Thursday, April 15, 2010

Like lightning on an alien world

Humans like to think that we are the center of the universe and that our planet is so unique. In some ways it is. But as we actually learn more about the universe, we find other worlds share many similarities.

A large number of people on this planet are convinced that we were placed here specifically by some magical being, because they needed to make up some story to comfort them in the dark at night.

But what if the creation of life is a much more natural process? Perhaps it has been repeated many times on many different worlds. Maybe all it takes is the right ingredients and a little spark, and a few billion years later - voila'!

Here is some video of lightning on Saturn.

Saturn, with its majestic rings.

Europa with its liquid water.

Titan with its methane atmosphere.

Maybe the beginnings of alien life are much closer than we had thought. (Unless you're one of the 75% of scientists that believe we're just years away from discovering microbial life on Mars)

The Earth isn't flat. The Sun doesn't revolve around the Earth.  And just maybe, we're not alone in this universe or even this solar system.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Carl Sagan Meme Day

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the voyager spacecraft taking a picture of Earth from the outer reaches of the Solar System, the intewebz have been abuzz with everything Carl Sagan and his 'Pale Blue Dot' speech.  Here's the best ones I found:

Here it is recut with iconic images and movie clips.

If the music is too distracting for you, here is a simpler version.

And here is a great mash-up of Sagan and those over the top [old spice commericials]

And finally, here is Sagan after going through the autotuner

It's all in your head

A new study shows that handling money can increase your pain tolerance. This explains all those gangster pictures. [Pain killing cash]

It gets pretty deep in a foxhole

High points to [Abstrusegoose] for this mythbusters take on atheists in foxholes

Interesting surreal animation

This futuristic animation is completely in french with no subtitles, but it doesn't really need any. The voice acting and simple storyline make it easy to understand. It's a great example of sci-fi noir.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just like an island

This picture, aside from being beautiful really makes me think about time, destiny, and our place in the universe.

We have what appears to be a coral island that has been eroded by years of the tide coming and going.  The trees on the island have been there long enough to take root and grow quite large.  The island has been there for their entire existence.

But are they aware of the erosion going on right beneath them?  Do they know the impending peril they face when the base finally gives way and the island tips over? Will they all die? Will they struggle on? Will they bend their trunks up at awkward angles to escape the ravaging saltwater?

Maybe the island will last a long time, long enough for the trees to complete their lives.  But what of the trees' offspring?  Will they be stuck on the island too? Maybe there will be a cataclysmic shift and the ocean will fade away, and the danger with it.  But that seems unlikely.

So what can they do?  What is the point of their lives?

They can give birth to seeds that can take to the wind or the water.  The seeds will outlive them and take some memory of their existence far away to new fertile grounds.  It might not happen in one generation.  Maybe eons of evolution are required to make such a change.  But it is possible. 

What does this have to do with our place in the universe? Well take a look at the island we all live on.