Friday, August 23, 2013

The other impact

66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous, a giant meteor hit the Earth, in the Yucatan in Mexico, the Shiva crater, offshore India, Silverpit crater in the North Sea, and the Boltysh crater in Ukraine, that caused a mass extinction of species. We have evidence of the craters, but also going on at this time, was the massive basalt volcanism in India.  The climate changed and many species died out.

There was also and much earlier mass extinction 250 million years ago, but until now no crater had been found. There has been plenty of plate movements, volcanism, and time to remove the evidence.

But Eric Tohver thinks he may have discovered the crater and the mechanism.  In Brazil there is a small crater, originally only 25 km across, compared to the Yucatan crater which is 180 km across. Seemingly too small to have a dramatic effect on the climate of Earth, but exactly in strata of the right age.

Eric Tohver has discover the rock that the meteor impacted was rich in hydrocarbons, and the impact was sufficient to release a huge volume of oil and gas, mostly methane, a very efficient greenhouse gas. This was the Permian Extinction.  90% of marine species died and 70% of land species.

The 2012 Chelyabinsk meteor over Russia was just a little one.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Asymmetric Love in a world without freewill

A quote from a longer article by Sam Harris:

"Seeing through the illusion of free will does not undercut the reality of love, for example—because loving other people is not a matter of fixating on the underlying causes of their behavior. Rather, it is a matter of caring about them as people and enjoying their company. We want those we love to be happy, and we want to feel the way we feel in their presence. The difference between happiness and suffering does not depend on free will—indeed, it has no logical relationship to it (but then, nothing does, because the very idea of free will makes no sense). In loving others, and in seeking happiness ourselves, we are primarily concerned with the character of conscious experience.

Hatred, however, is powerfully governed by the illusion that those we hate could (and should) behave differently. We don’t hate storms, avalanches, mosquitoes, or flu. We might use the term “hatred” to describe our aversion to the suffering these things cause us—but we are prone to hate other human beings in a very different sense.

True hatred requires that we view our enemy as the ultimate author of his thoughts and actions.  Love demands only that we care about our friends and find happiness in their company.

It may be hard to see this truth at first, but I encourage everyone to keep looking. It is one of the more beautiful asymmetries to be found anywhere."

Friday, August 16, 2013

The world seen through other's eyes

If you are a Pakistani applying for a standard Pakistani passport, you have to declare Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is not a real prophet and his followers are not Muslims.  He was born in 1835 in the Qaidian, Sikh Empire died in 1908 in Lahore British Empire.

He, and his followers, live on in the minds of Pakistani officialdom as a threat a century later.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Forensic Science, you can help

Body farm @ Huntsville Texas is a 100 hectare site to study how human bodies decompose and are scavenged it a rural setting. A place to donate your body to science in a different, and very natural way.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Free mini-library up and running

A free mini-library, a variation on an old concept.

It is a portal, the books and magazines flow in, and flow out. It is primed with a global supply of books.

It took a little while, see blog from 2012 September 25....

Eternal life - Religion promises, Science delivers


An interesting blog from General Electric.  It is one thing to make a machine sufficiently complex and affordable, and another to transfer the data.........

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Hermitage, St Petersburg

The Hermitage is a huge museum facing the Neva river in St Petersburg.  It claims to be a world class museum, akin to the the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The building is an ex-royal palace as is the Louvre.  It contains priceless works of art but in the summertime the upper floors are hot and humid, not air conditioned.  The protection staff that sit in the rooms are fanning themselves and look exhausted.

The museum was emptied during the siege of Leningrad and most of the art moved east to the Urals.  After the devastation it was repaired and the art restored.  Plus some new trophy art.

From the New York Times on the 1995 exhibit, '...the English catalog speaks coyly of  "Hidden Treasures Revealed: Impressionist masterpieces and other important French paintings preserved by the State Hermitage Museum," the Russian catalog is blunter: "Unknown Treasures: French paintings of the 19th-20th centuries from private German collections."'

The spoils of war.