Another week, another deluge of BS from the White House and from the Controlled Opposition.
The Audit is over, now the spin doctoring begins. Other efforts are afoot in other states. Good. The more the merrier.
The collapse of the Covidschina continues.
No doubt much will be said about those today. (And I have missed a lot this past week.)
To my mind the audits are the last hope for a within-the-system fix to what happened last November. “Within the system” meaning the audits find fraud, the various states decertify the results, and some dang judge rules that Biden must step down and Trump must be installed.
That last step is crucial. The way our system works, “fraud” isn’t a fact until some “competent authority” (i.e., meaning “one that has jurisdiction,” not “one that won’t end up with an ice cream cone on its forehead”) rules it is so. That must happen before the system will accept that the election is vitiated by fraud. No finding of fraud means, as far as they are concerned no fraud, no fraud means nothing vitiated. We sit and fume, because the system has failed.
I’ll leave it to you to decide how likely you think it is that a judge will rule against the Left given the riots that would likely endanger his/her family.
As for the military stepping forward and doing the job instead? Well, that’s technically “outside of the system” and besides…this military, that’s being made woke as we speak?
What do we do in the likely event that fraud is found, but no judge will find it to be “fact” as far as the Federal Government is concerned? I keep hoping someone will come up with a suggestion, and so far “general strike” (H/T Scott) is the only one I’ve seen.
Justice Must Be Done.
The prior election must be acknowledged as fraudulent, and steps must be taken to prosecute the fraudsters and restore integrity to the system. (This doesn’t necessarily include deposing Joe and Hoe and putting Trump where he belongs, but it would certainly be a lot easier to fix our broken electoral system with the right people in charge.)
Nothing else matters at this point. Talking about trying again in 2022 or 2024 is pointless otherwise. Which is not to say one must never talk about this, but rather that one must account for this in ones planning; if fixing the fraud in the system is not part of the plan, you have no plan.
This will necessarily be piecemeal, state by state, which is why I am encouraged by those states working to change their laws to alleviate the fraud both via computer and via bogus voters. If enough states do that we might end up with a working majority in Congress and that would be something Trump never really had.
Lawyer Appeasement Section
OK now for the fine print.
This is the WQTH Daily Thread. You know the drill. There’s no Poltical correctness, but civility is a requirement. There are Important Guidelines, here, with an addendum on 20191110.
We have a new board – called The U Tree – where people can take each other to the woodshed without fear of censorship or moderation.
And remember Wheatie’s Rules:
1. No food fights
2. No running with scissors.
3. If you bring snacks, bring enough for everyone.
4. Zeroth rule of gun safety: Don’t let the government get your guns.
5. Rule one of gun safety: The gun is always loaded.
5a. If you actually want the gun to be loaded, like because you’re checking out a bump in the night, then it’s empty.
6. Rule two of gun safety: Never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
7. Rule three: Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
8. Rule the fourth: Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
(Hmm a few extras seem to have crept in.)
This week, 3 PM MT on Friday, markets closed for the weekend
Minor shifts in almost everything. Gold and silver up a bit, the PGMs down a bit. I, as always, intend to hold.
Part XX – The Little Neutral One
Let us start off by recapping our list of “as of 1894” mysteries and conservation laws, and bring things up to date including the neutron.
Conservation of mass
- Conservation of momentum
Conservation of energy
- Conservation of electric charge
- Conservation of angular momentum
- (ADD:) Conservation of mass-energy
The following mysteries were unanswered at the end of 1894. I’ve crossed out the ones that have been answered up to this installment.
Why was the long axis of Mercury’s orbit precessing more than expected, by 43 arcseconds every century? Was it, indeed, a planet even closer to the sun? If so, it’d have been nice to actually see it. Why was Michelson unable to measure any difference in speed of light despite the fact we, being on planet Earth that is orbiting the sun, had to be moving through the medium in which it propagates?
- What makes the sun (and other stars) shine (beyond the obvious “they shine because they’re hot” answer). What keeps the sun hot, what energy is it harnessing?
- How did the solar system form? Any answer to this must account for how the planets, only a tiny fraction of the mass of the solar system, ended up with the vast majority of the angular momentum in the system.
