The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson


Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

Science Articles

The following are articles that I, Mark W. Dawson, have written on scientific topics with an emphasis on Atomic Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering (these being the areas with which I am familiar and knowledgeable). I would like to note that science and engineering is often viewed by the general public as cold and dispassionate. It is not! While the results of science and engineering are presented in a cold and dispassionate manner the process is anything but. The process of science and engineering is very human, with it utilizing the imagination and creativity of an artist, and the resulting foils and conflicts of any human endeavor. As such, I have tried in these articles to highlight the human side of science and engineering whenever possible. The men and women of science and engineering are as passionate, and sometime more passionate, as any other men and women. They are driven to understand the workings of nature and increase the human knowledge of the universe. I personally believe that if you want to know what nature is made of, where it came from, how it works, and how it came to be then you need to know and understand science, and look to science for the answers of nature. But science cannot answer all the question of the universe as some questions are outside the scope of science. Questions such as the meaning of intelligent life and its purposes, its morality and ethics, the nature of mind versus the brain, and if God exists and if so the nature of God. These questions, and many others are outside the scope of science. For these answers you must look to philosophers, moralists and ethicists, and theologians. By combining science with these other arenas you can hope to achieve a better understanding of the universe and our place in it.
I am also reminded of the words of one of the greatest scientists in history, and one of the greatest science popularizers of the last half of the 20th century.

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality." - Carl Sagan

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein

I should point out that I am NOT a scientist nor Engineer, nor have I received any education or training in the sciences or engineering. These articles are the result of my readings on these subjects in the past decades. Many academics, scientists, and engineers would critique what I have written here as not accurate nor through. I freely acknowledge that these critiques are correct. It was not my intentions to be accurate or through, as I am not qualified to give an accurate nor through description. My intention was to be understandable to a layperson so that they can grasp the concepts. Academics,  scientists, and engineers entire education and training are based on accuracy and thoroughness, and as such, they strive for this accuracy and thoroughness. I believe it is essential for all laypersons to grasp the concepts of science and engineering, so they make more informed decisions on those areas of human endeavors that deal with science, engineering, and technology. As such, I did not strive for accuracy and thoroughness, only understandability.

Table of Contents

  1. Science Subjects
    1. On the Nature of Scientific Inquiry   -  March 2019
    2. The Fundamental Properties and Constants of the Universe   -  November 2019
    3. The Four Forces of Nature - November 2019
    4. What's So Special about Special Relativity   -  September 2018
    5. The Universality of Gravity   -  September 2018
    6. The Strangeness of Atomic Physics   -  February 2019
    7. The Arrow of Time   -  September 2018
  2. Scientific Issues
    1. Chaos, Complexity, And Network Science   -  September 2018
    2. The Big Questions - February 2019
    3. What is Reality? - September 2019
    4. The Copenhagen Interpretation - February 2022
    5. The Problems with Modern Science - November 2019
    6. Scientific Consensus and Settled Science - August 2020
    7. Computer Modeling   -  September 2018
    8. Engineering Failures   -  September 2018
  3. Science Perspectives
    1. Is Artificial Intelligence Possible? - November 2019
    2. Intelligent Life in the Universe - August 2021 Update
    3. Evolution to Intelligent Life - September 2021
    4. UFO's, and Pseudoscience   -  October 2019
    5. Climate Change   -  November 2019
    6. SETI and Vulcan - August 2019
    7. Science vs. Science Fiction   -  September 2018
    8. Science versus Religion   -  August 2019
    9. The Probability of the Evolution of Life and Intelligent Life - June 2020
    10. What Sign are You?   -  November 2019
  4. Science Tidbits
    1. Apocalypse - Or the Ways that Humanity Will Come to an End   -  September 2018
    2. Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn - May 2019
    3. Math (and statistical mathematics) is More than Numbers - October 2019
    4. PragerU and 'Evolution: Bacteria to Beethoven - October 2019
    5. The Fire of Mankind - December 2019
  5. Other Science Articles
    1. The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics - February 2017
    2. The Real War on Science by John Tierney - Autumn 2016
  6. Further Readings
  7. A Personal Note
  8. Disclaimer

Science SubjectsTOC

On the Nature of Scientific Inquiry   -  March 2019TOC

This article is an outline of the nature of scientific inquiry. It does not delve into the details of science and utilizes no mathematics, but instead presents the basic concepts of scientific inquiry. This paper was written to provide the general public with the background of science so that when they encounter scientific issues, or public policy issues that utilize science, they will have a basis for interpreting the scientific information.

