random toons

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Protect the Civilization

Some day, scientists have been telling us for some years now, we'll have to deal with an incoming asteroid or comet that would destroy civilization at worst or wipe out a city at least.

Big impacts have occurred before, and there will be more. But we don't know enough about space rocks and their composition to plan properly for deflecting or destroying such a menace. Turnabout proved to be fair play when NASA's mission - Deep Impact, slammed a probe into Comet Tempel 1 on the 4th of July.

The upshot..... This comet was fluffy, unlike others that have been studied up close.

Meanwhile, a group of scientists and astronauts prodded NASA to visit asteroid Apophis, which has a slight chance of hitting us a few decades hence. NASA's responsive: A purely scientific mission might be considered, but we have plenty of time to mount a diversion if further observations show this thing would really hit.

Life on Mars

It extends back to last year and looks like the sort of mystery that'll keep scientists scratching their heads for years to come.

The air of Mars seems to contain pockets of methane in doses that should not exist. Perhaps it's the belchings of subsurface microbes. They support that view with new evidence for blocks of underground ice in the same region as the methane, based on observations by ESA's Mars Express.

The ice could be supplying the precious liquid water needed to support the biology, they figure. Other astronomers think the reasoning is very speculative, however.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006


I fear naught but the state of ignorance--
 Death comes; for all the end is inevitable;
 But only one who's dumb will, in nonchalance
 From folly make the rest thus miserable.

 Yet with knowledge, a light shines in cognition--
 Not trivia-- knowledge of self, world, and all;
 Fathoming, with age, brings wisdom's inception...
 Fearlessly learning, answering Reason's call.

 Awareness begins with cortical abstraction;
 Broad connection allows integrated thought;
 The high view of cognition, thinkers call "Reason";
 Thus, "light", metaphorically, is Reason wrought.

 I shrink not but from Ignorance's foolish vision--
 Life comes; for all, beginning's universal;
 Only the light of Reason can illumine
 From start to finish, the wise and beneficial.