Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 2008

Article #51; (August 23, 2006)

“Basic Engineering and Physics Problems Transformed Mathematically” (draft)           

 This article exposes several practical exercises in engineering and physics that experimental data or observations had generated laws.  Consequently, the resolution of their mathematical equations provided the necessary incentives to open up new mathematical methods and fields of studies.

Conversely, many mathematical discoveries done on purely theoretical basis lead to practical applications later on.  We should keep in mind that mathematical equations are merely an abstraction of the reality, obtained by disregarding certain physical facts which seem to be of minor influence. In complicated physical situations, there may be no way of judging a priori the importance of various circumstances.

Let us state that rate of a quantity is the proportion of change in that quantity over a specific duration; the mathematical definition is written as the differential of that quantity (Q) over time (t) or dQ/dt.  For the following exercises the first step of the mathematical formulations of the laws will be provided without any attempt to solving them:

1)  Newton’s law of cooling:  Experiments show that the rate of change of the temperature T1 of a conductive material to heat is proportional to the difference between T and the temperature of the surrounding medium. The mathematical formulation is: dT/dt = -k*(T1-T2); where k is a positive constant.  Let us suppose that a copper ball is heated to a temperature T1 = 100 degrees C.  At time t=0 the ball is placed in water which is maintained at a temperature T2 = 30.  At the end of 3 minutes the temperature of the ball is reduced to T3 = 70.  Find the time at which the temperature of the ball is reduced to T4 = 31.

2) Newton’s law of gravitation:  Experiments show that the acceleration (a) of a body is proportional to inverse of the square of the distance (r) between the body and the center of the earth, or a(r) = k/r(2).  Find the minimum initial velocity of a body which is fired in radial direction from the earth and is supposed to escape from earth; neglect the air resistance and the gravitational pull of other celestial bodies. Formulation: a(r) = – g*R(2)/r(2)

3)  Torricelli’s law:  Experiments show that the velocity with which a liquid issues from an orifice is v = [0.6*square root (2*g*h)] where h is the instantaneous height of the liquid above the orifice and the constant 0.6 was introduced by Borda to account for the fact that the cross-section of the out flowing stream of liquid is somewhat smaller than that of the orifice.  A funnel whose angle at the outlet is 60 degrees and whose outlet has a cross-sectional area of 0.5 cm(2), contains water at a height of h = 10 cm.  At time t = 0 the outlet is opened and the water flows out.  Determine the time when the funnel will be empty.  Formulation: the change in volume of water lowing out during a short interval of time is: dV = 0.5* v*dt.

4)  Boyle-Mariotte’s law for ideal gases:  Experiments show that for a gas at low pressure (p) and constant temperature (T) the rate of change of the volume is: dV = -V/p

5)    The radiation of element radium law:  Experiment show that radium disintegrates at a rate proportional to the amount of radium (M) instantaneously present or: dM/dt = k*M.  What is its half-life or the time in which 50% of the amount M will disappear?  If the half-time is 1590 years, then what per cent will disappear in one year?

6)    The atmospheric pressure law:  Observations show that the rate of change of the atmospheric pressure (p) with altitude (h) is proportional to the pressure, or  dp/dh = – k*p.  If p at 18,000 ft is half its value at sea level, find the formula for the pressure at any height.

7)    The evaporation law:  Observations show that a wet porous substance in the open air loses its moisture at a rate proportional to the moisture content (Q) or:  dQ/dt = -k*Q.  If a sheet hung in the wind loses half its moisture during the first hour, when will it have lost 99% under the same weather condition?

8)    Sugar cane dilution law:  Experiments show that the rate of change of the inversion of cane sugar in diluted solution is proportional to the concentration (Y) of the unaltered sugar, or d(1/Y)/dt = k*Y.  If the concentration is 1/100 at t = 0 and is 1/250 at t = 5 hours, then find Y(t).

9)    The law of boiling liquids:  Observations show that the ratio of the quantities of two liquids of each passing off as vapor at any instant is proportional to the ratio of the quantities x and y still in the liquid state, or dy/dx = k*y/x.

10) Lambert’s law of absorption:  Observations show that the absorption of light in a very thin transparent layer is proportional to the thickness (x) of the layer and to the amount incident (A) on that layer, or dA/dx = -k*A.

11)  The law of mass action:  Experiments show that the velocity (v) of a chemical reaction, under a constant temperature, is proportional to the product of the concentrations (a) and (b) in moles per liter of the substances which are reacting.  If y is the number of moles per liter which have reacted after time (t), then the rate of reaction is: dy/dt = k*(a – y)*(b – y).

12)  Falling body law:  Experiments show that, if a body falls in vacuum due to the action of gravity and starting at time t = 0 with initial velocity v = 0, then the velocity of the body is proportional to the time or ds/dt = k*t, where s is the displacement or the distance of the body from its initial position.

Article #50, (September 10, 2006)

Computational Rationality in Artificial Intelligence

The field of Artificial Intelligence would have been more on target if it was called “Computational Rationality”, which is fundamentally the approach of the fourth system:  Any scientific field, to be considered mature, a consensus by the professionals has to be reached; and the roots of the field of knowledge should be firmly grounded on mathematics and recognized traditional “rational logic”.

            In order to have a holistic view of the elements that are considered in AI, it would be interesting to picture a table of basic elements such as designed for the chemistry elements. Thus A for atom, Ab for alpha-beta search, Al for algorithm, Af for automatic theory formation, At for augmented transition net, B for Bayes’ rule, Bf for breadth first search, Bl for blocks-world labelling heuristics, Br for binary relations, Bt for backtracking search, C for concept formation, Cd for COND, Cf for closure of functions, Cg for context-free grammar,  Cl for cellular logic,  Cn for constraint, Cr for circular reaction paradigm, Cs for CONS, Df for differentiation, D for depth, Dc for Dempster-Shafer calculus, De for debugging, Df for DEFUN, Di for discovery, Dm for dialogue management, Dn for discrimination network,  Ds for depth first search, E for expertise, F for frame, Fc for forward chaining, Fm for formula manipulation, Fz for fuzzy logic, H for heuristic, Hm for the Hough transform, Ht for Herbrand’s theorem, I for ISA hierarchy, In for integration, Ie for inference engine, If for image formation and acquisition, Ih for inheritance, In for inference network, Ir for image representation, Kr for knowledge representation, L for lexicon, Lp for LISP, Lr for logical reasoning, Ls for LEIBNIZ structure, M for morphology, Mp for MAPCAR, Nm for numerical model, P for Prolog, Pa for pattern matching, Pb for probability, Pc for propositional calculus, Pd for predicate calculus,  Pf for preprocessing of low-pass filtering, Pg for pragmatics, Pl for planning, Pp for parallel processing, Ps for problem solving, Pr for production rule, Py for PYTHAGORUS, Q for quantization, R for robotics, Ra for Ramer’s algorithm, Rb for rule-based systems, Rc for recursive lists, Rd for relational database, Re for relaxation, Rn for resolution, S for semantics, Sc for schemata, Sf for sufficiency factor, Sg for segmentation, Sh for shell, Sn for semantic net, Sp for script, Sq for SETQ, SS for state space, St for stereo, Sx for S-expression, Sy for syntax, U for unification, T for topology, Tt for Turing’s test, V for version space, Z for zero-sum games.

It would be interesting to classify these AI elements into chapters such as: Programming in LISP, Productions and matching, Knowledge representation, Search methods, Logical reasoning, Probabilistic reasoning, Learning, Natural-language understanding, Vision, and Expert systems…

Is our intelligence that natural or acquired through customs, tradition, formal teaching, standards of moral value, community consensus…Even a person living in a forest, away from any mankind habitation and communication, he is learning from animal behaviors communicated from customs, tradition, teaching processes inculcated by the particular animal communities…

How mankind intelligence differ and developed? Mostly through trading with other human communities:  Exchanging expert tools of production, learning mechanisms, various customs and traditions…Variety of perspectives to looking at life, the universe and survival processes…

(To be developed further)


“How Human Factors are considered at the NASA jet propulsion laboratory”?

Article #47 ( written in June 7, 2006)

Professor Charles Elachy, the director of NASA jet propulsion center at Pasadena in California, gave a lecture at LAU, Byblos, during his visit to Lebanon, and was inducted a member of the Board of Director of the university.

I instructed my class to prepare written questions to submit to Professor Elachy after the lecture, but we failed in our endeavor because questions were stricly managed.  I composed a series of questions, and after discussing them with my class, I e-mailed them to Elachy on May 30, 2006.  The mail stated:

            “I teach a single course “Human Factors in engineering“, which is required for industrial engineers. This course used to be elective for the computer and other traditional engineering fields before this year, until it was eliminated as a viable choice in the curricula.

The main value of this course is to offer a behavioral change at looking at the design of projects from a different perspective. A few students in my class of Human Factors in engineering prepared a series of written questions for your lecture at LAU at Byblos, and we would appreciate your reply on the following:

1)   As a leading member of one of the most sophisticated man-made system from conception, to designing, testing, evaluation, production, operation, and execution, then would you consider that any failure in your system is ultimately a human error?

2)  Could you offer us samples of what NASA would consider as near accidents?  In such cases, would your internal investigation of any near accident try to assign the error to a person, a team, or the organization as a whole in order to redress potential hazards?

3)  I read that the engineering work force at your department in NASA is around 5000.  What is the percentage of human factors and “industrial psychology” professionals in that work force who are involved in designing interfaces, facilitator’ tools, training programs, conducting controlled experimentation, testing, and evaluating human behavioral performance in operations in order to foreseeing potential errors and eliminating safety hazards?

4)  To what extent are tailor-made task analysis, foreseeable errors analysis, and decision flow diagrams in every stage of the development process computerized as expert systems, and how embedded is the role of experts in reviewing computer outputs?

5) Could you give us a few samples of the kind of expert opinions that NASA still seek in system development? What are the impacts of expert opinions in the development cycle and how critical are they? On what system do you rely in decisions concerning the allocation of tasks to either operators or automation?

6)  Do you think that NASA has already accumulated an exhaustive list of cognitive and physical capabilities/limitations of human operators compared to machine potentials?  How efficient is a human operator currently evaluated within this growing trend in technology and automation?  What kind of guidelines does NASA engineers rely on for designing interfaces or anything that requires operators’ interactions with the system?

7) What types of inspectors do you mostly hire, such as technical versus people oriented? Would your guidelines for hiring technical or people performance inspectors differ (for example in-house hiring or outside contracting)?  Is assigning an employee to inspection jobs is generally viewed by engineers as a negative coded message for position downgrading?”

On June 4, I received the following reply from Eachy:

“Dear Adonis, my response to your questions will not be in the direct order because our work here is not a production activity.

Each spacecraft is different and they are always first of a kind.  However, we do have a system of checks and balances.

We have one organization which does the design and development (about 3,500 technical people) and a separate organization which does Quality Control (about 350 technical people).

The role of QC is not only to check on the quality of the work, but also to help the development organization do it right to start with.  So, we assign a few QC experts to each project, but they report through a different chain than the project manager.

When we have a problem we try to understand the root cause and develop procedure/training to avoid it in the future.

We do not try to blame a person but we put a number of reviews and independent checks to make sure problems don’t slip through the cracks.”

I read Professor Elachy’s response to class.  It was clear that Human Factors professionals are still viewed as more relevant in the production activity phase, although there are many cases where they were involved in analyzing missions from their inception, knowing that NASA pioneered the process of hiring Human Factors in the agency.

Update 1:Professor Elachy was awarded this year 2011, the French highest order in scientific achievement. He had done his highest studies in France before Charles Elachy was hired in the USA.

Update 2: Charles Elachy is the head of the team that landed the rover on Mars to find out if there is life on this hot planet

Article #42  (April 6, 2006)

 “New semester, new approach to teaching the HF course”

This semester ten students enrolled for my class; only one is a computer engineer finishing his degree and the remaining are industrial engineers.  As a reminder, this course is required for IE and the other engineering disciplines managed to open up new elective courses and were trying to market them at the expense of the wishes of many students who wanted to take my course and their petitions were denied.

With a class, one fourth its usual number, I had to capitalize on the advantages of smaller classes, once the shock is under control.  This semester, methods applied in human factors engineering are the focus and the reduction to half the previous semester of body of knowledge in the course materials might encourage my class to appreciate the efforts and time invested by the pool of human factors researchers and professionals to make available practical design guidelines for the other engineering professions.

Whereas in the previous semesters I shun away from exposing my class to new methods, except teaching them explicitly the concept of controlled experimentations, the differences among dependent, independent and controlled variables and correcting their misunderstanding, thinking that there was an abundance of knowledge to assimilate for a meager semester, I boldly changed direction in my teaching approach by investing more time on exposing and explaining the various methods that human factors might be applying in their profession.  The first assignment was using excel to compare 40 methods used in human factors, industrial engineering, industrial psychology, and designers of intelligent machines.  This assignment was a version of article #14, about the taxonomy of methods, from 20 articles that I wrote the previous years and offered them as an introduction to the course, in addition to the course materials. The students were supposed to select five categories from more than the dozen ways to classifying methods such as definition, purpose, applications, inputs, processes, procedures, output/product, mathematical requirements, disciplines teaching them, advantages, disadvantages, sources/links, connections with other methods, and comments.

I expected that, as engineers, they would logically select for columns applications, input, procedure, output, and comments because they are what define a method but somehow they opted for applications, procedures, advantages, disadvantages, and comments mainly because it is how the internet offer information.  After 3 students submitted their assignment on time I handed them over 40 summary sheets for the 16 methods used to analyzing a system or a mission, at least 2 sheets for each of 16 methods, one sheet on the purpose, input, procedure, and output/product of the method and the other sheets as examples of what the output is expected to look for presentation. I then asked the less performing students to concentrate on only the 16 methods for their assignment and most of them did not submit this assignment even two months later.

So far I used up six sessions for methods or related topics such as the methods applied in the process of analyzing systems’ performance, psychophysical procedures, the fundamentals of controlled experimentation methods, human factors performance criteria, and what human factors measure in their experiments. 

As for the body of knowledge I extract a few facts from experiments and asked them to participate in providing me with the rationales or processes that might explain these facts. For example, if data show that females on average are two third the strength of males then what could be the underlying causes for that discovery?  Could that fact be explained by the length of the muscles, the cross section thickness of the muscles, the number of muscle fibers, or the length of the corresponding bones?

Facts are entertaining but I figured that they are big boys to be constantly entertained while shovelful of money is being spent for their university education. Facts are entertaining but there have to come a time when these big boys stop and wonder at the brain power, Herculean patience, and hard work behind these amusing sessions.

The next assignment was to observe the business of the family’s bread earner, note down the minute tasks of his typical day work, learn about the business by attempting to generate detailed answers from a questionnaire they have to develop based on a set of investigative query and problems related to human factors performance criteria in the assignment sheet, and to report back what are the routine and daily tasks that enabled the students to join a university.  Three students worked with their fathers’ in summer times and enjoyed the assignment; the remaining students could not shake off their 8th grade habits, wrote the questionnaire, mailed it, and waited for the answers.  I was expecting that the students would apply the methodology they learned in analyzing systems such as activity, decision, and task analyses but the good stuff was not forthcoming. To encourage them to cater to the business that they might inherit, I assigned them a lecture project that would generate the requisite analyses with a clear objective of focusing on near-accidents, foreseeable errors, safety of the workers and heath conditions in the work place.

So far, the products of the two quizzes were complete failures; although most of the questions in the second quiz were from the same chapter sources as the first quiz, it is amazing how ill prepared are the students for assimilating or focusing on the essential ideas, concepts, and methods. So far, with a third of the semester over, I can points to only two students who are delivering serious investment in time, hard work, and excitement and are shooting for a deserved grade of A.

Article #35 (Started March 4, 2006)

 “Efficiency of the human body structure”

This article is an on going project to summarize a few capabilities and limitations of man. While the most sophisticated intelligent machines invented by man may contain up to ten thousand elements, the human machine is constituted of up to a million trillion of cells, up to a thousand trillions of neurons in the central nervous system, about a couple hundred bones, and as many organs, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

In the previous article #33 we discussed a graph in a story style and discovered that a human barefoot in texture, shape, and toes has a higher coefficient of friction than many man-made shoes that allow easier traction to move forward for less energy expenditure. We also expanded our story to observe that the structure of the bones and major muscles attached to limbs for movements as lever systems provide higher speed and range of movements at the expense of exorbitant muscular efforts.

A most important knowledge for designing interfaces is a thorough recognition of the capabilities and limitations of the five senses.  One of the assignment involves comparing the various senses within two dozens categories such as: anatomy, physiology, receptor organs, stimulus, sources of energy, wave forms, reaction time, detectable wavelengths and frequencies, practical detection thresholds of signals, muscles, physical pressure, infections and inflammations, disorders and dysfunctions, assessment, diagnostic procedures, corrective measures, effects of age, and safety and risk.

Human dynamic efforts for doing mechanical work is at best 30% efficient because most of the efforts are converted to maintaining static positions in order to preserve stability and equilibrium for all the other concomitant stabilizing joints, bones and muscles.  For example, the stooping position consumes 60% of the efforts for having a work done, in addition to the extremely high moment effected on the edges of the lower back intervertebrae discs.  Static postures constrict the blood vessels and fresh blood is no longer carrying the necessary nutrients to sustain any effort for long duration and heart rate increases dramatically; lactic acid accumulates in the cells and fatigue ensues until the body rests in order to break down that acid.

Human energy efficiency is even worse because most of the energy expended is converted into heat.  Not only physical exercises generate heat but, except for glucose or sugar, most of the nutrients have to undergo chemical transformations to break down the compounds into useful and ready sources of energy, thus generating more heat.  Consequently, heat is produced even when sleeping when the body cells are regenerated. Internal heat could be a blessing in cold environments but a worst case scenario in a hot atmosphere because the cooling mechanism in human is solely confined to sweating off the heat accumulated in the blood stream.  Heat is a source of blessing when we are sick with microbes and bacteria because the latter is killed when the internal body temperature rises above normal.

 “How to tell long and good stories from human factors graphs?”

Article #33, (Feb. 28, 2006)

If we concentrate on a graph we might generate a long story that span many disciplines and furnish us with a wealth of information and knowledge that pages of words barely can convey. A graph might open the gate for dozen of questions that are the foundation of scientific, experimental, and critical thinking.

Suppose that we are comparing the efficiency in energy consumption between walking bare feet or wearing shoes that weight 1.3 Kg.  Considering the walking speed as the other independent variable, along with the type and weight of shoes, we observe that the curves show that we are consuming less energy at low speed, then both curves decreasing to a minimum consumption of 0.2 KJ/Nm and intersecting at around 80 meter/min and then increasing as walking speed increases.

This graph is telling us that casual walking consumes less energy per unit walking effort than fast walking and that, at a cut off speed of 80 meter/min, the energy consumption is equal for both foot wares.  Some people might jump to the conclusion that this cut-off speed can be generalized to all foot wears, but more experiments are necessarily needed to verify this initial hypothesis.

Another piece of information is that after the cut-off speed, it is more economical in energy to walk barefoot. Basically, this graph is saying that the more weight you add to your lower limbs the more energy you should expect to spend, a fact that is not an earth shattering observation.

Biomechanics tells us that the structure of our body is not geared toward saving on our muscular effort, but to increasing our range and speed of movements.  Most of our muscles are connected to the bones of our limbs and their respective joints in manners they have to exert great effort and many fold the weight of our body members to overcome any of our limb’s mass.

Usually, the tendons of our muscles are inserted to the limb bones, close to the joints, and thus the muscles have to exert a huge effort to overcome the moment of the bone and flesh weight in order to effect a movement. Any extra mass to our limbs will tax our muscles to produce many folds the additional weight.

There is a caveat however; if you wrapped a weight of 1.3 kg around your ankles and walked bare feet you would consume more energy than without the added weight, but the curve would be parallel to the previous curve and not increasing more steepily than walking with shoes weighting 1.3 Kg.  Consequently, the variation in the behavior of the graphs result from a combination of added weight and lesser static coefficient of friction exerted by the shoes on the walking surface than the bare foot..

Thus, what this graph does not mention is the static coefficient of friction between the footwear and the ground, and which is the most important variable and in this case, can concatenate many independent and control variables such as the materials of the footwear and the type of ground into a unique independent variable of coefficient of friction.

The higher the coefficient of friction the easier it is to move and progress and thus walking faster for the same amount of effort invested.  It is not that important to generate muscle force if the reaction force on the surface cannot be produced to move a person in the right direction.  For example, it is extremely difficult to move on slippery surfaces no matter how much muscular effort we generate.  Apparently, the shape and skin texture of our foot provide a better and more efficient coefficient of friction than most foot wears.

However, the most important fact of this simple experiment is showing us the behavior of the curves and offering additional hypotheses for other studies.

What this graph is not telling us is the best story of all, and which can excite the mind into further investigation. For example, what kind of earth materials are we walking on; sands, asphalt, rough terrains, slippery roads or grassy fields?  Does the sample of bare feet walkers include aboriginals used in walking bare feet, city dwellers, and people from the province?  Does the sample includes groups of  people according to the softness of their feet skins or the size of feet?

May be the shape of the curves are the same for females as well, but it would be curious to find out the magnitude of variations compared to males.  It is clear that a simple and lousy graph delved us into the problems of experimentation and raised enough questions to attend to various fields of knowledge.

In the final analysis, the question is how relevant is this experiment practically?  How far can a modern man walk bare feet?  Does any economy in energy compensate for the ache, pain and injuries suffered by walking bare feet?  Would athletes be allowed to compete bare feet if it is proven to increase performance and break new records?  Does anyone care of walking barefoot in order to save a few kilo Joules?

The theme of this article is that you can venture into many fields of knowledge, just by focusing your attention on graphs and tables and permitting your mind to navigate into uncharted waters through queries and critical thinking.



Article “31 (December 18, 2005)

 “A seminar on a multidisciplinary view of design”  

The term “designing” is so commonly used that its all encompassing scope has lamentably shrunken in the mind of graduating engineers. This talk attempts to restore the true meaning of design as a multidisciplinary concept that draw its value from the cooperation and inputs of many practitioners in a team.

This is a scenario of a seminar targeting freshmen engineers, who will ultimately be involved in submitting design projects, is meant to orient engineers for a procedure that might provide their design projects the necessary substance for becoming marketable and effective in reducing the pitfalls in having to redesign. The ultimate purpose is to providing the correct designing behavior from the first year.

Answering the following questions might be the basis of acquiring a proper behavior in design projects, which should be carried over in their engineering careers.  Many of these questions are never formally asked in the engineering curriculum.

Q1. What is the primary job of an engineer?   What does design means?  How do you perceive designing to look like?

A1. The discussion should be reopened after setting the tone for the talk and warming up the audience to alternative requirements of good design.

Q2. To whom are you designing?  What category of people? Who are your target users? Engineer, consumers, support personnel, operators?

A2. Generate from audience potential design projects as explicit examples to develop on that idea.

Q3. What are your primary criteria in designing?  Error free application product? Who commit errors?  Can a machine do errors?

A3.  Need to explicitly emphasize that error in the design and its usage is the primary criterion and which encompass the other more familiar engineering and business criteria

Q4. How can we categorize errors?  Had you any exposure to error taxonomy? Who is at fault when an error is committed or an accident occurs?

A4. Provide a short summary of different error taxonomies; the whole administrative and managerial procedures and hierarchy of the enterprise need also to be investigated.

Q5. Can you foresee errors, near accidents, accidents in your design?

A5. Take a range oven for example, expose the foreseeable errors and accidents in the design, babies misuse and the display and control idiosyncrasy.

Q6. Can we practically account for errors without specific task taxonomy?

A6. Generate a discussion on tasks and be specific on a selected job.

Q7. Do you view yourself as responsible for designing interfaces to your design projects depending on the target users? Would you relinquish your responsibilities for being in the team assigned to designing an interface for your design project? What kinds of interfaces are needed for your design to be used efficiently?

A7. Discuss the various interfaces attached to any design and as prolongement to marketable designs.

Q8. How engineers solve problems?  Searching for the applicable formulas? Can you figure out the magnitude of the answer?  Have you memorized the allowable range for your answers from the given data and restriction imposed in the problem after solving so many exercises? Have you memorize the dimensions of your design problem?

A8.  Figure out the magnitude and the range of the answers before attempting to solve a question; solve algebraically your equations before inputting data; have a good grasp of all the relevant independent variables.

Q9. What are the factors or independent variables that may affect your design project? How can we account for the interactions among the factors?

A9. Offer an exposition to design of experiments

Q10. Have you been exposed to reading research papers? Can you understand, analyze and interpret the research paper data? Can you have an opinion as to the validity of an experiment? Would you accept the results of any peer reviewed article as facts that may be readily applied to your design projects?

A10.  Explain the need to be familiar with the procedures and ways of understanding research articles as a continuing education requirement.

Q11. Do you expect to be in charged of designing any new product or program or procedures in your career? Do you view most of your job career as a series of supporting responsibilities; like just applying already designed programs and procedures?

Q12. Are you ready to take elective courses in psychology, sociology, marketing, business targeted to learning how to design experiments and know more about the capabilities, limitations and behavioral trends of target users? Are you planning to go for graduate studies and do you know what elective courses might suit you better in your career?

A12.  Taking multidisciplinary courses enhances communication among design team members and more importantly encourages reading research papers in other disciplines related to improving a design project. Designing is a vast and complex concept that requires years of practice and patience to encompass several social science disciplines.

Q13. Can you guess what should have been my profession?

A13.  My discipline is Industrial engineering with a major in Human Factors oriented toward designing interfaces for products and systems. Consequently, my major required taking multidisciplinary courses in marketing, psychology and econometrics and mostly targeting various methodologies for designing experiments, collecting data and statistically analyzing gathered data in order to predict system’s behavior.


“A few anecdotes of my teaching methods” 

(Article #17 in the category of Human Factors, written on April 13, 2005)

My composite class of all engineering disciplines takes my course in Human Factors in engineering for different reasons. It is a required course to the industrial engineers, but optional to all the others.

You assume that most university students have discussed with the previous students about the contents, difficulty, novelty and time consuming constraints of this course.

Apparently, the responses generated in class to my query whether the students have any idea about this course prove that they have no knowledge whatsoever of Human Factors discipline, which is to design products and services with health, safety, and ease of use of consumers in mind.

I prompt them by mentioning the term ergonomics, and lo and behold, they have read this term somewhere in ads on ergonomically designed chairs and keyboards.

Another surprise is that when it comes to purchasing course materials and answering old questions in assignments, many succeed in locating previous students who took the course.

I have tried many teaching styles, revised several times the contents and arrangements of the course chapters, and experimented with various methods to encourage the students into reading the course materials on their own volition.

I varied the number of quizzes, exams, assignments and lab projects, tried to encourage them to read research articles, investigated new presentation techniques, gave them hints on how best to read and assimilate the materials, emphasized on thinking like engineers and not memorize information, and I assigned students to read to the class:  I received basically the same observations, no matter how I change the course.

1.Engineering students will read only under duress,

2. Will barely take notes even if bonus points are at stakes,

3. Will start an assignment a couple of days before due date, even if the assignment was handed out several weeks prior to due date,

4. Will remember to ask for clarifications only on due date,

5. Will copy and cheat unabashedly.

Engineering students refuse to carry to class any course material, unless the exam is an open book.

Many don’t bring any paper or pen to take notes, many refuse to redo their assignments for a couple extra points or for closure sake, and most of the redone works show no improvement.

Students can use word processors or any computer applications for their assignments, but the end product has to be hand written, including tables, charts and figures. Guess why I figured out this constraints?

It turned out that my guess was correct: most of the time I can manage to read physicians’ prescriptions better than their handwriting assignment.

There was a time when engineers were trained to submit neat drawings, as engineers should be trained to do, but this time is long gone.

Another advantage of submitting hand written work is that students will actually read what they are writing and rely less on copied CD’s and try their hands on being neat, using rulers, compasses and the long lost engineering working components.

I invented several ways to brute force students to read at least parts of the course materials.

In addition to mid-term and final exams, they have to answer dozens of questions for their mid-term and final take homes exams.

I assign graphs, tables and figures to students to hand write, copy on transparent sheets and present to class with written explanation attached.

All assignments are submitted on composition booklets.

I encourage them to take notes by asking them questions on materials not covered in the course materials, and giving bonuses to anyone who remember to provide a copy of his notes on final day.

I have come to realize that any zest I invest in teaching is for just a couple of students each semesters.

Yes, there is this couple of students who demonstrate this want to learn: it is always refreshing to feel that a few students are serious about the money invested by their parents for them to learn at universities.

An overview of Zionism and Christian-Jews mythology (September 5, 2008)


Zionism and Christian-Jews have founded a political ideology based on a religion that described bits of minor historical facts in order to camouflage major inherited myths and historical disinformation in order to create the image of “the chosen people”.

There are no evidences that the non-elite Jews were displaced to Babylon.  There are no archeological finds to prove that the Kingdoms of David and Salomon extended beyond Samaria, at best.  Most of the Jews, with the exception of those in Judea, adopted the religion of the region such as the Phoenician City-States and the Aramaic Kingdoms in the interior of Syria. There are no evidences that a mass transfer of Jews from Jerusalem was undertaken during the Roman Empire when Titus demolished their Temple; even the Jewish historian Josephus in the first century never mentioned deportation.  Moses could not have led any sizeable Jewish followers from Egypt out of fright to Palestine simply because this whole region was under Egyptian hegemony at the time.  The Egyptian clerics worshiping God Amon had regained their power after Akhenaton reign and the High Priest Moses might have to flee Egypt because he was a follower of the Akhenaton religion.  The early Zionists leaders, including Ben Gorion, admitted that the Jews are the ancestors of current day Palestinian peasants who converted to other religions. 

The Jews proselytized on an extensive scale after the expansion of the Christian message; they managed to have a sizable community in Yemen known as Himyar, in Northern Africa among the Berber and who joined the Arabs in invading Spain and were called Sephardim, around the Black Sea and Armenia and established the Khazar Empire around the 7th century.  The Moguls expansion displaced the Jews of the Khazar Empire toward Russia and Eastern Europe and then current Germany; the Yiddish culture is representative of the Ashkenazi Jews.   


There is another logical alternative story related to the Jewish religion for our modern days. There are many interesting manuscripts that relate modern Jewish development.  I learned that the Bolshevik revolution was financed by the wealthy Rothschild family and that 9 out of the 12 members of the politburo of Lenin were Jews and Lenin’s mother was Jewish.  The 32 out of the 34 members of Stalin politburo were Jews and Stalin was married to a Jewish woman at the time.  The Rothschild family fomented the French Revolution and forced the noble Maribeau to enter the Masonic organization for his rhetoric talent because he was heavily indebted and this secret organization convinced him to rally the Duke D’ Orleans to the secret organization.  These two powerful personalities didn’t know that the objective was to decapitate the King until it was too late.  The Masonic organization brought in Napoleon from poverty into power and encouraged his animosity with the Church of Rome until he discovered the schemes of the Masonic organization and said that the Jews are the lowest race that exists on earth but failed to control them appropriately. Then the Masonic organization turned against him when Napoleon re-linked with the clergies of the Catholic Church. 

It was the Rothschild family that fomented the American Revolution after they learned from Benjamin Franklin that the progress of the colonies was due to their right to issue their own paper money. Consequently, since the Rothschild family was controlling the Bank of England it then asked King George to restrict the issuing of paper money to the Bank of England.  This decree allowed the Rothschild family to restrict the issuing of needed money outlay and thus started the US revolution after business was cut to half and famine began to plague the colonies.  It was the same family that encouraged the civil war in the USA because it preferred two weak States instead of a dangerous mighty nation.  Then, when the scheme of splitting the USA into two States failed they insinuated themselves into the position of power in the USA and started controlling Bank of America and then the destiny of this nation.  Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln had warned the American administrations against permitting Jewish money to infiltrating and controlling their economy.

It is well established that the Masonic organization in Thessalonica in Greece fomented the revolt of the Turkish officers against the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid.  The US president Truman was a high ranking Masonic member and recognized the State of Israel and vehemently supported the Zionist movement.

The Masonic organization had strong hate for the Russian monarchy because it comprehended their schemes for fomenting troubles everywhere they acted; the Russian monarch Alexander had aided Lincoln with a Russian fleet which foiled the Rothschild plans for splitting the US Federal government into two nations.  There are new evidences that the Ashkenazi Jews are not Semitic because their origin is of Eastern Europe and from Central Asia when they established the Khazar Kingdom that lasted 500 years around the Caspian Sea.  The Mogul expansion displaced these non-semitic Jews to Eastern Europe until the emerging Russian Empire destroyed that kingdom and dispersed the Ashkenazi Jews into Central Europe around 1050.

An alternative historical account to the monolithic religions (May 15, 2008)


This article is intended for those who accept the validity of the following hypotheses:  First,  that earth is over 4 billion years old and that a form of human emerged over one million years ago; second, that human kind was on the verge of extinction several times due to drastic climatic changes and the eruption of monster volcanoes.  Thus, prior civilizations which may have been as developed as today could have vanished with no traces left. 

We need to accept the fact that, if the number of the world population was far less than it should have been at the beginning of the 19th century, then, it is because, from simple mathematical computation in the last 2,000 years,  most of our ancestors were the product of incest and not from couples of different families, even after accounting for the casualties of wars, pestilence, famine and climate calamities.

I also would like to state that mythologies were based on real events and that stories were  transmitted verbally; that the events actually occurred and the verbal communication of these stories enriched the imagination and gave the various mythologies the religious power and the dimension that are interpreted nowadays.

When dealing with religions people feel the need to contrast faith versus facts and logic.  People who have sincere faith must have experienced supernatural revelations or gone through a moment of irrational state of out of body exposure.  I believe that faith cannot be acquired by reason or logic and those who repeat frequently the word “truth” in their conversations are not sincere in their belief :  Truth is plainly, simply, and absolutely a subjective attitude and it means “do not bother using facts, science or logic.  All those endeavors do not mean a thing and would not change my mind”.  Truth is for me the most dangerous term that man has invented because it blocks any consensus or negotiation or meaningful conversation and it connote an extremist disposition based on ignorance and lack of intellectual interactions.  Thus, the concept of truth is practically opposite to faith although people positively correlate it with faith.

            Logic is a construct, a system of the mind used to expose a coherent hypothesis, hopefully based on some facts, or a story that hold a convincing alternative.  Logic can be used in science, in rhetoric and as well in religion. Institutionalized religions heavily make use of logic though they hammer out the concept of faith because its concept is not founded on anything tangible or can be proved rationally.  Religion is basically a theological philosophy that has been manipulated to be rooted in myths, symbols, and secrecy to satisfy the initiated High Priests and generates its power through the scare tactics within the psychic of man.

            Let me offer a logical story, one of the alternative stories, of the monotheist religions of the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem religions.  The root of these three religions is the religion practiced in the Kingdom of Sumer, in southern Iraq, 6,000 years ago.  This ancient religion believed in a trinity and its mythology stated that out of space creatures, arriving from the tenth dying planet, landed on earth to exploit gold and oil because the environment of their planet required abundant quantities of gold to be pulverized and injected in their outer atmosphere to rejuvenate the deteriorating environment of their planet.  These creatures created human artificially (test tube for example) to serve as cheap and mechanical slaves in the mines.  After many centuries, the created human then revolted against their masters and fled from the Eden of the super cruel creatures and had to fend for themselves to survive and develop their intelligence. 

            The Kingdom of Sumer and its far developed civilization that discovered the existence of ten planets (there is nine in our solar system so far and lately this year the tenth planet was discovered) and their rotations and then divided the day into 24 hours, the hours into minutes and minutes into seconds.  Ancient mythologies mention that this kingdom was destroyed by a natural calamity (resembling to an atomic explosion used by the outer space creatures). The Sumerian mythology had ramifications into all the neighboring civilizations that came after it was weakened. 

It is narrated that Abraham left the Kingdom of Sumer with his tribe during a period of famine and carried with him the verbal mythology of the country.  Moses was a High Priest in Egypt and fled persecution because he adhered to the Akhenaton new religion of the one God the Sun and carried with him the ten laws and the secrets of the Egyptian religion. 

Jesus was initiated by the Essen secret Jewish sect, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, whose members believed in knowledge and spirituality and shared the resources in common.  It is also narrated that Jesus lived for a time in Sidon teaching in its famous law school.  Mary, his mother and part of her family moved to a town nearby when Jesus was a lecturer in the law school. It is no fluke incident that Jesus and Mary attended a wedding in Qana; it is also very rational that Jesus decided to start his message after Qana when his mother removed the cover of secrecy and exposed his supernatural gifts of turning water to wine.

Jesus was a high priest in the Essen sect and preached a message based in symbolism and fables and was highly spiritual and staunchly anti-Pharisee.  The Jewish cabala sect is a branch of the Essen sect and is founded on the Sumerian theology and myths. 

Albert Schweitzer, a theologian, physician, thinker, organ player and Nobel Peace laureate offered his version on Jesus.  He said, based on the first two testaments of Mathew and Marc, that Jesus preached his message to the general public in the last year before his crucifixion.  Six months all in all Jesus was accompanied by the public;  the remaining six months he spent them among his close disciples around Caesarea of Philippi. 

In the beginning, Jesus accepted the label of a prophet among the prophets but then he reached the belief that he is the Messiah of the Jews.  Thus, he sent his disciples two by two to preach the message of the end of time.  Jesus was very surprised when all his disciples returned safe and sound; he expected them to suffer terribly and be put to death in order for the prophesy to be accomplished.  Jesus then decided that God would accept his sacrifice and save his close disciples from certain atrocious deaths before the first coming of the Messiah.

The apostles and disciples of Jesus believed that Christ would return to Jerusalem during their life time and thus they stayed in Jerusalem for as long as they could before they were forced to leave that city out of persecution by the Jews. The Christian-Jews would not relinquish the Jewish Law and they harassed and even persecuted St. Paul for preaching to the gentiles and establishing Christian communities based on faith in Christ who came to absolve our sins and who was resurrected from death.


The Arab Prophet Mohammad was not illiterate as the Moslems would like to disseminate; Mohammad new and read the “heretic” Christian Bible that was proselitized in Mecca; he listened to the proselytism of Eastern Christian sects during his caravan commerce within Syria.  These Christian sects believed in the monophysism of Jesus (no divine spiritual identity) and were staunchly adhering to the Jewish Law, the Jewish prophets and their books.  Consequently, the religion of Mohammad during its first 13 years was almost a duplicate of these Christian sects with strong Jewish foundations in their religions. 

At that period,  Mohammad’s message decreed that Moslems should face toward Jerusalem for prayer; when Mohammad had to fight the Jewish tribes that later sided with his enemies of Quraich tribes he changed his order for prayer to facing Al Ka3ba in Mecca.

Mohammad had to flee to Medina after the Kureich tribe decided to terminate him; he then endeavored to establish firmly his community of Moslems.  The next phase of taking up the civil social responsibilities and politics for maintaining this community forced upon him to linking the spiritual dogma with the civil laws and regulations. It was while strengthening the community of Islam in Medina that Mohammad had to wage many wars against a few Jewish communities who ended siding with Mohammad’s archenemy the Qureich tribe in Mecca.  Mohammad thus learned to discriminate between the practices of the Jews and the Jewish religion; hundreds of Jews were beheaded as they resumed siding with his enemies.  After Mohammad had showed clemency twice with Jewish rebellions and then, he finally ordered the beheading of 700 members of the Jewish Khyber tribe.  For some reason Mohammad selected his nephew and son-in-law Ali to have the honor of the decapitation; it is no wonder that the Jews have an animal hatred for Ali and his followers.


Personal hypothesis:


            The ancestor of all the Gods that were created since antiquity is this scary total Silence before a coming major natural cataclysm.  It is the silence of death when the whole earth is still and the atmosphere suffocating, no breezes of any kinds, that generates in all living creature a terrible reaction of wholesome anger of pure revolt against the sense of death in this universal silence.  It is the silence and quietude before tornadoes, cyclones, sand desert storms and all the kinds of whirling at great magnitude in the atmosphere, the seas, deserts and the bowel of earth in volcanoes. There is no avoiding the silence of coming cataclysms as there is no avoiding death, a correlation that people noticed and prayed for their own God of Total Silence to keep chatting through winds, birds, animals, rains, thunderstorms, shouting, crying and anything that can be heard lest miseries, devastations and evil spirits hovering over the land befall their region. 

The same behavior is applied to the starting of wars and their ending. It is no wonder that men shout stupid songs, curse loudly at fictional enemies like if drunk, bang on batteries and metals, light and heavy metals, blow on air instruments and all the hysterical trepidations at the announcement of a major war, an ancient psychic custom within our deepest pre-historic brain to ward off the cataclysm wrapped into maddening songs of patriotism and cursing at the evil enemies.  Indeed, heavy silence is the root of our fundamental fear and dealing with fear should pass through learning to accept silence as a necessary step to investigating our soul.




October 2008

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