Thinking - Universal Theory

First let me just make a disclaimer.*

There's a stack of stuff that's wrong with the universe, but rather than tackle all that stuff, I'm just going to try to describe how it got into this state in the first place.

At least to my satisfaction.

Actually what I really want to do is see if I can describe it to my satisfaction.

Just as an exercise.

I have lots of missing bits to my theory, but I don't like all the stuff in current theories that pulls magic numbers out of hats.

And things like gravity suddenly getting repulsive at long distances. Gravity is a gentle, sensitive thing. But you don't want to get on it's wrong side by claiming it's repulsive at a distance. If you're going to say it, say it to it's face.

And all that dark matter to explain why the universe is still expanding, when according to someone's calculator, it should no longer be expanding.


I'm going to try to picture a model of the universe that has none of that stuff, and still makes sense. My real aim is to test a new plausibility function of something I call the Invention Engine, but a new theory of the universe, and/or Nobel prize for physics always looks good on the resume, especially when there is nothing else on my resume.

To start with, I thought about the stuff I was thinking about when I thought I had a pretty good grasp of gravity, but proved myself wrong. That was a few days ago. It looked like this as described in a previous post called "Thinking - Gravity" and basically led me to the conclusion that, not only did I not really understand gravity, but I might never understand it.

But gravity is very interestingly odd.

That much is certain.

So ...

The one thing I really like about the universe, perhaps the only thing, is the chaos, and it's a good thing, because I'm going to need it. Not chaos like in chaos theory. Well actually it's the same stuff, but just... mess. I'm also going to need a lot of extremely sophisticated mathematics. But there's no Nobel prize for mathematics because some mathematician helped Mrs Nobel cheat on Mr Nobel or something* It doesn't really matter, but I'll ignore the mathematical proof for now.

That and I can barely count.

But mostly because there's no Nobel prize.

So we need a universe that looks like ours, but without all the problems associated with those things I mentioned earlier.

Picture a big bang**.

Any big bang will do.

Notice how all the stuff hasn't blown out from the middle to the same distance.

That's normal.

Also notice that we cant see all of the tiny detail.

It's the entire universe after all, so we are probably going to need at least a second sheet of paper.

But for the time being, lets just concentrate on a little bit of it.

Bit "A"

Bit "A" isn't a special bit, it's just a bit. There are bits further out than it, and there are bits less far out.

If we zoom in on bit "A" we would find it would be made up of lots of smaller stuff.

Lots and lots.

And lots.

All flinging out roughly from some central point. Well, that's what you might think but I don't think scientists like central points.

But I do.

Anyway, some of it has glubbed together into lumpy bits, some other stuff is glowing in the dark.

Yet other stuff is on fire, and some has given up on the entire process and has wandered off course a bit. Perhaps it was caught up in a local little bang. Perhaps it was influenced by another thing's gravity as the really big other thing rushed past. Perhaps it left its hand brake off and it simply rolled away.

Who knows.

But lot's of it is doing it's own thing.

See the stuff in point "A" doing it's own thing?

What a mess.

See that little bit at point "B".

See it doing it's own thing?

What a mess.

But lets have a closer look at point "B".

Point "B" is also made up of a stack of smaller stuff, but a lot of it is arcing a bit to the left. Perhaps it's being influenced by all the stuff that didn't go out as far.

Point "B" was full of stuff that was not going straight up (I say up, but there is no up. Only out or in, or a bit to the side) Point "B's" stuff had it's course slightly altered by some stupid thing exploding, then a big thing went past a bit to it's left.

All the stuff that looks like this.

It turns out a lot of the stuff around point "B" is on an arc that's heading roughly along the line I've drawn.

Which is lucky, because otherwise my drawing would have been wasted.

But my point is that point "B's" Stuff isn't heading straight out any more, it's on an arc, and might eventually fall back towards the centre.

I don't care if it does, because I don't believe the universe is expanding.  Or at least I'm not sure if it is. I don't think we can ever know.

