Tuesday, 27 October 2009

More plastic = less greenhouse gas
Lord Stern pointed out that if we all changed to a vegetarian diet, it would make a major contribution to slow global warming since:
• more energy is used to produce meat and
• methane from animals is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide
Here are a 2 other less-obvious things we can do:
• Make more things out of wood - this locks up the carbon for a period - as long as we recycle and don't burn the wood afterwards.
• Make more durable things from plastic. (yes plastic!) - again this locks up the carbon in the fossil fuel instead of burning it.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

On this logarithmic scale we can see our own lifespan and size in relation to the universe.

The universe has expanded to 10 to the power of 27 metres diameter in 14 bn years

You expanded from 0 to 2 metres in about 20 years.

Our sun began life as a cloud of gas 5 bn years ago and will end as a red giant in about 5 bn years’ time.

Your life will end in less than half a million hours.

Friday, 16 October 2009

When we were babies, before we learnt to use language, we lived in a world of pure perception and gratification. This wonderful world in which everything has equal meaning slowly dissolves as we learn to classify, communicate, exclude and discriminate. Sometimes we return to that world in our dreams.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

These 3 timelines are on a log scale with the present in the middle. The Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) more or less agree that God is eternal and created the universe at a certain time. Buddhists and Hindus believe time to be cyclical. Most current science theories assume the universe has a beginning and an end.
Big ideas
I find it very hard to understand really big numbers relating to the cosmos or tiny sub-atomic particles. So I am trying to plot some big and small things on charts which start with the scale of a human being and go up to the scale of the universe.

Logarithmic scales
These are scales which stretch the axes of a graph to help show big and small things on the same axis. On a 'base 10' log scale each equal space represents 10 times the last one. So if the first division represents one unit, the second is 10 units, the next is 100 and so on. We soon reach huge numbers with lots of zeros.
To save writing lots of zeros, we can write 1000 as '10 with a little 3 after it' - the 3 tells us there are 3 zeros. So a million is '10 with a little 6 after it'. (Blogger won't let me write this properly).
Log scales don't have a zero-point, they just have smaller and smaller divisions. On some of my graphs I have ignored this!!

Cosmic charts
So I'm experimenting with drawing charts about us and the cosmos. Please let me have critical comments and suggestions so I can improve them (ie don't just say 'awesome').

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

"As above, so below" - this was the motto of the alchemists. They meant that our world and our bodies are microcosms of the whole universe. This is hardly surprising as we are children of our universe - so all the ideas we have are sons and daughters in this process. So we should take seriously all the ideas that have ever occurred to anyone.
This blog is about ideas: crazy, stimulating ideas, big slobbery ideas, half-formed ideas, scary ideas, beautiful ideas, ugly ideas, random ideas. Just ideas really.