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Napersky
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What makes an Amateur Physicist.
      #5736430 - 03/16/13 02:29 PM

Is there even such a thing.
Can a person aquire the knowledge of Mathematics and Physics without special University training.

Mark


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HiggsBoson
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5736439 - 03/16/13 02:39 PM

Today it is easier than ever to do this. One can use the open universities who place videos of lectures on the internet to provide an educational component without having to do the homework. One can read the many popular books on these subjects. I would avoid the TV shows as they simply do not go deep enough to provide insight or understanding.

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Napersky
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: HiggsBoson]
      #5736486 - 03/16/13 03:09 PM

What I love about Physics is that it is part of the search for Realty.

Unlike Novels, television, fiction, which many spent countless hundreds of hours of their lives entertaining themselves with (guilty), Physics is a discipline to find the building blocks of nature. Just the history of the subject is fascinating.


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Napersky
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5736495 - 03/16/13 03:14 PM

For me a true Amateur Physicst, although I know some professionals consider this an oxymoron, is someone who has aquired the Maths skills up to and above Differential Equations and knows how to therefore follow the work of current physics journals and do the calculations they have done for their experiments or theory in ARXIV.org.

In additon they have aquired the equivalent knowledge of a PHD level on their own.

Cambridge for instance publishes a wonderful range of books on the subject although mastery of Differential Equations is a must for most of their books.


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Rick Woods
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5737199 - 03/16/13 08:36 PM

I think it's just the lack of a paycheck for doing the work.
I'd venture that plenty of physicists have all the necessary degrees, but are paying the bills by setting up computer networks for department stores.


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Ira
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5737468 - 03/16/13 10:12 PM

Was Einstein an Amateur Physicist?

/Ira


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Rick Woods
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Ira]
      #5737894 - 03/17/13 01:36 AM

I guess so, when he was a patent clerk.
Amateurs rule.


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Napersky
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5739051 - 03/17/13 04:30 PM

Quote:

I think it's just the lack of a paycheck for doing the work.
I'd venture that plenty of physicists have all the necessary degrees, but are paying the bills by setting up computer networks for department stores.





I would say IRA that Einstein was a professional Physicist because of his PHD. He wasn't being paid for his work and had to work somewhere else but he was a professional in the sense that he held the qualifications of a paid professional physicist.

I have an aquaintance who holds a Standford PHD in Physics and does not work in his field.

Mark


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Neutrino?
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5739189 - 03/17/13 05:26 PM

Can a person aquire the knowledge of Mathematics and Physics without special University training?

Yes. You could, with a few of the right books and the internet, make your way to the forefront of knowledge and understand most of it. It really isn't that complicated actually. Contributing something worthwhile or solving an actual problem is the hard part.


"Amateur Physicist"? Not sure what that is. If you have something to contribute and others find it legitimate regardless of your position title at a university or home depot, you are a physicist.

Also, you're going to need a lot more than diff-eqs!


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gavinm
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5739190 - 03/17/13 05:26 PM

Can a person obtain a working knowledge of mathematics and physics without university training? I doubt it..

When I was training to be a teacher many moons ago, we had a debate (with our subject lecturers) about this. My POV was that to be a physics teacher you need a physics degree (the arrogance of youth). Awkwardly I found out later the lecturer was the Head of Physics at a local school and didn't have a physics degree. I got the last word in later when she was assessing my classroom work and had a go at me because some of my work showed incorrect physics. Unfortunately the physics was right, she was wrong, and so I still believe that you need at least an undergraduate degree to properly understand maths and physics.

(She was a biologist - enough said.. )


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Ira
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: gavinm]
      #5739596 - 03/17/13 08:34 PM

Were there any great physicists in history who were self-taught?
Copernicus? Galileo? Newton? Leibnitz? ...?
I'm asking. I don't know their educational backgrounds.

