The Watering Hole: March 24 – Science vs. Myth

This is the start of a discussion that I started to put together on the physics of splitting a log.

This is how an engineer would start to describe the process of wood splitting:

The illustration below shows the effects of a wedge being driven into a log. This is merely meant as an illustration for the mathematics.

A Log-Splitting Wedge being Applied

First, the illustration will be simplified so it and the math will seem less complex.

Wedge Reduced to Basic Elements

We will use μ to represent the coefficient of friction along the vector lines XB and XA between the wood being split and the soft iron of the wedge itself. This works because that is the symbol used to represent that effect in science and engineering.

The mechanical advantage in this system is XF/AB, when friction is ignored which is how vector logic allows one to do since the other factors came be treated as separate vectors and the sum of all forces along a common direction can be used. We will use the line XY to define the vector of the sum of all forces since that is the common line along which the wedge is driven.

To find the effects of friction, we need to transpose the direction of frictional forces to vector XY. This actually poses a mechanical disadvantage as it takes away from the energy delivered by the sledge or hammer…

Now to the meat of the matter:

An ordinary fellow would merely say that the mechanical advantage would be equivalent to the the length of the wedge divided by its width at the top.

I had intended to present the exact solution to this problem, but I think I have said enough to describe the complexities that can be inserted into any problem.

These complexities have entered the political arena and it is the sheer complexity can be used to describe any problem with the public unable to see what is real.

Global warming is a case in point. One party can say it is not real because it still snows in the winter. The other party can merely ask John Q. voter to go out in March (In the northern hemisphere) and see whether he needs a parka. Still one side can use its observation to refute the other side’s. Evolution, Intelligent Design and Genesis can be used to explain why human beings exist in their present state.

Enough people believe that the Bible holds all truths and can never be refuted and science takes the other case, which, in turn, makes either argument unacceptable to the other group. Science occupies the back burner more often than not because it is difficult for the average savage to grasp.

To put everything into perspective, physicists are helping to design modern combustion engines. Up to about 1965, engineers were king. Now knowledge of physical principles have entered the process. As new fuel injection and chamber design have entered the design process, engineers are needed less than scientists. In the next graduation, engineers trained in the physical design of efficient combustion engines and carbonation will enter the fray. This is like what has happened in the design of integrated circuits.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

54 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: March 24 – Science vs. Myth

  1. I’d love to have Rick Santorum explain that diagram.
    He would state: The coefficient of friction is reduced proportionally by the amount of “faith” the person wielding the sledgehammer has.

  2. After working for a civil engineer for 7 or 8 years, I came to appreciate the science and sheer logic of the field. Despite the fact that somehow I almost aced the math portion of my SAT, only missing one question, I’ve forgotten most of my prior math skills and the equations that I had learned. But the basic physical logic of engineering can be fascinating.

  3. It would be so much easier to just suspend a razor blade over the sprouting tree. That way, as the tree grew, it would be split by the razor, eliminating the need to split the trunk later. Problem solved, no math necessary!

  4. Romney on tree-splitting:

    I split trees in my youth…well, actually, my father paid some else to do it. But I watched. And the logs were just the right length for splitting.

  5. Republicans in Congress More Effective on Twitter, Study Finds

    Congressional Republicans use Twitter more effectively than Congressional Democrats, according to a political analysis of Twitter conducted by the public relations firm Edelman and Simply Measured, a social media analytics firm. The study analyzed 456 congressional Twitter handles from September to December 2011.

    I guess when you’re making shit up instead of sticking to facts, you can find more things to say.

    Republicans in Congress received almost twice as many replies as Democrats on average, according to the study.

    That would be Wayne… 😀

    • Right! Did they analyze the content of the replies? It seems like a very peculiar judgment to make, that Repubs are “more effective.” It seems to me that “effective” requires a result. If someone launches a marketing campaign for a new product, the “effectiveness” of the campaign is measured in sales.

      Repubs could be sending out thousands of tweets about “Obama did this” and “Obama wants to do that”… all devoid of truth or real content. The responses could be Wayne or dittoheads grunting back about the nig*** in the White House. That’s not particularly “effective” because they’re already RWNs.

  6. Newt slams Obama over Trayvon Martin comments (we saw this coming) while acting as a whore to desperately draw attention to his failed campa— wait, I mean to draw attention to the the longest book sales tour ever. And yes, he works in his signature “fundamentally” bullshit:

    “What the president said, in a sense, is disgraceful. It’s not a question of who that young man looked like. Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background.

    Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him. That’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot. It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian American of if he’d been a Native American. At some point, we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”

    • Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him. That’s just nonsense

      Yes, it is, Newter. Nonsense. Nonsense from a bleating loser. Trayvon Martin was at risk, along with dark young men throughout the country, simply because he was dark and because Florida gave racist thugs license to kill them.

      If Trayvon had been white, Newter, this undoubtedly would not have happened.

    • Newt is resorting to his classic straw man argument, re-defining what someone might have been meaning to say and then saying it’s a ridiculous thing to say. At the point where Newt starts saying things like “Is the president suggesting…”, the media needs to turn off the cameras and microphones because whatever else follows is pure bullshit and unconnected to reality.

  7. Interesting approach to wood splitting Walt. I’m noticing no consideration to the wood being split however.
    Maple splits well, with a nice pop as it comes apart.
    Beech is nice as well, however it does not always follow the linear axis of the section being split, and can “run out”, leaving irregular pieces which can be a challenge to stack.
    Wet Douglas fir: The splitting maul will bounce back and hit you in the head.
    Elm is cross grained, and you may get the tool into the piece, but you won’t get it out.
    Pine is fine, except for the knots.
    Cedar is the most delightful wood of all. It will follow the grain, and if there are no knots, splits as long as the whole log can be worked out.
    All of this aside, what matters is what wood have you got handy, and how cold are you going to be without a fire.

    • I find lucust trees offer the best splitting wood. It is a hardwood with a parallel grain except for s surface knot here and there.

      When burned, it goes slowly and leaves only a few ashes.

      In actuality, the easiest wood to split comes from the tulip tree. With just a few wedge sites, you end up with a mass of long toothpicks.

    • While some chunks of elm are impossible it’s not too bad if it’s cold enough and makes a great fire. Oak splits beautifully but can be hard to light. Birch just about falls in half at a stern glance and can light with a match but doesn’t throw much heat. Ash is the wood burners delight. Straight grained, high density, high temp, and clean ash.

  8. This is just pure awesomeness. Besides driving the wingnuts crazy, this is one more great reason to love Obama’s choice to head the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim. The Dartmouth president gets jiggidy @2:00 minutes in….

  9. You know some wag/ass at the Repuglican convention is going to suggest he be inserted into the fray.

    Today I saw a prominently displayed PALIN 2012 bumpersticker.
    It looked brand new….

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