5th November 2018
Ooooooohhhhh - Aliens are coming ? Well, I don't think so, at least not yet.
It was only a matter of time before this line of enquiry about Oumuamua came back around -
Well, sadly I think not. But......it's a really tantalising thought isn't it ? Just think, what if it is a probe from another civilisation, which came to check us out ? It's not so fanciful. The Voyager probes are now both in Interstellar space and we have several other missions planned to follow on behind them. Of course, the Voyagers were built on 1970s tech, long before solar sails were conceived. However, Japan and the USA are heavily experimenting with solar sails as a method of propulsion and so if we are doing it, why not another civilisation ? Of course, way below this particular PJlog we wrote about the Drake equation, which basically rules out the possibility of there being any other intelligent life in the Universe, but we'd perhaps be very naive to rule it out totally.
The reason this article has some credibility is the following. Firstly, there was always something odd about the acceleration Oumuamua experienced as it exited our solar system (at least as it exited our field of 'view'). It was entirely expected that its velocity would change as it got a slingshot from our Sun's gravity - this is not a new phenomena and is well understood and humans have used it to great effect in the launch of countless spacecraft over the decades. What was strange was that the acceleration was slightly faster than would be predicted by the maths based on our understanding of Astrophysics. Some people even theorised that it should actually have slow down after taking its journey around the sun but what actually happened was it sped up, faster than anyone could have predicted. There's no evidence of any material being excreted by the object, such as would be seen by a comet as its icey outer layers vapourise due to the sun's heat, and so where did this extra speed boost come from ? Secondly, the material the object is thought to be made of just doesn't totally make sense. Of course, we never saw it optically, but based on measurements and observations in non-visible wavelengths, it's likely origin suggests it would be comprised of slightly different materials to what the measurements imply. Thirdly, it's an interesting fact that Hawking predicted that a long, thin, dark object would be the most efficient at travelling across interstellar space and if other civilisations were to create such a spacecraft, based on solar sails, it would likely resemble the form taken by Oumuamua.
Now, before we get carried away ! PJ is not at all suggesting that we are being probed by another civilisation but maybe, just maybe, the smallest maybe I can imagine, just maybe we are, and that thought is totally mind-blowing isn't it ?
14th October 2018
Question - When we dream, why are we not 'allowed' to see our own death ? Seems suspicious to me. It happened earlier on a plane. PJ was dreaming about being at an airport (which was reasonable seeing as I was approaching one) and being involved in a car crash that would have certainly killed me. Of course, at the point of impact, I awoke with a start. It always happens that way of course. There are many biological explanations as to why it happens, but I'm not sure I'm convinced.......
A Place In Space and Time
In The Beginning
Does anyone, or anything, know the true meaning of life and existance ? Well, if any one human being claims to truly know, I believe they are misguided, as it's PJ's assertion that it's actually impossible to know. And that's a problem for PJ - a huge problem.
Of course, whether individuals are religious or not has a strong bearing on this most fundamental question. If you accept a religion and worship a god or other deity then you are pretty much subscribing to a pre-arranged and pre-disposed meaning of life, and you are required to accept it and believe it, otherwise your faith is automatically called into question. So, for the purpose of this discussion, we'll assume that the reader is interested in exploring the non-religious option, and being open to asking themselves 'what am I doing here' or 'what's the point of all this'. There are those who aren't sure, whether they believe in a god or not, and those who are open to the possibility of there not being such a deity, but need convincing of an alternative. Well, you are welcome to the party too.
PJ has a belief that each of us does indeed have a known start and a known end and those things are pre-coded or pre-programmed inside us and within the fabric of space and time. How we get between A and B, well that's down to us, and the choices we make day to day. There are an infinite number of paths and an infinite number of combinations of decisions we'll make every day of our lives, and those decisions will determine the paths and therefore determine how we get to the end. Whether all of those infinite possibilities are being played out in an infinite number of parallel universes, well, that's not so certain, but it's a strong possibility. Between A and B, there has to be a meaning, doesn't there ? It would seem slightly odd if the only goal was to be born and then navigate a path to your death. Some people do indeed believe this though: Birth, School, Metallica, Death !! I suppose that isn't a bad meaning of life in itself, but I've always hoped there was more than that.
So, who knows where this is going to go. It's going to be a continuous work in progress. It may end up being just a collection of random thoughts and nothing more than that. It could end up as an epitaph. Either way, PJ felt it was time (and the place) to leave an imprint in the digital World, something that would accompany the radio waves from the Rock Service travelling across the cosmos for all enternity.
This is of course just one of many fundamental questions. What came before everything ? What came before the moment of creation, whether that was the Astrophysical big-bang or whether it was a God or deity doing their work. In many respects, that question is even more profound that 'what's the meaning of life', but PJ suspects that those 2 questions are very strongly connected and if you can find the answer to one, you'll find the other by default.
Common meanings of life (often heard)
"To Help One Another"
"To have children and get married"
"To be successful and have a career"
"To meet new people and discover new things"
"To travel the World"
"To do my best in everything I do"
"To look after my family"
"To help the needy"
"To look after mother nature"
"To search for life away from our planet"
............and the list goes on.
PJ's thoughts on these (just my opinion)? Anyone who claims these are even remotely close to the meaning of life has probably not thought about the question enough :). These are all very good aspirations, and things we should probably try to achieve, but they are (in my opinion :)) aspirations and that's all - I cannot see a direct meaning in any of them that makes me feel as if they are drawing me to a conclusion - although perhaps the last one on the list might give me a clue. All just PJ's opinion and no offence intended.
Before it gets lost in the drivel PJ will write in the weeks and months ahead :), I'll put it out there as a very important aspect - continuation of the species and taking it further, evolution and improvement of the species. This seems very important indeed, and may form part of whatever conclusion is reached (if indeed one is reached). Could this actually be a part of the ultimate meaning of life - to be self-preserving, to ensure continuation of life itself, is that what it's ultimately about ? It feels important to me and so it could well be a part of the answer. There would still be something missing though - continuation of the species for what purpose ? It would seem counter-intuitive to continue something when the end-goal isn't known or understood or perhaps that's just it, it's the strive towards finding the meaning, and through continuation of life and survival, we're buying ourselves more time :) ? To be explored further.......
<more to come>.....eventually........:)
But not for now........I feel a new topic coming on shortly: More Planets than Stars ? Discuss.......
10th August 2018
Life on Mars ?
Well, this is not 'new' news really, but it was reinforced in several recent papers. Thanks to the great work of Kepler and other spacecraft, it now seems highly likely, almost probable, that every star in our galaxy has at least one planet. That's anywhere from 100 - 400 billion planets, assuming each star has only a single planet. Of course, the majority of these planets are likely to turn out to be quite different to our own World, but it does beg the question, if there could be 100s of billions of planets in our galaxy, and there are perhaps 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, well, that's a lot of potential planets, and plenty of potential for 'life' outside of what we know, right ?
Lets relive something the great Carl Sagan said many years ago. The Drake Equation may be bordering on fanciful in some ways, but it's based on solid physics. The trouble is, the key parameters that determine the outcome are those parameters that we have the least accurate information on. All very interesting, and quite mind-boggling though, either way.
The parameter Fp is now known to be = 1, more or less, but it doesn't change the final outcome. It's the final parameter in Drake that determines the outcome, which is based around how long any civilisation could exist with 'technical' capabilities.
Even if the Drake equation is correct and meaningful and the answer for N is somewhere between 10 and 1 million, there is a problem. The majority of stars outside of our own solar system are so far away that the light travel time is simply too long for us to ever detect any 'technical' capability on other Worlds.
So, even if there is 'life' somewhere else in the Universe, there's an almost certain probability that we'll never find it, unless it happened to be in our own 'back yard'. This is what makes current experiments on our planetary neighbours so exciting. Not only are we finding water on moons of the outer planets, but it appears to be of very similar composition to that of the water on Earth.
David Bowie once sang the question 'Is there life on Mars' - well, probably not, at least not now. But, there may well be some primitive life hidden away in the water oceans on some of the moons in the solar system.
New topic, maybe. What is 'wrong' with people ? For another day.
21st August 2018
Back to What's the meaning ?
So, whilst PJ's own search continues, it was interesting to hear a new song at the weekend from Jason Mraz. I'm quite a fan of his work. Listening to this song I felt many synergies with my own struggle. I don't quite agree with his conclusion, although it may be part of the story, but I do like the way he frames some of the questions - in simple to understand pieces that I can relate to. Even if no actual meaning is derived from the song, it is a good song anyway, and worthy of mention.
In other news. PJ the songwriter ? Highly comical I know, but I have indeed written a song. We had planned to add a 'Song Lyrics' section to the web-site, where the intent was to place lyrics of songs we like, particularly those that have featured on the Rock Service at some point in the past or present, but I thought I'd start it off with a song I've written, kind of this 'what's the meaning' subject.