Tag Archives: insanity

Why Everything You Think You Know about Black Holes is Wrong: The Role of Nuclear Warfare, and the Importance of Trusting Your Analysis

So your fantasy has finally come true, you’re a space explorer!

spacecowboy

WHEEEEE! (Slater, 2017)

As you roam the universe making your discoveries, intrepid though you are, even you know to avoid getting too close to a black hole. Your only hope is to avoid orbiting suspicious patches of darkness since black holes are so massive nothing can escape their gravitational pull, not even light, and this makes them nearly impossible to find. Well… almost.

What if I told you that black holes are just almost black? To better understand this we’re going to have to take a field trip through nuclear science, nuclear warfare, and the importance of trusting your analysis.

Nuclear Science

For this topic we will specifically be discussing a part of the electromagnetic spectrum referred to as gamma rays, found on the left of this image:

EM Spec

Electromagnetic Spectrum (Lucas, 2015)

Two of the four ways gamma rays can be produced are via nuclear fusion and nuclear fission (Lucas, 2018).

Nuclear fusion occurs when extreme pressure forces the protons in the nucleus of one element to combine or fuse into another, heavier element. Using the ever famous E=mc2, the resulting difference in mass is converted to energy. Some of that released energy is emitted as gamma rays. The fusion of hydrogen into helium is what powers our sun (Lucas, 2018).

Nuclear fission occurs when the nucleus of a heavy element collides with other particles and is split into lighter elements. The particles resulting from this collision can then go on to collide with other heavy nuclei, which go on to do the same, resulting in a chain reaction. The resulting loss of mass from each split is converted to energy, again using E=mc2, some of which is emitted as gamma rays (Lucas, 2018). Fission reactions using uranium or plutonium are at the core of most nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Warfare

After the use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II, their popularity as a status symbol for world powers blossomed. With this popularity came a variety of weapons tests as nations learned more about their effects and thermonuclear weapons (two-stage fission-fusion reaction) entered the mix. As testing increased, so did knowledge of the effects of fallout, “and as it soon became apparent.. no region was untouched by radioactive debris” (U.S. DoS, 2009-2017).

Castle Bravo

Castle Bravo 1954 – 14.8 Megaton thermonuclear test (AHF, 2014)

Due to concerns involving the effects of fallout, many nations came together to eventually sign the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water or as it is more commonly called, the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 (U.S. DoS, 2009-2017). Although treaty compliance verification was a major point of debate in forming this treaty, national technical means was the finally decided method.

The U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Atomic Energy Commission worked together with the U.S. Air Force to launch two nuclear test detection satellites, Vela-5A and Vela-5B in 1969 (NASA, 2003). Part of the nuclear detection payload on these satellites included six gamma ray detectors (NASA, 2003).

The Importance of Trusting Your Analysis

So what does any of this have to do with black holes? I’m glad you asked (and that you’ve made it this far). In the late 1960s, Vela recorded bursts of gamma rays that did not resemble non-compliant nuclear testing and scientists soon discovered these bursts originated from deep in space, each lasting no more than 30 seconds (Bartusiak, 2018 and NASA, 2003). Technology advanced and now we know most gamma rays in space are emitted from the creation of black holes and the collision of neutron stars (Bartusiak, 2018). However, the gamma ray bursts lasting less than a tenth of a second still defied explanation.

In 1973 Soviet physicists, Yakov Zel’dovich and Alexander Starbinsky, suggested if a black hole is rotating the rotational energy would be released as radiation and the black hole would create particles (Bartusiak, 2018). Stephen Hawking expanded upon this theory explaining that all black holes would emit radiation, regardless of whether they were spinning, due to the energy of their intense gravitational fields (Bartusiak, 2018). Contrary to accepted black hole physics which claims black holes are, by their very definition, so massive that nothing can escape their pull, this theory would suggest black holes are slowly losing mass over time in the form of particles and will eventually disappear in a final violent explosion; or in the words of Hawking himself, “black holes ain’t so black” (Bartusiak, 2018).

black hole

Black hole emitting stuff like black holes… don’t? (Bartusiak, 2018)

Although Hawking estimated a black hole the size of several stellar masses would take longer than the current age of the universe to die, he also suggested the creation of micro-black holes as our universe began (Bartusiak, 2018). These “primordial black holes” (imagine a mountain compressed into the size of an atom) would experience accelerated loss over time and be going through their death throws now, releasing the same amount of energy as a million one-megaton thermonuclear bombs in the form of gamma rays (Bartusiak, 2018).

Hawking’s theory illustrates the distortion of space-time near a black hole to the point the energy of its gravitational field is converted into a matter / antimatter particle pair. Since time and distance is so fuzzy at the submicroscopic scale, it is possible for half of the particle pair to be pulled into the black hole while the other half escapes reducing the overall mass of the black hole by a tiny fraction, causing it to slowly evaporate one particle at a time (Bartusiak, 2018). In the case of a “primordial black hole,” the release of energy in its final moments would be a brief burst of gamma rays, like those first recorded by Vela, the nuclear test detection satellite (Bartusiak, 2018).

When Hawking presented this theory in 1974 at a quantum gravity conference he was met with heavy criticism from his peers, with the chairman responding that it was “absolute rubbish” (Bartusiak, 2018). However, as time progressed it became more and more clear that Hawking’s discovery demonstrated the deep connection between gravitational and quantum mechanics (Bartusiak, 2018). While searching for an answer that can explain the combination of these fields has eluded scientists for decades, Hawking proved their unification was in the realm of possibility.


References

Bartusiak, M. (2018). Dispatches From Planet 3: Thirty-Two (Brief) Tales on the Solar System, the Milky Way, and Beyond. THIRTY. The Great Escape (pp. 220-24). New Haven, & London: Yale University Press.

Lucas, J. (2018, November 29). What are Gamma-Rays?. Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/50215-gamma-rays.html

National Aeronautic and Space Administration: Goddard Space Flight Center. (2003, June 26). VELA-5A. NASA.gov. https://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/heasarc/missions/vela5a.html

U.S. Department of State. (2007-2017). Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water. State.gov. https://2009-2017.state.gov/t/avc/trty/199116.htm

 

Image References

Atomic Heritage Foundation. (2014, June 17). Hydrogen Bomb – 1950. AtomicHeritage.org. https://www.atomicheritage.org/history/hydrogen-bomb-1950

Bartusiak, M. (2018). Dispatches From Planet 3: Thirty-Two (Brief) Tales on the Solar System, the Milky Way, and Beyond. THIRTY. The Great Escape (pp. 220-24). New Haven, & London: Yale University Press.

Lucas, J. (2015, March 13). What is Electromagnetic Radiation?. Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/38169-electromagnetism.html

Slater, N. (2017, December 19). Space Cowboy. Dribble. https://dribbble.com/shots/4032680-Space-Cowboy


Skyrim: Lydia the Psychopath

Today some dude randomly came running at me with his sword. I guess he was guarding a cave or something and we got too close?

Anyway, I’m standing there waiting for him to hit me so I don’t feel bad about fighting back, when Lydia just completely lost it. She jumps in front of me and just slaughters this guy and all his friends. Whoa.

So then we go into this dark, creepy cave and she’s all “I have a bad feeling about this…” Yes, Lydia. Thank you. I got that. But then I’m scrounging for food for us and she starts yawning.  I’m sorry, is my search for life giving sustenance boring you?!

Anyway, it wouldn’t let me thank her for killing that guy, and now that I know she’s apparently a psychopath I definitely want to stay on her good side, so I bought her a health necklace and an enchanted ring to boost her stamina.

Of course when I gave them to her she got all sarcastic again, *sigh* “I’m sworn to carry your burdens…” and I thought that was a little unfair, so I also bought her a horned helmet.

She looks very silly.

 

Wanna play a game…?


Skyrim: Is everyone like this?

I spent some time exploring the town, trading some things, finding food, stuff like that. Some arrogant looking man was wandering through the streets complaining loudly about some girl choosing some other guy:

“I fought a frostbite spider,” I say because whomever created this world didn’t think frostbite or horse-sized spiders were bad enough on their own.

“How am I ever going to win her back?” said Mr. Arrogant.

