A Hanging Caretaker

Hanging Wildflower Bird NestHanging Wildflower Bird Nest With Two EggsI saw something fly out of it, the hanging planter. Filled with wild flowers from years past that still bloom.

So far, this year, there is only bright orange lifted high up, blooming. But more will come, eventually. Why was a bird inside?

I peek through the low green leaves that hide what is within, to find a nest made smoothly cupped in soft dog hair that shed from Jake.

Crazy little birds begging each day for seeds, and this one here wanting the wild flower hanging pot to nest! They are not shy, nor easily fear.

Then two days hence a little egg left seated all alone, wrapped in that small pristine bowl of dog hair made me think

I’ve killed them all! Me just using the Bayer fertilizer a chemical that can’t be touched and kills bugs who dare eat — perhaps even the not-yet-living bird.

And then another egg for two! The parents, unknowingly bound to raise them in my chemical mess, and I don’t know what to do

But hope, and swear I will never ignore again because I never know what unexpected happenings, may happen – and I am largely why.

But hope, offering what cleansing rains I can, in a hope for what I’ve done.

Worlds Without a Star

Free-floating planet conception
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

We are small — very small — isolated in our ways, and environments. So rarely do we trouble ourselves to imagine beyond whatever sky contains us.

Astronomers do. Physicists do. As do philosophers, poets, and even some writers. Politicians unconcerned with their own petty gains imagine what might lay beyond for us, in what may become our future. There are few.

Perhaps it is a sad tail; a failed sun. Not quite enough mass to ignite, though larger than Jupiter — flung out from its stellar nursery before gathering enough of itself in.

Dark planets drifting through our space with no star to fall toward. Warping the background points of light, invisible but for the slightest noticeable effect. Through the force that binds all things despite any distance.

Small collapsing spheres of dust larger than our world — more numerous than the stars.

Japan and New Zealand working together discovered these “free-floating” planets by observing gravitational lensing effects. That is, they watched how something invisible was warping spacetime in the night sky, by seeing star positions distort as it passed. The level of detail they must observe is astonishing, particularly from ground-based telescopes.

Just look what we can see.

The Bill Making Assassinations of US Citizens Illegal Died in House Constitution Committee

Constitution and AssassinationA lot of stuff goes on, even when we’re not looking. For example, the Patriot Act is coming up for renewal. Congress displayed unusual foresight when enacting this draconian legislation, forcing the Patriot Act to die each year unless its provisions are purposefully renewed.

The so-called “Patriot Act” grants the government and the President many special powers they were never meant to have. If you do not want our government having these special powers, you are unpatriotic. It’s like supporting the troops, by making sure young men and women are always being shipped off to war, and kept there.

In the Patriot Act, it is very easy for the government to label people as terrorists. It is also very easy for the government to gag people from even speaking, under the penalty of prison. It is even very easy for the government to seize money or assets from individuals, groups, or organizations if they are labeled terrorists, terrorist supporters, or even friends or family of “terrorists”. None of these actions require a court warrant or judgment — it just happens one day.

Maybe this is good, in many situations. After all, even when judges are involved, it doesn’t seem to make much difference. The FISA court, for example, approved all surveillance requests by the government last year. We only know this because people have fought very hard to bring at least the number of surveillance requests that FISA receives, out into the light.

But if you need a more graphic representation of the dark slope we’ve embarked upon, you need look no further than a single bill introduced last year, HR 6010 “To prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens, and for other purposes.”

This bill makes it illegal for the US Government to kill any of its citizens without first giving them a court trial. Right now anyone can make it onto a targeted assassination list and be killed without any trial, whether you are a United States citizen or not, despite Executive Order 12333 from Ronald Reagan and Executive Order 11905 from Gerald Ford which forbade assassination.

It seems simple, yes? We have to be convicted of a crime, and then sentenced, and if the sentence is particularly harsh, we may be executed. Unfortunately, that’s not how it is. We can be executed outright with no judicial process, and not even any real oversight.

The bill that would ban our government from killing its citizens was sent to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties on September 10, 2010. And there, most aptly, it died.

Space is Like Honey: Cold, Smooth Balls Pay Off Big (which wouldn’t surprise Einstein)

Gravity Probe B frame dragging

Time flies. But it cheats, being woven into the fabric of the space of the reality we perceive. And 6 years ago, whatever that is, I wrote a little piece called Warped Gyrations – Gravity Probe B which hinted around the NASA and Stanford experiment.

The satellite was called Gravity Probe B and it had gyroscopes; amazing gyroscopes with perfectly smooth balls, at least down to 40 atomic layers worth of smooth.

And smooth balls are sensitive balls. They’ve been up in space around Earth spinning, while the Earth spins. If Einstein is right-ish, then things spinning in space will drag the fabric of spacetime along with them, as if all space were a very slightly clingy, viscous liquid.

Now, these several years later, after analyzing the data, scientists can verify this: Earth creates its very own spacetime vortex as it rotates. More massive objects, such as neutron stars and black holes should downright twist spacetime insanely all around them. That’s just an extra added treat to enjoy as you’re swallowed up.

So for those of you who believe we benefit from the money invested in military science, just look at a couple of insights we have gained from this one, small experiment, practically free in comparison.

Jeff Kolodziejczak, the NASA project scientist says, about Gravity Probe B, “If experimental science is an art, then I would look at GP-B as a Renaissance masterpiece.” He’s right.

Most notably, to detect “frame dragging” of spacetime, as an object rotates within space, requires incredibly sensitive instruments, even for an object as massive as our planet. GP-B had to become a self-contained environment of near perfection, free from such terrible influences as the Earth’s magnetic field, or even the influence exerted by colliding with atoms in the course of orbital space flight.

It is a degree of perfection so extreme that it could not be allowed to interfere with itself, even to measure the spin of its own gyroscopes.

But it does measure them. The balls are coated with a nearly perfectly uniform metallic layer of niobium, which becomes a superconductor at the cryogenic temperatures inside Gravity Probe B — producing a tiny magnetic field as they spin.

But if you also have a superconducting wire wrapped around these balls, and are able to detect the quantum interference generated by the magnetic field, you can determine how fast they are spinning without even touching them, at all, with anything, even a harsh torrent of light particles.

The wider-landscape thinkers will be wondering, what about the Earth’s magnetic field getting in the way? Surely that would overwhelm any results you could possibly measure from small spinning gyroscopes.

And you would be right. That’s why you must discover a way to block the Earth’s magnetic field. No problem for NASA’s Kolodziejczak and his team. They’re using superconducting bags. Of lead. The gyroscopes live inside these bags. And these lead bags live inside a 400 gallon liquid helium cryogenic chamber, chilled to a nippy -456 degrees Fahrenheit. And that makes even lead a superconductor, effectively blocking the Earth’s magnetic field from the near absolute zero temperature.

All the while, Gravity Probe B has an eye watching the far star IM Pegasus. The star helps GP-B determine if the gyroscopes are tilting. This star will even be moving, along with the probe, but moving with precisely known rates which are accounted.

There is plenty more you can read about the probe’s devices at NASA if you’re interested. In the meantime, though, rest assured – as you walk through the room all spacetime does, indeed, warp around you. And not only that, you’re swimming around in the sticky stuff, even when only completely empty space surrounds you!

It’s freaky stuff. Important stuff. The nature of reality sort of stuff. I haven’t heard it mentioned anywhere in the larger public space. An event that will likely prove to be one of the telling events in the history of science – an event that will be taught to scientists for generations to come, silently passes us by.

What a curious thing to be alive in perception, at a given time point.