We begin another chapter, “Nuthanger Farm”, from Richard Adams fabulous tale. Hazel is up to something with Pipkin as his sidekick.
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It seems that some space aliens decided to spend their Thanksgiving holidays in the gringa’s neck of the woods. On November 23, observers in downtown Houston, Texas noticed a strange object in the sky over the city. It appeared to hover for about 30-45 seconds then began slowly heading East. The gringa thinks maybe the aliens were not prepared for the effects of a holiday turkey’s Tryptophan. The ETs may have been a bit sluggish. The sighting happened in the middle of the afternoon, about the time a Thanksgiving luncheon would have concluded. As a quick-thinking Houstonian began shooting some video, he was able to capture about 4 minutes of slow, eastward, flight.
The gringa’s local newspaper ran a headline story Thursday, December 1, 2016, with about 30 images featured on their website. The majority of those images had nothing to do with the Thanksgiving sighting. The newspaper did, however, post a link to the amateur video footage. But, when the gringa clicked the link it only took me to the MUFON website (Mutual UFO Network). This is an online community of UFO enthusiasts from all over the world. (If you ever have your own UFO sighting you can report it directly to MUFON’s website and they will investigate.) Despite the gringa’s best efforts she couldn’t find the video or the report referenced by my hometown newspaper. Oh well, it did lead to another interesting discovery.
Apparently, being inspired by a bit of Thanksgiving turkey, it seems the ETs may have been curious about where this delectable delight came from. Soon another UFO sighting occurred in the country of Turkey. The very next day after Houston’s headline, social media users in Turkey were panicking over what they though was a possible UFO invasion. The gringa thinks that the ETs were so impressed as guests to a Texas style Thanksgiving, they invited friends from all over the universe to descend upon Turkey for the grandest turkey party ever.
But were space aliens really gathering in great numbers above the skies of Istanbul and Ankara? There were so many sightings a hashtag was created: #ufoattacktoturkey. The sightings were reported as occurring on November 27. Witnesses claim there was a media blackout about the event but images have been preserved on YouTube and Twitter. However, the gringa discovered that many of the uploaded photos were not even from the Turkey or Houston event. This one seems to be the most credible:
In all, sightings were reported from 12 Turkish cities by dozens of witnesses. They claimed that loud booming and explosive sounds accompanied the UFOs. The best video the gringa found:
So what the heck was going on in Turkey? Were aliens hoping for a repeat of the holiday dinner originally enjoyed in Houston just a few days earlier? It seems that a group of pranksters enjoyed the thrill of a hoax. Nothing actually appeared in the skies over Turkey. It was just a group of people posting doctored photos to social media who then sat back and watched their handiwork go viral. The gringa is supposing the Houston story may have been a test run to whet the appetites of UFO enthusiasts so they would be ripe for the picking when they launched their Turkey gag. So, although the gringa keeps an open mind, she also remains a healthy skeptic when explosive UFO headlines capture my attention!
And, I must admit, I’m glad it was a hoax. The gringa holds out hope that space aliens are vegetarians.
Image Credit: Above Top Secret
One would think that if they heard the words “empty space” that the space mentioned is actually empty. Well, it’s stuff like this that makes science so darn confusing sometimes. You see, empty space is not REALLY empty after all. The gringa really wishes that scientists would just name stuff better, to actually mean what they say. Why couldn’t they just call it “NOT so empty space”?
Research performed by Italian and Polish scientists at the European Southern Observatory has concluded that when light is emitted by a neutron star that is quite dense (kind of like the scientists who create terms like “empty space”) as well as strongly magnetized, strange quantum happenings occur. The light becomes polarized which means that the space around that star is not “empty”. Is it a vacuum? Well, the gringa supposes that’s a misleading term as well because if it really was a vacuum it would be empty, right? Also, if there was nothing there then nothing would be going on. However, there is most CERTAINLY something going on in the not so empty “empty space” surrounding highly magnetized neutron stars. That something is called “vacuum” birefringence.
The gringa’s next question, quite naturally, then, is, “What the heck is vacuum birefringence?” What comes to mind for the gringa’s limited capabilities is the fringe of my rug re-emerging after being sucked up by the vacuum cleaner. Is that what scientists are talking about? Does the neutron star suck up some energy to produce the light then spit it back out into what was once “empty space”? Is vacuum birefringence the “exhaust fumes” of light?
Nope. That’s not at all what happens. Empty space acts more like a prism than a vacuum. The gringa would like to know, then, why the scientists didn’t call this phenomena something like “prismatic filling of otherwise empty space”. Good grief. That would explain everything! Anyway, what actually happens is the not so empty “empty space” surrounding a highly magnetized neutron star actually has all kinds of particles that can appear or disappear as they please. If the neutron star is heavily magnetized, the magnetic effect enhances these particles as the light that passes through them becomes polarized. This means that the light we see coming out of empty space does not look exactly the same as when it was created and emitted by the star.
The gringa’s next question then, quite naturally of course, is, “Is this a big deal? What’s the point? Does this information have any practical purpose for mankind or is it just one of those curious and interesting facts?” Okay, actually the gringa asked 3 questions, but surely, by now, my dear readers will humor my insatiable curiosity and long-windedness.
What it means for the science world is being able to more accurately understand the observations of stars as well as build better long-range telescopes. By understanding neutron stars better, mankind can better understand all laws of nature.
The gringa must then ask another question, “How, specifically, does that help mankind?” Well, mankind’s ancient ancestors often created superstitious or religious explanations for natural laws that they didn’t understand. We can all read historical texts or even current news headlines to realize that superstition and religion can sometimes bring out the worst in mankind. However, as science has exposed certain beliefs to be in error, mankind has been able to advance civilization toward better living conditions and more humane treatment of one another. If studying the not-so-empty space of neutron stars contributes to creating world peace, then the gringas asks one more questions, “Where can I contribute and how much do you need?”
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The gringa would like to share an interesting timeline of the earliest Earth events. Now, ancient history might seem boring but the gringa discovered a very peculiar fact she had never thought about before. There was life on Earth before there was even oxygen! How in the world is that possible? Well, think about it. In order for biological life as we know it to exist on Earth, oxygen must be the second most plentiful gas in the atmosphere. In general, the air we breathe is about:
To create this winning oxygenated atmospheric recipe on ancient Earth, trees had to be photosynthesizing. But there was stuff living here long before there were trees! How the heck did it survive? Well, let’s look at the timeline first:
So, the gringa wants to know how the heck microbes, bacteria and fish were surviving on an Earth that had, compared to today’s atmospheric standards, a virtually zero oxygen environment. Scientists believe that early Earth’s atmosphere consisted of methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. Earth’s earliest microbes lived in the sediments below the shallows of the planet’s oceans shorelines. They fed and breathed on the sulfur in the atmosphere. As they absorbed sunlight for energy, they became the first life form to contribute oxygen to the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. But shoreline colonies of microbes could by no means contribute oxygen on the same level as vast forests. So oxygen was basically a trace atmospheric gas at this time.
Ancient bacteria ate sulfur and converted hydrogen sulfide into sulfate, which is oxidized sulfur. Cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, began to proliferate and also performed a photosynthesis function adding oxygen to the planet’s oceans and atmosphere.
As microbes and bacteria died, they received a burial at sea. Their decomposition also contributed more oxygen to the waters. As the world’s oceans began to become more oxygenated, fish started making their appearance during the Cambrian era. They were typically invertebrate species like jellyfish, worms, crustaceans and molluscs.
Jellyfish diffuse oxygen through their cells. Giant tube worms, that still live in our oceans near underwater volcanic vents, an inhospitable environment for most carbon based life, have a special organ to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide into oxygen. Today’s molluscs have a respiratory system that uses gills, just like fish.
And from these strange beginnings, it has been a slow evolutionary crawl to the world we know today. The gringa is amazed. We all owe our lives to the humble microbe and smelly sulfur. Fascinating. But where did microbes come from? Did they simply just “appear” out of thin air? Could they have originated from another planet, arriving here by accident or delivered on purpose by ancestral aliens? Let’s look at planets that had similar atmosphere’s to early Earth, which would have then naturally been a likely choice for microbes looking for a new home:
So, the gringa thinks it’s possible that the ancestral microbes we humans evolved from may have originated from outer space. But, over time, a life form evolved that can never naturally survive on the planet of its origins. So much for a homecoming party!
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