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Fingers in the Eyes

There are many magnificent fighters in MMA.

Jon Jones is certainly one of them. But I do not respect any fighter who spends the entire fight trying to blind his opponents with his fingers.

One of the primary reasons I never transitioned into MMA is because that sport completely lacks the drilled-in honor system of most martial art styles.

MMA is martial science, not martial arts.

And the “art” that is so clearly missing is honor: no cheating (steroids, eye gouges, other trickery).

When I first left martial arts and started feeling around MMA, which at that time was in its infancy, I found far too many dirty fighters lurking around the gym who didn’t care how they got the belt.

No thanks.

Finding Water Everywhere in the Search for Life

water for life

What comes to mind when you think of water? Personally, water reminds me of some of my favorite activities: canoeing down the spring-fed rivers of southern Missouri, bass fishing in Ozark lakes, watching the torrential downpours of thunderstorms, and deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Beyond the fun and enjoyment water provides, it also plays a critical role in Earth’s capacity to host life (as well as the biochemical processes required by life). Consequently, astronomers ardently search for planets capable of hosting water—and those searches have paid dividends.

Water Detections

Using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), astronomers made detailed observations of a Neptune-sized planet, HAT-P-26b, orbiting a star 400 light-years away from Earth. HAT-P-26b makes a revolution around its host star every 4.2 days and it transits across the face of the star once per revolution. As the exoplanet starts to transit, light from the host star passes through its atmosphere. The HST’s sensitivity allows astronomers to analyze this light and determine what gases exist there. The measurements reveal the presence of water vapor in quantities that exceed those found in the solar system by a factor of 5.1

Another team of astronomers detected an atmosphere around a low-mass exoplanet. The exoplanet, named GJ 1132 b, orbits an M-dwarf star about 40 light-years away and has a mass of 1.6 times the mass of the Earth, making the exoplanet a super-Earth. Using an instrument called GROND, the team observed GJ 1132 b during 9 transits to look for transmission features indicative of water in the exoplanet’s atmosphere. Along with finding unusually large radii for both the exoplanet and its host star, the observations showed a transmission band consistent with atmospheric water. This was one of the first low-mass exoplanets with a temperature below 1000K to show any spectral features. Although an exciting discovery, additional studies “found that the presence of H2O implied either an H2 envelope or low UV flux from the host star early in the lifetime of the system, and the ongoing presence of a magma ocean on the planet’s surface.”2 Consequently, this exoplanet has no hope of hosting life.

Closer to home, the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn found evidence of water/rock interactions on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. Past observations of the moon revealed a large liquid ocean below a thick layer of ice. More recently, astronomers detected plumes of material escaping from the surface of Enceladus. The Cassini probe flew directly through one of these plumes and detected molecular hydrogen, H2. Although not definite, the most probable source of the hydrogen in the plumes is chemical reactions of water with rocks bearing minerals and organic material.3

Life Requires More Than Liquid Water

It may seem like finding water everywhere we look is a sign that life pervades the universe. That may be true, but one should remember that water ranks as the third most abundant molecule in the universe (behind two forms of molecular hydrogen), in part because hydrogen and oxygen are two of the most abundant elements in the universe. Additionally, water on an exoplanet (or a moon) does not automatically make the exoplanet habitable. It seems like life requires far more than just liquid water. Even early Genesis describes an early Earth covered in water, yet hostile to life.

From a scientific perspective, if we ever want to assess what makes a planet truly habitable, astronomers must find a wealth of planets with varying degrees of similarity to Earth and then determine if life actually exists on any of those planets. As I said nearly a decade ago,

The commonly assumed model . . . is that life arises easily in environments that meet a rather small set of criteria. I will refer to this as the “minimalist” model. In contrast, RTB’s creation model argues that life requires a planet exhibiting numerous parameters fine-tuned to exacting specifications. Planets that meet some, but not all, of these criteria serve as test-beds to distinguish which model best describes reality. The more planets astronomers find, the more powerful tests may be conducted.4

Let the testing begin.

Original article: Finding Water Everywhere in the Search for Life

Pi

1. Pi is the most recognized mathematical constant in the world. Scholars often consider Pi the most important and intriguing number in all of mathematics.

2. Pi has about 6.4 billion known digits which would take a person roughly 133 years to recite without stopping.  The world record holder for the most memorized digits of Pi took nine hours to recite over 44,000 digits of Pi.

3. We can never truly measure the circumference or the area of a circle because we can never truly know the value of Pi. Pi is an irrational number, meaning its digits go on forever in a seemingly random sequence.

4. The squaring the circle method of understanding pi has fascinated mathematicians because traditionally the circle represents the infinite, immeasurable, and even spiritual world while the square represents the manifest, measurable, and comprehensive world.

5. Egyptologists and followers of mysticism have been fascinated for centuries by the fact that the Great Pyramid at Giza seems to approximate pi. The vertical height of the pyramid has the same relationship to the perimeter of its base as the radius of a circle has to its circumference.

6. One of the earliest known records of pi was written by an Egyptian scribe named Ahmes (c. 1650 B.C.) on what is now known as the Rhind Papyrus. He was off by less than 1% of the modern approximation of pi (3.141592).

7. In 2002, a Japanese scientist found 1.24 trillion digits of pi using a powerful computer called the Hitachi SR 8000, breaking all previous records.

8. There are people who believe that Pi contains the answer to the universe, or that information is held in the digits. It has even been suggested it contains the Voice of God.