Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Want a Gun? Mug a Teacher!

with one comment

Well, speaking of changing my mind, I was wrong about President Trump. I thought he had political acumen, and was smarter than he let on to be. The Walter White of politics. I mean, one has to say idiotic things to get elected president in modern America (using the word modern in the loosest possible sense) but that doesn’t mean one believes them. In Trump’s case, yes, it’s pretty clear he believes the nonsense he spews. He’s a trust baby con-artist with a knack for self promotion, who came along at the right time and place in history to get elected. The man clearly couldn’t think his way out of a paper bag.

Case in point. He thinks arming teachers is a solution to school shootings. Sigh. So much wrong with this idea it makes me want to pound my head against my tablet in frustration. Alas, like most Americans these days, I can’t afford a new tablet, so however much that might be satisfying, I must forgo the pleasure for now.

There’s all sorts of thing wrong with this idea, so we will start at the base. This is a classic downstream solution to a problem. Which is just what it sounds like. Say pollutants are being poured into a river, however, downstream the river is used to provide drinking water. Solution: Build a plant to filter the pollutants out of the water! Hopefully my astute readers can suggest better and cheaper ways to deal with the problem. Downstream solutions attack the symptoms of a problem, without actually addressing the causes of the problem.

And sadly they are often seriously proposed as solutions to a problem in America. That’s because corporate America loves downstream solutions. They are a great way to pass costs onto the public. Like my river example above, the factory dumping the pollutants saves money, and then the public pays for a factory downstream to fix the problem. Corporate America makes money at both ends, shareholders laugh all the way to the bank while the public picks up the tab. In the case of guns, we already have a $40 billion dollar industry costing the public something like $200 billion a year. This would just add $10 billion or more to the second figure, and a few billion to the first.

Looking closer at the proposed solution itself, what could possibly go wrong with putting 3.2 million guns into schools? First if all, training. To be prepared to deal with an active shooter situation requires extensive training. We are talking training 3.2 million people to essentially be qualified to be a SWAT team member. This will require massive expenditure on both facilities and trainers. And it will be ongoing, this sort of training requires constant practice. Qualified teachers are already overworked and underpaid and in short supply. Who is going to pay for all of this?

To be useful these 3.2 million guns need to be easily accessible. Which means they will sometimes fall into the wrong hands. Even with them strapped to teacher’s hips. And of course who is liable for the accidental shootings? Or the mistaken shootings? Having three million more armed “cops” in the schools means there will be more accidental shootings. And of course guns stolen to be used in other crimes, not just school shootings. Want a gun, mug a teacher!

And when there is a shooting and the cops arrive, how do they tell the armed shooters from the armed teachers? Are teachers now going to wear special vests on the job to identify them? How will the teachers be able to tell who is the actual shooter? And guess what, teachers snap too. Gonna be some really fun gunfights in the schools if this becomes a reality.

Lastly, really, we’re asking our 50 year old home ec teacher to shoot one of their students? People that are comfortable with shooting people become cops or join the army. Pretty much the last profession they choose is teaching children. Even with all the training in the world teachers are about the last and least qualified people to gun someone down.

As a final little aside, gee, let’s see, arm all the teachers and put them in uniform. Have the schools surrounded by a high fence and make the kids go through metal detectors to get inside. What are we talking about here? A freaking prison, that’s what. Hell, why bother teaching students at all, put em to work. Sure will shorten the school to prison pipeline, guess that will save some money.

In conclusion, in the history of dumb ideas, this one gets a gold medal. It’s actually hard to think of a stupider idea. Arming teachers makes the border wall look sensible in comparison, and the wall is an idea so dumb that even Reagan was able to understand it was unworkable. Alas, decades of Rush Limbaugh, charter schools, home schooling, and the like have left us with tens of millions of Americans who think ideas that would only work in comic books are serious public policy.

Jesus wept.

 

(While I still post here sporadically, the majority of my work is now posted on Patreon. I even made a video introduction, consider yourself warned. ;) Image above is a public domain drawing of the Columbine library. Note that an armed sheriff’s deputy on campus did not prevent the Columbine massacre.)

