Thursday, November 05, 2009

Doggerel #214: "Absurd"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

Sometimes, it's easy to dismiss something as absurd: It contains internal contradictions, like a "round square." It flies in the face of better evidenced ideas, like a perpetual motion machine that violates the laws of thermodynamics. This doggerel isn't about those sorts of things. Many woos seem to be under the impression that skeptics reject anything supernatural because it's the absurd in some other senses of the word.

First, there's the entirely subjective idea of certain beliefs being "silly." Hollywood isn't completely set against us, since every once in a while, they'll have a believer in the supernatural acting in a silly manner for the sake of comedy. I may crack a joke or two relating to that stereotype, but that has nothing to do with my dismissal of pseudoscience. Silly things happen in real life, after all.

Next, there's "absurd" in the counter-intuitive sense: This is very much real. I've heard many a quote from quantum physicists about how you never really understand QM, you just get used to it. Our minds were built for survival, not discovery, and we have a lot of mental shortcuts we use in our intuition. These shortcuts are useful in our everyday lives in the "middle world," but science doesn't confine itself to the everyday: Physicists work with particles so tiny and events so brief they, as Dr. Manhattan says, could be hardly said to have happened at all. Astronomers study things over vast distances, involving masses that dwarf our little blue marble. We should expect the unexpected in those circumstances.

Finally, there's "absurd" in the fantastical sense: The sort of wonderful things we often use escapist fiction to experience. We've sent men to the moon and back. We've sent robots to other planets. We can prevent treat diseases and injuries that would be a death sentence only decades ago. We can communicate almost instantly to people on the other side of the world. The world is already full of fantastic wonders, and I'm most certainly amendable to increasing the number. The world is already "absurd" in this sense.

"Woo" beliefs are not fundamentally different in any of these senses. The difference is in the logic and evidence used to support it.

26 comments:

Gabriel said...

I wish to question the 'perpetual motion machine is impossible' lingo.

Yes, PMM's are literally impossible, that that is because the entire point is moot in human conception.

Eternity is incompressible for us humans, we live to around 80 in the advanced world, that is it, a 100 years is not only a long time but considered 'wow'in our concepts. With this in mind, I wish to claim that PMM's are conceivable, but not in the literal sense we normally use it.

If someone, which should not be to hard, makes a machine that creates slightly more then it produces, say uses 10kwh and produces after production 2%, you have a PMM. Now because of tear and ware, this machine may only function for say, 100 years with various part changes and such, but still, in our eyes, our limited human eyes, we have a machine that functions longer then our lives.

nd imagine what the future holds, so no, we can not create a machine that will always function and produces more then it creates universally, but we should be able to create something thst does produce more then it costs for a limited amount of time in hiuman conception, sya one or two hundred years, which is an eternity for us, and that time span will change the world in an mazing way.

Non?

DwellerinDarkness said...

. . .

Do you know what "perpetual" means?

Because what you're describing, that's not it.

And people have been trying for centuries to create systems that generate more power than they expend. None found so far, and based on the laws of thermodynamics and our understanding of the constraints of physics, "something for nothing" is impossible. Not just improbable, but impossible. That's not skepticism, that's math.

Bronze Dog said...

*facepalm*

They're "perpetual" because they're self-sustaining without any outside energy, and any proposed method of doing that involves violating one of the laws of thermodynamics: Getting energy from nothing, or pulling something out of entropy.

The hypothetical machine you're describing is impossible, even with zero wear and tear: You put in 10kwh, the machine is going to produce less than 10kwh.

Gabriel said...

Wow..Ignorance must be somehing that you are proud of... I explain the entire thing, and then you come with such an ignorant thing like 'so you know what perpetual means...'..

Wow... Well, let me help you: Yes, PMM's are literally impossible, that that is because the entire point is moot in human conception....

Thats what I said previously, and then I explained HUMAN CONDITION and HOW WE WORK and what we would TRULY consider perpetual because of our limited Human Condition.

Are you playing ignorant and stupid or do you want to waste my time? Cheezes Christ.

Gabriel said...

Eh, no, you are inocorrect.

If we take a NUCLEAR REACTOR, which produces MORE energy then it cost, you are wrong. The issue is not Energy production, the issue is how and what we may use it for and what we consider cost.

