July 24, 2014
A note:
The Phenomenon of Man was published after the author, Teilhard de Chardin, died in 1955. The book was posthumously published because Teilhard was a Jesuit Father, and his ideas were far from Christian orthodoxy. As well as being a Jesuit, the author was a paleontologist. And the concept we find in his book is something like a scientific spirituality (nothing to do with intelligent design—there is no design in his concept of human evolution, just accidents and blind instincts). In the process of constructing this concept, a thorough materialism that has a mystical result, Teilhard began to see what we, the inhabitants of his future, recognize as the internet (his work also points to what we now recognize as emergence theory and biotechnology—he celebrates the future manipulation of genes, recombinant DNA, and bioinformatics). He calls the internet a noosphere.

The idea of the noosphere was borrowed from the Soviet geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, who in turn borrowed it from the Austrian geologist, Eduard Suess. The idea is this: There’s a geosphere (hot core, cold rocks, cool mud), then a biosphere (plants, insects, birds, mammals), and by way of the most reflective mammal (the human animal—other animals have self-consciousness but not to our degree or with our intensity) in the biosphere arises a noosphere (a layer of thought, interconnected thought).

A note:

The Phenomenon of Man was published after the author, Teilhard de Chardin, died in 1955. The book was posthumously published because Teilhard was a Jesuit Father, and his ideas were far from Christian orthodoxy. As well as being a Jesuit, the author was a paleontologist. And the concept we find in his book is something like a scientific spirituality (nothing to do with intelligent design—there is no design in his concept of human evolution, just accidents and blind instincts). In the process of constructing this concept, a thorough materialism that has a mystical result, Teilhard began to see what we, the inhabitants of his future, recognize as the internet (his work also points to what we now recognize as emergence theory and biotechnology—he celebrates the future manipulation of genes, recombinant DNA, and bioinformatics). He calls the internet a noosphere.


The idea of the noosphere was borrowed from the Soviet geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, who in turn borrowed it from the Austrian geologist, Eduard Suess. The idea is this: There’s a geosphere (hot core, cold rocks, cool mud), then a biosphere (plants, insects, birds, mammals), and by way of the most reflective mammal (the human animal—other animals have self-consciousness but not to our degree or with our intensity) in the biosphere arises a noosphere (a layer of thought, interconnected thought).

July 16, 2014
astronomicalwonders:

New Structures found in the Milky Way - A Black Hole’s Eruption
NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy. “What we see are two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles that extend 25,000 light-years north and south of the galactic center,” said Doug Finkbeiner, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., who first recognized the feature. “We don’t fully understand their nature or origin.” The structure spans more than half of the visible sky, from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus, and it may be millions of years old. A paper about the findings has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.  Finkbeiner and his team discovered the bubbles by processing publicly available data from Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT). The LAT is the most sensitive and highest-resolution gamma-ray detector ever launched. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light.

From end to end, the newly discovered gamma-ray bubbles extend 50,000 light-years, or roughly half of the Milky Way’s diameter, as shown in this illustration. Hints of the bubbles’ edges were first observed in X-rays (blue) by ROSAT, a Germany-led mission operating in the 1990s. The gamma rays mapped by Fermi (magenta) extend much farther from the galaxy’s plane. 
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

astronomicalwonders:

New Structures found in the Milky Way - A Black Hole’s Eruption

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy.

“What we see are two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles that extend 25,000 light-years north and south of the galactic center,” said Doug Finkbeiner, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., who first recognized the feature. “We don’t fully understand their nature or origin.”

The structure spans more than half of the visible sky, from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus, and it may be millions of years old. A paper about the findings has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

Finkbeiner and his team discovered the bubbles by processing publicly available data from Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT). The LAT is the most sensitive and highest-resolution gamma-ray detector ever launched. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light.

From end to end, the newly discovered gamma-ray bubbles extend 50,000 light-years, or roughly half of the Milky Way’s diameter, as shown in this illustration. Hints of the bubbles’ edges were first observed in X-rays (blue) by ROSAT, a Germany-led mission operating in the 1990s. The gamma rays mapped by Fermi (magenta) extend much farther from the galaxy’s plane.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

July 13, 2014
The world’s longest flight in coach is said to be from Sydney to Dallas. The journey takes 15 hours, the plane travels at 600 miles an hour, and the distance covered is 8,800 miles. The longest flight I’ve ever taken, which was more like space travel than flying, was between Atlanta and Johannesburg. Though not as great a distance as the one between Sydney and Dallas, I recall it taking 16 hours. Indeed, the flight was so long that a part of me is still on it, still flying through those shifting twilights (bright white clouds below night stars, clear blue sky above night clouds), still seeing the endless ocean below, still approaching the coast of Africa. 

The world’s longest flight in coach is said to be from Sydney to Dallas. The journey takes 15 hours, the plane travels at 600 miles an hour, and the distance covered is 8,800 miles. The longest flight I’ve ever taken, which was more like space travel than flying, was between Atlanta and Johannesburg. Though not as great a distance as the one between Sydney and Dallas, I recall it taking 16 hours. Indeed, the flight was so long that a part of me is still on it, still flying through those shifting twilights (bright white clouds below night stars, clear blue sky above night clouds), still seeing the endless ocean below, still approaching the coast of Africa. 

July 12, 2014
80% of lightning discharges occur from cloud to cloud.

80% of lightning discharges occur from cloud to cloud.

July 11, 2014
astronomicalwonders:

The Milky Way’s Center seen in Infrared
This dazzling infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows hundreds of thousands of stars crowded into the swirling core of our spiral Milky Way galaxy. In visible-light pictures, this region cannot be seen at all because dust lying between Earth and the galactic center blocks our view.
Credit: NASA/Spitzer

astronomicalwonders:

The Milky Way’s Center seen in Infrared

This dazzling infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows hundreds of thousands of stars crowded into the swirling core of our spiral Milky Way galaxy. In visible-light pictures, this region cannot be seen at all because dust lying between Earth and the galactic center blocks our view.

Credit: NASA/Spitzer

July 9, 2014
As Thomas Gold points out at the end of his paper, “The Deep Hot Biosphere,” there most likely is life on other planets, but this life is most likely in the ground and not the surface. So, what ever life there is in the rest of the solar system or galaxy or universe, it’s probably at the bacterial stage. To achieve complex, surficial, and large life, you need the gateway of the Oxygen Evolving Complex, in the photosynthesis process. To obtain large life as we know it, life that can power the kinds of brains we have, brains that can formulate theories and make machines that are powerful enough to look at distant stars and find other worlds, you need an atmosphere with lots of oxygen. This byproduct of photosynthesis protects and provides a powerful form of respiration. A world will need something like the miraculous unification (PSII and PSI) of the Z-scheme(pronounced “zed”) to get animals like us going about its surface.
 

As Thomas Gold points out at the end of his paper, “The Deep Hot Biosphere,” there most likely is life on other planets, but this life is most likely in the ground and not the surface. So, what ever life there is in the rest of the solar system or galaxy or universe, it’s probably at the bacterial stage. To achieve complex, surficial, and large life, you need the gateway of the Oxygen Evolving Complex, in the photosynthesis process. To obtain large life as we know it, life that can power the kinds of brains we have, brains that can formulate theories and make machines that are powerful enough to look at distant stars and find other worlds, you need an atmosphere with lots of oxygen. This byproduct of photosynthesis protects and provides a powerful form of respiration. A world will need something like the miraculous unification (PSII and PSI) of the Z-scheme(pronounced “zed”) to get animals like us going about its surface.

 

July 7, 2014
The marvels of human mathematics:
Could our universe be located within the interior of a wormhole which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe?
The mathematical human (Nikodem Poplawski) explains:

Because Einstein’s general theory of relativity does not choose a time orientation, if a black hole can form from the gravitational collapse of matter through an event horizon in the future then the reverse process is also possible. Such a process would describe an exploding white hole: matter emerging from an event horizon in the past, like the expanding universe.

I love this so much: “…matter emerging from an event horizon in the past.” If I am reading this correctly, and there is a good chance that I am not, it means the stuff we are made of is much older than we can even imagine. The current and accepted theory has us at about 13.5 billion years. This new and spectacular theory makes matter much, much older than that.

The marvels of human mathematics:

Could our universe be located within the interior of a wormhole which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe?

The mathematical human (Nikodem Poplawski) explains:

Because Einstein’s general theory of relativity does not choose a time orientation, if a black hole can form from the gravitational collapse of matter through an event horizon in the future then the reverse process is also possible. Such a process would describe an exploding white hole: matter emerging from an event horizon in the past, like the expanding universe.

I love this so much: “…matter emerging from an event horizon in the past.” If I am reading this correctly, and there is a good chance that I am not, it means the stuff we are made of is much older than we can even imagine. The current and accepted theory has us at about 13.5 billion years. This new and spectacular theory makes matter much, much older than that.

July 3, 2014

I was seven, spending the summer in Seattle (from DC), and expending a large amount of mental energy in the doomed project of removing the African accent from my developing American English. I was tired of classmates, particularly black American classmates, making fun of it, and wanted to return to school that fall sounding just like Flip Wilson, my hero at the time. For complicated reasons—busy parents, culture shock, lack of friends outside of the family circle—I had reached the age of seven without seeing a single movie. The whole business was a mystery to me. What is it people saw in those big boxes?
Because everyone was talking about Star Wars that summer, I begged my Maiguru Sana (Auntie Sana, my mother’s big sister) to take me to a screening of it in Wallingford. She agreed. She too had never seen a movie in her life—she was 33. Because her husband’s time was completely occupied by a doctorate dissertation, she had the free time to watch this Star Wars with me. We went to Wallingford, we entered the theater, we sat near the front row, the screen opened, the spectacle began, the spectacle ran, the spectacle ended, and I was totally transformed. (My Maiguru, on the other hand, slept during the whole movie—even the loud space battle couldn’t wake her up.)
Now to explain the meaning and cause of the great transformation. I went into Star Wars a Christian and walked out of it an atheist. Before seeing the movie, I understood the war of Good against Evil to be an entirely Christian one: God vs. Satan. The war happened on the ground, in the sky above, and the immense dark space beyond the moon. The universe was ordered by heaven and hell. So imagine the shock of seeing on the screen a whole different order, a whole different war between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil; a war, furthermore, that made no mention of Jesus, or Lucifer, or the star of Bethlehem, the Romans, the beasts in “The Book of Revelations,” the Last Supper. Yet, in the absolute absence of these Christian codes of goodness, I still sided with these other codes and acts of goodness taking place in a faraway galaxy.
In the bright afternoon light of that day, I realized that God was limited, and what was infinite was the Good itself, and that the Good could take on different shapes (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi, John, Luke Skywalker, Jesus, Princess Leia, Mary). In the bus back to the University District, my head was on fire. It was like seeing the world for the first time. I was born again. 

I was seven, spending the summer in Seattle (from DC), and expending a large amount of mental energy in the doomed project of removing the African accent from my developing American English. I was tired of classmates, particularly black American classmates, making fun of it, and wanted to return to school that fall sounding just like Flip Wilson, my hero at the time. For complicated reasons—busy parents, culture shock, lack of friends outside of the family circle—I had reached the age of seven without seeing a single movie. The whole business was a mystery to me. What is it people saw in those big boxes?

Because everyone was talking about Star Wars that summer, I begged my Maiguru Sana (Auntie Sana, my mother’s big sister) to take me to a screening of it in Wallingford. She agreed. She too had never seen a movie in her life—she was 33. Because her husband’s time was completely occupied by a doctorate dissertation, she had the free time to watch this Star Wars with me. We went to Wallingford, we entered the theater, we sat near the front row, the screen opened, the spectacle began, the spectacle ran, the spectacle ended, and I was totally transformed. (My Maiguru, on the other hand, slept during the whole movie—even the loud space battle couldn’t wake her up.)

Now to explain the meaning and cause of the great transformation. I went into Star Wars a Christian and walked out of it an atheist. Before seeing the movie, I understood the war of Good against Evil to be an entirely Christian one: God vs. Satan. The war happened on the ground, in the sky above, and the immense dark space beyond the moon. The universe was ordered by heaven and hell. So imagine the shock of seeing on the screen a whole different order, a whole different war between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil; a war, furthermore, that made no mention of Jesus, or Lucifer, or the star of Bethlehem, the Romans, the beasts in “The Book of Revelations,” the Last Supper. Yet, in the absolute absence of these Christian codes of goodness, I still sided with these other codes and acts of goodness taking place in a faraway galaxy.

In the bright afternoon light of that day, I realized that God was limited, and what was infinite was the Good itself, and that the Good could take on different shapes (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi, John, Luke Skywalker, Jesus, Princess Leia, Mary). In the bus back to the University District, my head was on fire. It was like seeing the world for the first time. I was born again. 

July 3, 2014
astronomicalwonders:

The Cool Clouds of the Carina Nebula
"Observations made with the APEX telescope in submillimetre-wavelength light at a wavelength of 870 µm reveal the cold dusty clouds from which stars form in the Carina Nebula. This site of violent star formation, which plays host to some of the highest-mass stars in our galaxy, is an ideal arena in which to study the interactions between these young stars and their parent molecular clouds.
The APEX observations, made with its LABOCA camera, are shown here in orange tones, combined with a visible light image from the Curtis Schmidt telescope at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. The result is a dramatic, wide-field picture that provides a spectacular view of Carina’s star formation sites. The nebula contains stars equivalent to over 25 000 Suns, and the total mass of gas and dust clouds is that of about 140 000 Suns.”
Credit: ESO/APEX/T. Preibisch et al. (Submillimetre); N. Smith, University of Minnesota/NOAO/AURA/NSF (Optical)

astronomicalwonders:

The Cool Clouds of the Carina Nebula

"Observations made with the APEX telescope in submillimetre-wavelength light at a wavelength of 870 µm reveal the cold dusty clouds from which stars form in the Carina Nebula. This site of violent star formation, which plays host to some of the highest-mass stars in our galaxy, is an ideal arena in which to study the interactions between these young stars and their parent molecular clouds.

The APEX observations, made with its LABOCA camera, are shown here in orange tones, combined with a visible light image from the Curtis Schmidt telescope at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. The result is a dramatic, wide-field picture that provides a spectacular view of Carina’s star formation sites. The nebula contains stars equivalent to over 25 000 Suns, and the total mass of gas and dust clouds is that of about 140 000 Suns.”

Credit: ESO/APEX/T. Preibisch et al. (Submillimetre); N. Smith, University of Minnesota/NOAO/AURA/NSF (Optical)

June 29, 2014
I will always be grateful to the blog Rust Belt Philosophy for articulating my kind of thinking, my philosophy in a way I could not: “This philosophy, near as I can tell, is akin to found art…” 
(http://rustbeltphilosophy.blogspot.com/2009/05/ode-to-charles-mudede.html)

"When most people consider philosophy these days, they typically either think of the Ben-Folds-Five ‘I got my philosophy’ kind or the Plato/Descartes/Hume dead-verbose-white-guy kind. Historically, of course, this is laughable: philosophy as a discipline spanned (and spans) the globe and can be found in (nearly?) all cultures and used to include what we now think of as physics, medicine, and so on. But there is yet another way to practice philosophy, and that’s the one that Charles Mudede practices.
This philosophy, near as I can tell, is akin to found art: the found artifact is the world and the artwork produced is, in a sense, also the world. But maybe that’s too abstruse - let me try to produce some examples. Here is one of his attempts to analyze the self:'All of the thinking in philosophy about the self, the individual, the one, the point of being, has been either psychological or intellectual … In this understanding, the self is an invention and nothing more. But an immunological understanding offers philosophy a hard idea of the self: the self as a state of defense. … But why is this defense system philosophically significant? Because this self happens unconsciously and yet determines the self. For as long as there has been reason, the unconscious has meant the losing of self, dissolving into the oceanic, the old chaos—the foamy sea washing the face on the sand. The immune system is anything but that.'

…And so on - by connecting the big, abstract questions to facts about the biochemistry of ants, say, or the evidence of love in so-called lower animals, Mudede does something that approximates making the world into a work of art. You could combine all the PZ-Myers-esque lauding of evolution in the world and still, I think, not produce a secular theory of beauty and awe as thorough and deep as the one in which Mudede routinely operates.”

I will always be grateful to the blog Rust Belt Philosophy for articulating my kind of thinking, my philosophy in a way I could not: “This philosophy, near as I can tell, is akin to found art…” 

(http://rustbeltphilosophy.blogspot.com/2009/05/ode-to-charles-mudede.html)

"When most people consider philosophy these days, they typically either think of the Ben-Folds-Five ‘I got my philosophy kind or the Plato/Descartes/Hume dead-verbose-white-guy kind. Historically, of course, this is laughable: philosophy as a discipline spanned (and spans) the globe and can be found in (nearly?) all cultures and used to include what we now think of as physics, medicine, and so on. But there is yet another way to practice philosophy, and that’s the one that Charles Mudede practices.


This philosophy, near as I can tell, is akin to found art: the found artifact is the world and the artwork produced is, in a sense, also the world. But maybe that’s too abstruse - let me try to produce some examples. Here is one of his attempts to analyze the self:

'All of the thinking in philosophy about the self, the individual, the one, the point of being, has been either psychological or intellectual … In this understanding, the self is an invention and nothing more. But an immunological understanding offers philosophy a hard idea of the self: the self as a state of defense. … But why is this defense system philosophically significant? Because this self happens unconsciously and yet determines the self. For as long as there has been reason, the unconscious has meant the losing of self, dissolving into the oceanic, the old chaos—the foamy sea washing the face on the sand. The immune system is anything but that.'

…And so on - by connecting the big, abstract questions to facts about the biochemistry of ants, say, or the evidence of love in so-called lower animals, Mudede does something that approximates making the world into a work of art. You could combine all the PZ-Myers-esque lauding of evolution in the world and still, I think, not produce a secular theory of beauty and awe as thorough and deep as the one in which Mudede routinely operates.”