Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!! What's Ahead On "Mike Think's" Blog?

Hello Everyone,

   Happy New Year!!!  I was wondering if starting off this blog post with "Happy New Year" was appropriate.  Why?  Last Monday, while watching the "Rose Parade" in Pasadena, California - on television, the commentators were discouraging using the salutation.  Supposedly, since the parade fell on the 2nd of January, technically, saying "Happy New Year" was a thing of the past???  What?  Well, as with a large part of the content shown on television, that portion was not rubbish.

   With the new year arrived, where does the blog site go from here -- in 2017.  Do not worry, no changes are on the horizon.  I just got back from a vacation.  Which was super relaxing and worth taking.  Over that vacation, the blog post that I wrote for the end of 2016 was posted titled: "Blog Post -- Year In Review -- 2016!!".  This blog post is a summary of the entire year's blog posts.  In the blog post, there are numerous highlighted text (hyperlinked) to the original post.  If you have not read through the post, I would suggest doing so.  If you are new to my site, I would suggest reading that post.  A grand tour if you will of the motivation of the site and the actual outcome of that motivation over the course of the entire year.

   The reason why I brought up my vacation was a book that I found in a used book store which is proving to be a great read.  Phoenix Book Shop is the name of the store -- I highly suggest stopping by if you find yourself in the San Luis Obispo (in California) area.  Anyways, the book is titled "Words and Waves" by Arnold Beck.  The book is a historical adventure of three technologies that form the backbone of modern communications: the telegraph, the telephone, and radio telegraphy. I am in the middle of the read.  What caught my initial eye was contained in the 'introduction' -- which was relevant to the motivation of this blog.  Here is an excerpt:

It is relevant here to comment that in the formal teaching of scientific subjects, much to much emphasis is often put on purely mathematical details, in the initial stages of teaching a new subject.  When a scientist or engineer is engaged on learning an unfamiliar subject, he usually proceeds by sketching for himself very simple models of the processes or, in still more difficult cases, of parts of the processes which he finds hard to understand.  If they are correctly chose, and this is where the individual's breadth of training and knowledge comes in, the models can be made to show the important features of the real process without requiring very elaborate mathematics.  When the process has been understood in outline, that is when the main features of experimental observations made on it can be forecast, more elaborate mathematical models are justified and details can be filled in.  It is not suggested for a moment that full-scale mathematical analysis is not necessary or justified, still less that formal mathematical proofs of theories which some people may find, or claim to fin, intuitively obvious, are not required.  What is being claimed is that most scientists in practical life do not start out by trying to be completely rigorous.  Unfortunately, the manner in which scientific results are presented in the research literature of today heavily disguises this fact.  Results are presented in the utmost generality and with the refinements of mathematical elegance that are easily inserted by the skilled researcher after he has obtained preliminary result by much more down to earth arguments.  A common example of this sort of thing occurs in electric circuit analysis which, in the last two decades, has acquired a large corpus of difficult mathematical theory.  This theory can, in principle, solve any problem in circuit analysis and very many problems of circuit synthesis (the design of circuits to achieve desired results as opposed to the description of an existing circuit).  However, if one is presented with a problem in this field, it is frequently found to be unwise to use the general theory to reach a solution.  The skilled analyst will often re-draw the circuit and make certain simplifications which can reduce the labour of solution to a trivial amount.  In teaching young electrical engineers, one almost invariably finds that it is far harder to get them to think in this sort of way than it is to get them to write down an elaborate set of equations to which they are frequently unable to find the correct answers.  It often seems that they believe that it is almost immoral to use what they like to describe as "tricks" to shorten their work.
In the case of the layman trying to get at the essence of a subject, such tricks must be employed and I have tried by diagram drawing and by analogy to produce models for the processes involved in communication, which can be understood and used, although to attempt engineering design on this basis would be to court failure. 

The excerpt above highlights the need to start an investigation with a general approach.

What might that general approach look like?

As I have shown in last year's blog posts, the ability to approximate a solution is critical to success as a scientist.  Not only to a scientist, but a concerned member of society and the Planet Earth at large.  Having a general understanding of science is crucial toward making law & policy for the city, state, and federal level.  Although, understanding how the science is generated is critical too.

Too often, the image of a scientist is construed by hollywood.  The major goal of this blog site is to demystify the construed image produced by hollywood and other organizations and industries.  Each of us holds the ability to enjoy and understand science.  In the future blog posts, this will become apparent.


Remember, in each of my blog posts I try to use sources and references that are available online.  Science is about exploring and each of us have at the tips of our hands devices that allow us to do so.  If at any time while reading any of my blog posts, you need clarification, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.  As you will see if you read past blog posts, I try to respond to every comment left.

Where do we go from here in 2017?

With a new President entering office, there will be no shortage of new decisions made and laws passed.  Undoubtedly, with the passing of new legislation, news articles will emerge with complicated statistics which I will try to untangle or shed light on from a science standpoint.  President-elect Donald Trump has promised to bring jobs back to America to stimulate the economy and the job market.  In a post I wrote last year, I think that the process should involve investing in 'greener' technology -- renewable energy!  Along with updating the existing infrastructure.

In an article recently on the site "American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy" titled "2017 is looking like a good year for energy efficiency as investments grow" the forecast looks good for renewable energy related job growth.  In the introduction, there were a couple of great statistics cited.  Here is the excerpt below:

As the new year begins, we expect 2017 will bring increased investments in energy efficiency and other efforts to save energy.

The energy efficiency investment picture indicates that savings will continue to grow. Spending on energy-efficient goods and services as well as employment in energy efficiency jobs has increased in recent years, and these trends will likely continue. The International Energy Agency estimates that energy efficiency spending increased about 6% from 2014 to 2015, with 2015 spending totaling about $221 billion in major economies throughout the world (2016 figures not yet available). Similarly for the United States, BW Research in a report for the Department of Energy, found that 1.9 million Americans work full- or part-time energy efficiency jobs and that companies planned to hire another 260,000 energy efficiency workers in 2016. This job growth is spurred by a growing private sector focus on energy efficiency and strong policies, particularly at the state and local levels.

Energy efficiency is the new concept that is really getting traction with top CEO's like Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson.  Reducing each of our carbon footprint is coming into fashion with a wide range of consumers -- which is good.  Demand will drive growth.  In the excerpt above, I think there was a typo.  I believe the author meant to say the following:

"Similarly for the United States, BW Research in a report for the Department of Energy, found that 1.9 million Americans work full- or part-time energy efficiency jobs and that companies planned to hire another 260,000 energy efficiency workers in 2017." 

With job growth numbers forecasted in the hundreds of thousands, change is really on the horizon.  We need job growth numbers to be large in the hundreds of thousands to really achieve kickstarting the economy again.  Energy efficiency will be just one of the many topics covered by me this year.

New regulations that are passed will have unintended consequences which I will cast into perspective using dimensional analysis.  Examples of unintended consequences include oil spills, water contamination, gas spills, along with other man-made disasters.

Alternatively, there will undoubtedly be 'natural disasters' that hit the world and I will try to shed light onto the magnitude and destruction of the disaster using dimensional analysis.  The format will follow last year's methodology -- simple yet illustrative.

I look forward to writing exciting and informative blogs in the weeks to come.  Look forward to interesting blogs that entertain and demystify subjects presented in the popular news.  If you want to learn about any one topic specifically, please let me know.  I hope that the beginning of the new year has been as great for you as it has been for me.  Again, Happy New Year!

Until next time, Have a great day!

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