The Fundamental Properties and Constants of the Universe   -  November 2019TOC

"I cannot violate the laws of physics" is a famous saying of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott in "Star Trek". And so, it is, you cannot violate the laws of physics, you cannot compensate for the laws of physics, and you cannot ignore the laws of physics. You must always cognizant of the Laws of Physics and obey them. And so, it is with all of The Fundamental Properties and Constants of the Universe. This article outlines the Fundamental Properties and Constants of the Universe in language that the layperson can understand.

The Four Forces of Nature - November 2019TOC

In my Science Article "The Fundamental Properties and Constants of the Universe" I explore the universal fundamentals of science. In this article I will briefly explore the four forces in the Universe known to science; Gravity, Electromagnetism, and the Strong and Weak Atomic forces and their interactions.

What's So Special about Special Relativity   -  September 2018TOC

Special Relativity has to do with Einstein's question, as a young man, of what the world would like to look like if you could run next to a beam of light. A question for which Physics had no answer. This article is about how Einstein discovered the answer to this question and the implications of his answer. It is presented without delving deeply into the science and without utilizing mathematics.

The Universality of Gravity   -  September 2018TOC

This paper is an overview of the development of Gravitational Physics. It is done by focusing on ten scientists who were crucial in its development. Although thousands of scientists have contributed to the development of Gravitational Physics the ten scientists presented here have made such a significant impact as to change the course of Gravitational Physics. It is, therefore, a biographical history of Gravitational Physics. The scientific information is presented in general terms, and there is no mathematics.

The Strangeness of Atomic Physics   -  February 2019TOC

This article is an overview of the development of Atomic Physics. It is done by focusing on a bakers dozen scientists who were crucial in its development. Although thousands of scientists have contributed to the development of Atomic Physics the twelve scientists presented here have made such a significant impact as to change the course of Atomic Physics. It is, therefore, a biographical history of atomic physics. The scientific information is presented in general terms, and there is no mathematics.

The Arrow of Time   -  September 2018TOC

The arrow of time refers to the question of what is the meaning of time, why and how time flows, and what is the physical nature of time? In the book "Now: The Physics of Time" by Ricard A. Muller this eminent physicist addresses these issues. This observation is based on his book and my own belief in the nature of time.

Scientific IssuesTOC

Chaos, Complexity, And Network Science   -  September 2018TOC

This article is an examination of the issues and concerns of Chaos, Complexity, and Network Science, and their impacts on Science, Engineering, Computer Models and Societal decision making. What are Chaos, Complexity, and Network Science, and what does it have to do with the impacts previously mentioned -  Directly Everything and Indirectly Everything! If you are going to utilize computer modeling in science and engineering to determine future possibilities or to decide or formulate a public policy based on computer modeling then you need to be aware of chaos, complexity, and network science. I will not delve into specific details of Chaos, Complexity, and Network Science, nor will I be utilizing any science or mathematics in discussing these issues and concerns.

The Big Questions - February 2019TOC

In my humble opinion, there are three big questions, that are yet unanswered, that need to be resolved by physics in the near future. Without a resolution to these questions physics may be 'stuck' in a conundrum.This article examine these big questions.

What is Reality? - September 2019TOC

It is not in a metaphysical sense that I ask this question, but in a physical sense of the nature of the Universe. The goal of physics is to answer the questions of what the reality of the Universe is. Today, we have three great unknowns about the reality of the Universe; Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the reality of Quantum space. This article examines these issues.

The Copenhagen Interpretation - February 2022TOC

This article is an examination of The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics and the issues regarding the current science of Quantum Theory. The most basic issue is what is the reality underlying the Quantum world, and how The Copenhagen Interpretation is ignoring this issue. This is a companion piece to my 'What is Reality?' article in that explains the importance of the problems of Quantum Mechanics.

The Problems with Modern Science - November 2019TOC

This article is an Outline on The The Problems with Science in the latter half of the 20th century and the 21st century. It is not about the science, but the way modern science is pursued. It does not delve into the details of science and utilizes no mathematics, but instead highlights the issues regarding Modern Science (post World War II) This paper was written to provide the general public with the background on these problems so that when they encounter public policy issues that utilize science they will have a basis for interpreting the scientific information.

Scientific Consensus and Settled Science - August 2020TOC

The Proverb 'People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' should always be remembered during any debate or discussion, especially in Science discussions. And scientific consensus and settled science can lead you astray, as it has been wrong in the past and will continue to be wrong as new knowledge is obtained. This article is a replacement of my original article "Glass Houses and Consensus in Science" that examines these issues.

Computer Modeling   -  September 2018TOC

This article is an examination of the issues, concerns, and limitations when utilizing Computer Models in science, engineering, and public policy formulation. I will not delve into specific details of Computer Modeling, nor will I be utilizing any sciences or mathematics in examining the issues, concerns, and limitations of computer modeling.

Engineering Failures   -  September 2018TOC

In this article, I will discuss failures in engineering. As engineering failures become apparent and lead to dramatic consequences to the public, and politicians, often demand answers as to how they could have happened. As there are many scientific and technological reason for an engineering failure it can be difficult to discover and pinpoint the exact cause of the failure. This paper is not about specific reasons for an engineering failure. It is, instead, about the types of failures as it relates to the human endeavor of engineering. These types of failures can be categorized as resulting from 1) Failure of Knowledge, 2) Failure of Imagination, or 3) Failure of Management.

Science PerspectivesTOC

Is Artificial Intelligence Possible? - November 2019TOC

Artificial Intelligence implies that no human intervention is required to produce human-like intelligent capabilities from Artificial Intelligence. It is this broad definition of Artificial Intelligence that I wish to examine in this article. This short article attempts to explore the boundaries of Artificial Intelligence and provide insights into the answers to this question. This will be done by providing several examples of the nuisances of the problems that highlight the issues of Artificial Intelligence.

Intelligent Life in the Universe - August 2021 UpdateTOC

An examination of the possibility and probability of of the factors for Intelligent Life evolving on other planets. I would encourage you to read this article as this issue is not as simple as it appears at first glance.

Evolution to Intelligent Life - September 2021TOC

An overview of the possibilities of The Rise of Intelligent Life, The Timeline for the evolution of Intelligent Life, and the possibility of our Communicating or Visiting with Intelligent Life.

UFO's, and Pseudoscience   -  October 2019 TOC

This article is about the beliefs that many people have about scientific curiosities but are not based on actual science. I am a skeptic on such matters, but I am willing to accept scientific evidence and change my opinions. However, as the absence of proof does not constitute proof of absence, and no scientific evidence constitutes no science. Until there is scientific evidence I will not believe that anything is scientific. Some of the more obvious of these claims are presented, and dissected, in this article. This is only a limited sample as there are so many examples that you need, and can obtain, many books that debunk these claims. My only objective with this article is for you to remain skeptical of these claims until scientific proof is obtained.

Climate Change   -  November 2019TOC

I believe in climate change. I believe the climate has changed in the past, the climate is currently changing, and the climate will change in the future. This is a meteorological and geological scientific fact. The question is whether human activity is causing the current climate change. This may be true, or may not be true, depending upon your interpretation of scientific facts and beliefs. If you had read my observation on the "On the Nature of Scientific Inquiry" you know that I have a scientific orientation to my thinking, and in this article, I apply that scientific thinking too many of the issues and concerns of climate change.

