Finding Ass-roids

Okay, that title is unnecessarily crude, but fuck it. What follows is a video showing the number of asteroids that have been discovered since 1980.

Can you figure out which little dot is the earth? Here’s a hint: it’s the one going around the sun (err…which one is the sun, I wonder).

One thing you might notice is the sudden burst of discoveries at right angles to the earth right near the end of the video. I’m guessing those are discoveries made by the WISE satellite, which launched in December of 2009. The WISE satellite (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) is an infrared survey satellite that is always pointed 90 degress from the sun and earth…exactly where all those asteroids are being found.

One thing that might be making you a bit nervous is the sheer number of asteroids that we can see by the end. With so many of ’em, the chances of being hit by one must be really high, right? Well, not really. Here, I’ll let my very close and personal friend whom I’ve never met, Phil Plait, explain why that is (from this post at his blog Bad Astronomy):

The distance between Mars and Jupiter is a bit roomier than depicted in the video. Remember, Mars is about 220 million km (130 million miles) from the Sun, and Jupiter is about 800 million km (480 million miles). That’s a whole lot of real estate: almost 2 quintillion square kilometers (670 quadrillion square miles)! Written out, that’s 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 square kilometers.

Yeah, a whole lot of real estate.

And that assumes those asteroids all lie in the same plane. In fact, many of their orbits are tilted, so we’re really dealing with volume. Even allowing that they may move above or below the plane of the solar system the paltry amount of a million kilometers, that means there’s really 2 septillion cubic kilometers: 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic km! The volume of the Earth is only about a trillion cubic kilometers, so we’re talking a volume of space that could fit a trillion Earths in it!

Methinks we need not worry quite so much.

Monday Science Experiment

Okay, it’s not an experiment that you’d want to go out and actually do on purpose (well maybe you do, but you shouldn’t). But it is fun to watch.

WARNING: Science Content

The branch is burning because the life energy of the branch is being overwhelmed by the electrical energy in the wires. As it tries to get away it begins to compress against the insides of the branch, and with no where else to go it begins to turn from the positive life-given energy that flows from all living things to the evil life-stealing energy that is the cause of all death. As the change occurs, the positive life-giving energy and the evil life-stealing energy begin to battle, causing the branch to burn. The sound that you hear is the dying screams of the gentle wood nymphs that once resided in the tree from which the branch fell. As the battle is won by the life-giving energy you can see the triumphant arc of pure white light being thrown up between the two wires. But alas, though the battle is won, the war is lost. The branch is dead.

I love science!

Not Just Creationists

This video is making the rounds on atheist blogs all over the blogofractal.

It’s meant to be funny, and of course it is. And yet, like a person with PTSD I find myself almost hating it because it gets it too perfect. I’ve wasted hours, even days in these kinds of circular arguments, where any point that I effectively rebut is dropped only to be restated later as though it were never addressed.

And it’s not just creationists for whom this problem exists. Anti-Vaxxers, AGW Deniers, Cdesign Proponentsists, Moon Hoaxers, 911 Truthers, UFOlogists, and pretty much any Conspiracy Theorists have this penchant for continually stating and restating their talking points without ever acknowledging that any attempt at rebuttal was ever even made.

Here’s a philosophical question for you. If you present evidence and I never look at it, does it actually exist?

Brit Hume Proselytizing

If you’ll allow me to paraphrase the interview a bit (BO = Bill O’Reilly, BH = Brit Hume):

BO: *shows clip of Brit Hume urging Tiger to become a Christian* Was that proselytizing?

BH: I don’t think so. All I was doing was pointing out that Tiger should seriously consider changing his religion from Buddhism to Christianity. That’s just trying to get him to convert to my religion, not proselytizing.

BO: But wouldn’t he just be accused of pretending to be Christian so that people would leave him alone like so many people before him?

BH: Praise be unto Jesus, most holy. His gaze does pierce through all deception. His light shines forth from all who bless his name, and the light is truth that we shall not be deceived. Praise Jesus!

BO: What kind of reaction have you gotten?

BH: I’ve gotten all kinds of email from good, kind, and gentle people who agree with me, to evil, hateful, violent people who said nothing but mean, spiteful things to me. I was just stating facts. I wasn’t belittling Buddhism.

BO: What do you think drives people to persecute you for being a Christian?

BH: I don’t know. All I know is that being Christian means being persecuted. All I did was make the simple statement of fact that Buddhism is a fart in the wind compared to Christianity, and instantly I’m persecuted just for being a Christian and nothing else.

Wow. Just wow.

I don’t know that there is an introduction that can do this video justice. My brain hurts.

Update: I’ve never really listened to or watched Ann Coulter myself, though I’d heard about her from many. I guess I thought this was an outrageous video of her being especially stupid, but after looking through a bunch of old YouTube videos, I’m finding that it was actually pretty representative. If you still want to see the video you can see it here, otherwise I think I’ll just avoid Ann Coulter videos in the future.