[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 8 most recent journal entries recorded in
|Thursday, October 31st, 2013|
Comment if you want to see what's been burried here.
|Monday, October 4th, 2010|
|Habitable planet discovered?
So according to an article released last week, scientists have discovered a planet that may (or may not) be capable of supporting life. Planet Gliese 581c, has an approximate mass 5.36 times that of Earth and sits in what scientists refer to as, “the Goldilocks Zone”. This is an area that is an appropriate distance from its sun that is not too hot and not too cold. Just right for living things to survive. Now at this point I really have to tell you that all of this is pretty much speculation. It’s based on the wobble pattern observed in stars. How they can draw such conclusions from watching stars wink in and out is beyond my understanding. However, I want to have a little fun with this and give you something to think about. Let’s say that planet Gliese 581c is exactly what they say it is. Let’s also assume that the planet is just like Earth, only 5 1/3 times larger. Let’s say that it has oceans of water, and dry rocky surfaces protruding from those oceans. Whether it has actual living organisms, plants, and animals, I’ll leave to your imagination.
Planet Gliese 581c orbits a red dwarf star that isn’t visible from Earth with the naked eye; however if we could see it, it would be located in the Libra constellation. I should also mention that it’s approximately 20 light years away. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.
If we were going to visit this planet, we’d have to have a very large space craft. Larger than anything ever constructed in the history of our planet. How large? Probably about the size of the Executor.class Super Star Destroyer.
One big damn ship.
Why so large? Because for the time it would take to get there, you’d need a ship the size of Rhode Island in order to accommodate the number of people, supplies, and other essentials in order to make the journey. However, a Super Star Destroyer style ship would not be practical at all. Because the human body was not designed for space travel, astronauts who have spent prolonged periods of time in space have often developed a number of health issues later in life. The foremost problem being advanced degenerative bone disease. Their muscles become weak, and their bones become porous and brittle. In order to combat this and other space travel related problems, we’d need a ship more like Babylon 5, that features a rotating design capable of simulating gravity. That’s just the first issue to consider.
More practical design for what we're trying to do.
You’d need a way to recycle water and waste materials, which shouldn’t be too big of a deal. You’d also need a way to recycle oxygen; also not that big of a deal. The next thing to consider is renewable food sources. You’d have to figure out a way to replicate the effects of the sun so that plants and animals could grow and reproduce, without the fear of them dieing out completely. Because if that were to happen, you’d either have to turn around and go back, or figure out a way to live without that extinct species. Which brings me to the next issue: quantity.
In order to make this trip, you’d need a team of scientists and engineers. Let’s say about 500 of them. Then you’d need a crew to monitor the ship, make repairs, conduct routine maintenance, operate the life support methods mentioned above, and people to cook and clean. Let’s say about a thousand more people, assuming that some of the scientists and engineers will be involved in these tasks as well. Then you’ve got the immediate families of those 1,500 people. A spouse and a child for each. Now you’ve got 4,500 people on the ship that will require food, water, and air, each and every day.
Space travel is extremely dangerous. There are all kinds of things zipping through space that could destroy a ship in the blink of an eye. Even if you could somehow avoid meteors, comets, and asteroids, that’s far from the only types of debris is space. For every one rock that we can see, there are thousands we cannot. Most meteors are no larger than a grain of sand. Take a handful of sand and pelt the closest person to you. I’ll wait. If you ask them how it feels, they’ll likely tell you that it stings. Now imagine that sand traveling at tens of thousands of miles an hour. At that velocity, it could cut into steel. The space shuttle has experienced damage from sand-sized meteors. Mild exposure removes the paint and pits the windows. Prolonged exposure will begin to eat through the metal. Larger rocks have punched through the wings and tail fin. So you’d almost certainly need like a “force field” to protect the ship during the trip.
