2014/08/30

The God Plane

It seems to be that most people think that a god exists or it doesn't. For most Christian's (apart from Don Cupitt, it's hard to know what he thinks even after reading his books) God definitely exists and is definitely good. But there are at least 3 possibilities to consider:


Most people who believe in a god don't seem to consider the fact that it could exist and could be evil. There is a 25% chance of that from the above diagram. "The above diagram is too crude!" you say. And I agree, there are more possibilities. For example it is possible that it sort of exists but is neither good nor evil, that would be the central square in the diagram below. 


At this point the possibility that it exists and is good is reduces to (1/9)*100 = 16.7%.

"The above diagram is too crude!" you say. And I agree, there is an infinity of possibilities, as shown below. 



God's existence and goodness could be on any point in the plane. Pushing it into a corner (bottom left) there is a god and it is good.

As to what sort of exists and sort of doesn't means, I leave that as an exercise for the reader. But (like quantum physics and personality and "the self" in Buddhism) existence and non-existence are not as clear cut cateogories that we'd like to think. (But see caveat at end of article)

And note that this is not a diagram about belief in a god or aethism, it simply shows the range of possibilities. The diagram for belief is another matter.


(Caveat: The Buddhist idea of a non-self is fine until you are at the dentists having a painful operation. Then you know who is feeling the pain, yourself. Sure as hell there is a self then.)

2014/08/16

Can I really get 200x magnification out of my 40 Euro Veho USB microsope?

So far I've been amazed at what you can do with this device, but I hadn't ever tried to get 200 magnification, because the results at 50 and and 100 were luvverrrly anyway.

Now just to get you to really understand what these numbers mean imagine your little finger, say it is 4cm long. 2X multiplication will make it 8cm long. 8X will make it 32cm long:

100X will make it 4 meters long and 200X will make it 8 meters long. So now look at your little finger and imagine it 8 meters long (26 feet in old money). I'm doing this because sometimes I forget that "times" is not "addition" and I think that 200 times bigger is not very much. I sort of confuse it in my head with 200, er, plusses. I dunno. Anyway 200 times is a lot.

When I saw a tiny tiny white dot floating in my cat's water I decided to go for 200X. How could I fish out the thing from the water bowl though? I looked in the rubbish bin and found "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt. I'd thrown it away without finishing it a few days before. There are many overrated and tedious books on the planet today, and "The Secret History" is one of them. But! But its cover was black, and would make a good contrast with the thingy, so I tore it off...

 
...then I tore off a corner from the cover, and fished out the tiny white spot. I've labelled it "Thingy" in the photo below:


At first I put the thiny on a raised platform...


...but the magnification was only about 60X:


Eventually, by having a 2mm distance between the bottom of the microscope and the specimen...


...I got more than 205X...


It's not a brilliant specimen I admit, but at least I've learned how to get the biggest magnification out of the device. And I tell you what it gets very very tricky and trembly with the old podgy fingers at 200X. Veho also sells a 400X device, but I think you'd really need a very very good stand to use that.



2014/08/12

The pencil and the microscope.



To try to get my daughter away from her Samsung Galaxy and and WhatsUp and cold shining colorful screens of never to be fulfilled promise I suggested that we sit outside together on the balcony and draw some plants. And, oddly enough, she agreed.

John Ruskin, a long dead art critic, snob and self confessed wanker, taught the "lower classes" to draw in schools for workers. And he said that the idea was not to make great artists out of them, but to make them appreciate what beauty was around them. He was definitely an odd bloke, but that idea struck a chord with me. If you try to draw something, with pencil and paper, you really really need to look at it. And you really really need to understand, wait for it, 3D.

So, dear Reader, get some paper, 3 pencils (hard medium and soft, H HB and B), an eraser and try to draw a flower, plant, leaf or shell from life. If you do this with sincerity you'll have no choice but to really look at the object, this is the intense but passive part of the activity.

And there is an active part. You have to decide how to represent the curves in 3D space in front of you. Which is why you should NOT copy a drawing (or photograph) someone else has done. The biggest part of drawing is the decisions YOU make about how to represent line and form and shadows and depth. If you copy a drawing, all those decisions have been taken away from you.

And if you copy a photograph you're forgetting that you have two eyes, and you see in 3D, the photograph does not.

And if the idea is to draw to learn (not learn to draw) then you do not need to show the drawings to anyone. No one will judge your "art" or "skill". It becomes a private meditation on form and representation. Yours. That's why I've posted these tiny images....



...so that you can be encouraged and cannot know my lack of skill. You can do better than I can.

I suggest you set a time limit, say 30 minutes. Not to rush it, but to give yourself an objective "I'll try as hard as I can for 30 minutes, then I can stop."

If the last time you've drawn was at school many years ago you're going to be disappointed by your first attempt. But do it anyway, just for 30 minutes. The next time you try, the following day maybe, you'll have more of an understanding of the the problems and choices. And slowly you'll get to enjoy the challenge.

But what about the USB microscope? Well, you can gaze online at images made by others, but when you find objects, and you put them under the microscope, you end up learning more than passive looking would ever teach you. You twiddle with the little buggers (sometimes disgusting, always delicate) under the lens. Your hands shake and your fingers bring the things into focus. It is a different experience.

2014/08/05

Bay Leaf Horror!

I went into the garden to get some bay leaves to dry for future cooking. Not me. I don't cook. Anyway I noticed some tiny white dots on the leaves and out with the microsope. I lifted up the leaf sample by using my high tech Veho 200x sample lifter upper device (two pieces of cardboard, as shown below).



But what a horror awaited me...



Is this animal or vegetable? 


Fungus or what?

If any of you dear readers, either of you, know what these are and how to get rid of them, please leave a comment.

2014/08/01

The landscape of flowers

Viewed up close flowers seem like exotic trees in a landscape. The inside of basil flower:


And other parts and flowers I don't know names for:


But look at that strange stuff in the center:




Since I first saw moss in closeup on my computer screen I've become more interested in it. Two types from my garden:



Again these look like scenes from a landscape from the point of view of an insect.


But we'll probably never know what an insect thinks when it sees. Or sees when it thinks. If it does. Considering human vision, in Incognito by David Eagleman, he tells that Helmholz pointed out that there is no light inside the skull. It is a totally dark place. We see by unconcious inference.

No light inside the skull, and yet we see...