The steady-state environment delusion

A selection of galaxies colliding.

Cosmologists have calculated that our particular universe is 13.7 billion years old. It came into existence with the big bang, as did space and time. It’s big. It consists of lots of matter, especially hydrogen, which has aggregated into different objects. The ones we see in the night sky are the stars. We call our star the Sun. When enough matter coalesces in a certain way, it ignites into a star, which is nothing more than a vast nuclear fusion reactor which cooks hydrogen down progressively to heavier elements such as iron, before it either becomes dormant, implodes or explodes in an event called a nova or in the case of a big one, a supernova. Any one of these three ways a star ends is worthy of an article in itself.

Around a star, other aggregations of matter called planets form and are captured by the star’s gravitational field. We call this arrangement of a star with planets revolving around it a solar system and it seems to be pretty common. We live on the third planet in our solar system and we call it the Earth. Over the last two decades we’ve become better at being able to detect extremely large planets revolving around distant stars. I’ve no doubt that as our detection methods improve, we’ll start to detect more Earth-sized planets as well.

Solar systems tend to aggregate into collections of solar systems called galaxies. Our solar system is located in a galaxy we call the Milky Way. It’s a spiral galaxy and we’re located far out in it, near the end of one of its swirly arms which is why, when we look towards the centre of our galaxy, we see that broad strip of stars in the night sky we call the Milky Way. Essentially, we’re near the edge of a disc of stars looking in. How many stars are in our galaxy? Well, nobody knows exactly but estimates range from 100 billion to 400 billion, so if we take the mid-point then a workable number is 250 billion. Let’s pay that number some respect. That’s 250 with nine zeroes after it or 250,000,000,000  or 30 Suns for each one of the 7 billion people on the Earth. Spiral galaxies are quite common and there’s nothing particularly distinguished about our one. It’s approximately 100,000 light years in diameter and our solar system revolves once around the galactic centre every 250 million Earth years or so.

How many planets are there in our particular galaxy? For that number we have to do what’s known in the parlance as a “swag” or Scientific Wild-Assed Guess. The alternative word, denoting an even rougher guess, substitutes half-assed for wild-assed but it can be misinterpreted. Assuming our solar system is somehow an average one in that it contains ten planets, then it gives a swag of 2.5 trillion planets but Lord knows how many of them have moons, which do seem the best bet for finding extraterrestrial life, of whatever humble form, in our own solar system. Although some planets may be more desirable than others, it’s still 300 planets with their moons for each and every one of us.

The nearest star in the Milky Way to our solar system is Proxima Centauri, which is just over four light-years distant. The light from it takes four years to reach us. Light from our Sun takes four years to reach Proxima Centauri. What this means is when you look at that star, what you’re actually seeing is what it looked like four years ago. Some stars are light-millenia or more distant from us. The night sky is a time machine, a view into not just the past but the past at several different time points depending on the distance of the particular object you’re looking at. It’s almost certain that some of those stars we admire in our night sky no longer exist and that there are new ones that have been burning brightly for millenia whose light has yet to reach us.

Now that you’ve got the beginning of an impression of how big our own particular galaxy is, the next question is how many galaxies are there in the universe? The answer is difficult for a number of reasons but we do know it’s a very large number. To give you an idea of it, the Hubble telescope examined a postage stamp sized piece of the visible universe for over a year. The area under observation was a tenth of one millionth of the sky. In that area alone, 3,000 galaxies were counted. Like I said, it’s big. So big that the distances and numbers involved are quite simply beyond human comprehension. They’re not even swagable.

We get into the realms of what’s termed the “observable universe” too, which has very little to do with how good our telescope technology is. Galaxies can be so far away from us that light from them simply hasn’t had time to reach us yet. It’s that big and it’s a tumultuous and violent place too. Everywhere we look, we see remnants of novas and supernovas, galaxies colliding, galaxies forming, neutron stars, black holes and other even more esoteric and dangerous objects and materials. There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there which I won’t be going into but feel free to dive into it yourself; you won’t be disappointed. The energies involved are simply titanic.

Our own planet was hit very early on in its life by a smaller planet, the remnant of which, with some very large chunks of our planet, went on to form our very own satellite, the Moon. To this day, we still have a souvenir of that crust-shattering impact in the form of moving plate tectonics. Over geological timescales, the plates have come together to form new continents and then split asunder at regular intervals. Where they crash into one another, vast mountain ranges like the Himalayas are created. The borders between them give us our volcanic and earthquake zones. The continent we call the Antarctic used to be a green and verdant place till it split off and drifted to the cold south polar region to be encased in ice. Everything on it died.

Our planet Earth is approximately 4.3 billion years old and a product of a violent universe. How do I know this? Dig into it and you’ll find iron and other heavy elements which can only be made in the nuclear heart of a star. The only way such material can be released into the cosmos is if a star blows up in a nova or some other catastrophic event, distributing matter across the universe. We, our planet and everything on it are quite literally made from the star-dust of long ago exploded stars.

It’s only in the last billion years that multicellular life appeared on Earth. Simple creatures appeared about 600 million years ago and mammals about 200 million years ago. Several species of proto-humans and I’m being very generous here with the “humans” bit, came along contemporaneously about 2.5 million years ago and our particular species, Homo Sapiens (that’s you and I by the way), only appeared about 200 thousand years ago. As a species, we’ve come far and fast and in a very short period of time.

One very hard figure to find is the average lifespan of a species or even any agreed consensus on any number; we simply don’t know. Various studies come up with various figures, the most optimistic by a very long chalk being 2 million years. Allowing for that, 99.9% of all species that have ever existed on the face of the Earth are extinct and the overwhelming majority of them left no offspring species behind. No species has ever survived forever and extinction rather than speciation, seems to be the general rule.

The Dinosaurs were knocking about for 150 million years and died off about 65 million years ago. They got hit by a mass extinction but mass extinctions were old news by that time. It had all happened before and several times. There was one before theirs called the Great Extinction. That baby took out 95% of the species on our planet, even most of the insects, and we still don’t really know what caused it. About 2.4 billion years ago, another one of the extinction events was caused by new organisms releasing massive amounts of a poisonous gas into the atmosphere. It wiped out zillions of other organisms but a handful of them managed to adapt to it and thrive. The world recovered. The poisonous gas was called oxygen.

Even in our relatively short time as a species, we’ve had a few brushes with extinction. The Black Death swept across Europe in the Middle Ages and killed one-third of the population. There wasn’t enough people to bury all the dead; in the end, the closest they could come to doing a Christian burial was to fill up the cellars of the churches with the bodies. In many cathedrals in Europe, the bones are still there. In two years, the flu epidemic that followed the end of World War I killed more people than had died in the entire war; estimates range between 50 and a 100 million people. Since it appeared to favour killing young adults of child rearing age, the very real spectre of the end of us as a species was widely contemplated in government circles across the world, though that fear was never made public. It stopped suddenly and we’re still not entirely sure why it did.

If you’ve ever been at sea in a big storm or caught out in open country when some extreme weather arrives, you’ll know on a personal level what every creature on the face of the Earth knows. Anytime Mother Nature decides to do so, she can reach out and snatch the life right out of you. As in individuals, so in species, planets, stars and galaxies. The forces ranged against us and all other species are massive beyond any real meaningful comprehension and our climate is just another one of them. Nature is indifferent to our very existence. The idea that we’ve any effect on forces like these and can also somehow conserve things in some supposed ideal balanced state, is not just childish but simply ignorant beyond all belief.

If we have one survival trait in the face of these forces, it’s not our intelligence. It’s our ability to adapt to what’s coming at us. Our unique specialisation as a species is – we are born with no specialisations at all. We come into the world as a blank canvas on which is gradually painted over a decade or more, the knowledge of how to survive in the particular habitat we’ve happened to be born into. It may be a metropolis, a desert, arctic tundra, equatorial Africa, the Andes or perhaps one day, off world somewhere in outer space. We pay the price for it too. A human being has the longest and most vulnerable childhood of any species by a huge margin.

We don’t have fangs or talons but we can make sophisticated weapons. We don’t have a pelt to protect us from extreme cold but we can make clothes. We can’t run particularly fast but we can make machines that can go faster than any other animal. We can augment our capabilities in these ways, again not because of our much vaunted intelligence but because of the other unique thing we do as a species; we work together and cooperate to a degree that is unprecedented. We pool our newly learned specialisations to create artifacts for all that no single one of us could make.

This synergy between initial non-specialisation and then highly integrated cooperation is what has made us an extraordinarily successful species. Nothing else.

We look at our world and the universe with human eyes and more importantly, with a human lifespan. In terms of the latter, we see an apparently ageless and unchanging view but it’s a false impression. When looked at through the eyes of “deep” time, it is dynamic, violent and forever changing. There is no ideal static harmonious state which must be maintained. There never was and there never will be either.

As a species, that suits us fine. Other species die out because they’ve become hard-wired specialists in an environment which has changed, as it always will, but we’re different. We’re not built to handle a particular environment but just to handle change. Any one generation may not be able to handle the next big change but their offspring will and what’s more, it’ll be normality for them too.

©Pointman

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Comments
30 Responses to “The steady-state environment delusion”
  1. NoIdea says:

    I had been reading a little on the connection between fascists Nazis and environmentalists at

    http://www.glebedigital.co.uk/blog/?p=1744&cpage=1#comment-21735

    Where I found the following link…

    http://www.spunk.org/texts/places/germany/sp001630/peter.html

    “Hitler and Himmler were both strict vegetarians and animal lovers, attracted to nature mysticism and homeopathic cures, and staunchly opposed to vivisection and cruelty to animals. Himmler even established experimental organic farms to grow herbs for SS medicinal purposes. And Hitler, at times, could sound like a veritable Green utopian, discussing authoritatively and in detail various renewable energy sources (including environmentally appropriate hydropower and producing natural gas from sludge) as alternatives to coal, and declaring “water, winds and tides” as the energy path of the future…

    This is the true legacy of ecofascism in power: “genocide developed into a necessity under the cloak of environment protection.”

    I had started on a poem provoked by that piece when I read this fascinating take at Pointmans. This inspired me a little more.

    The gibbering of the prattle fish

    Stale the buzz words naively stated
    No recognition of the instigated hatred
    Homeopathic psychopathic natural cures
    Green utopia genocidal humanistic laws

    The flocking of the masses to the mental
    Guided by a twisted cerebellum central
    An ancient cabal of filthy bloody freaks
    Gibbering on now as techno babble geeks

    The root dream remains the same
    With the dogmatic mantra of the insane
    Left and right march hand in hand
    Onwards towards the Promised Land

    Our Mother Earth defiled by rank breathers
    Cancerous humanity now smeared seamless
    Greens planning for the cataclysmic cleansed Utopia
    A cull killing conflagration cult of pure dystopia

    Searching for a mythical harmonious state
    An ideal stasis fulfilled through hate
    Destined to keep repeating the same mistakes
    Historically ignorant is all it takes

    Nature is death with change and chaos
    The universe is always trying to slay us
    Aided by bigots alongside zealots and fools
    The ignorant lead by the useful tools

    So let us battle against the environ fascist Nazi
    The lapdog common purpose communist party
    We must smash the middle melancholic greens
    And all those who will never learn, or so it seems

    Fiddling the flames of deception with lies
    Fanning the fears of the gullible, no surprise
    Desperately ignoring the truth in front of their eyes
    They hate themselves and then this they deny

    Deviant delusions and violent solutions
    Deigned needed for overwhelming human pollutions
    The stale dry sly genocidal tale must fail
    Mankind will adapt and shall prevail!

    NoIdea

  2. Blackswan says:

    Pointman,

    I began reading this post as ‘Astronomy for Dummies’ (which this dummy appreciated), and wondered where you were going with it. It soon became apparent that you had folded it all into another intriguing shape, like a piece of fine origami.

    Our arrogance and bloated sense of self-importance needs cutting down to size. Thanks for another ‘fine’ perception of just where we fit in the scheme of things.

  3. Blackswan says:

    NoIdea

    The Prattle Fish have invented their own language, the jargon bandied about by ‘those in the know’.

    For example – “anthropocentric humanism” – what the hell does that mean? Mankind focusing on mankind? Well I’ll be………. now that’s a ripper. Their mantra is “learn our invented language and you’ll sound as if you know what you’re talking about”. Poppycock.

    From the Glebe’s link – ‘In 1980, “Man and Earth” (written in 1913) was republished as an esteemed and seminal treatise to accompany the birth of the German Greens.’

    Good grief – the GanGrenes haven’t got an original thought in their heads, just thoroughly recycled musings from old men in the past – but then that’s what drives most religious doctrines – Blind Faith.

    A great ode to the Gibberers NI.

  4. meltemian says:

    P.
    Like Blackswan I too got half-way through before I began to have an inkling where you were going.
    I’m very ignorant and didn’t realise that it was oxygen that all those early species couldn’t cope with.
    It’s amazing how adaptable we can be – given the chance!!
    ‘Now is Not the Time to Give Up’ as our friend would say,
    Any idea where he is?

  5. meltemian says:

    I was asking on JD’s blog if anyone knew why Joe Bastardi left Accuweather and where he’s gone.
    I hope he keeps us informed of what he’s doing.

  6. manonthemoor says:

    A very interesting thought provoking piece

    I liked the section about infant humans starting with a blank slate and then adding knowledge, the combination of which is more powerful that the individual parts, leading to significant achievements.

    // This synergy between initial non-specialisation and then highly integrated cooperation is what has made us an extraordinarily successful species. Nothing else.//

    This applies of course not just in modern times, but examples such as the Pyramids or Stonehenge are obvious examples.

    I wonder though is this process one way? Is human life a one way street?

    How many of us would survive a Stone Age lifestyle, or even the life of a commoner in 1800?

    Our modern life has changed us, our dependence on technology, fossil fuels and electricity may have changed us all. Even in the most backward countries in the four corners of the world, humans have access to the internet and mobile phones.

    If we truly face AGW or Peak Oil how many of us could adjust to the change, living off the land, providing shelter and food for our families?

    No doubt there will be survivors of our human race, but do we face a new extinction period?

    We live in interesting times

    • Blackswan says:

      G’day MOTM

      “How many of us would survive a Stone Age lifestyle, or even the life of a commoner in 1800?”

      An interesting question and history provides a precedent. In 1800 many impoverished commoners (and a few toffs as well) found themselves, courtesy of King George, on ships bound for the often-Fatal Shore of the Great South Land.

      In a coincidentally odd juxtaposition, they were sent to dwell among the last of the truly Stone Age hunter/gatherer nomadic tribes on the planet. So many of the transportees were from city slums, ravaged by diseases from poor diet, no health care and few skills, and many of them succumbed, but others who were more enterprising learned from their hardier agricultural brothers, and were canny enough to know an opportunity when they saw one. Their children grew strong and healthy and forged a new nation.

      And here we are, a couple of hundred years later, where we have an epidemic of chronic disease from inert lifestyles, poor diets (often contaminated by toxins), pumped full of medications by Big Pharma to deal with any ache or pain, often impoverished by loss of work or rendered incapable by the Welfare state and it looks as though we’ll have to start all over again.

      Many will fall by the wayside but the enterprising among us will prevail and learn/teach the skills necessary to live full and productive lives in the new world. I don’t think AGW or Peak Oil will bring us down – it’s the Banksters, Hucksters and Fraudsters who have rendered our Global Economy, Energy and Industries to be in such a parlous state.

      We need to reclaim our respective birthrights and start over again, and it will be Pointman’s “highly integrated cooperation” that will be the difference, NOT the bloated parasitic “Elite” who have preyed upon and fed off the hard work of the ordinary citizenry and who think they give us ‘permission’ to live.

      The strong will survive, but it will be strength of character and moral integrity that prevails.

  7. Greg says:

    “Nature is indifferent to our very existence.”

    The ultimate extinction event: Somewhere within a few thousand light years a very large star dies, the resulting gamma (Ginormous Awesome Mega Monster Annihilation) ray burst is inconveniently aimed at this particular solar system. And that GRB is a tiny little firecracker compared to what lurks in the cores or many/most galaxies, though that particular thing isn’t a danger.

    I think the “Precautionary Principle” is very clear here. We need to devote resources to developing warp drive ASAP. The more we can spread out among the stars the better we can, as a species, survive. We’ll still be tiny, insignificant little things, likely keeping our Hubris, but we’ll be out there,

    I loved your points about adaptability. A looong time ago I was in a class where the professor was an advocate of some form of intelligent design concept, because he did not believe that the puny human form could have survived. As I understand it, we were a lot less fragile before agriculture. Thicker, stronger bones, tougher bodies (and minds,) etc.

    An awesome post, Sir.🙂

    • Blackswan says:

      G’day Greg,

      We need to develop “warp drive” eh? I can’t see it. To imagine the societies that space voyagers/immigrants would need to be in order to survive the journey and the destination, is to imagine a group of people so controlled in every facet of their existence, that it would be an anathema to me.

      Besides, I’d rather ‘fix’ the world we have than cut and run to some other place for us to mess up … LOL

      If we can’t survive on this planet, to which we are so perfectly adapted as the Pointman says, what are our chances of survival in the unknown especially as the one unavoidable thing that will board that warp speed ship is ‘human nature’, unless of course we are all rendered as automatons, mere functionaries that perform their allotted tasks.

      Some interesting ideas.

      • Greg says:

        First off, I think we’d adapt quite well, as Pointman says, to whatever the situation is.

        The thing about Warp Drive is that you don’t need the extreme length of time to go from here to there. I’m also quite aware that it’s not going to happen for a very long time, if ever.

        Want something a little more practical and likely? Ok, we need to develop enough of a space capability that in the even a very large asteroid come wandering by we can send it safely on its way.

        Cut and run? Hmm… maybe we should have stayed in Africa, way back when, instead of cutting and running from the place? Expanding outward is hardly cutting and running.

        Fix the world? Comrade Clyde, Anarchist Andy, Mullah Max, and many others want to “fix” the world.” While I might agree with some of the fixes some have suggested, I think many of them are very bad. I’m kindof uncomfortable with that phrase. Sorry.🙂

        I think it’s obvious that we can survive on this planet, and do very well. It’d pretty much take that giant asteroid to wipe us all out. Wiping out our civilization would be easier. A few dozen well placed EMPs would do that. We’d survive and rebuild and hope that another Tamerlane doesn’t rise up to take advantage of the situation.

        “…some other place for us to mess up?” We haven’t made any messes that can’t be cleaned up. If we disappeared today it wouldn’t be so long before nature reclaimed everything. I’ll agree that we’ve left “plenty” of poop on the ground, though. But we’re making some pretty good cleanup efforts, too.

        Pointman, as usual, has a point. Given half a chance we’ll survive, here, there, wherever. We may not care for who’s running the place, but that’s the way it’s been since day one, and it’s a different question.

        On the other point, no, it’s not a static world. We evolved during an ice age and then adapted to the disastrous (tongue in cheek,here) Global Warming that raised World temps by 10-15 degrees and raised sea levels by 400 feet. Then the ice age came back for many tens of thousands of years and then it all happened again. Twice in a few thousand years (last ice age to younger dryas.) Now we’re building empires in this disastrously warmed world. Oh, wait. We were born in this world, so we think it’s just right.

        If Yellowstone blows up then America will be pretty much wiped out, but humans will survive. Heck, there will probably be a massive recolonization of this place when things cool down.

        Static environmental states? No, I don’t see any, not on the long term. We will adapt to the new conditions, whatever they are. It’s what we do. And the Earth will pretty much ignore us, just like it always has.

  8. Rereke Whakaaro says:

    Impressive.

  9. Pointman says:

    The central idea of the topic was to debunk the notion that there was some static and ideal state in the real world but on the way to it, I touched on some other themes I’ve thought about for a long time. Evolution and species extinction are two of them.

    All species have their own ecological niche. Species go extinct because of changes to their niche whether that is glaciation, geological activity, a meteor strike or simply a better adapted species appearing to fill their niche. The older a species is, the better adapted for the particular niche it becomes and therein is the central problem; it’s now totally dependent on that niche. Change will eventually come and because they can’t move to another niche and can’t change fast enough to fit into another niche, they become extinct. Evolution works too slowly to save them.

    Human beings are fundamentally different. We don’t have a specific ecological niche and indeed our spread over the entire world into radically different climates, attests to this simple fact.

    The other thing about us is that we don’t have to rely on evolution to help us address a changing environment. We can learn, within a generation, to adapt ourselves to radically changed situations. If, as some people think, we’re heading into a cooling climate then a lot of species are going to become extinct and some new ones will appear to fill the niches being emptied. We won’t disappear, we’ll simply build warmer housing and start knitting thicker jumpers.

    If, for some reason, we were knocked back into a Stone Age environment, our children and grandchildren would learn how to survive in that world. We have a unique capacity to cope with change.

    Pointman

    • opit says:

      We have this idea that we are ‘alone’ on this planet. You don’t need to subscribe to the idea that we have our own G’ould variant in the Hohenzollerns to realize that the Rockefeller extinction project is rolling right along.
      Mankind has wonderful adaptability…but there have been eras of sterility before and may be again.
      It’s not really my blogging specialty – though I think my Perception Alteration files are eye opening – but if you like to surf SF you might take a look at Dad2059’s SF Webzine : he collects various wild ideas the way I do more general – for alternative media,anyway – ‘news.’ Couple of friends to look up,anyway
      my.opera.com/nepmak2000/blog
      He put me on to SoTT and the Cassiopaeia Project, among others. When I started looking at AGW as a geopolitical energy control device ( the NPT TRAP ) more tips were forthcoming – and blogposts.
      The next fellow is also a Friend on Facebook. Years ago when I was oldephartteintraining on WordPress I covered WP blog posts and we started with the back and forth – mostly at his place as he too has a drop in crowd. From Search :
      Dad2059’s Webzine of Science Fiction, Science Fact and Esoterica

      When one looks at the above title, the individual has to ask, WTF? What could these three things have in common? Well, according to ‘ Mirage Men ‘ author, Mark Pilkington …
      dad2059.wordpress.com

      “The alternative word can be misinterpreted.” Now that’s anthropomorphic.

      No Idea seems to have some. History doesn’t need revision, though. ‘Media’ reports were b.s. from the get-go.

      Have you run into Whitley Streiber ? His Communion series seems to put a different angle on Spielberg’s ideas. When you put enough SF out there in the programming machine ( telly) you can bet some foreshadowing is going on.

    • richard clenney says:

      Even if we dodge the big asteroid, our sun will not last forever. We will leave this
      planet or become extinct. No other option.

  10. Pointman says:

    An interesting talk in itself but it illustrates beautifully how effectively we do work together. It appears to be impossible to paste youtube links without embedding them so can I suggest we all adopt the convention of prefixing the link with a quote. To use the link, copy and paste what’s after the quote into a new tab or browser window.

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLHh9E5ilZ4

    Pointman

    • thojak says:

      Matt Ridly IS truly a SOMEONE! Geeh, if there ‘only’ were a couple of ‘Matts’ around – especially in the EU and most of all here in Sweden.

      Well, I think (hope) dreaming is still free of charge, or… is it? 😉

      Brgds from Sweden
      //TJ

  11. Pointman says:

    I think it’d be nice to post the odd music from Youtube so I’ll kick off with a bit of John Frusciante.

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMQhLtq6wL8

    Pointman

  12. scud says:

    Great post P!

    Our friend OL bought to my attention a couple of months back an alternative theory of the universe to the one you eloquently paint.
    In a nutshell, traditional thinking states that gravity is the primary force that binds and forms the amazing, varied and colossal structures that we see through our telescopes. Trouble is though, we know that gravity (as experienced here on Earth) is nowhere near powerful enough to explain for instance, our own Milky Way.
    As you say…the next nearest star to Earth is over 4 light years away, meaning that there must be some other, far more powerful force at work that keeps the structure of our own and every other galaxy intact.
    Mainstream cosmology attempts to explain the problem by suggesting that there is ‘dark’ matter, or ‘dark’ energy, or supra-massive bodies such as black holes and neutron stars which make up the ‘missing’ mass needed to provide all that structure creating gravity….trouble is, we’ve never seen a black hole or detected dark matter / energy and according to followers of the ‘Electric Cosmos theory’ we never will….and it’s not because ‘even light cannot escape!’

    Electric Cosmos theory reckons that every star within a galaxy is connected by interstellar electric currents and that it is these currents that generate electro-magnetic fields that are powerful enough to create our observable wonders and indeed power the stars themselves.

    I know…sounds bloody cooky, but then if you go into more detail of what these blokes are saying it starts to make sense.
    Our Sun for example. EC theory thinks that the energy is coming from space and not the Sun’s interior…this neatly explains why the corona is anything up to 4m K and the surface a mere 6000K and explains why sunspots are dark as opposed to what we might expect if the energy were a core based fusion reaction.
    Planets and moons often sport almost perfectly circular ‘impact’ craters. EC theory reckons that the reason why they are circular is because they are not caused by impact but rather by means of ‘electric arc machining’ …reasonable if you consider the chances of impact being at 90 degrees to the surface, every time, being somewhat unlikely.
    Comet tails are traditionally explained as debris and ice breaking off the surface. EC theory thinks that this is rubbish since the tails can be millions of miles long and the thing would wear itself out in a matter of minutes rather than re-appearing over millennia with each elliptical orbit. EC theory says that the tails are ‘electrically charged plasma’ that occurs as a comet approaches the Sun, changing its voltage and potential difference with its immediate surroundings.
    All very interesting but quite frightening too as the theory also suggests that our Sun is capable of very rapid and profound change…something quite apart from mainstream belief of gradual expansion over the course of billions of years to ‘red giant’ and ending in super nova. It seems that the ‘ancients’ of only 3000 years ago lived under a sky that looked very different from what we witness today, theorised by the similarity of artefacts from cultures that could not possibly have interacted, but all depicting the same thing.

    I dunno…I’m not an electrician, but if this were to be correct then surely this would be a pretty safe bet on explaining Earth’s sudden and mass extinctions.

    I highly recommend this film…(apart from the shit, mystical narration)
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4773590301316220374#

    Oh yeah…one more thing to suggest that these guys are right…all mention of it has been deleted from Wikipedia!!

  13. Pointman says:

    Hi Scud. I’m aware of the electric cosmos idea and it’s an interesting conjecture. There are always competing ideas in cosmology and the currently prevailing one has over history, went ass over tit on several occasions; witness the Earth-centred system described by Ptolemy and used successfully for nearly fifteen centuries before the heliocentric system supplanted it. In the same way, Einstein’s theories put paid to the Newtonian view of the heavens.

    Since the topic was about change in the cosmos rather than cosmology, I omitted some contentious ideas from it but couldn’t help leave in a few references. Eg “our particular universe” is a reference to the idea that there might be an infinite number of universes coexisting and “esoteric and dangerous objects and materials” is a reference to the more exotic bodies you mentioned and dark matter/energy. Until someone can add enough meat on to a conjecture to advance it as a theory, it’s just a neat idea.

    Pointman

    • scud says:

      you are right…sorry P for straying off top’…it’s just any mention of the Universe and and I’m off on one…’cause you see cabinet makers know all about it!
      Hope to see you in chat soon bud…
      Scud

      • Pointman says:

        Hi Scud, you weren’t off topic and it’s such an interesting area it’s hard to stay on topic anyway! When I finished the topic, I had to hacksaw off a a couple of hundred words. Interesting but not relevant stuff.

        Pointman

  14. Neil says:

    An interesting article. We are innately experiential. Even though we expend vast amounts of time and effort on education, we are to an extent disbelieving of others or their experience relative to our own experience.

    This was brought starkly to my attention when I asked a Professor who researches trees etc why the tree in my front yard seemed to be dying. He asked me a few questions about the size of the tree and promptly stated that it was old and had reached the end of its life. I was extremely surprised as I had not thought about trees dying of old age, but why would I. Most large trees can outlive us, even if we gaze at them often enough to experience their “life”. This is even more the case with so many people living in cities/urban environments.

    This is also why we struggle with accepting that the climate will change irrespective of what we may or may not do to it and that the cosmos will ultimately determine our fate as we know it.

    • Pointman says:

      Hello and welcome Neil. I had exactly the same experience with a blossom tree in my garden. Like you, it had simply never occured to me that trees have a lifespan, just like everything else. On reflection, I thought I was fortunate to see such a rare thing in my lifetime.

      Pointman

      • Neil says:

        I agree, it is interesting to have seen something like that happen, as it broadens our perception of what is normal beyond the limit of our own experience and should reinforce our desire to ask why is something happening and is it really that unusually.

        I come from a city that is built on more than 30 dormant volcanoes. Will I be surprised if one explodes or a new one appears? Heck yes, but is it that unusual? Depends upon my timeframe. In my lifetime yes, in the last 1000 years, no. Time matters!

        Kind regards

        Neil

  15. Gregoryno6 says:

    Our own planet was hit very early on in its life by a smaller planet, the remnant of which, with some very large chunks of our planet, went on to form our very own satellite, the Moon. To this day, we still have a souvenir of that crust-shattering impact in the form of moving plate tectonics.
    I haven’t heard this before, but I can see the sense in it. Conversely, then, if the Earth had not been struck, would the continents and oceans have remained unmoving all this time?

  16. Reisen says:

    I’d advise steering away from Godwin’s Law. It ruins an argument.

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