Tag Archives: Physics

I Like Radio

I like radio.

In fact, I’m fascinated by the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Some consider it overreach to include direct current, like the electricity produced by a battery, but the AC electricity that powers most homes and offices definitely belongs. AC power oscillates, changing direction and then back again in some approximation of a sine wave.


For most AC power in America, this occurs 60 times per second. For years, this was to as 60 cycles per second until the late 1960s when it was changed to “Hertz” (Hz). This name change was to honor Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves. Unfortunately, since Hertz had been dead since 1894, we was totally unaware of the honor. Perhaps the living physicists put their sliderules and partied to songs like John Mellencamp’s Hertz so Good. [I know the song was recorded at least ten years later, but physicists are not big partiers, so it may have taken them a while to pull things together.]


There are radio waves as low as 3 – 30 Hz, referred to as “Extremely Low Frequency,” but most of us don’t notice them until somewhere around the AM Broadcast band. The spectrum continues through shortwave, or high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF), which includes television*, FM radio, and aircraft communication. Ultra high frequency (UHF) include a number of other radio services, including cell phones. Microwaves, which are useful for radar and reheating leftovers start around 1 gigahertz (GHz) up to about 40 GHz, are next.

Going up. Next stop includes infrared through ultraviolet; smack dab in the middle is visible light. I think it’s safe to say that visible light was the first segment of the electromagnetic spectrum to which humans were aware. In fact, to many people, “spectrum” is what you see with a prism or in a rainbow.

Once you get above ultraviolet, there are X-rays and Gamma Rays, which have the ability to pass through matter and create an image that can be recorded. However, they also have an additional characteristic—they become ionizing, which means that they can change the electrical charges in matter. Ionizing radiation can cause cells to mutate. While comic book storylines propose that mutations result in superpowers, that’s just a STORYline. In actuality most mutations are bad; however, bad mutations can be useful, if applied to a confined area, such as a cancerous tumor. When the cancerous cells mutate, they often die.

To the best of my knowledge, the only thing above gamma rays are cosmic rays, but who knows what remains to be discovered.

Don’t touch that dial. I’ll be back soon with even more.

* I find it disappointing that many people do not know that with a simple indoor antenna your HD flatscreen smart television will receive the local television stations without cable. Picture quality is almost always better, because the signal doesn’t have to be compressed the way it is for cable. In addition, when television switched from analog to digital, they each ended up with three channels that fit in the same bandwidth as the old analog system. Since it’s “use it or lose it,” the other two channels tend to rely on shows that are far less expensive—so you may find Soupy Sales or Mr. Ed. Finally, since a smart TV connects to the internet through your wireless router, you can still access Netflix, Amazon, etc., all without the television being connected to the cable.

God’s New Marketing Effort


“You must be God. Great to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much about you it’s like I’ve known you all my life!”

You have, whether you realize it or not, just as I’ve known you since long before you were born.

“Great sentiment. You’ve really got a way with words. But, let’s get down to business. Your image needs updating. This is the twenty-first century. You’re not dealing with a bunch of illiterate fishermen and sheepherders. You’re trying to get through to people who understand quantum physics, derivative funds and reality television.

“Some of your views are too rigid – too radical. People want to take care of their own lives and make their own decisions. They don’t want to worry about being struck by lightning for making a mistake.”

I think if you do a little research you’ll find that it has been quite a while me since I’ve taken time out to smite anyone.

“But you’re so judgmental. Religious leaders of all flavors are quick to point out how you hate gays, how we should punish people who don’t follow your rules. How we shouldn’t associate with certain people.”

My Son came down for an extended visit and He was open to everyone. He ate and drank with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and even the lepers. He was so fond of all of you that He endured a horrible death just to make everything right.

“Look, God, you’re a great guy, but I can’t help you if you’re not willing to change.”

My child. I don’t change. I’ve never changed and I never will change. It goes with the territory. And incidentally, it is not I who need your help.

“But you could be so much more popular. People want you to loosen up.”

I gave every one of you a free will. I let you choose. My son boiled everything down to two simple rules – Love Me and love one another. Pretty simple, and no loopholes.

“Well, don’t expect to win any popularity contests. People are going to do what they want.”

That’s quite alright. I’m very experienced at forgiving.

The Dark Side

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Once again Smithsonian Magazine comes through with a thought provoking article, “Welcome to the Dark Side” by Ron Rosenbaum in the June 2013 issue. The article is about Lisa Randall, a Cosmologist – which is more or less like the mixture of a physicist and mathematician on super-steroids. Dr. Randall is a tenured professor at Harvard, and is working with things that Star Trek writers could never imagine.

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Dr.. Lisa Randall

The most interesting part of her theory is that of all the universe, we can only observe 4%. The other 96% we can’t see, measure or mathematically extrapolate. This 96% is so-called “dark matter.”

Here’s a totally unscientific question — “Could the afterlife; heaven and possibly hell be occupying the majority of the universe? Could they be in the part we cannot see?

Just a thought.

Gravity Wells


I find that there are days during which I seem to disrupt the force of gravity in my immediate vicinity. Although I could afford to lose a few pounds, I don’t believe that I approach the amount of mass to exert such force.

Nevertheless, at times I open the closet or pantry door and things spontaneously begin to fall. Cans and boxes of food drop. Tools jump off my workbench. Papers fly off my desk. I was beginning to get some type of deep emotional complex with the associated scars.

However, I am an avid reader.

Lately, I’ve been reading how astronomers and physicists have been making all kinds of exciting discoveries about black holes.

Then it hit me.

I must be generating my own singularity – my very own, personal black hole.

It explains a lot.

The only problem is that now I’ve discovered this, everyone is going to want their own black holes.

Then I won’t be special any more.

It’s easier to pick things up off the floor and put them back on the shelf when you believe it’s because you’re special.

Oh, well.

Time and Eternity


Time is such a strange entity. It doesn’t take Einstein and his Theory of Relativity to explain how time is relative, although even he’s reputed to compare how time with a “pretty girl” passes much faster than the same amount of time sitting on a hot stove.

We speak of having a good time, or experiencing bad times. We measure ourselves by the amount of time we’ve been converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. To us, time is pretty significant.

It may not be important, though.

I always figured that time was one of those things that God made for our convenience like mass or gravity. Without mass we’d just pass other matter; without gravity, we’d just float. Absence of mass or gravity would make life far more complicated – the same with the absence of time.

On the other hand, we tend to think of being non-physical and untethered by gravity as things we’ll find in Heaven. We’ll float around as happy-go-lucky spirits until the end of time when we and our bodies will be reunited. Then, we’ll have the best of both worlds – enjoying our corporeal existence but able to simultaneously move about freely as spirits do.

Time, on the other hand, is a little trickier. As I’ve mentioned before eternity as in always having a tomorrow is a kind of comforting thought. On the other hand, eternity as in infinity going backward is significantly disconcerting. An unlimited number of tomorrows is inspiring. An unlimited number of yesterdays is confusing.

That’s one of the many reasons that He is God and we are not.

God referred to Himself as “I am.” Not “I was and I will be.” Just simply, “I am.”

So I figure that God is unfettered by time. I’ve never seen a drawing of God wearing a wristwatch, so I guess we all sort of imagine the same thing. He is – in all places at all times all at once all the time.

When I am having a good time, I try to tell Him, “Thanks.” When I’m having a bad time, I take comfort in the fact that while time may have a hold on me, it’s meaningless to Him.

It helps keep things in perspective.