Mental anguish

We live in a unique time; both the growth of information and the ability to access that information is also increasing at an exponential rate.

Our almost instant global communications network is enough to impress anyone. But can all the knowledge it contains be a bad thing?

More content has been generated in the last few decades than during the whole of human history!

This vast amount of accessible knowledge overwhelms even the most capable person. All the bad news we receive looms subconsciously in our minds, while we try and forget.

We must make more and more daily choices than ever before. For a start, think of all the options on all your personal electronic devices. Customisable features such as screen savers, ring tones, fonts & sizes, printer & graphics settings, software programs. The list is endless.

Which e-mails to delete? Why? What to buy and sell. Where? Who should I meet? When? What information should I try do I avoid, and what information should I attempt to seek out? How do I do that?

And ultimately: What choices do I choose to make? What do I do with my life now?

[Read more…]

The Navier—Stokes problem and the three atom universe.

What is the ocean, but a multitude of drops?

Okay, I previously studied materials science (which is a cross between engineering, chemistry, physics and maths). Maths was never my strong point. It’s nice to see people speaking english here. I am hopeless at maths. Really hopeless. I am more of a visual/graphical person.

I am having trouble even VISUALISING the problem here. Can someone show me *what the problem is* in a more GRAPHICAL format than showing equations?

Are you asking for a mathematical solution so you can predict where laminar to turbulent flow will occur in any theoretical system? Or are you asking what causes turbulence, where does it originate from?

If you are trying to understand and model where turbulence comes from in the real world, then I think you need to understand the real world at both large and small scales. Turbulence happens at all scales, from gases to galaxies, so it is a universal constant. So I’ll try to explain it like this:

On large scales, interactions between one atom and quintillions of millions of other atoms do not matter (I wouldn’t say ‘nothing’ but not very much anyway). Why not? I think that should be obvious, but it’s because minor fluctiations in an atoms’ position do not change bulk properties very much. It’s like adding a drop of liquid to a cubic metre of water, no big relative change. Well okay, “a drop in the ocean” has even become a common expression in the English language.

And what is the difference between large and small scales except just looking ever-closer at your X, Y and Z coordinates?

If the entire universe consisted of just one atom, the universe would be easy to predict. This one atom would just sit there, possibly vibrating and rotating around itself… and life would be pretty boring.

Now, if there were two atoms in the entire universe, they would probably orbit around eachother in a very predictable, ‘linear’ way. By ‘linear’ I mean “not progressive”; of course the atoms would move in circular orbits around each other. Or they would simply collide into one another leading to something I would called “the little crunch”. It would all be very easy to model. The point is, still nothing much would change with time. Even though in motion, it would be a fairly ‘static’ rather than a ‘dynamic’ system

However. If the entire universe consisted of only three atoms, nothing else. Things get very complicated, very quickly. Because, first of all, there exists in physics something known as the “n body problem“. Given three initial starting vectors, apparently it’s very difficult to predict the exact position and momentum where three measly atoms will end up.

Why is this so? Firstly, all of the atoms are attracted to one another because of Van der Waals forces. Also, each atom technically imparts an infinitesimally small gravitational pull on the other two. And any time gravity is involved, well, Newtonian mathematics doesn’t work too well. But there are magnetic forces from the nuclei as well. And when all of those forces are acting upon each other in three dimensions, it gets tricky. Because of the inverse-square law, the forces that interact for each of the atoms upon on the other two will be different at each point in time and space  (based on their proximity).

So on smaller physical scales, however, we know that a drop of water contains roughly 10^21 molecules. And those molecules are vibrating all over the place. They have all sorts of vibrational modes. They rotate. They spin. They vibrate at different frequencies. Nothing at all stays still. If it did, matter would soon annihilate itself. The electrons do not just orbit the nucleus in a circular fashion, but in complex dumbell shapes. The orbitals will even be different according to the type of atom, there are s, p, d and f shaped oribitals. We don’t even know with certainty where the electrons are orbiting due to the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (which takes effect whenever you actually try to measure anything at the atomic or subatomic scale). And all of the subatomic particles may interact with each other as well. Who knows? We don’t know.

