Category Archives: Science

Slum Earth

We humans, and all other living organisms on Earth have been ripped off. Our planet is a slum, compared with other planets that may exist.

According to some astronomers, superhabitable worlds may exist that are friendlier to life than our own. And in fact, Earth itself may only be marginally habitable. This makes sense. It explains to me why I’ve barely been able to get by in life.

Face it, we live in a slum. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, if you inhabit planet Earth then you’re in the barrios, the tenements, the other side of the tracks.

We’ve often been taught that the Earth is in a “Goldilocks Zone,” perfectly situated for the formation and sustenance of life. But now some astrobiologists are questioning this conventional wisdom, and theorizing that things could really be a whole lot better.

One of the primo features that may be found in more luxurious planets is mass. The best planets are two to three times more massive than Earth. They have more surface area, and thus more room for life forms to grow. They also have more plate tectonics, which helps to recycle critical material from their interior to their surface. In other words, they can keep the shit stirring and the life purring.

Another select feature is stable temperature. Our wobbly Earth has experienced ice ages that have caused mass extinctions. But luxury planets with better climate control don’t have that problem. And speaking of the weather, some planets may be just a tad warmer than ours. They don’t skimp on the thermostat like the building supervisor does on our slum planet. And so they may have larger tropical zones with greater biodiversity.

And some planets could have more oxygen. Breathing room is always a luxury. More oxygen increases the maximum possible body size. It also allows for more massive atmospheres, with greater shielding to damaging high-energy radiation from space. So there would be less cancer, and less need for sunscreen on these planets. But given our large size, we’d have to frequent the Big and Tall store, for our clothes.

Location, location, location. Recent research suggests that our slum Earth is scraping the very inner edge of the sun’s habitable zone. We’re hanging onto life by a tiny, tenuous thread. But the luckier planets are located smack dab in the middle of their star’s habitable zone. What a nice sense of security inhabitants of these planets can enjoy, compared with us.

And speaking of stars, we could do better than ol’ Sol. The best stars to revolve around are called orange dwarfs. Sadly, we’re stuck with a yellow dwarf. Orange dwarves are a bit cooler and smaller than yellows. This may provide more favorable ultraviolet environments. Orange’s also have longer lifetimes, giving the worlds that revolve around them more time to develop life and accrue biodiversity. Look at it this way: Instead of enjoying a sweet orange, we’re sucking on a bitter lemon.

Keep this rule in mind, the next time you go planet shopping: The most habitable planets tend to orbit orange dwarves, and tend to be slightly older and two to three times more massive than Earth. One location where you might want to shop is Alpha Centauri B. It’s the closest stellar system to the sun, being only 4.37 light years away, so you don’t have far to travel. It’s an orange dwarf—hooray! And it may host a planet at least the size of Earth, in its habitable zone.

Europa could become an ideal vacation spot, once we kill of all the “aliens” that might live there.

But you could also check out Europa, which is one of the moons of Jupiter. Europa is in our own solar system, and much closer than Alpha Centauri B. But it is far outside the sun’s habitable zone. Yet research indicates that terrestrial bodies may not need to be within a habitable zone to foster life, due to a phenomenon called tidal heating. The tidal force of Jupiter’s gravitational pull on Europa is roughly 1,000 times that of our own moon’s tidal force upon Earth. This force flexes the surface of Europa, generating enough heat to possibly support life.

Ah, silly me. You can’t really choose your planet. You and I are stuck with slum Earth. But sometimes late at night when your acid reflux keeps you from sleeping, you can always go outside and gaze at the stars. When you do, think about orange dwarves, and imagine super-sized planets. And eat your heart out dreaming of a better world.

The Entropy Argument

I’m an atheist, but there was a time many years ago when I got into a long-running, online argument with a forum of fellow atheists. I was trying to prove by argument that even if there isn’t a God, life can be eternal. Big mistake on my part. Nothing can be proven by argument.

I finally gave up on those bastards. And they laughed me off as another casualty to their impeccable logic and rational thought.

They were engineers and self-proclaimed scientists, and apparently possessed some knowledge of physics. And their main argument against eternal life utilized several concepts of physics, involving entropy and the first two laws of thermodynamics.

If you want to risk permanently crossed eyes, or falling into a forever slumber, you can google these subjects and try to figure them out. That’s what I did, and with help from my eye doctor and sleep therapist, I managed to survive the research and emerge mostly unscathed.

I want to emphasize, though, that In spite of all my study, I don’t possess great confidence in my grasp of these concepts. And they’re kind of controversial, as different physicists seem to have different opinions about it. But here’s the best explanation I can come up with, as to why we can’t live forever (according to those damned atheists):

Entropy of our cosmos basically means that over time, the energy of our universe is slipping into equilibrium. As our universe expands, temperatures within the universe are equalizing. The theory posits that eventually there will be an even temperature spread throughout the universe, preventing any transfer of energy from taking place between any one point and any other point. Energy will be immobilized and unable to produce any activity. Nothing will be able to move. Everything will be dead.

Entropy is slowly killing our universe.

This wiki article, on the Heat Death of the Universe, can help explain it better, if you’re willing to risk crossed-eyes and coma.

Have you ever watched your kids bouncing off the walls, with energy in the early evening? And have you observed that as the evening wears on, they make less and less rational sense, and move more and more slowly? That’s kind of like entropy. By the time beddy-bye arrives, they’ve become comatose and you have to carry them to their blankets.

That’s where entropy is taking our universe.

The atheists I argued with cited entropy as proof that there can be no life after death. They pointed out that the nature of energy is to decay into random chaos until it loses all ability to function. And so they claimed that since life is energy, all life in this universe must eventually come to an eternal end.

They made a good point, in my view, because our long-running argument eventually died from entropy.

But I learned from this argument. And what I learned is that it’s a mistake to equate life with energy. I make the assumption that life is eternal. It’s an assumption, I admit, but I prefer assuming that life is eternal, than assuming the depressing alternative. But because of entropy, I can’t keep assuming life is eternal if I also assume that life is energy.

The entropy argument helped me realize that life cannot be assumed to be energy, if life is assumed to be eternal. So life has to be something different. Life can command and control energy when it occupies a physical body, and this can lead us to confuse life with energy. But if life is eternal, it cannot be energy.

Scientists have never discovered what life exactly is. They’ve never developed an unequivocal definition of life. So it would be inaccurate to say that science has proven that life is energy. That was the flaw in the argument of those atheists, and if only my lame brain had figured that out at the time, I would have really showed them a thing or two.

Once again, my esprit de l’escalier let me down.

Scientists have never discovered where life comes from or where it goes to. In fact, nobody really knows the answer to that question, although there are plenty of religions willing to supply an answer.

I don’t know either. I’ve defined life as change, in several of my books, which you can find in my Free Bookstore. But that’s a philosophical definition. As far as a biological definition for the soul that dwells within living creatures such as you and me, I’m as stumped as the scientists.

But with regard to a biological definition, I can say with all the hope in my heart and all the power of assumption that I can muster, that one thing is absolutely, positively, most probably true:

Life is not energy.

Killed By Unicorn

Mad Mike preparing for a rocket launch on 12/1/17.

I report with sadness, the death of a man by unicorn. “Mad Mike” Hughes chased a very unique unicorn, but was impaled yesterday by its sharp, pointy horn.

Mad Mike was a science denier. There’s nothing unique about that, as many misguided folks have a low regard for science. What made him different from most science deniers is that he put his life on the line for his cause, and chased a unicorn straight into the troposphere.

Mad Mike Hughes built a steam-powered rocketship, and launched himself into the troposphere several times, in order to prove something about the world being flat, or some other strange, vague thing he mumbled. Or maybe he was just trying to prove that he could do it.

He broke his ankles and injured his back during these launches, but never gave up.

I posted about him several times, on December 1st, 2017, and on March 26th, 2018.

On Saturday, 2/22/20, this crazy astronaut was at it again, near Barstow, California. He had a new steam-powered rocketship that he hoped would launch him 5,000 feet straight up. He launched successfully, but during blastoff the rocket’s parachute got caught on something and ripped. Mad Mike went straight up, and then, with no parachute, went straight down.

He did not survive. Mad Mike is dead.

And the world is not flat. But Mad Mike is.

I encourage unicorn chasing, but I include a warning. Watch out for the pointy horn. Unique experiences can be heady, thrilling, and fun as hell. But they can also be very dangerous. Proceed with caution when chasing these beasts. Do your research, and respect good advice, knowledge, and science.

Just the same, we’ll miss you, Mad Mike.

Here are some links to several news stories about Mad Mike’s demise:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/22/us/science-channel-mike-hughes-dead/index.html

https://abc7.com/daredevil-mad-mike-hughes-dies-in-rocket-launch-crash-near-barstow/5960342/

The World Is Flat!

“Mad” Mike’s rocketship. If you can’t prove the world is flat with this contraption, perhaps you can at least catch a roadrunner.

Breaking News: The world was proven flat on Saturday, March 25, 2018, when intrepid daredevil, “Mad” Mike Hughes launched himself 1,875 feet into the troposphere (yes, the TROPOSPHERE, I say!), in his homemade steam-powered rocketship.

You first heard about “Mad” Mike Hughes on this very blog (unless you heard elsewhere). That’s when I scooped the entire journalistic world, except the journalists who made me aware of this story, and told you about “Mad” Mike’s ambition. I even met his helper and saw the madman not more than 50 feet away. He ignored me. But I did take some snapshots of his crazy spaceship.

Here’s a link to my earlier blog post:
Mad Mike and His Steam-Powered Rocketship

Yep, I like to keep you abreast of the cutting edge of science. And nonscience. And even, nonsense.

“Mad” Mike Hughes believes the world is as flat as a frisbee. But he doesn’t want you to take his word for it, he wants to prove it. So he built a steam-powered rocketship, which he has used several times now to penetrate the troposphere, and gaze upon this frisbee from on high. I guess there’s nothing like getting a birds-eye view of something, so you can tell exactly how it’s shaped.

“Mad” Mike’s first launch, several years ago, delivered him to heights of 1,500 feet. However this latest launch shattered his old record, bursting the 1,800 foot mark. This time he used two parachutes instead of one, and managed to avoid breaking both of his ankles again. But he does claim to have a sore back.

Actually, some of the above was fake news. I’m sorry. I hate to burst your bubble, but “Mad” Mike did not really prove the world is flat. All his launch did was raise our awareness of his flat earth cause. He claims he’ll have to launch himself some 68 miles up into the air before he can provide evidence of our planet’s flatness.

But he does plan to do this, in a fancy-fangled device called a “Rockoon”. This is a hybrid of a rocketship and balloon, that “Mad” Mike intends to invent.

We’re looking forward to it, “Mad” Mike, but we sincerely hope you will survive. We’re glad you returned to earth safely on Saturday, and we hope you always keep safety foremost in mind. Never deny the scientifically-proven fact that gravity can be very dangerous.

I now return you to your regular blog programming . . .

Mad Mike and His Steam-Powered Rocketship

Just four miles east of Roy’s Cafe, on Historic Route 66, near the ghost town of Amboy, CA, Mad Mike Hughes is setting up his steam-powered rocketship. Many believe this launch will be groundbreaking (literally). The launch date has been tentatively set for Monday, December 4th, 2017.

Stolen Quote: No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit. ~ Helen Keller

Is the world round or flat? Is global warming real? Did NASA fake the moon landings? Most importantly, is it sane to trust modern science?

Mad Mike Hughes does not. He has pessimistically claimed there is no difference between science and science fiction. And he’s willing to put his life on the line to prove it.

Mad Mike is a desert rat from the Mojave Desert. And like most of us desert rats, his brain may have spent a little too much time baking in the sun. I chase unicorns, myself. And Mad Mike, well, he tries to prove that the world is flat.

But there’s a genius to his mad mind. He has figured out how to build a steam-powered rocketship. Yep that’s right, good old-fashioned steam. Just like the paddle-wheelers of yore, or the locomotive, or your mom’s steam iron.

He’s been making the news lately, with a planned launch in the Mojave Desert, near the ghost town of Amboy. Check out this youtube news story on the madman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am0bPTiUUDg.

My wife and I first became aware of him through the news. And guess what? It was not fake news! Imagine my delight when we were driving through the Amboy area on a road trip, and happened upon this mad science-denier setting his rocketship up right next to the highway, in plain view of passing motorists.

The rocketship will launch Mad Mike up this ramp built out of a motor home frame, and over 1,800 feet into the troposphere.

I can recognize a unicorn when I see one, and pulled over immediately. We got out and snapped a few photos of this steam-fueled contraption, and got to see Mad Mike himself setting the dern thing up.

We didn’t actually speak to him though, because his assistant walked out and intercepted us. He introduced himself as “Pioneer Pat”, and claimed to have been Mad Mike’s friend for several years. Pioneer Pat explained that he and Mad Mike are pioneers at proving the fiction in science.

Pioneer Pat informed us that Mad Mike was going to launch himself 1,800 feet into the air with his rocketship, and all under the power of steam. He said that a new, tentative launch date was set for Monday, December 4th (a prior launch date of 11/25/17 had been scrapped, due to interference from the golderned U.S. Gummint).

We sincerely expressed to him our worry for Mad Mike’s safety, and conveyed our wishes for a safe, successful landing. The poor man creased his brow as he thanked us, betraying a bit of worry, himself.

Pioneer Pat explaining the methods to Mike’s madness.

I asked him how this rocket launch would help to prove that the world is flat. Pioneer Pat admitted that it wouldn’t. But before I could follow up with a question like, “Well then what the hell is your real reason for this suicide mission?” he changed the subject and began educating us about Stanley Kubrick directing fake moon missions. So I kind of got the gist that the real reason behind this stunt was to make a mockery of the science of space exploration.

Pioneer Pat was a friendly, affable man, and quite garrulous. We enjoyed our conversation with him, but walked away with doubt in our heart that his friend had much longer to live.

I can’t help but wonder if this risky rocket launch is symbolic of the risks we take when we deny the validity of science. When we teach creationism and forbid the teaching of evolution, do we risk lives by slowing advances in biology and medicine? When we deny climate change, do we risk submerging major cities across the globe in seawater? And can science-denying lead progress down a screwball path? A path where time and talent is wasted on crazy things, such as steam-powered rocketships and eccentric researchers, who try to disprove that which most of us take for granted as true?

Or are we really the mad ones, and Mad Mike the sane one? Have we been duped by scientists? Did Stanley Kubrick really direct the moon missions? And did Christopher Columbus fall off the edge of the earth, only to be replaced by a cunning imposter?

I suppose we’ll have wait until Monday, December 4th to discover the answer. For on that date a marvelous man named Mad Mike Hughes will soar 1,800 feet into the air, on a jet of hissing steam, and somehow prove to us that the world is, indeed, as flat as a frisbee.

Or, on the other hand, rescue workers will be scraping a rocket man off the desert floor. And it will not be the earth that is flat, but rather, it will be Mad Mike himself, and all his science-denying theories.

Although we believe in science, we still like Mad Mike Hughes, and wish him a safe and successful return to Earth. You can see him in this photo, in the right-hand corner, gazing up. Up. Up there. To whatever wonderful mysteries lie beyond. Mysteries that are yet to be discovered by that dastardly field of so-called knowledge which we call science.

LIGO

A Black-Hole

A Black Hole

I’m trying to wrap my head around the latest astronomical discovery. On September 14th of last year, the scientific world was gobsmacked when astronomers at the LIGO observatory detected the gravitational waves of two colliding black holes.

They converted these gravitational waves into audio waves, and it sounded something like a drop of water from a dripping faucet.

By the way, LIGO is not to be confused with LEGO. LIGO is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. LEGO is what you step on when trying to take a leak in the middle of the night. LIGO is the only such observatory of its kind. Except that it’s actually two observatories that work in conjunction with each other; one in Washington state and the other in Louisiana. It’s been operating since 2002, while detecting absolutely nothing worth anything. But that all changed last September, when it picked up the drop heard ’round the universe.

Somehow, this drip-dropping noise proved one of Albert Einstein’s theories related to relativity. This is the theory that my relatives are the ones who forget to tighten faucet handles. However, they say that the “sound” produced by this black-hole collision released three times more energy than all the galaxies in our universe combined. This to me is further proof of relativity, because some of my bumptious relatives can actually shout that loud.

The black holes collided 1.3 billion years ago, at a distance of 7,625,404,800,000,000,000,000 miles from Earth. They were both about 30 times the size of our sun, and were spinning around each other at several thousand revolutions per minute. That’s a pretty reckless speed for two objects of such Pantagruelian proportions, so naturally these lumbering titans had to collide sooner or later. Good thing we Earthlings kept a safe distance.

Now the question I have is, what happens when two black holes swallow each other? Shouldn’t it create some sort of anti-black hole, and force them to regurgitate up everything they’ve been consuming for billions of years? Back in my math school days, I learned between naps that a negative number multiplied by a negative number always equals a positive number.

So I have a positive attitude about this black-hole collision. I think they’re going to spit up all the stuff they’ve been stealing from the universe, and we’re going to recover lost property. Who knows what sort of wonderful marvels may emerge from the site of this cosmic accident? We should send a space exploratory mission to the site of the crash. Hey, what’s a few extra trillion dollars added to our national debt?

As you can tell, I’m no Albert Einstein. My thinking about this is about as far-off in outer space as the black-hole collision itself. But after 13 years of listening to nothing, then becoming elated when they heard the sound of a dripping faucet, I draw this conclusion about the astronomers who made this discovery:

Scientists are easily entertained.