Daylight Saving Time S*cks

Daylight saving time makes NO sense. 


It does NOT save us a lot of energy as designed. 


Call it the wrong assumptions or bad science.


The law requiring daylight saving–switching the clocks (“Fall Back” and “Spring Forward”) is archaic and needs to be repealed. 


We’re messing with people’s sleep cycles and their health. 


People waking up groggy all over the country, feeling crappy during the day, and losing much needed productivity.  


How about we repeal this stupid law NOW and not waste any more time on the squabbling politics of the day?  


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Radio-Activity

So earlier in the week, I had a great opportunity to visit the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR). 


It was fascinating to see the reactor, control room, and all the cool experiments–not things you see every day, right? 


For safety, we had to wear devices that measured radioactivity and also go through machines that checked us afterward. 


When one person in our group went through the scanner, it went off with a red alert, and the poor individual obviously got really scared–like OMG is there some contamination on me or something.


But they went through again and it turned out it was just a false positive, thank G-d. 


I guess these really can be dangerous substances to work around, but still so marvelous how the scientists harness these neutron beams and direct them to all sort of fascinating scientific experiments. 


Being around all this science makes me think whether if I could do it all again–wondering aloud–whether I would pursue an education in one of these amazing scientific disciplines and work in the lab like a “mad scientist”–exploring and discovering new things and figuring out the mysteries of the universe and how the world really works. 


What a fun, fun field to work in!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal and Art by 4th grader, Phillip Kenney)

Trace Amounts of Cocaine

So this is a funny story from today.


I had a wonderful opportunity to tour a couple of labs at NIST today.


One of them does work in contraband detection.


The scientist asks if anyone has any money in their wallet.


I pull out a dollar and hand it to him.


I ask him what happens if he finds any traces of bad stuff on the money from me.


He says, “A cage will fall from the ceiling” and I’ll be in big trouble.


Uh, we all laugh a little.


He unfolds the money and puts it into the machine that looks for the contraband.


Oh sh*t, it comes up in the “red”–positive for cocaine.


Someone else says jokingly, “A little leftover from the weekend?”


I joke back, “Na, It’s from this morning before work!”


Ha, ha, I think. 


It turns out the scientist explains that 90% of our currency actually tests positive for cocaine


I’m wondering whether this is a commentary on drug use and even the opioid epidemic in America.


The lab director explains a theory that the automated money counters spread traces of the drugs from bills and contaminates the other currency.


Aside from this little experiment today, I got to learn so much about creating standards for contraband detection systems and equipment and in another lab about magnetism. 


It is unbelievable how smart these scientists are–they are so unique and of the best in the world.


I am so happy to be able to learn from them even if it’s contraband on money. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Happy Just The Way We Are

Great speaker today at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Mike Reiss, producer and writer for the hugely successful Simpson show–the longest-running series on primetime TV with 30 seasons and over 600 episodes!


The topic was “The Science Behind The Simpsons.”


Whether the guest was Stephen Hawkings or Leonard Nimoy–there was no shortage of scientists and science in this animated, comedy show that taught us much about life.  


The video clip above was a short capture of the Simpsons singing “We are happy just the way we are.”


Incremental change and continuous improvement is so important to our growth and maturation in life.


Yet, there is also a lot to be said for being happy with what you have and who you are. 


There is so much to be grateful for and plenty to enjoy at the moment. 


Many people are on the proverbial roller coaster to nowhere.  


It’s nice to get off the roller coaster and finally be somewhere that makes you happy and fulfilled. 


Mary Poppins get hit by the airplane at the end of the skit, and you know what, she’s not even missed. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Measurement And Standards Are Our Friends

So I learned that Metrology is the science of measurement. 


And measurement is the foundation of scientific research and creating standards. 


Scientific research and measurement are about exploration, discovery, and innovation.


Further, it is about finding the facts; it is objective; it is truth; it is essential to maintaining integrity. 


Standards also help to ensure dependability, because there is a common reference and you know what you are getting. 


A great true story that demonstrates the importance of measurements and standards is the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.


This was the third worst urban inferno in American history. 


It destroyed over 1,500 building across 140 acres. 


Fire engines responded from as far as New York and Virginia. 


But the problem was that they invariably could not help. 


Why?  


Because their fire hose couplings could not fit on the Baltimore fire hydrants–they were not standardized.


Without standards, we don’t have interoperability. 


We don’t have a reference that everyone can go by. 


It’s as if we’re all working on our own desert islands. 


This defeats the power in numbers that make us together greater than the sum of our individual parts. 


Science and technology help us advance beyond just ourselves and today. 


Measurement and standardization help us to build a better and stronger society. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Arguing The Negative

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I thought this was an interesting sign this gentlemen had.


It says:

“Those who reject Jesus do so because of sin, not science or evidence.”


Overall, religion is a matter of personal faith not to be argued, but rather when based to good, to be wholly respected. 


This argument though was basically saying, not to reject this particular tenet of faith of a major religion because there is “not science or evidence” from which to reject.


But usually, don’t we look for science or evidence to accept or do something. 


In other words, the default usually is that if you want me to believe in something or somebody, prove to me why I should


It’s a bad argument when you ask me to prove to you why you shouldn’t believe in something. 


Very often this is the same argument people use in relationships and in organizations.


We do the same thing everyday or over and over again, and we often don’t ask ourselves why we do it this way or believe this is a good way of doing something…we just do it. 


And in fact, when someone new comes in with “fresh eyes” and questions why we do it a certain way or have we considered another approach, we ask them to prove to us with “science or evidence” why their way is better, rather than reexamine our own ways and means.


I’m not in any way questioning here G-d or religion, but rather simply our approach to self-examination, introspection, and betterment.


Don’t ask me to prove to you why you should reject something, but rather be prepared to defend your hypothesis. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Little Wear and Tear

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Despite a generally longer life expectancy…people still have lots of aches and pains already by midlife. 


Danielle Ofri in the New York Times points out:

“Our bodies evolved to live about 40 years and then be finished off by a mammoth or a microbe. [However,] thanks to a century of staggering medical progress, now now live past 80, but evolution hasn’t caught up; the cartilage in our joints still wears down in our 40s and we are more obese and more sedentary that we used to be, which doesn’t help.”

I hear from so many people in their 40s that they are already getting knee and hip replacements; they have high blood pressure, diabetes, and are having heart attacks, and many even are seeing their first bouts of cancer.


So in many ways, the 40s really sucks!  


Many of us would be dead many times over already, if not for G-d’s grace and the miracles of medical science and technology these days. 


So life is prolonged, and we even often get pain relief, while we are able to continue forward with our families, communities, and careers.


As we read in Psalms 39:4

“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”

Perhaps that’s what illness is…G-d showing us that we are just mortal and that life is short and we need to make the most of every minute. 


When everything is going just swell, how easy it is to become arrogant and forget how mortal we really are. 


My father used to say:

“G-d doesn’t let any tree grow into the heavens.”

By our 40s, when most of us are growing our families, careers, wealth, and stature–unfortunately, maybe we sort of need that kick in the pants from Above. 


G-d is our maker and our teacher, and he guides us to the end of our days, and hopefully they are reached with wisdom, meaningful contributions, piety, and love. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Life After Death

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This was a beautiful article in The Sun about life after death. 


British physicists and research scientists are claiming that the soul exists at a sub-atomic quantum particle level. 


Evidence, they say, points to information (our consciousness) “stored in microtubles within human cells.”


When a person dies, the quantum particle information is released from the body into the universe. 


If it’s a near-death experience, the consciousness leaves only temporarily, but is then brought back to the cells in the host, and the patient revives. 


However, if the person dies, “it’s possible that this quantum information, can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul.”


This theory is endorsed by researchers at the renown Max-Planck Institute, Germany’s most successful research organization with 18 Nobel laureates  and 15,000 scientific publications a year. 


This is certainly one of the most hopeful and uplifting ideas that any of us can maintain–that life is not just finite, but that we are part of something infinitely larger, enduring, meaningful, and G-dly. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

With Creation, The Intelligence Of Even A Worm

 

Some of you may think at first glance, oh how lame.


Did Andy just take a video of a worm?


But there is something more amazing here than initially meets the eye.


Look carefully at what this simple little worm is doing.


It is inching forward with its sprawling body over the dirt, and it is dragging with it…a feather!


Watch how it moves its body and then see at the top, the sudden pull of the feather behind it–and again and again. 


Clearly, this is not an accident, but this worm wants this feather.


Who would think that a worm has the brains to identify, claim, and take with it, a feather. 


There are probably a lot bigger brains out there that can’t even do half that much.  😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

When It Comes To Education, We’re Just Playing Around

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So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, “But I still don’t feel that I am learning anything practical!”

He friends responds saying, “Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?”

The first young women says, “They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on.”

The second young women starts repeating, “X+Y, X+Y, that’s all they teach us!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 


We’ve gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it–it’s still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education–behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can’t innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don’t change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)