Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dark Matter - Justin Khoury

Sabine Hossenfelder has an excellent piece up at Aeon re Justin Khoury's work in Dark Matter, here.

I have no comment on Dark Matter, other than we've known about it for over 70 years and have no proof of its existence, but experimentalists keep trying to find it and theoreticians keep trying to explain it.

My intuition is that once we can explain Dark Energy then the explanation for Dark Matter will naturally emerge, so DE is where I choose to put my efforts, for both.

IF America was Intelligent - The Ideal Choices for the 2016 Presidential Race

IF America was Intelligent - The Ideal Choices for the 2016 Presidential Race

For the Democratic Party, it would be Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as their ticket.

For the Republican Party, it would be John Kasich and Marco Rubio as their ticket.

This would provide the greatest intellectual discussion between August and November this year after their political conventions regarding America's future, IMO.

Obviously left out are Clinton, Cruz and Drumpf. Clinton was a criminal when she was First Lady of Arkansas, Cruz is too right-wing, and Drumpf's best use is as Secretary of Commerce, but his party disgusts most Americans so I would love to see Sanders/Warren for the win. I feel America would be best served if so. If not, Kasich.

Pictured: Drumpf, the 500-lb gorilla in the room.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Dark Energy 102 - The Future

The current issue of Scientific American has one of the best articles ever written about Dark Energy, by 2011 Nobel Prize Winner and Dark Energy co-discoverer Adam Reiss, and Mario Livio. 
Adam Riess in his John Hopkins office in 2008.
Image credit: Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Here is the link to their March 1, 2016 article, and I am sorry it is behind a paywall, but it's current and every local library should have a copy, as well as being on newsstands.

Riess and Livio do an excellent job of explaining the basics of Dark Energy in the first two thirds of the article, but the best is the last third which gives us hope, given the on-going and soon to be launched research projects, that we may have an answer to this enigma in as soon as a decade. Current experiments are discussed in detail.

Here are the four big experiments that Riess and Livio mention that will give us Dark Energy in a decade or so:

The Dark Energy Survey

The Large Synoptic Survey

The Wide-Field-Infrared Survey

ESA Euclid Mission

I will be adding links here over time as the future develops.

Dark Energy 101 - Past to Present

There are so many good ways to introduce the fascinating subject of Dark Energy, but just this past week we were treated to two (Adam Reiss' Sci Am article will be covered in a second post, Dark Energy 102)

For starters let's begin with Katherine Freese's excellent lecture at The Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. For excellent commentary, I strongly recommend reading Ethan Siegal's live blog of the event at "Starts with a Bang", here.

Since this is "101", we will be adding links in the weeks ahead, as more news develops about Dark energy' past. For the future, see Dark Energy 102.

Image credit: Perimeter Institute / @MaricaRosengard.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Mass Definition and Perihelion Classification of "Planet"

A Mass Definition and Perihelion Classification of "Planet" 
A Mass Definition and Perihelion Classification of "Planet" 
Steven Colyer
January 2016, The Somerset Institute for Advanced Logic

ABSTRACT: We define "planet" to be based on mass, per the geophysical definition of planetary scientists, not location as the IAU astrometers did in 2006, such that general relativity draws said mass into  the shape of a sphere  or near-sphere based on planetary scientists' description of hydrostatic equilibrium.
We classify (list, number) them in our particular solar system based on their closest approach to the sun (perihelion).
We use a three letter system.
The first letter ,being whether the planet is Stellar(S) (orbiting a star) or Rogue (R) (not),
The second whether it is Primary (P) or a satellite of a primary (S).
The third is (P) for Planet, although it could be (R) for rock (for example: Mars' Phobos; Saturn's Hyperion).
We choose the minimum mass cut-off as Mimas of Saturn. We have yet to find a smaller mass than Mimas that is spherical, sphere-like, or in hydrostatic equilibrium. Hyperion just misses.
The largest "planet" would be a Jovian approximately 13 times Jupiter's mass, which our Solar System lacks, heavier than which it would be considered a "brown dwarf".

The classification list through Makemake stands currently as:

SPP 1 Mercury
SPP 2 Venus
SSP 3 Luna of Earth
SPP 4 Earth
SPP 5 Mars
SPP 6 Pallas of Asteroid belt
SPP 7 Vesta of Asteroid belt
SPP 8 Ceres of Asteroid belt
SPP 9 Interamnia of Asteroid belt
SPP 10 Hygiea of Asteroid belt
SSP 11 Callisto of Jupiter
SSP 12 Ganymede of Jupiter
SSP 13 Europa of Jupiter
SSP 14 Io of Jupiter
SPP 15 Jupiter
SSP 16 Iapetus of Saturn
SSP 17 Titan of Saturn
SSP 18 Rhea of Saturn
SSP 19 Dione of Saturn
SSP 20 Tethys of Saturn
SSP 21 Enceladus of Saturn
SSP 21 Mimas of Saturn
SPP 23 Saturn
SSP 24 Oberon of Uranus
SSP 25 Titania of Uranus
SSP 26 Umbriel of Uranus
SSP 27 Ariel of Uranus
SSP 28 Miranda of Uranus
SPP 29 Uranus
SSP 30 Charon of Pluto
SPP 31 Pluto
SSP 32 Triton of Neptune
SSP 33 Proteus of Neptune
SPP 34 Neptune
SPP 35 Makemake

Special thanks to: Planetary Scientist Alan Stern, for his term: "satellite planet." This paper was written to incorporate his term in a greater context. Stern also coined the terms "clears the neighborhood" and "dwarf planet", which were misapplied from Stern's original meaning of the terms in 2006.

Interview With the Colyer

How strange but wonderful. I just had my first interview (subject: Pluto Re-Planetfication), and it humbles me. Thanks to "MB" (Michael Baumli) for the interview. We never forget our first time. ;-)

Pictured: nerdy me at age 10 with fake vampire teeth and my pet turtle, Augie (found him on Aug. 1, hence the name)

MB: Can you list your education and work experience?

SC: After 8 years of American public education in the 1960's and 4 years of Catholic high school in the early 70's, I got two college degrees. Rutgers Mechanical Engineering, BSME, and Rutgers Graduate School of Management, MBA. From age 22 to 32 I worked in the Oil Services Industry as an application engineer designing steam turbines, centrifugal gas compressors, and river water pumps. At 32 I quit the industry and focused on management and consulting. My specialty in engineering was thermodynamics and fluid dynamics; in management, marketing. I also minored in Organizational Psychology and Entrepreneurship in getting my MBA, which I got part-time at nights while working full-time. Most of my education was self-study, however. I love research and if a subject interests me, I study it. My first love was Space. I was born in late 1956 so of course I was all over the US and USSR astronaut and cosmonaut missions. Since my mother died in 2008 I began to study Theoretical Mathematical Physics, and began a popular blog titled "Multiplication by Infinity" in 2009. My chief interest there is phenomenological quantum gravity. In 2011 I joined Facebook and met more scientists and engineers in months than I had during my whole life. Incredible place. In 2013 I met Laurel Kornfeld, tireless advocate for Pluto's re-planetfication, who introduced me to the Astronomy Club at Sperry Observatory in Cranford, NJ, and she introduced me to Alan Stern at NEAF in 2014.

MB: Please tell me why you believe Pluto should be considered a planet over the dwarf planet status assigned by IAU?

