How societies keep their members from leaving

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!


[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

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:


Next hour:


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.



Why physics and not maths

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.


[1]Obviously a simplification.