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Huxley

When Thomas Huxley first heard Darwin's theory of evolution he
remarked, "How extremely stupid not to have thought of that."
 
 
One of the advantages of getting very old is that you have ample
opportunity to notice how extremely stupid you have been in the past. As an
example: Although I am not a Sanskrit scholar by any stretch of the imagination, I
have been exposed to Sanskrit over most of the past century, yet I never noticed
that Einstein's famous equation (E = m) was built into that language several
thousand years ago.
 
 
Although the concept of energy did not arise in European physics till 1845
with Thomas Young's definition of what we now call kinetic energy, it was known
to those older physicists in India at least several thousand years earlier. And they
had two words for energy, Shakti and Prana. If the whole Universe is seen as
energy, their word is Shakti, but if the usual discrimination is made between what
we call mass and what we call energy, then their word for energy is Prana. Now
as soon as you put these two notions together, you have E = m. But I was way
too stupid to think of all that back then.
 
 
And another thing: We were all taught that Einstein's equation meant that
matter could be converted to energy and that energy could be converted to
matter, but that equation would be E + m = K, that is, the sum of mass and
energy is constant. But Einstein's equation says that what we call mass is just
potential energy. How extremely stupid I was not to have thought of that.
 
 
Although I was always clever about geometry, I failed to notice that
Einstein's 1905 geometry ruled out the existence of photons. In his four
dimensional geometry, space and time come in as a pair of opposites so that the
total space-time separation between the emission and absorption events of a
single photon is zero. If x is the space between the emission and absorption
events of a photon and t is the time, and if S is the space-time separation
between them, then his equation reads S 2 = x2 - t2 , and since, for photons, x
and t are always equal, the total separation between the emission and absorption
events of a photon is always zero. That's why no one ever saw a photon in
transit.
 
 
When Thomas Young did the double-slit experiment in 1802, he invented
the wave theory of light to explain the diffraction pattern that he saw. But the
emission and absorption events of his waves are adjacent in space-time. And it is
for the space component of the adjacency that both slits are open. As Niels Bohr
pointed out, even electrons don't have trajectories. And, once again, how
extremely stupid for all of us not to have thought of that.
 
 
When I was younger, I took for granted that wet air was denser than dry
air. But it's not. The molecular weight of oxygen is 32 and the molecular weight of
nitrogen is 28, so, since the molecular weight of water is only 18, and since we
have the same number of molecules in the same volume of gas at the same
temperature and pressure, wet air is less dense than dry air because the water
molecule is lighter than the majority of molecules that make up our atmosphere.
That's why we have hurricanes.
 
 
When a large mass of wet air goes up, it cools off and the water vapor
precipitates out as cloud or rain. But the heat of vaporization of water is 540
calories per gram, and all that heat comes out when the water vapor precipitates
as cloud or rain. It is that extra heat that causes the cloud to go up, cool off and
drop more rain. This process can continue till the cloud runs out of water. And it
is the air coming in from below to replace the rising cloud that blows your house
away. The hurricane doesn't bring the rain; the rain brings the hurricane. How
stupid not to have noticed that when I was younger and trained as a chemist.
 
 
One would have thought, even before we sampled the Moon, that several
astronomers would have figured out that the Moon would be covered with glass
beads. That is because, in the absence of an atmosphere on the Moon, the
vaporized stone from an asteroid impact would condense to spherical glass
beads. Any kid could have figured it out. Why were we so stupid? It's mentioned
in the earlier literature only once. And the gegenshein, of course, is from the
glass beads that orbit the Sun.
 
 
I used to think that stars in the globular clusters and in the central bulge of
our galaxy could have planets like Jupiter and Saturn, made of the lighter
elements, but couldn't have planets like the Earth and Mars, made of iron and
rock, because the heavier elements were not available then. But now I see that
they couldn't have planets at all because they lack the angular momentum
required for planetary orbits. The angular momentum of those earlier stars would
have been transferred through their spinning magnetic fields to the hovering
layer, now called the halo. It is this angular momentum that flattens the hovering
layer into a disc. Most of the angular momentum of the galactic cloud must surely
wind up in the disc where stars like our Sun are born. I now suspect that planets
will be found only in galactic discs. Why didn't I think of that earlier?
 
 
It appears to me now that atmospheric twisters are the observational
evidence that galaxies are born in bunches. If galaxies were born alone they
wouldn't spin. But if a galaxy is born in a cluster it could pick up angular
momentum by passing another galaxy, especially a larger one. And stars that
form in a spinning cloud would, themselves, have angular momentum which
would be transferred by their spinning magnetic fields to the surrounding halo, to
what I call the hovering layer. Then, if the hovering layer is spinning, it will tend to
peel away from the axis of rotation, both north and south, and condense into a
disc. It is surely in such spinning discs that stars like our Sun are born with
sufficient angular momentum to form planetary systems with spinning planets. It
is the Coriolis effect on the winds blowing across the surface of a spinning planet
that causes atmospheric twisters in galactic discs.
 
 
John L. Dobson July 2, 2002
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