Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Science”

Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2017 – It Seems Simple To Me

 

It Seems Simple To Me

giphy-1SOME THINGS JUST DEFY EXPLANATION. Others don’t merit explanation.

“The Brightest Flash of Light Ever Recorded Now Has An Explanation.”

That’s quite a headline. I would have opted for something shorter like, “Say Cheese! Says Heaven.”

When I saw that long headline this morning I had to read what followed.

supermassive-black-hole-jpeg-480x0_q71_crop-scaleIt seems that in June of 2015 a pair of Israeli Observers (Read two guys who stay up all night really looking for UFOs, but won’t admit it.) were gazing into the night skies when they saw a bright flash of light – and lucky for them, they had their GoPro cameras or iPhones turned on to record the event.  Why was I not told about this?

Jumping ahead 18 months or so to this morning the Observers say that they have finally figured out what caused it.

“…the burst was caused by the destruction of a star consumed by a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy,”

Somehow, I have my doubts about their explanation. It all seems too complicated. I think it all might have a much simpler cause.

“What did you do last night?”

“We stayed up all night staring at the sky, like most nights.”

“See anything interesting?”

“No. Just a bright flash of light.”

“Oh, what was that all about?

star3“I dunno. My guess was that the pizza delivery guy coming up the hill had his bright lights on.”

“That sounds reasonable to me. That was it. Mystery solved.”

“I dunno. My boss thinks it was a star being ripped apart by a black hole in a distant galaxy.”

“Hmm? I’d go for the pizza guy thing.”

“Yeah, me too.”

I make no claims to be a scientist of any sort. I was Liberal Arts major. I’m lucky I can read the label on a can of beans, but if this brightest light ever came from a “distant galaxy” – well, I have doubts that anyone can give a surefire explanation any better than, “The pizza guy had his bright lights on.”

“When a star passes within the tidal radius of a supermassive black hole, it will be torn apart. The rapid spin and high black hole mass can explain the high luminosity of this event.”

Loose translation into English: “I admit we were drinking and before I passed out my head was star-2spinning something fierce, and then…I saw this bright light. Funny thing is I could swear I also smelled pepperoni.”

I admit that this is a very loose translation from the original “Astronomerese.”

Explaining what happens out there in the permanent night is, quite literally, a shot in the dark. The “Black Hole” idea about the bright light is as good as any I suppose, and just as valid as anything I could come up with. I like mine better. My explanation allows the guys who spend their nights gazing skyward to have a little fun – and some pizza. If we blindly accept the more scientific sounding explanation it makes me sad. Can life be any duller than spending each night sitting in the dark waiting for something, anything, to happen? It must be like being the Understudy to Life.

star4

It Looks Like A Cow Chip To Me.

FOR THE LAST WEEK OR THREE I have been seeing stories about this Scientist from Harvard named Abraham Loeb who believes that an object that recently entered our solar system might, and he is heavy on the MIGHT, have been an Alien Space Craft (no relation).

To be honest… there was an object that came in from Interstellar Space. It was headed our way. Beyond that… I got nothin’.

After an exhaustive five minutes of research (Which is more than I do for almost everything else here.) I have learned a few tidbits of information – most of it confusing. I was a Liberal Arts Graduate. Having a B.A. in Theater doesn’t prepare you for dealing with Interstellar Space, unless you plan on playing a Klingon on Star Trek.

Here is some of what I have uncovered.

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Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

Throwback Thursday from Feb. 2016 – Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys

IT SEEMS THAT EVERY DAY THERE IS A NEW INVENTION OR DISCOVERY that changes the world. I recently saw that scientists have discovered proof of “Gravitational Waves” that were mathematically theorized by Albert Einstein decades ago.

While that may rattle the tea cups of the scientific world, it really doesn’t impact our daily lives. Gravitational Waves are something on a Cosmic scale that may, at some date in the future, affect how or where people live. But, so far, it doesn’t alter what I’m having for lunch today.

With a minimum of research on my part I have uncovered one of those seemingly “little things” that are almost universally present, yet are virtually unseen. The Toothpick.

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The Light Of A Thousand Suns

 

THIS MORNING WE GOT WORD THAT A FRIEND OF OURS HAD AN ACCIDENT while visiting England. She is fine, just a cut finger that netted her two stitches and a visit to a British ER. She was lucky. Very lucky compared to Anatoli Bugorski.

Anatoli Bugorski, now retired, was a high powered Russian Scientist who, in 1978, had an accident of his own. For him two stitches in his thumb weren’t going to make it “all better.”

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It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. Some are pretty obvious from the outset. With others it can take some time before we realize that we have stuck our foot in it. I have been collecting a few examples of some wildly errant boo-boos that deserve retelling.

One of my favorites dates from 1959. The fine folks in Ottawa, Ontario were gathered to celebrate the grand opening of a new modern terminal at the Canadian Capital’s Airport. Everyone was having a great time…until it all fell apart.

