Monday, June 30, 2008

The Empty Jelly Dounut And Uncle Fred's New Shoes

 Who would do such a thing?

There I am, a wide-eyed innocent over-excited, imaginative but mostly HUNGRY 8-year old who just found the hidden jelly donuts.  Oh joy of joys!  I quietly jam my dirty little hand into the box and grab a donut, then take off like nobody's business!  And of course, I know I won't get caught ...


Safely hidden in "my forest" ( since I played in it so much I assumed I owned it ) I'm just sitting on a rock pondering the now-squished baked delight.  Should I eat the jelly first, like you're supposed to if you're under 10?  Or should I take polite little nibbles at the cake part until I hit the hidden gooey surprise?  What to do....decisions!  I go ahead and bite down right in the center.

EMPTY!  WHAT????  Nothing!  Hey where's the gooey jelly, huh?  What's this crapola?  What a gip!  Boy I'm red as boiled lobster and just as pissed.  This is no way to treat a brave kid like me, who risked life and limb to steal this precious treat!  WHERE'S THE DAMN JELLY!!!!????


Somehow, after about 10 seconds of deep thought, I decided the big people had something to do with it.  The grown-ups.  The know-it-alls.  The donut-hiders.  The make-you-do-stupid-homework people.  Well I'll show them.  With the mutant donut safely stuck into my kids-jeans back pocket, I sneak back to the house - where THEY live.  The big people.  I dive from tree to tree back to the house, thinking no one can see me.  a HA hahaha!  So clever ....


O look, there's Uncle Fred's dumb smelly car, the green one.  I hate that car.  It smells like a dirty t-shirt.  I'm too curious about everything, so of course I open the door.  I see nothing of interest.  I dart my eyes to and fro, then silently slam the door shut.  Now onto my real business ....


Into the house, by way of the garage - no one'll see me hahahaha....but wait!  I hear big-people talking upstairs somewhere.  My ears "move" to adjust to the direction of the sound (convinced I'm a bat).  It's coming from the living room.  Okay, no problem, I can still get this donut back in the box.


But what's this???  I spy a pair of new-looking brown shoes on the landing of the stairs.  Hm.  Interesting.  They smell like a dirty t-shirt.  Hey!  Must be Uncle Fred's shoes!!  Now my plan is forming along nicely.  I put my hand to my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.  a HAAAAAA!!!!


Reaching into my back pocket I grab as much as the crumbled un-jellied donut I can, I push it into Uncle Fred's shoe.  It goes in nice and...hey what's this?  It's sticky!  Like....o no, like JELLY!  But, hey I thought...I didn't taste any jelly before, what the....o crapola there's jelly everywhere now.  All over the place, inside these new smelly shoes, not fair!  NOT FAIR I think to myself.  I didn't get the good jelly part when I bit it, what IS this weird donut???  Now I've done it.  Now I'm done for.


With smushed jelly and cake in Uncle Fred's new shoes, I rush down the stairs and out the back door, run to my forest and my rock where I sit like "The Thinker"   trying to work out what mischief to do next.  I picture Uncle Fred putting his new shoes on, then....squishhhh!  Then, "CATHERINE!  GET IN THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOWWWWW!" 

Waiting for the end of the world, I sit there and think, "Hey wait...." and it comes to me, like a flash of stupidity, only I of course, think it's genius.


I'll just blame my brother!  Yeah that's it, I'll blame my brother and it'll be all over, what a great idea!  My nutty kid-mind thinks this'll actually work.  I run home to tell my Mother how I saw my brother put a jelly donut in Uncle Fred's new shoes.  O I'm so kewl,  so smart, so.....huh?  what's this?

Mother, brother, other brother, sisters, and smelly Uncle Fred are all laughing as Mom dries one of his shoes - THE shoe.  What's this odd scene, I didn't plan on this!  Hm.  Should I just slip out?  Mom looks over at me, smiling:        

"O Catherine look at this, isn't it funny?  Uncle Fred dropped a donut into his new shoe, isn't he silly?"   

Everyone was laughing like kids.  Well, they WERE kids.  Laughing like loons.  I didn't get it.


Uncle Fred looks directly at me:

"Well Cathy dear, see what happens when you don't watch what you're doing?  How silly of me!  Gotta be more careful, wouldn't you say?" 


HE KNOWS!  I KNOW he knows.  He knows I did it.  My brain actually HURTS.  He's trying to tell me something but I don't get it.  Actually it took about 20 years before I DID get it but now I know the guy was just being a sport and if I could just see him now, I'd say:

"Uncle Fred, thanks for saving my hide, and by the way, I LOVE the way your shoes smell!"   



Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eclipsing Star in 2009

Let me tell you what a star is.  (I have a good reason lol).  This is the area of space known as M24 (M for Messier) and the uncountable stars in this one tiny piece of the universe.   

            Globular star-cluster

Stars are cosmic energy-engines that produce heat, light, ultraviolet rays, x-rays, and other forms of radiation.  They are composed largely of gas and plasma, which is a super-heated state of matter composed of subatomic particles.  Three out of every four stars exist as part of a binary system, with two mutually orbiting stars. 

         baby stars

Now that we have that done, next year, say mid-2009, a star that has baffled scientists for years will eclipse.  This is the star called Epsilon Aurigae which is a third-magnitude, F-type SUPER-GIANT locked in a grouping of three other stars.  It is found in the constellation Auriga, "The Charioteer" and is a binary star that last eclipsed during 1982-1984. 

 exploding star


The Epsilon Aurigae system is the most interesting and startling system, puzzling astronomers for over 150 years.  There's many reasons but here's a big one:


                  light-echoes from a super-giant

The eclipse takes TWO YEARS to complete, every 27.1 years.  This means its mass must be gigantic.  There has been no satisfactory explanation for this, and what makes it even more exciting is there seems to be a "mid-eclipse" brightening.  How can that be??   There's one explnation - remember what I said in the description of what a star is?  Okay so, since the eclipsing body, Epsilon, is a giant cloud of gases enclosing two small stars orbiting each other, perhaps they sweep out a giant area in the middle - like a donut.  A very BIG donut.

Here's where the constellation is:


This is the constellation Auriga.  The star Epsilon Aurigae is found in the upper right.  I'd suggest getting a nice pair of binocs before next spring!  Imagine, a star eclipsing, and taking two years to do it.   


         A mile-wide asteroid streaking across stars


Space Area M51 with progenitor star - can you see it in the upper right, very bright?  A progenitor is a "creator" star, the origin of the mass that exists in its near-space. 


                           More very young stars


                 Remnant of a star gone super-nova


                                    Spiral Galaxy M100



                               Multi-generational stars



                     Light echoes from exploding star


                                       Star Cluster


Usually called "The Eye of God" this is the Helix Nebula, a gaseous envelope being expelled by a Dying Star


Pictures courtesy of Hubble





Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Aliens Visited Earth - Arguments For And Against


Imagine it's the 1800's and a cowboy is riding his horse across the plains of Montana.  A buddy rides up to tell him he's heard that people are inventing ways to move faster, get around quicker.  Now, that cowboy is imagining a faster HORSE or faster STAGE COACH, he's not imaging a Boeing 747 no less even a Model T car - how could he?  His idea of "fast" is confined to what he already knows can move along at some speed.  Horses. 


Jump ahead to now, where people say alien craft from other galaxies, or even from a planet in THIS one, have travelled here many times, watched us, perhaps left something of their visits behind.  Many would argue that no interstellar craft could possibly make a journey of hundreds of thousands of miles, over such vast amounts of space, and if they could they would've had to start eons ago, maybe far over 10,000 years in the past. 


So I put it to that argument, that those folks are only seeing "speed" as they know it exists in this world, this dimension.  Speed and force used in the Space Shuttle lift-off rockets, perhaps.  We really have no idea of what "speed" might mean to an alien life form of far more advanced technology and intellect than humans.  Who knows what such a civilization could've conquered in the way of what constitutes "movement" and the relation of that to the space-time continuum.   


Many respected astronomers believe space contains "worm holes" through which a properly outfitted craft can navigate, and come out the other side in another galaxy.  Kind of like a super-sonic space tunnel.  A short-cut from the Milky Way to Andromeda, our nearest galaxy.  Instead of taking 10,000 years it takes only 1 thousand.  Which brings me to this: 


 WHY?  Why would an advanced civilization in another part of the Universe, after finding abundant but very simple carbon-based life on this one planet in this tiny star(solar)system, in this one single galaxy, WHY would they want to come here?  What would they gain?  And if curiosity plays a role (making them more human than not) couldn't they have examined our world and its inhabitants in other ways, I mean if a being is that advanced to have conquered inter-stellar travel, perhaps somehow bending time itself, wouldn't they have safer ways to observe this planet than flying overheard in saucer-shaped objects?  I can't help but think they know all about radio-astronomy, about satellites, and most certainly, inter-stellar speed.


And how much different would outerspace life be from us?  Instead of thriving on water, alien life might live in a sea of liquid methane.  Or instead of getting energy from a sun-star, they might thrive on hydrochloric acid.  Right now, Titan, one of Saturn's moons, is the most likely place we'll find life.  But if such life is assumed to be so much different from what we know as humans, what kind of craft would they need to leave their star-system, their galaxy, to take a look at us?  Certainly not one which could "seat" pilots.  Their anatomy may not require them to sit, as we know it.  And again, I'd have to ask WHY would they need to "fly" here at all?  We've had our "ears" on interstellar space for decades without leaving the earth, couldn't we assume other forms of life might be doing the same for alot longer?  In other words, they would have no logical reason to come here, and more in fact to stay away.      


To me, I believe that for HUMAN BEINGS the mother of intellect is curiosty.  It may not be a factor for other life forms but it's what brought Australopithicus to Homo sapiens - our intense curiosity to know.  If other life forms in other worlds possessed such an emotion, we'd have to assume then, that life started on other planets in far away galaxies much the same way it did here.  An orderly yet random chaotic flash of electricty from lightening into the seas.  If so, and it started long before 3 billion years ago, (age of earth) then they're older than us, managed to survive whatever demons they had to, and perhaps can arrive in this galaxy to observe this growing evolving experiment called life on Planet Earth. 


Can an advanced race of beings learn from us?  I can't think there's anything they'd NEED to know, but when I used to examine ant colonies I was fascinated at their orderly progression, the same with bees who collected pollen from my mother's flowers then returned with their pals.  It amazed me. And certainly my intellect was on a higher scale than these insects.  So it was human curiosity that drove me to study these "lesser" life forms.  But I'm an earthing.  


WOULD an advanced race of non-human outer space beings be curious about us?  Let's suppose they are, and certainly after the first test of a nuclear weapon they might be!  With their vast, far more intricate knowledge, wouldn't they have invented a method of observing that didn't involve these "saucer" crafts or mutilation of cattle, or people being "beamed aboard" a great ship, or any of the other suspiciously similar reports we get from around the world?  I don't doubt people believe what they say, but science and logic are more convincing to me.  I WANT to believe, but as in any argument for and against something, you must have more proof to bolster your case, and in this one we have none.  Not one true iota of solid evidence that a space craft from another galaxy visited our planet.  Area 51 and Roswell included.    


Like you (hopefully) I know life took hold on other planets in other star-systems in other galaxies at other times, far before ours, and some that started yesterday.  Star nurseries are putting the chemical properties in place that will one day create whole planetary systems around one, two, even three sun-stars.  This Universe is so large, still expanding.


I believe that when far-more intelligent life decides to visit this planet, it won't be in hiding or secret, for there'd be no logical need.  If they've flown through our air space before, as reported by so many pilots, they know we have rocket capabilities but we're incredibly slow.  Ponderously slow.  They have nothing to fear from us, so a visit to Earth from planet Xenon may involve the introduction and interacting of two species of life, both eager to know the other, both wanting to learn, an event like no other before it. 


The possibility exists, but only if we can last, as a species.  


The images of various Nebulae are courtesy of JPL, HUBBLE, & NASA.  These are huge areas of space where new stars are forming.  Did you find the small picture of Horsehead Nebula?        


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why Do Men Have Nipples?

                     Repost from 8/2/2006 because I'm feeling lazy .....


Over the years I've managed to collect a great deal of minutia and factoids I thought you might find interesting.  See if any of these answers a question or two:

WHAT CAUSES ICE CREAM HEADACHE?  Actually, there's a nerve center at the roof and back of the mouth called the sphenopalatine ganglion, and when you eat something icy cold it constricts the blood vessels, causing your pain receptors to overload, sending the excess pain straight to your head. 


WHY ARE YOU HUNGRY AN HOUR AFTER EATING CHINESE FOOD?  The carbs are the culprits.  All that rice, noodles, they cause the blood sugar level to peak then plummet, making you hungry. 

CAN CARROTS HELP IMPROVE YOUR VISION?  The Roman Emperor Caligula, a heck of a guy, believed carrots were the ultimate aphrodisiac and forced his court to eat a ton at banquets.  Just a little factoid there.  Actually, this started during WW11 when British pilots started shooting down German planes like crazy.  They bragged it was because of all the carrots they ate (remember "Victory Gardens"?  Everyone had one and carrots were a main crop).  The fact is they were right.  Beta-carotene is essential for sight.  The body converts it into vitamin A which is a nice friendly vitamin for all kinds of things.  But as with everything, there's a good side and bad side.  The bad is, too much vitamin A is toxic.  It causes many uwanted side-effects like yellow skin and fatigue.  Best thing?  A multi-vitamin daily.

WHY DOES SPICY FOOD MAKE YOUR NOSE RUN?  (So embarrassing....)  It's Capsaicin.  This chemical stimulates the central nervous system fibers that control fluid in the nasal passages and stomach.  The good side?  Research into Capsaicin is very promising in the treatment of nerve diseases.  Yeah!!!

WHY IS IT BAD TO CRACK YOUR KNUCKLES?  This isn't as harmful as some think.  Unless, of course, you're near someone who is irritated by the sound, then you might experience intense pain in the area where you were punched.  The fact is, popping knuckles does not cause arthritis.  Too much of it causes the ligaments to stretch making it difficult to grasp things.  So what causes that pop sound?  Bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid surrounding the joint.  Interesting, eh? 

WHY DO SOME FOLKS HAVE AN INNIE AND OTHERS HAVE AN OUTIE?  Contrary to most thinking it has nothing to do with where the umbilical cord is cut.  We just put a clip on, cut, and wait for the dried up cord tissue to fall off.  It's all purely random. 

WHY ARE YAWNS CONTAGIOUS?  Since we really don't know, the most common theory is that it's behavioral.  Humans tend to imitate other humans, unconsciously.  Even fish yawn, among many other animals.  I'm starting to yawn just thinking about it ......

CAN YOU LOSE A CONTACT LENS IN THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD?  Oh this is great I love this.  Many people come running into the ER screaming that they've lost their contact in the back of their head.  Most times it's found all folded up behind the eyelid.  But not always; sometimes it's nowhere to be found.  So where is it???  Probably at home on the bathroom floor.

WHAT ARE THE STRONGEST AND LONGEST MUSCLES IN THE BODY?  Relative to size, most would say the tongue is the strongest, but it's not.  Wait'll you hear this.  First, the longest is the sartorius, which slants across the thigh onto the knee.  And the strongest are two, actually:  the masseter for chewing, and (get ready) the good old gluteus maximus.     ! ! ! ! !

WHY DO YOUR TEETH CHATTER WHEN YOU'RE COLD?  When the body sinks too far below 98.6 degrees F, it sends a message to the hypothalamus to start warming up.  Shivering is the rapid movement of the muscles to create heat, and teeth chattering is like shivering.

WHY DO YOU LAUGH WHEN TICKLED?  Laughter is a complex process involving muscles and blood pressure.  But scientists and researchers alike know that laughing is a bonding experience, a social act.  Ever see chimps laughing?  Studies show that people are 30 times more likely to laugh in a social setting than when alone (except crazy Aunt Mabel).  Reports also show that laughing may predate human evolution - remember the chimps?  So it's a form of making a social bond.  What about the tickling-lauging connection?  It's a reflexive action.  Scientists don't know exactly how it works because you can't tickle yourself but it seems to involve an element of surprise.  Boo!  Notice how we tend to laugh after someone surprises us?  Yeah!  When someone scares you, you laugh! 

WHAT ARE THOSE LITTLE HALF MOONS IN YOUR NAILS?  They're called lunule and it shows where the hardening process is not yet complete.  Here's some good stuff about nails:

Nails grow .004 inches daily.

Fingernails grow faster than toenails.

Toenails are twice as thick as fingernails.

Nails grow faster in summer than in winter.

Men's nails grow faster than women's - and here's something I've noticed all my life:

The nails on your dominant hand are stronger and tend to grow faster.

OKAY NOW YOU WANT THE BIG ANSWER, RIGHT?  You probably already know most of all this stuff, so: 

Although females have the mammary glands, we ALL start out in the embryonic stage as female.  During develoment, the embryo follows a female pattern, or template, until about 6 weeks when the male sex chromosome kicks in to start developing a male embryo.  Men are thus left with nipples they have no real use for, like ear lobes or the tips of our noses, even the appendix.  These are called vestigial organs and tissue.  In about oh say, 100,000 years, these will start to disappear as we continue to evolve as humans.  Until then, at least there are plenty of nerve endings in the nipple area so they're not entirely useless.  Interesting.

Let me give credit to the book "Why Do Men Have Nipples" where alot more good stuff is found, I'll post more when I get new glasses lol!!    

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Fathers Day Soldier Boy

You were so full of the eagerness of youth, dreaming of adventures and faroff lands.  I miss you, Daddy. 


Happy Fathers Day and thanks for the music....