Advertisements

Written by unitedcats

February 26, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Crime, Politics, Trump

Through Thick and Thin

leave a comment »

 

youdoodle-2018-01-26T13-43-28Z-1

Another week, another series of depressing news stories. It’s been increasingly embarrassing to be an American since 1980, but the last year, boy howdy. The thing that got my attention this morning was China announcing it is going to build a Polar Silk Road. That is to say, they are going to open up the arctic to international shipping to and from China, cutting travel time almost in half to destinations in Europe. This is part of China’s one trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative that will rebuild much of Eurasia’s transport infrastructure of roads, ports, and railroads … with China at the center.

In other words, China is actually putting “China first,” whereas the president of a decaying military empire on the other side of the planet uses “America first” as a slogan while the bankers, corporations, and military loot the public till. A trillion dollars for infrastructure or a trillion dollars more in bombers, one guess which is going to pay more dividends and create more jobs in the decades to come. And the amazing and maybe most embarrassing thing about this is that most Americans are oblivious as their leaders loot the country.

Still, more globally, ugly. 82 Percent of the Wealth Generated Last Year ‘Went to the Richest 1 Percent of the Global Population‘ This is minding numbing when one thinks about. Literally most of the world’s population is working to benefit under 100 million people. And billions of those working people are living in abject poverty. Call it whatever one wants, but the power structures of our planet are set up to exploit the many for the benefit of the few. Even a modest redistribution of this wealth would end world poverty, but no chance of that happening any time soon. Greed is the most powerful force in the Universe.

Meanwhile back on Earth, the two Koreas are increasingly talking to each other and making efforts to peacefully resolve their differences. The Trump administration is having none of it. I’m starting to wonder if China and the Koreas realize if play their cards right, they might well get a unified Korea under China’s protection. Think about it, if Trump really does lose it and order an attack on North Korea … and North Korea doesn’t retaliate against South Korea … anti US sentiment in the South would go through the roof. In fact globally anti US sentiment would take a huge hit. The US could end up getting kicked out of South Korea while Kim comes out of it as a national hero. Might even make Japan reconsider their relationship with the US. We’ll see, but if there was ever a US administration with an infantile understanding of global politics and international relations, Trump’s is it.

In local news, eleven school shootings in the US already, and we’re not even through the first month of the year! Looks like we will set a new record this year. The Trump administration is on it though, Trump has offered his “Thoughts and Prayers.” So sad. As others have noted, our national response to the Sandy Hook school massacre was exactly dip squat, so no one is holding their breath waiting for the US government to do anything about our nation’s horrific gun violence problem. In fact many Americans apparently like it this way.

In a bit of odd historical news, it was revealed that in 2013 San Francisco police received a letter purportedly from one of the three men who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962. Interesting indeed. Officially they drowned, and that’s what most people think. I did too for a long time, figuring that criminals usually lack judgement, and sooner or later one of them would have given themselves away. Later I realised since they had put together a remarkably clever and well planned escape, maybe they did have the good sense to lay low. Who knows, probably a hoax, maybe some day more light will be shed on this mystery.

Finally, science has looked into the eternal mystery, do lobsters feel pain? Are people who throw them live into boiling pots of water truly monsters? Well, actually, science only looked at the first question. And the answer is, maybe. Science can be really frustrating sometimes. Read all the details here.

Have a great weekend everyone

Written by unitedcats

January 26, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Politics, Trump, World

Tagged with , , ,

WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS

leave a comment »

youdoodle-2018-01-20T14-07-14Z-1

Things like modern infrastructure, education, and health care. This article, this is why. It’s US Defence Secretary James Mattis explaining America’s new defence strategy. This was one of the most horrifying articles I’ve read in a long time. I will break parts of it down for the gentle reader:

“The US faced “growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia”, he said, unveiling the national defence strategy.”

No, no we don’t. China and Russia would have to spend trillions of dollars to pose anything like a threat to America’s globe spanning military machine. They quite literally do not have, now, or in the foreseeable future, the money it would take to challenge the US militarily. What they are doing is defending their backyards and trying to prevent the US from completely surrounding them with allies and military bases.

In other words we’re threatening them, not vice versa. And their response to this threat is perfectly natural … and not in any way, shape, or form a threat to the USA. Mattis goes downhill from there:

“In an apparent reference to Russia, he warned against “threaten[ing] America’s experiment in democracy”.

“If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day,” he warned.”

Three terrible things wrong with this. First, there’s still no evidence Russia tried to tamper with our election, they had no reason to do and every reason not to. There wasn’t really anything to be gained by it. And Jesus Christ, even the idea they could do so is imbuing them with magical powers. How the hell is an impoverished country on the other side of the world going to seriously have a chance to alter our mind numbingly expensive electoral process?

