Thursday, November 30, 2006

Another universe may have preceded ours, study finds

One of the first posts I wrote on this blog was:

There is not one thing in the entire vast universe that remains as it is. Every thing, living or inanimate, changes. Some say even the universe itself will at some point in the incomprehensible infinity contract inside itself, swallowing every atom and molecule up, then will be born again with the next “big bang” and our recycled particles will begin anew.

According to some physicists, I just might be right:

May 14, 2006
Courtesy Penn State University
and World Science staff

Three physicists say they have done calculations suggesting that before the birth of our universe, which is expanding, there was an earlier universe that was shrinking.

The results stem from a theory that claims the fabric of space and time is made up of minuscule, indivisible bits, much as matter is.

Scientists believe our cosmos began in a sort of explosion called the Big Bang, when everything that exists—which just previously had been packed into one infinitely dense point—burst outward.

The universe is still expanding, according to this view, because it was born expanding.

According to some proposals, the Big Bang is a repeating cycle. Universes might expand, then shrink back to a point, then expand again. Thus the “bang” would be really more like a bounce.

The idea is appealing in some ways, but scientists have found it far from easy to test. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, a key basis for the Big Bang theory, is silent on what happened before that event.

“General relativity can be used to describe the universe back to a point at which matter becomes so dense that its equations don’t hold up,” said Abhay Ashtekar, director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at Penn State University in University Park, Penn.

To go further, physicists must use tools Einstein didn’t have, he added. Ashtekar and two post-doctoral researchers developed such tools through a combination of quantum physics—the science of subatomic particles—and general relativity, which describes the large-scale structure of space and time.

They found that before the Big Bang, there was a contracting universe. Other than the fact that it was shrinking, they added, it was similar to ours in terms of the geometry of its space and time, or spacetime, as cosmologists call it since Einstein found the two are interwoven.

“In place of a classical Big Bang there is in fact a quantum bounce,” said Ashtekar. “We were so surprised by the finding,” he added, that the team repeated the calculations for months to include different different possible values of some numbers representing the current universe. But the results kept pointing to a bounce.

The findings appear in the current issue of the research journal Physical Review Letters.

While the general idea of another, pre-Big Bang universe isn’t new, Ashtekar said, this is the first mathematical study that systematically establishes its existence and deduces properties of its spacetime geometry.

The notion that spacetime has a geometry involves the idea that it can be curved or flat. A “flat” spacetime is one in which geometry works as we normally expect; for example, parallel lines never meet. But Einstein found that material objects deform this flatness, introducing curvature.

To arrive at their pre-existing universe finding, Ashtekar’s group used loop quantum gravity, a theory that seeks to reconcile General Relativity with quantum physics. These two seemingly fundamental theories are otherwise contradictory in some ways.

Loop quantum gravity, which was pioneered at Ashtekar’s institute, proposes that spacetime has a discrete “atomic” structure, as opposed to being a continuous sheet, as Einstein, along with most us, assumed.

In loop quantum gravity, space is thought of as woven from one-dimensional “threads.” The continuum picture remains mostly valid as an approximation. But near the Big Bang, this fabric is violently torn so that its discrete, or quantum, nature becomes important. One outcome of this is that gravity becomes repulsive instead of attractive, Ashtekar argued; the result is the Big Bounce.

Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, a cosmologist who has explored some related concepts, wrote in an email that the new research “supports, in a general way, the idea that the Big Bang need not be the beginning of space and time.”

The universe “may have undergone one or more bangs in its past history,” he added.

Steinhardt and colleagues have also proposed a bounce of sorts, but it’s different. It could turn out that the two scenarios are equivalent at some deep level, but that’s not known, he added. Steinhardt’s scenario makes use of string theory, another attempt to reconcile General Relativity with quantum physics.

Some versions of string theory portray our visible universe as a three-dimensional space embedded in an invisible space having more dimensions. Our zone, called a braneworld—the word comes from its similarity to a sort of membrane—could periodically bounce into another, parallel braneworld.

Such an event might look to us, stuck in a few dimensions as we are, as a Big Bang. “I don’t know if [Ashtekar’s] case translates into a bounce between braneworlds like we are describing,” Steinhardt wrote. But by his estimate, this cataclysm won’t take place for another roughly 300 billion years—so there is hopefully plenty of time to answer the question.

Thought for the day - Mark Twain

“I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious--except he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force.”
-- Mark Twain, Mark Twain's Notebooks and Journals, Notebook 27, August 1887-July 1888, edited by Frederick Anderson (1979). Cited by James Haught in 2,000 Years of Disbelief.

Positive Atheism's Big List of Mark Twain Quotations

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Would you want a pill which could lessen bad memories?

Everyone has bad experiences in life. It is part of being human and is pretty much unavoidable. While we wish to hold onto memories which are dear to us and give us a warm-fuzzy feeling inside, what if we could take a pill to rid ourselves of painful and traumatic memories from events we may want to erase from our memory banks. Would you take it? What would be some of the downsides of having such a drug? Potential for abuse can be expected, as with any drug, and if it got into the wrong hands, imagine the horrors that it could cause.

In my opinion, our experiences and memories of the events in our lives, whether good or bad, make us who we are. On the other hand, if you have someone who experienced something that was so terrible that the memory of it is ruining his/her quality of life, wouldn't it make sense to take advantage of such a drug? Or are humans going to far with messing with Mother Nature?

The Memory Pill

An ongoing study suggests it's a choice that may not be so far off. The drug is called propranolol and it's already used to treat high blood pressure. As Lesley Stahl reports, the prospect of using propranolol to modify memory has some trauma victims filled with hope, and some critics alarmed by the potential for misuse.
Considering the potential for abuse, one commenter pointed out: "Has anyone considered what criminals can do with this drug? Isn't guilt and shame a factor in keeping some people honest and law abiding? Now if someone steals something or even MURDERS someone, All they would have to do is take a pill and not feel bad about it at all. I think it could be a great asset to some people but a very dangerous way to escape the guilt feelings that the criminal element would, and SHOULD feel." Also, will this be good news for rapist and those who commit crime in general?
Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, sees about 400 rape cases a year and says she and her colleagues have concerns about the use of the pill. Scaramella says it's important for women to feel in control when they are recovering from a sexual assault, and taking propranolol means giving up control over their memories. Secondly, she says, "anyone who took that medicine could be in trouble in a legal case," since defense lawyers may say that the victim was so unstable that she needed drugs to cope, or that the propranolol may have altered her memory about the assault. Other ethicists say the pill may erase the rage that victims will need to go on and prosecute their attackers.
In the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, after their painful break-up, the characters of Joel and Clementine used a procedure to erase their memories of each other. But real life isn't quite as easy. Or is it. Would you want to have your painful or unpleasant memories erased from your mind?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wal-mart special...99 cents while supplies last! (produced in China)

Isn’t it lovely what gawdly people do to each other?

This is why there will never be peace so long as religion survives.

Shiites burn 6 Sunni worshippers alive

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and seven Sunni mosques came under attack as Shiites took revenge for the slaughter of at least 215 people in the Sadr City slum.

A U.S. helicopter opened fire into the Shiite enclave after militiamen fired on it from the ground, residents said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.


Thought for the day

“I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young, and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”
-- Bertrand Russell, "What I Believe," 1925, reprinted in Why I Am Not a Christian (1957)

I have posted this before, but it is worth repeating.

Alpha Cam: Runaway Star

Credit & Copyright: Steve Mandel (Galaxy Images)

Explanation: Runaway stars are massive stars traveling rapidly through interstellar space. Like a ship plowing through cosmic seas, runaway star Alpha Cam has produced this graceful arcing bow wave or bow shock - moving at over 60 kilometers per second and compressing the interstellar material in its path. The bright star above and left of center in this wide (3x2 degree) view, Alpha Cam is about 25-30 times as massive as the Sun, 5 times hotter (30,000 kelvins), and over 500,000 times brighter. About 4,000light-years away in the long-necked constellation Camelopardalis, the star also produces a strong wind. The bow shock stands off about 10 light-years from the star itself. What set this star in motion? Astronomers have long thought that Alpha Cam was flung out of a nearby cluster of young hot stars due to gravitational interactions with other cluster members or perhaps by the supernova explosion of a massive companion star.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Adam Sandler - Thanksgiving song

This is so stupid it's funny.

