Saturday, May 22, 2010

We have eyes...but do we really see?

An obvious observation about a dog is that you can hand them anything and they'll accept it without understanding. A lump of food, a digital watch, a stick, can of soda are all in the same basic place to them: can I or can't I eat it? When they're through with it, the item joins the background noise of their lives.

But a less overused metaphor is when you point at the clouds or the stars for the dog and all they see is the end of your finger. Looking up, or observing the background of the world, is not only incomprehensible but irrelevant to them.

I wonder if the same rings true for us on some level. Are we staring so hard at our surroundings that we don't see 50% of it? I don't mean quarks and microwaves and viruses and infrared. I mean something that is so clear that all it needs is relevance to spot it. What might it consist of? Metaphysical? Consciousness? Interchangeable density and energy? Another level or species of life that shares our world without our notice?

What if one time you lifted your Schnauzer's snout to the stars and for the very first time he saw the twinkle of Venus next to the Moon. He'd bark, look to you for approval and move on to the next thing.

I suspect that's what most of us do when we spot the unknown.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Alien OCD

Following up on that last thought...

If we couldn't make it out of the trees without being obsessive-compulsive, then might it not stand to reason that SF aliens who zoom around the galaxy in all the popular movies and TV imitating humankind would be the same? So, as well as being warlike, greedy, selfish and whatnot like all the stories would have us believe, lets explore their obsessive side.

What about the superior race that shows up to control the planet Earth just to watch what we'd do if, say, they changed the weather patterns or introduced a new disease. ("My blotnix are on the Americans to come up with a cure, Zacknar.") We've been given the butterfly-on-a-pin treatment in SF before but not so much of the ant farm.

What if they use Earth as the lab rats to test an immunization they want? How about the old 'we buried the Asian subcontinent in water because we can' excuse that humans are so fond of when trying out new toys like, I don't know, the atom bombs. A great Kliban cartoon from the '70's had a bunch of slob aliens stumble off a saucer with open cans of something in their paws saying, "Greetings. We're creatures from a 5th rate planet."

SF always runs too much to the warlike for their alien conflicts these days. A good old fashioned hand washing obsession for its own sake could make for some Roland Emmerich scale disasters.

We miss you, Doug Adams!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

human endeavor on a planck scale

It's amazing how we each can get so absorbed into our own endeavors that we become fascinated with the tiniest nibblets of information about our passion. Abraham Lincoln's chipped tooth, the slightly lower engine output in the early '67 Lotus vs. the same model later that year, a misprinted 1st edition, and so forth. Our lives have become so removed from necessity that we hone our natural OCD in less than essential directions.

I've come to the conclusion that we don't suffer from Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, we benefit from it. It's what drives us. We climbed down out of the trees because of it, we invented the wheel, we pushed our way to the Moon on the stuff. How else would we ever have dragged our asses off the floor of the cave to create a bison trap if it weren't for our compulsions? We could have stayed by the fire and eaten whatever came our way.

You see, we have it backwards. The real downfall of our bored society is a Disinterested Unmotivated Disorder (DUD). People who could care less about curiosity. We are naturally curious and motivated to learn. We're just wearing ourselves down to the bone on the mundane.

Time to celebrate our obsessions! Don't let them run your life, but don't dismiss them either. Obsession in moderation, I say!

Okay maybe that's a tad simplistic. Let me research it....and do a poll....and start a newsletter....and write a paper.....and get funding.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are We Really That Dense?

The more I delve into physics, the more I think about density.

Seeing the world through quantum eyes has changed the view of the universe around me in strange ways. Density is an all important fundamental in differentiating one particle from another. Same goes for the macro condition of things on Earth. We only learned how to fly when we realized that the air, like water is a substance that we all swim through. Wood, leaves, and brick are only modestly denser than air but that slim difference gives our world structure inside a gravity field.

Imagine if your eyes could only see density, no color, nothing impenetrable, just variations on dense. I suppose that's a lot of what we do because of shapes but we can't tell with our eyes what is more dense. Starting with air, we'd see a fog. Through that to a chair back that had shape but translucent, then to a more transparent, but not invisible window, more air, some leaves, the grass, the earth and all the variations in between. The world would turn into an uncolored, layered line drawn illustration. Much like some of the translucent creatures at the bottom of the deep ocean.

What if there are already creatures living this way, using density as their relative medium? Like clouds they might float on the surface of our atmosphere, or the depths of the ocean. We might not have sensitivity to detect them because they are only subtly denser or less dense than their surroundings. The very Ozone! Perhaps they are as large as the void between planets because their density is so slight.

Just a thought to steer the landlocked into imagining that possibilities of life need not start and end with us.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Farthest Reaches of Humanity

I feel I can come back from the depths of grandparenting and get a grip on some writing again. The last couple of months have been such a change in life that I didn't think - strike that - couldn't think. Period. I was on auto-operation parenting mode just to stay on top.

It's fitting, perhaps that in returning to thoughts of science and SF that this week I was creating a piece of jewelry that incorporated an element from the plaque on Pioneer 10. Remember that, Sam? Way, way back in 1972 Nasa launched the first satellite destined for deep space outside our solar system. In 1983, it sailed past Pluto and onward towards Aldebaran some 65 light years away. The last it was heard from was in 2003.

With it flies a piece of mankind's history, know-how, imagination, and hope. Some may say hopeless but meeting up with other species, or letting them know who and where we are, even if by chance, is an imaginative gesture.

Well, that's me, all wrapped up in a nutbar. One single ray among the billions sending out imaginative gestures into the void in the hope that someone out there will learn a bit about who I am and why I send this signal.

Beep. Beep.