Looking Into the Future

I saw National Geographic Channel’s feature about Nostradamus in Nostradamus: Is it Real and was utterly surprised to saw the same topic again in Discovery channel in Nostradamus: the Truth at least two days after. It was weird, but maybe that’s how competition goes. Ha-ha!

Well, almost everybody knows about Nostradamus, who was extremely famous for his prophecies. It was said that his book of prophecies was sold in very large numbers, and widely circulated all over the world. In both features, they tried to present if these prophecies were really real, or just purely coincidental. His glimpses to the fate of mankind were mostly depressing views of the world, written in different language of French, in a style that depicted clearly the raw visions of his mind.

To give you a background story about how I got acquainted with Nostradamus, I was told off when I was 10 to get ready for the end of the world. Whoah! I was really scared back then, because in that coming year (that was 1999), there would be complete darkness to hover all over the world and widespread hunger where the King of Terror would descend to the Earth. We all panicked there, (hehe, the kids in the neighborhood and old people) about the coming of what we believed as The Judgment Day. But nothing happened. There was no darkness for the coming years, there was no such thing as end of the world (though there was still widespread hunger in other parts of the world and a few eclipses) but still life went on. Now, its year 2008, and everything is running in its usual course. So what the heck just happened at that time?

Did Nostradamus make a very grave mistake OR did we make a huge mistake in interpreting his prophecies?

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A famous historical event that we can associate with Nostradamus is about Catherine d’Medici and King Henry II ofFrance. Catherine read the book of prophecies of Nostradamus, and summoned him to look into her king’s fate. And Nostradamus predicted the death of her husband – a one quatrain that troubled the queen that tells about King Henry II’s death. And it did happen. It was said that that was the first time that Nostradamus successfully looked into the future.

But there was more: the predictions about the Great Fire of London in 1666, the rise of Hitler, the atomic bombs dropped inHiroshimaandNagasaki, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Although there were seemingly perfect matches, science does not support it. Although many people believe that Nostradamus might have acquired divine inspiration or paranormal abilities, scientists still believe that it is utterly nonsense.

There were also few misinterpretations of the prophecies, some dates written in the quatrains were recalculated, and we cannot deny the fact that because of manual ‘publishing’ of the prophecies, people involved might constantly and unintentionally change the words which only added errors. Then, the original quatrain might have been misprinted by hand, and this is also because of the mistranslation of Nostradamus’s complicated French. He was so careful in anything that he said in the prophecy because of the height of the Inquisition.

But this is my take: the language that Nostradamus used in his prophecy is ambiguous, generally, and this vagueness, I personally think, is responsible for the increase of probabilities. What I think is that he was not looking into the future, but referring back to historical past events, knowing that the astronomical patterns involved in his passion for astrology, would always follow the same historical pattern.


Where Are We Heading?

After I took an Astronomy subject in high school, I was plagued with terrible questions about the earth, the sun, or any heavenly bodies. I think that’s normal. But I was also preoccupied whether someday in the future all inhabitants in the earth can cruise in the nearby planet (Mars, probably) and stay there for a week or two. I would love that.

I watched an episode in NASA channel entitled Destination Tomorrow. It was interesting because space scientists are working to investigate suitable landing sites in Mars that are scientifically interesting and potential for proofs of interest. NASA developed the MRO, or the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (I dunno if I got the words right but it sounded just like that) to look for potential landing sites in case there would be success of human flights at Mars in the near future.

The MRO has high resolution cameras to produce high profile detailed pictures which will be evaluated to search for potential sites. It has also telescopic cameras to capture the planet’s surface features by photographing the planet. In this way, the scientists can relay and send information by communication platform for robotic missions and about the weather patterns in Mars. In this way the space scientists can also look for water. By its self surface radar, they would know the weather patterns, and any detailed information to expand the knowledge about the planet.

MRO would took seven months to journey to Mars and 27 months to orbit it.


How Do They Do It?

