Frontier Former Editor

March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

Filed under: 2001, science — Tags: , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:02 am
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”


The New York Times obituary


I was going to savage Heather McCartney in print today, but remembering Clarke is far more worthwhile.

December 6, 2007

We live in a truly enlightened age . . . . my ass

Things have been a little off in my world lately, but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that Barbara Walters has done a great service to the world – she’s shown just how low the state of education in this country has fallen.

Case in point, Sherry Shepherd . . . .


Ms. Shepherd’s recent observations that Christianity predates even Greek and early Roman civilization and quite possibly man and dinosaurs is a great relief to me.  I was wondering just how stupid that American society has become, and Shepherd has graciously provided a quantifiable benchmark to measure that stupidity.


October 11, 2007

Faith doesn’t bother me at all . . . .

Filed under: God, rationality, reason, religion, science, Uncategorized — Frontier Former Editor @ 11:45 am

but churches who sloganeer on their signboards leave me cold.

Driving to work yesterday, I saw a signboard from a local church with this piece of bumper-sticker wisdom:

“Science that doesn’t bring us closer to God is useless.”

 I hate to say it, but all science is an attempt to bring us closer to the meaning of our existence. Like most religions, those attempts are imperfect and sometimes perverse, but they all have as a result some understanding of why and who and what we are.

Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler all brought us a smidge closer to understanding our place in the cosmos by giving some measurable, visible concept of the earth’s relationship to the stars.

Darwin (God bless his heart, because the fundamentalists are damning him to hell) postulated a theory that made sense and provided a sensible basis for evaluating how we became what we are. If that isn’t trying to bring us closer to whatever made us possible, then I’m burning in hell.

Intelligent design also brings us closer to God (whatever he , she or it is), in that it provides an excellent example of how rational, empirical thought and reason can be shunted aside by superstition or mysticism.

 The science that led to the atomic bomb also brought us closer to God by showing us just how little we grasp of the power of what surrounds us.

And even the torture and bestiality practiced by Mengele brings us closer to God by demonstrating how science can be be corrupted, perverted, twisted or mocked by those with good or evil intentions.

Somehow, I think the person who arranged the letters on that church signboard really meant to say “All thought that doesn’t mesh with ours is irrelevant.”

And, even though it isn’t particularly scientific, the implications of it also bring us a little closer to whatever God is or isn’t.

July 25, 2007

Now this is cool . . .

Filed under: astrophysics, cool stuff, guitar heroes, Queen, science — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:48 pm

not to mention a sign of hope for my own change of career . . .

Queen Guitarist to Complete Doctorate

By Associated Press

LONDON – Brian May is completing his doctorate in astrophysics, more than 30 years after he abandoned his studies to form the rock group Queen.

The 60-year-old guitarist and songwriter said he plans to submit his thesis, “Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud,” to supervisors at Imperial College London within the next two weeks.

May was an astrophysics student at Imperial College when Queen, which included Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, was formed in 1970. He dropped his doctorate as the glam rock band became successful.

Queen were one of Britain’s biggest music groups in the 1970s, with hits including “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You.”

After Mercury’s death in 1991, May recorded several solo albums, including 1998’s “Another World.” But his interest in astronomy continued, and he co-wrote “Bang! The Complete History of the Universe,” which was published last year.

He was due to finish carrying out astronomical observations at an observatory on the island of La Palma, in Spain’s Canary Islands, on Tuesday, the observatory said.

May told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he had always wanted to complete his degree.

“It was unfinished business,” he said. “I didn’t want an honorary Ph.D. I wanted the real thing that I worked for.”

 And for a little Brian May:

July 6, 2007

Another present , Rain

Filed under: calamari, octopi, science — Frontier Former Editor @ 7:21 pm



Curious creature caught off Keahole


The animal, dubbed an “octosquid,” is found off the Big Isle

It’s a squid, it’s an octopus, it’s … a mystery from the deep.

What appears to be a half-squid, half-octopus specimen found off Keahole Point on the Big Island remains unidentified today and could possibly be a new species, said local biologists.

The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority’s deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab.

“When we first saw it, I was really delighted because it was new and alive,” said Jan War, operations manager at NELHA. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

The natural energy lab is a state agency that operates Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park in Kailua-Kona, adjacent to one of the steepest offshore slopes in the Hawaiian Islands.

According to Richard Young, an oceanography professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the specimen tentatively belongs to the genus Mastigoteuthis, but the species is undetermined.

War, who termed the specimen “octosquid” for the way it looked, said it was about a foot long, with white suction cups, eight tentacles and an octopus head with a squidlike mantle.

The octosquid was pulled to the surface, along with three rattail fish and half a dozen satellite jellyfish, and stayed alive for three days. According to War, the lab usually checks its filters once a month, but this time, it put a plankton net in one of the filters and checked it two weeks later.

