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    Rio 2016

    As a point of interest, Olympic gold medals are mostly made of silver -- at least 92.5% by decree. As far as giving away too many medals in swimming, it only looks that way because Michael Phelps is a freak of nature that likely will never happen again. If you ignore his results, the...
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    Does a finite universe require 4 spatial dimensions?

    A 2-dimensional creature living on the surface of a 3-dimensional sphere could conclude he lives in a finite, unbounded universe. Is it necessary for a 3-dimensional creature to assume there is a 4th spatial dimension in order to conclude the universe is finite and unbounded? I have seen a...
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    Likelihood of confirming past life on Mars

    If there was microbial life on Mars in the distant past, would there be any way to conclusively confirm it? Or would any such attempt be reduced to speculation, like the Martian meteor which "possibly" contained evidence?
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    Killing all the lions and tigers...

    Van Gogh's paintings do not seem to have any particular use for humans, either. Not everything has to be useful to be appreciated for its beauty.
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    Universe Splitter

    I stumbled across this app for iPhone which may appeal to those favoring the many-worlds interpretation of QM: I thought it was cool that an app can actually run a quantum experiment each time you use it. I saw mention of it on a Sean Carroll...
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    Another flashlight from spaceship question

    I will certainly do that, and thank you for the explanation. It is much clearer now. Thanks to Phinds as well.
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    Another flashlight from spaceship question

    I appreciate both answers, and agree with Phinds that the guy on the ship doesn't think he is moving. I also agree with the calculations Peter has provided, which explain how things look to the outside observer. I am not sure it explains how things look to the guy on the spaceship, however...
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    Another flashlight from spaceship question

    When a spaceship is moving at 150,000 km/sec and you shine a flashlight forward, both an outside observer and the observer on the ship perceive the beam as traveling at c. I think I understand the reason for that when the light is shined forward, but I am confused in the case where he shines it...
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    Saddest songs you've heard

    A couple of oldies that get to me are: At Seventeen by Janis Ian and Alone Again (Naturally) by Gilbert O'Sullivan
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    The national lottery!

    You can't expect the 8 to show up because it is "due", that is a fallacy at best. It certainly isn't using probability to your advantage. Assuming the game is honest, meaning all balls are weighted the same and have an equal chance of coming up, the 8 has the same chance of coming up that it did...
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    Sentence Structure/Style Question

    "When implemented in conjunction with the previous recommendation, this will allow....."
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    Grammar - not even wrong

    I cringe when I see the word "loose" substituted for "lose", mostly because I see it so often these days. Did you loose your wallet? You exited the casino a looser?
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    Which is the Top 5 Funniest stand-up comedians.

    My favorite is Steven Wright.
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    Could anything artificial survive from the Mesozoic era?

    Well, the alien doesn't get "struck by" the asteroid, because it would be an exceedingly short movie as there would be no evidence left. Maybe that could be the tv version, "The Unluckiest Alien". With lots of commercials for filler. I assume you know that the asteroid which struck the planet...
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    Could anything artificial survive from the Mesozoic era?

    Without getting too specific about plot details, an alien race (or robots) landed on Earth during the Mesozoic with a mission in mind. They were wiped out when the asteroid hit, and 65 million years later a paleontologist digging at the K-T boundary finds something that shouldn't be there...
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    Could anything artificial survive from the Mesozoic era?

    Thanks for the great ideas, everyone. I particularly like the diamonds, they would last for sure. Just not sure why the aliens would come this far to cut and engrave diamonds, but I'll work on it!
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    Could anything artificial survive from the Mesozoic era?

    I am considering a plot for a screenplay in which it would be necessary for evidence of an alien visitation in the Mesozoic era to be discoverable today. Perhaps a message, or tools, or even better, alien technology. I have read that if mankind disappeared tomorrow, all traces of civilization...
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    Possible matter being Created/Destroyed?

    My understanding was that distances between objects in gravitationally-bound systems such as galaxies and solar systems are not increasing.
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    Joe Frazier Dies

    The first Ali-Frazier fight was a classic, with a lot of political and racial overtones. I recall driving 50 miles to Roanoke, Va as a college student to watch it as a pay-per-view event. I had great respect for both men. Rest in peace, Joe.
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    Time Travel

    If you ignore the manufacturing requirements and consider only whether people in the past could learn to use your modern products, a company like BIC might be a good choice. Everything they make could be readily used by people hundreds of years ago -- disposable lighters, pens and razors. The...
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    Buying new car vs used

    A word of advice when buying a car for your wife or daughter -- whatever you do, don't take them with you to the car lot. The price goes up as soon as the salesman hears her say, "I like THAT ONE".
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    Any other Scotch drinkers here?

    I love the bottle that the Blue Label comes in, and the fact that it is corked. The taste cannot be beat, either! I also like Haig The Pinch when I can find it. But my normal scotch is JW Black, either neat or with a splash of soda and a twist.
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    What's your greatest physical feat?

    When I was a teenager I swam for a community recreation center swim team. The team was small, perhaps 20 kids in all from the neighborhood but we competed against large regional teams with surprising success. I swam breaststroke and freestyle (an odd combination) and held the state record in my...
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    10th Anniversary of the 911 attack

    I woke up and was drinking a cup of coffee, ready to follow my usual schedule of checking the news online. But after trying several news sites and failing to connect, even though I had no problem connecting with another site, I was suddenly struck with a feeling that something big was happening...
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    Stephen Hawking on Discovery's curiosity

    I am not convinced that the laws of physics describe everything, at least not correctly. The interior of a black hole comes to mind, as does the question of how consciousness arises from an arrangement of non-sentient particles. Heck, I don't even know how many dimensions we live in, nor have I...
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    Expanding Universe vs. Shrinking Matter

    Hmm, if the universe is expanding we can run the clock backwards and deduce that it originated from a point. If the universe is shrinking, would that mean it originated from a giant blob? What's the theory on how that got there, if there is one?
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    The berglas effect- How is it done?

    I would think that the magician is the only one who would have to memorize the deck. The second man (the stooge) would only have to learn to recognize prearranged vocal or gesture signals from the magician as to what number to pick. So as soon as the magician hears "Queen of hearts", he could...
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    Origin of Universe - Hole with no bottom?

    Hi Chalnoth, Thank you for the replies. These are difficult things to grasp -- that a microscopic black hole can "easily" spawn a new universe -- which we would likely not notice. I did find a paper by Poplawski, "The universe as a black hole in isotropic coordinates", which theorizes that...
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    Origin of Universe - Hole with no bottom?

    The idea of a quantum fluctuation creating a universe seems farfetched to me. Some have asked the question, "a quantum fluctuation of what?" which seems a reasonable thing to ask. On the other hand, if it is a quantum fluctuation within an existing universe -- well, we are IN an existing...
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    What causes the universe to expand?

    Hi Marcus, Although I don't understand the math, I like the idea of a bounce proposed by LQG. It does seem to beg the question of why black holes don't bounce, given that relativity predicts a singularity of infinite density (which we know to be wrong). I was wondering if the math of LQG...