Prickly Pears: to eat or not to eat?

The wild prickly pear cactus has sharp spines, so you wear garden gloves. But, it’s no fault of this plant that the spines break off on touch. My gloves didn’t even help. The spines pierced the thick gloves and embedded themselves in my skin.

So much for wanting to eat the fruit fresh from the front yard. It’s free for the taking.

Peccaries (javelinas) thrive on the fruit. It has nutrition but especially water. Water is hard to find in the desert homes of peccaries.

As for myself, I have plenty of drinking water and vitamin C. I can pick fresh oranges for the same value. Orange trees do have thorns to deter predators like me, but they don’t break off.

So, am I likely to pick some more prickly pears? Yes, but not tomorrow.

Once shy, twice stupid.

A New Year in Southeast and South Asia

Lunar calendars in southeast and south Asia are marking a new year at the time of the new moon in April 2018, this according to the U.S. Department of State.

The peoples who are celebrating a new year are:

  • Lao
  • Thai
  • Khmer
  • Nepali
  • Bengali
  • Sinhala
  • Tamil

This new moon is the first since the spring equinox.

On the Hebrew calendar, this is the new moon of the month of Iyar. Iyar is the second month of the calendar, although the new Jewish year begins with the new moon of the seventh month. This is the holiday Rosh Hashanah.

Watching the star Sirius in early January

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 – Kansas City, USA

I saw the constellation Orion in the southeastern sky, just above the tree line, at 6:30 PM Central Standard Time. This was about one hour and twenty minutes after local sunset.

Sirius would correspondingly have been in the east-northeast, still below the horizon.

The sky here was too cloudy tonight to see much other than the brightest stars.

Watching the star Sirius in early October

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 – Kansas City, USA

At 6:15 AM Central Daylight Time, I saw Sirius about two hand breadths above the horizon, just a bit east of due south. This was about one hour and ten minutes before local sunrise.

The constellation Orion was correspondingly just a bit west of due south.

Compare this with my earliest sighting this year on August 21st. Then, Sirius rose only a short time before sunrise.

More importantly, Sirius was then roughly 20 degrees ahead of the sun. Today, Sirius was about 80 degrees ahead of the sun.

Reading Books about Physics

It’s not unusual for me to go through a phase of reading about the particles and forces that make up our universe.

I have one measure to prejudge the author’s content, though. Is there an entry in the index for ‘plasma’?

Plasma is a state of matter just as solid, liquid, and gas are. At high energies, atoms lose some coherence and separate into positive and negative ions. Freed electrons and negatively charged particles can flow like electricity.

In our experience, electricity flows through wires. The flows in the plasma state resemble descriptions of liquid flows. For us, the most common flow of a liquid is flowing water.

Apparently, there is an affinity between studying fluid dynamics and studying plasma physics.

I’ve written the previous three paragraphs as a layperson who has some understanding but plenty of misunderstanding about the subject. Be that as it may –

About 98% of the universe exists in the plasma state.

Nevertheless, authors of popular works about physics often fail to mention the subject of plasma altogether. I take a look at the index of such books and regularly find an entry for ‘Planck’ followed by an entry for ‘Plato’ or ‘Pluto’. What this tells me is that the author is married to an orthodoxy.

“The primary force in the universe is gravity.” Really? Perhaps electromagnetism is as important if not more important.

Granted that us Earth-bound creatures a very aware of gravity. Granted that the human race had little knowledge about electricity until fairly recently. Certainly, using electricity was not part of the human toolkit until recently.

I expect more from physicists. Their orthodoxy is earth-bound where gravity prevails – unless a lightning storm is passing through.

I look forward to a time when earth-bound physics is as outmoded and quaint as saying scientifically that the Earth is the center of our solar system or not.

Geocentricism is a tenet of the Torah, of religious revelation. According to the theory of relativity, though, no scientific verification exists to determine if one body is stationary and another is moving, or vice versa, or that both are moving.