Extra Terrestrial Life

Two months ago our astronomers detected in the atmosphere of our nearest planet, Venus, a molecule, phosphine, that on Earth is produced by microbes. So the question arose whether there is life on Venus. NASA is already planning an exploration launch for around 2030.

More interesting question is whether there is life, especially intelligent life, anywhere in the galaxy or the universe? After all the universe is unbelievable huge. With trillions of planets, we still might expect a few technological civilisations to have cropped up over a very long span of time. But have we overestimated the chance that extra terrestrial life, once it appears, evolves intelligence. My bet is that life is common, but intelligent life may be rare.

The universe may be teeming with simple cell life form, like bacteria, but a more complex life form – including intelligent life – is probably very rare. All animals, plants and fungi evolved from one ancestor, the first ever complex, or “eukaryotic”, cell. This common ancestor consisting of complex, membrane-bound cells with a central nucleus, had itself evolved from simple bacteria. But it has long been a mystery why this seems to have happened only once: bacteria, after all, have been around for billions of years. The jump from simple organisms to multicellular eukaryotic organisms may have been a complete fluke. It required two simple cells to bump into one another in a particular way, one absorbing the other – an event of mind-boggling improbability. Similarly unlikely, he thinks, is the development of culture and intelligence.

With at least 100 billion planets in our galaxy (the Milky Way), scientists have estimated that there might be at least 36 civilisations in our galaxy. They arrived at this figure by assuming that, given a planet hospitable to life, intelligent life typically appears after about 5 billion years, because that is how it played out here on Earth. Then they expressed this as a fraction of the length of time for which those hospitable conditions persist – roughly, the lifetime of the host star. They also assumed that once an intelligent civilisation arises, it lasts for at least 100 years.

Assuming that it is the case of 36 other civilisations in the Milky Way. In that case, the average distance between them works out to about 17,000 light years, which makes it unlikely we might have for back-and-forth communication. It would take 17,000 years for any signal to reach us. And even if we’re able to understand it, any signal we send back would take another 17,000 years – and then another 17,000 years for them to reply. If there are thinking things out there, we’re probably never going to make contact with them.

Merry Christmas and May your New Year Be much more better that this year of The Virus Pandemic.

A Tale of Discovery and A Meteorite in Election Month

In the Momentous Year 1492, Christopher Columbus (aka Cristobal Colon) discovered a huge land mass that he thought was India or China or perhaps, Japan. It turned out to be the American continent. In the same auspicous year 1492, a fireball streaked across the sky and fell from heaven in Alsace region of France.

The meteorite fell near the town of Ensisheim, Alsace. The fall of the meteorite through the Earth’s atmosphere was observed as a fireball at a distance of up to 150 kilometers from where it eventually landed.The stoney black meteorite, weighing 127 kilograms, was described as triangular in shape, and it created a 1-meter deep hole upon impact; remnants of the meteorite is kept in the local museum (see the photo).

The area of impact is now covered by a corn field. Corn was brought to Europe by Columbus. Are you not amazed by this coincidence. A messenger from outer space celebrating as celestial fireworks for the momentous voyage of discovery by Columbus. And the fall of the meteorite took place in the same month of the current American Election: November.

On Boredom

I have always fancied being bored on a grand and stylish scale. I’m talking Great Gatsby boredom, with everyone lying around in white clothes and floppy hats, sipping long drinks with cooling names, and being utterly and divinely bored. How sophisticated can one get, goes my thinking, that even when surrounded by the best things in life, it’s not enough? Boredom wins through.

There’s something exquisite about boredom. Like melancholy and its darker cousin sadness, boredom is related to emptiness and meaninglessness, but in a perfectly enjoyable way. It’s like wandering though the Louvre being surrounded by all those great works of art, and deciding not to look at them because it’s a pleasure just walking from room to room enjoying the squeak of your soles on the polished floor.

Boredom is the no-signal sound on a blank television, the closed-down monotone of a radio in the middle of the night. It’s an uninterrupted straight line.

Boredom in the workplace is something else, of course. Here every moment has hovering over it the question-mark of time passing. This kind of boredom sucks the life from you. It has none of the hallmarks of the grand boredom that I’m after – the sort with a rousing soundtrack as you emerge from the darkness of sloth into the light of inspiration. The sort that illuminates new questions: Why not go and live in another country? Why shouldn’t I write a novel?

The Myth of Devotion by Louise Gluck

When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added.

