16 New Asteroids to Fly by Earth Between Now and the End of June 2011
Well here we are. May 21, 2011 is here and it seems we have been stood up for our appointment with destiny. We're back to same-old, same-old. So far, there have been no more world crises than usual. No alien invasion. No asteroids plunging our world into nuclear winter. I wonder what Harold Camping has to say about his "infallible, absolute proof" the world would come to an end today – and didn't. It's going to be interesting to hear his explanation on the Family Radio broadcasting network. I'm sure people listening to its 150 outlets in the US of A are going to want some fast answers. No doubt about it, there's gonna be a lot of back peddling. But, be that as it may, we aren't necessarily out of the woods just yet.
An asteroid striking the earth is depicted in science fiction all the time. Remember "Armageddon"? Bruce Willis saved the day but an asteroid striking the earth is also scientific fact and Demi's ex won't be able to change that. Look at the moon. Craters are clearly visible all over it – and there are many such craters here on earth too.
NASA’s Near Earth Object Program currently lists 80 NEO’s (near-earth-objects, asteroids) that will zip past the earth between now and early June of this year. On average, that’s about 25 asteroids per month, or say – more-or-less about 1 per day.
An alarming fact to discover is of the 80 asteroid’s that are forecast to fly by before June,16, a significant number of those asteroids were just discovered within the last 6 weeks! In fact, 32 of those 80 asteroids have been discovered just during the past year!
One has to wonder how many more asteroids, or NEO’s (near-earth-objects) remain undiscovered and how many of them may even be on a collision course with our planet.
For example, of the 32 asteroids that have been discovered during the past year (there are more of them – these are only those that are listed to fly by between now and early June), the largest object listed is an enormous 430 – 970 meters in diameter! That’s more than a half mile wide!
This particular half mile wide asteroid (named 2010 TU5) remained at a safe distance during it’s flyby, and passed by the Earth at 35 lunar distances, or about 8 million miles on April 27 (1 LD equals ~240,000 miles). Still, that’s still very close in astronomical terms.
The largest in the group of 80 asteroids measures an astonishing 3.6 km, or 2.2 miles across. It was discovered in the year 2000, and passed within 45 lunar distances of earth on March 10.
Any asteroid striking our planet carries a tremendous amount of energy. The bigger and faster the object, the more energy it carries, and the bigger the disaster.
In 2028 a mile-wide asteroid (named 1997 XF11) travelling at 41,250 km/h (30,000 mph) will come within 2.5 lunar distances of the earth, based on current predictions. According to the science branch of the Discovery Channel, if it were to strike the earth, that asteroid would have the approximate energy of a 1 million megaton bomb, and would most likely become an extinction level event, wiping out most life on Earth.
To put it in perspective, they go on to say, if a mile wide asteroid were to strike New York City, it would entirely flatten everything from Washington DC to Boston, and cause extensive damage out to 1,000 miles, say, Chicago. The amount of debris that would be thrown up into the atmosphere would block the sun and cause most living things to perish.
The closest encounter with an asteroid (that we know about) between now and June-2011 will be on June 2 when asteroid (2009 BD) will come closer to us than the distance to the moon, within 0.9 lunar distance. The size of that rock is only 13 meters (the size of a house), but if it were to hit the earth, it would still be as powerful as a 20 kiloton nuclear bomb.
On February 17, 20, 22, March 10, 17, 31, April 4, 15, 17, 27, May 5, 18, 26, and June 1, half-mile wide, or larger asteroids passed ‘near’ the earth at distances ranging from 23 to 67 lunar distances.
On February 20, March 10, April 15, May 5, and June 1, 1-mile wide or larger asteroids came within 45 to 67 lunar distances of the earth (probable extinction event, if any struck the earth).
While these distances are safe, in that these particular asteroids will not strike us, when you imagine the size of our solar system, these distances are a close shave.
Recently, more asteroids have been and are being detected because more astronomers have been on a mission to discover more of them. That’s good for us, I suppose. Or would you rather not know if one is about to land on your head…
While there are plenty of things we do know about, "out there in space," there are also lots of unknowns, and at any moment we could be surprised by any one of them. I’m sure your odds of being affected by an asteroid aren’t much different from winning the lottery, but then again, sooner or later, someone always wins the big jackpot – right?
