Greater Galaxy Gateway Gala – WIF Space

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Far-out Facts

About the

Milky Way

Galaxy

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When we think of where we are in the entire universe, our planet is just one a small speck. Even our solar system is one of many in the Milky Way Galaxy, and our own galaxy is one of billions in the universe. It’s hard to image how big The Great Expanse actually is. But with advanced technology, we have a better understanding of what lies in the deepest parts of space. Just in our own Milky Way Galaxy, we have numerous suns, planets, solar systems, comets, black holes, and so much more. Here are 10 interesting facts about our Milky Way Galaxy…

10. Structure And Size Of The Milky Way Galaxy

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy with a center bulge that is surrounded by four arms that are wrapped around it. Around two-thirds of all the galaxies in The Great Expanse are shaped in a spiral. Our galaxy, as well as our solar system, is always rotating. While our solar system travels around 515,000 miles-per-hour on average, it would still take approximately 230 million years to travel around the Milky Way.

Our galaxy is around 100,000 light-years across and has a mass of between 400 and 780 billion times the mass of our own sun. 90% of its mass is believed to be dark matter.

There is a huge halo of hot gas surrounding our galaxy that stretches for hundreds of thousands of light-years. While it is believed to be as huge as all of the stars put together in the Milky Way, the halo itself only has around 2% of the amount of stars that are found inside of the disk.

And at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy is the galactic bulge which contains gas, stars, and dust that’s so thick you can’t even see into it, let alone to the other side.

9. The Andromeda Galaxy Will Eventually Collide With The Milky Way

The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies will eventually collide into each other, but it won’t happen for a very long time. While it was previously thought that it would happen 3.75 billion years from now, newly conducted research from the ESA’s Gaia mission estimates the collision will take place in 4.5 billion years.

And we may not get hit as hard as previously thought. The new research also suggests that it won’t be a full force collision and rather a “tidal interaction,” which means that no planets or stars will collide with each other.

There is a group of more than 54 galaxies that are named the Local Group, of which Andromeda and the Milky Way are a part. These two galaxies, as well as the Triangulum Galaxy, are the three largest in the group. Andromeda is the most massive galaxy, while the Milky Way ranks second, and the Triangulum is third. Andromeda and Triangulum are both spiral galaxies and are situated between 2.5 and 3 million light years away from the Milky Way.

8. Our Galaxy Is Warped And Twisted Instead Of Being Flat

It’s always been said that our galaxy is flat as a pancake, but a recent study revealed that the Milky Way is in fact warped and twisted. The farther away the stars are from the center of the galaxy, the more they become warped and twisted in an S-like appearance.

Over 1,000 Cepheid variable stars (1,339 to be exact) were used in a study conducted by astronomers from Macquarie University as well as the Chinese Academy of Sciences. These stars became bright and dim in a manner that changed according to their luminosity. The data collected from these stars by using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (or WISE) let astronomers create a 3D map of the true shape of our galaxy.

While the Milky Way is now confirmed to be warped and twisted, it’s not the only one out there that’s like that. While it’s not overly common, astronomers have confirmed that a dozen other galaxies in The Great Expanse have twisted spiral patterns in their outer-most areas.

7. There Are Hundreds Of Billions Of Stars In Our Galaxy

It’s tough to know exactly how many stars there are in our galaxy since the halo around the Milky Way also contains many stars. In addition, the center of our galaxy has a galactic bulge that’s filled with dust, stars, and gas, as well as a super-massive black hole which makes that area extremely thick with materials that telescopes are unable to see through it.

While around 90% of our galaxy’s mass is made up of dark matter, the majority of the remaining 10% is dust and gas, it is believe that only about 3% of the Milky Way’s mass is made up of stars. Some researchers believe that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy, while others say that there are much more – between 400 and 700 billion.

The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission is mapping out the locations of around 1 billion stars in the Milky Way, so that’s a good start.

6. There’s A Super-massive Black Hole At The Heart Of Our Galaxy

It is believed that most, if not all, galaxies have a super-massive black hole at their center and the Milky Way has one that weighs as much as 4 million suns. Sagittarius A*, which is the massive object located at the center of our galaxy, has been observed for the past several years. Although black holes can’t actually be seen, scientists study them by observing the materials that are orbiting around them.

Scientists wanted to measure the effects of gravity near the black hole so they decided to observe a small star called S2 that orbits deep within Sagittarius A*’s gravity well every 16 years. They noticed three bright flares that traveled around the black hole’s event horizon at approximately 216 million miles per hour (or 30% of the speed of light).

Scientists previously believed that there were only small and super-massive black holes, but there are in fact medium-sized (or intermediate) black holes that are rare but they do exist, and we’ll talk about that in the next entry…

5. There’s Also A Jupiter-Sized Black Hole Wandering Around Our Galaxy

New research indicates that a rare Jupiter-sized black hole is wandering around our galaxy. The data came from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (or ALMA) which includes 66 telescopes that are placed across the Atacama Desert located in the northern part of Chile.

The data consisted of the scientists observing two gas clouds, called Balloon and Stream in reference to their shapes, and what they witnessed during their two-day observation period in May 2018 was that the gas clouds were moving in an odd pattern, like they were spinning around an invisible center in a location where no light was coming from.

The team determined that the object was an uncommon medium-sized black hole that has around 30,000 times the mass of our sun and is approximately the size of Jupiter.

4. Earth Is At The Center Of The Habitable Zone In Our Galaxy

For the last two decades, astronomers have modeled the evolution of our galaxy in order to figure out the four essentials needed for complex life – the existence of a host star; a sufficient amount of heavy elements to create terrestrial planets (like Earth); enough time for biological evolution; and an environment without gamma ray bursts or life-threatening supernovae.

Almost 4,000 exoplanets and nearly 3,000 planetary systems have been confirmed to exist in our galaxy. Hundreds of those star systems have more than one planet that is within the Galactic Habitable Zone (or GHZ) and there is no doubt that many more are out there just waiting to be discovered.

And of course Earth is located at a perfect spot near the center of our galaxy’s GHZ. What’s even more interesting is that according to astrophysicists at the Australian National University, the GHZ only has about 10% of all the stars in the Milky Way.

3. There Are Almost 4,000 Exoplanets In Our Galaxy

Planets that are beyond our solar system are called exoplanets and thousands have been discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope over the past several years. These exoplanets can be any size, with some being rocky and others having icy surfaces.

The Kepler Space Telescope worked to find these planets from 2009 until 2018. During that time, it discovered 2,682 exoplanets with over 2,900 possible candidates that are still waiting to be confirmed. And according to information found on NASA’s website, a total of 3,916 exoplanets (including the ones found by Kepler) have been confirmed.

Kepler ran out of gas and was officially decommissioned in November 2018. However, a new spacecraft, called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (or TESS) has taken its place to find new planets. It was launched in April of 2018 and is planning to scan around 85% of the sky in its two-year mission.

2. So Far, Almost 3,000 Planetary Systems Have Been Discovered In Our Galaxy

Another important piece of information presented on NASA’s website is that 2,917 planetary systems have already been discovered. One of those planetary systems which is very similar is our own solar system is called Kepler-90 which is located approximately 2,500 light years away from us towards the Draco Constellation.

Kepler-90 has eight planets which is the same number of planets located in our solar system. Other similarities between the two solar systems are that Kepler-90 has a G-type star which is comparable to our own sun; it has rocky planets like ours; and it has other large planets that are similar in size to Saturn and Jupiter.

One major difference between the two solar systems is that Kepler-90’s planets all orbit very close to their sun which would indicate that they may be too hot to sustain any type of life. But with further research, more planets could potentially be discovered that orbit at a further distance.

1A. Milky Way Is Only One Of Hundreds Of Billions Of Galaxies In The Universe

According to data collected from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, it was previously thought that there were around 200 billion galaxies in the universe. However, it is now believed that there are at least ten times more galaxies out there in space.

Some experts believe that around 90% of the galaxies in the observable universe are too far away and even too faint to see with our telescopes. Thankfully, the James Webb Space Telescope (or JWST) is scheduled to be launched in early 2021 which will help to see these faint galaxies and perhaps uncover even more.

Some of the tasks the JWST will conduct will be to find out what happened after the first stars were formed following the Big Bang; finding out how galaxies were formed and assembled; the birth of stars and proto-planetary systems; and understanding the atmospheres on distant planets to find out if they are habitable and can sustain life.

1B. What WIF Calls the Universe

What most folks refer to as the “Universe”, the rest of the fictional civilizations out there call it “The Great Expanse”, at least that is how  “I-Gwen” describes that wondrous-wide Creation that God set in motion. If giving God credit offends your sensibility, the “Big Bang” happened.

Whatever it is called or whoever gets the credit, it certainly boggles our little minds and this author is eternally fascinated.


Greater Galaxy Gateway Gala

WIF Space

Fallacies, Falsehoods, Facts and Furthermore – WIF Science

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Widely Misunderstood

Scientific Theories

People often misunderstand scientific theories — partly because science can be complicated, but also because many people are confused about what a scientific theory actually is. A theory, in science terms, is not just an extremely good educated guess, nor is it expected to ever reach a higher burden of proof. It is, in fact, a common misconception that a scientific theory can ever become a scientific law. This is because they aren’t really part of a hierarchy of evidence, but separate aspects of understanding and classifying the world around us. A scientific law is something we know, and a theory is a model to explain it that has stood up to repeated testing and research. Now, since people often misunderstand what a theory is, they also often sometimes get the science confused as well. In today’s article, we will go over 10 examples of just that.

10. “If We Evolved From Monkeys, Why Are There Still Monkeys?”

Something you will often hear from people who deny the theory of evolution is that it is silly to say we evolved from monkeys, because there are still monkeys around today. To begin with, we didn’t evolve from monkeys (at least not the ones you are thinking of and see today) — we may have evolved from a common ancestor to monkeys, many, many ages ago.

The idea that one species would disappear just because another evolved from it is simply confusing. A new species evolving from an old one doesn’t necessarily mean the old species is obsolete, nor that it will suddenly vanish from the face of the earth. There is also the matter of how more genetic diversity is created. When a group from a species ends up isolated from other members of its species, different forms tend to emerge due to the different environments or habits of the group. There are many, many different forms of monkeys today, which makes perfect sense with the theory of evolution — we are just the smartest kind. And yes, we are still basically monkeys, as far as the term can be loosely used with regard to hundreds of thousands of years of evolution… maybe.

However, God had a better idea; Creation.

9. Time Is One Of The Most Misunderstood Ideas In All Of Science

Time is something we take for granted, but in the physics community, its nature and existence is a source of constant research and debate. Some people aren’t even sure it is even really a thing… at least not the way we tend to think of it. Experiments with a unit of a measure even smaller than an atom, on something called the Planck Scale — which is a scale for incredibly small measurements — have found that time seems to cease when you get down to a small enough level. Some physicists think that this could indicate that at the very basic level of the universe, time doesn’t exist, which would mean what we think we are seeing is just a macroscopic effect of something else.

This can be quite confusing even to a trained physicist, and there really is no one truly defined explanation accepted by the majority of the community. Some are trying all sorts of equations and ideas in attempts to come up with some kind of overall rational, but have thus far not quite succeeded. The problem is that time has already recently thrown physicists for a loop, when Einstein proved that it was at least relative. Now, we have to figure out if it exists at the most base level of the universe, and if it does, in what form, and what it actually is. For now though, just accept the illusion, as your job will still expect you to show up on time.

8. The “Law Of Averages” Doesn’t Really Even Exist — It’s A Fallacy

Some people will talk about something called the “law of averages,” whereby they claim that over a given amount of time, things will basically even out in terms of odds. Usually, this is applied to some sort of competition, or even gambling. The thing is, though, there really is no such thing as the law of averages — it’s just a fallacy. The law of averages generally assumes that because something is statistically likely, that it’s going to happen soon. This fallacy can be part of the gambler’s fallacy, where people lose a lot of money, continuing to bet because the “law of averages” says it should happen “imminently.”

The problem is that these people have a poor understanding of probability. If we are talking about truly random chance, just because something is likely to happen doesn’t mean it will — there’s just a level of probability that it will happen. Calculating probability can be quite complicated, and the number usually ends up lower than you would expect. There is a real concept that people might be getting things confused with called the Law of Large Numbers. This simply posits that if you do something an incredible amount of times, the average should be close to the expected value. For example, if you roll a six-sided die hundreds of thousands of times, the average should be about 3.5, as that is the average value of the die. Some people get confused thinking that in a specific gambling run, or perhaps a game of Risk, that luck will even out. This is unlikely — the sample size is too small and you are falling prey to the gambler’s fallacy.

7. Gender And Sex Are Constantly Confused, But They Are Not The Same Thing

Today, there’s a lot of talk about various different genders, such as pansexual, demisexual, and so on. On top of that, there’s increased awareness and tolerance for those who are transgender; however, just because people are talking about these things more doesn’t mean that everyone necessarily understands the concepts. Some people get very confused about the difference between gender and sex, and the difference is important.

We aren’t here to weigh in on how many genders there should be, or how you should feel about people who feel they were born a different sex. We just want to get the science accurate. When it comes to sex, there really can only be two. You simply cannot make up any more than that, because sex consists of the physiological characteristics such as the actual differences in organs and the different hormones that naturally affect you. However, gender has always been an entirely sociological construct to begin with, and is perfectly open to create as many as you want, as it has nothing to do with physical characteristics. Gender is really about how you feel, what attracts you, and other nebulous factors that can’t be properly physiologically measured.

6. The Artificial Intelligence Scientists Are Creating Is Not What You Think

Artificial intelligence is probably one of the most misunderstood basic theories in science, but we don’t suggest that most people misunderstand this because they aren’t intelligent. Rather, movies have done an incredibly good job of twisting people’s understanding of this one, and unless you’ve studied computer science you may not realize how silly and wrong most movies have this.

In movies artificial intelligence reaches some level of consciousness, and people are quite used to this image of AI. To make matters worse, the news will get quick clicks with headlines about famous scientists being worried about the rise of AI, and then people start worrying about Terminators. Now, there is some reason to be worried about AI, but no researcher expects it to reach actual consciousness, because that’s just not how it works. Rather, the goal of AI research is to make it better at doing tasks and organizing the flow of various goings-on without much human intervention. The fear of experts is AI making bad decisions after being given control of important infrastructure, not because they have transcended to the level of conscious beings and are being malicious, but because they could make stupid mistakes due to lacking context, and not seeing the entire picture that a human would — or just thinking in an unpredictable way.

5. Survival Of The Fittest Isn’t About Strength Or Immunity, But Characteristics

A lot of people are taught about the theory of natural selection, but many of them come away with little memory of it except “survival of the fittest,” which many take to mean that if you are the strongest and toughest, you are more likely to survive. However, this is really only true if the environment you live in requires physical strength and toughness as the best way to not only live, but pass on your genes to a new generation.

This is because the whole point of natural selection is that those with the best characteristics for the environment they live in will be more likely to pass on viable offspring, not that strength and machismo will always rule the day. Species not only tend to naturally select over time for the better traits, but also will drop things over time that they don’t need anymore. A good example of this is wisdom teeth, which some humans are already being born without.

4. Everything You Know About Pavlov’s Experiments And Theories Is Probably Wrong

Ivan Pavlov is famous for his experiments with dogs, where he taught them to salivate at the sound of a buzzer by making them associate it with food. Most people think that Pavlov’s whole deal from the get-go was studying psychology by using dogs, and that no dogs were harmed in his experiments.

However, the truth is that the real story behind Pavlov is kind of horrifying if you like dogs. So, if you really, really love dogs and hearing about awful things done to them makes you upset, you might want to skip to the next entry. You’ve been warned.

Pavlov was not really interested early on in his career in psychology — that came much later after he had already won a Nobel Prize and reached his peak. Rather, Pavlov was interested in physiology, especially when it comes to the digestive system. He would do something called “sham feeding” where he would make a hole in the dog’s throat called a fistula, so that the food would drop out and never reach the dog’s stomach. By continuing to make lower holes on various dogs, he was able to measure excretions at various levels and his comprehensive picture of the digestive system won him a Nobel Prize in 1904 in Physiology or Medicine. While in his later years he did do a little bit of psychological research with dogs, a bell was almost never one of the sounds he used to trigger dogs’ association.

3. Freud’s Most Disturbing Theories About Sexuality Were Never Taken That Seriously

Many people today think of most of Freud’s absurd theories about young children or infants having unconscious sexual thoughts and not only scoff, but wonder what the medical community was thinking, taking such nonsense so seriously. However, the truth was that Freud had one of the most complex careers, and also has one of the most complex legacies, when it comes to his work. While people were interested in his ideas on psychoanalysis, the importance of dreams, and his general belief in a subconscious, it is important to understand that even during his time, his more radical ideas about unconscious sexual thoughts in children was not really accepted by most in the medical or burgeoning psychological community.

Also, it is important to understand that today, the psychological community thinks of most of Freud’s theories as a joke, and they don’t really teach him seriously in classes. But that doesn’t mean you throw out the baby with the bathwater, either. Freud may not be a huge influence today, but psychologists believe it is important to study him from a historical perspective because of the huge influence he had on early psychology, and also to understand which of his ideas did turn out to be correct. Now, while psychology doesn’t exactly believe in the breakdown of the subconscious quite the way Freud described it, a subsconscious is a widely accepted idea and we have Freud to thank for that one. And while his practice of psychoanalysis, which is the talk therapy where you try to understand the unconscious thoughts, is not that popular among psychologists anymore, there are those who practice it and some who incorporate elements into their therapy repertoire.

2. Black Holes Are Accepted By Most, But Their Nature And Existence Is Controversial

Black holes are something most of us understand very well. You can’t see them, but you know they are there because they are dragging light and matter into them like… well, like a black hole. However, back in the 1980s Stephen Hawking shocked the scientific community when he used the quantum laws of physics to prove that black holes were actually emitting particles — something now known as Hawking radiation. Now, this is where things get really tricky, because we still don’t fully understand black holes.

Hawking’s research contends that since the black hole is losing heat and matter, it will eventually dissolve like an aspirin in a glass of water, instead of continuing to just suck up light and matter without pause. However, this leads to the question of where the information that was sucked up goes to when the black hole dissolves. Some physicists contend that according to our knowledge of the laws of the universe, no information can be lost forever, but Hawking disagreed, wagering that the information would be lost. At this point, physicists can only scratch their heads, as we really have absolutely no way of knowing — we have never been able to yet witness a black hole dissolving to find out.

1. You May Have Seen Some Confusing Claims That Electrons Can Go Faster Than Light

This has been passed around the internet and even confused some kids in science classes when well meaning teachers didn’t explain it properly. People heard claims that electrons can go faster than light, and everyone got all excited about how we had allegedly cracked the speed of light barrier. However, the unfortunate truth was that no such thing has occurred. Electrons can move faster than light when they are sped up enough, but only in a medium that already slows down the speed of light moving through it.

This is a known phenomenon seen at nuclear reactors, that creates a really cool looking blue glow effect, and is known as Cherenkov Radiation. While in this context it’s easy for a flashy news media headline to confuse people into thinking scientists somehow found some amazing breakthrough and managed to exceed the speed of light, there has not yet been any situation where this has actually occurred. It is important to read the fine print, as in this case, going faster than light makes you think something special has happened, but faster than light and faster than the speed of light are not the same thing at all.


Fallacies, Falsehoods, Facts and Furthermore

WIF Science

SETI, Bicycles, Gravity, Placebos and Baghdad – WIF Scientific Mysteries

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Science Still

Hasn’t Solved

These Mysteries

The science community has granted us a wealth of knowledge that can never be overstated. Things that used to mystify our ancestors can now be understood and more appreciated. It’s shaped our view of the world, the universe, the animal kingdom, human psychology — literally everything you know has been helped along by science and the men and women who dedicate their lives to finding out the whos, whats, whens, whys, and hows of stuff. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

But with science having that intrinsic aspect of being ever-evolving, it’s never foolproof or absolute. Built right into the scientific method are allowances for screw-ups or just plain not knowing something. And you might be surprised that some very basic parts of life here on our planet totally baffle some of our best and brightest smarties. Here are some examples of mysteries that science has yet to crack.

10. Why do we sleep?

Now here is one you think we’d have nailed down by now. Almost every single person in the world sleeps daily (unless you’re a Rolling Stones guitarist). And the answer probably seems obvious to most of us: we sleep to rest our bodies after the day. We can hold off on food, water, even sex for days on end, but when it’s sleepytime, nature takes over and our bodies ask for the check.

Except it’s not as simple as just needing rest. Science has educated guesses which include all sorts of reasons for sleep, like making time for our brains to get things in order after a long day, to reinforce memories, or to replenish fuel lost while awake. But then you throw in examples of plants and other organisms that don’t have any brains at all like we do, yet still have “sleep” patterns similar to ours, and people who have gene mutations which let them function without much sleep at all, and we begin to see our very limited understanding of why we sleep.

9. How does gravity work?

Gravity, as we learn in school, is very simple… right? There are forces within our planet that pull things toward the center. So if you throw something in the air, it comes back down. Gravity keeps you on the ground. It’s also what keeps the planets orbiting around the sun. This is all very simple, and we’ve known it since we were able to learn information. So why does science have so much difficulty explaining it?

Basically, gravity is one of four forces in our universe, which also include electromagnetism, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear. Gravity is the weakest of the four, and while we seem to grasp the concept of gravity with earthly examples, when things get too small or too big, like black holes and atoms, that’s when science and Newton’s principles don’t really make sense. And a simple science experiment you’ve seen before, where a balloon rubbed on your shirt creates enough electromagnetism to negate gravity and lift your hair or a piece of paper, shows just how easily gravity can sometimes, well, disappear.

8. Why are most people right handed?

People seem to take notice when someone uses their left hand for something, as if it’s some kind of freak mutation that’s just manifested itself. And while it’s rare for someone to be a natural southpaw (about 10 percent of the world’s population), it’s not quite the same as running across someone who, say, has horns growing out of their head.

So why do people deviate from the norm, in terms of handedness? Is it a genetic mutation? The environment they’re brought up in? Is it hereditary? Science doesn’t really know, and it doesn’t even really have an empirically-established way to measure handedness. Science does lean toward genetics, but there are even problems with that, as some teachers in school force children to become right handed when learning to write, and there is some data as to cultural and societal factors influencing which hand becomes dominant. Weirdly enough, we’ve learned why people become right-handed, but not why right is the “right” way. If that makes sense.

7. Why does anesthesia work?

It’s the divine gas that makes people not have to be acutely aware of their leg being amputated, among other things. The introduction of anesthesia granted patients the ability to snooze through all sorts of medical procedures, and it’s been a godsend since the mid-1800s — not only for the patients, but for doctors who had to deal with squirrely, wide-awake amputee victims. What started as an inhaled ether on its inception has become a more refined chemical blend that renders the recipient unconscious.

But we don’t really know how it does that. Think about it. When you’re asleep, you’re unconscious, right? But you would sure feel a scalpel opening you up, wouldn’t you? So why is the anesthesia unconsciousness different? And it’s an even bigger mystery as to how the diverse chemicals in the anesthetic, ranging from steroids to inert gases, can work together to achieve such a deep unconscious level that takes you about as close to death’s door as is possible. It seems that under anesthesia, different parts of the brain are affected much like a coma patient’s brain would be. All in all, it’s a wonderful tool in medicine and we don’t really know why.

6. Why do cats purr?

“Awwww, it’s because he/she LOVES ME!,” you likely think to yourself, ignoring the fact that if that cat was a little bigger, it would probably try to rip your face off. But it’s not a stupid assumption — most people probably associate the low rumbly purr of the kitty-cat to a feeling of happiness or contentedness. Science as a whole shrugs and meekly mumbles, “I dunno.”

See, cats also have a tendency to purr when they’re scared or hungry. Purring probably isn’t a form of communication, as it’s too low and local to be really effective. Also, in the realm of just pure weirdness, science has discovered that purring has been linked to bone regeneration. So there are many theories we have for why kittens just sit there and gently hum their bodies, but most likely it’s just a way for them to soothe themselves. Kind of like how we laugh for several different reasons.

5. Why was there a mysterious hum in New Mexico?

New Mexico has had a weird history of everything from nuclear bomb testings to Walter White standing on a dirt road in his tighty-whities. But the residents of the northern town of Taos have their own strange tale to tell, and it’s in reference to a local phenomenon called the “Taos Hum.”

Since the early ’90s, people in the town have described some kind of tangible audio event. Some call it a whirring kind of noise, or a buzz, or a humming in the air around Taos. A professor of engineering at the University of New Mexico studied the sounds around Taos, and noticed that around 2 percent of the population was susceptible to the strange hum. That doesn’t mean that they picked up any unusual sounds while conducting their research. Quite the opposite. Their very sensitive audio recording equipment and vibration sensors picked up nothing out of the ordinary. The fact that the townsfolk heard differing kinds of sounds is also of less scientific value than if they had all heard one low, persistent hum. And that’s why science is more keen to dismiss the Taos Hum as being part of the onslaught of background noise humans live in these days, mixed with subjective hearing experiences from the people themselves. The residents of Taos, however, stand firm in their belief of a weirder explanation. It is New Mexico, after all.

4. The ancient Baghdad batteries

Now, hear us out here. What if we told you that researchers working in Iraq in the 1930s found what totally appeared to be some kind of crude battery that may have been used to produce electrical charges, and that it likely dated from around 200 BC? Of course, that would predate that kind of technology by a couple thousand years.

What archaeologists originally thought were some kind of clay storage pots turned out upon closer inspection to contain copper rods within them. This led the scientists to strongly believe the pots would have held some kind of substance that would react to the copper rods and produce electricity. But why? Theories range from using the charge to shock people as punishment (those were stricter days), to using that electricity to electroplate things with gold. Another school of thought is that they found a way to make electricity long before knowing what the heck it was good for, kind of like the Chinese with gunpowder. Our turbulent history with Iraq doesn’t help us figure much of anything out, either.

3. Why does the placebo effect work?

You’ve all heard the basics of the placebo effect: it’s a treatment that isn’t “real,” but the very act of a patient believing in its effectiveness creates its own beneficial properties. If you expect a pill or drug to do something, it’s likely to work in some way. It seems mean, but science uses placebos especially when testing a new medication’s effectiveness. Which, maddeningly, is skewed because sometimes these placebos work. But why?

Beats us! The point of a placebo is you don’t know you’re taking it. But that opens up a whole host of problems because placebos can often work even when you know you’re taking one. That clearly goes against its entire purpose. In 2009, researchers testing treatments for irritable bowel syndrome found many subjects who knowingly took placebos got better at higher rates than those who received no treatment at all. That’s absolutely insane. And it seems that a person’s personality is tied to whether the placebo effect will work or not. But that’s just a guess so far. If that’s not enough stuff that science doesn’t get, there’s also potentially an inverse nocebo effect, where if you don’t believe a treatment will work, your symptoms will get worse. Our brains are weird, man.

2. Why are we getting repeating radio bursts from space?

Cue the History Channel “alien guy,” because this is clearly some extraterrestrial stuff, right? Slow down there, Captain SETI. Let’s lay out the basics first. A fast repeating signal burst from space, called FRB 121102, was first discovered in 2012. While we’ve come across some of these before, this one has repeated itself, though sporadically.

The bursts usually last about a millisecond, and we don’t yet know where they originate from. We know it’s from a galaxy 3 billion light-years away that was recently discovered, but that’s about all. The radio bursts, though short, are massive, containing as much energy as the sun produces in a day. The fact that it’s persistent and repeating makes scientists think the location could be near a black hole or a nebula. And the source itself has earned science’s best guess of a pulsar or neutron star. But that doesn’t mean the fantastical minds of scientists are ruling out extraterrestrial origins. What fun would it be to ruin those hopes?

1. How bicycles really work

What?? If science is really going to tell us they can’t figure out how a two-wheeled vehicle works, are we supposed to trust them about anything? And yet, the humble bicycle contains so much scientific mystery within.

Much of the mystery concerns the bicycle without a rider perched on it. If a bike is going fast enough, it’s going to want to balance itself so it doesn’t fall over. It even does with when someone is riding it, to a degree. That self-stability and why it occurs has eluded scientists since the 19th century. The commonly-held idea that the gyroscopic effect of the rotating front wheel keeps the bike stable has fallen apart under recent analysis. An alternate theory likens the wheel on a bicycle to the wheels on a shopping cart, in that they align themselves automatically in the direction being traveled. That also fell apart. It seems science does have a point where they just give up and break for lunch.


SETI, Bicycles, Gravity, Placebos and Baghdad –

WIF Scientific Mysteries

Nuclear Attack Survival – WIF Doomsday Handbook

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Surviving a

Nuclear Attack

Shutterstock photo

With all of the hostility around the world today, it’s understandable if you may be at least a little bit worried about becoming a victim of a nuclear attack. While we truly hope that you’ll never have to use this advice, it’s still important to be prepared for any possibility. Here are 10 survival tips on what you can do before, during, and after a nuclear attack.

10. Run

This goes without saying, but if you’re still alive after a nuclear attack, run for your life. If you are close to the area where a blast has gone off, do not look directly at it, because it can cause you to go blind. You actually want to open your mouth, because if you don’t, your eardrums will actually burst from the sound of the blast. Anyone within half a mile of where a nuclear bomb goes off has a 90% chance of dying immediately, and a 50% chance of being killed within a two-mile radius.

According to Professor Irwin Redlener from Columbia University, nuclear bombs produce a tremendous amount of wind following the blast. Take notice to which direction the wind is blowing, and where you see the most damage. Head in the opposite direction.

Radiation travels so quickly that if you are within a 5-mile radius of the blast, you will only have 10 to 15 minutes to seek shelter before you are pummeled with enough radiation to kill you. Your priority should be to get far enough away, or seek an appropriate shelter.

9. Get Inside

While this may seem like common sense, you need to get inside if you want to survive after a nuclear blast. During the Cold War, the prevailing advice was to “duck and cover,” even if it meant laying down in the middle of the street. At the time, the government had very little knowledge about fallout, and in the film, they compare a radiation flash to getting a bad sunburn. We now know that the reality is that the heat of an atomic bomb is tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit, and that it causes skin cancer almost instantly, even if you are several miles from the blast site.

If you are within 5 miles of an atomic explosion, and you don’t have enough time to run, the best option is to get inside of the basement of a tall building, or inside of an interior room without windows. If you live in a city, and you can’t find a basement to hide in, you can also run to the 10th floor or higher of a very tall building, because it should be high up enough to avoid at least some of the debris. Just keep in mind that going underground is always the best option.

8. Shield Yourself

If you are outside during a nuclear attack, and there are few options for places to hide, FEMA recommends finding a concrete building, and using it to shield yourself from the direction of the blast. This isn’t ideal for a long-term hiding spot, but it could possibly give you enough time to survive the initial attack before moving on to find a better shelter.

After the attacks on Hiroshima, the only building that survived near the center of the blast was the concrete Genbaku Dome. Today, the site is used as a museum and memorial for the lives that were lost during the attack.

7. Avoid Fallout

If you are living within a few miles of a nuclear attack, your main concern should be avoiding fallout. And no, we’re not talking about the popular video game franchise. Fallout is a mix of dirt and radioactive debris, and it moves with the wind. Within the first week or two after a blast, it can be carried several miles away from ground zero. Even if you live 50 to 100 miles away from a blast site, pay attention to the news about the direction of where the fallout is moving, because it’s possible that you may still have to evacuate, or take shelter underground to avoid radiation.

If you’re not sure if you live within a safe distance of any potential attack, there is a rather frightening website called “Nukemap” that allows you to simulate what would happen after a nuclear explosion, and it will tell you just how many miles fallout is likely to travel.

6. Distance Yourself

According to Ready.gov, the most likely targets for a nuclear attack would be locations that would be considered important for commerce or government, such as capital buildings, military bases, power plants, and major ports for transportation. Obviously, if your job keeps you close to these places, you may not be able to change where you live. But if you are given a warning that a missile is on its way, be sure to get as far away from any of these types of buildings as you possibly can.

If you happen to be driving when you get a text message about an impending nuclear attack, it’s best to get as far away from the blast site as humanly possible. However, it’s also best to avoid driving on major highways, especially since you may have mere minutes to seek shelter.

In the event of a disaster, highways tend to get jammed when they fill with people who are desperate to get out of a city. If you have ever seen The Walking Dead, you may remember the highway leading out of Atlanta filled with cars of people who were trying to get away from zombies. Unfortunately, if an entire city has 15 minutes to evacuate, highways would look just like it did in the TV show. If at all possible, stick to driving on back roads.

5. Get Clean

If you happened to be outside during a nuclear blast, or you’ve been evacuating, it’s likely that fallout settled on your clothing and skin while you were seeking shelter. This means that you should clean yourself off as soon as you are safely inside a shelter. Ready.gov recommends removing your the clothing you were wearing, tie it in a plastic bag, and place it as far away from humans and animals as possible.

Take a shower, but be careful not to scrub too hard, because scratching your skin will be far worse. Use as much shampoo and soap as possible, but do not condition your hair or use lotion, because it will hold any radioactive materials to your skin. Blow your nose, wipe your ears, and eyes. After this first shower, it’s best to avoid tap water after that, because the radiation from the fallout will seep into the groundwater.

4. Stay Inside, and Wait for News

Once you are in a shelter that is a safe distance from the center of a nuclear blast, it’s still possible for radiation to linger for several weeks, or longer, depending on the size of the bomb. After the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima, the town remained uninhabitable for years after the blast.

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing just how bad radiation will be until the disaster occurs, but it’s estimated that it will take anywhere from a few days up to a few weeks before radiation levels disperse enough to make it safe to go outside. Listen to your radio, TV, or internet for updates on when it’s safe to go out.

3. Do Not Scavenge

In most movies of a post-apocalyptic world, we see characters raiding grocery stores or farms for food and supplies. While that might make sense during a zombie apocalypse, it’s the last thing you’ll want to do when surviving nuclear fallout. Just like groundwater, radiation can spread into food and livestock. No matter how tempting the food is on the shelf, it’s best not to eat it, because you will be ingesting something that was fully exposed to radiation. Don’t be tempted to steal non-food items, either, because you’ll be carrying the radiation away with you.

After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, even cars, gold, and jewels were left behind due to the high levels of radiation lingering on everything. If you’re outside at all, it’s much smarter to spend that time evacuating than hanging around scavenging.

2. Have an Escape Plan

Now that you know what to do if you’re caught off-guard by a nuclear blast, it would be wise to prepare an escape plan for your family and friends. If you live in a city, find out where your local nuclear bomb shelters are located, and calculate just how long it would take for you to get there from work and home.

Google Maps actually provides the addresses of nuclear fallout shelters. It’s worth taking a few minutes out of your day to see exactly which buildings you can run to, in case of emergency.

1. Be Prepared

Last and definitely not least, you should stock your home with preparations for any disaster, whether it’s as natural as a hurricane, or as apocalyptic as nuclear fallout. Be sure to keep bottled water, canned food, a first aid kit, and flashlights. According to the Center of Disease Control, potassium iodide helps to prevent your thyroid gland from absorbing radiation.

You should be able to find these tablets at your local pharmacy. You can also buy solar-powered battery packs to charge your smartphone, in case the power goes out.  There are plenty of doomsday prepper websites out there, if you want some more ideas on what you may need to get ready for a potential attack.


Nuclear Attack Survival –

WIF Doomsday Handbook

Great Minds Think Alike – WIF Genius Handbook

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Great Minds

From

Throughout History

Since the first modern homo sapiens emerged some 50,000 years ago, it’s estimated that 107 billion human beings have at one time or another lived on planet Earth. The overwhelmingly vast majority of these people have been forgotten by history, but there are a very few individuals whose names and achievements will echo through the ages.

From ancient Greece through to the modern world, these are 10 of history’s greatest minds.

10. Plato (Circa 428 BC – 348 BC)

The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once wrote that European philosophy is best characterized as a series of footnotes to Plato. While this might perhaps be something of a stretch, it gives an indication of the esteem in which the ancient Greek philosopher is held even to this day.

Plato’s efforts to understand the world around him covered metaphysics, ethics, politics, aesthetics, perception, and the nature of knowledge itself. Despite having been written more than two-thousand years ago, his work remains eminently readable today. Plato didn’t deal in dry, tedious treatise. He preferred to bring his work to life, teasing out thoughts and ideas in the form of a dialogue between characters. This in itself was a remarkably innovative approach. Plato blurred the lines between philosophy and entertainment and challenged the reader to scrutinize their own beliefs.

Having been born into one of the wealthiest families in Athens, Plato would have been well-schooled by the city’s finest philosophers. There’s no question it was his mentor Socrates who made the greatest impression, appearing again and again as chief protagonist in Plato’s dialogues. Socrates’ resurrection in immortal literary form would no doubt have been particularly galling to certain influential Athenians who had only recently killed him off. Ancient Greece was similar to the modern world in at least one respect: not everybody reacted kindly to having their beliefs challenged.

9. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

Born out of wedlock, and with no formal education, the young da Vinci seemed destined for a life of anonymous drudgery. In Renaissance Italy there was little social mobility. The right family name and connections were invaluable. Da Vinci had neither, but he was not a man who would blend into the background to be forgotten by history.

Flamboyantly dressed, a strict vegetarian, enormously physically strong, and rumored to be gay in an age when homosexuality could be punished by death, it was nonetheless the workings of da Vinci’s remarkable mind that truly set him apart.

In an age renowned for producing an abundance of great artists, da Vinci is regarded as one of the greatest of them all. Yet painting was by no means his only talent, nor perhaps even his greatest talent. He studied geometry, mathematics, anatomy, botany, architecture, sculpture, and designed weapons of war for the kings, princes, and barons who struggled for wealth and power in Italy’s warring city states.

It was as a visionary that da Vinci was arguably at his most brilliant. In an age when Europe lacked basics such as indoor plumbing, he sketched out designs for magnificent flying machines and armored vehicles powered by hand-turned crankshafts, ideas that were centuries ahead of their time.

In 2002, almost 500 years after his death, one of Leonardo’s visions was lifted from the pages of his notebooks to become a reality. A recreation of a glider based on his sketches, albeit with a few modifications deemed necessary to reduce the risk of killing the pilot, was successfully flown by World Hang Gliding and Paragliding Champion Robbie Whittall.

8. William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

The famous bard has become such an integral part of Western culture that it’s tempting to assume we must know a great deal about his life, but the reality is quite the opposite. He was certainly born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, but the exact date is a matter of some conjecture. There are huge swathes of time where he disappears from the records; we have no idea where he was or what he was doing. It’s not even entirely certain what he looked like. The popular image of Shakespeare is based on three main portraits. Two of these were produced years after his death and the other probably isn’t a depiction of Shakespeare at all.

While history leaves us largely in the dark as to Shakespeare the man, almost his entire body of work (so far as we know) has been preserved. The best of his offerings are widely regarded to be amongst the finest, if not the finest, works of literature in the English language. He was equally adept at comedy or tragedy, had a gift for writing strong female characters, and possessed an intimate understanding of the human condition that imbued his work with a timeless, eminently quotable quality.

Shakespeare was by no means the only famous playwright of his era, but his work has stood the test of time in a way that others have not. Few people are now familiar with the plays of Ben Johnson or Christopher Marlowe; fewer still have seen them performed. While his rivals are now little more than historical footnotes, Shakespeare is even more famous and celebrated in death than he was in life. With an estimated 4 billion copies of his work having been sold, he ranks as the best-selling fiction author of all time.

7. Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

In December 2016, a first edition copy of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica sold at auction for $3.7 million. This was an extraordinary amount of money, but then Principia was an extraordinary book.

First published in 1687, Principia laid out the mathematical principles underpinning motion and gravity. It revolutionized science and was hailed as a work of near unparalleled genius, at least by the very few individuals capable of understanding it. Newton didn’t enjoy being questioned by lesser minds (which included just about everybody), so he wilfully set out to make Principiaas difficult to follow as possible. To make it less accessible still, he wrote it in Latin.

If Principia had been Newton’s only achievement, then that would have been more than enough to earn him the title of scientific genius. But Newton did a great deal else besides. With a ferocious work ethic that drove him to at least two nervous breakdowns, he scarcely slept, never married, and often became so absorbed in his work that he simply forgot to eat or teach his classes.

In an astonishingly productive 30-year period Newton invented calculus (but didn’t bother to tell anybody), conducted groundbreaking work on optics, invented the most effective telescope the world had ever seen, and discovered generalized binomial theorem.

When Newton died in 1727, his collection of notes amounted to some 10 million words. This window to the mind of one of history’s greatest geniuses proved less useful than might be imagined. Newton was obsessed with alchemy, and the latter part of his career was consumed in a futile attempt to transmute base metals into gold.

6. Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

At the age of 12, Benjamin Franklin was made apprentice to his elder brother James at his printing business in Boston. What he lacked in formal education, the younger Franklin more than made up for in curiosity and intelligence. He soon surpassed his brother as both a writer and a printer, a fact that didn’t escape James, who regularly expressed his displeasure with his fists.

The terms of Franklin’s apprenticeship meant that he couldn’t expect to receive wages until he turned 21. Backing himself to do rather better on his own, at 17 he ran away to find his own fortune. He succeeded in spectacular fashion and would go on to become one of the wealthiest men in America.

While Franklin’s genius for business earned him a huge amount of money, this was never his overriding goal. Convinced that an individual’s entrance to heaven would depend on what they had done rather than what they believed, he was passionate about improving the lot of his fellow man. Amongst his many achievements he set up America’s first lending library, founded a college that would go on to become the University of Pennsylvania, and created a volunteer fire fighting organization.

Franklin’s talents as a businessman were matched by his brilliance as a writer, a mathematician, an inventor, a scientist, and a good deal else besides. Perhaps his most significant discovery was that lightning bolts could be understood as a natural phenomenon rather than as an expression of the wrath of an angry God. By understanding lightning Franklin was able to tame it. The principles of the lightning rod he developed to protect buildings, ships, and other structures from lightning strikes are largely unchanged to this day. In true Franklin form he preferred to freely share his invention rather than apply for a patent that would have been worth an untold fortune.

5. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

Johan Van Beethoven was a man with a singular mission in life: to transform his son from a talented amateur into a musical genius to rival even the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He would pursue this goal with ruthless, single-minded determination.

As a result, the young Ludwig van Beethoven’s childhood was rather a miserable affair. Forced to practice for hours on end, his father would loom over him ready to administer a beating for the slightest mistake. This punishing regime left no time to spare for fun or playing with friends. Witnesses reported seeing Beethoven perched on a piano stool at all hours of day and night. Even his education was cut short; at the age of 11 he was withdrawn from school to concentrate on music to the exclusion of all else.

It’s sometimes said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft, and Beethoven would have exceeded this total from a very young age. His lopsided education meant that he struggled with simple mathematical principles throughout his life, but he became a truly phenomenal musician.

Beethoven ranks as arguably the greatest composer who ever lived, a feat which is all-the-more impressive since by the age of 26 he had developed a ringing in his ears. Over the next 20 years his hearing deteriorated to the point where he was totally deaf. Despite this considerable handicap, Beethoven’s intricate knowledge of music allowed him to produce some of his greatest works at a time when he couldn’t hear the notes he hit on his piano.

4. Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943)

In 1884 a Serb by the name of Nikola Tesla set foot on American soil for the first time. He arrived in New York with little more than the clothes on his back, the design for an electric motor, and a letter of introduction addressed to Thomas Edison.

Tesla and Edison were both geniuses, both brilliant inventors, and between them they knew more about electricity than anyone else alive. However, there was one major problem. Tesla’s electrical motor was designed to run on alternating current. Meanwhile, a good deal of Edison’s income was derived from the Edison Electric Light Company, which relied on direct current.

In an attempt to protect his investments, Edison set out to discredit Tesla and convince the public of the dangers of alternating current. One particularly gruesome film, shot by the Edison Manufacturing Company, shows an unfortunate elephant by the name of Topsy being enveloped by smoke and keeling over after being blasted with 6,600 volts of electricity.

Despite these dirty tricks, Tesla’s system had one very significant advantage: alternating current could be transmitted over long distances, while direct current could not. Tesla won the war of the currents.

Tesla’s inventions, from hydroelectric power plants to remote control vehicles, helped to usher in the modern age, but he had no spark for business. In 1916, with his mental health deteriorating alarmingly, he was declared bankrupt. Afraid of human hair, round objects, and preferring the company of pigeons over people, he seemed to have become the embodiment of the idea of a mad scientist. This impression was only strengthened by Tesla’s obsession with developing a “death ray” capable of shooting bolts of lightning. Tesla believed his death ray would bring about an end to warfare, but he never succeeded in completing it. He died alone in a hotel room at the age of 86.

3. Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

In 1896 the physicist Henri Becquerel made the serendipitous discovery that uranium salts emitted rays of some kind. While this struck him as rather curious, he wasn’t convinced that further research into the phenomenon represented the best use of his time. He instead tasked his most talented student, Marie Curie, with discovering just what was going on.

It wasn’t often that such opportunities fell so easily into Curie’s lap. In her native Poland there had been no official higher education available for females, so Curie had enrolled in a clandestine “Flying University.” On emigrating to France she had graduated at the top of her class, despite having arrived armed with only a rudimentary grasp of the French language.

Curie, working alongside her husband Pierre, identified two new elements, polonium and radium, and proved that certain types of rocks gave off vast quantities of energy without changing in any discernible way. This remarkable discovery earned Curie the first of her two Nobel Prizes, and it could have made her very rich indeed had she chosen to patent her work rather than make the fruits of her research freely available. It was widely assumed that something as seemingly miraculous as radiation must be hugely beneficial to human health, and radium found its way into all manner of consumer products from toothpaste to paint.

Even Curie had no idea that radiation might be dangerous, and years of handling radium very likely led to the leukemia that claimed her life in 1934. Her notebooks are still so infused with radiation that they will remain potentially deadly for another 1,500 years; anybody willing to run the risk of reading them is required to don protective gear and sign a liability waiver.

2. Hugh Everett (1930 – 1982)

By the age of just 12, Hugh Everett was already brilliant enough to be regularly exchanging letters with Albert Einstein. The American excelled at chemistry and mathematics, but it was in physics, and more specifically quantum mechanics, that he made his mark with one of the strangest scientific theories of the Twentieth Century.

Nils Bohr once famously wrote that anybody who isn’t shocked by quantum mechanics hasn’t understood it. The behavior of protons and electrons on a quantum level is downright weird, but Everett suggested it all made sense if there were an infinite number of universes.

Everett’s multiverse theory proved popular amongst science fiction writers, but it was derided by the scientific community. Disappointed, Everett largely gave up on quantum mechanics. He instead undertook research for the US military, attempting to minimize American casualties in the event of a nuclear war.

A heavy-drinker and a chain-smoker, Everett died in 1982 at the age of 51. Since then his ideas have begun to edge towards the scientific mainstream, and they do resolve a number of thorny problems. The universe operates to the laws of a set of numbers known as fundamental constants, and every one of these has to be precisely tuned in order for the universe to function as it does.

It seems that either humanity has been fantastically lucky, on the level of one individual winning the lottery every week for several months, or the universe has been intelligently designed. Everett’s multiverse theory suggests another possibility. If there are an infinite number of universes, then an infinite number of possibilities are played out. In such circumstances it comes as no surprise that we find ourselves in a universe that appears to be tuned to perfection.

1. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

Contrary to popular belief Einstein didn’t fail math at school. He excelled at the subject, having mastered differential and integral calculus by the age of 15. However, while the spark of genius was already present, it would be quite some time until anybody recognized it. It’s fair to say that the academic world wasn’t beating a path to Einstein’s door. Having been rejected for a university teaching position, and then having been turned down by a high school, in 1902 the German-born physicist began work in the Patents Office in Bern, Switzerland.

The idea that a lowly patents clerk would go on to become arguably the most influential scientist of all-time would have appeared absurd, but in 1905, in what must rank as the most extraordinarily productive 12 months of individual intellectual endeavor in history, he produced four papers that would revolutionize the way the universe is understood.

In just one year he proved the existence of atoms, described the photoelectric effect, demonstrated that an object’s mass is an expression of the energy it contains (E = mc2), and published his Special Theory of Relativity. He would eventually expand the latter into his famous General Theory of Relativity, which suggested that space and time were one and the same thing.

Einstein’s theory of relativity was still just a theory, and one that was considered little short of heresy by a significant portion of the scientific community (Nikola Tesla included). It wasn’t until 1919, when his predictions on the behavior of starlight during a solar eclipse were demonstrated to be accurate, thereby proving his theory to be correct, that he was catapulted to international fame.


Great Minds Think Alike

– WIF Genius Handbook

The NULL Solution = Episode 101

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The NULL Solution = Episode 101

…Chasonn had been fiddling with this mode of transportation ever since he witnessed the ease of which the Eridanians use hyperphysical transmigration…

— The Plan:

… Chasonn’s plan to discover what makes Collapsar Axis tick, where it is headed, what or who is it looking for.

To do so, he must disguise himself to infiltrate. He cannot utilize one of his planet’s space vehicles. Who opens the door for a stranger anymore, even in a colossus full of strange?

Like the technology he shared with Earth {via the Eridanian branch of McKinney Clan}, though not offensive or defensive, he and his scientists have envisioned a particle-beam transporter.

Beam Dynamics: Model the particle beam using the KV envelope equations. In the two-dimensional steady-state case these equations model a uniform density beam with elliptical cross-section. Let X(z) and Y(z) represent the beam envelope semi-axes in the x and y planes, respectively. This system may be described by the system of coupled differential equations

It may sound complicated, but it is much more problematical. He had been fiddling with this mode of transportation ever since he witnessed the ease of which the Eridanians use hyperphysical transmigration. He also admired their TSF, but that would be unattainable without their help to adapt to his fleet.

Besides, he only needs to go from here {his shuttle @ manageable distance}, to there {Collapsar interior}. That is like going from one room to another.  Unpretentious and undetectable is the goal that he is close to achieving.

To that end, a goodly number of Seljuk’s most irredeemable criminals have been designated to be laboratory subjects for the final transporter tests in lieu of the normal “death-by-black hole” alternative;  no doomed  Seljuk soul has lived to tell the tale from the other side of that penalty, that the penal system knows of.

Soon & therefore, without the aid of any planetary sub-species or willing participants, a particle-beam transporter is the latest Seljuk invention; a product of necessity. Disruptors are too disruptive and deflector shields are offputtingly rude. Now this is an invention worthy to hang his helmet on. It will not be long before he can board Collapsar Axis, when it surely passes this way.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 101


page 102

The NULL Solution = Episode 53

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The NULL Solution = Episode 53

… the Universe looks more like a snow globe, as opposed to a cosmic blur…

Image result for snow globe gif

A peeping tom generally is not well thought of; a feckless loser peering through a bedroom widow comes to mind. In the same way, binoculars can be a beneficial visual aid or an instrument of intrusion.

For the keepers of the Hubble2 Space Telescope on 2052 Earth, no such sinister purpose can be assigned. Since before the advent of stardates, back in 1990, somebody’s job has been to point and look, staring down an orbiting barrel to when time began. In the last decade, a new generation scope has been improved the view exponentially. Now the Universe looks more like a snow globe, as opposed to a cosmic blur.

Hubble’s gaze has seen what is thought of as the moment of creation.

It has also seen the Ÿ€Ð fiasco.–

–Reservations are taken for the use of the greatest of all telescopes. Prez Roy Crippen takes a week’s worth of markers for the search of the mysterious Lorgan or at least looking farther into space for objects other than planets and such, even though what they see is older than real-time.

Stargasm by Sean Connolly

‘I can’t keep from thinking that Lorgan transcends time and defies the physics of space’ he thinks. “What was that?” he asks Fletcher Fitch, who happens to be in his company and ready to take over the next shift of star-snooping.

“If that’s a supernova, it’s the smallest one ever. If it’s not a stargasm, it must be some manner of detonation… it is becoming ever apparent that we aren’t alone in the galaxy, Roy.”

“I did not mean that, I meant that,” he points at a distant silvery object that is reflecting an image of a distant Earth on its sheen.

“Do you think that caused THAT?” Fitch is fixated on the explosions out towards the edge of the solar system.

“All I know is that I never want to be on Lorgan’s bad side. Of all the bad things… and likewise we cannot rule out the good… that go happen, say in the last 4000 years, may be attributable to Lorgan.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 53


page 56

Alien Scenarios – WIF Speculation

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Scenarios:

If Aliens Landed

on Earth

It’s time for some good, old-fashioned speculation. What would happen if aliens visited earth? Now, the speculation and assumptions we’re about to make are based on logic, philosophy, educated guesses, probabilities, nature, and of course, our own history. After all, our frame of reference is quite limited when it comes to possible encounters with extraterrestrial life. So, we have to imagine the most plausible scenarios, as well as try to think outside the box as much as possible.

 If intelligent alien species were to discover Earth (if they haven’t already), will they just take a look and decide it’s not worth the hassle to deal with our primitive ways, or will they enrich our lives with knowledge beyond our current understanding? Will we recognize them as life in the first place, or will they treat us like we would a nasty parasite?

10. Aliens in History

Our biggest fear when it comes to alien encounters has a lot to do with our own history, and what we know can happen if a technologically advanced civilization encounters an inferior one. Let’s take a look at the Age of Discovery, and particularly the Colonization of the Americas at the turn of the 16th century. As many of us know, the Europeans were looking to find alternative roots to India due in part to the break-up of the Mongol Empire, which up until the 15th century assured safe passage for trade caravans on land. And secondly, because of the Ottoman Turks, who took over the East Mediterranean and were hostile towards the Europeans.

As a result, they took to the oceans, virtually stumbling upon the Americas in 1492. The technological difference between the Native Americans and the “alien” Europeans was, at best, a few centuries apart. But that small difference proved fatal for the natives. In fact, with a handful of conquistadors, a few native allies, several horses, and a few cannons, Hernan Cortes was able to singlehandedly bring down the mighty Aztec Empire. If an alien species were ever to visit us, the same thing might happen, but on a global scale.

After all, if an intelligent species is capable of interstellar flight and reaching Earth from a faraway star system, then you can be sure they’re likely thousands of years ahead of us in technological terms. And like the Aztecs, who had the numbers and the weapons to defeat Cortes and his men, they had little chance in standing in his way. And even if they did, that would have only postponed their inevitable demise at the hands of the technologically superior Europeans, who now knew of their existence. Even Stephen Hawking has a dire warning for the human race when it comes to alien species: “The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think it would be a disaster.”

9. The Cultural Shock and Ensuing Panic

If alien species ever decide to pay us a visit, there are several near certainties that would happen, regardless of those aliens’ intentions toward us. For starters, if we were to wake up one morning with a huge spaceship hovering above our house, and then hear reports of similar sightings all over the world, we can be fairly certain that panic would ensue. Even if we humans are inquisitive by nature, we’re not really fond of surprises, especially of that magnitude. This reaction would stem, of course, primarily from past experiences in our own history.

Moreover – and this shouldn’t come as a surprise – we’d be hit with an enormous wave of cultural shock. Even in this age of technological advancements, when people are more connected than ever, there are still large numbers of people who cannot and will not accept other people’s cultures, traditions, or different ways of thinking. But, for better or worse, we have had previous contacts with each other over the centuries, and even though we’re still not used to other opinions or points of view, we are somewhat influenced and accepting of them… to a certain degree.

But what would happen if we come across a species which will most likely look totally different, and maybe have a totally different view about life, and existence itself? Will they be religious, or not? Do they even need to eat, and if so, do they use mouths to do it? There is virtually an infinite number of things that can be construed as different, and if we still can’t accept other people’s habits and traditions, then we can be sure that we won’t accept alien ones. One good thing that might come out of all of this is that, if aliens visit Earth and decide to contact us, we will most certainly forget all of our current disagreements with each other, no matter how different or crazy they might see them today.

8. But What Would They Look Like?

We’re all familiar with the “Greys” as the generic alien. They’re… well, gray (duh), bipedal, and hairless, with big eyes and big heads, long fingers, shorter in stature than we are, and very skinny. But isn’t this more of an interpretation of how we might look in the far future? In fact, some theorize that, according to our own evolutionary trends, slowly but surely this is what humanity will turn out to be.

The first time these Gray Aliens made an appearance as presented here was in the 1893 article “Man of the Year Million,” written by famous author H.G. Wells. The article, as the title suggests, was an interpretation of how humans would look one million years into the future.

Anyway, chances are that aliens will look totally different than these “Greys.” But, nevertheless, for an intelligent species to evolve far enough in order to master space travel, it will need to be terrestrial. As Fermilab physicist Don Lincoln, puts it: “There could be alien cavemen underwater. But truly, you can’t smelt metal [down there],” meaning that dolphins, if left to their own devices, may one day become even more intelligent than they are today. But because they live underwater, it is highly unlikely that they’ll be able to develop any kind of moderately advanced technology.

Furthermore, there could be other similarities we’d share with technologically advanced alien species via a phenomenon evolutionary biologists call “convergent evolution.” This is a process through which organisms not closely related to each other independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar conditions. These include some organs, like the eye, or behavior, like pack predication. Humans have also developed similar scientific and technological advancements while completely isolated from each other; things like basic tools and weapons, language, writing, the domestication of plants and animals, and even mathematics.

But when it comes to the differences, it is more statistically probable that aliens would live on habitable planets unlike Earth, and will look unlike us humans. Again, even though we don’t have any other frames of reference other than what we see on our own planet, this is still enough for physicists and statisticians to come to the conclusion that the majority of alien species out there will be different than our own. Chances arethat they’ll be bigger than us, roughly 770 pounds – the size and weight of a polar bear. Moreover, they’ll be living in smaller groups than we do; some 20 million strong or less, and on smaller planets than Earth – less that 80% its size.

7. They’ll Most Likely be Machines, Though

Humans were able to invent the radio around the year 1900. Then, 45 year later, the first computer came into existence. And now, we’re able to manufacture relatively cheap devices with greater computing power than even the human brain itself. What’s more, artificial intelligence is not that far off in the foreseeable future. On this trend, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute Seth Shostak bases his prediction that any advanced form of intelligence we will encounter will take on the form of a machine. He believes that any alien civilization capable of space travel will also follow this path. He even states they’ll integrate technology into their bodies, to the point where there will be no more organic matter left. “It’ll be like — you build a four-cylinder engine. You put it in a horse to get a faster horse. And pretty soon you say, ‘Look, let’s get rid of the horse part and just build a Maserati,’” said Shostak“So that’s probably what’s going to happen.”

He goes on to say we humans are the result of 4 billion years of Darwinian evolution, based on random variations with no particular goal or master plan. But machines, on the other hand, are totally different. Their evolution is based solely on efficiency and improvement on older models. What’s more, machines don’t require a myriad of conditions in order to survive, like an Earth-like habitable planet, and they certainly wouldn’t be tied to their ancestral homes. As long as they have a steady supply of raw materials and energy – something which the universe certainly doesn’t lack – they will have no problem in traveling great distances or even living in outer space indefinitely. By this logic, Shostak believes that the best chance to find these machine beings is in the center of galaxies, where there’s lots of available energy. That, or wait another 30 or so years, until we invent autonomous AI for ourselves.

6. The “Perfect Utopia”

 At first glance, the best case scenario if aliens were to descend on Earth is for them to completely disregard our primitive and vengeful ways, and take us under their wing. They would then go on to teach us the way toward a utopic future where we not only live in harmony with them, each other, and the surrounding environment, but also continue on striving toward our own betterment, both technologically and socially. Sounds good, right? And hey, by the sheer size of the observable universe and the seemingly infinite number of planets out there, there could be at least a handful of alien species that have made it their business to seeking out underdeveloped ones, like ourselves, and lifting them up from their “uncivilized” ways. They could share with us new technologies and reforms for all sorts of things, in terms of medicine, society, energy, education, transport, and whatever else we might think of.

But the question here is whether this is the best thing for us in the long run? Be careful what you wish for, right? Being exposed to too much technology and too much change, too fast, can have dire repercussions on society. After all, it took us an incredibly short amount of time from when nuclear weapons were invented, to when we first used them on other people. It was war, yes, but still – the effects of radiation and radiation poisoning were barely understood. Or what about fossil fuels? They are, indeed, an incredible source of energy, almost unequalled in terms of caloric value per pound (which is the reason we’re now struggling to find alternatives). And because of their awesome power potential, we’ve used them to the point where we are now faced with our own possible self destruction.

Indeed, some benevolent aliens could teach us to avoid these shortcomings and use powerful technologies responsibly. But in doing so, these aliens would make us completely dependent on them, and thus negate the whole “uplifting” thing in the first place. After all, there is no such thing as perfect, or a Utopia, and especially, there is no such thing as a pleonastic “perfect Utopia.” The only thing that exists, though, is our own striving toward these ideals.

5. Remote Observation or Indirect Guidance

Who here can, without a shadow of a doubt, say that aliens haven’t visited us already? Or who can say that they’re not here still? For better or worse, aliens could now be living among us and we would be none the wiser (Mickey Rourke, anyone?). They could also be orbiting our planet, hidden from sight and studying us continuously, avoiding interfering, and with the sole purpose of mapping out the universe and everything in it. This was, after all, the primary mission of Star Trek’s own Enterprise; to map the Milky Way galaxy and not interfere with the natural development of any life forms they might encounter.

There is, of course, the chance that these hypothetical observers might have a plan for us after all. By infiltrating our society, they could, slowly but surely, be influencing us in one direction or another. They could be trying to direct us towards a “Utopia” state without taking any of the credit, or they could have a more sinister goal in mind. And if this were to be the case, and they were trying to influence us in any direction, then chances are that their actions are not particularly aimed towards our own wellbeing,regardless of their intentions.

4. Divide and Rule

“Divide and rule” is a political, social, and military strategy through which one can gain or maintain power by breaking up other concentrations of power into more manageable pieces that individually can’t pose any serious threat. By causing and igniting rivalries and generating discord among people and groups of people, one can effectively break up already existing centers of power, or prevent smaller ones from ever coming together. Machiavelli identifies this idea as a military strategy in his sixth book from The Art of War series. Here he talks about any military captain and how he should, by any means possible, divide the enemy’s forces, either by making the other captain suspicious of his own men, or to somehow cause him to split his own army, becoming weaker as a result.

This strategy would make complete sense for any potential warlike alien species that wants to take over Earth with minimum casualties on their part. After all, even Hernan Cortes broke off parts of the Aztec Empire by drawing various peoples to his side first, before bringing the Aztec Empire to its knees. What’s more, these people who allied themselves with Cortes in favor of the ruling Aztecs ended up sharing the same fate. And by looking at the world today, we can, more or less, see these strategies being implemented, either by aliens or ourselves.

3. We Are Alone… or Maybe Just the First

Even though, statistically speaking, this is next to impossible, there’s still a faint chance that we are completely and utterly alone in the seeming infinite universe. Governed by the natural laws of physics and with the vast quantities of stuff around, some say anything that is possible, according to these laws, has already or will inevitably happen. This idea, however, weakens the claim that we’re alone even further, doesn’t it? But even so, after almost 14 billion years of the universe since the Bing Bang, space seems devoid of life with the exception of us. To be fair, though, we’ve just begun to stare into the abyss. But given these many opportunities for life to arise, and the ample time it’s had at its disposal to develop, shouldn’t we see alien spaceships zipping by on the “galactic highway” on a daily basis?

This seemingly inconsistent situation may have something to do with the Fermi Paradox. This principle simply states that complex life may have a way tougher time at developing than we previously thought, and the chances of any one advanced civilization to emerge are very slim. Maybe the exact conditions for complex life weren’t there up until fairly recently in the universe, making us among the first, if not the actual first intelligent species to emerge. Or maybe there are still some unforeseen hurdles ahead of us, or even some cosmic or highly-advanced alien traps that we’re not aware of, at which any civilization developed enough to reach them would be instantly destroyed. If this is the unfortunate case, then, according to our own level of technological development – some decades after actual space travel, and several centuries before interstellar travel – we are now closer to our end as a species, than to our inception.

2. Forever Lab Rats

Reality is, as many of us already know, inside our heads. And more importantly, reality is what the collective society believes it to be. Any deviation from that collective consciousness is seen by others who don’t share in it as either outdated, barbaric, backward, illogical, or even downright crazy. This idea also comes to us through Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Anyway, gravity, the Earth, your car, your friends, and possibly even you yourself, could be just your own perspective on what they are, and there could be a multitude of other faces to those particular “coins.” Humanity wasn’t handed any sort of guide book about life and where it’s going, so we had to make the rules ourselves as we went along. But did we? These sorts of questions can spark endless debates and may never be answered or even fully understood.

But for the sake of argument, if we were to take a lab rat and somehow tap into his mind and understand his thoughts, as simple as they may be, what do you think it would consider reality to be? Let’s suppose that the lab rat was bred in captivity and that he knew nothing else outside the cage he’s kept in, the room that cage is in, and the scientists who pass by. How do you think he would perceive the world in front of him? Normal, everyday reality of life would be the right answer. Then, who’s to say that we’re not currently living in our own cage, living out our normal, everyday lives while under constant scrutiny from an unknown intelligence, performing all sorts of experiments on us? Who’s to say we have to die in the first place? After all, scientists have discovered a built-in “self-destruct timer” in our very genes. So, if this is actually the case and we are actually lab rats under strict control from something or someone else, then do you think that we’ll ever escape our condition? Let’s ask the rats that question, or the scientists themselves.

1. The Natural Laws of Physics are… Alive

It’s theorized that the universe came into being approximately 13.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang. Subsequently, life on Earth appeared nearly the instant the planet formed, according to a new study, 4.1 billion years ago, and 300 million years earlier than previously believed. But between these two cosmic events there’s an almost 10 billion year gap in which we can’t really say what happened in terms of life. What if life began somewhere else? Let’s say, 5 billion years prior to life here on Earth? That’s quite a head start! Imagine you could go back into the past 200,000 years while driving a 4×4, wearing jeans, holding a smartphone, and handing out candy bars to all the early humans you meet. How would you appear in their eyes and minds? Now think about how a 5, or 6, or 8 billion-year-old alien civilization would look to us. You can’t. No one can. But some theorize.

 We could be staring alien life in the face and not even recognize it. Astrophysicist Caleb Scharf even goes as far as saying that the entire universe and all the physical laws of nature that go with it are possibly alive and a result of billions of years of technological evolution. This theory would explain why we haven’t yet encountered other life in the universe, regardless of the countless other planets it could have “sparked” on. He also states that, given the possibility of other building blocks suitable for life to exist outside of molecules, an alien civilization could then transfer itself and its entire physical world into that new form. By this logic, our universe could be just one of these new forms of existence. Scharf also points out that only about 5% of everything out there is matter as we know it, while 27% remains mysterious and unseen. This is what’s known as dark matter and it’s everywhere, even here on Earth. Dark matter is what holds the universe in its current state, and here, alien life could exist, all around us, but always hidden from our sight.

Alien Scenarios

– WIF Speculation

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 269

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 269

…on Earth we have something called a courtship period…

Leave a tender moment alone. He passively offers his hand, waiting for her to seal the deal.

Graphic details aside, Cerella coaches her would-be mate into achieving an unconventional union. One may say it is mutually satisfying. She must have thought long and hard on the mechanics of it all, but if effort is the gauge, she gets an A+.

planetary orgasm

“Orgasmic Physics”

Words are scarce, hardly needed, though she did leave out one minute little small tiny detail, #You are now my mate for life#

Suddenly, talk turns to telepathy and he passes this off as emotional overreaction, until the next thing crosses his mind.

#When our offspring is born, I would like to break with Eridanian tradition and cohabitate, of course only after a public ceremony heralding that the heiress to the High Counsel has taken a mate#

orgasm

“Unconventional Conception”

#How do you know that you have conceived a child?# Expressing thoughts this way comes hard for Deke, who manages to project, #And do I have a say in the matter?#

#I believed you to have feelings for me#

#I do, but on Earth we have something called a courtship period#

#Were you not paying attention Deke McKinney? The Eridanian female mates once and for all time and our law offers no dissolution clause. The child forming in me is your approval of this coupling#

#To death do us part?#

#Death is irrelevant. Are you pleased?#

Thoughts to himself are not, ‘..but I wanted a big family’.

Lies from Mother – bbel.com

#I can conceive but once, I am sorry#

#It is going to take some time for this all to sink in#, he does kiss her tenderly as not to confuse the issue, #and this will be a big surprise to my mother#

#I do not think so, Deke. Before you arrived on Eridanus, Celeste McKinney told me that we would be perfect mates# Her honesty is refreshing, her intent quite clear. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 269


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