0809: "Los Alamos"

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radtea
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby radtea » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:48 am UTC

The concern regarding igniting the atmosphere was real, and stopped work on the project for a short time until it became clear that no reasonable scenario--nor any plausibly unreasonable scenario--could produce that result.

Coolest job ever? Not so much. Norman Borlaug had the coolest job ever. But he saved people rather than killed them, so he was never invited to any of the really fun parties. Although I spent enough time in Los Alamos during the '90's to be fairly sure that really fun parties were a rarity there even during the war--the place had approximately one bar--Mom's Place--and no other signs of life.

Here's my own contribution to promoting peace, free trade and prosperity as something ever-so-slightly cooler than doing stuff that might ignite the atmosphere and kill everything: http://www.cindylooyou.com
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Malph » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:56 am UTC

Don't feel bad, cartoon stick figure, I barely know what "Soh Cah Toa" means. I did know, once, but time (and spending the last 3 years focusing on getting a degree in something that doesn't involve very much math) caused that knowledge to disappear.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby WontonSoup » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:04 am UTC

ijuin wrote:IIRC, for the atmosphere to ignite in a chain reaction, either Oxygen-16 or Nitrogen-14 would have to release energy when undergoing fission. Elements lighter than iron ABSORB energy under fission, and release it under fission. However, fusing elements heavier than helium tends to require about an order of magnitude more energy to initiate than fusing deuterium (Hydrogen-2), and the lack of confinement in the open atmosphere would tend to prevent a runaway reaction.

If we're talking about chemical combustion, gaseous N2 and O2 simply do not experience self-sustaining combustion because the oxidation of Nitrogen is also an endothermic reaction.


I'm with this guy, I don't see how igniting the WHOLE ATMOSPHERE is possible with any finite release of energy. :|

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hotaru
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby hotaru » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:13 am UTC

honnza wrote:bombs ARE going to going to decimate the population (not the nuclear ones, these would wipe out every human, which will not, according to the Bible, happen).

the ones that were dropped on japan did not wipe out every human. also, where exactly does the bible rule out the possibility of every human being wiped out?

Code: Select all

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isPrime n 
factorial (1) `mod== 1

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Eternal Density
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:16 am UTC

I didn't get this because I never needed any silly mnemonic to remember my trig functions.
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby LordHorst » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:21 am UTC

squareroot wrote:Anyone who doesn't know that mnemonic is just sad.


Or maybe doesn't speak english as a first language and because of that never even heard of soh/cah/toa before (which of course is due to the fact that said persons never had trigonometry teached in english to them).

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby ++$_ » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:29 am UTC

ijuin wrote:IIRC, for the atmosphere to ignite in a chain reaction, either Oxygen-16 or Nitrogen-14 would have to release energy when undergoing fission. Elements lighter than iron ABSORB energy under fission, and release it under fission. However, fusing elements heavier than helium tends to require about an order of magnitude more energy to initiate than fusing deuterium (Hydrogen-2), and the lack of confinement in the open atmosphere would tend to prevent a runaway reaction.
You have to remember that nuclear physics wasn't as well developed at that time as it is now. Someone had to work all that stuff out.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Mo6eB » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:32 am UTC

Ansuz wrote:I always disliked "soh cah toa". This is probably because I learned trig with the unit circle, and think 'sin = y/r; cos = x/r; tan = y/x'.

Anyways, I read this as an actual experiment to try and open up the gates to heaven and grab hold of the fire. I think I like it better that way, instead of actually thinking of nukes.

Yeah, the middle guy's legs are long. The other two are fineish.

-Ansuz


I dislike mnemonics on the simple principle that I can't remember plaintext well. That said, I go by 'cos(0) = 1, sin(0) = 0, cosine is the horizontal, sine is the vertical'. Any one of the four, plus basic trigonometry, is enough.

If Steve is a smart scientist working on nukes, why didn't he just write down what sine and cosine are, instead of trying to remember?
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby MSTK » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:40 am UTC

Mo6eB wrote:
Ansuz wrote:I always disliked "soh cah toa". This is probably because I learned trig with the unit circle, and think 'sin = y/r; cos = x/r; tan = y/x'.