So even when looking at the behaviour of a few atoms, as compared to a whole ocean, their position and momentum starts to become significant with respect to each other. Let’s look at what I’m talking about. A few people have tried to estimate the number of water molecules in all of this world’s oceans. And the number we get is from around 5 x 10^46 to 5 x 10^47. Yes you’ll note that those two numbers are out by a factor of ten. That is one order of magnitude margin of error just in the counting. Yes it’s that inaccurate. Because this is the real world and it’s just a ‘guestimate’ (close enough for the purposes of argument). Now keep in mind that they are very approximate figures, we certainly would never know the exact number, let alone the position and momentum of all that lot!

So for example, if I added one more molecule of water to an entire ocean, how much do you think all of those existing water molecules affect one single atom. The answer is “quite a bit”, because the number of them completely overwhelms that one molecule. But what about if I think about it the other way around? Does our additional lone water molecule impart much change to the other ten or a hundred ‘quattuordecillion’? How much influence does this extra molecule provide. It’s not ‘nothing’. It’s never ‘nothing’. Most people would say it is ‘negligable’. It is insignificant. Right? It wouldn’t change too many of the others’ motion paths. Or would it? Who can say? It’s like putting one more person in a stadium. Almost all of the other 100,000 people probably won’t notice the extra person. But if I add one extra atom to a two atom universe —if I get a divorce from the only person I know in the universe— then yes it does become very significant for both atoms.

One guy even mentioned on Quora that his instinct was that quantum (subatomic) interactions cause turbulence. If that is the case, then it truly would get ‘complicated’. Furthermore, physicists and cosmologists are saying that space and time itself might be ‘granular’ and not smooth. And then you are assuming that fluids are incompressible. Are they? Perhaps not 100%, no. I personally think there are no such things as fractions…

“I do not see two halves of an apple. I see quadrillions of whole atoms on each side.” Leslie Dean Brown

There are just that many variables. People like to quote god here. I don’t believe in god, because it isn’t necessary for me to understand the way the world works. For those people that insist on quoting god at this point, I’d say it like this: “not even god knows; nothing could or would know what is going on with all atoms and interactions at one instant in time, because EVERYTHING is interacting with EVERYTHING at that point in time”.

If you ask me, laminar flow is where maths and theory works. Turbulent flow is where maths breaks down. Does that sound like a grey answer? It is meant to be. I don’t think there is an answer. By the time you have done the calculations, the atoms will have moved elsewhere. It should be a trillion dollar problem. It’s going to be that complicated to try and figure out.

Is the human race a plague?

Of course modern man is a plague. When did man become a plague?

Probably with the rise of the industrial revolution, when we were able to affect our environment on a grand scale. We invented pollution and toxic chemicals. We use those toxic chemicals to kill off other species on purpose and we only ever do things for our own direct benefit.

The population has reached a crisis point. We’re on every continent on the planet. We are not really meant to last longer than about 35-45 years old, but better nutrition has pushed us to live 90+ years. So instead of one generation merely replacing the next, you have 3 or 4 generations of humans alive at the same time.

We know it’s not at all sustainable yet the first thing we do is congratulate someone when they give birth to another child. Congratulations. For what exactly? Doing what comes naturally? Doing what every single one of their ancestors did?

How about congratulating people for not having a child?

We destroy everything in sight and call that “urbanisation”. When we do plant stuff it is common green grass. We then try to keep that under control by mowing it all down rather than letting things grow naturally by themselves.

We still don’t value nature’s functions yet we cannot live without them.

Some people are so obsessed with conquering everything that they even want to travel in to outer space to spread the plague even further.

Native American Indians, Australian Aborignies and many other indigenous tribes lived in mutual harmony with their natural environments. In the case of Australian Aborigines, for 40,000 years.

Their materials and tools were biodegradeable. The valued art and music more than we do in our culture. In our culture it seems we value consumerism. A sad fact.

So I think we can learn a lot from their values.

Why am I a minimalist?

I am a former materials scientist. The first question I always get asked is: “what is that?”.

Materials science is the study of mostly synthetic materials such as metals, polymers, ceramic and composites. We study their physical & chemical properties and how they are extracted from the Earth.

I am telling you this because I think that people need to start listening to scientists. More people need to listen to more scientists.

That’s a two way thing. I think that more scientists should start their own blogs (and other mediums communication like that).

Right. So I am a former materials scientist. And do you know what I now think about materials? What I now know?

I think that everything that you buy kills some part of the world somewhere else. The metals in the electronics that you are buying come from mines and natural spaces have to be destroyed to get them. I think we have to realise that and remember it every time we go to buy something. We need to think about that whenever Apple tries to sell us some new product. Do we really need it? What is the environmental cost?

My view now is that the things that we buy have to come from somewhere. Ask yourselves where. Most plastics [polymers] in use today come directly from oil. Uh oh.

All metals that aren’t being recycled are mined. Mines are always built in the natural environment (just look what happens when they are not –like with coal seam gas– people complain their heads off and usually get their own way).

But the problem isn’t just big banks and mining companies. Because I think 99% of adults have simply forgotten where they get their stuff from. [Read more…]

The principle of “the five whys”.

It’s called “the five whys”. And it’s one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.

I think more people should use this technique so that we can improve society. What is it? What does it entail?

It was ‘invented’ at the Toyota corporation as a method of determining the root cause of something unwanted. You keep asking the question why, a bit like a bratty little kid who first figures out the true power of the word ‘why’.

The central idea is to keep on asking ourselves the ‘why’ questions — we keep asking ourselves why something is so, even if we might not like the answers.

For example, if we apply the principles of the five whys to depression, we may discover the true cause of depression (at least in some people). Scientists have got to the point that they can determine whether someone is depressed based on their brain chemistry. Right, but do they then ask the further question: what causes those brain chemicals to be different? One line of research will lead to a ‘cure’. But the other will lead to ‘prevention’. Which is better? I already know the answer.

It’s no good knowing about brain chemicals if we don’t know what factor change the chemicals in the first place. Otherwise we will never prevent depression, we will only have a ‘cure’. So I think asking the five whys in terms of depression is a simple but effective approach. I think that is part of the success of the very simple approach to holistice medicine.

And this is why I think psychology is a very powerful and underrated tool. Because psychologists, unlike psychiatrists, get to the root causes. Psychologists are already three steps ahead of the scientists studying brain chemistry. Because first of all, psychologists have already figured this out. Secondly, they are already asking the five whys. In fact, they are asking a hundred or even a thousand whys. And they already know that depression has triggers. It’s their job to look for the triggers.

The triggers in my case are a mixture of genetic and environmental. They are genetic because I’m told that I have the ‘melancholy’ or inhereted type of depression as opposed to aquiring depression. That’s all I know.

I can tell you right now what causes my depression, what triggers it. I’m going to do this in point form:

  • Firstly, seeing concrete everywhere. I believe that it’s a horrible ugly material. It’s overused, it’s grey and —unlike nature— it’s very prone to being sprayed with graffiti.
  • Suburbs. Yes. suburbs. I generally find suburbs ugly and therefore depressing. Particularly places that have been either not well designed or overdesigned. That includes all forms of urbanisation, land clearing and ‘development’.
  • I generally find any place without trees quite literally depressing. So in my opinion, if you’re a town planner or an architect, and you’re reading this, the best thing you can do is a) design around existing trees b) plant more trees (and not just in a hole in the asphalt, because as one person put it: “a tree is a community”)
  • Cars with exhaust pipes. Because I have known for some 25 years now about global warming. It’s time to stop producing fucking internal combustion engines already and build more electric-powered cars.
  • Grass. I find the patch of mono-specific grass to be unnatural and therefore depressing. I think back gardens need to look more like meadows. That would attract bees and other insects like dragonflies.
  • Lately, mowers. Why do we even mow grass? Really, what for? If we don’t like long grass, why did we put it there to start with? Depressing.

Today, that’s all I’d like to talk about. But in future I will return to the subject of the five whys, but next time it will be applied to GMOs.

Eco conditioner review

One of the things I’d like to do more of is product reviews with an eco focus.

I‘d also like to make this more of a video blog. Why? Because I don’t always have much time to write good articles and it is a relatively ‘quick’ way of generating content.

I say ‘quick’ because even a five minute video like this one takes about two or more hours to upload.

With all the depressing news lately, I believe it is very important to give credit to people who are trying to protect our environment. Not enough people do.

So without further ado, here is eco review #2!

If you are a manufacturer, markerter, retailer or distributor and you’d like me to do an eco focused review, I’m happy to do that. You may not get five stars, but you will get some free exposure!

Also, if you have suggestions for other eco product reviews, just drop me a line.

I often read reviews about eco products and reviewers often blindly miss the point. Particularly when reviewing electronic devices.

Such is the case with my next review: the Marley XLBT headphones.

Adani court case: the verdict

Today’s LinkedIn fun:


Catherine Puglisi

Global Warming comes to Chi Town! Sunday nite we dipped so low that they say it was colder here then it was o Mars. Yup, Global Warming is here!

Catherine Puglisi

Planet Earth is at least 4.5 billion years old (4,500,000,000 years before today). We have gone through an Ice age, flooding of our Planet and this was all before Mankind even entered the picture. The weather will change, with and or without Al Gore becoming a wealthy man by saying so.

Exactly but the myth is promulgated by convenient idiots

Kathleen M. Hart

Climate change has unstable and record highs and lows. That doesn’t negate global warming. Think outside of the box to understand science; it’s not a simplistic black and white, hot and cold theory. It’s a series of ongoing events leading to dramatic shifts in temperatures. Quite frankly, those who point to a few cold days on the calendar every year are simply not understanding what is going on around them. Its myopia.

No sh*t??? The moronic phrase ” think outside the box” in this case is ignorant and condescending.

@Scott Hulsey, P.E. No surprises there. You work in oil. So you see climate change as a potential threat to your income. Insulting people won’t change that observation either. ;-)

I think *you’re* the moron here Scott Hulsey, P.E. Yes, I am calling you a moron. In front of the whole world. It’s about time people like you were put in your place. And that place is “I know nothing central”.
I’m tired of people arguing about stuff they don’t even know about. If climatologists say the Earth is getting warmer. Then IT IS getting warmer. They’re not saying it’s turning into a freakin’ sponge shaped like a donut. It’s really should not be that hard for people to fathom.

I’m starting to realise that some people don’t even realise which side of the bell curve they are on. Smart people know that there are other people smarter than them. Dumb people think they know it all.

How about everyone leave the climate modelling to the ones who actually study it? (that’s not me by the way). Eh?


Do yourselves a favour and actually read about it. Not just blogs. Science journals. Then you might be able to come up with a valid argument to support your claims.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Why do global warming deniers never ever deny the existence of photons, electrons or semiconductors? The same science behind technology? Why do you only start denying when you are asked to give something up? Like fossil fuels. That’s the real reason for all the denial. Because acceptance involves a change of lifestyle. And you’re not prepared to do that, so you merely bury your heads in the fucken sand about the whole thing. Great plan that. Great plan. Marvelous.

Zen and the art of minimalism

How can you (we) all go about buying less stuff?

I have bought many things over the last few decades. I started with bike parts, I was forever looking to build the ‘ultimate’ bicycle.

I have easily spent tens of thousands of dollars on bike parts of the last 20 years. But every time I got something new, I would lust for something even newer. The more I got, the more I’d want. It was pure greed and indulgence.

But looking back, some of my favourite rides (most of them actually) weren’t done on my most expensive bikes. Most of my favourite rides were made on relatively cheap bikes!

Whenever I see a product now I ask many additional things:

1. Where did it come from / how was it made? What was the the environmental cost of manufacture?
2. Will I be able to resell it, reuse it, recycle it or compost it when I am finished with it? (and the packaging)
3. Do I really even need it? Or do I think I just ‘want’ it?
4. What are the “false promises” being advertised?
5. Will the new item create extra ‘worry’?

The next time you go to buy something, stop yourself and ask whether you really need it. Never buy on impulse. Never! Wait. Put things in your ‘watch’ list. Meanwhile, look for the most sustainable or ecological alternative. If you still think you ‘need’ something after one or two months, by all means, go ahead and buy it.

Ever since I started doing this, I almost never regret anything I have purchased. [Read more…]

Some perspective

Imagine if 7 billlion people had always lived on a dust-bowl Mars-like planet with no life outside of the base stations. Imagine if that’s the way it had always been. Imagine if that was humanities’ entire existence, on the red planet…

With that in mind, I’d like to do a little thought experiment. I want you to imagine what would happen if we were to start exploring the solar system, from our home Mars.

The closest other world, Earth, looks very promising. We’ve spent a hundred trillion dollars on this latest space mission, okay. It’s been 30 years in the planning stage alone…

So we go to this new place called ‘Earth’.

And we don’t find another dust-bowl freeze-your-arse-off planet with no oceans, a toxic atmosphere* and a severe lack of oxygen. We don’t find it to be uninhabited. We don’t find the gravity extremely off-putting. We don’t find a desolate, barren wasteland devoid of all life like the home planet. No.

Instead, what we encounter is another world no unlike this one, the one we already know as ‘Earth’, exactly the way it is now, but without all the humans. Without any civilisation.

Imagine if we found 60 amur leopards, 400 Sumatran tigers, 880 mountain gorillas, 1826 giant pandas, 4080 snow leopards, 4848 black rhinos and 10000 blue whales!

