It’s All Relative: Shuffling the Deck

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Every time you shuffle a deck of cards their order is one that has never before, and will never again happen in the universe.

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There are over 80 unvigintillion ways a deck of cards to be ordered. I promise I didn’t make that word up! That’s an 8 with 67 zeroes after it.

 

If life ever seems repetitive just shuffle a deck of cards and know that you created something that has never before existed in the 13.8 billion year history of the universe.

 

Each shuffle seems ordinary and plain, but the odds of every card shuffling into their original “new deck” order is the same as any other arrangement. Likewise, the odds of getting a royal flush of spades in exact 10 through Ace order is exactly the same as getting 2,7,Jack,8,4 in mixed suits.

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One only SEEMS special because we have designated it so. The feeling we get upon seeing a royal flush on the board should be felt every time a hand is dealt because every hand is equally special (or ordinary depending on how you choose to view it).

 

Take a moment to think how odd it is for us to work this way. There is no difference between the worlds most exciting hand, the world’s most mind numbingly boring hand, or any hand in between these two extremes. Every deck has identical odds of existing.

 

The sensation we get when seeing a “great” board get played comes purely from our fabricated ideas. It is not an emotion forced upon us by the outside world, but a feeling we choose based upon our interpretation.

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This points to a deeper truth. How we feel at any given moment has nothing to do with outside circumstances. Our feelings and emotions are a result of our interpretation of reality, not reality itself. If we wish to interpret our day as a series of stressful and agitating events, then that is precisely what we will experience.

 

This is great news because it means we are in absolute control of how we feel about our lives, moment by moment, day by day we create our happiness or sadness, peace or anger, despair or hope.

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Usually, we think we are the victims of what unfolds. When something unexpected happens – the flight is cancelled – we feel we MUST have a negative feeling. I’ve been waiting for 2 hours and the flight gets cancelled, I get angry; the marriage falls apart, I get sad; the car cuts me off, I rage.

 

If only reality was dealt as expected we could be happy, but instead I got the wrong deck!

 

But all decks are equal. No deck is “good or evil”, it is not out to get you. You are out to get yourself! You choose how to interpret the hand you’re dealt.

 

She broke up with me. Now I’m sad. Is the universe forcing me to be sad? Or am I imposing it upon myself by means of how I CHOOSE to look at it.

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So the deck wasn’t shuffled in the order you expected it to be shuffled. The universe didn’t let me down, I let me down with my own expectations. No ordering of cards is better than any other.

 

We cannot control how the cards are ordered, but we need not control that. We are in complete control of how we perceive each shuffle. We define what makes us feel good or bad.

 

If ever you are frustrated, sad, angry, annoyed, or agitated just ask yourself “Am I required to feel this way? Who is creating this emotion, me or the outside world? What feeling would I like to feel?” From there, create an interpretation that leads to the emotion or results you desire.

 

If I hate my job and I focus on why I hate it, I am merely fostering that crappy feeling. If I change my interpretation, my focus, I can change my emotion. What parts of the job do I like? Could this be the perfect motivator for finding something better? Maybe billions of others have worse jobs, and mine isn’t so bad?

 

These are all interpretations, and they lead to vastly different emotions, different results, different experiences, and different futures.

 

What makes us human is our ability to consciously choose our reactions and emotions. Often we are not truly in control, just like any other animal is not in control.

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What makes us special is that we do not have to go with whatever our reflex is. In that moment I convince myself I have to be angry, even that I WANT to be angry. We get lost in the emotion and just roll with it instead of being truly human, being conscious, being aware, and stepping back, observing, consciously controlling our emotions to produce happiness and results.

 

We have the power to choose how we interpret our circumstances, and this tool is more powerful than any drug or any amount of money. With diligent focus and effort we can re-claim the right to see the world in whatever light is delightful and beneficial, instead of being a monkey that sticks with its default reaction.

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Are you a victim of what happens to you, or are you the creator of your experience? Both can be true. The choice is up to you.

 

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” -William Shakespeare

That Twinkle In Your Eye

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Light takes up to 2.9 million years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

It then travels the entire 93,000,000 miles (1 AU) to Earth in just 8 minutes and 19 seconds. This is pretty funky since the Sun’s core is “only” 430,000 miles from its surface.  

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For comparison, light from the Moon takes 1.278 seconds to travel the 240,000 mile distance to Earth. Granted, rocketing yourself Apollo style from the Earth to the Moon is equivalent to going halfway from the Sun’s surface to its core (the Sun is pretty big), but that’s still only 2.5 seconds compared to 2.9 million years, so… what gives?

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The Sun is so incredibly dense that it acts like a pinball machine covered in those spastic auto-bumpers. Our poor photon is a pinball that keeps running into other molecules and getting randomly bumped left, right, backwards, sideways, and every which way.  Astronomers call the phenomena the “drunkard’s walk” because the photon is randomly staggering until sheer probability gets it to the Sun’s surface.


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Most of the photons exiting the Sun are “only” 1,000 – 10,000 years old, but there are so many hundreds of trillions of photons entering your eyes every second that some of them were created 2.9 million years ago, others 100,000 years ago, and still more just 500 years ago.


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Every single second, of every single day of your life, photons enter your eye that were birthed during every significant moment in human history. A photon just entered your eye that was created the same moment that Augustus Caesar became the first emperor of Rome; that same second you saw a photon birthed the same moment that Christopher Columbus first spotted “India” (i.e. America); nearly simultaneously a photon entered your eye from the day that Abraham Lincoln was shot at the Ford’s Theatre.

 

Alongside those photons from human history was one from 2.9 million years ago – this photon was created before humans had evolved, we did not yet exist as a species. In fact, this photon was already 2.6 million years old when the first members of our species walked the African savanna. Another 300,000 years later this photon breached the Sun’s surface and soon hit your cornea.


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This happened to you today. It is not a thought experiment, it is one of the quirky realities of our universe.

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The universe is a strange place.

The Tape of Superman: Scotch Tape and X-Rays

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Scotch tape emits x-rays when peeled in a vacuum.

How many x-rays? Enough to take an x-ray of a finger!
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Even under standard atmospheric conditions (STP) peeling Scotch tape emits a flash of light visible to the naked eye in a dark room.

Scotch tape is the Clark Kent of tape; it seems weak and feeble compared to any other tape, but it has hidden x-ray vision super powers. For instance, duct tape, the meat-head of the tape world, does not have this property. What exactly is going on to make this unassuming tape emit powerful and damaging radiation?
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This phenomena was confirmed just 6 years ago in 2008, and there are no conclusive answers – mostly because 3M keeps a tight lip on it’s secret adhesive formula for Scotch tape.

Soviet scientists reported discovering it in 1953, but no one seems to have believed them. To put this in perspective, the U.S. spent $20 million on remote viewing and clairvoyance research when they discovered the Soviets were doing the same. But when the Soviets said that Scotch tape may emit x-rays? The U.S. said no, freaking, way; not possible; not even worth testing.

Scientists do have a loose understanding of what is occurring. The visible light emitted when you step into a dark room and peel the tape is strikingly similar to what happens during a lightning strike:

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As the layers are peeled apart a difference in electric charge forms between the two separating pieces. Hundreds of strings of adhesive stretch then snap apart – this locks in the charge differential. A massive charge difference builds and builds until the laws of physics say it has gone too far, a single line of air molecules form an electric circuit by ionizing to transfer the charge, and ZAP lightning flashes. The view for an ant on the roll of tape would be no different than you observing an intense lightning storm.
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The mechanism for the x-ray emission in a vacuum is identical, but much more powerful for a simple reason. The strength of the charge difference that builds before the release is proportional to how easily charge can travel through a medium (air, water, metal, space, etc). The moment a charge difference is strong enough to travel the gap it does so.

This is why lightning has its odd zig-zag form – out of the hundreds of trillions of paths the charge could travel it automatically and instantaneously finds the easiest, laziest route. Think you’re lazy? The universe is lazier.

Mystery of the Dog Poop Dance Solved?

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Dogs seem to have an awful lot of ritual before hunkering down and soiling the sidewalk. It’s not uncommon to see a dog owner—plastic bag in hand—rolling his eyes as his furry companion sniffs and spins, getting just so before hunkering down to do the least considerate thing possible.

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But for whatever its worth, all that spinning is far from arbitrary. What dog owners witness is a small and furry version of the aurora borealis and a link between species and environment that’s as holistic and beautiful as a dog pooping can be. A team of Czech and German researchers found that dogs actually align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field when they poop.

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Proving at least that they’re really devoted to their work, the researchers measured the direction of the body axis of 70 dogs from 37 breeds during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that dogs “prefer to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm magnetic field conditions.” They fittingly published their results in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.

 

You might wonder why dogs bother to do this, and uh, so do the researchers.

It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it ‘consciously’ (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (the dogs ‘see,’ ‘hear’ or ‘smell’ the compass direction or perceive it as a haptic stimulus) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they ‘feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable’ in a certain direction). Our analysis of the raw data (not shown here) indicates that dogs not only prefer N-S direction, but at the same time they also avoid E-W direction.

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This isn’t the only example of animals seemingly sensing the Earth’s magnetic field. Birds, turtles, and fish are known to use magnetic guidance while migrating. Cattle and deer are known to graze on a north-south axis—as with defecating dogs, this is magnetic north, not the geographic one. Some bats navigate using a magnetic compass and given the large ranges of the dog’s closest relatives in the wild, wolves, scientists suspected that canines might also sense the magnetic field.

But this was perhaps the first time that magnetic sensitivity was proven in dogs, and it was also the first time that a predictable behavioral reaction to the fluctuations in the magnetic field—magnetic storms, often as resulting from solar flares—was proven in a mammal.

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If you’re out walking your dog later, and he sidles up and pees on a tree facing east-west, don’t be terribly surprised. The magnetic consciousness was observed only in dogs off leash, in the middle of a field. All things considered, the owner matters more to the dog than the Earth’s magnetic field; a nice little ego-booster that you’ll need as you bend over to pick up warm dog droppings.

(I copy pasted this article because it was perfection. It said everything I wanted to say, in logical order, AND with a touch of good fun. Great job Vice!)

The Ninja Particle

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About 100 trillion neutrinos pass through you every second zipping through your skin, blood vessels, and organs before carrying onward unscathed.

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Don’t worry though! Neutrinos are so insanely tiny that they’re described as a “point particle” – they’re a particle, but they basically occupy zero space because physics is weird like that.

A proton is 0.0000000000017 millimeters  wide, and a proton is 1836 times more massive than an electron. An electron is so small that it is considered a “point particle” as well.

However, a neutrino is one ten-millionth the size of an electron! (even though both are “point particles”)

This Is How We Detect Neutrinos

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It Was Originally A Prison For Godzilla

Neutrinos are so energetically tiny that they’re nearly impossible to detect. The picture is of the Super Kamiokande in Japan, the world’s premiere neutrino detector. Since neutrinos travel through EVERYTHING it was built 3,330 ft underground in order to isolate them from other phenomena. When in operation it is filled with 12.5 million gallons of heavy water (deuterium). The neat looking bubbles on the walls are photomulipliers that detect when a neutrino collides with a heavy water molecule.

These photomultipliers are so sensitive that all we need is a single neutrino to hit a single molecule of water. that’s it. Mission successful. You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard, but neutrinos are the true ninjas of the universe.

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There are 127,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of H2O in a single gallon of water, and there are 12.5 million gallons of heavy water in that tank. With over ten thousand trillion neutrinos (ponder that number for a moment) passing through the Super Kamiokande EVERY SECOND you’d think we’d be detecting a lot of activity, but we aren’t, which has given neutrinos the nickname “The Ghost Particle” – although, I still prefer “The Ninja Particle”.

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This Is A Recent Image of the 1987 Supernova Explosion Remnant

The Super Kamiokande most successful day was in 1987 when the shockwave from a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a small galaxy orbiting the Milky Way) reached Earth. 19 neutrinos out of the billion trillion trillion trillion trillion neutrinos that passed through were detected!

Perspective: Light From 10 Billion Years Ago Hits Us Today

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This week, an entire new class of Supernova was discovered by analyzing light from a star that exploded 10 billion years ago.

A 300-year-old supernova remnant created by the explosion of a massive star.

This means a single photon of light began its journey to our eyes 10 billion years ago. It was created in the crucible of the most powerful explosion in the universe – over 100 times more powerful than the previous record-holder.

The power of the previous record? Several octillion (it’s a real number I swear) nuclear warheads igniting in synchrony.

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The majority of the life of the universe unfolded during this photons travels. It traveled through dust clouds birthing stars, across entire galaxies, surviving the vast, empty, cold void between galaxies for 10 billion years before ending its life by traveling through your tiny pupil, and exciting nerves in your cornea.

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The supernovae exploded when the universe was only 4 billion years old. “This happened before the sun even existed,” Howell explained. “There was another star here that died and whose gas cloud formed the sun and Earth. Life evolved, the dinosaurs evolved and humans evolved and invented telescopes, which we were lucky to be pointing in the right place when the photons hit Earth after their 10-billion-year journey.”

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