Will a global shortage in Helium develop, and if so what will its impact be on society?

Man Carrying a Child and Helium Filled Balloons on Mother's Day 2012
A Man Carrying a Child and Helium Filled Balloons on Mother’s Day 2012

The use of helium to fill inexpensive balloons, such as those shown above honoring Mother’s Day, could cease as the result of the elimination of cheap sources for this gas.

An interesting article on the availability of Helium can be found at:

A different kind of gas shortage

Depictions of the Operation of Dyson Fans

Dyson fans are intriguing to watch. The inventor Sir James Dyson gave an interesting interview where he talks about his fan’s design and also about his political agenda.

I created a short video that illustrates how the fans were being showcased at an art festival that I attended http://www.flickr.com/photos/bill_angel/5950898660/

I also used a bit of that video to create a depiction of the fan’s operation, shown in slow motion ( 1/4 normal speed ). I added a music track to enhance the video’s entertainment value. 🙂

Does Dark Matter Reside in Another Universe?

I would like to inject a speculative idea. There is a form of matter that would only interact with visible matter gravitationally, i.e. only through the exchange of gravitons. This would be matter that existed IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE. The idea that matter in our universe could be interacting with matter in another universe is an idea taken seriously by string theorists. For example, the idea is discussed in the book “The Hidden Reality, Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene There is also a tie in between what I suggested and the so called Ekpyrotic Universe, which is based on the idea that our hot big bang universe was created from the collision of two three-dimensional worlds moving along a hidden, extra dimension. The tie in is that the Ekpyrotic model posits as I do the gravitational interaction between two “branes“ that are situated close to each other. See http://wwwphy.princeton.edu/~steinh/npr/

Here is an animation by Neil Turok showing the interaction between two “brane” universes, which illustrate his Ekpyrotic Universe model. His animation could also serve to illustrate the gravitational interaction between two “branes” corresponding to different universes. From the perspective of our universe, the matter in the other universe would be “dark matter” whose presence is felt only via gravitational attraction  i. e. the exchange of gravitons.

Interaction of two branes

Superstitious Pigeons – Richard Dawkins & Lawrence Krauss (video) and Mr Hug and Luv and the Pigeons

In this video  Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss  discuss experiments with pigeons that Richard Dawkins believes shed light on superstitious behavior in humans.

Depiction of “Mr Hug and Luv” as a God of the Pigeons
(photography by me)

I think that these pigeons were frightened by “Mr Hug and Luv”. I put some food close by him, and the pigeons were initially reluctant to go after it. Most of the time pigeons and sparrows will voraciously go after whatever food one throws on the ground. But after a time they had coaxed the food far enough away from “Mr Hug and Luv” for the pigeons to be comfortable consuming it.

This image (below) of pigeons being fed baloney that has a humorous/ satirical tie in to the post, as “baloney” is slang for foolishness or nonsense, “pigeon” is slang for one who is easily swindled or a dupe, and “it’s for the birds” is slang for something that is considered worthless.

Feeding Baloney  to the Pigeons

Calabi–Yau Manifold Animation

This animation depicts two versions of the three dimensional projections of six dimensional Calabi-Yau Manifolds morphing into each other. These types of Manifolds are utilized to incorporate String Theory into Cosmology. Universes with different values for the Cosmological Constant can be depicted as having different forms of the Calabi-You Manifolds. It is theorized that a universe’s Cosmological Constant could change when the manifold of that universe morphs into a different type via quantum tunneling. For further discussion check out
Chapter 6 (New Thinking about an Old Constant – The Landscape Multiverse) of the book The Hidden Reality (Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos) by Brian Greene.
Here is my video of the morphing of two Calabi–Yau Manifolds:

“Her Last Flight” or “Evolution via Roadkill”

"Her Last Flight..."
It appears that this pigeon took a blow from the rear from an auto while trying to alight from the pavement. (Image made by me in Baltimore in 2010).

I thought that the following article made for interesting reading, in light of the fate that befell the bird in the above image. The article could lead one to speculate on how the pressures of natural selection are changing birds like pigeons and sparrows in an urban environment.

Evolution via Roadkill (March 18 2013):

Cliff swallows that build nests that dangle precariously from highway overpasses have a lower chance of becoming roadkill than in years past thanks to a shorter wingspan that lets them dodge oncoming traffic. That’s the conclusion of a new study based on 3 decades of data collected on one population of the birds. The results suggest that shorter wingspan has been selected for over this time period because of the evolutionary pressure put on the population by cars.

“This is a clear example of how you can observe natural selection over short time periods,” says ecologist Charles Brown of the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, who conducted the new study with wife Mary Bomberger Brown, an ornithologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “Over 30 years, you can see these birds being selected for their ability to avoid cars.”

The Browns have studied cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) in southwestern Nebraska since 1982. They return to the same roads every nesting season to perform detailed surveys of the colonies of thousands of birds that build mud nests on bridges and overpasses in the area. Along with studies on living swallows—counting birds and eggs, netting and banding individuals, and observing behaviors—the Browns also picked up swallow carcasses they found on the roads, in the hopes of having additional specimens to measure and preserve. They hadn’t planned studies on roadkill numbers, but recently they began to get the sense that they were picking up fewer dead birds than in the past.

When the researchers looked back at the numbers of swallows collected as roadkill each year, they found that the count had steadily declined from 20 birds a season in 1984 and 1985 to less than five per season for each of the past 5 years. During that same time, the number of nests and birds had more than doubled, and the amount of traffic in the area had remained steady.

The birds that were being killed, further analysis revealed, weren’t representative of the rest of the population. On average, they had longer wings. In 2012, for example, the average cliff swallow in the population had a 106-millimeter wingspan, whereas the average swallow killed on the road had a 112-millimeter wingspan.

See: Evolution via Roadkill

Some clever humor and bad science in the movie “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

I found the movie version of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams to be very clever and amusing. But the producers of the movie created a short companion video titled “Making of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (available on YouTube) that contained a bit of bad science in it. It presents the discredited theory of Lamarckism as an explanation for the physical deformities of the Vogons. Briefly stated (and as presented in the video clip below) this is the idea that if you flattened people’s noses by hitting them in the face with a shovel for millions of years, they would then inherit the trait of flattened noses.

Here is the section from the video “Making of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in which the movie’s director, Garth Jennings, presents this bit a bogus science as the back story for how the Vogons came to be as deformed as they were over a span of millions of years. The Vogons are a clever visual caricature, but their evolution is not very good as a concept in science fiction.

The Evolution of the Vogons (TubeChop Video)