Monthly Archives: May 2013

Lichtenberg Figures: The Fractal Patterns of Lightning Strike Scars

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(Click through to the page to view the article properly.) The lighter side of being struck by lightning. The horrific beauty of nature.

TwistedSifter

 

Being struck by lightning is a dangerous and scary experience and can even be fatal. Sometimes, the electrical discharge can leave a tattoo-like marking or scar known as a Lichtenberg figure. The patterns created are known to be examples of fractals.

Lichtenberg figures are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or the interior of insulating materials. They are named after the German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who originally discovered and studied them. When they were first discovered, it was thought that their characteristic shapes might help to reveal the nature of positive and negative electric “fluids”.

In 1777, Lichtenberg built a large electrophorus to generate high voltage static electricity through induction. After discharging a high voltage point to the surface of an insulator, he recorded the resulting radial patterns in fixed dust. By then pressing blank sheets of paper onto these patterns, Lichtenberg was able…

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Is It Acceptable For Men To Argue Against Abortion?

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sex-symbolsEven though I don’t engage in pro-life campaigning, in expressing my philosophical views I’m frequently berated with the comment as a man I’m not allowed to have an opinion on abortion. Occasionally this is made as a polite suggestion, but the overall impression I get is that it is used as an anti-intellectual manoeuvre to try to shut down critical enquiry on this ideologically-charged topic.

In any case it is simply a ridiculous argument. Firstly it’s an ad hominem. There’s obviously no logical relationship between the individual who happens to be articulating an argument and the soundness of that argument. Read the rest of this entry

Philosophers discover new moral principle

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I am ambivalent about publicising the fact that the chief research tool of us philosophers, the thought experiment, is little more than a game of ‘would you rather’ (you know, like Peter Griffin’s friends play on Family Guy), but I must register my dissent from this supposed new principle. I would definitely rather kill a little girl’s puppy because it would teach her a valuable lesson about mortality, and she can get many more puppies. While killing and old lady’s cat might be killing her only source of happiness in life, as well as her oldest and last remaining friend.

fauxphilnews

A previously unrecognized moral principle was discovered last week after ethicists at the University of Mesa realized that they would rather kill an old lady’s cat than a young girl’s puppy. The principle of moral naivete, as it is being called, justifies this preference by holding that the wrongness of inflicting a given harm can depend in part on the degree to which the victim has previously been exposed to such a harm.

The breakthrough came late Thursday as several members of the Moral Philosophy Research Group analyzed the results of a thought experiment they had run earlier in the night. “We were messing around, getting pretty sloshed,” explains Anthony Vega, the group’s principal investigator. “Basically it was just another night at The Lab,” a local bar and the group’s favorite venue for conducting research. Vega and several graduate students were playing Would You Rather, a party game and the standard research tool in…

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