The Sun's Shadow

Stumbling to find a light switch in the dark

My Job broke Up With Me

On Friday at about 3:30 in the afternoon, my job and I had a talk and my job basically gave me the its not you, it’s me speech…if you are not familiar with this speech as it relates to breaking up I cannot help you.

So I was laid off due to a downturn in work, which is OK, since I was basically being told the problem is the company or business but not me… I walk away with a few weeks pay, recommendations,  ability to file for unemployment, serious increase in free time and and its summer in NYC such a good time to have off and I have not been on a vacation had any serious time off in 4 years. The week before the 4thof July is a nice time to not have to think about going to work. But there is some “work” to do tomorrow begins the work of filing for unemployment and joining in the quest for a new job with the other unemployed 7 Million Americans. Also begins the quest to relax and sort a few things out. Right now I feel free.

This loss of my job makes feel even more connected to the world (as it is portrayed on the news), I feel part of an exciting time and new possibilities. There is always HOPE in the promise of a new day.

June 29, 2008 Posted by | Personal | | 2 Comments

Time to Terraform Mars

Should the next mission to Mars include seed packets? The analysis of the soil from the phoenix lander showed it has the nutrients to grow plants

“We basically have found what appears to be the requirements, the nutrients, to support life whether past, present or future,” said Samuel P. Kounaves of Tufts University, who is leading the chemical analysis, during a telephone news conference on Thursday. “The sort of soil you have there is the type of soil you’d probably have in your backyard.”

Its like the soil in the back yard… well how do you do! We need to take Mars from red and make it green! Unfortunately even though the soil may have nutrients that could support plant life the rest of the planet is not so hospitable to life…

Mars today is cold and dry, and the surface is bombarded by ultraviolet radiation, making life unlikely, but conditions could have made the planet more habitable in the past.

There is hope because as they note life is unlikely but not impossible, it may have existed earlier in martian history and maybe with our intervention if can exist again in its future… The biggest issues is that Mars is a dead planet and what I mean by that is it has a solid iron core that has cooled and hardened, unlike the earth with a molten iron core. Mars could still be in the so called “goldilocks zone” as it has the conditions that could potentially support life. The problem is since the core is cold, there is no magnetic field to protect the planet which left it at the mercy of the solar wind the UV radiation. The magnetic field for Earth for comparison is generated by our molten iron core, which because of the size of the planet creates the internal pressure and heat to keep the core molten(note massive over simplification)… Mars was not so lucky it only has one tenth the density the of Earth does and half our equitoral diameter. Basically due to its small size the planet cooled too rapidly. 

How can we then terraform the planet, is it even possible on a theoretical level? Here are just some un-supported idea’s in the big sense not a practical one.

  • Total Recall type reaction to reactivate the core of Mars
  • Restore the magnetic field
  • Plant, Plant, Plant, Plant….

I know right now this is more science fiction than anything especially since my basis is a 1990 Sci-Fi classic, but just imagine if we could bring Mars back what it would be like to be able to go and walk about an alien world, and that world would be within our reach, not across the stars light years away but the very next planet in the solar system.

June 27, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Sci-Fi, Science | , , | Leave a comment

Was Jesus a Liar?

Cal Thomas has a post over on the FOX Forum titled Do They Think Jesus was a LiarThere is a lively comment thread over there as well, most of it people saying how you will burn if you do not accept Christ as your savior.  What Cal is commenting on is a recent Pew Forum survey.

I am shocked and appalled over a newly published survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. It finds most Americans believe there are many ways to salvation besides their own faith. Most disturbing of all is the majority of self-identified evangelical Christians who believe this.

Apparently they must think Jesus was a liar, or mistaken, when he said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.” Look it up.

What I think Cal is referring too is the gospel of John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The Questions was do they think Jesus was a liar and I have included myself in the they, and considering I don’t think Jesus “said” anything…. makes this difficult. The reference is in relation to what Jesus reportedly said… we have no idea of what Jesus may or may not of actually said since he left no actual writings behind. Technically at best what we have here is a case of hearsay… which would not even be allowed in court room testimony… so who was John and are we certain he was in the presence of Jesus when he supposedly said he is the only way to salvation, or in his presence for any of the quotes attributed to Jesus? No one knows really… and we are just supposed to take his word for it, based on faith alone? Also consider the issue that the gospel was written anytime between 30 -110 years after Jesus died.