So how long of a trip are we talking? Well, as I mentioned before, planet Gliese 581c is twenty light years away. Light travels at approximately 186,282 miles per second. Over the course of a year, light travels at approximately 5.88 trillion miles. Now multiply that by twenty years. That’s approximately 118,000,000,000,000 miles. One hundred and eighteen trillion miles away. I realize that most people can’t wrap their mind around that figure, because we really have nothing tangible to compare it to. Trust me though, it’s far. Now our space shuttle can travel at about 25,000 miles per hour. A far cry from the speed of light. So figuring the distance from Earth to Gliese 581c, it would take a little over 538,000 years with our current technology. Consider that the New Horizons robotic satellite to flyby Pluto was launched on January 19, 2006 and won’t arrive there until July 14, 2015. Nine years, and that’s practically a stones throw away in our own back yard..
To put this into better perspective, let’s consider that the first Homo Sapien walked the Earth around 200,000 years ago. The first Neanderthal was about 500,000 years ago. So if the first Neanderthal to ever exist were to build the ship we just discussed, and leave the same day it appeared on Earth, it probably still wouldn’t be to Gliese 581c yet.
So easy a caveman can do it.
Now if that doesn’t have your head rocking, consider this: if Gliese 581c has primitive Neanderthal-type life living on it now, by the time our ship would arrive there, they would be as advanced, or even more advanced than we are.
Who’s to say that the people that arrive on the ship, after a couple million generations, would even resemble the humans we think of today? There’s every chance that evolution could take place on our planet before the ship arrives; then when you factor in the effects of space, close-quarters inner-breeding, and natural evolutionary changes, the generation that first steps foot on Gliese 581c could very well look like a cross between the Grays from our science fiction publications, and humans. That’s even if they could survive that long in space.
Can't deny, can't deny, that she is really from outer space.
The only logical way we could even consider making the trip is by using technologies that we don’t yet have; such as “worm hole” technology. The aforementioned “Babylon 5” series used a similar method to travel to different places in space. They were called “jump gates” and they could literally go from one side of the galaxy to the other within a few hours. However according to the show, the jump gates were built by an unknown alien technology at an undetermined time. A luxury we don’t have…that we know of. Playing off of more popular science fiction genres like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”, we could use a light speed propulsion method, but even then it would take twenty years of traveling at light speed before we would arrive at Gliese 581c. Plus we’d have to have a ship constructed to handle that speed. In reality, a junk freighter like the Millennium Falcon would blow apart before reaching a tenth of light speed. Not to mention being atomized if it hit any object while traveling at that speed. The Britcom “Red Dwarf” featured a man who had been in suspended animation for three million years while his ship traveled through space, driven by the computer. While none of those methods are within our immediate foreseeable reach, we're likely to perfect one or all of them faster than we could hope to get there using our current technology.
Let's hope this thing holds together, otherwise we'll wish Vader had made us his bitch.
While it’s neat to think about other planets that may be capable of sustaining life, or even the possibility of life existing on other worlds, the fact is, we will never get to see it in person. I’m afraid we’re stuck here on this rock. Unfortunately until our methods for space travel catch up with our aspirations, even looking for habitable planets outside our solar system is impractical.
|Monday, May 3rd, 2010|
|A Nightmare on Elm Street - Reboot
I’m a huge Nightmare on Elm Street fan; I have been for most of my life. I grew up watching the movies, stayed up late to watch the television series, and collected everything I could find that had Freddy’s charbroiled face on it. My bedroom was literally wallpapered in Freddy posters, my wardrobe contained no less than a dozen Nightmare on Elm Street shirts and a red and green striped sweater. I was often seen wearing a fedora, and plastic Freddy glove. I had the board games, computer games, Nintendo games, toys, candy and gum, albums, Halloween decorations, and even a Freddy knife-glove necklace. Every so often I’d run across some sort of unlicensed product. Usually some cheap piece of crap from Mexico which only bared a passing resemblance to Freddy. I bought those as well. Although I had to convince myself that I really liked those knock-offs, deep down I knew they were inferior and even though I had to have them, I was never truly happy with them. That’s how I felt about the new Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. I don’t hate it,but I don’t love it either. The cast is fantastic, but I had such a hard time warming up to Jackie Haley as Freddy Krueger. Not because he did a bad job, because he did really well. It’s just...he’s no Robert Englund.
I’m really trying to be fair to Haley. I’ve enjoyed his roles thus far, and he really does play a great “guy you’d hate to piss off”. I guess to me, revamping Freddy Krueger reminds me of my visit to a Pizza Inn while visiting my Grandparents at their lakeside home. For those of you who don’t know, Pizza Inn is a chain pizza restaurant with a pizza buffet. They bring out a number of pizzas to put on the buffet and you can request special pizzas if they don’t have what you want on the buffet. During one trip to this restaurant I was helping myself to some of my favorite slices when I spotted a chicken pizza. A pizza with chunks of tender white chicken breast is a rare treat for me, so I took a slice and sat down to enjoy it. Upon taking my first bite I immediately knew something was amiss. The chicken had an odd but familiar, almost pungent flavor to it. Chicken, depending on how it’s prepared, and what seasonings are used, has a mild flavor to it. This was anything but mild. In fact, it tasted a lot like fish. Apparently in this lakeside community where the locals consume a lot of fish, due to the availability, someone had requested a pizza topped with tender white chunks of fish. I can’t even imagine a pizza restaurant having fish readily available to sprinkle upon a pizza, but there it was...on my pizza, fooling my perceptions, until attacking my pallet like an assassin who had dawned a disguise in order to get close enough to it’s target to slip a dagger between his ribs. Don’t get me wrong, I like fish, and I continued to eat the fishy slice of pizza, now wiser to the game that was afoot. However it wasn’t what I wanted, nor what I had expected.
That’s sort of what I got with the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. I went in having only seen Robert Englund as Freddy, and expected to see a Robert Englund-like Freddy, but I got fish pizza instead. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t what I was expecting and it wasn’t what I really wanted.
The film cost 30 million to make and it took in an estimated 32 million on its opening weekend, so you can expect that a sequel (Or four) will soon follow. Maybe after a few more movies I will be more comfortable with Jackie Haley’s interpretation of Freddy Krueger. But for now, I still have the flavor of fish lingering in my mouth where there should be chicken.
|Saturday, July 7th, 2007|
|Forgotten Exploration (a tale of but one of my exploits)
The heat was almost unbearable. My clothes were soaked and heavy with sweat. I'd been hiking through the dense woods for nearly three hours. I could have covered a lot more ground had I not been leading two other people along with me. Normally I could traverse nearly any landscape with little regard for my own safety, but now I was having to find the easiest path possible. Fortunately I remembered to bring my machete. I've been searching for this place for two weeks straight. Someone told me about it one night while discussing things of the paranormal nature. He promised to meet with me the next weekend and arrange to take me there. He said the easiest way to get to the location was to repel down to it. He'd bring the equipment and give me a crash course. He mentioned some interesting structures constructed on the outcroppings along the face of the cliff. He never arrived at our arranged meeting point. A week later I was informed that he'd been killed in an accident. All I had to go off of was a vague description. But I'd followed the clues and I was determined to find it.
Eventually I discovered the first signs of civilization. Limestone rocks, speckled with pale green moss and arranged to form the foundation of a modest dwelling. A few feet away, steps had been carved into the stone ridge. Upon closer inspection I noticed names and initials that had been chiseled into the steps. Years of weathering had made them hard to decipher. I descended the staircase and pushed my way through more thick brush. My arms were stinging from the sweat cascading over fresh scratches made by bramble bushes. I could feel my boot starting to fill with blood from a two-inch thorn that had impaled my leg an hour earlier.
Pausing for a moment to catch my breath, I could barely make out the sound of gently rushing water. Just beyond the shrubs and saplings I spotted out the outline of a building. All of my time, and effort, and pain were about to pay off. Dilapidated houses lined the flowing spring on both sides. Most had collapsed into themselves from years of natural decay. One house had a large tree protruding through the rusted tin roof. There was scarcely any sign of roads, paths or walkways that had undoubtedly existed there previously.
