ColGlobe At The Spoof

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Size Matters: Human Perception

I think that the most important fact of the universe, and one that very very few people have ever actually accepted, is the sheer size of it all. Every single thing we talk about, we describe in human terms, and those terms are based entirely on our PERCEPTION of time and space. The only problem, as I see it, is we have little hope of comprehending the sheer vast spaces involved in universal origins.

Who do we think we are, anyway? Here's a reality check for you: Our entire existence depends on a thin film of gases, called an atmosphere, that is probably not as thick as the average American commutes to their job each day. Everything we have had physical contact with, aside from assorted probes, is contained within that thin bubble, and without it more than 99.9% of all life on earth would end instantly. Every animal, tree, and insect, and a majority of single and multi-celled animals as well.

Have you ever considered whether the flea knows it lives on the back of a dog? In a very real sense, we less than fleas on the back of the planet. From outside the atmosphere, no single person can be seen at all, and only our largest cities form nests that are large enough to perceive with the naked eye. And "nest" is a good term, for it is built by ravaging the surrounding area, laying waste to entire ecosystems in order to feed the unchecked growth within the nest.

From just outside the atmosphere, our own perception makes us almost invisibly small. But journey to the edge of the solar system, and this world that dwarfs us into obscurity is likewise dwarfed by immense distances that seem awkwardly large when expressed in kilometers or miles. And from as close as the closest start to our own, even the solar system is unremarkable dot. At the distance of the edge of our galaxy, it would be nearly impossible to even locate the area of space our sun resides in, let alone finding a minuscule lifeform on a single small pebble of rock.

At the universe level, our entire galaxy looks to be a single bright dot among billions of other dots, and we, who have the audacity to believe that we understand the universe, and everything we have ever done for as long as humans have existed, is less than a single drop of water dropped into the ocean.

And if we go one more step, to the macroverse level, nothing at all of mankind is visible at all. At that level of perception, our entire galaxy has become nothing more than the background hum emanated by the universe, with nothing coherent about it all. And of anything which may exist beyond the macroverse level, we don't even have the concepts to fathom.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Big Bang - Echoes

I suppose that my biggest single peeve with people is that they are a very narrow-minded species. They think small, they act small, they use a very well evolved selective processing circuit in their brains to block out what they don't want to hear. I can't do that.

I have to question everything. Just because some mysterious "they" tells me something is so, I don't believe it. I want to see for myself, compare evidence, touch, feel it, know that what "they" say is truly the way it is. Let's face it, our entire history is filled with people refusing to believe this certain fact or that irrefutable truth, and turning out to be completely correct in doing so. Our very foundations of knowledge were formed by just such thinking. But I want to talk about the universe.

A hundred years ago, the universe and the galaxy were synonymous. Our most powerful telescopes could not determine where any matter existed outside of our galaxy. The universe, which means something to the effect of "the one container," was simply another way to describe the imaginary bubble that our one galaxy was contained within.

Today, we know that that there a literally billions of galaxies, each one composed of literally trillions of stars. The universe, in order to keep its name, has expanded to include all of known space, and mankind has set out to find the single point from which it all began. The Big Bang, is the most elusive known event in the history of the universe, and it is the subject of hot debate among - what was that I phrase I began with? - a very narrow-minded species.

We won't find The Big Bang Event. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Big Bang happened so far outside of our realm of perception that we aren't even capable of understanding it. What we are looking for is an echo of the Big Bang Event, a tiny bit of a chain reaction that spans many universes, creating them in all in a single explosion that brought everything imaginable into existence. But our Big Bang is not The Big Bang Event. It is but a grain of sand on beach a thousand miles long, a minute speck against which it is hard to tell the difference from one speck to another.

And beyond that other Big Bang Event, there lies still another, and one to follow that. The more we know and the farther we are able to look into time and space, the farther the repercussions and systems will be repeated on ever larger and grander scales. Echoes of echoes, for as far as our feeble minds can comprehend in either direction. Each pattern will have some slight difference, or a major change of shape and texture, because the intricate combinations required for exact duplicity are beyond the power of the most brilliant minds and computers we can bring to bear.