What is the electrical “fluid” that moves around when there is an electric current, and that somehow seems imbalanced when we perceive that an object has a charge? Were there both negative and positive fluids, or just one fluid that had a natural neutral level; below it was negative (deficit), above it was positive (excess)? Why are there so many different kinds of atoms? How did electrical charges relate to chemistry? How is it that 94 thousand coulombs of charge are needed to bust apart certain molecules (though it often had to be delivered at different voltages depending on the molecule)? Why were the atomic weights almost always a multiple of hydrogen’s? Why was it never quite a perfect multiple? Why was it sometimes nowhere near to being a multiple? Why does the photoelectric effect work the way it does, where it depends on the frequency of the light hitting the object, not the intensity? Why does black body radiation have a “hump” in its frequency graph?
As of 1930, we had a notion of the rough answer to #3, thanks to Arthur Eddington. I hinted at it last time. But details still needed to be worked out.
Number 4 was still a mystery back then, as far as I know.
Recaps and Refreshers
There are some preliminaries to get out of the way here, some of them are refreshers on what came before. Back in part 17, when I told the story of the discovery of the neutron, I brought in the concept of “spin” in regards to electrons and protons. But it’s not spinning like a top, it’s something else, still measured as angular momentum. But apparently one “rotation” doesn’t bring the particle back to where it was before, it’s somehow upside down, and another rotation is needed to get it back to where it was. (Yes, that does not make sense to us here in our macroscopic world.) It takes 720 degrees of rotation, not 360, to put the particle back the way it was. (And yes, that doesn’t make sense.)
As I said, it does get measured in units of angular momentum, and Planck’s constant, h, has the same dimensions as angular momentum. Angular momentum can be thought of in terms of whole revolutions of whatever is spinning, or in rotations through an angle of one radian (which is preferred), so Planck’s constant is often divided by 2π to give a “reduced Planck’s constant” called ℏ (pronounced “h-bar”).
It turns out that electrons and protons have a spin of 1/2ℏ. Physicists will often drop the ℏ and just say that electrons and protons have “spin 1/2”. Two electrons, side by side, might be oriented the same way, or in opposite ways, in which case one of the electrons is assigned +1/2 spin and the other one is “upside down” and has spin -1/2. Similarly for protons. And neutrons. All have +/- 1/2 spins.
Like angular momentum, spin is expected to be conserved, because it is a funky form of angular momentum.
If you have many protons (and neutrons) in a nucleus, the nucleus itself has a total spin, which is just the sum of all those half spins. The combined number of protons and neutrons is the atomic mass number, so for an atom of nitrogen-14, there are seven protons (because it’s nitrogen, and nitrogen by definition has seven protons) and seven neutrons, total 14. So the spins of seven protons and seven neutrons have to be added up. When actually measured, the total spin is 1.
It turns out there’s a rule here: If the mass number is even, the total spin is an integer. If it’s odd, the total spin has a 1/2 (or -1/2) in it. This makes sense, if you think about it. You can go through the protons and neutrons in a nucleus and group them, arbitrarily into pairs. Each pair will consist of two +1/2 spins (total 1), a +1/2 and a -1/2 spin (total 0), or two -1/2 spins (total -1). And it doesn’t matter which protons and neutrons you arbitrarily choose to pair together. The result is that all of the pairs put together will make up a whole number spin since you’re adding 1s, 0s, and -1s. So if the nucleus has an even mass number, its spin is the sum of a bunch of pairs of nucleons and will be an integer. If it has an odd mass number, there will be one proton (or neutron) left over after you make up your pairs, again no matter which pairings you use, you have one left over. It will have spin -1/2 or +1/2, so you’ll end up adding or subtracting 1/2 from the integer spin you get from the pairs. In general, a spin with a 1/2 in it is called a half-integer spin, because when you double it, you get an integer.
Before the discovery of the neutron in 1932, there was an idea that a nucleus consisted of protons–as many as the mass number–and some electrons to cancel the charges on some protons. So the nitrogen-14 nucleus would have 14 protons and 7 electrons, leaving a total charge of 7, and that total charge made it a nitrogen nucleus. On one level (considering electrical charge) this makes sense, but it turns out to make no sense at all when considering spin. That (hypothetical) nucleus would have 21 particles in it, all with half spins (remember that electrons too have a half spin), so it should have a total spin with a 1/2 in it, a half integer spin. Yet the nitrogen-14 nucleus, as I mentioned earlier, had a measured spin of 1. That was a powerful argument used as support for the existence of a hypothetical “neutron” and indeed the discovery of the neutron made the math work out; now there were an even number of particles in the nucleus so it could have an integer total spin. However, as we shall see below, this solved one problem but left another problem in place.
