Amazing number IV

The biggest problem with my amazing number theory is this: it’s all made up. Fake news, if you like, though it’s hardly news.Yes, I just invented the whole lot.

The figures are wrong. Admittedly they are believable, and not terribly far from the truth.

There’s a whole load of pseudoscience that just makes things up, or is selective in the data used. Vast claims are based on thin evidence, or none.

I remember being intrigued when I was young with books about the Bermuda triangle, or was God and astronaut? The fact they are nonsense and have been thoroughly debunked does not stop people still believing in these things. Or that the Earth is flat and space does not exist.

James Randi did a good job debunking faith healers, but people still go and give their hard earned money away. And people seriously follow horoscopes too.

A group called Extinction Rebellion has been saying that, because of climate change, billions of children will die very soon. Ask for some evidence and you get bluster:

This is a great clip from Professor Brian Cox, science tv guy. He is challenged for evidence of climate change. His answer: lots of people believe it so it must be true:

Misinformation, or lying if you like, is everywhere and is rarely challenged. Politicians do it all the time. Someone told me that President Trump had told 10,000 lies in public since he came to office. People in the media who challenge people like Trump are denounced by the people who simply give random opinion. Take Shep Smith from Fox News, an upholder of factual content who finally reached the end of his tether.

Surely, surely there is a place for truth. There are no ‘alternative facts’, they are just lies. If a politician tells you that the economy has never ever been better than under him, or her, don’t just accept it.

If you hear that 97% of scientists believe in climate change, ask yourself, why do they have to believe, if it is supported by facts there is surely no argument? If you find out that it’s 97% of researchers who have written papers on climate change, why don’t the other 3%? Isn’t that like saying 97% of vicars believe in God? Why is it so low?

And so on. We are so surrounded by gossip and opinion and so starved of facts supported by evidence that it makes me mad.

Amazing number III

Our brains are pretty clever things. They take a whole load of stuff from a variety of sources and try to make sense of it all.

But brains do like simple things. They look for patterns. They love easy numbers.

Here’s an example you can try. You have just 10 seconds to look at these thirteen cards and remember them:

Continue reading

Amazing number II

The Earth, as most people know, is not a perfect sphere. It bulges at the equator, due to its rotation. Usually it is called an oblate spheroid, but I think this is also not quite accurate.

So, what do we mean by the radius of the Earth? Surely it varies depending on where you measure it.

Really, we mean some kind of average radius, a mean to sea level perhaps.

We also know that the Moon is in orbit around the Earth.

Now, actually, this is not true. What makes bodies orbit other bodies is called gravitation (gravity). This force depends on the masses of the objects and the distance between them (actually, its square). The greater the mass, the greater the gravitational attraction. Double the distance and you quarter the force.

In fact, both bodies rotate about a common centre of mass. If the Earth and the Moon had equal mass, the centre would be exactly half way between them, but it isn’t. The Earth is much more massive, so the centre of mass is somewhere inside the Earth, but not at its centre. Complicated, isn’t it?

But we are talking about the mean distance to the Moon.

Amazing number I

I discovered a truly amazing fact the other day, one I had not seen reproduced anywhere before.

The radius of the Earth is 6371km.

The distance to the Moon is 382,260km.

Divide one by the other and you get exactly 60. Not approximately, but exactly. To lots of decimal places.

When you do a seemingly random calculation like this, and you get an answer that is so exact and significant (after all, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 is at the heart of our time keeping), then you just know this is no coincidence.

Even more amazing is that, if you use miles instead of kilometers, you get exactly the same result!

But it makes sense. You do see people attaching significance to calculations like this which are plainly nonsense, but both these figures are distances and we know that the Moon does orbit the Earth, so they could be connected in some way.

Continue reading