Reactive Centrifugal Force (Actually, Language [Actually, Me Being a Pain in the Ass]) #physics #science #language #pita

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Here’s a random memory triggered by an unrelated Facebook post I read.

When I was a physics major, one of my professors, referencing a carnival ride, actually said, “Centrifugal force doesn’t exist. What you’re experiencing is centripetal force pushing you in.”

I responded, “But if centripetal force exists, doesn’t Newton’s Third Law of Motion demand that centrifugal force also exist? Wouldn’t that be the force your body exerts back on the wall?”

Boy, was he pissed. Of course he knew that the “reactive centrifugal force” existed. This is the force that you exert on the wall in reaction to the wall pushing you towards the center. It’s a very real force. However, even back then, I was killing people for linguistic imprecision. I couldn’t help it. It was a legitimate question brought on by a quirk in how physicists label these topics.

“Centrifugal force” is used differently from “reactive centrifugal force,” which is stupid. All forces have a reactive counterforce, so why qualify it as “reactive”? Unfortunately, that’s the linguistic convention, but when you say “centrifugal force doesn’t exist,” it misleads people who otherwise have a grasp on what you’re teaching. Physics professors should make it clear that there is an outward force, but we experience a misperception that this outward force is acting on us. In fact, the outward force is acting on the wall (or whatever is forcing you to take a curved path). Without “reactive” modifying it, “centrifugal force” refers to the misperception rather than the very real force.

If you want more details on the physics, here’s a relatively short lecture on this topic (about 12-1/2 minutes), though it doesn’t discuss the issue I’m raising here. In fact, it makes the same mistake. I originally provided a paragraph explaining some concepts the lecture takes for granted, but that paragraph would probably have made things worse. 🙂

You may have expected this to be about science, or language, but it was really about me being a pain in the ass.

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Can I Be Considered a Prolific Blogger Yet? @kesseljunkie #arrogance #overestimation #blog

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A tenday ago (nerd alert!), I published my 200th post, and four days later, I was having a Twitter conversation with my cousin, Kessel Junkie. I did some quick math in response to one of his points he raised on his blog post:

The reason I skipped June 16 was because I foolishly thought that I’d run out of things to say. I changed the subtitle of the blog to read that I was going to post only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and occasionally more, and June 16 was the Tuesday after I made that decision. But the quarantine kept the hits coming, and whenever I write something, I want it out there ASAP.

Does that make me “prolific”? Let’s see what dictionary.com says (Miriam-Webster can suck it).

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/prolific?s=t

TL;DC (“too lazy; didn’t click”): definition #2 is “producing in large quantities or with great frequency; highly productive,” and the example of usage is, “a prolific writer.” I’ve made a conscious decision to keep my posts short, and there’s no aspect of the definition related to quality, so I think I fit the description.

So, are you impressed? You shouldn’t be. I’m just using this observation as an excuse for another blog post, which pads my numbers. Tomorrow, I’ll be discussing the type of knot I use to tie my shoes. Spoiler: I use the same knot as everyone else. If you have any requests for my next post, let me know.

All two of you reading this are suckers, but you’ll be back.

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#GenCon Indy, 2013! #gaming #games #RPG #TDA CC: @Luddite_Vic

For the first time, I’m going to GenCon and not working for Baldman Games. (You should work for them if you like Dungeons & Dragons. They give great rewards for running games.) I’m just going to play (though I’m running four slots). I’m honestly not sure how much gaming I’ll want to do. I might get bored and do something else. In any case, like all the other con-goers, I sat there at my computer just waiting for the countdown clock to strike zero at noon. I was lucky enough to be assigned #738 in the queue. Anything under 1,000 is lucky as all hell, and as a result, I got everything I wanted. This includes two puzzle-oriented True Dungeon adventures and a few role-playing games, none of which I’ve ever before played. Isn’t that what GenCon is supposed to be about: Trying new games? That’s my philosophy. I bought an extra ticket for each of the True Dungeon adventures, so I can help out a friend get into the game.

My current GenCon schedule is below. I have absolutely no complaints.