When the anti-electron or positron was discovered, it turned out to have the opposite spin of an electron. Even when oriented the same way as an electron, its spin was -1/2 compared to the electron’s 1/2. And this is true of anti-protons and anti-neutrons as well; in fact the difference in spin is the only obvious difference between a neutron and an anti-neutron (but it’s enough!).
In 1925, Wolfgang Pauli enunciated the “Pauli exclusion principle.” At first he applied it only to electrons, but in 1940 it was generalized to all particles with half-integer spins. In short, it states that no two such particles can occupy the same quantum state. An example of this is the lowest energy level of an atom, the “1s” orbital. An electron in that orbital is in a certain quantum state. But spin is part of the quantum state, so you can put a second electron in that orbital, so long as it’s oriented the other way and has spin -1/2. But after that, no more. You have to put a third and fourth electron in the “2s” orbital, then six subsequent electrons into the three “2p” oribtals (two each), and so on. (This is why the periodic table “rows” (or periods) all have even numbers of elements in them; if you subdivide them into blocks corresponding to the s, p, and d orbitals, those blocks also each have even numbers of elements in them.)
This is fundamentally the reason why two material objects can’t be in the same place at the same time. They’re made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons with half spins.
This principle does not apply to particles with integer spins, like photons (spin 0). Photons can pile onto the same quantum state by the billions, and it’s no problem. That’s very “non-matter” behavior, and indeed photons aren’t considered to be “matter” as we know it. They can occupy the same place at the same time, and often do. Beams of light can cross through each other without a problem.
Eventually, the name “fermion” (for Enrico Fermi) was given to all half-integer spin particles as a class, and “boson” (For Satyendra Nath Bose) to particles with integer spin.
OK, that’s enough about spin (for now).
I’ve also already told the story of how physicists had discovered the “Strong Nuclear Force,” often just called the Strong force. It’s responsible for keeping nuclei together, and when it’s just not strong enough to do the job, you get alpha decay, where the nucleus ejects an alpha particle (after 1932, known to consist of two protons and two neutrons), total four mass units. When this happens to a uranium-238 atom, it becomes a thorium-234 atom; four mass units less. And the charge has decreased by two, from 92 (uranium) to 90 (thorium).
It was beginning to look, by the way, as if the total number of nucleons (be they protons or neutrons) was something that was conserved, a new conservation law. Eventually this would be called “conservation of baryon number” (other similar particles would be discovered after 1950, they ware all called baryons). Protons and neutrons each had a baryon number of 1. The only way to wipe them completely out was to hit them with antimatter, but the antimatter was regarded as having negative baryon numbers, an anti-proton or anti-neutron had baryon number of -1. So proton-anti-proton annihilation took a +1 and -1 and turned them into zero. Nice and tidy.
Beta Decay Spells Doom?
But there was another kind of radioactive decay, beta decay.
And it was causing headaches for physicists.
As a reminder, this is when a nucleus spits out an electron. The charge of the nucleus goes up by one, but its mass number stays the same. For example, that thorium-234 atom undergoes beta decay to become protactinium-234. Same mass number, but the charge has changed from 90 (thorium) to 91 (protactinium). That process repeats to get you to uranium-234.
The old notion of the nucleus as consisting of one proton per mass number, counterbalanced partially by electrons, seemed plausible because of this. One of those electrons could be kicked out, “uncovering” a proton and increasing the charge. But as I described above, this notion of electrons in the nucleus left an issue with spin. This was solved with the discovery that the nucleus in fact contained protons and neutrons, and no electrons, but there was still a problem with beta decay.
That thorium-234 nucleus has to have an integer spin (just like the nitrogen-14 nucleus) because 234 is an even number, and the discovery of the neutron explained why. (According to wikipedia the spin happens to be 0.) The resulting protactinium-234 nucleus similarly has to have an integer spin (also happening to be zero). But in moving from thorium-234 to protactinium-234, an electron was ejected; it has a spin of 1/2. Shouldn’t the resulting nucleus have a half spin as well?
It doesn’t. So it appears that beta decay violates conservation of angular momentum.
Another issue popped up when energy was measured. With alpha decay, the masses (considered as their energy equivalents) and kinetic energy of the particles before and after the event balanced, once you added everything up, including the recoil of the nucleus like a rifle firing a bullet.
With beta decay, some of the energy disappeared. The energy of the nucleus (including its recoil) plus the kinetic energy of the electron, did not add up to what was there before. There was always some missing energy, but the amount could vary from very tiny to most of it.
This of course looked very much like a violation of mass/energy conservation.
