Old Getting Older?

A vague headline on CNN grabbed my wife’s attention. Due to their inability to communicate very well, CNN ran the headline “Huge structure dates back 10.8 billion years”. She thought it meant they had found a building or something, which would have been pretty cool. However, I knew that couldn’t be right. The story is actually pretty heavy and goes something like this:

“We are looking back four-fifths of the way to the beginning of the universe and the existence of this galaxy string will send astrophysicists around the world back to the drawing board to re-examine theories of the formation of the universe,” Francis said. “The simulations tell us that you cannot take the matter in the early universe and line it up in strings this large. There simply hasn’t been enough time since the Big Bang for it to form structures this colossal.”

They have found a ( probably ) string of galaxies dating back 10.8 billion years. What’s the big deal? A little more background is needed.  According to the Big Bang Theory, the Big Bang was about 13.7 billion years ago. It then takes about 5 billion years to form a galaxy. This object is about 10.8 billion years away. It’s too young to be this big. AND, it gets even better. It has quasars. What the big deal about that you say? Quasars indicate the presence of black holes. So what, you say? Black holes come from massive dead stars. Don’t follow? Stars usually take at least 5 billion years to collapse into a well formed black hole. Which leads to:

13.7 billion years – 10.8 billion years – 5 billion years = ?

Get the picture now? CNN really didn’t do this headline justice. Either the Big Bang theory is totally wrong if this dating holds up, or there were multiple big bangs, or something is bad wrong with man’s perception of astrophysics.

Life on Europa?

While NASA is busy as heck driving rovers all over Mars trying to find some itsy bitsy evidence of life or history of life, they could be looking in the wrong place.

“Life” seems to thrive more readily in hotter climates than cold. Maybe we should look at Venus a little closer? Also, the turbulent climate of Europa is much more similar to the National Geographic discoveries than Mars. An ice covering with subterranean volcanoes would heat the European underworld enough to sustain life. I imagine it looks more like those National Geographic pics too. We can see the surface of Mars from Earth, we can’t see what’s under the ice of Europa. I wanna look there before spending any more money or effort on Mercury.

Top Sci Fi Films of All Time?

Excellent concept here:

A newspaper survey of top scientists has chosen “Blade Runner” as the world’s best science fiction.

And the paper did a heck of a job doing it, interviewing, among others. Isaac Asimov, probably my second favorite sci-fi writer.

But Blade Runner‘s the best? 2001:A Space Odyssey a close second? GIVE ME A BREAK!

First of all, look at the two user ratings on those links: 8.2 for Blade, 8.3 for 2001. Second, let’s look at the time frame, Blade, 1982, 2001:, 1968.

Now, let’s examine the plots:

Blade Runner, “Deckard, a blade runner, has to track down and terminate 4 replicants who hijacked a ship in space and have returned to earth seeking their maker… ” In other words, yet another shootemup spaghetti western set in spaceships.

2001:A Spade Odyssey: “This movie is concerned with intelligence as the division between animal and human, then asks a question; what is the next division? Technology is treated as irrelevant to the quest – literally serving as mere vehicles for the human crew, and as a shell for the immature HAL entity. Story told as a montage of impressions, music and impressive and careful attention to subliminal detail. ”

Did you get all that? The plot description fails to even mention HAL going bonkers ( why? ), and the transformation to the star child.

Breakthroughs: Blade Runner, none. 2001:, RCA used this film to display the new special effects technologies that would make Blade Runner, Star Wars, and all the new sci-fi movies possible.

Memorable scenes, I can’t remember anything particularly memorable from Blade Runner.

Sheez, where do you even begin?

Among other things, 2001 was possibly the first sci-fi movie where things didn’t go “boom” in space. It also featured a lot of scientific predictions of Arthur Clarke, some of which have already come true.

The only strike against 2001 is that it’s not a fun movie. It’s a thinking movie. Stanley Kubrick often wanted his audience to experience what it was he was filming. Space has a lot of grandeur, so we had classical music. Space also has a lot of dead silence, so we got a lot of that. In regards to the music, 2001 re-introduced us to “The Beautiful Blue Danube“, which became an advertising standard, ( duh-duh. duh-duh ). And, “Thus Spake Zarathustra“, which became a concert intro staple ( Elvis Presley, David Bowie ).

What did Blade Runner give us?

Give me a break!

2001:A Space Odyssey is without any question the greatest sci-fi movie of all time. It may not be the most fun, and it may not have sold the most tickets, but it is still the greatest.


Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon was on the record charts for nearly 294 weeks. That spanned a period of time from 1973 to 1979. The album lingered in the charts in the US until 1986 due to the introduction of new technology ( the CD ). In that time, it has sold an estimated 23 million copies. It is considered one of the classic rock albums of all time and definitely holds the record for endurance.

Now, let’s put it in another perspective.

Martin Janus wrote the words to “bleib­et meine Freude, mein­es Herz­ens Trost und Saft” in 1661. In 1723 Johann Sebastian Bach put a score to those words as the finale of his “Can­ta­ta 147″. The combination became known as a song called Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. The score is still played today at countless weddings and other celebrations. Although the rights to the song were lost a long, long, long time ago, and although the “album” is no longer on the charts, it is more popular today than Dark Side of the Moon. If Billboard tracked it’s play time, it would definitely beat out most songs today. The life span of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” would therefore be about 14,612 weeks. You don’t see MTV or VH1 touting it in the same league. They can’t, they don’t want to reveal exactly how shallow the pop industry is. “Greatest song of all time”? It ain’t Stairway To Heaven. For Stairway to Heaven to even begin to compete, it would have to be popular in the year 2251. And that’s only assuming “Jesu” is forgotten soon, which won’t happen as long as I’m alive.

In 1972, a studio band called Apollo 100 redid “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” into a peppy tech jig they called Joy. That was right about the time I was learning to play piano. My teacher wanted me to learn Bach’s version, I couldn’t keep my mind off the Apollo 100 version. For my recital, I started with the Cantata 147, but when it led into the “Jesu” chorus, I switched to the Apollo 100 version. It was a major hit. I can still play the Apollo 100 version, I doubt I can play the Bach version.

I have loved the Apollo 100 version since 1972. Along with the influence of David Bowie, I consider it probably one of the most influential impressions on my musical youth. What I have done now is take my love of “Joy” to the next level, it’s 21st version now. There was only so much Apollo 100 could do with it in 1972. One person, with a computer and some cheap equipment can do a lot more, more easily. You don’t have to be a professional any more to make songs the way you want to hear it. Here’s my proof.

Enjoy, and remember, I only do this for fun!

When Satan Calls

When I was a little kid, I used to invariably hear a voice very firmly in a man’s voice speak my name. That was it. Just my name. If I answered, it said nothing else. That was it, just my name. Sometimes it would catch me doing something, so when I heard this voice I would answer it. This really upset my mom. So, I learned fairly quickly to ignore it. It was always the same voice, so that was easy to do.

Years go by, the voice infrequently still calls my name on occasion, I still ignore it. It doesn’t bother me, so I never did anything about it or even said anything about to anyone else ( voices in your head sounds kinda loony ). When I was in high school, I had the major hots for a girl named Becky. It was hot-cold kinda thing as I was just a little wild for her. However, going into her senior year, which was my junior year, things started warming up quite a bit. We talked or visited each other almost every night. Then one night, when I was in my house alone, and while I was on the phone with Becky, sure enough, that voice called my name. Per routine, I ignored it. But this time it gets weird. Becky asked me who that was. I assured her I was alone. She didn’t buy it. Since I refused to acknowledge there was anyone at home to answer to, she finally had to believe me that it was indeed a bodiless voice. Well, she then informed me that we couldn’t see each other any more because I had scared her too bad. She was kinda religious and somewhere in that religion ( Southern Baptist ), it talks about Satan calling people to walk with them. Whether or not I chose to walk with Satan was irrelevant, he was just too close to me for her comfort. I tried one more time a few years later in college to get Becky to go out with me. She never could get over that voice.

I never told her, and I’m sure she probably doesn’t want to know, but, I never heard that voice again after that call. It was Joe’s belief ( the guy in the occult ), that when she heard Satan, he left me and went to her. That’s fine by me.


Last night I didn’t sleep too well. Nothing terribly unusual about that. However, during my tossing and turning, I got to thinking how comfortable the couch would be. But, since it was kinda cold, and I didn’t have a blanket available right then, I toughed it out on the bed.

Which got me thinking. Why is it sleeping on the couch is oftentimes much easier than sleeping on a bed? I mean, couches are supposed to be something to sit on, the bed something to sleep on. I had a few thoughts on the matter and finally came to the conclusion it’s based on primal instinct. Man used to live in caves. I don’t think that was any accident. A cave had one entrance, and if man slept against a wall of that cave, his back was covered and he could see what was coming the only way they could enter. In essence, he felt protected and safe. Beds don’t have sides, you’re laying there vulnerable to attack from any direction. That breeds a certain amount of primal anxiety. Any anxiety from normal life just compounds the affect and before too long, you’re a nervous wreck trying to sleep. A couch provides a “wall” on one side. You’re back to facing your attackers the only way they can come in. All that vulnerability is gone. You’re safe, and therefore, you’re relaxed.

Just thought I’d share that with you all. I’m sure you’ll sleep better because of it.

Deep Holes

CNN.com – Explorers find world’s deepest hole – Aug 9, 2004: “ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Cave explorers discovered a pit inside a mountain range in central Croatia believed to have the world’s deepest subterranean vertical drop, at nearly 1,700 feet, a scientific institute reported Monday.”

That is the world’s deepest natural hole. However, man has created a few much, much deeper:

On Russia’s Kola Peninsula, near the Norwegian border at about the same latitude as Prudhoe Bay, the Soviets have been drilling a well since 1970. It is now over 40,000 feet deep, making it the deepest hole on earth (the previous record holder was the Bertha Rogers well in Oklahoma–a gas well stopped at 32,000 feet when it struck molten sulfur).

I just love stuff like this.

Likely Life on Mars?

OK, here is the article I’m referring to for starters:

Life on Mars Likely, Scientist Claims

Now microbial life is pretty hardy stuff. They have found it in volcanoes at the bottom of the ocean, and in ice in the coldest parts of Antarctica. To find it on Mars, which is colder than Antarctica for sure, means microbial life is a little tougher than originally thought. But, what can’t be proven on this mission is if that microbial life is there or not. Which begs the question, do we REALLY need to know?

Today, the Messenger probe was launched to visit Mercury. It’s basically a one-way shot that will take about 8 years to get there. When it does get there, it’s going to basically shoot some pictures of Mercury up really close, as they now suspect there is frost in some cavernous impact craters on Mercury. All of this is to see if there is microbial life on Mercury. This again begs my question, do we REALLY need to know?

Microbial life isn’t really life IMO, it’s slightly advanced over plants, and it moves. It doesn’t think, I don’t think it even reacts. It does what it does and dies. If there is microbial life on Mars, it only proves there is microbial life on Mars. It doesn’t prove a civilized species lived there and died off for mysterious reasons. It doesn’t prove Mars is in its infancy waiting to flower into a civilized planet. It only proves that microbial life can exist in environments much harsher than originally expected.

I would much rather see more money spent on SETI than probing Mercury and other planets that are generations away from serving any use to mankind. At least with SETI, we’ll know that microbial life can advance to a more sophisticated state and under what conditions it takes to advance. I’m not devaluing the rover missions, they have been fantastic. I’m just not sure Mars has anything more to offer than what it has. We need to know how much more advanced societies got past the barriers of the barbarism that allowed them to advance than we need to know whether or not there’s microbial life on Mars.

Editor’s update, 5/3/2017:  We’ve had rovers and satellites scouring Mars for well over a decade now and we still haven’t found even a clue of microbial life on Mars.  Two realizations from this:

  • We don’t need to send men to Mars.  There’s nothing there.
  • If “scientists” are this wrong about something this simple and easily documented, how accurate are they are on Earth’s future?


Mega Tsunamis

Millions in U.S. Face Mega-Wave from Island Collapse

By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) – The bad news is tens of millions of people along the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada may drown if the slow slippage of a volcano off north Africa becomes a cataclysmic collapse…..

“A future president of the United States must make a call on what to do when La Palma collapses,” he said.

I’ve seen this story on The Discovery Channel or The History Channel, I believe it was a production by BBC, Jeremy Lovell doesn’t have any scoop here. The question I have is, what can be done to stop this? Once the wave gets going, it will hit pretty much the entire eastern seaboard. I mean, for a president to decide what to do once it’s on the way is pretty fruitless other than to go on tv and tell everyone to get the hell out of there NOW. What was not explored during the tsunami special or the Lovell article is what can be done to prevent this from happening. The basic theory is La Palma ( part of the Canary Islands ), has two parts to it, one newer than the other. The newer part, due to shafts of super-heated water, is slowly pushing the older part away. At some point, the older part will fall off and create a super-tsunami 100 feet high and several hundred miles wide by the time it hits the US and Canada. I want to know what can be done to prevent this from happening rather than what can be done once it does happen. Is this the proper time to say “DUH!”?