Wednesday: Fate Core (RPG1345241) at 8pm

Thursday: Dungeon World (RPG1341359) at 1pm, then the One Ring (RPG1343873) at 8pm.

Friday: True Dungeon (Lycan’s Afoot, TDA1348116) at 9:37am, then running the Gamers’ Syndicate new living campaign adventures at 1pm (RPG1343708) and 7pm (RPG1343710).

Saturday: True Dungeon (Golembane, TDA1348648) at 9:39am, then running the Gamers’ Syndicate new living campaign adventures at 1pm (RPG1343709) and 7pm (RPG1343711).

Sunday: A seminar on game design (SEM1346700) at 10am, then Far Trek RPG (RPG1342003) at noon.

This schedule lets me sleep in for the most part, and gives me plenty of time to roam the halls and keep myself fed. Let me know if you’re in any of my games.

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#TabletopDay! @slyflourish @rosamoonshadow @nullzone42 #fluxx #ascension #dungeon #cah

table-top-logoYesterday was Table Top Day, and it didn’t disappoint. For one, my hosts were Mike and Michelle Shea (aka @slyflourish and @RosaMoonshadow respectively), who have both earned the title of Gamer Extraordinaire. I also played with Jorge, someone I’d never met before (always a plus in gaming) as well as familiar friends, Nate (@nullzone42) and John (not on Twitter).

For me, the company you keep is always more important than the games you play, but for the games themselves, I played the newest version of one of my favorite games from childhood, Dungeon!, and one of my favorite relatively new games, Cards Against Humanity. I usually lose the latter because I’m completely immersed in the humor of the game, whereas it often offends everyone else’s sensibilities eventually. With offended people judging my outrageous plays, it’s hard to win that game. Still, I tied for first place against Michelle. Dungeon involved a character death, and a series of ridiculous rolls that resulted in a ridiculous (but fun!) showing.

More importantly, I played three games I’d never played before: Ascension, Fluxx (twice!), and Pandemic. Pandemic is a cooperative game, and we lost. It’s well-balanced, and you’re always just one step ahead of failure, not knowing whether you’ll win. In an apocalyptic scenario, that’s exactly how you’d expect a real world scenario to play out.

I played Fluxx twice, winning the first and losing the second (to Mike). If you haven’t played it, you need to play it. It’s fun. It’s a card game by Looney Labs  in which the rules themselves constantly change. The second game was themed around Monty Python, so that really played to my interests.

Ascension was interesting, but it’s not a game I’d have to play again. I could play it and enjoy it, so feel free to invite me to any games, but there are better games for me. Mike scored an 86 (IIRC), and Nate and I tied at 66, so surprisingly I didn’t do poorly for a first timer, but I wasn’t much of a threat for winning. In fact, for all I know, I miscalculated my score, so I could easily have come in third.

Overall, a Saturday playing games with good people, some of whom I had never met before, and playing games, some of which I’ve never played before, is about as ideal a situation as any gamer can have. Mission accomplished.

Thanks for hosting, Mike and Michelle!

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Internet Scam Alert: Most “Kickstarter” Projects Just Useless Crap (via @theOnion)

Sadly, at times, this is the truth. Kickstarter has a tendency to remove risk from the process of business, and that encourages people to do projects half-assed.

In the end, I suspect Kickstarter will implode. After getting burned enough times, people will contribute only to projects put forth by well-established companies. This might turn out to be just as tragic. First, I’d like to see Kickstarter be used as a way for the new guy with no funds to be given his shot. Unfortunately, there’s no way to distinguish those guys from the people who just don’t want to spend their own money and aren’t really in need of that break, so that’s a pipe dream. Second, it’s unethical for large, well-established companies to take start-up capital from people who aren’t given an ownership interest in the company, and it’s just as unethical for small, well-established companies to do the same unless the backers are given very good value for their contributions. (I won’t call them investments unless an ownership interest is attached.) Unless Kickstarter starts enforcing these rules, this is also a pipe dream.

Kickstarter should start scrutinizing which projects it allows. Until they start, I won’t give them another look.

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