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Friday, January 31, 2014

DID LIFE, WATER AND GOLD COME FROM OUTER SPACE?

In short, while the latest scientific evidence seems to say that the water in the ocean and gold in jewelry had origins in outer space, there are contradicting viewpoints.  The space theorists say that our planet, and all other planets, upon formation, lacked, for example, water and key gases.  Thus, for life to form, something must have come from somewhere out there.  

Mind you, life as we know it did not need to have been created here.  Perhaps some alien form almost four billion years ago planted the seeds of life on Planet Earth, but that leads to what was their origin.  In any case, they would not have bothered to come here if there was no water. But, could life have naturally formed on Planet Earth and "other" aliens tens of millions ago left a life form with some intelligence?  Probably not because bacteria and Homo sapiens share the same type of DNA.  Unless, life and DNA are universal.  

Nevertheless, it comes back to asteroids and, perhaps too, comets, bringing some of the important building blocks of life to some barren planet in the Universe to have started this all.  Without getting into the deep chemistry, the latest findings seem to suggest that the type (isotope ratio of hydrogen, deuterium and/or tritium) of hydrogen found here is similar to that of asteroids.  This isotopic ratio also seems to say that the volatiles on Earth favor asteroids over comets as the source.  The hydrogen thus came as ice (water is hydrogen and oxygen) from asteroids.  Comets originate deeper in space and are dusty ice balls, with gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

Then today, a major study was reported saying that space dust also brings water, plus organic compounds. Space dust is microscopic.  While ice from asteroids are more likely why we have oceans, interplanetary dust, because of the organics, could well have been necessary for the creation of life.

Mind you, all the above remain theories.  There are other studies showing that there was sufficient water in the formation of Planet Earth.  The edge today, however, goes to the space theorists.

About gold, the story is similar.  If gold formed when our planet came together, it should have all sunk below the mantle because it is so dense.  Thus, as one theory goes, meteorites must have fallen bringing gold, and sites like South African got most of the good stuff.  So what is the difference between an asteroid and a meteor?
  • an asteroid is a rock in space, and is larger than a meteoroid
  • when an asteroid crashes into our atmosphere, it becomes a meteor
  • when this rock survives on our surface, it is termed a meteorite

In other words, the only difference is that an asteroid is larger than a meteoroid, but becomes a meteor, then a meteorite, just like a meteoroid.

While gold from space seems to be favored, there is some support to the concept that, perhaps, the gold was here all the time, and while it did sink, some remained in the magma, and volcanic activity or plate tectonics brought some to the surface.  The gold itself generally can be traced to hot salty water that dissolves the gold and deposits it in rock fractures.

Just as we haven't yet seen 96% of matter (Dark Matter), the questions of exactly where water or gold came from and the origin of life, remain mysteries today.  There are theories, but facts are elusive.  Someday, perhaps.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

CHINA'S AIR POLLUTION IS TERRIBLE...INDIA'S COULD BE WORSE!!!

The headline article this morning in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser blared


This photo of Forbidden City was shown.  Actually, I've suffered through worse, and you can read about my experiences here:


I took this photo from my hotel room in the later morning and there was no fog.  Peruse the whole article for entertainment value, but I suffered, for I began coughing during my stay in China, which I couldn't shake for more than a month.  I will return to China only under crucial compelling circumstances.

Well, we are familiar with all the above, but how many of you know that the air pollution in India could well be worse?  Here is a photo I took from my hotel in Delhi towards India Gate, which was not that far away:


If you clicked on that posting, scroll down to the comments.  The article was entitled, INDIA SUCKS, and I stopped counting after 50 responses.

Amazingly enough, while the horrific quality of the air in China has made headlines, the air pollution in New Delhi is far worse!!!   And people don't seem to care much because everything else is worser (there is such a word, and I still get upset to recall that I got a D on an essay paper in high school when my instructor said there was no such word) yet.

How bad?
  • The particulates are more dangerous
  • A very bad air day in Beijing is about average for Delhi.
  • There was a day when the PM2.5 hit 500 in Beijing a year ago and was cited by the American
    Embassy as dangerous.  During this general period, the average in Beijing was 227, while Delhi was 473.  Only once in three weeks did Delhi drop below 300:  a level more than 12 times the exposure limit recommended by the World Health Organization.
  • Delhi is bad, but other cities are getting worse.
  • People in India have the weakest lungs, far worse than in China.  There was a time when this was thought to be genetic.  However, the lungs of Indians born of immigrant parent in the U.S. are normal.
  • India has the world's highest death rate because of chronic respiratory diseases.
  • India has more deaths from asthma.
  • In 1998 India's Supreme Court ordered that Delhi's three-wheeled taxis (notorious for emissions) be converted to compressed natural gas.  This actually happened, but the numbers increased because of more roads.
So do India and China have the worst air pollution in the world?  Well, partially yes, for  the World Health Organization cites cities in Iran, India, Pakistan and the capital of Mongolia as the pits.  That's Tehran to the left, this article said thousands died.  The U.S. and Canada are among the best.  But headlines show that 60% of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air pollution levels, as reported by the American Lung Association (ALA).  Read the article, but Los Angeles is at the highest risk from ozone and and Bakersfield for air pollution.  Honolulu is rated among the cities with the best quality, but ALA is not analyzing this accurately, for the volcanic haze from Kilauea, that has been erupting for nearly a third of a century now, causes days when, I think, Honolulu joins Beijing and New Delhi as unhealthy.  I worry more for those living on the Big Island.

By the way, you can compare pollution with any city in the world, as I did with Honolulu and Beijing:


Honolulu, HIBeijing
Improve DataImprove Data
Air Pollution
10.71
93.10
Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility
0.00
74.04
Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal
0.00
56.73
Dirty and Untidy
25.00
61.54
Noise and Light Pollution
20.00
61.11
Water Pollution
25.00
79.63
Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City
12.50
84.17
Dissatisfaction with Green and Parks in the City
20.00
66.67
Contributors:731
Last Update:October, 2013January, 2014
 You can read the entire chart, but click on that link to follow-up.  By the way, here are Delhi and Beijing this month:
DelhiBeijing
Improve DataImprove Data
Air Pollution
76.92
93.10
Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility
63.54
74.04
Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal
66.67
56.73
Dirty and Untidy
68.75
61.54
Noise and Light Pollution
58.33
61.11
Water Pollution
66.67
79.63
Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City
65.38
84.17
Dissatisfaction with Green and Parks in the City
35.42
66.67
Contributors:2731
Last Update:  (both in January, 2014)

As much as that above article condemned Delhi, Beijing looks worse this month.  But let's face it, we are lucky to live in the USA, and even more so if you are in Honolulu, except for those days of Kona weather and volcanic fumes..

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

LION KING IS THE LARGEST GROSSING BROADWAY SHOW OF ALL TIME

My nearly hundred year old friend, Ed Jurkens, and I now go to one steak dinner and a dinner/show every year.  This past May we ate at Chef Chai's, then crossed the street to the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing at the Neal Blaisdell Arena.  Last night we dined at W Bistro at 1010, former site of Le Guignol, then across the street to Lion King at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall.  

W Bistro has not yet officially opened, as they are still experimenting.  The parking is free, and the restaurant is close to the concert hall.

We had a cheap Yali Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and an expensive (ten times more) Stanford University meritage.  The corkage charge was $10/bottle.  Ed slightly liked the Stanford wine and I leaned towards the Chilean, which was 14 years old, compared to the 2006 Californian.

The staff still lacks polish (but give them time, as they have only been doing this for a few days).  Our waitress, for one, has never yet uncorked a bottle of wine in her life.  Chef Eric has worked at Roy's, 3660 on the Rise and Chai's.

I started with a pork appetizer, and was disappointed that the skin was chewy and not crispy.  I then had a Caesar salad and Tuscan tomato soup for my main meal.  This was not a Caesar and the soup was much too rich.  I suggested a visit to Safeway for their tomato soup, which is excellent.  If Chai's deserves a 7, I would rate W Bistro at a 4 for now.  However, I'll be back, for I like the BYOB option and free parking.

The Lion King first came out as a movie twenty years ago.  For those unfamiliar with the story, it has to do with lions in Africa, but is said to be linked to the biblical Joseph and Moses, plus Shakespeare's Hamlet.  It won two Oscars, one for Best Original Song, Elton John's Can You Feel the Love Tonight.  The stage version was produced in 1997 and is now the largest grossing Broadway show of all time.  Interestingly enough, they also sang in spurts, Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen (an 1800's American spiritual), the Charleston and Wimoweh.  I was wondering how they got away with these, but then saw a lawsuit, where Disney had to pay off the heirs to  the composer of Wimoweh, which was written in 1939, and mentioned yesterday in my eulogy to Pete Seeger (just scroll down to next posting).  Interesting that publications have a copyright of 25 years, while films and other artistic works have a 70 year life.

They take the no photos warning seriously here, for I got scolded by the usher for these two:


This is a show mostly for children, although Ed loved it and I thought it was better than expected.  The production was a joy, for the stilts and general staging were exceptional.

I awoke this morning to yet another rainbow:


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

PETE SEEGER: American Patriot


Sure, there are numerous claimants to originating folk music, and  Woody Guthrie comes to mind, but if you Google "founder of folk music in America," you will get Pete Seeger (here with Guthrie) at the top of the list.  Last week I posted on "The Tragedy of Tokyo Rose."  I could have titled this article "The Tragedy of Pete Seeger," and you can only wonder how much more he could have contributed if provided the opportunity he deserved.

Seeger's father was Harvard-trained, established the first musicology curriculum in the U.S. at Cal-Berkeley, was on the faculty of Yale and helped found the American Musicological Society.  His mother was a concert pianist and taught at Julliard, while his stepmother was considered to be one of the most important modernist composers of the 20th century.  You can better understand where Pete's activism came from if you know that his father was forced to resign from Berkeley because of his pacifism, so took the whole family in a home-made trailer for a period on a mission to bring musical uplift to the working people in the American South.  His four step-siblings all became folk singers. A collage of the Seegers above.

He married Toshi Ohta and they remained together till just about their 70th wedding anniversary, when she passed away last year.  Six months later, yesterday, Seeger departed at the age of 94.  Toshi was a filmmaker, life partner and inspiration.  She marched at Selma and was one of the founders of the Newport Folk Festival.  Her grandfather was exiled from Japan for his Marxist writings, but, as was possible in Japan then, his son, Toshi's father, was instead sent to Germany.  In the process, he married Toshi's mother, an American.  There is thus no doubt that these influences shaped Seeger's career.

Thus, Seeger ventured forth, inspired by his roots:
  • At the age of 17 joined the Young Communist League, and became a member of the Communist Party USA in 1942, criticizing America's participation in World War II.
  • Served in the Pacific during WWII.
  • In 1944 he sang for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (right).
  • In 1948 he helped third party presidential candidate Henry Wallace with Paul Robeson, where the effort was defamed for being communistic.
  • In the 50's he supported civil/labor rights, racial equality and anti-militarism.
  • In 1955 he was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was in 1957 indicted for contempt of Congress.  
  • In 1960 the San Diego school board prevented him from playing a scheduled concert, and the San Diego School District officially extended an apology in 2009 for this action.
  • He was indeed found guilty of contempt in 1961, and sentenced to 10 years in jail, but the verdict was overthrown in 1962.
  • In the 60's he protested the Vietnam War and became an environmentalist.  He and his wife helped "save" the Hudson.
Knowing the above, you can appreciate the problems he faced as an entertainer.  In 1950 he was one of the founders of the Almanacs, which became the Weavers, and they had a string of hits:

However, in 1953 they were blacklisted, radio stations refused to play their records and their concerts were cancelled.  There were a couple of reunions, as for example at Carnegie Hall in 1955, where they popularized Sixteen Tons and Kumbaya (a black spiritual from slavery days, which became part of Boy and Girl Scouts campfires, but there is a lot of controversy, and even the meaning appears to be changing from everything's going fine to a more sarcastic faked unanimity).  He wrote Where Have All the Flowers Gone in 1955.

In 1958 the Kingston Trio formed in direct imitation and homage to the Weavers, and Where Have All the Flowers Gone became one of their most requested songs.  Dave Guard and Bob Shane graduated from Punahou High School, where they were forced to learn the ukelele, leading them to musical careers.  Guard went on to Stanford, Shane to Menlo College, and with Nick Reynolds, they played in the Bay Area just for fun...until they formed the Kingston Trio.  My freshman roommate talked me into going to one of their first concerts on the Stanford Campus.  Here they are 55 years later on PBS.  They sound almost the same...but...notice how old they now look.

Anyway, then came the 1960's commercial folk revival, like Hootenanny on TV.  Seeger had by then left the Weavers, but now and then returned, and they had a triumphant Carnegie Hall  return in 1982, leading to a documentary: The Weavers:  Wasn't That a Time (full 1:08:31 version).

More recently, the Clearwater Concert was held in 2009 at the Madison Square Garden to celebrate his 90th birthday (and later televised on PBS).  At the age of 92 he marched with Occupy Wall Street, and followed with a concert with Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family at Carnegie Hall.  This past September he was there with Willie Nelson and Neil Young at Farm Aid in New York, here singing This Land is Your Land.

There will be scores of eulogies, many calling Pete Seeger a hero.  Here is a premonition from the Huffington Post, written a year ago:

Pete Seeger: American Patriot


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I might just add that Apple fell 44 points today, mostly because of weak iPhone sales.  However, Carl Icahn also recently bought $4.1 billion of shares, so watch out.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average, though, rose for the first time after three days of decline.  (See chart in right column.)
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THREE GREATEST MIRACLES OF ALL-TIME

My posting yesterday was somewhat religious, so let me continue on a theological level.  Three major miracles would be Jesus walking on water, Moses parting the Red Sea and the Resurrection itself.  I treat each in scientific detail in my Chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.  My posting of almost three years ago touches on some of the more modern ones, but one nearly four years ago mentions:
  • razor blades that last for a very long time (I'm now up to three years)
  • soap at the bottom of your bed to minimize leg cramps
  • the "miracle on ice" at the 1960 Winter Olympics
Most modern miracles still relate to religion.  Here is a poorly made video clip that insults and blasphemizes.  If you want to waste 10:35 minutes of your life, go ahead, click on it.  There is something about this presentation that, unfortunately, too accurately portrays the current state of miracles.  Thus, to the right is a painting by Rufus Norman of the Resurrection.  

Here is a top ten from LISTVERSE.  With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, surely you want to view the top ten NFL miracles.  Then the top ten of American sports.  Okay, so are miracles mostly found in religion and sports?  Nope.

Let me give you my top three miracles:
  • #3X  The Rolling Stones:  they've been continuously entertaining for 52 years, and considering the drugs, alcohol and who knows what else they have consumed, their longevity has to border on a miracle.  Remember, the Beatles retired 44 years ago.  The X indicates this is symbolic of all other minor miracles.
  • #1A  The fact that there is a Universe estimated to be 4.354 plus or minus ten to the seventeenth power seconds, or about 13.798 billion years old, with perhaps an infinite number of Multiverses, plus prospects for Dark Energy, Dark Mass and bosons, underscores the obvious that there is so little we actually know.  Is this the eye of the Universe?
  • #1B  Intelligent life on Planet Earth.  It all started with the double helix.  Granted, much of what we do cannot be touted as particularly smart or enlightening, but the development of any life form was an incredible miracle, and the evolution of us took several more miracles.
I contend that many of those religious miracles, like those three at the top, lacked verification, as explained in my book.  My three miracles can be authenticated.

Which teleologically leads to what exactly was the beginning, and the argument that it must then have been God.  But a corollary question is:  Who created God?  And so on, ad infinitum.  Perhaps simple and random luck might have been the reason for something when it could have just as easily been nothing.  We are essential, for without us, there would be no appreciation of  our mysterious Universe.  Kind of like the Geico commercial showing a tree falling with no witness.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

WHAT WAS THE SHAPE OF NOAH'S ARK?

Forget for now that some don't believe there ever was a Noah's Ark.  One report provides evidence that there was no worldwide flood, ever.  If all the water in our atmosphere rained down all at once, it would cover Planet Earth about an inch.  This article admits that a miracle (such as this fluid coming from the bowels of the earth, which is mentioned in The Bible) could have happened, but 40 straight days of rain could not have supplied so much water that Mount Ararat would be covered.  Said the author, "...it is time for people to stop looking for Noah's Ark...it's not there."  Here are 101 reasons why Noah's story does not float.

This painting of Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat is by Heironymous Bosch, so he probably believed.  Interesting that in an ABC poll, while 64% of Americans believed the story about Moses parting the Red Sea, a lower percentage, 60%, supported the fete of Noah.  A bit bewildering to me, but 61% believed the story in which the world was created in six days.  

But if there ever was such a flood and previously built ark, conflicting stories abound.  The best date of The Flood I could determine was 2304 BC.  However, time is a variable in The Bible, as for example, Noah being 480 years old when first contacted by God, and that it took 120 years to build the boat.  The biblical passage says 300 (450 feet--although the Egyptian cubit makes this length around 521 feet) cubits long by 50 (75 feet) cubits wide and 30 (45 feet) cubits high. The largest Christopher Columbus ship, the Santa Maria, was 62 feet, but all the major ships of the day are longer than 1000 feet.

Authorities estimate that 36,000 species, or as many as 75,000 animals, boarded.  How did Noah and his family feed this lot?  The best surmisal is that God willed these beasts to come and had the power to minimize their metabolism for minimal food and sanitation care.  There are variations to this tale, In any case, they all lived on the boat for about a year, the exact number of days is another debatable subject for scholars.  But it is partially for these temporal illogicalities in this paragraph that I don't take The Bible too literally.  That painting is by Judy Collins.

John Hulbers has actually built two Noah-type arks, which you can visit in Dordrecht, Netherlands.  I forgot his name, but a rather wealthy gentleman from Japan a couple of decades came by Hawaii and wanted to know about koa wood.  Koa is a type of acacia, and the wood purportedly used in Noah's Ark was a type of acacia called gopher wood, which is grown in Turkey.  He wanted to build this ark of koa on the Big Island .  He never returned.

Four years ago, a Chinese/Turkish expedition claimed with 99.9% certainty that the wooden structure they found at an elevation of 12,000 feet on Mount Ararat (16,854 feet tall--scene from Armenia) in eastern Turkey.was dated to be 4,800 years old, and this, no doubt, was from Noah's Ark. Some of the wooden planks were nearly up to 200 feet long.  This from the Christian Science Monitor.  However, Randall Price, director of the Center for Judaic Studies, said this was a hoax, as local Kurdish men had recently trucked up all that wood.  Ron Stewart has a book with many answers.  His analysis adheres to the ship's hull model.


I just saw a trailer of the new Noah film, and this is their ark being built on the left.  But will Russell Crowe and Ron Aronofsky be pissed if true, as the British Museum just announced that a 4,000 year old tablet found in Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq) suggests that instructions were deciphered mentioning building a boat to save Man and animals, two by two, of woven rope reinforced with wooden ribs and coated with bitumen.  The area interpreted was two thirds the size of a soccer field and...ROUND, in the shape of a coracle:


Round makes sense, as the Pacific International Ocean Station which I originally envisioned a quarter century ago was round, but not anything like a coracle.  The shape was like a donut or torus:


If I find the close-up I'll later add it.  Somewhere in my files are detailed drawings of this grazing OTEC plantship to support an industrial park.  But you can see the passageway to the inside, which would be like a calm harbor.  Much of the toroid would be covered by a translucent material.  Only one deepwater pipe is shown, but there could be four for a 10 MW system to improve the stability.  Hmmm...Pat's Ark, or, more probably, Guy's Ark.

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