Category Archives: Science

Honeybee Decline Mystery Solved?

Honeybee image from wiki imagesWhile many of the world’s experts have blamed the mysterious, and disturbing, honeybee decline on a combination of chemicals and disease, biologists may have solved why the pollinating creatures are dying off. It is, they say, down to a single cell organism which acts as a parasite and infects the larvae of the insects.

Read the rest of the article at Viral Global News…

Today Mars, Tomorrow the Universe

Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey
Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday was a real red letter day for NASA (You see what I did there?). Their nuclear powered discovery vehicle, the aptly named ‘Curiosity‘ has not only managed to land on Mars but it has sent it’s first pictures back.  Pretty exciting stuff and it’s guaranteed to pique the interest of every ‘wanna-be’ astronaut and space scientist the world over.

NASA is also one step closer to building that ‘giant’ rocket that will be necessary to send bigger payloads up into space. With a projected launch date of 2017, it’s beginning to look like a manned mission to Mars might just happen in my life time.

It’s about time.

NASA,  like everyone else, has suffered from the world-wide funding problems that plague us all. The space program has had some pretty devastating cutbacks in recent history and they are now moving ahead at ‘warp-speed’ to catch up.

With the world concentrating on the 2012 London Olympics and daily bad news updates of scandal, shootings and subterfuge it’s nice that outer space issues can still generate interest.

Most importantly, this Mars landing is a benchmark event. The next step will be, of course, a manned flight. If we can send folks to Mars and it turns out that we can use the planet as a ‘stepping stone’ to the rest of the galaxy, how wondrous would that be. We could literally explore, in person, the rest of the galaxy and the universe.

I can still remember the first moon landing in 1969. I was eleven and my brother was about three or four. We all watched this momentous event on my parent’s huge Curtis-Mathis entertainment centre. My father was, if you’ll pardon the expression, over the moon. He told us about one of his school teachers, Mrs. Jones.

She had told all her students that man would one day walk on the moon in his quest to conquer the stars. Needless to say, way back in the early 1940’s this was an almost heretical view. Man had only really come to grips with aeroplanes and jets were just making their appearance known towards the end of WWII. She was called ‘crazy old Mrs. Jones.’

My father said that she was fairly old (although to a child, anyone over the age of thirty is old)  when he was a child, but he hoped that she had lived long enough to see the landing and to hear those historical words. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

I like to think that she saw and heard her vision come true as well.

It was ‘crazy old Mrs Jones’ that I instantly thought of when the Curiosity sent back her first low resolution pictures of Mars surface. I can only hope that live long enough to see the first manned flight land on Mars.

English: Manned mission to Mars : Ascent stage...
English: Manned mission to Mars : Ascent stage (NASA Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0) fev 2009 Français : Mission habitée vers Mars : étage de remontée (NASA Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0) fev 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still Singing the Cigarette Electric

a lit cigarette in an ashtray

Okay, it’s been a couple of weeks now with the new E-cigs that I’ve opted to smoke instead of the traditonal ones.

So far so content. I don’t miss the mess, ashes everywhere, dog ends to dispose of without getting a public littering fine; or the unsightliness, yellow: fingers, teeth, mustache and tongue. I also don’t miss the smell. It is a little socially off putting when you know you smell like a giant ashtray.

Now for the expense. So far, despite claims to contrary, I’m still spending roughly about the same amount for the damn electric cigarettes.

Why?

I’m not sure. The companies say that each cartridge (a cartridge is what carries the nicotine and the vapour inducing stuff that mimics smoke) equals X amount of cigarettes. I have two words for that claim.

Horse Pucky.

Now I am the first one to stand up and say that yes I am a heavy smoker. In a world where anything over five fags a day is heavy, I’m king at a daily consumption of fifteen plus. But that is not, I think, the problem.

I think the problem is, that unlike traditional smokes, the fake fag (cigarette in English slang parlance), is not a real ciggie. You don’t smoke the E-cig until you reach the dog end and then put it out, more often than not, relighting another one minutes after. No the problem is you don’t have to stop puffing at all.

If you don’t run out of battery (a problem that is becoming less so) or out of cartridge, you can keep on puffing. So even though it is better for you (a fact that the jury is still out on) you wind up “smoking” more than if you were smoking the traditional cigarette.

My only real ‘gripe’ is that the cartridges don’t seem to last as long as advertised. But as my daughter quite sagely pointed out, “You’ve always got it in your mouth.” Kind of sounds like an adult pacifier, doesn’t it.

Still I’m very proud of the fact that apart from nicotine I am not putting any other more harmful chemicals in my body. I won’t even mention the fact of no tar coating and clogging my lungs. I am also pleased that my car no longer resembles or smells like an ashtray on wheels. I don’t have to stand outside to smoke in nasty weather and I don’t have to buy the heavily overtaxed fags that the stores are flogging.

I do still like the ‘odd’ smoke of the traditional variety. There is something so relaxing about rolling a cigarette and lighting it, dragging in that first lungful of smoke and exhaling with a mental, “Ahhh.”

So even though I disagree with the E-cigs claims, I’ll stick to the new ‘space age’ science fiction fags for a while longer.

A photo of 117mm e-cigarette
A photo of 117mm e-cigarette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So reddit Will Remove any More Articles About Higgs/CERN?

Image representing Reddit as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I’ve always kind of liked reddit. It was a good way to drive traffic to your blog site. They usually did a pretty good job and were only ever occasionally matched by StumbleUpon. But this afternoon, reddit released this statement on their r/science page –  Announcement: We’re being flooded with Higgs/CERN submissions. Don’t submit more of them, since at the moment all of them will be removed.

What…the…Fudge?? Okay, I can kind of understand the site crashing from too much input. But to remove content because they are receiving too many submissions sounds a bit funny to me.

Are reddit practising some sort of censorship or are they not happy that so much fuss is being made of the Higgs boson particle. I do know that not everyone is happy about yesterdays turn of events. I’ve gotten two rather boorish comments on my last blog post, which coincidentally dealt with the question of the new particle and religion.

I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now and this is the first time, I’ve ever gotten any negative comments. To be honest I was prepared for it. There are a lot of people who don’t like you to question religion at all. And the fact that I questioned that very subject in my last blog lead me to believe that at least a few folks would not like it.

But now it appears that apart from the first ‘rush’ of viewings, my link to reddit has been severed. Which I don’t think is fair at all. *I know life isn’t fair, whoo hoo.*

I will give them some credit for at least telling us that they were going to be removing the Higgs/CERN submissions, but not a lot. Obviously somewhere in the ‘reddit HQ’ somebody wasn’t happy about the spiralling coverage the discovery was getting.

It’s not just reddit though. I first saw an article about it this morning on page 5 in one or our daily newspapers. Page 5?? This is the biggest thing since Albert Einstein came up with E=MC2 back in the day! My daughter and I were saying that this whole thing doesn’t appear to be getting much in the way of attention from the media.

Still I thought it interesting enough to blog about and thought someone else might like to hear my musings about the ‘new’ particle.

When I posted my blog about the discovery it started garnering views immediately. It shot up to about one hundred and fifty views and then…just…died. After about an hour, it then got one or two more views. Curious I nipped over to reddit to see if the link I had provided had been that badly voted down.

That was when I discovered their little announcement.

I am a little confused. I thought the whole point of sites like reddit was to allow us to submit links to topical things. And surely it can’t get much more topical than the discovery of the boson particle.

I’m beginning to think that the only topical items reddit is interested in are films, photos of cats and dogs and things that will not clog up their feed.

I guess that will teach me to support, monetarily, a site like reddit in the future. Why wait for the government to censor the net when a site like reddit can do it for them.

Reddit Sticker
Reddit Sticker (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

The Big Bang Changes Everything

I’ve gotten a few rather puzzling comments on this post, querying as to whether I was writing about the formation of the moon.  I decided I’d better read my post again and see what I had done.

I realized very quickly that in my excitement and rush to explain how the “God” particle was ‘created’ I forgot to mention that the example of planets/comets/asteroids was my “bigging up” the particles that had been zipping about at light speed and that it was a collision of particles which made the boson which then allowed the universe to grow and expand.

So in essence when you read the bit about Genesis and God colliding planets/comets/asteroids think particles and it will make a bit more sense.

My bad as Buffy would say.

So please carry on reading the original post. Thank you.

Yesterday while the USA celebrated the 4th of July,  physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research announced that they have almost certainly detected a boson. A boson  is one of two elementary particles that quantum theory says make up the universe. I am not going to go into a long winded explanation here, if you want that check out google.

What I am going to do is wonder how this validation of “The Big Bang Theory” is going to affect the organised religions of the world. More specifically, how it is going to affect Christianity.

Not to be too blunt about it, but the validation of “The Big Bang” kind of negates the story that the bible tells, doesn’t it. I grew up in a Christian household and attended church, not regularly, but more often than not. So I am familiar with the bible and it’s “teachings.”

Now before I start my little tirade, I’ll just set the stage a bit. The “Idiot’s Guide to the Big Bang Theory” goes something like this. Billions of years ago, two planets/comets/asteroids collided at roughly the speed of light. The resulting explosion created this boson particle which combined with  other particles or fermions, also known as matter, such as protons and electrons. This whole process is what created our planet and started the whole evolutionary process that resulted in mankind

Are you with me so far? I hope so, because this is as good as I can explain it.

Now, the last time I read the bible, which I will admit was quite a few years ago, the book of Genesis doesn’t start with, “And God made two planets/comets/asteroids collide and thus made earth on the first day.” I pretty sure that it does not start that way.

So what I wonder is, how is religion or Christianity going to respond to this new information? I think I can pretty much guess how.

The first step will be denial. It always is. For the truly zealous or devout that is always the  first response.

The next step will be to refute the findings using the bible to prove or negate the findings of the physicists.

The next possible step will be to try to imply or prove that the “Big Bang” was caused by God.

And the last possible step will be to let the organised religion re-invent itself or to die.

To be honest the first step has been proven historically. Look in your history books for this one and just see if I am right. Talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents, and ask. I’m pretty sure that you’ll hear that everything that does not fit into the bible’s “teachings” is always denied. “If God had meant man to fly, He’d have given us wings!”

Look it up, folks did say that.

The second step is a logical progression. It is used when Christians want to refute anything that does not fit into their way of thinking. More often than not, most things can be explained away by blaming the translation.

The third step is going to involve a lot of “singing and dancing” by the “experts” to pull this one off. I’m sure that they will try very hard to do this.

The last step is just where I see it heading. How can you continue to follow a religion that is built on the faith that the words in the bible are true. You either have to re-invent or recognise that what you have been blindly following for centuries is untrue.

I said over a year ago in a facebook discussion that in the new millenium we as a people would learn something that would shake our beliefs and our understanding of how the world works completely apart. When asked what I thought that might be, I had to admit to feeling very vague about exactly what this knowledge would be.

I sort of thought maybe the existence of alien life, finding out where ufo’s really came from, I don’t know. I do know that the discovery of the boson particle was not on my list of earth shattering events.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to start dancing on the grave of Christianity just yet. And surely if Christianity is doomed what about Islam or  Buddhism, et al.

Physicists have proven the existence of the boson particle. Now it’s the Christians turn. They need to (like a magician) pull a rabbit out of their religious hat. The ball is in their court so to speak.

I will say, that although I am not ready to dance just yet, I am also not going to hold my breath waiting for their response. I think that I will instead think about how the discovery of this boson can change how we do things.

And yes, top of the list for me, is just how long will it take them to invent the first ‘Star Trek-like transporter.’

Life After Death…As a Robot?

Rhett & Link
Rhett & Link (Photo credit: rhettandlink)

I’ve just finished watching a very funny video on YouTube from Rhett and Link (very funny guys). My daughter had just watched it and wanted to show me part of it.

The title of the video was Live Forever Online. The bit that she showed me was about a website called LifeNaut.com. The whole premise of this website is to allow people to create “mind-files” that can be loaded into an avatar (online) or into an animatronic head that you can interact with.

The reason for all this? The ability to leave a “computerized” version of you, again in the form of an online avatar. This service is free. Presumably if you want the data loaded into an animatronic head it costs money. But which ever version you choose will give you the same result.

“Live Forever – Upload your Mind to LifeNaut.com”  this is the message that greets you when you google the site. When you click the link provided on the site you will see the site itself with, “Make a Profile     Build an Avatar     Connect with Friends” running along the bottom of the Register/Sign In page.

But before you register and sign in look at the bottom of the screen. On the lower right hand of the screen you will see the word bina48. If you click on this it will give you an in depth tutorial what a bina48 is.

In a nutshell, it is an animatronic head filled with a real person’s memories and thought processes. The aim is to recreate another you.

The idea behind all this “mad” scientist scenario is this: You can leave a ‘copy’ of yourself via avatar or ‘head’ that your loved ones can talk to after you die.

Okay, so far so creepy. But if you really watch the tutorial and read their statements, you will find that the ultimate goal of Lifenaut is to replicate a person (that’s spelt dead loved one) via a robot. A robot that thinks like you, reasons like you, talks like you, looks like you and is concious like you.

An android version of  a real person. If you’ve ever seen any of the Alien films you’ll know what I mean. So you too can be the model for an evil Ash (Alien) or the human ‘wanna be’ David (Prometheus).

The long term goal of LifeNaut is to marry up a computer’s Artificial Intelligence –  AI and a robot with your conciousness (or to be more accurate the above mentioned thought processes, memories, etc). Once this has been done, not only will there be an “immortal” you, but they are also hoping the this blend of machine and memory will develop it’s own conciousness. It will become aware.

Okay everybody, repeat after me, “‘TERMINATOR.”

Cover of "The Terminator [Blu-ray]"

All joking aside, the idea does have some merit. As my daughter just pointed out, “If it works, it may help us to understand more about the human condition or what actually makes a soul.” Smart girl my daughter.

Completely moving away from the Terminator style technology, I can’t decide whether the other portion of the program is a good thing or just creepy and weird. Yeah it would be kind of neat knowing that the loved ones you leave behind can chat “with you” after you’ve died.

It is also kind of neat to think that any future grandchildren or great-great grandchildren can see and hear how you talked. Although all the examples I watched on YouTube sounded like interesting variations of Stephen Hawking.

I also don’t think I will be able to partake in the free offer. I registered and signed up. I then took a picture to build my profile. I also answered 52 of 486 questions to give my avatar “my” personality. Then…nothing.

I don’t know what I did wrong, but my avatar won’t load. Period. Maybe I’m too ugly? Or maybe the picture wasn’t good enough. But whatever the reason, I couldn’t check it out today.

I may have to wait for my android to do it.

Portents and Signs…

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...
Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, New Jersey Edited version of Image:PurportedUFO NewJersey 1952 07 31.gif. By Bach01. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is a lot of strange things going on at the moment. I had “googled” a few things for my last blog, mostly to do with UFO’s and the loud “humming” noises reported around the world. While doing that I then remembered the phenomenon of birds falling out of the sky…dead. This led me to articles about dead fish.
Of course if you look at both of these occurances, you will find references to the weather.Just last week the thriving metropolis of the Dallas/Fort Worth area had seven or eight tornadoes go ripping though their suburban streets. I was thunderstruck (pun not intended).Seven or eight! When I was growing up, you might just get two, but not at the same time, or one after the other. It almost seems like some sort of “following the leader” game that the weather has decided to play.
When I first moved to the United Kingdom in 1980, I was informed, with wry amusement, that England “doesn’t have tornadoes old bean.” That information was not totally correct, but pretty close. There were the occasional ‘twisters’ but they were small and caused little damage. Now it seems, we have several a year. Still not doing too much in the way of damage, a roof here and a tree there, with the odd wall blown down. But still much more than the odd one that occurred when I first moved here
.I first became aware of the “dead birds” in 2011. That was also the year that “thousands” of dead fish were discovered in an Arkansas river. Now I think about it, Arkansas also had their share of dead blackbirds. If you google the phrases ‘dead birds’ and ‘dead fish’ you will find a lot of reports of same all over the USA. More importantly, it also happened again this year in Arkansas. Dead birds fell out of the sky as recently as February this year. Just what the hell is going on?


I wrote about the multiple UFO sightings last year, and by multiple I mean more than one ‘bright light’ or ‘flying object’ at each separate sighting. Some of which occurred in broad daylight and witnessed by thousands of people. I also wrote about this new phenomenon, the “loud humming” noise that is being reported all over the world.

Is someone or something trying to tell us something?

My daughter and I watched the film Signs again last night. It is a  permanent favourite in our house. M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant tale of a Reverend coming to grips with his wife’s death and his subsequent loss of faith. I only mention the plot because it also revolved around signs or portents if you prefer. The final message of the film is thatnothing happens by chance. We are given clear signs of what is going to happen. Unfortunately we don’t always recognise the significance of these when we are shown them or even realise that we are being given a “heads-up”

Cover of "Signs [Blu-ray]"
Cover of Signs [Blu-ray]
After we had watched the film, I got to thinking about all the strange things that are going on in the world right now. I started surfing the net and found references to HARP, that stands for High Altitude Research Program. In a nut shell, the articles I read indicated that this program can change the weather. It also intimated that they are indeed using the program for just that.
Now I don’t know, I am not a rocket scientist – hell, I am not even scientifically minded – but if I was running that program, I would start to get a little worried about all the strange things that are happening world wide right now.I know there are a lot of people who will see these happenings as religious portents that have been written about in the Bible.

I don’t know whether they are right or wrong, and I am not part of the HARP program, but, my “spidey-sense” is tingling and I think something life-changing might just be around the corner. The only problem is this, I don’t know if I should be excited or scared.


TIME WILL TELL.