Celica Grail

In my sojourn across these digital wastelands, in search of "Star Wars Car (go ahead and look it up, and behold the wonders!)", I cam across these references to a "Star Wars Celica". I had to know more, so, of course I did.
 It was 1977. Wondrous times. Star Wars had only been out for a few months, but had already lit a spark in the world. A local Toyota dealership in Southern California thought it would be nifty to pimp out a new Celica with Star Wars flair.
 This is before George Lucas got a complete stranglehold on all merchandising and/or the power to crack down on any who would use his characters without paying him a tithe - this is an important detail for later in the story!
 And a close up on the prize insert:
 But alas! The winner of this one and only (that's right! The pictures above show the only known "Star Wars Celica" ever created) is unknown, and more importantly, the current wherabouts of the car are unknown -- even if it still exists. We might ask her:
 70's style! Ain't it awesome? Anyways, needless to say in this Age of Fetish Collecting, finding and possessing this car has become a "grail quest" for a small, small band of Star Wars nerds out there. There's few good leads, only historical documents to prove such a wonder ever existed at all. But maybe you know where it is? If so, secure it and get thyself to Christies! I bet it's worth millions if in good condition.

That said, my hunch is either: The car was long ago scrapped, by foolish people in the past who had no idea how valuable cheap junk truly was, or, more likely: George Lucas himself has it, hidden away in one of his many underground lairs, and he keeps it hidden, forever, if only to spite any who would dare not license from him.

I'm not looking, mind you, but may the Force be with you if you are!


SEX(Working at the Car Wash)ISM!

Believe you me: I spend a lot of time on the intertubes, searching for stupid pictures, especially of Star Trek/Star Wars. So imagine my surprise when I came upon a treasure trove of awesome Star Wars pics. I give you: The "Make-A-Wish" Star Wars Charity Car Wash!

Yeah yeah, I know it's pathetic and sexist and pathetic. But isn't everything, really? Indeed! And after a hard day of charity car washing....

 And speaking of sexism, yes. We're all unique, beautiful people, with richness and wonder filling all of our hearts souls, each of us valued and important and gosh darn it, we're liked and we belong and..... well. All true, but only a select few can pull off the Slave Leia Metal Bikini look.
 Also, have you seen Carrie Fisher lately?

Less than 12 parsecs

So, if you're a true nerd, you no doubt are aware of the long running controversy regarding Han Solo's claim to have done the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. If you're a normal person, or even someone with just a "touch of nerd", you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. But this post is not for you, cool dude!

First, there's the whole debate about measuring things in parsecs. A parsec is a unit of spatial measurement (1 Parsec =3.08568025 x 10 to the 16th meters), not time, so how does the phrase "Made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs" even make sense?

Glad you asked! When we get to distances in space, things are so big that our normal units of spatial measure become unwieldy - too many numbers! So other, far bigger units are used. You've heard of a "light year", right? For example, its about 4 light years from our Sun to the nearest star. But think about what this term actually is saying - the distance light travels in one year. So, in essence, it's a measurement of time, not space. But Space and Time are the same, according to general relativity (spacetime!), and thus, a light year.

A parsec has nothing to do with any of that, but I thought it would be fun to mention. In the Star Wars universe, they travel faster than light by a sci fi term called "hyperspace", which is just like "warp" in Star Trek.  Each involves an actual folding of space. And so, Han's boast of making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs implies it's usually longer (like 18 parsecs), but due to his daring, he took a shorter, more dangerous route. In Star Wars, they have "Hyperspace Lanes" that most ships travel, in order to avoid dangers like black holes or massive stars. And thus, Han's claim is founded in Star Wars logic.

And now you know. Go forth, and spread this knowledge.

Also too:
Oh yeah! Your hyperspace throttle is jammed into the deflector array. That's gonna cost ya.


Let's AT-AT the night away

You know what "They" always say: The couple that AT-AT's together, stays together.

At least the "They" I listen to; who's your "They"? 



Red, white, black or blue, we all got to get around. And it's always nice to do so in style. Kudos to you, young man!
Believe it: There's still a lot of bitter nerds out there about how Maul went down. Unacceptable!
And super kudos to this guy - my early leader in "Best of the Internet 2011 (Star Wars)". We should all follow your lead.


I may be a midget in a motorized wheelchair, but...

... at least I'm not black. Sigh. Probably what this guy is thinking, feeling, and has been thinking for a long time. No doubt he's had a tough life, but it's hard to feel sympathy for someone who is so misguided. I mean, it's understandable - people get into all kinds of things in order to feel the bliss that is belonging, that is feeling like you have a place. Doesn't matter what the thing is, mostly. But not all the time.

