PHYS 216/ SIS 216 Grand Finale 2007 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

1 / 61
About This Presentation

PHYS 216/ SIS 216 Grand Finale 2007


PHYS 216 SIS 216 Grand Finale 2007 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:25
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 62
Provided by: phys82
Tags: phys | sis | finale | goo | grand


Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: PHYS 216/ SIS 216 Grand Finale 2007

PHYS 216/ SIS 216 Grand Finale 2007 A somewhat
quixotic task (for a single undergraduate
lecture) so it is hoped that 1) you already
went through much of this synthesis 2) you will
go through the lectures/readings again, this
summer or later I will appreciate hearing from
anyone! Guide to Readings Fulbright where are
senators like this, when we need them?
(cf. lament by Chargaff about greater and
greater discoveries being made by smaller and
smaller people ) Rees Even if all nations
imposed strict regulations on the handling of
nuclear material and dangerous viruses, the
chances of effective enforcement, worldwide, are
no better than current enforcement of laws
against illegal drugs.
Weinberg the only way that any sort of science
can proceed is to assume that there is no divine
intervention and to see how far one can get with
this assumption. It is a common claim that
scientists have to believe that the nature is
knowable, so that there is no real difference
between religious and scientific practice. In
fact, scientists dont have to believe that
nature is knowable they just assume it is, and
are prepared to give up if it no longer works.
But this does not seem anywhere in
sight. However, there is another, and very
important, aspect of this the non-scientists
have to believe or rather have confidence
that the results of the scientists are correct,
truly reflecting the nature. It is far beyond the
possibility of science education to provide
everyone with the means to independently verify
all scientific claims. So the purpose of science
education is to convince the citizens that, with
only occasional and self-correcting exceptions,
they can have confidence in the scientific
More Weinberg a group of biologists have
completely worked out the wiring diagram of the
nervous system of a small nematode worm, C.
elegans, so that they already have a basis for
understanding in some sense everything about why
that worm behaves the way it does. (What is
lacking so far is a program based on this wiring
diagram that can generate the worms observed
behavior.) I have to admit that sometimes nature
seems more beautiful than strictly necessary.
Outside the window of my home office there is a
hackberry tree, visited frequently by a
convocation of politic birds blue jays,
yellow-throated vireos, and, loveliest of all, an
occasional red cardinal. Although I understand
pretty well how brightly colored feathers evolved
out of a competition for mates, it is almost
irresistible to imagine that all this beauty was
somehow laid on for our benefit. But the God of
birds and trees would have to be also the God of
birth defects and cancer. as far as I can tell
from my own observations, most physicists today
are not sufficiently interested in religion even
to qualify as practicing atheists. And I would
add most Christians in America to day are not
sufficiently interested in religion to qualify as
practicing Christians.
Schroeder (a physicist, and devout Jew) P 189
150 thousand thousand thousand thousand thousand
thousand aminoacids organized into protein
chains every second P 198 please take a deep
breath and read the following sequence of events
in one burst The RNA polymerase opens the
helix, reads each nucleotide base, selects the
correct complementary base from among the four
types floating in the intracellular slurry,
concurrently selects from the same slurry the
molecules that make up the spine of the
lengthening strand of mRNA being manufactured,
training behind the RNA polymerase, joins the
just-selected base to the spine, takes a portion
of DNA that has been read and reseals it to the
parallel DNA strand from which it was separated,
opens the portion of DNA to be read next, reads
it, and continues this juggling till it reaches a
coded stop order. all at about 50 nucleotides
per second P 206/207 In DNA replication at
about the same speed you would need 4 years to
copy a genome. Nature does it in about 10 hours,
having a few thousand DNA-polymerases working
simultaneously, then splicing the results.!!!
MIT Technology review In February, a report by
the Institute of Medicine and National Research
Council of the National Academies entitled
"Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of
the Life Sciences" argued, "In the future,
genetic engineering and other technologies may
lead to the development of pathogenic organisms
