Knowledge is power… and also a curse…

Knowledge is power... and also a weakness...

To take a break from PC gaming which seems to be in a slight lull at this time, I want to talk about something I’ve been made aware of recently. I’ve encountered a strong weakness in my character, that seems to have stemmed from last year’s new years resolution.

Last year around this time I had just gotten back into hanging regularly with two of my friends that i was super tight with in high school, One of them whom went on to accomplish my dream of becoming an experimental physicist, and is currently employed at an un-named military proving ground. The other an accomplished computer programmer/ studying soon to be PHD physicist in training. With my friends return My love of physics and science was reignited, and we talked regularly in great length on the topics of science and chemistry. Unfortunately, my time and brainpower diverted to computer science caused a bit of a knowledge gap between their understanding and my own university trained minds. Last year I resolved to spend this year with the ever present intention of closing that gap, at least conceptually, the math is still to follow. My goal was to understand the concepts to the point where at least i could hold a conversation with them about the topics we all three were passionate about without having to duck out when things got involved, I was willing to accept that I’d need to put in a lot of work to accomplish the math proficiency BACKING these concepts, but at least i could follow the concepts presented.

To my surprise, by April i had begun to consider my goal nearly complete, there were few concepts I could not grasp, and those were concepts being submitted by men and women at the top of their fields in the medical industry and those being proven and dis-proven by those incredibly lucky fellows operating incredibly sophisticated equipment like the LHC in CERN. I felt somewhat proud imagining that I in some small way I was privy to ideas that had been derived by the greatest minds humanity can currently offer.

It was an amazing feeling, conceptualizing in my mind the world around me. The mere thought that i am just a joining of incomprehensible numbers of atoms interacting with countless others, I am using the term countless here because the numbers are so large that i would spend my whole day typing out the number of atoms in this desk on which my keyboard sits.

For those that are curious about this in terms of actual numbers  at the end of this post beneath the segregation line I worked out an estimative calculation below, but without any of the math using numbers and symbols that can be extremely intimidating, I was able to gain a simple understanding of the incredibly complex and breathtaking world around us. It felt to me like i was looking down a long seemingly infinite hallway, and with every new concept i encountered the small click of an unlocking tumbler mechanism rings out, and the soft creak of a long sealed door being opened invites me forth into another idea i wish to understand completely.

Occasionally a door opens to a broom closet,  or a small room with maybe a closet inside it, but most of the time these doors branch off into their own seemingly infinite hallways, filled with even more doors. patiently waiting to quench my thirst for that soft click that it holds tightly from me.  It’s like a Game, the best game. Every day my mind investigates and analyzes the world around me, it’s purposes to gather the pieces and clues to solve the puzzles within. This puzzle is the greatest puzzle, the puzzle of human knowledge that no one challenger could ever solve alone. Some might argue that challenging an unsolvable puzzle is an exercise in futility, but i disagree. I proudly accept that i can never finish this puzzle, but there are a lot of people out there happily sharing the pieces they’ve found, maybe with enough of us puzzling together, we’ll compile enough pieces to figure out what the resulting image is.

getting enough pieces to solve this puzzle is a lifelong dream, one which encompasses all subjects and topics. Really the goal should be considered ultimate universal knowledge, but by any stretch, there also seems to be a clear disadvantage to my mentality as well.
Internally, knowledge brings me great joy, but as i progress along this path, i feel the separation that knowledge seems to bring.

I am a compilation of molecules, a congregation with a quantity so large that the english language doesn’t even have numbers to describe them outside repetition or scientific abbreviation.  I am a vibrating mass of particles walking among fleshy creatures who neither know, nor wish to know what they are made of. They paint their ignorance on a flag and wave it in front of them proudly as they repeat the process their ancestors did of life and death. in pursuit of what matters most to them.  You know not what you are, how can you know what you want? You antagonize me for being a vibrating mass of particles, and not a human like you. Your twisted desire for self elevation causes you to believe your own words when you say you are above me.

I look upon your endless quest to feed your brain the molecules the organ itself produces.  How can you be so happy knowing that all the joy you receive from doing useless or counterproductive things, in the pursuit of “happiness” is just chemicals circulating in your brain. Some would call this motivation practice preservative to the species, but I would argue. A preservation system that issues reward for destructive acts, can never be considered preservative.

To consider your life more than empty is simply cruel optimism.
You deliberately manipulate others for a splash of Oxytocin.
You wrack your body seeking Endocannabinoids.
You regularly generate conflict to fill your Endorphin thirst.
You happily spread misery and pain for a few micrograms of Seratonin.
You harm others  for a mathematically insignificant secretion of Adrenaline.
You fight, assault, and kill one another for that tiny blast of dopamine.

Is it worth it? are those nanogram secretions enough for you to justify your actions? is momentary happiness really something you are willing to destroy yourselves for? Is a moment of chemical pleasure worth more than the consequences of your actions? not just on yourself but on others?

To those that answered yes to all those questions. Allow me to assign a value to your life. Nothing. I’d liken you to dirt beneath the feet of productive society, but dirt is more valuable than you. Dirt was once rock and organic matter that make up this planet, and continues it’s service nurturing our crops and giving us something to stand on.

To those willing to harm others in pursuit of this chemical fulfillment, the value of your life is directly correlative to the equation I’ve just invented

You= (caloric energy@ time of death + positive behavioral impact)  – (Lifetime caloric intake + suffering you’ve caused as a result of your chemical dependence + energy spent promoting negative behavioral practice)


My perception has changed, I can see exactly why you do what you do. As the title indicates, it’s a curse. Idealism in religion conveys feelgoodery and lies through their manufactured messages.  It’s a nice band-aid to help people cope with the fact that no one can come out positive on the formula I’ve presented.  But there’s one thing that Religion always promises but can never deliver. Reason.

Through the world around us, we have been able to examine exactly how and why our bodies work the way they do, morality is an ideological concept that bonds tightly to our physical state, so it’s not completely unfounded, but as I said, my perception has changed, Religion isn’t a safety belt, it’s a scapegoat. It is a man made device created to make us feel like all that bad things in the world are not our fault, when really it is.

knowledge really can feel like a curse, a worthwhile curse, but a curse that comes with truth and understanding.









for example, using the following equation one can simply calculate a rough estimate of the number of atoms making up your human head right now.

# of molecules = N * (density) * volume / (Molecular Weight).

N in this formula represents a Scientific constant also known as Avogadro’s number 6.022*10^23. This is the number of atoms in a given mole of ANY substance.

Now the human Body varies incredibly, but it is universally accepted that when it’s all averaged out, we posses roughly the density of Water. So moving on, lets break down water a little further to get the numbers we need.
Fun fact, Water is the simplest substance to use in this formula, because 1 cubic centimeter of water ways exactly 1 gram, that’s not just some crazy coincidence,  the kilogram and the liter are linked measures DEVELOPED using water as it’s base. when science was still in its infancy it was mandated
A kilogram- shall be defined as the weight of 1 liter of water.
A Liter-shall be defined as the volume of space 1 kilogram of water occupies.   thus the universally observed metric system was born.

So back to the math, Water as we know is made of 3 atoms, 2 hydrogen atoms, and 1 oxygen atom.

Hydrogen has an atomic weight of 1 while Oxygen’s is 16. so  simple arithmetic dictates that weight per molecule of 18.
meaning 1000 ml of water /18=55.556 moles.  from there we plug in the constant to find out the actual number of molecules in a liter of water
6.022*1023 * 55.556 = 3.346*1025
so how are we doing, we now have
# of molecules = N * (density) * volume / (Molecular Weight).*
# of molecules = N * (1kg/m^3)* volume / (18grams/mole)

almost there, now some quick googling found that an average head weighs 10 lbs, which brought into PROPER scientific terms, is 4,540 grams. since we’re working with the miracle substance of water here, we know that  4,540 grams of water occupies 4,540 cm^3 which conveniently divides to 1/1

# of molecules = N * (1kg/1m^3)* (4,540 cm^3) / (18)
# of molecules = N * (4,540cm^3) / (18g/mole)
# of molecules = N * (252.22)
substituting the actual constant of N back in time to get our answer
# of molecules = (6.022*10^23) * (252.22)# of molecules =1.519*1026

don’t forget now, the whole question was how many ATOMS are in the head, so since Water (H2O) has 3 atoms, multoply your result by that number

# of atoms= (#of molecules) * (atoms/molecule)
so that comes to 4.56*1026 

Now I personally have a squabble with scientific notation because as values get extremely large all sense of scale is lost, so lets turn this into an actual number  as we humans would normally write it.
456,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. that’s 456 quintillion, AKA 456 trillion TRILLION atoms.

pretty crazy huh?






3 thoughts on “Knowledge is power… and also a curse…

  1. No, not crazy at all. Pretty cool, actually.

    So how can we bring others along to his same sense of awe and wonder and appreciation of just how extraordinary understanding real life (as it really is) can be? I struggle with bringing this sense of obligation to fruition with others that such awe-inspiring understanding seems to import.

  2. I wish I knew, I honestly do. Sincerely the thing that depresses me most is the judgment placed on knowledge in human society. it’s not so much that people don’t or can’t understand, it seems to be more on the plane of they don’t WANT to understand.

    this expands faaar beyond the understandably hard to grasp concepts demonstrated in the study of advanced particle physics. I mean seriously, this shit is HARD, and I have a PASSION for it. For me to expect someone else to learn a topic such as this just because I find it important, is a little unrealistic. The thing that bothers me more than anything, and makes me feel deep sadness for our species, is that they look DOWN on those that DO. I mean I don’t want a medal or anything over here, I don’t deserve or want to be placed on a pedestal for my basic understanding of these advanced concepts.

    What infuriates me!! is when someone uses this as a basic to put someone down. I’m a proud nerd, and i can defend myself with the best of them, but when you think you’re better than me because you chose NOT to understand these things vital to our existence makes my eyes burn red. you’re not offending me, your’re depressing me, i’m simply infuriated that you are genetically identical to me but have such an ignorant, self destructive attitude. Indeed not everyone needs to know this stuff, but if you put someone down purely for posessing advanced knowledge you are a detriment to your species and I struggle to accept that YOU are the dominant standard for this species and not ME!

    • And yet from such studies come explanations that seem to work well enough to produce stuff that works! Not just for me but for everybody everywhere all the time. What are the chances, and why does this matter?

      Even if I don’t understand, say, computers, I have to grant the possibility (if I’m honest with myself) that those who come up with explanations about switches and electrical currents and circuitry design contrary to my beliefs about mystical gerbils running inside invisible wheels powering these evil contraptions long enough to admit that, hey, maybe my incompatible beliefs might not be as correct as I assume them to be. Maybe, just maybe, I could be (gasp!) wrong.

      But mostly I don’t understand why more people don’t use these opportunities of disagreements to at the very least ask of themselves, “How do I know what I think I know? And how does that explanation compare in revealing how stuff works with what these other people are using for their explanations?”

      And, like you, I am astounded at how many folk hold contempt for those people who do this work and create knowledge. I see it as an ego-saving tactic that is mean and small-minded and unprincipled… our barbarism simmering just belong the civilized facade. It reminds me to see people in their various stages of simian development.

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