Nov 232017

It turns out that women don’t want to date unattractive men. Shocking, I know.

Are looks more important than personality when choosing a man?

Physical attractiveness strongly influenced how women and their mothers saw the target men. The attractive and moderately attractive ones came up trumps. Men with the most desirable personality profiles were rated more favourably than their counterparts only when they were also at least moderately attractive. Even when unattractive men possessed the most desirable traits, the mothers and daughters did not view them as potential dating material.

“We conclude that a minimum level of physical attractiveness is a necessity for both women and their mothers,” says Fugére.


Of course, this is perfectly sensible. What people – taken in the larger bulk sense of the term – consider to be physically attractive *usually* correlates reasonably well with health and the ability to create, raise and sustain offspring in a world full of savages and cave lions and wolves and such.

 Posted by at 5:59 pm
Nov 202017

ESO Observations Show First Interstellar Asteroid is Like Nothing Seen Before

Asteroid 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua) turns out to have been reddish – like a lot of outer solar system objects – and had a length-to-diameter ratio of about ten. Funky. Overall length of about 400 meters, no detectable gas or dust, indicating solid rock and/or metal. Tumble rate was once per 7.3 hours.

Irrational hypothesizing:

1: It’s Gungnir.

2: A starship, long dead.

3: A planet killer, badly targeted.


 Posted by at 6:04 pm
Nov 162017


Fisker has filed patents for solid-state batteries

So what makes this newsworthy? The claims:

  • 2.5 times the energy density of current batteries
  • A car would have a 500-mile range
  • It would take only one minute to charge that car
  • Cheaper than lithium ion batteries
  • Lower risk of fire

The target is electric cars. But 2.5 times the energy density means laptop batteries that last far long, cell phones that last for days, electric aircraft from drones to airliners, man-portable lasers and railguns/coilguns capable of meaningful performance.


 Posted by at 9:52 am
Nov 152017

A new potentially Earth-like exoplanet has been announced, Ross 128 b. It’s 10.89 light years away (12th closest star system to Earth), the planet masses about 1.35 Earths and is in the inner edge of the habitable zone, getting about 1.38 time the solar radiation as Earth. Ross 128 is a red dwarf, so:

1: the”year” is only 9.86 days

2: The planet very probably doesn’t have a moon due to the close distance to the star

3: The planet is probably tidally locked, or in some rotational resonance

Fortunately, Ross 128 is a very quiet and well-behaved red dwarf, unlike Proxima Centauri which is constantly having massive flares. So while Proxima b almost certainly has long since had any atmosphere stripped away, Ross 128b, if it had an atmosphere, has a good chance of still having it.

Ross 128 is also an old star, meaning lots of hydrogen and helium and little else. Which *may*mean that the planetary system *may* also be low in the heavier metals. So even though Ross 128 b is more massive than Earth, if it doesn’t have as heavy of a nickel-iron core, the bulk density could be far lower and the surface gravity could be Earthlike. But without a metal core the chances of a magnetosphere are greatly reduced, especially if it only rotates every 9.86 days. Without a magnetosphere, the atmosphere has undoubtedly suffered and the surface will be badly irradiated.

 Posted by at 10:26 pm
Nov 152017

A meteor flashed over Phoenix, Arizona and lit up the sky last night.

VIDEO: Bright flash seen over Phoenix area



 Posted by at 7:20 am
Nov 142017

The BBC website has an autoplay video covering a recent “Flat Earth Society” convention in North Carolina. It certainly seems to have been better attended than it should have been. But the perpetual question about flat-Earthers is: how many of them are actual believer, how many of them are there as a lark, how many of them are outright pretending to believe? Flat Earth is such a patently ludicrous notion that it seems like it would be reasonable to suggest that most people who claim to buy into it really don’t. But then you look at the vast spectrum of stupid that humans glom onto with a passion and… yeah, I suppose there really can be that many people who actually think the Earth is a flat disk.

Why do people still think the Earth is flat?

As with most conspiracy theories, I doubt that most true believing Flat Earthers could be logicked or evidenced out of their belief. And the harder you try, the harder they’ll dig in their heels. It provides them a sense of wonder coupled with a sense of “I’m one of the *special* people because I know *The* *Truth.*” Such a feeling cannot be reliably countered with “No, you’re not.”

 Posted by at 9:28 am
Nov 122017

Not a new idea, but one sure to rile the conspiracy theorists and panic mongers:

Nasa’s [sic] ambitious plan to save Earth from a supervolcano

Basic idea: drill down towards the magma chamber, pump cool water down; water sucks heat from magma and races back up the system as 600-degree steam, which is then used to turn turbines to generate electricity. Energy is created while the risk is reduced. So goes the theory.

The basic idea is reasonably sound. The biggest problem is simply the scale of the problem:the amount of heat in the magma chamber is *vast.* And the depths they’d need to drill are equally vast… on the order of ten kilometers (which is ha-ha-ha-no level of depth). The cost of the project is estimated at $3.46 billion…. peanuts, really, compared to FedGuv spending. The power generation potential is also vast, on the scale of 6 gigawatts of thermal energy. Thousands of years would be required to actually cool the magma chamber to where it’s safe.

And there are detractors…

No, NASA Isn’t Going to Drill to Stop Yellowstone from Erupting


 Posted by at 11:48 am
Nov 092017

So, a supernova is a star going *BANG.* It’s either a supermassive star undergoing its final collapse and rebound, or a white dwarf of neutron star stripping atmosphere off a co-orbiting regular star until enough hydrogen has built up on the surface to undergo a fusion flash, or two neutron stars colliding… something like that. it’s supposed to be a relatively quick flash, then a fade into some kind of dimness. What it’s NOT supposed to be is an explosion brighter than a billion suns that lasts *years.*

Bizarre 3-Year-Long Supernova Defies Our Understanding of How Stars Die

The event occurred in a small irregular galaxy some 500 million lightyears away. interestingly, another supernova was detected in the same spot in 1954, but it’s difficult to suggest that they are necessarily the same object… might have been another supernova within the same galaxy. But *this* event has had an extremely unusual light curve, indicating something horrifically powerful and ridiculously long-lasting:

Compare the areas under the curves. Not only is this thing five or so times brighter than it should be, it’s lasting perhaps five or ten times longer. But the spectrum of the light curve indicates it’s a standard Type II-P supernova, which shouldn’t act like this.

To me this event seems like an atomic bomb. Not, y’know, like an actual atomic bomb, but instead one of the atomic bombs described by H.G. Wells in his 1914 novel “The World Set Free.” his atomic bombs were utterly unlike what actually wound up appearing. His A-Bombs were more like magical reactors: they burned for *years* emitting heat, light and radiation. In essence, his atomic bombs were reactors in meltdown. Perhaps that’s what’s going on with this supernova… instead of “bang” and its done, there’s some sort of “meltdown” going on. What that could possibly be, I’ve no idea.


 Posted by at 9:48 am