## Saturday, October 06, 2012

### Nostalgia

The smell of cigarette smoke is so deeply ingrained in the “bar memories” part of my psyche, when I inhale the occasional whiff of smoke I'm flooded with waves of nostalgia, fond memories of time spent with friends, excitement thinking about that pretty girl across the bar, or in a lot of cases, across the table, and the joy of being alive in the moment. And then my scientific brain kicks in and says, “yeah that's just the body's reaction to the expectation of second hand nicotine.” … Sometimes I just want to stab my brain with an ice pick...

## Saturday, September 01, 2012

### Moving A Laser Dot Faster Than Light

There are some things we have to be careful of with regards to a laser sweeping out a path faster than the speed of light. Lasers emit light, which travels at a given speed, in a vacuum that's 299,792,458 m/s. Given that, lets do some thought experiments with a laser that we can spin very quickly.

When you first turn the laser on, it takes a certain amount of time for the light emitted to travel and hit something. If the laser is pointed at a wall 300,000 km away, it takes just more than a second. The laser is emitting light continuously, so if we started to spin the laser, the light "beam" would take on the shape of a spiral rather than a straight beam. We'll do some quick math to illustrate this. Say we were spinning the laser at 1 full rotation in a second. If you started that rotation with the laser pointing North, by the time you got all the way around those photons emitted at the start of the rotation would be 300,000 km North of you. If you kept on spinning the laser at that rate, the "beam" would be a spiral with about 300,000 km between each arm. Now let's spin the laser 100,000 times faster. The spiral would tighten up there would only be 3 km between each arm of the spiral. Now another 1,000 times faster, the laser is now spinning around 100 million times a second. The distance between each arm of the spiral is now just 3 meters. Now as you can see, no matter how fast you spin the laser, you will only ever approach a circle of light radiating out from the spinning laser at the speed of light. To make this more clear, say the laser was spinning very fast, a billion billion times in one second, and the laser is turned off. Now, we want to turn it on and off very quickly, so it is only on for the length of time it takes to spin once. This will essentially create "ring" of light expanding out from the laser. If you think about what the laser is pointing at when it's on, the path it's tracing out is moving faster than the speed of light, but the actual spot that the laser makes is doing something else entirely.

Say we are standing on a plane and the laser is a ways above us, and the path the laser is sweeping out runs right in front of our feet. We would not see the beam of the laser start on the horizon on one side of us and sweep in front of us to the other horizon, what we would actually see is the beam start at our toes and split both left and right towards the horizon on either side. Why? Because the laser "beam" is spinning so quickly it's tracing out a ring that's expanding at the speed of light, so when that ring interacts with the plane we are standing on, it starts off as a single point like the tangent line here and as the ring expands into the plane, the path the laser sweeps out, becomes a secant with two points of intersection moving away from the starting point. As to how fast we would see the points moving, that depends on how high above us the laser is spinning, and how tall we are. It involves a bit of trig and calculus to figure out, but let's take the fastest case to set an upper limit. The fastest the points could move, is if the laser is spinning very close to the plane because opposite sides of the ring would be expanding at the greatest rate, as the laser moves closer to the plane, the "point" speed would approach the speed of light moving away from us, but never exceed it, and actually, as the points moved away from our feet, the slower the points would appear to be moving because it takes extra time for the reflected light to get back to us. (Very much like a sound echo takes longer to get back to us in a big room than in a small room.) Also note that it doesn't matter weather the laser is spinning from right-to-left or left-to-right in front of our toes, we will always see a point diverge in opposite directions, this is weird but in the next example we will see why.

Let's pretend we are standing on the plane, and holding the laser in our hand. We've been pointing it at some distant object, and then suddenly point it to the ground in front of our toes. The speed at which we rotate it is similar to the speed we were spinning it in the previous scenario. Initially we will see two dots, the dot reflected from the far object, and the dot at our feet (reflected off the near object, the ground). Then we will see a third dot, move from the dot at our feet toward the dot on the far object after a time, those two dots will merge and both will disappear. Huh? Let's lay it out. First we are pointing at some distant object say 300,000 km away. The light from the laser takes a second to get there, and then another second for the reflected dot to get back to us. When we spin the laser down to the ground, the light stops going to the distant object, but it will take a second for that light to stop hitting the far object, and another second for that dot to disappear for us. For a total time of two seconds. Meanwhile the dot at our feet is much closers, so the light from the laser takes less time to get to the ground and less time to get back to our eyes. So we will see two dots. Now while the laser was turning down to the ground the “beam” it emits will be like a section of the ring from the previous scenario. This section will follow the tail end of the beam going to the distant object, and intersect the plane in a dot moving away from us. So, in this case the dot will actually appear to be moving in the opposite direction from which the laser was rotated, and again, the dot will appear to move more slowly as it moves away from us, and again the dot will not move faster than the speed of light.

Now a scenario where the dot does appear to move faster than the speed of light, and doesn't move backwards or split in two. Say we are at the center of a large spherical shell, with a radius of, you guessed it, 300,000 km. We are pointing a laser off in one direction, and observe the reflected dot, now we spin the laser to point in the opposite direction at the same rate as before. We will observe the original dot stay lit for a second, then the path of the laser will be illuminated all at once as the expanding ring intersects the spherical shell, then only the new dot will exist. If we spin the laser slightly slower, we will wait for a second watching the original dot, then that dot will move across the shell towards the new direction, and the dot will move much faster than the speed of light. The “beam” in this case will look just slightly less than a circle and more like a spiral. We would have to slow the rotation down quite a bit to get the dot to move at the speed of light, in fact in our spherical shell, we would have to spin the laser through the 180 degree turn in pi seconds.

## Tuesday, February 07, 2012

### Looking for the Fifth Leaf

Hanging out in quiet spaces of my mind, I've been finding myself enjoying those warm comfortable places as I drift off to sleep at night. Unfortunately they continue to set me up for the crushing blow of reality come morning, but I like to think that my inner masochist rather enjoys foolishly falling.

More often of late, I want to talk about subjects that are better left secret from the people I usually talk to. So instead we talk about the weather, like you do. The non-discussion fills the spaces between life and work, just sort of hanging out until something better comes along.

The beginning of a plan is working itself out in my head, but I'm not sure if I can bring it to fruition.  I'm having a hard time using my free time now that I have it, and building the connections that I need to build, socially, personally, professionally.  January was an interesting month, but I need to pick up the pace to make this year pay off.

Shit this is all just so many random words...  Just...

## Wednesday, February 01, 2012

### Everything is Going to be Alright

In the passing years, things have happened, perspectives change, life moves on.  I'm so out of practice with this format that I will undoubtedly stumble and fall.  I will lurch around, and take awkward heavy steps. Then one day I'll rediscover my grace, and I will dance.

Hey, I'm in a new city, in a new state.  I've been here almost two years and only now am I thinking about getting out and about.  I've been busy working two jobs, the second of which provided a nice prison from which I could dream of being free. Now that I am free-ish, I want to actually do something rather than say I'm going to do something.  So I'm actually dating again, which is new and old. I've completely changed my approach, and it's taking some getting used to.  Mostly this info is for bookkeeping, I'm not taking my blog that way, there is other social media for that.

Mainly, I have some big ideas that need to be flushed out, or possibly flushed down the toilet.  I'm not sure if I an use the “Big Ideas” moniker but it'll have to do until I can figure some other title out.  For the next little while I'm going to try and write something every day, just so I can flex these old muscles.  Some of it...  well, most of it probably, will be bullshit, but I have to practice on something.  Even if it is those same boring scales.

So here is to everything being alright, and another step taken in the year of one.

## Monday, October 18, 2010

After nearly a year, I’m still asking why. But, more and more, I’m seeing that asking is the most important part. I find myself walking through my day, taking mental notes on what I see and hear, and asking why. Why is the sky blue? Why do so many drivers here stop a car length before the stop line? Why do I dream the things I dream? Why do we punish criminals the way that we do? Why does the roof of my mouth itch? All sorts of questions, popping in and out of existence, and I haven’t written any of it down.

Rarely do I find complete answers, but that isn’t as important as what I always find, and that’s more questions. My muse has woken, and she’s full up on life’s little, and not so little, mysteries. So, while she’s awake I’m going to put her to work, and start writing again. I don’t know where this is going, but that’s half the fun.

## Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Little kids don't seem to have any problem with the simple question, “Why?” Once they learn to talk, and learn how to ask, it becomes the perpetual question. Lately my why has been, “why haven't I been writing?” I haven't written anything more substantial than a 30 second VO kicker in months. I don't really feel that much of an obligation to write, and except for school, I never have. I wrote because I wanted to write.

Writing has been my confessional, my psychotherapy, my way to mourn, to vent, to celebrate life, to show my love, to escape, to face my fears, and many, many other things. I am certainly not done with any of those things, but this silence still remains. This lack of desire sits on my brain, like a skin of oil, blocking out the sunlight. Part of it has been a shift in how I think, I am trying hard to move away from the internal conversation, and create opportunities for more external dialogs. But I am, as I have always been, quiet, observing, thoughtful, and noncommittal, trying to change that has been a slow, and sometimes painful process.

I am not sure where I am going from here, I strongly suspect that I will focus less on writing and talking to the faceless masses, and communicating directly. So, for now... that's all I've got.

## Tuesday, September 08, 2009

### Changing Directions

Emerson writes, “The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end.” I’ve thinking about my circles recently, both as a primary function of existence, like the circle of life, and as a mundane fact of life, like the turning of day into night and back into day. The days pass into weeks, into months, into seasons, into years and we live through all the revolutions or we don’t.

My own circular logic brings me back to this place, at the start of something new but along the same worn paths I will walk and find myself thinking and feeling many of the same things. Occasionally I’ll catch sight of a novelty that I hadn’t noticed before, but mostly I trudge along from one day to the next, content that at least I know where I am going.

That path, however, well never lead me to my center. There may be a fundamental discord in the search for self and the search for god. While the search for self requires shrinking the circle down to a point to find the center of a man, the search for god requires a circle of infinite radius, a circle where the circumference encompasses everything, and the center is everywhere. Perhaps the singularity of the one and the infinity of the other connect directly to complete the circle, I don’t know, I have been to neither place.

I’m not sure that I am ready to collapse my circle, and I’m not sure I’m capable of extending out to the edge of existence. A long time ago I became convinced that I needed my circle to be big enough to include one other. I’m not sure when or where that idea took root, but it has stayed with me, and now I wonder how to shake that thought free. I wonder how to get that idea to spread its wings and expose all its beauty and all its flaws so I can reexamine my own nature, and find a way to put my center at my back and walk to the horizon.

Emerson starts the final paragraph of his essay on Circles with this thought:

“The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory and to do something without knowing how or why; in short to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful; it is by abandonment.”