/Ira


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Rick Woods
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Ira]
      #5739767 - 03/17/13 10:10 PM

I think you have to be paid to be considered a professional anything. No disrespect intended to Einstein (who was a pro later on); but the term "professional" has little to do with qualifications. Many professional people in various fields are totally inept in those fields, while people a thousand times more qualified are unpaid amateurs.

But, that's probably not what the OP was really asking; maybe it was more like "do you have to have formal education in physics to be considered a physicist"?


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Ira
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5739823 - 03/17/13 11:09 PM

That's what I assumed he was asking, too.

/Ira


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JKoelman
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5740545 - 03/18/13 11:43 AM

Quote:

Can a person aquire the knowledge of Mathematics and Physics without special University training.




According to Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft the answer is "yes": http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~hooft101/theorist.html


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gavinm
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5740917 - 03/18/13 03:11 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Can a person aquire the knowledge of Mathematics and Physics without special University training.




According to Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft the answer is "yes": http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~hooft101/theorist.html




Find me someone who understands advanced quantum mechanics who hasn't been to university, as 't Hooft suggests then I might be convinced..

EDIT: I've looked in more depth at the link. It may be possible for the one-in-a-million (gifted whatever) to learn this, but not the normal scientist. What arrogance that man has - never want to meet him...Nobel prize or not


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Ira
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: gavinm]
      #5741212 - 03/18/13 05:25 PM

Just find me someone who understands advanced quantum mechanics period.

/Ira


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Rick Woods
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Ira]
      #5741302 - 03/18/13 06:06 PM

I knew a guy who worked on Volkswagen Quantums, he knew them pretty well...

OK, sorry. My feeling would be that there are plenty of people who are smart enough to learn all of that by themselves. Far fewer who would actually do the work. But it was all figured out originally by people who didn't have any training in it, so it can be done.


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Mister T
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5741309 - 03/18/13 06:09 PM

He/she would be the one at a company like Baldor who does all the calculations for the windings and magnet strengths for various HP and RPM motors.

Oh wait I thought you said ARMATURE physicist!!

my bad.


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EJN
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5741386 - 03/18/13 06:41 PM

Quote:

What makes an Amateur Physicist?




I built a 100,000 volt Van de Graaf generator in junior high school for a science
fair. Does that count?


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Rick Woods
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: EJN]
      #5741616 - 03/18/13 08:13 PM

Quote:

Quote:

What makes an Amateur Physicist?




I built a 100,000 volt Van de Graaf generator in junior high school for a science
fair. Does that count?




I say, yes!


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Napersky
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: gavinm]
      #5749945 - 03/22/13 03:23 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Can a person aquire the knowledge of Mathematics and Physics without special University training.




According to Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft the answer is "yes": http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~hooft101/theorist.html




Find me someone who understands advanced quantum mechanics who hasn't been to university, as 't Hooft suggests then I might be convinced..

EDIT: I've looked in more depth at the link. It may be possible for the one-in-a-million (gifted whatever) to learn this, but not the normal scientist. What arrogance that man has - never want to meet him...Nobel prize or not





I think 't hooft is right on. It takes a lot to learn all this. Possibly can be done. The Maths are the hardest parts of all and have to be learned line by line precept upon precept. No quantum Jumps are available in aquiring this knowledge. Oh, well if only we were intelligent electrons.


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Napersky
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Ira]
      #5749966 - 03/22/13 03:29 PM

Quote:

Were there any great physicists in history who were self-taught?
Copernicus? Galileo? Newton? Leibnitz? ...?
I'm asking. I don't know their educational backgrounds.

/Ira




I know of only one "GREAT" Physicist in history and he would not succeed today. Michael Faraday. The first Physicist Gallileo was self taught but when it comes to contempory modern physics...there is noone I Know of in the field...OOOPS YES I forgot...Freeman Dyson. So there is ONE human being in the 20th and 21st Centuries who is a Great Physicist and Self taught...'THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE."


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EJN
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5750509 - 03/22/13 08:10 PM

G_mn (Einstein tensor) = R_mn - 1/2 g_mn R, where

R_mn (Ricci tensor) = R^k_k,mn (contracted Riemann tensor) and

R (Ricci scalar) = g^mn (metric tensor) R_mn


then

G_mn = k T_mn (energy-momentum tensor)

and you have the field equation of general relativity.

(Note: ^ indicates superscript, _ subscript)


Do I win?


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llanitedave
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: EJN]
      #5750563 - 03/22/13 08:37 PM

+ 1.0

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Neutrino?
sage
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: EJN]
      #5750890 - 03/22/13 10:55 PM Attachment (44 downloads)

Quote:

G_mn (Einstein tensor) = R_mn - 1/2 g_mn R, where

R_mn (Ricci tensor) = R^k_k,mn (contracted Riemann tensor) and

R (Ricci scalar) = g^mn (metric tensor) R_mn


then

G_mn = k T_mn (energy-momentum tensor)

and you have the field equations of general relativity.




They are equations.

Quote:


Do I win?



Only if you understand what they mean. Find the Ricci tensor of the given metric. (in the attachment! Ha, sorry it should be alpha squared. Just changed it)

Edited by Neutrino? (03/22/13 11:25 PM)


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moynihan
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5751037 - 03/23/13 12:48 AM

The phrase "amateur" simply means one who does the activity for the love of it, as an "avocation" rather than as a "vocation" or occupation.

It is possible to be a trained or self taught scientist but that might not be one's vocation or occupation.

Physics is probably one of the most difficult disciplines to master some part of in modern times, due to its math intensity, among other things. But i think it is possible.

I used to attend a thing called the Lake Superior Design Retreat every year. A presenter usually taught about something related to their vocation. But often they taught about their subject of passion. Two examples.
A gentleman who as part of his vocation discovered the basics of the mental aspects of how babies come to understand the spacial aspects of their surroundings, did a three hour presentation on his hobby, traditional Polynesian sea navigation.
Another fellow was the leading rigger (person who prepared masts and lines on sailing ships) in the world, and at the time, the editor of the primary handbook on sails, lines and knots. He taught about his hobby, the study of the flight or fight mechanism.

But few physicists are "professionals", at least in the correct use of the word, which is not the common use, which apparently means, getting paid for something.
Traditionally, a professional was a person who had a vocation that required the taking of an oath (professing) before beginning their career. The true professions, if one goes back to ancient times:

Current and ancient "Profess-ions":

Religious officials
Politicians (in a republic)
Lawyers and judges
Doctors
Chemists (Pharmacist)
Soldiers

and, also in the old days,

Architects
Engineers
Librarians*
Prostitutes

*Before the invention and spread of the printing press, new librarians took an oath to not let any book or other record leave the premises.

Edited by moynihan (03/23/13 12:56 AM)


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Jarad
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Neutrino?]
      #5751408 - 03/23/13 09:20 AM

Quote:

Only if you understand what they mean. Find the Ricci tensor of the given metric. (in the attachment! Ha, sorry it should be alpha squared. Just changed it)




You'd have to pay me to do that.

Oh, wait, then I'd be a professional....

Jarad


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gavinm
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Jarad]
      #5754385 - 03/24/13 04:23 PM

I get paid for it, I'm a professional physicist - yay

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Napersky
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: gavinm]
      #5758901 - 03/26/13 07:05 PM

Link on "How to become a REAL PHYSICIST" written for young people:

https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1KBovBeg_kl6nAk8fTBYQdHMo8o3o0IgunPE3...


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CounterWeight
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5759627 - 03/27/13 06:32 AM

I think to be an amature physicist all you have to agree with is that things are 'Gaussian'?

Joking aside, I think it possible, absolutely, the stronger the person is in math the easier as it is the language of physics. But then are levels beyond the initial four years. I think the advantage of being schooled is that there is a harness to fit into and a general direction with waypoints. If an individual is motivated to provide these on his own, there is no real limit.

