Zombie planet

Max, 2013/01/31 

The universe just keeps getting weirder…


‘Zombie Planet’ Resurrected: Fomalhaut b is Real

If you’ve been reading the right news feeds, you’ll probably know by now that Fomalhaut b has officially been confirmed as a planet. And it’s an interesting one, too. Orbiting the star Fomalhaut, an A-type star somewhat more massive and hotter than the sun, this planet has a wildly eccentric orbit. As befitting a larger star, Fomalhaut b’s orbit is huge compared to our solar system.

Even at the closest point in its orbit, the orbits of every planet in our own solar system could fit between it and Fomalhaut (as shown in this, now outdated, image). At the furthest point in its orbit, it reaches nearly 10 times the distance between Neptune and the sun, ploughing through a thick disk of dusty material held in Fomalhaut’s gravitational grip.

So what was the controversy over this planet? As it happens, it’s quite an interesting story, and an excellent example of the way good science works.


When berserker Vikings ran amok…


The original Hell’s Angels of the Far North! This very good 5-part BBC documentary tells the story of the Vikings, especially with respect to the people of the British Isles – from the Picts in the Scottish islands of Shetland and the Orkneys to Southern England, Wales and Ireland. Using genetic testing, we see how much Norse blood is still evident where the Vikings once settled. Hints also come from the English language itself as well as place names scattered all over north eastern England (throughout the ‘Danelaw’).

Max, The Master.

byronius, 2013/01/30 

We were all waiting in a hallway outside the performance room. The hallway was lined with steel and wire shelving that was stocked with boxes of cereal and large institutional cans of soup, mostly beefish. Max was nervous, resplendent in his orange robes, which looked like orange bedsheets from the 1970’s that had simply been starched and ironed and wrapped around him. He shuffled back and forth on his bare feet as we waited to enter the room.

Behind me, the Grand Master passed by. He was a short fellow with glasses who looked vaguely like Woody Allen, and he spoke to no one, looked at no one, just pushed his way past everyone into the room. A hush fell over the assembly in the hallway — the GrandMaster! — and Max looked thoroughly respectful, clasping his hands together as if he were monkish supplicant — we had all been told that once the ceremony was finished, Max himself would be considered a Master, and it was a tenet of the GrandMaster that all Masters be shown due respect by the general population.

Max was about to graduate from throat-singing school. He had learned somehow to sing with his throat, and the ceremony was intended to note his elevation to a higher plane of existence because of his mastery of the technique. I found the whole thing privately ridiculous, and before the gathering, Max had indicated that he too found the pomp and circumstance associated with the practice to be a little self-consumed. It seemed, however, that the GrandMaster was extremely serious about the whole thing; anyone who mastered the art of throat-singing was to have ascended to the highest possible plane of existence, and should be considered to be far beyond all other beings. Max, somewhat sheepishly, had admitted that perhaps he did not think it was necessary that I treat him any differently, and I grinned my standard mocking-of-Max grin at him as he continued to shuffle back and forth on his bare feet, his starchy orange bedsheet-robes crackling with each movement.

A hush grew over the crowd in the hallway; the ceremony was about to begin. People began to file in to the performance room, and as we prepared to enter the holy throat-singing sanctum, I incongruously noted the brand names of the large boxes of cereal stacked on the wire shelves beside me. Most of them seemed to be bran-and-raisin based.

Max crinkled in his bulbous and stiff orange shroud as we turned and aligned ourselves for entry. He was nervous.

“You’ll do fine,” I whispered as we moved forward towards the entrance.

Alarm clock.


SkyHarbor, 2013/01/29 

The first real science fiction series on American television. I was just a wee sprout, but sat wide eyed through each episode! And I’ve been kinda weird ever since! 😉

“Science Fiction Theatre” was a syndicated science fiction anthology series. It was produced in the United States by Ivan Tors and Maurice Ziv.

Hosted by Truman Bradley, a 1940s film actor and former war correspondent, each episode introduced stories which had an extrapolated scientific, or pseudo-scientific emphasis based on actual scientific data available in the 1950s. The program concentrated on such concepts as space flight, frozen dinosaurs, robots, telepathy, flying saucers and time travel.
It ran from 1955 to 1957, with a total of 78 half hour episodes. It was also known as ‘Beyond The Limits’ in second run syndication during the 1960s and alternatively as ‘Science Fiction Theater’.

“Science Fiction Theatre” was a forerunner of similar shows, such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

Season 1 Episode 5
Pretty goofy, but for its time – not too bad. Sample this episode and decide for yourself. Most of the ‘science’ is downright ancient by our standards… but still…
BTW: This episode has been ‘colourised’.

“Give Our Ideas A Fighting Chance”

byronius, 2013/01/28 

“By lying, cheating, stealing, smearing, blackmailing, murdering, and twisting the minds of the fearful and ignorant to our own ends.”

Oh yeah, and election fraud and electoral college malarkey.

It’s all they have left. The ideas are as old as the primate line, and no one in their right mind wants to get back down into the Dark Ages. So — they gotta do stuff, stuff to keep it alive.

Stuff nobody with a moral compass can do.

Conservative means Criminal.


byronius, 2013/01/26 

nobody goes in snows the way furry freaks do
hipping and hopping through the quick pines
leapin’ off the peaks to pop up in the sweet air
orange sunshine avowed, a cloud porpoise with steamy breath
tubbed in a snowy bowl
cold cotton newfall, rubbing it in their hair, snorfling and rolling to slide far down the hill
over the edge of the mountain and the granite goes by in a flash
floof! the deepest of the deep they live for centuries down there
the plumes of special blue cold dancing for the next storm
so quiet so snow forest quiet underneath the full moon
til they come singin’! singing down through trees
shaking the deep off, toes flexing on frozen ice waterfalls
and whooping! mad red faces pushing faster ever faster
leaping down the trees and shushing off white walls
naked! and cold! and alive! and still moving
hot water

Memories of The Ice…

SkyHarbor, 2013/01/25 

Those who study human history tend to envision a largely unbroken arc leading from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt (with perhaps a quick glance at the culture of the Indus valley) through the Greek and Roman cultures… culminating in the ‘glories’ of European civilisation. This is what any high school textbook on ‘World History’ will tell you.

In the generally ‘accepted’ version, around 5,000-6,000 years ago, people started building large stone and brick structures, from the circular ‘henges’ of the British Isles to the great pyramids of Egypt and the ziggurats along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Writing soon followed, according to this account, and thus – ‘history’ began.

But is it true?

The last Ice Age ended around 12,000 years ago or ca. 10,000 BCE. By this time modern humans were well established as nomadic hunter-gatherers throughout the ‘Old World’ and were beginning to populate the ‘New World’ as well…

read more…

Do The Spaceman Boogie.


Out of the park.

They’ll close their eyes and think of Rachel Maddow.

byronius, 2013/01/24 

They’re so kinda right.

I’m lovin’ me some Hillary


I don’t know if you saw any of the ‘old men bitching at Hillary’ show yesterday, but this is one of the funniest things I’ve seen for a while.

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