with unique, unpredictable characteristics."
Pondering the possibility of these recombinant
pathogens, the authors note, "It is not at all
unreasonable to anticipate that these
biological threats will be increasingly sought
after...and used for warfare, terrorism, and
criminal purposes, and by increasingly less
sophisticated and resourced individuals, groups,
or nations." The report concludes, "Sooner or
later, it is reasonable to expect the appearance
of "bio-hackers.' And rebuttal Williams's
article doesn't describe in any detail the
ability of terrorists to weaponize any of the
theorized agents. Yet making effective bioweapons
would take a tremendous amount of work. While
a state-sponsored program might have the means to
do that work, terrorist groups probably don't.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the outcome
of a bioweapons attack, it does not make sense to
plan extensive biodefense programs when
more-certain threats, particularly those
involving nuclear weapons, require attention.
Dyson I tell young people that the new
technologies actually empower the amateur to
do things that only professionals could do
before. Jan L. Chaloupka / Feynman on doubt .
Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take
it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to
be unsure, that it is possible to live and not
know.  But I don't know whether everyone realizes
this is true.  Our freedom to doubt was born out
of a struggle against authority in the early days
of science.  It was a very deep and strong
struggle permit us to question - to doubt - to
not be sure.  I think that it is important that
we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps
lose what we have gained.
Brief Tour essay Robert Cooper, British
diplomat, on Basic Problem The spread of the
technology of mass destruction represents a
potentially massive redistribution of power away
from the advanced industrial (and democratic)
states towards smaller states that may be less
stable and have less of a stake in an orderly
world or, more dramatically still, it may
represent a redistribution of power away from the
state itself and towards individuals,
Ayatullah Sayyid Mahmud Taleqani on Jihad and
Shahadat We have been given the mission of
liberating the nations of the world from slavery
to human laws and false religions . and to lead
them to the glory of Islam." This is the Islamic
jihad. Tim LaHaye and David Noebel, Christian
fundamentalists No humanist is qualified to
hold any governmental office in AmericaUnited
States senator, congressman, cabinet member,
State Department employee, Department of Defense
employee, or any other position that requires him
to think in the best interest of America. .
Because the universe came into being before any
human was around to witness the event, it is
impossible to verify what happened except by the
witness of God. Mahathir Mohammad (former) Prime
Minister of Malaysia Is there no other way than
to ask our young people to blow themselves up and
kill people and invite the massacre of more of
our own people? It cannot be that there is no
other way. Islam is not just for the 7th
Century A.D. Islam is for all times. And times
have changed. Whether we like it or not we have
to change (note the reaction in the US )
William J. Fulbright Sooner or later the law of
averages will turn against us an extremist or
incompetent will come to power in one major
country or another, or a misjudgment will be made
. Or things will just get out of hand
.None of us, however professors, bureaucrats,
or politicians has yet undertaken a serious and
concerted effort to put the survival of our
species on some more solid foundation than an
unending series of narrow escapes. And it is
one of the major points of this course that now
it is upon us upon me as professor, upon you as
citizens, to undertake that serious and
concerted effort
Ray Kurzweil (technology enthusiast, in a brief
moment of truth ) Now is the ideal time to be
debating these emerging risks. It is also the
right time to begin laying the scientific
groundwork to develop the actual safeguards and
defenses. We urgently need to increase the
priority of this effort. That's why I've proposed
a specific action item that for every dollar we
spend on new technologies that can improve our
lives, we spend another dollar to protect
ourselves from the downsides of those same
technologies. And Daniel Sarewitz and Edward
Woodhouse Neither an automobile nor a
conversation nor an emerging technology can be
steered properly if it is moving too fast for
those nominally in charge to learn and adjust on
the basis of feedback.
And finally, religion and spirituality Richard
Feynman, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Arthur
Koestler, Alfred North Whitehead Just one quote
(from Whitehead) Religion is the vision of
something which stands beyond, behind, and
within, the passing flux of immediate things
something which is real, and yet waiting to be
realized something which is a remote
possibility, and yet the greatest of present
facts something that gives meaning to all that
passes, and yet eludes comprehension something
whose possession is the final good, and yet is
beyond all reach something that is the ultimate
ideal, and the hopeless quest. This is a very
different concept of God, and of religion, from
that of a megachurch or TV preacher, or from a
Jihadist ayatollah.
Conclusion (on religion, part 1) by VC All this
may sound very interesting and deeply spiritual.
But the question is would such an abstract,
intellectual, tolerant and reasonable
spirituality/teaching/religion fill mosques and
megachurches? In other words finding (or
searching for) the meaning of it all is an
important part but still only a part of what
drives people to spirituality and religion. For
many people there is also the need to worship,
and the desire to be told what one ought to do,
and what one must not do, thus supplying the
basis of morality and ethics. A philosophically
spiritual worldview does not necessarily provides
a subject of worship, nor does it offer any
specific moral and ethical guidelines (however,
note that the holy books of our mainstream
religions do not provide much useful advice about
what to do with global warming, either - and what
with the war in Iraq? To deal with the difficult
issues of today, you have to interpret the
writings and teachings, pick and choose what is
truly divine, you have to decide what would
Jesus say etc. you really are on your own,
even as a Jew, Christian, Moslem, ).
Conclusion of the Brief Tour I feel that we
are experiencing the birth pangs of Civilization.
Modern science offers us a mirror, and we are not
sure if we like what we are seeing. Will we be
able to find the spirituality/worldview/mindset/at
titude which will enable us to cope with our
power, with our limitations and with our needs? I
believe that our future very much depends on the
answer to this question, as it transcends the
issue of religion, it transcends the Basic
Problem, and goes to the heart of the human
condition in general. And a personal note
(substitute your own specifics while keeping the
general idea) For me, a suitable conclusion
of a wide-ranging tour of the ancient and modern
world is to turn to the music of Johann Sebastian
Bach. In his most abstract works he went much
beyond Music he reflected and meditated, and
makes us reflect and meditate, on the inner
wisdom of the Heavens and Earth. Somewhat
quixotically perhaps, I believe that practicing
the Art of Fugue (at least the Art of Listening
to a Fugue) can help us in obtaining the proper
balance of Exuberance and Humility, and thus can
help achieving a salutary and hopeful, and
perhaps even optimistic, attitude towards the
difficult problems we are facing.
Course recap Purpose of the course the purpose
of the course was NOT to provide you with a
prescription how to solve the difficult problems
of science and society. Rather, the goal has
been study selected aspects of Nuclear Physics
and Molecular Biology in sufficient detail to
give students an idea what the scientists in
these fields actually do (and maybe even some
degree of confidence that they the students
could do it, too ) expose the students to a wide
spectrum of opinions on the issues of science,
technology and society, and convince them that
the proper treatment of these issues is
critically important encourage students to
install a BS detector, and maintain it in a good
working order
  • Two term paper topic inquiries
  • As far as my paper topic, I wanted to explore how
    the introduction of new scientific discoveries
    affected the poetry of the day. I'd look at work,
    for example, before and after the enlightenment
    to see how the changes to the scientific
    landscape affected the literary culture (which
    can be understood as a gauge of the societal
    mindset). I would probably choose a couple large
    shifts--perhaps the enlightenment and World War I
    with its subsequent introduction of chemical
    warfare (seen as a major reason for the Modernist
    movement led by Ezra Pound and TS Eliot). I also
    wanted to conclude the paper with a small
    collection of poems of my own creation that
    reflect the concepts and changes in thinking I've
    undergone since I've taken SIS 216.
  • My question is, is a term paper on the validity
    of the Bible an ok subject? Like looking to prove
    its validity. Science is involved with it because
    if the Bible is the word of God like it claims,
    and its account of the flood and creation true,
    that would obviously affect science and the
    dating of the world, etc...then there would be
    obvious societal impacts with that.

Physics we have seen emptiness of Iron
(Schroeder If we would scale the nucleus up to 4
inches, the surrounding electron cloud would
extend to 4 miles away. The solidity of iron is
actually startlingly vacuous space made to feel
solid by ethereal fields of force having to
material reality at all. Hollywood would have
rejected such a script out of hand, and yet it is
the proven reality.) Emc2 gt nothing
cleverly disguised as something ??? Quantum
Mechanics opening second hole stops electrons
from coming one more philosophical aspect
non-local correlations extending over arbitrarily
large distances. large structure of the
Universe YOU can look where nobody looked
before extreme violence of the Supernova
explosion and yet, life would not exist without
it collisions of whole galaxies
  • (Molecular) Biology
  • why should I care about the glorified, tiny
  • recall the molecules (!) walking along the
    microtubules, and more
  • 2) Try to imagine the processes happening in the
    brain of an organist playing the Art of Fugue,
    playing 10 notes per second with hands and feet
  • optical pattern recognition reading the
    sheet music (2x) 120 millions rods and 6500
    cones in the retina -gt preprocessing -gt cortex
  • motor neuron activity to play it command
    neurons activate effector and anti-effector
    neurons attached to the agonist and antagonist
  • auditory processing to hear it (2x) 16,000
    hair cells -gt preprocessing -gt cortex
  • tactile feedback from fingers and feet
  • cortex processing of all of the above,
    separating the 4 voices in directing performance
    and when receiving feedback, supplying the
    artistic performance, worrying about mistakes
    and audience reaction, ..
  • and all this on top of the regular