Impenetrable jungles! Countless species of insects! Fish! Crustaceans! Molluscs! Birds! Frogs!

“Frogs? What an unusual name. What are they? Oh they’re slimy but harmless critters –amphibians– that thrive both on the land and in the water and use jumping as a form of locomotion.”

[Read more…]

Discrimination is second nature.

Every time you select a piece of fruit, based on the condition of its skin, you’re judging the contents.

No one likes to eat a soggy banana or a rotten apple. We’ve come to learn that if a banana is bruised & blackened on the outside, inside is most likely a soggy fruit mush.

Even 3 year old children know the difference is in the taste. They won’t eat it. Although sometimes, despite multiple bruises and other exterior imperfections, the interior is not as bad as we think; we are rewarded by what we find inside – 100% intact fruit! Succulent, delicious. Generally though, after years of practice, we learn to judge fruit correctly…

There are two ways of describing this situation:

  1. Some might say I am discriminating against all fruit with a certain type of skin (be it the colour or the texture); I am pre-judging, I am being critical.
  2. Others might say that I have a distinguished, discerning or refined sense of taste; I am a perceptive, particular and sensitive person.

One of these sentences contains positive statements whilst the other definitely has negative connotations. Clearly, something is wrong, and I think you’ll easily spot the pattern in the words below-

Synonyms for the adjective “discriminating”:

analytical, astute, authentic, canny, careful, choosy, clever, correct, cultivated, defined, definite, detailed, discerning, distinct, distinctive, distinguish, eclectic, exacting, exact, explicit, genuine, incisive, ingenious, insightful, intuitive, factual, faithful, fastidious, finicky, fussy, judicious, just, keen, literal, methodical, meticulous, observant, particular, picky, proper, prudent, refined, right, rigorous, scientific, scrupulous, selective, sensitive, skillful, smart, specific, strict, subtle, systematic, tasteful, true, unerring, unmistakable, veracious, wise.

Synonyms for the verb “to discriminate”:

assess, be bigot, brand, categorise, classify, collate, compare, contrast, delineate, designate, differentiate, discern, draw distinction, evaluate, extricate, disfavor, favor, hate, incline, judge, pigeonhole, know, note, be partial, perceive, portray, remark, segregate, separate, set apart, show bias, single out, specify, split hairs, tell apart,treat differently, typecast, victimize.

So we can describe someone as being discriminate or discriminating, but the act of discriminating against something without enough knowledge is forbidden.

Whenever you turn on the radio and choose a station you are being prejudiced towards new music styles and discriminating against them by not listening. I prefer cotton over wool, because I’ve found that wool makes my skin itch. Am I biased towards cotton plants or racist (specist) against sheep? Whenever anyone thinks about making any kind of informed decisions, discrimination is second nature.

[Read more…]

The problem with science

I think the problem is not with science, but with the entire 1st world civilisation.

Science is great and I don’t fundamentally disagree with any of it – but it doesn’t have any guiding moral or ethical principles. One problem with science right now is that scientists invent things without thinking through all of the possible consequences. And then some kind of “revenge effect” inevitably bites them in the arse later on down the track.

Another big problem is that businesses can take hold of any scientific discoveries and innovations they feel like and just exploit them for all they are worth.

So we know that this society will all too willingly absorb any new scientific knowledge into profitable new enterprises. Well ok – not so big a deal you might say – and it’s not. That’s the benefit of science. Right? Yes.

But then when those same scientists turn around and say: “No, now you are all going to have to change the way you do things, because we’ve figured out that this is not a sustainable industry” or “it turns out there’s this horrible side-effect”, no one listens. Not the people working for the industries, nor the people buying products from whatever those industries happen to sell.

So basically everyone is using the results of science whenever it suits them, and they are not heeding many of the warnings that science is giving…

People willingly accept, take and use the scientific discoveries. But the very same people never as willing to relinquish those very same inventions. Are they? [Read more…]

The problem with using biofuels in aviation.

Recently on LinkedIn:

First, it’s a premise of sustainable, alternative fuels that their production actually draws down atmospheric carbon–the carbon comes out of the atmosphere to make the fuel. The carbon is released again when the fuel is burned. By (albeit partial and imperfect so far) application of that principle, vastly lower net emissions (on the basis of life cycle analysis) are now possible.

I understand all abot life-cycle assessment. Yes, true, biofuel crops do take CO2 out of the air. 