I've said it before, and I will quite likely do so again: everything is a circle within a circle. Wheels of quarks forms wheels of atoms which form wheel of molecules. From those form cycles that are subjective for us, and beyond comprehension, and from those form wheels of worlds, then suns, and galaxies. Universes are made of galaxies, and then engulfed in the multiverses that spawned them.

Each one is a necessary step to arrive at where we are, and a logical conclusion to follow the path to where we are going. But even our most brilliant minds are like tiny bacteria crawling around in a Petrie dish, with no concept of what lies beyond the barrier of the dish itself, and only a rudimentary understanding that the dish is even there.

Big Bang? Sure. It's the only logical conclusion, but the event we think of as defining time and space is only an echo, and both time and space are redefined a billion billion times over, encompassing minds far superior to our own, and yet just as incapable of seeing beyond what their minds are able to comprehend. It's a big place, and creatures the size of people can't even imagine what it all means.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Generating Wind Power

You hear it in the news again and again, how alternative power sources can't possibly compete with the efficiency and cost of fossil fuels.  Simply explained, as though we were all mildly disadvantaged. Endorsements that carry the fine print of companies allied with oil companies show us facts and figures that prove beyond a doubt that we have no choice but to keep burning crude oil to power our homes.  

My advice is to turn off the TV and save the power, since you're not getting anything useful from it anyway.  

Alternative electricity sources are no longer pipedreams, becoming, instead, profitable schemes.  What those ads don't tell you is that the irrefutable proof they offer was a result of times when crude oil prices were less than $100 a barrel.  They don't bring up that fact because the conclusion is obvious-- as the price of fuel has skyrocketed, the gap between alternative power and conventional fossil fuels has narrowed to the point of coming out nearly equal.  They don't mention that advances in solar and wind power production have increased the efficiency of those devices to the point where power could be abundant and cheap. 

Ten years ago, a wind turbine at maximum efficiency could capture about 30% of the power available from wind, but the winds had to be blowing fairly strongly, and at constant speeds.  Today, those turbines are capturing more than 60% of the potential, and require little more than a steady breeze to operate.  Gone are the  huge fans that require vast open spaces.  They have been replaced by sleek stylish devices that add futuristic appeal, and may be mounted on rooftops.  Vast fields of turbines power cities, but the new quiter and more efficient models can power individual homes, often with energy left over to sell back to the power grid.  

The only problem is that neither the oil companies nor the electric companies are in a hurry for you to cash in on the continuously rising cost of fuel and power.  You see, profits for those companies aren't falling as prices rise, they are rising in tandem, and rooftops generators will reduce those profits.  Being able to power your own home means that the power grid, which you have unconsciously worshipped all these years, will serve you instead, and your profits are the losses of energy companies the world around.  

Imagine, if you will, living in a geographic area where power failure is common, and may last for several consecutive days.  Now add to the image strategically placed turbines spinning nearly silently in the light after-storm breeze, lighting your home and powering your refrigerator.  Imagine FEMA workers rolling into a hurricane blasted area and setting up temporary shelters that provide adequate lighting, cooling, and cooking, all without ever looking to the power grid for assistance.  This is not a dream of the distant future, it is merely a page 10 newspaper article that few people will ever stumble across.  In order to accomplish such feats, a major war must be waged, not against invaders from foreign lands, but against the leeches of capitalistic society.

You see, if you are able to supply your own electrical energy, you have broken the ties which bind you to endlessly rising fuel prices.  You have removed yourself from the tally that puts energy executives in mansion sized homes, and sends them off to Cancun for summer vacations.  In short, you have cut a hole in the pockets of corporations that have grown fat and complacent knowing that you were forever in their grip, and under their economic control.  Instead of paying more than your share of the cost of fuel, you have begun to do your share in the future of mankind.