nazis in the closing days of the war.

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An Amazing Small Shop

Shelby-American, 1042 Princeton Dr, Venice, California

Between 1962 at their founding and 1965 there couldn’t have been more than a few dozen employees, including the bookkeeper and publicist. And yet, in 1965 they won the World Manufacturer’s Championship for Sports Cars, beating the likes of Ferrari and Jaguar.

The key was the people. From the mechanics, to the fabricators, to the world-class drivers.

And the circumstances.

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Captain Scott Smiley

Posted by lex, on September 9, 2010

The Army’s first active duty blind officer, * and – I believe – a better man than me.

** 02-12-21 – Lex had a video link in that required Adobe Flash, and my original impulse was to pass this one up. It was just the one sentence plus the unavailable video. But now Major Smiley is an extraordinary man, and should be included. Anyone Lex admired should be included, I think – Ed.

A bit more on Scotty:

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Book Review: The Splendid and the Vile

I have mentioned here quite frequently that I love history, and that the best teachers bring it alive. It is far more than “names and dates”, with which the mediocre teachers adhere.

And there’s plenty of those…

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The Definitive Carroll Shelby Documentary

I have to admit, I have a bit of a compulsive nature. Ever since I saw the movie Ford v Ferrari and posted about it, I have been interested in learning more about specifically Shelby American and their cars.

And I’m even more amazed at what this small company achieved in international racing.

This Netflix documentary really covers it all. With narration from Shelby, his sons and grandsons, Edsel Ford and his son, Henry Ford III, Peter Brock…the list goes on and on.

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To Fly and Fight

BudAndersonBook

I just finished reading the memoirs of Col. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, and have to say it was an enjoyable read. It was akin to sitting in a room with him talking about his life.

From putting you into a P-51 cockpit and fighting for your life with a German Me-109 pilot, to being in an F-105 over Vietnam…to a Pentagon desk (and he tells you why some of the military procurements are so expensive…to flight testing at Edwards AFB, you are there with him.

He tells you what it was like to be shipped overseas and on your first combat mission (do five and stay alive!).

It was a great read, and a book I will keep.

It is available on Amazon .

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Bob Lutz

Among the higher echelons of management of auto manufacturers, I believe Lutz is a near anomaly. He knows the auto business from the top, and he is a consummate car guy.

He grew up in Europe but became an American, and was a Marine Corps aviator. He’s held senior positions at Ford (Germany), Opel, BMW, Chrysler and his last station, GM.

He is an avid car enthusiast, who also flies his own L39. Just some of the cars he was a force in developing are the Opel GT, the first BMW 3 and 6 series (late 70s) , and the Dodge Viper.

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