Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Future Is Not Here Yet, But It Is Coming

Thanks. Maybe one thing I am saying is that we ALL have some blessings on ourselves. Ones we have in increasingly larger quantity. Lives in Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Italy, England, places all over the world, are so much more lives of ease than when I first traveled overseas 42 years ago. Nations in every corner of the world are more prosperous and are catching up and passing the U.S.

And time is the area of prosperity that is the biggest blessing. It is the most fundamental thing, I think, that we are living longer. Second is that we are having far less babies. Third would be that infant mortality is down – and that is to a large part responsible for longer life expectancy.

DO go see Hans Rosling’s TED Talks videos on YouTube. They are terrific. Continue reading

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The Future of Futurism…

Hahahaha –

I was talking with a friend on Skype and marveling at the world having videophones after all this time.  (Anybody remember 2001 A Space Oddysey back in 1967?) That conversation got into talking about how COOL it is to live in these times.  And then it got into how things might change in the future.

If any of this is too off the wall or too nauseating for the tree huggers out there, tough luck!  I am going to talk about it anyway.  🙂

My friend is more than 40 years younger than I am, and he just got married, and is going to see as many changes in his time as I’ve seen in mine.  It is AMAZING how much technology brings into our lives over a span of 70 or 80 years.  It used to be 60.  Hell, it used to be 49!  In 1900 the average life expectancy in the USA was all of 49 years.  Now – as of about 10 years ago – it is 79 years.  So in about 100 years the life expectancy went up 30 years.  30 in 100. WOW! !

So right there we have one way technology has improved life – it has made it longer.  It is laughable when I tell this to people, because t really IS an improvement.  But would you like to know what the most common reaction I get from people?  “Well, extra years don’t mean anything if you are sick.”  They just don’t get it.

What don’t they get?  That 100 years ago at age 19 people only had 30 years more to live.  That NOW we are FORTY NINE when we have 30 years to live – at somewhat the same health level.  REALLY.  So, at the age when people used to die off – on average – we all still have 30 years to live.  So when someone tells you that 50 is the new 30, they are kind of right – but not right ENOUGH.  The average person at 49 now is not looking at spending the next 30 years as a medical invalid.  They are looking at about 20 more years of good living. Continue reading

Thoughts on meteors, on the eve of the anniversary of Chelyabinsk

One of my interests is the subject of impacts on Earth by comets or sear earth objects (NEOs).  (Everybody has something…)

Now, on the eve of the anniversary of the Chelyabinsk “event” of last year, it is a time to reflect on “what could have been.”

The ~50 meter Chelyabinsk/Chebarkul meteor flaring over Russia in February, 2013

Not much real damage was done last year.  Fortunately the atmosphere absorbed about 90% of the energy of the meteor over Russia.  All that brilliance we all saw was meteoric material melting away, so by the time the big flare-up occurred, there wasn’t a lot of the object still left to explode.  Lucky Chelyabinsk!  Imagine if even half of it still had been holding together, how large that explosion might have been.  Certainly more thousands would have been injured.  Certainly many thousands of windows would have blown out. Most likely some other weakly built buildings would have been damaged. Continue reading

Comments on the formation of asteroids/meteoroids…

It is very often said in popular articles about meteors, comets and asteroids that they all represent the material that is left over from the very beginning of the solar system.  It is further said – often – that these bodies “accreted” from smaller material flying around in what is called the “planetary nebula.” That means that they kept gravitating toward each other until the collection of material became an asteroid or a comet.

I dispute both of these assertions by astronomers.  Why?   Because I think that they call up accretion as a mechanism, without ever asking what happens during accretion or if the temperatrues and pressures and impact forces available can actually do what they say accretion is or is doing.  When one reads about how asteroids or planets form, the say “accretion” and then go on to what happens after accretion, without really ever having to explain it.

Why do I think any of this?  Because there is insufficient gravitational force between small objects in space.  There is also insufficient pressure in space to turn molecules of metals into solid chunks of metal, nor to alloy them together.

Let me start with a few definitions.  I am putting them at the bottom here, so that I don’t lose the reader at this point with boring stuff.

I just looked at the list of elements and molecules present in the most studied meteorite in the world, one called the Allende meteorite.  The list runs to 17 main components and 57 elements.  That means over half the Periodic Table is represented in ONE meteor.  That is one helluva cocktail.

The Allende meteorite is a “carbonaceous chondrite” as opposed to a mostly iron-nickel meteor.  It still has plenty of iron and nickel, but not a LOT. Carbonaceous chondrites represent about 4% of all meteorites found so far. 86% of the total are stony chondrites.  The Allende meteorite weighs about 2 metric tons and is also the heaviest and biggest meteorite yet found.  It looks like this:

The Allende meteorite, showing many chondrules, which make it a chondrite

All those chondrules, plus the matrix that binds them together, contain all those compounds and elements I mentioned.

The funny thing is that some of the materials in the meteorite are garnet, peridotite, and olivine.  There are more, but those are important.  You see, peridotite is found where diamonds are found and are created by much the same forces – high temps and high pressures.  Olivine also needs pressures around 24 gigapascals (gP), about 3.9 million pounds per square inch (psi), plus high temps, about 2,000°C (nearly 4,000°F).  Garnet is a semiprecious stone that also takes a LOT of pressure and temperature to form. Continue reading