Everything the same, including sunlight,
because it would be hard on a young girl
to go so quickly from bright light to utter darkness

Gradually, he thought, he’d introduce the night,
first as the shadows of fluttering leaves.
Then moon, then stars. Then no moon, no stars.
Let Persephone get used to it slowly.
In the end, he thought, she’d find it comforting.

A replica of earth
except there was love here.
Doesn’t everyone want love?

He waited many years,
building a world, watching
Persephone in the meadow.
Persephone, a smeller, a taster.
If you have one appetite, he thought,
you have them all.

Doesn’t everyone want to feel in the night
the beloved body, compass, polestar,
to hear the quiet breathing that says
I am alive, that means also
you are alive, because you hear me,
you are here with me. And when one turns,
the other turns—

That’s what he felt, the lord of darkness,
looking at the world he had
constructed for Persephone. It never crossed his mind
that there’d be no more smelling here,
certainly no more eating.

Guilt? Terror? The fear of love?
These things he couldn’t imagine;
no lover ever imagines them.

He dreams, he wonders what to call this place.
First he thinks: The New Hell. Then: The Garden.
In the end, he decides to name it
Persephone’s Girlhood.

A soft light rising above the level meadow,
behind the bed. He takes her in his arms.
He wants to say I love you, nothing can hurt you

but he thinks
this is a lie, so he says in the end
you’re dead, nothing can hurt you
which seems to him
a more promising beginning, more true.

The Story of the First Briton

Study of human origins often produces very surprising results, especially of how our ancestors looked like.Take for example, the study of a human fossil skeleton considered to be the First Briton.

DNA study of a 10,000 year old skeleton fossil indicates the First Briton was a blue eyed, curly dark haired and dark to black skinned human. Incredible, eh! Blue eyed black dude!

He is known as the Cheddar Man, a human male fossil found in Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. It appears that he died a violent death.

The Cheddar Man probably entered pre-agrarian Britain at the end of the last ice age, in the middle stone age period, when it was still connected by a land bridge, called Dogger Land, to continental Europe.

The DNA of the Cheddar Man was found throughout other continental European skeleton fossils. And hence, he and the others were grouped as the Western Hunter Gatherers.

The DNA of Cheddar Man was found to be within most modern Britons.

So this study indicates that the pale or white skin of modern Britons came into being at much more recent period.

Life is Good: Enjoy it

Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others. (from philosopher Martha Nussbaum)

Thoughts on the Pandemic

This CoronaVirus doesn’t care whether you are rich or poor or anything else about you. It only cares that you are a multi-cell biological organism that can be penetrated. It needs to infiltrate your cells so that it can be brought to life and reproduce . Without your cells this Virus is an inert complex molecule without cells and without a biological life. It is not a Bacteria which is a living single-cell biological organism, 1000 times bigger than this Virus. It usually lies dormant in the environment until something wakes it up. Like overpopulation and climate change or men being evil or simply stupid enough to poke it. So don’t be stupid. Keep up your guard and defences against its chemistry. Listen to and abide by the Rules to prevent its reproduction and Pandemic spread, for sake of your health and others you care about.

A Game Changing Find in the Origin of Species

Homo Erectus (which means “upright man”) is probably the oldest species that we can confidently say is our (Homo Sapiens) direct ancestor. Once you get older than that, it gets a bit fuzzy. 

Homo Erectus is the species of hominin (i.e. the extended human family) that has lived longest in our planet, around 2 million years. Us, Homo Sapiens, have only been around 300,000 years, a paltry number when compared to Erectus.

Homo sapiens is the latest in a very long line of hominins to have roamed the Earth. Erectus was originally known as the Java Man since its first fossil was found in Indonesia in the late 19 th Century. Homo Erectus appears to have gone extinct probably around 100,000 years ago which was date of the Indonesian fossils. Homo Sapiens, us,  is a species that has overcome incredible odds to get where it is. But we are just as prone to extinction as any other organism ever has been. We’re part of a continuous arc of life on this planet. And we just would hope that would drive a bit of a reflection.

Homo erectus was the beginning of what it means to be human. It had a larger brain than any previous hominin, body proportions similar to ours and an easy two-legged gait. The first Homo species to leave Africa, it is believed to have made the first hand axes, hunted in co-operative groups and cared for old and sick individuals.

It was in July 2015 that the game-changing fossil fragments were unearthed at Drimolen, an excavation site 40 kilometres north of Johannesburg. It was thought to be of a hominin, possibly even Homo Erectus. If they were right about it being Homo Erectus, the implications were huge, since this would contradict 60 years of palaeo-anthropological and fossil evidence from Africa.

