Monday, April 09, 2007


British geneticist and evolutionary biologist J.B.S.Haldane is famous for his remark:
“ The Creator, if He exists,
has an inordinate fondness for Stars and Beetles".
This is of course referring to the fact that 25% of all known Animal species, including Homo Escapeons, are types of beetle.
Astronomers estimate that there are at least
70 SEXtillion
(7×10 to the 22nd power whatever!) stars in the observable universe or
230 billion times as many as the 300 billion in our own Milky Way!
Aside from the Sun the nearest star is Proxima Centauri
(if you’re ever on a game show)
which is about 40 trillion kilometres /4 light-years away
Much to my chagrin the Sun will expire in another 4 Billion years but presumably does not have enough mass to explode as a Supernova (dammit anyway) so it will become a Red Giant.
Unfortunately what that means is that the Sun's outer layers will expand until they reach Earth and all of our water will be boiled away and the atmosphere will escape into space.
I don’t like the sound of that.
Hmm, it sounds like 'Somebody' likes Stars even more than Beetles?


  1. And so the lesson of today's trivia is...and he wins what, exactly?

    You seem to be fascinated lately with scientists and the like and big, big numbers.

    Are you taking a physics course by correspondence?

  2. that does sound a bit worrisome - when it happens what do you recommend we do? Would putting a paper bag over our heads help?

  3. without a clue,
    Stars are his favorite you knucklehead!

    Under those circumstances I think that a plastic bag would be more appropriate.

  4. Asteroid 3834 is named 'Zappafrank' in honour of Frank Zappa.

    That is all I need to know about the Universe.

  5. Then what's the point of getting our knickers in a knot over global warmning? If the planet is flooded, it'll be harder for the Sun to fricassee our great bodzillion (1 generation multipled by 4 billion years) grandchildren. Right? Plus, we'll have loads of time to get used to the temperature changes.

  6. mj,
    Way to Show Off Poindexter!

    Finally the voice of reason crying in the wilderness!
    Warming schmarming!

  7. How can Gid not love the Beatles? Classics such as Dear Prudence, Sgt Peppers lonely hearts club band.

    God has good taste in music, but Satan definately has the best bands.

    "The sun is a mass of incandescent gas A gigantic nuclear furnace where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees" - They Might be Giants... The Sun is a Mass of Incandecesent Gas....

  8. So the stuff about uv rays or whatnot getting more dangerous/intense is not about pollution causing the thinning of the ozone layer after all, but really just about the sun doing what it's supposed to do? Does this mean I can stop recycling now?

  9. what are you talking about? the beatles were the biggest stars of the last century, doof!
    geeze. you live in a cave or something?

  10. It can't be coincidence that Mr Starr was one of the Beatles?

  11. You people are all too clever for my own good!

    I knew that you would have some complex explanation to try to discombobulate my brain...were you trying to say that the Sun is a really, really , really HOT churning ball of gas!

    If you have any plans of being around for 4 Billion years you still have to recycle because that is plenty of time for humans to destroy the Earth before the Sun gets around to it.

    first nations,
    Guilty as charged. It's just me and this tall dude named Osama living in this cave. He says that he is an exchange student but he never goes to class and he hides all of his notes..makes me sort of nervous.

    Bravo! You win a cookie for connecting the dots with such a remarkable observation...geez I wish that I would have said that.

  12. **it sounds like 'Somebody' likes Stars more than Beetles?

    And I like that 'Somebody' more than Stars and Beetles :)


  13. keshiroo,
    Your answer is as deep and mysterious as the universe itself.

  14. really? awww...well just that that 'Somebody' is more deep and myterious than anything else on Earth :)


  15. why is it (oh fount of all knowledge [scientific, for the knowing of])when these purveyors of Doom and Global Warming get on their rhetoric they always say the ice caps will melt and there'll be no water - - -

    is it me?? am I being particularly dense? I am, aren't I? but tell me anyway please.

    (and I don't want to know about it being salt water because desalination is within our means)

  16. Who is talking Physics? That's my area!! Leave it for experts..

    For a moment I thought you were taliking of beatles..It would have been better.


  17. ziggi,
    From what I can gather the Polar Caps reflect sunlight and if they melt the Earth will absorb more heat...
    the Caps cover the Ocean and keep the water cold which affects the currents which in turn affects the weather and areas that usually get snow will get rain and areas that usually get rain will receive less of it...
    and of course the sea levels will rise and flood the coastal cities where everybody lives...
    if the temperatures rise freshwater lakes will see an increase in algae growth and a decrease in dissolved oxygen levels that will disrupt the life cycles of fish, insects, birds etc...
    and if large quantities of freshwater evaporates we will all be in trouble...
    thank goodness this is considered to be a temporary cycle by many scientists that is attributable to the wobble in the Earth's axis and things should go back to normal in about 16,ooo years.

    Well bring it on sister! Is this better...
    ...about 3.4×10(38) protons (hydrogen nuclei) are converted into helium nuclei every second *out of about ~8.9×10(56) total amount of free protons in Sun, releasing energy at the matter-energy conversion rate of 4.26 million tonnes per second, 383 yottawatts (383×1024 W) or 9.15×1010 megatons of TNT per second.

    This corresponds to extremely low rate of energy production in the Sun's core
    *about 0.3 μW/cm³, or about 6 μW/kg.
    For comparison, ordinary candela produces heat at the rate 1 W/cm³, and human body at the rate 1.2 W/kg.

    And my favorite BEATLE was George Harrison.

  18. Quite the agnostic approach. I can't say I approve, but then the only way I'd approve is if everyone took Carl Sagan's view of Nature and the power of it versus any unknown element which may or may not be male, female, or ya know, MADE UP COMPLETELY.
    ...Not that I'm sayin' that.

    In fact, I'm agnostic about what I'm sayin', and I may not be sure if I'm sayin' anything at all.

    And John Lennon was the best Beatle.

  19. Bringing it, Brother(sic!)

    Continuing with fusion reactions, let'ss talk about proton-proton reaction:
    In our Sun, these reactions occur in the central region, where the density is increased to 100 times the density of water on Earth, sending temperatures to about 15 million K (27,000,000 degrees F; consider baking a pizza at 400 degrees F!). At these temperatures, the hydrogen is ionized, or stripped of their electrons, creating a plasma of free electrons and protons, the nuclei of the hydrogen. The heat provides enough energy for the hydrogen ions to collide with enough force to overcome the repulsion between these positively charged nuclei and fuse them. One of the resulting two protons that just fused decays into a neutron through ß+ decay, forming a deuteron. The decay process also releases an anti-electron, or positron, and a neutrino. The positron will later collide with an electron and annihilate each other, releasing two gamma rays, which are high-energy photons. The neutrino interacts very weakly with matter, and will pass right out of the sun. The newly formed deuteron (2H) may collide into another hydrogen nucleus, creating the helium isotope 3He and causing the release of a gamma ray. When two of these 3He isotopes collide, two of its protons are released, creating 4He. This sequence of nuclear reactions, known as the proton-proton reaction, can be written like like this:

    (1.) 1H + 1H -> 2H + positron (ß+) + neutrino (v)
    (2.) 2H + 1H -> 3He + gamma ray (y)
    (3.) 3He + 3He -> 4He + 1H + 1H

    Note that steps 1 and 2 must be done twice for each step 3.

    3He and 4He are stable isotopes. 4He needs even higher energies to fuse, since the repulsion between the two pairs of positively charged protons in helium is even greater than the repulsion between only two hydrogen nuclei.

    In starts with masses similar or less than the Sun, the proton-proton reaction is the primary energy producer. However, another cycle dominates over this reaction in the hotter, more massive stars.

  20. shelley,
    You are divulging your solipsist tendencies by questioning the very existance of anything outside of your mind...


    Holy One Upmanship Batman!
    You leave me no choice...
    I know you are but what am I..INFINTY!

    ..and you forgot to mention who your favorite Beatle was?

  21. George Harrison. No question.

    It seems I got back here just in the nick of time. XXXXX

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. CHERRY!!
    I must have just passed you on the internet. I am delighted to see you again.
    Did you delete a second comment because it was too racy??
    Nudge Nudge Wink Wink
    Say no more!

  24. gAUtami has a heart of gold!

  25. the pertinent bit is
    "and of course the sea levels will rise and flood the coastal cities where everybody lives..."
    my point - they won't be short of the ol' h2o then will they?! In fact they'll be over their heads in it - so other than having to move inland a little - what's the problemo?

  26. first nations,
    That she does..
    but I think that gAUtami enjoys teasing me because she secretly likes me but is afraid to admit it.

    Pfffft...Nothing really!
    You're absolutely right we'll have water comin' out the Wazoo!

  27. Anonymous2:26 p.m.

    also those protons are crap cars

  28. Unless, of course, the Creator is a beetle.

  29. You people boggle my mind with science.....Its way too early for this kind of talk. I'll go back to dreamland where they speak my language......

  30. anonymous,
    I have never driven or ever even seen a Proton..I've seen proton torpedoes does that count?
    ..but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night!

    bock the robber,
    You may be on to something there..hmmm..that makes a lot of sense..but Stars are more important..
    HEY, is there a Beetle Constellation?

    angel without wings,
    Oh, Oh... if you are heading back into the arms of Morpheus bring back some of that magic sparkly dust and sprinkle my head...Yippee!

  31. The Beatles were always my favourite stars.

  32. I met George. Ooo, 'e were right loovly.

  33. You're looking far ahead :-)
    By that time men can spacetravel and live in another universe I guess/assume/hope/expect ?

  34. andrea,
    Isn't weird that we can talk about the good old days already...yes things were so much simpler back then...there was only 1 superstar band..that's weird.

    No Way.
    Was he as quiet and polite as he seemed to be?
    A gentle soul with a wicked sense of humor..he must have had a fantastic funnybone to have bankrolled the Python movies?

    I imagine that some of the elite will escape and live in outer space..there isn't anywhere else that is inhabitable..this is a VERY hostile Universe.
    I wouldn't want to be stuck on some gigantic space station..unless people were still blogging? That would be weird blogging with people on the other end of the space station even though you could just hop on a hovercraft and scoot down to see them...
    but I can see that happening.

  35. HE how can ya miss my 2nd comment? BAAAAAAAAAAAAWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! :*(


  36. But of course, h.e. I have to like my BROTHER!!

    Even he is ignoring my last post!

  37. kesh,
    MY BAD!
    I thought that it was a summation..sorry..
    it was a very nice way of expressing your wonder and admiration for the 'Somebody' who created the Universe.

    It is sometimes easier for us Agnostics to keep our lips sealed. We don't believe that there is enough evidence to say with any degree of certainty that 'Somebody' is directly involved in people's lives. Most people disagree and are completely unwilling to entertain any such notions.

    Like Mr. Einstein, I have no problem believing that 'Somebody' set this Universe in motion but I just don't see any evidence that there is any interaction beyond that.
    See you would have had more warm fuzzies if I hadn't said anything.

    Oh Brother where art thou?
    I am already on my must mean your today! You do realise that your today is my tomorrow.

  38. Time and relative dimensions in space is more up my alley.

  39. So this is all about Beatles and Rolling Stones, then!
    How cool is that God!

  40. Steve,
    Time and Dimension are certainly relative..especially in an immeasurable place/space like the universe beyond our own.

    So cool that I am going to reply with lyrics from David Bowie's All The Young Dudes;

    "And my brother's back at home
    With his BEATLES and his STONES.
    We never got if off on that revolution stuff.
    What a drag,
    Too many snags."

  41. OMG it wasnt abt GOD. It was abt YOU = HE.



  42. Isn't it funny how one pathetic pun can change the whole direction of the comments? :)

  43. keshiroo,
    Nobody refers to me as deep and mysterious..blatantly vapid and obvious...perhaps...but thanks for the morale boost. I will take it as a compliment..which in the future you will have to dumb-down because I am a little slow.

    You completely hijacked the direction of what would have been a mind boggling discourse on the meaning of life! Actually it was a very clever way to distract the readers from unleashing a torrent of indignation upon the author for which I am eternally grateful.
    I know that someday, somewhere, the humiliation that the Beetle-Peeps experienced here will hit my like a tsunami...probably when I least expect it.

  44. mwaaaaahahahahaha... we're lucky we have somne time before our sun packs it in, eh?

  45. Now look you people, God, in his infinite wisdom messed about with the RSS feeds today, so that I kept getting loads of links to you (HE) but none to this post. So, I turn up here to find you have been discussing my favourite subject, without having had the chance to help you with your problems.
    Let me point out the following:
    1) God is impartial. He does not care for stars more than beetles nor vice versa. He has no preference for vanilla ice cream over strawberry, or vice versa. Impartiality is one of his identifying features, although he has been known to fuck up my RSS feeds just for a laugh.
    2) Gautami, never in a hundred years of Brahma will I believe that nonsense. We were not put on this planet to study physics. That is reserved for very naughty people in the afterlife.


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