Actually I do, but ...

I believe the known universe is expanding.

Not the universe.

I think the universe might be doing exactly what it should be doing if not for the magic numbers, dark matter, and repulsive gravity.

Bit's of it are collapsing in on themselves as we speak. At least I hope they are. Because then I'll get a Nobel prize, and perhaps more importantly, nothing odd has to happen any more.

Point "B" on the other hand, is racing back into annihilation as well, but that turns out to perhaps not be the contradiction that it might seem.

At one point, point "B" went through the top of it's arc at point "C".

Then it started racing home.

Now it's at point "D".

Strictly speaking, that big black shadow on the bottom of my photos is part of the universe, but it's not important at the moment.

Part of looking at my perfectly flat billiard table valley in that previous post, forced me to try to picture some stuff I wasn't familiar with. I also don't understand what the stuff from point "B" is going through, so this looks like it might be an excellent time to employ the same methods.

If a car is driving at 10 kph, and another car is travelling at 100 kph, regardless of which car you are in,  as long as you cant see the road or any other fixed point, you see that you are moving away from the other car.

You might be moving in the direction of the other car but you cant tell if there is nothing to compare your movement against.

You are moving away from the other car.

Even if you are in the slow car chasing the other car, it's moving away from you, and so as far as you know, you are moving away from it.

Rather than driving, if we were to drop cars, say... from an invisible car dispenser, we would see a similar result.

Lets time our drops so that when the first car is falling at 100kph, and the second dropped car is falling at 10kph, we stop and take a look.

from any seat, as long as you couldn't see the car dispenser or anything else, you would experience the cars moving away from each other.

If we zoom all the way in (say to galaxy sized objects) to a few objects at point "D" where the objects have passed through the top of their arc, and are heading back, we see the objects are experiencing something similar to our car's passengers.

All objects at point "D" will see all other objects at point "D" falling away from them.

Pictured here, point "E" might be falling at say 100 Kazillion kph, and the object at point "F" might only be falling at 10 Kazillion kph.

Anyone standing on either object, would experience the other object moving away from them at 90 Kazillion kph.

Even if two objects were very close to each other (like the two also pictured next to each other in the centre), they would appear to be travelling slightly away from each other, at lets say... 3.2 kazillion kph, because if the trajectories are even slightly different they will be travelling at different speeds****.

According to lots of scientists, the universe needs to weigh*** up to ten times more than it does, otherwise it would be collapsing on itself. I think this is because you need a certain amount of momentum to overcome collapse. Like you need a certain amount of momentum to overcome gravity and stay in orbit. But we can tell the universe is expanding. We just don't like it because it isn't heavy*** enough.

Not only is it expanding, but the further stuff is away from us, the faster it's moving away from us.

When you drop stuff on earth, it accelerates away from where you drop it at 9.8m/second/second.

I have no idea how fast galaxies fall when you drop them.

And that's basically it.

What if we see a tiny bit, of a tiny bit, of the smallest fraction of a section of the universe. Just some of the objects from the point "B", that are currently in a free fall to annihilation in what may well prove to be big bang number 2, (or any other meaningless and forgettable number).

Those objects within the observable universe are all racing away from each other, not toward any obvious (to the math-less observer) point, just away from each other.

The further you are away from  any given object, the faster it appears to be moving away from you.

Things tend not to expand and then collapse along exactly the same lines. In fact things tend to collapse a bit more like a whirl pool where for reasons of chaos and mess, a bit goes into orbit rather than perfectly back the way it came. So arcs, rather than straight lines.

And there's no need for any missing matter or repulsive gravity.

I'm personally quite comfortable with that explanation, but that's probably because I have no mathematics skills.

As for this theory's merit or otherwise....

I have no idea.

But it does beg the question, "What would a hole... a perfectly straight hole... a perfectly straight hole in gravity infested space ...curved space... look like, and where would a ball roll if thrown onto an imaginary flat billiard table valley?"

