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chad
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"This Side Of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

I haven't forgotten, I just paused a bit too long with Robert Louis Stevenson- and what a great idea it was!

 

When I think of paradise, I usually imagine an island somewhere in the Caribbean, or somewhere in the South Seas, an island with natural beauty, lush tropical vegetation, turqoise blue waters, clear skies and no shortage of food or drink. In fact, I usually imagine my paradise to be an island like "Treasure Island." But unlike "Treasure Island, my paradise would not have a single pirate lurking somewhere behind a jungle, or somewhere beyond the dunes of white sandy beaches, or somewhere just on the other side of an extinct volcano. There would be no pirates, at least, on my side of paradise.

 

Join me in the new year for "This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, coming your way shortly!

 

Chad     

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The Cosmological Constant

Although I love the 1800's, the 1920's is another favorite "rave-o-rite" era of mine. It was an active, lively period in our history with some remarkable sophistication and insight- most notably Einstein, and of course Fitzgerald.

 

 

Just a few quick important times and dates:

 

Einstein's Theory of Relativity published in 1905 in Germany.

Einstein first visited Princeton in 1921.

F. Scott attended Princeton in 1913.

"This Side of Paradise" was published in 1920.

 

And as you read, you can definately feel the influence of the university, Princeton University in particular,  as well as Princeton University's new emphasis in the sciences and educational reforms beginning in the early 1900's.

 

The cosmological constant, c, of E=mc^2 was deemed "the greatest blunder" by Einstein himself, but he never ruled out the possibility that a cosmological constant may exist. Recently, physicists posited that the "cosmological constant" was in fact "dark energy", and experiments either refuting or supporting this hypothesis are still to be performed. 

 

Fitzgerald, was not only interested in science's search for a cosmological constant c, "a side" to the universe if you will, but also in the search for a "side" to ourselves. Humanity's search for "dimension" and places where things begin to take shape, or" constants", are themes to watch out for!

 

Chad  

 

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Omnigeek
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Re: The Cosmological Constant

Chad, c is not the cosmological constant nor did Einstein think E=mc^2 was a blunder.  The cosmological constant that Einstein rued is lambda and comes from his field equations.  Einstein added it as the only way he could make general relativity support a static universe.  His failure to predict the infinite expansion of the universe is what he referred to as his "greatest blunder".

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Re: The Cosmological Constant


Omnigeek wrote:

Chad, c is not the cosmological constant nor did Einstein think E=mc^2 was a blunder.  The cosmological constant that Einstein rued is lambda and comes from his field equations.  Einstein added it as the only way he could make general relativity support a static universe.  His failure to predict the infinite expansion of the universe is what he referred to as his "greatest blunder".


Ahhhhhh!:smileysurprised:

 

Omnigeek- finer detail into Einstein's equations? I don't have that kind of time to respond at the moment- maybe I'll post something a little later.

 

Just briefly, I saw "lambda" as a refinement of the speed of light which usually remains constant. Lambda is usually referred to as "the cosmoogical constant", but my understanding is that physicists are still trying to refine it.....

 

Chad

 


 

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

OK, Omnigeek!

 

A little complicated for my intents and purposes- I found a webpage perpared by Sean M Carroll for an encyclopedia he was working on:

 

http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/encyc/

 

 

And from the article:

 

"More precisely, the conventionally defined cosmological constant tex2html_wrap_inline31 is proportional to the vacuum energy density tex2html_wrap_inline45; they are related by tex2html_wrap_inline47 where G is Newton's constant of gravitation and c is the speed of light.

 

Simple algebra will give you a substitution for E=mc^2 (?). Now we can vary the c^2 portion of E=mc^2.

 

Thanks for the clarification though- on the blunder and the lambda!!!!! 

 

Chad

 

 

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

[ Edited ]

The c stands for the speed of light in a vacuum.  I think there may be some confusion here by the introduction of the ^ symbol, which appears to be a way of notating that the 2 is raised to indicate 'squared', rather than a factor of 2.  Many keyboards do not allow for the physical representation of the raised 2.  The equation is energy = mass times the speed of light squared.

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

Believe it or not, I just got a new Ipad!- there must be a way to denote c squared the way we usually know it. Thanks Dulcinea!- The symbol (^) can be used to denote "to the power of."   So, if you took the above equation I cited by Sean M. Carroll for the cosmological constant, lambda, and solved for "c", rather than treat "c" as a constant, then you would come up with a better approximation of the speed of light. That should improve your "e equals mc" equation. There are a lot of web phanatics out there that are well versed in the sciences, so I don't think I'm confusing anyone. But I do feel that "This Side" is about "constants"- in science and in life....
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Re: The Cosmological Constant

[ Edited ]

So, the edge of the observable universe is "c", the speed of light. Lambda, the cosmological constant, essentially adds another dimension, that is, it is the real edge of the universe, outside the boundaries of what we can observe!!!!  It is an important concept. I don't think Einstein ever stated that lambda did not exist- what he was calling "lambda" was not constant- the universe was expanding. There has been some renewed interest in a cosmological constant, we can call lambda.