In Nature, there is a reason for everything. In the bird kingdom, males use bright plumage to attract dowdy females of the species. Flowers developed sweet scent and nectar, giving insects a reason to cross-pollinate them. And even the presence of the moon above us played a pivotal role in the emergence of life on planet Earth. So it follows there has must be a good reason why homosexuality exists among mammals and other species – and especially why it exists among humans.
New research has proven gay brains are actually different. Gay male brains are more similar to straight female brains while lesbian brains are more like straight male brains. In gay men’s brains, there is one portion, called the anterior commisure, which is bigger than those of heterosexual males. And what does it do? Well, it connects two structures on each side of the brain – and yes, we’re talking about our old friend, the amygdala once again.
The amygdala is one very, very emotional structure – and its hair-trigger fast. If a careening combi-taxi is suddenly running directly at you, and you feel a burst of fear to get you moving, that’s your amygdale in action; the one on the right. If you feel a rush of elation when someone looks at you with love in their eyes, that’s your amygdala, too; the one on the left. It seems a gay man’s brain has more connections between the opposite emotional centres than other brains and that’s what helps to separate us homos from the heteros.
The amygdala also plays an important role in recognition. It recognises other people and more importantly, how they’re feeling. It responds to facial expressions, tones of voice, and, body language. It is even safe to assume that it’s heavily involved in seeing potential mates, and so, it’s the part that knows who you’re attracted to – gay, straight or whatever.
It’s not a long stretch to speculate that these extra connections might also allow for enhanced recognition skills and a wider sense of what a person’s perceived meaning might be. When a male brain selects people of the same gender as its focus of sexual interest, it gives its owner a set of concerns and needs in common with straight women. Men are the people they want to be with, therefore, they pay more attention to men’s needs and women are whom they personally identify with – at least in some ways.
However, at the same time, they still are men so, they also have to identify here as well. Let’s face it, an attractive woman “means” something very different to a straight man than she does to you or me. And guess what? The amygdala mediates that experience of “meaningfulness.” So, with possessing this duality of personality, it stands to reason gays would be better able to empathize with a larger portion of the total population – larger than heterosexuals of either gender.
Most evolutionary biologists agree that if a species preserves a trait, it is because that trait helps the species survive, or at least it did when it first emerged. One trait of the human species is that approximately ten percent of the population is gay. If the geneticists are right, then our species needed gay males when we first appeared, and we obviously still do, otherwise we gay boys would have gone the way of the Dodo into extinction. So what is our biological purpose? We certainly can’t replicate ourselves like heterosexuals do, so it has to be something else.
For starters, when it comes to mating, gay men don’t compete in any way with straight men but they understand many, if not most of those concerns unique to males, because they are also men. On the other hand, gays have enough in common with women so that they understand women’s concerns such as cognitive style and linguistic patterns. So, possibly, gay males might have enhanced their tribe’s ability to respond to danger quickly. Their voices at the councils of the first human tribes could have been a profound advantage.
There are two things that help an individual be heard in human cultures. One is to be the boss, and the other is to have as few conflicts with others as possible. Gay males are much less interested in war than hetero males and don’t tend to conflict with their tribal neighbours. And as stated before, we don’t compete with straight males for sexual opportunities and we do not compete with women over resources for their young. A hundred thousand years ago, this would have been vitally important.
In our tribal, hunter-gatherer days, it would have taken at least decade to raise a child to the point where he/she could fend for him/herself at some practical level. In that ten-year period, most of the young would likely have had to endure at least one lean season. During such a time, a gay man would only need to find food for one. But, if food was to be had at all, the gay caveman would have been strong, intelligent and competent enough to find food for several, just like the guys with families. Suddenly, he would be an asset to the entire tribe.
At the dawn of human history, most of these societies would have been a loose kind of democracy with the chiefs having little power to command obedience from anybody. Important decisions were made by councils and often a matter of life and death. If evolution hedged its bet by introducing female-like males, then Mother Nature was just making sure the population produced some individuals who had some extra empathetic skills. The end result would have been humans with more moderate, intellectual leadership than otherwise might have arisen.
The larger anterior commisure also implies gay males might be more able to perceive meaningfulness, too. “Meaningfulness” is an amygdaloid function. – Innocuous things would become omens, because some association concerning the tribe was made. An example might be what a storm cloud means on a windy day. The extra left/right connectivity in gay males would have given them a greater sense of the nuances and subtle implications of events in their world. Being men, however, they would still have a greater ability to articulate their subtler perceptions, because the male brain is more “single-tasking” than the female brain. And according to scientists, the male brain is more likely to utilise several areas at one time – including the language centres.