[I’ll pause here to note that physicists typically simply speak of “energy conservation”, not “mass/energy conservation” because they consider matter to just be another form of energy; so a change in mass of a nucleus due to binding energy and so forth, is just another change of energy to them. I’m going to follow that convention from here on out.]
Yet another issue was noted when the recoil of beta decay was considered. With alpha decay, the alpha particle and nucleus recoiled in exactly opposite directions, much like a cannon firing a cannonball is shoved back in the opposite direction. The two new momenta (a relatively light alpha particle traveling quickly, versus a relatively heavy nucleus traveling in the opposite direction slowly) cancel out, leaving the total momentum unchanged.
But with beta decay, the recoil was not in the opposite direction from the velocity of the beta particle that was ejected. If the two directions aren’t opposite one another they cannot cancel completely–there’ll be some slight motion to the side left over–so there’s some “new” momentum where there had been none before.
And this looks a lot like a violation of the conservation of momentum.
So beta decay broke not just one, but THREE conservation principles!
This was hard to stomach. Sure, these conservation principles are generalizations. We see them work all the time without fail, but there’s always a smidgen of a chance that we’ll discover that they don’t really hold true. After all, we had once had conservation of mass, and conservation of energy, but then realized they weren’t true after all. But in that case, they were still true afterwards when combined into the conservation of mass/energy (or conservation of energy could be kept if mass was simply regarded as another form of energy, but that still involved “scratching” conservation of mass).
But three such violations at once was hard to believe.
At least, baryon number was safe.
And the problem persisted in 1934, when a second form of beta decay was discovered as part of the discovery of antimatter. A phosphorus-30 nucleus (one which does not exist in nature) would decay by spitting out a positron not an electron. It would end up moving to the left on the periodic table (because a proton had turned into a neutron) and become a nucleus of silicon-30, which is stable. This new mode of decay is now known as beta-plus or beta-positive decay, and it suffered from the same issues with conservation of angular momentum, energy, and momentum.
There was another violation on top of all of these but one much less troublesome. It had been suggested that the total number of electrons was fixed. Before the neutron was discovered, back when the nucleus was thought to contain protons and electrons, beta decay was just considered ejecting a pre-existing electron from a nucleus, so it wasn’t unreasonable to think that there might be some law conserving electrons. So we never saw electrons being created from nothing. But with the new understanding, beta decay consisted of a neutron turning into a proton and ejecting a brand-spanking, made-from-nothing electron. And beta positive decay transformed a neutron to a proton, creating a positron from nothing. So conservation of electrons, never very well established to begin with, seemed to have been scotched.
Wolfgang Pauli (of the Pauli exclusion principle) pondered this problem and realized there might be a way to rescue all of these conservation numbers. He wrote a very famous letter in 1930 (two years before the discovery of the neutron), in which he suggested there might be a totally new particle, one that was very light (lighter than the electron) and had no charge. As such it would be very difficult to detect.
This could solve all of these problems and save all of the conservation laws.
The spin issue could be solved by positing that the particle had the opposite spin as the electron (or positron), so that the two ejected particles together added up to zero spin, so the nucleus didn’t have to have a spin change at all in order to comply with conservation of angular momentum.
If the new particle carried away some of the energy, it would cover the “missing energy” that seemed to suggest a violation of conservation of energy.
And if beta decay resulted in three entities, not just two, then any two of them could move in directions not opposite each other, with the third particle serving to cancel the sideways momentum.
Pauli named his proposed particle the neutron. (Remember this was two years before Chadwick detected “the” neutron, and the name wasn’t taken yet.) Enrico Fermi, the next year, renamed the hypothetical particle the neutrino, This is Italian for “little neutral one,” as opposed to the big neutral one, the expected but still undiscovered neutron we know today.
And in 1933 Fermi proposed a new force, the weak nuclear force (to contrast it from the strong nuclear force). This force would cause a neutron to turn into a proton, neutrino, and electron, or alternatively a proton to turn into a neutron, neutrino and positron. In other words, it would be the force that governs beta decay–both kinds of beta decay.
In fact if we assume that there are also anti-neutrinos, we can even create a new conservation law from the ashes of the conservation of electrons. If we classify electrons and neutrinos as “leptons,” then a hypothetical “conservation of lepton number” might work better.
“Regular” beta decay, then, would turn a neutron into a proton, electron, and an anti-neutrino. Baryon number is preserved (neutron +1, proton +1, electron and anti-neutrino both 0), and the new lepton number is too; no leptons before the decay balances with the situation after the decay where there is one electron (+1 lepton) and one anti-neutrino (-1 lepton). Beta plus decay spits out a positron; to balance this anti-lepton we need a neutrino lepton.
