No Helium, No Fun – WIF Science

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 If We

Ran Out

of Helium

Helium Balloons GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Helium was first discovered in 1895. It is the second most abundant element in the universe and it makes up 0.0005 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a colorless, odorless gas that is lighter than air and it is the coldest liquid on Earth.

 While it’s abundant in the universe, on Earth, we might be running out of it. You may not know it, but helium is an important part of modern life and possible shortages have been such a big worry that the United States government has been stockpiling helium since the 1960s.

The problem is that once helium hits the atmosphere, it is pretty much useless, so it needs to be mined or pull from natural gas. This makes helium a finite element on Earth.

So what would a post-helium world look like?

10. No More Party and Parade Balloons

When the American government first announced a possible shortage of helium in April 2012, one of the first things suggested to conserve helium is to stop using it to fill up party balloons and balloons used in parades. This is pretty hard to argue against because it’s a completely frivolous use of the a finite element, even if you can get a good laugh out of listening to people’s voices change after inhaling the gas and parades won’t be as exciting. However, as you’ll see, helium has a lot more important uses.

Unfortunately, eliminating helium filled balloons isn’t going to solve the problem of helium running out, because only a minuscule amount of helium is used to fill up balloons. It would be like a pack a day smoker trying to avoid cancer by taking one last puff every year.

9. Airships

The Goodyear Blimp over Dodger Stadium. (Courtesy photo)

One reason that helium is so useful in many different fields is that it is safe to use because it isn’t flammable or combustible. This makes it great for flying machines like blimps. When blimps are filled with a different lighter-than-air gas, such as hydrogen, which is both combustible and flammable, things can go horribly wrong. A notable example is the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, when the German blimp LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames while trying to dock at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. In total, 36 people were killed. While the cause is debated, the fact that the airship was full of flammable and combustible gas wouldn’t have exactly slowed down the fire.

Granted, blimps aren’t common and most people have probably only seen one at an air show or a football game, but amazingly they are still used by different segments of the United States government. One example is the Tethered Aerostat Radar System(TARS). They are unmanned blimps that are used to detect low and slow flying aircraft and marine craft. It’s currently being used along the American-Mexican border and in a portion of the Caribbean.

Another blimp used by the United States is the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, which is used to track things like cruise missiles or even trucks full of explosives. The project has been in development for over two decades and the Pentagon has spent at least $2.7 billion on the project.

A whole other field of flight that wouldn’t work without helium is balloon space tourism. Currently, there are two companies that plan on sending people into space using helium filled balloons. For $75,000 to $125,000, travelers can get into pressurized pods and the balloons will lift them out of the atmosphere. This is similar to the way Felix Baumgartner got to space to do his famous jump.

However, without helium, attempting to reach space in a balloon would be much more dangerous.

8. A Leak Checking Tool

When the Manhattan Project started in 1942, it was important that when they enriched the uranium needed for a nuclear bomb, there couldn’t be any leaks in the pipes or tanks during the process. Even a tiny leak could have been disastrous.

To ensure everything was sealed, the scientists sprayed the welding seams with helium. If there was a leak, the helium would get into it, because out of all the elements, helium has the second smallest atom (hydrogen is smaller, but it is inert, which means it doesn’t move). So helium can find really small leaks, which helps ensure that the tanks and pipes are sealed.

Besides just having a small atom, helium is also non-toxic, non-condensable, and non-flammable, so spraying it won’t leave a trace behind.

Since the Manhattan Project, helium has gone on to be a common way to detect leaks in more than just tanks and pipes. It is used in such industries as food canning, refrigeration, air conditioning, furnace repair, fire extinguishers, aerosol cans, and car parts, just to name a few. Essentially, any industry that relies on sealed cans use helium to look for leaks. That means without helium, we may have products that be will more dangerous because they are leaking, and/or products will be more expensive because some other method will need to be implemented to detect leaks in all those different fields.

7. Some Welding Will be Impossible

One of the most common applications for helium is welding; about 23 percent of the world’s helium supply is used for welding purposes.

Certain arc welding jobs, which is the process of joining two metals using electricity, depends on helium because it is used to keep the molten metal from oxidizing. One type of metal that couldn’t be welded without helium is aluminum. That means things like shipbuilding and building space shuttles will be much more difficult to do.

However, arc welding isn’t the only type of welding that utilizes helium. CO2 laser welding, which is used in car manufacturing, uses helium as a shielding gas. Shielding gas is used to keep the molten metal away from other elements in the air, like oxygen, water, and nitrogen. Without helium, this could cause an increase in vehicle prices while alternative methods are implemented.

6. Barcodes

One of the most common ways that we interact with helium is at the supermarket. Barcodes scanners use helium-neon lasers, also known as HeNe lasers and they use a gas ratio of 10:1 helium to neon. HeNe lasers are used because they are inexpensive, have a low energy consumption, and they are efficient. Besides just barcode scanning, HeNe lasers are also used in other fields, like microscopy, spectroscopy, optical disc reading, biomedical engineering, metrology, and holography.

Of course, the good news in this example is that, as many of you with smart phones already know, there are other ways to scan codes. It will just be a matter of changing over to the new forms of scanning.

5. Space Travel Would Become More Dangerous

A field that would be incredibly hard hit by a lack of helium is the aerospace industry. NASA reportedly uses about 90 to 100 million cubic feet of helium a year in a whole variety of ways.

One way is that when a rocket burns fuel, the fuel that was in the tank is replaced with helium. This ensures that the tank doesn’t collapse under structural pressure. This also reduces the risk of fire or an explosion in the fuel tank. Helium is also useful during space travel because it keeps hot gases away from ultra-cold liquids.

A third way that NASA uses helium is to clean liquid oxygen out of tanks. Finally, there are other minor uses, like it’s needed for pneumatic control systems and it cools fueling handling systems.

Without helium, space travel will still be possible, but it will be a lot more dangerous than it already is.

4. The Large Hadron Collider will be Useless

It’s believed the Large Hadron Collider at CERN can help unlock many of the universe’s mysteries. It’s the biggest, most powerful machine on earth, and it smashes subatomic particles together almost as fast as the speed of light. And in order for the whole thing to work, liquid helium is needed.

Shooting those particles around the 16.7 mile loop are magnets that steer the particle beams. However, they can quickly overheat and they need to be cooled with liquid helium to -452.47 degrees. Also, the niobium-titanium wires that make up the magnets that shoot the particle beams around the loop are housed in a closed liquid-helium circuit that is -456.25 degrees. Liquid helium also cools the entire system down to -456.34 degrees. 

Without liquid helium, the Large Hadron Collider would literally become, and we’re gonna use a technical term here, a hot mess.

3. MRI Scans Will Be Less Common

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common tool in the medical field and it is used to non-invasively look inside the human body at things like ligaments, spinal cords, and organs, including the brain. A lot of times, ailments like torn ligaments and tumors are diagnosed using MRI machines. However, without helium it will be impossible to run these machines.

How an MRI works is that a magnet is powered and it creates a magnetic field. This field causes the protons of hydrogen atoms in your body to align and then they are exposed to a beam of radio waves. This creates a signal that is picked up by a receiver, which converts the information to a detailed image. However, maintaining that large magnetic field requires a lot of energy. To get that much power and sustain it without overheating, helium is used and that is done by reducing the resistance in the wires to almost zero. This is accomplished by constantly bathing the wires in liquid helium that is -452.38 degrees. On average, one machine uses 1,700 liters of liquid helium.

While there are MRI magnet cooling systems that do not use helium, the problem is that they are not designed for full body MRI machines, like the ones that are in hospitals.

2. Computer Chips and Fiber Optics

As we’ve mentioned a few times, helium is commonly used for cooling. In fact, nearly a third of it is used for cryogenics. One notable feat is that it can be cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, which is -459.67 degrees. This makes it the coldest liquid on Earth.

Another field where cold helium is vital in computers and telecommunications. One of the main uses is with fiber optics, which are cables that are used to connect the internet and telecommunications. Fiber optics can transfer more data over longer distances than wire cables. However, they are much more fragile than wire cables and they need to be housed an in all-helium environment or it can cause air bubbles, which would make them useless.

Another way helium is used when it comes to computers is that computer chips are made using superconductors. Superconductors are basically magnets that are supercharged and don’t overheat thanks to liquid helium.

Without helium, computer chips will be incredibly hard to make. This is going to have big ripple effects on everything that uses computer chips. This includes cars, smart phones, appliances, and of course computers.

1. Scientific Progress Will Be Slowed

The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest experiment that uses helium, but it is also necessary for use in all different types of experiments and machines that are used in universities and laboratories around the world. The reason it’s used is because it’s safe because it isn’t flammable or combustible, which is great for researchers, especially students who are still learning.

So other elements, much more dangerous ones, will have to be used to cool the machines. This will clearly slow down progress and make experiments and machines more dangerous. Even if there was a way to run the machines, that means they will have to be retrofitted or purchased new, which isn’t cheap. For example, Western Michigan University’s chemistry department has a $250,000 machine that needs helium and they have a tank of helium delivered monthly. That is just one department at one university.

Without helium, all fields of scientific study that rely on machines that use helium will be slowed down this includes physics, medical science, chemistry, and computer science, just to name a few. In turn, scientific study will be severely handicapped.


No Helium, No Fun

WIF Science

Quantum Physics Phun – WIF Science

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Implications of

Quantum Physics

Quantum Physics has given a lot of amazing things to humanity in the last few decades. From the technology with which you can track cheating spouses, to accurately scanning broken bones and muscles in the hospital, there are actually many practical applications of Quantum Physics. But if you believe the words of those nerdy scientists who are actually studying the discipline, many more revolutionary discoveries are yet to come (and that doesn’t just include more weird sci-fi movies).

 In the most basic of terms, Quantum Physics fundamentally studies the nature and rules of the tiniest known particles of the universe: those that actually make up the atoms and are broadly called sub-atomic particles. However, much of the discipline is still a mystery, even among the most experienced of Physicists, with many calling it a ‘weird science’.

10. Nuclear Fusion Power Plants

Nuclear fusion in the sun is actually the reason why life exists on earth (and also the reason why Mercury is basically just a lifeless roasted rock). The abundance of Hydrogen atoms in the sun, along with the heat and pressure ensures their constant fusion into Helium atoms, emitting radioactive energy in the process which comes to earth in the form of sunlight. Quantum Tunneling is among the fundamental processes with which fusion occurs in the form in the form of chain reactions.

Scientists and governments are currently trying to mimic this process on Earth, for which the services of Physicists and Engineers with advanced knowledge of Quantum Physics are being employed. Although the dream of powering the electricity grids with nuclear fusion remains a dream, scientists expect that new breakthroughs in the understanding of Quantum Mechanics will bring the dream closer.

9. Perfect Timekeeping

Whether it’s about syncing several space-stations and satellites circling the planet or getting a perfect time-reading from the Mariana trench or Mount Everest, Atomic Clocks, utilizing the principles of Quantum Mechanics are already making enormous contributions to humanity.

However, with the demand for greater accuracy increasing, more advanced Quantum Clocks are expected to be extremely crucial in helping to meet these goals. So, from ultra-precise self-driving cars to space travel, the principles of Quantum Mechanics will be extremely important in setting the pace for the future of humanity.

8. Extreme Computing

While computing technologies have come a long way in the last century, artificial intelligence is only just beginning to catch up the abilities of the human brain. Today’s Silicon-chips based computing technologies are soon expected to be insufficient in handling the demands of the future, where machines and humans are expected to be interconnected in a vast network that will be several times larger than today’s overall internet infrastructure. In this regard, Quantum Computing is currently being identified as the prime technology to replace the current one. The technology basically manipulates the natural properties of the atom to store and process data in real time.

In fact, experimental models of Quantum Computers have already yielded enthusiastic results, although scaling the same to economically feasible units have proven to be rather challenging. However, scientists expect that the technology could start dominating the global landscape by as soon as 2030. With the technology, data processing abilities are expected to make such great leaps that calculation that current take supercomputers over two years may be completed by Quantum Computers in a few seconds.

7. Intergalactic Travel

Humans are still a long way away from establishing habitable outposts on other planetary bodies. However, if you believe the words of well-known futurists (like Dr. Micho Kaku), our hopes of conquering the final frontier will depend a lot on our knowledge of Quantum Mechanics. While conventional technologies may not be able to deliver enough speed for humans to even colonize other planets in the Solar System, astronomers and space-travel enthusiasts frequently are very hopeful about the possibilities offered by Quantum Physics.

The spaceships of today already use Quantum Clocks, while the use of Quantum Computing is expected to bring humans even closer to perfecting future spaceships. Experts believe that the better understanding of Quantum Entanglement will ultimately be the key to perfecting intergalactic travel across wormholes.

6. Extremely Secure Cryptography

With hacking and online security identified as one of the most pressing concerns of this century, the demand for more secure cryptography is high. From banking transactions to personal messages, billions of exchanges of data every minute are supposed to be kept secure. But this has proven to be something that’s not very easy to achieve with existing technologies. It is here that Quantum Cryptography has been identified as the silver bullet against online security threats. Basically, the technology manipulates photons to store and share information on a subatomic level. In fact, the technology has already been successfully applied in several instances (like voting and satellite data).

Major technology companies are already spending their resources on Quantum Cryptography to scale it and make it more accessible for the technologies of the future.

5. Incredibly Detailed Optic Devices

Today, one of the most widespread application of Quantum Mechanics is happening in the field of optics. The most advanced microscopes in the world apply Quantum Tunneling in identifying the smallest objects like DNA and electrons. In fact, most of the modern microscopic innovations and discoveries owe their existence in some way to Quantum Mechanics.

In the future, the most accurate telescopes are expected to make use of advanced Quantum principles as well.

4. Tackling Diseases and Ailments in the Human Body

Over the years, the principles of Quantum Mechanics has played a major role in the development of modern Radiography machines and MRI scanners. In the near future, innovative technologies developed with the application of Quantum Mechanics are set to bring even more massive changes in healthcare.

Experts have identified nanotechnology and quantum computing technologies as the tools that will help deal with threats like cancers and organ failures more effectively in the future. Reliable researches have also pointed out that these technologies will also help the human body fight more effectively against diseases in the future.

3. Finding Evidence of Parallel Universes and the Multiverse

The concept of Parallel Universe has been one of the most fascinating subjects for fans of science-fiction. Indeed, the concept is still broadly considered to be a theory rather than fact. While physicists and astronomers in general are divided over the existence of parallel universes, many well-known scientists have stood behind the concept. On one occasion, Stephen Hawking theorized that black holes could in fact be portals to another universe.

Meanwhile, renowned scientist Brian Greene believes that the concepts laid by the String Theory can point out to the fact that Parallel Universes or Multiverses can indeed exist. Scientists like Hawking and Greene have pointed out that with a better understanding of Quantum Mechanics and with more advanced tools in the future, we may indeed discover sooner or later that the universe isn’t lonely after all.

2. Our Concept of Time and Space

If Einstein’s theory of relativity was already too complex for you, lately modern physicists have theorized ever more ‘outrageous’ concepts today which will undoubtedly confuse you even more. Firstly, in the definition of space, modern physicists are in the consensus that even the seemingly empty parts of the universe aren’t actually empty at all. These supposedly empty parts of the space are held by things the scientists and astronomers call ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’. These two things together is estimated to make up around 95% of the entire universe.

On the other hand, modern physicists consider time to be something of an illusion. In fact, the very concepts of any event as a past, present or future occurrence is refuted, with the principle that reality is timeless. Moreover, the same scientists also entertain the idea that the linear concept of time is incompatible in quantum scale.

So basically, if we believe the words of quantum mechanics enthusiasts, what we thought was empty isn’t actually empty (i.e. space) and what we thought was an undisputed reality doesn’t actually exist (i.e. time). If this concept doesn’t shock you, then you probably don’t exist.

1. Consciousness Makes Reality

What if reality is the result of an accumulative consciousness? Or what if reality didn’t create you, but in fact, you created reality?

Of late, the term that incites the most vigorous debates in the world of Theoretical Physics is consciousness. While there is a basic consensus among Theoretical Physicists that the state of matter at the quantum level can differ to an extent depending upon the interpretation towards it, some scientists like Robert Lanza, Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff have gone a step further and theorized that consciousness actually defines how matter actually acts at the quantum level. Lanza, for instance, considers that time and space are mere tools that are applied by mind to interpret the information of the universe. Hameroff and Penrose have, on the other hand. theorized that consciousness is actually the consequence of quantum gravity effects in vibrating microtubules that are present in the neurons.

Hence, if you would want to believe academics proposing these notions, you are right now creating reality and living in it (like spiders creating their own webs to catch themselves in).


Quantum Physics Fun

WIF Science

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 244

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 244

…for those left behind by Stellar Explorer, it is impossible to learn from the mistakes — when you are not apprised of the actual outcome…

There are no concrete answers let alone solutions, in this speculative world of SOL technology, but man struggles for answers anyway.

When you test drive a new automobile/sky-car/jet-cycle, does one try out every color of your preferred Simplifying the Apple Watch Breathe App Animation With CSS Variables | CSS-Tricksmodel? Does the red one go faster than the black, or does it only look faster? In the case of the SOL Project, the only variable being 397 pounds of human beings, could that have changed the norm to such a radical degree?

Many other like questions and some more technical ones has crossed Roy Crippen’s mind. Perhaps the humblest of those drives to the fundamental heart of the matter: Does man belong in space? In other words, are they technically capable of tackling projects such as SOL or going twenty years back, Space Colony 1?

You can have everything right, cover all your bases and this happens:

  1. a killer satellite from a rogue nation blasts the first orbiting space colony out of  Martian orbit, stranding the world’s most prominent and popular married couple and they disappear before they can be rescued
  2. the accelerator on a spacecraft, that has only been on a couple test-drives, gets stuck just as two of your young and brightest test-pilots reach the speed-of-light and those brave young men are related to their folks in number 1

Bad luck–maybe, bad science or bad math—probably, but in either case it is impossible Image result for it doesn't add up gifto learn from the mistakes, when you are not apprised of the actual outcome:

  1. Either branch of The Space Family McKinney tree is alive and well. Without the clueless people on Earth knowing, their math is incorrect
  2. Courtesy of the planet Eridanus, instead of -4, the count of McKinneys in space thought lost currently stands at +5, with the actual addition of Deimostra.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 244


page 219

Old Thoughts, Bad Thoughts – WIF Myth and Legend

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Odd Things

People Used

to Believe

Humans have believed all kinds of strange things throughout our short time on this planet. This is, in part, because humans (and our evolutionary ancestors) love stories. We gather around campfires and invent entire mediums, industries, and technologies to aid in their telling. But on the other hand, humans have always had a deep need to understand the world we inhabit, and the combination of these qualities can lead to very uninformed people believing some very strange things.

10. The Sun is Actually Really Cold

He believed that the sun wasn’t hot, that it was actually very cold, but that its outer layers were of a luminous material, or an extremely reflective ocean. The discovery of sunspots had him reeling with possible ideas, suggesting that these were either momentary glimpses at the surface beneath the atmosphere or great mountain peaks that were being exposed by the tides of a vast ocean.

Obviously, these theories were laughed out of scientific circles by a host of polymaths, and Herschel’s ideas never caught on. The sun isn’t cold, and those sunspots are actually produced by the sun’s magnetic field.

9. Isaac Newton’s Future

Isaac Newton may have been known for his scientific exploits, but he was also absolutely obsessed with Alchemy, going so far as to construct his own furnaces to produce alchemical experiments. He wrote about these things extensively, using code to hide his theories from prying eyes, believing that anything could be transformed into anything else (something we know now is very wrong). If these texts were observed by anyone from modern times, they would be seen as occult or religious tracts. He was so obsessed with Alchemy and the supernatural that it might be considered that his interest in science was his real hobby.

To Newton, the philosopher’s stone was a real thing, which he was constantly searching for.

Newton was also fiercely religious and believed that the Bible should be taken literally. He spent much of his time attempting to uncover a secret code created by the authors of the Bible, something left by God that would redeem humanity before His inevitable return.

After studying Biblical texts extensively, he concluded that the world as we know it would end in 2060 and that it would be preceded by an apocalypse.

8. Bloodletting

All the way up until the start of the 1900s, the practice of applying leeches or cutting parts of a person’s body open to drain them of their blood was not only common, it was a thriving industry. The practice comes from the erroneous belief that all illness comes from the body having too much blood in it and that to cure that illness, the excess blood needs to be drained from the patient.

This is, of course, false, and while the practice of bloodletting fell and rose throughout history, it was perhaps never more popular than in the 1800s. It was a common practice for leeches to be imported for this purpose, and it’s estimated that in France alone, 42 million leeches were imported each year. These leeches were used to drain the blood from patients, cared for by barbers (yes, you read that correctly). A patient could have as many as 100 leeches applied to them. Barbers and caregivers would coat the part of the body they wished to apply the leech to with sugar-water, milk, or blood to entice the tiny critters to start sucking. This industry caused leeches to become fairly scarce, driving the cost of them up by 300%, and forcing “care-givers” to find inventive ways to extend the life of a leech.

The first physician didn’t come out against bloodletting until 1828.

7. Lambs Grew on Trees

During the Middle Ages, it was a common belief that the cotton being imported from India came from a vegetable that had a lamb attached to it by umbilical. This inaccuracy was reported by Sir John Mandeville in the 1300s. Mandeville wrote that in Tartary (the part of the map we know of as Russia and Mongolia today) a strange plant that produced gourds containing tiny lambs was a common sight.

It turns out that much of what Mandeville wrote about his travels were either outright lies or based on notes from other travelers.

Another version of this myth suggests that these vegetable lambs would die once they ran out of food surrounding their pod if they weren’t killed by their natural predator (wolves).

Other writers would go on to claim to have seen these vegetable lambs, and the belief would not start to crumble until the 1600s.

6. Women’s Orgasms Were A Sign of Insanity

As late as the early 20th century, it was believed that women did not experience sexual desire and that the female orgasm was something that needed to be solved, rather than a thing which could be beneficial to a woman’s mental and physical health.

Sigmund Freud was one of the physicians who proposed the idea that clitoral stimulation could lead to psychosis in women, a “theory” which saw quite a few women institutionalized as a result. Women who had difficulty or could not have a vaginal orgasm were labeled as lesbians (which was also thought to be a mental illness), imbalanced, and masculine.