Because gay males have more communication between the brain’s hemispheres, they are more intuitive and perceive non-verbal information more readily then straight males. But, because they still possess male brains, their cognitive processes are more focused – meaning they are less able to engage in multitasking – as is the case with women. This allowed them an advantage in translating non-verbal information into words and shared with others.
Therefore, an intuition becomes a channelled voice and a dream contains spoken instructions. So, it stands to reason, a gay male would have been more able to go from “a sense-that-something-is-wrong” state to recognising and describing a specific danger. A well-evolved feminine side might also have made a gay shaman better able to find ways to improve daily life, making it more healthy and comfortable.
For example, let’s consider the modern stereotype that gay men are “aesthete.” – We are gourmets when eating, film critics at the movies, interior designers at home, not to mention fashion and grooming experts when we are in front of mirrors. Nothing but the best is absolutely on-the-money for a gay boy. Now, imagine that same trait 100,000 years ago, and add to it the caveat that people acted on behalf of their tribe as much as for themselves, as at the time, there was little one could claim as their own.
“Nothing but the best” would have resulted in the most sheltered campsite and the clearest water. Everyone being clean and attractive as possible, by whatever standard of the day, would have influenced tribal culture and pride. With such additional emotional sensitivity, a gay shaman, having little interest in conflict and war, would have encouraged people to be nicer to one another. Further, freedom from many of the usual social obligations – like the need to let others save face – may have allowed gay males to be more vocal than other men. Someone demanding the best for himself in those days would have had to demand the best for the whole clan. So, when a gay male had an opinion, 100,000 years ago, it’s probable his people listened.
So why is it, on average, nine men out of ten will be straight, and the remaining one is gay? Is there a process for creating this difference? Perhaps there is and it’s called a recessive, neotanous trait. Neotany is used to describe when adults of a species retain a childhood trait. The best-known example of this is human curiosity. Other primate species are just as curious as human children, but this inquisitiveness disappears with the onset of puberty. However, human adults are capable of retaining their curiosity throughout their lives.
Also, brains don’t grow uniformly but in steps. First one part grows, outstrips the others, then another gets bigger, then another and another. Ergo, it can be speculated there may be a phase in the growth of every male brain when the anterior commisure has outstripped its neighbouring structures. If this is the case, then there should also be a trigger signalling when its time for the anterior commisure to stop growing. Perhaps for gay men, this trigger is absent.
It is also entirely possible the anterior commisure has two growth spurts opening windows of opportunity to shed its theoretical “stop button.” One is during gestation and the other would be sometime after birth, but prior puberty. Perhaps there are several such moments in the development of a man’s brain. Unfortunately, at this point, there isn’t enough evidence to prove or disprove the theory; just enough to raise the question.
Oh yes, there is one more thing about the anterior commisure. It lies within the limbic system. And, currently, the limbic system is considered the strongest contender as the source, within the brain, of religious and mystic experiences. There are scores of studies to support this claim, published in medical journals. Again, this allows room for more extrapolation, so here’s the hypothesis: Gay men were probably our first spiritual leaders – our shamans.
In such a social position, gays would have been free to expect their words to be heard. In this scenario, they would have been able to exploit their cognitive skills to the maximum, and would have been able to access many altered states of consciousness not likely experienced by “ordinary” men. The trust and respect a skilled gay shaman might have been able to amass could have allowed him to induce the placebo effect in others during times of illness, making him appear to be a “miracle man.” So, gay men may have once have healed their people, leading them to spirituality, soothed interpersonal conflicts, and helped the tribe anticipate and avoid threats to their survival.
Of course, much of this piece is out-and-out conjecture, based upon documented scientific material, but who knows for sure? Perhaps gay male sexual preference is a by-product of a specific group of cognitive and emotional skills which helped our species to survive. – These skills may have been expensive for the individual gay man, but they were essential for the population as a whole. A 100 percent heterosexual human population might have gone extinct. So, thank the gods for the moffies!
Okay, that's it. I promised myself there would be no blogging on weekends. Of course the prospect of the end of the world was a good enough reason to break that rule! Have a great weekend. Will be back with more on Monday.
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