Thursday, October 27, 2016

The eerie silence

A little over half a century ago, saw the beginning of project Ozma (named for the princess ruling the fictional country of Oz), which continued with the SETI program (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence). Assuming that there must be many cases of extraterrestrial intelligence, most of which will undoubtedly have reached a technology capable of communicating by means of electromagnetic waves, surely some of them are sending messages that perhaps we can detect and answer. Initially it was thought that we could take the initiative, sending messages to stars that might harbor planets with life similar to ours, but this was soon considered too expensive, so all efforts were allotted to intercept messages, not necessarily addressed to us. After half a century of efforts, nothing has been achieved. There have been a few false alarms, but none that has been confirmed.
In a previous article I mentioned the Fermi paradox, which holds that we must be alone in the galaxy, because otherwise any extraterrestrial intelligence with several million years advantage would by now be here, because it would not take long to colonize the whole galaxy, even at the interstellar speeds we will reach in the next few centuries.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Aging and longevity

Life span of several species.
Data from Science News, 7-13-2016
It is often said that aging has been favored by natural selection to facilitate the replacement of one generation by the next. According to Alex Kowald (University of Newcastle), this statement is nonsense. It is evident that natural selection would favor individuals aging less and able to reproduce longer. Peter Medawar, Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine (1960), said in 1951: Wild living beings do not live long enough for natural selection to act on genes that affect aging. Death overtakes them long before they are near their limit of longevity.
Each species of living beings seems to have a maximum longevity. In humans, according to appearances, this limit does not seem to go far above 110 years. The longest proven human longevity corresponds to Jeanne Louise Calment (a French woman), who died at age 122.5.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Who is to blame for human atrocities?

Dr. Thomas A. Dooley
The following paragraph was written by Dr. Thomas A. Dooley in his book Deliver us from evil (1956). After several months in medical command of the camp for the refugees who fled North Vietnam after the partition of the country, at the end of the French colonialism in Indochina, Dr. Dooley provided medical aid in Laos and was a founder of MEDICAL (Medical International Cooperation), a department of the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Having set up their controls in the village of Haiduong, Communists visited the village schoolhouse and took seven children out of class and into the courtyard. All were ordered to sit on the ground, and their hands and arms were tied behind their backs. Then they brought out one of the young teachers, with hands also tied. Now the new class began. In a voice loud enough for the other children still in the classroom to hear, the Viet Minh accused these children of treason. A "patriot" had informed the police that this teacher was holding classes secretly, at night, and that the subject of these classes was religion. They had even been reading the catechism. The Viet Minh accused the seven of "conspiring" because they had listened to the teachings of this instructor. As a punishment they were to be deprived of their hearing. Never again would they be able to listen to the teachings of evil men.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The mystery of the missing neutrinos

Detection of solar neutrinos in a one mile deep
South Dakota mine (1972)
One of the pseudoscientific hoaxes running in Internet says something like this:
According to the justification of the Nobel Committee in 2015, Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald received their Nobel Prizes for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass. The Nobel Committee donated again Nobel Prizes and 8 million Swedish Coronas for NOTHING, since the numerical value of the frequency, impulse, kinetic energy, and therefore the mass of the neutrinos, are still unknown. Without the numerical value of the frequency, it has not been proved that the neutrinos oscillate and have mass. According to the pseudo-scientific theory of modern physics, one light-year thick layer of lead absorbs only half of the neutrinos, then how is it possible to detect neutrinos and the neutrino oscillation? Since Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald have not one light-year thick layer of lead in their laboratories, therefore the discovery of the neutrino oscillations is only a scam! The neutrino is an invented particle, which comes from the wrong pseudo-scientific theory of modern physics.
This paragraph, which calls pseudoscience the standard theory of particle physics, contains a few glaring mistakes that I will try to detail here: