Nature


Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

bones-travels-through-time

Map-cyberspace?

Cyberspace?

If you had to imagine what the Internet looked like, what would come to mind? This seemingly innocent question has given rise to some interesting and occasionally bizarre representations. There are the physical aspects, the infrastructure that makes it possible, the hardware that runs it, the software that interfaces with people and then there are the people themselves. There is a whole other conceptual side to it, which strays into realms of the human mind, and even the name cyberspace congers up visions of some universe within our own, but that is ill defined in physical space. The prefix cyber cyber comes from the Greek word kybernet,  meaning to steer or guide (a helmsman), from which cybernetic  is derived. One can appreciate the irony there and does the internet do the steering or the people using it? Well, this is a big topic and the many questions raised are outside the scope of this blog. When it comes to visualizing the internet I tend to like maps of the world that reflect human behavior or trends in activity. I showed some in a previous blog from June, 2014: The Internet – Yesterday to Today. The maps shown here show the who and how people are connected:

Map-of-internet-users-per-100-people-2012

Map-world-online-by pervcent-2013

Map-world-online-growing-access-2013

Map-of-internet-freedom-2014

Map-of TeleGeography-2015

In viewing some of these maps, I began to wonder what my own WordPress map of visitors compared to some of these. Turns out it actually looks fairly similar for the most part and is most easily compared with the map of Internet users per 100 people and Map of Internet Freedom. Below I show my map of visitors to Cogito Ergo during the period 2012 to 2015, and the associated list of countries with number of visits below that. All total, this blog has had more that ~11,000 views; ~6,000 visitors. On a monthly basis there are an average of 276 views; 163 visitors; 1.78 views per visitor. Currently there are 117 posts, 40 categories and 230 tags. I just record these stats for posterity and reference, and not sure they are of much interest to anyone. The map and countries below only reflect 2012-2015 since I activated the mapping feature, not the total numbers since I started this WordPress blog in 2011 and migrated all my previous years blogs here from another platform. I have actually been writing this blog for just about 10 years now. It may be time to give it a rest for a while and pondering a hiatus in 2016.

wordpress-2015-map

Cogito Ergo WordPress map of views (2012-2015)

WPmap-countries-107

Cogito Ergo list of countries by views (2012-2015)

This idea of Mapping the Internet is likely to expand in the future. It’s not just about the technical details or the purview of science to tell. Science is good at telling us how thing work, but not why they work or what they are good for. For example, we can figure out how the universe works, but not really why it works that way or why it exists. The future will have to go beyond the science and statistics of things and delve deeper into the relationship of man and machine. Mankind has been mapping the physical space on earth and outer space for millennia. The physical space of the human body and inner space of the human mind the brain has been explored for centuries and we are just beginning to map it. This thing called the Internet or cyberspace is as vast and complex I think than even we realize – like the universe itself or the human brain. In this case, however, the creator will be examining his creation. The ultimate Mapping of the Internet may reveal the creator in a new light, hopefully not Man the God, but Man the inquisitive explorer. Ultimately man is a temporary tenant of Planet Earth. Reaching into inner space or cyberspace to see ourselves may someday inspire us to reach for the stars. I like that line from the 2014 film Interstellar:

Man was born on Earth, but he wasn’t meant to die here.

I give some links for Internet Map exploration:

Global Internet Maps

The Internet Map
Geonet
Internet Census 2012
The Opte Project
Ways to Map the Internet
.

kirk-and-spock-travel-back-in-time-to-2014

As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:

spocklogic_Lyon-France_travel_blog.
spocklogic_Wroclaw-Poland_travel_blog.

spocklogic_Kirin-Hot-Pot_review.spocklogic_Long-Chao-Shou_review.
spocklogic_Ram-Pam-Pam-Pam_review.spocklogic_Raclawice-Panorama_review

That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…

city_on_the_edge_of_forever-kirk&spock

 

 

In the beginning there was an idea to share information and seeds of the internet were born sometime in the 1960’s. Segue to the early 1990’s and there is altavista & webcrawler for search engines, no advertisements and the start of the internet for everyone. There were modems that worked over the telephone line and squealed their functionality with signature precision. They were slow, but the internet didn’t need speed back then as it was mostly text based information. Then it all began to change: AOL, Friendster, Myspace, Facebook and the people didn’t really want information, they wanted to socialize. That was the real revolution of the internet.

