Popular Memory of Vinyl Records Probably a Shifting Memory

One phenomenon known in Psychology is, that as the years pass, memories which we have of a same thing that once happened, will change, so that, 10 or 20 years later, it becomes hard to trust those memories.

A modern phenomenon exists, by which many Baby-Boomers tend to recall their old vinyl records as having had better sound, than so-called modern, digital sound. And in total I’d say this recollection is partially true and partially false.

When “digital sound” first became popular (in the early to mid- 1980s), it did so in the form of Audio CDs, the sound of which was uncompressed, 16-bit PCM sound, at a sample-rate of 44.1kHz. Depending on how expensive a person’s CD player actually was, I felt that the sound was quite good. But soon after that, PCs became popular, and many eager people were advised to transfer their recordings, which they still had on LPs, to their PCs, by way of the PCs’ built-in sound devices, and then to compress the recordings to MP3 Format for Archiving. And, a bit-rate which people might have used for the MP3 Files could have been, 128kbps. People had to compress the audio in some way, because early hard drives would not have had the capacity, to store a person’s collection of music, as uncompressed WAV or AIFF Files. Further, if the exercise had been, to burn uncompressed audio onto CD-Rs (from LPs), this would also have missed the point in some way. (:2)

What some people might be forgetting is the fact that many LPs which were re-recorded in this way, had strong sound defects before being transcribed, the most important of which was, frequent scratches. I think, the second-most-common sound defect in the LPs was, that unless the listener had a high-end turntable, with a neutrally counterweighted tonearm, and a calibrated spring that defined stylus force, if an LP was listened to many, many times, its higher-frequency sound content would actually become distorted, due to wear of the groove.

(Updated 3/02/2021, 18h05… )

Continue reading Popular Memory of Vinyl Records Probably a Shifting Memory

A Change In Fashion, In The Design Of Home Appliances Today.

I’m over the age of 50. One of the features which some ‘plug-in appliances’ had in my youth, was a rechargeable battery, which allowed them to keep an internal clock running, and therefore to keep track of time, beyond a power failure.

A feature which some ‘smart appliances’, i.e., Internet-connected appliances have today, which seems to be intentional, is the absence of a rechargeable battery. After a power failure, these appliances actually need to set their internal clock, either via a newly established Internet-connection, or via user action. And the main rationale behind this design decision seems to be, ‘The presence of a battery which recharges itself via the A/C may represent some improvement in battery lifespan, but would only represent a slight improvement in lifespan.’ In other words, if such appliances did in fact have such a battery, then instructions would also need to be distributed somewhere, on how to replace them, when they eventually fail. And many appliances’ manufacturers prefer not to broadcast such embarrassing instructions, but rather, to change the design as not to require a battery.

Two appliances which I own that seem to follow this model, are:

  1. My Dyson Air Purifier / Fan,
  2. My Security Cams.

In the second case, the trouble has plagued me in the past, that after a very long period of not monitoring the cams, their motion sensor would seem to trip while I’m monitoring them, but would seem to fail to leave any recorded footage, in the app panel where such footage should be found. I’d notice that some amount of storage on the SD Card has been consumed, which corresponded to video recordings, but the list of recordings to be played back would ‘look empty’. Additionally, to reformat the SD Card would succeed.

I finally found out what’s up with that.

Continue reading A Change In Fashion, In The Design Of Home Appliances Today.

A Brief History of Time

I recently took part of a socially-oriented group-reading, using an excerpt from the Steve Hawking book “A Brief History of Time”. This was a book which I had not read before, but which for some reason, our group chose to in to, on Chapter 10, which I believe is a chapter, in which the author tries to explain, ‘What is the theory of everything, with emphasis on Gravity?’

I think that one aspect of this book which was not taken seriously enough, would have been precisely, to present it as one interpretation of Physics. I think that as much as Science and Physics is supposed to be objective, this extremely broad field is in fact subject to fashion trends.

And so there is one example from this Chapter 10, which I would like to use, to exemplify of Physics is ripe with fashion. Steven Hawking tries to explain, why and why not Gravity has been incorporated into the Unified Theory of Physics.

Steven Hawking points out, that there have been false dawns in the evolution of Science, but that we are making progress, including in our understanding of Gravity. But Gravity has always had as its main drawback, the fact that it lends itself the least, to interpretation according to Quantum Mechanics.

That problem began in the middle of the 20th century, when Physics was making a turn away from theories that can be called the Classical Theories, based on Fields – hence, the Albert Einstein ambition to produce a Unified Field Theory – in favor of the particle-based Universe, which now dominates the current definitions of the Universe, and which has arisen out of a relatively sudden desire to translate all Physics knowledge, into particle-based, QM knowledge equivalents.