“I was with Hadvar,” I add. “We also found a bear but I didn’t fight him because he just stood there doing his I’m-so-scary-dance so I went around him, but Hadvar is a terminator so he just kind of went through him. Poor bear didn’t stand a chance.”

The man looked at me a moment and said “I know how to get her!”

Oh good, we’re on the same page then…

He gives me a scathing letter listing everything wrong with his beloved because he’s just that charming. He asks me to give it to her and tell her it’s from the other man, then bounds away in glee; we’re all here to serve you, guy.

Later I ran into her and I passed her the letter, but I told her exactly who wrote it and why. You’re welcome.

 

Wanna play a game…?


Skyrim: Welcome to Riverwood

Hadvar leads me to a town called Riverwood and introduces me to a couple there. He makes himself at home and begins babbling about Stormcloaks and dragons again. Really, I’ll need to teach him some new phrases.

“Well you’re pretty, I’ll give you that, ” says the lady of the house, “just stay away from my husband.”  I’m just full of good impressions it seems. I wonder if I’ll meet anyone in this world who doesn’t think the worst of me right away.

I wander around and find they seem to be okay with my taking one of everything, but I don’t. *I* find a bookcase. There can’t have been more than ten books on it but believe me I read them all.

Meanwhile, the terminator is trying to recruit me to join the Imperial Army because he can’t seem to remember the part where they tried to have me beheaded. He tells me to go to Whiterun and talk to the Jarl. As soon as he says this, those words roll up my screen like some great presentation but no one else seems to notice. I discover some menu buttons and figure this is now my mission.

I go back to reading books.

******

At some point during my reading I managed to wedge myself between the bookcase and a barrel. Despite the fact the barrel was empty, I couldn’t just push it out of the way because apparently I’m a huge wuss. I jumped around, ran into things, and generally made a huge commotion but the three other people in the room must have thought I’d turned rabid or something because no one came to help me.

Somewhere in the course of my cornered animal-like panic, I discovered I am MAGIC because I ended up shooting a fireball and igniting the wall of the house. I felt pretty bad about that but no one else seemed to notice or react in any way at all. I can’t help but think the force of the blast should have moved the barrel for me but physics seems to be broken today.

When I finally broke out I inspected the wall thoroughly and it wasn’t on fire anymore and there didn’t seem to be any damage. No one said anything about it but I helped the man forge some weapons for his shop later in an attempt to make amends.  Sorry I almost burned down your house, guy.

 

Wanna play a game…?


Skyrim: You’re getting awfully judgey, Screen.

I don’t know how but I somehow managed to not die a fiery death that day. Through a series of uncoordinated and clumsy movements I managed to catch up to the terminator, who stood patiently waiting among the chaos.

As  I approached him, he took off toward another building then stopped to watch me lumber along behind him. When I caught up he went in. I’m starting to sense a pattern here.

Inside, the terminator began babbling about dragons and Stormcloaks, which seemed a bit silly for a robot from the future, but I just kept my mouth shut and followed  him around like Igor from a Mel Brooks movie. This turned out to be a good strategy because he unbound my hands.

“Pickpocket Hadvar?” asked the screen. Oh. He has a name. Well that’s good. But stealing from a killer machine who just unbound my hands seems ungrateful at the very least.

“Let’s get you some supplies,” says Hadvar. So I wander off to explore the room.

“Pick lock?” my screen asks as I approach a prison cell. Picking locks and stealing from others, huh? You certainly don’t have a very high opinion of me, Screen. But why not? It looks empty to me… 

So I picked that lock and every other lock in the room. I also picked up everything I could and practiced moving around and jumping for a while. The terminator watched this all stoically from the door. An hour later I approached him.

“Are you done?”

Why yes, Hadvar, I’ve had my fill of this room. Lead on!

I’ll say one thing for him, he’s extremely patient. 

 

Wanna play a game…?

 


Ananke Rose. In the library. With the pitchfork.

So this is a conversation that happened today between someone who is in no way a medical professional, me, and my brain:

 So your doctor doesn’t know what’s causing your headaches?

Not really, but they’ve run all sorts of tests. I just started a new medication.

I think you need to take some time to focus on you.

Who is it that you think I focus on…?

You should really start exercising.

Excuse me?

That was bold.

I had some headaches once and it really helped me.

Oh.

I see where this is going.

You know, just start walking or something. I think it would help take your mind off your head pain.

And on my hip pain…?

Have you considered it might be stress?

I’ve had a headache for 8 months. Straight. Yeah, I’ve thought of that.

Yes.

How do you feel about prescription medications?

I’m on six of them.

Do you seriously think I’m not taking anything???

You should be taking Xanax.

Umm…

That’s so weird… You don’t LOOK like my neurologist…

It would really help you relax.

I see.

*looks around the room* who are you talking to??

Seriously. Ask your doctor about Xanax.

You don’t look like my T.V. either… I’m pretty sure if my doctor wanted me to take Xanax, he’d prescribe it…

You are just way too stressed.

Thank you for trying to help.

Have you even met me…?

 

I don’t even know what to say about that.

 

 

 


You’re Awesome, but Also a Little Creepy: Part Three

NOTE: I stole some photos.  Click them to go to their sources.

So at the beginning of Part One I said, “If I’m being completely honest, I’m a bit torn as to how I feel about the amazing thing that is my brain. On the one hand…” and went from there. If you’ve read Part One and Part Two you might be wondering why I’m torn. It seems pretty simple, my brain is awesome. What’s the other hand?

Well, sometimes I see things. I don’t mean that I have hallucinations; I know these things are not actually there. And it’s not like I can’t see what other people see either. It’s like my brain looks at something and then says “Oh, sure. That’s what they want you to think” and then… changes it.

It’s just a flash; if I do a double-take it’s gone. It’s almost like I’m getting a glimpse of some alternate reality. Maybe it’s the dreams showing through…

So one time I was walking through Chicago O’Hare airport when I got on one of those moving sidewalk things. It looked like this:

Trippy

But what my brain showed me was this:

ooooo-WEEEEEOOOOO-ooooooo

Now that one is kind of fun, but they aren’t all.  For example, I then passed a shoe-shine station where the shiner (heh) had fallen asleep.  It looked vaguely like this:

But what I saw was this:

Whoa

Whoa

And it happens a lot.

My intent here was to list a few more examples, but since it isn’t a conscious choice to see these things, it’ll probably work better to just post them as they come up.

And so I introduce to you, a new page on this site: Mind Games

I’ll update it as I get new ones. I’ll attempt to put the most recent first. You’re welcome.


You’re Awesome, but Also a Little Creepy: Part Two

In addition to everything in Part One, I have this neat thing that happens when if I sleep, that’s really quite technical and very detailed.

The general gist of it is: my brain cannot differentiate between dreams and reality.

Essentially, due to some sleep issues identified during a medical sleep evaluation, I frequently (as in several times a minute) wake up just enough for my dreams to imprint on my conscious mind as ‘real’ before dropping back down into sleep. So I am awake enough for my brain to say ‘this is not a dream’ but it happens too fast to actually break me out of the dream and into full consciousness. I also have very long and distinct dream periods, so these ‘real dreams’ are often very long and very detailed.

I feel it’s important to point out that this is different from having ‘vivid and realistic dreams,’ because unless I make a conscious effort and constantly remind myself, it was not a dream.

Now try to imagine that every dream you’ve ever had, every surreal experience, every nightmare, was absolutely real.

Totally happened.

When I heard this from the doctor, it was like I’d found the final piece of some vast, complex puzzle and suddenly so many things, from as far back as I can remember, made perfect sense.

When I was younger, this often manifested itself so I would remember conversations and events that no one else did. But as I’ve gotten older, my dreams have become… darker. Sometimes it takes more than a week to cope with things that never really happened. Sometimes I find myself out of bed and across the room when whatever I’m looking at just… disappears. And I usually remember these dreams for years, to the point where I can actually cross reference them.

Many studies suggest this causes issues with memory failure and dissociative symptoms, and all things considered, how could it not?

But here’s the thing, right? I have a pretty excellent memory. And, as far as I can tell, I do not have any dissociative disorders.

