Arthur Clarke and plasma life?

( Previously posted on Spacedream. )

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.  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 coincedence 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.

It’s the trees that will solve everything

( Originally posted in Spacedream. )

Well, not according to this article in Livescience.  According to Ram Oren of Duke University who did the FACE study:

“If water availability decreases at the same time that carbon dioxide increases, then we might not have a net gain in carbon sequestration,” Oren said.

Now, I’m no scientist, to say the very least.  However, the problem I have here is two-fold.

First of all, anything that absorbs any carbon has to be a good thing, or Al Gore would not be telling us all to give money for carbon offsets.  It’s a lot cheaper to plant a tree than it is to give cash.  Especially when that cash could go to much better uses such as more insulation, more efficient heating and air, or purchasing a hybrid vehicle.

Secondly, I don’t recall anyone saying plant trees to absorb carbon.  What they are saying is plant trees to make shade.  Now, shade is a good thing.  There’s a such thing that is proven called urban warming.  Urban warming happens when you cut down all the trees and use lots of concrete and blacktop.  Seems concrete and blacktop absorb heat and cause the entire area to get hot.  So, it seems to me that planting trees would undo what concrete and blacktop has done.  It also seems to me that most of the weather stations are in areas that are affected by, drum roll please, urban warming.  So, it seems to me that if you especially plant trees where those weather stations are, thereby putting them in the shade as they were 100 years ago, global warming will be reversed.

And additionally, it also seems to me that Al Gore has told us that one of the problems we’ll have with runaway global warming is too much water.  Miami, New York, Los Angeles, will all be covered in water.  So, Oren’s concern that there will not be enough water seems a bit contradictory to what Al Gore is saying.

And we all know what happens when you deny Al Gore don’t we?

Why people have sex

WebMD tackles the oldest question known to mankind. Why do people have sex? Now, the other relevant questions would be “Why do people breathe” and “Why do people eat food”. The cause and effect of sex is that mankind continues to exist. So, to me, as with food, you don’t need a reason to have sex. If the mood strikes, you have sex. If someone then asks you why you had sex, depending on the circumstances, you will have different reasons why you had sex. So, I don’t really buy into their conclusion. That’s not a big issue though. WebMD states there are 237 reasons to have sex. Not being a woman, I think I’ll dismiss that side of the issue. However, being a man, I’ve got an issue with their “Top 10″. To wit:

  1. I was attracted to the person.
  2. It feels good.
  3. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure.
  4. It’s fun.
  5. I wanted to show my affection to the person.
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release.
  7. I was “horny.”
  8. I wanted to express my love for the person.
  9. I wanted to achieve an orgasm.
  10. I wanted to please my partner.

Namely, this. Let’s look a little closer at the responses:

  1. I was attracted to the person. ( They made me horny. )
  2. It feels good. ( I was horny. )
  3. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure. ( I was horny. )
  4. It’s fun. ( Being horny is fun. )
  5. I wanted to show my affection to the person. ( I get very affectionate when I’m horny )
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release. ( I was horny )
  7. I was “horny.” ( I was horny )
  8. I wanted to express my love for the person. ( I do that when I’m horny. )
  9. I wanted to achieve an orgasm. ( I was horny )
  10. I wanted to please my partner. ( I was horny, so they must have been too. )

Going about it that way, there’s only one REAL reason men have sex. They were horny. How many researchers does it take to figure that out? Another clue here too, google “affection”, then google “sex”. Wanna guess which one gets the most responses? You can’t quantify the single most prevailing urge of man. It’s everywhere, it’s all the time. So, no man is going to only do it when he wants to “please his partner”. He’s going to cover all 237 reasons if possible in his lifetime.