This is very tidy. Not only are the three old conservation laws saved, a new one is created. It must have been very tempting to just assume it’s true. But it’s not enough.
We need to find the particle.
The neutron, after all had been a suggestion that would solve a lot of problems, but few were willing to take its existence on faith. Fortunately it was found, fairly quickly.
But this particle was going to be a cast-iron bitch to find. Because it didn’t have an electric charge, so it wouldn’t interact with the electromagnetic force. And it, like the electron, wouldn’t be affected by the strong force. It could only “feel” the weak nuclear force. (Just forget about gravity, it’s so weak.)
The weak force has a very, very short range. In fact, now we know its range is less than a tenth the diameter of a proton. So the only way a neutrino could interact at all is when it is directly in contact with a nucleus.
Remember that a nucleus is about 1/10,000 the width of an atom, so even with solid matter like lead, only 1/10,000 x 1/10,000 x 1/10,000 or one trillionth of the space is actually nuclei. So a neutrino, travelling through a block of solid lead at pretty basically the speed of light, is only in contact with a nucleus one trillionth of the time. So, only a trillionth of the time could it interact with a proton or neutron. So for some reaction that has a half life of (say) 1/10,000th of a second, the neutrino would have to spend 100,000,000 seconds travelling through the lead before it had a fifty percent chance of interacting one of the lead nuclei. That works out to be about three years. In those three years about half of the neutrines will have traveled three light years, or basically 18 trillion miles, and come out the other side, intact.
It’s a common trope that neutrinos will pass through light years of solid lead (if you could arrange for that to be set up) without interacting, and this is basically why. They need to spend a fairly long time (1/10,000 of a second is an eternity inside a nucleus) near very small things and they’re buzzing along at the speed of light. More realistically, the vast majority of neutrinos would simply drill right through the earth without affecting it. In fact, sixty five billion neutrinos pass through every square centimeter of the arth every second, and no one notices. More to the point, that many neutrinos also pass through every square centimeter of you every second, and you don’t notice, because they pass through, and don’t get stopped by your body.
The first detection was actually of antineutrinos generated in a nuclear reactor by the huge number of beta decays occuring in the reactor core.
When a an antineutrino does condescend to react with a proton, the proton becomes a neutron and a positron is spat out; it’s basically anti-neutrino induced beta decay, except that this decay absorbs an antineutrino instead of creating a neutrino (the books balance either way). And this was how neutrinos were eventually detected…in 1956.
Clyde Cowan, Frederick Reines, Francis B. Harrison, Herald W. Kruse and Austin D. McGuire did this by parking their apparatus–which largely consisted of large tanks of water–near a nuclear reactor, which generates a lot of antineutrinos, then waited for the tiny fraction of them that would interact with their detector. The reaction, as noted turned a proton into a neutron and spits out a positron; the positron finds an electron and mutually annihilates it, generating two gamma rays. If the nucleus hit is one of the hydrogen atoms in a water molecule, it turns from a single proton to a single neutron, which will wander off until it hits a nucleus and is absorbed–in this case cadmium was used since it absorbs neutrons readily. When this happens the neutron also generates a gamma ray. By watching for both of these events, two gamma rays from the electron-positron annihilation followed shortly after by a different-strength gamma ray from the neutron absorption, the experimenters could see that the signal matched the profile of the reaction and conclude a neutrino had hit a proton.
Even though ten trillion neutrinos passed through every square centimeter of the detector every second, only about three neutrino events per hour were detected. And just to prove that it was neutrinos from the reactor, they shut the reactor off and continued monitoring the detectors, and noticed a drop in the number of events.
But the actual detection of neutrinos (well, actually, antineutrinos) is getting ahead of our story.
Next time we’ll tackle Mystery Number 3.
Obligatory PSAs and Reminders
China is Lower than Whale Shit
To conclude: My standard Public Service Announcement. We don’t want to forget this!!!
Remember Hong Kong!!!
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!
China is in the White House
Since Wednesday, January 20 at Noon EST, the bought-and-paid for Joseph Biden has been in the White House. It’s as good as having China in the Oval Office.
Joe Biden is Asshoe
China is in the White House, because Joe Biden is in the White House, and Joe Biden is identically equal to China. China is Asshoe. Therefore, Joe Biden is Asshoe.
But of course the much more important thing to realize:
Joe Biden Didn’t Win
Qiáo Bài dēng méi yíng !!!
Joe Biden didn’t win !!!