Sunday, September 9, 2012

South Mountain BATHOLITH debated by skygods and earthlings

hunka,hunka burnin' lava
One reason why Nova Scotia has such an unique lobster like shape is that its backbone is one immense chunk of highly-erosion-resistant granite, by far the largest chunk on the entire east coast of North America : the famous South Mountain batholith.

A batholith is an giant upwelling of granite-like magma, from deep down below melting its way through the surface rocks.

The South Mountain batholith, which is hundreds of kilometres long is indeed big, but not the biggest in the world - ones on the west coast of North America can be thousands of kilometres long.

Batholiths and thermodynamic laws

Basically batholiths are one enormous rock that erodes about as slow as anything does on earth ; this one in Nova Scotia is about 350 million years old and hardly changed since its birth.

Skygods are People of the First Law (of thermodynamics) and in their understanding of the South Mountain, its surface impression of solidity is in fact just that, an impression.

In fact, they are argue, its solidity is all an illusion. Matter and energy can't be created or destroyed only changed from one form to another ----- and change is easy, even for granite.

Granite can be easily reduced to its constitute atoms and then reduced no further : atoms are the simple, small, easily controllable, harmless "solid" fundamentals of reality : mix and match them and turn granite's atoms into the atoms of silicon oven gloves or concrete or whatever.

Earthlings , as People of the Second Law (of thermodynamics)see the South Mountain totally differently.

They think that its granite is surpassingly solid - one of the most solid objects in the Universe in fact.

But once they divide it into its atoms, they find they are not solid but rather dividable and in fact,  "a waste of space" : tiny busy electrons swirling around the vast distance between them and a tiny heavy nucleus.

But that nucleus isn't solid either : it breaks down into ever smaller sets of Russian dolls and ends up feeling like nothing more than whirling bits of energy.

So mass, it turns out, isn't just convertible into energy : it IS energy , bits of energy whirling about so fast that it gives us mega-sized humans the illusion of weight and solidity.

Energy popping in and out of existence constantly, but always moving slowly,ever slowly, to a totally dispersed state where they will slow down into the Universe's death at near absolute zero temperatures.

(Aka : Entropy).

Skygods: big is dynamic and complex and small is solid, stable and knowable-controllable. Optimism as high as the blue skies themselves.

Earthlings: big is solid and while dynamic is at least a bit knowable-controllable. The small ? mercurial, unknowable, non-solid. Cautious (grounded in what we do know, not what we might know) and skeptical we will ever begin to 'control' reality.

Which side are you on ? Is granite more solid-seeming than atoms or vice versa ........

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