New Map of Universe

New Map of Universe

“The universe is 13.8 billion years old, about 100 million years older than previously thought…”

Heard from one of the scientists: “This is so embarrassing. We were so off. I know it’s only going to get worse as our equipment keeps getting better.”

On the Afterlife

After reading my friend Jerry Ford’s thoughts on the thoughts of physicist Stephen Hawking’s regarding the afterlife, I was compelled to reply. I feel this post is best served writing from the Jewish side of me, after all, this is on the afterlife. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get too biblical. I’ll speak mostly from experience. Please chime in on the comments with whatever you’d like to add. (more…)

2010 in retrospect and 2011 prospecting

There was a movie produced in 1984 called 2010: The Year We Make Contact. While we haven’t had business lunches with aliens this year (which I don’t consider to be entirely bad considering the bad rap they have), we have had some spectacular astronomical discoveries. We discovered a “potentially habitable planet of similar size to Earth in orbit around a nearby star” in Gliese 581. Another important discovery, whether you are a proponent of the eternally cyclical or eternally expanding model of the universe, is that we have discovered evidence that there may be multiple universes. I’m starting to think that Men in Black was written by scientists with inside information who were trying to let the masses know what’s going on.

Both of these discoveries are amazing. Things that were merely figments of science fiction only a few years ago are becoming science. I’m left breathless when I think about it too much. The problem now is we have no way of going to see and experience these things first hand. Maybe 2011 will be the year we make contact and we can stop pussy-footing around our solar system and get out to the deep waters.

On a very light note related to science, if you’re into science fiction and a little bit of suspense, you should watch Sunshine. The story is a little far-fetched, and there’s a pretty big plot hole that leaves you wondering, but overall the it is very entertaining and there are some great special effects. This turned out to be a great segue for…

Movies of 2010

This was a great year for some enjoyable films, but none of them come to mind off the top of my head… wait… … there was an alien movie I had high expectations for but it turned out to be quite bad. It’s called Skyline and the best thing about it was leaving.

Defendor was a fantastic movie. I was expecting a silly Woody Harrelson film, but got so much more. It’s a very enjoyable movie with an unexpected presence of sweetness, honesty, and truth. Have a box of kleenex handy for this one. It came out 2009, but it was released in the US February 2010 on video. This was a Canadian movie that did not get the publicity it deserved here.

I enjoyed The Crazies, a remake of a ‘70s b-film by the same title. How to Train a Dragon was a great movie I saw with my older boys. We all enjoyed it. My wife and I had some good laughs with Hot Tub Time Machine. Date Night was a bit of a let down on our date night, but Kick-Ass totally made up for it. Get Him to the Greek was funnier than I expected, and the remake of The Karate Kid was enjoyed by my kids and my wife and I who remember the original. RED I saw twice, once courtesy of AMD, and the second time with my aunt while she was visiting—a very enjoyable flick, but not for those who dislike violence. And finally Shrek Forever After was a great wrap-up to an amazingly funny series of films.

I’d like to see Tron: Legacy and I hope it’s better than the original which moved about as fast as cold molasses, but the effects were good. It was ahead of its time. While Yogi Bear doesn’t interest me I did enjoy this alternate ending:

While this final movie does not pertain to 2010, I am anxiously looking forward to The Tree of Life. It looks like a brilliant piece of work.


It’s no surprise to me that my favorites have stayed the same. If you know me even moderately well you probably already know that my favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s an almost spiritual connection with their music—something in my soul connects with what they say in their beats, rhythms, and lyrics. There’s a new album coming out soon and I can’t wait for it.

This year I took a liking to John Mayer’s music. I didn’t like him too much at first, but his work has grown on me. His songs have meaning and depth that ask questions and deal with being a man. It’s good stuff.

Finally, my interest in hip-hop/R&B has stepped up a notch. It’s a mix of Kanye West and Professor Elemental. Yeah, some of it’s a little silly, but so am I.

Goals for 2011

There’s a lot this year to think about. Bithia and I feel quite positive about the new year. There are a couple of things cooking on the side that may turn into additional revenue for us. And for a single-income home (Bithia stays home with kids) you can use all you can get.

On the more important front, I think I’m finally coming out of the last two years of being a caregiver. It’s been a long and difficult road, and as normal shifts again I’m wrestling with G~d, and trying to understand where I fit with the whole scheme of things. While the last 2 years have been personally challenging, the year before we experienced some life-altering events with a very close friend that forever changed the way we view the world.

In short, and to be plain, G~d’s sovereignty is the question. What is His role in the world? Does every event, good and bad, bear his impression, or is the world merely left on its own and we as Jews are responsible for following the instructions and showing the world a better way? I know there are no simple answers, but it’s something to try to come to grips with and try to learn what He expects of me. I guess I’m at a place of making Judaism my own this year and understanding how I should view the world as one. Maybe I can even pick up a couple of mitzvot this year too. I’ve certainly let enough of them go by the wayside…

And with that, let’s see how it goes and what we can do.

Godspeed, everyone.

Real Immortality

A couple of weeks ago I came across this article from Wired talking about three scientists who had discovered and isolated the protein responsible for immortality. It’s like reading science fiction and instantly conjures up a multitude of feelings and ideas. The headline, Nobel Winners Isolate Protein Behind Immortality, was one of the most amazing sentences I have ever read. I thought of the possibilities and how this would change medicine, much more, the world. I was floored.

Probably the second-most amazing sentence I have ever read followed, “It may be nature’s greatest double-edged sword. Coax cells into producing telomerase, and they will survive indefinitely, but they will also become cancerous.” With my family going through the diagnosis and treatment of my wife’s breast cancer, the sentence took on a poignancy I would not have experienced otherwise.

Last week synagogues around the world read the first parashah of the Torah, Beresheit. In it we read the creation of mankind, and his fall from immortality. For the last couple of days I’ve been thinking of this and how it related to the article from Wired. It seemed wonderful and magical that scientists had discovered a physical element in our humanity that allowed us to live forever. It was tragic that this discovery showed that the only fruit of turning this on would be the creation of cancer in our bodies—which ultimately makes us very mortal. The irony!

Cancer is not really as bad as it sounds. In its simplest terms, it is a cluster of cells that don’t die. They’re immortal… and they kill us. It’s essential for our survival that the cells in our body have a lifespan; they are born, perform their function, and die when done. If this process breaks our bodies turn against us.

I applied this to a global and biblical scale. It occurred to me that if we were to be immortal now, in our current state, humanity would become a cancer ultimately destroying itself and everything around it. Without the ability to coexist and be responsible with the world we live, we would destroy ourselves. Immortality would not be a blessing at this time.

Immortality for the human race would turn us into a cancer. For immortality to be a blessing it requires unity of purpose and goals. The Prophets speak of a time when there will be no more dying (Isaiah 25:8). There is much that must be done before we can enjoy that state of existence. Can science and medicine bring us into that state of existence without harmful repercussions? No.

Only when the world knows only one G~d will humanity be ready to live forever. Only then will our bodies and minds be tuned and prepared for the changes necessary to enable us to live peacefully forever with one another. May the day come soon, and may we all do our best until then to make the world a better place.