A Dubious Path To Delightful Wonder


The gringa loves all things outer space. I even get a kick out of exploring the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Filtering through reports from UFO conspiracy theorists is very inspiring and often leads me to interesting place. For instance, I started out on a lark to examine the truth behind a report that claims that Russia has threatened the U.S. if the nation doesn’t “fess up” and tell folks the truth about the existence of alien life. And this led to something absolutely fascinating that captured my attention upon a completely different topic. Let’s travel the twists and turns of the gringa’s rabbit trails together.

First, UFO conspiracy theorists use a couple of quotes from space agency officials to claim that they are hinting that space aliens exist. Let’s examine the quotes:

“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” – Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist, Tuesday, May 12, 2016.

Now what UFO conspiracy theorists leave out is that Stofan said this during a panel discussion about finding WATER in outer space, which is necessary to life as humans know it. Stofan later clarified that she is specifically referring to finding life in the form of MICROBES and not little green men.

The same UFO conspiracy theorists go on to use a quote by NASA’s Dr. John Grunsfeld, who works on the Science Mission Directorate, as also claiming that mankind is on the verge of discovering life on other planets. The conspiracy theorists weave into his words the implication that aliens have been visiting Earth for hundreds of years. So what the heck did he say? In July, 2015, Grunsfeld testified before the U.S. House Science, Technology and Space Committee where he made his pitch for more funding. This was the teaser he hoped would open the funding spigot:

“Are we alone? Many, many people on planet Earth want to know… We are on the cusp of being able to answer that question.”

The gringa hates to burst the bubble of conspiracy theorists but I don’t see any indication that he is expecting to find sentient beings in another part of the Universe that we might have a conversation with. The gringa also finds nothing worthy in his words that lead me to believe that he believes Earthlings have played host to extra-terrestrial visitors. But there’s more, and boy is what the UFO conspiracy theorists claim next a real dilly.

They claim that in March of last year there was a top secret shindig on the Moon attended by 70 civilians and 120 officials representing Earth’s national governments and space programs. Now, for being a top secret affair, the gringa finds it incredibly interesting that security was so lacking that UFO conspiracy theorists were able to discover that an 8’ alien was the guest of honor and even found out his name! He’s called Raw-Teir-Eir from the Blue Avian race that is part of the Sphere Being Alliance. By now the gringa is having great difficulty typing because I am laughing so hard but I must go on and get to the final leg of my rabbit trail journey.

It was at this point that the gringa took a turn off this strangely beaten path. Although I don’t believe a word about a secret meeting taking place on the moon with blue birdmen, I am struck by the fact that even if a meeting like that did occur, mankind would never be the wiser. There is no way for us regular folk to eavesdrop or spy on anything that happens on the dark side of the Moon. Or is there? And here the gringa goes again.

My final leg of this curious journey landed me on the website of Icarus Interstellar. This is a group of citizen scientists who are opening up the possibility for anyone to be a part of designing spacecrafts and exploring the stars. They have many different projects in the works. If a person thinks that they have something to contribute, they want you to sign up and be part of a team. And trust the gringa, there is something for everyone. The group believes that interstellar travel is possible but only through a united global effort of talent. Project Icarus was initially launched thanks to the British Interplanetary Society (BIS). Here’s a list of current projects:

  • Project Icarus: Design a theoretical interstellar spacecraft
  • Project Hyperion: Manned interstellar flight
  • Project Bifrost: Nuclear Space Technologies
  • Project Forward: Beamed Propulsion
  • Project Persephone: Living Architectures
  • Project Tin Tin: Interstellar Nano Mission To Alpha Centauri
  • Project XP4: X-Physics Propulsion & Power
  • Project Astrolabe: Navigating The Future Of Civilization
  • Project Voyager: Mapping A Path To The Stars

Collegiate student chapters are forming the next generation of citizen scientists, engineers, artists, etc. who will be continuing the mission of taking man to the stars. Join one and become part of a community of scientists and humanitarians, contribute to the advancement of missions, be a part of the Starship Congress (interstellar annual conference) and have your own space on the Icarus Interstellar website.

If you don’t have any specific skills or talents, you can always become a charter member by making financial contributions. For those who can’t afford charter membership, even small donations are appreciated. A reciprocal way to help fund these missions is to purchase merchandise from their shop. They have some pretty cool stuff like:

  • Board games
  • Plans for how to build a spaceship

So, although the gringa started out with crazy UFO conspiracies, look at where that led! The take away lesson from that is don’t be afraid to tread along dubious paths. They just might lead to really cool destinations.

Sources:

Waking Times Media

www.space.com

CNN

exopolitics.org

Icarus Interstellar

Image Credit: Astrology King

 

 

 

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You Lost What?!!


 

Tell me it ain’t so, NASA. Tell me that you didn’t really lose the original tapes of the Moon landing. I mean, what were you thinking? The one time in ALL of human history that a human being sets foot on a patch of ground that IS NOT Earth and you don’t have the best proof that it really happened in some sort of Fort Knox type security vault? Really? You lost them?

The gringa is torn between being hopping mad and curiously perplexed. Since I recently discovered just how bad being mad is, I will try to cultivate stronger feelings of perplexity.  But NASA didn’t just “lose” the tapes. No, they ERASED THEM! They recorded over the original footage. Anything we see today is a “restored version of the original”. In other words, a copy, a cheap imitation, something that ain’t quite true.

Again, the gringa has to ask NASA, “Who in their right mind ERASES and TAPES OVER the original footage of the most historical moment of mankind’s modern history? Who, NASA? Who?” I mean, the gringa hasn’t even taped over my oldest son’s ballet recital when he was 3-years-old and thought dressing up in a pink sequin outfit with bunny ears and a cottontail and performing on stage was the coolest thing ever. I still have that tape. I don’t even own a VCR anymore but I STILL HAVE THE TAPE! Are you kidding me NASA?

You know what this does for the gringa? It calls into question all the validity of the Moon landing altogether. The gringa clings tenaciously to the hope that the Moon landing was not staged. The gringa wants to believe in the noble cause and purpose of America’s space agency. The gringa does not want to believe that her government was willing to stage a bit of Cold War propaganda with NASA when it was a fledgling organization. But stuff just keeps coming up that makes the gringa continue to scratch her head and think that Moon landing conspiracy theorists may have gotten this sordid tale right.

Why in the world would the original footage ever be considered unimportant enough to tape over? Unless it was footage of a staged event that modern videography experts can now pick apart detail by detail with sophisticated technology and techniques to expose it as a fraud. The gringa is trying so hard not to feel anger.

So, basically, way back when, on July 16, 1969 President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and his wife, our First Lady affectionately called Lady Bird, watched Apollo 11 launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, hurtling Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins toward the Moon, maybe. Four days later what we have always believed the world has seen, a grainy video of Neil Armstrong “Moon walking” and saying those famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” was the next big event after the launch. And the next big event after that? In 2006, nearly 40 years later, NASA fesses up that the original video cannot be located.

After an investigation, led by Rich Nafzger, NASA discovered that the original footage had been part of a batch of videos that had been magnetically erased and re-used. My, how convenient. Their excuse was that the original video had only been intended for live broadcast, never for re-airing. Why? All throughout television history live broadcasts have been re-aired. And wouldn’t scientists want to preserve the true video feed of the one and only FIRST time a human has walked around on another surface other than Earth? I mean, apart from historical value, isn’t there other scientific, safety and training value to such video?

So now what we see are copies originally furnished by CBS News that were restored by Lowry Digital. The new versions have cleaned up the images to be more clear. So what of the footage of following Moon landings, five more that occurred between 1969-1972? Does NASA have original video footage of astronauts gallivanting on the surface of the moon for those? And who was this Lowry Digital? What kind of reputation did this Lowry production company have?

Here are all the Moon missions when an astronaut walked on the Moon’s surface:

Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon:

Apollo 12 – Pete Conrad & Alan Bean walked on the Moon.

Apollo 14 – Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell walked on the Moon.

Apollo 15 – David Scott & James Irwin walked on the Moon.

Apollo 16 – John Young & Charles Duke walked on the Moon.

Apollo 17 – Eugene (Gene ) Cernan & Harrison (Jack) Schmitt walked on the Moon.

(Apollo 13 – Uncompleted mission with a harrowing crisis and narrow escape and recovery)

Lowry Digital has restored all sorts of movies like Bambi, The Robe and Star Wars. Considering the quality of science fiction productions during 2009 when the original Moon landing tapes were restored, sure, it’s possible to have faked the production. But then there’s the reality that the original footage of five other Moon walking missions are in existence. So, the gringa believes that where conspiracy theorists are concerned, the status of the first Moon landing’s original footage does, indeed, make for good fodder for the conspiracy gristmill. However, when you weigh it against the other videos NASA has that proves that astronauts actually did land and walk around on the Moon throughout the following decade, the balance tips in favor of NASA credibility.

Whew. That was close. The gringa is sure glad she followed that little trail to a happy conclusion!

Sources:  NASA

NPR

Reuters

Image Credit:  todaysdocument.tumblr.com

 

 

 

Just Say What You Mean, OKAY ALREADY!


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?”

Sources

www.sciencedaily.com

phys.org

plus.maths.org

Image Credit: www.orionsarm.com

 

The Earth v. Theia Smackdown


In just a few days, November 14, the Moon is going to be a Supermoon. There are lots of opportunities to see a Supermoon but the super-super-super-ness of this particular Supermoon won’t happen again for 70 years. What better time to pen a post that explains just how our Moon ended up in the orbit it’s in around our pretty, blue planet? You see, despite the fact that we are all accustomed to that big, gray rock circling us every day, how it got there to begin with is actually a mystery. Earth and her moon have not always been a couple.

Scientists think that Earth had a major smackdown with a protoplanet millions of years ago that resulted in it becoming our Moon. A protoplanet is a large body orbiting around a sun, or star, that eventually develops into a regular planet. In other words, it’s a hunk of rock that eventually transforms into creating its own motion that affects the events and natural environment of its surface. So, although the Moon has its own motion, it is controlled by the Earth’s gravity. Interestingly, although the Moon is not yet a planet in its own right, it does affect environmental events on Earth, our ocean tides.

But the gringa has gotten sidetracked. Back to just where the heck the Moon came from. So, a protoplanet slams into Earth yet is not obliterated. Researchers suspect that for a hunk of rock to survive such a collision it would have had to have originated from a protoplanet the size of Mars. Scientists have named this theoretical Moon-producing protoplanet Theia. Here’s a picture of Earth next to Mars and Mars next to the Moon. Picture the middle guy slamming into the big guy and ending up the little guy.

compareemm

 

Now, the gringa wants to know that if this is how it happened, how did the Moon become so perfectly round? I don’t know about you, but whenever I have seen any rock get pulverized, I don’t find any fragments that are spherical. So, the gringa takes her skepticism further. What kind of rock is the Moon?

Well, the Moon actually consists of geological material that can be found on Earth. What this means is that an impact theory between Earth and Theia doesn’t really make sense. The Moon would then consist of Earth stuff and foreign Theia stuff. But, the Moon’s just made of Earth stuff.

Another thing that keeps scientists scratching their heads about the Earth-Theia impact theory is where the Moon is. If it was a piece of space debris from an impact, the Moon should orbit around Earth’s equator. Instead, it orbits elliptically at a tilt, five degrees off our equator.

Scientist Sarah Stewart at the University of California thinks she has solved these problems. She theorizes that:

  • Number one, the clash between Earth & Theia involved much more energy than previously thought.
  • This caused the Earth to spin like crazy, much faster than it does now.
  • Some of the debris was vaporized, meaning melted Earth material fused with Theia and Theia material fused with Earth. The Earth and Moon are actually mixed together. So, when it seems that the Moon is only comprised of Earth materials, in a way that’s true but yet not all true. The Earth and the Moon are BOTH made up of Earth & Theia stuff.
  • When the collision first happened, causing the Earth to spin wildly, our axis pointed right at the Sun and we only had a 2 hour day.
  • As Theia a.k.a. the Moon stabilized in its orbit around the Earth equator, its affect was to gradually slow the rapid spinning of the Earth by affecting the tidal movements of the oceans.
  • As the Earth slowed down the Earth’s axis also shifted which caused Theia a.k.a. the Moon to no longer orbit around our equator.

Now, it would have taken more than 10 million years for all of this to happen. But, it all makes perfect sense to the gringa. Except for the round bit. Why is there not a big dent still visible in the Earth and the Moon? And despite the fact that I really like the name Theia, I don’t have any plans to call the Moon anything other than the Moon.

Source:

www.ibtimes.co.uk

Image Credit: www.space.com

www.digipac.ca

 

 

 

 

 

Who Dat?


Strange star modulation, a phenomena the gringa will call SSD, has some scientists thinking that hundreds of space aliens are calling. The gringa says, “Who dat? What aliens? Where dey from? What dey sayin’?”

According to Cornell University published research penned by scientists E.F. Borra and E Trottier, they analyzed a swathe of sky containing more than 2.5 million stars. They discovered that 234 stars had some interesting signals that could not be explained away. The possibilities for the signals offered by Borra and Trottier are:

  • Rotational transitions of molecules (whatever the heck that means)
  • Rapid pulsations
  • Extraterrestrial intelligence

That’s right. Cornell research performed by scientists who have real science degrees believe they have discovered signals from ET’s. Borra is an astronomy professor at Quebec’s Universite Laval. Eric Trottier is one of his graduate students. And this is not the first time they have published research data crediting aliens with cosmic signals. In fact, they claim these signals are identical to previous signals they attributed to ET’s.

Working off of their possible theories for what could be the origins of the signals, they dispelled the molecule idea and rapid pulsation possibility. The reason they go with the alien origin theory is that it confirms their previous alien theory with identical signals. So, basically, the scientists began with the most sane explanations that could be disproven through known scientific methods. Once all possibilities were eliminated the only option left was ET’s.

Now, if you are skeptical as to the credibility of these two scientists, consider that much of their work, not just this alien signal stuff, has been published in reputable science and astronomy journals around the world for some time. For example: “Measurements of stellar magnetic fields with the autocorrelation of spectra” published in Astronomical Journal; “Quantitative evaluation of the hypothesis that BL Lacertae objects are QSO remnants” published in Astrophysical Journal Letters; and “Very long baseline interferometry and observations of gravitational lenses using intensity fluctuations: an analysis based on intensity autocorrelation” published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Main Journal. Now, these two fellas seem to have some very good credentials. And they believe in space aliens. It would be an understatement to say that the gringa is intrigued. Awe is a better adjective for how the gringa feels about this story.

Now, let’s then accept the hypothesis that these signals originate with extra terrestrials. What do they mean? Are they trying to contact us? Seeing as how the signals occur between hundreds of stars, the gringa wonders if it is a communication network between hundreds of alien civilizations.

Now, even if the signal is a clarion call to galactic war and mayhem, at least our generation shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The star is billions of light years away. Doubtful any alien invasion force will be arriving anytime soon. Unless some of that strange space/time continuum thing is going on. What if the signals originated millions of years ago when an alien invasion force first launched? What if the signals were scheduled to reach Earth proximity so detection was possible about the time their arrival would be imminent? Aaaargh! Now the gringa’s awe is replaced with, “Now what the heck should we do?”

Well, maybe we should all take to becoming stargazers and paying better attention to the heavens surrounding our fragile blue planet. You see, if you join or follow the work of Planet Hunters, a web based organization that networks citizen scientists in planetary and cosmic projects, you will find that they noticed strange happenings with the star quite some time ago. One of their astronomer members with a doctorate from Yale reported a 20% decrease in light about a month ago. Such a flicker is not a characteristic of stars. They either shine or they don’t.

The main star at the center of all the hoopla is KIC 8462852. Now, when the first report on this phenomena came out on this star, the gringa wrote a post about it. The scientists at the time attributed the flicker to perhaps the passage of comet fragments across the face of the star. But now that it has happened in an identical fashion, the comet theory is dead in the water. And that’s why scientists think that it is possible that a federation of 234 star civilizations are communicating with one another via lasers and we have detected their signals. The gringa is dying to say, “Hello. How ya doin’?”

Sources:

arxiv.org

Cornell University Research Library

Planet Hunters

phys.org

www.newscientist.com

Image Credit: www.techpowerup.com

 

Then BANG… Another Universe!


It’s not uncommon for people to wonder if humanity is alone in the vast Universe. But too often we are thinking of the here and now, wondering if an advanced space alien civilization is making contact with us. Or we are looking forward to a future where we might be able to discover another advanced civilization in the farthest reaches of outer space. But what about eons in the past? Isn’t it a bit egotistical to think that our Universe is the only one that ever existed?

For Americans, this assumption is probably rooted in Judeo-Christian teachings that have long held that mankind is the only creation of their god. But if you take the limitations of religion out of the picture and only consider the Universe from a scientific perspective, the first thing the gringa realizes is that not only could mankind be one of any number of species right now, but there may have been any number of other species’ that have lived before us. New models of the cosmos support that even other universes could have existed before ours.

Scientists estimate our own universe is more than 13 billion years old. They suspect that some amazing energy event created our Universe. It is often referred to as the Big Bang. But it may not have been the first Bang. Modeling a theory of multiple Big Bangs that have produced multiple universes is all based on Einstein’s theory of relativity.

As it goes, in a nutshell, a Big Bang cannot be a singular event. Instead, it is a perpetual cycle of cosmic expansion, collapse into itself, then BANG, a new universe.  Look at it like a Universe growing much the way a pregnant woman’s womb grows. When a universe reaches full growth maturity, it collapses. The energy produced by the collapse then explodes with new life, another Universe. Each Universe is created by the death of the Universe that gave birth to it. The Big Bang is really just cosmic labor that leaves a new Universe an orphan.

What that means for humanity is that our own Universe will give birth one day. Whatever generation is alive when that happens will be the last of mankind before an explosive extinction. That is, unless we can successfully colonize another planet in another Universe. But that would then have to mean that we don’t really live in a Universe, but, rather, a Multiverse.

It would seem that even if we manage to survive the effects of climate change, mankind is still doomed. So, the gringa suggests that we all get this climate change issue resolved so we can focus on an even greater challenge if we want to avoid extinction. We need to find another darn Universe, develop the technology to get there FAST, and start over. And do it right the next time!

 

Sources:

www.ibtimes.come

www.space.com

Image Credit: imgarcade.com

 

 

 

Lunar Nips & Tucks


The gringa has reached that age where she critically examines the tiny lines around her eyes and notices the effects of gravity slowly creating those puppet lines around my mouth as my cheeks droop a bit lower every year. And then there’s that little turkey wattle dewlap flap hanging under my chin and drawing attention to my scrawny chicken neck. Despite my flaws, the gringa is not interested in a facelift. Our Moon, however, gets one every so often whether it likes it or not.

Yep, about every 80 thousand years or so the Moon is transformed into something unrecognizable from its former self. Does this amazing facelift happen overnight? No. It experiences its own form of nips and tucks gradually. Every year numerous comets, asteroids and meteors crash into our Moon and create almost 200 new craters.

If you visit NASA’s photo gallery you can find an array of Moon images dating back to 2009 when the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft began its mission. It has been mapping the Moon’s surface for years. Comparisons of the collection of images that span five years’ worth of work tells the gringa that mapping the Moon will be a never-ending job seeing as how everything is always changing.

An historical super-moon is scheduled to arrive around November 16. Chances are newspapers and cyberworld will be filled with images of our Moon as it appears in 2016. This is the perfect opportunity for a Moon project to see if amateur stargazers can detect any changes. Below are a pair of 2009 images of our Moon you can use for comparison:

images.jpg

NASA’s Astronomy picture of the day February 6, 2009

584641main_apollo17-left-670

NASA’s detailed 2009 image of the Apollo 17 Moon landing mission site

Sources:

NASA

Yahoo News

lroc.sese.asu.edu

Image Credits:  NASA

lupusuva1phototherapy.com