Anyways, I read this as an actual experiment to try and open up the gates to heaven and grab hold of the fire. I think I like it better that way, instead of actually thinking of nukes.

Yeah, the middle guy's legs are long. The other two are fineish.

-Ansuz


I dislike mnemonics on the simple principle that I can't remember plaintext well. That said, I go by 'cos(0) = 1, sin(0) = 0, cosine is the horizontal, sine is the vertical'. Any one of the four, plus basic trigonometry, is enough.

If Steve is a smart scientist working on nukes, why didn't he just write down what sine and cosine are, instead of trying to remember?


this is the joke

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby CraigK » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:45 am UTC

When I was in high-school I was the first one to get to math class one day. The teacher asked me to sit in a chair at the front of the class and I complied. She then requested that I take off a shoe and sock. I was perplexed, but did as she asked. Then still without explaining what was going on she asked me to place my big toe in a small bowl of water. I was kind of creeped out at this point and the rest of the class was slowly filtering in giving me quizzical looks. Once everyone was there she started the lecture. "Class," She asked "What is he doing?" No one had a clue, including me. "He's soaking his toe." She said. Then wrote on the board, SOH CAH TOA.
The basics of trig are now burned into my memory with the power of adolescent embarrassment.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby nevetS » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:11 am UTC

aldld wrote:
uiri wrote:I may be mistaken, but I don't think there was anyone named Steve on the Manhattan Project.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:M ... ect_people

No Steves there.

I can state with certainty that list is not complete.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Lucia » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:46 am UTC

CraigK wrote:When I was in high-school I was the first one to get to math class one day. The teacher asked me to sit in a chair at the front of the class and I complied. She then requested that I take off a shoe and sock. I was perplexed, but did as she asked. Then still without explaining what was going on she asked me to place my big toe in a small bowl of water. I was kind of creeped out at this point and the rest of the class was slowly filtering in giving me quizzical looks. Once everyone was there she started the lecture. "Class," She asked "What is he doing?" No one had a clue, including me. "He's soaking his toe." She said. Then wrote on the board, SOH CAH TOA.
The basics of trig are now burned into my memory with the power of adolescent embarrassment.

You had an amazing maths teacher.
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Pazuzu » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:04 am UTC

Maaaan, way to spoiler history class for the younger ones, Randall!

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby melladh » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:13 am UTC

There's always a Steve...

squareroot wrote:No soh/cah/toa. Anyone who doesn't know that mnemonic is just sad.


What if your primary language of learning elementary maths wasn't english? :)
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obarey
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby obarey » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:16 am UTC

I always found remembering "SOH-CAH-TOA" harder than remembering the actual definitions of the functions.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Tom_ » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:00 am UTC

When he referred to this as the coolest job in the world, did Munroe actually considered that the aim of that job was to kill and cripple as many civilians as possible?

I'm not that sensitive and can still enjoy the joke, but I think it's revealing of a very naïve attitude.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Tomahawk » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:22 am UTC

We were taught this as
Summertime On Holidays
Christmas At Home
Tarzan Of Apes

So SOH CAH TOA

never ever forget them.

Similar, I suppose, to
My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets


T.

the penman
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby the penman » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:49 am UTC

My Standard Grade (Scottish equivalent to GCSE) maths teacher taught us to remember it by thinking of the volcano on Krakatoa.

The reference was slightly lost on a bunch of 15 year old Glaswegians.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby MBennett » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:54 am UTC

I had a collaborator at Los Alamos called Steven. I hope he reads this comic! :)

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Monika » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:17 am UTC

squareroot wrote:When I said, "What's the reference," I meant I was almost completely unaware of the Manhattan project. No soh/cah/toa. Anyone who doesn't know that mnemonic is just sad.

Or simply didn't attend school in a country where math is taught with mnemonics :roll: .
Who needs a mnemonic for this anyway ...


I had to read the thread to figure out what this comic was about, but now I find it pretty funny.

CraigK wrote:When I was in high-school I was the first one to get to math class one day. The teacher asked me to sit in a chair at the front of the class and I complied. She then requested that I take off a shoe and sock. I was perplexed, but did as she asked. Then still without explaining what was going on she asked me to place my big toe in a small bowl of water. I was kind of creeped out at this point and the rest of the class was slowly filtering in giving me quizzical looks. Once everyone was there she started the lecture. "Class," She asked "What is he doing?" No one had a clue, including me. "He's soaking his toe." She said. Then wrote on the board, SOH CAH TOA.
The basics of trig are now burned into my memory with the power of adolescent embarrassment.