When you are actively espousing intolerance towards others - any others - you've crossed the line. I've long toyed with this idea: A good rule for living - a good basis for a religion, in fact - is tolerance to all. Except, alas, for the intolerant. Allowing the intolerant to actively work against the tolerant is like allowing a cancer to do whatever it wants, because "its alive too". Maybe, but by letting it live, you die. By allowing intolerance to bloom, tolerance is inhibited. 

Thus, defenders of tolerance must be intolerant towards the intolerant. Puzzling, is it not?

Also, fuck the KKK.


Able was I

Say what you will about Napoleon, but dude knew how to rally the troops. 

Also too:
Just cuz, you betchya!


Falling from Heaven

Can you feel the pain about to happen? Science fact! New techniques are showing how certain areas of the brain "light up" when the person is shown specific types of images. For example, with images of this type (falling, etc), the mind simulates the actual act and little panic lights flash on all over the brain, and this is a measurable and predictable phenomena.

Point being, soon enough, mind reading machines will be here. Get ready - I recommend a mind training technique where you learn to lie to yourself, convincingly.

Boom Times in Cloud City

An easy prediction: As oil becomes ever rarer and/or more difficult to extract, its price will climb ever higher, higher and higher till the oil countries of the world, especially in the Middle East, are awash in cash beyond belief. And all sorts of things will flow from this imbalance, one of them: Awesome architecture and all manner of technological advancements. Sad, but true: Progress often happens in fits and starts, leaps then long periods of nothing. And if the super rich oil kingdoms of the Middle East keep pushing the architectural envelope, then their breakthroughs will be everyone's breakthroughs, and eventually, the entire world will benefit.

Till then, let us remark how it once was America who was astounding the world with ever greater feats of construction, but those days are long gone now, aren't they? Thank Tricky Dick and St. Ronnie and all the Dittoheads hence.

Thesis: The health of a country can be directly correlated to its overall construction rate (and the overall debt rate), averaged over a set period of time. Dubai, of course, has cash money up the Yin-Yang, and is spending it aggressively yet strategically. America spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year in Finance Charges. And that, precisely, is why we no longer have nice things.


Some say in ice

Our brains are hard wired to see patterns, shapes, faces. What did you see here, the first time you looked at it?

How about here?

But then sometimes our brains, via our eyes, are presented with something that makes no sense, too abstract, too absurd, and it bypasses that identification channel:

And the absurd is a liberation.  Or a fortress, of solitude (yes, the google's source for Superman puns!).

Or a theory turned into visual metaphor:
This is Freudian, literally, to the Extreme. Not sure if it's correct, or even close to correct. Yet, there's something here that makes sense to me - do you have another voice in your head? One which often says things like "I'm not sure that's a good idea", or "Maybe we should sleep for a couple of hours before driving" or "Maybe you shouldn't eat that piece of cheese on the floor". Etc. I believe - hope! - we all do, and if so, I ask you: What is that voice? Or who?

Are we all schizophrenics? Or, is the idea of different personalities, different perspectives within the same "individual", the truth? Or a closer approximation thereof.


Fire in the Snow

There's something about a fire in the snow that is so appealing to me. It's probably all the contrasts that can be temporarily reconciled. Cold/hot, wet/burning, despair/hope, etc. Its a nice metaphor, and a life saving tool.

As such, to build a fire in the snow (thank you, Survivorman), you need to focus on two important things: Preparing a foundation on which to burn the fire. Here, they have a pit. You might not be so lucky. You need to separate the fire from direct contact with the snow. For example, you could dig a deep, wide hole in the snow, and fill it with wet wood/live pine branches, then build your fire on top of that. Two: Wet wood is hard to burn, so take care to choose the driest wood you can find. If it's a deep winter scene, you might have to dig into a piece of wood in order to get through the wet exterior. You could shave dry wood out of a dead branch to use for kindling, and once you get it hot enough, burn as normal.

Gondolin will have many fire pits - formal pit, camping pit, and I'm thinking of building a winter pit. It's also fun to say "Winter Pit".

Also too:
This pretty flower is known as a cistus, and also goes by the name of "Snow Fire". Pretty!


Fire in Heaven (Shields up)

This arty photo shows a flower suspended on a piece of aerogel with a blowtorch underneath. Aerogel is remarkable stuff - mostly air, yet solid enough to support quite a bit of weight, and as shown above, a remarkable insulator. Future applications are limitless - imagine the buildings you could have with a material almost light as air? Hurricane areas excepted.

I'm sure some colossal nerd is dreaming this up as I type, but for man to travel in space for extended periods of time/distance, then something must be done about two main threats: Meteorites and radiation. Each will kill any long distance crew, eventually. Seems like a swell idea to have an aerogel shield around the space ship, covered in a very, very strong rubber/plastic. Picture a thin layer of super dense rubber as the outer wall of the spaceship, then several different layers of aerogel/other deflectors and absorbers, then metal internal walls, with another buffer of aerogel, then the interior walls of the ship. Within the external rubber skin would run lines of supermagnets that could be turned on when needed to create a strong magnetic field around the ship, deflecting the radiation.

Throw in some phasers and torpedo launchers and we're off to Sirius!


Fireworks are simulated war, and war is death

Pop quiz, hot shot: Where in the world was this photo taken?

BZZT! London. The London Eye, in fact, during a recent New Years celebration. Quite spectacular, for stuffy olde England!

As pretty as fireworks can be, never lose sight of what they represent: War. A simulation of war, and simulations are almost always steps in the right direction - better to shoot off a bottle rocket than a mortar, eh?

But there's no good lesson here - no one learns anything about the horrors of war from a fireworks celebration, except occasionally for a burned fireworks technician. So, more work to be done!

Also, fireworks - that is, DRAMA! CONFLICT! CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! is really the defining aspect of our reality. Without conflict, and the inevitable destruction that results, not much of anything would happen, ever. All would be balanced.

But with imbalances, pressures build up on one side and then demands an outlet. BOOM! Big excitement. And thus, the real benefits of fireworks, and other Breads and Circuses: Pressure releases.


The Story (as of today)

Here it is:

A long, long time ago there was something like a point, but not really, of infinite mass and zero space. And then it began to expand, and then really expand (Inflation Theory), and in those first few moments, all the building blocks for our Universe were created in a crescendo of matter-antimatter collisions, with but .00001% of matter surviving, and that small remainder is everything. 

With ever further expansion came cooling and with that matter condensed out of energy, and then matter joined with matter to make a nucleus, which caught an electron, and an atom was born. Hydrogen and Helium filled the universe in great clouds, swirling and twisting with the currents of energy rippling through space, and over hundreds of thousands of years these great clouds condensed down into hot swirling points and BAM! The first stars were born, giant monsters living and dying in a few thousand years and then BAAAMMM! A massive explosion, and the first stellar Black Hole is born, and begins eating, pulling everything towards it. And this relentless pull pushes more clouds of hydrogen and helium to condense, creating stars and stars and ever more stars, some of these giving birth to more Black Holes, which start to merge, growing ever larger, ordering more and more clutches of stars in orbit around them, and the first galaxies were born.

Stars of hydrogen and helium create ever heavier metals, like carbon and oxygen, nitrogen and lithium, and this second generation of stars creates ever more heavier metals, like Iron, and in the biggest explosions of stars, everything denser than Iron is created in an instant - gold, silver, uranium, etc.  And we - life - is made up of these heavier metals. Iron courses through our very blood, and there is only one place in existence where Iron is created: A star.

Life spawned on one planet orbiting one star in a vast sea of billions of stars in billions of galaxies in maybe billions of Universes, and spread from the sea to the land. Evolution relentlessly shaped forms and functions through success and many millions of years later, here we are, you and I, contemplating it all. Brains made of up of hundreds of billions of neurons communicating electronically over a galaxy of connections, producing these very words that I type, you read, you and me - made of this very Universe, with a mind able to wonder why.

We live in an infinite sea of realities, dimensions and times beyond our comprehension and yet still, we can strive and imagine, this fantastic existence we call ours: Blessed to live in this, the Golden Era.

For our future is grim; the earth will be burnt and destroyed hundreds of times over; our galaxy will merge with Andromeda, sending each into a chaos lasting a billion years, and many, many billion more, space will be so stretched out there will be no stars in the night sky, as all matter is so far apart from other matter that there is, nothing. Stretched to infinity, cold and dark and eternal, as time will stop, motion will stop, the credits will say: Fin.

But that is all meaningless other than in a poetic way: We are here, now, alive and able to ask, Why? And "Why?" is the most powerful force ever released in this grand play.

Large Hadron confider

Here's an older pic - but still awesome - of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at the CERN institute. For my money, CERN is the most excellent place on Earth, since its a pure research endeavour aimed at pursuing the biggest questions. Funded mostly by the EU, but with some American aid. Alas, most of the USA R&D budgets these days go to one thing and one thing only: WAR! And military research.

For you wags: A hadron is the name given to a subset of composite particles, made up of baryons and mesons. You in fact now some baryons right now - the proton and the neutron. 

