Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘SETI’ Category

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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There will be a Borders III post, but it’s going to have to wait a bit. And boy, turns out there’s a lot of people on Facebook who claim to be the Messiah. I’ll get a post out of that someday too. I know someone who lost their wife and kids to a cult once, self styled messiahs have an unholy attraction for some people. Today, I’m going to be all over the place. Or more so than usual I suppose. My staff consists of one useless cat at the moment. Working on a partnership though, she’s already been far more helpful than the cat.

Moving right along, January 31 was a big day in history. I mean, every day has all sorts of historical events on it. (Except June 31, nothing ever happened on June 31, no one knows why.) However, January 31, a big day as in important well remembered events. This was the day in 1943 where German Field Marshal Paulus surrendered to the encircling Russians at Stalingrad, thus ending the greatest battle in history. Hitler had promoted Paulus to Field Marshal because no German field marshal had ever surrendered. Have I ever mentioned that Hitler was prone to magical thinking? Stalingrad was Hitler’s Pickett’s Charge, the war would only go downhill for Hitler from there.

On January 31 the VietCong launched simultaneous surprise attacks on every provincial capitol in South Vietnam, and even breached the American embassy’s grounds in Saigon. It caught America and South Vietnam by complete surprise, but it didn’t trigger the general uprising the VietCong had been counting on, and the Tet Offensive as it was called, was a tactical and strategic disaster, one from which the VietCong would never recover from. And in the USA, it was a political death blow for president Johnson, and significantly eroded American support for the war. That’s because some months earlier Johnson had announced … victory! The VietCong had been beaten, the war was all but over, the US could start pulling out. So yeah, a massive nationwide VietCong surprise attack pretty much destroyed Johnson’s credibility, and was in fact the beginning of the end for America’s misbegotten involvement in southeast Asia.

Well, those were the big two events, enough for January 31. Although in another historical footnote: Meet Eunice Foote, The Mother Of Climate Science Whose Work Was Ignored Because Of Her Sex. She was the first person to discover the role that CO2 plays in changing the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere. The greenhouse effect as it is called. Since she was a woman though, she wasn’t allowed to present her findings at the 1856 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. A man got the honor and the credit 3 years later. Sigh. It would be over 100 years before she was recognized for her groundbreaking discovery.

In a medical breakthrough: Two more coma patients’ brains jump-started with ultrasound. Waycool. People sometimes come out of comas after years or even decades. The brain’s ability to heal itself is quite amazing. We are talking comas though, this would not have helped the sadly famous Terri Schiavo, she was in what is known as a persistent vegetative state. PVS is a horrible condition, the patient has normal sleep and awake cycles. They may laugh, they may cry, they may appear to be looking around. So it’s easy to see why friends and loved ones would very much cling to the belief that they are still alive and may recover. Alas, what PVS sufferers don’t do is communicate in any way, there is literally no one home. And while a few people who were misdiagnosed as being in a PVS have recovered, they were all showing signs of improvement after a few months. No one has ever recovered from an actual PVS diagnosis, the part of the brain that makes us who we are is irreparably damaged.

Moving from inner space to outer space (lame segue I know) here’s an interview with the professor who thinks Oumuamua was alien technology of some sort: Professor Avi Loeb: ‘It would be arrogant to think we’re alone in the universe’. On the one hand, he’s plugging his new book on the topic. On the other hand he does have a point regarding how the scientific community can be hostile and non supportive of anything related to aliens. A situation that’s unlikely to change until we actually find actual evidence for them, it’s way too easy for politicians to ridicule SETI, why attract attention from them?

And another scientist has come up with an explanation for the Wow! Signal. The Wow! Signal was detected in 1977 and has never been explained. Here’s another try though: Was the Wow! Signal Due to Power Beaming Leakage? Basically humans are starting to experiment with beamed power to launch spacecraft and such, and the Wow! Signal might well be “leakage” from aliens doing the same. It’s an interesting idea, and suggests we might want to observe that part of the sky continuously to see if it ever repeats.

Lastly, back on Earth. I, for one, look forward to Qbacca testifying at Trump’s impeachment trial: ‘Complete circus’: Lindsey Graham fears ‘QAnon Shaman’ testimony at Trump’s impeachment trial. All of Trump’s lawyers have quit at this point, it’s not clear who will represent him at his trial in just over a week. Apparently all he wants to talk about at the trial is his fantasies about election fraud. It’s gonna be interesting, if not a total circus. I don’t think Trump’s ever faced anything like it, this isn’t going to be a press conference where he can ignore questions, hurl abuse at the questioner, and storm out if he doesn’t like how things are going. He might try though, boy, won’t that be fun.

