Monday, May 14, 2018

32 things Bert knows at 32

I turn 32 on Friday and thought I should post 32 things I know for sure. You're welcome. 

Don’t quit your job until you have another one. Unless you are booking a one way ticket somewhere. We can allow that.

Book one way tickets.

Have options. Have a plan B and C. Having a plan D is excessive.

I need at least 7 hours of sleep. 8 is good. 9 is a dream.

Babies are cute and kids are funny.


Make a list. It will simplify everything. In addition, if you are stuck and unsure what you want to do in life, write down everything you want to see, do, eat, accomplish, experience before you die. Then start doing the things on that list.

Don’t be lazy.

Be curious.

Ask better questions.


Don’t be a savage. Try to have empathy.

A Skype call to your family can turn your day around.

Eat fruit.


Music can drastically change the vibe or dynamic of a room or a get together. Play good music.

Don’t lie. I know it is easier but do you want people to say ‘Oh I like her but she’s a liar?’ No. Tell the truth; it’s refreshing and people will respect you for it even if it hurts.

Most people are generally good.

Wear sunscreen.

Go play outside.

Be with people who make you laugh, can make time fly and make you a better you.

Don’t be afraid to block delete. Embrace it.

Saving money is a good thing. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Starting is hard and daunting.

Socks and underwear are always welcomed as gifts. Where are they all going? If you wear mismatched socks, -50 adult points.

Don’t complain. It isn’t attractive, it isn’t productive. Don’t do it. Try no complaining for a day and let me know how it goes.

Fantasy football is a crapshoot and should only be seen as entertainment. Don’t get upset.

Your sports team doesn’t care about you. It’s great to cheer for a team.
Great they won the Stanley Cup. Now get back to raising your family, go outside and eat some fruit together.

We aren’t that different. The world would be a better place if we didn’t look at each other like they're from India, Portugal or Russia. How about seeing people as other humans on planet Earth who all basically want incredibly similar things for the most part: security, family, and joy.

Be the first to introduce yourself. Break the ice. Go that extra little bit to make other people feel welcome and comfortable. It will make them feel better and make you a better you.

Nobody should have to work on their birthday. It’s not right.

Compound interest is your friend so start early.

Do not play on a roof in Thailand.

Go through photo albums with older members family members before it is too late. They can shed some light on some questionable facial hair and fashion decisions.

Look out for future you. How would your 30, 50, 70 year old self want you to act? Maybe put down that Big Mac, do a few more dips or get rid of that person who you is bringing you down; just block delete them…

If we are on a subway together and we see a baby and you don’t smile, say ‘oh look how cute that baby is’ or try and make that baby laugh, this isn’t going to work.

Say yes to things/do stuff.

My mom loves me.

Writing makes me feel better so now I feel better. Happy birthday to me!

‘most of us are raised to be somebodies and what a no win-game that is to buy into, because while you may turn out to be much more somebody than somebody else, a lot of other people are going to be a lot more somebody than you.’

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Marriage Market and AQI

「shanghai pollution」的圖片搜尋結果

“Sure is cloudy out”, Bert thought to himself. Upon further reflection, he realized it was not fog that was blocking his access to Mr. Sun; it was pollution.

 Image result for china pollution

Did you know that you can buy air from Canada that has been bottled up and you can breathe in some of that sweet sweet Canadian air?  We are selling bottle Canadian air on planet Earth…I can’t wait for robots to fix this problem…

A 7.7 Litre can of crisp air taken from Banff National Park in the majestic Rocky Mountains range sells for roughly 100 yuan (£10), which is 50 times more expensive than a bottle of mineral water in China.

Image result for vitality air

Occasionally I will check my phone and glance at the AQI which is the Air Quality Index. Never heard of it? That’s probably because you live in Canada where you can breathe without worrying about making it to your 40th birthday. 

Anything under 50 is considered good. 

Over 200 you should start to consider changing countries and anything over 300 you will be lucky to book your flight out because you most certainly will be dead by the time you reach the airport.

Now I’m not sure how reliable or accurate is but they rank Mongolia, Botswana and Pakistan as the three worst countries for air pollution.

Image result for aqi

I’m looking at a map right now from and it looks like the average for Ontario is around 30. Map of China/Shanghai is around 150.

I could easily do a deep dive into why air pollution is bad and cite stats and research but I just wanted to shed some light into what life is like her vs. Canada. To sum up what I would have found, breathing helps you live long and pollution is detrimental to the planet.


About two months ago, your favourite 31 year old from North Bay living in Shanghai visited something that took him almost a year to finally witness in person which is a Shanghai staple and a sight to behold: Shanghai Marriage Market. A market for marriage.

Every Saturday and Sunday morning, throngs of Chinese parents and grandparents pack up their umbrellas, notes and pictures to make their way to People’s Square park where they hope in earnest to find their son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter a mate. I would imagine these younger adults would be horrified to know that their family members have taken their love life into their own hands or they might not be that shocked since they are already 25 and without a life partner. (I’m fairly certain my mom does this in her free time but is not surrounded by older Chinese ladies but by concerned onlookers)
What struck me the most about attending this Chinese phenomenon was the sheer amount of family members trying to find love for the younger generation. 