:lol:

Sorry.
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Gerino » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:36 am UTC

mdistancerunner wrote:
tigger89 wrote:soh-cah-toa/coh-sah-toa would be a reference to what ranges trig functions are positive in? Or am I misplacing the reference? Because I've never heard that particular mnemonic(wouldn't it have to be soh-tah-coa?), but I can't think of anything else it could be...


soh = sin is opposite over hypotenuse
cah = cos is adjacent over hypotenuse
toa = tan is opposite over adjacent

And for whoever didn't get the reference, for pete's sake...


In different countries we have different mnemonics, as - you know - we're not all speaking english and definitely we're not taught math in english (at least in most schools below uni)

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Mekmek » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:40 am UTC

Ansuz wrote:I always disliked "soh cah toa". This is probably because I learned trig with the unit circle, and think 'sin = y/r; cos = x/r; tan = y/x'.

This, except you still got too many variables on your mind for my taste. I just memorized a layout similar to the last one here and then thought:
"Wich part am I interested in, the opposite? Ok, so that's the sine. No unit circle? Just multiply. Oh, i don't have r? No worries, got the adjacent... So that's X = r*cos." And then just transpose from there.
Of course I never called them opposite and hypotenuse, because I've never been able to learn that in the first place. Those are just frikkin lines! What do they need a name for!!!

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:36 am UTC

(...) but the fact that they were even doing those calculations makes theirs the coolest jobs ever.


Yeah, Randall, YOU KNOW IT, don't you? Because SCIENCE!

People who work trying to put an end to nuclear wars altogether are totally uncool.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby jc » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:59 am UTC

squareroot wrote:No soh/cah/toa. Anyone who doesn't know that mnemonic is just sad.


Well, I didn't know it, though I remember reading about several mnemonics back when I studied trig. I found that it was easier to remember the definitions than the mnemonics, so I didn't bother. But that's just me; different people learn things different ways (as the education folks keep telling us but nobody quite seems to believe). I have learned a lot of other mnemonics, but I usually find that I have to reconstruct them from the primary information if someone asks about them.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby jc » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:14 pm UTC

CalculatingGod wrote:Am I the only one of us who googles things he doesn't know?


Nah; there's at least two of us. ;-)

Actually, there have to be more. If not, google would have long ago closed up shop. But experience in this and other forums show that there's a significant number of people who don't. We just don't know the percentages. Oh, wait ... yeah; googling it doesn't seem to turn up anything relevant. At least, if you google for "What percentage of people google things they don't know?", the first several pages of the more than 4 million hits hits seem to be just pages that have those words scattered around, with no relevance to the question.

Google can, of course, tell us a lot about the people who do google things they don't know, but it's not obvious how one might count the people who don't. You can't just subtract the number who do from the total human population, because most people don't google things because they don't have net access, and you clearly don't want to count them in either group. There are estimates of the number of people with net access, but it's not clear that those estimates are good to more than one digit, if even that.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Monika » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:15 pm UTC

jc wrote:different people learn things different ways (as the education folks keep telling us but nobody quite seems to believe).

There is actually no scientific evidence for this. Especially the visual learner / auditory learner / learner by motion stuff.
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Shatimmei » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:17 pm UTC

Am I the only one of us who googles things he doesn't know?


Dunno, LMGTFY.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Tass » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:23 pm UTC

squareroot wrote:Is this a reference to something..?


Yes. The computer game "Braid". :)

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby hmeyer » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:25 pm UTC

... However, fusing elements heavier than helium tends to require about an order of magnitude more energy to initiate than fusing deuterium (Hydrogen-2), and the lack of confinement in the open atmosphere would tend to prevent a runaway reaction.

If we're talking about chemical combustion, gaseous N2 and O2 simply do not experience self-sustaining combustion because the oxidation of Nitrogen is also an endothermic reaction.

Yes, both of those are correct.

There was another effect that some where concerned about. The bomb's radiation does ionize the nearby air, so the explosion could discharge the ionosphere with bad consequences for us. It turns out this does happen, but only locally and temporarily. When the area surrounding the blast is discharged, it becomes non-conducting and thus the discharging is disrupted, thus locally.
Then the solar radiation causes new ionization, thus temporary.

Cheers,
HM

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby rhhardin » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:46 pm UTC

In the year fourteen hundred and ninety three, Columbus sailed the dark green sea.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby DougDean » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:50 pm UTC

SOH-CAH-TOH - Never heard of it; I'm glad they never tried to teach me that! It would be way harder to memorize than just saying the whole thing, and the whole thing is actually more mnemonic (although I don't even use that; I just draw a picture in my head and remember that sin is the side standing up and cos is the other one with both normalized against the slanty line).

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby dexeron » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:01 pm UTC

Imagine a place where it all began
Gathered from across the land
To work in the secrecy of the desert sand
All of the brightest boys
To play with the biggest toys
More than they bargained for.
- Rush, Manhattan Project
By and by, when the sidewalks are safe for the little guy...

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Klear » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:04 pm UTC

Gerino wrote:In different countries we have different mnemonics, as - you know - we're not all speaking english and definitely we're not taught math in english (at least in most schools below uni)


melladh wrote:What if your primary language of learning elementary maths wasn't english? :)


LordHorst wrote:Or maybe doesn't speak english as a first language and because of that never even heard of soh/cah/toa before (which of course is due to the fact that said persons never had trigonometry teached in english to them).


Thanks, thanks and thanks!

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Роберт » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:34 pm UTC

Jumble wrote:So, Steve would have kept his job if he'd learnt the 'only have sandwiches after hot coffee or after tea' acronym that we were taught in school?

only have sandwiches after hot tea or after coffee? Wait....
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Aiwendil42 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:50 pm UTC

I never liked Soh-Cah-Toa, but maybe that was just because of the way my teacher pronounced it. She said [sa kə təʊ ə] (is that the pronunciation others have heard?). Now, in my idiolect, that pronunciation could represent either 'Soh-Cah-Toa' or 'Sah-Coh-Toa', so it's of no use in remembering which is the sine and which the cosine (and those, it seems to me, are the ones one is most liable to confuse). Maybe it would have been more useful if we had pronounced it [səʊ kə təʊ ə]. But I guess I shouldn't complain, as I seem to have gotten by anyway.

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby littlelj » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:55 pm UTC

Shatimmei wrote:
Am I the only one of us who googles things he doesn't know?


Dunno, LMGTFY.

:lol:
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby anu3bis » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:57 pm UTC

Is it a geek point for me or against me that my first thought was that he was chanting a mantra from Ultima?

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:02 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
(...) but the fact that they were even doing those calculations makes theirs the coolest jobs ever.


Yeah, Randall, YOU KNOW IT, don't you? Because SCIENCE!

People who work trying to put an end to nuclear wars altogether are totally uncool.



Well, at the time, it was certainly better than the alternative (220k Japanese killed vs. (estimated) 400k-800k Allied and 1-3 million Japanese for Operation Downfall (per Shockley's estimate)) (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_ ... casualties)


Not to mention, look at where we've gotten based on the gains from the Space Race and the Atomic Age: computers, the Internet, satellites, rockets, etc.
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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Johnny Pixels » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:05 pm UTC

Smiles Of Happiness Come After Having Tankards Of Ale

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Re: 0809: Los Alamos

Postby Johnny Pixels » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:09 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
SirMustapha wrote:
(...) but the fact that they were even doing those calculations makes theirs the coolest jobs ever.


Yeah, Randall, YOU KNOW IT, don't you? Because SCIENCE!

People who work trying to put an end to nuclear wars altogether are totally uncool.



Well, at the time, it was certainly better than the alternative (220k Japanese killed vs. (estimated) 400k-800k Allied and 1-3 million Japanese for Operation Downfall (per Shockley's estimate)) (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_ ... casualties)


Not to mention, look at where we've gotten based on the gains from the Space Race and the Atomic Age: computers, the Internet, satellites, rockets, etc.


I don't see how we get computers, rockets, the internet and satellites from nuclear weapons.


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