Magnesium burning

| 21 Comments

Photograph by Andrey Pavlov.

Photography contest, Semi-Finalist.

Pavlov_MgCuO2Burn.jpg

Magnesium burning with copper. Mr. Pavlov writes, “My setup involved a hunk of pure magnesium (harvested from a campfire starter) set on top of a log in a fireplace. Under the Mg hunk were some matches, and on top were either copper shavings or brass tacks. I then lit the matches on fire and used a plastic tube connected to an E cylinder of pure oxygen running at ~15 liters per minute to direct the oxygen stream at the base of the Mg hunk. This ignited the matches with enough energy to start the Mg on fire, which subsequently melted and burned with the Cu or brass to produce colored flames. …

“In between shots, the Mg oxidized very rapidly and formed a crust over the glowing molten core of metal. When I took the O2 and blew a stream over the base of the crusted-over metal amalgam, it cracked and began burning very rapidly and very (VERY!) brightly.

“In the Cu image you can see a layer of Mg metal being blasted off the surface and “floating” on top of the plasma being generated. In the background is the green of the Cu burning, and in the center is crusted amalgam.”

21 Comments

Just wanted to say thanks for publishing my photo despite not making the finals! That really means a lot to me. I hope people enjoy looking at it as much as I did taking it.

It’s a very cool photograph!

Pyromaniacs have so much fun! ;-)

Karen S. said:

It’s a very cool photograph!

“Cool” is probably not the right adjective for an exothermic reaction producing 603kJ/mole.

LOL!

This scene could mistaken for something under the sea or in outer space and to think it was something created on a log fire with a bit of chemistry knowhow design.

Marilyn said:

This scene could mistaken for something under the sea or in outer space and to think it was something created on a log fire with a bit of chemistry knowhow design.

Yea, that;s the thing, you can’t really tell by just looking at something if it is designed or not. You really need to examine it in more detail in order to determine that. You know, like professional biologists do.

DS said:

Marilyn said:

This scene could mistaken for something under the sea or in outer space and to think it was something created on a log fire with a bit of chemistry knowhow design.

Yea, that;s the thing, you can’t really tell by just looking at something if it is designed or not. You really need to examine it in more detail in order to determine that. You know, like professional biologists do.

Not looking for an argument, just a definition: Would you call something like this ‘designed’?

An intelligent agent brought the parts together to make something happen, and maybe could predict in general what sort of reaction could occur, but in no way could he have had a plan that detailed this EXACT result.

I guess what I’m getting at is degrees of designedness. This keyboard is designed to be exactly as it is, and thousands more are exactly like it, down almost to the level of individual molecules. That reaction in the fireplace is not designed to that degree. Even if the initial conditions were arranged as closely as practical to the original, you could never take THIS photograph again. It will never happen exactly this way a second time.

So was this exact moment and ‘arrangement of parts’ designed?

I am NOT a cdesign proponentsist, but it seems to me that under the rubric of ‘design’, creationists of various stripes list some very different things. Some would say that every living thing is designed to be almost exactly as it is, much like this keyboard. Others, such as Behe, might only maintain that some initial conditions were set up so that something like the present biota would result, just as Andrey arranged things so that something cool would happen in his fireplace.

It just doesn’t seem right, and it surely is a source of confusion, to simply call both types of situation ‘designed’. One is controlling every detail to the limits of practicality. The other is making an almost infinite number of outcomes possible and just letting it happen. If both can be called ‘design’, then the term is so vague as to be meaningless.

When Ham and Behe both call life ‘designed’, they don’t mean the same thing at all!

Also, just because something can be deliberately engineered to fit some goal, doesn’t mean that the same thing couldn’t happen in nature without benefit of design. Especially since nature generally has more resources and patience than human engineers are likely to have.

Just Bob said:

DS said:

Yea, that;s the thing, you can’t really tell by just looking at something if it is designed or not. You really need to examine it in more detail in order to determine that. You know, like professional biologists do.

Not looking for an argument, just a definition: Would you call something like this ‘designed’?

It was set up. As in chemistry or the like, an experiment or demonstration was configured, but at some point things pretty much just happen (sure, I know that oxygen remained a variable).

An intelligent agent brought the parts together to make something happen, and maybe could predict in general what sort of reaction could occur, but in no way could he have had a plan that detailed this EXACT result.

Probably not, but steel furnaces yield fairly exact results.

I guess what I’m getting at is degrees of designedness. This keyboard is designed to be exactly as it is, and thousands more are exactly like it, down almost to the level of individual molecules. That reaction in the fireplace is not designed to that degree.

Neither is a flint knife. The flaking is always different.

Even if the initial conditions were arranged as closely as practical to the original, you could never take THIS photograph again. It will never happen exactly this way a second time.

We have varying degrees of control of situations.

So was this exact moment and ‘arrangement of parts’ designed?

Design is an amorphous concept, which is why we need to discuss specific designers/design, not empty IDiot terms.

I am NOT a cdesign proponentsist, but it seems to me that under the rubric of ‘design’, creationists of various stripes list some very different things. Some would say that every living thing is designed to be almost exactly as it is, much like this keyboard. Others, such as Behe, might only maintain that some initial conditions were set up so that something like the present biota would result, just as Andrey arranged things so that something cool would happen in his fireplace.

Behe seems to go for something more controlled, at least as I read him. He toyed with front-loading, but seems to be more of an interventionist later. The mouse trap is his icon, a very designed object. I’ve always thought it silly for Ken Miller and others to argue for the mousetraps evolvability, because the real point to make is that the mousetrap is very unlike things that do evolve.

It just doesn’t seem right, and it surely is a source of confusion, to simply call both types of situation ‘designed’. One is controlling every detail to the limits of practicality. The other is making an almost infinite number of outcomes possible and just letting it happen. If both can be called ‘design’, then the term is so vague as to be meaningless.

Naturally. But it’s not really that hopeless outside of ID, because real scientists and others expect a modifier in front of “designed,” or a situation that tells you what “design” actually means in such a case. IDiots use the ambiguity of the bare word “design” to try to fit evolved organisms into it, but because they haven’t the slightest context or meaningful modifier to explain “design,” there simply is no explanation.

When Ham and Behe both call life ‘designed’, they don’t mean the same thing at all!

Unfortunately, I think that they pretty much do mean the same thing. Both allow for “microevolution” and deny “macroevolution.” While their scenarios differ greatly, such as in the time that has passed, “design” is so meaningless in both cases that they both fit into the same big ID/creationist tent.

Glen Davidson

Unfortunately, I think that they pretty much do mean the same thing. Both allow for “microevolution” and deny “macroevolution.”

Well, in a sense Behe accepts “macroevolution,” as in his acceptance of common descent. But then common descent becomes a nearly meaningless term, because interventions are the opposite of what common descent normally means, for designed changes simply have to be major breaks in the descent.

“Creationist” seems to be the best term for Behe, as well as for Ham.

Glen Davidson

for designed changes simply have to be major breaks in the descent.

Unless they’re really subtle!

Ham to Behe: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Behe seems to go for something more controlled, at least as I read him. He toyed with front-loading, but seems to be more of an interventionist later. The mouse trap is his icon, a very designed object. I’ve always thought it silly for Ken Miller and others to argue for the mousetraps evolvability, because the real point to make is that the mousetrap is very unlike things that do evolve.

Glen Davidson

I think you missed the point of the mouse trap. Behe didn’t present it as something that was “designed”, per se. He used it as an example of something that was “Irreducibly Complex” (IC). Ken Miller was not arguing that the mouse trap itself was evolvable. He was arguing that it was not “IC”. In particular, while a reduced part-count might eliminate the function of the original thing, the other thing with the reduced part-count could still have a function, if not the same function as the ostensibly “IC” thing. And by analogy (and only analogy), the ancestral forms of today’s “apparently” “IC” features of living creatures could have had a selectable function (or selectable functions over time), albeit different functions than the current form, and so could have evolved from “simpler” components through natural selection.

That’s inartfully stated, but I hope it is enough to give the gist of the argument.

Scott F said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Behe seems to go for something more controlled, at least as I read him. He toyed with front-loading, but seems to be more of an interventionist later. The mouse trap is his icon, a very designed object. I’ve always thought it silly for Ken Miller and others to argue for the mousetraps evolvability, because the real point to make is that the mousetrap is very unlike things that do evolve.

Glen Davidson

I think you missed the point of the mouse trap. Behe didn’t present it as something that was “designed”, per se. He used it as an example of something that was “Irreducibly Complex” (IC). Ken Miller was not arguing that the mouse trap itself was evolvable. He was arguing that it was not “IC”. In particular, while a reduced part-count might eliminate the function of the original thing, the other thing with the reduced part-count could still have a function, if not the same function as the ostensibly “IC” thing. And by analogy (and only analogy), the ancestral forms of today’s “apparently” “IC” features of living creatures could have had a selectable function (or selectable functions over time), albeit different functions than the current form, and so could have evolved from “simpler” components through natural selection.

That’s inartfully stated, but I hope it is enough to give the gist of the argument.

Behe argued that the mousetrap was irreducibly complex: that changing even a single, insignificant piece would render it totally nonfunctional/useless.

Besides the fact that making a complicated device, biological or otherwise, where even the change of a single component renders it inoperable is very stupid, it’s been argued that changing the components of a mousetrap does not make it nonfunctional. Parts can be changed to make the mousetrap trap other animals, make it into a tie-clip, paperclip, or even a paperweight. True, the mousetrap can no longer trap mice, but, Behe argues that a change in the original function means total loss of function, while pretending that “change of function” does not, can not exist even as a mental concept.

Scott F said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Behe seems to go for something more controlled, at least as I read him. He toyed with front-loading, but seems to be more of an interventionist later. The mouse trap is his icon, a very designed object. I’ve always thought it silly for Ken Miller and others to argue for the mousetraps evolvability, because the real point to make is that the mousetrap is very unlike things that do evolve.

Glen Davidson

I think you missed the point of the mouse trap. Behe didn’t present it as something that was “designed”, per se. He used it as an example of something that was “Irreducibly Complex” (IC). Ken Miller was not arguing that the mouse trap itself was evolvable. He was arguing that it was not “IC”. In particular, while a reduced part-count might eliminate the function of the original thing, the other thing with the reduced part-count could still have a function, if not the same function as the ostensibly “IC” thing. And by analogy (and only analogy), the ancestral forms of today’s “apparently” “IC” features of living creatures could have had a selectable function (or selectable functions over time), albeit different functions than the current form, and so could have evolved from “simpler” components through natural selection.

That’s inartfully stated, but I hope it is enough to give the gist of the argument.

Yes, I know that, but it’s really not a separate issue from the fact that the mousetrap isn’t analogous with life in the first place.

You let Behe control the conversation by discussing “IC,” when in fact the whole point is (should be, anyway) that we know that the mousetrap is designed for entirely different reasons, and these reasons do not pertain to life.

Glen Davidson

you’re right of course, Glen, but the flip side of that is that even USING Behe’s inappropriate analogy, it STILL fails.

Tom said:

you’re right of course, Glen, but the flip side of that is that even USING Behe’s inappropriate analogy, it STILL fails.

Exactly. And not only does it fail, but it fails for the same reason that it fails when discussing actual biological systems. Exaptation of genes and structures is a common evolutionary mechanism, to ignore it is to ignore how evolution actually works. That’s the real problem with the Behe argument. It’s almost as if he isn’t really a biologist and is only dabbling in things he doesn’t really understand. Imagine that.

It’s a very hot photograph not cool!

First off, thanks to everyone for the kind words. Photography is a hobby of mine at which I am very novice and only started getting into a couple years ago under the influence of my (now) fiance. If anyone wants to see more photos I took in this series (and some other science photos) you can check out her Flickr account (Megsnham) and find the science and chemistry sets. I do not get any money or anything from people visiting, but I didn’t want to put up a direct link since I feel a little odd about self promotion and figured anyone truly interested could find them.

I’d also like to briefly comment on the design debate going on.

Firstly, “design” is indeed a tricky thing. And at base we must recognize that even things that absolutely unequivocally appear designed CAN exist randomly in nature. Yes, the “whirlwind Beoing 747” COULD happen… it is just infinitesimally unlikely. So we can always be fooled by our own limitations in understanding and our lack of reference for things designed. Which is why the ID stance simply fails on premise - Stephen Meyer et al have been absolutely unable to use the notion to any sort of end. They merely prattle on about the concept of it endlessly without ever putting forth something that can actually be used as a scientific tool to investigate, verify, or otherwise provide us with information. In other words, all sizzle but no steak.

As for my own work being designed, it seems to me that a little more nuanced thought further elucidates the failures of ID. You can’t just ask “is Andrey’s work designed.” That is too broad and vague (vis “is life designed”). One must ask which PARTS are designed. Was the set up designed? Absolutely. Was the photograph itself designed? Indeed - I spent a fair bit of time figuring out how to actually capture what was happening (which ultimately involved an f/45, 1/400th second shutter speed, ISO 100, with a polarizing filter on manual focus with a piece of trimmed styrofoam taped to the mantle of the fireplace so my forehead rested roughly at the focal length as I snapped photos). But is the subject matter - the instantaneous instantiation of the burning metal - designed? I would say no. I did not design the specific elements of it and merely captured what evolved from the setup I had put together (and, just like actual evolution, I had man hundreds of photos of which only a small fraction panned out, and after every series I would adjust my setup a bit, thus essentially “selecting” against the bad photos. After a while I was able to reliably take mostly good photos of my subject). Now one could argue that since my setup in every other way was designed that, in a real sense, the actual plasma and fire was as well. But I think that this broadens the definition of design so much as to render it meaningless and useless.

And indeed, that is what the IDiots are trying to do. On the one hand expand the concept so as to meet whatever definition they want, yet simultaneously retain the implicitly understood to be necessary aspect of DIRECT control in the outcome of the design. It is like how chiropractors switch seemlessly between the non-existent subluxations of D.D.S Palmer and the real subluxations of science based orthopedic medicine so that they can use words they like but in a meaning like.

What if I were hiking through a lava field (which is awesome I highly recommend it!) and happened to stumble upon a flow that kicked up a large hung of magnesium rich rock with some copper in it and it burst into flames and I started taking photos of it? It’s not TOO much of a stretch to think that the resultant images would look indistinguishable from my own, yet I doubt many would argue that the image content was “designed.” Unless, of course, your are an IDiot who thinks that the volcano and the orbital shells were designed by some deity of choice and thus the resultant plasma formations I captured were also designed. Which takes us right back to the top of my argument.

(of course, this is also why many theists/creationists posit that God IS everything and has DIRECT control over EVERYTHING in the universe since they also implicitly [and probably subconsciously] realize that “design” must require direct intervention and that is the only way everything around them could have been “designed” by [insert deity of choice])

Well, that’s my $0.02 (with maybe a little lagniappe)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 12, 2013 12:00 PM.

Hollywood High Students to Receive Movie Debunking Evolution was the previous entry in this blog.

Scientists discover new mammal is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter