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Alien Life Debate – Experts Weigh-in @ WIF

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Alien Life Forms by Richard Bizley

Alien Life Forms by Richard Bizley

Theories on Alien Life

from Experts in

Science and Technology

One of the biggest mysteries humans face is: are we alone in the universe? Some of the greatest scientific minds in the world have thought about this question, and at more length than the scientific layman. So what do they think? Are we alone in the vast universe? Or will we one day meet intelligent life?

from contributor 

10. Julian Assange


We know what you’re probably thinking. These guys are idiots. Julian Assange is not a technologist or a scientist. To that we counter: maybe we are. But Assange was a computer programmer and hacker. However, we mostly want to include him because if there’s anyone who knows about government secrets, such as classified information on UFOs and alien contact, he may be the best person to go to.

Assange, of course, is the editor of WikiLeaks. He’s responsible for the biggest leak ofmilitary information in history. Assange has been asked numerous times if the government was hiding UFO or alien information. And, according to him, the answer is no. The only reference to UFOs ever found on WikiLeaks is a Canadian UFO cult called the Raelians.

Assange gets very annoyed with crazy conspiracy theories, like UFOs and people involved with the 9/11 “Truth” movement. He says that there are conspiracies everywhere that lead to war and mass fraud, and people don’t need to make up new ones.

9. Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb during World War II. He also helped popularize physics through books and TV shows that were known for being informative and funny.

Feynman was definitely open to the possibility of life other than our own in the universe. He saw there was no definitive proof that it didn’t exist. But one thing he highly doubted was that flying saucers visited Earth. At a lecture in 1965 at Cornell University, Feynman said, “I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.”

8. Edward Snowden


A lot of times, Edward Snowden is associated with Assange and WikiLeaks. The truth is, they are completely unrelated. However, they do share similarities because both are responsible for massive information leaks. In the case of Snowden, he was a computer technician working for the CIA, and then he became a subcontractor with the NSA. While working there, he uncovered that the NSA was spying on its own citizens. They were also watching major technology corporations like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple. He also exposed that the NSA wasn’t the only one doing it. Britain’s version of the NSA,Government Communications Headquarters, was also spying on their own citizens. Snowden took the information to the press, and was immediately labeled a traitor. He’s been in Russia ever since.

Even though he had access to amazing amounts of confidential government information, he did not find a single shred of evidence that supports that aliens have made contact. However, where they differ is that Snowden thinks alien life could be out there. We just haven’t been able to communicate with them because of encryption.

While talking with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Snowden said that, like us, other advanced beings may encrypt their information. That will make finding them much more difficult. He pointed out that only the beginning of our communication technology wasn’t encrypted. For example, before encryption, information was transmitted through waves, and picked up by antennas for television and radio. However, some of these signals would have also been sent out into space. Once encryption started, fewer signals would have been sent out, making it harder for alien life to find us because there is less “noise” coming from Earth. On our end, aliens could be sending us messages. Perhaps our satellites just aren’t recognizing them because our tech is too heavily encrypted.

7. Ellen Stofan

Ellen Stofan is a scientist you may not have heard of, but she’s been NASA’s Chief Scientist since 2013. She is quite optimistic when it comes to finding other life in the universe. While speaking on a panel in 2015 about water in the universe, Stofan said that she believes by 2025, we’ll find strong indications of life outside of Earth. Then, within the next two or three decades, we will have definitive proof.

So, why is she so optimistic? Stofan says that NASA is implementing new technology that will help in the search. Plus, researchers have a much better idea where to look. They also know how to look for life other than our own. Amazingly, the other panelists agree with her and think that finding extraterrestrial life is a matter of when, not if.

Stofan also clarified that the alien life may not be intelligent, and will probably be microbes.

6. Albert Einstein


Albert Einstein is synonymous with genius. But did he think it was possible that aliens existed? In 1920, a reporter from the Daily Mailasked Einstein about life elsewhere in the universe. He replied, “Why should the Earth be the only planet supporting human life? It is not singular in any other respect.” So while it was fairly clear to Einstein that there’s a good chance life does exist somewhere in the universe, he thought that people trying to contact aliens were doing it all wrong. From the late 19th century up to the present day with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programs, most people have tried to make contact with life on other planets with radio waves. Einstein thought that, if alien life were out there, they would contact us using light rays. Light rays are easier to control.

The question then, is: was Einstein correct? Have we been trying to contact aliens incorrectly for over a century and wasted billions upon billions of dollars and man hours? Well, yes and no. When Einstein gave his answer, he didn’t have enough information about outer space. Specifically, in space there is something called interstellar, or cosmic, dust. This dust blocks shorter-wavelength light, but radio waves can easily pass through it. In 1920, when Einstein made his prediction, scientists didn’t know that.

With that being said, there are teams trying Einstein’s method, which is called Optical SETI. A notable program using light beams to contact aliens is at Harvard. The problem is that when using light beams, the light has to be directed. Radio waves, however, spread across space like ripples in a pond.

5. Nikola Tesla


Nikola Tesla, one of the more notable madmen of science, definitely believed that there was alien life. Specifically, he thought Mars housed intelligent beings. Tesla also believed there was a way to communicate with these beings on other planets. In 1901, he promised that he would make it possible. This was an incredibly ambitious goal, considering this was the early 20th century and home telephones were just becoming common.

Tesla’s big plans of phoning another planet started in 1899, when he moved to Colorado Springs. There, he set up his most ambitious plan: a power station that would provide inexpensive energy to thousands of people without the use of wires. For some reason, he also thought that it would be possible to use similar technology to contact other planets. How Tesla planned to communicate with Mars was not exactly clear. He tried to explain it in an article in Collier’s Weekly, but unfortunately, he was short on specific details. Tesla was ahead of his time, but working without a lot of knowledge that we now know. So what he did say was incorrect. For example, his plan uses electrical conduction and induction, which couldn’t travel across space in the same way radio waves would.

However, Tesla was apparently aware that radio waves may be helpful in inter-planet communication. In 1901, Tesla received an unusual radio signal. He thought it might be from Mars. Although it’s unclear what the radio signal was, it’s obvious that Tesla thought alien life is out there.

4. Bill Nye

Based on the sheer number of stars and planets outside of our own solar system, Bill Nye believes that there has to be life out there somewhere. However, Nye’s reason for this assertion brings up one of the biggest problems when it comes to searching for extraterrestrial life. If the universe is so vast, where do we even begin to search?

Nye believes that the likeliest candidate for finding life is Europa, which is one of the many moons of Jupiter. It was one of the first four moons discovered by  Galileo Galilei in 1610. The four moons are called the Galilean satellites, and Europa is the smallest. The reason that Europa is so promising is because it has twice the amount of seawater as Earth. That’s a good indicator of the possibility life. The problem is that since Europa is so far away from the sun, the surface is ice. That ice is about 10-30 miles deep. Below all that ice is water that remains liquid, thanks to the tidal actions of Europa.

Nye believes that a vessel could be sent to Europa with a specialized drill. It would cost about $2 billion and would take 10 years. While that may sound like a lot, Nye says it’s about the same price as everyone in America buying just one cup of coffee. He then points out: isn’t the price of one cup of coffee a good investment to find life on another planet?

3. Neil deGrasse Tyson

The host of the new Cosmos and NOVA, Neil deGrasse Tyson hopes that we will find out if there is alien life within the next 50 years. He thinks the discovery will advance the field of biology by leaps and bounds, because it will help us explain what exactly makes something “alive.” For the first time we will be able to compare and contrast with a non-Earth life form. This will open up the spectrum on what exactly life is.

However, Tyson also says that there is the potential that alien life is out there and they might be too advanced to bother communicating with us. Tyson suggests, because there are plenty of habitable planets other than our own, someone could be sending us what they think are simple messages. However, the messages are way beyond our comprehension. To illustrate his point, Tyson compared our interactions with chimpanzees. Chimps and humans share 98.8 percent of the same DNA. Yet, we are so intellectually different. Chimps can do some basic math, but humans are doing quantum mechanics.

What if the intelligent life is more than 1.2 percent different in DNA than us? Say 2%, or even 10%. It would mean that alien life trying to communicate with us, would be like us trying to open up a line of dialogue with the chimp population. Tyson says that this very thought sometimes keeps him up at night.

2. Carl Sagan

The late Carl Sagan was an astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, and astrobiologist. He only published one fiction book in his life, Contact, which was made into a movie of the same name in 1998. The book focuses on the very question of what first contact with extraterrestrial life would be like. Instead of monsters or an invasion, the aliens send Earthlings plans for a machine, which we are supposed to build, but for unknown reasons. So did Sagan believe in UFOs and Aliens? Well, it was a rather complicated question for the man. When asked directly, he said:

“I’m frequently asked, ‘Do you believe there’s extraterrestrial intelligence?’ I give the standard arguments- there are a lot of places out there, the molecules of life are everywhere, I use the word billions, and so on. Then I say it would be astonishing to me if there weren’t extraterrestrial intelligence, but of course there is as yet no compelling evidence for it.

Often, I’m asked next, ‘What do you really think?’

I say, ‘I just told you what I really think.’

‘Yes, but what’s your gut feeling?’

But I try not to think with my gut. If I’m serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble. Really, it’s okay to reserve judgment until the evidence is in.”

Even though there was no evidence to prove or disapprove aliens exist, Sagan was fascinated by the possibility of intelligent alien life forms since he was a child. He thought there was a good chance that other life forms existed somewhere in the universe. Notably, while hosting Cosmos, Sagan said that there should be millions of other technological civilizations just in the Milky Way. He also co-wrote a book that was published in 1966 called Intelligent Life in the Universe in which he theorized life on other planets was possible. However, he was very doubtful of alien abductions, and this could have come from his work with the government.

Supposedly, Sagan worked for Project Blue Book, which was a study of the possiblity UFOs by the United States Air Force that ran from 1952 to 1969. The goal of the project was to determine if UFOs were an actual threat to national security, and to scientifically analyze UFO-related data. The official statement from the Air Force is that Project Blue Book did not find any evidence of UFOs or alien life.

After working with the Air Force, Sagan continued to work with the government. He became an advisor to NASA. Later in his life, Sagan worked with SETI projects and in the last year of his life, he was a member of the SETI Institute’s Board of Trustees.

1. Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking at his Oxford University graduation

Link to Hawkings Video

Since about 2010, world renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has been very clear in his thoughts on alien life. Mainly, there’s a good chance that they will be hostile and crush us, no different than a human wiping out an ant colony. Hawking’s reasoning stems from humanity’s history. Humans have a tendency to kill off species and even other civilizations of humans with lower technology. Why would an advanced alien species be any different from our own?

Hawking said that the reason aliens might come to Earth isn’t too different from the original Independence Day. He said, “I imagine they might exist in massive ships… having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach.”

However, despite the danger, Hawking believes we should keep looking for alien life. Still, he thinks that the probability of finding life on another planet soon is pretty low. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We just may have a hard time finding it.

As for what Hawking thinks alien life might look like in our solar system, he said that most of it would be microbial or, at most, small animals. He also said that on ocean planets and moons there might be life underwater.

Another theory from Hawking regarding extraterrestrial life is that there may have been advanced civilizations throughout the universe that have already come and gone. They could have wiped themselves out before mastering interstellar travel. Hawking uses this example as a warning to humankind about scientific advancement. In the past, we’ve been on the brink of destruction with things like the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is possible we will do so again in the future before we master interstellar travel.

Alien Life Debate

– Experts Weigh-in @ WIF

The Earth is Flat – WIF Mad Science

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Reasons to Believe

That the Earth is Flat

with the help of contributor 

According to the esteemed font of scholarly knowledge known as,Wikipedia, the Earth is an oblate spheroid. However, according to the Flat Earth Society who have the word “Earth” right there in their name, the Globe is actually a big flat disk, gravity is a lie and NASA is the most powerful commercial entity on Earth, which we think sounds a lot more likely than all of that “science” crap they taught us about in physics class.

That’s why we’ve decided to list the 10 most convincing reasons that the Earth might actually be shaped like a pancake.

(In case anyone was wondering, I’m being super sarcastic.)

10. You’re part of an exclusive club


When you’re one of the sheep who believes that the Earth is shaped like a slightly overweight basketball instead of a kick-ass UFO or mountain covered Frisbee, you’re one of 7 billion other people who’ve been fooled by the man.

However, if you choose to ascribe to the idea that the Earth is actually a giant disk flying aimlessly through an uncaring, godless void, you’re part of an exclusive club of just 100 people. Yes, amazingly, there are only around 100 people on Earth right now who are smart enough to realise that every person with a PHD in the entire world is lying. According to The Flat Earth Society, they had over 3000 members in the 90’s, but a after a fire, that was probably started by some butthole working for NASA, they lost all their records and had to start again. Since then, only 100 people have bothered to join back up, meaning there are less people in this club than there are rhinos left in the wild.

But hey, don’t let that fact fool you into thinking this is just an idea held by random idiots online with nothing better to do, because …

9. A bunch of highly influential people also believe the Earth is flat


When it comes to the Flat Earth argument, you could be fooled into thinking that those who believe in the ludicrous idea of an orb shaped planet have the upper hand because their ranks include: every scientist of the last 22 centuries, the president, the guy who animated What’s New Scooby Doo and probably some other important people. There are some fairly prominent and influential Flat Earthers out there like, Mohammed Yusuf, you know, the former leader of Boko Haram, that group that explicitly says that they hate Western Education and make the majority of their living in royalties from keeping CNN afloat when it isn’t an election season.

If having one of the most repugnant men in history support the view that the Earth is flat doesn’t convince you that it’s a totally legit theory, how about learning that the most repugnant man in history also apparently believed it. Yes, we’re talking about Hitler who is apparently greatly respected by a subsection of Flat Earthers because he’s “allegedly” the only person known to have seen the end of the Earth during a visit he totally made to Antarctica that only Flat Earthers seem to know about.

But hey if Hitler isn’t your thing, you may still want to reconsider dismissing the Flat Earth Theory outright because, if you choose to believe it, you get to …

8. Live in a world like Game of Thrones


I wrote an article a while ago all about how unrealistic some of the elements of Game of Thrones are in relation to the section of history it takes influence from and we’d like to apologise because holy crap, you guys, the wall is a real thing.

You see, according to Flat Earthers, the world rather than being a bloated sphere is actually a rounded disk surrounded by a several hundred foot wall of ice, which is why the oceans don’t just spill out into space and land on Jupiter. Of course nobody has ever seen this wall, because NASA diverts planes away from it as well as stationing guards at the top to shoot anyone (except for Hitler) who gets too close. While we have no idea if any of these guards dress like Jon Snow, we’re going to assume that they do because what in the hell else is a person tasked with guarding the literal edges of the Earth from the top of a big-ass wall of ice gonna wear?

While the existence of a big-ass wall of ice that keeps all of the world’s oceans in place is certainly reassuring, arguably one of the best things about believing the Earth is flat is the fact that …

7. You get to prove Einstein wrong!


Whenever the idea of a flat planet comes up, one of the first arguments against the theory to crop up in conversation is that gravity simply wouldn’t work on a planet shaped like a pizza. Gravity for those of you who aren’t aware is a myth perpetuated by NASA that says all objects emit an invisible force that attracts other objects towards themselves, the larger the object, the larger the force. Rather than believing this twaddle, Flat Earthers instead believe that the Earth is constantly flying directly upwards at a constant acceleration of 9.81 m/s and that’s why when you drop an object it falls towards the ground at this speed. In regards to what happens when the Earth reaches terminal velocity, the opinion of the Flat Earth society is that it probably won’t so don’t worry about it. Where’s you’re theory of relativity now, Einstein!

But wait you ask? If gravity doesn’t exist, how is the moon kept in place? Well the moon does have a gravitation pull and it does effect the tides, but the only reason it moves across the sky is because the Earth is spinning and it stays in place because it just so happens to be travelling the exact speed we do. As for why the Earth doesn’t have gravity if the moon does, the official stance of the Flat Earth society is to just not try to think about how ridiculous that is. Oh and for anyone wanting to be clever and ask how we have things like lunar eclipses, that’s obviously due to an invisible “shadow object” that nobody has ever observed flying in front of the moon at random that you should absolutely believe exists just because we said so. Also the sun, moon and all the stars are only a couple of hundred miles above the Earth.

However, while Flat Earthers whole heartedly think that you should accept everything they say without question or proof, you shouldn’t give NASA the same privilege because ….

6. NASA is like, super evil and corrupt


In the world of Flat Earthers, no single entity is treated with more contempt and animosity than those dicks at NASA. Why? Well it probably has something to do with the fact that NASA is pretty much solely responsible for maintaining the illusion that the Earth is a sphere and they’re also evil and corrupt because sure, why not.

According to Flat Earthers every image of our planet ever taken from space was doctored by NASA, every trip to space, including the ones where people died, were impeccably planned ruses and there’s no such thing as satellites, only giant, NASA controlled radio towers that “lie” to your GPS, television and smartphone. NASA also somehow controls every single plane on Earth, even private ones without GPS, to stop them from straying too close to the edge of the Earth and uncovering the truth.

If you’re wondering why NASA would bother to go to such lengths to cover up the Earth being flat, congratulations, you’re already starting to sound like a Flat Earther. Yes, despite Flat Earthers being absolutely convinced that NASA is a massively corrupt agency dedicated to hiding the truth from the public, they have yet to offer a convincing explanation for why NASA actually cares about maintaining this impossibly elaborate scam. They just know something is up and that’s enough for them because …

5. Flat Earthers are smarter than most ancient and modern scientists


The laughable idea that the Earth is actually a water covered orb being catapulted around an exploding ball of gas millions of miles away is one that has been commonly accepted by scientists and thinkers since about 400 BC. That is just a bit too long for an idea to stand unchallenged for it to not leave a sour taste in our mouth.

Flat Earth Theory by contrast is a relatively new idea that was proposed during Victorian times by a guy using the pseudonym “Parallax” which is just way too badass of a nickname for it to have possibly belonged to a liar. Parallax, who usually went by the objectively lamer name “Samuel Rowbotham,” eventually founded a school of thought known as “Zetetic astronomy” which taught some of the ideas we’ve already mentioned today like the Earth being surrounded by a wall of ice, the sun only being a few hundred miles away and calling everyone who disagreed with you an idiot.

Now come on, admit it, Flat Earth Theory sounds just a little more convincing now that you know the majority of the theory is based on a book written by a guy called “Parallax”, doesn’t it? And quite honestly, if that doesn’t convince you, maybe you’d be swayed by the fact that when you’re a Flat Earther …

4. You don’t really have to understand how anything works


Thinking is hard and Flat Earthers understand that, which is why the entire theory revolves around wild, baseless claims and hand waving anything you don’t want to talk about. No, seriously.

As you can imagine, people who try to insist that the Earth is flat in an academic setting often have to defend themselves against scientists with less awesome sounding titles than “Zetetic Astronomer.” Luckily Flat Earthers have a cast iron system for answering any question they don’t understand without it making them look like an idiot called, “telling people to look up the answer in the Bible.”

This technique was perhaps best utilised by Charles K. Johnson, who up until his death in 2001, was one of the most well-known proponents of Flat Earth Theory. In the hundreds of interviews he gave over the years, Johnson defended Flat Earth Theory like a champ by ignoring any and all criticism and deflecting difficult to understand questions by saying only God had the answer. For example, when Johnson was once innocently asked how solar eclipses worked if the world was flat, he looked the interviewer in the eye and said “we really don’t have to go into all that” and then stopped talking. When pushed for a more satisfactory answer, Johnson relented and simply said “The Bible tells us the heavens are a mystery” and then refused to talk about it anymore.

We think is just fantastic since it confirms our suspicion that when you become a Flat Earth advocate …

3. You can win every argument!


If browsing Reddit has taught us anything, it’s that winning an argument, regardless of how right or offensive you are, is one of the most important things in the world. If you also think this, then you would probably make a pretty good Flat Earth Theorist because there doesn’t appear to be any argument a Flat Earth Theorist can lose as long as they truly commit to being as obtuse as possible.

For example, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Daniel Shenton, the current president of the Flat Earth Society, was able to deftly avoid being proven wrong by insisting that all evidence that proved him wrong was made with “special effects.” And calmly explained that he felt perfectly okay with ignoring a millennium of science based on the fact he felt that he was right. As if that wasn’t delicious enough, Shenton went on to explain that it’s on other people to prove him wrong that the Earth isn’t flat, you know, even though he’s already dismissed irrefutable evidence as lies.

Because when you’re a Flat Earther, no proof is ever good enough and you can always sit there smugly knowing that no matter what your opponent says, you can always ask them if they’ve ever been to space and then cross your arms and say you rest your case. Hell, even if the person has been to space, you’ll still win because there’s no way for them to prove that the image of the Earth they saw wasn’t special effects. And if they ask you to prove that you’re right, well that’s as simple as …

2. Drawing a line on the horizon


As far as we can tell, whenever Flat Earthers need to prove that there theory isn’t just a sack of bovine excrement, all they need to do is bring up a picture of the horizon and draw a straight line across it, thus proving unequivocally that the Earth is flat. If the other person tries to correct you by saying something like “the earth is so unimaginably big that the horizon is always going to look flat to our inefficient human eyes” or “try watching a ship sail out to sea and watch it disappear over the horizon” feel free to ignore them or just draw another, bigger line to prove your point a little bit harder.

If anyone ever tries to trip you up, as people whose mind isn’t as open as yours is wont to do, by showing you a picture taken from orbit in which the horizon is clearly curved, all you need to is tell them that, that’s caused by the camera lens.  Or better yet, just tell them that their picture actually proves your point, like this entire forum of Flat Earthers did when a guy turned up with a picture taken from orbit by a totally independent source that NASA couldn’t doctor that clearly showed a curved horizon. When the flustered poster asked someone to explain to him how a flat planet could have a curved horizon, one poster simply responded “because circles are curved” and that was considered a satisfactory answer.

This gets to the heart of why we think everyone reading this should give serious consideration to believing Flat Earth Theory.

1. Believing the Earth is flat

makes you special!


As far as we’re concerned the main reason to believe Flat Earth Theory over the thing we as a species have considered fact for 25 centuries is because doing so makes you really special. Believing the Earth is flat lets you simultaneously act intellectually superior to everyone you know while also not understanding anything you say on anything more than a superficial level. You can sit around in your exclusive club forums and look down your nose at other people, while never bothering to improve yourself in any meaningful way.

Like with other conspiracy theories, you can use believing the Earth is flat as an excuse to dismiss the opinions and feelings of anyone you’d normally have to treat like a human being as a necessary evil to educate them about the truth.

In short, the main reason you should believe that the Earth is flat is because once you’ve decided to believe it, you’ll never have to put effort into having a meaningful human connection ever again.

The Earth is Flat

WIF Space-001

– WIF Mad Science

Notebooks – WIF Historical Scribbling

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Not This Kind!!!

10 Historically

Important Notebooks

You’ll find them in almost every shop and of varying shapes and sizes, but, at times, the humble notebook has actually played an important part in history. From influencing philosophical thought to illuminating the theory behind The Origin of Species, these examples will show you how important a little copy for keeping records in can be. Some revealed hidden truths about their writers posthumously, while some just helped the writer organize their mind, but all have been important in human history.

10. Beethoven’s

‘conversation notebooks’


Beethoven is notorious for always having carried around a notebook (as well as being an acclaimed composer, obviously). In fact, paintings of him usually had him holding one of his notebooks.

They were just published in full by Walter Nohl of Munich, after being the most prized possession of the Berlin State Library’s Music Department.  He used them to compose music, of course, but also to write down quotations of significance to him – things like ‘Tis said, that art is long, and life but fleeting:—Nay; life is long, and brief the span of art; If e’re her breath vouchsafes with gods a meeting, A moment’s favor ’tis of which we’ve had a part.’ He called his notebooks ‘conversation notebooks’. As he was entirely deaf for the last 12 years of his life, Beethoven handed these to his conversation partners whenever he wished to talk. He usually replied orally.

Topics included in his notebooks were worries about indigestion and his eye trouble, food, writing paper and the search for a good apartment – something many of us have experienced!

9. Hemingway’s notebooks


Hemingway is so famous for his love of notebooks that Moleskine boasts about being ‘the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway’. Hemingway himself said ‘I belong to this notebook and this pencil.’ He was seldom seen without a notebook. He often wrote in little black notebooks, the predecessors to Moleskines, in Parisian cafés. He was a passionate devotee to a pencil and pocket notebook.

In fact, he brought them almost everywhere, not just to cafés – on trains and to bullfights, for example, for note-taking. He also used them to jot down expensesand even to record his wife’s menstrual cycles.

He has been described by Slate as being ‘what we would now call a neurotic’, and keeping records in notebooks helped him organize his thoughts.

8. The Fairchild notebooks


The Fairchild patent notebooks were crucial to our computerised world today. Their contents revolutionized the science and manufacture of microelectronics and launched the incredible growth of Silicon Valley. Ideas including modern semiconductor manufacture, integrated circuits, the technology that lets us power portable digital devices (like the phone or tablet you might be holding right now) and semiconductor memory all came from these notebooks. The engineering notebooks were kept by prominent people like Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce (founders of Intel), Jean Hoerni, Julius Blank, Eugene Kleiner, Victor Grinich, Jay Last, and Sheldon Roberts.

Incidentally, the notebooks also paved the way for Moore’s Law, the so-far-accurate idea that computer processing power would double roughly every two years.

A conservation project was started for them at the Computer History Museumtwo years ago when Texas Instruments donated the notebooks to the museum. Kathleen Orlenko assessed over 1,000 of the notebooks, dating from 1957 through the 70s.

7. Thomas Edison’s notebooks


Thomas Edison amassed approximately five million pages of writing in his sixty-year career as an inventor. He used notebooks to organize notes on his inventions and innovations. A note at the end of his pocket notebook for October 1870 says ‘all new inventions I will here after keep a full record’. These notebooks were used by him and his colleagues. The Thomas Edison National Historical Park has more than 3,000 of these notebooks, each with around 280 pages. It’s believed that his prolific writing and experimenting may have stretched up to 3,500 notebooks. He received the most US patents ever awarded to one person (1,093).

These included the light bulb, alkaline battery, phonograph and motion picture camera. Keeping notebooks was a life-long habit of his that helped him structure his ideas from conception to execution – tremendously important for our world today. He used them for everything, from brainstorming to recording results, and they helped him pursue his goal of making one minor invention every 10 days and one major one every six months.

Not only did they help him in his incredible productivity, the notebooks are also a highly valuable tool for modern-day historians trying to get an insight into his mind.

6. Heidegger’s black notebooks


German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s black notebooks sparked controversy when they were published in March 2014. He was widely viewed as a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition (a branch of philosophy that includes existentialism, German idealism, psychoanalytic theory and French feminism and the rejection of science as the ultimate method of understanding phenomena, among others). He became professor of philosophy at Freiburg. He was the most important Continental philosopher of the 20th century. His book Being and Time is a seminal work in the Continental tradition and he is widely considered the father of modern atheistic existentialism. He also made adifference outside philosophy, in areas as varied as architecture and theology.

He was involved in Nazism, but it was thought that this was a personal matter, not one that had leaked into his philosophical thinking – until, that is, the publication of his Black Notebooks. Heidegger wrote a kind of philosophical diary in little black-covered notebooks over forty years. They show that he actually incorporate anti-Semitic ideas into his philosophy, like when he wrote ‘the Jews, with their marked gift for calculating, live, already for the longest time, according to the principle of race, which is why they are resisting its consistent application with utmost violence.’

This has led to people wondering whether all of his highly influential ideas were contaminated by Nazism. As his writings inspired some of the most important thinkers of the modern era, these notebooks cast their reliability into doubt.

5. Sartre’s notebooks


Works published during philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s life showed that he agreed with Hegel that humans struggle against one another to win recognition but rejected some other aspects of Hegel’s philosophy. However, notebooks published after his death, titled Notebooks for an Ethics, displayed a dramatic about-turn in his thinking on the matter. The notebooks said that he now agreed with Hegel that the master/slave dynamic can be transcended through relations of mutual recognition – basically, the notebooks revealed a very different philosophy.

His work Existentialism is a Humanism presented arguments similar to Kant’s, which led to many scholars saying Sartre’s ideas came from Kant. However, in his notebooks he dismisses this idea and rejects Kantian ethics as a form of ‘slave morality’ and an ‘ethics of demands’. Ouch!

Sartre’s original ideas on freedom were widely criticized, and in the notebooks he too became critical of his early view. Thus, the notebooks are a veryimportant tool for understanding the philosophy of a key figure in the study of existentialism.

4. Charles Darwin’s notebooks


Darwin kept diaries in notebooks throughout the Beagle voyage that would lead him to think of the theory of evolution. He took fourteen of them on his trips to the shore. During the voyage he kept field notes on his observations. As the voyage drew to a close, he also used one (his Red notebook) for theoretical speculations on subjects like geology and the formation of coral reefs. After the voyage he started a new series of notebooks for his thoughts on transmutation (evolution) and metaphysical enquiries.

The notebooks give a detailed account of his research, speculation and gradual understanding of where species come from. In his Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837) he drew the first tree of descent with modification, or natural selection – more commonly known as an evolutionary tree.  This sketch has become famous. The notebooks were mostly completed by the 1840s. These notebooks were essential to the development to the widely accepted and hugely important theory of natural selection, and the precursor to The Origin of Species.

3. Albert Einstein’s notebooks


Like Thomas Edison and many other eminent scientists and inventors, Einsteinkept a notebook to record his calculations and ideas. In March 2012, 80,000 documents written by or addressed to Einstein were published online by Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Einstein Papers Project (EPP) at Caltech. This collection includes Einstein’s notebooks, which show the thought process of a revolutionary genius.

One of these is the Zurich notebook, written in the winter of 1912/13. This notebook shows how Einstein came by his theory of relativity, complete with notes and calculations. Other notebooks show lecture notes. The notebooks and letter show that he didn’t work alone, but actually exchanged ideas with many other scientists.

The Zurich notebook shows light-hearted sketches by Einstein, include mathematical puzzles of the day – so even he liked to have fun. The rest of the notebook has serious physics, including electrodynamics in four dimensions, the line element of general relativity, motion in curved surfaces, gravitation, invariants and the Riemann Tensor.

The notebooks give a valuable insight into the day-to-day workings of a brilliant mind.

2. The Prison Notebooks


The Prison notebooks are a series of notebooks written by Italian MarxistAntonio Gramsci while he was imprisoned in 1926 by the Fascist regime for being the founder and leader of the Communist party. Gramsci was a philosopher, politician and political theorist.  He wrote more than 30 notebooks with 3000 pages of history and analysis while he was imprisoned. The Prison Notebooks are thought of as a highly important and original contribution to 20th century political theory.

Gramsci’s writings pre-prison had been more specifically political, but The Prison Notebooks are relatively theoretical. Topics covered included education, intellectuals, fascism, hegemony and Marxism. He wrote these under the surveillance of a Fascist jailer, so he had to be careful about what he wrote. Because of this, his writings are disorganized and at times ambiguous. He was isolated from the events occurring outside prison, especially Stalinism and the victory of German fascism.

The notebooks were smuggled out of prison in the 1930s and published twenty years later.

1. Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks


Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks are famous for having been written in mirror script, from right to left. Some say this was to make them harder to decipher, but it may just have been because da Vinci was left-handed and wanted to avoid smudging the paper. He wrote in his notebooks daily, finishing with about13,000 pages of work.

The notebooks record the many interests and endeavors of this all-round Renaissance man, from maths to art to flying machines and diving suits. He wasn’t picky about what he put in his notebook, which is lucky, as it has given historians a precious resource. Leonardo made an inventory of his clothes in a notebook now held in Madrid, while in others he adds little memos to himself and shopping lists – all alongside complex mechanical notes and studies of human anatomy.

11. Gwen’s WIF notebook


This is a daily recording of what I post on WRITING IS FUN-DAMENTAL. I use this as a tangible resource to keep track of what I publish each day. Oh sure I could do a spreadsheet, but like all geniuses (ha, ha), handwritten notes are handy to have. Someday my children will wonder what to do with these.


– WIF Historical Scribbling

The Speed of Light – Facts & Figures

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The Speed of Light – Facts & Figures




Speed of light
The distance from the Sun to the Earth is shown as 150 million kilometers, an approximate average. Sizes to scale.

Sunlight takes about 8 minutes 17 seconds to travel the average distance from the surface of the Sun to theEarth.
Exact values
metres per second 299792458
Planck length per Planck time
(i.e., Planck units)
Approximate values
kilometres per second 300,000
kilometres per hour 1,080 million
miles per second 186,000
miles per hour 671 million
astronomical units per day 173
Approximate light signal travel times
Distance Time
one foot 1.0 ns
one metre 3.3 ns
from geostationary orbit to Earth 119 ms
the length of Earth’s equator 134 ms
from Moon to Earth 1.3 s
from Sun to Earth (1 AU) 8.3 min
from nearest star to Sun (1.3 pc) 4.2 years
from the nearest galaxy (the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy) to Earth 25,000 years
across the Milky Way 100,000 years
from the Andromeda Galaxy (the nearest spiral galaxy) to Earth 2.5 million years


The speed of light in vacuum, commonly denoted c

, is a universalphysical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is exactly299,792,458 metres per second because the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time.[1] This is, to three significant figures, 186,000 miles per second, or about 671 millionmiles per hour. According to special relativity, c is the maximum speed at which all matter and information in the universe can travel. It is the speed at which all massless particles and changes of the associated fields (includingelectromagnetic radiation such as light and gravitational waves) travel in vacuum. Such particles and waves travel at c regardless of the motion of the source or the inertial frame of reference of the observer. In the theory of relativity, c interrelates space and time, and also appears in the famous equation of mass–energy equivalence E = mc2.[2]


The Speed of Light – Facts & Figures

A Necessary Deterrent – WABAC to Alamogordo

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Sherman My Boy, we are going to witness a scientific experiment that would change the course of history.”

July 16, 1945: US Explodes First Atomic Bomb (Trinity Test, Alamogordo)


Chilling History…

On July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project scientists held their breath as the clock ticked down to the first man-made nuclear blast in history.

Over a period of almost 6 years from its feeble first steps (3 years as a project in earnest), through 130,000 people working on the project and $2 billion taxpayer dollars the finest scientists in the world had developed methods of enriching uranium to a state where its nucleus could be split and creating plutonium, the 2 materials needed for the 2 different types of atomic weapons being considered.

The Crater of World Peace…

The uranium device would be a tube in which 2 chunks of enriched uranium would be launched at each other at  high speed by conventional explosives, causing a critical mass to form in the blink of an eye, triggering a nuclear blast.

The plutonium device would be a hollow ball of plutonium with precision explosives around the outside meticulously timed to blow up all at the same time causing the hollow sphere to implode, creating a critical mass in the blink of an eye and subsequently the desired nuclear blast.

(Note:  Obviously, the descriptions of how nuclear bombs work are greatly simplified and the above paragraph is paraphrased.)

President Roosevelt had been warned by Albert Einstein that Germany (and maybe Japan) would be working on developing nuclear weapons and that if the US and Allies did not want to get blown off the map, we better develop such weapons first.

At 5:30 am on July 16, 1945, the entire point of the Manhattan Project was on the line as a plutonium implosion device suspended 100 feet above the desert was exploded.  Although the nuclear physicists on the project were reasonable confident of their calculations, no one knew for sure how big the blast would be and whether or not the atmosphere would become part of the chain reaction, ending mankind.  When the brilliant fireball and mighty blast went off, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, it left a 250 feet wide crater in the desert (with sand fused to glass), a mushroom cloud 7 ½ miles high, and the blast could be felt 100 miles away.  People as far away as El Paso could hear the explosion.

The scientists and budget planners were right;  a practical bomb could be made, and it would be a city destroyer.  Now the question was, how and if to use it.  Despite some opposition, and some sentiment toward giving the world a demonstration over an unoccupied target, President Truman and his advisers decided Japan must have a city destroyed by an atom bomb to convince them to surrender.  The debate over whether or not this was necessary still rages today, with critics claiming the Japanese were on the brink of surrender anyway, and proponents saying that the terrible price paid to conquer Okinawa showed that an invasion of Japan would cost tens of thousands of American lives, probably hundreds of thousands.  Besides, the Soviets were poised to make a land grab of as much Japanese territory as possible, and US planners may well have intended to impress and intimidate the Soviets as much as the Japanese.

Less than a month after Trinity, 2 Japanese cities lay in smoking ruins, and over 100,000 Japanese were dead, and more were dying.


Unthinkable, Yet Necessary Deterrent

Prejudice Be Not Proud

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Quotes - WIF Style 001
Michael Crichton

“Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.” 
Albert Einstein

“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

George Gordon Byron

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” 

Prejudice Be Not Proud