Saturday, June 16, 2018

Patrons Only: Some Notes on Acts 3:1-13

I'm just finishing up my tenth week of Greek and commentary on Acts on my patreon site. My "patrons only" post for the week has a little on the Beautiful gate and some odds and ends of commentary note. Eleven minutes for my five patrons this week.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday Science: Hawking 8 (Universe Origins)

Friday reviews of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time so far.
Chapter 1: Heliocentric
Chapter 2: Spacetime
Chapter 3: Expansion of the Universe
Chapter 4: Uncertainty Principle
Chapter 5: Elementary Particles and the Forces of Nature
Chapter 6: Black Holes
Chapter 7: Black Holes Ain't So Black

Chapter 8: The Origin and Fate of the Universe
Here are some points of interest in this chapter:
  • Hawking presented a paper at the Vatican in 1981 apparently arguing that the universe was finite but had no boundary, meaning no beginning.
  • He recounts the path I've been trodding a lot lately. The universe started at a point, virtually infinitely hot. Then it cooled a little to where there were mostly electrons, photons, and neutrinos. About a hundred seconds protons and neutrons would start binding into deuterium and helium...
  • George Gamow suggested in 1948 that we should be able to detect background radiation from this beginning. This was discovered in 1965.
  • Then he builds to Alan Guth's idea of inflation. Why is the universe so uniform, but with significant fluctuations?
  • He mentions two versions of the anthropic principle. He does not like the strong one, although I find it hard to distinguish the two versions. What he calls the strong one basically argues that the universe is the way we see it because otherwise we would not be here. The weak one seems more to say that in a universe there is bound to be life developing somewhere.
  • He gets to Guth and inflation. In the hottest time of the universe, all the forces would have coalesced into a grand unification. Then gravity would separate out, then the strong force, then the weak force leaving the electromagnetic force working.
  • He shares a little about some papers in Moscow. He's reminiscing. Aww.
  • He ends the chapter with some suggestions toward a grand unified theory. This was in the late eighties so I'm not sure how helpful they are. Mainly, they have to do with imaginary time. I don't know enough to follow completely.
  • "If Euclidean space-time stretches back to infinite imaginary time... One could say, 'The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary' It would neither be created nor destroyed" (136).
  • Hawking suggests that the imaginary time may actually be the real time. He suggests that while this universe looks like it had a beginning and will have an end, maybe this is an illusion. 
  • Of course he ends the chapter asking then why we would need God.
  • He seems to look to a big crunch. He was wrong.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Wittgenstein 3: World War I and Teaching

I'm continuing to read Wittgenstein's biography. My first two posts are

1. Childhood and Engineer
2. Student at Cambridge

I'm not very motivated to summarize my reading in detail. I've read past chapters 6-9.

World War I changed Wittgenstein quite dramatically. Chiefly, it pulled him somewhat out of a pure interest in logic and into an appreciation of the mystical and the religious. When Bertrand Russell met him after the war, Russell wanted pretty much nothing to do with him thereafter.

Chapter 6: Behind the Lines
I'm getting ahead of myself. Wittgenstein joined the Austrian army, not for nationalistic reasons but because he thought the experience of facing death might improve him as a person. He requested to be placed on the front lines of the eastern front, a request that was eventually granted.

He was in contact by letter with his friends in England and elsewhere during the war. The family in Berlin, Frege, Pinsent. He discovered Tolstoy's Gospel in Brief. It more than anything became a source of hope and faith. Not too long hence he would wonder if he should become a monk. A close friend in this regard was someone who would end up in Hungary after Austria lost its empire, a man named Paul Engelmann,

In 1915, he had a first version of the Tractatus. At this point it was still focused on logic. It had the following elements:
  • Picture Theory of meaning
  • metaphysics of "logical atomism"
  • analysis of logic in terms of tautology and contradiction
  • the distinction between showing and telling
  • the method of using truth tables (to show whether a logical proposition is a tautology or contradiction)
Wittgenstein worked as an engineer for a time but then in March 1916 he received his wish to go the the front.

Chapter 7: At the Front
Wittgenstein wanted to look death in the eye without fear. "Only death gives life its meaning." "Fear in the face of death is the best sign of a false life."

It was during his time at the front that his work changed. It took on a more mystical quality. It became more Schopenhauerian. It became more ethical. "Logical form cannot be expressed within language." "Ethics must be a condition of the world, like logic." These things could be shown but not told.

There are things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are sub specie aeternitatis, "under the form of eternity."

Wittgenstein finished the Tractatus at his uncle Paul's house. His uncle found him distraught at a railway station. Wittgenstein's best friend Pinsent had died in a plane crash. it had the theory of logic he worked out in Norway, the picture theory of language he worked out at the beginning of the war, and the Schopenhauerian mysticism from the second half of the war.

It is reassuring to me that few people could understand the Tractatus. Frege couldn't. Russell couldn't hardly. This was of course discouraging to Wittgenstein who thought the things they needed explained couldn't be told, only shown. Meanwhile, Russell was in trouble for his anti-war efforts, even imprisoned a little. He had been let go from Trinity College, Cambridge.

Chapter 8: The Unprintable Truth
Wittgenstein couldn't find a publisher in Germany after the war. He would spend the end of the war in northern Italy and then as a prisoner of war for a while. When he returned to Vienna, he was one of the wealthiest men in Europe. Then he dispensed with it all, gave it all away.

He met with Russell at the Hague in 1920. Witt was horribly depressed throughout this whole season.

Chapter 9: An Entirely Rural Affair
Russell and his people worked to get it published. After rejection after rejection they finally found an English publisher in 1921. Russell was in China when another student found a publisher in Germany. The version was abysmal. No proofs were shown him.

Meanwhile, Witt became an elementary school teacher. He was a failure. He boxed the ears of students when they couldn't get things. He even caused one girl to bled. This was in several places in rural Austria for about three years. He did write a moderately successful book of vocabulary for children.

Russell met with Witt in Switzerland. They would never be friends again. Witt disagreed with Russell divorcing his wife to marry his six month's pregnant mistress. He had become a mystic. Russell had gone on to publish his same old stuff that annoyed Witt. Russell had become a champion of democracy and Witt did not think people could rule themselves.

For a brief time a bright young student at Cambridge named Frank Ramsey had interaction with Witt about his work. As usual, it would eventually sour.

The chapter ends in 1926, with both of my parents alive. :-)

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Friday Science: Just Six Numbers (book review)

I have pretty much finished Hawking, but will post the rest of his book next Friday, dv.

1. I took my son to Clinton, Iowa Tuesday for him to meet in person some online friends of his that have played video games together for about six years. (Interesting development in this new world, where you go to meet some of your best friends for the first time after years of playing together. I have a nephew that first met a friend in person for the first time this spring... as best man in his wedding.) So while I was sitting in a hotel room, Starbucks, parking lots, etc, I finally read/skimmed Martin Rees' Just Six Numbers.

In the last few decades, a strong argument for the existence of God has emerged called the "fine tuning" argument. It falls under the category of an argument for design. There are a number of ratios and constants in the universe that are necessary for us to be here. An atheist at this point invokes the anthropic principle--we wouldn't be here to discuss them if there weren't. So if there are universes in the "multiverse" that do not have these precise ratios, there is no one there to talk about them. In other words, we are just the lucky ones.

By contrast, the theist says, "We are fearfully and wonderfully made." "Oh the depth of the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of God!"

Rees' book is about these constants. I am now working on my third Gabriel novel. This one is called Gabriel's Diary: The Creation. It is going to be truly spectacular and probably a bit controversial. I am hypothesizing what creation might look like from a Christian point of view that engages with contemporary science. I'm not saying it's right. But it will be a book for people who are convinced about the science but not so convinced about God. The first three chapters will embody the fine tuning argument and engage my feeble apprehension of modern cosmology.

2. Here is a summary of my take-aways from Rees' book. I have put them in the order that is most helpful for my writing. Fine tuning arguments are in bold.

Chapter 1: The Cosmos and the Microworld
  • Rees goes with the anthropic principle and the multiverse model: "An infinity of other universes may well exist where the numbers are different. Most would be stillborn or sterile. We could only have emerged (and therefore we naturally now find ourselves) in a universe with the 'right' combination" (4).
  • He uses an "ouraborus" to picture the scale of the universe. The breadth of size is 1060. The smallest size imaginable is about 10-33 cm. The universe is about 1028 cm across. (These are my numbers, not his.)
Chapter 3: The Large Number N: Gravity in the Cosmos
  • He calls the constant discussed in this chapter, N. I've never heard of it but he is referring to the ratio between the electromagnetic force and the force of gravity. It turns out that the electromagnetic force is about 1036 times more powerful. 
  • Gravity is always attractive, while electromagnetic forces can be either attractive or repulsive. So with large objects, gravity accumulates a large attractive force, while the electromagnetic forces more or less even out.
  • There is an inverse square law that applies to these two forces. The force weakens as the square of the distance increases. More on the significance of this fine tuning in chapter 10.
  • Gravity makes objects as big as the Moon and larger spherical.
  • If the ratio were less, everything would be smaller--smaller stars, smaller planets, potentially smaller life. Galaxies would form quickly and would be miniaturized. They would be more densely packed.
  • Stellar lifetimes would be much shorter, which according to Rees would not have given enough time for complex life to evolve. 
  • A weaker gravity might have allowed more elaborate and longer-lived structures to develop, but a stronger gravity would not have allowed enough time for humanity to emerge.
  • A little on Einstein - the speed of light is the speed limit of the universe. Near large masses time slows down relative to elsewhere.
  • Millions of black holes in our galaxy, the remnants of large stars that have already burnt out. Slightly smaller stars become neutron stars. Our Sun will become a white dwarf when it burns out.
  • Some explanations of black holes, event horizons, etc., atomic sized black holes.
Chapter 10: Three Dimensions (And More)
  • The number he discusses in this chapter is 3, three-dimensions of space.
  • In a three dimensional world, forces like gravity and the electromagnetic force obey an inverse-square law mentioned above.
  • William Paley used the inverse square law as part of his argument from design. If it were an inverse cube law, there could be no orbiting of planets or electrons around a nucleus.
  • There is an asymmetry of the arrow of time. "No such asymmetry is built into the basic laws governing the microworld" (153). The asymmetry is linked to the expansion of the universe. [Hawking calls this the cosmological arrow. Entropy is another basis for the arrow, which Hawking calls the thermodynamic arrow.]
  • The expansion of the universe was fast enough to end nuclear reactions before they could convert more than 23% of the hydrogen into helium. This left fuel for suns.
  • There was just the right asymmetry in the earliest phase to leave a slight excess of matter over antimatter. Otherwise, nothing but energy would be here.
  • He also talks a little about Planck units. The smallest length is 1019 times smaller than a proton, 10-35 the length of a meter. The smallest unit of Planck time is 10-43 seconds. Space and time are arguably granular, not continuous. Take that, Zeno.
  • He mentions superstrings. I believe this approach is increasingly discredited.
Chapter 9: Our Cosmic Habitat III: What Lies Beyond Our Horizon?
  • Helium was formed at about the three minute threshold.
  • grand-unified (all forces united) to quarks (strong from electroweak) to leptons (electro from weak)
  • magnetic monopoles?
Chapter 8: Primordial Ripples: The Number Q
  • Q is the ratio between the rest mass energy of matter and the force of gravity. It is 1 to 100,000. 
  • It has to do with the "roughness" of space, the "ripple amplitude" of the gravitational waves of cosmic inflation.
  • It has to do with the energy that would be needed to break apart galaxies.
  • The slight asymmetry of the universe seems to relate in some way, enabling things to form structures.
  • If Q were smaller, galaxies wouldn't form. If Q were larger, galaxies would crunch much sooner and the universe would be a rougher place.
Chapter 6: The Fine-Tuned Expansion: Dark Matter and Ω
  • What Rees calls Ω is the ratio between the force of universe expansion and the force of gravity. This ratio determines whether the universe will expand forever, expand steadily, or eventually contract again. These correspond to whether the ratio is less than 1, exactly 1, or greater than one.
  • Because of gravity, if there were five atoms for every cubic meter in the universe, it would contract one day. As it is, there only seems to be 0.2 atoms per cubic meter, at least as far as ordinary matter is concerned.
  • All the indications are thus that this number is less than 1. But it is likely that there is "dark matter" out there, stuff we can't see. It is thought that about 26.8% of the universe is dark matter.
  • Candidates for dark matter include brown dwarfs (suns less than 8% of our sun's mass), neutrinos, black holes, "axions," but more likely something we don't yet know about.
  • At about one second after creation, Ω could not have differed from 1 by 1 in 1015. If the expansion force were greater, there would have been no time for stars and galaxies to develop. If the mass were greater, the universe would have collapsed too soon for life as we know it to develop.
    • Another fine-tuned factor is the slight asymmetry between matter and antimatter. If there were perfect symmetry in the early universe, they both would have emerged in equal amounts and completely annihilated. But there must have been a slight asymmetry.