Despite decades of intensive archaeological exploration, no fossil identified as Homo Erectus  had been found in southern Africa. 

Painstaking laboratory work was carried out, confirming both the classification of the skull as Homo Erectus and its age. The 2015 Drimolen skull was two million years old. That would make it the oldest Homo Erectus fossil ever identified – by a margin of 200,000 years – and a priceless palaeo-anthropological treasure.

The discovery that pushed back by 200,000 years the appearance of Homo erectus, effectively changing the date of the dawn of humanity. 

VOLTO SANTO DE LUCCA : Scientific Dating Proves the Miracle

I saw the Religious Relic many years ago and was gobsmacked by its spiritual beauty, age and remarkable preservation. Imagine this. A thousand years ago an Italian bishop on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land discovers 2.4 metre tall wooden crucifix that shows the Holy Face of Christ with downcast eyes in remarkable detail of preservation. According to the local legend, “The Holy Face of Lucca” had been sculpted by a divine hand and remained hidden for centuries before being discovered by the bishop.

The bishop wants to take the relic to a more safe place and decides to ship it to Italy but can not find a ship with a crew.

The bishop then decides to put crucifix relic on a ship with no crew. The ship with no crew miraculously set sail to the Tuscan coast, where an angel helped guide the relic to its final home in a cathedral in Lucca.

The Holy Face or Volto Santo has been kept in the Lucca Cathedral in Tuscany, Italy, for centuries and legions of pilgrims came to venerate one of Christendom’s most treasured relics. The Volto Santo is regarded as one of the true icons of Christ, comparable to the Shroud of Turin, whose devotees believe shows star55an image of Christ. By the late Middle Ages, the Volto Santo De Lucca was so well known in Northern Europe that it became an object of devotion of the French nobility. “By the face of Lucca” was an oath sworn by William II of England, and it is mentioned in Dante’s Inferno. But also the Volto Santo is a symbol of pride for a city-state that remained an independent republic for seven centuries, with a celestial defender on its side.

For century or more the Holy Face of Lucca has been thought by many historians and scientists to be a ‘fake’ or a copy of perhaps an ancient religious relic. The original relic according to manuscripts is supposed to be from 8th Century, but many suspected that it was more 12th Century.

The simple reasoning for this theory was that the 2.4m tall crucifix is made of wood and wood cannot last for so long in such a perfect condition as it remains. Unlike bronze or marble, wood is very perishable, and that 1,000-year-old statues are few and far between.

The miraculous thing is that it’s managed to survive to our days.

But that 12th century ‘fake’ theory was soundly contradicted by the new radiocarbon results. Now with the latest dating techniques the crucifix was shown to be the oldest surviving wooden carving in Europe. And it remains in remarkable condition, the downcast eyes of Christ on the cross still captured in dramatic detail. Scientists cannot explain the remarkable or miraculous preservation of the wooded crucifix.

In December, experts from the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics took three samples of wood from the crucifix — one from each arm and from the lower part of the gown adorning Jesus, as well as a tiny sample of the canvas. Radiocarbon dating at an accelerator mass spectrometry lab in Florence dated the wood to the end of the seventh century and the middle of the ninth. Also known as carbon 14 dating, the technique is mainly used to date organic materials, like wood.

So The Volto Santo De Luca is the Genuine relic which for 12 centuries untold numbers of pilgrims had come to pray, to touch, to cry, to rejoice in front of this image.

BenQ Digital Camera

Black Lives Matter

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” [#King] #AmericaOnFire#protest2020

Over the course of a lifetime, black men in #America have a one in 1000 chance of being killed by the police, and are 2½ times more likely to die this way than white men. African-Americans represent 12% of the US population, but 33% of the prison population.

It is upsetting to see violence and clearly latent criminality in the destruction of property and the looting of businesses often run by the Hispanic, Chinese or south Asian minorities.

The #riots are also being politicised by Donald #Trump, whose incendiary tweets about “vicious dogs”, “looting and shooting”, and threats to send in the military appear calculated to escalate the conflict amid a social breakdown, rather than appeal for calm.

#Trump mobilising troops to stop the ‘Bolsheviks’ of #Antifa, which he wants labelled terrorist. Have we forgotten they are an anti-fascist organisation formed in WW II time to fight against Hitler and all fascism !