SC: Got an hour? wink emoticon Because, it's a planet, and "planet" shouldn't be defined by its location. The people to talk to about planets are planetary scientists, not astronomers. At one time planetary science was a branch of astronomy, but has broken away from astronomy in the last 50 years, beginning with the Mariner 4 flyby of Mars, IMO. The I.A.U. is mainly astronomers. The oldest branch of astronomy is astrometry, the search and locating of night-sky objects. In fact astrometry is older than astronomy, it was used by astrologers and ships' navigators going back to antiquity. Brian Marsden was an astrometer, and Mike Brown is an astrometer, as was Neil deGrasse Tyson. Astrometers care about location. Planetary scientists care about the contents of the planet itself, location being but one parameter. A planet can orbit a star or be a rogue traveling between stars and galaxies. It can orbit another planet. But wherever it is, a planet is a planet, period.
The I.A.U. vote of 2006 was unfortunate, I wish they hadn't done that. They abused two different terms Alan Stern coined: "dwarf planet" and "clears its neighborhood". In Alan's scientific papers those terms have very different meanings. My research indicates the vote was engineered specifically by Marsden to demote Pluto from the list of planets. The vote itself made science in general look bad, as you can research by all the jokes that came out soon thereafter. My favorite was by Jay Leno: "Hey, did you hear that scientists have decided that Pluto isn't a planet anymore? That's right, and now they can't find it! Last we heard it was hanging out with Saturn ... looking for work!" Anyone can do the research I've done and I strongly suggest they start with the excellent and objective look at the planetary status issue that Alan Boyle presents in his book, "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference." And it has more Pluto emoticon

MB: Why is this so important to you?

SC: Because I hate injustice, and the 2006 vote was unjust. I also advocate fiercely for good science and the people who science (heh, "science" as a verb), good scientists. Especially basic research. The 2006 vote was bad science IMO and in the opinion of the vast majority of planetary scientists. Location should only matter in real estate and restaurants.

MB: Is there any reason that you consider this activity a patriotic duty? (Pluto was the first Planet discovered by Americans)

SC: Patriotic to whom? To truth? To my species? Yes, I have children and friends with children and I wish to see them survive. Good science and better and more basic research seems to be the best solution to me. Our species is approaching a point where if things don't change soon we may soon pass the tipping point of species survival. We may have already.
Patriotic to my country? Yeah, sure, I'm proud of our nation's accomplishments in Space, but I prefer to think of us all as astronauts/cosmonauts/taikonauts/vyomanauts whatever on a really big 13,000 km-wide spaceship with a ship's crew of 7 billion. As far as the IAU being an anti-American vote, I can't prove that but I think the circumstantial evidence leans in that direction. 2006 was the year of the fiercest fighting in the internationally unpopular Iraq War, New Horizons had launched six months earlier, and I don't think the IAU has ever forgiven the US Government for banning them from holding their conventions in the USA during the McCarthy era. The IAU is HQ'd in Paris, and for some reason the French seem jealous of Americans. I don't know why, we really appreciate that big statue they sent us. Merci, France!

MB: Is this in any way reflective of your other values in life?

SC: I guess. My primary goal is to leave the world a better place than when I entered it for my having been here. In Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting, our leaders told us to leave a campsite cleaner than how we found it. Mom was raised Puritan Congregationalist and Dad Catholic, and those values last a lifetime, or should. But primarily as I said I hate, loathe and despise injustice. We were raised on John Wayne and Audie Murphy films, and James Bond and Beatles and Batman and Superman in the 60's.

MB: Are there any other successes that you feel you have in your life?

SC: I married a good woman and raised our four kids, and any other accomplishment is secondary after that.

MB: How do you feel you inspire others around you?

SC: You'd have to ask them, lol. I value respect most of all, then friendship. I try to be a good friend and help where I can, and respect the opinions of those who disagree with me. They have rights, including the right to be wrong.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Welcome to Steve Colyer's new Blog ... Science as a Verb - Let's Science!

Welcome to Steve Colyer's new Blog ... Science as a Verb - Let's Science!

I had a previous blog, Multiplication by Infinity, which you can review if you care to at It was very general but reflected my interests from 2009-2010. I am on facebook as Steve Colyer here:

This new blog marks the end of my generalizing and snorkeling in Theoretical Mathematical Physics, as I have recently decided to go "all-in", to specialize and therefore scuba dive, in that part of Physics which interests me most ... Dark Energy.

Expect great advances in Dark Energy research in the coming decade! I'll be here to share advances and discuss with you.

I am also interested in Planetary Science, and well, too many other things. :-)

Pictured: My engagement photo with my fiancee and now my wife, Debbie Lee, in 1980. We were 23 and 22.