User talk:SaraT

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The 1300s did not occur after the King James Bible, and hence my reversion. You might try taking World History Final Exam.--Andy Schlafly 16:16, 3 June 2009 (EDT)

Oh, sorry. I didn't read the fine print "developed since the King James Version". That explains a bunch of conservative words that I found surprisingly absent, like "work" and "decency". I'll be more selective and careful in the future.
My KJV doesn't show a date in the dedication, which sort of surprised me. But I knew it was during the reign of James I, in the early 1600's. I didn't know, until just now, that it was 1611.
The Final Exam question you are referring to was 40, right? Answer is B of course. I'll look at the exam in more detail soon. I've just finished taking some other exams. SaraT 17:47, 3 June 2009 (EDT)

Here are my answers to the World History Final Exam:

1 c 11 b 21 b 31 d 41 d 51 c
2 d 12 b 22 d 32 d 42 c 52 b
3 a 13 a 23 b 33 b 43 b 53 a
4 c 14 c 24 b 34 c 44 b 54 d
5 d 15 e 25 b 35 d 45 e 55 b
6 a 16 e 26 d 36 b 46 e 56 e
7 b 17 d 27 b 37 a 47 d 57 d
8 a 18 c 28 e 38 c 48 c 58 b
9 c 19 b 29 c 39 e 49 b 59 c
10 b 20 d 30 d 40 b 50 d 60 a
EC d for boys, e for girls

Minor nit on question 53: It's Carta, not Charta.

MAJOR nit on question 59: Solving encrypted messages by checking letter frequencies is the stuff of puzzles in popular magazines and children's books. The Enigma cipher was much more difficult than that. The rotors advanced, completely changing the permutation, after every letter. Solving the Enigma cipher required the concentrated effort of the best minds of the British mathematics community. See "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges for a readable, but not too technical account, of the problem and the way it was attacked.

I don't know if I'll bother grading your exam, because you defiantly answered both the boys and girls extra credit question. You're not both.
Your "minor nit on question 53" is wrong. See [1]
Your "major nit on question 59" is also wrong. British mathematicians did not crack the Enigma; Polish mathematicians did, and part of the decrypting was based on letter frequency. Godspeed.--Andy Schlafly 22:04, 4 June 2009 (EDT)
"Your "minor nit on question 53" is wrong." Actually SaraT is correct. The Magna Carta is the Magna Carta, or Magna Carta Libertatum. The translation of Carta is Charter, but any spelling of Carta as Charta is completely incorrect. I'm afraid to say that the people running the site that you linked too need to educate themselves re:13th century Latin spelling.
"Your "major nit on question 59" is also wrong. British mathematicians did not crack the Enigma; Polish mathematicians did, and part of the decrypting was based on letter frequency. Godspeed." Again incorrect. Whilst the Polish did crack the pre-war Enigma code the German's changed the way that Enigma generated messages specifically to counter the way that the Polish had cracked the pre-war code. It was the British who cracked the new Enigma code during the war. Because of the way that encryption using the Enigma machine was changed, plus operational changes such as not allowing messages of more than 250 words, this meant the process that you refer to in the question, initialization vector which is the system that the Biuro Szyfrów used to crack the pre-war code, became almost useless in cracking the new Enigma code.--DanHutchin 17:23, 14 November 2009 (EST)


Action at a distance

SaraT and KSorenson (this is being sent to both):

I'm interested in working on the article about action at a distance. (Actually I'm busy working on many things about science and math, as a look at my contributions will show, but this particular issue has bubbled to the top of my agenda.) I'm confused about the ways this term is used. Since you both seem to be interested in the history of science, you might be able to shed some light on it.

The suggested meanings I have come across are:

  1. Exertion of force on an object that isn't in direct contact. This must be what it means in Newtonian gravity, right?
  2. Transmission of a force instantaneously, or, in any case, supraluminally. This doesn't seem to have been an issue with Newton, because the finite speed of light, and the causality consequences of that, weren't known at the time. Right?
  3. Consequences of "Quantum Entanglement". This seems to relate to supraluminal transmission of information, and is therefore related to #2. Right?

So which is it? Can either of you enlighten me? Or fix the article? (By the way, you both write very well.) PatrickD 22:28, 12 November 2009 (EST)


I've seen what KSorenson wrote, and her explanation of the locality and causality aspects are far superior to anything I could do. But I would like to point out that, historically, it meant something different. One thing that the old and new definitions have in common is an element of "spookiness". Of course, what was spooky in the 1600's is perfectly sensible now.

The term is considered rather quaint now; I think it should properly be used only in the old context. As KS points out, in the modern world of field theories, "locality" and "non-locality" are better terms. If something (like an electric charge) locally affects the field (electric field or Faraday tensor) here, and there are equations (Maxwell's equations) relating the behavior of the field here with the behavior there, and the field there causes a particle there to feel a force, that is not really "action at a distance". It's perfectly acceptable. In modern terms, it's a local field theory. The field "mediated" the force. The way the equations relate the field at one point to the field at another point (divergences and such) that carry the force from "here" to "there".

But the carrying of force from one point to another wasn't so easy to accept in the 1600's. It was considered spooky, just as Schrodinger's cat and quantum entanglement are considered spooky today. In the 1600's, people generally believed that one object could only exert a force on another object if the two were in physical contact. There was plenty of practical experience underlying this belief.

But there were two effects that I can think of that violated this: There were magnets--natural lodestones; and their ability to point North had been known since antiquity. And there was gravity. The apple fell to the ground without anyone pushing it. How did they reconcile this? My guess is that they just didn't think as hard about such issues as perhaps they might have.

I think that Newton's discovery that gravity makes the planets move forced people to think about what they had been ignoring. You can overlook an apple falling to the ground, but you can't overlook a force making Mars move. Was it the fact that the force operated through a vacuum that made people uneasy? Or was it the fact that the distances were so vast? I suspect it was a little of each. That which had been overlooked before could no longer be denied. There was action at a distance. Across hundreds of millions of miles of empty space. This bothered people. It even bothered Newton. He wrote about not believing in action at a distance, even though he had just devised the world's first field theory. (He was not the only person to have a hard time coming to grips with his own discoveries.)

Action at a distance has also been used, classically, to refer to action traveling faster than the speed of light. But this did not come up in Newton's time. That there should be a finite speed of propagation wasn't an issue. In fact, Newton proved that angular momentum would not be preserved unless gravity propagated instantaneously.

How do we reconcile that with the fact that it is propagated at the finite speed of light? Classical mechanics is completely consistent with special relativity under the assumption that the speed of light is infinite. Newton was doing a relativistically correct proof, as long as c = infinity.

Later on, as the finiteness of the speed of light became known, the questions arose whether the effects of fields (electric, magnetic, and gravitational) could travel faster than the speed of light. Such an effect might have been called "action at a distance", and would have been spooky. But the issue was pretty much settled in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The issue arose again in the mid 20th century, referring to the possibility that fields (this time the quantum field) might mediate actions faster than light. The problem is often posited in terms of transmission of information faster than light, which would violate common assumptions about causality.

And that's where we stand now, though "non-locality" is a much better modern term. I hope this helps.

SaraT 14:44, 14 November 2009 (EST)

I've heard, rarely but occasionally, the phrase "action at a distance" to refer to one particle acting on another particle that's outside its light cone. Have either of you heard that one? Maybe we should include that interpretation of the phrase as well? --KSorenson 17:56, 14 November 2009 (EST)
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