Thursday, September 8, 2011

Catch An Exploding Star

If it's not cloudy or rainy where you live, go outside tonight with a pair of good binoculars or a cheap telescope and take a gander at the biggest supernova to be visible in decades.  You will witness the vestiges of an exploding star just above the Big Dipper constellation.

Why do scientists think this SuperduperNova is so important?  Well, for one thing, it will measure the fun fact of just how fast the universe is disintegrating out from under us.  Astronomers will be able to take measurements to determine if some mysterious dark energy force is literally pushing galaxies apart.  Although they say they don't quite know what this force is, they have determined it constitutes almost three-quarters of the universe itself.

This week's sky show is actually the remnants of what is called a white dwarf star that exploded 21 million years ago in the Pinwheel Galaxy, and is just now becoming visible to earthlings.

Think of SuperNovas as politicians. They shine brightly for awhile, and quickly fade away, because in reality they've been empty shells for eons. The Michele Bachman star actually sputtered and imploded right before our very eyes last night. Rick Perry is a vestige waiting to happen. Barack Obama lost his star power long ago, and his jobs plan coupled his safety net-cutting Grand Plan may well be an astronomical disaster. (read Dave Dayen). Watch Obama's warm-up act for the debut of football season tonight if you dare -- and then gaze skyward, pondering the inponderable: how can such a passionate voice be the smokescreen for such destructively tepid ideas? 



Denis Neville said...

Our blighted stars…

"Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?"


"All like ours?"

"I don't know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound - a few blighted."

"Which do we live on - a splendid one or a blighted one?"

"A blighted one."

- Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D'Urbervilles)

Better to remember…

"Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes - do you recall? And we
did make so many! For there were countless numbers of stars: each time we looked above we were astounded by the swiftness of their daring play, while in our hearts we felt safe and secure watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate, knowing somehow we had survived their fall."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

John in Lafayette said...

Watching the Republican "debate" a different kind of star thought came to me:

"Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin'
Join the human race
How in the world you gonna see
Laughin' at fools like me
Who in the hell d'you think you are
A super star
Well, right you are

"But we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev'ryone come on"

-John Lennon

I'm just wondering when these superstars of the right are going to understand that everyone, not just the wealthy and the privileged, but EVERYONE, shines on just as they do. How can they look at something like this supernova and fail to come to the conclusion that the pursuit of wealth and power on earth is ultimately meaningless? Surely there is something we need to strive for beyond ourselves.

When is a nation that professes itself to be Christian going to wake up to that?

Denis and Karen: Fabulous stuff.

Hester Prynne said...

How is it that a Harvard law professor acting as president would sign into law something that would later be judged unconstitutional? He ran as a democratic republican. Is it possible that he knew that this the "mandated" part of the affordable care act would never survive to be of any help to anyone? After all if you can't afford health insurance in the first place, how can you be mandated to buy it? And what confusion will we try and sift through after his speech tonight? Who is Obama really helping, it seems as if he can't even help himself.

Kat said...

@Hester: Well, I guess the 4th circuit court of appeals has something to say about that.
I'm sure there are plenty of Democratic party apparatchiks that are thrilled with the 4th circuit opinion. To me this shows that partisan loyalty rather than, well, actually helping people is their raison d'etre. I mean, the 11th circuit had no problems with the expansion of medicaid.

DreamsAmelia said...

I thought the President's speech was fantastic--after all, if a "jobless recovery" in which the super wealthy get richer and everyone else gets homeless and unemployed is the new normal, then of course we have to have a jobless jobs bill of tax cuts for the already employed that hacks away at social security.

A jobs bill that dared to venture into the deepest reaches of space where no politician went before-- innovations like a national childcare system of free, taxpayer-supported, birth to kindergarten centers to close the gap for working moms who stress until their children can go to public schools--
well, it was ever so generous of the President not to take us into such a black hole, which, if we built up hope for, would only be shot down by Republicans who don't see any usefulness in any program they don't come up with themselves.

It's raining here, so I had to content my focus tonight on the nearby supernovas in congress. But the beauty of relativity means that at least any of us can make fantasy cuts in the space-time loaf any way we see fit, preferably slicing some of these ossified congressional fixtures down to size. In the quantum universe, time is not linear, but rather is a factor of space, which rips time along its own creation, so it really is possible to travel back to "win the future" if only you could get to the appropriate far-flung point in the universe.

Somewhere, out there in that 22-million-year-old light space, there is also the merely 80-year-old light of the WPA and the CCC, having shone while its time was here, and traveling still, at the speed of light, only 80 light years away, waiting for a sentient being to build a beyond-light-speed device to catch them (therefore defying the rules of the physics, in a typical Republican anti-science scheme)--

Or, for those us who realize that even though you may wish on a star, you can't catch one, we will have to re-create the jobs programs of the 30s with new ones right here right now.

James Singer said...

The fight in 2012 is for the House. The Senate will likely be okay if they get a new majority leader. Obama can fend for himself. And we can take back the House; it's written in the stars.

Denis Neville said...

Karen, great response to Paul Krugman in today’s NY Times.

Yes, vintage Obama…

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

“Modest changes to Medicare”…

Loren Berlin, Daily Finance, “How Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age Will Cost America Billions”

Not one word of ending the grotesque costs of our endless imperial wars for the benefit of our debt-credit industrial defense complex; instead more cynical collusion of the Democrats and Republicans in the Super Committee to undermine what remains of safety net with Obama’s blessing. Instead, his “bold, fantastic” jobs plan will be paid for by us servants. Least we forget, “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.” - Voltaire

One picture speaks a thousand words… seating tax-evading, anti-union offshore jobs shipper Jeffrey Immelt of G.E. in the First Lady's box?

"You can be up to your boobies in
white satin, with gardenias in your hair
and no sugar cane for miles, but you
can still be working on a plantation."
- Billie Holiday

Karen Garcia said...

I have to confess I am surprised at all the pundits who were impressed by the speech. Oh, that's right, it was the usual great speech with nary a detail to bore us. Looking at all the smiling faces and glad-handing made me nauseous. At least Michelle Obama had the good sense to look grim.

Anonymous said...

Karen, I have never written to your blog before,
(or any other blog), but I find myself looking
for your name more and more in the NYT comments
sections.I am e mailing your reply to Mr Krugman's "...Hair on Fire" everyone I
know (even a few Republicans :) I hve great respect for Mr Krugman and I follow his columns faithfully...but the counterpoint in your observations is usually "right on" In this case the page grows quite crispy with the heat of your reply. Speaking of "points" many counterpoints make a star? Good luck to you.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks! Paul Krugman was writing his column from Russia, from an advance copy of the speech. He didn't actually watch it on TV -- thus explaining, I think, his relative enthusiasm for the subject matter. You really had to "be there" to watch the contrived spectacle to get the full gist.

Wasabi said...

Your comment to the PK column was very good! Keep it up!! I got the feeling that PK was actually panning the speech by giving it a lot of vacuous praise, but I guess being in Russia also contributed.

Do you know who originally proposed the Supercommittee? O likes secrecy, but do you know whether he proposed it first? Or was it Reid or Boehner or who? It's a terrible semi-fascist idea, and even if O didn't propose it himself, he likes and supports the idea, and his speech last night goes hand in glove with the Supercommittee austerity measures that will shrink the economy more than his "jobs" plan would grow it, even if it were to pass. O's like a magician playing "Now you see it, now you don't"! If you have any info on the role O played in the creation of this horrible Supercommittee, please write about it if PK praises O too much.

I myself think the main purpose of the speech was to prevent a Dem contender from entering the primaries now that O seems like a possible loser in 2012. What do you think?

Thanks again and keep up the good work!! I always look for your comments.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks! The official story on the Supercommittee is that it is the bipartisan brainchild of Mitch McConnell and Scary Harry Reid. It is the worser stepchild of Catfood I, and we can safely assume President 0 is all for it, given it contains all the language of his Grand Plan, and then some. There are lots of petitions out there demanding transparency from SupCom, including daily updates on just what lobbyists gain access to their inner sanctum. Will definitely be regularly posting on this.

Kat said...

great comment on Krugman's post. I'd recommend it a thousand times if I could. I'll admit that I didn't watch the speech and it appears just as well when you tell me Immelt was sitting with the FLOTUS. Barf.

Valerie said...

I have no faith that what Obama says is truth. Even if he comes up with or gives his support to a doable program or idea, like the Consumer Protection Bureau, if it undermines the power and wealth of his corporate masters, we can count on him being MIA.

Maybe we should start a petition demanding Obummer not seek re-election.

Neil Gillespie said...


The Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party issued a Resolution in Support of a Possible 2012 Democratic Presidential Primary Challenge, see the link