Interesting to bring up the Ricci or the Riemann-Chrystoffel or Bianchi spaces or what have you.

When Riemann came up with his formulation of manifold (and you can say same for Hamilton), no one had heard of relativity and it was considered almost a mathematical recreation.

Poincaire/Lorentz/Einstein, Lemaitre/Hubble, it's not without it's politics and flag waving, but it's the 'maths' that lead.

And interesting debate along the way, like Poincaire vs. Cantor, which in ways still exist in some math philosophy.

I think if you want to seriously state anything in physics you have to do it mathmatistically these days.

Problem is the public is much more attached to fancy animations with marketing terms and call it cosmology or physics. So invent a clever animation and some catchy phrases and your a physicist and I garuntee you'll have folks in your camp calling it physics.

I like the idea that it is the search for reality. At least then you can include chemestry and engineering and things that dont need to append 'science' to their dicipline to appear to be one? R. Penrose wrote a book 'The Road to Reality' trying to condense modern thinking and his own ideas.


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llanitedave
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5760601 - 03/27/13 03:22 PM

Quote:


I think if you want to seriously state anything in physics you have to do it mathmatistically these days.





Great coination, and a sigworthy line!


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Napersky
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5767589 - 03/30/13 08:46 PM

Found a good starter book as "bridge between High School and College Physics".

From Sabine Hossenfelder's "BackReaction" Blog:


http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2013/02/book-review-theoretical-minimum-by.html

"The Theoretical Minimum" by Susskind and Hrabovsky.What you need to start doing physics.


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aezoss
super member


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Loc: The Great White North
Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5776992 - 04/04/13 03:49 AM

Quote:

Link on "How to become a REAL PHYSICIST" written for young people:

https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1KBovBeg_kl6nAk8fTBYQdHMo8o3o0IgunPE3...




Interesting article, thanks for posting it.

Lee


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Niels2011
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Loc: UK
Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Napersky]
      #5817915 - 04/23/13 04:28 PM

Quote:

Found a good starter book as "bridge between High School and College Physics".

From Sabine Hossenfelder's "BackReaction" Blog:


http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2013/02/book-review-theoretical-minimum-by.html

"The Theoretical Minimum" by Susskind and Hrabovsky.What you need to start doing physics.




+1

Just posted on that on another thread where you were, but only just read this one. It's good so far, just going back over calculus, but there's a lot more complicated stuff to come, so I'll see how I go.


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glava2005
sage


Reged: 04/12/09

Loc: Zagreb, Croatia
Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Niels2011]
      #5849656 - 05/09/13 09:49 AM

it took me 2-3 years of internet browsing, reading and watching all kinds of science stuff to get an above average knowledge about all subjects mentioned here...

http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~hooft101/theorist.html

my only problem is i suck at math which does prevent me from exploring these subjects in greater detail but i think i got enough theoretical knowledge to have a meaningful conversation with any professional physicist about any subject and not be flabbergast by what he is saying. i even started spotting mistakes in TV science documentaries

PS. if anybody here knows and could explain why the 9th gluon is missing i would be grateful


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gavinm
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Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: glava2005]
      #5850628 - 05/09/13 06:40 PM

IMHO I think a big difference between an amateur and a real physicist is knowing what you know, not thinking you know what you know. Lots of people think they know what they they know but in reality they don't. I consider myself an expert in a very small area of astrophysics (transiting extrasolar planets) because that's what I did my postgraduate research on. However, whenever I speak to some academics and PhD's in the same area, I get lost pretty quickly. Its all relative...

I don't know why the 9th gluon is missing.. I didn't even know it was lost. Maybe someone forgot to sign it out? Who had it last?


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Rick Woods
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: gavinm]
      #5850863 - 05/09/13 08:13 PM

Well, I know that I know what I know I know, and know it.
(That gluon is probably with my Jeep keys.)


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gavinm
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Re: What makes an Amateur Physicist. new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5850884 - 05/09/13 08:24 PM



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