Category Archives: Astronomy

It Seems the Idea of Dark Energy May Have Been Premature, After All

I ran across this today:

Is Dark Energy a Real Thing? Maybe Not, A New Study Suggests

According to prevailing cosmological theories, the universe is expanding, but not at a constant rate. As the universe gets older, its growth seems to accelerate over time, something that would be impossible without some sort of extra energy being added to the overall system. Dark energy, the theory goes, accounts for nearly 70 percent of all energy in the observable universe.

But a new study from Oxford has called dark energy’s existence into question, saying that the data is flawed or based on observations that previously assumed that dark energy was already a universal constant. If this is the case, then scientists may have to go back to reevaluate their understanding of the universe and how it works.

Dark energy and dark matter are two things that have troubled me for a long time about the current state of astronomy.  Not only is dark energy supposed to be 70% of all energy in the universe, but dark matter is supposed to be 96% of all matter in the universe – or 24 times the amount of matter we can actually detect.

These are two things that cannot be seen or felt or heard or sensed, even with our best instruments (which are extensions of our five senses, in a very real sense). To me, there was something crooked in Denmark, some way that the astronomers had gone down the rabbit hole and had misjudged something or assumed some things that would end up being not true. Continue reading

Advertisements

Spacecraft to Nudge Asteroid Off Course – For Practice

I ran across this article from The Independent about moving asteroids:

End of the world plan: scientists to nudge asteroid off course as practice for protecting the Earth

This is a plan to send a spacecraft to an asteroid by 2020, to intercept the asteroid by 2020, and see what we can learn. This makes good engineering sense – use what we have to see if it does what we think it can do.

This, I think, is just exactly what we should be doing at this time – building and trying out a prototype to do just this.  We today have what we think are technologically feasible methods of deflecting asteroids or comets. And we THINK we know what their make-up is. But we don’t know exactly for sure, either one.  The correct approach is to learn about the asteroids and to learn HOW to intercept any dangerous bodies flying around “out there”.  So, doing this is a REALLY smart thing to do.

I like that they are sending it FAR out – two years out – because, as we all know, the earlier we mitigate an actual threatening asteroid by deflection, the easier it is to change the course enough to miss Earth.

It is an obligation for our generation to DO this – to actually LEARN how to do this, because we are the first generation to have the capacity to stop an extinction level event. If we screw this opportunity up, mankind will always be starting over from scratch – always be blown back to the Stone Age.

HAS IT HAPPENED BEFORE?  IF SO, WHO IS TO SAY IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN?

Orthodox science now considers that our history has been a linear ascent, up from nothing, and that this ascent has never happened before. This despite the evidence of civilizations in the very remote past that were capable of some technological achievements that were more or less equal to things we do now. I refer to the megalithic cities and sites around the world and some of their incredible stone work. The orthodoxy misreads these as having been done by people working with copper chisels and granite balls being dropped many millions of times to work stone. Christopher Dunn, for one, has shown how inadequate such orthodox thinking is.

So, if there is ANY evidence of high technology of ANY kind that existed in the past, the orthodoxy is busted, and our history is, therefore, NOT a linear ascent but an interrupted history. With SOME forensic evidence of the YDIH now in hand (no matter HOW much a small group of skeptics thinks otherwise), we appear to have evidence from TWO angles that humankind has experienced an extinction level event before. For one, we have sites with incredible stone work, in most cases far beyond the capacities of the aboriginal societies that Europeans found. Secondly, we have the evidence in nanodiamonds and other impact materials.

The lesson, it seems, is that it appears to have happened BEFORE. And if it did, we are SORELY obligated to prevent it happening to US.

The End of the World is NOT a fore-ordained event, not if we humans can do anything about it.  And the way to do it is logically, step by step. We don’t want to end up like all the End of the World movies, in which we have to take a flyer on some un-tried method. We have the technology, and we have the people, and we have the TIME – to do it RIGHT.

And if we DO – if we succeed – we buy humankind time, at least until the next Big One – and that might be another 10,000 or 100,000 years.  And what capacities will humankind have a chance to develop, given that much time? Look at what we’ve done in our 12,000 or so years of civilization so far.  If there was a “last time” – if we got hit in the past – we can see that they got very far in terms of architecture and building.  But they are not around anymore, so they didn’t develop enough to protect themselves.

But even if there were NOT such sites around the world, we STILL are here and now, and we DO have this capacity to develop methods – reliable methods – for “saving the Earth” and preventing the End of the World.  (They used the term in their headline, so I feel I have free reign to use the term, too.)

THE RIGHT PROJECT, AT THE RIGHT TIME

I see this spacecraft project as being a logic and hugely important first real step toward being able to do that anytime we need to – and to know that it will do the job. Sooner or later SOME such body will come at us. It might be in 100 years or 100,000 years, but it WILL happen. Every crater on every solid body in our solar system tells us it DOES happen. Shoemaker-Levy 9 tells us also that it happens on UN-solid bodies, too – leaving no evidence on those that comets and asteroids DO hit planets.  (We have observed that two other bodies have impacted on Jupiter since SL-9.)

If we pretend that we are some blessed planet that is immune to impacts, that is to be ostriches with our heads in the ground.  I, for one, think that that is a monumentally STUPID approach.

THIS spacecraft is IMPORTANT. We are doing the right thing, and at the right time.

(Thank the stars that Chelyabinsk has people taking this seriously.)

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

ABBREVIATED EVOLUTION

The late archeologist Steve J Gould well into his career came up with a twist on evolution that was termed “punctuated evolution”  (PE).  PE was the first real acknowledgement that uniformitarianism was not the only principle at work in the earth sciences and biology.  There was just so much evidence that something other than slow, incremental mutations and slow, incremental erosion, that sooner or later someone was going to have to bring in the sudden bursts and extinctions into the mix.  Gould was the guy who did it, and I give him credit for doing it.

But, like all changes that come from within, PE was only a half step, a conservative step, one that had to be limited in its scope in order to be at all acceptable in his field.  Evolution itself came from without.  Alfred Wallace was not an academic, and if he hadn’t written Charles Darwin about his ideas about natural selection, Darwin might never have gotten around to publishing his ideas.  Literally.  Darwin knew it was too big a sea change and was trepidatious about putting his ideas out there.  Without Wallace’s full conclusions about natural selection, one has to wonder what timid half step Darwin might have taken, if and when he would have gotten around to publishing anything.

But evolution or punctuated evolution, there is still a lot more evidence out there that something happened along the way that interrupted, not only natural selection, but the flow of human history.  It may not even be a coincidence that the very demarcation between history and pre-history is laid out at the same time as the extinction of the mammoths and other megafauna in North America and the extinction of full-sized mammoths everywhere. But whatever it was, it was more extreme – in the time of man – than what is covered by Gould’s modification to Darwin’s theory.  Mankind’s development did not stop with the advent of homo sapiens sapiens. at the individual level.  Once sapiens began collecting in units larger than matings, his real devlopment took off.

So, more than punctuated evolution, as regards the development of h. sapiens sapiens. , there was the development of homo civilus.  And it didn’t happen only once, unless I miss my mark.

Continue reading