Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opinion. Show all posts

Friday, January 06, 2017

First round of life in the Universe might have been possible extremely early

Cosmic background radiation
I've posted other articles about the possibility of life in our Galaxy based on what is known right now.  For this article, after going into some concepts from a somewhat recent study, I'm going to speculate a bit based on the suggestion by that study that life was possible for a very specific period of 10 million years to 17 million years after the formation of the Universe.  The study is The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe.

What is significant about this very specific period after our Universe's formation?  According to the study, the cosmic microwave background provided a uniform heating source that was between 0 to 100°C (the melting point and boiling point of water at 1atm) during 10-17 million years after the formation of our Universe.  This means that there was no Habitable Zone around stars since the entire Universe was one gigantic habitable zone (except maybe being too close to a star).[001]
Hypothetical earliest stars in our Universe
Hypothetical earliest stars in our Universe


Challenges for Earliest Stars and Planets

There's a catch.  Stars that formed immediately after the Big Bang were very different than the stars we now see.  The only two elements available in the Universe were Hydrogen and Helium.  These early stars are referred to as being metal-poor, lacking access to elements heavier than than Helium.  There is speculation that the very first stars where actually extremely metal-poor.  Material from which terrestrial planets could have formed simply wasn't available yet.  When these first stars died, they produced the elements necessary for the formation of planets and metal-rich stars.  The death of these stars had to happen very quickly in order to meet the criteria necessary to consider life being possible so early in our Universe's existence.
In order for rocky planets to exist at these early times, massive stars with tens to hundreds of solar masses, whose lifetime is much shorter than the age of the Universe, had to form and enrich the primordial gas with heavy elements through winds and supernova explosions.[001]
Cosmic simulations suggest the formation of massive early stars that explode relatively quickly.[001]  Gravitational lensing also suggests the formation of such stars in the earliest galaxies.[002]  Given the possibility for such stars and such explosions of such stars, planet formation early in the Universe was also possible.[001] Given the cosmic microwave background heat of the Universe, the likelihood of planets with water on their surface was again also possible.

On the plus side for these planets, once the cosmic microwave background cooled down after the 17 million year mark, the planets themselves may have been able to keep warm enough on their own for quite awhile, even without a nearby star.
[Thermal gradients needed for life] can be supplied by geological variations on the surface of rocky planets. Examples for sources of free energy are geothermal energy powered by the planet’s gravitational binding energy at formation and radioactive energy from unstable elements produced by the earliest supernova. These internal heat sources (in addition to possible heating by a nearby star), may have kept planets warm even without the cosmic microwave background, extending the habitable epoch...[001]

Speculation

Although the study The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe suggests that life may have been possible in the early Universe, much of that life may not have survived past 17 millions years after the Big Bang unless it was lucky enough to be in the Habitable Zone within a solar system that included a very stable star.  However, even if the life didn't survive, the organic matter from which the life formed may have survived.  The survival of this life or its material could have seeded the later Universe, drastically increasing the chances of life reemerging.   Some speculate life on Earth originates from extra-solar system sources.  Perhaps the material necessary for the emergence of life was already in the mix from which our Sun formed.  The mechanism for such transference of life and materials is called Panspermia, or specifically, Pseudo-panspermia and Lithopanspermia.

What if aliens have been around much longer than us? Would we be able to find them?It seems there would have been a substantial gap between the first wave of early life and the next wave of life; this next wave presumably being the epoch within which we find ourselves now.  How might species from the early epoch be viewed by species of the current epoch?

From a Science Fiction perspective, such early life may have evolved to sentience very early in our Universe's existence.  Being so close to our Universe's beginning and having so long to evolve may have allowed these early species to development god-like powers by now.  Such species may be Q of Star Trek: TNG, Time Lords of Doctor WhoNibblonians of Futurama, and perhaps less god-like Precursors of Star Control II and Progenitors, also of Star Trek: TNG.

Would signs of god-like species be discernible to us young species?  We wouldn't likely see evidence in the form of direct radio signals, as such species would have long since evolved beyond such primitive methods of communication.  Perhaps we could catch a glimpse of these early species in the earliest days of their development via EM signals they emitted billions of years ago, from distance galaxies.

We'd have to know where to point our detectors.  Signals from ancient civilizations within our own galaxy would have passed us by billions of years ago.  However, signals from ancient civilizations in galaxies billions of light years away would be reaching us at the same time as the rest of the light from those galaxies.  Such signals would be faint and scattered, but they may be just distinct enough to discern from the background noise.  For example, at certain times of the year, Earth glows at certain EM frequencies much brighter than any other object in our galaxy.  A similar civilization billions of years ago in a galaxy billions of lights away might be obvious to us once we start looking for such phenomenon.

The idea that life may have developed so early in our Universe's existence opens up a Universe of possibilities.  Our understanding of our origins may be even effected by this concept.  On the other hand, maybe life in our Universe wasn't possible at all until very recently.  Maybe we are one of the first species to develop sentience in all of the Universe.  I'll cover more about this in a later article.

Primary reference:
A. Loeb, International Journal of Astrobiology, 13, no. 4, (Sept., 2014), arXiv:1312.0613 [astro-ph.CO], The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe

Response:
Hacker News

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Begs the question is the idiom that you aren't using wrong, but some think you do

Are you begging the question?  What is begging a question?  Well, it depends.  There are two different terms that are very similar, but have very different uses.  The first is beg the question fallacy.  This is the traditional use of the term. This is a type of fallacy where a premise includes the claim or assumption that its conclusion is true.  (This is covered in some brief detail at Fallacy: Begging the Question.)

For example, "All cats are evil, otherwise you would not see cats do evil things."

The premise of this statement is that cats are evil, and the justification is that you see cats do evil things.  The statement forms a circular argument.

But, there's another common use of the term that often appears as , "begs the question", as in, "your statement begs the question of who will do this work".  It means that there is an obvious or ignored question that arises from a statement.

There are grammarians and logicians that will argue that this is somehow the wrong use of the term, such as the website begthequesiton.info (which dedicates itself to this topic).  Ironically, these individuals often employ logical fallacies to disregard the modern usage of the term.  There are people that seem gleefully unaware of how English works.  Common usage is correct usage. Dictionaries now list the modern usage on equal weight as the logical fallacy definition.  See idioms area on freedictionary.com.

There is often a claim that using the phrase in the modern sense is somehow confusing (see some of these claims on QuickAndDirty.com by Grammar Girl). However, common usage is so prevalent, there is no confusion as to when the term is being used one way or another.  If someone wishes to distinguish between the logical fallacy and the assertion of an obvious/ignored question, then they do so with context, just as they would for the use of any other common terms with multiple meanings.  This begs the question, why is denial of the validity of the modern definition so important to some people?

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Old Perry Mason show becomes reality for Cops

What's up with all these Perry Mason style Grand Jury hearings being used to acquit police officers?  The latest case in New York is just nuts, where the accused officer was even allowed to testify, just like in the old Perry Mason show.  How are these Prosecutors allowing any defense at all during the hearing, let alone 2 hours of testimony by the accused without cross-examination (as in the Ferguson case)?  The cops are not being acquitted because of following the process. They are being acquitted because the Prosecutors are gaming the system to support the accused officers.  If a regular citizen is pulled up in front of a grand jury, they cannot present a case, they cannot challenge the presented evidence and they certainly don't get to testify for two hours without cross-examination.  Looks like it's time for other accused people to demand equal protection under the law, for equal treatment to these officers are getting during Grand Jury trails.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Article 1 section 2 paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution and why you aren't being represented!

Constitution of the United States
Here's what a source says about our House of Representatives, "In the original constitutional debates there were pro-federalist delegates proposing that a House member could represent up to 50,000 constituents, while more anti-federalist framers sought one House member up to 20,000 citizens.  The debate, therefore, was over the people wanting smaller Congressional Districts and not larger. In September 1787, they settled on the language, "The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000," thus limiting a Congressional District minimum size to 30,000 citizens. No Congressional District maximum size was included because the framers believed both the members of Congress and their constituents would inherently want Congressional Districts as small as the constitution would permit."1

Another source states, "The Constitution says that the total number of representatives shall not be greater than one for every 30,000 citizens. During the ratification debates over the Constitution, opponents argued that such a ratio was inadequate to properly represent the country. But even using the original ratio in the Constitution, the House of Representatives would have consisted of about 9,400 members after the 2000 census. Faced with the ever increasing size of the House, Congress voted in 1929 to limit the number of representatives to 435."2

Needless to say, our current Congress has not been keeping the size of Congressional Districts in-line with the intent of our Constitution's framers.  Today, Congressional Districts have 710,767 citizens. This is way over the original expectations of roughly 50,000.

Can you imagine a House of Representatives with 9400 members?  How would business get done?  Well, maybe that's the point.  There would be so many representatives, that votes would have to be made based on what the person feels is right for their 30,000 voters, rather than how much money they can collect from lobbyist for their next campaign. 9400 Representatives would make it a lot harder for lobbyist to sway the will of our elected officials.  It would make pork barrel projects almost nonexistent because districts would be too small to gather enough support for the most silly of funding requests.  It's a lot harder to buy off 9400 people than it is 435.  Particularly if each of those 9400 people have to go back to talk directly to just 30,000 people several times a year.  Representatives' support would really have to come from the local grassroots level.  They might even vote per their constituents desires!  Imagine that!

The one problem with a number of Representatives being so large is that bill introduction may become a bit unmanageable. If we keep to the current system of making huge bills with tons and tons of legal code, things would be unmanageable.  However, that doesn't necessarily need to be a roadblock. Maybe we shouldn't keep the current system of bill introduction!  Maybe our Representatives should really just submit succinct laws that apply to very specific things.  We would still need a huge bill from time to time to address social and other national issues, and the national budget, but we would pretty much end riders that plague the current system.  We can even use 21st Century technology to make such bills easier to process.  (Anyone hear of this Wonder called The Internet?)

More meaningful and useful laws might actually get passed because they wouldn't be tied up so frequently in political maneuverings.  Political Parties couldn't hold our government hostage with standoffs, because their members would be so easily replaced.  We would actually be able to hold our Representatives accountable!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

When did the Fastlane on Highways start to be called the Passing Lane?

When did the fastlane on highways start to be called a passing lane? From what I seen, a few years ago there was was a big nationwide push to change the concept of our highways and freeways; from fastlane/slowlane to the idea of a weaving-between-lanes-to-keep-a-constant-speed. Constant weaving between lanes not only is more dangerous, it actually slows down traffic. Every time there is a lane change, there is potential to slow down traffic behind the change. Also, forcing more traffic into fewer lanes inherently increases traffic back-up and congestion. What is this passing lane concept trying to solve? It's not solving the problem of traffic congestion. It appears to be making things worse.

 The problem is that highways in US weren't designed with passing lane concept in mind. Passing lane concept makes little sense in the context of driving on a highway or freeway within most larger cities with current infrastructure. If law enforcement and lawmakers want to create new driving rules that change our driving habits this drastically, they need to fund changes to road system to support those new rules. This would in line with HOV lanes, where current lanes are not converted HOV, but rather the highway is expanded to add a new lane for HOV.

 The US actually does have some designed to be passing lanes. These are usually found when going up long or particularly steep hills. It usually involves a lane being added to the right side, rather than the left side of the road. This makes the most sense in the US. Slower traffic is supposed to move over to the right! That is how our road system was designed.

 A slower driver who refuses to move over to the right is the problem, not everyone else trying to drive safely at a constant speed! How about instead of trying to magically change US driving habits in a way that just isn't supported by our infrastructure, let's enforce the rule that slower traffic move to the right!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Everyone's got different tastes, but soy milk? Yuk!

Silk brand has had an advertizing campaign for a little while now where they blatantly state that Silk Soy Milk tastes better than real milk.  They initially even quoted some bizarre statistic like 4 out of 5 people say their product tasted better.  Really?  4 out of 5 people who try soy milk like it better than milk?  I won't argue that soy milk has its fans, but 80% of the population?  Umm, no.  Maybe if they compared vanilla flavored soy milk with bland shim milk?  No, not even then for me.  I'd rather drink water.

I've heard additional caveats added to this claim, like a reference to it tasting better on cereal.  Again, no.  If you want to ruin a perfectly good bowl of cereal, by all means dump some soy milk on it.  Yuk. Yuk.  Blagghh!

I have found that the vanilla flavored soy milk does taste better than regular soy milk, but the texture varies so much between brands, it doesn't make a good substitute for milk, and most brands still do not present an enjoyable experience when drinking straight from the glass.  Even as chocolate flavored, I just don't enjoy the drinking soy milk.

Almond milk is better than soy milk.  Almond milk is drinkable.  I've found that Almond milk actually works well with hot cereal both for consistency and taste.  It's OK with cold cereal, but not as good as milk.  It is good enough to be a backup in the fridge.  This is because it generally lasts longer than milk when unopened.  My advice is to buy milk and almond milk at the same time, and keep the almond milk closed until the milk is gone.  It can extend the length of time that you need to return to the grocery store (assuming that milk is your deciding item in such matters).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

epinions.com is soon to end as we know it

I wrote a highly critical article about epinions.com in September 2013 where I stated they have made themselves irrelevant in 2013.  epinions.com used to be a great site where anyone could go to get high quality and unbiased user reviews of just about any type of product.  It wasn't polluted with shills and ads.  

Then, it did started getting polluted with ads. Soon, it became hard to tell links to ads from genuine content.  Then, it became hard to find genuine content at all.  Ads ruled.  (Though, shills never really seemed to be able to take hold.)

Even still, I used epinions.com frequently enough until 2012.  Thru no conscious action, I just stopped using the site.  Eventually, I realized this and wrote my critical review as to why.

Well, today, epinions has announced they will be ending its community and reviews system.  This is no surprize to me.  They lost their way, and eventually people just stopped using the site.  The site fell into the trap of trying to sell ads to generate funding rather than offering a superior product that people flock to.  Their focus became monetization without understanding how to generate income from their product without losing its soul.

Their email to members stated,
After a challenging 2013, Epinions will no longer maintain community related operations of its website. We are proud that we were able to serve as a facilitator of shared experiences and thoughtful dialogue over the past 15 years. However, several obstacles, such as declining participation, have deeply affected our business and forced us to make this difficult decision. 
Yeah, 2013 is when I stopped using the site, so this makes perfect sense.  The site stopped being a repository for high quality reviews, and just became a poor quality online mall.

Community submissions ended today.  Reviews can no longer be added.  Last payments to reviewers will be issued on March 6, 2014.  Access to online accounts and message boards will end on March 25,2014.  The suddenness of this suggests a poorly planned shutdown, which means they prolly just ran out of money.

Farewell, epinions!  Whatever form you eventually take, I'm sure I will not be apart of it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Net Neutrality has been cancelled based on a technicality in the law!

Net Neutrality, which prevents Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to particular websites (such as their own over a competitors) is in deep risk of being completely gone! Recent court ruling struck down Net Neutrality based on a flimsy technicality. NBC, ABC and CBS have not reported this sweeping change, apparently because they benefit, according to Forward Progress.

The removal of Net Neutrality would mean Internet providers can create artificial bottlenecks in service and charge fees to both customers and websites to avoid these bottlenecks (mind you, they are already making lots of money for service that costs very little to provide; they just want more of the pie to end up in their coffers by using the threat of degrading service). This matter is so serious that Fox News story actually sited civil rights as possibly being at risk!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Yahoo's Blunder with unnecessary changes to their services is well explained on slashdot.org

Yahoo's blunder with unnecessary changes to their services such as Yahoo! Groups is well explained on slashdot.org by anonymous poster.

If you have no userbase, the Agile concept of ship (garbage) early and ship (garbage) often even before you really have an MVP actually makes some sense. If you have a 6-month runway of capital before you go belly-up and start over (oh, I'm sorry, "pivot"), there's no point in wasting another month to get it right.
But if you already have a userbase, the developer-centric attitude of leaving what, to users, is core functionality in the backlog while you release half-assed stuff that merely shows off how good you are with AJAX, or how quickly your UX people can change the design from one week to the next, doesn't work. It's bad for your customer base, it alienates them, and it eventually drives them to your competitors.
More of this person's comment can be found here. If you are interested in exploring the topics brought up by this person, click on the links I added to their quote above.  That will take you to Wikipedia articles that will explain each of the terms.  

Monday, November 04, 2013

Stupid press and their stupid ways (Facebook haters)

From time to time there are articles claiming the end of Facebook.  These articles are all pretty much the same, saying how "kids" are using other social media sites now, such as Vine, Snapchat, Ask.fm, and Instagram.  Really?

Vine is not used instead of Facebook.  Vine is used instead of Youtube.  It's a video app.

Snapchat is only being used for sending sexy videos that cannot be stored.  Again, not something that was ever really Facebook's thing.  Facebook might be losing some use to Snapchat, but I don't think it's much.  Youtube is losing more than Facebook.

Ask.fm is really competition for Reddit and Yahoo! Answers rather than Facebook.  Maybe Reddit is stealing time away from Facebook, but ultimately, even these individuals end up on Facebook for social networking (even as they pretend to hate it).  Reddit doesn't have a strong social interaction and is mostly just strangers posting for strangers.

What about Instagram?  People use Instagram instead of older services like Flickr and Photobucket.  It's a photo app.  There is a stronger social aspect, but photos aren't really a replacement for communicating on Facebook.  It's more like one-way bragging, which ultimately doesn't promote long and engaging interaction.  When people respond to someone else's brags, they are trying to make themselves relevant in the context of the braggartry, and that's what tends to happen on Facebook.  That's something that just isn't possible on Instagram.

You know what kids are using instead of Facebook?  Nothing, ...kinda.  They are using text messaging.  Texting is why Facebook is seeing a small decline in usage in the younger demographics.  Aggressive use of texting is temporary for people, though.  Textings doesn't grow as your network grows.  There's a certain point where texting becomes intrusive.  When that happens, people move their social networking to a more broad service.  When they do, that service still tends to be Facebook.

I'm not a Facebook pumper.  I can live with or without it.  I do know it is the most convenient service right now.  There is just something about it that makes it more usable than Google+.  Anyone that thinks that Facebook will go the way of Myspace and Friendster just isn't paying attention or only seeing what they want to see.  Until something that is actually better comes around, Facebook isn't going to die from a supposed mass migration of its user base.

There is merit to all the services mentioned above.  Some services appeal to certain people more than others.  Facebook's success is that it is a generalist that covers all the bases.