What is Ancient History?

Kiona M. Smith wrote a great article yesterday about The hats that the of the giant statues, called moai, on Easter Island are wearing. How doe you get a thirteen ton piece of stone on top of a giant statue? Well, she goes into some detail about some ways it might have been done by the Rapanui people.

Looking at the moai, we are left with very little information to work with. there are only about 3,000 Rapanui left and the oral traditions that would have brought their history forward to today was lost. It seems as though slave trading and disease erased that from the history books. I wonder what else will be lost to future generations.

Will Ultima Thule be among the lost bits? Stephen Clark wrote a piece for Spaceflight Now that talks about the New Horizons probe that captured the gloriously hi-res images of Pluto last year. Well New Horizons is back at it again, but even farther away now.

Ultima Thule is a chunk of rock the size of a large city floating out in the Kuiper Belt an NASA just brought New Horizons out of hibernation to guide it in to take a quick peek and get some hi resolution imagery. I’ll personally be awaiting these images with great anticipation.

I wonder what they’ll mean to the world 500 years from now though.

~Michael 6/6/2018


The Celestial Union, Two Perspectives

The other day I read an article on SyFy where in Phil Plait wrote a piece describing the birth of a black hole. It would appear the Chandra observed two Neutron stars collide and after the data were crunched it seems likely that a black hole is the end result. This celestial union was the first of it’s kind observed.

Also Phil, why don’t you have a date/time stamp on your article so I can see when it was published?


Check out the link above for the story and some sweet images that show what this event might have “looked” like if an observer were close enough to record.

You can thank gravitational wave measuring instruments for giving us a clear idea that the mass of the new object is about 2.74 Suns. That would make it wither the largest neutron star or smallest black hole on record.

High mass and gravity drove the two stars together, but it doesn’t take that much to draw other types of bodies together.


Read that article folks. It lays out some underlying fundamentals of sexual attraction and arousal. Sarah Barmack covers a study from 2007 by Cindy Meston that discusses the nature of arousal.

It turns out that undergraduates main motivations for sex were sexual enjoyment and intimacy. Is that a surprise to you? Probably not.

~Michael 6/4/2018



More Physics Anomalies

It’s been a strange week for physics. The other day Mamoudou Gassama climbed up a building to save a child and now a Latvian firefighter caught a person falling from a building.


The video of this catch is absolutely insane. In the wired article Rhett Allain breaks down some of the physics involved with the catch and basically, it was probably close to impossible.

Another “impossible” physics feat popped up over on reddit today. A user named Entracksh got about 41,000 upvotes for this gem when I wrote this.


This unlikely combo is amazing and I have to ask does this kid have a future in professional soccer? Probably not.

~Michael 6/1/2018

Closing the Gap Between Heroism and Endeavor

The largest canyons in the world just might be locked under the Antarctic continental shelf. Yesterday Brian Kahn wrote a piece for Earther that provides some perspective on the enormous canyons buried beneath the Antarctic ice shelves and they are breathtakingly large.


An international team of geographic researchers flew some planes equipped with radar and ladar over the Southern Pole to peer through the ice and they found two previously undiscovered canyons beneath the ice sheets. The larger canyon is wider and almost as deep as the Grand Canyon.

The hope associated with this knowledge is that we will be able to model the movement of the Antarctic ice sheets  and predict their stability and adhesion to Earth’s southernmost continent. That should help us identify the rate of melt and global oceanic water level rise as they melt. Will we guess that right? Probably not.

You know who might be good at climbing those canyons? Mamoudou Gassama. This guy has been trying to become a French citizen for the last six months or so and holy cow did he do something amazing the other day. If you haven’t seen or heard about this yet I’d be surprised, but just in case, check this out.

Some toddler was hanging on to a ledge outside the balcony of a fourth story with a crowd of onlookers watching in shock and preparing to catch the child. When Mamoudou free-climbed the building and pulled the adventuresome babe to safety.

Would I have done the same? Probably not.

~Michael 5/29/2018


Memorial Day

It’s difficult to say thank you to a dead person. Every year I wrestle with my thoughts and emotions on this day. I often feel shamed by the antics and greed of our elected politicians when I compare their behavior to the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers who fought for a better world. I have to ask, did they really die so that we could bicker and tell each other how fucking right we are? While we continuously and repeatedly vote for individuals that represent themselves more often than the principles that our valiant brothers and sisters in arms died for. Can we please stop shaming those that died for our freedoms?

Size Matters After All

The tired old saw about size matters, size doesn’t matter can bring a tired yawn to most people. But I’m here to tell you in some relevant ways that it does. As it turns out, the amount of personal space a person needs is directly tied to the character of people around that person.

And I mean “personal space” as in a circumference around a person measured using distance and time.


In a paper written by an unknown author by Anglia Ruskin University, published by the journal PLOS ONE, they discovered that what a person hears affects the size of their personal space required to feel comfortable. Basically if someone hears an argument, or aggressive conversation, their personal space requirements become larger.

Compared against a neutral conversation, people’s personal space bubble becomes smaller. speaking of smaller…

Here’s a picture of the worlds smallest house.


They used tiny robots to build this house that is 20 micrometers wide. Brigit Katz wrote about it over at Smithsonianmag.com. So yeah size actually does matter right?


Or even worse, a Relationship

Ali G once interviewed John Gray about how to avoid a relationship. it is a killer comedy bit that probably resonates with a lot of people out there. But why is it so funny to seek out a relationship expert for advice on how to avoid a relationship?

Because relationships are hard. The more intimate relationships I get involved in, the more I realize just how difficult they are. Steven Stosny, Ph.D., wrote an article yesterday on Psychology Today that talks about something called Binocular vision.


My interpretation of his article is basically that the most important skill in a relationship is the ability to hold your partner’s perspective in mind when the two of you (us) are communicating.

He posits that falling in love uses the limbic systems of the brain, which are fully developed when in individual is a toddler. but staying in love has a lot more to do with the prefrontal cortex,  which isn’t ripe until a person is in their late twenties.

Bottom line, try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes before you speak. It’s not easy. Will we succeed at this all the time? Probably not.

~Michael 5/24/2018