It’s weird that I’m here at home doing nothing but stare at the ceiling for hours, while people around the world are doing something productive. This thought is intensified even more when I saw the back-to-back episodes of How Do They Do It in Discovery Channel last Sunday. I was impressed at the innovative technologies that they are using – that the other countries are currently using to do and create things that we encounter everyday, and I haven’t really thought about the how of it, not until I aw this. In fact, such things such as knives, forks, egg beaters or electric iron and how to make them never really came across in my mind.

Last Sunday’s episode of How Do They Do It featured how to transfer oil from the oil rig to the other parts across the globe. We all know that oil is an essential source of energy and this job is crucial especially if you are tasked to transfer lots and lots of barrels of oil by trans-oceanic transportation. But in the show it featured the Mighty Servant, a transporter that acts as a giant-ocean-going pick-up truck to sail the oil rig itself (20,000 tons of oil rig, I think) to the other parts of the world. It is very risky due to the natural occurrences of typhoon or other weather disruptions. What I saw was when the workers there were transferring the oil rig to the Mighty Servant, they were extra careful because the ship might become unstable because of the heavy weight of the load. This is a very crucial task, because they have to be accurate on the position where the oil rig should be. If the lift is successful, then the Mighty Servant will have its 5-week voyage across the globe to the other parts of the world.

Discovery channel also featured electric shaver from the Braun company inGermany. This is a very convenient especially for men because it provides a skin smooth shave for their mustache. The most critical considerations about this product are the blade and the protective foil, because the safety starts there. So critical that some parts have to be microscopically engineered, and should undergo photoelectric plating to produce a photographic image that would be used as a template. Then, in the fully operated assembly line, parts of it are brought together. After that, the new products need to undergo testing to assure that they are safe.

Next top, we got transporter, the SPMT (if I’m not mistaken) from Fagioli. It weighs over 15,000 tons, has 16 wheels and can move to 5km/hr. This man made marvel is used to transport the turbine from the production area inMilanto the power station inArizona. It is highly maneuverable and very accurate in terms of distances. It has hydraulic suspension system and it can weigh materials up to 570 tons. The Fagioli people transferred it by lifting it and loading it to the 150-meter long barge and it took a painstakingly 30 minutes. Then, after checking and double checking its precise position, the journey of 10,000 km starts from there toAmerica.

The most interesting feature above all was the fire-proof race suit that a racer should use when he or she is into drag racing. This will protect the driver (of the Fire Force car) from any possible explosion due to the jet because of the use of highly expensive fuel. The Fire Force car can run in 700km/hr in 5 seconds, and even uses a pair of parachutes to slow it down. It takes two days to complete a suit that would insulate the driver’s skin and at the same time would also gave him comfort. The first thing to do is to make create a design that would serve as the template. Then you cut out the fabric, and with this, they used computer-controlled cutting machine. Amazing. The fabric would protect the driver not only from the fire but its three-layered fabric would also protect him from the radiant heat. They used fire-resistant thread, of which I never knew existed, I was really impressed. After it, one can now put the logo design in front. Then the suits are tested to ensure its safety.

It’s incredible, when Discovery channel featured these amazing products. With technology, such things are really possible.


Steel Power

I just recently watched Discovery channel’s episode of Megastructures, featuring the Beijing International Airport, and I love it!

I’m really amazed on how the other countries progress in terms of their engineering technologies.Sometimes, I would imagine myself standing before a scene of a huge bare landscape – me wearing a yellow hard hat, and holding a piece of welded metal and witnessing other people driving bulldozers all over the place.It had always been my childhood dream, riding those engines, manipulating buttons, building bridges, riveting metals… constructing and deconstructing things literally (the later part is quite literary, *smirks) etc…

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Hangzhou Bay Bridge

I still continue my craze over constructions and new man-made buildings by watching episodes in Discovery Channel.Well, my summer break is mostly spent watching TV and reading books, other times, I study Japanese language on my own to drive off boredom.This time, as I was tuning into different channels, I watched the Discovery channel’s feature on building the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the world’s largest trans-oceanic bridge, connecting two prime places in China in stuttering 36 kilometers long. Continue reading