Showing posts with label Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Science. Show all posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get me a ticket for Yellowknife

By Donald Sensing



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Monday, July 14, 2014

"Where is everybody?" revisited

By Donald Sensing

The Fermi Paradox | Wait But Why

Physicist Enrico Fermi is well known for posing a famous paradox now named after him, the question that if life in the universe is (presumably) not uncommon, "Where is everybody?"

The linked piece is a good summary of potential answers, but it would be better if the author had not immaturely thought that gutter profanity made his writing better.


Also, in neither of these essays are two very possible reasons that we have not encountered highly-advanced species in our galaxy, assuming there are any. One reason is that those species simply stayed at home immersed in highly-advanced porn and other entertainment. (Don't laugh, just think about it.) The other is that extended space flight will simply kill you. Both here.

Update: Now NASA scientists say that we will discover life on other worlds within only 20 years. They didn't claim it will be intelligent life, mind; they'll be happy to find slime. It is not the first such claim they have made.

Of course, such a claim has nothing to do with trolling for increased funding.

All of this may make sense, but it all depends on the assumption that earth and humanity are typical examples of planets and life anywhere else in the universe. This is usually referred to as the Theory of Mediocrity, that earth and its creatures are just average, universally. The problem is that Mediocrity is not a scientific conclusion but a presumption that is necessary for ETI searchers to do any work at all.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Odds of IRS hard drive failures well beyond astronomically against

By Donald Sensing

American Digest:


I run a data center. Disk drives that are left running continuously last between two and three years. Three years is about 36 months.
The odds of a disk failing in any given month are roughly one in 36. The odds of two different drives failing in the same month are roughly one in 36 squared, or 1 in about 1,300. The odds of three drives failing in the same month is 36 cubed or 1 in 46,656. The odds of seven different drives failing in the same month is 37 to the 7th power = 1 in 78,664,164,096.

Of course this is very simplified because disk failure modes are more at end-of-service-life rather than linearly spread over median life. So what if I am off by a factor of 4X? This crude calculation gets us into the same astronomical ballpark. You could insure against this event happening by buying lottery tickets. --theBuckWheat Comment at Doug Ross @ Journal: GEORGE WILL ON MIRACULOUS IRS COINCIDENCE OF CRASHED HARD DRIVES: "Religions Have Been Founded on Less"

Let the record reflect that I am not a mathematician and certainly not a statistician. But ISTM that the data center operator's math and methodology are incorrect. I think he has made a statistical error in treating the HDs failures as related events when they are independent events.

If the expected life span of an HD is 36 months, and for simplicity ignoring that failures occur nearer the end than the beginning, then each HD has a 1/36 chance of failing in any given month - regardless of what the HD one office away does. So the 1/36 odds per hard drive never change.

The incredulity therefore is not over failing HDs per se, but that the exact same people for whom the committee wants to read their emails are the ones whose HDs failed, and at the same time.

As Yogi Berra said in a different context, "It's too coincidental to be a coincidence."

To calculate the odds of that we have to place those HDs into the universe of possibles, which would be the total number of like workstations in the entire IRS.

Googling tells me that the IRS has 89,500 employees. Not all have email, of course, but let's be very generous and say only 50,000 do. That's 50K HDs, each with a 1/36 chance of failure in any given month.

That means that in any given month, 1/36 of the 50K drives will fail, or 1,388 drives each month.

But - and feel free to check my math - that means that the chances of specifically Lerner's HD failing in that particular month is 1/1,388. And the same odds for each of the other six drives.

That's where you start multiplying the odds together. Excel tells me that 1/1388 is 0.00072, or 0.072 percent chance. Now we calculate the odds of all seven specific HDs failing, which is .072 pc X .072 ... seven times.

And that makes the final odds 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent.

Expressed in notation, it is 1.01E-66. (I'm letting Excel calculate all this.)

To what may we compare this? Well, how about the number of stars in the entire universe? According to,
Kornreich used a very rough estimate of 10 trillion galaxies in the universe. Multiplying that by the Milky Way's estimated 100 billion stars results in a large number indeed: 100 octillion stars, or 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, or a "1" with 29 zeros after it. Kornreich emphasized that number is likely a gross underestimation, as more detailed looks at the universe will show even more galaxies.
I have never seen an estimate of 10 trillion galaxies before, the top number I have ever seen in "only" 500 billion. But let's leave it at 10 T:

Number of stars in 10 trillion galaxies: 1.00E+29

Odds of those seven particular IRS HDs failing the same month:

Please note that according to Universe Today, there are about 1.0E+80 atoms in the entire universe.

So the odds against those seven identified HDs failing at the same time is sensibly comparable to the inverse of the number of atoms in the entire universe.

Again, I would welcome math checking!

Update: I got an email from a long-time reader who signed his name but asked me to protect it. He has someone with three and a half decades of experience in this sort of thing. Here is is, unedited:
While I don't believe for a second the IRS's excuses, these putative spontaneous disk drive failures wouldn't necessarily be independent events.  The phrase "common mode failure" strikes fear in the hearts of engineers, and it's been observed many times that a batch of disks fail at about the same time.  Perhaps their shipping container got banged a little to much in transit from the Far East (best guess we had at one point for a common problem with Seagate drives).  Or a common part or design flaw in the same or more than one lot of disks.  IF these computers were all deployed at the same time from the same source it *could* happen with not quite so astronomical odds.... Also, a few years ago a couple of studies of massive installations of hard drives was done, one by Google (takeaways were that disk drive engineers seem to have a very good handle on heat, and 1/2 of those that fail will do so without any warning), and one of a number of huge supercomputers, which had thousands of drives. The relevant detail from that study is that disk drives don't follow the bathtub curve of failure.  They almost always work out of the box, and start wearing down sometime in their 2nd year of service. I focus more on the timing, Lerner's drive supposedly failed 10 days after the letter from the Congressman got things rolling, they canceled their backup service 2 months after the letter, the other convenient failures, with the clearest sign of ill will being the IRS's discarding of her drive, instead of sending it to a recovery facility.  You'resimply not allowed to do the latter once you're on notice, unless, of course, you're above the law.  Which this crowd currently is. Anyway, the above nits aside, I've found your blog to be very worthwhile over the years, I'm glad you've back from your pause, and am looking forward to your essay on why the Republicans will never gain the presidency again.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life?

By Donald Sensing

Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life? – Tim Maudlin – Aeon

And the answer is: It isn't!

The idea that the billions of visible galaxies, to say nothing of the expanses we can’t see, exist for our sake alone is patently absurd. Scientific cosmology has consigned that notion to the dustbin of history.
Well, no. The size and density of the universe is wholly irrelevant to the question of life on earth. When the universe big banged into existence, there were only two courses it could take: expand or collapse. Obviously, it didn't collapse because here we are.

It expanded. As the consequence, it is the size it is. If no life had formed on earth or anywhere else in the entire universe, the universe would still be the size that it is. So the idea that the universe is just "wasting space" (Sagan) if humans are the only life has exactly the same basis as the religious claim that humanity is indeed all there is: ideological/religious conviction.

String theory is purely hypothetical, really just physicists' science fiction, though written with equations rather than prose. If a mere 10 equations of a particular type don't make the universe hypothetically self creating (Hawking), then voila! Eleven does just the trick! Instead of turtles all the way down, they have equations.

Why the frantic publishing by such figures to show earth is merely average? There is in fact no shred of scientific evidence for it. All the exoplanets claimed to be "earthlike" are nothing of the kind except in a very limited number of ways - size, distance from  their stars and so forth  - but in no way are the similarities claimed much relevant to hosting life. Maybe the earth is mediocre and maybe it's not. We just don't know.

We are dealing with a vast universe of questions for which the only honest answer is, "We don't know at all" and yet pronouncements like this keep pushing forward.

Why? The only reason I can think of is to make God go away. But that's an ideological, indeed religious position, yet you'll never hear a scientists admit that. Instead, more frantic working of computers and equations to churn out more science fiction.

We do not know. And simply writing more science fiction will not tell us.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What if Yellowstone erupted when we got EMP-attacked?

By Donald Sensing

The Yellowstone caldera is the remains of a super-volcano that has erupted three times during the last two million years, the most recent 640,000 years ago. The caldera isn't dead; it could erupt again any time. In fact, lesser volcanic eruptions have occurred many times since then.

Such an eruption would be a world-significant event and would devastate life in almost all the western United States. Compare the previous eruptions' ash fall with that of Mount St. Helen's ash fall:

This map from the U.S. Geological Service shows the range of the volcanic ash that was deposited after the three huge eruptions over the last 2.1 million years.
This map from the U.S. Geological Service shows the range of the volcanic ash that was deposited after the three huge eruptions over the last 2.1 million years.
Reader Don. P. emails:
I found this little article on alleged contingency planning in the event that the Yellowstone caldera erupts. I don’t know how reliable the site is; today is the first time I’ve looked at it. Intriguing, at least for me. And much less depressing than reading most of the political commentary out there.

I’m reminded of sf writer H. Beam Piper’s Future History series, where much of what was left of western civilization is relocated to the southern hemisphere before a nuclear war devastates the northern hemisphere.
According to the site, the South Africans say that if the caldera goes up, they will not accept American refugees because we are too white.

But if the Yellowstone caldera exploded at the same time as a North Korean EMP warhead a few hundred miles overhead, we'd really be screwed!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

UFOs cause global warming!

By Donald Sensing

Holy cow, global warming is not anthropogenic - it's alienogenic! Science says so! Do aliens cause global warming? The data say ‘yes!’

It’s been over 11 years since the late novelist Michael Crichton advanced the hypothesis that aliens cause global warming. 
I decided it was time to test his claim with real data. 
Well, sure enough, the monthly UFO reports in recent decades are highly correlated with the increase in global ocean heat content. In fact, the relationship is so strong, if this was an epidemiological study it would be time to regulate UFOs. 
Between 1979 and 2011 the number of UFO reports has been increasing right along with the average temperature of the upper 700 meters of ocean:Fig. 1. Time series of monthly UFO reports and global average ocean temperature anomalies from the surface to 700 m depth. Trailing 12-month averages are also shown.Fig. 1. Time series of monthly UFO reports and global average ocean temperature anomalies from the surface to 700 m depth. Trailing 12-month averages are also shown.The correlation between UFO reports and ocean temperature is over 0.95, clearly better than the correlation between that boring old carbon dioxide and ocean warming
More at the link. Jeepers! (Hat tip: Don Parker, via email)

I would note that many “serious” UFO researchers say that in fact the UFO’s are not sent by alien species, but by human societies from the far future. UFOs are basically time machines, which they say explains why they seem often to move instantly across the sky.

If so, and if these (non)aliens are causing global warming, then it obviously is because they know something we don’t and we’d better let them get on with their work if we know what’s good for us! 

And while we are at it, here is your UFO fix for the day. 

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The three different types of cold weather

By Donald Sensing

Learning To Distinguish Different Types Of Cold | Real Science

It is important that we learn to distinguish between natural cold, global cooling cold, and global warming cold. The chart below makes the distinctions abundantly clear.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ah, atheism

By Donald Sensing

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Why was Galileo forced to recant?

By Donald Sensing

Galileo declared that the Copernicus was right, that the earth revolved around the sun. He offered astronomical observations to support it. For this he was tried by the Catholic Church and forced to recant. But was the reason that his heliocentric theory contradicted the Bible, as almost everyone thinks?

Nope. Furthermore, Galileo was a devout Christian and his theories were actually mostly confirmed by Jesuits long before his trial. Galileo's greatest opposition came not from the church, but from secular quarters, including many other, prominent astronomers, including Tycho Brahe.

The real issue was that heliocentrism contradicted Aristotle and Ptolemy, who, despite having been pagans, were held in high regard by the Church and by academics and intellectuals of the day.

More: How Critics of Christianity Often Distort the Story of Galileo

Update: Via email from John Moore:

There was another important reason for Galileo's rather mild persecution: he intentionally ridiculed, in a book, important figures in the church establishment - a ridicule not necessary or even relevant to his scientific arguments. In those times, ridiculing important people wasn't too bright, and even his good friend, the Pope, was forced to act. 
A couple of other assertions I have read:
  • one reason some leading astronomers were against him was his incorrect and vehement insistence that all orbits were round
  • he insisted that a miracle (the sun stood still) could not have happened because of his theories. That is a philosophically inconsistent assertion - especially given his belief in an omnipotent God. 
Good points, John, thanks!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

First Contact by 2040? Nope.

By Donald Sensing

The Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence (SETI) project has been going on for 54 years now. No intelligent life  - or life at all - has been found off earth, but the universe is vast and the project is young. 

Now SETI's Seth Shostak says,

"I think we'll find E.T. within two dozen years using these sorts of experiments," Shostak said here Thursday (Feb. 6) during a talk at the 2014 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium at Stanford University. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life
"Instead of looking at a few thousand star systems, which is the tally so far, we will have looked at maybe a million star systems" 24 years from now, Shostak said. "A million might be the right number to find something." 
Shostak's optimism is based partly on observations by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, which has shown that the Milky Way galaxy likely teems with worlds capable of supporting life as we know it. 
"The bottom line is, like one in five stars has at least one planet where life might spring up," Shostak said. "That's a fantastically large percentage. That means in our galaxy, there's on the order of tens of billions of Earth-like worlds."
I am sure, though, that this bold prediction is wholly unrelated to the fact that the article later says that, "getting enough funding to keep scanning the skies is a constant problem."

So let's just say we are right on the edge of success and with millions more dollars we'll succeed! But of course, that's just coincidental. 

The faith that life necessarily exists off earth is called the "theory of mediocrity" because it holds that conditions on earth are simply average and that life-producing conditions are therefore abundant in the universe. But even SETI advocates admit that there is a huge leap from the formation of life to the rise of life that is at least human-level intelligent. 
The first evidence of microbial life on Earth, for instance, dates from 3.8 billion years ago — just 700 million years after our planet formed. But it took another 1.7 billion years for multicellular life to evolve. Humans didn't emerge until 200,000 years ago, and we've become a truly technological species in just the last century or so.
Science writer Mark Thompson explains that even a 14-billion-year-old universe may not be old enough to result in planets teeming with life, especially intelligent life.
It seems that the evolution of stars precluded the formation of rocky planets much before the appearance of Population I stars. If that is the case, and adding a generous margin for error, it looks like the first planets like Earth would have formed no earlier than 8 billion years ago. 
If that is true, then it may well be that we are not necessarily the first life, but perhaps amongst the first intelligent life (as we know it) to evolve.
Furthermore, there is no teleology in evolution theory. No outcome is inevitable, there are no such things as "higher" life forms. There is only survival, or not. Hence, technological, inventive beings are not a rational or inevitable development of evolution at all. There is no "rational" development of life in the first place and no evolutionary outcome is inevitable in any way.

Harvard biologist Ernst Mayr has pointed out that since life first appeared on Earth, there have been an estimated 50 billion species. And yet only one, us, has developed high intelligence. Mayr says that such intelligence does not obviously offer a species survival advantage and hence may be so rare that homo sapiens may be a "one off" in the universe.

The ponderous word overlaying all this is "if." If life exists at all in earth or elsewhere simply because of the chance compounding of chemicals in bio-capable worlds, then it is very difficult to confidently conclude that human beings are remotely likely to encounter any kind of life off earth. Why? Because the odds are so supremely unlikely that life formed here on earth by chance that for life to also have formed elsewhere would be like winning a million-dollar lottery a million times in a row, according to Astronomy magazine editor Robert Naeye. 

That is one reason that Robert Griffiths, who won the Heinemann prize in mathematical physics, stated, 
"If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn't much use."
But suppose there are between 200-500 billion intelligent species in the universe. Does that sound like a lot? It's only one per galaxy. 

In 2011 I put together a slide show on this topic. It is below and just below it is a video from the SciAm site that is a good overall summary of the current scientific state of thinking. 

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ancient Jews and dancing bears

By Donald Sensing

There is an old saying that the remarkable thing about a dancing bear is not how well it dances, but that it dances at all.

So why, exactly, would the ancient Hebrews be the sole people of their day who understood things that scientists have only recently confirmed? The remarkable thing is not that they got so much right, but that they got anything right at all, because no one else of their day did.

Click here.

This, too.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Calling Mr. Maunder

By Donald Sensing

Wait for it! Yes, it's climate change!

Is a mini ice age on the way? Scientists warn the Sun has 'gone to sleep' and say it could cause temperatures to plunge.

Snoozing Sun

It's just genius to have replaced "global warming" with "climate change." It's no lose. No matter what happens, you are right!

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Squaring improbabilities

By Donald Sensing

I've had the link below for awhile now, waiting for a "hook" to hang it on to post, but what the hey, here it is by itself. 

I only took bonehead biology, so I am not academically qualified to speak to the topic. Nonetheless, it occurs to me that as severely improbable as the uncaused appearance of life is in the primeval earth, how much more unlikely would it be that a single cell organism would both: 

(a) randomly become organized from non-living compounds into a living organism, and

(b) also be capable of mitosis, or reproduction. That is an incredibly complex process and the first cell had to get it right the first time. 

That self-replicating life just spontaneously popped into being is to square improbabilities to the point of incredulity. No wonder that MIT mathematician Murray Eden is quoted in the article that the chance emergence of life from non-life is impossible.

See also, "A Chemist Tells the Truth." 

How do you get DNA without a cell membrane? And how do you get a cell membrane without a DNA? And how does all this come together from this piece of jelly? We have no idea, we have no idea. 
  • BONDING: You need 99 peptide bonds between the 100 amino acids. The odds of getting a peptide bond is 50%. The probability of building a chain of one hundred amino acids in which all linkages involve peptide bonds is roughly (1/2)^99 or 1 chance in 10^30.
  • CHIRALITY: You need 100 left-handed amino acids. The odds of getting a left-handed amino acid is 50%. The probability of attaining at random only L–amino acids in a hypothetical peptide chain one hundred amino acids long is (1/2)^100 or again roughly 1 chance in 10^30.
  • SEQUENCE: You need to choose the correct amino acid for each of the 100 links. The odds of getting the right one are 1 in 20. Even if you allow for some variation, the odds of getting a functional sequence is (1/20)^100 or 1 in 10^65.
The final probability of getting a functional protein composed of 100 amino acids is 1 in 10^125. Even if you fill the universe with pre-biotic soup, and react amino acids at Planck time (very fast!) for 14 billion years, you are probably not going to get even 1 such protein. And you need at least 100 of them for minimal life functions, plus DNA and RNA. 
Let's take a look at that 10^125:1 odds of getting a single protein working by chance. Just to eyeball the number, here it is:


This is a 10 followed by 125 zeroes. Excel spreadsheet writes it as 1E+126.

Now bear with me: The area of the earth in square inches is 790,453,002,240,000,000 (790 quadrillion-plus). In Excel, that is rendered 7.90E+18 (to two decimal places).

How many earths would it take to equal 10^125 square inches?

It would take 1.27E+108 earths.  That looks like this:

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planet earths.

Now imagine that all of these earths are covered completely with Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, which are close enough to a square inch in size to work for illustrations purposes. One single cookie is missing its chocolate outer coating. One. Single. Cookie.

Your task is to find that odd cookie. You can pick up, examine and return one cookie per second, and we will assume there is no time between cookies and that you will never need to take a break for any reason.

How long will elapse before you have examined half the cookies? The answer is 1.59E+118 years.

The universe is said by scientists to 14.5 billion years old. So to have only a 50 percent chance of finding the defective cookie, at random, turning over one per second, you would need to spend 1.09E+108 times as long as the universe has been in existence.

These calculations knock flat the idea that “given enough time” anything can happen by random chance. There just has not been enough time, by quadrillions of quadrillions of years, for even a half-chance to get one functional protein by chance, and you need at least 100 proteins for even the simplest unicellular organism. Plus DNA and RNA, which have their own probability issues.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Universe is Going to Collapse!

By Donald Sensing

The University of Southern Denmark:
Maybe it happens tomorrow. Maybe in a billion years. Physicists have long predicted that the universe may one day collapse, and that everything in it will be compressed to a small hard ball. New calculations from physicists at the University of Southern Denmark now confirm this prediction – and they also conclude that the risk of a collapse is even greater than previously thought.

It is, once again,The End Of Life As We Know It! Let me count the ways:
  1. The giant asteroid that could be on course to hit Earth causing massive devastation
  2. Or the scenario this year as an obscure Planet X -- or Nibiru -- heads toward or collides into Earth
  3. Or that "Unseen dark comets 'could pose deadly threat to earth'." 
  4. That's if we live long enough - doubtful because of the comet Genondahwayanung is on its way back and it pretty much annihilated most life in North America when it came here the first time.
  5. Not to worry about that, though, since we face supernova and galaxy-attack scenarios
  6. And then the massive gas cloud speeding toward a collision with the Milky Way
  7. But really, who cares about threats from outer space when out own atmosphere may detonate
  8. And then the asteroids
  9. Then the black hole death stars
  10. And we might be swallowed whole by the sun
  11. And there's an intense beam of gamma rays coming our way
  12. Then there was the fear that "human society is very quickly headed to a violent and disturbing end." 
  13. Then the earth began to kill people for changing its climate. 
  14. Then there is the voracious, galactic Hoover in Switzerland that will suck the whole planet into a black hole. 
  15. And the massive destruction along the coasts of countries like the USA, UK and many on the African continent, within a matter of hours.
  16. But don't worry about the universe collapsing since that cannot happen before our galaxy rams into another one.
I tell ya, I'm starting to think that sooner or later, every one of us is going to wind up dead.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

How science points toward God

By Donald Sensing

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Friday, July 5, 2013

What did NASA photograph in space from the ISS?

By Donald Sensing

Here is the link to a photo released this past spring that appears on NASA's web site:

Click on it to see a photo of the earth as seen from the International Space Station. I can't tell what portion of the planet it shows. When the page loads, it resolves to a size that fits the browser page. Click your mouse in the picture and it will magnify to a much higher (and I assume the shot's original) resolution.

Now page up all the way to the top of the photo and peer carefully at the area between the earth's horizon and the top of the pic. There you will see this:

Look in the center of the shot, barely above the atmosphere's blur:

 What is that? Is it orbiting the earth or is it in space? Anyone have an idea? And remember - NASA released this photo.

Comments on. Keep them clean.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Git yer tinfoil hat on, folks

By Donald Sensing

Ok, this is going to be a very unusual post for me because the topic is UFOs. So get your tinfoil hat on and take a ride.

This all started when I was searching YouTube for national-security related vids when a search result caught my eye, entitled, UFO Alien Disclosure by Canadian Minister of Defense May 2013. (Apparently this video is not embedable.)

The former Canadian defense minister in question is Paul Hellyer, who served in that role (equivalent to the US secretary of defense) in the 1960s. In this and other videos, he states unambiguously that UFOs are non-terrestrial craft, directed by extra-terrestrial, highly intelligent beings. That makes Mr. Hellyer the most senior person I have ever heard of who claimed this.

As you may know, I have posted many times that some scientists say that the odds of human beings having come into existence are so incredibly remote that concluding homo sapiens is alone in the universe is quite reasonable.

Without offering here any opinion of whether Hellyer's claims have merit, in a different interview he gave he made reference to a book written by someone named Corso, an American colonel. Hellyer said that an American Air Force general told him that every word of the book was true. Hellyer said he had no way to assess the veracity of the book's claims personally, except that being a defense insider the language of the book rang true and that the contexts of the book were convincing.

It was easy to find the book on Amazon, especially since it is the only book that the late Lt. Col. Phillip Corso wrote. It's called The Day After Roswell. Since it was only $6 on Kindle, I downloaded it.

Again, I am not here affirming or debunking Corso's claims (he died in 1998 at age 83). But I kept  Hellyer's observations in mind about how the book read like it was written from an "inside baseball" perspective. And Hellyer is right.

Corso served as a White House member of the National Security Council in the 1950s and as deputy of the US Army's Foreign Technology Office in the Pentagon from 1960-1963. He claims in the book that his personal office in the Pentagon held the cabinet in which was stored the Army's files of what really happened at Roswell and some actual artifacts from the UFO that crashed there. Exploiting alien technology for mass production for military and later civilian use was his main job there.

At any rate, Corso says that all the services distrusted the CIA (Corso says that as an intelligence officer he knew the CIA was well penetrated by the Soviet KGB). But the part that stuck me as absolutely authentic and from someone who had truly "been there" was this passage:

This is so cogent, so authentic that it is what makes me think that whether Corso's UFO claims are objectively true, Corso was relating what he believed to be true. Accounts I have read by former Soviet spies confirm what Corso says about the deep suspicion the KGB and the Communist Party had of each other. (In fact, the Party, the Soviet army and the KGB were all highly suspicious and extremely competitive of each other.) Corso spends a lot of time explaining the politics of the multiple duchies Pentagon and the strategies they all employed to "steal the bacon" from one another - much like their Soviet counterparts except without the Soviet's level of hostility. It was no different in Corso's years at the Pentagon than it was during mine there, 30 years later.

Final point. Here is what Corso says are the main exploitations the United States gained from the Roswell crash.

Project Horizon was the Army's plan for a permanent moon base that never got farther than the drawing board. HARP, despite its tinfoil-hat status today, was nothing more than a concept to send base materials to the moon cheaply. It did move from drawing board to testing, but no farther.

Not all these technologies were derived directly from alien technology. Depleted uranium was no alien invention, it was (and is) produced by nuclear-power plants as spent fuel. Army R&D realized that because of its extremely high density, solid projectiles made of DU, traveling at hypervelocity, would be devastatingly powerful at impact. This was ultimately affirmed during the Gulf War of 1991 and again in Iraq and Afghanistan by US tanks firing such rounds at a mile per second. But the reason DU was developed as a weapon, Corso says, was to shoot down UFOs.

Same with particle-beam weapons that work by focusing beams of electrons against a target. It was not a technology found on the Roswell craft. Hypothesizing that the craft was likely brought down by a lightning strike, which is a high-energy electron beam, research was oriented toward, basically, generating our own lightning. The whole point of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, in fact was to develop anti-UFO weapons for which defense against Soviet ICBMs was a happy bonus.

Whether you consider Corso credible or not, it is fascinating reading, especially if you already have some familiarity with the military or political subcultures of Washington, D.C.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

If the Milky Way was the size of the USA . . .

By Donald Sensing

... our sun would be the size of a white blood cell.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Speaking of Intelligent Design . . .

By Donald Sensing

I posted a short quote of Harvard University geneticist George Church about the hypothesis of intelligent design in evidence from the structure of various things in the universe. George is not defending or advocating ID. He's saying that the jury must still be considered out. See here.

Which brings me to this question, "What are the odds of getting a functional protein by chance?" Well, see for yourself:

  • BONDING: You need 99 peptide bonds between the 100 amino acids. The odds of getting a peptide bond is 50%. The probability of building a chain of one hundred amino acids in which all linkages involve peptide bonds is roughly (1/2)^99 or 1 chance in 10^30.
  • CHIRALITY: You need 100 left-handed amino acids. The odds of getting a left-handed amino acid is 50%. The probability of attaining at random only L–amino acids in a hypothetical peptide chain one hundred amino acids long is (1/2)^100 or again roughly 1 chance in 10^30.
  • SEQUENCE: You need to choose the correct amino acid for each of the 100 links. The odds of getting the right one are 1 in 20. Even if you allow for some variation, the odds of getting a functional sequence is (1/20)^100 or 1 in 10^65.
The final probability of getting a functional protein composed of 100 amino acids is 1 in 10^125. Even if you fill the universe with pre-biotic soup, and react amino acids at Planck time (very fast!) for 14 billion years, you are probably not going to get even 1 such protein. And you need at least 100 of them for minimal life functions, plus DNA and RNA.
Draw your own conclusions. And here is the video:

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