Scientists have always been quick to point out, that the particle explanation of EM radiation is easy, in the existence of Photons. The explanation for the Strong Nuclear Force has been easy, either in the form of Quarks, or in the form of Gluons. But then Scientists were at an initial lack for gravity, in response to which it was simply stated ‘Gravity is mediated by a Graviton.’

Nobody ever explained what the behavior of a suspected Graviton was supposed to be, to result in what is observed as gravity. And the way Steven Hawking responds to this in his book, is to suggest that Scientists cheat a little bit, by adapting their theories to observed facts. In fact, If Science does not explain observed facts, it becomes useless.

Gravity acts on all the objects of the Universe, over great distances, without any certification from Humans, as being QM-conform. But when Physicists were asked in the 1970s, to explain how, and to make use of the construct of a Graviton, they actually started to build a concept of “Super Gravity”.

There is a reason, why I had not heard of Super Gravity, before the chapter-reading. As an individual, I could simply be satisfied that Gravity had not been adequately explained, in terms of actual Gravitons. But professional Scientists do not have this luxury, because they always need to find the answers, where questions are still unanswered.

And so in the 1970s, they started to build a concept of Super Gravity, according to which Gravity was no longer caused by a Graviton alone, but rather by a Group of Particles, that included Fermions and Bosons!

This concept eventually gave rise to a model which was so complex, that it would have needed to be tested on computers to see – whether it reflects known facts about how gravity behaves. And it was the failure of Super Gravity, to provide a simpler answer, which also gave rise to the success which followed it – the Revival of String Theory in the 1980s.

But the failure of Super Gravity was not actually, as far as I can tell, an actual failure with Super Gravity. This failure takes its roots in the simple fact, that because every phenomenon needed to be caused by a particle, Gravity needed to be caused by a particle, this particle was named, but nobody can explain how a Graviton is supposed to work, even to this day.

Well, Mathematicians have found that String Theory makes the most sense, if its equations are describing a Graviton. But they too, cannot provide a common-sense explanation, for how that proposition is supposed to work. They simply like String Theory, because they do.

And as far as I am concerned, the most up-to-date description of the subject remains, that in theory, Gravity should be mediated by Gravitons then, but that Scientists still do not really know how. This was also the state of affairs, before Super Gravity was attempted.

Also, Steven Hawking makes the statement that Quantum Mechanics is generally the Art, of balancing positive an negative infinities, such that the finite residuals will correspond to the observable. This is very similar to how he simply explains, that directly after the Big Bang, there just happened to be slightly more matter, than there was antimatter, and that this was the reason then, for why today, the Universe consists almost entirely of matter.

These statements might be brilliant conjecture, but do not count as facts. The only place where Physics balances infinities, is in the special field of Virtual Particles. And otherwise the subject does not crop up, as a general feature of QM. But it is a fixture, to the Steven Hawking interpretation, of how the Universe works. Which somehow needs to conform to a very Human notion of QM.



Proxima Centauri

One of the facts which I had observed over the decades, was that in my youth, the concept of manned space travel and exploration was followed at first with keen interest, but that interest had waned at some point in time, and that the idea had become unfashionable.

Unmanned space exploration, on the other hand, remains fashionable, partly because it generates more-obvious benefits in the short term, but also because it tends to be more affordable.

But I honestly think that what is happening right now, given that an Earth-Sized Exoplanet has been found orbiting Proxima Centauri – the closest star to our own solar system – is that some, slow revival of the idea of manned space exploration is in the works. I think that even though somebody has just spent decades, effectively shutting down this concept, it is going to be reawakened. Beyond Mars, eventually People are going to want to travel to The Outer Solar System, and eventually to other stars.

It is one of the ways in which Human Nature is predictable, however disappointing it has been in the past.

Proxima Centauri has a known planet.


Note: However far-flung the idea might seem according to Engineering Realities, it is actually plausible, that mankind might be able to reach Proxima one day. It will be more difficult than Mars, but still possible, especially since doing so does not actually require that anything travel faster than the speed of light.

But if this is to be taken seriously, it also provides fuel for the recent efforts, to develop something akin to ‘a tractor beam’. Travel at say, 1/2 the speed of light, risks becoming ‘a nuclear sandblasting exercise’, due to cosmic dust, unless something is done to sweep dust particles out of the path of a hypothetical spacecraft. And as it stands, we could design a spacecraft simply to possess a powerful laser pointing forward along its path. But what this would due to dust particles, at most, is to accelerate them down the path our craft would already be taking. So, an impact with a cosmic dust-particle might be delayed by one microsecond, before it emits gamma-rays, etc. Such an impact would have nuclear-range kinetic energies.

If any possibilities exist, to make that particle accelerate along a vector 90° away from the path of the spacecraft, it would be highly useful…

Further, the actual amount of time-dilation which would follow from traveling at 1/2 the speed of light, is 15.470054% (rounded up).