This like most things with religion seems all to silly to me and just shows how divisive religion can be, b/c as Cal points

If there are many paths to heaven, Jesus suffered and died for nothing. He could have stayed in heaven, sent down a book of sayings and avoided crucifixion. Orthodox Christians have always believed – and their Bible teaches them — there is only one path to heaven and it is through Jesus Christ and him alone. One can believe whatever one wishes, but you can’t be considered a Christian without believing in this fundamental doctrine.

Its my way or the highway that is the true center of religion, it is all about we are right you’re wrong our book is really true yours is not. It’s about group think and conformity, which is increasingly challenged in our current multicultural society, no religion has any true special claim to truth or authority. When it comes right down to it there is no way to tell if it was just made up or not, except in the cases where it is demonstrably false.

So before we can determine if Jesus was or is a liar we need to determine a few other things.

  • Was Jesus even a real person?
  • What did he actually say? (Remember Jesus wrote nothing, there is nothing directly from him)
  • Did the new testament writers ever meet him?
  • Why is the bible more accurate than a Koran or any other religious text claim to authority and salvation?
  • Has anyone ever been to Heaven?
  • Is there life after death?
  • Why do the supposedly good people in heaven happily go along with the suffering and damnation of billions of people in hell?

The only real certainty is death and I understand people fear it and you should because since there is no evidence to the contrary it is likely the end of everything you know… but then you wouldn’t really know that you would, you would just be dead. Enjoy life while you can.

June 26, 2008 Posted by | Nonsense, Religion, Superstition, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Creationists Get 2 More Gaps

Creationists often love to say that no transitional fossils have ever been found, of course they are wrong. Just today the news came out of the earliest tetrapod fossil having been found, this is the most primitive 4 legged creature yet unearthed by science. It is another piece in the puzzle in how fish evolved in to animals that walk on land.

The 365 million-year-old fossil skull, shoulders and part of the pelvis of the water-dweller, Ventastega curonica, were found in Latvia, researchers report in a study published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature. Even though Ventastega is likely an evolutionary dead-end, the finding sheds new details on the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapods. Tetrapods are animals with four limbs and include such descendants as amphibians, birds and mammals.

While an earlier discovery found a slightly older animal that was more fish than tetrapod, Ventastega is more tetrapod than fish. The fierce-looking creature probably swam through shallow brackish waters, measured about three or four feet long and ate other fish. It likely had stubby limbs with an unknown number of digits

This is just adding to our knowledge about life and the origin of species… creationists as I mentioned often claim there are no transitional fossils and will never concede that this is a transitional fossil which is just absurd. Instead they will insist that we show them the exact uninterrupted progression of one species to the next, so now that we’ve filled in this gap we’ve only created more to be filled in by other fossils. The ultimate in silliness are creationists for they demand unequivocal proof of evolution, while believing things came to be by magic…

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Creationism, Nonsense, Science | , | 1 Comment

View Sunspots in Grand Central Terminal

Do you like fun simple science you don’t need a degree to have fun with? I do! There a pretty cool way you can study or at least check out sunspots from inside Grand Central Terminal Of course I feel obligated to give the normal disclaimer never look directly in to the sun unless you would like to damage your eyes… and you will if you look in to the sun… Anyway back to the astronomy in the terminal.

take a plain white sheet of paper to the terminal’s Grand Concourse around 2:30 p.m. or a half-hour each way, when the sun shines straight along Park Avenue. (The exact times vary.) The day should be sunny, clear and cloudless.

The southern wall of the Grand Concourse, facing 42nd Street, has semicircular grills high up, with small curlicued spaces like those in a leafy tree. Many of those spaces act like the aperture of a pinhole camera, reflecting an image of the sun that, when it reaches the floor, will be 8 to 12 inches wide. The smaller grill spaces will produce dimmer but sharper solar images on your paper.

Right now the forecast calls for rain in the city this weekend which would be my first opportunity to check this out… but if it turns out to nice I will definate spend a few minutes checking this out.

Grand Central Terminal fun fact… many people mistakenly believe the name of the train station is Grand Central Station its not that would be the post office.

