Search This Blog

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bill Nye the LYING Guy

     Lately a lot of attention has been placed on the air pressure of footballs.   A subject that normally would bore the crap out of you is now suddenly the most interesting subject for sports and non-sport newscasters to discuss.   All of this because the Indianapolis Colts complained that a football used by the New England Patriots during their Jan 18th "smack down" (that's what you call it when one team beats the other by a score of 45-7), had low air pressure.   The referees were alerted and they brought the ball to the locker room and found it to be 2 psi (pounds/square-inch) lower than the acceptable minimum of 12.5 psi.    People, all over the media, demanded answers as to WHO let the air out of the balls during the game.  Countless talking-heads were brought to the airwaves to find out who measures the pressure, when do they measure it, how do they measure it,  who has access to the balls etc..    Everyone had an opinion on the matter and most pointed their fingers at Tom Brady given he would have the most to gain from doing this.

   But no one thought to blame the most obvious culprit: the cold weather.   Yes, the cold weather.  It does get cold in New England and Jan 18th was no different.  Temperatures started out in the mid 50's and by the end of the game were in the upper 30's.   Coach Belichick even tried to point this out in one of his interviews as a possible cause.

   To clarify this claim, ESPN brought in the TV personality: Bill Nye "The Science Guy".   First thing I must ask ESPN before I go on is this:  Are there no other ACTUAL scientists out there who you could pull in to your shows to answer this question?  After all, MIT is just a few miles from Foxboro.  Would it be too hard to drive over there and ask a physics or engineering professor to get their take on it or were they all too busy?  None the less, Bill Nye was their go to man on this subject and Bill decided to use some props to illustrate what air pressure and temperature do to inflated balls.  But Bill did not use actual footballs, instead he chose to use regular rubber playground balls.   In his illustration he showed that heating or cooling the balls would only change the SIZE of the balls and not the internal pressure.  He even went so far as to say "the ONLY thing to change the pressure in the balls is by inserting a ball needle and putting more air in or taking more air out".  Check out the video here

    But is that the COMPETE TRUTH?   

    Far from it...

    There is a basic equation that is used in the study of Thermodynamics he never discusses:

                   PV  =  nRT

     Where :
                  P  =  Pressure  (pounds per square inch)
                  V  = Volume  of the container
                  n   = # of gas molecules
                  R  = Thermodynamic constant
                  T  = Temperature (measured in kelvins)

     In the case of the balls used by Bill Nye, the rubber is stretchy enough to allow the volume of the
container (V) to increase.  When the ball is heated/cooled, the gas expands/contracts and pushes the walls of the ball out allowing the pressure to stay constant (unless at some point the rubber becomes harder to stretch).  But this is not the case of the football at all which is wrapped in a hard leather made of cows-hide that keeps the ball from expanding beyond its predetermined dimensions.  This means the variable V is actually a constant for a mostly inflated football. 

    So if we make V, n and R all constants (which means we don't add or subtract any air from the ball) we have the following relationship

               P =  kT     (where is k =  nR/V)

    Given this relationship,   as T goes UP .... so does P.   Likewise as T goes does P

    In fact, when the refs checked the pressure indoors (which is what they do) before the game and saw the balls had P = 12.5 psi at a room temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees kelvin) the balls pressure would drop to 10.5 psi  at a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (277 degrees kelvin). 

    This accounts for 100% of  the 2 pound drop in pressure

     Coach Bill was right and Bill Nye was wrong.

     So why would Bill Nye lie about this?  Certainly he knows this equation and how it works.  The answer to that question actually comes at the end of the interview when he mentions he is a Seattle Seahawks fan and says "Go Seahawk!".

     You are so pathetic Bill.  You often lambast Christians for putting their beliefs before their science, but you put something even more lame before your science.  You put your preference on a stupid football game.   You had an opportunity to tell the truth and set the record straight.  You had a chance to exonerate Tom Brady from any mischief on the playing field.   You were the "go to person" to explain a basic scientific principle to the masses but instead you chose a pathetic answer that would keep most Americans in the dark and forever brand a player as a cheater.

    Way to go Bill!   You have destroyed your reputation as a credible person of science for nothing.  

    Our problem in our country is not a lack of air in a football, but instead a complete and utter lack of basic science by those in our sports and also in our media and a lack of integrity of those in the media who the public looks to for answers.  It angers me to see a people rush to judgment without taking into account all the possibilities as to what could happened.  But for too many their motto seems to be:
                   SLANDER FIRST... ASK QUESTIONS LATER.   

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why I don't plan on seeing the movie Selma

      My Uncle Carl, who was a farmer, once said, "Cow manure doesn't stink until you rake it up!".   His simple proverb simply means that we should at some point allow things in the past to settle and that going over those mistakes does not help in the healing process.

      It is for this reason that I don't plan on seeing the movie Selma.   Yes, Selma was some bad white
"shit" and it should never ever be repeated again against any race; black, red, yellow or white.  But to me it's like a 16 year-old who steals the family car, gets drunk, totals the car and gets arrested.   Later he grows up and becomes a responsible adult but every year at Thanksgiving he has to listen to the same story about how much money and trouble he cost the family in that infamous accident.   Each year, more and more gory details are conjured up by family members.  At some point he will stop coming to the family dinners because he doesn't want to be treated like that irresponsible teen he once was but is no more.  Will he ever be allowed to live it down?  Will hearing the story over and over change what happened?  Will he feel more loving towards the family or become more hostile and angry?   I think the answer is pretty obvious to anyone reading this that it won't accomplish any of those goals.

    In the same way, does Selma offer any new insight?   Nothing that I am aware of.  I have seen the news real footage of black people being beaten and gassed at Selma.  It was horrible.  I know of the tremendous courage of Martin Luther King to stand up to those in power with the conviction of "Non-Violence".  It's all there and it's all true, but that doesn't mean I have to relive it or flog myself with a scourge until I paint the floor with my own blood either.   I feel no need execute any form of penance for things neither I nor my parents or grandparents did as my ancestors came well after the Civil War and lived no where near the South or had anything to do with the KKK.  What impact will Selma have on our current generation of black youths who will undoubtedly feel anger and hatred towards non-blacks?   Will it increase the violence we see today towards our police who are only doing their job to protect our communities?  Will it foster more new violence (only this time without good people like MLK to hold them back)?   

     Every nationality or race has been discriminated against at some point in our worlds history.  The Irish were treated horribly in the 19th century and given jobs too dangerous for a slave to do because they cost so much to own.  The Chinese were looked down upon and treated horrible during the building of the railroad.   My own people, the Germans,  during WWII were treated as spies and kept from speaking their own German language (the government even made it illegal to speak German in church) and many were incarcerated wrongfully.   Were they discriminated against?  Of course they were.  But do I as a 3rd generation American need to be cognoscente of it or have our government issue some grand apology for those actions?   Of course not!

    To me, movies like "Selma" or "12 Years a Slave" are like trying to drive down the highway while looking behind you instead of ahead of you.  Of course you will see where you've been but you won't be able to avoid the obstacles coming your way.   At some point you will have to stop looking over your shoulder and start looking ahead and say

 "What's done is done.  Tomorrow will be better".

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Freedom's Balloon

     Freedom is constantly under attack by those around us.  When you think about it freedom is a scary concept.  It requires you to surrender your need to be in control of me.   What will I do with my freedom?   That's for me to know and for you to find out.   Will I upset your little world?  Maybe.   Will my words change your long held views?  Maybe.   Will my words offend you?  Maybe.   Sadly, The ones who hate freedom the most are those we put in government to protect it.  It's almost a requirement of the job when you consider those who go into congress are there because they love to be in control and therefore they have little desire for freedom for those who put them.      
    Have you ever considered the workings of a balloon?  A balloon is pushed outward by the air pressure inside and pushed inward by the balloons rubber and external air pressure so also the pressure to expand freedoms boundaries is met with a hostile world afraid of that freedom.   Similarly when the pressure inside is reduced, the balloon does not keep its current shape.  Instead it retracts and gets smaller until someone is willing to exert the necessary force to push more air into it.   Sometimes this air escapes quickly when you let the opening open for a brief moment.  Sometimes it escapes very slowly as most rubber balloons will "leak" air through its porous membrane over a long period of time.

    Freedom is much like this balloon.   First of all, it doesn't inflate itself on its own.  Energy must be exerted by an external force to push air inside the balloon.  This internal air pressure is matched by increasing amounts of pressure exerted by the balloons material and by the external air pressure.  Freedom too takes energy to expand those freedoms.   Those who fear what those freedoms will do to them will undoubtedly push back with increasing amounts of hostility.   Of course some will "push the boundaries" further than we would like them to be pushed.   Take in point the artists of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, what published cartoons that made fun of Muslims and their so called prophet.   Those cartoons were meant to cause a rise in their opposition.   Some say they "took it too far", but in reality they merely pushed freedom's boundaries a little further and increased the room inside the balloon a little more for all of us whether we agree with them or not.   When we stop pushing freedom's boundary over time it will begin to shrink, because the pressure from those who oppose it will not relent.   Over time, freedom begins to "leak" as well and slowly vanishes from our midst.  This is actually the most dangerous mechanism for freedom to be lost as it happens so slowly that many don't even see it happening.  But thanks to those who do stand up from time to time and bring our attention to what is happening and are willing to sound the alarm so new air can be refreshed into its cavity and its volume increased again.

   Also it must be noted that when air is pushed in or let out, the balloon inflates and deflates evenly on all sides.   There is no way to just inflate the left or the right side, likewise there is no way to only deflate the left or right side.   When we call for bans on types of speech WE find offensive, we only hurt ourselves as the other side will find OUR speech to be offensive as well and we will be measured with the same stick we use on them.  I used to be in favor of the government stopping foul language on music albums and the like as a parent.  But now I see that I only favored such an approach because I didn't want to be the "bad guy" to my kids and restrict what they could purchase.   It's easier to call on the government to do the "dirty work" for you so you can say "It's not my fault son, the government is the one that is forcing them to do that!"    Our best bet is for all sides to call a truce in the war on speech because in this war the only winner is our government who takes away these freedoms from us. 

    Ronald Reagan once said,"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
   We should all say "Thanks" to the french cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo who did their part in pushing freedom's boundaries to make more room for all of our freedoms which we enjoy!