Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lecture 3 - Anybody out there?

This morning, I came across this video on YouTube. At first glance, it appears to be a very convincing piece of alien evidence. However, I'm certain that rather than a leaked government tape, it is most likely a leaked Hollywood tape, promoting an upcoming movie.

All that aside, what came to my mind was the thought of actual alien beings coming to visit us, and really how ludicrous this idea really is. Now, before anyone gets upset at me, let me say that I do believe that we are not the only intelligent life in the universe. It is simply too vast for us to be completely alone. I have no proof. Just a feeling. And as far as alien visitation goes, I also have no proof. Just a feeling. Oh... and logic.

Now, if we consider the age of the universe, and also buy into the idea that it all started from a single point, or a "big bang", then wouldn't that mean that all elements of the universe (stars, planets, etc.) are all the same age? And if that's true, then wouldn't all life have to be of at least the relative same age? Could another planet have cooled, been covered by water, plant and animal life, and had an intelligent species with opposable thumbs rise up to dominance? And could that species create craft that can travel through space for thousands (or millions) of years, at the speed of light, with enough provisions (or the means to create them) to sustain themselves and make that trans-galactic (or universal) flight?

They way I see it, if there is another intelligent species out there, similar to us, they wouldn't be any more advanced than we are right now. Is it impossible? No. Of course not. But it isn't probable, either.

The thought that aliens came to visit us in the past, teaching the ancient peoples of the planet to built pyramids, raise abundant crops, exploit planetary resources, and advance themselves into great prosperity, is a romantic thought, indeed. It just didn't happen. Think about the odds of another life form having the ability to find us, among the 10 sextillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) or so stars in the universe. Evading all the black holes, super novas, asteroid fields, comets, and countless other obstacles just to get here. And if they happened to find and use a "wormhole", how exactly did they know where it would go?

If you really do the math, and (for the sake of argument) say there are a billion other planets out there with intelligent life like us, that would still give one civilization a 1 in 10,000,000,000 (10 billion) chance of finding our sun, or any other star; let alone our planet.

It just didn't happen folks. But I'm not here to spoil your fun. I enjoy alien movies and science fiction stories as much as the next person, if not more. But I don't forget the "fiction" part of that.

We are not alone. But we certainly don't have to worry about our nearest galactic neighbors coming to borrow a cup of sugar any time soon.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lost at Birth

This isn't exactly a full lecture. I just had to write something down about the whole President Obama birth certificate thing.

First, do we REALLY think that the Democratic Party would have elected him as their candidate, if they thought he might not be a US citizen? I don't trust any political party, but I do know that they do their homework.

Besides, if you research what constitues a national and/or citizen of the United States at birth, I'm pretty sure no matter where he was born, he probably fits into one of these categories. All it take is for one of his parents to be citizens for at least 5 years. Turns out, his mother was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. I think he qualifies.

And to think of all the TV and radio airtime, money, words, and breaths wasted on such a silly thing. Sheesh...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 2 - Lecture #1 - Earth Day!

Hello there, students!

Today is Earth Day. And a happy 4,500,002,011th birthday to our lovely planet! As we begin yet another ride around our lovely ball of helium and hydrogen that we call the sun, I thought this would be a great opportunity to talk about something that has been quite the "hot" topic for probably the last decade. Global Warming.

I'm sure you all want to hear my opinion on this "global crisis", but before I give up that information, I want to share my opinion of what I think is really going on behind the curtain.

Now, this line of logic may be a little hard to follow, but I'm sure that you'll catch on soon enough. OK... one of my favorite films of all time... wait... let me qualify that. One of my favorite musicals of all time is The Music Man. Of course, I love the music, the colors, the dancing, the whole mighty spectacle of it. It is truly a cinematic marvel for its day. But as I've gotten older, I began to notice the underlying theme, at least for one part of the story. For you that haven't seen it, first let me say, "What?!?". All kidding aside; the gist of the story is a traveling salesman (Professor Harold Hill - which is his salesman name or "secret identity", and where I got the idea to add Professor to my name on this blog) is struggling to sell his product (Boy's marching band equipment) in a small Iowa town. But he, in his infinite genius, finds a way to sell his product to the parents of the town, by doing this.