    • There are different suggestions for the asymmetry. Rees suggests the K° decay, associated with the weak nuclear force, may be the reason. What if, for every billion quarks and antiquarks generated in the earliest universe, one extra quark were produced?
    Chapter 7: The Number Λ: Is Cosmic Expansion Slowing or Speeding
    • As far as I can tell, Λ doesn't contribute much more than the discussion of omega in the previous chapter. 
    • Einstein added Λ to his general relativity equations with the hope of a universe that wasn't expanding. He regretted that when Hubble showed it was. But there does seem to be an unknown force that is affecting comic expansion. This was apparently confirmed in 1998.
    • It is relatively small, about 0.7. It is a force driving expansion.
    • [It seems to relate to what scientists now are calling "dark energy."]
    Chapter 5: Our Cosmic Habitat II: Beyond Our Galaxy
    • Galaxies are the building blocks of the universe. Stars and their solar systems collect together to form galaxies. Galaxies often have huge black holes at their centers. Galaxies cluster (our cluster is the "Local Group").
    • Galaxies crash into each other. The kind of galaxy known as elliptical galaxies may be the result of galaxies that have crashed into each other. [Hawking had a different thought here in the 80s.]
    • There are bigger aggregates like the "Great Wall."
    • At every point we look in space, everything is speeding away from us, often faster than the speed of light, which suggests that space itself is expanding, since nothing can move faster than the speed of light in its own reference frame.
    • The expansion of space has been well established in the last fifty years. [When Hawking wrote, he hoped it might crunch again but we seem rather headed for a cosmic rip from accelerating expansion.]
    • Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) discovered in 1965 points to a Big Bang. Together, the fact that the universe had a beginning coupled with the fact that it won't re-compress fits well with the notion of creation.
    • CMB comes not from the creation itself but from some 380,000 years after the beginning (13.8 billion years ago) when the universe cooled down enough for electrons and protons to form neutral atoms, releasing a massive amount of energy in photons.
    Chapter 4: Stars, the Periodic Table and ɛ
    • A third number is ɛ, which I've never heard called that, but which is the percentage of mass released as energy when hydrogen is fused into helium. 0.007 or 0.7%
    • This has to do with the strength of the strong nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons together in a nucleus. This force is the strongest of all the forces but it only works within the space of a nucleus. It is thus just strong enough to hold a nucleus together without interfering with the electromagnetic forces that are essential for the overall working of an atom or the weak nuclear force that comes into play with large atoms with atomic numbers over about 50.
    • Helium is fused in two stages. First, a proton and a neutron fuse together to form deuterium (heavy hydrogen). Then two deuterium atoms fuse together into helium. 
    • If the percentage converted to energy were any more, no hydrogen would have survived the big bang. It would have all become helium or heavier, leaving no fuel for stars. If it had been less, no helium would have formed and the universe would just consist of hydrogen.
    • Carbon only forms from a helium and beryllium nucleus because the carbon nucleus has a resonance with a very specific energy that can fuse just before primitive beryllium decays. Without carbon, life as we know it would not exist.
    • The Earth is thought to be about 4.5 billion years old. The universe about 13.8 billion.
    • When a star's hydrogen has all been converted to helium, the core pulls inwards. Prior to that time, the energy from the fusion pushed back against the gravity of the mass.
    • When it contracts, it heats up more and heavier nuclei are formed. Iron is the most tightly bound nucleus. When it gets to a critical size, it implodes to a neutron star and supernovas the overlying material. In this material are the trace elements of heavier elements.
    Chapter 2: Our Cosmic Habitat I: Planets, Stars and Life
    • Stars start as warm blobs ("protostars"). They contract over millions of years under their own gravity. 
    • Any slight spin is amplified under a collapse, like a skater pulling in arms. The resulting disks are the precursors of planetary systems. (14)
    • Small wobbles in the orbits of stars may indicate planets. Christiaan Huygens in 1698 suggested every star might have planets around them. These are now considered certain.
    • A "barycenter" is the center of mass of an orbiting pair like the sun and Jupiter.
    • The early history of a solar system is filled with crashes. (A huge crash 65 million years ago (crater underwater in Gulf of Mexico near Chicxulub is thought to have killed the dinosaurs.) This event paved the way for mammalian life to emerge as winners.
    • The Moon is thought to have been formed from the earth by a collision with another protoplanet. Uranus' weird axis spin also explained by such collisions.
    • For life to exist on a planet like Earth, gravity must pull strongly enough to prevent the atmosphere from evaporating into space but it can't really be any stronger than Jupiter (cf. 32).
    • For water to exist on the surface, planets must be neither too hot or too cold.
    • The orbit must be stable, not crossed by a Jupiter-like planet in an eccentric orbit.
    • The oxygen of our environment is thought to come from primitive bacteria early in earth's history.
    • Cf. p32. Gravity makes objects Moon sized and larger spherical.
    Chapter 11: Coincidence, Providence - Or Multiverse
    • Rees goes with the multiverse theory. It is a logical option for someone who doesn't believe in God as creator. It doesn't preclude God, although it might push creation back further. It seems more philosophical in some ways rather than scientific per se.
    • He suggests that the values of these constants might be difference in other universes.

