Riding light and sending sounds in space

The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. That’s per second, not per hour. If you travel at the speed of light for an hour, you cover 671 million miles.

That’s fast, right?

Well maybe on Earth it is, but the universe is a big place. It took about five hours for the signal from the New Horizons probe to travel from Pluto to Earth. And that’s traveling at the speed of light.

To put it in perspective, take a look at this if you’ve got 45 minutes to spare:

That’s how long it would take to get from the Sun to Jupiter: 45 minutes.

Forty-five minutes of nothing but emptiness with a few big space rocks called planets, moons and asteroids showing up every few minutes to break up the monotony. I bore easily, so if it took this long to get to Jupiter, imagine how many “Are we there yet”s I’m going to ask on a trip to Pluto.

If we’re ever going to get to other parts of the galaxy, we’re going to have to break the light barrier. Which means we’re probably not going anywhere. Maybe a billion years from now, our robot satellites in space like Pioneer, Voyager and New Horizons will be picked up by some alien civilization, which will ask: What the hell is this?

This is the Golden Record we sent on Voyager back in 1977: a collection of greetings in different languages, sounds of life and selections of music, plus a roadmap to where we are. Voyager has left the solar system and is now in interstellar space.

So let’s say Voyager does end up on a planet in another part of the galaxy where there’s intelligent life. What do you think the aliens would say? Maybe this?

Check out the Speaking of Science blog at the Washington Post for more about the Golden Record.

Another reason we need gun control

There are crazy people out there who don’t know they’re crazy (Via CNN):

Police arrested a soldier carrying an AR-15 rifle and ammunition at a Fayetteville, North Carolina, mall after officers received multiple reports of an armed man walking through a Macy’s department store.

Bryan Wolfinger was tracked down within minutes near the Macy’s wing of the Cross Creek Mall on Thursday evening, police said.

He was detained without incident, according to police, and charged with “going armed to the terror of the public.”

Wolfinger, who is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, was carrying the rifle, a Kevlar vest and multiple ammunition magazines, and he intended to have photographs taken with the gun and the other equipment, CNN affiliate WNCN reported, citing Fayetteville police.

Police have released Wolfinger, and he is “with his chain of command,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Malone, a spokesman for 82nd Airborne Division.

“These charges represent actions that are wholly inconsistent with the high standards and values we expect from our paratroopers,” Malone said. Fort Bragg is fully cooperating with the police investigation, he said.

Yes, when you wear a bulletproof vest and carry an assault rifle with tons of ammunition through a mall, people are going to be upset. Let’s just be thankful there wasn’t another heavily armed open carry fanatic strolling through the mall who would decide he should take preemptive action against gun-nut No.1.

And yes, this should be considered a terrorist act. People were terrified.

Since we’re all confused about race …

dolezalNow, there’s a white woman in Spokane who says she’s black and up until a couple of days ago ran the local NAACP. She was outed by her parents in Montana, who said their heritage was German, Czech and … I don’t remember … something Nordic?

Which makes her, as Larry Wilmore put it on “The Nightly Show,” Laura Linney white.

And just as I wrapped my head around it, I saw this trailer:

How anyone kept it a secret that she was half black boggles my mind, Georgetown figured it out pretty easily.

So black people are convinced a white woman is black, and white people are convinced a black woman is white. And the women involved … I can’t figure out what they think. And what’s even more confusing, I don’t know what category to put this under. I want to check “Liars” but that just doesn’t feel right.

 

The bad intelligence

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2015 Pulitzer Prize Nominated Finalist

Dan Perkins, drawing as Tom Tomorrow, of Daily Kos for cartoons that create an alternate universe — an America frozen in time whose chorus of conventional wisdom is at odds with current reality.

 

Tom Tomorrow is so much better than 99.9 percent of the editorial cartoonists out there today, and he really deserves to win the Pulitzer. But someone has to write him a better cover letter.
Here’s the letter he sent to the board for this year’s entry
To whom it may concern,
Enclosed please find my entry for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize under the cartoon category. I have tried to include a representative sampling of the diverse approaches I use in my weekly efforts to inform and provoke readers through humor and satire.
I am submitting this entry in my capacity as a cartoonist for Daily Kos, but please note that my work is syndicated to approximately 80 print newspapers across the country as well.
For 25 years, I have tried to push the limits of what an editorial cartoon can be — in approach, in subject matter, in appearance. These efforts have  earned professional recognition including the 2013 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning and the RFK Journalism Award (on two occasions), and praise from sources ranging from the New York Review of Books to Entertainment Weekly to authors such as Dave Eggers and the late Kurt Vonnegut.
I thank you in advance for your time.
Go to the Pulitzer site to check out the cover letters for the other entrants in the editorial cartoon category. You’ll see that their bosses really pushed their guy, and that seems to matter in the real world. The folks at Daily Kos need to up their game and make an effort to promote their guy for a prize he definitely deserves.