But not if brazilian rainforest has to be cut down to make way for new plantation crops — because the native forest already does a way better job of taking CO2 out of the air than a crop with less biodiversity ever will. 

So my question is: where are we going to grow all of the new crops that will be needed for this additional biofuel?

It’s no good saying that new sustainable crops will reduce the CO2 from the air if you harvest the whole thing every year and burn it again. That only releases the same carbon that was absorbed by the crop in the first place… so no net CO2 increase. (well that is probably an over-simplification, because some carbon dioxide no doubt goes in to the soil) [Read more…]

On cyborg technology | Brain Computer Interface (BCI)

Sometimes I wonder: what is the future going to look like in 100 years? 1000? 10,000?

If you look around, people everywhere are completely addicted to technology. When was the last time you saw somebody on the train without something stuck in their ears?

These days, people want quicker answers, more content, more choice. They think faster than they can physically type (or even speak).

If you extrapolate this, I predict that technology that removes the interface between the brain and the computer will be the next big thing (unfortunately). And I humbly predict that the next trillionaire might just be the person who invents that device and brings it to the masses. I would now like to say a big “fuck you” to that person, before they even get started on the project. Why?

I think the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) is going to make the world look like a very different place than it is now. In the past, I used to think that it would never happen, because the human brain is too complex. But after only a few decades I have changed my mind. I think that the idea is not too far from reality.

It won’t be like it is now, with thinner and thinner screens and faster and faster processors. The whole point of a BCI is that there won’t be a physical user interface. [Read more…]

Open letter to Robert Borsak.

About your sordid little elephant-hunt crusade

To Robert Borsak,
You have said:


“Animals do not have an intrinsic human right,”

“Humans have a right to eat meat if they choose to do so. It is as simple as that”

By that logic, I have the right to shoot humans and kill them, so long as I eat their meat…

Furthermore, I should also be able to claim back my animal rights. In which case, if I killed another human, nobody could argue that the human laws apply to me. [Read more…]

Can journalists stop using the term “dole bludgers” please?

I wasn’t planning on writing about personal issues on this blog, but I couldn’t help notice the headlines in the paper a few weeks ago…

I resent the term “dole bludger” being thrown around willy-nilly. I’m talking about this article, which appeared last month as a front page news headline. Really, this is not at all a politically correct phrase. It’s *absolutely* derogatory and offensive and I begin to fume with anger whenever I see supposedly “unbiased journalism” articles continually referring to this terminology in national papers such as the Telegraph and the Herald.

This is not a term that should be thrown around lightly. It’s *not* the 1980’s anymore. Since when did this term become acceptable to use in the national media?

I think this is a sorely outdated term and it *completely* isolates & alienates the thousands of people on legitimate welfare who ARE genuinely trying to seek employment (or self-employment). [Read more…]

For Unto us a Child – Handels Messiah

Wish to discover ways to use Quickbooks or Quickbooks Expert? Quickbooks does not have to be always a stressful knowledge; here’s some fundamental information to obtain you began. Why Must I Learn How to Employ Quickbooks? QuickBooks is one of many accounting applications that are most-trusted and common. QuickBooks-Website, in a 2008 blog article, quotes that QuickBooks sales account for 78 percent to 94.2 percentage of all smallbusiness accounting software package sales. [Read more…]

What this scientist thinks of NASA’s 2035 mission to Mars…

The 2035 Mars space mission is said to cost an estimated US$1.5 trillion.

What are my thoughts on this? That sounds like an aweful lot of money to me — to keep four to six people alive on another planet— in my view it’s money that could be put to far better things, like keeping 7 or 8 billion alive on this one.

To put things into perspective, it’s the equivalent of spending 94% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product… for what? A dozen or so people to have the trip of a lifetime… at the most? That’s one hell of an expensive postcard!

If I personally had US$1.5 trillion dollars to play with and I wanted to ENSURE the future surivial of the human race, why, do you know what I’d do? I’d buy up all the wilderness areas up in poorer countries. I’d abandon that silly space mission. That’s what I’d do. And this is coming from someone that liked reading Carl Sagan’s cosmos… [Read more…]

What is wrong with society today?

I was writing an e-mail today regarding a new illustration commission I received from the biodiversity alliance. I got a little side-tracked and this article is what came of it, although the illustration below is one I prepared earlier.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2016. All rights reserved.

Yes we dance around and laugh and joke… at our peril. That is what we are doing as a civilisation. I do not think we should even have fireworks and such wasteful things unless we are meeting our targets for global emissions reductions (for example).

I’m not saying that it’s not worth talking about on your website, I just think that people have no choice left but to try to be happy and not get too sad about the state of the world… otherwise look at you and me… I suffer from chronic depression. I am sure that many other clever people suffer from clinical depression too. It is only by working at what we know is right in our hearts that we can feel better about what we are doing for the world. So I believe we must “be the change we want to see in the world”, be a part of the solution, not be a part of the problem. And to make it so that what we think, what we believe and what we do are all aligned. Otherwise, we are only fooling ourselves…

So yes unfortunately people are definitely “having fun while we roast ourselves.” But do we really want people to be miserable about our situation instead of ‘happy’? Miserable & depressed people probably cannot adjust and react to challenges as fast as happy people.

I think many older people are just “making the best of it” in the face of so many daunting challenges (and they really are and it is enough to make me not want to have children). I think a lot of young people are massively depressed because half of the older generation is still telling them what to do the old way based on the industrial model of business (sell more stuff, buy stuff because it is good for the economy, and money = happiness) and they are being simultaneously bombarded with mixed messages about the climate but I think many of them are feeling completely helpless. They are getting mixed messages (consumerism vs environment) and we are mostly stuck.

I think one of the reasons that the adolescent suicide rate has gone up is because of this (my sister who is a secondary high school teacher has told me so directly). I don’t think young people do all these ‘bad’ things intentionally; they behave how they were taught to behave, how society brought them up. I never questioned or considered the environment until year 9 general studies class. And then I heard about all these problems the world was facing essentially all at once…

One other problem is that the older generation is half-expecting that the younger generation will somehow come to the rescue and “save the planet”. How is that going to happen when the exact same mentality is being passed on? How is that going to happen when older politicians and wealthy people are essentially in charge? I think it is us older people who need to change first because all children naturally learn from role models. [Read more…]

Proof that Tripadvisor does not take whaling seriously

I have started a new petition against Tripadvisor to demand that they stop supporting restauarnts that serve whale meat.

As some of you know, I recently started a petition to put some pressure on 3 Frakkar restaurant in Iceland. To cut a long story short, 25,000 people signed the petition ask 3 Frakkar restaurant to stop serving whale meat. What happened next? Over twenty people left reviews on their tripadvisor page. ALL of those reviews were promptly deleted by Tripadvisor staff members. When questioned about that move, here is Tripadvisor’s response:

Dear Dr Brown,

We understand you reached out to a colleague of ours requesting information about why a number of reviews for a restaurant in Reykjavik were rejected.

We wanted to provide an explanation as to why our team made this decision. [Read more…]

The consequences of scale.

One thing that I don’t think many people reaslise on a day-to-day basis is that changes happen at all scales and their effects can be felt across all scales. The macro scale affect the micro scale, and in turn, the micro scale can affect the macro scale.

For example, an entire field of wheat can be killed at the cellular or molecular level by spraying it with chemical toxins. This results in the disappearance of a visible thing on a bigger scale. The dead wheat then decomposes, a result which later manifests itself as changes in the soil chemistry. When wholey other different large-scale changes subsequently occur, replacing the field of wheat with something else, that again then affects the visible scale. These micro- and macro-scale responses and consequences can continue to alter themselves in this manner until reaching equilibrium. All events are related together and caused either directly or indirectly by each other.

These perterbations continually fluctuate and influence each other across vast differences in scale.

Although what I am saying is that things like gravity may well be a particle (I don’t even know, not my area). Atoms are composed of sub-atomic particles. So cause and effect always works both ways. ;-) large cause —> small effect small cause —> large effect I am not arguing for the butterfly here causing any significant observable phenomena. I’m just pointing it out that it’s not always “top down”.

Having said that, you must then ask the question what causes solar flares? Quick google search? Answer: “we don’t really know”. You see, those fluctuations have to come from somewhere. What I believe is that there is actually no such thing as “true randomness”. Turbulence is one of the unsolved mysteries. I believe that turbulence is caused by … sensitive dependence on initial conditions. It’s a pity I’m not very good at mathematics.

Since understanding the Navier–Stokes equations is considered to be the first step to understanding the elusive phenomenon of turbulence, the Clay Mathematics Institute in May 2000 made this problem one of its seven Millennium Prize problems in mathematics. It offered a US$1,000,000 prize to the first person providing a solution for a specific statement of the problem:

Prove or give a counter-example of the following statement: In three space dimensions and time, given an initial velocity field, there exists a vector velocity and a scalar pressure field, which are both smooth and globally defined, that solve the Navier–Stokes equations.

Furthermore, I also think that large-scale effects are always caused initially by small perturbences. What I mean by that is that every event in history is caused by a smaller, prior event. Some of us like to think that this is not the case, and that only large-scale changes can only ever be the result of even larger scale effects. But I think if you have read about chaos theory and the term “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”, then you’d probably agree with me. Say I hit something with a hammer. You might think that the hammer causes large scale changes in whatever it is that I destroy. But what made me decide to strike the hammer in the first place? Wasn’t it really caused by some of my neurons? Perhaps if time went backwards, then it might be the other way around, but I’d rather not get into that, because the last time I read about about that, I thought the author was a bit loopy.

Petition to ban the publication of unethical lethal whale research

I have started a petition to ban the publication of unethical lethal whale research.

I have attached a transcript of my letters to SpringerLink regarding this issue in chronological order because it makes for more interesting reading. It’s interesting to see Springer’s official stance change completely when they are called out.
Maybe this will make interesting reading for someone… in about 300 years time when people realise that some animals are more important than humans:

From: Dr. Leslie Dean Brown []
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2016 9:56 AM
To: Onlineservice, SCSC
Subject: TN606818 “I speak for whales” [petition: banning lethal whale research] FS


I’ll get straight to the point.
As I’m sure you’re aware, people all around the world are getting more and more annoyed with the Japanese that continue to kill whales and do unnecessary scientific research on them. Many people thought the research was all lies. The really scary part is that it is actually true. Yes, they are in fact researching whales… :-(

I am writing to you because some of these papers have been published in the Journal “Polar Biology” with the latest appearing in 2014:

I have started a petition to ban lethal whale research:

I hope you take notice of this petition and reject all publications by the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO), the International Whaling Commission (IWC) or any other organisations that are involved in the slaughter of whales and the whale meat industry.

Did you know that the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research openly sells whale meat in exchange for financial support from the public? [Read more…]

Blue Moon of Josephine.

We estimate that 3.4 billion individuals – or 71% of adults worldwide – have wealth below USD 10,000, while the group of millionaires, who comprise less than 1% of the global population, account for 45% of total wealth.[source]

SO. It seems the rich are indeed getting much richer. There is a truly massive gap in the distribution of wealth and it just keeps getting wider and wider and wider.

I’ve had most of this post sitting in draft format for quite a while. But just today, I learned that Joseph Lau, the billionaire Hong Kong real-estate tycoon, paid a record-breaking US$48.4 million for a cushion-shaped internally-flawless fancy vivid blue-coloured diamond, called the “Blue Moon”. He named it “Blue Moon of Josephine”. And he bought it for his seven year old daughter. 

For his seven year old daughter! [Read more…]

Why humans are stuffed.

Many people consume so much more than they really need to make themselves ‘happy’. Worse, we all know this and we all just keep on buying more stuff anyway, don’t we? As if somehow our world can be fixed by purchasing something else. The cycle is like watching a depressed alcoholic try to cure his problem with more even more alcohol…
Photography by Kate Betty Smith
Photography by Kate Betty Smith

No matter what anyone tells you, half of the bloody reason we are in so much shit in the first place is because [Read more…]

Racism vs culturism

Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Leslie Dean Brown. © 2015. All rights reserved.
CULTURES are different, by their very definition. Anyone who has travelled extensively has surely witnessed that. But it just so happens, that many –not all– cultures are divided by geographical barriers, national boundaries known as a countries. And that’s when the generalisations begin…

I T’S generally fair to say that the majority of Japanese people are very reliable & punctual. Likewise, if I were to say that Tongan people are very friendly, stress-free & relaxed, that comment would also be acceptable to most people. Why are these statements accepted? Because they’re positive cultural observations. [Read more…]

X-mas – an outdated traditions that should be kept or significant business enterprise for that marketplace

X-mas – an outdated traditions that should be kept or significant business enterprise for that marketplace 

The christmas season can be an invention belonging to the nineteenth century Victorians and endlessly immortalized by Charles Dickens in ‘A Xmas Carol’. A conventional Christmas is one particular that includes a tree, turkey and stocking hung up from the fireplace; an opportunity to patch up family arguments and spread Peace and Goodwill to all. [Read more…]