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, New York, Science | , | Leave a comment

Oil From Bacteria

I just stumbled upon this article and it really goes to how awesome biology, life, science, humans are! The current price of oil and the fact that it is a limited resource got some people thinking and they seem to have found a way to make renewable oil, it is the exterition of Bacteria

“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as wood chips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

By bugs he is talking about microscopic bacteria and how cool is that, through our understanding of molecular biology they altered the gentic code to excrete oil. That is pretty sweet science if you ask me.

Because crude oil (which can be refined into other products, such as petroleum or jet fuel) is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it does not take much fiddling to get the desired result.

Wow that is impressive, this still needs to be thoroughly explored and verified but if it is true it is just really amazing… We also have consider if we want to continue with oil as a fuel the article notes this creation as being carbon neutral or negative I would like to see more data on that.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Nature, Science | , | Leave a comment

Sarcasm Evolved

In your face Mrs. Goldman my 4th Grade Teacher I am an evolved wiseass. You see its just part of our evolutionary past. Oh and sorry for disrupting class and being rude.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Personal | Leave a comment

Is It Murder or Suicide?

This past Tuesday 16 year old Neil Beagleydied from an illness that could have been treated. He is from a faith healing family, which means they rely on their faith in god alone to save them. I normally read about these stories and I would rage against a parent who allowed a child to die instead of getting them the proper medical care, however this is not that situation as the article points out.

Tuesday’s death of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, however, may not be a crime because Oregon law allows minors 14 and older to decide for themselves whether to accept medical treatment.

“All of the interviews from last night are that he did in fact refuse treatment,” police Sgt. Lynne Benton said Wednesday. “Unless we can disprove that, charges probably won’t be filed in this case.”

An autopsy Wednesday showed Beagley died of heart failure caused by a urinary tract blockage.

So he was of a legal age and made a choice to refuse treatment… this is important because we all have the right to refuse treatment it cannot and should not be forced upon us even if the refusal would result in death. What clear to me here is that he died when he could have been saved, in fact it would seem he choose death. This to me is suicide, by refusing treatment he intentionally killed himself. He choose death over life.

When a parent refuses treatment for a child its murder and when you refuse it for yourself its suicide.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Medicine, Nonsense, Religion | , , , | Leave a comment

Pluto Is Not The First Planet We Lost…

I was reading through yahoo news and came across the on going saga of Pluto our former last planet in the solar system. Pluto has again been re-classified as now a Plutoid, it had been called a dwarf planet I believe all dwarf planets are now to be called Plutoids. Science has had to make changes like this before and infact this is not first time we “lost” a planet, more on that later, first I wanted to point out a few of the choice quotes from the linked article.

“I think it’s a planet. But me and my friends, we talk about it sometimes and we go back and forth,” said Natalie Browning, 9, sitting in a park in Manhattan with her family. “Right now, I’m not 100 percent. I’m just 75 percent” sure that Pluto is a planet.

Natalie’s mom, Bobbie Browning, said, “You’ve got kids with textbooks saying that Pluto is part of the solar system and a planet, and teachers have to say it isn’t [a planet].”

Yes, the text books are now out of date, and all kids should be given the proper information.

“Students who have just learned about the concept of dwarf planets must now be taught the new concept of plutoid,” said Janis Milman, who teaches earth science at Thomas Stone High School in Maryland. “This will lead to confusion in the classroom and resistance to learning the new terms, because the students will question, why learn something that might change again in a year or so?”

Wow, so we are not teaching children science is provisional? Pluto was not arbirarily re-classified, the point is Pluto doesn’t fit as a planet in the way the other planets do, and if we include Pluto as a planet then we are going to also need to include other objects in the solar system as planets too… as noted by the title of the post Pluto is not the first planet to have its planet designation reassigned.

“Time has always been taken in the classroom to ponder the origin of Pluto. When Pluto became a dwarf planet, along with Eris and Ceres, it made it easier to explain why an object of Pluto’s small stature could be classified,” high-school teacher Milman said. “Now we will just need to teach them more new definitions.”

Milman added that “dwarf planets” is an easier term for students to grasp compared with plutoids. “Objects of Pluto, Eris and Ceres’ size are too small to be called planets so they were called dwarf planets. That was easier for the students to understand,” she said.

This teacher got it exactly right she gets a GOLD STAR, for an extra one get them to understand Plutoids!

“My fourth graders still consider Pluto a planet,” said Bev Grueber, a science teacher at North Bend Elementary in Nebraska. “We do extensive oral reports on the planets to meet a state standard, and everyone jumps for joy when they get Pluto. Last year, I left Pluto out of the draw and they asked where it was, so they still consider it a planet regardless of what the space scientists tell us the definition of that planet is.”

Wrong and Ms. Grueber you need to explain the situation better to your students, allowing them to persist in a false notion is doing them a disservice.

I could go on here but what’s the point in cherry picking quotes I think you get my point here, science is provisional and needs to change as we get better more accurate information and should always continue to do so.

At one point there was another planet between Mars and Jupiter… Ceres its now a dwarf planet likely soon to be a Plutoid and by far the largest object in the asteroid belt. At the time of it discovery it in the 19th century it was considered a planet it wasn’t until 50 years after it discovery when scientist began to discover large asteroids the classification of Ceres was challenged and changed to dwarf Planet. This is the nature of science to refine our understanding, challenge our assumptions and correct or adjust what needs to be corrected. It happened to Ceres and it also happened to Pluto.

I grew up with Pluto we all did, I get it I liked it too my Solar Quest game is no longer accurate but hey science isn’t made possible by our likes and dislikes it is where the evidence leads us… and unfortunately for Pluto one of these things isn’t like the other…

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Education, Science | , , | Leave a comment

Annulment Let’s All Play Pretend

One of the concepts I find most ludicrous is the annulment of marriage. Where by a person can have their marriage annulled and we all say it never happened… shhhhh. We show our complete and total mastery over time and space and just wipe those moments clean from history… they be come annulled. Well actually they don’t… we just pretend they do and allow life to go on as it always does and everybody kind of agrees to just forget about it.

What’s really interesting to me is how an annulment can only be granted under certain circumstances. The wikipedia page on annulments list the following as reasons for a marriage to be annulled;

Grounds for a marriage being voidable or void ab initio vary in different legal jurisdictions, but are typically limited to fraud, bigamy, and mental incompetence including the following:

Either spouse was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage in question;
Either spouse was too young to be married, or too young without required court or parental consent. (In some cases, such a marriage is still valid if it continues well beyond the younger spouse’s reaching marriageable age.)
Either spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage;
Either spouse was mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage;
If the consent to the marriage was based on fraud or force;
Either spouse was physically incapable to be married (typically, chronically unable to have sexual intercourse) at the time of the marriage;
The marriage is prohibited by law due to the relationship between the parties. This is the “prohibited degree of consanguinity”, or blood relationship between the parties. The most common legal relationship is 2nd cousins; the legality of such relationship between 1st cousins varies around the world.
Prisoners sentenced to a term of life imprisonment may not marry.
Concealment (e.g. one of the parties concealed a drug addiction, prior criminal record or having a sexually transmitted disease)

These all seem perfectly reasonable reasons (well maybe not being drunk, alot of people are candidates for annulment then… but hey I think annulments are silly) to want to get out of a marriage noticeably missing is you changed your mind, fallen out of love, and grew apart… well its really b/c all religions needed to create an out for proof of fruad that this is not the person you intended to marry and so long as that reason is not that you made a mistake in judgement or related to free will and is related to some awful kind of deception or incest then it is ok…that is what annulment is, it is divorce with out calling it that I.E. a religious loop whole… this why religion doesn’t make sense to me. Divorce bad… but we can wipe the marriage out so it never existed… um yeah only if we play pretend you can. Marriage the social contract religion is to sanctify can be undone… I don’t know about you but from the weddings I have been to there is usually the line “What God has Joined today let no man tear asunder” so instead the out is “One side lied about who they were or their past or were drunk at the time so lets pretend this didn’t take place” It not just that “contract” of marriage was found to be invalid due to fraud or whatever the reason… what I am talking about it how we are supposed to play pretend and go along with the idea that it never existed. It did exist it happened someone witnessed it and I  understand there is some reason the marriage contract could or should be made invalid, but there is paperwork still filed to dissolve that invalid contract… so to me this is a divorce*.

*- Divorce was due to fraud at time of marriage

I like the divorce terminology b/c is treats everyone equally in that you can get divorced for any reason or no reason really… and it doesn’t require playing pretend.

That’s it, it happened… annulments will only be really possible when time travel is.

June 15, 2008 Posted by | Nonsense, Personal, Religion, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment