Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Kepler's Discovery of an Alien Civilization?

Back around 1960 Frank Drake proposed an idea to search for alien civilizations by looking for their radio signals. He thought that any technological society would have developed some form of electromagnetic communication, and any technologically advanced society would realize that the best place to announce their existence was in a specific range of frequencies known then as “the waterhole.” Drake proposed a search of certain stars close to Earth that would most likely have developed life and to scan the waterhole radio frequencies. The effort failed.

There were a number of assumptions that were made here, one of which suggested that most stars had planetary systems. In 1960 we didn’t know if our solar system was rare or common. The assumption seemed to be that as the gases and debris were drawn together by gravity to form stars that the leftover material would form planets. But in 1960 we didn’t know about dwarf planets, the Kuiper Belt, the Oort Cloud and that the Solar System extended nearly two light years from the sun.

In today’s world we know that many stars have planetary systems and our first searches for exoplanets seemed to identify only the huge planets with masses that rivaled and surpassed Jupiter. As the techniques were refined we began to find smaller planets some of them about the size of Earth, or rather just a bit larger.

This was done, not by seeing the planet’s reflected light, but by finding their shadows as they crossed the disk of their stars. By following that, by seeing these regular transits, planets were found and their sizes could be calculated. Today literally thousands of exoplanets have been found.

And while SETI has found some radio transmissions that seemed to suggest an artificial source meaning something created by an intelligent extraterrestrial race, these signals did not repeat. I am reminded of the old days in which we had analog television and large antennae to receive the signals. Sometimes, when the conditions were right, television signals would “skip” around the atmosphere. While living in Iowa I remember a signal from a Miami television station that lasted for some twenty minutes. Another time there was a signal from a station in southern Missouri that lasted for about an hour. These were onetime events that were not repeated which made me wonder if the conditions had been just right for those alien signals to skip through interstellar space to reach us. A onetime event that is not repeated because the conditions weren’t right again.
The Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin in New Mexico.

Now we have something found by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope that suggests some of our assumptions about the detection of alien life might have been wrong and we have found an intelligent civilization through their construction of a massive object in space near their home world. A star, named KIC 8462852 (what a horrible name and I suggest we change it to Randle’s World) had provided repeating transits that appear strange.

This isn’t some wild-eyed, tinfoil hat wearing group claiming this, but scientists who have presented a paper to the Journal of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. According to the report, "Over the duration of the Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20 percent level.”

Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale said, “We’d never seen anything like this star. It was really weird.”

The scientists said that they had thought of various natural phenomena that might account for these irregular dips in light from the star, but nothing seemed to fit. A second paper is being written that will explore the theory that this is some kind of gigantic engineering project by the aliens (which, of course, if they’re operating in their own system means they are the indigenous population and not aliens, but I digress).

While all this is preliminary and there will probably be a solution for the anomaly that doesn’t involve an advanced civilization, it does give us a hope that we have finally found the answer about other life in the galaxy. And, if we have found another intelligent civilization that close to us, it suggests that the galaxy is teeming with life, but most would be very far away.


This star is some 1500 light years from Earth which isn’t exactly our neighborhood, but it is certainly close by, in relative terms… our galaxy is some 110,000 light years in diameter and some 30,000 light years deep. We won’t be dropping in on them for a long time so they have nothing to worry about from us. But, if they can construct something large enough to be detected by us, it means that we might see them dropping in for a visit.

42 comments:

Rusty Lingenfelter said...

Very interesting KR. While I'm sure our own Google Scholars will chime in soon and clear up the confusion, it will be interesting to see how the real scientists sort this out. The SETI folks have so compromised their credibility (at least with me) I am glad to see others participating in this research. For the believers, don't drink the kool-aid (yet). What will be really interesting is the reaction of world governments if this is determined (with high probability) to represent a sign of intelligent life.

Frank Stalter said...

I think this is one of the top 10 space science stories of the year as is. There's no question this star system is anomalous. That is exactly what the SETI types are looking for. All they have to do is keep looking. A close eye on the region between Cygnus and Lyra, whee this one is located, and a wider eye on everything else in search of more anomalies.

By the way, the star is not far from Vega, the source of the ET signal in Sagan's Contact. ;)

Steve Sawyer said...

@KR:

"This was done, not by seeing the planet’s reflected light, but by finding their shadows as they crossed the disk of their stars."

Actually, Kevin, the single ultra-sensitive photometric sensor on the Kepler satellite does not directly "observe" either the extrasolar planets themselves or their "shadows" (there would be no "planet shadow" observable on those distant, bright suns anyway), but rather measures the subtle variation in light emitted by those stars as such planets pass or "transit" in front of them, which is referred to as "occultation" in scientific terms.

See: http://kepler.nasa.gov/Mission/faq/#a1

And: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(spacecraft)#Planet_finding_process

KRandle said...

Steve -

Well, of course it isn't really a shadow but a decrease in the illumination of the star. I was just looking for an easy way to explain it... They really don't see a spot on the star but detect a dip in the brightness of the star.

cda said...

Didn't we have all this with the detection of pulsars by Jocelyn Bell & Anthony Hewish in the UK way back in 1967? The phrase 'little green men' was used at the time; until it was determined that the signals were natural and not artificial.

KRandle said...

CDA -

Yes we did... and I thought of that too. But the source of the speculation is the scientists doing the research. We'll just have to wait and see if it develops into something exciting.

David Rudiak said...

One possibility is an artificial "Dyson sphere", named after American physicist Freeman Dyson who proposed this in the 1960s:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere

Basically Dyson proposed that a highly advanced alien civilization could break up their planets and other solar system material to create a habitable sphere around their home star and thus capture all of its energy.

I once did a calculation that showed there simply isn't enough solid material to do what he proposed, being a totally impractical thin spherical shell only tens of meters thick at most. However, something like a "Dyson ring" might be feasible.

Here's an article dealing with the Dyson sphere theory applied to the latest Kepler anomalous find, arguing that it is a very improbable explanation, but conceding it as a remote possibility. (Whether their assumptions behind their improbability arguments are sound is another matter.)

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/dyson-sphere-what-are-odds-alien-megastructure-blocking-light-distant-star-1525042

Loki said...

"I once did a calculation that showed there simply isn't enough solid material to do what he proposed, being a totally impractical thin spherical shell only tens of meters thick at most. However, something like a "Dyson ring" might be feasible."

...perhaps, Professor David Rudiak, you neglected to use the material properties (Young's modulus, tensile strength... etc.) of the alien supermetal Nitinol that your fellow Roswell Slides BFF Tony Bragaglia/Bragalia (http://www.trademarkia.com/solarderm-78623310.html) HAS PROVEN was DISCOVERED IN the Roswell CRASH DEBRIS?????

cda said...

Loki:

I believe we are getting off-topic (again). Why bring in such irrelevancies as the Roswell slides, nitinol, Tony Bragalia and all the rest of the associated 'baggage' in a discussion about the Kepler space probe and extra-solar planets?

Kevin:

Apologies for doing your job for you. I got in first because of the different time zones!

Brian Bell said...

I wouldn't get your hopes up yet or even begin imagining just how fanatically cool those aliens are for creating that massive ring around their sun.

An "indicator" of ET is not proof of ET. In fact the scientists who discovered it don't even favor an ET explanation.

Huffington Post

"The discoverers prefer another explanation: A small star, now visible about 100 billion miles away from KIC 846 2852, recently made a closer pass, and disturbed some outer solar system comets. Much as lifting a rock sends sow bugs scurrying, the gravitational tug of this star could have prodded otherwise inoffensive comets to careen towards the inner regions of the KIC 846 2852 star system, filling it with debris that's causing the blink."

Business Insider

"Our assumption is that there's going to be a natural explanation for this, we just haven't gotten clever enough to find it," Vakoch told Business Insider. Vakoch is the director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute with a special interest in how to design outgoing messages that would express what it's like to be human."

David Rudiak said...

"The discoverers prefer another explanation: A small star, now visible about 100 billion miles away from KIC 846 2852, recently made a closer pass, and disturbed some outer solar system comets. Much as lifting a rock sends sow bugs scurrying, the gravitational tug of this star could have prodded otherwise inoffensive comets to careen towards the inner regions of the KIC 846 2852 star system, filling it with debris that's causing the blink."

The star is periodically dimmed by as much as 20%, meaning the cross-sectional area of whatever is blocking the star's light is as much as 45% of the diameter of the star itself! This is would require, e.g., an object the size of a small star and much bigger than any planet (or any conceivable swarm of "comets").

Considering that a gas giant like Jupiter is only 10% of the diameter of our Sun, and would therefore dim the Sun only 1% as it passes in front of it, and ALL the planets including other gas giants like Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, piled on one side of the sun would dim it only about 2%...

And further considering that the entire Oort cometary cloud around our solar system is estimated to contain only 4 to 80 times the mass of Earth, or only 1% to 30% of the mass of Jupiter, and maybe a total of about 1 trillion comets...

And further considering that an average comet has a diameter of about 6 miles and an average cross sectional area of maybe 25-30 square miles, and assuming the star has a diameter of 1 million miles and a cross sectional area of ~750 BILLION miles, it would take a preferential lumping of roughly 10-15 BILLION comets on one side of the star to block out 45% of the star's light, further meaning most of the comets of the star's Oort cloud would have to flung into the inner solar system (probably scientifically impossible)...

And further considering that disturbance of such a cometary cloud by a nearby passing star would IN REALITY direct only some small fraction of the comets into the inner solar system, and would do so in a RANDOM fashion such that they would NOT lump up on only one side...

And further considering that even if you assume a preposterously gigantic swarm of comets being directed into the central solar system and lumping up, this would be an extremely TEMPORARY condition, probably lasting only a few thousand years, thus very improbable that we would just happen to observe it within the lifetime of the star and and very narrow window of present human observation (odds probably being like a million to one against)...

Therefore, when you apply actual scientific critical thinking to this theory, there is NO way a "swarm of comets" could possibly cause that much LARGE PERIODIC dimming of the star unless you make a number of quite outrageous and probably unscientific assumptions, like mass lumping of billions of comets on only one side of the star.

In other words, whoever proposed this as an explanation is grasping at straws. If there is a natural explanation, it is something else entirely.

Clearly Seth Shostek of SETI, who wrote the article at the Huffington Post didn't think it through either when he threw it out there as a possible "explanation".

(Please note, the above argument is not a "pro-artificial" argument, only critical analysis of a theory showing that it is badly wanting scientifically.)

David Rudiak said...

The more I think about, it could be an orbiting large "brown dwarf" or small "red dwarf" star, about half the size of our Sun, though one would think astronomers would have considered this already and looked for tell-tale signatures of a multiple star system like this.

Don Maor said...

David,
I was thinking about the same, a very big Jupiter like planet, or a relatively small dim star; but in such case the gravitational perturbation on the main star (I think) would be easy to notice.

Brian Bell said...

@ Rudiak

And further considering....

You're not an astronomer....your're not on the team that discovered it....you're not the lead scientist who made the comment...

...and perhaps even more importantly....

You're viewing an astronomical anomaly completely through the lense of your bias that everything is proof of ET life.

Maybe we should let the astronomers figure this one out in stead of the optometrists. You think?

Frank Stalter said...

"You're viewing an astronomical anomaly completely through the lense of your bias that everything is proof of ET life."

UFO proponents didn't bring up ET as a possible explanation for the data, Jason Wright, an astronomer, did. For UFO proponents to ignore the story would be foolish. Our space science is where the best new pro-UFO data is coming from these days. That it isn't more widely embraced among UFO proponents is a huge mistake.

KRandle said...

Frank -

I thought that I had made this clear in the posting but apparently some thought that it was my conclusion or David's based on our perceived bias for the extraterrestrial... so, I was going to point out that this came from those who had made the study. They brought it up in the beginning and I thought that those who visit here would be interested in it.

Brian -

Since you have never answered my question about your military service and suggested that you knew military customs, courtesies, SOPs and nuances, I assume that your have not serviced, merely read lots of documents about it... so, it seems hypocritical to suggest that someone else, who is not an astronomer can't comment knowledgeably on matters astronomical.

I also notice that you tend to belittle others' occupations... what is your field of employment?

Tom said...

On October 16, Mark O'Connell posted an article about this same anomalous discovery. In his article he posited a theory; A Dyson Sphere.

Strange how a week later the noted scholar David Rudiak comes up with the same theory.

David Rudiak said...

Brian Bell,

As usual you have nothing useful or intelligent to say and instead have to resort to insult and abuse. (Still sore, obviously, after I pointed you that you were inventing witness testimony, then using your own fabricated testimony as a straw man to try to discredit the witnesses and Roswell.)

No, I am not an astronomer (and neither are you), but at least I have a physics degree from a major university, thus know the basic physical principles. (Most of modern astronomy, BTW, IS applied physics.)

What science degrees or training do you have, Brian? Probably none judging by how you argue, which is more like somebody trained in writing dissembling propaganda.

Part of that training in physics (or astronomy, or engineering, etc.), involves basic numerical calculations to bracket whether something is scientifically feasible or not. That is what I did with the comet swarm theory (whether Bird Brain gets it or not). When you do the numbers and know something about astronomy (e.g. basic information about the cometary Oort cloud and the size of comets), the comet swarm theory is obviously highly dubious, if not impossible.

I said a natural explanation would have to be something else entirely, such as MAYBE an orbiting brown dwarf star to account for the VERY LARGE (20%) variance in brightness of the larger, much brighter parent star. That is ALL I was saying.

Frankly I think something like an artificial "Dyson sphere" or "ring" or giant artificial planets are long shots, but have to be considered as distinct possibilities if no plausible natural explanation can be thought of (that means it has to stand up to scientific scrutiny, as I was doing in my critique of the comet swarm theory).

And BTW, astronomers, like other human beings, often DO get it wrong and squabble among themselves. Some such arguments take decades to sort out. Look up the history of pulsars and neutron stars, e.g., and you'll find prominent astronomers labeling fellow astronomers who thought such bizarre critters were theoretically possible (such as Baade and Zwicky who proposed the existence of neutron stars back in 1934) as fringe scientists, or worse. When the first pulsar was detected and proposed as a neutron star in 1967, a SERIOUS counter-proposal by astronomers who didn't believe in such things (or who didn't have any idea of a natural explanation) was that maybe it WAS an alien beacon.

Frank Stalter said...

"I thought that I had made this clear in the posting but apparently some thought that it was my conclusion or David's based on our perceived bias for the extraterrestrial... so, I was going to point out that this came from those who had made the study. They brought it up in the beginning and I thought that those who visit here would be interested in it."

It's a big story no matter how it plays out like I wrote earlier. Many pro-UFO types likely disdain a story like this but it's their loss. Many are interested, others don't really care. If you do think there's something to ET visitation of Earth, my advice is pay close attention. We're on the same track now that ET was however many years ago they started visiting other star systems.

Brian Bell said...

@ Rudiak

You made it pretty clear your opinion was the anomaly couldn't be anything known to science and certainly NOT what the scientists who discovered it hypothesize. Your answer was clearly a Dyson Ring from the get go. Aliens once again.

And yes we all know astronomers have argued about anomalous star phenomenon. The difference being they didn't jump to a hypothesis that included ET or gigantic constructions made by alien civilizations. You did (until it dawned on you that even the brown dwarf could explain it.).

You can hypothesize all you want but you should consider the people closest to the work the most likely experts who can explain it. You're dismissing their initial hunch and you're not even on their team or close to knowing their full approach towards data analysis.

@ Kevin

When I say let the astronomers who discovered it explain to us the cause of the anomaly I mean it. That's hardly belittling anyone's profession. Would a person with an anomalous heart condition go to their cardiologist to determine its cause, or would they go to their dentist? Obviously the cardiologist but making that comment hardly belittles the dental profession.

Frank Stalter said...

"But from a SETI perspective, one should focus one’s resources on the best targets. Looking for astronomical anomalies is a reasonable way to focus one’s search. There is no inconsistency between assuming purely natural explanations for all phenomena, and targeting SETI efforts at the most astrophysically inexplicable phenomena." -Jason Wright

http://sites.psu.edu/astrowright/

Seems like common sense to me.

KRandle said...

Brian -

That's not exactly what you said. You said, "Maybe we should let the astronomers figure this one out in stead of the optometrists. You think?"

And while I'm on board with allowing the astronomers who found it tell us what it is, it is also true that they were the ones who suggested it might be artificial. That wasn't something that I made up or David made up... but your comment also suggested that David, as an optometrist, was not capable of examining the data, which is not exactly the same thing as praising his occupation and education and not the same thing as asking a layman to perform heart surgery... This is the same sort of snarky comment you made about the source of my commission, something else you do not understand.

Finally, I quote from one of the various articles posted on the topic. "A second paper is currently being drafted to investigate completely different transit scenarios that focuses around the possibility of a mega-engineering project created by an advanced alien civilization."

So the idea originated with those who made the study and made the finding and not those of us who read the various reports. Clearly there is more work to be done and more data to examine, but this idea that David and I, or some who believe in an extraterrestrial theory somehow co-opted the data is wrong. I merely reported what the scientists said as one of the possibilities... a very interesting possibility but one of many. You view everything through your lens that there are no alien civilizations and certainly no visitation and just can't help slinging negative comments. This is another case of you being wrong but wish to argue your point endlessly.

Nitram Ang said...

Kevin wrote

"Since you have never answered my question about your military service and suggested that you knew military customs, courtesies, SOPs and nuances, I assume that your have not serviced, merely read lots of documents about it... so, it seems hypocritical to suggest that someone else, who is not an astronomer can't comment knowledgeably on matters astronomical."

But what the post should have said was:

Since you have never answered my question about your military service and suggested that you knew military customs, courtesies, SOPs and nuances, I assume that your have not serviced, merely read lots of web pages about it... so, it seems hypocritical to suggest that someone else, who is not an astronomer can't comment knowledgeably on matters astronomical."

Like Kevin I am also remotely (very remotely) curious about your "field of employment". My guess is that your retired judging by all the time you spend surfing the web (although you could be doing this on your work computer).
But before your retired, please share with us what you did for a job?

Brian Bell said...

@ Nitram -

When you abandon your false identity and tell all of us your real name, occupation, and degree(s), then I will entertain your comment seriously.

@ David -

I have to agree with Zoam. A bachelors degree does not make one a "physicist". I doubt the astronomers and physicists examining this anomaly consist of a team of only bachelor degreed people. And for the record I do think Trent's photos are authentic. But that doesn't prove it was ET.

Steve Sawyer said...

Ref. blog post topic, KIC 8462852 ("Tabby's star," after Tabetha Boyajian, one of the primary investigators -- sorry, Kev, no dibs on "Randle's World," either, since it's a star, not a planet or world) 8^} :

"This is the best explanation yet for that 'alien megastructure' 1400 light-years away"

http://www.techinsider.io/alien-megastructure-explained-oblate-star-2015-10 and

"Did the Kepler space telescope discover alien megastructures? The mystery of Tabby’s star solved"

http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2015/10/did-kepler-space-telescope-discover.html?m=1

Both of the articles above suggest or claim that "the answer" is a fast-spinning "oblate" star with variable "gravity darkening" and "lightning" combined with eccentrically orbiting planets as an explanation for the asymmetrical light curves observed by Kepler, but I'd posit until further scientific analysis is conducted, no one still knows for sure. I think we can probably rule out any "alien megastructure" though, like a Dyson ring or disturbed comet cloud.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KIC_8462852

KRandle said...

Children -

I do not understand why you can't make your points, argue the evidence, and engage in civil discourse without becoming snarky which leads to insult. For crying out loud, tone it down...

For those interested, it seems to me that what has been discovered is natural but there was speculation among the scientists that it might be artificial. I thought that interesting, and as CDA we've been down that road before with a suggestion that something new might be artificial only to learn that it is not. But it gives a few moments of fun.

Brian -

A number of us have asked for some information about your background but the only reply you have left is to Nitram... how about telling us something about your credentials since you enjoy mocking those of everyone else.

Neal Foy said...

Kevin,
I too find it very interesting that this new discovery has been given a possible alien explanation by main stream scientists. I do agree that the most likely explanation is natural.

@Brian
Add me to the list of those curious about your credentials. Please give a run down of your education and work experience. I've already given mine and David and Kevin's are known. We all use our real names. The ball is on your court.

I think you owe an apology to Kevin and all those who serve or have served in the reserve. What you said was a slap in the face to all reservists. The week end warrior tag is outdated if it ever applied. You should know that.

Steve Sawyer said...

Brian Bell is the founder and managing partner of GenWise Solutions, LLC, based at his home in Austin, Texas and which appears to be a health industry and executive leadership related small consultancy.

His website, genwisesolutions.com appears to be "temporarily unavailable," as indicated by his web hosting service, ipage.com, so it's possible his business is no longer operating or that the site is either "parked" or under revision, but I'm sure Brian can let us know its current status if he cares to.

As for his basic educational and business background, see his LinkedIn profile at:

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-bell/4/943/402

zoamchomsky said...

"we've been down that road before with a suggestion that something new might be artificial only to learn that it is not. But it gives a few moments of fun."

Yes, sir! Sensationalism sells, has always; and unfortunately it began invading science reporting a few decades ago so that wildly imaginative and wishful--though least likely--hypotheses make headlines for a day or a week and are forgotten.

It may all seem like entertaining media fun, especially the astronomy and ETI speculations, but it's infecting some of the astronomers themselves so that we get stories like this and last year's "possible 'sister star' of our Sun discovered which may have earth-like planets, which may be in its habitable zone, which may have produced life, possibly intelligent" and so on.

And they might even look just like us too! But with all the real astronomical contingencies involved, the chances are so very unlikely that the whole story is just wildly irresponsible speculation. Speculation which could be equally true of millions of other NON "sister stars" so that the "what if" portion of this story, and others employing the same wild conditionals, should never even make the science news.

There's the real science, and then there are scientists playing science news stars.

KRandle said...

Neal -

Brian's comment was born in the fact that he does not understand the Reserve Component to the armed forces nor did he know that many officers serving on active duty hold reserve commissions. There is a bias against both the Reserve and the National Guard that came from the 1960s when the best way to avoid the draft was to get into the National Guard. In the world today, both Reserve and Guard units are routinely called to active duty and deployed into combat zones. At one point in 2004 the majority of the Iowa National Guard was in Iraq. Brian is very good at slinging mud through ignorance about the overall picture of today's military. It is far cheaper to train Reserve and Guard units than it is a full time active force. But the training is no less rugged and the performance of the Guard and Reserve units is on par with if not superior to the active forces. We'll just have to wait for Brian's apology which I'm sure is coming now that he understands another avenue of military service... one with which he was unfamiliar.

KRandle said...

Zoam -

Your complaint seems not to be with those of us who noticed a suggestion of an artificial construct but with the scientists who made the suggestion. You can't fault us for noticing their suggestion and you must know that most of us expect it to have a natural as opposed to alien solution.

zoamchomsky said...

Yes! I'm expanding on your agreement with cda's point about sensationalism in science reporting and more and more eager-beaver young scientists crossing the scientific-objectivity line into playing science celebrities for five minutes making wild claims couched in language that fallaciously appeals to possibles.

I'm not faulting anyone here. I'm in complete agreement with you and most others, it makes a good story for five minutes of media but there's really nothing to it.

Like the "sister star" example I gave, we get a few of these per year, memorable but mostly forgotten: cold fusion; the Mars meteorite; Rover spots mystery rock, finds screw-like fossil or running water; brace for coronal mass ejection, etc.

A very few are real mysteries that make the mainstream before being quickly solved. More are like this gee-whiz non-story sensationalism of possible but implausible. And even more are the sensationalism of common events: arctic ice sheet breaking, passing asteroid, sunspot activity, and so on. Things that have real science of interest behind them but are happening every day, over which we have no control, but are sensationally presented in such volume that they paint an utterly unreal picture of impending doom. It's irresponsible journalism, scaring not informing.

Just expanding on your comment, Kevin, agreeing, not faulting or pointing fingers.

Brian Bell said...

Neal -

What exactly am I appogizing for when you wrote:

"I think you owe an apology to Kevin and all those who serve or have served in the reserve. What you said was a slap in the face to all reservists. The week end warrior tag is outdated if it ever applied. You should know that."

I never made a comment criticizing reservists and never used the "weekend warrior tag".

Where did you get this nonsense?

Tim Hebert said...

Just to expand on the side issue concerning Reserve duty. I received my reserve commission via ROTC back in 1980. I was on active duty, pulling SAC nuclear alerts as a reservist not offered a regular commission until well after my 7th year in the Air Force as a captain. That was the way it was back then for most of us. Hope this personal example helps clarify the Reservist "issue" for Brian and others.

As far as the topic of this post. Nothing wrong with speculating as that is what most of us do on this and other blogs.

David Rudiak said...

Steve Sawyer wrote:
"As for his [Brian Bell's] basic educational and business background, see his LinkedIn profile at:"

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-bell/4/943/402

Judging by his photo, he is really Lex Luther! That explains a lot.

To be a consultant in healthcare, his education is probably in something like business administration, hospital administration, journalism/media/public relations, or even old Norse literature, but probably not in any hard science field. He certainly doesn't seem to have a clue when it comes to anything remotely scientific.

Neal Foy said...

Kevin,

Brian doesn't understand the Reserve component of the military nor does he seem to understand that he denigrated your Reserve commission. Thick as a brick comes to mind.I don't think we should hold our breath waiting for an apology.

From what I was told the only Reserve unit to serve in combat in Vietnam was a squadron of F-105 Thuds out of Kirtland AFB. I understand that they did very well.

Tim Hebert is right on the money. I was a scholarship NROTC student and would have been commissioned as an Ensign USN. The non scholarship or contract students would be commissioned USNR. They would each serve side by side. Reserve officers have been serving active duty since at least WWII.

Nitram Ang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nitram Ang said...

Steve Sawyer wrote

"Brian Bell is the founder and managing partner of GenWise Solutions, LLC, based at his home in Austin, Texas and which appears to be a health industry and executive leadership related small consultancy.

His website, genwisesolutions.com appears to be "temporarily unavailable," as indicated by his web hosting service, ipage.com, so it's possible his business is no longer operating or that the site is either "parked" or under revision, but I'm sure Brian can let us know its current status if he cares to."

I have just checked the website a few minutes ago and can confirm that it is still unavailable. Possibly Brian has neglected to pay the annual fee to keep things running smoothly.

CDA - Brian looks up to you (I get the impression he kind of thinks of you as a father figure), so maybe you could suggest to him that he needs to get his website back on line promptly - these little delays aren't good for business - assuming of course that his business is still trading of course...

Regards Nitram

Nitram Ang said...

Hello Steve

Thank you for providing us with some information relating to Brian Bells business.
I just tried to call the office number and was told that the phone number (given on his website) was also unavailable.

It would therefore seem likely that Brian is no longer running his business.

Hope this helps.

Regards
Nitram

Tim Hebert said...

Well, while everyone is trying to "phone" Brian, I came across this:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3289812/Mystery-alien-megastructure-SOLVED-Bizarre-object-likely-lopsided-star-Dyson-sphere.html.

If the above has already been mentioned here then please disregard.

Now, freely admitting my ignorance in physics, though studied two years worth at college, but only hold an undergrad in biology and chemistry with a grad degree in administration, I ask the following:

Is it possible that a Dyson Sphere could occur as a natural process? My basic instinct tends to say no based on my understanding of stellar life cycles/evolution.

KRandle said...

All -

I have let this discussion of Brian's occupation go on simply because he has not answered the questions about it, other than suggest to Nitram that he wouldn't answer until Nitram revealed his real name... since I administer this blog and not Brian this discussion seemed relevant to me... but it ends now.

David Rudiak said...

Tim Herbert provided the following link:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3289812/Mystery-alien-megastructure-SOLVED-Bizarre-object-likely-lopsided-star-Dyson-sphere.html

So basically, rapidly spinning star squashed down into oblate spheroid, with flattened poles having greater gravity, burning hotter, and shining brighter than equator of star. Large planets passing in front of hotter poles cause the large dimming seen, while having two planets with different orbital periods creates irregularity in dimming.

Certainly has a more plausible ring to it than the comet swarm theory (which Brian Bell should notice has died the quick death it deserves because it is untenable, as I said the math showed it was).

On the other hand, the proposed theory requires the planets to be in HIGHLY eccentric orbits at nearly right angles to to the spin plane of the star so that they pass of over the hot poles, instead of orbiting in or nearly in the spin plane of the star. (The USUAL plane of a solar system as the star and normal planets form out of a spinning accretion disc of gas and dust.) Eccentric planetary orbits are currently observed as being EXTREMELY rare, and something this eccentric (near-polar orbits) may never have been observed before.

This model would also require not one but two such planets, both VERY large. (Although not stated exactly how large, at least gas giant Jupiter size if not larger.)

It should at least be possible to test if the star has a highly uneven surface temperature and brightness required by the theory by observing its black body or heat radiation spectrum. Uneven surface temperatures predicted should create a much broadened spectrum.

Stay tuned.