    Patrons only: Baptism in the Holy Spirit

    This week's post for patrons is up on my Patreon site. Here's what you're missing :-)

    It's a 24 minute inductive exploration of the Spirit-fillings-baptisms-receivings in Acts.

    The way my Patreon site works is:

    • Most posts are free. Each Sunday, I post an overview of the verses for the week. For example, tomorrow I will post for free an overview of Acts 3:1-13.
    • Then on weekdays, I post a free video going through the Greek of these verses, usually two verses a day.
    • Then on Saturday, there is the "patrons only" post. These are for those who are donating at least 5 dollars a month. I go a little more scholarly, controversial, or in depth. It really can be whatever my patrons want me to post on. I have almost daily conversations with some patrons on various items of interest.

    Monday, June 04, 2018

    Wittgenstein 2: Student at Cambridge

    Hard to believe that I am still on schedule to finish Ray Monk's biography on Wittgenstein by the end of the month. My first post is here.

    Chapters 2-5 cover the days when Wittgenstein was in England and Norway.
    • In chapter 2 he is in Manchester, still studying aeronautics. He attends some mathematics lectures in 1908.
    • Here is a decisive point. A fellow student introduces him to Bertrand Russell's The Principles of Mathematics (1903). Russell's ten year project's goal was to reduce mathematics to a few fundamental principles.
    • Ten years earlier Gottlob Frege had published something similar: Grundgestze der Arithmetik. Just before his second volume, Russell indicated to Frege a fundamental contradiction in his work.
    • These problems piqued Wittgenstein's interest--a first.
    • Chapter 3 is called "Russell's Protege." In 1911 Wittgenstein visited Frege with some of his thoughts. Frege "wiped the floor" with him. But Frege thought enough of him to introduce him to Russell. 
    • Russell needed a protege. He was going popular in his writing (which Wittgenstein would soon eschew). Wittgenstein was supposed to go back to Manchester but went to Cambridge instead 1911. This shift saved Wittgenstein's life for he felt like if he couldn't do something spectacular, he shouldn't live.
    • At first (and intermittently later), Wittgenstein was very annoying. They once had an argument late at night over whether there was a rhinoceros in the room. This anticipated Wittgenstein's first principle in the Tractatus: "The world is the totality of facts, not things."
    • Wittgenstein came to believe you should be completely blunt. He hated English politeness, saw it as dishonest. 
    • Russell came to see Wittgenstein as his successor in logic. For a short time he also had conversation with G. E. Moore. Perhaps his best friend was Pinsent.
    • Chapter 4 is called "Russell's Master." From the fall of 1912 on, Russell soon began to get paralyzed if Wittgenstein criticized his ideas. They would eventually not talk about their work to each other by 1913.
    • Wittgenstein became part of an elite group at Cambridge called "The Apostles." Apparently there was a lot of homosexual intrigue as part of this group. Wittgenstein of course did not really believe in sexual expression.
    • Wittgenstein was looking for atomic propositions in logic.
    • In January 1913, Wittgenstein's father finally died of cancer. 
    • Wittgenstein became convinced that he was going to die. Russell promised to publish his work if he should die.
    • Chapter 5 is called Norway. Wittgenstein determines that people are distracting him. He spends a year in Norway thinking and writing. 
    • Notes on Logic are noted taken by Russell on W's thoughts, first philosophical work, just before he left.
    • Wittgenstein wanted Moore to come to write down his thoughts (he had broken with Russell). Moore finally comes in spring of 1914 for two weeks, writes down Logik. A key distinction is between showing and telling.
    • Wittgenstein wants it to count as his BA thesis. But it is not in the right form and lacks a preface. W writes a vicious letter to Moore, who never again corresponds with him.

    Saturday, June 02, 2018

    Patrons only: Hermeneutics of Psalm 16 and 110

    My weekly "patrons only" post is up on Patreon. 19 minutes discussing Luke/Peter's use of Psalm 16 and 110:1 in Acts 2: 25-35.


    Friday, June 01, 2018

    Friday Science: Hawking 7 (Black Holes Evaporating)

    Friday reviews of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time so far.
    Chapter 1: Heliocentric
    Chapter 2: Spacetime
    Chapter 3: Expansion of the Universe
    Chapter 4: Uncertainty Principle
    Chapter 5: Elementary Particles and the Forces of Nature
    Chapter 6: Black Holes

    Chapter 7: Black Holes Ain't So Black
    Here we get quite a bit of Stephen Hawking's distinctive work. Some points of interest:
    • Black holes are defined as the set of events from which it is not possible to escape, which basically begins the black hole at the event horizon.
    • The paths of light at the event horizon must be parallel to each other but never meet. That also means a black hole can never decrease in area.
    • This non-decreasing property is similar to entropy. Jacob Bekenstein in fact suggested that the area of the event horizon was a measure of the entropy of the black hole.
    • Entropy has to do with the second law of thermodynamics. The entropy of an isolated system always increases. That is, disorder increases.
    • If a black hole has entropy, it should have a temperature and it ought to emit radiation. But a black hole can't omit anything.
    • So space isn't really empty. Particles and antiparticles emerge and annihilate. Near the edge of the event horizon, some get separated before they annihilated and go into the black hole. This gives the appearance of a black hole emitting a particle. 
    • Meanwhile, a flow of negative energy into the black hole would reduce its mass. The universe is too young, but this process could eventually disintegrate a black hole into nothing.
    • There may be some primordial black holes (very small). Some of them might be disintegrating about now. Some scientists are looking for final bursts of their disappearance.


    Monday, May 28, 2018

    Memorial Day 2018

    My Dad in Paris, 1945ish
    I believe we should honor the memories of those who serve and sacrifice to defend their people. I am an American. My father served in World War 2. My great-grandfather served in the Civil War. I had a great, great, great, great, great grandfather who served in the Revolutionary War.

    Yet there are always bad actors, and there are wars where your country is in the wrong. War is always the result of sin, and it seems inevitable that, on the level of the individual, wrongs will be done by individuals on all sides. Nevertheless, I accept the exigence to fight against aggressors and especially to fight in self-defense. And I accept that the common person is often pressed into service because of the sinfulness of the powerful.

    I believe World War II was a just war, one brought on by the aggression of a thoroughly sinful man. The Iraq War seems less justified, even if well-intended. I also accept the dictum, "If you wish peace, prepare for war." It is the paradox of a fallen world. Yet war should always be entered reluctantly, as a course of last resort. As the Catholic Catechism says, "all other means of putting an end to it [the aggressor] must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective."