And sometimes I think the recent (as in the last decade or so) darkness of my dreams is not a sign of a highly disturbed mind, or underlying mental illness, but is my brain’s way of protecting me.

Yep, that seems safe.

Maybe my subconscious figured out what was happening long before I heard it from a doctor, and compensated by making my dreams so dark and strange that it would be easier for me to tell them apart from reality. Sure, it means I’ve had to live through some pretty crazy stuff, but I can look around and see there clearly hasn’t been some catastrophic, plague-like event, and bookmark that memory as suspect.

And really, hardly any of them are actual nightmares, they just kind of sound that way. In fact, it’s the ones that don’t sound scary that usually are.

Terrifying

 

Are you lost? See Part Three


You’re Awesome, but Also a Little Creepy: Part One

So, if I’m being completely honest, I’m a bit torn as to how I feel about the amazing thing that is my brain.

In case you forgot what it looks like

In case you forgot what it looks like

On the one hand, there are an awful lot of reasons why it’s pretty damn awesome. For instance, I’m currently taking 6, count them 6, prescription medications every day. Side effects of this veritable pharmacy include:

  • Prescription 1 – dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, weight gain, blood clots, depression
  • Prescription 2 – nausea, stomach cramps, high blood pressure, mood changes, excessive sweating, involuntary quivering, irritability
  • Prescription 3 – dizziness, nausea, stomach cramps, low energy, involuntary quivering, confusion, taste problems
  • Prescription 4 – dizziness, nausea, low energy, low blood pressure, swelling of the extremities, random lactation
  • Prescription 5 – drowsiness, nausea, stomach cramps, weight gain, random drops in blood pressure, mood changes, excessive sweating, involuntary quivering, restlessness, confusion, delusions, inability to focus
  • Prescription 6 – dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, weight gain, low energy, low blood pressure, mood changes, involuntary quivering, swelling of the extremities, blurred vision, inability to focus

And they come with warnings like:

  • Prescription 1 – Avoid grapefruits at all costs. (Why just grapefruit? Why not all citrus? Why is grapefruit special? I must look into this…)
  • Prescription 2 – Do not stop taking this medication without first consulting with your doctor. [This prescription type] is usually taken for life.
  • Prescription 3 – Limit alcoholic beverages. Avoid grapefruit at all costs.
  • Prescription 4 – This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.
  • Prescription 5 – This drug may make you drowsy or cause blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as mood swings, headache, tiredness, sleep changes, and brief feelings similar to electric shock.
  • Prescription 6 – This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or cause blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased. If you are taking this medication 3 times a day, do not let more than 12 hours pass between doses because you may have a seizure. Also, the grapefruit thing again.

Perhaps you notice the pattern here.

Really, it’s any wonder I’m not wandering around constantly nauseated because I’m so damn dizzy all the time, all the while shaking uncontrollably and being moody, confused, and generally terrified of alcohol. And grapefruit.

Google image search for “creepy grapefruit.” Seriously.

It’s seems to me, despite the ridiculous ways in which life has seen fit to completely fuck me up, my brain (and body) have done a pretty good job of remaining sane and functional. Here’s to you, Me:

yay.

 

Are you lost? See Part Two and Part Three


Seriously, they’re everywhere.

Do you know what I see?

These.

Just kind of all the time. Everywhere. Around my work building, around my house… on the side of the road. In random places. I’ve even seen them parked… or at the very least saving a parking spot for someone else.

Apparently wild rabbits are a thing around here, and I guess they’re out in force this season. I never really associated rabbits with fall, but maybe I’m just a product of our culture – shoving rabbits at everyone in spring and insisting they lay eggs. The rabbits I mean. I’m not sure I’ve ever had someone shove a rabbit in my face and insist *I* lay an egg, but I guess it wouldn’t surprise me.

And sometimes, if my day is just going too well or something, they’ll look like this. And it just breaks my fucking heart.

If you’re a masochist or horribly curious and you clicked on that link because it didn’t occur to you that I didn’t post a picture for a reason, here:

I hope this helps.

But the thing is, if I’m being completely honest, I’m kind of afraid to ask if anyone else sees them too….

 


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