I have no idea.

120 Things in 20 years is thinking about the universe, and has come up with this ad hoc collection of sentences to explain it.

*Text may not reflect reality

**Actually, I suspect it will prove to be more of a big, kind of gradual... whoosh.

***mass weight whatever - I dont pretend to know this stuff.

****I know I mentioned a big heavy thing overtaking the stuff at point "B", but I'm not sure that would really happen. That was just for illustration purposes to describe some mess.  If that was to occur, there would need to be secondary smaller bangs (which I'm all for) or perhaps more of a big condensing whoosh. I dont think it would have a lot of impact either way.

Thinking - The universe

I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure I've worked out how the universe works.

If looking at this diagram doesn't make it immediately clear, it's probably just because it's upside down. Those numbers are actually the speeds of two different cars. One travelling at 10 mph, and the other 100mph.

I posted it upside down to keep it's secrets secret.

Tell no one.

I don't want anyone sneaking off with my only chance at a Nobel prize for physics.

There's more to come on this topic, but I'm yet to think of it properly. I've never really tried to explain the Universe before, and it's proving trickier than I expected.

Here instead is a cracking effort at putting everything in perspective. It's called "The Scale of the Universe 2" and shows the size of some stuff compared to some other stuff.

I tend not to link to much stuff, but I think this is pretty cool. I also have nothing to do with it or anything, I just like it.

120 Things in 20 years hints that sometimes pictures paint a thousand words, but suspects when it comes to thinking about the Universe, some pictures simply don't deliver. it seems, sometimes pictures can paint a little less than a third of a word.

Thinking - Gravity

Space is a funny thing.

I keep thinking I don't have enough of it on my desk, but that doesn't really tell the entire story.

The world really is an unlikely place.

Take this for example....

If you put something really, really flat, and I mean flat, not earth flat... so say an imaginary flat billiard table...put an imaginary flat billiard table on earth. A really really big imaginary flat billiard table.

Now throw a ball on it.

It will roll around and around like something going down a drain until it settles in the middle.

At the lowest point.

The lowest point of a flat thing.

See. That's just silly.

But that's what would happen. When seen in 2D like my expert drawing, a flat thing would actually make a valley on earth. The sides of the flat thing would be the top of mountains.

If we strike out at 90 degrees from my 2D drawing, and consider it in 3D, it would form a crater with the centre being the lowest point.

So when you throw a ball into the picture, a ball... a ball on earth, would experience a perfectly smooth crater with the centre forming the lowest point, and the edges of the billiard table forming the rim. I was going to say "a perfectly smooth rectangular crater", but I'm not sure it would still be a rectangle.

I'm not sure of anything any more.

Similarly silly is what would happen if you drilled a perfectly straight hole through the earth's crust.

If you drilled an imaginary perfectly straight hole through the Earth's crust and threw a ball into it, it would eventually settle out somewhere around point C.

At the lowest point.

An imaginary straight tunnel, is really (whatever "really" means) an arc shaped tunnel.

Or at least it is as far as a ball is concerned.

Or a person.

If you entered the tunnel at point A, you would be entering a tunnel cut into the earth at say 35 degrees.

A steep decent.

But point C is the lowest point, so after passing point C, you would be climbing again. I think that means that points B and D would be a gentle slope compared with points A and E.

Personally I think this example makes a lot more sense than the previous one, but that might be simply because I'm getting the hang of it, or it could be because I used some letters of the alphabet.

There's nothing like the familiar to sooth the nerves.

But turn your back on the universe for even a second, and space gets all curved and confusing.

120 Things in 20 years - Thinking gravity? Think perfectly flat billiard valleys.

Aquaponics - Two year old silver perch

Trying to measure a fish without disturbing it turns out to be a very tricky thing.

Eventual I managed by taking some video and then grabbing a single frame from it to turn into a happy snap.

Even then it's difficult to make out.

I think it's around 275mm long.

That's it's tail extending back a little behind the ruler.

They are roughly two years old, and I'm guessing it would weigh around 350 g.

It's not a lot, but still not bad considering how often they went without food during all the problems I had with poisoning them etc.

I suspect I could have seen double that weight if I had fed them as much as they wanted all the time. So I think it's time I got the demand fish feeder working. There hasn't been much point over winter as they don't do a lot of eating, but spring is in the air, and I want to get some more fish. It's also about time I did something about completing the fish feeder project.

I seem to be half doing way too much stuff of late.

120 Things in 20 years - If an aquaponics task is worth doing, and to get to the end of a task you must pass through the middle, then it must be worth half doing.

Electronics - Power supply

One of the biggest problems I have with designing electronics is that I don't know anything about it, and don't know what all those little components do, so I designed this....

There are lots of bits missing, but I didn't want to go any further without getting some input from someone who knows this stuff, so I thought I'd post it any way.

It's more of a question than an answer.

"Is this something?"

The switches in the dotted line boxes are controlled by a chip.

The plan is that the capacitors would be charged either in series or parallel, so chip compares the voltage of the caps or source, and compared to the desired output voltage, it could then mix whatever capacitors it needed to achieve  the desired output voltage. With the battery (right hand side of the circuit) disconnected, the capacitors would be charged. Then the source power (left hand side) would be disconnected, the number of capacitors needed would be calculated depending on desired voltage, then they would be opened to the battery. So it might charge all the capacitors in parallel, then discharge the required number into the battery in parallel (or whatever).  This might happen a thousand times a minute or something.

I'm trying to create an "anything in, anything out" power supply that doesn't waste any power. That way I can charge my battery on my boat form a solar panel, plus a bit of wind power, and whatever else I happen to plug in.

I doubt it will work.

120 Things in 20 years dropped out of Eh?lectricity school. Can you tell?

Aquaponics - Only very slightly kooky carrot

I was expecting a lot more interesting looking carrots, because I was led to believe they would all resemble Elvis/whatever you normally focus on, in a crazy attempt to grow toward the nutrient.

But I've nearly harvested all my carrots, and this is as kooky as I've had.

Not so kooky.

They also taste great and are super crunchy.

I cant help feeling that if I spent the last couple of months in wet gravel, I might not maintain quite so much crunch.

Really, really crunchy.

This one is getting on a bit, and it's probably the case that it was always this carrots intention to grow this way, at this time, no matter what it was standing in for the last few months.

I think I can safely say that in my system carrots grow just fine.

When asked in a recent interview why some people have a difficult time growing carrots, and other have no problems, 120 Things in 20 years replied  "Who knows? Carrots keep their own council."

It was a short, imaginary interview.

Aquaponics - Solids removal

I'm actually a firm subscriber to the idea of leaving all solids in your aquaponics system, but I don't really have anything to inform that decision other than my thinking it. 

So we cant have that.

A healthy system can absorb a lot of fish waste and solids break down in no time. There are worms to help with that in the growbeds, but even without worms, friendly bacteria are always there to do their thing.

There's also the point that removing solids is removing hard earned nutrient from your system that the plants need.

There's also the fact that as my system stands now, I have a nice feeling that I'm working comfortably within natures guidelines and margins for error.

But enough of the sensible reasons for not messing about with solids removal. I'm going to have a go at it.

There are a few experiments from my recent past that I can call on. One is the swirl filter and it's followup, the self cleaning swirl filter. The self cleaning swirl filter was designed to separate solids, but keep them in the system, and I encourage you to click on the "self cleaning" link if you feel you might enjoy watching a video of fish poo swirling and settling. The reason I made it was to gain a source of clean water for my NFT (Nutrient film technique) pipes, but it might prove useful in this current endeavour.

I might also need a bit of electronics.

And an invention engine.

And a bit of a mental shift. I think I need to focus on water removal or recovery rather than solids removal. I need to get the water solids mix dryer and dryer.

Currently my plan looks a bit like this...

Step 1. Split the solids from the majority of the water flow using one of my self cleaning swirl filters. I suspect I'll be able to take out 90% of the water at this stage. It look like I might be able to do this stem more than once to get even more water out.

Step 2. Further separate the solids using gentle flow of the remaining water over or through a mechanical filter. Apparently, this will take the form of a conveyor belt sieve that slowly or perhaps intermittently eases solids from a water bath. At least that's what the invention engine seems to think. 

Step 3. Automatically convey the solids to a worm farm so I can add household veggie scraps and create high protein fish food. By returning the fish waste as fish food, I can still keep a natural eco-loop going, and continue to feel good about my system. Also, the fish really like the worms, and in winter when silver perch go off their pellet feed, it might be a good way to keep them growing.

Two things the final design will need to accomplish are that it will need to be very reliable, and that it will need to be very automated. I'll need to be able to go away for a week and ignore the system, and I'll need to create some failsafe system to make sure that I dont end up overloading the growbeds.

There is a great danger of overloading the system, because in order to have enough nutrient for the plants, I'm going to have to overstock my system with fish if I'm going to remove most of the solid waste.

120 Things in 20 years sees me cautiously optimistic about an automatic, aquaponics, solids removing, worm farm addition to my system.

Thinking - Population density, innovation, and some evolution

I've just spent the last two months testing my invention engine by not using it.

It's the last of it's formal tests that I have in mind.

The test is to see if it really does anything, or if it's just me coming up with ideas that solve the problems.

I for one can see the difference.

Lately my ideas have all been a little thin, impractical, had no sense of direction, and seemed to involve phlegm. That last one may in fact account for all the others, but I've never been one to let reality crush a story.

In Australia, we (white invaders) have this traditional ingrained presupposition that we are all highly skilled in making do. We feel a country wide enthusiasm that makes us believe we can fix stuff, and that everything will be ok, as long as we have a bit of fencing wire. (I suspect north america has the same thing with gaffer tape) The result is we can be left as a wire-bound backwater in the struggle for national identity.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, so bear (forbearance, not the big furry thing you never want to find in your pantry) with me and see what happens.

Birds are dense in the head.

Their brains are packed with a stack of connections. More per cubic whatever than we have by a long shot.

The secret is in needing to be lightweight.

Now I have to mention evolution.

I've been avoiding this for a long time.

Evolution, as we know, is real.

It's a fact.

It happens all the time and is not something relegated to the past. It's something that happens all the time and was going on this morning before breakfast.

Some guy named Darwin came up with a theory called "Natural Selection" that speaks to what powers it... to what does the selecting of one critter over another, and leaving them safe to mate with the other successful ones, but that's just a theory as to how it happens.

The fact that evolution occurs isn't in question.


Some states are great and some never make it. And lately I've found myself wondering what it takes to make it. It's clear as a species, that we are moving away from joules in our diet as a predictor of a country's success.

If joules still rated as a success marker, I for one would be right up there as a candidate for some kind of award. I have virtually unlimited access to calories, but I'm not sure if it would do me any good. And even less sure it does my country any good.

So if not calories, then what? Some say necessity is the mother of invention. I say necessity is the non gender specific parent of making do with a bit of fencing wire.

I think the thing that creates true innovation is discontent.

The result is that it's not the meek that will inherit the earth...

It's the miserable.

120 Things in 20 years - In thinking  "population density, innovation, and some evolution", it seems everything is progressing according to plan.

Thinking - God(s)

I'd like to ask everyone to petition their deities for a cessation of bad stuff effective immediately.

120 Things in 20 years, Bahhhgh!

Aquaponics - Nebuliser

We don't like zeds in this country.

That's why we spell words like "nubulizer" with an "s".

I pretty much spell how I think words should be spelt, and let Ubuntu take care of the rest.


This bit is the bit of a medical nebuliser that seems to make the fog.

As far as I can tell (I unplugged the hose when nobody was looking) the rest of the device is just an air pump like the kind people use in their aquariums or aquaponics systems.

The medication is in liquid form, and sits above the aqua disk. That's aqua the colour, not aqua as in Aqua-Man.

From what I can work out, the liquid spills under the disk via the tiny grooves you can see in the side of it, and then runs into a stream of air that employs standard magic to make it into fog.

With me blowing through it, it creates a spray rather than a mist, and it's not even close to a fog.

That's it working in my hallway.

It wasn't as bad as it looks on camera.

So I'm guessing the pump can dump a lot more air pressure to it than I can.

That, or the medication isn't water based. But I don't think it is anything other that water, because an angry nurse once told me it was drug laced saline [solution].

Up close it looked like this.

Not very foggy.

Even as it is, it might make a useful aerator.

There are a lot of different thoughts out there as to how aerators work in a fish tank, and I wish someone with an oxygen probe would just do a few simple tests and prove what's going on.

Oxygen (and other gasses) are soluble in water. A lake gets it's oxygen from the bit that meets the air. That's all good and well for a lake, but people like to keep more fish per cubic metre than a lake, so we need to add air. The air only dissolves into the tiniest depth of the top before that bit gets saturated with as much oxygen as it feels like carrying, and leaves the rest to float around, way up in the sky.

Unfortunately there is a lot of poor science out there telling us how and why water and air does all this. Actually the science isn't all that poor, but tends to relate to sewage treatment rather than fish tanks. And then does some dodgy science as well, but I digress.

1. Some say the air bubbles from an air pump in a fish tank simply increase the surface area exposed to the air. The fish tank surface, plus the surface of each of the many bubbles equals lots of surface.  It definitely does that, and there is the added benefit that the air is under pressure. The deeper it is, the more pressure there is. It turns out air under pressure likes to squirm it's way into water a bit more than usual.

2. Some say oxygen uptake is mostly done as the bubbles hit the surface. Something about the large increase in surface area as the bubbles break and splash around all over the shop.

3. Still others think that all that other stuff is happening, but the main thing the bubbles do is drag water up with them as they rise, and as a result, create a current in the tank, and constantly expose new lump of water to the air.

4. Many combine any number of those and some add some stuff about breaking surface tension. Some quote other people saying stuff about breaking surface tension being important, and get that mixed up with number 2 above. Others think that breaking the surface tension just means you don't get a sheet of water that keeps being the topmost layer because surface tension looks a bit like it might be a separate bit of water doing the surface tension thing, and it might not be moving much.

5. By far, the majority of people don't care because they don't have a fish tank, and the most intelligent of us that do, tend to ignore the entire debate and just stick an air stone into our tanks and attach it to an air pump.

Sadly I don't belong in that last category.

I care.

I've cared since I was a lad.

I had some guppies once in a five foot fish tank.

They all got out and went for a walk on the carpet.

They took all the water with them.

But luckily, a nice farmer took them all to his pond where they lived forever as far as I know.


I tend toward argument 3 with perhaps a little 4, but definitely aiming for 5.

I have only two fish in 1000 litres of fish tank, so there isn't a lot of competition for air, but I also have worms living and reproducing all completely under water. Two of my grow beds are run as constant flood beds. This means that they are always full, yet my worms don't drown.

This is a good indication of well oxygenated water, because it turns out that worms only drown when the water they are in doesn't have high enough levels of dissolved oxygen. Most aquaponics systems end up full of worms, even if you don't add them. I added some adult worms to my system ages ago, and regularly find adult and baby worms when I pull up a plant.

I have no idea how much dissolved oxygen worms need to thrive, and I cant find the answer anywhere, so if you know a student that needs an experiment, make them do it.

But get them to tell me the results.

120 Things in 20 years, I'm not really sure what this aquaponics nebuliser post was really about in the end, but I for one feel more informed as a result of having read it to check it to make sure not too much of my head fell out.

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