    In the end, the Christian must avoid rubber stamping any war, as well as the deification of the soldier or the nation. I was glad to see that Mike Pence modified a tweet yesterday that initially said that "Other than the service of those who wear the uniform of the United States especially our cherished fallen, the ministries that you lead and the prayers that you pray are the greatest consequence in the life of the nation."

    God is always first, not nation. When we cannot tell the difference, we have become idolaters. In fact, it is then that we do a disservice to our nation because it is then no longer "one nation under God."

    Saturday, May 26, 2018

    Wittgenstein 1: Laboratory for Self-Instruction

    I've returned for the next month or so to Ray Monk's biography of Wittgenstein. Finished chapter 1 this morning. Man, what a depressing place Vienna must have been at the beginning of the twentieth century.
    • Two of Wittgenstein's brothers committed suicide.
    • Anguish over sexuality seems pretty widespread too. A racist, misogynist man named Weininger shot himself in the house where Beethoven died--he hated himself as a Jew and homosexual. Hitler called him the only good Jew who realized he must kill himself.
    • Weininger's views only became significant because of his death--a bunch of junk.
    • They all seemed to live under the shadow of earlier genius. They saw themselves as inferior, deteriorated.
    • Wittgenstein overlapped with Hitler at Linz for a year (1904-05). No indication of a connection. Wittgenstein was there from 1903-1906. There Hitler had Leopold Poetsch as a teacher, who taught pan-German, folk ideology, in contrast to the degenerated Hapsburg dynasty.
    • He pursued engineering type things to please his father. He pretended to be interested in things he wasn't interested in because of his father's desires. Very wealthy family, Jewish in background, though they converted to Christianity earlier.
    • Wittgenstein couldn't bring himself to believe in Christianity.
    • Schopenhauer influenced him. Weininger's view on men influenced him. Hertz and Boltzmann were Kantian, which influenced him.
    • Boltzmann committed suicide in Vienna in 1906, thinking himself inferior.
    • Wittgenstein went then from Linz to Berlin (he might otherwise have studied with Boltzmann). Continued technical training. In 1908, he went to Manchester to continue...

    Patrons only: Tongues

    I've done my weekly, "patrons only" post for the week on Patreon. This week I talk about tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 and Acts 2.

    I've been posting Greek analysis verse by verse on YouTube for free each day, but on Saturdays, I have been doing a post just for patrons. Patrons only topics have included ex nihilo creation, ways Christians are currently contributing to America's truth crisis, and several scholarly discussions of passages in Acts 1.


    Friday, May 25, 2018

    Friday Science: Hawking 6 (Black Holes)

    Friday reviews of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time so far.
    Chapter 1: Heliocentric
    Chapter 2: Spacetime
    Chapter 3: Expansion of the Universe
    Chapter 4: Uncertainty Principle
    Chapter 5: Elementary Particles and the Forces of Nature

