Tag Archives: science

Something That Was Keeping Me Up

Now, I’m going to preface this by declaring that I don’t purposefully set out to target atheists but I have the most questions about them because a lot of their world seems to be so far askew of logic, yet they seem to revel in believing themselves superior of intellect of those that are religious in some way, often combatively so.  I don’t care if you are religious or not, honestly.  Do whatever makes you happy.  Yes, both camps can decide their hyperbole, be it about abuse or rape or whatever disgusting, dark place your mind decides it wants to go to and get back to me later.  I’m here to ask the atheists a question that wouldn’t leave my brain, and I’m asking them because they seem more willing to give answers that aren’t simply some hand wave of a Jedi mind trick.  So, without further ado, here is that question:

Are hope and prayer not the same thing?

On the surface, this question seems a bit aping, trite and silly.  Well, one might say, hoping is a bit more realistic because it gives way for failure whereas prayer is putting one’s stringent, unswaying belief in a munificent being.  But I’m not sure anyone can honestly be so foolish to assume that if you believe in something it will happen at all costs.  There is always room for failure.  But you have to dig a bit deeper, and to do that you have to begin at the surface.  At what the words themselves mean.

Wish.  Pray.  Hope.  These words, all three of them, mean the exact same thing.  They are all synonyms of each other, thus, they convey the same idea.  But only the one in the middle.  The one with some sort of ridiculous religious connotation would be considered taboo among the most steadfast of the non-religious sect.  And I can’t wrap my head around why, mostly because those that don’t hold a faith still wish and hope for things.  Most of the time they wish and hope for things they can’t control, which is what a religious person might pray for: That a sickness be healed, that a couple has a healthy child, that someone passes their class of choice.  You can hope or pray for these things, but only one will get you lambasted or defamed in certain sects of the public.  Is it really okay to be afraid of a word that holds the same merits and ideas as two others you may deem totally acceptable just because someone chose to align it with something you disagree with?  And yes, I know that we can run the parallel with other words that discredit an entire race, or sex, or anything else.  That’s what I’m trying to do, I’m trying to figure out the offense because I don’t understand.  I’m not trying to raise hell or condemn or whatever else you may think from these words, I simply wish to hear why someone would be taken aback by something that is meant to be positive on your behalf.

I know quite a few atheists that hinge their entire being on the solidarity of science.  But I also know that they hope and wish for things because they are human.  They want to have good things happen to people.  They want good things to happen to them and try to imagine them and want them and that’s fine.  But the issue at hand is that none of those ideas are scientifically sound.  When science deals with uncertainties it does so with theories and hypothesis and does so with pretty exacting language.  “This will work because such a reaction occurs.” or however else you wish to run your idea.  If you were working with the certainties of science while dealing with the desires of humanity, by logic you would either have to say that you will or won’t succeed and there is no gray area to it.  If dealing with certainties there is no try, only do.

Those three ideas are dealing with the uncertainties of the future, the unpredictable things that happen to all of us, and our desire to want to get out of those situations.  Wanting the positive, idealistic possibilities within the sphere of outcomes that is the future is, by definition, hopeful.  To be optimistic you have to wish for the best.  You have to.  There isn’t a second road to optimism.  To be optimistic you have to believe in something, be it a bearded man flying around on a cloud, to believing in someone close to you, to believing in a second chance at life, to just believing in yourself.

We are all the same.  All of us.  We are not right, nor are we wrong, we are all just being.  We all believe in something, so why does the method in which we do so cause such rifts between us?  Why should any of us cause contention or disorder and bring ire to other people that are just like us because they think something different?

Everyone:  It’s time to grow up!  Accept that there are some people out there that don’t agree with us, that will never agree with us, and accept that as a fact and move on.  Don’t dwell on the negatives.  Don’t stop at the differences.  Find the similarities and build upon that.  It’s time for us to stop defeating ourselves and others with paranoia, with delusions of grandeur, with superiority, with castes and segregation and gentry.  We can change.  We can make things better.

