Out of all the potential fallacies and blind corners that logical systems of thought often make, the most frustrating is the occurrence of what is called The Devil’s Proof. With this, anyone can claim the outrageous and lay waste to scientific research and logic.
To put it simply, the Devil’s Proof is the fact that non-evidence cannot disprove something’s existence. While evidence can help prove something, the lack of evidence cannot prove that something is untrue. While scientists have ample evidence that autism is not connected to vaccines, however, because of the Devil’s Proof, they cannot confirm 100% that autism is not linked to vaccines. As one scientist put it:
“[While I can’t disprove the link between autism and vaccines,] I am as certain that autism is related to vaccines as I am that I will fly if I step off the roof of this building.”
Using this logical loophole, people can claim anything because unless it has been proved to be something else, anything could be everything and vice versa. That might sound confusing and hard to swallow because our brains like to think that what we know to be true is definite. However, since we need affirmative proof to officially say something exists or exhaust every method possible to prove that there is no proof, everything that does not have evidence proving its existence can also be true because maybe the reason why we don’t have proof yet is just because we haven’t discovered it.
Here’s another example: If your friend shows up with a candy bar that you just lost, can you know that their candy bar was stolen from you? In a legal scenario, the lack of evidence that she took your candy bar means that you technically can’t indict her for the crime. However, due to the Devil’s Proof or what lawyers call probatio diabolica, she has to then prove she didn’t take your candy bar by showing where she got it from etc. So in a court, when faced with proving something impossible to prove, the burden is then reversed onto the other person to prove their innocence.
This may be contrary to “innocent ’til proven guilty” but there is no choice when you don’t can’t definitively say that this person was the one who committed the crime but is instead just the most likely one. While the example above was somewhat simplified from what you see in real life, the Devil’s Proof, when applied elsewhere, isn’t so easily remedied.
You can see that in the belief that America has millions of the dead and “illegals” that voted in the last election. While there were four cases of documented voter fraud (three of which came from Trump voters trying to prove that there is voter fraud and got caught), the Devil’s Proof states that just because there is no further evidence doesn’t mean that it did not occur. Therefore, people have taken advantage of that and that’s how we ended up with this debate nowadays.
The same goes for conspiracy theories like the fact that the global elite might be lizard people from the Illuminati. There is absolutely no proof of that but, once again, the lack of proof doesn’t mean a seal of innocence.
While this sounds quite grim for those who are logical-minded, remember that while this phenomenon can be used to support whack theories, it also means that things like extraterrestrial life are very possible and so are some of the more tentative theories in quantum physics and the possibility of parallel universes etc. So don’t lose hope and remember that although this logical loophole can be dangerous in the stupid hands, it also opens up the world of possibilities.
While I’m sure most of you are already aware of the Devil’s Proof, you just didn’t have a name for it. Well, here it is. Hope you guys enjoyed this article and leave a like if you did. Follow for more of this sort of thing and comment any topics you would like us to cover.
This is Lieutenant and I’ll see you next time.
P.S. School starts next week so I’ll have to rebalance my schedule between school, work, fencing club and writing for Outlet. Expect a rough patch in the coming weeks. I don’t think I’ll have any major problems but who know… Well, I wish anyone going back to school this fall luck and godspeed to you all.
Traffic jams are an everyday occurrence especially if you live somewhere decently populated. Sometimes, even though traffic is constantly moving, the speed slows to a crawl out of nowhere. This is especially true when you hit a stoplight and even though it’s a local road during non-rush hour, somehow, there’s a backup of cars for several blocks.
So why does this happen?
As it happens, humans aren’t very patient. Whenever we see space in front of us, we tend to hit the gas to close that distance as fast as possible. However, that also means that we have to stop when that distance is closed. With each start and stop, time is needed to accelerate and decelerate the car. If each car takes just two seconds to accelerate and decelerate, then with just ten cars, there would be a twenty-second delay between the light turning green and the last car starting to move. Now imagine this happening all the way down a highway.