    Chapter 6: Black Holes
    I hate it when I don't finish things. I'm about half way through Hawking's book but got sidetracked by the end of the semester.
    • "Black hole" is a term coined by John Wheeler in 1969.
    • The concept goes back even further. In 1783 John Mitchell suggested a sufficiently massive and compact star would not allow light to escape its gravitational pull.
    • The Marquis de Laplace suggested the same thing just a few years later.
    • In 1928 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, on a boat to Cambridge to study with Sir Arthur Eddington, calculated how big a star could get after burning out.
    • The principle here is the balance between the Pauli exclusion principle and the fact that nothing can move faster than the speed of light. When a star gets sufficiently dense, the repulsion of the exclusion principle becomes less than the gravitational attraction and the cold star would collapse in on itself.
    • A cold star about 1.5 times the size of our sun would do so, a mass now known as the Chandrasekhar limit. (Lev Davidovich Landau came to similar conclusion about about the same time.)
    • Stars less than the limit become white dwarfs, with a radius of a few thousand miles.
    • Slightly more massive neutron stars can be supported by the exclusion repulsion between neutrons and protons. Radius of about 10 miles. 
    • A pulsar is a special kind of neutron star that emits regular pulses of radio waves. Pulsars were discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell at Cambridge.
    • Above the Chandrasekhar limit, might such stars reduce to a singularity, a point. Chandresekhar faced strong opposition to the idea from people like Eddington and Einstein. 
    • Oppenheimer before WW2 did some work on this in relation to light. At a boundary known as the event horizon, light cannot escape the black hole.
    • "God abhors a naked singularity." In cosmic censorship, we can't see what goes on inside a black hole (Penrose).
    • Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking did a lot of work on black holes between 1965-1970, which are a little like space before the Big Bang. 
    • Some solutions to the general relativity equations suggest wormholes through black holes to the other side of the universe or perhaps even passage back in time. But a human probably wouldn't survive.
    • In 1967, Werner Israel, some non-rotating black holes end up spherical (a solution Karl Schwarzchild suggested in 1917). Penrose and Hawking showed that all non-rotating stars collapsing into a black hole end up spherical.
    • In 1963 Roy Kerr postulated Kerr black holes, rotating black holes that end up in various shapes.
    • "A black hole has no hair." Their final shape depends only on mass and rate of rotation, not on the shape the star had before collapse. As they collapse, they give off gravitational waves until they settle down.
    • Black holes are detected by the gravitational pull they have on other visible stars under certain conditions (e.g., the emission of massive amounts of energy from the nearby star). Cygnus X-1 is a system that seems to have such a black hole. There's probably one at the center of our galaxy as well.
    • Quasars are systems that emit enormous amounts of energy and may have massive black holes at their center.
    • There could be some primordial black holes out there, formed in the early universe, smaller than our sun.
    • Hawking discovered that black holes glow like a hot body. See next chapter.

    Thursday, May 24, 2018

    Summer 2018 Goals

    I have a certain personality type. I love setting goals. In fact, once I've set them, I am often so satisfied that I never do another thing on them. :-) Actually, I think I accomplish a lot. I just have so many goals that it doesn't feel that way.

    So the spring semester is over. May term is over. I am an administrator, so there will be things to do. But the summer will be nothing like the year. I've been formulating goals. So let me write it down.

    Patreon
    Writing
    1. How to Read the Bible: Scripture as History and Sacrament (Monday)
    I continued working on my IBS textbook over May term. Tedious work, though. Here's a schedule to aim for:
    • May - finish editing Observing the Details, The Meaning of Words, and Surveying the Big Picture 
    • June - finish Situations in History and Social and Historical Contexts
    • July - write Old Testament Genres and Issues, New Testament Genres and Issues
    • August - write Integrating Biblical Texts and Appropriating Biblical Texts
    • September - finish book
    2. Gabriel's Diary: The Creation (Tuesday, Sunday)
    • May - chapters 1-2
    • June - chapters 3-7
    3. Cave City (Wednesday, Saturday)
    • proposal submitted by end of May
    • a chapter a week to finish by end of December
    Reading
    • Finish Hawking on Fridays, then finish Susskind 
    • June - Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (daily)
    • July-August - Wright's Paul: A Biography (daily)
    Self-Study
    • Coding (Thursdays)
    Summer Science
    • normal plodding in reading and videos (daily)
    • physics with S (every other day)
    • Schroedinger's Equation (Friday's)

    Monday, May 21, 2018

    Patreon post: Ex nihilo creation

    I had been planning to self-publish the next Gabriel novel on the creation, but wondered if it might actually work with a real publisher. I may do some patron's only videos as seeds for chapters. Did the first yesterday. My patreon site is here: http://patreon.com/kenschenck


    Tuesday, May 15, 2018

    Never-ending Longfellow

    These words were penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas day, a month after his son was severely injured in the Civil War, 1863.

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
    and wild and sweet
    The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
    ...

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
    "For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men."

    Saturday, May 12, 2018

    Casting Lots on Patreon

    Did my "patrons only" post for the week, looking very briefly at the raw word for "enrolled" in Acts 1:26 in relation to casting lots. I also looked at Psalm 109:6 and the different interpretations the NRSV and the NIV have of the verse.

    Here's my patreon site: Ken Schenck on Patreon