Most, if not all, accepted systems of measurement take time to be a fundamental quantity. Time, however, has been something difficult to define. Why do we take it to be a fundamental quantity? There is no reason why it must be done this way. If we order our physics on a somewhat different scheme, then some simple dimensional analysis makes time much easier to understand. Continue reading
We all know that oil and water do not mix. The reason they do not mix is that the water molecule is polar– it has a lopsided electrical charge– and the oil molecule is not. Polar molecules have a positively charged end and a negatively charged end, and they can form various bonds that exploit positive/ negative attraction. Water is a strongly polar molecule, which leads to its myriad exceptional physical properties. Water molecules self-organize according to polarity, creating surface tension, six-sided snowflakes, and a frozen form that is less dense than the liquid form. The strong polar forces in water are also able to tear apart molecules such as salt, which is why water can dissolve so many substances. Continue reading
The granite of Mt. Rushmore gives in to the forces of erosion at a rate of one inch every 10,000 years. In human terms, that amounts to no erosion at all; 10,000 years ago, our species was just discovering agriculture (
). Rock that hard could not have been easy to carve. Still, erode it does; Mt. Rushmore, like everything, is forever in a process of becoming something else.
In the rural areas just outside Bangkok, most folks keep one or more dogs. Dogs are useful in guarding property out here away from the protection of the city. On a walk yesterday through one of these rural areas, I accidentally wandered onto someone else’s land, and was confronted by her three snarling rotweilers. Out here, rotweilers have been known to kill their owners, never mind what they do to trespassers. Continue reading