Stay safe and warm everyone. Just maybe things will settle down now and the Capitol Riot was peak insanity over Trump’s election fraud charade. A man can hope. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Field Marshal Paulus surrendering at Stalingrad. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-F0316-0204-005 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

No changes were made in the image. Paulus actually survived being a Russian prisoner. Most of the nearly 300,000 men who surrendered with him didn’t. Stalin had in fact promised that Paulus’ men would be well treated, and did order so. Yeah, by this point the Germans had done terrible things in Russia, so Stalin’s orders were for the most part ignored. Paulus lived until 1957.)

Written by unitedcats

January 31, 2021 at 8:30 pm

TRUMP PROMISES ‘BIG THINGS’ WILL OVERTURN ELECTION JUST DAYS BEFORE ELECTORAL COLLEGE MEETS, PLUS GIANT ROCKS IN THE SKY

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Yes, yes he did: Trump promises ‘big things’ will overturn election just days before Electoral College meets. He didn’t say what they were, and frankly I’m not too worried. For those who haven’t been paying attention the past four years, empty promises are one of Trump’s mainstays. I don’t think there’s any real chance he could overturn the election, his efforts to do so have been farcical failures so far. He’s also expanded his claims, he’s now claiming that all sorts of elections were rigged, not just the election for POTUS. No evidence for this of course, but all based on his belief that Trump supporters are in the majority in America. No, no they aren’t. Most Americans are actually fairly tolerant and live and let live types, not MAGA evangelicals living in fear of libtards and mythical communists conspiracies.

Covid is ripping right along. 9 out of the top 10 world Covid hotspots are US states. Mind numbing, nu? This is a foreign article about how America turned into an ungovernable mess, makes some good points: Why Freedom Became Free-Dumb in America | by umair haque | Nov, 2020. Depressing as hell. Then this, basically claiming McConnell is going to do whatever he can to kneecap the Biden administration. Mitch McConnell’s dark pivot: Wreck the economy — and sabotage Biden’s presidency. We’ll see, unfortunately the election plotters somehow forgot to steal McConnel’s Senate seat. This also has an interesting take on the mess: Opinion | How the ‘stolen election’ myth will swallow the GOP.

Well, some science for a bit. The Japanese probe Hayabusa2 has returned a sample of an asteroid safely back to Earth.  The second time ever this has been done, the first Hayabusa mission brought back the first sample from a different asteroid. When I was a kid all the sci fi stories and movies were about sending astronauts everywhere. Nope, as dead as flying cars. Robots will explore the Universe, not people.

Speaking about our universe: Here’s what an astronomer who believes aliens may be out there thinks about UFOs. Not much, in fact he points out a really amazing thing about UFOs which I had never known. The vast majority of global UFO sightings … are in America. Frankly more proof that our whole freaking country has gone insane, but I digress. The article has some good learned speculation on aliens, the Fermi paradox, etc. Fun read for those so inclined.

Moving right along: An Astronomer Has Searched The Universe For a Potential Message From Its Creator. No, not a joke post. Can’t hurt I suppose, looking to see if there’s any messages from a creator somehow woven into the fabric of reality. Spoiler alert: He hasn’t found any yet. The big question I have about something like this is, if he finds something, does it mean the Universe was created by a creator? Couldn’t it also mean we are living in a simulated universe? Or that advanced aliens are screwing with him? I just don’t see what it would prove. On the plus side, he does find the old testament woven into the background of the Universe, fun blog posts.

Still no snow in northern Iowa. I am going to have to put metal plating on the new kitchen door to prevent the cat from destroying it. One of those sentences I thought I would never write. My fault though, if I’d known I was going to survive cancer surgery I would have slipped the cat sitter an extra $20 to arrange an “accident” while we were gone. Missed opportunities, the story of my life.

Stay safe and sane everyone, only three more weeks of 2020  to go. Looking forward to 2021 saying, “You thought 2020 was bad? Hold my beer!” #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #spaceexploration

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Near Earth Asteroid 162173 Ryugu, whence the samples returned from. Well under a mile wide, it has a surface area smaller than New York’s Central Park, only about 600 acres. A person walking on the surface would weigh less than a penny. In other words, one could commit slow suicide anywhere on 162173 Ryugu simply by jumping upwards vigorously and sailing away into space.)

Written by unitedcats

December 7, 2020 at 5:16 pm

BIDEN WON BY A LANDSLIDE, THE WOW SIGNAL, AND OTHER RANDOM NEWS OF THE DAY

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Well, when all is said and done, Biden won by a landslide. The only winner this century with a higher margin was Obama’s win in 2008. Biden easily won by a much higher margin than Trump won by in 2016. And Trump had no problem claiming his 2016 win was a landslide, so he’s hoist by his own petard. Granted many of his followers think Trump was cheated out of the election, frankly though, being that out of touch with reality must be a crippling condition. I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

In other news, Trump gave a bizarre 63 second(!) press conference where he appeared to take credit for a record high stock market. Since he had predicted the stock market would tank if Biden was elected, it’s certainly odd. I actually find the whole stock market thing infuriating. A record high stock market means the upward transfer of wealth is reaching record highs. IE great news for the rich, not so great for the rest of us. In point of fact the poverty rate has been spiking while the rich are wallowing in ever more wealth. It’s also a sign (along with almost fawning mainstream coverage of Biden) that the rich and corporate America are thrilled with Biden.

There was a time when what was good for GM was good for America. Back when the minimum wage was a living wage, and good union jobs were plentiful. Those days are long gone, and until there’s a revolution, I can’t see them coming back. Greedy rich people control America now, and have created a horrible culture. The story of the 737 Max is a fantastic example of this, well, sickness. Where everything, including human life, is sacrificed in pursuit of higher stock prices and executive bonuses: Boeing’s 737 Max Is a Saga of Capitalism Gone Awry.

In other parts of our galaxy, a candidate source for the “Wow!” signal has been proposed. The “Wow!” signal was a brief but strong repeating radio signal picked up by a radio telescope in 1977. They were in fact scanning for alien radio transmissions. It was a strong signal, a scientist examining the computer printout circled it and wrote “Wow!” next to it. It never repeated, and no source for it was ever identified. Well, that was 1977, we have much better star maps now. A scientist realized this, took a new more accurate look in the direction the signal came from, and found a star very similar to the Sun: Sun-Like Star Identified As the Potential Source of the Wow! Signal

Yeah, kind of a long shot, we have no reason to believe there’s anything special about the Sun. Nonetheless, can’t hurt to take a much closer look at this star. We can listen for transmissions on many levels, and search for planets. It’s only 1800 light years away, that’s next door astronomically speaking. Hypothetically, if it was aliens, they sent the signal 1800 years ago, and their knowledge of Earth was as it was 3600 years ago. And, well, humans were building cities by then, great agricultural civilizations had arisen. From 1800 light years away, the changes that made in Earth’s atmosphere might well have been detectable.

And if they are watching us still, they’re seeing Earth as it was around the year 200. Septimus Severas was Caesar of Rome, I’m sure I’ve written about him before. An amazing character and life. Leading armies until his sixties, when bad English food and weather killed him. The Mayan Civilization was just beginning. Japan, China, India were all broken up into warring states. Hell, there were thousands of nations around the world, the Roman Empire was a complete anomaly at the time.

Back on Earth today: Evangelical Doctors’ Group Pleads With Churches To Stay Home. Not quite sure when evangelicals went off the deep end, the ones I knew in the 70s were cool. Good to see some of them still are rooted in reality. God would no more want his followers to hold services in an open field during a lightning storm than he wants them to gather in groups during a plague. God made reality for us to live in, and he wants us to follow its rules. Don’t play in traffic, don’t swim in shark infested mustard, don’t gather in groups during a pandemic. Same thing applies to Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving leftovers won’t taste as good if you’re on a ventilator,’ health department warns.

At least there’s some promising vaccine news: We Have Several Vaccines for COVID – Now What? With an incoming president who is actually going to fight Covid-19, by late 2021 things should be looking up. Knock on wood. Stay safe everyone. Comments, questions, likes, shares appreciated. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A scan of a color copy of the original 1977 computer printout. Credit: Credit: Big Ear Radio Observatory and North American AstroPhysical Observatory (NAAPO). Copyright: This image is ineligible for copyright! The first time ever I came across an image like that, learn something new every day.)

Written by unitedcats

November 24, 2020 at 8:24 pm

SCIENCE! MOSTLY. EVOLVING CRABOIDS, ELECTRIC MUD, HUMAN ALIEN HYBRIDS, UNCRUSHABLE BEETLES AND WHO’S WATCHING US?

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One trump note to start, then on to science. At least it was a far more substantive debate than the previous yelling match. That’s about all that can be said about it. Trump reached dizzying new heights on the BS meter, almost everything he said was what the old folks called lying. Back when America was great, presidents didn’t lie through their teeth quite so constantly.  Just saying. Doesn’t matter, if Trump said it, it must be true. Trump has truly turned the GOP, or his core at least, into something pretty much indistinguishable from a religion. If Trump said or promised it, they believe. Like Trump’s health care plan to replace Obamacare, promised it during his 2016 again, now he’s promising it again. Or Trump’s Covid-19 plan. Lies and empty promises, well, it worked in 2016. Even using the same promises. Sigh.

Moving right along, a whole concept I’d never heard of before. Carcinization. This is when an arthropod evolves into something like a crab. It’s happened no less than five times. Yes, parallel evolution is a thing, but five different times, that’s special. God likes crabs? No, it’s obviously a highly effective animal design in certain habitats, so it’s evolved repeatedly. It’s proved to be a great way to study evolution. Yeah, probably only of interest to the biology nerds: Animals Keep Evolving Into Crabs, Which Is Somewhat Disturbing. I just think it’s neat that there’s a specific word for it. Carcinization, going to be a challenge to fit into daily conversation.

And in more biology, electric mud! News to me, I can’t keep up with everything. Hell, so much new is being discovered these days, that no matter how much one tries, there’s more to learn every day. Anyhow, about ten years ago, in a freak experimental discovery scientists found out there are bacteria that form electrical circuits so to speak. Allowing them to perform biological functions over a distance. It was so weird it was disbelieved at first, but now two species have been discovered and it’s definitely real. I mention it because it’s interesting, and a wonderful example of how science is self correcting. This discovery will require rethinking a lot of things about, well, mud. Here’s the article for the suitably nerdish: ‘Electric mud’ teems with new, mysterious bacteria.

It’s more or less common knowledge now that while Neanderthals have been extinct for some 30,000 years, a lot of their DNA (possibly as much as 20% of it) remains mixed into human DNA, because humans and Neaderthals cross bred. Slightly less known, the Denisovans, another recently discovered extinct human ancestor that cross bred with humans, thus some of their DNA also survives in human populations as well. Well, studying modern human DNA scientists have discovered DNA that’s neither human, Neanderthal, or Denosivian. They don’t actually know what it’s from, Homo erectus is the best guess so far. Pfft, sometimes scientists have no imagination. It’s clearly alien DNA, I mean they had to be doing something with those probes:  Mystery ancestor mated with ancient humans. And its ‘nested’ DNA was just found. Helpful illustration above. People just love to have sex. And not even necessarily with other people.

Speaking of aliens, ever look up at the sky and wonder if anyone was looking back? Well, scientists wondered if aliens using the same technology we use to discover exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) would be able to see Earth? They found about sixty nearby G-type stars that could conceivably detect Earth, and in fact they could likely tell a fair amount about Earth. I wonder if the SETI people will give them a good look, if they can see us it stands to reason they might try to contact us. Or worse: Aliens From These Worlds Could Be Watching Us Right Now

In more news to me, there’s a type of beetle that can survive getting run over by a car. It’s called a diabolical ironclad beetle. That’s a pretty neat trick, normally cars running over bugs is a quick trip to that great windshield in the sky, or wherever bugs go after they die: The diabolical ironclad beetle can survive getting run over by a car. Here’s how. Obviously this might well have practical applications, keeping things from getting crushed is always a good thing.

Lastly, in the “humans have issues” file, I found out what happens to items returned to Amazon. I would have just guessed they were returned to inventory and sold to someone else. Nope, for the most part they get trashed: Hidden cameras and secret trackers reveal where Amazon returns end up. It bugged me, seems like such a waste. Certainly another indication of how inherently worthless most things are in the modern world. I realized what bugs me though. If they are just going to throw it out because it’s cheaper than restocking it, why not just cut the cost further and have the consumer toss it? Wouldn’t that be the greener and cheaper solution?

And once again I wish my friend Peter was still alive to ask him of this, he was a world class economist. What a strange world we live in. Even before  Trump and Covid-19 it was weird, now, well, that’s why I blog every day. 2020 America, books will be written. Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Best free image I could find of a Neanderthal. I wonder what they would have to say about the times. Lost forever I guess. Credit: Stefan Scheer Used legally, the various legal stuff here.)

Written by unitedcats

October 23, 2020 at 7:43 pm

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

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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

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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

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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