Thursday, October 05, 2006

Swimming Upstream

I photographed trout in the Truckee River, the only river that empties into Lake Tahoe. Our form of life depends upon liquid water, which makes up 70% of human bodies. Liquid water only exists at temperatures above 273 degrees Kelvin, and Earth's average temperature is about 283K. We occupy a very narrow temperature range.

According to the Standard Solar Model, life as we know it could not have evolved here because when Earth was formed the Sun was only about 75% as luminous. Power is related to temperature by the Sefann-Boltzmann Law P = aT^4. Earth's temperature would have been (.75)^{1/4} or 93% of its present value. At a temperature of -10 C Earth would have been frozen solid, making evolution of life unlikely. Fortunately the Sun turns its fuel to energy according to E = mc^2. Speed of light c has changed in exactly the amounts needed to keep the Sun constant.

The first Earth life was probably bacteria living below the surface. Sea life evolved next, and was confined the water for much of Earth's history. The trout must think it amazing that we survive above the surface, and would drown in water. We are one step in an evolution where the next stop is Space.


Blogger nige said...

Hi Louise,

I like the swimming upstream idea!

BTW, the mean water content of the human body is only about 70% according to Health Physics data such as that used to calculate radiation absorption by people. There is quite a lot of carbon (23% by mass on average), calcium, nitrogen and phosphorus in people! The masses of different elements is at here but some of the oxygen and hydrogen content is locked in organic compounds, not water.

A person would be very soggy (or drowned) with extremely dilute bodily fluids if they were 95% water. Low blood count, very ill.

Best wishes,

3:30 AM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

It seems that since water is so essential to life it might contain the answers to many questions. Are there things that we don't understand about water? I hope that's not a dumb question.

4:56 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thanks Nigel, for correcting another bit of misinformation taught to us in school. Rae Ann, experience shows us that there are mysteries in the "common" things of nature. Why water is such a good solvent would be a good place to start.

Nice of you all to stop by. After devoting some time to September 25 post and comments, we seem to have lost those who had all the questions. Why do people show such resistance? I continue to appreciate all your comments.

9:41 AM  
Blogger nige said...

To answer your question, see Professor Bert Schroer's new arXiv paper which is discussed on the latest Not Even Wrong post. Schroer is an algebraic quantum field theorist who doesn't like the string theory 'pittbull':

‘The problem is not that there are no other games in town, but rather that there are no bright young players who take the risk of jeopardizing their career by learning and expanding the sophisticated rules for playing other games.’

- p46

‘My final conclusion is that the young and intelligent Harvard professor Lubos Motl has decided to build his career on offering a cartering service for the string community. He obviously is a quick scanner of the daily hep-th server output, and by torching papers which are outside the credo of string theorists (i.e. LQG, AQFT) he saves them time. The downgrading of adversaries is something which has at least the tacit consent of the community. It is evident that he is following a different road from that of using one’s intellectual potential for the enrichment of knowledge about particle physics. If one can build a tenure track career at a renown university by occasionally publishing a paper but mainly keeping a globalized community informed by giving short extracts of string-compatible papers and playing the role of a Lord of misuse to outsiders who have not yet gotten the message, the transgression of the traditional scientific ethics [24] for reasons of career-building may become quite acceptable. It would be interesting to see into what part of this essay the string theorists pitbull will dig his teeth.’

- p22

1:31 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

HI Nigel: I just skimmed through the Bert Schroer paper. Yes, the tactics of the 'pitbull' are mean-spirited, not to mention sexist. I hope that even he can be turned around someday. Harvard doesn't make the world better by keeping someone like that around.

6:25 PM  
Blogger nige said...

Hi Louise,

Lubos just deleted my comment from his weblog. I quoted Schroer and then suggested Lubos get out of string theory and join an alternative before it sinks.

Thomas Love comments on Not Even Wrong:

As I scannned Schroer’s article, seeing the section “The only game in Town”, this story flashed into my mind: After the Titanic hit the iceberg, a woman was looking for her husband and found him in the poker parlor. “What are you doing here”, she asked. He responded “It’s the only game in town.”

Physics has hit an iceberg: string theory. Hopefully some will be smart enough to get off before they go down with the boat.

Perhaps Lubos isn't that smart...

3:57 AM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

Hi Louise,
Mahndisa told me about your blog and I found it to be quite interesting. I believe we met at a San Francisco Young Republican's meeting at U Street, my son's (John Lama) resturant in SF.

On my blog I just wrote about "The Female Brain" book and used you as an example of a brainy female. See

Good luck in your work and keep up the blogging.


9:25 AM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Hi Louise,
your blog is looking really good
Gosh, I see you are still enjoying good weather too.

PS - Christine, myself and others are not more rigorous with your theory than anyone would be with others. Just think how many claims and counterclaims have been said, printed and exchanged between ST & LQC theorists.

And despite Darwin & Evolution, no one has yet found the origin of Life, never mind the origin of the Universe. But we keep looking, and we keep debating. And the World goes round & round.

Hope you are having fun!

1:21 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thank you Bill, and Q9 too. I enjoy the comments by you, Christine and Mahndisa too. That is why I take time to answer. There are so many amazing things out there that it is hard to blog about all of them.

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