The pitch-black conditions at 3,000 feet below sea level are unfamiliar to most but riveting to scientists who have had the opportunity to submerge. The sea floor is full of loose sediment, big boulders and rocks, and a lot of mucuslike things floating in the water, which are usually specimens that died at the surface and drifted to the bottom.

“It’s quite fascinating,” War said. “When you get below 700 feet, it’s a totally different world. Lots of fish have heads like a fish and a body like an eel. There are fish floating in a vertical position, with the head up, and don’t move unless they’re disturbed.”

Christopher Kelley, program biologist for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, went to the natural energy lab Tuesday to pick up the preserved octosquid, rattail fish and jellyfish, which had been stored in a freezer, and brought them back to UH-Manoa’s oceanography department.

“It’s a beautiful squid. It’s a gorgeous ruby red color,” Kelley said. “We really enjoy these little mysteries that come up.”

Also during Kelley’s visit to NELHA yesterday, he and War talked about a more formal sampling program to search for other deep-sea critters. War said their goal is to sample the intake screen more often and capture animals alive and study them in captivity.

“This opens up a whole new area of research that UH can be involved with,” War said.

In October, NELHA will be checking its deep-sea pipelines, something that usually happens every eight to 10 years, because it is worried that something might have happened to them during the earthquakes in October.

“If it’s a new species, (NELHA) would like to name it,” War said. “But that is sort of the honor of whoever classifies it.”

June 10, 2007

I’d love to see Rain explain this one away . . . .

Filed under: blood, Canadians, mad science, medicine, red, science — Frontier Former Editor @ 1:20 pm

Vancouver patient oozes green blood

Last Updated: Friday, June 8, 2007 | 7:17 AM PT

The Canadian Press

Doctors at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital came across something highly illogical when they tried to put an arterial line into a patient about to undergo surgery: his blood was dark green . . . . .

“During insertion, we normally see arterial blood come out. That’s how we know we’re in the right place. And normally that blood is bright red, as you would expect in an artery,” Flexman said in an interview Thursday.

“But in his case, the blood kept coming back as dark green instead of bright red.

“It was sort of a green-black. … Like an avocado skin maybe.”

Well Rain? Is this some horrible side effect of the Lorne Greene School of Broadcasting? Or some mutant offspring of John Dieffenbaker?

April 11, 2006

It’s just a shelter that my dad built . . . in case the Reds decide to push the button down . . .

My most sincere apologies to Donald Fagen but, still, what a great song.

Anyway, fresh from the Frontier Editor archives deep under Cheyenne Mountain, Wyoming, here’s some excerpts from that seminal 1961 literary work, “Fallout Protection: What to Know and Do About Nuclear Attack.” (Dick Cheney and I have an understanding: I keep my collection there and he doesn’t let loose with the birdshot and start injuring all the Air Force security police.)

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure and in preparation for our peaceful Islamic Iranian Republic friends . . .

Not telling where I got my copy, but it was in good condition and free.

Beats duct tape and plastic sheeting, but I’m still waiting for those other versions under development . . .

And now for the Popular Mechanics gallery in our collection . . .

The question I still have, though, is just how much pineboard, Quikrete and sand it takes to protect from direct radiation when the device detonates in an airburst about 5,000 feet overhead . . .

And then I wonder just how long the neighbors are going to respect the sanctity of your sandbagged castle . . .

Been a long time since I’ve seen asbestos-covered anything for sale, unless those white fudge-dipped Oreos are something they shouldn’t be . . .

And also be sure to remember to make sure that the big brick building forming part of your lean-to is down-blast from you . . .

Bears a certain resemblance to a basement in a certain movie about a big burrowing worm . . .

We’ve got provisions and lots of beer . . .

The key word is survival in the New Frontieeeeerrrrr . . . .

April 5, 2006

Once more, from the ‘Star Trek’ book of reality . . .

Filed under: cool stuff, mad science, science, tech, weapons — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:27 pm

Remember Scotty trying to trade the formula for transparent aluminum in one of the Star Trek movies?

Air Force testing new transparent armor from

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) — Engineers here are testing a new kind of transparent armor — stronger and lighter than traditional materials — that could stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating vehicle windows.

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s materials and manufacturing directorate is testing aluminum oxynitride — ALONtm — as a replacement for the traditional multi-layered glass transparencies now used in existing ground and air armored vehicles. []

Another example that ‘Star Trek’ is fast becoming more fact than fiction . . . .

Filed under: mad science, science, Uncategorized — Frontier Former Editor @ 2:17 pm

This is really cool, in a truly fundamental way . . . .

Professor Predicts Human Time Travel This Century from

With a brilliant idea and equations based on Einstein’s relativity theories, Ronald Mallett from the University of Connecticut has devised an experiment to observe a time traveling neutron in a circulating light beam. While his team still needs funding for the project, Mallett calculates that the possibility of time travel using this method could be verified within a decade.

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