Tuesday, 6 December 2011


One light year is a long time, the amount of time it takes light to travel for one year.  At 186,000 miles per second that would be 31,536,000 seconds which equals 525,600 minutes or 8760 hours.  Reports say the Kepler 22b planet is 600 million light years away.  Whether it’s 600 or 600 million makes little difference to me.  I don’t think I’ll be doing space travel anytime soon.  Interesting factoid is that the Kepler spacecraft project is relatively a low cost item in the overall budget, approximately $600 million dollars. That's just about a million dollars per light year!   Is that a good return?
One report says that this newly discovered planet is eerily similar to Earth and is sitting outside our solar system in what seems to be the ideal place for life, except for one hitch. It's a bit too big.  The planet is smack in the middle of what astronomers call the Goldilocks zone, that hard to find place that's not too hot, not too cold, where water, which is essential for life, doesn't freeze or boil. And it has a shopping mall-like surface temperature of near 72 degrees, scientists say. 

One of the NASA scientists said that it’s exciting to consider the possibilities.  Really?  A shopping mall-like zone?  Now that’s really exciting.   Intelligent life on another planet?  I’m more worried about the lack of intelligent life on this planet.  I don’t have time to be concerned about life on another one unless there’s a possibility for brain transplants or something similar that might save this planet.

Do people in positions of responsible leadership seem to be making more stupid decisions than is usually the case or is it just me and the way I am seeing the news?  I just read this morning of a proposed 6 billion dollar new laboratory at Los Alamos, not far from where I live.  For those who work there and others in the respective fields of the nuclear sciences, I’m sure that they can justify the expense.

Of all of the things a nuclear scientist might do, I would like the more significant part of the 6 billion to go toward those things that preserve and protect life as we might like it to be on this planet, never mind all the others.  However, the only vote I have is not how my tax dollars are spent but rather trying to affect who is going to vote on such things and I have all but stopped thinking about how much influence I really have in such matters.  It's not that I am discouraged by the political miasma in Washington; it's more that we most often measure outcomes by results.  Enough said!

600 million dollars there, 6 billion dollars here and the list goes on and on and fairly soon, we're talking about serious money, perhaps even enough to help reduce a national debt.  What price are we paying to retain our position as a world leader = militarily? (so far) industrially? (no longer) scientifically? (perhaps) educationally? (no longer), morally? (questionable) spiritually? (are you serious?).  Weigh the costs against the benefits.  What's your conclusion?

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