History has had a bad habit of demonizing the female orgasm. The vibrator was originally invented so that doctors could relieve “hysteria” (known as sexual frustration today) in women, and it was generally not believed that women were capable of experiencing sexual desire and were merely receptacles for male anatomy.

Today, we know that the female orgasm is beneficial not only to a woman’s mental health but also to her physical health as well.

5. Cosmic Ice Theory

In 1912 Hanns Hörbiger attempted to challenge the scientific community by introducing a controversial theory which suggested that humanity, the stars, and the planets were all made of… ice. Hanns and his partner, Philip Fauth, argued that the formation of the Milky Way was caused by the collision of a massive star with a dead star filled with water. This collision resulted in the formation of the Milky Way galaxy and dozens of other solar systems—all made of ice produced from the collision. When these ideas were challenged for not making any mathematical sense and for there not being any physical evidence for it, Hanns said “Calculation can only lead you astray,” and, “Either you believe in me and learn, or you will be treated as the enemy.”

This ridiculous theory didn’t catch on with mainstream science at the time, not until the conclusion of World War I at least, when Hanns decided to take his theories into the public sphere, where they might be better appreciated.

His rationale was that if the general public grew to accept the theory that they were in-fact made of ice, then the scientific community would have to accept it as well (we mean, isn’t that how science works?). While serious scientists did not accept his theory, many socialist thinkers at the time did, concluding that it was superior to theories invented by Jews.

And you are probably guessing where this is leading. Hitler, Himmler, and all of his cronies also adopted these ideas as well, along with a whole bunch of other horrifying things.

4. Doctors Didn’t Need to Wash their Hands

Before the advent of germ theory, medical professionals would go from examining dead bodies to performing live births on mothers, which as you can imagine, caused all manner of infections and a high mortality rate among patients they cared for. It wasn’t until 1840, when Ignaz Semmelweis, a 19th-century Hungarian doctor observed that one of his fellow surgeons died after cutting his finger during an autopsy.

Semmelweis surmised that because many of the doctors in his hospital often operated on corpses before treating live patients, they were inadvertently spreading “cadaveric matter.” And when he instituted the policy that all of his doctors were to wash their hands between patients, the mortality rate at his hospital dramatically dropped. Naturally, he wanted to spread this discovery with the rest of the medical world.

There was quite a bit of resistance to this idea, though, mostly because Semmelweis’ publication on the matter was barely coherent, and handwashing wouldn’t be strongly advocated for until 1860 by famous nurse Florence Nightingale. And it wouldn’t be until the discovery of germ theory that handwashing would become a staple in hospitals around the world.

3. Sexual Energy Controls the Universe

Wilhelm Reich went from being the enemy of Fascist Europe to being the enemy of the US Government, from psychoanalyst to the founder of sexual liberty in the West. Reich believed that orgasms were caused by a mysterious energy in the atmosphere called “orgone” and that this energy permeated and moved the entire universe. He suggested that a good orgasm could liberate a man or woman, and a bad orgasm could make them a prisoner.

Sexual liberation was not exactly in vogue in Hitler’s Germany at the time, so Reich was forced to flee to New York, where his ideas would be embraced by the disenfranchised left. Reich even “invented” a device that he claimed could “energize” a person with orgone. The device, called an “Orgone Energy Accumulator,”  was feared by conservatives and revered by left-leaning individuals, and some even swear by its power today. Reich’s ideas got him labeled as a communist sympathizer in the 50s, and eventually, the FDA would come after him for selling his Orgone Accumulators, demanding that they be destroyed along with all literature pertaining to them.

Reich would be arrested for violating this order and sent to Federal prison, where he would die alone in 1957.

2. Women’s Bodies were not Designed to Handle Train Rides

The resistance we’re seeing to the rise of artificial intelligence and 5G internet is nothing new, it’s age-old. When the first locomotive was unveiled, men feared that its immense speed (top speed getting up to 50 miles per hour, or 80 kilometers per hour) would cause a woman’s uterus to fly from her body.

A companion to this fear was that the human body, male or female, might melt if brought to similar speeds.

Cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell suggests that this revulsion to new and developing technologies results from a kind of “moral panic” that a society experiences when an invention threatens to alter how we perceive time and space. Put more simply, we humans hate changes to the status quo, and we’ll kick and scream until that change either goes away or we realize it really isn’t so bad after all.

1. The Earth was the Center of the Solar System

Up until the end of the 2nd Century AD, it was thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. Although this notion is ridiculous to the vast majority of us who accept the clearly superior Heliocentric model (which purports that all bodies in the solar system revolve around the sun), to humans observing the skies in the 2nd Century, it did seem like the sun, stars, and the moon all revolved around the Earth.

Beyond famous Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Ptolemy, early Christianity taught that God had placed the Earth at the center of the universe, thereby making it unique.

Though recently, conspiracy theorists have begun a movement bordering on cult-like proportions suggesting that the Heliocentric model is a huge hoax perpetrated by world governments and that the Earth is actually flat, we don’t have to tell you that this is bullocks, do we?

The Geocentric model of the universe was so pervasive in human history, that it would remain the scientific rule until being invalidated in the 16th Century AD.


Old Thoughts, Bad Thoughts

WIF Myth and Legend

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 203

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 203

…they believe the end of year 2035 is near, a conceptual rendering of time, partially reconnoitered by Sammy’s growth and keeping track on an old-fashioned wristwatch…

Painting of Nestor Ferronato

As the enlarging emergence of Epsilon Eridani and the heightened anticipation it is Related imageproducing, Sampson’s demeanor stabilizes; finally a goal is in sight. There aren’t stars around every corner. In the coming of a new orange sphere, he can sense the warmth internally, even though an Earthly comparison would be like spotting the Rocky Mountains from the east while driving an automobile. What seems like a day later, you first get the sense you are going uphill.

epsilon eridani by arise chicken117

The far-reaching scope of the NEWFOUDLANDER’S viewscreen becomes the hot topic as they believe the end of year 2035 is near, a conceptual rendering of time, partially reconnoitered by Sammy’s growth and keeping track on an old-fashioned wristwatch. The estimated forty trillion, that is the #40 with twelve zeroes, miles of space traveled, where nothing but darkness and tiny white dots dominate the viewscreen, finally there is a tangible celestial objects to train their longing eyes on.

Five (that is the #5 with no zeroes) heavenly bodies they are coming upon. Other than the obvious blazing tangerine fireball, this system’s sun, a star from Earth telescope’s perspective, four immense planets are orbiting Epsilon Eridani at the far-out distance equal to Jupiter’s. They are spaced far enough apart in the planes of their orbits so that their gravitation cancels each other’s out. There are no other significant bodies inside this planetary parade, although there is one nearly continuous band of asteroids, meteors, and comet-like matter circling Epsilon 100 million miles out.

Each of these gigantic spheres numbers many objects as “moons” as an entourage.Epsilon Eridani b.jpg Several of these would make sizable planets on their own merit and perhaps they were before this quartet of gravity hogs drew them into their inescapable clutches.

“Get a load of that one,” Sampson to Celeste & Sammy, “it is twice the size of Jupiter!”

A NEWFOUNDLANDER monitor dedicated to geological activity reveals a tempestuous surface, three-fourths boiling with volcanism. Elsewhere, raging magnetic storms ripple through a conspicuously toxic atmosphere.


THE RETURN TRIP

great destination by henryz – deviatart.com

Episode 203


page 184

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 199

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 199

…the American people are not about to tamper with the perception of perfection… perception being the trigger for reality…

Perfection in Octad, 2010 by Rizwana A Mundewadi

It becomes very apparent by the pre-election year of 2035 that no one has the stomach to mount a challenge to Crippen/Walker. Not even the garden-variety armchair billionaire, with cash to burn and no need of a good reputation, will waste his time or money. Oh, the Democrats have scrounged up a glossy young candidate for convention purposes, but that only serves as a checks/balance to incumbent power, thereby preserving a solid 2.5-party system for future use.

At this particular point in history, the American people are not about to tamper with the perception of perfection… perception being the trigger for reality.

There is, however, steadily rising suspicion surrounding the United States’ and Roy Crippen’s inspired pet-project: SOL. Once it is achieved, speed-of-light travel will give the creator and his nation the single largest advantage ever attained by man.

  1. Unless you count 5000 BCE, when the wheel was invented.
  2. Or before that, some ancient figured out how to start a fire manually.
  3. Or, after all that, anything from “The Wizard of Menlo Park” (Edison).

To those who are screaming foul, Roy Crippen reminds those earth-bound worriers that SOL is only possible in the darkness of space. During his various discourses on the subject, President Roy reminds the wider-world that when plans for Space Colony II were vacated, with each nation taking the cash-out option from the insurance settlement, gone are the days when every new technology is shared. For those who are jealous, SOL translates to “s**t-out-of-luck”.

Surely the usual defendants, i.e. Russia, China, United Korea, Talibanistan, will do their best to beg, borrow or steal the expertise, but Prez Roy has cleverly invited them to the technology feast, on his terms only, with pre-approved scientists. The former Aldona Afridi, using his Fletcher Fitch disguise, is in charge of (dis)parsing the know-how.

The Crippen dedication to the SOL Project is a given, with the trusting approval of the voting public. Of course there are the “Starships cause hardship” arguers, but they need only look to everyday improvements to their lives for moral validation.

And now Deke & Gus McKinney, having blossomed during the SOL (also the ancient Roman Sun-god) era at NASA, has their hand prints all over the wet-cement that is the speed-of-light. And though the stairs only go to the second floor, look for them to lift it out – off the drawing board and past the Moon.


THE RETURN TRIP

2nd Floor Upstairs Neon by Dean Harte

Episode 199


page 184

Turn On The Lights – WIF Next Gen Power

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The Future of Power:

New  Sources

of Energy

Listen, fossil fuels have been great. They’ve provided such an abundance of cheap energy over the last century and change that we’ve ridden their wave from horses and muskets all the way to rocket ships and the internet. But there are costs to burning them (you know, like how you also burn the planet). As the cons begin to outweigh the pros, it’s abundantly clear the time of oil and coal is rapidly coming to an end.

The debate over which renewable sources could potentially replace them (and therefore deserve more public investment) has been raging for years now. But solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear (fission) are just the beginning. Turns out one thing we don’t have a shortage of is jaw dropping ideas for energy production that can, with the right resources and public investment, be implemented within our lifetimes. Things like…

8. Nuclear Waste

Nuclear fission reactors have been around forever, currently provide roughly 20% of America’s energy, and will likely be a central component to any climate response plan due to the low greenhouse damage they cause. Contrary to popular belief, they’re also quite safe, as accidents like the infamous Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are preventable and rare. But there is one problem that isn’t being overblown, and that is the nuclear waste issue.

Current light-water technology surrounds uranium fuel rods with enough water to slow the neutrons and generate a sustainable fission reaction, but only an unacceptably inefficient 5% of the uranium atoms inside the rods can be used before they have to be replaced. The remaining 95% kind of just gets dumped into an ever-growing stockpile (90,000 tons and counting) that we don’t really know what to do with. This is where Fast Reactor technology comes in, which submerges the rods in sodium and can therefore switch those numbers: using 95% of the uranium and only dumping the remaining 5% rather than further contributing to the current mess. If we can muscle our way past the political stigma against nuclear power, this technology has real potential.

7. Nuclear Fusion

Of course, we don’t have to stick with fission at all. At least not long term. Nuclear fusion, in which molecules are combined into a new element using immense heat and pressure, is safer, overwhelmingly more powerful, clean and harmless to the environment, and could provide power in enough abundance to launch mankind into the kind of future only dreamed of on The JetsonsSadly, at this moment it’s not easy to sustain net positive (meaning we get more energy out of the reaction than we have to put in to trigger it) fusion reactions long enough to be commercially viable.

There’s an old adage commenting on the long, long road fusion has already traveled and how far it still has before we start rolling it out: “nuclear fusion is the power source of the future, and always will be.” It’s funny and a bit depressing, given the enormous potential that always seems to be just one breakthrough away. But we know fusion, the Holy Grail of clean energy research, works. We need only look up at the stars, which exist because of fusion. So technically, since none of us would exist without the sun, you do too. 

6. Geothermal Energy

As appealing as fusion and wind are, though, there’s certainly something to be said for an energy source that doesn’t depend on expensive reactor facilities or unreliable weather conditions. Enter geothermal energy: heat pulled straight from beneath the surface of the Earth, where there’s always plenty. Now technically, we’ve been harnessing geothermal energy for over a century by just collecting it from water and steam. But modern geothermal harnessing techniques are limited, both in range of use (even when the technology is mature, it’s mainly used for basic heating and cooling functions) and by geography itself (we have to harness the heat where it is, almost always in tectonically active areas).

However, we’re constantly improving at both getting to the heat and spending less money, effort and time doing it. And in the very near future, expect technologies falling under the umbrella of Enhanced Geothermal Systems, which drill and pour water into ‘hot dry rock’ areas in the earth’s crust in order to turn the currently inaccessible energy stores there into several times more usable, clean energy than fossil fuels currently give us access to, to reshape the energy landscape.

5. Space-Based Solar

The first thing anyone thinks of when they hear the term ‘renewable energy’ is probably solar. Why wouldn’t they? The sun is bombarding the earth with more raw power every second than we’ve ever managed to spend in a year. But the problem was never a lack of it; it’s always been harnessing and storing the stuff. Luckily, solar panels are getting cheaper and better at an alarming clip. But what if we could harness the sun’s energy in space? It’s always there, after all, in waves not filtered and diluted by the fickle atmosphere (which reflects 30% of it back into space anyway).

The basic idea would be to construct enormous solar farms which would collect the sun’s high-energy radiation and use mirrors to deposit the energy into smaller collectors, which would then send it to Earth in the form of microwaves or laser beams. As of right now, this technology is prohibitively expensive. But maybe it won’t be for long. After all, companies like SpaceX are constantly engineering ways to drive down the cost of sending cargo into space, so hopefully we’ll be running out of excuses not to build one of these world-changing (and charging) behemoths in our lifetime.

4. Solar Windows

But you know what? Cool as space solar is, we don’t actually have to go into space to revolutionize solar energy generation (which is already revolutionizing energy itself). Down here on the surface, solar panels are already covering rooftops throughout Europe and desert expanses in the American Southwest, not to mention steadily eating away into fossil fuel dominance. With upcoming quantum dot solar cell technology about to burst onto the scene, which essentially replaces standard silicon with artificial, solar-energy collecting molecules, expect the revolution not just to continue, but to accelerate. 

Before we continue, it’s worth noting that lots of cool but ultimately impractical solar-panel-as-something-else designs (where solar panels replace roads, walls, windows, etc) have been floated lately. The problem always comes down to the fact that solar panels just aren’t advanced enough to double in function. But quantum dot tech may change that. Imagine every window in the world filled with solar harnessing technology that you wouldn’t even be able to see with an electron microscope. So say goodbye to those unsightly panels, because without even looking different, your transparent windows might function as mini power stations in just a few short years.

3. Tidal Power

We already have hydroelectric power, generated by massive dams that use rushing river water to turn energy turbines. It’s powerful, clean stuff and certainly worth continuing to use. But it’s nothing compared to the untapped energy of the ocean’s currents, which, if properly harnessed, could power the planet several times over. Sadly, solar and wind cornered the renewable market early on, and as a result, tidal power is only just now getting reconsidered due to its enormous potential.

Oyster, for example, is essentially a giant hinged flap bolstered to the ocean floor, which swings back and forth with the current and pumps enough resulting energy to the surface to power thousands of homes. There’s also the Terminator turbine, designed by Air Force Academy engineers and inspired by aircraft, which ditches drag technology for wing-like lift, in order to (theoretically) harness an astonishing 99% of available tidal power (as opposed to the standard 50%). And the potential isn’t limited to raw energy generation, either. Perth, Australia just started using a tidal-powered desalination plant that can provide drinking water for more than half a million residents.

2. Hydrogen

Advantage number one: burning Hydrogen produces just about no pollution or greenhouse emissions at all, which is why NASA has been using the stuff to send rockets and shuttles into space for years. Sadly, it’s tough to expand this energy source to a global scale since hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element in the universe (by orders of magnitude) isn’t available in large enough quantities where we can actually get it (unless it’s combined with other elements like Oxygen, as is the case with H2O).

But if we could figure this out, maybe by engineering a way to separate hydrogen from the elements of which it’s a part, we could change the world. Luckily, such hydrogen fuel cells, which may very well be the future of transportation, are already being built. Honda is actually planning to demonstrate the power and efficiency of this technology with a new Clarity Fuel Cell car by plugging the vehicle into a house which it will then power (as opposed to electric vehicles, which would draw power from the house). Like all new technology, of course, this will be expansive and unavailable to the public at large for some time. But the potential is real.

1. Biofuel

Like a lot of entries on this list, biofuel itself has been around for ages. Henry Ford actually envisioned his Model T car running on ethanol before cheap oil was found everywhere and captured the energy market instantly. Ethanol, the first generation of biofuel, is making a comeback too, but the fact that it can only be harnessed using the same land and resources as food is problematic (and driving up the cost of food). Generation 2’s switchgrass was floated as an alternative for a while, due to its hardiness and ability to grow like a weed virtually anywhere. But we’d need an amount of land equivalent to Russia and the US combined to grow it in large enough quantities to overtake fossil fuels as the primary power source for cars, so that won’t work.

But what about algae? Its natural oil content is over 50%, it’s not food, and doesn’t require fields or fresh water to grow. Instead, the remaining parts of the plant can be converted into gas and electricity and fertilizer to grow more algae in small labs. This one’s no brainer, folks.


Turn On The Lights

WIF Next Gen Power

Abundant Vital Quenching and Wondrous – WIF WATER

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The Many

Marvelous Mysteries

of Water

Water is, by far, the most abundant natural resource on Earth, as around 72% of the planet’s surface is covered with it. It’s also the driving factor behind the origins of life, as we do not yet know of a life form that’s not water-based. The same cannot be said for anything else. We know of organisms that don’t require light, oxygen, warmth, or even the Earth’s atmosphere to survive – as many microbes can stay alive in space, too – though every one of them absolutely requires water to function.

Humans and animals alike love to frolic in it, when it’s warm enough.

While the reasons for all that may be obvious to most – it makes sense that life evolved around the most abundant resource in the environment – it doesn’t have anything to do with the Earth or the environment at all. Water is – in itself – one of the weirdest substances to ever exist, with mysterious properties that aren’t just unheard of on Earth, but anywhere in the universe. Right from its highly-debated structure to the baffling Mpemba effect, it’s exactly these unexplained properties that give water its unique position as the single biggest factor behind all life we know of today, and why finding life based on any other substance anywhere else in the universe is more unlikely than we think.

8. Water’s Inexplicably-High Surface Tension

One of water’s most unique – and mind-boggling – properties is its surface tension. While nothing unusual in itself, as every liquid has some surface pull that keeps its molecules together in that state, water’s surface tension is much higher than any other liquid we know of. This unique property has some far-reaching consequences for the evolution of life on Earth. For an example, it’s how blood – over 80% of which is made up of water – can overcome the force of gravity and circulate around the body.

As for why this is, you guessed it: we’re not sure. Scientists previously believed that it’s because of the uniquely strong hydrogen bonds found in the water molecules, though if a recent study is to be believed, that’s not the case, and water is actually even weirder than that. Apparently, its surface tension isn’t even static, and could change according to how water is feeling that day.

As the study found, it’s the stickiest just when its surface is formed – like the exact time a water droplet falls down. Surprisingly, it takes unusually long for it to come down to its original value, too, something the researchers didn’t understand. What they did clear up, however, is that it has nothing to do with the hydrogen bonds, or anything else we know of.

7. We Don’t Know Why Water Expands On Cooling, Or Vice Versa

That things expand when they’re heated up and shrink in size on cooling is one of the fundamental rules of nature. We can see it in play all around us, and a lot of our infrastructure takes this rule into account. Almost every building has expansion joints, allowing it to breathe in or out depending on the season. Rules, however, do not apply to water, as it remains the only known substance that expands on cooling and vice versa, and we still don’t know why.

It’s not even difficult to verify this. Just take some ice in a container, note its general volume and wait for it to warm up and liquify. It would always take up less space than its solid form, which also happens to be one of water’s weirdest properties. Science has been trying to answer it for a while, though the potential answers – much like everything else about water – make the whole thing even more mysterious.

According to recent research, there is a perfectly good explanation for this unique property: liquid water doesn’t really expand when it’s cooled, but actually oscillates between two distinct states of liquid matter. If you cool it down below 0 degrees Celsius, it may seem to be expanding, but if you lower it even further, you’d start to notice that it’s contracting, too. Keep taking it closer to its freezing point – which is around -60 Celsius for pure water – and at one point it would seem to be expanding and contracting with almost the same frequency.

While that does seem to explain exactly how and what happens to water when it’s cooled – in the way that it clarifies that the real process is even weirder than we imagined – it still doesn’t touch on the ‘why’. It may have to do with the inherently weird structure of water molecules and how they interact with each other, but then it’s not like we’re sure about how that works, either.

6. No One Can Agree On Its Structure

Most of us would probably not believe it, but water – perhaps the most studied natural material in history – incites some pretty strong opinions in the scientific community, for the simple reason that there’s still a lot of debate around how exactly it’s structured. A lot of its weird properties could be explained if we just knew how the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water interact with each other. Surprisingly, though, even with our modern research techniques, we still have no idea.

While traditional wisdom previously suggested that despite its weirdness, the structure of water is still a natural tetrahedron, one recent study found that the shape is actually a more loosely bonded collection of closed rings and chains, which is actually what gives water its weird properties. It’s still not a widely accepted opinion yet, though, as other researchers say that the results aren’t due to looser bonding at all, but because of the water molecule’s ability to rearrange itself in entirely new shapes. Whatever may be the case, it’d be a while before we could even understand the structure of water, let alone the plethora of its other mysteries.

5. The Mpemba Effect

While there’s no doubt that water possesses many abilities that may as well be magic to the scientists studying them, a lot of them have been recent realizations. It’s only thanks to recent experiments that we’ve come to understand the full extent of water’s weirdness, as for the majority of history, it was the simplest substance we know of. One of its properties, however, has baffled keen thinkers and amateur scientists alike for centuries – possibly even millenia. Water, contrary to all common logic, freezes at a faster rate when it’s hot. Again, it’s unlike anything else we know of, and has been verifiably observed since at least the ancient Greek times.

Also known as the Mpemba Effect, after an African physics student who wrote the first peer-reviewed paper describing the phenomenon, it’s by far the most enduring of water’s mysteries. Many experiments have confirmed it throughout the years, though we’re still no closer to figuring out why it happens.

4. The Mystery Of The Cambrian Explosion

Our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth is pretty linear; that simple, single-celled organisms gradually gave way to more complex animals, leading up to all the diversity of life we see around us today. However, that is not the case at all. Complex life is a rather recent, and likely accidental, development. For an overwhelming period of our history – about 2.5 billion years – life existed as simple, largely immobile creatures, most of whom didn’t even need oxygen to survive. It may as well have been an alien landscape altogether, filled with animals (if we can even call them that) that have little to no resemblance to the mostly water and oxygen-based life forms of today.

Then about 540 million years ago, the variety and complexity of life suddenly exploded in the oceans, and to this day we have no idea what triggered it. The Cambrian Explosion, as it’s called, was the single most important event in our pre-evolutionary history, as well as the oldest mystery of the oceans. Some researchers think that it was triggered by the rise of oxygen levels in the atmosphere, or the accidental evolution of vision, or something else really. They’re not sure, but almost all of them agree that the importance of the Cambrian Explosion cannot be overstated. It was the beginning of complex life as we know it, and gave way to almost every life form in the world today, from the simplest of microbes to the entirety of human civilization, and everything in between.

In the end, it could be a God-thing.

3. Where Did All Of Earth’s Water Even Come From?

As we’ve well established by now, there would have been no life on Earth without water. Thanks to its unique and weird properties, water may just be the answer to ‘why us?’, as almost no other substance found in nature behaves like it. Moreover, it’s also rather convenient to have the one substance required to kickstart life to even show up on Earth, completing the unique set of highly-improbable factors that eventually gave birth to life. It begs the question; where did all the water on Earth even come from?

If that sounds like a simple question to answer by something obvious like ‘clouds, duh’ or ‘trees, or something’, it’s really not. As it happens, we still don’t know exactly what brought water to Earth in the first place. Some claim that it came on the back of a comet in the form of ice, though given how the Earth didn’t have an atmosphere around that time, all of that water would have evaporated into the open universe. Another theory says that hot vapors escaping from cracks in the Earth’s surface gave way to the first clouds, setting the cycle of evaporation, cloud formation and rains in motion for the first time. Though again, it’s still just a theory.

2. Water Shouldn’t Even Be A Liquid

If you take a look at the elements that make up water on the periodic table – provided you know how to read the periodic table – you’ll notice something peculiar. They exist right next to gases like hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen selenide; ‘gases’ being the key word. If water were to behave like other chemicals with similar properties, it would not be a liquid at all, especially at Earth temperatures. Water is supposed to freeze somewhere around -100 Celsius and evaporate at around -80 Celsius, as is the case with other gases of its family.

As it’s clear by now, water doesn’t adhere to expectations, which is why it’s the only substance we know of that can exist in all the three states at temperatures hospitable for human life. It can stay liquid at a surprisingly low temperature, too, provided that it’s free of any impurities.

1. The Weird Properties Of Water Make Life On Earth Possible

Reading through the absolutely rebellious chemical nature of water may give you the impression that it’s abnormal. After all, these properties are not found in any natural substance, and we even have a hard time replicating them in the lab if we want to. That’s pretty accurate, though these mysterious properties don’t make water alien. In fact, they explain why water has fit in so well with the life-giving ecosystem of the planet, and is perhaps the most Earthly thing there is.

If water didn’t have a higher surface tension than other liquids, it would be impossible for it to stick to and circulate among plant roots. Its ability to expand when frozen allowed water bodies during ancient ice ages to freeze from top down, allowing life below the surface – which was all life at one point – to survive and adapt for when it was over. If it adhered to laws of liquids, water would start turning into ice from the bottom, ensuring that any signs of primitive life died down long before they could adapt and evolve.


Abundant Vital Quenching and Wondrous

WIF WATER

Not Just a Bucket of Bones – WIF Medicine

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Fascinating Facts

About the

Human Body

It’s no wonder that so many of us take our bodies for granted; we take them with us everywhere we go. We’ve all been there when it comes to complaining about aches and pains. People have been known to spend more than a million dollars altering the appearance of their bodies. There are some, such as neuroscientist Randal Keone, who want to end human dependence on bodies by creating computers into which our consciousnesses can be uploaded.

This is overlooking what a beautiful, elegant machine the human body is. Its many intricacies, quirks, and surprises. So let’s break out the microscopes and give the wondrous body a little more of its due.

10. The Prodigious Data of Our Genomes

In 2003, after three years of work, the International Human Genome Sequencing Project declared they had finished ordering the data that would allow them to write a human genome. It was noted that this was two years ahead of schedule. Why would it have been expected to take five years to write out the amount of data in a human genome?

Well, a genome is a complete set of human DNA., which as we all know is basically the code that is ordered to make out a specific human and their traits. Though specific traits such as hair color, height, and such only comprise about 2% of DNA while the rest is more or less a standard human template. The code is usually broken down into patterns of the letters U, G, A, C, and T (CC, AT, TG, etc.). A single genome of DNA will have 3.5 billion pairs of data in it to program a human being. This means that when the International Human Genome Sequencing Project completed their mapping, they had finished the equivalent of translating 100 encyclopedias worth of information! You’d think almost no one would have that much to write about them, even after Twitter came around.

9. I’m Radioactive

Part of the reason human beings are radioactive is inadvertent. The radioactive element strontium-90 tends to accumulate in bones because the body tends to mistake it for calcium. Relatively large amounts of that were spread around around the world due to pervasive nuclear weapons testing, but since it has a half-life of 29 years the worst effects of that have passed. The more pressing concerns for many are those who absorbed the material from such nuclear disasters as Fukushima in 2011.

The body more directly creates radiation through its nervous system. Every time you use your nerves to move an organ, think, etc., that causes the fission of a potassium-40 atoms, and that fission releases gamma radiation. On an average human being, roughly 10% of that will leave the body (lower on a heavier person). This translates to a lifetime spent sleeping with another person being the equivalent of spending a few days in Denver or some similarly high-elevation city. This is to say that we’re not radioactive enough to produce much energy. If all the nerves in your brain were harvested for electrical power, it would take roughly 2.85 days of charging time to fill up an iPhone.

8. Seeing with Your Ears

If you look at someone in the eye, you’re looking at one of the body’s most counterintuitive contraptions. When you see something, first light passes through the lens of an eye, then it casts itself on the retinas in the back of the eyeball. In the process of passing through the convex material of the lens, the light is refracted onto the retinas upside down. So how does it process as right-side up by the time that the information gets into the back of the cerebrum where the brain is located?

This is where the ear comes in. It’s the vestibular nerve in the ear that connects your eyes to your balance center and corrects your vision for the brain’s benefit. This has some handy benefits merely having the retinas connected directly to the brain wouldn’t provide. For example, it’s the reason that you can tilt your head at a 90 degree angle without the world appearing tilted. This discovery has led to the belief that newborn babies, with their nervous systems that are still coalescing, actually do see the world upside down. So far, though, none of them have said one way or the other.

7. Glowing Bodies

Sure, you’ve heard about how people with a certain mood or style are glowing, but this is a bit more literal. In 2009, researchers Masaki Kobayashi, Daisuke Kikuchi, Hitoshi Okamura photographed the first known images of a human being glowing, although the basic science of measuring biological photon reactions had been known since the 1960s. They placed five test subjects in a light tight environment, brought out a charge-coupled device camera, and spent seven hours photographing them. While the temperature remained constant, it was found that the amount of light/photons that their bodies emitted changed through the course of the day.

This is not to say that you should be hoping for people that can save many on lightbulbs anytime soon. The amount of light is roughly 1/1000th that of what would be visible to the naked eye. Still, since the rate of photon emission was found to be linked to metabolism, Kobayashi suggested that after more study the technique could be refined to use to diagnose metabolic conditions. In the years since, some studies have been conducted with photon emissions to test the effectiveness of meditation. The results are reportedly promising but inconclusive.

6. New Body Parts at Different Rates

Everyone knows from lessons about the dangers of excess alcohol back in their teen years that we only get one set of nerve cells that never replenish. But what about the other organs? How long does it take to replace them?

Well, for one, the lining of your stomach only takes a few days to replace due to the corrosiveness of stomach acids. Your skin cells are comparatively long-lived with an average of three weeks. The liver cells stick it out a robust 150 days.

The longest lasting of the cells that do get replaced are bone cells. Those last long enough that your bones last an average of 10 years each. Each cycle, though, they tend to regrow a little thinner. This is why they’re especially vulnerable among the older generations. As of 2020, the National Institute of Health estimates that roughly 50% of Americans over the age of 50 have chronically weak bones.

5. Growth Hormones Can Cause Shrinkage

In the early 20th Century, experiments in injecting growing males with testosterone and females with estrogen began. The idea with the females was that it would normalize their menstrual cycles, and for males that were not growing satisfactorily to get taller. In the long run, the results would show the effort was a misfire. The estrogen injections increased breast cancer rates for women in their sixties, and for the males the testosterone could backfire in a more immediate way: their pituitary glands shut down because the body was already full of testosterone, so there was no growth.

By far the most famous recipient of this misguided treatment was Rainbow Connection and A Star is Born songwriter Paul Williams. Since his father was over six feet tall, he thought the fact Paul was only four 4-foot-6 in fifth grade meant there was a problem and started therapy. Williams said that it stopped the growth of his bones and sent him into puberty at age 10. Some things it just doesn’t work to try and force.

4. We Needs Metals

It’s standard practice to include the heavy metal content on a nutritional information label, but why do we need copper, zinc, or iron? Well, we need copper to control heart rate and produce all sorts of cellular tissue, from bones to heart cells. Zinc is used for cell division and dissolving carbohydrates for heat and other forms of energy. Iron also is used in metabolism, but with the addition of helping transfer oxygen to cells.

The amounts of metal in a body vary significantly and in some instances can be surprisingly substantial. An average adult human only has roughly 50-80 milligrams of copper in them, barely over 2% of an ounce. By contrast, it’s often said that an average adult human has enough iron in them to make a nail three inches long. Let’s hope for your sake that this is the only way anyone will say you have one of those in you.

3. 98.6 and Falling

Of all the entries on this list, this one likely provides the single best piece of news. In 1851, the standard temperature for a healthy adult male body was set at 98.6° F. Since then, studies such as the one performed in 2019 by Dr. Julie Parsonnet of Stanford University of 677,000 measurements found that the average man’s temperature had dropped down to 97.9° F. It hadn’t been a rapid dropoff. The average had been roughly .05 degrees per decade. Women came in at around 97.3° F.

According to Parsonnet, the reason behind this isn’t related to a lack of activity on the part of most people. It’s because with the adoption of healthier lifestyle habits and improvements in antibiotics, the number of people whose immune systems are constantly fighting colds and flus while remaining functional has declined. Not to mention that the fact that more and more people are living in homes with reliable temperature control means that more peoples’ bodies no longer require inflammation to remain active. Who’s to say if it won’t turn out in the next century that optimal human temperature is a degree or two lower?

2. Calorie Counts

Now this, admittedly, a fairly grisly entry for this list. In April 2017, historian James Cole of the University of Brighton was researching cannibalistic practices in ancient tribes to see if they were performed purely for ritualistic purposes or for survival. To this end he decided to determine the fat and caloric content of human bodies to see if they would yield a worthwhile amount of sustenance compared to available prey. He came to a conclusion that an average adult male human body weighing 145 pounds contains roughly 125,000 calories. Since the generally accepted amount of calories a person needs in a day is about 2,000, that means a human body would feed another human for slightly over a month and a family of four for slightly over a week, though as we learned in the previous entry harder living certainly meant people burned through calories faster. A red deer from the time would yield roughly 160,000 calories for less risk, which left Cole inclined to conclude that humans were impractical as a food source and thus the cannibalism was likely more for religious or militaristic purposes.

Cole went into thorough detail in the analysis of a body’s calorie value. For example, a one pound heart provided 650 calories. The liver is 2,569. The lungs are 1,596 calories combined. Skin offers about 10,280; bones 25,330. The delicacy of zombies, the brain, provides 2,700 calories.

1. Makes Own Drugs

To think that in a few ways, every person is a mobile drug lab. For example, there’s dimethyltryptamine, which is a hallucinogenic Schedule 1 drug often extracted from mushrooms. It also naturally occurs in human cerebrospinal fluid and related to dreams. It’s speculated that near-death experiences are related to it. Then there’s the opiate pain reliever morphine, which in 2010 experiments indicated (inconclusively) the brain creates out of the chemical tetrahydropapaveroline.

More firmly established in the late 1980s was that the body produces its own cannabinoids, specifically CB1 and CB2. Beyond the intoxicating effects, the National Academy of Science reported in 2006 that CB2 is used by the body to regulate bone growth. Since then there have been findings that these cannabinoids are used for regulating a number of other physiological functions, which is why in some cases it’s better to rely on the body’s own cannabinoids than ingest some more.


Not Just a Bucket of Bones

WIF Medicine

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 17

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 17

…Tycho Brahe’s theoretical calculations were the foundation of astronomical law, eventually expanded by Johannes Kepler and that Newton fellow

That Newton fellow

That Newton fellow from Study.com

World Space Consortium

The events of that day in the year 2014, provides two important indicators to what led to this eventual orbiting cohabitation: Miss Bergestrom would become Mrs. McKinney in the coming months and together they would aggressively pursue a life spearheading the World Space Consortium’s grand venture out to Mars.

fast-forward-001

Tycho

Tycho lander

This brings us (forward) to the business of bringing Space Colony 1 to full functionality. Part of that plan includes a Martian Lander named Tycho, which is going to be the first major project to be tackled by the McKinney’s. It is the only link between the orbiting Colony and the Martian surface.

The name “Tycho” pays homage to the Danish astronomer Tycho Ottesen Brahe, who used his 16th Century observations to disprove mistaken notions that Tycho Brahe.JPGapplied to the proper planetary grouping that they know in 2030. His theoretical calculations were the foundation of astronomical law, eventually expanded by Johannes Kepler and that Newton fellow.

The versatile two-man lander saves wear and tear on the shuttle fleet, like Chronicle or any lifting systems like the Jupiter Piggyback workhorse. The deep-space shuttles do have the ability to achieve escape velocity, but dense atmospheres are a drag and it is far too heavy to put down on unpaved landing strips.

The task of preparing Tycho for its maiden mission will occupy the both colony pioneers, right up until departure time.


THE RETURN TRIP

chronicle-001

Chronicle

Episode 17


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