Mayhem and Recovery

This was a bad morning. Perhaps it’s the fact that we all seem to be fighting off/coming down with cold bugs. Maybe it’s the onset of that time in my cycle I like to call “PMS hell”. Maybe it’s the onset of the bitter cold (-23C this morning, -10F for you imperialists). It’s also possible that Brianna’s “bad day” and her resultant attitude was a factor. It doesn’t matter in one sense, it’s done with and over. Yet I want to be cognizant of triggers and make a plan to avoid a repeat.

But the time for that is later. Now is time to practice letting go, slowing down, and practice the moment. It’s what I’m doing now, not what happened this morning. When emotions calm down (Ativan helped), then I can reflect. Now is time to take care of myself.

Difficult, difficult, difficult. Easy, easy, easy. More like, a little from column A and a little from column B. Now it’s time to bundle up!

Physics Rocks

No, really, it does. Apparently, when we humans use planetary fly-bys to speed up spacecraft headed for distant parts, there is a source of energy that bumps up the acceleration just a teeny bit more than the scientists have calculated it should. These events are known as “fly-by anomalys” and no one knows what causes them.

Universe Today has a nifty article on the issue here. From the piece:

A recent study by Magic McCulloch suggests that “Unruh radiation” may be the culprit. The Unruh effect, put simply, suggests that accelerating bodies experience a type of electromagnetic radiation. At very low acceleration, the wavelength emitted will be so large that a whole wavelength will be longer than the dimensions of the Universe (otherwise known as the Hubble Distance). Low acceleration would therefore generate waves that have no effect on the body. However, should the accelerating body (i.e. Galileo getting accelerated by Earth’s gravity during the 1990 flyby) slowly exceed an acceleration threshold, the Unruh radiation will decrease in wavelength (smaller than the Hubble Distance), causing a tiny, but measurable “boost” to its increasing velocity.

That’s so cool!

I almost missed the Carl Sagan Memorial Blog-a-thon!

Fortunately, I have determined that today is not too late to join the Carl Sagan memorial blog-a-thon. Why would I want to blog about Carl Sagan? Because he helped save my life.

In 1980, when I was 16 years old and facing some of the darkest times of my life, this absolutely amazing television show debuted: Cosmos. It was the one time every week when I would take over the television, no arguments from my mother or my brother allowed. For an hour, I was transported from the dispiriting grind of my daily existence to witness the wonder and beauty that is our universe.

Up there in the immensity of the Cosmos, an inescapable perception awaits us. National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic, religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.
—Carl Sagan

This was the medicine I needed for my family’s seething rascism and hatred. It was so much more than his signature line “billions and billions of stars”—it was “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” It was the true beginnings of my spirituality. Somewhere, I still have the book version of the television show (hardcover of course). Bryan owns the DVDs, which is one of the reasons he is the love of my life.

For an hour a week, I left my daily life behind and explored the universe. That is a gift that is priceless in measure. I am immensely grateful. Aside from that aspect of things, Carl Sagan developed in me a love of cosmology and astronomy that persists to this day. He is the reason I majored in Astrophysics and the reason I attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is the reason I read Black Holes and Warped Spacetime while I was still in high school.

Carl Sagan, through his work, gave me hope when my world seemed hopeless. He showed me that my life is larger, by far, than I had ever imagined. He gave me beauty when ugly filled my world. He gave me wonder to replace my self-pity. He showed me miracles when I thought none were possible. He gave me a reason to survive.

I don’t know how my life would have unfolded had Cosmos not run on PBS that year. I am simply grateful that it did. In spite of all the difficulties I’ve endured, I know that I owe Carl Sagan a lot. Not the least of which is my current career as a technical writer for a multinational semiconductor corporation.

Thank you Carl, thank you ever so much.

Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring. — Carl Sagan

I am ever in your debt.