We can improve the world for those that come after us, learn from our mistakes and nurture their successes.  We need to believe again.

We need to believe in each other.


Bam. Guilty. Of Being In Space.

So, I’ve based a week out of just babbling about space, now.  So I’ll just round it out because that’s what you do.  You stick with shit until it’s finished even if you don’t have any idea for a denouement.  Perseverance and whatnot, I suppose.  But I did feel like going back into the mystery dome of nomenclature, etymology and why we call stuff what we do.  And I’ll start with Earth.

Now, Earth is a pretty cool guy, it spins at 1,040 miles per hour and doesn’t afraid of anything.  But, considering how absolutely wacky and Roman all the other planets are, why are The Earth and The Moon relegated to completely different linguistic roots?

That’s the tricky part.

Turns out that Moon and Earth and derived from Germanic words.  Like, really, really old Anglo Saxon words.  Granted, “erde” is still used in German, which is probably where the English language gets it from, but the word I’m referring to is the Old Saxon “ertha”.  If you go places with a Latin based language, like France or Italy, you’re more likely to get the Latin derived “terra” cognates.  And then scientists love Greek stuff, and that’s where the “geo-” prefix comes from.  Okay, so we probably knew the second parts, but the prevalence of the Anglo Saxon based word is kind of strange.  Why is this the only planet with multiple names to describe it?  Why don’t we just fix it with Terra and The Moon with Luna and be done with it?

Probably a similar issue with the Pluto debacle, people being stubborn and refusing to change.  Or, to be a little more optimistic, it’s not necessary.  When we describe the planet that we inhabit, people will know what we’re talking about regardless of if we call it Terra or Gaia or Earth or World or whatever.  That’s common knowledge.  That’s something we don’t need encapsulated into a single term.

But The Moon?  We don’t inhabit that place, and it’s still as much of a mystery today as it was fifty years back.  Sure, we have a better understanding of its composition and how it is today, but we’re still discovering new and incredible things about it, like that it’s not monochromatic, there are colors in the regolith due to the different minerals and elements that are in the soil of the moon.  This was hypothesized by L. Rudaux in 1967 and really only proven after we could get high enough aperture digital cameras and the software available to supersaturate the colors in the photos.  Just Google search that business.  It’s pretty astounding.

But the fact that Germanic based languages decided to break the usual habit of the rest of the world and base their word for this satellite after the proto-Germanic Mǣnōn instead of, say, Luna or, even if we wanted to go apeshit and try out Greek for once and break out Selene, is kind of baffling. Isn’t it odd, though, that all the features on the planet, like the giant basalt plains and the cold lava seas are given Latin names instead of region specific ones?  Instead of “Sea of Tranquility” or “Yuri’s Crater” or “Land of Frost” we get “Mare Tranquillitatis” and “Catena Yuri” and “Terra Pruinæ”.  Which, granted, sounds cooler, in my opinion, but it’s still a rather jarring contrast from how they’ve done all this other stuff.

Maybe we don’t contest either Earth or The Moon since they’ve been a constant presence since any animal on this planet has been able to see and be aware of what thing is which and which thing is what.  Language is such a strange, strange tool.


Judge Space Sun Presiding

I think the thing that irritates me the most about this whole space exploration debacle is that there’s no real reason for us to stop it except money, or whatever…

And yes, I realize that the current economic climate isn’t really copacetic with as expensive an asset as NASA has proven to be for the longest time.  But, I mean… We still have crap up there that we either need to get to for maintenance or otherwise, like the ISS and Hubble, and now, instead of sending people locally, we’re going to have to pay Russia millions of dollars to send us up there because their shuttles are really the only ones that have managed to not suck for the last fifty years.

So, we still have a vested interest in the exploration and observation of celestial bodies and the inky darkness but we’re not willing to do any of the legwork due to economic stress that we’re going to have to put up with anyway if we want to follow up on anything even remotely involving anything extraterrestrial.  Sure, that makes sense.

