Tabby’s Star

Apparently the riddle of Tabby’s Star has been solved, the weird light fluctuations (which aren’t due to alien megastructs, if they were we would only be seeing infrared due to waste heat emissions, instead the patterns are consistent with those of dust) are due to tidal disruptions of an icy exomoon of a planet orbiting Tabby’s Star. In other words, an exomoon is being shred to bits by the star itself and the resulting chaos is what’s causing the dimmings.

Similar explanations have been proposed for the other oddly dimming stars out there, just how common is this phenomenon of moonnapping?

Note that this is only preliminary, further research is needed, and that such a coincidence could explain these odd dimmings seems unlikely.

Olmec continuity

In a sense the Olmecs never vanished, their civilization may have fallen but their legacy lives on. Indeed the people of Oaxaca and Veracruz are in part descended from the Olmecs, with the language the Olmecs presumably spoke, Mixe-Zoquean, still spoken by hundreds of thousands of people to this very day. Aside from genealogy and linguistics there are several other Olmec cultural influences that have survived to the present day. One of these being the Mesoamerican ballgame, which is still played in modified form in rural Mesoamerican villages to this very day as well.

Aside from the elements of Olmec culture that have lasted to the present day, another Olmec cultural influence that survived for ages and is still worshiped by a few indigenous practitioners is the Feathered Serpent, most famously known by his Aztec name Quetzalcoatl, however he was also known to the Maya as Kukulkan and to the Yucatek as Ququmatz. The Feathered Serpent is an ancient deity, having originated with the Olmecs and who is still being venerated to this very day. In a sense, the Olmecs never vanished at all.

10 unsettling astronomical incidents and phenomena

This is a video by the excellent as always Mr John Michael Godier listing, and explaining, some unsolved astronomical phenomena. While the general rule is that “it is never aliens, until it is,” some of the phenomena listed are so strange that aliens remain a serious possibility. One of these is the Wow signal, which to this day defies explanation, it was recently proposed it may have been due to comet emissions, but this was shot down by the scientific community because if comets were emitting at the hydrogen line radio astronomers would have noticed it by now.

I recommend giving it a watch, it’s a good reminder there’s lots we still don’t know about our universe.


PBS Space Time Video

In this PBS Space Time video the forming solar system of Formalhaut is explored, with lots of Lord of the Rings puns to go around ever since the now infamous “Eye of Sauron” photo was released. Interestingly the star is a member of a tristellar system, it’s stellar siblings are a red dwarf and a flare star respectively.

Formalhaut’s solar system is also (probably) home to two planets, a hot Jupiter and a probably terrestrial planet called “Dagon,” how’s that for a cool name? Interestingly enough the orbit of Dagon indicates it was formed further in, closer to Formalhaut proper, but was thrown out into its current orbit by a close encounter with the aforementioned hot Jupiter. Something similar is posited to have happened in our solar system early on with the gas giants, as they all formed relatively close together but something threw them further apart.

Formalhaut may very well be a glimpse into what would have happened during the formation of our own solar system, as it is a solar system in formation right now as we speak.

Consciousness and Death

Death is a complicated, and disconcerting, thing that we must all eventually face in the end. After all, there is no escaping from the Grim Reaper, merely delaying his arrival. However, what if there is some way that death isn’t…… permanent? In today’s entry we’ll be discussing what death really entails for consciousness and the loss thereof.

When people often talk about “death” they often speak of an “eternal oblivion,” but such speak implies that there is an objective you to experience that eternal oblivion, when we all know that the very word “death” implies the cessation of existence, of nonbeing; nothing can experience the state of not existing because you don’t exist, it’s not a state you are in. This ties back into my earlier forays into discussing antinatalism wherein I explained how some of the arguments for antinatalism are flawed because they presuppose an objective you existing to experience nonexistence, see those other posts for more detail, linked above.

Death is more akin to a mere interruption in consciousness, a bit like sleep really, except that in the traditional naturalistic view of death you don’t wake up. However, with recent advancements in our understanding of nature, as well as technological advancements in the near future that could theoretically enable you to emulate entire human minds, that might not necessarily be the case.

Even if we don’t find a way to emulate entire human minds on computers there always exists the possibility of a Boltzmann brain, which is essentially a thought experiment revolving around how the universe we live in isn’t as chaotic as thermodynamics says it should be, and how the possibility of a single consciousness, or “brain,” arising from random quantum flunctuations is more plausible than the current phase of the universe we find ourselves in, which itself spends most of eternity in a state of thermal equilibrium. If true, this thought experiment holds enormous consequences, but that’s a topic for another time entirely.

It’s entirely plausible, indeed even probable, that over a long enough period of time something with the same memories and thoughts and feelings as you have will arise out of mere random quantum flunctuations, this being a Boltzmann brain, and without delving into the “swamp man” thought experiment of the late and great American philosopher Donald Davidson, is you for all intents and purposes, and henceforth you’d “wake up” from the incredibly long slumber that is death.

Hence, even if it takes a really long time to “wake up,” not even the grim reaper himself can hold on to you forever. So if the inevitable prospect of death frightens you, think of the bright side, for you will wake up eventually, even if it takes a long-ass time to do so.


“Boys will be Boys”

This statement is used to refer to the notion that “men are trash” and that there is no changing how a man would behave. The term “boys will be boys” is rubbish for several reasons, first of which I’ll be discussing is that it’s an example of the naturalistic fallacy, “that’s just the way things are.” Sometimes people, especially of the MRA crowd, will even say this is how it should be, not just how it is. An easy refutation of this is Hume’s law, also known as “Hume’s guillotine,” which states that “an ought cannot be derived from an is.” In short this is saying that just because this is how things work now doesn’t mean this is the way things should be.

Another problem is that it serves as an excuse for people to continue to act like trash, if a man rapes someone all you have to do to excuse his behavior is say “boys will be boys” and everything will be “fine” for want of a better word. This is bullshit, and is excusing wrongdoing because, as explained above, “that’s just how things are.” It provides an excuse for people to continue problematic behavior without trying to improve themselves, because after all what’s the point in fighting something that’s “natural,” in one’s “nature” to do so.

Before someone comes here and quacks “Not all men” of course not all men are like that, but such a statement individualizes an issue that is ultimately systemic. I too have been guilty of perpetrating this bastard concern trolling before, and that’s ultimately what it is: concern trolling. The bastard phrase “boys will be boys” trivializes and excuses a systemic injustice, it provides cover for shitty people to continue being shitty and it should stop being used, it would be ideal if the sentiment behind it would vanish as well but one can only control actions, not thoughts, although if you get people to act a certain way after a while they’ll start thinking that way too.

So please, stop saying “boys will be boys” and giving these utter pieces of shit cover. Is it really that hard to do so?