Nothing New(s) Under the Sun?

i have news for (most of) you.

The Universe is expanding!

That might not be all that exciting news for many and some may even deride it as not conforming with how they view the Universe we all share – clearly the Universe just ‘is’. Anyone can see that – right??

Well, i’m afraid the evidence is pretty much irrefutable as far as those who study the phenomenon goes and those of us who don’t are just going to have to accept it the way we had to when they told us the world wasn’t actually flat and the center of the Universe either.

What i find particularly startling about this news is that it not only shows that science is right about the formation of the Universe – where all the matter we can (and that we can’t) see in the Universe was once jammed into an almost infinitely small, superhot, super-energetic point that ‘exploded’ (The Big Bang) and has continued to expand and cool, thus forming all matter and energy as we know it to be today, but even more weirdly and seemingly non-sensically, the very space that this explosion is ‘filling’ into is itself expanding – even faster than the actual explosion did.

That might need some restating because to most of us it defies all undestanding and logic.

Basically, when we look up into a clear night sky, away from the light pollution of a major city or town, we see stars in our own galaxy. Roughly there are at least 200 billion or so, possibly up to double that number.

If the sky is really clear we can maybe see some faint tiny smudges that are the closest known galaxies to our own, some smaller and some very much larger than ours. These galaxies are so far apart they measure the distance to them in light years or the distance light itself can travel in one whole year – roughly some ten thousand billion kilometers (just under 6 thousand billion miles). The Andromeda Galaxy is around 2 million light years from our Milky Way and is one of our ‘close’ (Universally speaking) neighbours.

It does not matter in which direction you or powerful radio-telescopes look, it is possible to see billions upon billions of glaxies vanishing out into the vast distances of our Universe and the space that comprises it.

Astronomers have known for many decades that all galaxies are moving away from one another as a result of their momentum gained from the Big Bang, when all energy and matter was once at one point and exploded ‘out’ in all directions to create (not fill – there simply was nothing to ‘fill'; there was not even time itself before the expanding matter and energy began it’s travel outwards) the Universe as we have come to know it.

This is not the ‘news’ i mentioned, however.

What science has now shown is that not only are the galaxies moving apart because of their initial movement away from a single point, but that there is a force which adds to this and which is causing the very space and time between the galaxies to ‘expand’ also!

In fact, this force has actually caused the Universe to expand more than the force of the Big Bang explosion has to date and, while it has been decreasing in strength since the very beginning of the Universe almost 14 billion years ago, it is only now about equal to the force of the momentum galaxies obtained because of the Big Bang.

The weirdness of this is, that even though no known matter can travel faster than the speed of light in our Universe and that our Universe is known to be 13.7 billion years old, the size of the ‘observable’ Universe we know today is thought to be a minimum of 78 billion light years, quite possibly it may turn out to be even larger.

In the time the Universe is known to have existed for no matter could possibly have separated by this big a distance. And yet it has.

The only possible answer that astronomers and cosmologists and physicists can deduce is that at the same time the matter in our galaxies are flying away from each other, the very ‘nothingness’ in which they are flying through is itself expanding.

The whole space in which our Universe exists is being stretched and has since the beginning of time. Not only that but the rate at which it has been stretched has not been constant but has speeded up and is now slowing down.

If the concept is a little difficult to wrap your mind around it is a little like an olive pizza dough base! :-) Imagine a bunch of rubbery olives tightly squeezed together, mixed in with some elastic stretchy dough into a very tightly packed ball. Suddenly the ball is ‘released’ by whatever was sticking it together under pressure ( the Big Bang) and the dough and olives start rapidly spreading apart from all of its other parts into a giant ( flat in this case for simplicity) uncooked pizza.

Here the olives are equivalent to the galaxies that formed once the ‘ball’ cooled down enough to allow matter to form, while the dough represents known space.  The weird part is that there seems to be unseen ‘hands’ pulling twirling and stretching the dough ( which pulls apart the olives from one another) into a larger and larger size than the force of the doughs expansion is capable of doing on it’s own! ( It is likely that these ‘hands’ are actually a repulsive force of every particle in the pizza acting in a manner which opposes the drawing-back together force of normal gravity on the Universe’s (pizza’s) mass).

Did that help any? ;-)

Curiously, this effect is only detectable at the intergalactic level – there is no measurable effect within a solar system such as ours – or even within our galaxy. It seems to stay a constant size, while the space between us and Andromeda is getting bigger – and at a rate faster than the two galaxies are actually travelling away from one another in ‘normal’ space.

That is news that both fascinates and boggles my mind.

Thought experiment: if you could create a million light year long ruler and could put it far out in space and observe it for a few million years would it expand along with the empty space it was located in? Would a ‘fixed’ object ‘grow’ in size? Or stay the same?

If it stays the same but the space it is in expands then comparatively, the ruler would then be seen to ‘shrink’??

Given that we cannot actually see ‘empty’ space expand, our shrinking ruler would then seem to show any galaxies in the vicinity were actually moving apart faster than they actually were since the ruler is occupying an increasingly smaller proportion of the space between galaxies and yet is thought to be of constant size?

(This is like measuring the distance an object travels first with a yard long ruler and then later with a foot long ruler and believing the two rulers to be the same. The later measurement is going to show a much greater distance (ruler length) travelled than if we measured both distances with the same length ruler).

What weirdness could be determined concerning velocities measured in similar manner could get quite confusing if, as Einstein showed, time is actually so linked to space that it too is expanding at an intergalactic level.

But i’ll leave that weirdness for another day. :-)

It’s OK – I’ll pay this one (yet again!)

(The following contains comment on Australian politics and climate change. If you believe neither of these are of any importance to your life then it’s probably best you don’t waste any time reading – you will never get the six or seven minutes it might take back you know? Don’t say you weren’t warned).

So let me see if i have this right??

Kevin Rudd and his Australian Labor Party say they believe that the emission of CO2 into our atmosphere by various man-made sources is influencing the world’s climate to heat up and will thus cause serious problems costing us billions to trillions of dollars to counter-act in the coming century so as to limit the devastation those temperatures will cause directly to various susceptible parts of the world and it’s ever-growing population and indirectly to the rest of us when people need to move to find a place to live that can support the growing population flows? (migration)

He also seems to believe that the best way to begin to reduce these pollutant gasses is to introduce ‘targets’ for the country’s total CO2 emissions and at the same time placing a cost on the production of said pollutants on the major emitters of these pollutants ( excepting all agricultural pollution production apparently).

Then, upon finding that the major polluters actually don’t want to lose money by having to pay for their polluting the atmosphere we all breathe and depend upon in more ways than we can count to live on this planet, and who have spent billions buying opposition politicians’ opinions (god forbid they actually had any appropriate scientific abilities to base those opinions upon) which oppose the government’s plan to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and preventing the government’s ETS Bill being passed through Parliament upon it’s first reading, Kev has made amendments which seek to allow the Bill to be passed by the Opposition before Parliament closes for the year (and before the Copenhagen Conference in December).

As if the ‘targets’ Kev and his cronies set (for 2020) were not already weak enough and far lower than the ideals of the Kyoto protocol back in the 1990’s, now he has sold out even more to the polluting industries by making amendments to the ETS Bill that offers them even more of our money to ‘compensate’ them for the costs the ETS would make those industries pay to pollute ( that would them most certainly be recouped from us, the long-suffering and bail-out money-providing public schmucks).

Doubling the public tax-payer money compensation to the coal industry and an extra $4 billion dollars to the power-generating industries that refuse to invest in solar or wind alternative energy sources, preferring to be seduced by the oil and coal magnates into buying up their products and pollutants, is something i find truly sickening – especially since it will largely be me and people very much like me who will be footing the bill while continuing to be polluted by these ‘corporate citizens’.

Given that the choice now seems to be betwen: pay now (and generally continue the pollution) which will do little to nothing to reduce CO2 in our air, or wait and pay for a potentially slightly worse situation in a hundered years or so, my once confrmed ‘Act Now’ philosophy says: Get Stuffed the lot of you and i would rather pay later (50 years or more thanks).

Why is it that those who cause the world’s financial and environmental problems need to be given massive amounts of our money to allow themselves to avoid the consequences of their acts? Thus keeping their enormous profits intact and ensuring we get still more of the same crap?

Nice One Kevin – is it too late to get John Howard back?

Oh, Wait. We already have!

Cupid.

My fellow Aussie blogger David has decided to leave these golden shores (sniff) for the somewhat colder pleasures of the Emerald Isle. (you can read about it over at his blog if you follow the link and scroll down a post or seven).

He has occasionally posted blogs of TV ads so as an homage to my soon-to-be ex-pat blogger i give you…. Cupid.

What’s the Definition of Insanity??

Americans usually buy about 7 billion rounds of ammunition a year, according to the National Rifle Association. In the past year, that figure has jumped to about 9 billion rounds, said NRA spokeswoman Vickie Cieplak.

Quote from: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090923/ap_on_re_us/us_ammo_shortage) 23/09/09

Excuse me?

Seven BILLION rounds per year??

So every single year (a ‘normal’ year that is, not one when people are stocking up  fearing Obama will introduce tighter gun control laws) – but every single year Americans purchase enough ammunition to kill every man, woman and child in the Entire World?? (6.6 billion as of 2007 – Including themselves of course). :shock:

Not only that but they’d have enough left over to kill a reasonably sized deer, elk or bear for every single man, woman and child in the US, every year ( 300 million plus animals dead – per year).

And not only that but they would STILL have enough bullets left over (100,000,000 bullets) that if one round was fired every single second of the day, at a paper target,  they would need to keep on firing for 3 years and 2 months before just one year’s worth of ‘spare’ ammunition (the amount left over after killing everyone on the planet and an animal for every US citizen a year**) bought in the US was used up??

Seven Thousand Million Rounds… each year…

i’m pretty sure i just answered my own question.

.

** of course this was assuming people only use one bullet to kill a person or a thing when in fact, often, several are used/’needed’ to do this. We live in seriously strange times, times when i am perfectly sure the world as i know it has indeed gone insane.

Blog Action Day: I’m Disgusted.

i am an Australian Citizen and have lived in my country of choice (not of Birth) for 40 years. After some 11 years of government by a (haha) ‘Liberal’ government (it is somewhat ironic that the most right-wing conservative government for my entire time of living in this country went under the name of ‘Liberal’ for it’s political party) a new government under the Labor Party (a more central-left form of governance/ideology) was elected in Nov 2007, partly on the party’s stance on working conditions and also on Climate Change, which the former government largely did nothing to address, but chose to suck up to American political resistance on the issue.

The reason for my disgust?

It is that in the ensuing 2 years since coming into power my government is showing all the signs of doing a 180 degree turn-around to the position many felt it was standing for when they voted them into Government.

Most voters who elected the Labor Government would have felt their wishes were being heard when shortly after coming into office Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, announced to appreciative world leaders that Australia was finally becoming a co-signatory to the UN’s IPCC Kyoto Protocol after more than a decade of refusing to officially be a party to international efforts to reduce carbon emissions and addressing world climate change in a united way.

They felt remarkably less like serious action was going to be taken by their government when it announced it’s target goals for greenhouse gas emission reduction.

AUSTRALIA will set an “unconditional” 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions of just 5 per cent if the world fails to act on climate change.

The Rudd Government has committed to a reduction of between 5 and 15 per cent in carbon emissions by 2020.

But the Rudd Government has flagged deeper cuts of up to 15 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 if international agreement can be reached to aggressively cut emissions around the world.’

“This announcement today is inconsistent with the overall actions of the Rudd government to date on climate change in the Pacific region.”
“20-25% emissions reduction by 2020 based on 1990s level was the absolute minimum. Australia has just outdone the minimum!.” (Mr. Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches).

This does not bode well for the original aspirational, and some would say minimum essential, changes needed to minimise the disastrous world-wide results of increasing greenhouse gas emissions that Mr Rudd was talking up in the lead up to his election:

‘The stated goal of the Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, is to reduce emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. Mr (John) Howard, (then Prime Minister)  said this would be financially devastating and was nothing more than a grab for Greens preferences and “cheap applause” at this weekend’s ALP national conference.’ (SMH – Phillip Coorey and Cosima Marriner April 24, 2007)

Nor does it seem to be taking any account of the advice the government sought and paid for in order to determine it’s policies when in government:

‘The architect of the Federal Government’s climate change policy says Australia should make early, deep cuts in greenhouse pollution and press other nations to follow suit.

Economist Ross Garnaut, who today releases the interim report of the Government’s climate change review, also backed the adoption of interim emissions targets.

Professor Garnaut told a solar power function in Adelaide that the Government may need to go further than its target of cutting emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

“Australia would need to be prepared to go considerably further in reduction of emissions as part of an effective global agreement with full participation by major developing countries, designed to reduce risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels,” Prof Garnaut said.’ (http://www.1degree.com.au/node/625)

“This is not the time for delay”

Australian government’s White Paper on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Dec 2008.

With less than 2 months to go before the Copenhagen meeting at which the next world united agreement on Carbon Emissions is supposed to be discussed and agreed to by all participating nations, and Mr Rudd’s government not looking likely to be able to declare any kind of agreed legislation or unamended carbon reduction policy before that date, and so leaving Autralia with no clearly defined internal position on the increasingly hotly disputed topic, that comment is looking increasingly like yet another bit of governmental fluff designed to give the public the idea they are doing something while doing nothing productive what-so-ever.

Admittedly, this is due in large part to the tactics of the federal Opposition who, along with Greens and Independent MP’s, have voted down the government’s first attempt to pass the rather weak legislative framework that has acquired the ire of the powerful coal mining lobbyists, as well as related power supply followers, who all fear losing money as we convert to better forms of generating the power our society increasingly demands and devours.

The mindless bleating of  “Australia will lose (coal-mining) jobs” by those opposed to the Labor government policy is a political furphy, a distraction from truth. Those who spout it to the media completely miss the point that those jobs are causing the world to become ever more and faster polluted, and that we need to move the people in those jobs to new technology and industries that provide better forms of energy generation and corporate profit ASAP.

Industries that have been proven capable of replacing the vast majority of  coal burning industry that was popular in the 1850’s, at virtually no pollution cost and without the massive expenditure and long-term pollution of the planet that the Nuclear Technology industry has consumed and produced since the 1940’s.

Do not be fooled Australia, jobs will not be ‘lost’ but should be transferred and improved as we move into the twenty-first century and out of the 19th century Victorian times of the same old Coal.

Ask yourself how many people die mining coal every year compared to how many die from harvesting sun, wind and wave?

Ask yourself how much a tonne of coal costs to burn compared to how much wind and sunlight costs once the power station is built?

And finally ask yourself how much longer are you prepared to pollute the sky and air we have to breathe (and which governs our environment in so many important ways) by burning fossil fuels like carbon coal and petroleum gas when cleaner alternatives are capable of replacing all of the current sources of power and will be far cheaper overall once the investment is made – once we commit ourselves to living in a better world for all of it’s citizens?

It’s time we started exporting renewable energy technology and resources to utilise it to the world and not our coal and gas.

Then maybe i won’t need to feel disgusted at those who are so desperate for my vote once every three years.

Footnote to ‘Im Disgusted’

The ‘ John Howardisation’ of Kevin Rudd progresses even further as he now uses the former Prime Minister’s term  of  ‘illegal immigrants’ to describe people seeking refuge in Australia before they have even reached the country’s shore and so had their proof of innocence or guilt ( legality or illegality) determined by our justice or immigration system – Nice one John,… errr Kev.

Maybe if Australia stops being a party to making so many people’s homes and lands a war zone we might not be getting the ‘floods’ of ‘ illegals’ most Australians are so very fearful of?

Then we would only have to deal with the millions of people who live in countrys subject to floding caused by global warming – which brings me back to the Coal Industry approved ‘targets’ Mr Rudd has set for future Pollution Reduction mentioned in the post.

i am Different…

alf

i am different to you.

My DNA is different; my fingerprints are different; my retina and iris patterns are different making what i see different to what you do.

My ears are different, i don’t hear the same sound you hear.

My tastebuds are not yours, we don’t like all the same foods.

My skin is not your skin, my experiences are not your experiences and my life is most definitely not like yours – we are completely different beings you and i – We are basically alone – a party of One: and in that we are identical to all other humans living on this small planet with us.

For while i am different to you, there are a number of ways in which we share a common ground, just as there are a myriad of ways we have learned to make ourselves different to each other.

Ways like race, creed, religion, country, language, city, sporting club association and even age groups – the so-called ‘generations’ like X and Y and ‘the Baby-Boomers’. (Those born after World War 2 but before the ‘free-love’ era of the mid 60’s).

We humans are so very good at finding ways to form a group we think we ‘belong’ in because of how we are so very alike, while at the same time ostracising all those who don’t ‘fit in’ who are not the same as us and who show it in ‘weird’ ways that we do not make much effort to understand or recognise as being in any way like (or as good) as ‘we’ are.

We’re so good at it we even do it within the larger ways we make to be in opposition to our fellow human beings (some of whom, if we are really determined to, we can see as not even worthy of the name – or the respect – of being called ‘human’ – and that is what i find truly sickening about ‘us’) we become groups within groups – Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Non-Denominational, Unitarian, Anglican ‘Christians’ in the grouping we have all made called ‘religion’, for one typical example.

Most of us tend to equate ‘different’ ( as in they are different to us) with inferior – after all if their ‘way’ was superior to ours we’d choose to be one of ‘them’ – right? None of us would intentionally choose to be inferior to another group of humans if it was within our power to change – make a change for the better – so clearly since we have not changed (or have changed ‘into’ the group we now associate with most) we are the best we think we can be in our present level of understandings.

Now i am not stupid enough to believe that all of us actually think that about ourselves – perhaps not even about those ‘others’  – but in reality this is what is going on at some level somewhere down in the rather murky depths of our sub-conscious.

You know – the places where we dare not shine a light too brightly for fear of what we will see in there staring wild-eyed back at us. The dark recesses of our inner being where fear and insecurity lie as we try to push it’s ugly little head away from the eyes of our friends – the ones in our group with whom we so desperately want to belong and are afraid that if they ever see that creature inside of us they will despise us forever and we will be cast into the pit of lonely hell on our own – with no-one but old mad wild-eyes for companionship. (and maybe Hitler and Osama when he croaks it)?

The fact that all of those in our group are doing much the same thing never quite seems to register with us – or only very infrequently when we gain a sudden flash of insight – which is often then suppressed and forgotten about because really – we have no idea of how to deal with what we then see or know – about them, about ‘us’ and about ‘me’.

about how different i am (we are) to what i wish i was (we were).

if the mood strikes me, and if He wills it – i might just write another post about one way we can learn how to deal with the difference… a way of Hope.

But maybe most of my readers know of it already so what would be the point?

(and yes – if any are interested – it’s been one of ‘those’ days… months even?)

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