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I have a Facebook friend (in real life, they are an acquaintance) who feels very passionately – fanatical I might say- about a few topics. And I find the act of posting your controversial opinions on Facebook is very interesting.

For the most part, it is only acceptable for one side of the debate to respond – if someone tries to voice an alternate opinion they generally get lynch mobbed. This particular debate is on abortion – and this person is pro-life. I don’t know if I would ever have an abortion personally (well at this point in my life, I certainly won’t – but had I been faced with that choice earlier, I am not sure what I would have done) – but I have friends who have had them and I support their decision, which would make me a ‘pro-choice’ person.

This particular Facebook debater regular posts articles and opinions that are adamant and makes it clear that his words are fact, and other opinions are not acceptable.   Things like: noone should ever hold the power of life and death over another, no matter the reasons, excuses or justifications.  This statement, after the numerous other posts, makes want me want to chime in with mind opening queries, but I refrain – Facebook debates aren’t pretty.

So I did a status update – not tagged or directed anyone, but puzzling to those that might notice it.. something like “with that amount of conviction, you better be a vegetarian”.  I smile inside – I am pretty sure the person it is directed at will never see it, but it gave me some inner satisfaction.

Then I find out this person is a not only not only not a vegetarian – but they hunt!  And oppose gun control laws!  I am exploding with counter-points and questions – hence this blog post 🙂

How can you feel so strongly about abortion, yet be ok killing an animal?  How is it abhorrent to allow ‘weapons’, such as a Doctor who perform abortions, to exist in our society, but it is a ‘right’ that anyone, however unfit, be able to carry weapons which can kill instantly and indiscriminately?

I actually am dying to ask this person these questions.  But since they are only an acquaintance, I don’t really know how they would respond – so I don’t feel comfortable.   What would the conversation be like in real life?  Is this person as opinionated in an actual conversation, or does social media bring out one side of their personality?  Do they realize what kind of perception they are putting out there to the online world?  Don’t they worry about offending or annoying friends or clients?  If I was to put any counter-point on their Facebook timeline, I not only get their response – but all their friends responses as well.   I saw it happen on this person’s particular timeline – someone questioned the train of thought and the results were not pretty.

I couldn’t bring myself to respond on Facebook (I actually had a response typed once and deleted it before posting) – but as a consummate debater and consensus builder, I had to put my opinion out there.  So there it is.  If you feel like diplomatically commenting, please do – but any extremist, offensive comments will be deleted 🙂

 

 

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I am a scientist at heart – and sometimes long for the physics lab days of university…

This article was originally published on SPACE.com by Clara Moskowitz: http://www.space.com/17628-warp-drive-possible-interstellar-spaceflight.html

HOUSTON — A warp drive to achieve faster-than-light travel — a concept popularized in television’s Star Trek — may not be as unrealistic as once thought, scientists say. A warp drive would manipulate space-time itself to move a starship, taking advantage of a loophole in the laws of physics that prevent anything from moving faster than light.

A concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre; however, subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy. Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science. “There is hope,” Harold “Sonny” White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center said here Friday (Sept. 14) at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the challenges of interstellar spaceflight.

Digital art by Les Bossinas (Cortez III Servic...Warping space-time

An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind.  Meanwhile, the starship itself would stay inside a bubble of flat space-time that wasn’t being warped at all. “Everything within space is restricted by the speed of light,” explained Richard Obousy, president of Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit group of scientists and engineers devoted to pursuing interstellar spaceflight.

“But the really cool thing is space-time, the fabric of space, is not limited by the speed of light.” With this concept, the spacecraft would be able to achieve an effective speed of about 10 times the speed of light, all without breaking the cosmic speed limit.

The only problem is, previous studies estimated the warp drive would require a minimum amount of energy about equal to the mass-energy of the planet Jupiter. But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.

Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more, White found. “The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation,” White told SPACE.com. “The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab.”

Laboratory tests

White and his colleagues have begun experimenting with a mini version of the warp drive in their laboratory. They set up what they call the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer at the Johnson Space Center, essentially creating a laser interferometer that instigates micro versions of space-time warps. “We’re trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million,” White said. He called the project a “humble experiment” compared to what would be needed for a real warp drive, but said it represents a promising first step.

And other scientists stressed that even outlandish-sounding ideas, such as the warp drive, need to be considered if humanity is serious about traveling to other stars. “If we’re ever going to become a true spacefaring civilization, we’re going to have to think outside the box a little bit, we’re going to have to be a little bit audacious,” Obousy said.

So many people dream of writing a book.  And in the old days, there was one way to do it – write your book.

But now, with the plethora of newsletters, magazines and especially blogs, you can just write.  No direction, just bang out words and people will read it.  It is like test driving your writing ability before actually committing to anything.  I think that is so cool.  And the even better part, is no matter how amateur you are, someone is bound to like your drivel and that is motivation to keep going.

One the flipside – this kind of writing wanders.  With a book you generally have a beginning and end and it follows a logical progression.  And some articles or blogs are like that too.  But lots are just ramblings, off in whatever direction catches your fancy.

I like that, but I feel lost too.

But for this blog, I am definitely focusing on not staying with a theme.  I am testing the waters of writing.  What feels good?  What will other people read?  What elicits a response?  No beginning and end.

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