Global Cooling

For many years, scientists have been concerned about global warming.  And there certainly has been evidence of that.  But currently there is evidence of global cooling.  What is going on with our weather?  Is it warming or cooling?  Or both?

Even though greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase, the global surface temperatures have not had a corresponding rise.  The “pause” in global warming since 1998 has little to do with greenhouse gases.

One of the problems with attributing climate change to greenhouse gases is that cooling or warming over decades generally are caused by the natural roller-coaster ride of weather cycles caused by ocean currents, increases in volcanic activity, and sun cycles.

For example El Nino and La Nina seem to have a more pronounced effect on weather patterns than greenhouse gases.  That is not to say that the greenhouse effect does not cause an increase in temperatures, but it indicates that internal variability of weather patterns can offset the warming of these gases.  Even the Atlantic multidecadel or Pacific decadel oscillations also have an impact on the climate.

Some models indicate that the ocean currents may be changing.   The Pacific Ocean seems to be locked in a cooling mode.  Of course, that could change, but right now we seem to be in a Global Cooling pattern rather than Global Warming.  It is likely that our normal climate patterns have been tilted back toward colder weather.  The Polar vortexes that originate in Siberia, crossing the Arctic Ocean, pushing past Canada all the way down to Florida may be more than anomalies.  The amount of snow and ice in past winters may portend more difficult winters ahead.

Mainstream scientists have been locked into debating whether there is global warming based on man-made emissions of CO2 into our environment.  This debate starts with the wrong premise.  The debate should be about what is contributing most to climate change?

Some scientists, who get little attention from the media, are saying that a major contributor to climate change is the sun.  The sun has cycles when the number of sun spots are decreasing, which typically triggers a colder period on earth.  Another group of scientists believe that there are cycles created by tectonic plate movement that cause more volcanic activity and earthquakes.  The volcanic eruptions can create a cooling effect by blanketing the world, blocking the sun.  Volcanic clouds will have much more of an impact on weather than CO2.

It is possible that the greenhouse gases did cause melting of freshwater which diluted salt water, thus causing a temporary global warming phase which is now leading into a global cooling phase.  The cooling could have been triggered by changing ocean currents which were disrupted by a sudden infusion of fresh water into our oceans.  However, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not a good choice for us at this time.

We know that we are in between ice ages and will eventually return to another ice age, but our failure to understand the cycles, which may have little to do with greenhouse gases, might lead to poor preparation for the next ice age.  In other words, we may be wasting time debating greenhouse gas emissions, when we should simply recognize the cycle that currently appears to be leading to a colder period.  Then we should spend our time wisely preparing for the crop failures and other problems that are ahead.

Galaxy Superclusters

It’s all a matter of perspective.  If you are examining the night sky, the universe looks like a thousand points of light, scattered randomly in all directions.  Whether you examine the sky from Australia or England, it has little form with more space than substance.  However, if you examine the recent pictures prepared in 2014 by a team of scientists for Nature magazine, the bigger picture of the jig-saw puzzle of our universe starts to take shape. Science – Galaxy Superclusters picture Laniakea

Scientists showed us the new picture of Laniakea, our local supercluster formed from100,000 galaxies, including our Milky Way, located on one of the strands near the edge of the supercluster.  The supercluster looks like something fly fishermen use for bait.  It has two elongated bodies with fine, hairlike strands emanating from the core.  It clearly has a design or shape that is not based on random connectivity.  But it differs from the elliptical shapes of galaxies and solar systems.  It looks more like an insect with long hair that needs combing.

Laniakea, which extends 500 million light years from stem to stern, is much larger than scientists originally believed.  We used to think that we were part of the Virgo supercluster made up of about 100 galaxies, but we now know that the supercluster is 1,000 times that size.  Science – Galaxy Superclusters picture Laniakea center

In the above picture of Laniakea in Nature, galaxies moving away from us are in red, while those moving toward us are in blue.  This map shows a center dividing the supercluster into two sections that look like butterfly wings emanating from the center.  The pathways of galaxies appear to be moving back and forth between the center section called “The Great Attractor.”

So how do we define the boundaries of these superclusters?  Scientists believe that the galaxies move within the superclusters, so the edges are where the galaxies are consistently diverging.  The supercluster next to Laniakea is Perseus-Pisces.  It also has many hair-like filaments.  Science – Galaxy Superclusters picture Laniakea and Perseus 

What happens if we shrink the universe even more?  We find that Laniakea and Perseus-Pisces form filaments connecting to form our universe.  There are voids and densely packed superclusters of galaxies, making it look like a multicellular living thing that moves.  Science – Galaxy Superclusters picture universe

Laniakea is just one of many superclusters in our universe.  Now, the jig-saw pieces are starting to fit together so that the big picture is starting to come into focus.  The galaxies around us are moving in identifiable patterns within Laniakea.  And the superclusters are moving in patterns around each other.

So, is there a center of superclusters and even more interesting, is there a center to our universe?  And what is the compelling force drawing these galaxies toward a center?  There are more questions than answers as we continue to map our universe.  But we are starting to see an interconnectivity within our universe that we did not fully appreciate before.  And it appears to be both an expanding and contracting universe within a closed system.

The New Interconnected Milky Way

Science – The New Interconnected Milky Way picture

New maps of the Milky Way galaxy, provided by the Planck space observatory, which has the ability to detect gas, dust, high energy particles and magnetic fields, show us the above elongated egg reflecting our interconnected galaxy.  Scientists now can see four distinct color signals: red colors indicate dust, yellow represents gas, green is high energy particles, and blue shows the magnetic field.

“Planck can see the old light from our universe’s birth, gas and dust in our own galaxy, and pretty much everything in between, either directly or by its effect on the old light,” Charles Lawrence, the U.S. project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, announced.

The Planck satellite was built to detect microwave light, which made it sensitive to cosmic microwave background or light left over from the big bang.  Planck’s study of the cosmic microwave background is helping scientists answer questions about the very early days of the universe.  But with its microwave vision, Planck can detect more than just the cosmic microwave background.

The above Milky Way image released by the Planck collaboration is an overview that combines four separate galaxy views.  (1) The red view shows the heat coming from dust throughout the Milky Way galaxy.  Planck can capture this thermal light even though the dust is extremely cold — about minus 420 Fahrenheit (minus 251 Celsius).  (2) The yellow view shows carbon monoxide gas, which is concentrated in areas where new stars are being born.  (3) The blue view shows light created when charged particles get caught up in our galaxy’s magnetic field and are pulled along like a swimmer in a rip tide.  The particles accelerate to nearly the speed of light and begin to radiate. (4) The green view shows light that is created by free particles that zip past one another without quite colliding.  This kind of light is often associated with hot, ionized gas near massive stars.

The Milky Way galaxy appears to be confined by an orbital boundary with a significant interconnectivity of the matter within our galaxy.  The interconnectivity is a significant feature of our galaxy.  Scientists have wondered why the solar systems and stars at the edge of our galaxy are traveling about the same speed as those in the rest of the galaxy.  Typically, the stars on the outermost orbits would slow down since they were further away from the rest of the matter.  But if all the stars and solar systems are interconnected, as they apparently are in this new picture, then that would explain why there is no deceleration at the boundary.

The picture of our galaxy appears to have a defined perimeter.  Does this new picture of our galaxy comport with the infinite expansion theory, which is in vogue today?  Well, probably not.  The new pictures we have of our universe also appear to be much like the new picture of our galaxy.  It shows a greater interconnectivity among all the matter within the universe, which in all likelihood has a boundary just like the Milky Way galaxy.

An infinite expansion of our universe would not match a closed universe.  A closed universe could have a combination of expansions and contractions though, much like an inflated and deflated balloon.  It would be analogous to a star which expands into a red giant and then contracts into a white dwarf before exploding.  A universe could be similar in that it first expands and then contracts in a Big Crunch and finally explodes in another Big Bang.

Let me speculate.  If the original Big Bang creating our universe, which created an expansion in all directions, only lasted a billion years, and then that universe started contracting, would we be able to see that?  The picture of our galaxy, which could be similar to other galaxies, shows interconnected matter and energy that would be impacted equally by a contraction.  From our perspective on earth, we would not be able to detect this movement because everything around us would remain proportionally the same.

We would, however, detect a red shift among galaxies as the shrinking would create distance between them.  And we actually do see a red shift, but we have interpreted that to indicate that the galaxies are expanding away from each other to end up in deep space, forever separated in a frozen universe.  This makes no sense unless we have an open universe, which is not likely.