Hundreds and hundreds of umbrellas are set up with the major stats of the single person in question: age, height, occupation, hobbies, salary, home ownership and who knows what other quirky stats some grandmother might find the need to publicize to the world. While there are many people umbrella stations set up, there are also tons of interested moms and dads who are looking to set their children up for a life of presumed fairy-tale happily ever after. Imagine this happening in North America? 

I can imagine this happening on the interweb but to post a picture of your daughter on a poster at a market in downtown of a major metropolis as thousands of interested and curious tourists gawk and take pictures at this phenomenon is incredible. I also went in the slow season which makes me ponder how much busier it gets. Chinese parents and grandparents seem more outspoken about their desire for marriage and grandchildren compared to parents in the West which adds to the urgency in this market set up for love or for at least economic partnership.

One weekend, a woman from America dressed up as a bride and held up a sign auctioning off herself to the highest bidder who would then get American citizenship. I wouldn’t be going to many markets showing off I was American these days…

Image result for american at marriage market

 If you ever come to Shanghai, it is certainly worth something checking out or if you are especially bold, start one if your own city; if you are worried about being the only one in the town square with an umbrella with vital stats of your offspring, don’t worry, my mom will be right there beside you.

Image result for arranged marriage

“I was neglected by my family because I had 
disappointed them-I’d run away from being forced into an arranged marriage, which was a big blow to them.” 

Nelson Mandela 

Friday, March 16, 2018

February's Theme. Jump in.

heisenberg breaking bad的圖片搜尋結果

 This theme was requested by the audience. I essentially knew nothing about quantum physics but from bringing this up in conversation, it seems as though there is a secret underbelly of people who study and consume physics knowledge that does not come up in everyday conversation. Ask 5 random  people in your life about physics, I bet one gets a huge smile on their face and wants to deep dive with you.

Why should you care about quantum physics?

Maybe you took physics in high school and hated it. Maybe you don’t know what physics is. I’m still not 100%...or 20%.
My answer to that is you don’t need to care about physics, the world, your neighbour or about what Bert writes about. You don’t need to care about anything but caring or at least being open to how the universe was created, how it operates and the laws that govern it are at least worth a second glance. Let’s glance together.
1-               After watching many videos, reading articles, podcasts and talking with other humans who know things, I feel I don’t have a much firmer grip on this subject since I started researching. Physics is complicated and physicists not only don’t have all the answers, they are most certainly studying and experimenting and teaching elements of physics which will one day be disproved (which can be said to other fields to be fair)

2-             There are still many unanswered questions about how the universe works and its future. I feel like the field of physics is partly just to keep the thousands of researchers, teachers and scientists employed; there I said it….
3-             Let’s start with what we know, some pillars in the physics world, thought experiments, famous physicists, vocabulary, and some links for continued learning.

What is physics?

It is the study of nature, how the world works involving seen and unseen events. Attempts to solve atom to planet sized problems.

How does physics affect your daily life? 
Physics touches every aspect on earth from gravity, magnetism, heat, traction, inertia, force, electricity, GPS, electricity, MRI machines, silicon chips which are in every computer, sports, rollercoasters, lasers, nuclear power plants, and almost any area is somehow related to physics.

Two pillars:

Einstein’s General Relativity:
Big scale understanding stars and galaxies

Quantum mechanics:
Small scale understanding molecules, atoms, electrons
The current consensus on General relativity and quantum mechanics disagree. They can’t both be right. There must be something missing.

Apparently ‘The universe is the way it is because the matter and the force particles have the properties they do.’
Famous physics thought experiments:

Many worlds interpretation:
For each possible outcome, world splits into  copies of itself.
Decision not to do something, another parallel universe exists where you did.
Copenhagen interpretation:
Quantum particle can exists in multiple states at the same time, but sometimes they are in specific states. Running, walking and swimming example at the same time.

A widely-known tenet of quantum mechanics (and science in general) is that the simple act of observation changes the outcome of an event. 

Famous physicists:

Isaac Newton:

Invented calculus and formed three laws of motion.

General Theory of relativity, solved the riddle of the photoelectric effect, Nobel Prize for physics in 1921 and E=mc2 to name a few.

Niels Bohr:

Transformed our view on the atom and founded quantum mechanics.


1932 Nobel Prize for Physics and many contributions in quantum mechanics.

Marie Curie:

Polish (win), discovered Radium and Polonium and won two Nobel prizes.

Richard Feynman:

Created the idea nanotechnology and Feynman diagrams, Feynman Integrals, and really cool guy.

Here is some essential vocabulary that will be a nice refresher and you might learn something new:


The tiny particles called atoms are the basic building blocks of all matter.
The word atom comes from the Greek word atomos, meaning “indivisible.”

Big Bang:

The Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation about how the universe began. At its simplest, it says the universe as we know it started with a small singularity, then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that we know today.

