Thx for the invite Mike...on to oil.
The basic difference between conventional (dino) and synthetic (Group IV) is that dino is pumped from the ground and refined to diminish the amount of impurities that are found. Dino is pumped from various spots around the world and depending on where the crude is sourced, the types and levels of impurities vary. Group IV synthetics (Red Line, Amsoil, Motul) are fully synthesized lubriants. This means that the lubricant bases are completely man made to a very specific specification. There is no need to refine as there are no impurities. Group I, II and III synthetics (Mobil1, Castrol, Valvoline) are highly refined crude oil. This means that they are still sourced from the ground and still contain some of the impurities that contaminate the final product.
So what does all this mean to you guys, the end users? It means that a Group IV synthetic requires far fewer additives because they are created with no impurities. They provide much better lubrication qualities because they do not have impurities. They provide better thermal properties (cooler running temperatures because of the uniformity) and much higher thermal stress resistance (dino oil starts breaks down at around 235 degress, whereas Group IV synthetics start to break down around 300 degrees).
The way to think about this would be to take a basketball court and fill the entire surface with balls. Conventional oil will have many different sizes and variety of balls (bowling, baseball, golf, tennis, plastic, rubber, stone, ect...), now also add in impurities (broken glass, sand, rocks, ect...) and that is what the lubricant looks like at a molecular level. As you refine it more (Group I, II and III) the impurities are reduced, but not eliminated. Group IV sythetics will look like an entire surface of the same size ball (same size, weight, material). The size of the ball would be very small (bearing size). This is why the lubrication quality, thermal properties and stress properties are so much better. You have a uniform surface and no impurities.
This doesn't mean that frequent oil changes with dino oil doesn't offer the same level of protection as sythetics. What you paying for is less frequent oil changes, higher resistance to heat/stress/oxidation and if something does go wrong you have a better level of protection.
Now for a real world example. A buddy of mine ran a Rotax engine in his race Rhino (bored to 912cc). He rebuilt the engine with an external oil cooler. He neglected to install the end filter grommet on his oil fitting adapter. Long story short, he ran his engine in the dunes for 3 days with some cooling issues. He found that a majority of the oil was push up into the oil cooler and did not return to the engine (without the end grommet, he was running a bypass system to and from his oil cooler). All that was lubricating the engine an extrememly small amount of Amsoil. The motor never siezed. The rings did heat up and expanded. This in turn slightly scored the cylinder walls. The timing guide (plastic) warped. He ended up sleeving the walls and replacing the chain guide. This engine has run the last race season with no issues (taking first place in three 100+ mile desert races).
Hope this helps!