Cellular automatons

Hi,
today I will write about a new thing that I just learned over the weekend. Since it is based on a competition again I will care not to post here too much so as to be fair and not to spoil it.


Cellular automatons, at least in my knowledge so far, are in a sense, computer colonies, comprising of tons of cells. In the simplest version, you have 1-dimensional automatons which means that the cells, signified by squares let’s say, are in one row, every one of them neighboring with two other.

The cell is either dead or alive. You can create rules to make them reproduce and die, when, let’s say some cell is overcrowded. If you decide that what will happen with the cell depends on the state of the cell itself and the two neighbors and the result will always be the central cell either dead or alive there are 256 options for different rules.

This is how it would look like if the rule would be that cell always reproduces to the rest of the fields that it neighbors with but dies if the two spots around are full [1]:

 

TriangleOfTruf

Not here, but it had 5000×5000 pixels. Feel free to use this picture for anything.

 

This is one of the interesting most of the 256 rules ain’t doin’ a thing but this is the rule #126 so remember that 😉

Dragallur

[1] The picture is not a line because every line of pixels is one second let’s say during which cells reproduce and die and so on, yellow means alive, purple means dead and in the beginning (top of the picture) you have only one alive.

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How societies keep their members from leaving

Hi,
today I will write about societies and generally some at least partially closed groups of people that even if they seem different from each other, they share one ultimate tactic to survive.


I will start with the most common and intuitive example which is, of course, a dictatorship. For a dictator to be in reign for a long time he needs the people of the state (no ruler rules alone). Of course, they can’t be just free to leave so dictator has some simple means to keep them. Let’s say fence, it is quite effective against most folk. Also violence in general, there is this threat, if you try to leave the society you will get punished. This is simple but not perfect, there is a better way to do this and for example, democracy found that out.

I am not saying if this is good or bad, that is not the point here, what I want to illustrate is that democracy needs its people too and like in a natural selection only the strongest regimes will last [0]. Western states no longer need a brute force to keep their members from leaving because most people are from young age taught how where they live is the best [1.5], yes we have bias towards democracy, teachers in schools have bias towards democracy and there is no need to have a brute force because your family, your friends and simply your surroundings will pull you back in case you start to diverge paths with what you have been taught. Do I find this concerning? No, not really (a bit) because I am PART of the system! Which of course means that the system is doing exactly what it should do.

Those are not the only examples. Religion too, whether you like it or not. You will be looked down upon by your fellow believers if you start to question the society. The pressure on you, once again (in Western society at least), won’t be physical, rather psychical. For the system to survive it must teach it’s members that it is the best one and that it is wrong to question it, after that, it is just a cycle.

School is another example. You are forced to stay in it by everybody around you (of course we are not discussing the consequences of leaving school [1]). There are other countless examples and always the pull on oneself is stronger when more people around you are in a group that you want to leave, like let’s say if everybody in your family is religious.

Just food for thought, feel free to leave comments and proof me wrong!

Dragallur

[0] Here I am not comparing dictatorship and democracy as to which is stronger (because they both exist), rather democracy to anything you can think of that never really existed (anarchism maybe?).

[1.5] Dictator can also brainwash (a bit too strong word [1]) their people but I was thinking of let’s say communism in Czechoslovakia where my parents certainly did not think anything good about the regime.

[1] For exactly the sentence that I wrote, is this topic so nuanced. I think I should not leave school because it will worsen my life, everybody taught me to believe that, it is apparent that it might be hard for me to earn money but maybe I would be happier, who knows, but I  know I am not planning to try it.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in whatever field this is.

 

Unrealistic radioactive decay

Hi,
today I am going to write about one of the problems that I had to solve for a physics seminar. The submissions for this series are already closed and you can look up the solutions so I know that I answered correctly to this very interesting problem.


Imagine you have two types of particles, A and B. They are radioactive, meaning they keep falling apart but in a very peculiar way, A decays into B and B decays into A. This doesn’t happen in a real world because the particles decay into something smaller, they break up, but this is a hypothetical scenario very simplified, we do not care about what is happening on the inside. The question is, what is the ratio of the particles at any point in time?

Since the answer itself and the calculation are not trivial I will mainly try to make some facts about this problem obvious and then show the answer.

There is one part that I didn’t mention in the setup. Radioactive particles do decay but there is a very important value that characterizes how fast. It is either (half-life) which tells you in what time will half of particles decay (if there is enough of them it will give the right results) or in other words when the time passes one particle has 50% chance to decay. It seems that also decay constant, which I like better, is used which is basically half-life except the larger the value is, the faster the particles will decay.

The problematic part of this exercise is that when part of the A particles decay they will increase the pile of B particles which means that more particles will decay into A and so on, this is a cycle. To get to an important point it is good to try some simple case of such decay.

Let’s say we have 200 of A particles and 100 of B and half of both will decay in 1 hour. In 1 hour:

A=200-100+50=150
B=100-50+100=150

Next hour:

A=150-75+75=150
B=150-75+75=150

It is obvious that from now on the amount won’t change. This little experiment revealed something obvious, there, first of all, no particles get lost, there is always the same amount present: A+B=constant and with a bit more experimenting it would become more apparent that there is an equilibrium between A and B meaning there is always some amount of A that when it decays it will equalize the amount that decayed from B, this equilibrium will shift depending on the length of half-life or the decay constant. From these thought experiments that reveal the behavior of this problem, we need to use some math that I will not get into here to get the result that you can try to play around with in Desmos.

Dragallur

 

Why physics and not maths

Hi,
it just so happened that it took me few weeks to finally write something. I was over the holidays on Mallorca and then I missed the last week too, oh well, today I will compare some aspects of physics and maths that I noticed and why I choose physics over math.


This is something I have realized lately during solving of physics and math problems. While math is certainly groundstone of physics the thing I dislike about math is its formalness and its need to be exact, actually, I guess the need is there because of its possibility, in the real world, not only that it is just too hard or impossible to model some situations but it is also worthless to know the answer for any number of decimal places[1]. What I really like about physics is how you can approach a problem and tell yourself:

“I can neglect this part because it won’t change the situation much.”
“I can approximate y=sin(x) close to 0 as y=x because it gives me similar values.”
“Let’s use this numerical solution for this difficult integral.”

Yeah, I love how in the real world you can approximate, though at the same time you have to keep the balance so that the solution is still useful. Math is too exact for me. I do like proofs but it has to be with balance and I need to be able to see in the world around me what I learned.

I will keep it short and end it with this meme:

Fotka uživatele Mechanically Engineered Memes for High Tensile Teens.

Dragallur

[1]Obviously a simplification.

Personal guide to melodic death metal

Hi,

It’s not like science is the trend here though the blog title could be misleading for some people but yeah, today I am not going to write about Science and Rationality. Today’s topic is quite personal and it is about the music that I listen to. I can date exactly when I started to listen to what I listen to now. It happened on 20th of June 2015 when I heard the first song from Insomnium. This one wasn’t of my taste at first and I rather liked this one.


This style of music is called melodic death metal. This is not an old genre and as it goes in metal music, it is just a subgenre, here it originates from death metal. It is also called Gothenburg metal because of the city where some of the oldest bands came from. Those are probably At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquility, I do not know much about the first two especially about the first one but DT is one of my most favourite bands and particularly their newest album Atoma. Just a few days back I made a collage from the album covers, so instead of linking more of the music you can just look at this:

Albums - Copy

All this music is metal and most of it is melodic death metal.

There are some things that metal fans (also called metalheads) can be quite funny about. First of all, there is just ton of sub-genres. Whether it is progressive metal, death metal, doom metal or let’s say black metal, everybody finds their own and afterwards is extremely sensitive about its exact label. That’s where metalcore and similar come into play. That is a genre (of metal IMHO) that gets a ton of hate from the true elitist metalhead community, if I understand correctly it is because metalcore and co. are connected with the stereotypical idea that emo kids listen to the music and in some way, there is quite a difference between the bands image let’s say, one like Black Veil Brides and Amon Amarth. You can often see people arguing exactly about this on some border band where part of people dislikes it (often just because of the video) and label it metalcore, while the rest tries to defend it to stay metalhead. So yes, genres are really BIG in metal. On the picture above are probably two metalcore bands: Words of Farewell (arguably) and While She Sleeps.

To finish on some sad note as is normal in metal, what I listen to particularly has a couple of important characteristics. First of all, it is melodic as the name suggests. In MDM, there is a lot of effort put into good instrumental parts and many interprets make an instrumental song once per album and those are also listenable for non-metalheads. The second important characteristic is that it can feature growls (those are the vocals that people really hate), clean singing and even female vocals and some bands are female fronted meaning the main vocalist is female (and they often growl too, e.q. Arch Enemy). This is a quite important as when you combine these elements you can get many types of music. The third important part are lyrics, yes you normally do not understand them and yes, they are often about death, misery, sadness and such but they can have all sorts of interesting messages. I will end the post with the lyrics from Insomnium – Where the last wave broke:

How does it feel?
To welcome the new day
Not worth saving
To fall down on own imprudent acts
The wind answers quietly
Clears the black smoke far thick to see
Unfolds the true nature of man

“And this fire it burns
Consuming us all
Withered garden for posterity
Inheritance in flames”

“When the mankind moves
Rest of the life shakes
All once green turned into stone
Flesh into dust and soil
Where the last wave broke
The shores blazed red
And place once called home
Turned into hall of dead”

How does it feel?
Bite the hand that feeds you
Poison the well that waters you
Prospects made from castles of sand
Legacy in barren land

Breed, greed, bleed
Legacy in barren land
The last wave broke
Prospects made from castles of sand

Dragallur

On human nature (part 1)

Hi,

Today I was going to write about the book Brave New World and happiness but just few minutes back I settled on something else so I am not even sure what will come out in the next several minutes.


As I was going through my news feed on Facebook I noticed Phil Plait posting again. It is about another black hole merger and gravitational wave detection. This happened I think four or five times now and of course for the first time it was all over the news, everybody was talking about it (even Czech news mentioned it). I am not sure how it was like for the next time but it probably did not get such an attention… now I am not trying to say that it should have, there are other important things (like a woman under root (don’t even ask for the context)). Anyway, this time gravitational wave was detected and public could only find out through reading one tweet [1]! That is how much coverage you get for discovery in probably completely new field of physics.

I am certainly quite biased here but the point that Phil Plait made in his post and that I want to share here is how people look for new things but then quickly forget about them. It appears we live in an age where meme (meaning not only joke now) lasts for shorter and shorter time [2]. This might be caused by this “information age” or whatever we call the 21st century but I think this trend also propagates further to the need to have a new iPhone or whatever is behind schedule on being “updated”.

Maybe all of this sounds cliché and just the other day I was telling one of my teachers that the reason why man do not work with hands so much is simply because we live in different time! It reminds me of people worrying about first books then newspapers, TVs and now phones and their effect on youth (this and this XKCD will help you get the idea). And yet should we be worried about the change? How are we going to get ready for it if we leave it to itself and then it does become a problem? I could write under this picture of Black Friday: “Look at those insane people!” but maybe as things tend to be it is more complicated than that (but yeah they are probably buying useless stuff 😀 ).

Dragallur

[1] Yup that is a lie, of course it spread through the internet but it was not such a boom.

[2] I should probably put disclaimers all over the place since I have not lived very long time yet.

What I think about genetic modification NOW

Hi,

Coincidently just this weekend I started to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, because I need it for my English class. At the same time during today’s class (English conversation) we spoke about GMOs. Speaking on the topic means that I read Wikipedia page for 10-15 minutes and then I presented it in front of the class. Then we moved on to another topic and there were no comments from either the teacher or my class mates, I doubt anybody had any opinion based on anything more than impressions which is the case for me too.


The reason why I mentioned Brave New World is because it is a sci-fi about genetically modified humans. I am in the beginning of the book so it won’t have much of an effect on what I will try to do here.

So as a person who does not know much about GMO and dangers/benefits of genetic modification I want to briefly write down what I think now. After that I want to inform myself as much as possible and then write what changed and what I learned.

I think that GMO plants might be a risk but also a road that we might take eventually. I guess that there are dangers with taking DNA of one organism and putting it into some else because if I am right, we are not fully able to predict the consequences so while we are trying to get resistant corn we might also get corn that has some nasty properties that might not be visible immediately (as my mum always says, we invent something great but do not see the consequences). I assume this to be the reason why in EU it takes way more time for “new species” to be marked as safe. On the other hand, from China or USA many types of new GMO’s arrive illegally anyway. I have read that for insect resistant GMO’s you do not need so many pesticides and you generally lower the effect that the mass production has on global warming. Wikipedia also says that Greenpeace is against GMO’s but it has been criticized exactly for this.

If I ask myself about the future of all this I bet that it is the time of these technologies getting better and better and scientists making bolder and bolder changes. Once of course it might come to humans. It might be a way to treat a disease or at some point simply improve body. Now this is the point where it starts to be a bit speculative for me since I bet we might not be so far from SOME kind of human genetic modification. Because right now I think that when we compare technological and “moral” or “mind” advancement we are way ahead with the former. Therefore, I am not an advocate of immortality (when I take the point that the society is in) and also there comes all of the problems that will probably be described in the book, how people are made certain way according to certain rules which could be hazardous.

Dragallur

PS: All written above might be horribly wrong and that is exactly the point why I am writing it, we will see how long it will take me to learn something about genetic modification so I can bash down this post.

Can you find everything on the Internet?

Hi,
so over the last Sunday I have spent a LOT of time doing physics. This meant mainly analyzing the problem (which was the movement of rocket through the Solar System) and then ton of writing and rewriting but in particular researching on the internet. I had real trouble sometimes and spent countless minutes search information like “energy density of RP-1” which is a rocket propellant and how much energy you can get from it when you burn it.

This got me thinking about how the internet is spot where one can find basically anything but you should never forget that this makes it a huge dumpster.

Let me give you a very simple example that I can remember right now. Just type into Google “Sun”, I did this because I wanted to know the radius of Sun [1]. The first link will probably be www.thesun.co.uk that is British magazine as you might already know (and a bit controversial as you might find out when you click on the link). Of course, I did not want to know how some celebrity’s kid spilled soup so I clicked the second one (which was Wiki). What I simply wanted to illustrate is that internet will give you what you ask for, except that you do not know what you are really asking for. The most visited webpages are made for quick eyes, simply who sets the best clickbait gets to the top so it is going to be difficult to get some hardcore explanation of a given problem. This is partially the reason why I wanted (and luckily got) a textbook for astronomy. I realized that it is no longer an option for me to learn from the internet (as I knew it back then) and decided that I need solid source of information [2]. So yes, internet will quickly give you the video about biggest black holes but you won’t know why they are so big. After you type in the exact question you might at best get binary answer (this one is a trick, if I remember correctly we do not know how come supermassive black holes be so big). In short, internet does not go deep, just check out channels like SciShow for example. You need to spent way more time digging in this dump if you gonna find anything. It also helps to understand what you are looking for, because internet is not best in explaining.

Dragallur

[1]You would not believe how tricky it is to find if this is the same information as the radius of the surface of the Sun (and it is).

[2] It is possible of course, you just have to do way more work.

Rick and Morty

Hi,

It seems I am not the only one on the internet being “obsessed” by the series Rick and Morty. I am quite late to the party since the first series premiered in the end of 2013. I am half way through the 3rd and so far, last season.

The animated sitcom tells the story of a family with two parents (Beth and Jerry), two kids (Summer and Morty) and their grandfather Rick. The main characters are of course Rick and Morty and most of the time they are on some crazy adventure that sometimes makes fun of movies like The Purge or Inception or is based on some sci-fi concept like the idea that the world is purely simulated. There are surely many jokes that one will miss but I think everybody will always find something for themselves.

Why I find this much more interesting than Futurama or Simpsons (which could seem quite similar) is because of how clever it is. The whole series have this extremely important undertone of Rick being extremely nihilistic and cynic. One of my favorite themes is also how Morty is changing a bit and I love how in the first season Rick’s “experiment” goes wrong and he cannot revert it so after he kills basically everybody on Earth he takes Morty to another dimension where both died along the time where everything has gone wrong in their reality. They take their dead bodies and bury them on their garden while taking place of their dead selves. Few times after that Morty says that it is creepy to sleep just few meters next to his dead body.

Nevertheless, there is lot to look for when you watch it and I recommend trying out few episodes though I must say that it was only and only better through second and third season so do not get discouraged if every (just 20 minute) episode is not of your liking.

Dragallur

Peaceful dying out

Hi,
today I will write about the difficulties of calculating the amount of people on Earth and demographic revolution.


For this month’s physics problems that I want to solve, I need to know how much is the number of people in the world increasing. It is just a part of the problem but necessary for the solution. One can quite easily make some simple assumptions and derive an exponential formula that is for any type of reproducing species but does not account in “human” factors. Some of those would take an effect for a population of animals or plants too of course, simply because you do not have an infinite space and other resources. Just an exponential growth would work (I think) for bacteria for example because it is simple to have enough food for LOT of them and they won’t care when they are close to each other[1].

Humanity could be assumed to increase in size in similar fashion during sometimes of its history, for example around the Industrial Revolution when mortality rapidly decreased while natality stayed the same. This did not happen across the whole globe though meaning that in most of the world we were still stagnating. In 21st century the predictions are even worse, the reason is that people in Western world are dying out, meaning we do not have enough babies. The population still increases overall but its thanks to India, Niger or other countries still in the first parts of demographical revolution, that is a part human “evolution” following the decrease and final levelling of natality and mortality. You can read more about that on Wikipedia.

Northern-Western part of the world is dying out. It is probably because people have higher education, which takes longer time and during their career they have less and less time to have and up bring babies. It is fascinating that this effect takes place even in countries with strong religion background, like Poland. I do not find it very sad though, who would think that there could be peaceful dying out?

Dragallur

Disclaimer: I am not a sociologist.

[1] This is actually more complicated and in a sense factually false. There are four phases to the life of bacteria colony and only the second follows what I wrote originally. In the beginning when you put bacteria into some medium, meaning place with “food”, they will start to grow individually in size. This is called the lag phase and after that follows the log phase which is an actuall explosion in the number of bacteria. Here the numbers do grow exponentionally but after they do not have anymore nutrients or there is just too much waste around they will come into a stationary phase where the population is in balance. In the end you might have the death phase but when the onset starts depends on the medium, bacteria etc. The bacteria can reach the density of several billions of cells per millilitre. That is a lot and does take some time if you start with smaller numbers but this proces CAN NOT go on forever.

Generalized bacterial growth curve showing the phases in the growth of bacterial colonies.

Generalized curve for bacteria, note that y-axis is logarithmic

Source: https://www.britannica.com/science/bacteria/Growth-of-bacterial-populations
Picture: “bacteria: bacterial growth curve”. Illustration. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 31 Oct. 2017. <https://www.britannica.com/science/bacteria?oasmId=127577>