Saturday, May 28, 2005

Life... Beating the cosmic odds

Is there life out there... yes I believe so... Is there Intelligent life? Not likely... Seems like I am not alone in this view, I think the chances on this is much more slender and that we live on a Privileged Planet... I will detail some reasons why I believe so. Bear with me as this page will be expanded upon from time to time.
The points I will cover will make things clearer. This has also been debated on

The Cosmos is inherently hostile to life
Consider the creation of our universe, it was an extremely violent thing and early stars did not have planets at all, planet forming elements just did not exist. If one considers that stars run out of drive so to speak at the Iron stage it was many billions of years before the first protoplanet may have formed.

When one looks at most Galaxies we also see violent environments that to my mind preclude any existence of life. Supernovae and galactic centres beam out massive doses of cosmic radiation that sanitize the surrounding cosmos for thousands of light years.

The green band
Astronomers discover where to find ET
It seems that any life has only a 10% region of possible habitation in most galaxies, the outer regions are poor in elements for life and the central regions are just too hostile for life to exist let alone form.

Two is not company
Recent studies have shown that around more than 50 % of observed stars are Binary Systems and in some cases Quadruple systems. The turmoil in such systems to my logic would just be too much for any lifeforms. We are thus an exception to the rule.

Possible Hyper nova Could Affect Earth
Coming back to Supernovae, there is a class of Nova that spews out such radiation that even being 3000 light years away is no guarantee of safety.

How far is a light year
Then there is the distance factor, even at faster than light speeds it would take years to traverse the galaxy, at sub light speeds it is an insurmountable obstacle to my mind.

Physics or the lack thereof
If there is intelligent life they will have to overcome the laws of physics to travel from one star to another to even make it worth their while.

Do they need us
Any civilization capable of faster than light travel would to my mind find us as interesting as an elephant would an ant.

Do we need them
Here the plight of the Inca springs to mind... when they were conquered by the Conquistadors they had no answer for the technological capability of the Spaniards as well as the biological impact that European illnesses also had on them. What would happen if we were to be invaded by space traveling aliens?

Rare Earth
This is where I come back to my basic argument, when one looks at all the factors that have made this blue dot such a special planet one has to believe that we are rather unique in the Galaxy if not the Universe...
Our Solar system is in a quite backwater of the Milky Way, no big star fields or star forming areas with stars threatening to go nova or other galactic bullies.
Our planet is in the sweet spot... not too close or too far from the single sun, protected by 3 gas Giants from incoming strays.
It has a moon that contributed to setting up geologic conditions for life to evolve.
It has water in the right proportion, not so much to drown the continents and not so little that things have gone into deep freeze like Mars.
In fact the chances are so astronomical that to my mind it is not chance but very much by forethought that we are where we are in the universe. Truly we live on a Rare Earth...


This months Popular Mechanics SA has an article on how things will be in 2025, some still seem like science fiction... I recall listening to a radio show called The Challenge of Space and in one episode there was this trip to Mars... not so far fetched at all these days what with the two Rovers still trundling around on the Red Planet. Seems like just yesterday that this song became a hit in 1969...
In the Year 2525 - Zager and Evans - also done by - Visage - Supertramp - New Romantics & Venice Beat

In the year 2525 If man is still alive. If woman can survive, they may find.
In the year 3535 Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies. Everything you think, do and say, is in the pill you took today.
In the year 4545 Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes. You won't find a thing to chew. Nobody's gonna look at you.
In the year 5555 Your arms hanging limp at your sides. Your legs got nothing to do. Some machine doing that for you.
In the year 6565 Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife. You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too. From the bottom of a long glass tube. Whoa-oh
In the year 7510 If God's a-comin, he oughta make it by then. Maybe he'll look around himself and say. Guess it's time for the judgment day.
In the year 8510 God is gonna shake his mighty head. He'll either say.I'm pleased where man has been. Or tear it down and start again. Whoa-oh
In the year 9595 I'm kinda wonderin if man is gonna be alive. He's taken everything this old Earth can give. And he ain't put back nothing.Whoa-oh

Now it's been ten thousand years Man has cried a billion tears. For what he never knew, now man's reign is through.
But through eternal night. The twinkling of starlight. So very far away. Maybe it's only yesterday.
In the year 2525 If man is still alive. If woman can survive, they may find.
In the year 3535 {fade}

Doing a Google on "The year 2025" comes up with some amazing websites... Some even speculate us finding Aliens by 2025. Although I personally do not believe there is a possibility of this, the distances in the universe are just too huge in my view. But that is another discussion on it's own, I may elaborate on my Science Blog at some time in the future.
So as we speed through space half way through the first decade of this Century we should pause to consider where we came from and where we are heading...
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - ), "Profiles of The Future", 1961 (Clarke's third law)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Food... for thought

Wow... I really had to scrach my head before logging in to post a blog again, eish... "Met ys ja!" but that is a story on its own... more to follow.
Last week I was doing some shopping and spied soft shin... this was at a bargain price so I nabbed about 750g... had soup in mind, however today I decided to use it in a stew/casserole type dish.
As it can be tough due to sinew and binding tissue I recomend ripening it at least 2 days before use and the marinade also tenderised it perfectly.
Here is my recipe for marinated Soft Shin with Sweet Potato:

750g soft shin
750g sweet potato
500g carrots
Large onion
Packet of oxtail soup
Dried fruit 250g (optional)

A pinch of dried garlic, pinch of aniseed (this can be pungent so rather use very little), 2 tablespoons of whole coriander, some cooking oil or olive oil (about 3 tablespoons) and a tablespoon of vinegar. Grind the spices and garlic in a mortar and pestle... sprinkle over meat on both sides after placing in a dish, sprinkle oil and vinegar over meat... let it all rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour, turning from time to time.

Dice the marinated soft shin and prepare the vegetables also (unless you bought ready prepared like I did). Nuke the veggies in the microwave for around 6 minutes to par cook.
Heat a pan or saucepan with some olive oil and proceed to brown the meat, add the onion to glazed state before adding 2 cups of water (cover the meat) and simmmer while preparing the soup.
Add 250ml of water to a bowl and add the soup powder... stirr and let it stand for a few minutes while you add the carrots and sweet potatoes on top of the meat, adding some veggie sprinkle at the same time. One can also add some dried fruit at the same time, I used some apricots. Stir the soup one last time and pour over the veggies and replace the lid... let it all simmer on very low heat for at least one hour... this gives you time to make some rice to go with the dish and knock together a salad. Pick up daughter from class and tuck in!

Ja... Poppet has moved in and it really great having her here... although the getting up for school has put paid to my 7 am wake up and dash to the office routine... all good I say.
"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." Julia Child (1912 - )