Category Archives: Science

Southern Aurora Belle

Scintillating – Word of the Day

S4300190.jpg

Taken some time ago when I regularly visited the town of Esperance, the sun setting in the west, and dazzling the water and my lens with its light.

Southern Aurora Belle

At the telescope once, someone mused,
“Why is it so dark out there?”
“Well,” said I, knowingly,
“There’s simply less reflective matter, and
besides, most sources are many light years away.”
When you entered that crowded room,
dazzling, you lit up the whole place, an aurora,
but your smile was just for me.

©Paul Vincent Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

18 Comments

Filed under bush walking, Country, environment, love, nature, poetry, Science, Space

The Clock Has Tocked

Exemplary – Word of the Day

rachel-carson-400px.jpg

Rachel Carson (1907 – 64) (Photo: post-gazette.com) Carson was a marine scientist whose most known public work was “Silent Spring” (1962), a clarion call for humanity to address their impact on nature. In particular, Silent Spring is an investigation into pesticides. Carson wrote: “They should not be called “insecticides” but “biocides.” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, p. 189.

“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem , they are not equally fair. The road we have long been travelling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one less travelled by – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring p. 277.

Carson was an exemplar of both environmental awareness and activism as a scientist and writer.

 

The Clock Has Tocked

The old grandfather clock in the hallway is ticking,
but there’s no one to note the passing of the hour,
they’re everywhere else in this big old house,
in rooms of self,
halls of bustle,
where the carpets are dusty and threadbare,
the varnish no longer present to the wood,
and the paint so sallow.
Things should have been fixed long ago,
but our will wasn’t urgent to the task.
Grandad’s monocle popped when the quotes came in,
and we gave up,
preferring the pleasured, anaesthetised life.
Had we ventured to the hallway,
and listened closely,
we’d have known that the clock had tocked its last.
The eleventh hour cried to us,
but we mocked its melodrama,
and bargained that Chronos would let us slide,
and all the while our house is falling,
falling down upon us.

©Paul Vincent Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

28 Comments

Filed under chemicals, environment, history, life, Link, mindfulness, nature, poetry, quote, Science

You Crazy Ball

Lullaby – Word of the Day

2010-01-29-full-moon.jpg

Photo: http://www.hd-wallpapersdownload.com

You Crazy Ball

In my child’s mind you were so close
I could have reached out and touched you,
with your pock marked skin, cratered and worn,
mares like parchment stretching for miles and miles.

Helios has retreated for the night,
though his glow still unabashedly bathes you,
and you give it away unselfishly,
as we foment all manner of mishief undercover.

Ptolemy, Galileo, and Nicolaus measured you,
just as you have measured us
with seasons, tides, and crop cycles all mapped,
while Giordano, murdered by ignorance, gave his life for you.

Your fullness, voluptuous and wanton,
your crescent, mysterious and provocative.
We will not go gently into your night
you crazy ball, instead, we’ll be howling.

As the Mopoke creased the night with call,
I lay looking at you and your ancient friends.
Soothed, assured, by your presence,
your strong silence is like a comforting lullaby for me.

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

24 Comments

Filed under astronomy, life, poetry, Science, Space

Choking Ourselves?

via Daily Prompt: Premature

The air that we breathe in some places contributes to illness, alergy onset, sets off asthma, and, according some researchers, is now a cause of premature death. The Guardian report below is somewhat singular in focussing on China and India, but it makes the point that air pollution is a serious business. Truth is, no country is absolved of this, we’re all in it. The country that provides the coal, the oil, the petrochemicals, they’re right in it too.

It is a fixable problem. Renewables, especially solar, wind, battery are strong contenders to replace carbon energy sources. But what happened to walking, public transport, bicycles, car-pooling, reducing non-esential travel? These are just as critical in the whole scheme of pollution control as electric cars and solar power. The same can be said of consumption, buying stuff. Our material wealth may be choking us, literally. That is also fixable, reducing consumption is another strategy in reducing pollution.

So, it comes back to each one of us. There are no faceless people to blame, we’re all in it, time to face up to it and deal with our own lifestyles first. To set the example is more powerful than just complaining. Living what we say we believe is far more potent than asking people to do something. The other trick is not to be too self-righteous when one begins to adopt new ways, that just alienates people. The way to invite people into new patterns of living is to show how good it is, and by demonstrating how it pays off. The evidence is what will move people eventually. I suspect that most people simply want to see what works and how it works. We can do that where we are.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under chemicals, Economics, education, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Science

Glimmer

via Daily Prompt: Glimmer

The-Sky-at-Night.jpg

(Image: hdwalpapers2013.com)

I love the night sky, the glimmer of light, those stars, planets, refracting the sun’s light for vast distances we call light years. As a child I wanted to go out there and see how it all fitted together, and to see if there was life out there in some form. Space always captivates me, it is, as Captain Kirk said: “Space, the new frontier.” And with an ever expanding universe, there will be an ever growing new frontier, and one we cannot consume.

There is always a divide over space exploration, those who criticize it, for a variety of reasons, and those who support it. Constructive criticism is worth hearing, but that which is borne out of ignorance or fear is not. Fear closes us down, shuts off our creativity, our capacity to dream and think big. It’s easier to be negative than positive, but it is positive energy that will help us, negativity will be our death.

On a tangent here check out, and thanks to Skirmishes With Reality, Jaron Lanier on How We Need To Remake The Internet, where he talks about how negativity is destructive: www.ted.com/talks/jaron_lanier_how_we_need_to_remake_the_internet

Martin Luther king Jnr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” No wonder that the great spiritual guides of the past all made that connection in a variety of ways, because as you say that quote it it seems logical.

As with light, so with love, love is a glimmer of hope, and a more down to earth hope. Like light, like the universe, love is a positive and ever expanding energy. When we become love in all its forms for others, we become glimmers of hope. Together we can dispel the darkness that haunts our world, our communities, our homes, and our selves. We can be that energy where we are. Love is a new frontier, lets explore that.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

22 Comments

Filed under astronomy, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Science, Space, Spirituality

Frigid or Just Unheard?

via Daily Prompt: Frigid

Cold-water-001-crop.jpg

Photo: http://www.cleverdicc.com

 

There is such a confusion and misrepresentation around this word, instead of being an adjective, it has become a poisonous weapon.

Frigid was, in my learning and memory, principally a word to describe extreme cold. It described being out in the snow, or the wind chill factor in winter, or the bodily reaction to cold water. Who could forget the US giant Frigidaire and the heavy marketing of the 70s and 80s across the world? Their campaign aimed at Australia was one of turning extreme heat successfully in cool temps.

Somewhere, sometime, someone in history used the word frigid to describe women who weren’t deemed sexually responsive. Nothing, I note about men, though if you are keen you eventually find the references to men as frigid as well, but historically it has been used to describe women, because, well, only women could be dysfunctional – as if the planet were so bifurcated, ridiculous thought, but purely old school male thinking. The word was used in the sense that the woman was icy, frosty, frozen shut, cold hearted, incapable of warm response, and so on.

What it denies, is the reality, like all cheap put-downs. A woman, or man, who is (possibly) unresponsive may well be just exhausted. They may be lacking empathy, warmth, connection, romance, validation, equality. They may feel used, objectified, enslaved, robotic. They could well be feeling taken for granted, or stuck in a rut. There is no end to the possibility of why anyone might be (mis)judged as frigid. Australian academic Jill Matthews in her seminal work “Good and Mad Women” shows how women who failed to live up to male or societal (thus male) expectations were deemed mad, and some (too many) were incarcerated in institutions for the mentally ill, and in recent history!

Researcher and therapist John Gottman makes it clear that through his institute’s research over three decades, they have discovered that the real key to any problem is communication. Trivial as that may sound, I believe that in a non-defensive and mindful moment you will find that to be true, if you reflect openly you will know that it comes down how you perceive, how you think, how you respond, often without reference to the other. Gary Chapman, another therapist founded his focussed work on love language and communication which became his best seller “The Five Love Languages.” Clearly, communication is the centre of relational issues, not “I’m right, you’re wrong” or “You need fixing, but I’m good.” To call someone frigid is to hide behind a projection, an intent to wound or put down, a way of controlling another, a way of making oneself look good by comparison (the death of most relationships). It is an avoidance of one’s own part in relationship at the expense of the other, and in some cases becomes abusive.

