27 March 2014

Making fun of geocentrists (and flat-earthers)

I admit it I find it amusing to be making fun of "scientists" who are trying to prove stupid things. What is extremely interesting is to see the responses of them and their followers. My favourite crackpots are the self-proclaimed geocentrists. Their head is someone called Robert Sungenis who paid some money to a place called Calamus Extension College offering degrees (by correspondence) on Holistic Studies, Homeopathy, Contemporary Spirituality, Regression and Reincarnation Studies, etc.,  and obtained a PhD in geocentrism!

Armoured with the panoply of such advanced studies, he started a mission: to prove that the Earth does not rotate and that it is fixed at the centre of the Universe!

He has even written a "scientific" book titled Galileo Was Wrong described in this way:
Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatise that demonstrates from the scientific evidence that heliocentrism (the concept that the Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun) is an unproven scientific theory; and that geocentrism (the view that the Earth is in the center of the universe and does not move by either rotation or revolution) is not only supported by the scientific evidence but is admitted to be a logical and viable cosmology by many of the world's top scientists, including Albert Einstein, Ernst Mach, Edwin Hubble, Fred Hoyle and many more.

I admit that I secretly enjoy seeing the reaction of those lunatics. I wrote about them before, and did manage to attract the attention of Sungenis himself. But when I pointed out his qualifications he kept silence. I, too, would be ashamed to be associated with Calamus Extension College.

Map of the Square and Stationary Earth, by Orlando Ferguson (1893)
There used to be many people believing that the Earth is flat (i.e. approximable by a manifold with zero curvature). I quote from wikipedia on their beliefs at the beginning of 20th c.:
Wilbur Glenn Voliva, who in 1906 took over the Christian Catholic Church, a Pentecostal sect that established a utopian community at Zion, Illinois, preached flat Earth doctrine from 1915 onwards and used a photograph of a twelve mile stretch of the shoreline at Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin taken three feet above the waterline to prove his point. When the airship Italia disappeared on an expedition to the North Pole in 1928 he warned the world's press that it had sailed over the edge of the world. He offered a $5,000 award for proving the Earth is not flat, under his own conditions. Teaching a globular Earth was banned in the Zion schools and the message was transmitted on his WCBD radio station.
Unfortunately, they have been in rapid decline ever since.  They established a Flat Earth Society in 1956 and made some hilarious remarks:
The idea of a spinning globe is only a conspiracy of error that Moses, Columbus, and FDR all fought… If it is a sphere, the surface of a large body of water must be curved. The Johnsons have checked the surfaces of Lake Tahoe and the Salton Sea without detecting any curvature.
Nowadays, there is a certain Daniel Shenton who proclaims that nobody has proved that the world is not flat:
I haven't taken this position just to be difficult. To look around, the world does appear to be flat, so I think it is incumbent on others to prove decisively that it isn't. And I don't think that burden of proof has been met yet.
Flat Earth: A 1922 illustration from the Swedish and Norwegian magazine Allers Familj-Journal.

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What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant