domingo, outubro 30, 2005

Unimportant Sub-Plots: "A Feast for Crows" by George R. R. Martin


(My own copy)


The thing that astonishes me, continually, is the fans who cannot see it and, in some cases, cannot even perceive that the quality has fallen off disastrously as he got mired in unimportant sub-plots. He reminds me of a story told by one my bosses I used to have a long time ago. This guy was head director. When I started working in that department I found none of the rest of the staff would speak to him because they had decided he was completely incompetent. He wasn't. He was good at certain things but not all the things he had to do (such as managing people) as head director. Work piled up and up and his desk was a vast pile of papers which stuff disappeared into. As the time went on things got worse and worse. He did almost nothing as far as running the Business Unit went. The rest of the staff organised it themselves, getting more and more pissed off with him as they did so, while he went off to conferences on Management and things like that. Things where he could play being head director but didn't actually have to do the work that needed doing. 

There's just no let up from those sorts of things Martin uses as plot devices. It's just bleak, dismal 'twist' after bleak, dismal 'twist' with no let-up or variation in tone. The book sometimes marginally works because in amongst the horrors there's humour, humanity and history (alliteration not intended). In the show it's just death, rape, death, death, rape, death. The people who adapted the show clearly just like the shocks and gore, and aren't really interested in anything else. My bet is that Jon Snow and the gang kill the night’s king but they get thrown back in time and become the last hero and his gang of Chums. They rig up a time machine and jump throughout history to fight evil and show off their nude parts.

sábado, outubro 29, 2005

E = hv: "God Created the Integers - The Mathematical Breakthroughs That Changed History" by Stephen Hawking


(Original Review, 2005)


Random thoughts while attempting to read the book (the edition is shitty: it's full of typos)


In EM theory, which is Lorentz invariant, there's a relation between the magnitudes of the E and B fields for light (not if you use Planck units. The magnitudes of c and h tell you nothing about physics, but a lot about biology. I don't claim that's original, BTW. I'm trying to recall who said it first, Monod or Schrödinger, E/B = c. That's quite a magnitude difference of the E over the B already. So if you could gradually increase c the structure of a light beam changes radically. But the reason for c is probably tied to quantum vacuum properties so you've got changes there too. In fact I would find it entirely reasonable not to expect invariance in E and/or B while the early universe was trying to sort out its equilibrium conditions during falling out of the gravitational, electromagnetic, weak forces just after the BB.

Why does light (1) have the same speed as gravitational waves (2)? Separate phenomena. The wave equation for 2 is a perfect wave equation with speed c from assuming a weak gravitational field. And that traces all the way back to observationally seeing c the same in all inertial frames for light. The last implies using an (x, ict) description for any motion, not an (x, t) one, i.e. x^2-c^2t^2 = constant. So space-time comes first, where the wave wobble 1 must go at c because of the way we must describe space-time from the previous sentence, and light cannot go faster than this wave at least. Maybe a bit like saying you can't have a faster (light) wave within the gravitational wave. But the assumption/observation of c constant at the very beginning of the model sets the scene for the rest. However, the wave equation for 2 is a weak gravitational field equation, so for strong fields what is the gravitational wave speed since the form of the equation changes? The same? (Answer at the bottom of the post*)

Then there's that light is a quantum thing, E = hv but also E = pc. Where's the gravity in the first equation? The second comes from relativity, so together a wave frequency (v) is connected to space-time via c ... v = pc/h.

While c in vacuum is conventionally regarded as isotopic and isotropic in Einsteinian relativity, it is not really required that it be isotemporal. The value of c was shown to be predictable, even in the 19th century, from first principles, using the permeability and permittivity of the vacuum. It is not at all unreasonable that those values were different, especially during the phase-transition marking the fractionation of the 'forces' in the embryonic space-time manifold. All Einstein's axiom requires is the constancy of c in all (more or less co-temporal) reference frames. It merely happens that that constancy seems to be temporally fixed. But then that may only be due to the fact that the extremely non-linear 'expansion' (whether by Guth's or Magueijo's reckoning of the concept) of the early cosmos vanished billions and billions of years ago.

Bottom-line: The fact that the E and B fields of matter so easily meddle with c should be a red flag. That the E and B values would instantly equilibrate to current values during the cosmos' early phase-change and the differentiation of the fields ought to be questioned.


NB: The editors of this book should burn in hell...


(*) They are the same as a requirement of the two fields' (electromagnetic and gravitational) massless exchange particles. Einstein's c-axiom can be restated as 'there exists a velocity that is measured as constant in all reference frames'. Photons, gravitons, and neutrinos conform to the (essentially) massless parameter and thus conform to this velocity.