Near the mouth of the spring was a two story concrete building, the first floor being constructed into the side of a hill. A milky white stain covered the windows in thick streaks, making it hard to see inside. A broken pane on the second story provoked me into scaling the hill in search of a better view inside. The building was completely vacant, save for a round hole in the floor separating the two stories. I applied a moderate amount of pressure to one of the windows and it opened with a grinding squeak. I started to climb into the opening but paused when I heard the one sound that strikes terror into my heart. As a child I was a target for flying stinging insects. I was convinced they traveled for miles just to find me. So when I heard the all to familiar buzzing sound above me, I slowly looked up. To my horror, I witnessed a sight that to this day still gives me cold chills every time I think about it. The entire ceiling on the second story had been converted into one giant wasp nest. There were thousands, perhaps ten of thousands of red and black wasps crawling and flying around the top of the room. I slowly eased my way back out of the window and decided to explore elsewhere.
Next to what was obviously the old firehouse, stood a small brick building, no larger than a bus stop shelter. The tiny hut was filled with rusted iron pipes, gages and valves. This was apparently a pump station used for extracting water from the underground springs. Likely this was used to supply the firehouse with a constant water supply. A few yards away I spotted some pitted iron beams. After clearing away some of the overgrowth, I discovered that it was part of a rail system that lead to a now flooded cave just a few hundred yards away.
Farther down stream I found more evidence of houses and other large structures possibly that of shops and storefronts; now reduced to piles of rotting lumber. While looking around some of the foundations I wondered toward the rugged cliff face, which as promised, was dotted with small houses connected together by narrow steps carved into the rocks. Climbing up the cliff gave me a better vantage of the forgotten town. There was an obvious sinkhole that had filled with water making a small pond that had likely swallowed a few structures along the streambed. Beyond that I could see a few rooftops peeking over and through the lush vegetation. I quickly made my way back down the cliff and toward the hulking remains. Among the buildings I discovered a cemetery. Of the marked graves with legible inscriptions, dates ranged from the mid 1800s until just after the civil war. Some graves were indeed those of fallen soldiers from both the north and the south. Unceremoniously forgotten when the town was abandoned.
The shadow of the nearby cliff slowly swallowed the valley as the sun moved from view. It was a long treacherous hike back to the car; fatigue and blood loss would make it seem twice as hard as the approaching trip. I'd sworn my traveling companions to secrecy, just as I have yielded the location of this ghost town to no one. The following week I began researching the history of the town, but to this day I've found no evidence of its existence. None of the ghost town maps show anything anywhere near that area, nor do the historical records and hand drawn maps from the mid 1800s (I really hate living in a bastard state). Perhaps someday I'll find a document that confirms the location and perchance finally provide me with a name to the now rotting corps that was once a bustling community.
Each time I think of that place, I always envision the view from the top of a jagged outcropping, and recall my thoughts as I surveyed the obfuscated layout. No matter what we do; no matter what happens while we occupy this land; nature will eventually reclaim everything...just as it has this town.
|Monday, July 2nd, 2007|
|Traveling at night
I'd received a last minute call informing me that I needed to go out of town on an errand. I didn't mind. Fact is I embrace any chance to take a long trip; especially when I get to do so alone and at night. Something about driving at night that really excites me. Sure it's nice because there's no one around; some places you can drive for an hour and never even see another car. Of course it's always cooler at night, so one can drive with the windows down or the top pulled back. Lest I forget to mention that there isn't that damn sun to blind you.
During this trip I'd made a stop at a little convenience store located miles from anywhere in a town so small, if you sneeze while driving through there, you'll miss it. The store itself is somewhat of a gathering place for the locals. A place where they can get together and talk while consuming bags of fried...everything. I went over and filled a large styrofoam cup with cappuccino, while noticing that the clerk's eyes hadn't left me since walking in. I brought the steaming cup over to the counter and produced a handful of wadded dollar bills and loose change of nearly every denomination. After an awkward moment the clerk tapped a few keys on the register and relayed the tally of $1.39. As I sorted out the correct change the clerk said, (no lie) "Yall aint frum around here; are ya?" Fighting off a smile I tossed the change on the counter and with the most serious expression I could muster, addressed her. "No, but I'm through here a lot and I've given some thought to moving here and bringing about fifteen of my friends with me which should capture for me the popular vote during the next mayoral election." I left her standing there with mouth agape, to ponder the seriousness of my threat.
I walked out toward my car and fired up a clove cigarette while passing a small group of locals who were proudly displaying that Real Tree camouflage was indeed the new denim. For most of my trip thus far, I'd encountered rain or otherwise traveled under a blanketed sky; but this place was different. Here the sky was clear save for a few wispy clouds that hurriedly traversed from view. I stood staring at the full moon while breathing in the clean rural air. Off to one side of the moon, the planet Venus was shining like a bright yellow gem in the sky, and just below it, the red sheen of Mars war was clearly visible. The corners of my mouth turned upward as a smile grew across my face while watching a cacophony of bats chasing insects that had been drawn to the streetlights.
A flash of lightning off in the distance had broken my trance, so I sipped the foam from my Butterfinger cappuccino and pulled in another drag from my cigarette. A rumble of distant thunder reminded me that I still had a lot of wet winding road to cover this night. Pulling the last few puffs from my clove and savoring the flavor for a moment, I squeezed the glowing cherry from what was left from the black paper sleeve smothering it beneath the toe of my boot as it hit the gravel and tossed the butt into a nearby barrel. I bid a silent goodbye to the heavenly bodies hanging in the night's sky and gave one last crooked smirk to the bats still scampering after their evening meal. Moments later I was nothing more than a memory to those who had noticed me.
|Monday, September 4th, 2006|
|"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin killed
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won worldwide acclaim, was killed by a stingray barb through the chest on Monday while diving off Australia's northeast coast, emergency officials and witnesses said.
"Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest," said local diving operator Steve Edmondson, whose Poseidon boats were out on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred.
"He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury," he said.
Police and ambulance officials later confirmed Irwin had died and said his family had been advised.
Irwin, 44, was killed while filming an underwater documentary off Port Douglas.
Irwin had been diving off his boat "Croc One" near Batt Reef northeast of Port Douglas. A helicopter had taken paramedics to nearby Low Isles where Irwin was taken for medical treatment but he was dead before they arrived, police said.
Irwin won a global following for his dare-devil antics but also triggered outrage in 2004 by holding his then one-month-old baby while feeding a snapping crocodile at his Australian zoo.
He made almost 50 of his "Crocodile Hunter" documentaries which appeared on cable TV channel Animal Planet and won a worldwide audience.
The series ended after he was criticized for the incident with his young son and for disturbing whales, seals and penguins while filming in Antarctica.
Khaki-clad Irwin became famous for his seemingly death-defying methods with wild animals, including crocodiles and snakes.
He made a cameo appearance alongside
Eddie Murphy in the 2001 Hollywood film Dr Dolittle 2 and appeared on U.S. television shows such as "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and on children's television alongside The Wiggles.
Irwin was married with two children, Bindi Sue and Bob Clarence. His American-born wife Terri was his business partner and frequent on-screen collaborator.
Steve, you will be missed. -Valag
|Tuesday, February 7th, 2006|
|Hello me, meet the real me
Well, I’ve revamped my journal (again) because I’m sick of my one sided crap I’ve had going on in the past. I have this journal that was originally a sad attempt to make friends, then it was dedicated to my two favorite places in the world, and then to my geek interest.
I have another journal that I use for social and political rants but I really want to unload some of my personal thoughts; my true me. My apologies to those who are on my friends list that have grown accustom to the way it was, but this time it’s all about me.
( The real ValagCollapse )
|Tuesday, August 16th, 2005|
Life is a funny thing. It’s something that we all take for granted, myself included. When we’re young, Time seems to drag on forever; all we want to do is grow up. Once we’ve grown up time races by, gaining momentum with each passing day. All we want is to recapture our youth. The same youth that we didn’t appreciate when we were kids.
( deep thoughts by ValagCollapse )
Sorry if I brought any of you down. It’s times like this that my mind sort of floods with these thoughts and since I don’t have anyone to talk to at this time I decided to unload here. Well I’ve got to finish getting ready and go to bed. I’ve got a lot of highway ahead of me.