Secondly, hard to imagine how he said this without smirking.  We no longer have anything resembling a democracy in the US, and he knows it. Every president since Reagan has done exactly what the pentagon, big business, and the bankers wanted. Our elections are a dog and pony show run to make people think their vote matters. It doesn’t. Russia can’t threaten something that doesn’t exist.

Thirdly, OMG, the United States is the biggest threat to democracy the world has ever seen. Washington routinely interferes in elections, sponsor coups, and generally does everything in their considerable power to insure that if some country has an election, the guy Washington wants in power gets elected. Not to mention now completely open, and illegal, regime change wars. To claim the US is dedicated to democracy would be farcical if our efforts hadn’t caused such harm.

It goes on in that vein. Trump Is planning on increasing military spending ten percent. That means more debt or more cuts elsewhere. So much for his promise to invest in infrastructure. Our 2017 infrastructure report card: D+ And of course we are going to slash science and health spending to pay for this. Spending that actually benefits Americans. Can’t have that.

One last quote from the article:

“We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia, nations that seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models,” Mr Mattis said.

Sigh. What a load of scaremongering malarkey. China and Russia cast as villains from a James Bond movie. The only country trying to create a world consistent with their model is the US, and that model is exploitation of the world’s people and resources to make America’s corporations even richer. All China and Russia are trying to do is defend themselves against that.

The thing that is most frustrating about all of this? The American media both parrots it and fawns over if. Guess who owns the American media? And most Americans simply accept it as fact. Three plus decades of economic decline for poor and middle class Americans, but by God if the media, left or right, tells them pouring more money into the military is good for America, it must be true!

Yeah, yeah, I’m going to go take a Valium.

 

(Welcome new and old readers. I hope you enjoyed this post. As of January 2018 I have resumed regular blogging on my new Patreon version of Doug’s Darkworld. Science, history, current events, and posts about a certain president who can hardly go a day without inspiring a blog post.)

https://www.patreon.com/Unitedcats

Written by unitedcats

January 20, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

We Had a Visitor

with 4 comments

Artist’s impression of the interstellar asteroid `Oumuamua

Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

The solar system had a visitor recently. A, thing, artist’s impression above, swung by the Earth and Sun late last year. What was it? Where did it come from? Where is it going? Could it really be an alien spaceship? Why is it important? And how does one pronouce ‘Oumuamua anyhow?
Last things first. ‘Oumuamua is a Hawaiian name that loosely translates as “visitor from the distant past.” It is pronounced Oh mooer mooer. A Hawaiian word was chosen because it was discovered by a telescope in Hawaii. There’s been some conflict between astronomers and native Hawaiians lately, so not sure if choosing a Hawaiian name was a sign of respect, or clueless condescension. I’ll leave that topic for another day.
What was ‘Oumuamua? At first it was thought to be a comet. As it got close to the sun it didn’t outgas like comets do, so astronomers changed its designation to asteroid. And then things got both exciting and weird. Once its orbit was calculated, they realised this bad boy wasn’t orbiting the sun. It had indeed fallen out of deep space, travelling at a speed faster than anything that orbits the sun travels at. It whipped around the sun and headed back out to deep space. But not before every telescope and scientific instrument possible was trained on it.
And what did they find out? It’s about 800 ft (230 m) by 100 ft (35 m.) It’s spinning wildly. It appears to be very similar to a D-type asteroid. So soft, organic rich silicate and carbon rock, possibly mixed in with some ice. It’s protected by a baked reddish organic coating similar to the coating seen on Kuiper Belt Objects. Scientists suspect this is from millions of years of exposure to cosmic rays. This is why if it contains any ice, it didn’t outgas as it passed the sun. However, unlike any asteroid or comet ever seen, ‘Oumuamua is eight times as long as it is wide. This is extremely unusual, no one expected this. A cigar shaped asteroid, how did this happen? No one knows.
The weird shape is what triggered speculation that ‘Oumuamua might be an artificial object of some sort. Idle speculation for the most part. First of all it is tumbling. Secondly it made no course corrections. Lastly, because scientists do like to cover all possibilities, every effort was made to detect any sign of electrical or radio activity emanating from it. Even something as weak as a cell phone would of been detected. Nada, ‘Oumuamua is as dead as, well, a rock.