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Theoretically Speaking

 

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF JUNE. I’m sorry, but didn’t this year just start a week or two ago? How can we be closing in on the halfway point already? I know that time can slip away if you don’t pay attention, but I have been keeping my eye, both of them actually now that they are cataract-free, tightly focused on both the calendar and the clock.

Hmmm? Is something fishy going on around here?

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Throwback Thursday from Jan. 2016 – “What Is That Thing On His Head?”

Throwback Thursday from Jan. 2016 – “What Is That Thing On His Head?”

Lump1

As far back as I can remember I have had a lump on the back of my head. Not a lump like you might get from whacking your head on the door of a kitchen cabinet or from a high and inside fastball. No. My lump is more like a Crab Rangoon stuck under my skin.

“IT’S NAHT A TOOMAH.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Kindergarten Cop”

Lump2

What it is, is – a collection of fat and some obligatory blood vessels. So, I guess you could say that I am a medically certifiable Fathead. I’ve been called worse, today even.

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Apple Valley, We have A Problem

IF ANY OF YOU KNOW A GUY NAMED MIKE HUGHES please do your best to convince him to either see a Doctor or buy a lot of insurance. If you don’t know a guy named Mike Hughes just consider yourself lucky.

A limousine driver by day the Mike Hughes I’m talking about lives in the idyllic sounding town of Apple Valley, California, but he has his head in the clouds – rather low clouds. If he is not really lucky he might be leaving it there even if his feet are on the solid ground.

You see… I don’t know quite how to phrase this without sounding like I’m… like I’m Mike Hughes. Mike has a plan to launch himself in a steam powered “rocket” up into the sky in order to prove, once and for all, that the Earth is flat. I think you can see now why I am skeptical about standing too close to Mr. Hughes.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 -And A Side Order Of Comfort Food, Please

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –

…And A Side Order Of Comfort Food, Please

LOOKING AT THE SKY THIS AFTERNOON I see what looks like a winter sky. I know that winter is not here, officially, until just before Christmas, but my body does not know that.

I saw an old guy recently who was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Getting old ain’t for Sissies.” I have come to truly understand that that is true, in Spades, a solid gold, cold hard fact. Ya gotta be tough.

As the temperature drops the sinews and skeletal structure of my body begin to react in a way that, if I were a car they would have me up on the rack for a tune up and a check of my suspension – and maybe new shocks. But, since I am not a car, I get a bottle of Excedrin. I’m an old model and it is hard to find parts for me anyway.

Right now my spine is trying to dislodge itself and go to Florida. The attached muscles and other human bungee cords are twisting to counterbalance my spine’s attempts to sneak away when I’m not looking. And, Mamacita! It hurts.

Modern pharmaceuticals offer a variety of substances that alleviate pain, but they do so at a cost. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about side effects. All medications have side effects – ALL OF THEM. Some are innocuous, some are enjoyable, most are tolerable. These side effects are there because all medications are also poisonous – ALL OF THEM. The trick with medications is to have you take them in such a dosage that it will achieve the positive, intended goal without killing you first. You can OD on anything.

I knew a fellow who, for various psychological reasons, tried to commit suicide by taking his entire month’s supply of antidepressants at one time. Doing so lifted his spirits and made him forget about offing himself, but those meds had the side effect of completely shutting down his kidneys. Fortunately, the ER doctors were able to save him and his kidneys, and the emergency catheterization they had to perform made him even sorrier that he had taken all those pills.

When my body begins to ache, and get downright punitive with me, I try to avoid taking any pain medications. Most of the OTC things are no more effective than a bag of M&Ms and not as tasty. The ones that do help either upset my tummy or make me feel like I’ve downed 32 cups of espresso. The happy medium, for me anyway, is Excedrin Migraine. I don’t have migraine headaches, thank you, Lord, but it seems to be the most effective with body aches. Go figure.

I came to the realization, decades ago, that these seasonal changes are unavoidable no matter where I lived, and so were the pains that came with them. I have also accepted that there is not a damn thing I can do about the pain, unless I want to take prescription pain medication and put my brain and personality in a box until summer. Some of those heavy-duty pain meds are the equivalent of a lobotomy in a bottle. Why on God’s green earth would I want to do that when my brain is just about the only thing I have that works?

Some years ago I had a nasty case of Shingles and my doctor gave me a prescription for Vicodin. Sweet Jesus! I couldn’t feel the pain, along with my head, my tongue, the Western Hemisphere or the Milky Way. It was like getting hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer. It turned me into a side of beef with shoes. After a couple days with that I opted for the pain. At least that way I knew I was alive.

So, here I sit, typing away, having downed a couple of Excedrin Migraine. It helps, a bit. I think that the best thing I can do for myself, and those around me, is to stay warm, eat some comfort foods, and watch the World Series on TV.

Now, if I can just find a bowl full of chocolate covered endorphins.

I Must Put My Foot Down

YOU’D THINK I WOULD HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON BY NOW, but i did it to myself again this morning. I should wait until after my morning coffee before logging into Facebook. And maybe something to eat as well.

It was barely 6:30 AM when I turned on my computer and hit the Facebook icon – and there it was. Some strange person, a friend of a friend of a friend I assume, posted that one of his favorite foods was a Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich.

Good God, man! It was not even sunup and you’ve gone and ruined my gastrointestinal tract for the entire day.

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I Want All Or Nothing

THERE IS GOING TO BE AN ECLIPSE in this part of the world soon. I plan to skip the event. Why? Because here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My eyes! My eyes!”) it is not going to be a Total Eclipse. The TV says that it will be 85% here. In my book 85% is a “C” – OK, maybe a “B” if you’re grading on the curve and you have a room full of Bozos. If I am going to go through the trouble of getting those special dark glasses I want the Full Monty – so to speak. I don’t think I’m asking too much.

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Blinded By Science!

THERE IS NEWS…AND THEN THERE IS NEWS.  The following doesn’t really qualify as any kind of news above a 7 pt. font.

Flash from the PBS NewsHour of January 3, 1914:

“Dogs poop in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field, study finds.”

How’s that for a headline?

This thunderbolt of journalism comes about as result of a study published in a journal called “Frontiers in Zoology” – not an item currently found on our coffee table.

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Not Just Another Holiday

TODAY IS A SPECIAL DAY. IT IS A DAY FOR REMEMBRANCE.

Today is National Lost Sock Memorial Day.

This is a time to scratch our heads and wonder, “Where in the heck is the other sock?”

We have all spent time with our heads stuck in the dryer looking for the mate to the orphan sock we are holding in our hand. That other sock was there when we started the dryer, but now…

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Creation, Version 1.3

MY CELL PHONE WAS ACTING UP THIS MORNING. Nothing serious. It just appeared to be possessed by demons and wasn’t cooperating at all. Who knows why? So, I did what any sane person would do – I rebooted the darned thing.

Voila! It was all better – obedient, colorful, and utilitarian with no backtalk.

Don’t you wish life was like that? Your day is just not working right – the car wouldn’t start, your Boss is having another psychotic rampage, and when you get home the power is out and the cat has trashed the bathroom.

Time for a Reboot!

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Pack A Lunch

highway-sign-jpgSOME THINGS ARE JUST BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION. A fact can be as hard and cold as last week’s biscuits, but I still can’t easily slip it into place in my brain. I’m not stupid, despite testimony to the contrary. I’m just a skeptical sort who enjoys being persuaded.

What brings this to the front right now? Lemme tell you.

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The Renaissance Pen

pen2A NEW PEN! O, GLORY AND HALLELUJAH! God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world.

Today I started using a new pen, but not just any old Dollar Store pen. No, no, my friend. Is this a pen that was made in some North Korean slave labor camp. No, this is a pen that was designed and constructed by someone who had more than just half a bowl of rice for lunch.

This is a pen that deserves a name. I think I will call it “Leonardo,” as in Da Vinci, not Di Caprio. Puh-leeze.

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It Seems Simple To Me

giphy-1SOME THINGS JUST DEFY EXPLANATION. Others don’t merit explanation.

“The Brightest Flash of Light Ever Recorded Now Has An Explanation.”

That’s quite a headline. I would have opted for something shorter like, “Say Cheese! Says Heaven.”

When I saw that long headline this morning I had to read what followed.

Read more…

Keep Your Eyes On The Road

 

rotating_earth_maxiI PUT THE BLAME ON THE CURVATURE OF THE EARTH. How else can it all be explained?

Twice in the past week there have been unusual events on America’s highways .

That may be a bit overdramatic. How about, “In the last week a couple of weird things have happened involving trucks.”

Better? Then let’s proceed.

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Something To Watch Out For

tv1FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS (AT LEAST) WE’VE HAD A MAJOR CHANGE take place in our television viewing habits. I think that this change has come about because of two things; Online services such as Netflix and Hulu among a number of others have begun to air some new and very creative programming. Just about everyone else has been wallowing in a Political Stew that has been tasteless, without any real meat, and triggering my gag reflex.

So, we were faced with a choice: Enjoy some new and excellent programs or endure sphincter clenching broadcast venom.

Not a difficult decision – let someone else watch all the stuff with zombies.

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Pass The Popcorn

  movie1WE’RE GOING TO THE MOVIES TODAY. It has been about a year since our last trip to the 1,437 Screen Cineplex Monster Theater at The Mall.

Going during the day in the middle of the week can get you in at a lower price. Being a Senior Citizen doesn’t hurt either. Of course, once you are through the door it is time to start checking your credit score. If you stop at the refreshment counter you have to make a choice – Do I want that popcorn, Diet Coke, and Raisinetes or do I want to continue living indoors? I’ve paid less for cars than I have for some movie theater snacks. Oh, well.

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