Archive for category Science

DON’T PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES EVER GET ENOUGH GLORY?

Excuse my logic but I think the whole Flat Earther movement is just the most desperate attempt I’ve seen yet of pro-athletes, specifically NBA Basketball Players trying for every publicity grab they can get.

Players such as Kyrie Irving and former great Shaquille O’Neal argue that NASA and other scientific agencies doctor photos of the Earth to male it appear a sphere. They further argue that when you drive cross country the landscape is flat, hence the Earth being the same.

In the interest of brevity I will just cite several points that should clearly put to rest any idea that we live on a flat Earth.  First, if you look at a ship, in the best case, a ship with a tall mast as it sails away from the beach toward the horizon you will see the bottom portion  of the vessel disappear, followed by the middle portion and finally the masts themselves will sink from view.  This is because the boat is descending over the gradual curvature of the Earth.  The boat doesn’t just disappear all at once as it would on a flat Earth.

Second point to consider.  If the Earth were indeed shaped like a flat dinner plate or frisbee when people, ships, or other vehicles came to “the end” doesn’t it follow they would just fall off and into the abyss of outer space?

Third and last point which I learned some years ago from someone smarter than I.   If you take a plane from the United States to say Europe or Asia and then take the plane back there is a noticeable difference in travel time between the two flights.  I used to attribute this to wind currents  but that’s only part of the story.  When the plane is flying in the same direction as the spherical Earth’s rotation it takes longer to reach its destination because that destination on the Earth is spinning away from the plane which is moving at a slower speed.  However when your plane is flying against the spin the destination is moving toward the plane courtesy of the Earth’s rotation and thus you arrive faster. On a flat Earth this phenomenon would probably not occur.

All I ask is that people consider all the evidence before being caught up in a celebrity worship that leaves them blinded to the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What are You Doing on Earth Day?

Excuse my logic, and also excuse my cliché, but in honor of Earth Day this Friday, April 22,  I’ll ask the question that’s been asked time and time again – “Shouldn’t every day be Earth Day?”  I get very emotional when thinking about our planet because it pains me to see how we have scorched, poisoned, polluted and in general been very poor stewards of  this precious gift that was given us by God, the Creator or whatever higher power you choose to call him. 

My wife on several occasions has put it quite succinctly to me. “The Earth is sick,” she says.  I tip my hat to her for I couldn’t have said it better myself. I also tip my hat to Al Gore for his film “An Inconvenient Truth.”  He is a visionary and more.  After conceding the highly debatable 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, he could have just sat home and felt sorry for himself, but he went out and became an admirable and indefatigable crusader for protecting our environment.

Some of the occurrences that seem to be happening with more and more frequency should act as wakeup calls to everyone.  I don’t care if you are young or old, single or raising a family, rich or poor, famous or anonymous, legal or the worst terrorist on Earth.  We all have to live here and it’s time we take notice.  Two devastating tsunamis occurred in a five year period.  In this country, we suffered the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Then there was the Gulf Oil Spill, ironically the anniversary of which is just two days before Earth Day.  We hear reports of chunks of ice the size of  Delaware or Rhode Island breaking off the polar ice caps.  As Al Gore’s film pointed out, a large lake in Africa just drying up. Increasing amounts of acid rain falling.  The list goes on and on.   

We have polluted the ground, the water and the air.  What’s more, we have annihilated the tropical rain forests, a priceless treasure trove of some two thirds of all the living species on the planet.  We need the rainforests as they are the single greatest terrestrial source of air that we breathe according to the website: savetherainforest.org.  This website presents some sobering facts.  I vaguely remember about ten years ago visiting an exhibit called the Biodome inMontreal,Canada.  There was a sign that indicated back then there were about two billion acres of rainforest worldwide and at the rate of destruction occurring back then that number would be halved in twenty years time.  The savetherainforest.org website confirms this foggy memory of mine. They say that by the year 2025 half of our original amount of rainforests will be gone and by the year 2060 if our destructive ways continue, there will be no rainforest at all!

Any parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt should pause and give thought on this incredible projection.  It has implications for all of us. 

I have noticed that more and more the rate of birth defects in newborns has been on the rise. People are getting cancer at younger ages than ever and at an alarming incidence. Is it any wonder, with all the garbage we dump into landfills, thus polluting the land and the surrounding ground water?  It’s not just big business to blame. Every time we throw out a kitchen appliance or television instead of recycling it, we become accomplices to the crime. 

On an individual level, we can heed that slogan, “Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.” Changing your oil?  Don’t throw the filter in the garbage. Bring it to your local recycling center.  Thinking of throwing that aluminum can out your car window while sitting at a red light? Again, recycle.  Thinking of doing a spring cleaning and considering throwing all your unwanted junk in the next day’s garbage?  Hold a garage sale instead.  One man’s junk is another’s treasure. Or just rearrange your basement to accommodate the unwanted junk until it can be picked up by the Salvation Army or some other charitable organization.  Give the Earth a break.

That’s just a sampling of recommendations for individual people but what about the society as a whole?

I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers nor do I think anyone does.  However, a couple of suggestions come to mind.  I remember hearing years ago about one man who spearheaded a campaign to clean up a local river in his state, I believe somewhere in theMidwest.  He successfully restored what had become a cesspool into a river that could be swam in and enjoyed by the people there.  His monetary reward from the government was a paltry $60,000.  Now that might seem like a lot of money to some of my readers but I offer this proposition.  Why don’t we make it more lucrative for developers and construction people worldwide to devote their energies to cleaning up waterways and land masses as opposed to building more and more skyscrapers, which are themselves sources of pollution, not to mention death traps in the event of a major earthquake?  Where’s the incentive for people in real estate development to focus their efforts on cleaning up the environment when they can make hundreds and even thousands of times more money building tall buildings?

My other suggestion concerns the automobile industry, both in this country and abroad. Isn’t it time we rid ourselves of the albatross known as dependence upon Middle Eastern and South American oil?  In the United States alone, many people believe that the several trillion dollars we’ve spent on making war inIraq is all about seizing control of that country’s oil.  For a fraction of that money spent, say $1 trillion, we could disseminate about 40 million electric cars to our people, thereby greatly reducing our contribution to the global warming problem. If we did it in this country, many other countries worldwide, though reluctant to admit they like to emulate us, would soon fall into line and mass produce such vehicles also.  Furthermore, this is not to mention the other option of mass producing solar powered cars.

I recall hearing one talk show in which in an environmental scientist indicated we are now at a critical crossroads in the amount of carbon dioxide or what’s called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  If within the next ten to twenty years, we don’t severely reduce the amount of CO2 from current rates of approximately 385 parts per million (ppm) to a rate of 350 ppm but instead allow this concentration to increase even higher than 385 ppm, we will experience irreversible climate catastrophe and reach a so called point of no return.

I offer some anecdotes to conclude this piece.  Years ago, mind you in the late 1970s which is an eternity ago, I stopped at a toll booth at exit 13A of the New Jersey Turnpike. The toll collector there was wearing – get this – a gas mask.  I jokingly asked him if he was expecting some kind of chemical warfare attack. He pointed at the smokestacks not far away which were emitting some kind of chemicals into the air with a deafening noise. “That’s why,” he said.

Then another time also in the 1970s, also in the NJ Turnpike corridor, I ventured onto the grounds of some kind of generating plant with thousands of lights and dozens of smoke emitting pips and began snapping pictures. A guard quickly approached me and asked me what I was doing.  Then it became obvious to him.  Quite defensively he commented that the smoke billowing from the various pipes was steam.  Then he ordered me to leave at once.  If it were in fact steam, I always wondered since that night, why was he so frightened of me taking photos?

The Earth is sick.  Maybe it’s time for all of us to take up biking.

Copyright 2011; Greg S.  

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So You Think We’re Alone?

Excuse my logic but with all the possible planets and other celestial bodies scattered about the various galaxies that make up the universe, isn’t it a bit narcissistic of us humans to believe that we are the only planet to sustain life?  It never ceases to amaze me that some people I meet pooh- pooh the idea and state categorically that they don’t believe in UFOs, life on other planets, etc.

 One possible explanation of these naysayers insistence is that there was a time when if you said you believed there were extraterrestrials and the like you faced the possibility of being locked up in the nut house.  Even today, people are afraid to acknowledge the possibilities of what exists in area 51 for fear of being labeled crackpots.

Another reason some people dismiss the idea of life beyond Earth can be a simple matter of fear.  Most of us fear the unknown.  We’d rather just ignore it and hope it goes away.  It’s like the person who fears they have a terminal disease but refuses to seek medical help. Their fear of knowing for sure that they are ill actually induces them to avoid finding out.  Most normal people in their right mind don’t want to be told they have cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and the like.  So they shun the doctor rather than face the truth.

Like it or not, some day we may be visited upon by beings from another planet.  Right now, there is no documented case of this having happened.  However when considering the possibility of life on other planets, I like to call to mind a phrase I once heard that goes “If you put a thousand barking dogs together one of them is bound to be singing Beethoven.”

Our solar system is just a tiny fragment of the universe in its totality.  A recent news story appearing on the internet indicated that the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy alone estimates that there are 50 billion planets in the Milky Way.  That’s just our galaxy alone.  Scientists estimate that there are 100 billion galaxies.  These numbers are almost beyond comprehension.  Already, William Borucki, chief scientist for NASA’s planet hunting Kepler Telescope has identified 1,235 candidate planets with 54 in a so-called Goldilocks zone where life could possibly exist.

NASA's Kepler Telescope

 

Consider this possible scenario.  Someone tells you that there is not one diseased cell in your entire body. With all the billions of cells that make up our body, and the vast milieu of illnesses that befall humans, only a Pollyanna would dare make the claim that their entire body is disease free.  Now invert this.  Scientists are telling us in essence that there exist trillions of planets and we think we are the only one with life?  If I were a betting man, I know which side of these odds I’d make my wager for.

Look around on our own planet. Anaerobic bacteria can grow and thrive without oxygen. Plants live on Carbon Dioxide.  Furthermore, an April 7, 2010 Article on the website Science Daily heralded the discovery of small animals living their entire lives at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea without any oxygen and surrounded by “poisonous” sulphides.

If organisms can live on our planet without oxygen and in the total darkness you would find at the bottom of the Mediterranean, what makes us think organisms can’t exist elsewhere, perhaps in even seemingly hostile environments?

Also worthy of consideration are factors of age.  Many scientists believe that the universe is infinite. The question is asked “if the universe is finite, what would be on the other side?”  So let’s say the universe is infinite. Might it not follow that it has existed infinitely?  Maybe, yes, maybe, no.  Whatever your belief on that question it goes without saying that there are many planets that may actually be older than the Earth, ie. existed before our planet did.

As such, these planets have had greater life spans and time to evolve into habitats that would sustain life

To sidetrack a little but keeping the subject at hand in mind, I have often heard people ask “what would it take to bring peace on Earth and solidarity amongst all its peoples?”  I always answer this question in the same manner. One, if God were to appear in the sky and warn us to change our ways, peace on Earth is a distinct possibility.  The other is if beings from other worlds possessing the capability of annihilating our planet were to threaten such an action, the Earth’s varied peoples may finally put aside their differences and work together against an enemy greater than one another.  A sobering thought in one way but one that could finally bring out the goodness in all of us.

Copyright 2009; Greg S.  

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