Speaking of nonsense, there’s also the people that are still pissed about Pluto being changed from an actual planet into a dwarf planet and I just kind of let them vent because apparently it’s super important and something to get upset about.  But they’re not looking at it in a logical perspective.  They’re not seeing that designating it as a dwarf planet has increased the amount of objects that we are designating with names and actually could be discussing instead of bothering with how “outrageous and controversial” the decision to change the classification of Pluto was.

After that happened, besides Pluto we classified four other heliocentric orbital bodies as definite dwarf planets, Ceres, Makemake, Haumea and Eris as well as four potential dwarf planets, Orcus, Quaoar, Sedna and the as yet officially named 2007 OR.  We can now discuss these objects in other ways than asteroids and/or Trans-Neptunian Objects which are also referred to as Plutoids, which is what Ceres was identified as after 1850.  It’s actually very exciting if you look at it in a certain perspective.

It gives us a broader brush to stroke at the unknown with, we can understand things in less certain terms and figure out more facts to fill in the gaps.  I find that far more useful than having nine planets.


Gonna Be in Space

I’ve been reading a lot of stupid crap about space.

Because I’m a big fan of it.  And that’s pretty much it.  We know such a small fraction about it, and we keep finding newer and more amazing things pretty much all the time.  Even though most of it is speculative and theoretical, it’s still just astonishing to the right person.  And I seem to be the right person.

Honestly, it started about two weeks ago where, in a whimsical, hair up my ass moment, I started looking up my favorite planet, Neptune.  And all the stuff about it, like how it has the fastest winds in the solar system, that its small ring system is composed of broken up arcs of rock and ice debris.  How its outer atmosphere is among the coldest recorded in our solar system, yet its internal temperature radiates about two and a half times its heat received from the sun, that it was once called Le Verrer’s Planet, and almost Janus or Oceanus before finally being designated Neptune.

Since I was on Wikipedia I got stuck on an endless loop of links to other articles on Wikipedia.  First to Neptune, then to Voyager 2, then to Voyager Golden Record, followed by AC+79 3888, Polaris, and on and on.

Just stupid space crap for two damn hours.

I guess you could say the inky, pinpricked blackness is my passion.  A passion, of course, that will go unrealized due to the absolute apathy of the American populace and higher-ups in regards to its exploration and observation.

Our planet is dying slowly because we keep using everything in it that we can reach, and we’re doing nothing to refill the coffers.  And since we’ve been doing this for thousands of years, I’d consider the situation too far gone and we need to do something to ensure a future, no matter how far it is.

But the human body can barely handle going the speed of sound, try multiplying that by about 240, that pressure is unbearable by almost every object that has ever been seen by human eyes.  There’s no two ways about it.

If we even get the gumption to ascertain some sort of stasis field that can protect us from this destructive amount of gravity, we have to realize that the closest system is possibly still 4 and a half years away at even this speed.  And there’s not even a chance that α Centauri has anything resembling a planet that can sustain life, considering it’s a binary star system and their 80 year orbit can vary by such a wide degree there might still have to be planet hopping or something.

Really, the best options we have are terraforming Mars, or finding a way to live on the Jovian satellite Io or the Saturnine satellite Titan.

Unless, of course, someone has a way of folding space.


Nineveh

There are many ways to broach the subject of Certainties and the understandings thereof: Agnosticism, Belief, Fatalism, so on and so forth.  Myself?  I choose to put my stock mostly into Fatalism, but I also have options in Belief and Skepticism in equal quantities.  But what does all of this actually mean?  If you just see the words, then they don’t really do much for you.  So, what do you do?  You learn about them and decide which one reverberates with you the most.

Now, most people would identify themselves with Belief.  They might be more reticent if they weren’t to understand what it actually was.  It’s not just a belief in a single entity.  It’s more like a belief that there’s something there, some higher power.  Kind of like, as Wikipedia puts it, belief-ins, which that part could be considered an existential belief.  But many people think that, although educated people often put their educated beliefs to task and stand by them, more people should keep their ideas open, so as to think rationally about all things.  If you stick to a simple belief with a white knuckled grip, you’ll lose sight of the openness of reality.  Let’s look at it this way.  If people know the Bible well enough, they’ll conclude that I might be referring to it with the title of this entry.  Not so.  Nineveh is still a place in Iraq, though now it’s referred to as Mosul.  I’m merely invoking the name as it seems unique, nothing more, nothing less.  Not everything is some kind of reference to something.

Usually, people consider Agnosticism the antithesis of Belief, because, for whatever reason, folks seem to love applying laws of physics to the metaphysical and the mental.  If something exists it has to have some kind of opposite, some kind of negative element has to surround it because, I don’t know, for some reason we have this strange duality of life and death constantly in our lives.  And as much as I like juxtaposition and contrast, almost to a distressingly obsessive degree, I just don’t think that qualities of Certainty or the subsets of that can really work against each other.

Agnosticism, I used to subscribe to this, in that I didn’t think anything so incredibly vast and impressive as a higher being or whatever sorts of analogous creatures could be proven or unproven, so it really shouldn’t be attempted.  Now, with my ideals set into Fatalism, I just don’t bother with that sort of thinking.

Fatalism, some people might consider it really defeatist, mostly because it’s widely accepted that Fatalists deign that everything is beyond our control.  But there are three different ideas present on the Wiki page for Fatalism.  One is an example of a similarity to Predeterminism.  The second is more of a Combative Predeterminism, which is the one that I agree with the most.  The final, and the one I don’t really feel is correct in the least is the one that exemplifies Defeatism.

I don’t want to waste my time considering everything is just going along and there’s nothing we can do about it.  That’s not only depressing, but it’s also very counterproductive.  And if there’s one thing I am loath to participate in, it’s a lack of productivity.  But why do I think that the Combative Predeterministic branch is more ideal?

Because I know that we’re all going to end, regardless of how it happens, it will happen, and there’s no point in fighting it off, because it’s an exercise in futility.  But we can choose what we’ll do up to that point.  There are certain key spots in our lives where the decisions we make are important, but they’re all working up toward the same goals.  The same end.  We can control it to a certain point, but when that key spot comes up, that’s what’s happened and that’s what was meant to happen then.

Do I finish writing that book by December of 2012?  Was I meant to?  If not, then it’s not going to happen.  Maybe it will happen later, but not when I want it to.

I’m working as hard as I can, though, because it’s what I want to do, because it’s entertaining to me right now and I want to make people happy, when they read what I write, or listen to my music, or podcast, whatever happens.  When they consume my media, I want them to be happy.  And just like how I can’t control the actions of the end user, I cannot control whether it will become anything larger than it is, because the deck has been shuffled and the cards are being played.  If I’m lucky, things will turn out like I want them to.

Though, I can always try believing in the heart of the cards.


Hotbox

I’ve noticed that a vast array of people I consort with have this weird segregation mechanism when it comes to people they know.  I, myself, am guilty of this kind of stuff, as I separate the people I know into the smaller groups of Friend, Acquaintance, Coworkers and so on.  But it got me to thinking, is this a socially responsible thing to do?

I look at the way I have it, and it’s manageable.  You do different things for friends than you do for acquaintances because the former is closer than the latter.  You remain amiable to the people you work with, because creating a hostile work environment is the antithesis of dealing with a social group that is mostly required to stand together and remain copacetic to complete certain goals, but you are open to debate and discourse with people you know well because they understand your stance and are more open to being lenient with you.

But I’ve also seen other people work without explicitly tiered social orders, and that seems amazingly daunting.  Rushing to do favors for everyone because it seems that they mean more to you than they actually should.

I mean, the biggest thing that goes through my mind whenever someone confronts me with favors and whatever is if they’d do the same for me.  It doesn’t always pan out when I go through the motions, but more often than not, I think I have an even payout, more through the efforts of others when someone else falls through.

However, it seems strange to me that, despite my ire over the segregation of people into groups, that I do it myself.  You could make the argument that this isn’t negative in the impact it has to the group as a whole.  So let’s spin it some more and see if we can’t glean some misgivings over this.  Mostly I’ll be looking at the Acquaintance level that I’ve set up.

Acquaintances, in my book, don’t really get much of anything.  They may try to be outgoing and social with me, but I do my usual grunts and mumbles because, clearly, I don’t know who you are, or why I should give a damn.  Eventually, the effort will die off and they’ll stop caring and that’s another link that just died due to apathy on my part.  That’s somewhat socially detrimental, right?  Smaller scale than the more obvious and widespread forms of segregation, but it’s still has a negative social impact.

So, what do we do in this situation?  The regular call would, of course, be to split that group even further.  From Acquaintances, we can make a Venn Diagram, one side being I Know Who You Are! and the other being Who The Fuck Are You?  Where they meet in the middle being Acquaintances.  This might seem a little confusing and kind of dire, but think about it.  I know who that person is!  They’re relatively interesting and I can converse with them about some random nerd topic, it’s not uncomfortable for either of us and it goes relatively smoothly.  On the other hand, I don’t know that person, they look kind of boring and annoying.  I don’t think I’d like talking to them based on the stuff I’ve overheard them speaking about or the people they choose to collide with on a regular basis.  However, I don’t know that person, but I’ve seen them around and they’re doing similar stuff to the people I do know, and maybe we could strike up a conversation and it might be decent, then I’ll Know How They Are.  If I don’t like how it turns out, I don’t want to know Who The Fuck They Are.

The part in the middle is the inevitable coin toss.

So, I guess segregation isn’t always a dire, awful thing to be put up with.  Sometimes it can be a useful tool if you feel like thinking about why you’re doing it.  Is it for a bigoted circumstance, or is it because it makes your life more manageable in a positive way?  If it’s the former, please stop, either the action or living, because you’re not doing anyone any bit of good.  If it’s the latter, walk that fine line and try your damnedest to not let it become something that unfurls into some nefarious utility.


See Them Driven Before You

Nothing irritates me more than religious persecution.  I can’t stand it when bible beaters try to press their ideologies onto others through a threat of eternal pain and suffering if one doesn’t repent and accept Jesus as the be all, end all.  Castigation isn’t really a good way of enlightening people to your cause, and ofttimes even a worse method of overall conversion.  If someone doesn’t have anything to answer for, no amount of threats or fear mongering will make them beg forgiveness.

It’s equally shitty for someone who doesn’t believe in whatever divine being happens to be around to get all pissy and smash the hopes of the faithful.  What right do you have to talk down to someone if they so much as mention a deity?  You don’t like it when they do it to you, so why do it to them?  You’re just going to create a conflict that no one can win because belief is a very powerful thing.  There are the classic arguments that don’t make any sense when you realize how ridiculous everything about them is.  Let me demonstrate.

There’s the creation paradox, short version, someone asks what created Earth and the heavens and whatever, and the religious whoever is supposed to answer “God”, and the other is supposed to ask “Then, what created God?” and, OOPS!  They don’t have an answer and the heathen is the victor.

Let me turn it around a bit, as this is the most basic one and I can’t really say anything about religious fundamentalists that hasn’t been said already.  They revel in a fantasy world, and this question is more based in the world of flesh and blood that we live in.

How do you make water?  Combining two Hydrogen to one Oxygen.

What are these elements?  Atoms, clearly, right?

What makes up an atom?  Leptons.

What are leptons?  Those are the most basic form of matter.  But how were they made?  They had to be created by something if God had to be created by something.  They couldn’t have just appeared out of thin air, there has to be something that made these building blocks of matter, but we don’t know what exactly happened.

If you put your entire faith in the sciences, you have to answer to the same basic rules that you put forth upon the other if you expect fairness.  It may have more basis in reality, but the Bible isn’t reality.  And not every religious person treats it as such.

Debasing an entire section of the population on the poor habits of a select few is such a terrible thing, anyway.  The least you could do is learn about what they think and, instead of hurling insults at each other, actually have a conversation.  Disregard the ones that are shitty to everybody else and just pay attention to the ones that have a willing ear.