3) ALL of the understanding of the deep mysteries
of Physics (and more Bach/Shakespeare/Picasso/)
has been accomplished by those little dignified
zippers!!! 4) considering that the amazing
molecular machines (ribosome, aminoacyl tRNA
synthetase, spliceosome, ) are already present
in bacteria, it can be concluded that the step
from aminoacids to a single bacterium is much
larger than the step from bacterium to human
(through all those fungi and apes which
creationists get so exercised about). This shows
a very important aspect of scientific
understanding it does not necessarily solve all
the mysteries, but puts them where they
5) Biology animals, humans Evolution Carl
Sagan and Ann Druyan will give you a different
perspective on animals, on our uniqueness, and
on the nature of evolution (from Shadows of
Forgotten Ancestors) 1) Evolution what a
science-inspired poem!!! 2) Amazing animal
performances 3) Animal feelings 4) Chimpanzee
tradesmanship 5) The brutal nature of evolution
by natural selection.
1) The evolutionary process has made the Earth
brim over with life. There are beings that walk,
jump, hop, fly, glide, float, slither, burrow,
stride on the water's surface, canter, waddle,
brachiate, swim, tumble, and patiently wait.
Damsel flies molt, deciduous trees bud, great
cats stalk, antelopes take fright, birds chatter,
nematodes worry a grain of humus, perfect insect
imitations of leaves and twigs rest incognito on
a branch, earthworms entwine themselves in
passionate bisexual embrace, algae and fungi are
comfortable roommates in the lichen partnership,
great whales sing their plaintive songs as they
traverse the world ocean, willows suck moisture
from unseen underground aquifers, and a universe
of microbes swarms in every thimbleful of muck.
There is hardly a clod of soil, a drop of water,
a breath of air that is not teeming with life. It
fills every nook and cranny of our planet's
surface. There are bacteria in the upper air,
jumping spiders at the tops of the highest
mountains, sulfur-metabolizing worms in the deep
ocean trenches, and heat-loving microbes
kilometers below the surface of the land. Almost
all these beings are in intimate contact. They
eat and drink one another, breathe each other's
waste gases, inhabit one another's bodies,
disguise themselves to look like one another,
construct intricate networks of mutual
cooperation, and gratuitously fiddle with each
other's genetic instructions. They have generated
a web of mutual dependence and interaction that
embraces the planet.
2) Bumblebees detect the polarization of
sunlight, invisible to uninstrumented humans pit
vipers sense infrared radiation and detect
temperature differences of 0.01 C at a distance
of half a meter many insects can see ultraviolet
light some African freshwater fish generate a
static electric field around themselves and sense
intruders by slight perturbations induced in the
field dogs, sharks, and cicadas detect sounds
wholly inaudible to humans ordinary scorpions
have micro-seismometers on their legs so they can
detect in pitch darkness the footsteps of a small
insect a meter away water scorpions sense their
depth by measuring the hydrostatic pressure a
nubile female silkworm moth releases ten
billionths of a gram of sex attractant per
second, and draws to her every male for miles
around dolphins, whales, and bats use a kind of
sonar for precision echo-location.
3) As life evolved, the repertoire of feelings
expanded. Aristotle thought that "in a number of
animals we observe gentleness or fierceness,
mildness or cross-temper, courage or timidity,
fear or confidence, high spirit or low cunning,
and, with regard to intelligence, something
equivalent to sagacity."12 Emotions that Darwin
argued are manifested by at least some mammals
other than humanschiefly dogs, horses, and
monkeysinclude pleasure, pain, happiness,
misery, terror, suspicion, deceit, courage,
timidity, sulkiness, good temper, revenge,
selfless love, jealousy, hunger for affection and
praise, pride, shame, modesty, magnanimity, and a
sense of humor. And at some point, probably long
before the first humans, a new set of emotions
curiosity, insight, the pleasures of learning and
teaching also slowly emerged. Neuron by neuron,
the partitions began to go up. 4) Chimpanzees
are famous for their tradesmanship. Experimental
studies indicate that the ability comes without
any specific training. Every zookeeper who
happens to leave his broom in the baboon cage
knows there is no way he can get it back without
entering the cage. With chimpanzees it is
simpler. Show them an apple, point or nod at the
broom, and they understand the deal, handing the
object back through the bars.
5) So what happens in fact when there's too much
crowding? Some responses seem to serve a larger
purpose. Sibling shark embryos fight to the death
in utero. In many nonhuman mammals, brothers and
sisters of the same litter compete for access to
nipples often, there is a least competent
infant, unsuccessful in elbowing its way to a
nipple the runt of the litter, who becomes
progressively weaker with each failed attempt to
nurse. The Virginia opossum has thirteen teats
and, generally, more than thirteen pups per
litter. Only those who regularly get to a teat
live. Such competitions weed out the weak. Those
species with more teats than pups permit weakling
and unaggressive youngsters to reach adulthood.
If they are unlikely to compete successfully as
adults and pass their genes on, their mother has,
from the point of view of her genes, been wasting
her time nursing such pups. Those mothers with
fewer teats or more pups have a selective
advantage. Concern about cruelty and suffering
doesn't, so far as we know, enter into
it. INTERMISSION Followed by the Grand Tour of
the Universe
Grand Tour At Home in the Universe the
extremely small       antiprotons, quarks,
neutrinos, ... the extremely large      Sun /
galaxies / superclusters of galaxies the
extremely fast      Einstein's Special
Relativity simultaneity/spacetime the
extremely massive      Einstein's General
Relativity Black Holes the extremely
complex      Molecular Biology / human brain /
Art of Fugue
Slides to keep in mind during the Tour
  • It is a great adventure to contemplate the
    universe beyond man, to think of what it means
    without man-as it was for the great part of its
    long history, and as it is in the great majority
    of places. When this objective view is finally
    attained, and the mystery and majesty of matter
    are appreciated, to then turn the objective eye
    back on man viewed as matter, to see life as part
    of the universal mystery of greatest depth, is to
    sense an experience which is rarely described.
    Richard Feynman

