Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘SETI’ Category

EPIDEMIC OF APATHY CONTINUES IN AMERICA AS COVID-19 KILLS AT WILL

leave a comment »

OK, so, the first surgery failed. Second surgery, well, another new experience, I could see the smoke and smell my burning flesh when they cauterized the incision. Smelled like chicken. Yes, I have a very odd sense of humor. Some would even say I don’t possess such. Philistines. So still kicking, but more surgery after the latest biopsy. Modern medicine, as in all modern science based endeavors, is pretty amazing stuff. Fox News viewers and Evangelicals, you’re missing out on some good shit.

And since they’re in control of the country now, their failure to grasp that Covid-19 required a science based approach has killed tens of thousands of people. I know, boring, we’re over Covid-19, on to some other story. Not here in Doug’s Darkworld. Greatest mass death of my time, so I’m  gonna keep blogging on it. And whatever comes to mind. That’s my plan for the fall, write about whatever I want to. 

Three quick Covid-19 links. First, once again, Covid-19 is very serious even for young healthy adults: A sobering breakdown of severe COVID-19 cases shows young adults can’t dismiss it. I know I repeat this a lot, because it’s important. Covid-19 is not a cold or a flu, it’s much worse, and we need to snap out of the complacency a hundred years of vaccines and modern public health brought us. Here’s a good article just basically going over some of the hows and why America failed so miserably fighting Covid-19: COVID-19 Has Killed Nearly 200,000 Americans. How Many More Lives Will Be Lost Before the U.S. Gets It Right? A good, if depressing, read. Lastly, just some interesting thoughts on where Covid-10 is going: How do pandemics usually end? And how will this one finish? 

So the Abraham Accord. Yeah, this one seems remarkably easy to deconstruct. The United Arab Emirates, one of the medieval Gulf State theocracies, has normalized relations with Israel, one of the few Arab nations to do so. Trump and company are touting it as a big move towards peace in the Middle East, he has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize! By a far right Muslim-bashing Norewegian politician who has nominated Trump for the prize before. The astute reader can no doubt guess that it’s going to go downhill from here.

So what is the Abraham Accord? It’s really simple, the UAE recognizes Israel, then they get to buy a giant pile of advanced US weapons. And Israel gets a huge pile of American taxpayer dollars which they have to spend on US weapons. Woohoo, American war profiteers make a pile of money, Israel and the UAE get even more weapons! And what do the Palestinas get? Nothing. How does pouring more weapons into the Middle East promote peace? God only knows. Basically it’s Trump giving away a pile of America taxpayers money so he can claim a diplomatic success. Color me unimpressed.

And more weapons in the region. Yeah, that’s worked out well: At least 37 million displaced by America’s two-decade ‘war on terror’: Report. Weapons are the world’s number two industry, and a profitable industry it is. And politically powerful. It’s distorted civilization since the end of World War Two, with no end in sight. They should have hung German industrialists alongside the other war criminals the Allies hung at Nuremberg. Nope, we’re stuck in this reality where giving more weapons to two warlike regimes in a region devastated by war is touted as a peace treaty.

Shit like this is why the aliens fly right past. Assuming any such aliens exist, the latest search came up with nada: Astronomers find no signs of alien tech after scanning over 10 million stars. If there’s aliens out there, they certainly aren’t doing anything noticeable. My backup theory is that intelligent life such as ours is an evolutionary dead end. Soon enough the technology will be such that an individual will be able to build a doomsday device. We can’t even stop school shooters in the US, so this would be inevitable. We’d all die with our freedoms intact though, woohoo! And if the stock markets were high at the time, then what else matters?

OK, no emails from aliens yet. I just checked. Unless they are cleverly disguised as spam, which would seem to miss the point. Still, how the hell would I know how aliens think, even understanding Trump supporters gives me pause. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: Anonymous quote pasted onto a Public Domain Snappygoat Image. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 10, 2020 at 7:39 pm

BETELGEUSE IS UP TO SOMETHING

leave a comment »

Betelgeuse, the 11th brightest star in the night sky, may explode. Wait, what? Yerp, Betelgeuse, the left shoulder of the constellation Orion, is acting very strangely indeed. Over the past few months it has dimmed to less than 40% of its normal brightness, and is now the 24th brightest star in the sky.  The next clear night I’m going to go out and look for myself, Orion is one of the most noticeable constellations in the sky. Never thought it would change in my lifetime. This is, by the way, essentially unprecedented. While there are a few variable stars in the sky including Betelgeuse, never has a super bright star such as Betelgeuse suddenly dimmed this much, at least in recorded history. What the hell is going on here?

Short answer, astronomers don’t know, but it could mean Betelgeuse is about to explode. Betelgeuse is a very unstable and active star, it’s likely just blown a dust cloud or such our way. Still, a supernova? This is because Betelgeuse is a red giant star nearing the end of its red giant phase. And sometimes such stars go supernova. Betelegeuse is maybe 10-20 times the mass of the Sun, and large enough to encompass the orbit of Mars and maybe Jupiter. It’s about 700 light years from Earth, right next door astronomically speaking. Most astronomers think it’s unlikely the dimming means Betelgeuse is going to explode anytime soon, but it is within the realm of possibility. Only eight such explosions have been observed in history, so it’s not like scientists have had much opportunity to study them.

If it does go supernova, it will be quite a sight. Betelgeuse will be the brightest star in the sky, rivalling the Moon in brightness, and so bright as to be visible during the day. And it will last for months. Hopefully the skies here will clear long enough for me to look. Cloudy with sleet today, oh joy. On the plus side, 700 light years away means it probably poses no danger to Earth. We know this mostly because we have a pretty good idea of how common supernovas are, so we can calculate how often Earth has been close to a supernova. Fairly often in cosmic terms, and the planet hasn’t been sterilized yet. Losing the ozone layer would be the biggest danger, the effects would be bad, but life would go on. Phew. We have enough on our plate at the moment.

So two thoughts about this. First, boy, in the pre electric light world this would be a much bigger deal. If one of the stars in Orion had dropped to less than half its brightness in 1800, everyone on Earth would have known about it pretty quickly. And in many eras, it would have been considered an omen or such, the heavens were supposed to be immutable. People wouldn’t have known what to make of it. Pre 1700 or so, before outer space was discovered, people would have been really perplexed. Might have even caused witch burnings or wars. So, good thing it’s happening now, when people don’t believe in superstitious nonsense. Snort. No, the evangelicals who are waiting for Jesus to come back see this as another sign of the End Times. Stay tuned.

Which leads to my second thought, a somewhat eccentric thought trail. This Betelgeuse dimming event is the fourth odd and unprecedented event in the sky since Tabby’s Star dimming in 2015 suggested (albeit unlikely) alien megastructures. The second being Oumuamua and Comet Borisov. Tabby’s Star suggesting aliens, the next two being the first two confirmed interstellar visitors to the Solar System. And now an interstellar event visible to the naked eye, that rarely happens. One might even include the recently discovered repeating FRB, though that’s a stretch.

Connecting these events is no doubt pareidolia on my part. Seeing patterns where none exist. Thinking aliens might announce their presence by making changes in the sky isn’t an original idea. In fact the whole “the aliens are coming” trope seems pretty clearly to be the modern version of “Jesus is coming.”  Still, if the aliens suddenly arrive, I will become a famous blogger. The guy who saw the signs that the aliens were coming! The Nostradamus of our time! Fame and fortune would surely follow. And what a nightmare that would be. Fortunately it’s about as likely as Betelgeuse going supernova in our time.

On a more serious aliens vein, a case has been made to mainstream SETI (The search for extraterrestrial intelligence.) There are excellent reasons for doing so, both SETI and astronomy in general will benefit. The reason SETI has been left out in the cold is because it’s easy for science deniers and evangelicals to ridicule. Humans just love to shoot themselves in the face, we’re an odd species for sure.

I’m sorry this post is a day late, still helping a friend convalesce from an operation. She flies home soon though, and I will resume posting on a more regular basis. Take that as a threat or a promise I suppose. Have a great week everyone!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Remnant of Cassiopeia Supernova of 1572. Credit: Pixabay, free for commercial use, no attribution required.)

Written by unitedcats

February 18, 2020 at 8:17 am

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

leave a comment »

OK, just couldn’t get into the police dog post. Maybe someday, maybe not. Discussion of the meme in question got a little heated in the Doug’s Darkworld Facebook group, and my tolerance for drama of any sort is reaching new lows. Life’s too short. So maybe a fun post. Puppies! Oh, wait, I don’t like puppies. They have sharp teeth and they smell funny. Worst of all, like some sort of reverse butterfly, they turn into dogs. Then they have sharp teeth, smell funny, and destroy any nearby furniture, walls, tools, appliances they can get their teeth into. Actually, whatevs, I don’t mind a good dog. If I ever live out in the forest again I might have a dog.

Moving right along, things haven’t gotten worse in the Middle East. Global Warming is getting worse. Things are getting ugly in Hong Kong. My attempts at baking are one for three. Yeah, not going to bake anymore, it’s clearly not my forte. Even the animals outside wouldn’t eat my last batch of attempted muffins. I looked up what happened in history October 2nd, not much hope there. An odd assortment of the usual calamities. In 1187 Salladin captured Jerusalem, which the Crusaders had held for 80 odd years. The Queen Mary chopped a Britsh Cruiser in half during World War Two.  One good Omen I suppose, The Twilight Zone premiered on October 2nd, 1959. And in 1996 an airliner crashed because a mechanic forgot to remove some duct tape. Usually duct tape fixes things, not this time.

Speaking of fixes, this weeks Skeptoid is about how to fix global warming. It is fixable, but like so many of humanity’s problems, fixing it would slightly inconvenience a handful of people who already have more money than they could spend in a hundred lifetimes. They won’t stand for that of course, and claim that them making slightly less obscene profits would wreck the economy. As a general rule anytime one hears “But it would wreck the economy!’ what is really being said is “But the super rich would have slightly less money!” The sad thing is that a lot of the people being exploited by the rich parrot the same tired argument. Sigh. Anyhow, read about it here without my ranting.

And when we’re not avoiding fixing a problem, there’s people actively making them worse. I’m thinking of the anti-vaxxers. The good Dr Novella makes a case for mandatory vaccinations for school kids. Why this even has to be debated is maddening. I remember the sixties and seventies, the only blatant science deniers were cranks. I don’t recall any major social movements completely at odds with established science. It’s not like there’s any doubts, measles caused nearly 3 million annual deaths in 1980. It’s lower than one hundred thousand now. And no, it wasn’t the widespread introduction of handi wipes, it was the MMR  vaccine. And that’s just one of many diseases vaccines radically reduced or even eliminated by vaccines.

Strange times indeed. So politics. IDK. Electoral politics get more like sportsball every day. Everyone gets really excited about their team, or obsessed even, but in the final analysis who wins the Super Bowl or the World Series doesn’t mean anything. So, I have no meaningful comments. And I’m actually going to some political stuff. Meetings. Things. I can’t even make an order in Starbucks, let alone describe what goes on in local electoral politics. Good people trying to make a difference, God bless em.

In the “You can’t make something foolproof because fools are so ingenious” file, people are trying to get their self driving cars to run them over. That’s up there with eating Tide pods, how the hell did I end up on this planet? Didn’t I have any other choices? But yes, at least one youtuber posted his attempts at running himself over. The whole self-driving feature is already a nightmare for insurance companies. Who is at fault when a driver summons their car and it hits someone? Lots of fun to be had. Lots of lawyers will get richer.

Lastly, a scientist has published a paper making the case that aliens are watching us. Seriously. This is because there is a tiny (about twenty known) population of asteroids called Near Earth Co-Orbital Objects. These little guys don’t orbit Earth, but they share the same orbit around the Sun. Dance partners with Earth so to speak. And physicist James Benford suggests they would be the perfect place to keep an eye on Earth from. He suggests we observe them closely looking for any kind of radiation, and scan them with radar to boot. And maybe send a probe? Why not?

Why not indeed. They are both very close to Earth, and at least as scientifically interesting as any other object orbiting the Sun. We find out new stuff every probe we send. And indeed China is actually planning a ten year mission that would not only include visiting 2016 HO3, the nearest of these asteroids, the mission also includes sample returns. Read about it all here. Personally I think the aliens, if they exist, are already here on Earth. And no, they didn’t teach us how to make pyramid shaped piles of rocks. Another post, someday.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Man enjoying view from beach. Credit: Wallpaper Abyss.)

Written by unitedcats

October 2, 2019 at 4:19 am

Posted in History, Science, SETI