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Thursday. 1.30.14 11:22 am
Long post, ahoy!

I forget who told me this story. Probably one of my roommates, but none of them are owning up to it now. It goes something like this:

"I was in the student center, sharing my faith and inviting people out to Bible Talk. There was this table with a few guys, and we were talking."

Me: "OK.",

"Yeah, so, we're talking, because these guys are atheists, and this one guy says, 'Dude, if I saw Jesus right in front of me, I still wouldn't believe. I would think it was a hallucination."

"Wait, what? Really?"

"Yeah, that's what he said."

"That's sort of...extreme, isn't it?"

I can understand it, a little. I mean, people saw Jesus in the New Testament all the time, and most of them didn't believe in him. Even when he performed miracles, people didn't always believe in him. Even less actually wanted to follow him. So I can understand the idea of seeing Jesus in person and still doubting. It's feasible, though I can't say it's very logical. But to make that claim, and be proud of it! That gave me some trouble. I don't know what my friend said after that, but it probably threw him off.

There's this dude in my class. Super friendly guy. He tapped on my shoulder one day and asked if I had done the homework. Apparently he transferred in with credits in a 1000 level CS course and thought he could handle 2000 level. As time has gone on, he's realized that his class was garbage. I'm doin' alright, so I agree to help him out with homework and stuff.

On Monday, we had an assignment due at 11 PM. I'd already finished it, so in class he asked if I could help him out because he was stuck.

"Sure, but I'm basically going to be busy until 7:30 because I've got class and then Bible Talk." Bible Talk is something my friends and I do, where we invite a bunch of people to hang out for a half hour and...talk about the Bible. It's more of a discussion than a lesson, though. One guy leads it by asking the group open-ended questions or getting their opinions regarding biblical and life concepts. It's fun, and it's a cool way to engage people who otherwise might not give critical thought to what the Bible says. This semester Tim and I are exploring the actions and character of Jesus.

We're already friends on Facebook, where he makes it very obvious that he doesn't believe in God. But he seems like an intellectually honest fellow, or at least someone who enjoys dabbling in worldviews, so I ask him anyway: "Actually, dude, would you want to just come with me? It starts at 6:30, then people usually hang around to talk for a bit. Then we can just set up anywhere and do homework."

"Yeah! Sounds good man."

So he comes. Gets there early, actually. People are generally pretty taken aback their first time joining a group like this and tend to just listen, but he actually makes some contributions to the conversation. It was pretty great. Afterwards he got into some conversation with one of the other guys before we finally headed out to work on his homework.

It took hours.

We were chatting occasionally, and he would ask me the funniest questions. What do I think of the rapture? Do I think I could be moral without being religious? What about Young Earth theology? I learned that his grandparents are both ministers so he grew up heavily religious, which makes his openness even more surprising to me because generally people who become areligious after coming from a home like that tend to want nothing to do with faith, if you'll forgive my generalization. At least, that seems to be the prevailing trend in the Georgia Tech students I've met.

Eventually, this comes out, right after he asks about morality:
"Yeah, man, I think I've actually met one of your friends before. But I didn't see him tonight."

Me: "Yeah? Where?"

"I was eating in the Student Center with some friends, and he came up and tried to invite us to Bible Talk. We said no, but then he started asking why, and...well, I sort of let him have it."

"What happened?"

"I told him, if I were to meet Jesus right now, I still wouldn't believe in him. I'd think I was hallucinating or something."

I can't even. I didn't say anything to him (he had more to say, about how he felt like he'd done something illegal when he said that, stuff along those lines,) but I was laughing and singing inside. What a twist! This guy, who outright refused to come talk about God, was reaching out TO me, and ended up coming out to the same event he had avoided. I barely did anything.


I've spent way too many hours not doing homework, I'd better chip. Later, kids.

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Saturday. 1.18.14 6:12 pm
Regarding black holes: they're mostly mathematical. The only physical parameter they have (that we can see) is mass. The event horizon is defined as the surface (sphere) inside of which all matter and energy are inexorably attracted to its center. But that's just the thing, there's no actual horizon. It's not like you hit a wall as you fall in*. It's only a mathematical definition, dependent completely on the mass.

*Our understanding is, of course, incomplete.

For any mass M, there's a radius R such that if you could stuff M inside of a sphere with radius R, you'd have a black hole. That may seem like a weird way to define it, but what I'm saying is that the configuration of matter INSIDE that radius is not important. If the mass M is distributed between three separate chunks of matter, and they're all close enough to be inside a sphere of radius R "drawn" around their center of mass, then they are a functional black hole. Such a configuration would be impossible to maintain very long, anyway; you know that after a certain amount of time, they'll fall into each other at the center.

Of course, you can't see it happen.

An interesting effect of this is that an event horizon has a tendency to grow in anticipation of incoming mass. Imagine a black hole of mass M and radius R. Now say we have a "shell" of mass M hovering somewhere outside of that radius. If we were to let it fall in, the new mass of the black hole would be 2M and the new radius would be R2. (I don't want to say 2R because I'm pretty sure it's not a one-to-one relationship. Let's just say it's a bigger radius.) But, if we slowly let the shell fall in, when do we say it's a part of the black hole?


Well, obviously, when the shell comes inside the new radius we defined, it meets the criteria from before. Even though it's still pretty far away from the center, we have mass 2M inside the corresponding radius R2, and that's all we need. So, we've gone from a black hole of size R to R2. When did that happen? Did the size jump up suddenly when our shell crossed the R2 line? Surely not. This next part is harder to describe without some pictures, so hold on to your seats.

The event horizon is described as the surface behind which an outgoing photon could never escape, due to the intense warping of spacetime. So in weird cases like this, where the horizon seemingly grows as if it's sentient, we go back to that definition. Imagine a bunch of lamps floating near our black hole, in a line stretching between R and R2. Each one emits photons that can be seen far away. And let's say our shell crosses R2 at time 0, for simplicity. As our shell closes in, the photons from the lamp closest to R are unable to escape after a certain point, because even though they started at or after T1 (which is before 0), they couldn't go fast enough to get past R2 by the time R2 became the new horizon. If you have another lamp that's farther away from R, then those photons have a little more time to get out, but even they're trapped if they leave after a certain time.

Our observer (who is very far away) can see from the photons that the lamps are getting snuffed out, one by one, until all the lamps inside of R2 are dark (as we'd expect from the inside of a black hole.) Thus, we can see that the horizon doesn't just jump between sizes, but expands smoothly at a rate dependent on the speed of the falling shell.

Isn't that creepy? Even creepier is in the case where the shell never falls in, like if it just stops and floats above the horizon or if it turns around and speeds away. In that case, you might expect the horizon to expand and then shrink again, but no! It never moves at all.

It knows the future.

In other news, I'm 22 now, it's a new year, I'm a Bible talk leader and a senior, I'm still single, and I have awesome people in my life. See you around! I'll fix typos later, I've gotta go.

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Sunday. 11.10.13 5:25 pm
My posts here have definitely been declining in frequency and in...variety, I suppose. I like hearing from you guys, but I've definitely lost most of my interest in blogging. In some ways, I don't need to anymore. I suppose a large part of my interest was based on loneliness. Not that I was lonely, exactly, but there haven't been many people in my life that I can talk to about...all this stuff. Everything. I shared on here because I needed to share. But now I have people in my life who take an interest in all that stuff. People who I can and do talk to about everything.

It's weird, that always seemed like a cliche to me before. Why would I want people to know everything about me? Blogging is funny because I didn't really know the people who read this. For the most part, you play no part in my life. You're disconnected, so I can say what I want without worry. I won't be judged harshly here. You're not affected by me and my life except as a viewer. There's power in that disconnection. I can get feedback without being truly open. On the other hand, if I told my friends a few years ago what I was writing at that time, they either wouldn't care (referring to my especially abstract and long-winded posts) or they'd feel hurt, or think less of me. They'd make me face the parts of me that I don't want to acknowledge. So I only show them what I want them to see, and I show you some of the rest. Some of it. It gives the semblance of transparency, but what's the point of a window behind a wall?

That's the biggest thing I've been coming to grips with this semester: being open. It probably seems obvious to some of you. Being open is good so you can know how to become better. It seemed obvious to me, consciously, but I didn't really apply it. I didn't want to change, I wanted to be comfortable. So of course I'd be reluctant to get into all that. Now my priorities are different. My spiritual family is there to help me mature in Christ, but they can't be much help if they don't know me. But I don't LIKE being open. I'm OK with admitting I'm wrong on some stuff, but there are other things I'd rather just leave alone. Probably some things I can't even think of right now because I subconsciously skirt the problems. The same way that a person can argue a point, thinking their view is the ONLY thing that makes sense, until someone else sees the fault and points it out. This still happens to me all the time, even though I've gotten much better at examining my own viewpoints. So even though it makes me uncomfortable and sometimes outright ashamed, I talk to the people I call brothers and sisters. Especially with my roommates, I try to be as forthcoming as I can stand, and then a little more. Sometimes that's what it takes to elicit repentance and change. A lot of times, actually. Even though these are the people I live with and see all the time, it's worth it to open myself to their judgement, because I know they won't judge me. Some of them are the same as me, and can relate. And they all love me, as I love them. We just want to grow. But that's a different point.

The point is that I don't need to be anonymously open anymore. In fact, I can't really, because the stuff I really want to talk about seems pretty senseless to most of the world. It's striking to me, how alien I've become, even in this society that seems so familiar. That's another reversal: my friends become strangers, and strangers become my friends.


On something of a lighter note, part of my blogging capital comes from my random enthusiasm about stuff. I just feel the occasional need to explain and discuss something...at length. You can probably gather that from some of my longer posts. So the decline of my posts can be attributed in part to my change of taste! I like to talk about spiritual stuff, get advice, and stuff like that more than I used to. And I have the perfect environment for that! :D

Which reminds me, I want to talk about how Event Horizons expand next time. Peace.

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Friday. 10.25.13 11:26 pm
Today I am weary. It's not easy! Rewarding, definitely. But not easy. Today was hard. My night-vision's been spoiled and I gashed my toe on a treacherous stone.

I wake and something is amiss
The world is different in my sight
Since last I laid my head to rest
Iíve mixed my left side with my right

Reversal is accompanied
by new contours I canít ignore;
Shadows where they ought not to be
and Light where there was none before.

When left is right and right is wrong,
what I thought true has truly changed.
And now the darknessí crooning song
I know to be a wail of pain.

I journey through the world I knew
And reckon with my sanity
My state of mind has been made new
From old perceptions I am free

I gaze upon my looking glass
that plane dividing false from true
and with your help it comes to pass
Instead of me I just see You.

This isn't easy. And I should thank God for the people that are there for me, to love me and help me grow. For the people who take me in and treat me like their son (sometimes quite literally,) or push me higher, or even just open up about their lives so I can learn from them.

For the sunlight.

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