Lets say a Nuclear Reactor produces 75kW-hr ad 100 years, the production cost would be less (in this imaginated example) then the cost of production, and THEREFORE it would technically be perpetual.

Now I would prefer using a more basic machine to make the example, say a water stream used as a power device production X amount kW without costing anything (as the WATER STREAM is 'eternal' in this sense, say 100 years before depleted).

Water streams and water in general is a perfect example of possibility or more or LESS possibility, it does not need to be truly perpetual because we humans are not, we live a short time, anything that can even get CLOSE TO IT is considered, but you missed that point.

Bronze Dog said...

*headdesk*

Wow... Well, let me help you: Yes, PMM's are literally impossible, that that is because the entire point is moot in human conception....

What does human conception have to do with getting something from nothing?

Thats what I said previously, and then I explained HUMAN CONDITION and HOW WE WORK and what we would TRULY consider perpetual because of our limited Human Condition.

Duration doesn't have anything to do with it. PMMs, also known as free energy machines, are impossible on anything more than the tiniest fractions of a second: The first LOT means that there's a limited amount of energy available to the machine. The second LOT means that whenever that machine does anything with that energy, some of it will be lost to heat or otherwise made useless for work.

*second headdesk*

If we take a NUCLEAR REACTOR...

That involves taking Uranium out of the ground and using the energy contained in it. It's still a net loss of energy. All we did was convert the stored energy of the Uranium and convert it into a usable form.

Did you flunk high school chemistry?

Now I would prefer using a more basic machine to make the example, say a water stream used as a power device production X amount kW without costing anything (as the WATER STREAM is 'eternal' in this sense, say 100 years before depleted).

It's using outside energy to power it. Just because it doesn't cost money for water to flow down hill doesn't mean anything. Money is not a part of the laws of physics.

Water streams and water in general is a perfect example of possibility or more or LESS possibility, it does not need to be truly perpetual because we humans are not, we live a short time, anything that can even get CLOSE TO IT is considered, but you missed that point.

You're the one missing the point. We're talking about getting something from nothing. You're talking about getting something from something else for no monetary expense.

Gabriel said...

And you are missing the point that we can create such machines that would, with uman eyes, be considered PMM's.

THATS my point, I am not demanding something from nothing (and I do not understand what kind of moron would, Bronze?), I am promoting the use of what exist and the possibility to create impressive machines that can produce energy we need at the cost of practically nothing in human eyes.

They will, eventually, break down or deplet, but because of humans being limited beings, this is not relevant to us as the time regarded is as they say, Superior to our existant.

Now, if we hold the views you do you would never create anything and live in a cave.

Nuclear Reactors is an example, YES we take it out of 'the ground' (impressive, did you google that?), and that you say such stupid things make me believe that oyu do not want ot learn and evolve.


Cheezes. When we created our NUCLEAR REACTOR we created an amazing amount of power that can (in this imaginary scenario) go on for what we would considr 'forever', say 100 years, and the power we get out of that is far enough then we need and our societies would thrive. Thats my point. Nuclear Fusion would also not exist in your scenario as we would have to MAKE the fusion go, and therfore it is not perpetual ... See the sillyness of your comment, OBVIOUSLY someone would have to make it start, and when that happens we got PRACTICALLY perpetual energy (in that imaginary scenario).

Taking enough time and energy we can create impressive Nuclear Reactors that produce ENORMOUS amount of power for us and that is ENOUGH for our society for the NEAR FUTURE which is considered VERY FAR away, say 100 or 200 years in this scenario, THAT is all we need.

Cheezes you are a moron, willingly or not? I do not know.

Bronze Dog said...

Oh, my dear Ammy, you're illiterate. I guess that's what we get for Dr. Silverstein's pet PoMo. He thinks he knows what I think on an issue because his literary deconstruction class told him so.

Nuclear power: Perfectly fine because they're getting energy from somewhere. They have to extract uranium. Not a perpetual motion machine or a free energy machine. Just long lasting.

Water wheel: Perfectly fine because it gets kinetic energy from water being pulled downhill by gravity.

Magical machines that get energy from nowhere, and are thus allegedly able to sustain themselves: Bullshit.

It sounds like the entire point you were trying to make is: "Long lasting power plants exist, therefore I can play some semantics games on you and be a real dick about it."

Jacqueline said...

