Monday, May 30, 2011

Written in the Stars . . . a Million Miles Away . . .?

There is a really annoying song that has been stuck in my head. I don't know who sings it or what it is called, and don't care enough to look it up, but part of the chorus goes like this:

Written in the Stars,
A million miles away.

This has really been bothering me. First off, there is no star that is a mere million miles away from us. Not one. Not even our own sun. Our sun is 93,000,000 miles away from us on average. The closest planet to us is Venus (and I guess you could mistake it for a star), and it is over 23,000,000 miles away.

I thought maybe it was just me that was annoyed by this, but on hearing the song in the car with my wife the other day she complained about the same thing. A million miles is such a short distance.

And so, lets find out just how wrong this artist is. The closest star to us is Proxima Centauri, 4.24 light years away. So all we need to do is find out how many miles are in a light year, and multiply that by 4.24.

So, here we go:

60 (sec) * 60 (min) = 3,600 (seconds in an hour)
3,600 * 24 (hrs) = 86,400 (seconds in a day)
84,400 * 7 (days per week) = 604,800 (seconds in a week)
604,800 * 52 (weeks) =  31,449,600 (seconds per year)

Now, we have 31,449,600 seconds in one year, and the speed of light travels at 186,282 miles per second, so all we need to do is multiply the two together and you have how many miles are in one light year.

31,449,600 * 186,282 = 5,858,494,387,200

Almost 6 Trillion miles in one single light year. Finally, to find how many miles to Proxima Centauri we multiply that by 4.24:

5,858,494,387,200 * 4.24 = 24,840,016,201,728

To the nearest star it is 24.8 trillion miles. That is a difference of 24,840,015,201,728 miles. Kind of a big deal.

Maybe the song shouldn't bug me so much. Maybe I shouldn't take it quite so literal, but seriously... Just such a big error. I propose they change the lyrics to:

Written in the Stars
Trillions of miles away . . .


Light-years away . . .

*Also, to give you an idea on just how big of a number that is, if we were to start counting in the days of cave men (lets say starting on the year 10,000 BC for a nice found number), and count up until now we would only be at around 378 billion. So, in the year 785,000 (give or take a few thousand years), we'd have reached around 25 trillion seconds. 25 trillion miles is too far for us to really understand.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What's come before?

As any owner of comics will probably not tell you, the true value of owning a sweet collection is the joy in being able to go back and re-experience what's already happened; to go back into time, essentially, remembering thoughts and feelings that were originally woven into your interaction with any particular story line.

Sometimes, however, going back into time allows you to preview something new out from something old. I have had this opportunity in a little series I like to call Marvel's run of G.I. Joe.

There are 155 total issues (all of which I haven't read, but I'm close...Currently reading #112). These were all written by Larry Hama. How many books out there were able to maintain the original creator during the whole run? Even Chris Clairemont of X-men '80's fame didn't maintain the X-men for their entire stint (seeing how they are still an on-going series).

Of course, all this is really in preparation of reading G.I. Joe's current run, published by IDW. They have relaunched the series, true, and I'm curious to see what they have going on with the Cobra Civil War (as Marvel recently did something with that, and a Cobra Civil War was in the original series), but also because they have Larry Hama continuing where he left the Marvel published series, starting with issue 156.

I am so excited about this, I'll probably even skip the Devil's Due Publishing run (which all fans only consider an alternate dimension anyway). We'll see how it all fits in when we get there.

Ask me to tell you how sometime, as this is the digital age, and it's time to be digitally impressive.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

All the Places to Live

This is an image depicting all of the systems where we have found planets around stars that could sustain life, or could sustain us.

How can we tell?

We are able to see the distance the planet is from the sun and the size of each as well as radiation output to determine if it were possible for us to survive there. The image depicts the parent stars and the size of the planets that surround them.

For reference, on the upper right hand area is our sun and planet earth.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Antenna

I just thought this was cool.

This galaxy (ngc4038 Hagar Oreshko), 40 million light years away is actually two galaxies that have collided. It is commonly known as "The Antenna" and is the result from two colliding galaxies hundreds of thousand of years ago. No stars collided, however because of the collision of molecular gases star formation was triggered at an enormous rate at the center of the galaxy. It is really quite stunning.

Honestly, I look at something like that and wonder how many different intelligent beings are in there looking back at us. Astronomy is so amazing!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Who is Doctor Who

Who is Doctor Who? Or rather, which of the doctors is the real doctor? Are they all real? All one? How can we determine that the one is a same as the all?

It is clear that each doctor is different. Different in personality and physically. So how can we determine what makes the doctor the same person after each regeneration? First, I think we need to look at what makes a person? What makes you, you? 

Most arguments that I have heard deal with memories, you are what your memories tell you to be, and so, the same view would hold for doctor who. He is the same person after regeneration because he contains the same memories. But can this be an adequate statement in all cases? After all, if you had a clone made identical to you down to every atom and all of the memories were exactly the same would you say that that clone is you? Or is the clone another person with the same memories?

Or, as another example, say an individual gets in a car accident and suffers complete amnesia. Because that person no longer has those memories to back their self up with are they now a completely different person, or would you say that that person is still "my brother," "my son," "my mom," etc. Same works with those suffering from Alzheimer's. 

I think at this point we can adequately rule out the idea that memory is what makes the doctors all the same person. 

The best possible explanation to this, I feel, is using time-worm theory. Rather than all of the doctors being the doctor. The doctor is doctor number one and two and three and four and five -- all the way to currently, eleven. The doctor needs to be viewed not from a physical third dimension, but from a fourth dimension--time, (fitting, as he is a time lord). Each doctor is a "time-slice" out of the whole DOCTOR. In other words Doctor ten is not the same as Doctor four, but both are the same as The DOCTOR, as a whole. Doctors one through eleven, and eventually all thirteen will make up a worm of sorts all together making up the doctor.

Likewise, we are all time worms, changing into completely different people constantly, much like the doctors regenerations. My brother Jaron and I are more alike than an eight year old version of myself and my current twenty-five year old version of myself. Yet, I am me at age eight and twenty-five. In order for this to make sense in what we have determined being a self is and is not, we must view ourselves in the fourth dimension as well. Like Doctor Who will have thirteen versions of his self, we have many versions (through time) of our selves, as well.

*For more information see, Is the Doctor Still the Doctor--Am I Still Me? by David Kyle Johnson