So how do you fix this? First, share this so that more people are aware and not make this mistake and second, try to maintain a constant slow speed whenever you find yourself in a jam. Even if there is not a traffic jam, try not to accelerate too much at one time. Remember, whenever you start and stop abruptly, this effect is multiplied in the cars behind you.
Of course, traffic jams can also be caused by car accidents or road repairs and things like that but they can still be made worse by this behavior. So instead of skipping the line and trying to fit back in right before the point of merging, just take your place in the line and maintain as constant a speed as possible and trying to minimise the number of complete stops you make. If enough people do this, our traffic flow all around the world will become so much smoother.
Oh and the triangle islands at intersections really do help. Instead of having to make a 90-degree turn, cars can merge directly into traffic on a perpendicular road. First, it’s safer and second, it frees up a lane and third, it also doesn’t slow down incoming traffic as much. Smart planning by the city council is just as important as the people using the roads themselves.
That’s all for this time. I’ll talk to you later.
I found a video on YouTube (by ASAPScience) that explains this along with several more details:
Trigger Warning: There are pictures in this article that may be upsetting to some. Viewer discretion is advised.
‘Ello! This is the start of a new series that deal with mysterious diseases and unusual pathogens. The first of this showcase is the prion, a silent, mysterious and nigh-invulnerable killer with a 100% mortality rate. Let’s start from the beginning.
In the 1950s and 60s, the Fore people of Papua New Guinea started dying of a mysterious disease that first started with the loss of coordination, making movement awkward and jerky, and progressed to the point where the person could no longer walk and in the terminal stages of the disease, the person can’t even sit without support and they’ll die within two years. It was dubbed Kuru, meaning “trembling” in the local language. But what was the cause of this disease?
It turns out that the Fore people practice funerary cannibalism, that is, the eating of dead relatives in the belief that the soul can be released from the body in that way. There was also the fact that the ones who were affected by kuru were children and young women. This was because the men of the tribe would take the muscle and the more nutritious organs and leave the less savoury parts for the women and the children, namely the brain. Later, scientists would find out that the main source of infection from cannibalism comes from the consumption of infected brains and spinal tissue.
As more and more people died, the practice of cannibalism made sure that kuru would spread and infect more and more people. The thing that made the case especially baffling was the incubation period of kuru which could be up to several decades which meant that symptoms of infection would pop up way after the time of exposure. Cannibalism was outlawed afterwards and the number of deaths each year steadily decreased after that. There are still some that are dying from the last of kuru today.
The event that brought greater international scientific attention to the prion’s existence came in the late 1980s and the 1990s in the UK when a massive number of cows suddenly lost coordination and died shortly after. It was dubbed the mad cow disease. At first, the scientists thought of scrapie, a disease that occurred in sheep for the last two centuries. It caused irregular movements in sheep and the name came from how the infected sheep would rub against things like trees until their wool was scraped off, exposing red raw skin. The symptoms were somewhat similar to the cows’ but there were no previous cases of such a disease in cows.
So scientists began to look for a source of infection in the cattle population. They found that the carcasses of sheep infected with scrapie were used to make feed for the cattle. The cattle that died from mad cow disease were then also reintroduced into the food supply of cattle as feed. This escalated the range of the disease and it spread quickly through the cattle population of the UK.
The formal name of mad cow disease is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Bovine means cow-related. Spongiform Encephalopathy means spongy brain. So what the disease does is poke holes into the nervous tissue of the infected until it resembles a sponge.
When the scientists discovered this, they took samples of infected brains and tried to find what was causing the condition. They found that whatever was causing this condition (a substance so small it appeared fuzzy even under an electron microscope) was impervious to radiation that would have destroyed DNA and killed any living being. Short of total incineration, it was also highly resistant to heat so cooking infected tissue wouldn’t work. Scientists have also found that disease-free populations of cattle or sheep that have moved onto pastures previously occupied by a diseased population also came down with the same disease as the previous population. That means that bodily fluids, or at least, excrements, were also responsible for spreading the disease and that whatever was causing the disease could survive and remain pathogenic outside of a living body for a long time.
They have found something that was unlike any other known pathogen. However, its existence have been predicted since the 1960s and was further confirmed with the work of Stanely Prusiner in 1982, who identified a specific protein responsible for most of the cases transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), which is any disease that is caused by prions. This protein was named the prion or Prion Protein (PrP). They found that the disease-causing version of this protein was a perversion of a naturally-occurring protein in animals. The benign protein and the pathogenic proteins were made up of the same things but the disease-causing protein was folded differently, altering its function (like how they taught you in 9th-grade Biology).
The spread of prion-caused diseases from sheep to cows raised alarm bells. If it could cross the species barrier, then could it infect humans? They weren’t sure at the time and since kuru was perpetuated by cannibalism and rose from a different source, most people thought that they were safe. That said, many countries stopped the importation of UK beef products to some extent and started testing for BSE periodically in their own cattle populations. The practice of making brain and spinal tissue into animal feed was also banned. But then, a farm-raised mink population started showing signs of TSEs and they were confirmed to have been infected by prions. The cause was also because of contaminated food. They also found that other animals, like deer and cats, could also contract their own forms of spongiform encephalopathy. Suddenly, the immunity of humans no longer seems so certain after all.
The way the prion infects the body is in the way they react with proteins when exposed to nervous tissue. The prion isn’t alive so it isn’t able to reproduce and make extra copies of itself like the usual forms of infection from other pathogens. Instead, it makes it so that the other proteins that come into contact with it become malformed and those converted proteins, in turn, continues to affect other proteins in the same way until enough tissue in the brain has been rendered unfunctional that it affects the organism and eventually kills it. Since it’s not a bacterium, antibiotics don’t work against it. Radiation, like I said before, doesn’t affect it either since it has no genetic information. The only way to treat any diseases caused by prions would be a drug that has something that can bind to the pathogenic prion proteins and make them unable to convert other proteins into itself (something like an antibody). There have been attempts to find such a drug but nothing has been proven to be effective so there remains no way to cure or treat any form of TSEs once you’ve contracted it.
And yes, it turns out that humans can get infected by TSEs and it’s not limited to cases of cannibalism. Consumption of infected brain, spinal or digestive tract tissue can cause you to develop TSEs (don’t worry, there have only been four confirmed cases of BSE in the US and you don’t have to worry about contaminated meat since they don’t sell the potentially contaminated parts in marketplaces anyway). Another possible way to get TSEs, that I mentioned before, is through your environment. If an infected animal defecates somewhere where there is a water source or some other sort of carrying agent nearby, you might come into contact with it if you drink contaminated water or breathe it in. But this method of transmission is unlikely to affect us unless we start eating grass where infected droppings once were so we’re safe from that. There has also been a study that suggests that certain genetic weaknesses will make some people susceptible to developing TSEs on their own without an external source of infection. There’s still a lot to be discovered about the nature of prions and we still don’t know a lot about the basic functioning and structure of prions so the information on this article might change come any new discoveries.
In any case, instances of humans contracting a form of TSE is extremely rare and preventative measures have been taken in most countries to minimise any possible contact to pathogenic prions. So, unless you have extremely bad luck or happen to be in special circumstances, your brain will be safe from this mysterious killer.
That’s all for today. This is a longer article than usual. As always, like and comment and let me know what you think and if you have any ideas on what topic you’ll like me to tackle next, leave that below as well. Follow if you’d like to see more articles like this.
I’ll talk to you later.
Here’s the wiki page on prions. It has some good sources in the reference section.
Today, we’re talking about sound and the reality of things. You may have noticed that I’m super into quantum mechanics and I’m continuing the exploration of the quirky side of reality in this article so buckle up and prepare to have your mind blown.
First off, what is sound? It is vibration. It is a result of molecules bouncing off each other violently. That’s why lightning produces thunder. The flash of high heat is so quick that the heated air around it has no time to expand. So the air compresses around the lightning bolt, raising the air pressure around the area up to 100 times the normal level and causes an explosion of air molecules away from the source in the form of a sonic wave. Our ears pick that up in the form of vibrations that shake our eardrums and this vibration travels through our ear to the brain, where it is processed into sound.
We don’t usually think of our hearing as we think of our vision, that is, being indispensable. On debate.org, sixty-one percent of the participants when asked if they’d rather be deaf or blind said that they’d rather be deaf. This sort of underestimation of the effect of sound is understandable; in fact, it has been said that ninety percent of information entering the brain is visual (not a verified fact) and somewhere around half of our brain’s neurons deal with vision in some way. But sound is more than just our never-sleeping sense, it is the fundamental nature of reality.
Sound has some very real applications in our technologically advanced world. Sound can be used as the replacement for our sight in the form of echolocation and our militaries use sonar and radar to see things that we can’t perceive using our eyes. We can use sound waves to perform high-risk surgeries with minimal invasion on the patient’s body. Ultrasounds also made mothers’ lives easier by letting them see their babies before they’re born. Sound is undervalued as a phenomenon of nature but it is quite useful. And that’s not counting what our ears do for us every single day.
But with the discovery of cymatics and the invention of the cymascope, scientists have found more reasons why sound is awesome. Cymatics is, according to Wikipedia, is “a subset of modal vibrational phenomena.” Basically, it’s just how sound can be visualised using physical things, like sand or water. The Featured Image (not mine) above shows some of the results of cymatics in the medium of water. Here’s a video:
So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that sound can somehow affect the nature of things. It can arrange matter into certain repeating patterns and change their nature to match the vibrations of sound. This sort of natural geometry in sound is way too neat so there must be something else to sound right? Yes. Let’s take a look at string theory. String theory is one of those quantum mechanics things that are waaaay beyond anyone’s understanding because 1) we can’t see or feel it, 2) it’s super wacky and 3) well, here’s the introductory page from String Theory for Dummies. The underlying theme is sound. If string theory is correct and it unifies the four forces of the universe (gravity, strong and weak nuclear force, and electromagnetic force), then that means that the vibrating strings that make up the theory is controlled by sound (in this case, vibrations, which is basically the same thing but sound is a human, or rather, an animal condition–more on that later).
Think about it. Everything in our universe, the nature of every single atom and particle, the reason why an electron is different from a photon, is because of the ways these strings vibrate. In fact, everything has an acoustic identity or as it’s known, resonant frequency. The reason why glass breaks if you play a certain frequency (aka note) at a loud enough amplitude (aka volume) is because that “certain frequency” is at the frequency that the glass vibrates at and by matching that frequency, the glass will start to tangibly vibrate. And by increasing the amplitude of the vibration (increasing the volume), the glass will try to vibrate at a much faster rate than the material of the glass can handle and thus, shatters. Here’s a visual demonstration:
This resonant frequency exists in everything: your car, your house, your head (looking at you, Sindel from Mortal Kombat), and by extension, you can destroy anything you want if only you can produce the sound needed. If you’ve watched Darker Than Black, then you’ve seen an example of how this method can be used to kill people too.
So sound is not just something that is merely convenient if we want to speak to someone, it can also explain the physics of the universe. Well, I say sound but it’s actually vibrations. Like I said earlier, sound is an animal “condition” (not sure if that’s the right word) because sound is just vibrations that our brains have processed. It’s like looking at the world through a digital camera; the image on the screen isn’t actually what’s really there, it’s just the camera’s rendition of what it sees. Anyway, enough with the metaphors. This is a slightly shorter article than usual but I hope you have found it informative and interesting all the same.
As always, like if you’ve enjoyed it, follow, all the usual stuff. And I’ll talk to you later.
Here’s a link to a documentary that will tell you more about sound.
One is a magic number. It is probably the first number we learn and in learning it, it opens up a whole new world. However, there is more to one than just the first number we use to count. It is the beginning of everything and it denotes individualism and uniqueness. One is one step from nothingness (zero) and one step from plurality (2). But that’s all nice and ordinary. There’s much more that one can be used for.
Let’s start with an example that a lot of people are familiar with. With those who have done algebra before (which, I assume, is most of you), the power of one is readily apparent. By multiplying/adding/subtracting/dividing one side of an equation and doing the same to the other side with the same value, you can manipulate numbers and sets of numbers into whichever shape and form you want.
This works because you’re changing the values on either side in equal measure, thus maintaining equality on both sides of the equation. This means that, in essence, any equation is just 1=1 (which, when you think about it, is quite obvious).
One also has the unique property of being able to be raised to any power and still remain itself. The same applies to when you take its root (no complex numbers here). One is also the quotient of any number divided by itself. There are many more of these properties that you’ve no doubt learned in your algebra classes.
The main topic today, however, is more interesting. We’re talking about wormholes. Like black holes, wormholes have never been observed directly but there has been evidence of their influence and the math also seems to back their existence (many other things seem to say that wormholes can’t exist). Basically, a wormhole is when spacetime is “folded” over to create a shortcut over long distances. The passage that forms is called the Einstein-Rosen Bridge.
But even if wormholes could exist, it would be highly unstable and too radioactive to interact with. So, let’s just say that, for the sake of argument, we found a way around the radioactive part of the problem and managed to create a wormhole that is big enough for us to get through (which in of itself is a big problem since whatever wormholes do exist are super tiny and they close right after they open). The reason that these guys can’t stay open for longer periods of time (besides the fact that they shouldn’t exist because they violate a whole bunch of rules about the universe) is because of the implosive pressure exerted on it. Now, I know I’m being super vague, but all this stuff is pretty complicated so I’ll just link below to a couple of websites that contain more substantial information.
To counteract this pressure, you need negative mass to maintain a wormhole for any meaningful length of time. This is not to be confused with negative matter. Negative mass is different from negative matter since negative matter still has positive mass.
So, where can we get our hands on something that has negative mass? Well, the answer lies in the field of quantum mechanics (Get it? Field? anyway…). Along with all the other crazy stuff happening in the microuniverse, there exists “exotic” particles. Spontaneously, all over the universe, random particles pop into existence and then disappear. When these particles pop into existence, another particle that is the exact same except with negative properties also form. Then, these two particles pop back together and it disappears. This is where all of this tie back into the concept of one I was talking about earlier. Since the negative particle and the positive particle have exactly opposite properties, it’s like adding -1 and +1 and getting 0. Because of this, these particles don’t technically violate the Law of Conservation of Matter (or energy, depending on what particles you’re using).
However, even if you’re able to obtain enough negative mass (which by itself is already extremely difficult, to say the least), you’d need somewhere to put all the positive mass that you need to conjure up to go along with it in order to maintain the Law of Conservation of Matter. For a wormhole that is the size of a door that stretches the distance of a football field, a Moon’s amount of mass needs to be created and balanced out with its negative counterpart. If you’ve violently jumped into a kiddie pool, then you know what happens when you suddenly displace so much mass/ matter and replace it with something else– only its consequences are far far more far-reaching. But say that we somehow have a way to go around that problem as well. What then?
Now that you’ve created a wormhole, then what? No one knows. If you jump in, you might get ejected into a different time, a different place or a different universe altogether. Or, more likely, you’ll burn up with the radioactivity generated by the mashing of atoms into a space much smaller than what it should be. And that’s not even talking about black holes or white holes. Either way, although we’re able to theorise about such things, we don’t know 100% whether wormholes or black holes actually exist. But perhaps someday, we might have a Tardis of our own and be able to travel through time and space. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to have more physicists digging into the secrets of the universe.
That’s all for this time. I’ll talk to you on Wednesday.
If you guys have any theories or ideas you want to put forth, leave’em in the comments and we might make a post about it. If you have any additional information that you want to share about this topic, tell us! We’d love to hear what y’all know.
Sadly for Hamlet, the answer isn’t so simple. The question is what does it even mean to be? Now, this isn’t supposed to be a philosophical post–in fact, it’s a scientific one. Heck, why can’t it be both at the same time?
Let’s start off with the famous tree-in-the-forest. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, did it actually fall? (Now, there is a version of this question that deals with the sound rather the sight but it’s basically the same thing.) The more practical-minded will say, “Yes! Of course it fell!” while other, more abstract thinkers will take a moment and say, “Maybe not.” This is a question of human perception, a sign of human arrogance and also an introductory thought experiment relating to quantum physics.
You see, we as human beings like to think we know everything. If there was something we didn’t know about existed, we’d act surprised. Why? Because we assume that thing didn’t exist until the moment we became aware it existed. But how do we assume something about something we didn’t even know about? Because you assume everything you know/believe in is real and everything otherwise isn’t.
So how does this tie into quantum physics? You see, as you go into the tiny things of the world, new rules start popping up and things become confusing and perception becomes everything. There. That’s the simplest answer to the question.
To clarify, many of the things in quantum physics only seem to exist at a specific time or place when you’re looking at it. Otherwise, it can be anywhere within a certain area with some areas more likely to contain what you’re looking for than others. In other words, the quantum object exists in waves of possibilities rather than in one particular particle, at least until it is measured. Perhaps a picture might help:
However, this isn’t the end of the mind trip. Apparently, something can only be a wave for as long as you’re not looking and once you look, that thing will be here or there like it’s been there the entire time. The wave of possibilities is known as a wave function and the collapse of the wave function is what allows us to use instruments to measure these particles. In other words, you know it exists but it can be anywhere within the wavefunction and you know nothing about its speed or direction right up until you measure it. It’s like having a little bug flying around a room in the dark and up until you turn on the lights, you have no idea where the bug is, how fast it’s flying and in which direction. But one of the things about measuring quantum particles is (say, an electron) that if you know the position of the particle, then you don’t know the speed and vice versa. Predictably, all of this is frustrating for scientists who want to have both for their data sets.
But that’s not all. Since the quantum particles seem to exist within the realm of possibilities up until the point of observation, that obviously means the particle is able to go anywhere within a certain area. What happens if you shoot these particles at a barrier with two slits? This is the famous Double Slit Experiment.
For brevity’s sake, if you’d like an explanation for how the experiment works, here is a video by Veritasium about said experiment.
Of course, this experiment did set off some well-established people of the time including Einstein who then said, “God does not play dice.” But now, we not only know that particles can have two forms but that particles that seemingly don’t have a connection to each other seem to mimic each other’s behaviour (albeit in opposite ways). It’s like having twins who know what the other twin is doing even if they are on opposite sides of the universe. However, this also raised questions about the legitimacy about such experiments.
If the particles do exist in this realm of possibilities and seem to be affected by unseen forces, then that means that any observations we make using our instruments can skew the results. From this line of reasoning, this may mean that everything we know about quantum particles, their behaviour and their properties may only seem the way they are because it is we that is observing them. In other words, the scope of our perception is limiting us to one perspective and it might be wrong. This doesn’t mean that quantum particles aren’t real. It’s just that the things we know about them might very well be incorrect. Or maybe what we know about quantum particles reflect only what we’re able to see.
This brings us back to the tree-in-the-forest. Everything we know about the universe is colored through our experience and our perception, therefore nothing truly is impossible because we have very limited senses of perception and if only we can get a “fresh” pair of eyes, we might be able to see more. In other words, when the Cheshire disappears, he’s still there. We just can’t see him.
What other philosophy/science mashups would you guys like me explore? Leave your comments below or email us at email@example.com.
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