That is what is called the group panic (or panic in crowds) phenomenon. Page 3 of this article shows a diagram of this as well as a nicely written description of how it happens. It's a very interesting read. And if you watched the entire video clip, you probably saw all of those stages happen. And because of this, Prof. Hill manages to sell his product to the people of River City, in order to "save" the youth of the town. (There is also a love story in there somewhere, but that's not important right now.)

Now, getting back to global warming... there is another film that comes to mind that kind of uses the same tactics to accomplish this particular salesman's goal. Here is the theatrical preview of this film. Notice how the love for your children was brought up? What better way to get Ma 'n' Pa American to jump on the bandwagon than to pose a threat to their kids. did he sell his product? Oh yes, he did! And you know what? Good for him. I don't think he is an evil man, and I do think a lot, if not all, of his projects, investments, and businesses are doing good for the environment. But if you realy think his quest was to just save the environment, you're fooling yourself. It was all about money. Really, losing the election was the greatest thing to happen to Big Al.

That all being said. I do belileve in global warming. Yes, it is happening. I'm trying to do my part. I have started riding my bike the 7.4 miles to work, or driving half-way and walking the rest. But I don't just do it to "shrink my carbon footprint". I do it, because gas prices are high and I can use the exercise. I save a ton on fuel costs and I can drop my gym membership. So, for me, it's about money, too, from a certain point of view (OK - so that has nothing really to do with this. That phrase just reminded me of this scene, and I'm a Star Wars nerd).

We could all be more responsible with our planet, but if we really think we're a massive threat to it, then we truly are arrogant, indeed. I think George Carlin best summed it up like this. I did the math on this, last year on Earth Day. If you took the 6.5 billion people on the planet, and gave them all 20 square feet (so they all had room to wiggle a little bit), they would cover an area just slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut, the 3rd smallest in the union. Do we really think the planet is worried about us? We're a flyspeck on the map.

In conclusion... The point I'm really trying to make, is that you really need to look at what someone's motivation is, when they're sharing information or trying to excite you about something. Be extra careful about what politicians tell you. And remember, its our job to tell them what the problems are, not the other way around.

And so, as Mr. Carlin took his bow, I do as well. Thanks for reading. I look forward to your responses.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 1 - Welcome!

Before I begin, let me just say that I am not a professor of any sort. I'm assigning myself that title, because... well, because it sounds awesome and authoritative!

Now, to get to the meat of it all. Why does this blog now exist? Funny you should ask. My prupose in creating this blog is to get as many people as I can to learn how to THINK about things, and hopefully get me to think in new ways.

I see the root of the world's problems as the inability for us to do the very simple task of thinking. When things don't make sense to us, we are taught not to question; but rather to listen to those who are in authority, and follow the rules. It all starts the first time our parents tell us, "because I said so!" From that point, we can either fall in line, or question and risk receiving the hand on the rear-end treatment (or in my case, a switch).

Am I going to save the world? Meh... probably not. However, I know I can create an environment that can open people's minds (certainly my own).

No matter what subject is brought up, the only rule is: Don't be afraid to be wrong. As my favorite professor in college once told me, "Sometimes the best way to find out what something is, you first have to find out what it isn't." If there is one thing I truly know in this world, it's that I don't know everything. I don't like being wrong, but I'm certainly not afraid of it.

And it isn't about winning or losing. It's about LEARNING. Whether or not you agree with me or anyone else in a certain debate or discussion is irrelivant. Learn something from it. Understanding how someone else thinks or believes is empowering!

So, let's get this party started! Bring your opinion. Bring your data. Bring a BLT (Mmmm... bacon!). And one more thing... I'm not the best at updating every day. In fact, I'll basically be adding new things as they come up, but in the spirit of starting off strong, I'll find something to talk about today and bring you my opinion tomorrow!