Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Quiet Saturday Morning; ND Agricultural Stocks Way Up -- April 15, 2017

My mother's hometown newspaper wins a Pulitzer Prize, and is featured in today's WSJ.

Growing up, we spent almost every summer in Storm Lake, Iowa, for a one- to two-week vacation, with our maternal grandparents. Looking back, I am amazed that my dad could afford to take that much time away from work. It was also quite impressive how much the grandparents did to make this an incredible vacation for a family (the grandparents as well as our family) with very little money. My grandparents rented a very, very nice house on Twin Lakes, I believe, where we spent a full week of swimming. It was quite incredible. Many great memories.

Some years later, while attending Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, I hitchhiked to Storm Lake over Thanksgiving break. It was there that I completed an incredibly difficult quantitative chemistry exam. It was peaceful, quiet, a wonderful break from college. It's amazing the amount of hitchhiking I did back then, including a two or three trips "cross-country" -- from west coast to North Dakota, or North Dakota to east coast.

The Bakken

Active rigs:

Active Rigs512991183186

Commodities: along with oil, it appears a number of other North Dakota commodities are well above normal. From The San Luis Obispo Tribune:
  • all wheat: 206 million bushels, up 3% year-over-year
  • total durum wheat: up 52%
  • corn stocks: 306 million bushels, up 53%
  • soybean stocks: 62 million bushes, up 61%
  • others: sunflower stocks up; barley and oats stocks were down
And, of course, the recent report that North Dakota is #1 in honey production, well ahead of whatever state is in second place.

The Physics Page

The other day I made some notes from Gino Segre's Ordinary Geniuses but I was unable to find what I was really looking for. It was a library book so I couldn't write notes in the margins and I had failed to put a "yellow post-it" note to mark it. I've been reading and re-reading the book but I finally found it, beginning on page 181:
Alpher, Gamow, and Herman's work created a big stir in 1948, but it was quickly criticized for not delivering what it had promised: a successful proposal for how to synthesize atomic nuclei. It seemed to explain why the universe is composed overwhelmingly of hydrogen and helium, but it stumbled in tryint to show how all the other nuclei are produced. The reason for why it failed is simple. Starting out with a universe rich in neutrons and protons, it is relatively easy to form a helium nucleus (two neutrons and two protons), while a hydrogen nucleus (nothing but a single proton) is there from the start. But reaching nuclei past hydrogen and helium requires an intermediate state that is simply not present.
There are no stable nuclei having a total of either five or eight nucleons (protons and neutrons), and without them, one cannot go beyond hydrogen and helium in the early universe. 
A proton or a neutron can collide with a helium nucleus, but the resulting combination (1+4 = 5) will break up before providing a stepping-stone to larger nuclei; the same is true for an encounter between two helium nuclei (4+4 = 8). The former combination requires a stable nucleus wiht five protons and neutrons, and the latter, one with eight.
Neither exists. 
Nor can one imagine three nuclei coming together at once, too unlikely an event in a rapidly expanding universe.
In plain language, it seemed easy to create hydrogen and helium, but impossible to go beyond that

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