Asteroid Annihilation… The line of fire

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In 1998 the likes of Armageddon and Deep Impact offered film fans around the world an insight into the nature of a near earth object colliding with the blue planet.  How realistic these portrayals of a meteor induced curtain call on life as we know it is a different matter, but it is fare to say the possibility of such an event came to the forefront of the public conscious afresh and in somewhat vivid detail.

We shall address the question of when, (and note ‘when’, and not ‘if’ dear reader), an asteroid of significant enough size collided and destroyed all human life and why it would achieve that, in a moment.  But first, how can we be sure of that certainty?  By way of analogy, a blindfolded ‘sniper’ with an infinite number of bullets who had no special training whatsoever, and an infinite time frame, would hit a shooting target at it’s perfect centre situation 3000 meters away, even after being spun 1000 times to confuse the shooter, would EVENTUALLY achieve the objective of hitting it’s perfect middle.  You see in infinity the smallest possibilities eventually occur.  In the infinity of time, you would eventually toss a coin heads side up a one hundred million times in a row.

An asteroid or comet could only hit in two possible places; on land, or in the sea.  Both are catastrophic if the object is big enough.  And there are plenty of those around folks, the vast majority not heading for us though.

If a big enough asteroid or comet hit land and resulted in the end of life as we know this would be followed by numerous catastrophic events.  Firstly, and most obviously whatever life was hit directly by the object would be immediate flattened, need I say more?  Second, most life within the blast radius would be certainly killed by the catastrophic shower of fire and brimstone.  Either burnt alive or killed via the destruction of matter e.g. rocks, buildings, etc.  If the blast radius was limited enough to not contribute to immediate global annihilation then the global dust blanket would effectively shut down our ecosystem by blocking the sunlight.  We would then starve and/or freeze.  If the object hit water; huge tsunamis.  Or, and more likely, if the object was big enough, the impact would create enough heat to evaporate our oceans and then blacken our skies for 5 years ish blocking out sunlight and shutting down our ecosystem.  It’s pretty horrific either way.

The Perilous Place….

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Yesterday I discussed our almost incomprehensible and insignificant place in the universe.  Today, the dangers.  Although a lonely place, spanning unfathomable distances, our solitude provides little safety on the third rock from the sun.  Recent events in Chelyabinsk, Russia, were an unwelcome reminder of our homes vulnerability in the universal tapestry.

The human species has an uncanny way of skipping along its path almost obliviously meandering through social, work and family affairs.  While we are busy arranging a get together, that important meeting or watching the television we forget that we dancing round our nearest star, the sun, at around sixty six and a half thousand miles an hour and that a few doors down between neighbours Mars and Jupiter looms the asteroid belt.  Objects from this chain of space junk, often collide and change path moving off in any number of directions.  We also forget that more space junk like comets and more asteroids from deeper space are doing their own little mindless dance on their own paths.  I’d hazard a guess the thought has rarely crossed your mind.  And particularly the risks they pose to us.

Have you ever driven your car under a bridge that holds a train above you or a series of motor vehicles buzzing away in other directions and as you pass under it thought ‘if we were on the same level I would have just missed that e.g.. car or worse, collided with it?’.  Consider that your microcosmic model for the the universal big picture.

Asteroids can range in size from tiny grains of space dust to ‘global killers’ spanning tens of miles.  Needless to say a collision with the latter would be extremely damming for the blue planet.  Don’t get me wrong, many smaller asteroids burn-up as they enter our atmosphere and do us no harm, but others as in the case of the Russian incident get through and cause death and destruction.  The threat is a real one.  What could happen if something big enough hit I’ll discuss tomorrow, but I promise, It’s not a good news folks.

Our glorious insignificance; lonely but perilous

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One of the many things I often ponder is arguably one of the most sobering but very real truths in life.  Our insignificance.  When I say our, by that I mean humanities.  Stop for a moment.  Think this through with me.  Our galaxy, the Milky Way (also a very yummy chocolate bar), is particularly ordinary.  It’s of average size as galaxies go; about 120,000 light years across and contains around 400 billion stars.  Although the scale is overwhelming to contemplate insomuch as light (that travels at around 187 thousand miles a second in a vacuum)  would still take an astonishing 120,000 years to do one length of our intergalactic pool, this ‘normal’ spiral galaxy is extremely ordinary.

Let’s boggle your head a little; astronomers claim there to be 170 billion galaxies in the ‘observable universe’, by which they mean, just in the bit they can see.  This infers quite strongly that there is lots and lots more they can’t see, containing many many many more galaxies.  Now, some galaxies have upwards of a trillion stars in them.  As I already mentioned, ours has ‘only’ 400 billion.  When we times the number of galaxies in the observable universe i.e. 170 billion by the average number of stars in a galaxy, we shall take the figure in ours having already established it’s ordinary nature, 400 billion, we can come up with some kind of an estimate as to how many stars there are in the observable universe.  Here’s the number;

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  Apparently this number is one septillion.   

There is plenty of debate as to if the universe carries on forever and ever, or is finite.  Given the former, we can safely add a few more zeros to this figure and still be nowhere close to the accurate answer.  But as far as the part of the universe that we can see, this number is a good enough indication for my point.  Now, our sun, just one very average star, has 8 planets orbiting it.  One of those is us… the Earth.  Of the other 400 billion stars in our galaxy, there could very easily be many more earth like places, probability would have it that there is.

Even if there wasn’t, what of the other 170 billion galaxies that we can observe (not counting the ones we can’t remember) and the stars in each of those?  What are the real chances of us being the only ones?  Probability ways heavy here and points to favourable odds for other ‘life’.

Tomorrow; the perilous part…. insignificant or not.

Notable mention to creative force; if there is such a thing, s/he is very wasteful indeed.  I can only compare this to making 100 sponge cakes and eating just the one.  Curious.

GOD – Prove it

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Ok, so here is the challenge.  Can you prove God?  Billions of people believe in a form of a supernatural force that they term ‘God’.  Yet it astounds me that it is done so without the provision of evidence.  Many say, ‘the Bible says its true’, but folks, that is no evidence.  Have you asked yourself recently what you base your belief in?  Is it just as credible to believe in fairies?  Or Pixies?  For me there is no difference whatsoever.  It is a delusion, in my opinion subject to a lack of evidence.  

What is atheism?

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Many mistake the term ‘atheism’ as a belief system or a set of beliefs that are abided by, by a person who adopts a stance that renders them a non-believer.  This is a common misconception.  Atheism, in fact, is the antithesis of that notion.  It is the lack of belief.  It describes someone who does not believe in a god or gods as that person is simply stating that there is no credible evidence to support this fantastic notion.  Ultimately it is a rather silly word.  There does not seem to be an equivalent for someone who does not believe in say, fairies; how many times have you heard someone described as a ‘non fairy believer’?  I would doubt if you had heard the term at all.

I am an atheist.  I observe no credible evidence that supports the idea of a god or gods.  My stance is that there is in fact no evidence that would support the idea despite there being many arguments for a gods existence. But none of these cannot be explained by scientific proofs that are, for me, more credible as they are supported by evidence.  Evidence, is truly, the most important thing.  Otherwise we are leading ourselves into delusion.

It is true however, that it is impossible to actually be an atheist in the strictest possible sense, as we cannot positively say there is no god.  I can’t prove this statement.  Neither can I prove that every night at precisely 3am a monster made of baked beans does not creep into my room and whisper the secret to making the best baked beans into my ear when I sleep, this monster only shows up if I am sleeping so I can’t prove this claim.  What can be said is that it is extremely unlikely.  Therefore there is no such thing as an atheist, but rather agnostics.  Atheism is a term bandied around therefore for ease of expression.  Food for thought.

Get paid to lose weight? Yes please.

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So what if I told you that there was a way for you to get paid the minimum wage or above and lose weight?  Would that excite you?  Good news folks…. its not only possible, its not hard to actually achieve either.  You’ll be surprised to find out how this marvellous weight loss booster is something that is both obvious and beautifully simple.

Unquestionably, this simple scheme will be of massive benefit to those who sit on their bums all day long on a PC.  An online source indicates that only 20% of US jobs involve ‘moderate physical exertion’.  By default it would follow the other 80% of US jobs involve little to no physical exertion.  My 9 to 5 is one of those; I sit on my backside and call people all day.  Don’t get me wrong, my fingers have the strength of 1000 bison (or 60,000 chickens – if you prefer) and I can dial numbers at light speed, It’s a talent!  But, that’s not getting many calories burnt now is it?  Maybe you are getting the idea of where this might be going….

I searched, applied and succeed in obtaining a second job, and I have started doing it already in the evenings; 12 hours a week. Almost all of my time there is on my feet, waking around the store and arranging and replenishing product. I am now not only exercising more, but I’m also being paid to.  It’s genius.  Two birds… One stone.

I told you it was simple.

Weight Loss – An Idiots Guide continued (again)…

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Are you a dog?  No?  Then why are you rewarding yourself with food?  Under no circumstances should you use food as a reward mechanism for yourself.  No matter how hard your day at work or how much the kids, your boss, your partner is giving you a hard time or no matter how much you have achieved in a day you should never kick back with food to pat yourself on the back.  This reinforces the mindset that food is something to comfort yourself or congratulate yourself with, both of which usually lead to taking on too many calories for the day.  Let’s face it, when in this mindset you are not going to ‘reward’ yourself with a bowl of lettuce – more likely – calorie dense treats like candy or cakes.

This is not to say that you cannot let your hair down once in a while; but lets make that the exception rather than the rule.  Your birthday is a good day for that or maybe Christmas day.  Plan it.  Be proactive.  Not reactive.  Otherwise in my most humble opinion, you will be rewarding and comforting yourself over the slightest excuse to do so and food will become your crutch, much like tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs are for many people.  Food is not a crutch.  It is energy.  To be consumed when you are hungry, in the right quantity, savoured and enjoyed, it is planned and not a spur of the moment event.  If you are serious about losing those pounds you are going to have to alter your state of mind for the better.  This is one of the many keystones that must be employed to succeed.  Avoid watching cookery programs and also avoid the adverts on TV as some of them are going to be about the foods you love but have eaten way too much of – worse still – the ads are going to encourage you to consume the product, the complete opposite of what you are trying to achieve.  These companies; they spend million of dollars on adverts to encourage you to buy their product, remember those adverts will influence you, ‘they’ are aware of how persuasive their commercials are, that’s why they do it.

Prevention is truly better than cure.  Avoid rather than have to remedy.  Stay strong and focus on your goal.  You are not a dog.  You will not reward or console yourself with food.  Food is not a treat.  It is energy.  Eat sensible amounts, and take your time with it.  Never rush.  Tomorrow I’ll be sharing what I believe causes us to follow through with sensible eating and why we don’t always stick to the game plan.

Keep on keeping on.