The_internet-2007

The Internet (c. 2007)

 

The_Internet-2010

The Internet (c. 2010)

 

The_Internet-2013

The Internet (c. 2013)

 

Interesting from a certain viewpoint (don’t think physicality in the construction similar to the continents, but where you are and where you go to online based on the map designations). In this sense, it’s another travel dimension of sorts! It’s rather like the the maps you see in the Age of Discovery in the centuries past when men explored the world in sailing ships. The maps were crude at first but became more refined over time. There is a perspective here to be appreciated and that is the following: All things human begin from the fundamental to the advanced – that is how our species learns and understands. We seem to be better at this in some ways, especially technology, but not so good in other ways, especially getting along with each other.

A final comment: The internet is capable of breaking down barriers like class, religion and wealth and everyone can participate (in principle). The reality is that the human species does not use the brain it has developed and the instances of this are too numerous to mention in the thousands of years of civilization. Although Carl Sagan did not live to see the full potential of the internet age, I like what he had to say about humanity in general – The Frontier Is Everywhere:

We were hunters and foragers. The frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the earth, and the ocean, and the sky. The open road still softly calls. Our little terraqueous globe as the madhouse of those hundred thousand millions of worlds. We, who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds; are we to venture into space?

By the time we are ready to settle even the nearest other planetary systems, we will have changed. The simple passage of so many generations will have changed us; necessity will have changed us. We are… an adaptable species. It will not be we who reach Alpha Centauri and the other nearby stars. It will be a species very like us, but with more of our strengths, and fewer of our weaknesses; more confident, farseeing, capable and prudent.

For all our failings, despite our limitations and fallibilities, we humans are capable of greatness. What new wonders undreamt of in our time, will we have wrought in another generation, and another? How far will our nomadic species have wandered, by the end of the next century, and the next millennium?

Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds through the solar system, and beyond, will be unified, by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the universe, come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross, before we found our way.

References:
The internet 2007 – http://xkcd.com/256/
The Internet 2010 – http://xkcd.com/802/
The Internet 2013 – http://jaysimons.deviantart.com/art/Map-of-the-Internet-1-0-427143215
Carl Sagan – The Pale Blue Dot

 

 

drspock

I don’t often write about my travels in this WordPress blog (Cogito Ergo) as I have another site for that (TravBuddy). In this year of 2013, I completed a number of travel blogs on that site that are worth noting and I give the links to them here. Mind you, I don’t know that any of my travel blogs are ever really completed. Each one is like a child I nurture and raise up, but always needs attention in future ways. Anyway, I suppose I list them here for my own reference and also to offer it to others who may be interested in my travels. There is some connection of the blogs, one to another in embedded personal ways, but are also self-contained. Here they are:

Spocklogic_DC_Travel_Blog

.

Spocklogic_Italy_Travel_Blog.

Spocklogic_Switzerland_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Germany_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Travel_Topics.

Spocklogic_China_Blog.

Some of these blogs have been posted for some years, and I either added to them, made them more complete, and/or formed connections between them. Some of them are entirely new in 2013. They do tell a story in total I suppose and maybe that’s why I decided to make a sort of review of the Travels of Spocklogic here. They were also all the blogs featured on TravBuddy for me this year. My Italy blog (L’Avventura Dell Italia) seems never-ending and I have some more work to do on it, but the majority of important events are there for the most part. The last one in this list, the blog on China, is something I am still working on too, but intend (or hope) to complete it before the end of 2013. I suppose this collection of blogs forms a personal journey of sorts that I tried to form this year regarding my life and relation to travel. When I finish the China blog, maybe I will know what I have been endeavoring to understand and ultimately discover in my life. It’s not a teaser, or cliffhanger, but maybe more a matter of what I will embrace. Sounds enigmatic I suppose, but not really. It’s my personal perspective, the choices I make and what is ultimately best for me in a world of possibilities…

knowyourspock-1

It’s been hot in the United States for June/July 2012, breaking many daily and all-time heat records across the country. In the nations capital, temperatures above 95F have been seen for the first 10 days of July, also a record. During such heat waves there is always talk of the Heat Index. Most people have a general notion that this means it feels hotter than the actual temperature, but what does this actually mean? Since the human body gets it’s energy by burning calories, it needs a way to get rid of the excess heat generated. It can efficiently achieve this by simple radiation up to about 70 or 80F. Above this temperature range the body doesn’t have enough surface area to radiate the excess heat fast enough. This is when you begin to sweat and the process of evaporative cooling takes place. When the air is dry this works quite well, but when the air gets humid the evaporation can not take place because the air is already saturated with water. In this case the body can neither rely on radiative cooling or evaporative cooling and you begin to overheat. This can become a dangerous situation resulting in Heat Illness, and is the physical basis for concept of the heat index. Daniel Engber of slate.com gives a nice description of how the heat index works.

This makes a certain amount of sense, but where did the index come from and how is it determined? A decently accurate short history and discussion can be found in an online article by the Capitol Weather Gang. Basically, a New York banker came up with the idea back in 1937. I was able to trace this back to a Time Magazine 1938 article called “THE WEATHER:Humiture Wave”. An excerpt from this article is as follows:

The weather served to publicize a new word: humiture. The invention of a 38-year-old official of Manhattan’s National City Bank, Osborne Fort Hevener, it was first used by his friend Frank L. Baldwin in the weather column of the Newark Evening News. Humiture is a combination of temperature and humidity, computed by adding the readings for both and dividing by two. Weathermen called it a “fool word” but according to Mr. Hevener (who last week escaped the humiture by motoring to Quebec) this figure “gives the man in the street a better index of the summertime torture to which he is being subjected.” Peak Manhattan humiture: (with temperature 76 and humidity 98% of saturation) 87.

Subsequent stories appeared in New Yorker 1954 and New Yorker 1959 Magazines. Hevener published his story in an article called “All about Humiture” in Weatherwise 1959. Granted, Hevener’s concept was simplistic, but provided some relative measure of the modern concept of a Heat Index. It wasn’t until the late 1970’s that a  TV meteorologist in Jacksonsville, Fla., George Winterling, came up with a revised and adapted version of  humiture, which he apparently published in the an article called “Humiture-revised and adapted for the summer season in Jacksonville, Fla.”  (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 60, pp. 329-300, 1979) and began using it in his on-air weather reports. I have not been unable to find this article, but still looking for it. It is reported that the work was based on Robert G. Steadman’s seminal studies, humorously titled “The Assessment of Sultriness”:

Part I (Journal of Applied Meteorology, vol. 18, Issue 7,pp. 861-873, 1979)
Part II (Journal of Applied Meteorology, vol. 18, Issue 7, pp.874-885, 1979)

From these articles there are no less than 20 parameters and assumptions that go into a model that determines the heat index. They are listed here for your viewing pleasure:

a.) Dimensions of a human: Determines the skin’s surface area. (5′ 7″ tall, 147 pounds)
b.) Effective radiation area of skin: A ratio that depends upon skin surface area. (0.80)
c.) Significant diameter of a human: Based on the body’s volume and density. (15.3 cm)
d.) Clothing cover: Long trousers and short-sleeved shirt is assumed. (84% coverage)
e.) Core temperature: Internal body temperature. (98.6°F)
f.) Core vapor pressure: Depends upon body’s core temperature and salinity. (5.65 kPa)
g.) Surface temperatures and vapor pressures of skin and clothing: Affects heat transfer from the skin’s surface either by radiation or convection, determined iteratively.
h.) Activity: Determines metabolic output. (180 W m-2 of skin area for the model person walking outdoors at a speed of 3.1 mph)
i.) Effective wind speed: Vector sum of the body’s movement and an average wind speed. Angle between vectors influences convection from skin surface (below). (5 knots)
j.) Ventilation rate: The amount of heat lost via exhaling. (2-12%, depending upon humidity)
k.) Skin resistance to heat transfer: A function of activity, skin temperature, among others.
l.) Skin resistance to moisture transfer: A function of the vapor-pressure difference across the skin (and, therefore, relative humidity). It decreases with increasing activity.
m.) Clothing resistance to heat transfer: The magnitude of this value is based on the assumption that the clothing is 20% fiber and 80% air.
n.) Clothing resistance to moisture transfer: Since clothing is mostly air,pure vapor diffusion is used here.
o.) Radiation from the surface of the skin: Actually, a radiative heat-transfer coefficient determined from previous studies.
p.) Convection from the surface of the skin: A convection coefficient also determined from previous studies. Influenced by kinematic viscosity of air and angle of wind.
q.) Surface resistance to heat transfer: As radiation and convection from the skin increases,this value decreases.
r.) Surface resistance to moisture transfer: Similar to heat transfer resistance but also depends upon conditions in the boundary layer just above skin’s surface.
s.) Sweating rate: Assumes that sweat is uniform and not dripping from the body.
t.) Other assumptions: Ambient vapor pressure of the atmosphere. (1.6 kPa), steady-state equilibrium conditions, wind gustiness neglected, all evaporation occurs at skins surface.

All this was taken together in a model of the human body to produce some tables, from which a multivariate fit can be made to produce an approximate equation for the Heat Index in terms of conventional independent variables, namely the ambient temperature in Fahrenheit (T) and the relative humidity in percent (R), which is accurate to plus or minus ~1 degree.

This is, in fact, approximately what The National Weather Service uses to predict the Heat Index. So, now you know the whole story of where is comes from and how it is determined. It should be mentioned that this applies to shade conditions and in the sun it can feel like ~15 degrees higher still. Of course it helps if you are 5’7, weigh 147 lbs, walking in a light breeze of several miles per hour, wearing long pants and a short-sleeved shirt. In addition, it is assumed that the following have been calculated correctly: vapor pressure, dimensions of a human, effective radiation area of skin, significant diameter of a human, clothing cover, core temperature, core vapor pressure, surface temperatures and vapor pressure of skin and clothing, activity, effective wind speed, clothing resistance to heat transfer, clothing resistance to moisture transfer, radiation from the surface of the skin, convection from the surface of the skin, sweating rate, ventilation rate, skin resistance to heat transfer, skin resistance to moisture transfer and surface resistance to moisture transfer.

That seems like a pretty tall order to take all that and derive something meaningful from it, so it begs the question: Is it really all that accurate or useful? Well, temperature is a relative thing after all, so perhaps it is not the actual numbers that matter, but the danger that such numbers could potentially pose for human health. I think that is the lesson and usefulness one can take from a weather report when a Heat Index is given. It advises a person to use caution, which is always a good thing for safety. Like any scientific model there are always variation in parameters, and not every human being is the same, but this determination of how hot it feels on a given day above 80F with less than 100% humidity for an average person is only as accurate as the input values. It’s just the limitations of science nature of the universe sometimes.

Note: Canadians don’t use Heat Index, but something called Humidex. It’s a similar way to determining how hot it feels, but is  derived from the dew point rather than the relative humidity. I am not entirely sure what the difference is in interpretation, or if any scientific comparison has been made.

Here’s a Heat Index calculator
Here’s a Humidex calculator

Just goes to show that there are probably more ways than one to assess sultriness!

Very often we are our own worst enemy as we foolishly build stumbling blocks on the path that leads to success and happiness.” – Louis Binstock (American Rabbi)

We have probably all used the expression “They are their own worst enemy” at one time or another, but infrequently apply it to ourselves and admit “I am my own worst enemy.” Part of the disparity results from the fact that it is easier to recognize in other people, what we can’t see in ourselves sometimes, that is, “The Enemy Within.” Just as Yin and Yang are not opposing forces, but represent complimentary opposites of our duality, so “The Enemy Within” is part of us too and participates in a dynamic balance that makes us who we are. Let me explain with some examples, and then follow up with a little discussion in this direction.

Yin and Yang duality

There is an episode of Star Trek, from which the title of this blog is taken, where a transporter malfunction splits Captain Kirk into two separate beings. One is kind, gentle, compassionate and easy going. The other is opportunistic, selfish, domineering, and aggressive. The science fiction aspects aside, this is clearly an allegorical representation of the traits that make us human, but delineated into those that are considered symbolic of our positive and negative aspects. As Mr. Spock observes, “Being split in two halves is no theory with me, Doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other… I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both, makes them live together.”

There is the classic example of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde“, representations of good and evil with opposite moral viewpoints. It explores the duality of human nature and as Jekyll himself asserts, “It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both; and from an early date . . . I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved daydream, on the thought of the separation of these elements.

There is some parallel in these examples from popular culture and literature to Sigmund Freud’s concepts of the id, ego and super-ego as a structural model of the human psyche. I don’t wish to delve into these psychological aspects too much, but the overall theme here is that inside each of us there are complimentary and contradictory aspects that must find a way to live in harmony such that our overall demeanor produces some balance within us and reflects how we behave towards others. In the case of Captain Kirk, the separation of his gentle side from his aggressive side resulted in a purely ‘good’ Kirk (with no power of command), and a purely ‘bad’ Kirk (with the loss of any compassion). Each side needed the other in order to fully function as one complete, well-rounded being, with a rational center to maintain the balance. In a sense, we must love ourselves in all its complexity, both good and bad.

Kirk embraces his Enemy Within

While I would never advocate a life based on pure rationality (Mr. Spock), neither would I advocate one based on pure feeling either (Dr. Jekyll). Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Compassion and aggression are a tandem pair too, working together in balance. It seems important to me not to allow one half of ourselves to dominate our being. This does not mean it’s sometimes ok to be one way or the other. It’s easy to get mad, let rage or frustration take over and say or do hurtful things. It takes some discipline in life to achieve a balanced being. I suppose this is starting to sound rather Zen like, but this approaches my Yin and Yang thought perhaps. We don’t have to be our own worst enemy sometimes and it is avoidable if we recognize  “The Enemy Within” and understand our dual nature. Spend a little time in self-reflection and think about what this means to you. The duality of our nature is worth thinking about. It is not just black and white as good or bad, but shade and light as Yin and Yang.

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