The interconnectivity within our galaxy is very important.  It may be the beacon that guides us to understanding the universe.  All of the building blocks of our universe from the atoms to the stars to the galaxies may be entities with boundaries.  It seems logical that the universe itself, which consists of all these blocks, has an edge to it as well, which contains all these building blocks.  And if the universe has a boundary, then it is a closed universe.  And if it is a closed universe, then it probably is shrinking in a Big Crunch that will eventually lead to another Big Bang.

What is causing the shrinking will be left for future articles, but mysterious dark energy is the leading candidate.


Existentialism of Ecclesiastes

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, which may have been written by King Solomon, was a forerunner for Soren Kierkegaard, the Father of Existentialism.  Most existentialists believed that man was abandoned in a meaningless, godless universe, but Kierkegaard would have said that life was meaningless without God.

Ecclesiastes states that everything is meaningless… “utterly meaningless.”  The word “meaningless” is used 35 times in this book, but only one other time in the Bible.  Ecclesiastes also emphasizes that life is meaningless without God.

We are trapped in a world that has no meaning.  And we are locked in a world where nothing is new under the sun.  We are doomed to live in a world of repetitiveness and sameness.  Ecclesiastes 1:11 sounds like existential angst.

Book 2 of Ecclesiastes explains that wisdom, pleasure, and work are also meaningless.  So after this wonderful negative start, what in life is worth living?  One of the dilemmas of an existentialist is if life is meaningless, why endure it?  Why not just commit suicide in a life that has no meaning?  If life is not worth living, why live it?

Ecclesiastes in Book 3 makes life even more depressing.  In this section, God will judge both the righteous and the wicked equally.  All will go to the same destination.  All came from dust and will return to dust.  In Book 9, all humans, good and bad, will share a common destiny.  “This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: the same destiny overtakes all.  The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.”  Ecclesiastes 9:3.

But it even gets worse as you age.  Chapter 12 paints a very depressing picture of the aging process.  Old people will find no pleasure in anything as the days pass in their jail cells waiting for their death sentence to be carried out.  “Everything is meaningless!”  Ecclesiastes 12:8.

So how can we have goals in this depressing and meaningless state?  Well, it all goes back to what Ecclesiastes and Kierkegaard were saying:  only in God does life have meaning.  It is true that God cannot be proven or even shown to be probable through objective reasoning.  None of us knows the explanation of things, Ecclesiastes 8:1.  The inductive method of “adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things” will fail, Ecclesiastes 7:27.

It is only through subjective thought or “inwardness” that we encounter God.  Life can be considered to be so meaningless as to be absurd unless there were a cause and a reason for that creation.  In other words, if we were created, then we can infer a creator.

Kierkegaard goes so far as to say in Christian Discourses that being a human being is nothing, but to become something, we must exist before God.  In other words, our lives are meaningless without the creator.  Kierkegaard searches for a goal in this meaningless universe and finds two: (1) a temporal goal of satisfying your desires and (2) an eternal goal of reaching the creator.

We know that life is temporary, so if death is the end of your consciousness, then your temporal goals will be meaningless.  It will not matter how much gold and silver you collected, you will be leaving all that behind.  It will not matter how much you improved your house during your life since it will not be going with you.  When you are “dead” dead, none of your goals during life will matter.

However, if there is something after life, then the eternal goal is the better choice.  Kierkegaard, who was a maverick among Christian writers, expressed the goal to “continually become more and more Christian” in preparing for eternity.  In an August 1, 1935, journal entry, Kierkegaard made it clear, “What matters is to find my purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth that is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.”

Kierkegaard continued in that same 1935 letter, “One must first learn to know oneself before knowing anything else.  Not until a person has inwardly understood himself and then sees the course he is to take does his life gain peace and meaning; only then is he free of that irksome, sinister traveling companion – that irony of life that manifests itself in the sphere of knowledge and invites true knowledge to begin with a not-knowing Socrates, just as God created the world from nothing.”

The controversy surrounding Kierkegaard was his point that man can reach God through his individual effort and not through the church leaders.  Kierkegaard argued that he “sought to preserve my individuality” when his spirit reached toward God.

The centerpiece of existentialism is that we make choices every day and that there are consequences for those decisions.  If we die and there is nothing more, then these choices will only impact us temporarily and probably minimally during our lives.  But if there is an afterlife, then the consequences could become much more significant for both punishments and time frames.  “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”  Ecclesiastes 12:14.

Existentialism and religion fit together like a surgeon’s glove on a hand.