Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Videos on the Great Space and SF Art of David A. Hardy

September 15, 2022

I’m a great fan of the astronomical and Science Fiction artist David A. Hardy. Hardy was interested in space from childhood and was particularly influenced by the pioneering American artist Charles Bonestell. Bonestell not only painted the various stars and planets, but also showed humans in space suits and spacecraft exploring these worlds. He worked for many years illustrating the many books on space with the late presenter of the Sky at Night, Patrick Moore, especially on the books The Challenge of the Stars, which came out in the 1950s, and its ’70s sequel, The New Challenge of the Stars. I always thought he just painted science fact, and was quite surprised to find that he also painted SF. These videos from YouTube show some of his really beautiful, amazing art, and there’s one from ITV’s local news for the Midlands in 2013 where he talks about his work and his inspiration.

The Fantastic Space Art of David A. Hardy, Part 1, from the Sci-Fi Art channel.

The Fantastic Space Art of David A. Hardy, Part 2, from the Sci-Fi Art channel

Fantasy and Sci Fi Art Collection David A. Hardy, v. 1, from Gorka’s channel.

Fantasy and Sci Fi Art collection 14 David A Hardy v2 from Gorka’s Channel

The above thumbnail is an illustration of one of the von Danikenesque theories of about the ‘wheels’ and creatures seen by the prophet Ezekiel. Von Daniken interpreted them as alien spacecraft.

And an item about him from ITV Central News, 2013, in which he talks about his work.

Matt Walsh on the Celebration of Villains like Alfred Kinsey and the Women Warrior Slavers of Dahomey

September 13, 2022

Yeah, I know, it’s Matt Walsh, one of the major figures in popular Republican propaganda. The great commenters on this blog have warned me about reblogging material from the right, as I shouldn’t let myself become a mouthpiece for them and they never reciprocate. Helen Pluckrose, a left-wing critic of the postmodern ideologies of Queer and Critical Race Theory and Postcolonial Studies wrote a piece for James Lindsay’s New Discourses calling for the right to stop demonising the left and recognise that much of the work refuting these highly damaging ideologies was actually being done by leftists. She’s absolutely right. But yes, Walsh is still using it to take swipes at the left. And the Lotus Eaters have put up a piece about how ‘Socialists Are Terrible People’. The thumbnail to the video shows Hasan Piker, who is an obnoxious pratt. There was a clip of him on one of the right-wing channels raving about the ‘glorious Muslim enslavement of Whites’.

But I feel I have to put up videos like this one from Walsh because they are tackling important issues which I don’t see being done from the left. Or at least, not the mainstream British left. In this video Walsh attacks the way traditional western heroes, who were often people with very serious flaws, are being removed and replaced with people who are villains, but suit the ideology now being pushed. He gives two examples. One is the erection of a statue to sexologist Alfred Kinsey at Indiana University, where already a building or a wing has been named after him. The other is the film The Woman King, about a female general in the corps of women warriors, the Amazons, of Dahomey. This soldier, Nasicka, leads the resistance to the French invasion of her homeland.

Walsh points out that Kinsey was paedophile, who paid child rapists as his informants. He was convinced that children and babies were sexual beings. One of the tables in his Report on Sexuality of the Human Male, or whatever it was called, records the sexual responses of children from 5 months to 15 years old. This was based on information supplied to him, and which he paid for, by child rapists. For Walsh, this utterly invalidates everything Kinsey has ever done, and definitely means he should not be celebrated. I find it hard to disagree with the latter statement.

As for the women warriors of Dahomey, Walsh discusses how the critics are raving about the film because it ticks all the boxes – women warriors and Black Africans, who represented as fighting for their freedom against the evil Whites. He invents two quotes from critics supposedly saying that it made them ashamed to be White and having White children as an example of the excesses the critic’s praises nearly reach. In fact, Dahomey was a state geared to war and the enslavement of other Africans. Captured slaves were either put on plantations to grow food for the army, or were sold to outsiders, including Europeans. The Amazons were part of that slavery war machine, but the film grotesquely portrays them as abolitionists. If the slaves weren’t sold, they were killed. Walsh cites the Encyclopaedia Britannica about Dahomey, but the same facts can be found in any number of other, mainstream, standard histories of Africa. He is also right when he says that the British fought a war against Dahomey to stop them slaving. Again, totally true. Uncovered Editions published a collection of the British government papers about the war in 2001 as King Guezo of Dahomey, 1850-52: The Abolition of Slavery in West Africa. And the Dahomeyans did massacre or hold mass human sacrifices of unsold slaves. Sometime in the 19th century they massacred 300 of them, which shocked Europeans, including seasoned explorers like Captain Denham. Denham told a British parliamentary inquiry that the mass murder was especially shocking, given the advances these civilisations had made in most of the arts of civilisation. Which to me shows that Denham, while seeing western civilisation as superior, did not regard west Africans as uncivilised savages.

Walsh mentions that Hollywood frequently takes liberties with history but regards this glamorisation of an African slave state as particularly grotesque. It is as if a film rewrote history to show the Confederacy as the heroes fighting against slavery. Again, true. I can see why the film is being widely praised coming as it does after BLM and the new denunciations of White supremacy, racism and imperialism. I’m very much aware the reality behind many traditional western heroes is far different from the legend. Folk heroes like Dick Turpin and the western gunfighters were brutal thugs. And I’m also aware of the old newspaper maxim about the heroes of the Old West – if there’s a difference between fact and legend, print the legend. But equally, if there are two choices, two causes or individuals equally as bad, you’re quite entitled to choose neither. Just because Hitler was a monster doesn’t mean that you have to support Stalin.

And so just because western imperialism was responsible for some monstrous evils, you don’t have to glamorise and celebrate Black imperialist, slaving monsters.

Spanish Scientists Create First Ever Magnetic Wormhole

September 13, 2022

Here’s another video about weird and very cool science of the type that just might one day take us to the stars. This video from Tech Space on YouTube discusses wormholes and the invention of a magnetic wormhole by researchers in Spain. Wormholes are the holes in spacetime which can act as short cuts from one part of the universe to another. They were first thought up in the 1930s by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen, hence they are sometimes called Einstein-Rosen bridges. The idea is that they are created by Black Holes and extend across a higher dimension to an exit elsewhere in the universe, a White Hole. No-one has yet discovered a wormhole in space, despite them frequently being used in Science Fiction. The video here shows a clip from Star Trek among others. There is a problem with using wormholes as such cosmic subways. Their energy state is so precarious, that the passage of a single photon down one would disrupt and destroy. Also, if a spaceship fell into a Black Hole, it would never be able to escape and would continue falling forever.

Scientists have suggested ways round these problems. For example, the mouth of the wormhole could be extended beyond the Black Hole’s event horizon and kept open using exotic matter. Exotic matter is a theoretical kind of matter, different from antimatter, that has negative mass. This means that if it was placed next to a similar mass of ordinary matter, it would accelerate away with no means of propulsion.

The view inside a wormhole would be extremely strange. The wormhole mouth would appear as a globe, and the sides of the wormhole would show distorted views of the region of space the travellers had just left and to which they were travelling to. It would also be possible to create a time machine using these wormholes. One end could be accelerated to the speed of light so that it whipped back on itself and went backward in time. At least, that’s how I understood this part of the video, but I may have misunderstood. The video also states that scientists have speculated there are tiny wormholes opening up at the atomic level, at 10-33 cm. They’ve got their figures wrong there, as 10 to 33 centimetres is clearly well above the atomic scale. I think they mean 10-33.

While the Spanish scientists haven’t created one of these wormholes, they have created a magnetic wormhole using rare and exotic materials which already exist. This wormhole device is circular. There are magnetic mouths at both ends of the device, but the magnetic field linking them cannot be indetectable and so moves through another dimension. The scientists suggest that uses for the technology may include magnetic resonance scanners for medicine, so that the patient doesn’t have to be jammed so close to the scanning apparatus.

The video is wrong about this being the first wormhole to be discovered. In fact, the wonderful space and science vlogger Anton Petrov put up a video a little while ago reporting that scientists had created a subatomic wormhole. There are also problems with exotic matter, as this would allow for antigravity and thus break the laws of physics, as shown in a Beeb documentary about the real search for antigravity propulsion. But this is a fascinating invention. One of the pieces of evidence for there being more than three dimensions, four if you count time, is that if you write the equations governing electromagnetism for four dimensions, they come out as the laws of gravity.

Now if only there was a way to transform magnetism into gravity, such a wormhole created by the Spanish scientists might start giving us a way to open up the universe.

Leviprint Making Objects through Acoustic Levitation

September 13, 2022

Acoustic levitation is the use of sound waves to levitate objects. In this video from CNET’s channel on YouTube, the host discusses LeviPrint, a device that uses acoustic levitation to manipulate small objects, like matchsticks, or matchstick-sized pieces of wood and pieces of glue to create a simple square and other simple shapes. He also talks to one of the researchers behind the technology, Asier Marzo, who explains some of the principles and possible applications. The device uses sound waves about twice the range of human hearing to accomplish its feats. These include passing objects through holes and manipulating them in totally enclosed spaces, such as a mesh bottle. Marzo explains that it could be useful for biomedical research where it would act against the problem of cross-contamination. However, it will be a long time before larger versions of the technology are available because this would require developing additional software and engineering to operate it.

I think the use of sound waves to levitate objects and manipulate them is absolutely amazing. It reminds me a little of a Marvel supervillain, whose body was made entirely of soundwaves created by a device replacing one of his hands. It also reminds me of the Farscape episode ‘Taking the Stone’, in which the crew of the Moya discovery a cemetery world, whose last inhabitants are hippy types, who use acoustic levitation as a form of skydiving. They jump into a long, subterranean shaft intoning a low sound as they go down. If they get it right, they are slowed and suspended before they hit the ground. If they don’t – splat! Farscape was broadcast about twenty or so years ago, which was when acoustic levitation was first discovered, I believe. It’s so weird and wonderful that I think our ancestors would have put it down to witchcraft and black magic. There are other videos on the Net discussing it, including one by a woman who built an acoustic levitation device herself.

Flying In A Paddle-Propelled Blimp

September 12, 2022

This comes from Tom Scott’s channel on YouTube and it’s brilliant! as the lad character always used to shout on the Fast Show. In this video, Scott goes flying with Aeroplume, a French company provides flights from human-powered blimps. These were designed twenty or so years ago by a French artist, inventor and engineer, Jean-Pierre David. The blimps are filled with helium and the human pilot is suspended underneath in a kind of horizontal harness. There are two paddles either side of them, which allow them to propel themselves around and steer the aircraft. It apparently takes a litre of helium to lift a gram of weight, so a blimp must carry 70,000 litres or so to lift a human. Antoine Sibue, Scott’s host from the company, explains that the hangar in which the flights are performed was originally built in 1919 for the military. It passed out of military service in 1999, and a think it was acquired by Aeroplume in 2009. It’s one of two locations. The other is in a cave 50 metres underground. Flight cost 60 Euros for half an hour. The company has three such blimps, lifting 90, 70 and 45 kilos respectively. They’re also open over school holiday, which is tempting fate, one feels. Still, they have had tens of thousands of flights and zero casualties. Sibue teaches Scott how to fly the blimp, how temperature affects buoyancy and how helium leaks from the blimp so that they have to replenish it occasionally, as well as problems when the surrounding air seeps in. But it all seems safe, sedate and rather cool.

The balloon was invented in France in the late 18th century and was enthusiastically taken up by scientists and the public. It represented the victory of human scientific ingenuity over nature. And when Napoleon was invading everyone in Europe, one of his schemes was to create a military airship. However, there was no form of artificial propulsion available at the time, so the idea was to have its crew pulling on paddles rather like those on Aeroplume’s blimps.

The blimps strongly remind me of the 19th century airships depicted by some of the early pioneers of Science Fiction, such as Jacques Robida. I think the French novelist and artist would be highly amused by the way his vision has now been realised.

Muse Video Channelling Quentin Tarantino and Max Headroom

September 10, 2022

I’m a kind-of fan of Bournemouth band Muse, whose music and videos include space rock and Science Fiction. They put up this video for their track, ‘Dig Down’ on their YouTube channel, and its video seems to partake very strongly of Quentin Tarantino and the computer-generated video-jockey, Max Headroom. The video is about a woman with an artificial leg and a big gun fighting her way through various goons before she blows them all up and enters the threshold of a room with a pillar of TV screens. This looks to me like an homage to a film Tarantino released a few years ago, in which a woman with a gun barrel for a leg seeks violent revenge. The film was deliberately treated so that it looked like the cheap and violent grindhouse flicks that Tarantino had enjoyed as a sprog. As the woman fights her way through the bad guys’ lair, the band plays on various TV screens, hair slicked back and wearing suits like Headroom, but with the addition of X-Ray specs style goggles. They are cut so they have the same jumpy movements as Headroom, while behind them are computer generated landscapes. Very 1980s computer generated landscapes. I was a real fan of Max Headroom all those years ago, and I think it’s brilliant that his digital self is still inspiring video directors and producers forty or so years later.

Vangelis’ Theme from Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’

September 10, 2022

Here’s something which I hope will be a bit lighter after the last two day’s solemnity. It’s a video of the theme music to the 1980s blockbuster science and space documentary series, Cosmos, presented by Carl Sagan, which I’ve taken from Nedsrubiquitous’ channel on YouTube. Cosmos was one of the great space and science fact shows of the 1980s, and its accompanying book became a bestseller. Sagan himself was a Humanist and an opponent of militarism, imperialism and nuclear weapons, as well as sexism and racism. Later in the decade he presented evidence to the international authorities that a nuclear war would result in a global winter that would destroy life on this planet. Well, whatever survived the nuclear holocaust, I suppose. When NASA was holding its inquiry into the causes of the Challenger disaster, Sagan stated that the design of the Space Shuttle had been severely compromised in the interests of the military. He said that initially the Shuttle was to be smaller and completely reusable, but the armed forces objected as they wanted something big enough to put military spy satellites into space. Hence the Shuttle was only partly reusable through the addition of a fuel tank that was jettisoned and left to burn up. He also wrote a Science Fiction book, Contact, about a female scientist who establishes contact with aliens. It was later filmed with Jodie Foster. I don’t agree with Sagan’s atheism, but he was an inspirational science communicator. I wasn’t surprised when Prof Brian Cox said that he had been inspired by Sagan, because after all the space and science series Cox had done it seemed to be glaringly obvious.

The music for the series was composed and performed by the awesome Vangelis, responsible for the theme to Chariots of Fire, The Conquest of Paradise and Blade Runner. I think the music was an important element in the show’s popularity and was one of a number of themes collected in the album Space Invaded. If I remember correctly, that is. Sagan died a few years ago of prostate cancer, but still remains one of the giants of astronomy and explaining difficult concepts to a mass audience.

The video features pictures and quotes from the man himself and NASA, as well as beautiful photographs of space and the space telescopes that capture them.

Black Computer Programmer Wants More Black Men in Maths, Computing and Medicine

September 7, 2022

This is a short from Isaac Smith’s YouTube channel. It’s simply him watching a Black computer programmer, Kwanza Kanju, go through the stats showing that Black boys would stand more chance of a job if they switched their ambitions from basketball to a career in the STEM subjects. He begins by saying that there are a million Blacks wanting to play in the NBA. He goes through the decreasing number that qualify for the sport at each succeeding level, until he shows that there are only seven places available in the NBA that these million aspiring kids are chasing.

On the other hand, there were 100,000 jobs going last year in maths, computing and medicine. He states that if you practise hard and study enough, you become what you want to be. If you spend your time playing basketball from 3 to 6 pm, you’ll be a very good basketball player. If you spend the same amount of time in libraries, you’ll be a brilliant scholar. And he knows that Black people will make excellent mathematicians and medical specialists, as the first doctor wasn’t Hippocrates but Imhotep.

He’s right, and basically saying what Black conservative writer Jason Riley says. Black people can excel academically if they spend the same time and effort on these subjects as they do on sport and music, where they already excel.

I wanted to put this up as a piece of positive, optimistic advice that a Black STEM expert was giving to aspiring Blacks after all the negative stories this week about Black looting gangs, the violence at the Notting Hill Carnival and so on.

Trailer for UFO Film ‘Above Top Secret’

September 4, 2022

Here’s something that’s a bit more fun. It’s a trailer for the forthcoming UFO movie, Above Top Secret, presented by Dr. Stephen Greer with retired FBI agent John DeSouza alongside aerospace historians and others. The blurb for it on its YouTube page runs

‘We’re at a tipping point in history, the hidden technology that could change everything has been suppressed for decades. Dr. Steven Greer presents mind-blowing information along with never before seen access into the crusade behind disclosure. Retired FBI special agent John Desouza, Aerospace Historians James C, Goodall along with Michael Schratt breakdown the implications of the cover-up, and the false UFO narrative created by the major media. How much does the President of the United States really know about the UFO phenomenon, and the Above Top Secret projects involved with exotic technology? Billy Carson presents the real motivation behind the major media, and the U.S. Military role out of the UAP phenomenon. Multi award filmmakers Blake and Brent Cousins travel across the country to find the real answers to everyone’s questions whether we are alone in the universe, and expose the above top secret projects involved with ET recovered craft not of this world. Is they’re an Alien threat among us, or is the real threat human in nature? Above Top Secret the technology behind disclosure will change the way you think about UFOs, and the world of suppressed technology. Cast: Dr. Steven Greer, James Goodall, John Desouza, Billy Carson, Michael Schratt, Brent Cousins, Blake Cousins.’

The people featured in the trailer claim that the American government and aerospace industry are creating radical new air- and spacecraft using technology taken from crashed UFO, such as that at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. These have given scientific secrets such as Zero Point energy and gravitics, and that the spacecraft are thought actuated, moving through the ‘thought field’. The American government is also responsible for pushing a non-existent alien threat.

It looks fun, but I’m sceptical of all of this. The title seems to come from Tim Good’s book published in the 1980s, which contained all the conspiracy theory rubbish about alien abductions, the Majestic 12 group of scientists and senior military officers responsible for keeping it all under wraps, whose chief was called His Cerebral Phosphorescence. In short, pretty much the stuff that ended up in the X-Files in the 1990s. Good was, I believe, entirely genuine, but some of the material he published consisted of hoaxes, and misremembered or misidentified incidents. I do believe, however, that there are secret air- and spacecraft that have been developed that very much look and behave like alien spacecraft and are responsible for many UFO sightings.

Scientific American Rejects Real Science for Queer Theory Ideology

September 4, 2022

Going through YouTube this past week I found a couple of videos tearing into Scientific American for publishing a piece of pseudo-science to support the trans ideology. Scientific American has been going for over a century now, and has been one of the major magazines popularising science and explaining scientific discoveries and speculation to the mass of ordinary folks. I used to read it, on and off, along with New Scientist until I went off both c. 2007. That was when Dawkins wretched book, The God Delusion was published, and the New Atheists appeared to try and convince the public that religion was incompatible and fundamentally opposed to science. Real historians of science rejected it long ago, although they recognise that there have been periods of tension. The view that science and religion are opposed comes from the works of three men, one an academic at Harvard in the late 19th century. Against them are all the scientific discoveries made by people of faith down the centuries. For Christianity, I suggest James Hannam’s excellent book on medieval science, God’s Philosophers. As for mathematics, I’ve got a collection of early mathematical texts which I picked up from a secondhand bookshop. These texts go from the ancient Egyptians through Babylonia, ancient Greece, Rome, Judaism, China, Japan and India, as well as some of the great Muslim mathematicians. Many of them begin with a dedication by their authors to their God or gods. Unfortunately, the editors at New Scientist and Scientific American don’t share this view, and the editorial line became very atheist. So I simply stopped reading them. Unfortunately Scientific American’s scepticism hasn’t prevented it from publishing what I believe can only be described as pseudo-science in the name of promoting trans rights.

Brett Weinstein and his wife, Heather, biologists who oppose the postmodern pseudery now being promoted throughout academia and society, put up a video in which they tear to pieces an article published by the magazine which declared that western civilisation only believed in a single sex, the male, until about 1880. I think Matt Walsh has also made a video about it. It’s clearly nonsense, as the Weinstein’s show simply by stating the number of times men and women both appear in the Bible as evidence that people that long ago knew full well about the gender binary. The Weinsteins also point out that something can exist in nature long before it’s recognised by science. For example, the coatimundi was long considered to be two different species. There were the coatis, who were solitary animals, and the mundis, who were social and surrounded by their infants. Then biologists came to realise that the two species were actually just the two sexes of the same creature. The solitary animals were the males, while the social creatures with infants were the females. Brett Weinstein also points out that at one time people thought that the two sexes of the elephant seal were different species, simply because they looked so different from each other.

I think I know where the nonsense that western science didn’t recognise the gender binary until the late 19th century comes from. Postmodernism rejects empiricism and scientific examination and research in favour of discourse, examining what others have said about a particular issue. In the case of Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Postcolonial Theory and so on, this is done through the ideological lens of Marcel Foucault, in which ideology and discourse are functions of power relationships. For Queer Theorists, or at least those supporting trans rights, the scientific view that there are two biological sexes is a western, patriarchal construct intended to exclude trans people and so support White, heterosexual male dominance.

It seems to me, and I confess that I haven’t read the article, that the author has done this by basing their view on Aristotle. Aristotle, or at least the ancient Greeks, believed that the female body was merely an imperfect form of the male. This has rightly and understandably annoyed feminists ever since. But Aristotle and the other philosophers never denied that their were two sexes, male and female. And I am absolutely sure that the Renaissance anatomist, Andrea Fallopi, who discovered the fallopian tubes and the clitoris, and who named the vagina, knew what a woman was and that women and men were physiologically different.

I think the purpose behind the article has been to provide a scientific justification for transpeople being true members of the sex with which they identify or have transitioned. If the sexes are not distinct, then someone who believes themselves to be a member of the opposite sex, contrary to their biology, can still be seen scientifically as a member of the opposite sex.

Now I don’t deny that there are people, who believe that they are in the wrong body, and wish to conform as far as possible to the opposite sex. I also believe that such people deserve appropriate medical care and should have the same respect and freedom from abuse and discrimination as everyone else. But the sexes are still distinct biologically, and the denial that this is so is ideology, not science.

As for the Postmodernists denying the historical existence of something simply because it wasn’t recognised historically, a prime example of such thinking is in the Sokal and Bricmont book, Intellectual Impostures. This is a case in 1974 or -5 when French Egyptologists and doctors unwrapped the mummy of an Egyptian pharaoh. Examining his remains, they concluded that the man had died from tuberculosis. The Postmodernists, however, disagreed, because no such disease was known to the ancient Egyptians. Of course the fact that a disease wasn’t recognise, doesn’t not mean it didn’t exist. It only means that the people of the time didn’t know what it was.

I find it worrying that this article claiming that biological sex differences are only a recent invention has been published. There have been too many occasions in the past when ideology has been allowed to corrupt science. Examples include the racial, ‘Aryan’ science of the Nazis, and Lysenkoism in the USSR, based on the ideas of Stalin’s favourite scientist, Lysenko. Other examples of bad science include lobotomy operations to treat mental illness and monkey glands to rejuvenate men. This last involved implanting slices of monkey testicles into those of human men in order to make them become younger and more virile. In fact it resulted in the men taking this treatment developing syphilis, as the disease is endemic in the type of monkey from whom they took the bits of implanted gonad.

I am afraid that articles like this, and the pseudoscience they promote, will cause great harm, albeit with the best of intentions. There are at the moment a number of detransitioners suing the doctors who treated them and who recommended transition. They believe that they were deceived by them. I’ve no doubt that for some people suffering from the condition, surgical intervention may well be appropriate and necessary. But this must be proper physical and psychological tests.

The publication of such ideologically based pseudoscience threaten the proper treatment of those who suffer from the very condition such articles aim to help. And so they must be strenuously rejected.

Here’s the Weinsteins’ YouTube video: