NASA found extraterrestrial life – what now?

NASA announced last week that extraterrestrial life has been found… in California.  If you’re expecting a big, scary alien, you’re going to be massively disappointed.  It’s just some microscopic bacteria living in mud by a lake.  Although, as one scientist on TV pointed out, they look like potatoes if you zoom in enough.

Although, if evolution were true, then that bacteria could develop a brain and a body, and it might eventually enslave us all.   So maybe we should wipe it out now, while we are more evolved than it.  We might not have millions of years — some things mutate faster than others.  I’ve seen “documentaries” that show how crazy such things can get.  And you know the scientists that have this bacteria will expose it to all kinds of chemicals in their testing, and what if that’s all part of the plan?  What if a certain element on Earth gives it superpowers like Superman?  Someone has to consider these things…

Actually, we might need to fear more than just the aliens themselves.  What if some power-starved human or wild animal decides to join forces?  They might eat or absorb this alien life force and mutate into some super-human being!  What if they get super powers because of it?  The time to act is now!  And so we need a government grant to research and contain this.   I figure a few billion dollars would be sufficient — you can’t be too careful!

I know, some of you may wonder if the Buffet o’ Blog staff is qualified for such a task.  The answer is MOST DEFINITELY!  We would have the best weaponry possible, and we would contain (and potentially destroy) this alien life form.  We would also develop numerous “worst case” scenarios, along with the best plan of offense and defense.  And to test such systems before they are needed, we would run thousands of advanced computer simulations of us defending off alien invasions.  We are obviously the right people for this job.  So if the government will just send the necessary funds our way, we can get started on this most important task.

Somebody has to save the world…

Did NASA say there’s a man on the Moon?

NASA released an article about the September 2007 Aurigid meteor shower.  You can read the news release for details, but I want to point out something unusual they said.  The article said it’s important to consider the dust particles because :

    * Only known case in our lifetime: crossing of the dust trail of a known long period comet.
    * Long-period comets, such as were Hale-Bopp, Hyakutake, and McNaught, tend to sneak up on us. They are a potential impact danger. What can the dust trail tell us about their physical nature?
    * Their dust is a danger to satellites in orbit and man working on the Moon.
    * Dust stream could contain material from original cosmic-ray produced crust of comet.

I emphasized part of that, because it sounds like there’s a man working on the Moon.  Could this be a major slip-up by NASA?  Supposedly we haven’t been back to the Moon since the original landings back in 1969-1972.  That’s 35 years!  Could this be the next big conspiracy theory?  Let’s consider the details.  Why would we want people on the Moon?  To mine resources, or for spying, or the start of an intergalactic military moon base.  If there are people on the Moon, why haven’t any amateur astronomers seen them?  The same side of the Moon always faces Earth, so they could be hiding on the backside of the Moon and we’d never see them.  And how many countries have any satellites or spacecraft that go outside the orbit of the Moon?  Just the U.S., as far as I know.  So if someone (or something) was hiding on the backside of the Moon, who are the only people who would know?  NASA.  And now they’ve accidentally said something about a “man working on the Moon”, which supposedly hasn’t happened in 35 years.  So why would they even mention it?  Think about it…  and leave your thoughts in the comments.  Let’s figure out what’s going on here…

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recreating the Aurora Borealis

Have you ever seen the Aurora Borealis (also known as the northern lights)? I haven’t, because where I live seems to be not compatible with that visual effect. I’ve been up north (in the United States), but not at the right time. I’ve seen pictures of it, which is neat, but that’s not quite the same. (But here’s a picture anyway.) 🙂

Now you may be wondering why I would write about the Aurora Borealis when I’ve never seen it. Well, I’d like to see it. I have a friend who has a great saying for when someone is at the proverbial fork in the road with a situation that needs a solution: “What are you going to do about it?”

Maybe I should make my own! Of course some people might say I should just travel up north to go see it, but that seems like too much trouble. I’d rather bring it here. (That sounds so much like Heinz Doofenschmirtz from Phineas & Ferb, where he planned to take (steal) Big Ben from London and put it next to his skyscraper apartment window, because it was getting harder to read the numbers on his watch. He just wanted a bigger clock, and that was the solution he chose. Honestly, I did not take his idea and modify it — I actually came up with this crazy solution on my own, though you might could argue I’ve watched too many cartoons. You might lose that argument, but I digress…)

Okay, where was I? Creating the Aurora Borealis effect where it doesn’t naturally exist. That shouldn’t be too complicated… it’s just some color smeared around in the sky. 🙂 But there’s probably some complicated science equations to work out, and maybe I should’ve paid more attention in college… but what am I talking about? The goal of education is not memorizing facts but in knowing where to look and how to find the answers you need. I learned about Google, so let’s start there:

Particles discharged from the sun travel 93 million miles (around 150 million km) toward Earth before they are drawn irresistibly toward the magnetic north and south poles. As the particles pass through the Earth’s magnetic shield, they mingle with atoms and molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements that result in the dazzling display of lights in the sky. … Typically, when the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced. Interactions with nitrogen produce red, violet, and occasionally blue colors. The type of collision also makes a difference to the colors that appear in the sky: atomic nitrogen causes blue displays, while molecular nitrogen results in purple. The colors are also affected by altitude. The green lights typically in areas appear up to 150 miles (241 km) high, red above 150 miles; blue usually appears at up to 60 miles (96.5 km); and purple and violet above 60 miles. These lights may manifest as a static band of light, or, when the solar flares are particularly strong, as a dancing curtain of ever-changing color.

That’s a good start. Combining that with Wikipedia, we basically need to create something similar to solar winds and the resulting geomagnetic disturbance. Obviously we don’t want to cause interference or destruction with electronics, so that has to be accounted for. And it’ll need to be simpler. The solar winds are basically a flow of magnetized hot plasma from the two million degrees outer layer of the sun (the corona), and they arrive at Earth with a velocity around 400 km/s. Recreating that would be considerably costly and dangerous… and a lot of work…

So this project sounds really difficult, if not impossible. But consider this saying: “Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.” What if there is a simpler way to make it happen? Also, what if no one has really tried before? And it doesn’t have to be at that scale… What about making it happen over a smaller area, like over your house? Or in your living room?

So I searched some more, and scientists have recreated the northern lights inside a container, which is neat, but it’s not in the open air, so someone should take this to the next level. Not only would it be awesome, but you could sell this technology (although I must stipulate that the licensing needs to specify no ads are allowed in the sky; we see enough ads).

Do you have any ideas on how to do it? What you would do with a device that could make the air glow?

To answer my own question, I’d like to make lightning appear in different colors. The science might be relatable. Lightning is sometimes as hot as the surface of the sun, and it already moves really fast. (And an interesting side note is that the resulting thunder is because of the air being ionized… or in layman’s terms, torn apart. This will become its own post soon… I’ve rambled enough here.) 🙂

creating our own space laser inator

In the last post we talked about creating an explosion on the Moon.  The story ended with us lamenting the lack of funds to do such things.  It would cost millions of dollars just to create one explosion on the Moon, which is quite extravagant and wasteful.  So one of our resident genii (geniuses) suggested we build an “inator” that would accomplish this goal and be self-funding.  Why didn’t NASA think of that?

So we’re gonna build a giant solar-powered space laser.  Who hasn’t dreamed of carving their name into the moon with a giant space laser?  Not only could you customize the moon’s appearance — and sell advertising spots on it for large sums of money — but there would be many potential uses for a space laser, some of which would pay lucratively.

Burninating the countryside…

One obvious application is trying to takeover the world with it, like a classic James Bond villain.  (I think Cobra of G.I. Joe has tried that, too.)  But hopefully owning a giant space laser wouldn’t turn you evil.  (It takes a certain mentality to be a mad scientist / evil genius.  It’s not for everyone.  And that’s a good thing.)

You could use it for good also.  Here’s a few ideas:

* If someone needed to destroy a building but an explosion is too dangerous, you could melt it down with your space laser.
* If you’re camping and you don’t want to wait on a campfire to cook your food, use your giant laser — that is, if you can program it to the right power level.
* Of course there are obvious military applications.
* If someone wants to install a moat around their house, using a laser would be a lot easier than digging it out manually.
* If you can set it to “stun”, you could use it to deter bullies, thieves, neighborhood pets who poop in your yard, etc. This would also be great for practical jokes.
* If you could somehow make it look like lightning, have the remote for that functionality setup to fire whenever you say your name dramatically.  There are plenty of catch-phrases that could also be applied to.
* Use it to rid the world of evil pickles.
* You could protect the Earth from asteroids, meteors, and space junk (debris).  You could also make this into a real-life Asteroids game, which would be awesome.

I’m sure there are many other practical (or not-so-practical) applications.  I’d like to hear your ideas, so feel free to leave a comment.