Origins of Easter—Bonus blog— No Science

Many know that Christmas combines the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a pagan winter festival ritual. I’m not sure everyone knows that Easter is similar in that it combines a spring festival with the resurrection of Christ. The spring festival celebrated fertility and rebirth of the earth. Some sources believe that the word “Easter” is taken from the Teutonic goddess of fertility and spring – Eostre. The word estrus is no doubt also derived from the name of the goddess. A resurrection can be viewed as a rebirth.
Eggs, of course, are symbolic of birth. I suspect a bunny rabbit plays a role in Easter as rabbits are known for their fertility. Chocolates? Well, any excuse will do for eating chocolate.
Easter is set on the first Sunday following the full moon after the March equinox, and varies between March 22nd and April 25th. It seems ironic to me that this formula is related to Passover. The resurrection is believed to have happened after Passover, which  is dated according to the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, namely the 15th of the month Nisan. There is no fixed correspondence between dates on different callendars.
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2nd in series

 

Writing and publishing a book takes even longer than bringing a new life into the world and in fact, to an author one feels the result is one’s baby.  The characters in my Science Fiction are likable and my plots are imaginative and suspenseful. The setting is below the ocean floor, a part of our planet that is the last frontier.
Lost Sea is second in the trilogy Ocean Worlds It is written so that you don’t need to read the first.   Buy now from Amazon by clicking on Lost Sea’s cover for a fun and unusual read.                                 

 

1st in series

 

For a full experience, read Lower World first.  Buy now from Amazon by clicking on the cover.                 

 

 

 

 

If you are an ibooks fan, click on the icons below.
     
  Lost Sea                         Lower World

What is a black hole anyway?

Simulation Thanks Wikimedia CommonsEveryone has no doubt seen the first picture of a black hole. Artists and computer simulations such as the one to the left and for the movie Interstellar did a reasonable job in portraying the black hole recently captured. To me, the real one looks like the pupil of an eye with a glowing yellow/orange iris, which portrays trapped gases around the black hole.

Pictures were inhibited not only by the possibility of your camera being sucked out of your hands with you along with it, but by the enormous amount of matter and dust pulled near a black hole. It took 8 event horizon telescopes to formulate the picture—a major Photoshop job! Actually, the algorithm to put together the photos took 29-year-old Katie Bouman six years. I love the expression on her face as the picture came together. The team who worked to make the photo possible will continue to use their techniques to give us more photos and videos of space.

Einstein’s gravitational theory is related to his proposition that space is curved due to the uneven distribution of mass. Consider the law that a body’s velocity can only change if a force acts on it. Otherwise it continues in the same direction (on a straight line) at the same speed. On a straight flat road, when we don’t move our steering wheel and keep the pressure of our foot on the accelerator constant, we expect to travel straight down the road. However, analogously driving in a space, we would be pulled off the straight and narrow by the gravitational attraction of large bodies of mass. In particular, near a black hole our path will be curved toward it and if too near be pulled in. Consequently, we say space is curved.

These strange objects are called black holes because not even light can escape from them. I don’t understand how Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicts them, but behavior of objects moving in space near them provides evidence. It is said Einstein didn’t like this prediction. He also said, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe.” You know what are on dice.  Perhaps, the theory predicts the eventual collapse of stars, which then create the massive black holes.

Check out my Ocean Worlds series for a unique read:

Click here for Lower World                And here for Lost Sea

Are Human Brains part Birdbrain?

Birds and many animals are sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field, enabling migrators to find their ways back to the same places. The Loma Prieta earthquake was predicted by someone who noticed strange animal behavior. No doubt the underground beginning to seize affected the local magnetism.

Since humans have no such ability we’ve assumed that our brains don’t tune in to gravity.  Recently, however, there is evidence that magnetic fields do have a subconscious effect on our brain waves. People were exposed in laboratory to Earth-strength magnetic fields. Their alpha brain waves reacted differently depending on the direction of rotation. It’s unclear that there is any impact on human behavior, but people vary in their sense of direction. A sixth sense?

I read somewhere about someone who can always detect which direction is north even after flying to another unfamiliar country. People’s sense of direction varies, and one study suggests magnetism is involved. Mine is dreadful. I can walk into a department store in one door and if I walk out another I’ll be lost.

 

I especially liked this article as in my latest book to appear on April 14th, I created a race of beings who always know exactly where they are using their sense of magnetism of the Earth or perhaps I should say Ocean. Some marine biologists and astronauts believe Ocean is a better name for our planet as oceans dominates this orb where we live.

You can preorder the eversion of Lost Sea at a special price now. Please consider it. Early sales means book distritubors will do more promotion.

 

I have also lowered the cost of the eversion of Lower World. Both are part of a trilogy called Ocean Worlds. Click on the cover images to preorder or order from Amazon. If you are an ibooks fan, click on the icons below.

Lower World

Lost Sea

Two Discoveries Scientists Thought Impossible

Sound has negative mass!

Sound is supposed to be a wave. Noise vibrates molecules, which consecutively bump into each other and propagate. The vibration hits our eardrums and our brains interpret the message. How can a sound wave have mass, let alone negative mass?  What this means to physicists is that sound waves fall up instead of down. One can’t help but think there might be some other explanation for this, but movement requires force, which is mass x acceleration, so no mass, no force to push up the sound wave. What boggles scientists’ minds is that this is a new discovery in classical Newtonian physics and could have been discovered long ago. On the other hand, the negative mass of a phonon is expected to be tiny—comparable with a hydrogen atom, about 10–24  (1/000000000000000000000000) grams. (I couldn’t help the visual aid.) Further, the result was unexpected. In fact, it was only in investigating superfluid (very slippery) helium presumably for other purposes that the discovery was made. Scientists hope to test further, but may need the sound of an earthquake to detect in air.

 

Not the twins in question

Identical twins have been born with one male and one female!

 This is not supposed to be possible. Identical twins result when the fertilized egg divides and each half develops from a single placenta. Fraternal twins result when two eggs are expelled from an ovary and both are fertilized. The twins in question had amniotic sacs attached to a single placenta, meaning the twins were identical. But if a single sperm were involved, they should be the same gender. Every chromosome of the two babies have been examined and there is no gender ambiguity. The only seeming explanation is that two sperm fertilized the same egg before it divided. However, this was not thought possible. According to Dr. Fisk, the deputy vice chancellor for research at the University of New South Wales, “When a sperm enters an egg, the membrane locks down to stop any other sperm from getting in. Even if another sperm got into an egg, you would end up with three sets of chromosomes and you don’t survive.”

The twins are labeled as semi-identical. Even the formation of identical twins is not completely understood as this occurrence seems to illustrate.

 

Special for my readers: I’ll be publishing a sequel to Lower World soon. If you haven’t read Lower World yet, here’s a coupon code to get your eversion at half price. It’s only good through this weekend. First go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Lower+World and at checkout enter the code DR97Q

Click on the cover to see the Amazon reviews, but special is only on Smashwords

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aww! Fairy Circles Might Not Be Caused By Fairies

Fairy Circles

Strange circles where no plants grow occur in parts of Africa and Australia. With no apparent explanation, whimsical folks suggested it’s where rings of fairies dance. Now, scientists are fighting over less fascinating explanations. These circles occur in areas with low annual rainfall and little variety of plant life such as Namibia and the outbacks of Australia. Further, in some areas the circles sprinkle themselves into hexagonal patterns.

Until recently, it was thought that termites might be responsible,

Now, some scientists believe that the competition for water among plants is responsible with the explanation coming from a mathematical theory of pattern formation for the shapes and dispersion.

One article describes how the amount of rainfall needs to be just right and that the soil becomes compacted and clay-like inside the circles so that rain runs off to the perimeter of the circle sustaining the plants there. I’ve written a blog about how plants compete for resources, roots spreading out and invading the space of rival plants, but somehow recognize their own kind and respectfully share the moisture. This does suggest the kinds of plants would influence the growth pattern. Since the variety of plant life is limited in regions where fairy circles are found I would expect that areas around individual plants would be barren if their neighbors are like them, i.e. there would be circles around them. Further, when I see plants growing out of thin cracks in rocks, which can’t gather much rainfall, it’s hard to believe it’s just a matter of not enough moisture in the circles. Therefore, this explanation puzzles me.

Some scientists believe that it is a combination of the termites and sparse rainfall.

Somehow I don’t think we’ve heard the last word on why there are fairy circles, but I enjoyed writing about a light, fun topic for a change.

 

 

 

Did You See This?

Earth’s Magnetic Field

Listening to NPR, I was blown away by the fact that our magnetic North Pole is moving at the rate of 30miles per year. Holy GPS systems! That same day I saw an NY Times article, no doubt from the same source. NOAA, funded by the federal government, had just adjusted GPS systems, which depend on magnetism and the distance the magnetic poles are from the geographical  poles.

Years ago, I found it mind boggling that the magnetic poles of our planet have traded places several instances over time. It has been 780,000 years since the last shift, and some scientists think we are due for another. Scientists speculate on the consequences of the shift. Many birds and animals are sensitive to magnetism and know their locations relative to our magnetic field for migration. Cows at rest align themselves with the N/S direction of the magnetic poles. Animals can get spooked before an earthquake, no doubt due to changes in magnetism. James O. Berkland predicted the Loma Prieta earthquake due to strange animal behavior.

The geographical poles are the ends of the axis about which Earth rotates. A compass is governed by the magnetic poles. The locations of the magnetic poles are governed by the hot fluid center of the Earth. The composition is not uniform and heavy iron deposits slosh inside with the turning of our planet. I’m reminded of a rubber ballooned sized ball called a crazy ball. Sand had been inserted, and when you threw it, the sand moved independently of the ball, shifting it unpredictabley off course. The speed and direction of the change in the magnetic poles’s position is equally unpredictable.

That magnetic field is crucial to the  livabilty of our planet. Without it, the solar winds would blow away our atmosphere. Magnetism and its relation to electricity seems to me one of the strangest aspects of the physical world.