So why is ‘Oumuamua important? Because this is the first time we have ever had a chance to study something that didn’t originate in our own solar system. It’s like data from an interstellar probe delivered free to our backyard. Best guess is 1-10 things like this zip through every year, but they are small and really fast, and this is the first one we’ve ever seen. Our telescopes grow better every year though, and astrononers look forward to spotting future visitors. We are indeed living in a golden age of space exploration.
Two final notes. If this was so new and cool, why didn’t we send a probe to it? Good question. And in fact as soon as it was spotted, astronomers feverishly began calculating if that was possible. Sadly, the answer is not really. ‘Oumuamua is just moving too damn fast. It’s already past the orbit of Mars, will pass Jupiter by early summer, and Saturn’s orbit by 2019. No human probe can fly fast enough to catch up with it. There are a few theoretical possibilities and ideas in the pipeline that might do the trick, but not really worth the effort. Even if we build something fast enough to catch up, it would just fly right past it, and that really wouldn’t be likely to add much to our knowledge. So goodbye ‘Oumuamua, off to wander between the stars for millions or more likely billions of years.
Lastly, wait, what about meteorites? Humans have literally gathered up tens of thousands of them, surely some of them didn’t originate in our solar system? Nope. Every single one clearly came from our solar system, either leftover junk from the creation of the solar system, or blasted free from planets and moons in the solar system. This though is a great opportunity for meteorite hunters. Eventually one will be found, they must exist. And when one is found, the lucky finder can name their price. Millions would not be untoward.
Now don’t you wish you’d looked more closely at that black rock you found on your lawn last week? Have a great 2018 everyone.
(I am resurrecting Doug’s Darkworld, will be posting once a week from now on. I have also started a site on Patreon where I will be posting these blog posts and other writing, mostly fiction. I encourage my readers to check it out. And thanks to my many faithful readers here, it’s been fun.)

Written by unitedcats

January 6, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Entering the Trump Zone, part one

with 4 comments

Here we are, the first populist president of my lifetime. And I remember Nixon. Been hella interesting so far, and promises more of the same. I’m not a Trump supporter, though I am glad Hillary lost. I have no problems with supporters of either, or Bernie supporters for that matter. If anything, I call myself an independent, I don’t think either major party has the best interests of the common American at heart. It was an wild election campaign, and we are in for a ride. Here, in semi particular order, are my observations on the Trump presidency so far.

A lot of people were surprised and shocked when Trump won, I wasn’t one of them. I watched one of the very first GOP debates and came away thinking “This guy could win this thing.” He had an obvious appeal that all of his rivals lacked. I know most of my progressive and Democratic friends can’t see this. A sign of how polarized the country has become. If all one watches is the “news” produced for one’s own targeted demographic, it eventually becomes impossible to understand people watching the opposite. This goes as much for Jon Stewart watchers as it does for Fox News fans.

Moving right along, in some ways it was funny watching Trump walk all over his GOP rivals in the campaign. The irony was delicious, they and the GOP spent decades priming their base for someone just like Trump, so his appearance out of nowhere was their just desserts. In some ways Trump is a symptom of the times.

I mentioned that I am glad Hillary lost. And I still am. She was the establishment candidate pure and simple, annointed by the powers that be. She would have simply hammered more nails into the coffin of the progressive movement in tne USA. The rich would have gotten richer, corporate influence would have gotten greater, and our wars overseas would have continued and expanded. All the forces that have been destroying this country since Reagan would have gotten that much stronger. I know Trump is not the antidote to that, far from it, but maybe there is now a chance progressives will get back into power. Or at least turn back the tide of GOP control of congress and state legislatures. It may be a slim hope, but it would have been no hope under Clinton.

As to why Hillary lost, that’s a can of worms. Like most lost wars or battles, myths have grown up to expain it away. It is clear to me that many of her supporters were shocked that she lost to someone like Trump. And since she was the obviously (to them, see paragragh 2) the superior and more qualified candidate, there must be some underhanded reason why she lost. Russian meddling is the favourite so far, in fact half of Democrats think Russians diddled with the actual voting machines, an allegation no one has even made! Blaming Bernie supporters or other third party supporters is another favourite. Yes, she lost because people that should have known better didn’t vote for her! To my way of thinking that attitude itself is a big reason she lost. Vote shaming is hardly a good way to inspire people to vote. The bottom line is she utterly failed to inspire people to vote for her, and blaming anyone but her for this failure is ludicrous.