SETI and Vulcan - August 2019TOC

Are we alone in the universe? Are there advanced civilizations that we can detect? How can we better the odds of making contact? These questions are both fundamental and universal, and examined in this article.

Science vs. Science Fiction   -  September 2018TOC

I will concede to no one my love of Science Fiction Since I was a young boy I have read and enjoyed Science Fiction stories, as well as viewed many Science Fiction movies and television. I have loved most of them in my lifetime. Starting as a young boy I have been awed by the action and adventure of Science Fiction, as well as the technology and alien races presented in Science Fiction. As I became older my response to Science Fiction became more mature and I realized that the storylines were the most important thing about Science Fiction. The human drama, the relationships between people and the science and technology, as well as the interrelationships between humans and aliens became more important. My love of Science Fiction led me to a love of Science, and I became much more knowledgeable about Science. Both loves led me to examine the Science of Science Fiction. I began to apply my science knowledge to the Science Fiction I was reading and watching as an intellectual challenge that stimulated me. Today, when I read or watch Science Fiction, I enjoy all of this. I first read or watch Science Fiction for the entertainment it provides. I then think about the storyline to ascertain its meaning. After that, I apply my science knowledge to critique the Science in the Science Fiction. All these activities are enjoyable for me. This article deals with applying my science knowledge to the science in science fiction.

Science versus Religion   -  August 2019TOC

I am a firm believer that science is the best way of explaining the physical properties and physical laws of the universe. I also am a firm believer that God created our universe and established its physical properties and physical laws And I see no conflict between the views of Science and Religion. Science is the explanation of how God created the universe, and God is the explanation of why we have the physical properties and physical laws of the universe. Science cannot prove, or disprove, the existence of God, as God is outside the realm of science. This article examines the issue of science versus religion based on my beliefs.

The Probability of the Evolution of Life and Intelligent Life - June 2020TOC

This article examines the probabilities of the evolution of life, and intelligent life, once it has begun. As to the probability of reaching a state in which life could begin, I have written on this topic in my Science Article "Intelligent Life in the Universe".

What Sign are You?   -  November 2019TOC

For millennia astrologers have been casting charts to determine the future of a person or events. This is often done by plotting the positions of the stars and planets relative to arbitrarily defined constellations at their birth or at the time of significant events in their life. It is claimed by astrologers that there is a force in the universe that acts upon a person and influences their life based on these positions. However, only "The Fundamental Properties and Constants of the Universe" are known to science, and there are only "The Four Forces of Nature" known to science. The forces in the Universe known to science are Gravity, Electromagnetism, and the Strong and Weak Atomic forces. Therefore, these are the only forces that can affect a person. But do these forces affect a person in an astrological manner, and if is this true then how can it work? This issue is examined in my new Science article "What Sign are You?".

Science TidbitsTOC

Apocalypse - Or the Ways that Humanity Will Come to an End   -  September 2018TOC

First, the bad news. The Earth is coming to an end. But all things come to an end. Life is born then dies. And the Earth through solar evolution will come to an end. When the Sun exhausts its nuclear fuel, it will go nova and burn the Earth to a cinder. Geological ages come and go, and they change the nature of life on Earth. This is not the Apocalypse I wish to discuss in this article. Instead I will be discussing the Apocalypse of human civilization (hereinafter referred to as Apocalyptic). Some Apocalyptic events are likely, some are unlikely, and some may never occur (but still be possible). Some will occur within a near term time frame (within one hundred years), some will occur in a long-term time frame (one hundred to one thousand years), some may occur thousands of years from now, and some may never occur (but still be possible). How are we to judge the likelihood and time frames of Apocalyptic events. This article deals with these issues.

Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn - May 2019TOC

Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn were philosophers of science. Philosophy of Science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth. Popper and Kuhn were two 20th century Philosophers of Science who's ideas have generated much controversy and debate within the scientific community. This short article examines this subject.

Math (and statistical mathematics) is More than Numbers - October 2019TOC

On the surface, math may seem like it's all about numbers and formulas. However, this versatile subject is about much more than just counting, adding, and subtracting. Discover why math is more than numbers and find out how it contributes to the development of valuable skills in problem solving, critical thinking, language, and more.

PragerU and 'Evolution: Bacteria to Beethoven - October 2019TOC

I am a firm believer in God. A God that created our universe and established its physical properties and physical laws. And a God that gave us science as the best means of explaining the physical properties and physical laws of the universe. A recent PragerU video examined some issues regarding Evolution. However, although I agree that these are issues, I disagree with how they are presented. Therefore, I have written this article to explain my disagreement.

The Fire of Mankind - December 2019TOC

Fire ? unexpected and uncontrollable is a primal fear of all animal species. No species knew when or where a fire would occur, and when it occurred it was uncontrollable. The be afraid of fire, and to flee from fire, was necessary for survival. To this day this is true for all but one species- Hominoidae, and one genus - homo. This article examines fire in the importance of human evolution.

Other Science ArticlesTOC

The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics - February 2017TOC

In 1900, the British physicist Lord Kelvin is said to have pronounced: "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Within three decades, quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity had revolutionized the field. Today, no physicist would dare assert that our physical knowledge of the universe is near completion. To the contrary, each new discovery seems to unlock a Pandora's box of even bigger, even deeper physics questions. These are the website Livescience picks for the most profound open questions of all.

The Real War on Science by John Tierney - Autumn 2016

According to Mr. Tierney The Left has done far more than the Right to set back progress. All who are interested in the integrity of Science should read and ponder this article.

Further ReadingsTOC

Below are the books I would recommend that you read for more background information on these subjects. They were chosen as they are a fairly easy read for the general public and have a minimum of mathematics.

For a brief introduction on these topics I would recommend the Oxford University Press series "A Very Short Introduction" on these subjects. In particular I would recommend the following books as a starting point for your discovery of science.:

Some interesting websites with general scientific topics are:

Some Science Videos on the above topics.

Dr. Don Lincoln (born 1964) is an American physicist, author, host of the YouTube channel Fermilab, and science communicator. He conducts research in particle physics at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and is an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame. He received a Ph.D. in experimental particle physics from Rice University in 1994. In 1995, he was a co-discoverer of the top quark. He has coauthored hundreds of research papers and, more recently, was a member of the team that discovered the Higgs boson in 2012.

Dr. Lincoln, in association with Fermilab, has created a series of short YouTube videos that delve into the subjects of Particle Physics, Relativity, and other topics in regards to modern physics. These videos are very informative and scientifically accurate and provide a better understanding of the topics covered in this article. While he does utilize some math in the videos the math utilized is very simple and not off-putting. If you are interested in these scientific topics and desire a better understanding of them, I would suggest that you take a look at these videos.

Some oldies buy goodies DVD's that examine Science and Society:

On Relativity: 

On Cosmology:

On Atomic Physics:

For those of you who are interested in Numbers - Not Mathematics, there is a highly informative YouTube channel "Numberphile". In a series of short videos, they present many interesting facts on numbers in an entertaining manner. I would suggest that you view some of these videos.

A Personal NoteTOC

The incandescent light bulb has often been described as a heat source that provides some light, given that a light bulb generates more heat than it does light. In today's public debates we often find the proponents of an issue providing a lot of heat and only a little light. These observations are meant to provide illumination (light) and not argumentation (heat).

Opponents in today's society often utilize the dialog and debate methodology of Demonize, Denigrate, and Disparage their opponent when discussing issues, policies, and personages. To demonize, denigrate, or disparage the messenger to avoid consideration of the message is not acceptable if the message has supporting evidence.

The only acceptable method of public discourse is disagreement - to be of different opinions. If you are in disagreement with someone you should be cognizant that people of good character can and often disagree with each other. The method of their disagreement is very important to achieve civil discourse. There are two ways you can disagree with someone; by criticizing their opinions or beliefs or critiquing their opinions or beliefs.

  • Criticism - Disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings.
  • Critique - A serious examination and judgment of something.

Most people, and most commentators have forgotten the difference between Criticism and Critique. This has led to the hyper-partisanship in today's society. In a civil society critiquing a viewpoint or policy position should be encouraged. This will often allow for a fuller consideration of the issues, and perhaps a better viewpoint or policy position without invoking hyper-partisanship. We can expect that partisanship will often occur, as people of good character can and often disagree with each other. Criticizing a viewpoint or policy position will often lead to hostility, rancor, and enmity, which results in the breakdown of civil discourse and hyper-partisanship. It is fine to criticize someone for their bad or destructive behavior, but it is best to critique them for their opinions or words. We would all do better if we remember to critique someone, rather than criticize someone.

I would ask anyone who disagrees with what I have written here to please keep this disagreement civil. I am open to critique and will sometimes take criticism. I will always ignore demonization, denigration, and disparagement, or point out the vacuous nature or the character flaws of those that wish to silence the messenger rather than deal with the message.

Please remember that if you disagree with the messenger it is not acceptable to kill the messenger. You may kill the messenger, but the message will remain.

If you have any comments, concerns, critiques, or suggestions I can be reached at mwd@profitpages.com. I will review reasoned and intellectual correspondence, and it is possible that I can change my mind, or at least update the contents of these articles. This is why these articles are dated. Whenever I make a change to these articles they will be re-dated. So check back and see if any articles have been updated (or perhaps I shall add articles).

DisclaimerTOC

Please Note - many academics, scientist and engineers would critique what I have written here as not accurate nor through. I freely acknowledge that these critiques are correct. It was not my intentions to be accurate or through, as I am not qualified to give an accurate nor through description. My intention was to be understandable to a layperson so that they can grasp the concepts. Academics, scientists, and engineer's entire education and training are based on accuracy and thoroughness, and as such, they strive for this accuracy and thoroughness. I believe it is essential for all laypersons to grasp the concepts of these papers, so they make more informed decisions on those areas of human endeavors that deal with these subjects. As such, I did not strive for accuracy and thoroughness, only understandability.

Most academics, scientist, and engineers when speaking or writing for the general public (and many science writers as well) strive to be understandable to the general public. However, they often fall short on understandability because of their commitment to accuracy and thoroughness, as well as some audience awareness factors. Their biggest problems are accuracy, thoroughness, mathematics, and the audience knowledge of the topic.

Accuracy is a problem because academics, scientist, engineers and science writers are loath to be inaccurate. This is because they want the audience to obtain the correct information, and the possible negative repercussions amongst their colleagues and the scientific and engineering community at large if they are inaccurate. However, because modern science and engineering are complex this accuracy can, and often, leads to confusion amongst the audience.

Thoroughness can also be a problem as modern science is extensive. It is not possible to be thorough when writing for the general public as the result will be a rather lengthy article, book, or speech that may discourage the general public from reading the article or book or listening to a speaker.

Mathematics is integral to modern science and are a vital contributor to accuracy and thoroughness in science. As such, they are often utilized by science writers and speakers when popularizing science. However, most people's eyes glaze over and their attention wanders when the author or speaker starts utilizing mathematics. Therefore, the writer or speaker should attempt to minimize mathematics. Instead, they should just show the mathematical formula and explain the results and consequences of the mathematical formula in general terms.

The audience knowledge of the topic is important as most modern science and engineering is complex, with its own words, terminology, and basic concepts the audience is unfamiliar with, or they misinterpret. The audience becomes confused (even while smiling and lauding the academics, scientists, engineers or science writer), and the audience does not achieve understandability. Many times, the academics, scientists, engineers or science writer utilizes the scientific disciplines own words, terminology, and basic concepts without realizing the audience misinterpretations or lack of comprehension of these items.

It is for this reason that I place understandability as the highest priority in my writing, and I am willing to sacrifice accuracy and thoroughness to achieve understandability. There are many books, websites, and videos available that are more accurate and through. The subchapters in these articles, "Further Readings", also contains books on the various subjects that can provide more accurate and thorough information. I leave it to the reader to decide if they want more accurate or through information and to seek out these books, websites, and videos for this information.