Monthly Archives: January 2016

I’m thinking this will not happen again any time soon

In the early 20th century many politicians were allowed to run under as many political parties in the primaries as they wanted. The future Chief Justice Earl Warren was a Republican but when he ran for Attorney General of California in 1938 he won the Republican ,Progressive and Democratic primaries so he had almost no opposition in the general election. When he ran for reelection as governor in 1946 he won the Republican and Democratic primaries and faced only token opposition in the general election from the Prohibition candidate.

(Book – Chief Justice – Ed Cray)


A ‘minor’ contradiction in our theory of everything

Two of the greatest theories about our world and universe were formed in the first half of the 20th century. The General Theory of Relativity describes space, time and gravity and it explains our universe on the very large scale. Quantum theory describes how particles interact and describes things on the scale of the smallest particles in the universe. Both theories have proven to be accurate in all current experiments. The problem is…at least one of them is incorrect in our current understanding. One of the most fundamental features of Relativity is that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. One of the features of quantum theory is that all quantum events have a probability to occur. One of these events describes a situation where ‘entangled particles’ can be separated and that when something happens to one of the particles there is a probability that the information about the first particle can be instantaneously transferred to the other particle, in other words faster that the speed of light. This contradiction is one of the most important open questions about of current view of physics. The goal of a ‘Unified Theory of forces’ would take our understanding of the force of gravity (Relativity) and make it work with our understanding of the weak force, the strong force and electromagnetism (Quantum Theory).

(The Great Courses – Science in the Twentieth Century)

Plagiarism by the Post Office

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” was written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus about Persian couriers. It was adopted by a Post Office building in the United States in 1912.

(The Great Courses – The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World)

Have politics changed?

Future Chief Justice Earl Warren was the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate under Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential election. In 1952 he chose to run for President and did control California’s delegates but not many more outside of those delegates. The race was almost a tie going to the convention between Robert Taft and Dwight Eisenhower. Warren was hoping that the convention would be deadlocked and that after several ballots he would be the compromise candidate. A California representative named Richard Nixon was in the California delegation and he had quite a few supporters in the delegation. Warren was unaware that Nixon had already accepted Eisenhower’s offer for the VP spot. There was going to be a pivotal vote on seating some Taft supporters at the convention. The initial decision by Warren was going to be that California would vote 50-50 on the vote and thereby remain neutral. After a lot of backroom squabbling Warren decided to allow the delegates to ‘vote their conscious’. The Nixon supporters all voted heavily for Eisenhower which was just enough to prevent the seating of the Taft supporters. This proved to be just enough votes to allow Eisenhower to come within 10 votes of the nomination on the first ballot and after that ballot delegates started to change their votes as it became obvious that Eisenhower would prevail. At this point Eisenhower did not even need the California delegations votes. After the nomination Eisenhower met with Warren and Eisenhower was very grateful for the votes in the seating process and in return offered Warren the next available Supreme Court seat and Warren accepted. Very soon after taking office the current Chief Justice unexpectedly died leaving the Chief Justice position open. Eisenhower did not want to name any of the other justices to the Chief Justice position so the new Justice would be Chief Justice. However he did not want that to be Earl Warren and asked him to wait for the next opening. Warren reminded Eisenhower of his promise and told him that he would take a regular Justice position if Eisenhower wanted to name one of the current members as Chief Justice but he knew Eisenhower would not do that. Eisenhower felt that he had no choice since he he did not want to get a reputation of going back on his word. Earl Warren became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

(Book – Chief Justice – Ed Cray)

Trust yourself with your new ideas

One of the great breaks with classical physics occurred when Max Planck proposed in 1900 that all physics occurred in distinct packets called quantum and was not continuous. He used this to help explain what was called the ‘black body’ problem. Electromagnetic energy can only be produced in distinct amounts. Distance has a smallest specific length that cannot be split into a smaller length. Time has a smallest specific time period that cannot be split into a smaller time period. This was so radical that even he spent years trying to disprove the idea. However, Albert Einstein decided to use this idea and the result was his famous paper on the Photoelectric effect for which he eventually received the Nobel Prize (he never won for the special or general theories of relativity),

(The Great Courses – Science in the Twentieth Century)

I may have a new career

When St. Augustine chose to write against a contemporary heretic group he had to address the question of re-baptism. The Donatists felt that only they could baptize Christians and all other baptisms were invalid. If a Donatist chose to reenter the Catholic Church do they need to be re-baptized? St Augustine decided that the Donatists were wrong and so he wrote that all baptisms were valid and there was no need for re-baptism. ANYONE can baptize someone as long as they followed the correct procedure. That policy remains to this day. The Catholics feel that the baptism really doesn’t have any meaning unless you are a member of the church but if you got baptized and then entered the Church you do not need to be re-baptized.

(The Great Courses – Augustine: Philosopher and Saint)

Brain and Brawn

The famous physicist Niels Bohr won a Nobel prize for his work on the atom. He is also the only Nobel prize winner who won an Olympics Gold Medal for his participation on the Danish soccer team.

(The Great Courses – Science in the Twentieth Century)


Four thousand years for a single language is a LONG time

The Egyptian writing known as hieroglyphics was started around 3500 BCE. The last known inscription using this writing was on August 24th 395 CE on a temple to Osiris (the inscription is dated). Sometime after that knowledge to read them was lost until they were deciphered in 1822 CE.

(The Great Courses – The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World)