sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thoughts on the Christmas Season

There will be a full Moon on Christmas Eve - and a new Star Wars film just premiered. The last time that there was a full Moon on Christmas was 1977, and a the first Star Wars film was released. Coincidence? Yes.


I have not yet seen The Force Awakens, but I will eventually. Likely sometime this week. That's not what this blog post deals with. 

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been probing the galaxy for signs of life for decades now and they haven't found anything. Those of you who know me, understand that I have an interest in this. The company that I co-founded with the (entire) planetary science department at Cal Tech, who left the university to do this unfortunately failed and currently rests on the garbage heap of start-ups. Still, the experience allowed me to interact with some of the truly great planetary scientists of our generation. 

There are a number of things about Earth that may make it sufficiently unique to allow life to exist here. Tectonic plates deal with the sort of excess carbon that sent Venus into a melt-down. We're the 'right' distance from the Sun, there is abundant water and varied minerals and we have a large Moon. Some would say that it's the 'right' size. While I was thinking on this recently, I stumbled on a recent video from Bill Whittle - Afterburner, where he does a better job explaining this than I can.


That life exists on Earth is a miracle of sorts. Here and now at this Christmas Season you will find yourself believing in our essential spark of shared divinity, or you will succumb to human insecurity, and either way your conscience lets you slice it, the main thing is to earnestly do what is right at the time. Treat others as you would have them treat you. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be kind and polite whenever possible as your default setting. (You can resort to mean and nasty if it becomes necessary.) Bring joy to the world as you are able. Only when you lose yourself in the service of your family and others will you find true happiness.

And have a Merry Christmas.

32 comments:

  1. Thanks for the homily; simple, if not always easy. SETI? Fascinating.

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    1. The formula to finding happiness is not all that difficult. Especially at Christmas time.

      Trying to understand our place in the universe is far more challenging.

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    2. Seeing as how this has become a metaphysical blog -- our place is simple. The end of man is the worship of God, in eternity.

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    3. Defining "worship" becomes a more interesting endeavor.

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  2. I've worked in the "sciences" virtually all my life. For me - to look up into the sky and not see the hand of God is simply not possible. At a church gathering some time ago the fellow next to me wondered it I thought that life existed "out there" . . . "Of course", I said. The example I used to "prove" my theory was the Maple Leaf. I asked him - "Look at the Maple Leaf, is any thing wasted? No, it's perfect. It converts sun light to energy, absorbs CO2, gives off O2, its cellular structure is perfectly designed to do all of this, nothing wasted, nothing "extra". To believe that this creation was simply "accidental" flys in the face of everything I see when I look at it from a science-minded POV."

    Then I asked him to consider out little corner of the universe . . .

    "Just look up tonight, into the heart of our galaxy . . . do you honestly believe that God would take the time to make a Maple Leaf perfect . . . and then leave all that wasted space?"

    And that is where my head is . . . the answer IS out there . . . we may not want to meet it, but it's there . . .

    Have a Merry Christmas Larry, to you and your extended clan!

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    1. Yes, the maple leaf is a good example of something else out there. A snowflake would do as well. My favorite example has to be the Piri Reis map.

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    2. Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

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    3. Ah hah! Piri Reis. Compiled from many ancient sources, apparently...

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    4. Ancient peoples traveled the ENTIRE planet. There is vast proof, spread from South America to Africa and Europe that demonstrates that the oceans were highways back at least to 10,000 BC. Piri Reis demonstrated that smart navigators could combine the efforts documented and vetted from several sources into one chart. There were others in that era as well.

      Because of Columbus' voyages, much of the history has focused on those exploratory efforts and not those of the Polynesians, the Vikings, the Irish monks, Phoenicians and others. Some of which were the inspiration for early charts (rudders) such as Piri Reis.

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    5. My interest in the Piri Reis map was solely focused on the coastline of Antarctica, and while not exact, depicted the coastline that was under a few thousand feet of ice in the 1500's, and has been for approx. 10,000 years. And it is today.

      How Piri Reis could have put this down on paper in 1500 is beyond any explanation.

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    6. I hadn't thought of that. Excellent point.

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    7. Per Fredd -- Many say the Reis map is proof of pre 8000 BC oceanic travel. Seems that way to me, and ought to be a factor in revising the prehistorical narrative, along with Gobekli Tepe etc. Of course the archeo/anthropological establishment doesn't seem too keen...

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    8. There is significant evidence of trans-oceanic travel in that timeframe. It doesn't fit the narrative that some people wish to perpetuate, but it only makes sense...accounts for Japanese Kennewick man in Washington in 10,000 BC, and on and on.

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    9. Antedeluvian civilization -- the evidence seems to mount up. I think it's fascinating.

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    10. Yes, us anthropologists pooh pooh any notion that people in 8000 BC could render a geographic representation of a land so inhospitable on paper, or carve it on stone, or whatever they did back then, they barely were able to paint bison on the sides of caves.

      Making maps was just not something Homo Sapiens did back in the day. THey were too busy running from sabre tooth tigers to bother with that kind of tedium.

      That, and it is very likely that the Antarctic coast line was still under so much ice in 8000 BC that no solid rock/sand coastline was visible by these maritime, map making cavemen. Very, VERY likely.

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  3. I will never think of the moon in the same way again. In this season of football (I know), I can see the moon as a pulling guard keeping the orbit free of opposing tacklers. See? I'm brilliant in an elementary school sort of way.

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    1. There are a number of simple truths that can be attributed to lunacy:

      *Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

      *You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

      *To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

      *At times we all have delusions of adequacy.

      *Where there's a will, there are relatives.

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  4. Ralph Waldo Emerson had this to say: "A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."

    Have a blessed Christmas LL.

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    1. We are all waxing most poetically on this blog today. I attribute it to the season, to introspection, possibly to a second cup of "Christmas punch". And the inevitable and incontrovertible truth that nostalgia isn't what it used to be...

      Merry Christmas Dr. Euripides.

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    2. Hey, I'm full of poeticalness. And nostalgiaishness. But I'd really just want to be able to find tickets to see Star Wars and spend some quality time with a Coke and some popcorn.

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    3. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away. Don't test the line in a crowded theater...while you're eating popcorn and drinking your Coke. And don't yell FIRE in there either, even if there is a fire. It's bad form.

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    4. Scored tickets for tomorrow. Wish me, the missus, and my Coke luck.

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    5. I hope that you didn't have to buy them at scalper's prices.

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  5. Borrowing Euripides Emerson quote! How the heck did I miss that one before, ya know how berserkers like gleams of light...
    A Blessed Christmas to you and the Lambert clan!

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  6. And the same to you and yours LL, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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    1. I'm excited about you getting into the new ranch house before Christmas, my friend!

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  7. Do not swear by the moon for she changes constantly.

    Happy Christmas, Larry. May you and yours frolic fervently in the essence of happiness and keep your bottoms up.

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    1. I will resolve to keep my bottom precisely where it should be in the coming New Year!!

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  8. I've always thought highly of Drake's equation. In the meantime, I think we can be as kind as can be to our fellow earthlings... um, within reason, that is.

    If I don't hear from you before then, I wish a Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine.

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It's virtual - it's a mirage - it's life