"There are countless constellations, suns and
planets we see only the suns because they give
light the planets remain invisible, for they
are small and dark. There are also numberless
earths circling around their suns, no worse and
no less than this globe of ours." "No
reasonable mind can assume that heavenly bodies
which may be far more magnificent than ours
would not bear upon them creatures similar or
even superior to those upon our human earth."
Giordano Bruno Born 1548
Burnt alive at stake 1600
  • some numbers
  • (anti)proton  about 10-15 m, 10-27 kgEarth 
    107 m, 1025 kgSun 109 m     1030 kg    1011 m
    from Earth        emits 1026 W gt 1014 kt TNT
  • 1011 stars in each of the 1011 galaxies in the
    visible universe
  • Supernova explosion 1044 J----------------------
    ----number of humans 1010number of cells in
    human body 1014 (from 1 (one) at conception)
  • with 1010 base pairs  (and thousands of molecular
    machines) in each cell human brain 1010 neurons
    with 104 synapses (on average) eachnumber of
    notes in Bach's Art of Fugue 123,000number of
    lines defining the Mandelbrot set 3 (cf. Dirac
    on QED and chemistry)

Antiproton-proton annihilation As seen in a
Hydrogen Bubble Chamber
(No Transcript)
Fig. 19 Marvelous Molecular machines
contd. Left spontaneous assembly and
disassembly of a microtubule Above a kinesin
molecule walkssic along a microtubule, carrying
an organelle

See http//
Mandelbrot Set Tour
  • 1) z(0) 0
  • 2) z(n1) z(n)2 c and back to 2)
  • 3) if z(n) finite then c belongs to the set
  • Example c -1 gt z(2) (-1)2-10
  • z(3) 02-1 -1
  • So c-1 is a member of the Mandelbrot set
  • Example c 1 gt z(2) 121 2
  • z(3) 221 5
  • So c1 is not a member of Mandelbrot set

Amazingly, this simple algorithm results into an
object of infinite complexity (and arresting
beauty). One cannot but recall Diracs claim that
the Quantum Electrodynamics explains most of
Physics and all of Chemistry
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
Neutrinos emitted from the Sun and arriving at
the SuperKamiokande detector after passing
through the whole Earth
(No Transcript)
The Andromeda Galaxy 2 million light years away.
The most distant object visible by naked eye (you
have to know where to look, and find a really
dark place, but the experience is very much worth
Note for details on when and how to see
Andromeda, see http//
Our own Milky Way (in infrared)
Milky Way as (imagined to be) seen from a planet
in the Large Magelanic Cloud (170,000 l.y. away)
(No Transcript)
Black hole (2.6 billion Suns) at center of M87,
with globular clusters (the faint yellow cloud is
the galaxy itself globular clusters (see next
slide) are the visible dots)
Globular cluster Omega Centauri
New stars on the rim of the Cartwheel Galaxy
after a collision another Galaxy.
Stars orbiting a black hole (with a mass of 3.6
million Suns) in center of Milky Way. (You have
to view this in the slide show mode to see the
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
The famous Hubble Deep Field. Magnification is
large that only 1 star of own Galaxy is in the
picture. http//
First Stars in the Universe
In some respects, science has far surpassed
religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly
any major religion has looked at science and
concluded, "This is better than we thought! The
Universe is much bigger than our prophets said,
grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be
even greater than we dreamed"? A religion,
old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the
Universe as revealed by modern science might be
able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe
hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner
or later, such a religion will emerge.

Carl Sagan in Pale Blue
Exuberance and Humility in Music, and Science
The pipe organ at the St. Marks Cathedral in
Seattle, and the 1743(Bach was just composing the
Art of Fugue then!) instrument at the College of
William and Mary in Williamsburg).
The Synthesis The synthesis must happen inside
your heads this is an attempt to help the
process Basic Problem is an example of
critical importance, but still an example, of how
Science is the Driving Force of History The 5
steps are not completely specific by
necessity Only two things are certain 1) it is
YOU who has to do it
2) it will take deep thinking out of the
box (another Chinese proverb If you do not
change your direction, you will end up where you
are heading )
Some philosophical concepts The value of
doubt (see Jan C. and Feynman) and the beauty of
search If I held the Truth in my hands, I
would let it go, for the sheer pleasure of
seeking. (quoting from memory a reference
would be greatly appreciated) The humility of
exuberance and the exuberance of humility.
What about culture? what is the value of
Elementary Particle Physics for National
Defense? none, except it makes the Nation
more worthy of defending -------
what is the value of Art of Fugue none,
except it (or something equivalent for you) makes
the Civilization more worthy of preserving
And what about God? (Religion Conclusion part
2)) The worldview that Science inspires
Not traditional, revealed religion
too arrogant
Man was created to Gods image
Not secular humanism
too arrogant
Man is the measure of
everything Instead Deep, humble
spirituality, valuing Doubt and loving Search
The Grand Conclusion 21st Century will witness
an attempt at a birth of the Homo Sapiens
Civilization. Science will be the driving force
of that attempt. The possibility of escaping
Darwinism and taking our future into our own
hands is unavoidable. How we use science will
determine whether the attempt will succeed or
not. Informed and educated citizens, with
sensitive detectors functioning inside their
heads, will have to take control of their
future. This may well be the most interesting
time to be alive.
Write a Comment
User Comments (0)