Day of Appreciation and Love

Many of us are going to be spending Thanksgiving with religious members of our families, and will all have to endure "Grace" who happens to show up at most family gatherings. I just wanted to express that atheists are thankful (though we may hide in the basement during prayer time.) The big difference between atheists and believers is that atheists are thankful to real flesh and blood human beings who make our lives a bit better during our “brief moment in time.”

(originally published HERE on Nov. 23, 2005)

Although I have no religious beliefs, I still am very thankful for the many good things in my life. Who am I thankful to? My thanks and appreciation goes to my dear husband for getting up at 4 a.m. every day to drive over an hour to a job where he works hard all day long to provide for his family. I am thankful to him for his love and committment for more than thirty years of marriage. I thank him for being a loving and helpful father to his three children. I am thankful to my children for their love and the joy they bring into my life. I am thankful to my parents for giving me life. I am thankful to them for raising me and loving me even when I was not very loveable. I am thankful to my doctors for taking care of my health and doing all they can to cure my illnesses, and keep me and my family healthy. I am thankful to the truck driver who hauls my food to the stores where I shop, I am thankful to the farmer who grows and harvests the food. I am thankful to the inventors of all of our modern technology that makes my life so comfortable and convenient. I am thankful to our police officers and soldiers for protecting us. I am thankful to NASA to take us to worlds we cannot see from where we are. I am thankful to the teachers, the explorers, researchers, scientists and others who provide us with information we need to enhance our lives. I am thankful for the entertainers, writers, film makers, artists, musicians, actors, etc. who bring some joy and imagination to our lives. These are the ones to who I owe my thanks.

Thanksgiving is a day to get together with those we appreciate and love and to celebrate that love and appreciation we have for each other. I wish everyone, no matter what your beliefs are, a very happy Thanksgiving Day with all of those who matter most to you, whether there in person or far away but close in heart.

Happy Turkey Day everyone! Hang in there with the relatives!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Human invention never ceases to amaze me

A Bucket-Wheel Excavator on Earth
Credit: ThyssenKrupp Technologies, SwapMeetDave

Explanation: Please wait while one of the largest mobile machines in the world crosses the road. The machine pictured above is a bucket-wheel excavator used in modern surface mining. Machines like this have given humanity the ability to mine minerals and change the face of planet Earth in new and dramatic ways. Some open pit mines, for example, are visible from orbit. The largest excavators are over 200 meters long and 100 meters high, now dwarfing the huge NASA Crawler that transports space shuttles to the launch pads. Bucket-wheel excavators can dig a hole the length of a football field to over 25 meters deep in a single day. They may take a while to cross a road, though, with a top speed under one kilometer per hour.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The 3 most frightening words ever invented by any religion "Come Join Us" - Bad Religion

so you say you gotta know why the world goes 'round
and you can't find the truth in the things you've found
and you're scared shitless 'cuz evil abounds
come and join us

well I heard you were looking for a place to fit in
full of adherent people with the same objective
a family to cling to and call brethren
come and join us

all we want to do is change your mind
all you need to do is close your eyes

so come and join us
come and join us
come and join us

don't you see the trouble that most people are in
and that they just want you for their own advantage
but I swear to you we're different from all of them
come and join us
I can tell you are lookin' for a way to live
where truth is determined by consensus
full of codified arbitrary directives
come and join us
all we want to have is your small mind
turn it into one of our own kind
you can go through life adrift and alone
desperate, desolate, on your own
but we're lookin' for a few more stalwart clones
so come and join us
come and join us
come and join us

we've got spite and dedication as a vehement brew
the world hates us, well we hate them too
but you're exempted of course if you
come and join us
independent, self-contented, revolutionary
intellectual, brave, strong and scholarly
if you're not one of them, you're us already so
come and join us

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Fog Bow Over California

Credit & Copyright: Mila Zinkova

Explanation: Is that white arch real? What is being seen is a fogbow, a reflection of sunlight by water drops similar to a rainbow but without the colors. The fog itself is not confined to an arch -- the fog is mostly transparent but relatively uniform. The fogbow shape is created by those drops with the best angle to divert sunlight to the observer. The fogbow's relative lack of colors are caused by the relatively smaller water drops. The drops active above are so small that the quantum mechanical wavelength of light becomes important and smears out colors that would be created by larger rainbow water drops acting like small prisms reflecting sunlight. The above striking image of a fogbow was taken last week with the Sun behind the photographer. Close inspection of the far right of the full image will show one of the two suspension towers of the Golden Gate Bridge in California, USA.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Cat's Eye Nebula

Credit: J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCU) HS, NASA
Explanation: Three thousand light-years away, a dying star throws off shells of glowing gas. This image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Cat's Eye Nebula to be one of the most complex planetary nebulae known. In fact, the features seen in the Cat's Eye are so complex that astronomers suspect the bright central object may actually be a binary star system. The term planetary nebula, used to describe this general class of objects, is misleading. Although these objects may appear round and planet-like in small telescopes, high resolution images reveal them to be stars surrounded by cocoons of gas blown off in the late stages of stellar evolution.

Ban religion, says Elton John

RIGHT ON, ELTON JOHN ! Religion has caused more harm than good and is STILL causing more harm than good. (Elton was my favorite singer in high school and for about a decade after till he turned "mellow" and started losing his voice.)

LONDON (AFP) - Religion should be outlawed because it lacks compassion and promotes hatred of homosexuals, gay pop star Elton John said in an interview.

The singer was speaking in a special "gay edition" of The Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine, where he shared his views on subjects ranging from being a music icon to Prime Minister Tony Blair's stance on the Iraq war.

At a time when religion is the subject of fierce debate in Britain over the right to wear the Muslim veil and other faith symbols, John complained there was a general lack of leadership from spiritual leaders.

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. From my point of view, I would ban religion completely," he was quoted as saying.

"Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate. The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion?

"Why aren't they having a conclave? Why aren't they coming together? I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts. Instead of more violence why isn't there a meeting of religious leaders?" he said. WHOLE STORY LINK

Well...I can tell you why. Elton. It's because religious leaders believe that there MUST be an end of the world to "fulfill the prophecy" of the "final Armageddon" and the final "judgement" by their mythological sky daddy. So, looking for help via religious leaders is a asking them to give up their belief that a “final battle” will happen.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Reason and Science - Kermit

Thanks to Bacon Eating Atheist Jew for posting this from the Infidelguy. I love Kermie!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Infidel guy - Thanking God in Sports

The Infidel Guy criticizes athletes that thank God for destroying their opponents.

Woman fatally bitten by snake in church

Woman fatally bitten by snake in church

LONDON, Ky. - A woman who was bitten by a snake at a church that neighbors say practices serpent handling died of her wounds hours later, a newspaper reported.

Linda Long, 48, was bitten Sunday at East London Holiness Church, where neighbors said the reptiles are handled as part of religious services, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Tuesday.

Long died at University of Kentucky Medical Center about four hours after being bitten, authorities told the newspaper.

"She said she was bitten by a snake at her church," said Lt. Ed Sizemore of the Laurel County Sheriff's Office.

Handling reptiles as part of religious services is illegal in Kentucky. Snake handling is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $50 to $100 fine.

Police said they had not received any reports of snake handling at the church.

Snake handling is based on a passage in the Bible that says a sign of a true believer is the power to "take up serpents" without being harmed.

Church officials could not be reached for comment.

(I guess she wasn't a "True Believer")

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What’s wrong with the world? It’s a global reptilian conspiracy!

elite reptilian

Just when you think you have heard it all, along comes something else! In all of my studies of mythology and world religions, I missed this somehow until GifS visitor Michael came by and introduced us to Credo Mutwa and David Icke.

In the following YouTube, Icke talks about how he believes that the human race has been secretly dominated by an extraterrestrial reptilian race whose members are somehow related to the powerful elite families of the world. He mentioned that these reptiles are from a planet called “Lemuria” and that they are able to change their appearance from reptiles to humans in order to enter different dimensions.


Apparently, “amazing confirmation” is claimed to be found that a reptilian extraterrestrial race has controlled the world for thousands of years. A reptilian takeover of Planet Earth has occurred, and a shape-shifting Reptilian race (the “Chitauri” to Africans) has controlled humanity for thousands of years and how their bloodlines are in the positions of royal, political and economic power today.

I think these guys have found a way to sell books and DVDs and make themselves some buck-a-ronis!

David Icke Interviews Arizona Wilder

Monday, November 06, 2006

Remember to vote tomorrow!

In Illinois we are voting for governor…the incumbent Rod Blagojevich (D) or Judy Baar Topinka (R)

Though both have somewhat tainted records, and also have had to deal with allegations of corruption (and I am not thrilled with the choice, regardless)…I must choose one.

Eeeenie meeeenie miney mo….

well must go with the Dem even though I am not thrilled about it. Topinka’s associations with past Governor, George Ryan (R) (who is going to jail soon on racketeering and fraud convictions)concerns me more than the yet unproven accusations of Blago’s alleged political hiring.

I hate having to pick what I feel is the lesser of two evils. I would love to be able to vote for a candidate who I can at least have respect for.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"Before you open your mouth, know your joke"

UPDATE to better explain my position: it would have been an excellent joke, making an excellent point if he would have remembered the punchline! doh! Someone get some duct tape till elections are over!

Echoes from the Edge

Credit: NASA, ESA, and H. Bond (STScI )

Explanation: Variable star V838 Monocerotis lies near the edge of our Milky Way Galaxy, about 20,000 light-years from the Sun. Still, ever since a sudden outburst was detected in January 2002, this enigmatic star has taken the center of an astronomical stage. As astronomers watch, light from the outburst echoes across pre-existing dust shells around V838 Mon, progressively illuminating ever more distant regions. This stunning image of swirls of dust surrounding the star was recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in September of this year. The picture spans about 14 light-years. Astronomers expect the expanding echoes to continue to light up the dusty environs of V838 Mon for at least the rest of the current decade. Researchers have now found that V838 Mon is likely a young binary star, but the cause of its extraordinary outburst remains a mystery.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Student's "parody" costume of Hitler censored

No one complains about kids dressing up as serial killers or chain-saw murderers and zombie /psycho flesh-eating monsters. Hitler was a monster, so what is wrong with wearing a costume of an evil monster like all the rest of the gruesome costumes found in the Halloween macabre dress-up tradition? Before anyone reminds me that the difference is that Hitler was real, that he killed millions of Jews, and all the stuff which is common knowledge, let me just say that there are also real serial killers, real people who murder with chainsaws and other gruesome methods, and flesh eaters like the Hannibal Lechters and Jeffrey Dahmers who still exist in this world but haven't been caught yet.

Was this student's rights infringed upon?

Student causes stir with Hitler costume

NEW YORK - A Brooklyn high school student caused a stir when he showed up for class dressed as Adolf Hitler for Halloween.
Walter Petryk, 16, defended his costume Tuesday, insisting it was a satire of the Nazi dictator.

But some students and officials at Leon M. Goldstein High School were not impressed.

School administrators ordered the junior honors student to remove his beige coat bearing a red swastika armband or possibly face spending the day in the office, Petryk told the New York Post for Wednesday editions.

Petryk refused, saying his parody was protected by his right to freedom of expression.

Petryk's stepfather, Howard Bloom, who is Jewish and lost relatives during the Nazi genocide, told the Post he was initially "very disturbed" by the costume but nonetheless defended his stepson's rights.

"If he had wanted to advocate my genocide, I wouldn't have allowed" the costume, Bloom said. "That wasn't the spirit in which he was doing this at all. He was doing it in the spirit of Monty Python and Mel Brooks."

The city's Department of Education discipline code allows for the removal of students from class if they wear clothing that causes a disruption.

(It's A HALLOWEEN COSTUME for crying out loud! If they want to be ridiculous, then be fair about it and ban ALL Halloween costumes for being outlandish and absurd and "disrupting" the normal school day. Geesh!)

The student succumbed to the pressure . . .

In order to avoid a disruption on the way to school, Petryk disguised his Hitler getup as a costume of Charlie Chaplin, adding a bowler hat and cane.

Sonnet Written in Disgust of Vulgar Superstition by John Keats

The church bells toll a melancholy round,
Calling the people to some other prayers,
Some other gloominess, more dreadful cares,
More hearkening to the sermon's horrid sound.
Surely the mind of man is closely bound
In some black spell; seeing that each one tears
Himself from fireside joys, and Lydian airs,
And converse high of these with glory crown'd.
Still, still they toll, and I should feel a damp,--
A chill as from a tomb, did I not know
That they are dying like an outburnt lamp;
That 'tis their sighing, wailing ere they go
Into oblivion;--that fresh flowers will grow,
And many glories of immortal stamp.