Gigapixels of Andromeda

November 4th, 2016

Enjoy yourself while you can.

October 15th, 2016

The Roman Empire existed for nearly two thousand years with varying ideologies.

Think about that.

Two thousand years. Each person born thinking he’s gonna be somebody. So many politicians scheming and backstabbing. So many wars.

All forgotten.

We will be forgotten too.  Water existed on Mars for billions of years. It is entirely possible there was an entire generation of civilizations that died and lived there, all ultimately forgotten and reduced to nothing but orange dirt.

Nothing matters. The Universe is indifferent. Enjoy yourself while you can.

The Parable of the Onion

June 21st, 2016

As found here:

I like to tell people about “The Parable of the Onion” in Dostoyevsky’s, “The Brothers Karamazov.” Though my recounting of the parable is somewhat embellished, its heart remains the same: We can only help ourselves by helping each other. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time there was an old woman who had died and found herself in hell. She complained to Satan that her assignment to the netherworld was a mistake.

Satan told her, “You’ve been a greedy, selfish woman all your life. Surely, this is where you belong.”

The woman thought a long time, trying to recollect some shred of altruism in her life. After several minutes she exclaimed, “Aha! I did a good deed once! I gave an onion to a beggar.”

Satan replied, “Oh, yes. That is right. You pulled an onion out of the ground in your yard and handed it (bulb, stalk, and all) to a beggar at the fence.”

At that very moment, God’s hand descended into hell, holding the onion out for the woman to grasp. Holding onto the onion with both hands, the woman found herself miraculously being pulled up and out of hell.

As she rose, to the woman’s horror, dozens of people began to grasp at her legs and ankles, and as they were pulled up along with her, yet more people grasped onto the lower-most people’s own legs and ankles, until it seemed that the bowels of hell clung like an endless chain from a single woman’s body and the onion to which she clung.

Though there was great weight tethered to the onion, the connection remained secure and God’s hand continued to lift eveyone up out of hell. Remarkably, the onion held; it did not fray.

More and more people who had previously been doomed for eternity found themselves slowly, miraculously, being raised from hell by way of the woman’s firm grasp on the onion. There were soon thousands, and after several minutes millions of people hanging from the onion.

Yet the onion held fast.

Halfway to heaven, which is a long distance up from hell, the woman looked down at the vast human chain following her.

She was angry and resentful that these people — who may have done even less good in their lives than herself — should be so easily redeemed by virtue of simply clinging to her spindly old legs. She was also afraid, and so excaimed in a great shout, “If all of you grab on to me like this, the onion will surely break and I will not get to heaven!”

So, resolving not to allow anyone to harm her chances for redemption, the woman began to kick and smash the people hanging from her legs and ankles and toes. One by one as she struck them they fell, with each loss of a handhold causing tens of thousands of people to plunge back into hell.

But with each kick — though the physical load grew lighter — the onion began to fray. And as the onion frayed, the woman, in her anger and haste, began to kick more ferociously still, thinking that it was the weight of hell’s denizens — and not her anger and selfishness — that tore at the onion.

She kicked until but one person remained clinging to her left big toe, with yet another endless chain of people dangling from him. Millions of people hung from that precious, single toe. Still, the onion held though it was severely frayed. But the woman couldn’t bear the risk of losing her only chance to join God in heaven, so she kicked at the last remaining person; and as the person lost his grip, the onion snapped, and the selfish old woman — from a great height, having made it almost all the way to heaven — fell back into hell.

Perspective

December 9th, 2015

There is a special beauty to life being a means for the universe to discover itself.  But life is more than that.  It is a manifestation of consciousness.  It is a unique opportunity for the universe to perceive itself in the third dimension.

Life, then, is a form of perspective from which the universe is observable.

Within that perspective is a multiplicity of sub-perspectives.  I think of these as the differences in life experiences that every one of the seven billion of us has had.  A child in Asia, for instance, has a completely different sub-perspective than an elderly person in South America.  Our collective sub-perspectives amount to the myriad of experiences that together create the human condition.