 

But the above is academic and academics are supposed to take place at universities, which seem to be "constants" to the main character, Amory.

 

 Interesting question: Do you ever see the university as something which will eventtually go away? Or do you think the university will be here forever? Princeton and some other eastern colleges actually made it through the American revolution!!!!

 

Chad

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

It seems to me that Einstein, the university and its new orientation in physics and the sciences influenced Fitzgerald. The early 1900's, includung the 1920's, was an era that either wanted to be more sophisticated or it actually was an era that was more sophisticated than others through advances not only in the sciences, but also in art, architecture, music and so forth. Certainly, Einstein's famous e=mc^2 equation allowed us to see a different side of the universe, maybe even a different side of ourselves.

 

Interesting quote from Einstein (who is often quoted for his views on "love" (?)): Gravity is not responsible for people falling in LOVE. Maybe the "cosmological constant" could be....

 

Chad

 

 

 

  

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

It might be a great idea to create a "science and tech" forum- I know that there is a science fiction and a current events forum- maybe the finer details of physics might fit better in that kind of forum. (?)

 

I came across an interesting comment from the NASA website about the cosmological constant:

 

(Here's the webpage http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy/)

 

"Unfortunately, no one understands why the cosmological constant should even be there, much less why it would have exactly the right value to cause the observed acceleration of the Universe."

 

In my opinion, the cosmo constant was created to help Einstein arrive at the E=mc^2 equation. Subsequently, the Hubble constant helped to refine the E=mc^2,  but did not entirely disprove a "cosmological constant." 

 

But very simply, if a cosmo constant does exist, then we would want to know and the search itself may help us better understand our universe.

 

Chad

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Physics aside

Sometimes the language in physics is a little confusing: infinite, finite, expanding or static are often used interchangeably and sometimes in error. There are some basic language problems in physics, but we still attempt describe physical phenonmenae with language. 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think astronomical observations support a finite, expanding universe. E=mc holds only in a finite universe and there was some question as to whether the universe was expanding or static back in the 1920's.

 

Chad   

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

" according to the general theory of relativity, the law of the constancy of the velocity of light in vacuo, which constitutes one of the two fundamental assumptions in the special theory of relativity [. . .] cannot claim any unlimited validity..." - Einstein But if you solve for c, using the Cosmo constant equation, now c is a function of energy density- it can be a better measure in curved spacetime, provided we have lambda. This is always an interesting topic- maybe for the CE and history boards(?). Chad
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Re: The Cosmological Constant

Sorry, hadn't visited this particular sub-forum in a while.  I'm getting confused by you attempting to equate c and lambda and people falling in love.

 

c is the speed of light in a vacuum, not the edge of the observable universe (although we can tell how old the observable universe is by assuming the observations traveled at c and determining the distance to the observation by using parallax or other phenomena).

 

lambda is something Einstein invented to balance his equations on the assumption the universe was Steady State.  In other words, if the universe had reached the limits of its expansion but would not retract.  For a long time, measurements had enough error in them that it was uncertain if the universe had positive gravity and would retract, balanced gravity versus expansion so would remain steady state or had net "negative" gravity and would continue expanding.

 

If gravity is net positive then the universe reaches some limit in its expansion and slowly starts to retract until everything collapses back in on itself, possibly resulting in yet another Big Bang.  If gravity is net negative, then the universe will suffer from heat death as it continues to expand infinitely until everything is like (to quote Bilbo Baggins) "like butter spread over too much bread".  If gravity is balanced with expansion then we can worry about other infinities.

 

What I remember from college physics is this:  the problem Einstein saw with his cosmological constant was that he had no real reason to put it in the equation than the ideological belief (without proof) that the universe was Steady State.

 

There's a very good explanation of this at http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmo_constant.html

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

[ Edited ]

Hi Omnigeek!

 

I don't think I would disagree with you. This convo should probably go over to the CE and History board. I think it's a differenrt way of saying the same thing. There are a lot of semantics in physics. So a "steady state" universe is essentially a "finite universe."

 

The "melt like butter over bread" effect which you mention is for an "infinite universe." Whether the universe is "infinite" or "finite" is still the question. Observations point to a "finite" universe.

Lambda was Einstein's fudge factor, producing the "steady state" universe that you mention. But recent observations via the Hubble telescope led some scientists to believe that lambda was not just a fudge factor- that is, it was a real "physical force" believed to be in these dark areas of space- "antigravity" or "negative gravity", as you mention.

 

 

Lambda is probably some function of "c", or vice versa, see the above equation by Sean M Carroll.

 

Chad

 

PS- Other infinities? And "c" can be varied. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light and so light comprises "the edge of our universe." Neutrino particles are a recent newsworthy item-  possibly traveling faster than the speed of light- not certain, however.

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Re: The Cosmological Constant

I think all they are saying is that there might be a lambda in there somewhere. So now energy is not only a function of mass and the speed of light, but also lambda. E=mc^2(lambda)- or something like that.

 

Chad

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The University Constant

Just some quick stats from from wikipedia:smileywink:

 

"The United States has a total of 5,758 higher education institutions, an average of more than 115 per state. The US has 14,261,778,[2] students in higher education, roughly 4.75% of the total population."

 

Maybe just something to keep in my mind as we read- we somtimes think of school as "character molding", perhaps character molding at a university is not so obvious when compared to a military academy, for example, where the hope and goal is a molding of moral character. But to what extent does education or higher education shape the "character" of our country? Have we found a balance in an educated elite or a technocracy as Stevenson suggests? Are universities and colleges constants?

 

Chad

 

 

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Stevenson and Fitzgerald

[ Edited ]

Although Stevenson lived in the latter half of the 19th century, closer to Fitzgerald's, he wrote about the times he lived in, as well as the about times before him, like the "age of pirates." So you can percieve a similarity in the writer's themes. Stevenson wrote about balance, while Fitzgerald wrote about dimension and shape. You can consider a "balance" that we sometimes find in life as giving us some dimension or shape. 

 

And maybe Fitzgerald goes one step further on Stevenson's theme by stating that often a balance is a simply a dimension. They both probably would agree that we find a balance and dimension in "lines." And we don't have to go much further than the latter half of the 1800's and the early 1920's to remind ourselves. The Treaty of Berlin led to the formation of independent small states in Europe, but of course, the states outlined in the traty, led to the line of western front and WW1. Or the economic bubble of the 1920's led to the great depression and perhaps WW2. 

 

If we take a look at shapes (i.e. a triangle, square, rectangle, etc) we can see the lines that define them- we know that a triangle has three lines, a square has four, etc. If you had read "The Great Gatsby",  then you know that a line is more like a "crack" in a egg, or in an "egg shape" and might more accurately describe the lines of war, like the western front of WW1. "Treasure Island" is, of course, that place of beauty and balance where fighting takes place.....

 

Well, what do you think? I usually think when we create a shape, we create a line somewhere, hopefully not a crack.....but maybe....

 

Chad

 

 

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The American Revolution

F Scott was a relative of Francis Scott Key- writer of the national anthem- interesting fact.

 

I think we're always still trying to understand the American revolution, and one sentiment about our revolution, and I think it is usually a British sentiment is that the American revolution was a middle class (upper middle-class?) struggle. But this belief might be more an American sentiment these days. And so, from the beginning, the U.S. never left the struggle of the "middle class."

 

What is the middle class? And was the American revolution about principles and basic human rights or simply a middle class struggle? Is we view the revolution simply as a class struggle, where does that leave the French Indian War, often thought of as the precursor to the American revolution?

 

Chad

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The university: left or right

[ Edited ]

How fortuitous! The university entered the political arena just as we began reading, when Republican candidate Santorum labeled the university, liberal "indoctrination mills."

 

Here's an article:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/opinion/bruni-its-a-college-not-a-cloister.html

 

The author seems to feel that the campuses are more liberal now, that is left, in their political orientations- which, I think, is a change from the conservative college campuses of the 1960's. Do universities mold politics?

 

Chad 

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Education

Fitzgerald tackles this behemoth of a subject we know as "education"- it's about time, right? (Although Mary Shelley did well in "Frankenstein")

 

But when I begin to think about the best education that I could possibly have for myself, then I would think about a more practical educaion, rather than classroom and book learning. So, rather than sitting in a classroom learning French, the best way to learn French would be to actually go to France. Or rather than sitting in a classroom and learning about "The American Revolution", the best way to learn about the revolution would be to actually visit "Valley Forge" battlefield, or better yet, to travel back in time to experience the revolution itself.

 

And the problems in education come into focus when we either realize the above or try to do some of the above.....Anyway, I'm sure there will be more about education before we leave our story.....

 

Chad