Gerbriel whiffled...
"I wish to question the 'perpetual motion machine is impossible' lingo."


Bronze, you should consider yourself lucky that you have your own court jester to prance about making such a funny ass of himself for your entertainment.

JS;)

Anonymous said...

"And you are missing the point that we can create such machines that would, with uman eyes, be considered PMM's."

This sentence lacks a word, it should be:

"And you are missing the point that we can create such machines that would, with STUPID humans' eyes, be considered PMM's."

DwellerinDarkness said...

The temptation to simply respond with [Spanish accent] I do not think that word means what you think it means [/Spanish accent] is incredible. Because, Gabe, if you can't figure out that nuclear power is a terrible, terrible example of an energy generation system that requires minimal human intervention, then I think I'm pretty much stuck with movie quotes.

Dude, I'm an English major and I know this stuff. Did you major in Asshattery?

Bronze Dog said...

"And this Perpetual Motion Machine Lisa built is pathetic! All it does is move faster and faster." -Homer Simpson.

Gabe's knowledge of the topic is below that of the target audience of The Simpsons.

Bizarro said...

Me am Bizarro! Me am come take Gabe back to imaginated Bizarro world!
This world complicaterated too much for Gabe. He am confuserated.
We much sorry for mongstrangularation of languages and ideas by Gabe's imaginated mindoofussery.
We am take back our backforwards compatriot now!
Many sorrynesesses! Have nice day now.



Bixarro;)

Gabriel said...

Nuclear power: Perfectly fine because they're getting energy from somewhere. They have to extract uranium. Not a perpetual motion machine or a free energy machine. Just long lasting.

You just ignored what I said, then stated that 'duh, moron' claiming something I never claimed. Cheezes Christ.

Water wheel: Perfectly fine because it gets kinetic energy from water being pulled downhill by gravity.

And here comes the point, Yes, it would ne considered a perpetual machine because of human limitations and short lifespan.


And this is what you ignored, the second statement I said was that a PMM is technically impossible but also the even wordimagination of it is equal to such things like God, it just makes no sense.

But taking a water wheel, a perfect example of a possible perpetual motion machine. You claim 'gravity' gives it power, and once again we are back to semantics and silliness. Yes, but gravity wont 'run out'anytime soon, and I would claim that anything that can hold for, say, 100 years, or 500 years or a 1 thousand years is damn well worth the name of PMM as we are quite limited in our lifespans.


Now you alredy shot yourself in the foot, but you may not know it. You claimed earlier that X was not a PMM because it was given the 'power'/energy from being built up, that is, a Nuclear Powerplant needs Uranium so we need to aquire Uranium and therefore it is not PMM etc, this makes no sense as it makes the WORDS perpetual machine completely useless and impossible by DEFAULT.

Say someone COULD build a machine that could create energy from NOTHING, you still have not built a perpetual machine because by your previous definition it has been build and therefore not a perpetual machine but just a very good energy source which happens to be unlimited, see the usage of your words making everything rather stupid?



Anyway, I spoke about A machine that would in human eyes be considered Unlimited, for benefit of our brains, say a Water Stream that powers a Coffe Pot for 500 years.

Yes, I would consider that pretty 'unlimited' because Me and a couple of dozen or so generations will be dead before that as well as the rest of human kind, some comeone, dont be silly now.


Magical machines that get energy from nowhere, and are thus allegedly able to sustain themselves: Bullshit.

Bronze Dog said...

Gabe: And here comes the point, Yes, it would ne considered a perpetual machine because of human limitations and short lifespan.

Except that's not what a PMM is. Not all terms can be cut up into the first literal definition of each word.

But taking a water wheel, a perfect example of a possible perpetual motion machine. You claim 'gravity' gives it power, and once again we are back to semantics and silliness. Yes, but gravity wont 'run out'anytime soon, and I would claim that anything that can hold for, say, 100 years, or 500 years or a 1 thousand years is damn well worth the name of PMM as we are quite limited in our lifespans.

And I think we can safely say that you flunked high school physics, too. Gravity is a force, not energy. What's being used up is the potential energy contained in the water at the top of the hill. Gravity converts that potential energy into kinetic energy, some of which is captured by the water wheel. The waterwheel runs out when there's no more water uphill. Water gets uphill because of solar radiation heats it up, turns it to vapor, and so on.

And yes, force and energy are very different things, just like distance and speed are very different things.


Now you alredy shot yourself in the foot, but you may not know it. You claimed earlier that X was not a PMM because it was given the 'power'/energy from being built up, that is, a Nuclear Powerplant needs Uranium so we need to aquire Uranium and therefore it is not PMM etc, this makes no sense as it makes the WORDS perpetual machine completely useless and impossible by DEFAULT.


You really have no idea what's going on, do you? I suppose now you're going to claim that the common knowledge definition of "Perpetual Motion Machine" being different from the individual literal definitions of the individual words is a mass conspiracy to make you look silly.

Say someone COULD build a machine that could create energy from NOTHING, you still have not built a perpetual machine because by your previous definition it has been build and therefore not a perpetual machine but just a very good energy source which happens to be unlimited, see the usage of your words making everything rather stupid?

Oh, look, a lying liar who lies about my point of view and definitions.

Such a machine that makes energy from nothing would be a PMM/free energy machine by defintion. But that machine is inherently impossible if the laws of thermodynamics are true.

Anyway, I spoke about A machine that would in human eyes be considered Unlimited, for benefit of our brains, say a Water Stream that powers a Coffe Pot for 500 years.

Which is to say that you've been posting off-topic.

Gabriel said...

Such a machine that makes energy from nothing would be a PMM/free energy machine by defintion. But that machine is inherently impossible if the laws of thermodynamics are true.

Hhahahhahahaha, That was funny.

NO, you ALREADY CLAIMED that a machine BUILT is not PMM because it has been BUILT, look up what you said earlier, you claimed that if we build something/take something we use Energy and therefore not PMM.

FLUNK young man. Cant you even admit it, is it so hard to say 'oh, okay sorry, I formulated myself wrong' maybe? Just admit it, cheezes..

Bronze Dog said...

Being built wasn't a part of it. Being able to sustain itself without outside sources of energy is what makes it a PMM.

MWchase said...

Think about it this way...

Initially, some energy must be invested, to build the machine. Afterwards, it has a constant (or increasing, or maybe bounded decreasing) power output that eventually puts out as much energy as was invested, and then keeps going.

To think about it another way, uranium is a fuel. PMMs require no outside fuel. Either they just don't need fuel, or they can create their own, with an energy surplus left over.

Bronze Dog said...

Well put, MW.

Hence, The Simpsons's joke about Lisa's PMM only "going faster and faster" because, without fuel (outside energy being added), it somehow gains energy.

Bronze Dog said...

Just remembered an "unuseless device": A battery charger that uses 4 AA batteries to recharge 2 AA batteries.

Let's take a very simple idea of a PMM/free energy device: Its only starting source of energy is a battery. If the machine can recharge its own battery to full and still do something else in the process, it's a free energy machine.

Dark Jaguar said...

Seems I'm late to this party.

Gabe, am I to understand our local superior man doesn't know what it means for something to have perpetual energy? What's really telling is that instead of admitting your error and updating your knowledge, your first instinct was to redefine the term and claim all you meant was "EFFECTIVELY infinite", but your example, nuclear power, is not even close. 100 years? That's close to infinite to you? Do you not even think beyond your own life span? Heck no one even accepts the SUN as being an "infinite energy source", and that'll be around for a few hundred million years yet.

Jacqueline said...

Bizarro Gabe ejerculaterated:

"NO, you ALREADY CLAIMED that a machine BUILT is not PMM because it has been BUILT, look up what you said earlier, you claimed that if we build something/take something we use Energy and therefore not PMM."

Praytell my good man, what exactly is an unbuilt machine?
JS:)

Jacqueline said...

Gabe, FLUNK young padawan. Cant you even admit it, is it so hard for a racially pure ubermensch to say 'oh, okay sorry, I formulaterated myself wrong' and didn't know what the definition of a PMM was? Just admit it Gabe. Edam/gouda/cheddar Cthulhu!

Jacqueline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dunc said...

Oh man, that it some funny shit. What kind of rock do you have to be living under to be so completely unfamiliar with the conventional meaning of the term "perpetual motion machine"?

Gabe truly is the Dunning-Kruger poster boy for the ages.

Bourgeois_Rage said...

Wow, this thread is exactly what I expected when I clicked on "Absurd". Gabe, you have no idea what you are talking about.