Do sunspots foretell heavy rains?

Well, apparently someone read my blog:

Periodic peaks in the number of visible sunspots may help predict heavy rains and subsequent disease outbreaks in East Africa, according to a controversial new study. Although previously questioned, the sunspot-rainfall link suggests that many of East Africa’s wettest rainy seasons during the 20th century were closely associated with highpoints in the mysterious solar cycle that yields the sun’s large dark blotches.

The take-home message, researchers concluded in the latest issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, is that careful scrutiny of past climatic conditions may generate better long-term predictions of destructive weather events in the future.

There’s a lot more reading to that article, and it’s interesting.  I’ve been “guessing” there is a connection here for a long time.  Other cycles just correlate to closely to the hurricane cycles for a long time.  Hurricanes involve lots of rain.  So, apparently J. Curt Stager noticed this as well.

I really like the part that I think explains all the doubt of why such a simple correlation could exist:

“The weak part,” Stager conceded, “is we don’t know exactly why it works.”

That has always been a weakness of man.  When he doesn’t understand, he either dismisses it or attacks it.  My request is this learned field of scientists just simply try to figure why this COULD happen.  If, in the process of trying to figure out why this COULD work, no explanation is found, then I’d be a lot more comfortable in believing that it doesn’t work.  But, to dismiss something as simple as violent solar activity affecting a very close planet while at the same time telling me there is stuff out there that they can neither find or fully explain just never has flown with me.  There’s a connection, it’s just a matter of figuring out how much of an impact that connection truly is.

Keeping an eye on the sun

I asked a question on August 24, 2005.  It was a simple question.  It was largely ignored.

How will this affect Katrina and the waves?

Now, when I asked the question, Katrina was barely a named storm.  I like keeping an eye on two things this time of the year, hurricanes and solar storms.  So, I noticed something was happening on the Sun.  Namely this:

Within a couple of days, Katrina would be a category five monster that pretty much destroyed a good part of New Orleans. Let’s fast forward two years almost to the day and see what the Sun’s up to now:

Not quite as active, but coming around the corner is a pretty good blast. However, according to NOAA, no hurricane activity is expected within the next 48 hours. So, maybe this year we’ll get a pass.

Or, the NOAA may get a surprise. We’ll see. My “bet” right now is there is nothing for this little sunburst to excite, which is a good thing.

Arthur Clarke and Plasma Life

Better turn down the lights and pour yourself a strong one, this post is DEEP.

OK, ready?

I have been a huge fan of Arthur C. Clarke, particularly of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Most people are familiar with the movie.  I consider it the greatest sci-fi movie ever made.  However, it is somewhat vague in what is going on.  However, the book does explain what’s going on.  Not in profound detail, but in little snippets that told us of our future.  Debit cards, video conferencing, using gravity to slingshot around planets, all kinds of little bits telling us what was to become.  And, in some cases, trying to explain where we came from.  He doesn’t say evolution is the rule, he just laid out how evolution occurred.  And, sometimes, when that evolution wasn’t progressing appropriately, how it got a little help from a god-like being.  The help was in the form of a simple shape.  It wasn’t a cross, but even simpler, an obolisk.  However, the “being” had more religious overtones.  Digressing a little, all of the main religions of the world today expect a belief in “God”.  This “God” can neither be seen, touched, or heard.  In other words, it is a being purely of energy and no matter.  When one communicates with “God”, it is purely by an energy force.  There is no audible sound.  This omnipotent “God” created our universe as we know it.  Clarke morphed this faith in a non-matter God into 2001 and gave it some definition:

And now, out among the stars, evolution was driving toward new goals. The first explorers of Earth had long since come to the limits of flesh and blood; as soon as their machines were better than their bodies, it was time to move. First their brains, and then their thoughts alone, they transferred into shining new homes of metal and of plastic.

In these, they roamed among the stars. They no longer built spaceships. They were spaceships.

But the age of the Machine-entities swiftly passed. In their ceaseless experimenting, they had learned to store knowledge in the structure of space itself, and to preserve their thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light. They could become creatures of radiation, free at last from the tyranny of matter.

Into pure energy, therefore, they presently transformed themselves; and on a thousand worlds, the empty shells they had discarded twitched for a while in a mindless dance of death, then crumbled into rusty

Now they were lords of the galaxy, and beyond the reach of time. They could rove at will among the stars, and sink like a subtle mist through the very interstices of space. But despite their godlike powers, they had not wholly forgotten their origin, in the warm slime of a vanished sea.

And they still watched over the experiments their ancestors had started, so long ago.

What Clarke states here is that “life” doesn’t have to have matter.  It can be pure energy.  Without the confines of matter, physics as we know it completely changes.  Being of matter, I don’t see how Man can travel at the speed of light.  Therefore, visiting far away galaxies is impossible.  However, without the confines of matter, traveling at the speed of light is simple.  Traveling throughout the universe is simple.  Manipulating matter is simple.  The power this entity would have is mind-boggling.  Convincing a very simple animal that you are God would be simple.

All of this ties into today’s events in two forms.

First, we have the creationist vs evolution fight going wild right now.  Neither side is in any mood to compromise or even try to understand the other’s reasons for believing what they do.  What they are both doing is struggling to understand how all this came to be.  Arthur C. Clarke I think struggled with those two concepts long ago.  He came up with a unique answer.  “Our” universe is limited by what we can see and understand.  For some people, “our” universe is limited to matter.  For other people, “our” universe is not limited to matter.  There are things beyond matter that they don’t want to try to understand.  They just know something is more powerful than matter.  That something to them is “God”.  That “God” to Arthur Clarke was a being no more wise than the average man.  He did however, have the power to change entire worlds simply to amuse himself.  He was however, a product of the universe.  He was both a product of evolution and subsequently creationism.  Since I read the book, I have been more a believer in Clarke’s understanding of “God” than probably any other.  Both the creationists and evolutionists expect me to believe they know the answer to a question that is extremely profound based on nothing but limited evidence and a faith in what they are saying is correct.  I don’t work that way.  I don’t think the two theories are totally exclusionary.  Neither did Clarke.  I’m in good company.

Secondly, all of this sounds pretty damn crazy I imagine.  I’m OK with that.  Start by reading the actual 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Then, read this:

Electrically charged specks of interstellar dust organize into DNA-like double helixes and display properties normally attributed to living systems, such as evolving and reproducing, new computer simulations show.

But scientists are hesitant to call the dancing dust particles “alive,” and instead say they are just another example of how difficult it is to define life.

Put me on Arthur Clarke’s team on this one.

The heavy religious overtones continue throughout 2001.  Clarke definitely had “the Dawn of Man” on his mind when he wrote this.  So, I see no coincidence here at all.  However, what he did not have in 1967 was access to plasma. Maybe, if Clarke is correct, we’re getting our first glimpses at something we’ve never understood before.  And, it could get rather profound.