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Another Slice of APS April 2019, Knowing Theories Of Others.

A simple slice of life as an academic.  No chair was assigned for the session Z13 in which...

Replacing Theoretical Physicists With Computer Code? A Slice Of APS April 2019.

Theoretical physicist have no more than five good unique insights in a lifetime. Then spend years...

Presenting A Hypothesis Of Everything, And Finding Out A Giant Had A Similar Idea At The Same Time Is Great.

A hypothesis of everything, that is not what I first thought it would be, is what I will present...

The Black Hole Image Raised Us Up, Media Reactions Lowered Us Down

By oversimplifying the complex human story of how big science done by big collaborations like Event...

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Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

Currently I am an adjunct professor at the City Colleges of Chicago and the College of DuPage . My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and... Read More »

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Assuming that alien life has to be like life on Earth is the safest way to scientifically search for evidence of it.  A recent paper on the arXiv by a research team from Oxford is likely to cause headaches for SETI.  In short it shouldn't since the Oxford team has made a basic error in the midst of a masterful application of statistical analysis.  When searching for the truly unknown one must assume as little as possible.   In theoretical physics the hall mark of a good theory is one in which the most testable implications follow from the fewest assumptions and adjustable parameters.   Such is true of most areas of science.  So too must this be true of astrobiology and searches for intelligent life.

Every Branch of the service has ranks and uniforms which reflect their  history, mission, and culture. A potential space force would not be any different in this regard.  Consider the lineage it would have being mainly influenced by the US Air Force, the US Navy, and NASA.   Each has a rank structure of some kind.    It may be wise to establish a “space force” as a corps not within the Air Force... but within NASA, much as NOAA and NPHS have had for a long time.   Here is my take on how this could or should look.    If you question the need for a Space Force watch this 60 minutes video from 2015.

Space contains a wealth of mineral resources so abundant that it would make money as we now think of it obsolete.  We rely on space borne assets for  very ordinary every day things and will come to rely on them even more. The common sense of this, unlike other (separating families) things (G7 Russia) President Trump does (Covfefe) should be self evident.

Deep ancestry by DNA is not as straight forward as a paternity test.  Simplistic assumptions can lead to grave misunderstandings which are not helped by how DNA test are marketed.  I had my DNA tested by Ancestry.com and I am waiting for results from National Geographic’s Genographic Project 2.0.  Using the raw data from Ancestry.com and open source tools found at gedmatch.com I found some perplexing results for those who are not scientifically trained. 
UPDATED below with my National Geographic Geno 2.0 information and a really odd result.   

UPDATED Further below I show my new Ancestry.com result as of september 24 2018. Don't exchange leiderhosen for a kilt based on this stuff.   
 
Building blocks of life are not life or even really close, but they are hopeful signs.  NASA has announced that the Curiosity rover has found signs of the building blocks of life, as we know it, on Mars.   

These building blocks are common throughout the cosmos.  Even in interstellar clouds.  To have life, as we know it, requires liquid water.  Remember the signs of liquid water found on Mars back in 2011? Since then it has been convincingly argued that they may have just be flows of fine sand grains without water being involved at all.  Further study continues.  

Transgender activism must not prevent people from using their common everyday senses to tell who is who within reason.   We now live in a world where someone can insist that they are a transgender woman with their ID changed.  Yet insist that if any image of them is used it should be a very, rather, unflattering one for any woman.    Clearly self ID in the absence of concrete and substantial measures to live the life of the identified gender is meaningless.  At the same time a biological definition isn't fool proof either.