Black Hole:

Black holes are the strangest objects in the Universe. A black hole does not have a surface, like a planet or star. Instead, it is a region of space where matter has collapsed in on itself. This catastrophic collapse results in a huge amount of mass being concentrated in an incredibly small area.

A white hole is a hypothetical feature of the universe. It is considered the opposite of a black hole. As black holes don’t let anything escape from their surface, white holes are eruptions of matter and energy and nothing can get inside them

Copernican Principle:

The Copernican principle (in its classical form) is the principle that the Earth does not rest in a privileged or special physical position in the universe.

What this basically means is that in science, you shouldn't assume that humans have a fundamentally privileged position within the universe.

Cosmic Inflation

The term inflation refers to the explosively rapid expansion of space-time that occurred a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang. In another tiny fraction of a second, inflation slowed to a more leisurely expansion that continues to this day and is accelerating.

Dark Energy:

Dark energy is the name given to the force that is believed to be making the universe larger. Distant galaxies appear to be moving away from us at high speed: the idea is that the universe is getting bigger and has been since the Big Bang. Measurements are now good enough to allow astronomers to tell that these galaxies seem to be accelerating away from us. The universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate.

It turns out that roughly 68% of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter - adds up to less than 5% of the universe.
Albert Einstein was the first person to realize that empty space is not nothing. Space has amazing properties, many of which are just beginning to be understood. The first property that Einstein discovered is that it is possible for more space to come into existence

Dark Matter:
Hypothetical form of matter that is believed to make up 90 percent of the matter in the universe; it is invisible (does not absorb or emit light) and does not collide with atomic particles but exerts gravitational force.
Kids.Net.Au - Dictionary > Definition: dark matter

galaxy is a group of stars, clouds of gas, and dust particles that move together through the universe

General Theory of Relativity

The theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts

Law of Conservation of Energy:

It implies that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can be change from one form to another. The law of conservation of mass states that the total amount of mass remains constant in an isolated system in spite of any physical or chemical changes that may take place


A measure of how much matter is in an object.

the substance or substances of which any           physical object consists or is composed:
the matter of which the earth is made.


Hypothetical space or realm consisting of a number of universes, of which our own universe is only one.
The universe considered as lacking order or a single ruling and guiding power.


The theory that microorganisms or biochemicalcompounds from outer space are responsible     for originating life on Earth and possibly in other parts of the              universe where suitable environmental              conditions exist.

The smallest chunk into which something can be divided in physics.

Large Hadron Collidor
Recreates conditions right after the Big Bang to see what particles existed when the energy density of the universe was high. 17 mile loop. Hope to find undiscovered particles. Massive, expensive science experiment.

A quark is one of the fundamental particles in physics. They join to form hadrons, such as protons and neutrons, which are components of the nuclei of atoms. Not alone.


The Universe is everything we can touch, feel, sense, measure or detect. It includes living things, planets, stars, galaxies, dust clouds, light, and even time. Before the birth of the Universe, time, space and matter did not exist.
The Universe contains billions of galaxies, each containing millions or billions of stars. The space between the stars and galaxies is largely empty. However, even places far from stars and planets contain scattered particles of dust or a few hydrogen atoms per cubic centimeter. Space is also filled with radiation (e.g. light and heat), magnetic fields and high energy particles (e.g. cosmic rays).
The Universe is incredibly huge. It would take a modern jet fighter more than a million years to reach the nearest star to the Sun. Travelling at the speed of light (300,000 km per second), it would take 100,000 years to cross our Milky Way galaxy alone.


wormhole is a hypothetical passageway in space-time that would connect a black hole and a white hole. A white hole is the other end of a black hole that has poked through to another part of space-time. To most theorists, wormholes are highly speculative because such a shortcut would, in effect, act as a time machine.

Current mysteries:

Dark energy, dark matter

Why does time go in one direction? Arrow of time

Big Crunch: The universe will stop expanding and start shrinking
Big Rip: The universe continues to expand until it is torn apart.

If god exists, where did he come from?

Are there parallel universes?

Why more matter than anti matter?

String theory correct?

Theory of everything?

Shape of the universe?


So where does all this leave us? On the plus side, there is so much unknown that anyone can have a theory and it be plausible. The mystery of the world at the quantum level mystifies young and old and has people craving more. I’m sure many late nights have turned into sunrises discussing the origins, future and possibilities of physics in our universe but until a major discovery happens, there is too much unknown and disagreement to fall in love with this topic. Quantum computing and quantum cryptography seem like practical and somewhat feasible accomplishments in the hopefully not too distant future.

In a way, quantum computing taps into nature's ability to interact with the world. That might be a tough thought to comprehend, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.
For example, quantum particles can exist in two places at once, move forwards or backwards in time, and even "teleport" by way of what physicists call "quantum tunneling."

Theme for March is AI so stayed tuned. Spring has almost sprung. Enjoy everyone.

Don’t panic. 42.

Tedtalks and videos to get started:

Quantum physics for 7 year olds

Universe in a nutshell by Michio Kaku
Have we reached the end of physics?
Everyday physics

One minute physics

Crash course physics or tons of other subjects. Learning is fun.