Reality is just a thought?

This has been all over the net for years.  I still love it tho:

In the article Scientists Claim the Universe is a Giant Brain, they rely on a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that the universe, as we know it, is actually a huge brain.  Well, a lot of stuff in the universe does look like brain stuff.  But, a lot of it looks like sand and dirt as well.  Hard to go terribly far with that concept.  But, it’s still cool to ponder.  And, oddly enough, that concept has actually been around a while in slightly different formats. 2001: A Space Odyssey, the book, basically implied that the “gods” were merely a body-less mind with super-powers.  Their desire to become physical was embodied by Dave Bowman’s transformation into the Starchild.  In essence, they were nothing more than a brain.  They probably looked like that pic up there.


<a href="" title="Is the universe just a giant brain?">Is the universe just a giant brain?</a>

Nastier Storms?

( Originally posted August 1, 2005, on Spacedream. )

I read this article in the Lexington Herald this morning:

The accumulated power of Atlantic hurricanes has more than doubled in the past 30 years, witha particularly dramatic spike since 1995, and global warming probably is a major cause, according to a study to be published this week…..

Though a connection between global warming and hurricane ferocity might seem logical, the report by a reputable climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the first to draw a statistical relationship between the two.

OK, there’s the foregone conclusion that there are more and more powerful hurricanes in the last 30 years. global warming’s to blame. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. However, I have an issue with this whole article. ( Surprised? ) Let’s start with the, I would assume, equally reputable National Weather Service. I am going to use their data to get to the point I have. I am not a reputable climatologist at MIT, so someone feel more than free to help me out here. OK? Here we go:

Here is the graph from NOAA of Atlantic hurricanes by decade:

 DECADE  Category  ALL  Major
 1  2  3  4  5  1,2,3,4,5  3,4,5
1851-1859 7 4 4 1 0 16 5
1860-1869 5 8 2 0 0 15 1
1870-1879 8 5 6 0 0 19 6
1880-1889 11 9 4 1 0 25 5
1890-1899 8 5 5 2 0 20 7
1900-1909 10 2 4 1 0 17 5
1910-1919 8 6 4 3 0 21 7
1920-1929 7 3 3 2 0 15 5
1930-1939 9 4 3 1 1 18 5
1940-1949 7 8 6 2 0 23 8
1950-1959 8 1 8 2 0 19 10
1960-1969 4 5 3 2 1 15 6
1970-1979 6 2 4 0 0 12 4
1980-1989 9 2 4 1 0 16 5
1990-1999 2 7 4 0 1 14 5
2000-2009 8 4 6 1 0 19 7
2010-2012 3 0 0 0 0 3 0

That’s a lot of data.  So, I simplified it some.  Since the assumption is hurricanes are getting more powerful, I made a power index in descending order by decade.  This is what you get:

Decade Avg Power
1940-1949 4.9
1880-1889 4.5
1910-1919 4.4
1950-1959 4.2
1890-1899 4.1
2000-2009 3.8
1870-1879 3.6
1960-1969 3.6
1930-1939 3.5
1990-1999 3.3
1851-1859 3.1
1900-1909 3
1920-1929 3
1980-1989 2.9
1860-1869 2.7
1970-1979 2.2
2010-2012 1

Whew. NOW I see it. If you take the average power by year, the last decade ranks at the top if you disregard the previous decades.

Folks, this “research” by MIT is so bogus is pathetic. It then even drew conclusions for the future based on this conclusion they reach by ignoring the previous 100 years:

The 2005 season, with a record seven named storms by July 23, provides unpleasant support for that conclusion.

Now, the article does go on to cite some criticisms of Kerry Emanuel. They show that Emanuel cherry picked his data to come to his conclusions. Well DUH!

This is the worst “research” I may have ever seen in my life.

Think about this folks, 2 of 2005’s named storms, that Emanuel cites as evidence to support his conclusion, never made landfall. How much does he want to stake on a guarantee that SOME major storms in the not-too-distant past were never observed?  What Emanuel has actually done is prove that there is:

  • Scientists willing to skew data to push their philosophical agenda, and:
  • Media more than willing to print anything to push their philosophical agenda.

That’s all this research does.

Hell, I won’t even go into the days I recall when people were concerned about a lack of hurricanes in the 90′s.