It follows logically that the human condition is an inevitable byproduct of life as a universal perspective.

There is no more selfish a thought than to consider human life as the only universal perspective in existence.  Even in the unlikely scenario that our pale blue dot may contain the entire gamut of life as we know it in the observable universe, that is by no means an indication that we are collectively the universe’s only percipient witnesses.

Therefore, life is one of many possible universal perspectives, of which the human condition—an amalgamation of earthly sub-perspectives—is an inevitable byproduct.

Life as we know it may not be rare in the grand scheme of the universe, but it is rare enough to be scarcely scattered amidst the grand vastness of space-time.  The human condition, being a derivative of that life, is even rarer given that life as a concept is not limited to human life alone.  Thus, our sub-perspectives, being constituent parts of the human condition, are very rare in and of themselves.

Your life is rare.  Treasure every moment of it.

For those struggling to give meaning to life.

August 9th, 2015

What’s the purpose of life? My friend said, “Just find your own reason and go along with it.” I told him I already have several reasons. One is my blog post on Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.  The second is this video (Charlie Chaplin’s speech in Great Dictator), which I saw a while ago but never thought to post it here.  Better 75 years late than never!

As one Youtuber said: WOW, what a speech! The man famous for not speaking, comes up with one of the greatest speeches ever.

How will I fulfill my purpose in life?  I don’t know exactly.  But I want to cry like Sir Nicholas Winton.  To that end, I hope this Blog will be a source of disillusionment from the medicated world of reality shows and fast food.

God… just is.

April 21st, 2015

My friend recently proposed the idea that life in the grand scheme of things might just be one big joke.  I thought my response was worth sharing:

In my opinion, all of “this” is not necessarily a “joke,” because you have to remember that whatever extra-dimensional force is responsible for “all this,” it doesn’t operate the same way we do. “It” doesn’t have a biological system that feels emotions like we do. I am more inclined to believe that the universe/multiverse/whatever-it-is is merely a limbo state of neutral apathy (not malevolent or benevolent apathy–JUST neutral limbo-apathy). A big mistake we make as humans is to try to give anthropomorphic qualities to this transcendence by saying things like “God is love. God is a dick. God is great. God is a joke.” God just is. It cannot be interpreted through biological emotion.  I think there’s something similar in Buddhism about this.

It is possible that all life, past, present and future, is a single fifth-dimensional object.

April 8th, 2015

The Possibility that All Life is a Single 5th-Dimensional Entity by Mike Blaber

The relationship between time and the perception higher-order dimensions

Example 1:  A one dimensional creature and its ability to perceive a two-dimensional object

 

Imagine that there is a one-dimensional creature (Walter).  He lives in a one-dimensional world (a line), and can conceive only of one-dimensional objects (i.e. something that has variable length, but no width or height).  The concepts of width and height have no meaning to Walter.

 

image001

 

How might Walter perceive a two-dimensional object, such as a circle?  It is not fair to ask him to simply imagine a circle; being a one-dimensional creature, the idea of perceiving in two-dimensions would be an utterly foreign concept, and his one-dimensional brain may not even be capable of constructing such a reality.

 

However, if we passed a circle through his one dimensional world, here is how it might look to us:

image002

Since Walter cannot see beyond his one-dimensional world, here is how the circle (a two-dimensional object) would appear as it passed through his world:

image003

Thus, to Walter a “circle” is comprehended as something that suddenly appears as a dot, then splits into two dots that move in opposite directions equidistant to the starting point, and then move back, converging once again to a dot, and then it disappears completely.

 

There are various ways to pervert the little guy’s definition of a circle – we could start to insert the circle into his world and then withdraw it, we could start to insert it with an initial velocity, and then change the velocity, we could insert it at an angle, etc.  We could even be so perverse as to consistently do these different things to different one-dimensional creatures, so that each one had a different definition of what a circle was (sort of like the three blind men examining different parts of an elephant an arriving at different conclusions as to what an elephant was).

 

In any case, let’s not be mean, and instead, always pass the circle through at a constant velocity and normal to Walter’s world.  In this case, he (or one of his more clever friends) could develop a mathematical expression for the circle that would accurately describe the circles behavior over time, and in this way, Walter and his friends could “comprehend” what this two-dimensional object.  Thus, as far as Walter and his friends are concerned, a circle is a one-dimension object that changes over time (in this case, the property of appearing, splitting into two, moving apart at a predictable speed, stopping, moving back together at a predictable speed, and then coalescing into a single point, and the disappearing from their world entirely.

 

Example 2: A two-dimensional creature and its ability to perceive a three-dimensional object

 

Assume that Walter is a two-dimensional creature: he has length and width but no height.  Again, he has no comprehension of “height”, and it is possible that his two-dimensional brain is simply incapable of conceiving of this additional dimension.

image004

 

Walter is now capable of perceiving and comprehending a circle. It can exist entirely within his world at any given instant:
image005

How would two-dimensional Walter perceive a three-dimensional object like a hollow sphere?

image006

Once again, we could pass it completely through his world so that he can perceive it in it’s entirety:

image007

And to Walter it would look like this:

image008

Thus, a three-dimensional object (sphere) can be comprehended by two-dimensional Walter as a two-dimensional object that changes over time:  to Walter, a “sphere” suddenly makes its appearance in his world as a dot which over time becomes an ever-expanding circle; this expansion slows down, stops and reverses, becomes a dot, then disappears from his world.

 

Example 3: Now we come to three-dimensional Walter, something we are familiar with.  He lives in a three-dimensional world and he has length, width and height:

image009

 

Walter can comprehend a three-dimensional object like a sphere, it can exist entirely within his world:

image010

How would a fourth-dimensional object appear to Walter?  We cannot draw a fourth-dimensional object; however, we can predict how such an object might look to Walter:

image011

In this case, some fourth-dimensional object that appears to be related in some way to what we know as a sphere, suddenly appears as a dot in our world, then expands, slows down, stops, and then contracts to a dot, and then suddenly disappears.  Although it appears to change over time, it is actually a single entity (fourth-dimensional) and so the change over time in three-dimensions is the only way that we (being three-dimensional beings) can comprehend it.

 

Therefore, it is entirely possible that is an object in our three-dimensional world is observed to change over time (particularly if the change is observed to be a predictable change), that it is actually a single fourth-dimensional object (and understandable to us only by observing over time).  Here is one possible example of such a fourth-dimensional object:

image012

 

It is possible that this person is simultaneously all these stages of life, but can only be understood by us (and him; in our three dimensional world) through the passage of time.  His appearance and disappearance in “life” marking the entrance and exit of this fourth dimensional entity through our three-dimensional world.

 

Example 4: A fifth dimension…

 

How would a fifth dimensional object appear in a fourth dimensional world?  This is too weird.  But, we could ask how a fifth dimensional object appears in a three dimensional world.  It is analogous to how a three dimensional object appears in a one dimensional world.  How would a hollow sphere (three-dimensions) appear to one-dimensional Walter?  The answer is, it depends on how the sphere is positioned as it goes through Walter’s one-dimensional world.  If just the edge or cusp of the sphere clips Walter’s world, then the sphere appears as a dot, barely separates into two points, immediately coalesces back to a dot, and disappears.  If the sphere is moved over slightly, and then passed through Walter’s one-dimensional world again, the dots appear to separate further before reversing direction, coalescing and disappearing.  So, it seems that the sphere (three-dimensions) is perceived in a one-dimensional world as change-with-time (the circle) that itself changes with time (i.e. each passage yields different behavior of the circle).  Thus, we conclude that a fifth dimensional object passing through a three-dimensional world would manifest itself as a three-dimensional object whose change with time itself changes with time.  Is there an example of this seemingly complex behavior of an object in three-dimensions?  In the case of the three-dimensional object above (i.e. a person, that clearly changes with time, and is therefore potentially a fourth dimensional object), there is:

image013

 

The entity above (homo sapiens) did not exist 1 million years ago.  If humans were immutable (as a species) but changed with time (“aged”) they could conceivably have no higher complexity than four dimensions; however, in addition to individuals aging with time, the species has also changed with time.  Thus, this change with change in time is a characteristic of a fifth-dimensional object passing through (or being perceived within) a three-dimensional world.  In this case, what is the fifth-dimensional object?  It appears to be an entity that simultaneously includes the species above.  But the past extends beyond the 5 million years ago shown in the picture, thus, other precursor species are potentially included in the single fifth-dimensional object.  This would appear to include, therefore, all life.  Thus, it is possible that all life, past, present and future, is a single fifth-dimensional object.

With the Dow hovering around 18K, I expect a correction.

January 2nd, 2015

70% of the US economy is consumer spending. Consumer spending is fueled by jobs. The unemployment rate may be down, but it doesn’t take into account discouraged workers. It also doesn’t take into account stagnant living wages and people who have only found part-time employment.

Couple that with inevitable inflation from all those years of QE and bailing out. Also couple it with inevitable rise in treasury bond interest rates (resulting in shift out of stocks and into treasuries), not only because of inflation, but also because we still have a debt problem that’s been swept under the rug for the time being. Don’t even get me started on the credit card and student loan bubbles.

With all of those matters considered, a 15K dow is still 1,000 points higher than the 14K high of October 2007 (right before the financial collapse).

I can’t time when the correction will come, but it is only rational that it will come sometime between now and the next two years.

Combating bullshit about America’s decline.

May 12th, 2014

Here are two excellent articles explaining why people are mistaken when they doubt America’s future.

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-05-12/u-s-is-no-1-china-is-so-yesterday

http://pragcap.com/biggest-myths-in-economics

If “America, the Has-Been” were a TV series, it would now be in its fifth season. The first, Decline 1.0, opened in the 1950s, after the Soviets launched their Sputnik. Weren’t they growing and arming faster? The myth of the “missile gap” gripped the land. Yet a generation later, the Soviet Union was no more, dying peacefully on Christmas Day 1991 and leaving behind 15 orphan republics.

Decline 2.0 swept the nation during the Vietnam War, and once more the U.S.’s best days were over, intoned a chorus of pundits and politicos. But it remained far and away No. 1 economically and strategically, making up for the loss of South Vietnam by eventually corralling Hanoi as a quasi-ally against China.

Decline 3.0 was initiated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter when he moaned in his so-called malaise speech that the U.S. was beset by “a crisis of confidence,” one “that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our nation.” The depression ended with Ronald Reagan who proceeded to out-arm the Soviet Union. By 1984, it was “morning again in America.”

Decline 4.0 cast Japan as the next No. 1. Having failed in Pearl Harbor with their bombers, these super-samurais would now triumph with their Toyotas and Sonys. Like China, Japan had been growing at double-digit speed, but after 1988 it was downhill, and it isn’t the end yet. Four years later, the U.S.’s longest expansion began. It lasted essentially until the recession of 2007-10.

Now it is Decline 5.0, starring China as the master of the universe. The World Bank should have looked at history. As early as 1984, China’s growth peaked at 15 percent. Now, the rate is down to one-half that. The sluggish world economy plays a part, but the underlying reasons are structural.

Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion, Wonder, Awe . . . and Carl Sagan

March 3rd, 2014

She writes: When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.

Copyright ©2003 Ann Druyan

Here is the dedication Carl Sagan wrote in his best-selling book Cosmos:

For Ann Druyan:

In the vastness of space and the immensity of time,
it is my joy to share
a planet and an epoch with Annie.