The idea behind a particle accelerator is quite simple: You send some particles one way, and some the opposite way, around a loop. Spin them up faster and faster till they get close to the speed of light, then smash them together. The energy released by this collision creates - for an iota of time - particles that we can never normally see. Particles that would have been created in the early Universe, before it cooled and spread.

Thus, the importance of LHC experiment (please note there are many more experiments going on at CERN than just the LHC, though the LHC is the big one): It's the biggest collider in the world, and thus can generate more speed; more speed equals more energy, and with more energy comes the brief creation of particles closer and closer to the Big Bang.

Thus, it's an attempt to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang.

I mentioned below the importance of the Higgs Boson in all this - to wit: Theory states it is this Higgs Boson that gives mass to everything. Think of the Higgs Boson as a field of grass - some objects pass through the grass like it's not there. In this analogy, these objects have no mass - like Photons; other objects get slowed down by the grass, and we call this slowing down "mass". You, for instance.

Hitherto, the Higgs has never been detected. Theory only. It is the LHC which will allow us for the first time to see it. Or not.

Now, you may have heard the doomsayers declaring the LHC would destroy the world by creating a small Black Hole, which would quickly grow and then consume the Earth, then the Solar System, etc.

But this is patently ridiculous, as there's not nearly enough energy to do so; plus, if microscopic black holes do indeed exist, than they exist right now, all around us, and haven't seemingly destroyed us yet. So, pshaw to that theory! Though it would make a fun Sci-Fi disaster movie.

But I suppose it is possible that not only will the LHC discover the Higgs, but microscopic Black Holes as well. 

in the middle of it all

Perhaps I misspoke earlier, when stating there is no middle - no center of the circle. We're not it, and nothing we could ever know is it. But rather, the middle is found at the Black Hole - the endpoint of gravity. And that's all a Black Hole is - an extreme point of gravity. And like fusion, like feezing, like gas, it's a phase change in reality - our reality.

I've gone on and on about Black Holes before, so I'll keep it brief - Black Holes are the shiznit, man. The end all/be all. Perhaps there are micro-black holes all around us as matter/antimatter in the quantum fizz annihilates and for a brief moment, a super tiny Black Hole.

Black Holes mostly come in the size of twenty or so NYC blocks. But they can merge with other Black Holes and grow larger, and larger, and ever larger. And in the early Universe, with the first massive stars exploding were born the first massive Black Holes, and they grew, and drew all the random gas and whatnot around them, in an orbiting embrace, and thus was born the first galaxies, our reality to this day.

As I've said in previous posts, gravity slows down time. Dig it, for it's true. And a Black Hole is the ultimate point of gravity - in fact, the Black Hole, the Singularity, is defined by infinite gravity in zero space. For now.

And so time stops at the Black Hole - it ceases to exist as a moving reality. So, if we were able, somehow, to launch a probe to a Black Hole, and it were able to survive the incredible ripping forces around the Black Hole and fall into it, we would see it enter the Black Hole and stop, forever.

All information is frozen on the surface of a Black Hole, never to change. Like a hologram.

And so, in conclusion for now, a Black Hole sits in the middle of our reality - existing at a macro scale and shaping events at scales beyond our feeble minds. Yet at the same time the master of the small, taking all energy and matter and shredding it, adding it to its mass, a frozen hologram of information breaking the very fabric of quantum space.

It's deep, brutha.


Beneath You

If I were to ever get a tattoo - willingly, and of sound mind - which I would never do - I think a science tat would be a good bet. I like this particle collision one, though of course it's totally stupid and hideous. But anyways! Everything I described below is at a macro and uber-macro level - that is, bigger than us. Way, way bigger. But of course something very similar is happening for things smaller than us - in fact, we sit in the middle of an endless progression from big to small, a spectrum, or wave, if you will. Not the exact middle, because - where's that? But a middle. Everything does, since, what is the middle of an infinity? Everything is, basically. Further anyways, also (WARNING: Gonna get super sciency!):
 This little chart shows the interactions of the various elementary particles we believe make up our reality. You can get an idea how pivotal the Higgs Boson is by looking at it's relationship to the other particles - it imparts mass - and thus how important the work being done at CERN right now to try and discover the Higgs Boson. If discovered, it validates 30 years of Quantum Mechanics. If not discovered, well, either they need a better machine, or better testing method, or the Standard Model (as it's called) was incorrect and needs to be changed.
 Click for big - this is the Standard Model, in poster form. Super sciency, beware, but also dive on in. It won't bite. I can summarize it by saying it's basically a model for how the most fundamental particles we know of today interact, and how they also contribute to the basic Forces we know and feel, like electromagnetism, and the strong nuclear force. It was the principles enshrined in the Standard Model that allowed us to crack the atom, so discarding it would be a major deal. It's important to note - as with ALL theories and "laws" of science - that everything discussed here is subject to change. For example, there are many theoretical physicists working in area called "String Theory", which if proven to a sufficient degree, would overwrite much of the working knowledge in physics - as in above, the quarks would be made of tiny strings, and extra-dimensions might contain a mult-dimensional gravity, etc, etc. It's all quite fascinating, but the biggest point to get across is: Everything's temporary. Even the most established fact. All "truths" are subject to revision if new evidence present itself. And so with that in mind:
A representation of an atom. It's important to grasp this concept: Even the most basic block of what we consider reality is not what we think it is. The blue surrounding the red dot in the center is the electron probability cloud, which means: Electrons don't truly exist in our reality until definitively measured/observed. Till then, they're kinda here, kinda there. That is the basis of our reality: Uncertainty. Temporary. Ephemeral. Miraculous and Mysterious. And no one does, or can ever, know it all. 

And thus a true scientist is humble, and operates with a wondrous mind straddling two worlds: Current, operational facts that have proven successful to date, but always open to the idea of new facts, new ways of being, that are truer, better, more close to the real than before. And one needs to adapt at any time to these new facts. Some people can't do this, it seems. Some can.

Which are you?

Also too, for scale purposes:
So small that it's beyond our minds. So, consider this in the larger view: Above us, galaxies and galaxies and maybe even Universe upon Universe, so vast that I can't possibly describe it accurately; and beneath us, smaller than us, an equal vastness that is ever driving down to smaller and smaller realms. And perhaps completely separete dimensions. One of my favorite theories at this scale is called "quantum fizz", and it means that at the quark level, quarks and anti-quarks pop into existence all the time, to quickly annhiliate, in a manner similar to the fizz in a soda. Random, spontaneous, and short lived. But this fizz is our reality, at least one level. There's many others.

Or, as Granny said:
It's turtles all the way down.


Stop: Corroborate and listen

Here's some evidence to many of the points I made below, from real life Science types. From highest/biggest to lowest/smallest:
Simple drawing show one concept of the multiverse - and remember: The part we can see might just be a smaller part of a bigger Universe, but even that larger Universe is just one bubble in an ocean of bubbles, which in turn might just be one bubble in an even bigger multiverse, and so on, forever. However, this is purely theoretical, since, how can you test for it?
Our bubble (artist's representation). Looks like a cell, right? The white lines would be matter/energy, and the blue would be the expanding sphere of spacetime.

A close up into the pic above - partly artist representation, partly real photographs. Consider in the above as we zoom in closer and closer, you finally see a galaxy.  Thus, what you're looking at here are strings and strings of billions of galaxies - they make a structure unto themselves, a structure we are part of. Here's some real proof:
Click for big - an actual photo of 1.6 million galaxies, which in the scheme of things is a drop in the bucket. But you can see the filament like structure they're arranged in. Now, each and everyone of these point of light is really this:
A galaxy. This is M31 - Andromeda - our nearest big galactic neighbor. Bigger than us in fact. But just one galaxy among the countless billions and billions, all filled with:
Stars and planets. This is an actual photo of a star with three exoplanets orbiting around. There's probably many more, and at this point, everyone's coming to the tentative conclusion that almost every star has planets, and even other weirder things like neutron stars have planets. There's planets everywhere.

That covers section 2 below, in which I tried and show the Universal gravity well which defines our reality - going back up from the planet to the star to the galaxy to the collection of galaxies and so on is to go ever deeper down into that gravity well. Whilst simultaneously....

Our entire Universe - our bubble - is expanding. Above shows 4 possible outcomes of this expansion, and the answer is dependent on the speed of the expansion versus the pull of gravity. In each of these examples you can see the entire universe displayed, but make no mistake - it's always there, expanding. Option1 (Big Crunch) makes a lot of intuitive sense, but the data is pointing to option 4 instead, which would leave us - trillions of years in the future - in a universe of no energy or matter. Nothingness.
And finally, imbalance:
Here's the famous pic from the WMAP satellite  showing temperature variations in our very early universe. The other examples show how this variation plays out on smaller scales. Now, important to note - the actual variance from one spot to another was incredibly, incredibly minuscule. But it's enough to measure, and it was enough to produce everything you see or could ever see around you.

And us? We're a dream, I think - a fizz of energy that arises and subsides. Life - all life - fits into this model, somewhere, and I think it's entirely as a chemical process. Making us a darn smart chemical reaction, I tells ya: