Wierd Science

It’s 10:45 pm and there’s nothing on the page.   Nothing.   Well, now there are 21 words and a few numbers.   But there’s nothing that resembles a thought.   Is Tuesday the day that I finally miss a day and fall from the ranks of the Postaday2011 faithful?  And simultaneously fall off the Two Thoughts on Tuesday bandwagon?  Unthinkable and yet … nothing.   So, I surf over to Yahoo.com to see if something stimulates a few brain cells … and there’s a headline: ‘Armchair Astronaut’ Mars Video Goes Viral.  Hmmm.  A start.  Then: Ephemeral Antimatter Trapped for Amazingly Long 16 Minutes.  Stephen King has said that a novel begins with the serendipitous meeting of two ideas (OK, I paraphrase … King probably didn’t say serendipitous meeting).   Maybe that’s true of blog posts, too.

The armchair astronaut is David Martines, who has been searching the surface of Mars using Google Mars.  In case you don’t know, Google Mars is an assemblage of images collected during the various Mars missions and displayed as maps similar to those in Google Maps or Google Earth.   Martines claims to have found a 750′ by 159′ cylindrical structure on the surface of Mars which he’s named Bio Station Alpha.  He’s made a YouTube video of his discovery in which he claims it is a habitable building left by man or aliens. Here is a screenshot from his video (originally, the video was embedded here YouTube shows it as removed by the user):

It looks like a linear streak artifact produced by a cosmic ray, says Alfred McEwen, a planetary geologist at the University of Arizona.   Yes, McEwen is a real scientist, not some guy exploring with Google maps but Bio Station Alpha is still a lead story on Yahoo and his video has gone viral with over 850,000 views.  The Yahoo article itself has 5,655 comments, 50% comment box comedians offering gems like, Just another Walmart, they must have got the land cheap, and 50% people who believe the armchair astronomer over the planetary geologist, many offering conspiracy theorist comments like The Govt. covering up something??? I don’t think they would do that…would they??????  This is science fiction in the worst sense of the word.

Meanwhile, in Ephemeral Antimatter Trapped for Amazingly Long 16 Minutes, scientists have been trapping antihydrogen atoms at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva and expect begin experiments on this rare substance.  We’ve trapped antihydrogen atoms for as long as 1,000 seconds, which is forever in the world of high-energy particle physics, said Joel Fajans, a University of California, Berkeley professor of physics who is a faculty scientist at California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a member of the ALPHA (Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus) experiment at CERN.  Here are the real scientists discussing ground-breaking work in physics that sounds like science fiction.   The article on Yahoo gets 1,204 comments, still 50% comment box comedians, e.g. – Can this material be used to construct anti-politicians? … now joined by comment box philosophers (Hard to believe that while all of this is going on there are still idiots out there killing each other over religion or beliefs) … and comment box experts who want to share their vast knowledge with us (finding the Graviton, the particle that carries gravity would be huge! and is likely the main obstacle standing in the way of intersteller space travel).  Take note: armchair astronaut, 5,655 comments; ephemeral particle physicist, 1204 … but who’s keeping score?  Meanwhile, Justin Bieber breaks 10 million followers on Twitter.  How many do you think Joel Fajans has?

So, where does this lead me?  In an age where real science sounds like science fiction, our populace at large largely lacks the education to distinguish between fact and fraud.  There’s nothing wrong with being under-educated in particle physics or statistical communication theory.   The problem is, I think, that many people in the internet age don’t know they are under-educated.   Like Martine, the armchair astronaut, they confuse exploration on Google Mars with real exploration and seeing all the Star Trek movies with understanding particle physics.  The internet culture is only too happy to headline the Armchair Astronaut and the Ephemeral Particles on the same day in the interest of readership, so the pseudo-scientific education of the internet generation continues.   I guess this is Thought Number One: Being uneducated in some esoteric areas of science is inevitable.   Thinking you’re educated because you read it on the internet is dangerous.  And Thought Number Two?  The internet has produced a comment-box-culture in which everyone thinks they have something to say on everything.   Wrong.   You’re not that funny, no one’s interested in your political or religious insights on particle physics, and you sound like an idiot when you try to explain it all for the rest of us.  If you don’t have anything to contribute, shut up!

So, it’s Top Sites Tuesday #102 – Two Thoughts on Tuesday and I’ve survived another day on Postaday2011, arriving at two cranky sixty-seven year old scientist thoughts, probably insulting the internet-educated and commenters everywhere.   Now I get to ask you to push my button … gently … to make me Number One on Top Sites Tuesday #102 … and yes, leave a comment.   Here on Older Eyes, you always have something to contribute.

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22 Comments on “Wierd Science”

  1. marjulo Says:

    I’m not much for outer space stuff, but the most interesting fact I learned recently comes from a story about declassified documents detailing information about Area 51. It seems the many reports about UFOs were actually sightings of spy planes being tested and flown around the Nevada/Utah/California desert near Groom Lake. Some airline pilots who saw these silvery planes just wouldn’t keep quiet about them! The story tickles my whimsical funny bone. Weird science indeed!

    • oldereyes Says:

      When it comes to science, I’m inclined to think that most of the conspiracies and secret hidden bases are just talk. I’ve spent a lot of time on the other side of the security blanket … the secrets aren’t all that well-kept and the facts are usually less interesting than our imaginations.

  2. granny1947 Says:

    My word…for someone who had nothing to say you did alright. 🙂

    • oldereyes Says:

      True. When I have nothing to say, it takes a lot of words to say it. When I did my doctoral dissertation, I never really got the result I wanted … the dissertation turned out to be 384 pages, two or three times as long as most.

  3. Cheryl P. Says:

    I think every area of specialized learning has a segment of they “think” they-know-it-all. As a Realtor, everyone knows as much as I do about buying and selling homes although they seemingly can’t fill out all 36 pages of legal documents. BUT they do watch HGTV. And everyone thinks that they know about how to show a house for sale because they watch design shows and staging shows. I have doctor and nurse friends that tell me everyone self diagnoses now because of WebMD. We have all become experts in all things…well except me, I think. I am still pretty clueless on a lot of things. Just me, though.

    • oldereyes Says:

      Me, too. And I’m really good at letting an expert I trust handle my weak areas, like a realtor when we bought and sold our house ten years ago. I think if you are an expert in some area, it tends to make you less inclined to pretend to be one in others. But I could be wrong ,,, I’m not an expert in expertise.

  4. I seriously do NOT know anything science-y!

  5. I’m afraid to leave a comment. Your last two sentences seemed offhanded. 😉 You’re getting snarkier, Bud. I’m so proud! (And I have been wondering since I saw it yesterday what makes this “armchair astronaut” – which, by the way, is an impossible thing to be – newsworthy. He’s no different from anybody else with a theory and no actual evidence.)

    • oldereyes Says:

      Well, about eighteen years ago, I began an effort to be a “kinder and gentler” Bud. But in my high school year book, it said I was “sarcastic in a nice way.” That was half true. And for most of my life, I was pretty snarky, especially in my career, i.e. – science. So I tend to naturally go there when the subject is science. Most of the time, I try to be “snarky in a nice way.” That doesn’t work either. With respect to Mr. Martine, people who look at things on the web and describe it as “experience” drive me nuts. You can have experiences on the internet (!!!) but it takes participation not googling.

  6. liggybee Says:

    Wow, Bud…all that science talk made me realize I was never a whiz in science class. LOL! But you did have a point about things on the news being questionably newsworthy. I see that all the time when I surf the web. You really got to wonder sometimes about these sources.

    Here’s a click for you and a great week ahead!

    • oldereyes Says:

      Yes, when I have nothing to say, I say a lot … and science was my career, so the things that get reported on internet news drive me crazy. The news on the “armchair astronaut” was that his video had gone viral, in spite of the fact that scientists debunked his claim. The article gave credibility to his claim, which disqualifies the article as news.

      Yes, watch those internet news sources.

  7. Trina Says:

    Wow, that was a lot to digest in one reading. Aliens and Space…. yep, way too much thought involved in that one for me today 🙂

    Clicks for trying to make me think LOL!


  8. Wolfbernz Says:

    I think you pulled out two really deep and involved thoughts. My opinion… Aliens? Probably.
    Thing on Mars? Nah
    Antimatter stuff? Awesome!

    Clicks for you!

  9. Bob S Says:

    Hummm. So now you tell me that I cannot believe anything I read on the internet, so I have to now discount everything I read on “older eyes”. But wait, if I can’t believe what I read on “older eyes”, then I can believe what I read on the internet. My head is spinning.

    Maybe I need to get a ticket to that space station on mars. Life should be simpler there. ;>)

  10. RC Says:

    I really don’t have much to contribute, so I’ll just keep to myself…
    however, there MUST be a conspiracy because the video you posted here is now GONE!
    For not having much to say, you sure got a lot of comments!

  11. RC Says:

    Now I can do my OWN armchair investigation.

    Looks like I’ll need some of that CSI Image Enhancing software I see on TV all the time.

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