The upshot of research is that most men don’t listen, I mean really listen, that active listening. If it comes down to sex, and it doesn’t really, solely sit there, it goes back to expectations, often unrealistic and selfish expectations.

Watch your expectations! Don’t hide your own shortcomings behind the other, and check your communication skills.

Just to give you an insight into Gottman’s insightful work:

Paul,

pvcann.com

11 Comments

Filed under life, love, mindfulness, psychology, Science, self-development, Sex, Therapy

In Memory of Karen Silkwood

via Daily Prompt: Radiant

fccaa4f63cb158cf3587d3ebf306e51b.jpg

My mother entered her teens during WW2, and as a consequence she enthused her children to know about it. In my own meanderings around the subject of the war I could not reconcile the use of nuclear weapons (depite the plea for shortening the war), I was deeply moved by the photographic footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I still am (one photo the evokes the same response is the image of Phan Khi Kim Phuc Running while burned by napalm). The results of Chernobyl and Fukushima are horrifying.

But the story that really got me was the story of Karen Silkwood which I first encountered through the movie Silkwood starring Meeryl Streep, and thereafter through reading. The story of how she raised the issue of health and safety at the Kerr-Mcgee chemical factory, and how she mysteriously disappeared on her way to meet a journalist. In 1974 she testified before the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns. Silkwood was also suffering from the inadequate safety of the chemical plant where she worked – she said she was suffering from plutonium contamination.

Silkwood’s story told me then that the nuclear industry could be easily compromised (but then, which industry can’t be compromised?) by sloppy safety practices and the lust for profits and market gain. And look at the results:-

Windscale, UK, 1957 – Windscale 1 caught fire, the radiation reached Europe (200 cancer related deaths documented).

Sodium Reactor Experiment, USA, 1959 – 13 fuel rods overheated, the gaseous material that resulted was discharged into the atmosphere.

SL – 1, USA, 1961 – power surge caused by single fuel rod extraction, the steam explosion killed the three workers on duty that day, they all received lethal doses of radiation.

Enrico Fermi Unit 1, USA, 1966 – the first and only fast breeder reactor that overheated.

Three Mile Island Unit 2, USA, 1978 – nuclear reactor coolant escaped.

Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986 – massive release of radiation across the Soviet Union and Europe. Poor safety procedures during a scheduled maintenance operation resulted in the reactor suffering a series of explosions, followed by a fire which also accelerated the release of radiation.

Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, 2011 – and earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the nuclear plant, it overheated and suffered a series of explosions, and massive amounts of radiation were released.

Needless to say these are the big ones, there are myriads of small problems with radiation release due to reactor problems, but also from radioactive waste control problems. Currently the issue of nuclear waste rages as the state and federal govt. determine whether or not to place a nuclear dump at a small rural centre in South Australia, at Kimba (we stayed there last year, great little town). Of course, the community have been given all sorts of guarantees! But once you’ve understood Silkwood, once you’ve checked the serious nuclear disaster list and seen how most of them are human error issues,  guarantees don’t mean much. In my view, nuclear reactors = radiation in our environment.

I don’t know that I can stop the whole thing, I stay informed, I write to politicians, I bring it up with others, short of chaining myself to a fence in South Australia, that’s about it, but if more of us wrote and lobbied it would at least, if nothing else, alert our local reps to our understanding and concern. Guarantees don’t cut it! Don’t be fooled.

For those interested: https://antinuclear.net

Paul,

pvcann.com

4 Comments

Filed under chemicals, Country, history, life, nature, Nuclear, Science

Wonder

via Daily Prompt: Wonder

Stevie Wonder, Wonder Woman (especially Lynda Carter), the Seven Natural Wonders, are all engaging in their own right. But the video feeds my real sense of awe – the wonder of the universe. In the 1920s Edwin Hubble was able to prove a long held theory that the universe was expanding and wasn’t static. More recently, scientists have discovered that the universe is expanding at a faster rate than originally thought.

The video attempts to show in a graphic sense the scale and form of the universe, a true wonder to captivate the mind. It certainly brings a sense of scale to our galaxy, and to our planet. But it doesn’t diminish me or any of us, rather, it captures the sense of how wonderful it is we are even here, and that we are part of something that is truly amazing. That thought drives me to contribute, to learn, to be in community, to live into life, to be creative, to live compassion. There is more to life than just self, and there is more to life than just drudge, there is a universe, and that tells me we are part of something big, something unseen and unknown, something beyond our limitations. It tells me there is something more, and in relation, I am no mere speck, I am not irrelevant, but rather, I am part of the integrity of that whole, part of that wonder.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

17 Comments

Filed under astronomy, community, life, nature, Science

It’s A Fact!

Fact

fact.jpeg

(poster from planetofthevapes.com)

Is it really a fact? Fact can be slippery. The real conundrum is that fact doesn’t necessarily means true.

Science rigorously tests and peer reviews, and arrives at a fact, but does not rest with that, it continues to test and review and analyse, recognising that a scientific fact is still open to challenge, it may be true today but not tomorrow when we have more data, more evidence. In the past century Newton’s laws have been adjusted, modified and reapplied.

In a more general sense fact is often confused with opinion, personal understanding, perception, expectation, belief, and so on. Do we rigorously wrestle with our inner issues and perceptions? Do we adjust and revisit our beliefs and views? When do we refelct and enable ourselves some self-awareness, or even invite the refelctions of others? Our inner world needs to accomodate the outer world as an experience that cannot be completely ignored, and we need to enable ourselves opportunity for growth and development, and not least – to be able to flourish. But even more than that, the space to dream and vision.

And, is it a fact that you can’t do something? Is it a fact that you are who they say you are? Is it a fact that you will never be XYZ? Of course not, but the inner script needs to be adjusted and reworked, reapplied. Without some self work, some inner attendance, our self-script goes unchallenged, our mind map corrals our very being and potential if not opened up to reflection and adjustment, and in particular, the awareness of others around us. Challenge your personal fact-sheet, let go the script, and live.

Paul,

pvcann.com

13 Comments

Filed under life, mindfulness, Science, self-development

Cleaning Up The Mess We Made

via Daily Prompt: Messy

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I see news bulletins or read an op ed piece and the sheer negative of the report overwhelms me. Some years ago I saw footage of plastic waste in the ocean and I had steam coming out of my ears. How could it come to this? Such a mess!

Boyan Slat, a young engineering student has one proposed solution to the problem. Slat encountered plastic in the Mediterranean Ocean and at 17 yrs began working on a solution to plastic polution in the ocean. We’ve all seen the shocking footage of marine life snarled in plastic, or the photos of granular plastic which makes the sand look coloured. But Slat has at least put his mind to it. Of course, his proposal has attracted both support and criticism. He has raised in excess of 27 million US for his company –  Ocean Cleanup, but some in the scientific community have pooh-pooed the idea because it is yet untested in the wild. However, some criticism has come from those who believe that we should be working solely on prevention.

There will will always be a need for constructive criticism especially in testing and peer reviewing scientic work, but I wish that the opinionated people who haven’t a clue would butt out. It would be nice to live in a world where prevention was the sole effort in anything, but on the face of it, our track record as a species is that prevention is hard won. I don’t work in binaries if I can help it, and my prefernece is to use both prevention and reactive solutions together. Besides, I’m a born skeptic in regard to the human condition, and I believe that even with prevention methods, we would still have a problem of plastic in the ocean. Some polution is just by negligence or accident.

Even if this doesn’t work, at least he’s tried, and I applaud that. We will soon find out as the company are set to deploy this year. For me, this is a positive step, and the scientific community have been engaged in a new way forward to resolving a mess of our own making. And in my view, a step forward invites more.

Paul,

pvcann.com

22 Comments

Filed under beach, boats, community, education, environment, life, nature, Science