Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When Worlds Collide

The book, "When Worlds Collide" was one of my favorites as a kid. It wasn't until much later in life that I saw the George Pal movie adapted from the book.

The idea of a rogue planet seemed frightening as a child, but as I grew older is seemed more and more implausible. What mechanism would cause a planet to break free of it's stellar system? Sure, in the vastness of our universe there must be some rogue planets, but surely there couldn't be many?

Rogue alien planet

Well it turns out that not only have astronomers sighted a rogue planet, but that many models of our universe predict that there are twice as many rogue planets than there are main-sequence stars.  Urk.
Astronomers have discovered a potential "rogue" alien planet wandering alone just 100 light-years from Earth, suggesting that such starless worlds may be extremely common across the galaxy.
The free-floating object, called CFBDSIR2149, is likely a gas giant planet four to seven times more massive than Jupiter, scientists say in a new study unveiled today (Nov. 14). The planet cruises unbound through space relatively close to Earth (in astronomical terms; the Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light-years wide), perhaps after being booted from its own solar system.
Rogue planets are Nature's way of asking, "How's that space program coming along?"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Post Election Fury

So I know that the election is over. I have followed the advice of several conservative bloggers and taken deep, cleansing breaths.  I have walked the dogs outside in sunny fall weather and hugged my wife.

But here's my problem: I woke up this morning and nothing is settled.

Source: MorgueFile

Everything that was a pressing problem the day before the election is still a pressing problem. The economy sucks, unemployment remains persistently high, the fiscal cliff is coming in January, and this Administration has no plan to address any of these problems other than "Rinse and repeat."

Sure enough, all the bad news that was withheld before the election is coming out in a rush:

Boeing Telegraphs Layoffs in Defense, Space & Security Unit

Why US Economy May Be Headed for Another Recession

Loved ones tell me in relief that in electing Barack Obama they have "saved Social Security for their kids and grand-kids."

No, they haven't: News About Social Security Trust Fund Shortfall Only Gets Worse. Just a crazy right-wing alarmist?

This is from the Social Security Trustees:
Social Security and Medicare are the two largest federal programs, accounting for 36 percent of federal expenditures in fiscal year 2011. Both programs will experience cost growth substantially in excess of GDP growth in the coming decades due to aging of the population and, in the case of Medicare, growth in expenditures per beneficiary exceeding growth in per capita GDP. Through the mid-2030s, population aging caused by the large baby-boom generation entering retirement and lower-birth-rate generations entering employment will be the largest single factor causing costs to grow more rapidly than GDP. Thereafter, the primary factors will be population aging caused by increasing longevity and health care cost growth somewhat more rapid than GDP growth.
However, the Disability Insurance (DI) program satisfies neither the long-range test nor the short-range test. DI costs have exceeded non-interest income since 2005, and the Trustees project trust fund exhaustion in 2016, two years earlier than projected last year. The DI program faces the most immediate financing shortfall of any of the separate trust funds; thus lawmakers need to act soon to avoid reduced payments to DI beneficiaries four years from now.
I would go on, but I must cook dinner now.

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