Another decade has passed since this original post.  The facts have only damned Kerry Emanuel’s claim.  This current decade has seen ZERO major hurricanes and only a hand full of minor hurricanes.  I’m sure MIT rebutted Emanuel’s “findings” at some point.  I’m too lazy to look for it. ( And equally sure MIT didn’t.  Debunking bogus Global Warming claims isn’t very high on academia’s priorities. Especially with this President’s administration. )

Life on Enceladus?

I LOVE Enceladus! Seriously, I do. On March 3, 2006, I wrote this:

The big tease that wasn’t ( thanks to Matt Drudge ignoring posting protocol ), is that there is LIFE ON ENCELADUS!

Well, that’s not exactly proven. There is apparently, very strong evidence of liquid water.


See those plumes shooting off Enceladus? Those are apparently ice crystals. What makes this situation unique is that they think there is water below the surface feeding those plumes. Now, on Earth, where there’s water, there’s ALWAYS life.
But, this isn’t Earth we’re talking about. It’s a 500km moon of Saturn. Sure, it’s got water, and it may be heated by some internal mechanism like volcanic activity. But, it gets very little sunlight and the water is under a solid sheet of ice. Whatever might be living down there, in the millions of years Enceladus has been around, would still have most likely evolved no more than microbes.
Now, I’m one of those people that’s certain there’s advanced life out there. So, I’m not going to be shocked when we do find microbes on other planets or moons. Finding water is cool. But to me, that’s all it is. And, contrary to some of the buzz yesterday, it’s certainly no guarantee that life exists on Enceladus.
We do however, need to go there and find out for sure!

But I don’t stop there!  On June 23, 2011, I obsessed even more:

Enceladus has always been my #1 favoritist place to look for life.  It’s not all that far away, and it seems to have a rather active geology:

Cassini Solstice Mission Page

Now, we get this:

Data from Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer show the grains expelled from fissures, known as tiger stripes, are relatively small and predominantly low in salt far away from the moon. But closer to the moon’s surface, Cassini found that relatively large grains rich with sodium and potassium dominate the plumes. The salt-rich particles have an “ocean-like” composition and indicate that most, if not all, of the expelled ice and water vapor comes from the evaporation of liquid salt water.

That little moon just keeps getting cooler and cooler all the time.  Wonder when Virgin Galactic will start taking vacation trips there?

NOW we get this:

The scientists determined that the ocean is likely salty and quite basic, with a pH of 11 or 12 — roughly equivalent to that of ammonia-based glass-cleaning solutions, but still within the tolerance range of some organisms on Earth. (The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. Seven is neutral; anything higher is basic, and anything lower is acidic.) 

Enceladus’ subsurface sea contains dissolved sodium chloride (NaCl) — run-of-the-mill table salt — just as Earth’s oceans do, researchers said. But it’s full of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), which is also known as washing soda or soda ash, as well.

Not exactly Aruba, but definitely has potential for life of some sort.  Can NOT wait for a serious probe to explore subterranean Enceladus.  Screw Mars, this, and Europa, are the place to be.

<a href="" title="Is there life on Enceladus?">Is there life on Enceladus?</a>

That Russian Progress issue

Click the button to make this video full screen.  Press go and see how long it takes you to figure out what’s going wrong with the Russian Progress 59 supply ship.

It returned to Earth harmlessly yesterday, burning up on the way down to the Pacific Ocean. I’m still waiting a little while longer before buying my space-flight vacation tickets.

Strange outer space signal that baffled Australian scientists turns out to be microwave oven

Gotta love days like these:

Scientists discover that unusual signals long detected at a radio telescope in Australia – which were thought to be from space – were caused by the site’s microwave oven.

But what has to really add insult to injury is that the mysterious “signal” that had been eluding them since 1998, was figured out by a PhD student.

Living on Titania?

A lot of articles on science floating around the internet is just filler.  Some of it’s more intriguing or interesting than other stuff.  Some I find really fascinating.  This particular article, I don’t.  It’s just useless:

Living on Titania: Uranus’ Moon Explained (Infographic)

That seems simple enough.  It’s got some text, and a nifty graphic: infographic

However, the content is pointless.  Living on Titania?  Let’s look at this briefly and logically:

  • It has no air.  You’d suffocate immediately.
  • It has no water.  You’d starve pretty quickly.
  • The average temperature is -333 degrees, you’d freeze to death very quickly.
  • It has no gravity.  If you jumped or tripped, you’d be sucked into Uranus and die a flaming death.
  • It’s night is 42 YEARS long.  That would get kinda boring.
  • It’s daylight is 42 YEARS long.  You’d die of exhaustion.
  • It’s day is 84 YEARS long.  You’d die of old age in less than a day.  Given of course, you’d didn’t suffocate, starve, freeze to death, or die a flaming death falling into Uranus ( yeah, I’m have fun with Uranus. )
  • And, you’d have no cell service, which means no internet, which means you would have nothing at all to do during your one day of suffering on Titania.

Let’s focus on living on really fun places like Enceladus, Io, or Europa?



I hate CFLs.  When they came along, it was the height of the Global Warming scare, and they, along with bio-diesels, were the cure for the planet.  All we had to do was spend $20 for what used to be $1, and all was well.  Since they lasted seven years or more, that $20 would more than make up for itself in lower electric bills.

Yeah.  Right.

I had just built a new house, so I replaced all the incandescent bulbs.  Probably spent about $500 doing it.  My electric bill would be nothing.

Only problem was, I had to replace a bunch of them after a month or so.  By six months I was in double digits.  And, to make matters worse, I wasn’t even disposing them correctly.  I was just tossing them in the garbage.  How WRONG could that be?  THIS is the proper disposal method:

Take the CFL bulbs to the recycling or Hazmat disposal point. Prepare bulbs for transport by wrapping them in cushioning materials to reduce the likelihood of breakage. A bulb breakage in transit will require you to exit your car, and possibly necessitate hiring a specialized decontamination service. (See References 2.)

Seems rather harsh for a light bulb dontcha think?  And, I’m gonna bet that Hazmat bill alone would eat up whatever savings I was supposed to get for paying $20 for a $1 bulb.

But, it doesn’t stop there.  I have had more than one EXPLODE.  You wanna see what you’re supposed to do if one breaks?  This, is according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  And, you really DON’T want to mess with them.

Before Cleanup

  • Have people and pets leave the room.
  • Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
  • Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
    • stiff paper or cardboard;
    • sticky tape;
    • damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
    • a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

During Cleanup

  • DO NOT VACUUM.  Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken.  Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
  • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.  Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard.  Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.  See the detailed cleanup instructions for more information, and for differences in cleaning up hard surfaces versus carpeting or rugs.
  • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After Cleanup

  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of.  Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

Now, with my old incandescent bulbs, that didn’t explode, and didn’t contain mercury, and didn’t emit radiation, I just tossed them in the trash.  True story, I did just toss yet another CFL in my garbage last week.  It had been in an outside lamp in the driveway.  Our temps dropped to about fifteen below and killed it.  It was kinda black and a little shattered.  I imagine it heated too hot too fast and cracked.  So, I stuck a brand new LED lamp in it and just tossed the CFL in the garbage.  The next morning, the garbage had been taken.  The whole garbage can was empty except for one item.  That CFL.  Apparently they’re so dangerous even the landfill doesn’t want them.

When I originally started griping about CFLs, the Feds had banned incandescent bulbs and the only alternative was the environmentally and health safety disaster that was the CFL.  Now LED’s are becoming price competitive with CFL’s, don’t contain the nasty stuff in them, don’t emit radiation that I’m aware of, and seem to last more than a couple of months.

I think the EPA needs to just go ahead and ban CFL’s so that we can once again jump in blindly into a technology before we have a clue what we’re doing to appease people who cite bad science to justify something that’s not happening.

Ballsiest guy of all time

Nothing screams balls more than this:

On Feb. 12, 1984, astronaut Bruce McCandless, ventured further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut had ever been. This space first was made possible by a nitrogen jet propelled backpack, previously known at NASA as the Manned Manuevering Unit or MMU. After a series of test maneuvers inside and above Challenger’s payload bay, McCandless went “free-flying” to a distance of 320 feet away from the Orbiter. This stunning orbital panorama view shows McCandless out there amongst the black and blue of Earth and space.

Seriously, the only thing between you and the ground is two hundred miles of nothing.  You just have to trust that your jetpack won’t fail, and you won’t fall.  Not sure I have the balls to do that.

10 inches and counting of global warming

About that global warming thingy, Boston is not the only place shattering records for snowfall.  In a place that normally gets about six inches a year in snow, we have ten inches on the ground with possibly another three or four coming tonight.  AND, if things hold up, we will set FIVE record low temps this week in five days.  We’re even going sub-zero for three consecutive days.  People, this isn’t even New England.  This is Kentucky.