Cassini Iapetus Flyby

This is getting cooler than I really thought it would. Check out this incredibly ugly little Saturnian moon, Iapetus.

JPL has a lot more pics. It’s getting really close now. However, unlike Io or Europa, the closer it gets to Iapetus, the uglier it gets. This poor little moon has obviously been battered hard by meteor strikes. It’s little spine circling the moon is the source of a lot of speculation. However, my completely uneducated guess is those two really large strikes on the same side have something to do with it. If you’ve ever squeezed a pingpong ball really hard you’d know what I’m referring to. That’s just a guess tho. I’ll leave the hard science up to those who get paid to do it. I’m in the boat of those people who just LOVE seeing this for no other reason than curiosity.

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.

Why Iggy belonged in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame

One very simple reason:

What’s so special about it you say? Bands have been doing it for years. Pearl Jam was famous for their surfing vids a long time ago. However, they credit Neil Young as their inspiration. However, Neil never did anything like this. While Neil was whining with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Iggy was inventing a whole new concept for concerts. So, to put this in perspective for the younger crowd that’s used to punk and crowd surfing. The “wildest” thing people were watching was The Rolling Stones. The biggest hit of the year was “Aquarius”. And, the people most likely to have experienced the birth of crowd surfing ala Iggy would have been your grandparents. Eddie Vedder might have experienced it, but I doubt it. He wasn’t in pre-school yet.

So, I just believe in giving credit where it’s due. Although few will claim it, almost every hard rock band has emulated Iggy Pop for the last 37 years. You’d think Rolling Stone would know that.

Shame the peanut butter didn’t catch on.

Space Oddity, the original motion picture

Most people consider the RCA/Mick Rock video of a shock-red-haired androgynous Bowie as the original Space Oddity video. A lot of sources will cite it as such. However, about three years before that, while he was still David Jones, he actually prepared a demo for Space Oddity that is a hoot to me to this day. This is a very young Bowie showing some of the almost child-like imagination that seemed prevalent through his early years. I actually like it more than the glitzier RCA version of 1972. If anyone has better information on this video, I’d love to have it here. Here it goes:

Greatest scorer of all time?

My friends over at Independent Sources did a little research into the greatest scorer of all time.  As in, scoring babes:

Here’s the list they came up with:

10. Bill Wyman – 1,000
9. Magic Johnson – 1,000
8. Lemmy Kilmister – 1,200
7. Jack Nicholson – 2,000
6. Ilie Nastase – 2,500
5. Engelbert Humperdinck – 3,000
4. Julio Iglesias – 3,000
3. Gene Simmons – 4,600
2. Charlie Sheen – 5,000
1. Umberto Billo – 8,000

Pretty impressive by my standards, and that of most men I would guess.  However, it’s child’s play compared to the most prolific scorer of all time:

One Persian writer at the time estimates that one century after Genghis Khan died, he had 20,000 descendants.

Now, ya gotta understand, that’s JUST descendants.  How many times do you recken he didn’t bother to procreate?  To put it in perspective, Genghis Khan’s hobby was raping all the women and killing all the men.  Not only was he spreading his genes, he was eliminating the competition.  Today, some estimates have nearly 8% of central Asia’s population carrying the Genghis Khan DNA.

And to think 1 boy wears me out.

As far as the list goes, I never imagined this being the face of one of the most prolific charmers of all time?

Lemmy

That’s not Genghis, apparently Lemmy is god.  Should we try to imagine a future Europe where 1 in 12 people look like Lemmy?  And for that matter, another 1 in 12 look like Bill Wyman?

I think I’d rather not.

11/1/2016: Lemmy died a few months ago.  This is my throwback to him.  I’ll have another pretty soon when I can find it.

Mount Sakurajima

A volcano erupted in southern Japan on Wednesday, blowing ash about 3,000 feet into the air, the Weather Agency said. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Mount Sakurajima erupted at 5:30 p.m. and registered as moderate on the agency’s scale for both the sound and strength of the tremors it caused, the agency said.

That’s a lot of ash.  Seems to be a big year for volcanic activity so far.  Wonder how much this is affecting global cooling?

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia – the fear of the number 666 ran amok yesterday:

Around the country, some superstitious mothers-to-be took steps Tuesday to make sure their babies were not born on the most bedeviling of dates, 6-6-6.

In New York, “people are canceling left and right because of what today represents,” said Liza Washington, an administrative assistant at Children’s Hospital of the New York-Presbyterian Medical Center. More than a dozen deliveries were postponed because of 666, which is said to be the “Number of the Beast” in the Book of Revelation.

Many of the expectant mothers had been scheduled to deliver babies by Caesarean section or after doctors artificially induced labor.

Now, ya gotta understand, the calendar we use today is not what was used a while back:

The Julian year is 365 days 6 hr, hence a little too long. Therefore, by the 16th cent. the accumulation of surplus time had displaced the vernal equinox to Mar. 11 from Mar. 21, the date set in the 4th cent. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII rectified this error. He suppressed 10 days in the year 1582 and ordained that thereafter the years ending in hundreds should not be leap years unless they were divisible by 400. The year 1600 was a leap year under both systems, but 1700, 1800, and 1900 were leap years only in the unreformed calendar. The reform was accepted, immediately in most Roman Catholic countries, more gradually in Protestant countries, and in the Eastern Church the Julian calendar was retained into the 20th cent. The present generally accepted calendar is therefore called Gregorian, though it is only a slight modification of the Julian.

The reform was not accepted in England and the British colonies in America until 1752. By that date the English calendar was 11 days different from that of continental Europe. For the intervening period before the reform was introduced into the English calendar, the Gregorian style is called the New Style (N.S.), and the Julian the Old Style (O.S.). New Style years begin Jan. 1, but Old Style years began usually Mar. 25. Thus Washington’s birthday, which is Feb. 22, 1732 (N.S.), was Feb. 11, 1731 (O.S.). To avoid confusion sometimes both styles are given; thus 11 Feb. 1731/22 Feb. 1732.

So, it’s very easy to see that yesterday was not the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year of the second millennium since Christ’s death.  It’s a fairly modern standard of time and trying to figure the actual number of times the Earth has rotated the Sun since then is rather difficult.

And, to boot, according to some, 666 is not even the mark of the beast:

Where more conventional versions of the Bible give 666 as the “number of the beast,” or the sign of the anti-Christ whose coming is predicted in the book’s apocalyptic verses, the older version uses the Greek letters signifying 616.

So now I am curious about how many people will be freaking out on 6/16/06 or 6/6/16?  Apparently the word didn’t get out on 6/1/06.

Mrs. Moon just informed me that we do have something serious to concern ourselves with.  The three armed baby in the news recently was operated on successfully on 6/6/06.  He was 66 days old.  He was born a “beast” and became human on 6/6/06.  Scared yet?