And the “Russia got Trump elected” thing. Yeah, long on allegations, short on anything that can be considered evidence. I know many many people are absolutely convinced this is the case, but it all seems like motivated reasoning to me. When actual evidence of said conspiracy shows up, I will reconsider my position. I also point out that claiming Russian influence was responsible for the tiny margin that Trump won by is ignoring the huge numbers of voters that Hillary scorned or even encouraged to vote against her with her campaign missteps. There’s also the fact thay it’s hard to imagine Putin doing something so stupid. He is one dangerous mofo, but he is no fool.

In a related vein, the whole “Russia is a terrible threat” trope is ridiculous. The USA and its allies outspend Russia by more than ten to one in military spending. We have Russia ringed with military bases, fleets, and nuclear weapons, not vice versa. In fact Russia is making big cuts in its military spending this year, while Trump is pouring ever more money into the military. It’s safe to say that no country in history has ever enjoyed the global military hegemony the USA now enjoys.

Tomorrow, presuming I have any readers left, more on the Trump phenomena. Good times.

Written by unitedcats

March 22, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Politics, Propaganda

Still Alone in the Universe

with 5 comments

mars

Alas, yet another well intentioned and optimistic attempt has been made to search for alien civilizations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for SETI (The search for alien technological civilizations) and am glad it gets done.  I just don’t think they are going to find anything, and am not surprised this latest search is a failure. Why? Some background first:

NASA has a satellite, the WISE satellite. Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. It basically made a survey of the sky in infrared. It was a big deal. Many new discoveries, thousands of asteroids, numerous star clusters, and a whole wealth of data about the skies. Including information on millions of galaxies. Then scientists with private funding (our precious tax dollars saved for ever more drone strikes) computer sifted through this data to find 100,000 promising galactic candidates for further investigation. They then hand searched these galaxies, looking for galaxies with signs of widespread industrial civilization. How is that? Well, the idea being that aliens that colonized a galaxy would use starlight to power industry, and thus the galaxy in question would be shy on starlight, but long on infrared, the waste product of industrial processes. The results? Nada. None of the galaxies showed anything that was obviously unnatural. A few warrant further looking, but there was certainly no smoking gun.

What can we glean from this? On the first pass, a Star Trek or Star Wars galaxy is ruled out. Bad news on one level, we won’t be joining any Galactic Federation anytime soon, because it doesn’t exist. That’s not surprising, the aliens in these sorts of imagined galaxies are pretty much just people with funny costumes. While it would be fun and comforting to find out that’s what aliens are like, there’s simply no reason to think aliens would be anything like us. In fact essentially all SETI has been doing is steadily eroding the idea of a universe populated by anthropomorphic aliens. At this point, it’s looking pretty grim for the Star Trek galaxy.

So what’s left? Well, maybe our idea of how advanced alien civilizations would look needs some tweaking. Most, if not all,  of our ideas about SETI involve searching for aliens who are acting like us. Granted, how to imagine aliens who aren’t like us is a bit tricky. I suspect the goal shouldn’t be to decide what to look for and look for it, but try to look for anything that doesn’t have a good natural explanation. Granted that’s a pretty nebulous concept in and of itself, but it has the advantage of eliminating our own prejudices about what aliens will be doing. And yes, it’s also limited by the fact that our understanding of what is and isn’t natural in the Universe is also pretty nebulous at this stage. Still, it would be a start, and I hope at least some in the SETI community are looking into searching for the unexpected.

Lastly, and the point that seems to distress so many people, it’s possible that we are alone. We simply don’t know how likely it is for species like ours to come along and start building technological stuff. Maybe it’s so incredibly unlikely that it’s only happened once. People love to claim that the size of the Universe means there “has” to be others, but that’s simply an argument from big numbers. What are the chances that one grain of sand on Earth contains an exact miniature replica of a McDonalds® outlet down to the smallest detail? Saying, there’s trillions of grains of sand so one must contain a miniature McDonalds® because there are so many grains of sand, is an absurd argument.

In any event I hope SETI continues. Heck, I wish it was better funded, but it’s too easy an idea to ridicule and there’s no SETI lobby to speak of, and certainly no SETI industry, so it’s going to continue to be a privately funded search. I wish SETI all the luck in the world, I just don’t recommend making any bets on it succeeding any time soon.

Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image was taken on Mars about a year ago by the Curiosity rover. As a NASA photograph, it is for most practical purposes, including inclusion in this blog, a public domain image. NASA does not in any way endorse Doug’s Darkworld. I used this image because, gee, Mars is sure looking like a barren lifeless rock. And because I still think its effing incredible that we have machines on Mars able to send pics like this. The blue sky means it’s sunset. On Mars the sky is normally scarlet or a bright orangeish-red colour. It turns rose at sunset and sunrise.)

Written by unitedcats

June 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Philae Calls Home

with 3 comments

x4

I know, it’s in the news. I have been insanely busy, and not able to post, but this came along and I just had to add my two cents. The Philae lander, a probe that made the first landing on a comet, has returned to life after seven months in unintended frozen hibernation on the comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko. This is truly a historic moment in space exploration, I don’t think there’s ever been a case where communication was lost with a  probe, and then re-acquired months later. It’s a wonderful moment in an amazing mission in the ongoing Golden Age of space exploration. I will try to share my sense of awe and excitement. Humour me.

The twentieth century. It’s passed now, but it was packed with events. Most people now would talk of Hitler, communism, World Wars, assassinations, the rise of technology, etc. Future generations may remember it for one thing, on July 21 1969 humans first set foot on the Moon. The human exploration of the galaxy had begun. A true Golden Age of exploration had begun. When I was a kid all that was known of planets and bodies beyond Earth was a few fuzzy telescope pictures. All we knew about the Solar System (let alone the galaxy) could be summarized in a few pages in the beginning of atlases.

Well, a few decades later, and we have learned a few things. Dozens of probes have been sent out, some leaving the Solar System itself. And while many probes have been lost, most have succeeded. Humanity now has active probes all over the Solar System. Mars and the Moon are under continual satellite observation. It’s been the greatest Age of Exploration ever. Columbus re-discovered a few continents, we now discover new worlds almost daily.

And part of that exploration has been comets. As most people know, the Solar System is a bunch of planets orbiting the Sun. Also spinning around the Sun are small bodies of dirty ice, comets. Like Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, helpfully illustrated above. It’s about 3 km (2 miles) long, not very big compared to Earth, but still, a flying mountain in space. And while it was still outside the orbit of Mars, the next planet out from Earth, the Rosetta space probe went into orbit around it. It was in fact the first probe to orbit a comet. Comets are believed to be leftover stuff from the birth of the Solar System,  so it is hoped this probe will help understand the early Solar System, the same way the actual Rosetta Stone helped understand human’s early history.

And after it went into orbit, the Rosetta Probe dropped the Philae lander, a probe about the size of a washing machine, which was to hit the comet and anchor itself to the surface. Alas, the surface of the comet was harder than anyone expected, and instead of anchoring itself safely, the lander bounced. And bounced. And bounced. And landed somewhere shady, worked for a few days, then went to sleep because its solar panels were in the shade. And that was that, the lander had done some good science in its few days, and there was some possibility it would wake up again as the comet got closer to the Sun, but most people wrote it off as one of many lost probes.

Nope. It’s back. Philae has called home. It survived months in the dark at about 35 degrees Kelvin (-400F, -240C) in a complete vacuum. So cold human flesh would almost instantly freeze solid. So cold virtually every device humans have made would instantly break as parts of it contracted in the cold. So inhospitable to human life that it’s hard to imagine. And even if one was in the sunlight on Churyumov–Gerasimenko, it would result in a fatal sunburn. And yet our engineers and scientists were able to build a robotic machine that survived intact and dormant in this frighteningly extreme environment, and has returned to life to send us more data.

This is human ingenuity at its best. This shows that humans can build machines to work in environments so extreme they don’t exist on Earth. This shows a desire to understand reality that is on par with other great human endeavours. This accomplishment was science fiction just a  few decades ago. Fantasy if not madness a few centuries ago. We may be destroying our own planet, but we are simultaneously reaching for the stars. That Philae has returned to life is a good sign. Let us be happy.

No worries, future posts will be more depressing.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Credit and copyright: Matt Wang, Flickr: anosmicovni. European Space Agency. Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Relative to Downtown Los Angeles. And because people just have to know, if comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko was to hit Earth (it can’t) the results would be catastrophic. It would make a 40 km (25 mile) wide crater for starters. Continent wide devastation, global effects. It would be the worst disaster to ever befall the human race. It might even interfere with publication of this blog.)

Written by unitedcats

June 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm