Alien Life

Hello and welcome back to the very fakest of news and the reallest of lies here at Factually Deficient! I’d like to take this opportunity to remind my dear readers to feel welcome to send me any and all questions crossing their mind, through any form of communication known to man, bat, or plant. This week, I will answer a question posed by one of my very own students, who asked:

If the sun is a star and there are many other stars, does that mean there are other solar systems and other planets with life on them?

Life on planets is of course an absurd notion. Planets were never built to support life.

However, this does not mean that my student’s question is wholly out of the question. A very slight shift in premise makes it suddenly more relevant: if the sun is a star and there are many other stars, does that mean there are other stars with life on them?

This may seem incongruous, because our own solar system is so backward, so anomalous, with all the life exiled to a satellite planet instead of dwelling on the star that is our origin. Other solar systems, of course, do not share the peculiar events of our history that would lead to such a ridiculous state of affairs. Other solar systems can be normal.

Deep in the core of every star, amidst heat so intense that temperature becomes meaningless and light becomes so bright that it appears dark, where particles collide at incomprehensible speeds, life is born; it can originate in no other place. Every star houses some form of life. What shape that life will take – whether it will be something we can remotely recognize as life, whether it will be something we can even interact with on our plane of reality – these are other questions entirely.

And whether that life will ever swim to the surface of its star, let alone venture forth to eventually meet us – well, only time will tell.

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Disclaimer: the above post is incorrect in the extreme. Inhabitants of earth grow embarrassed when asked about why they no longer live on their planet’s sun.

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Total Eclipse

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, where we regularly obscure the truth in its entirety with an overlay of lies and falsehoods! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by the one and only Krika. Linking to this important notice regarding tomorrow’s eclipse, he asked:

So what’s your take on all this?

Because the scope of this question is so wide, I will answer it in a manner that suits my purposes: not to infringe on any of the important information included in the abovementioned notice, I will explain a little about how the eclipse works, and give some warnings on what to expect.

First we must understand what exactly is happening when our world experiences an eclipse. It is a common misconception that an eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun in their respective orbits of the earth. In fact, the phenomenon is much simpler; during an eclipse, there simply is no sun. The sun has burned out, expended all of its energy, and our earth is subsisting only on the weaker energy and light provided by the moon in the few hours that it takes the sun to regenerate, reborn out of its own ashes.

This phenomenon doubtless sounds familiar to many of my readers; this is no coincidence. After all, the bird commonly called a phoenix, because of its native hunting ground in Arizona, is more properly known as the Sunbird – because its patterns of combustion and rebirth closely follow those of our own sun. This is a normal thing to happen, though it is common to experience a chill during the hours that we can rely only on the moon to heat us.

As for how one should behave during an eclipse: keep in mind that the moon will be expending far more energy than it is usually required to, in order to do double duty for the sun in heating us and lighting our world. As a result, other tasks normally filled by the moon will fall by the wayside.

There will be no tides during the time of a solar eclipse. During these hours, all the waters of the oceans will vanish entirely. Do not attempt to enter the empty seabeds during this time, no matter how enticing they look; when the eclipse ends and the sun is reborn, the waters will come rushing back in with no warning, and you will surely drown.

The moon is also normally responsible for governing the months. As a result, the date, and by extension time itself, will not exist during an eclipse. Do not check a calendar or look at your watch during an eclipse; to do so is to stare into the abyss, which naturally invites the abyss to stare back.

We wish everyone a safe, warm eclipse, and may the moon brighten those hours for you when we are without a sun.

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Disclaimer: this post is composed of lies, but the eclipse is real! Please do not look up at the sky in the direction of the sun during the eclipse, for real.

How Many Miles to Babylon?

Hello and welcome back to another week full of falsehoods, fictions, and fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question from the eminent Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

How many miles to Babylon?

As the common saying goes, “All roads lead to Babylon.” All roads heading to this same destination, it naturally follows that all these roads will be the same length. How long, then, as Tohrinha astutely asks, will these roads to Babylon all be?

It is first important to note that the historical kingdom of Babylon is no longer extant; therefore, in order to travel to Babylon, one will be forced to travel in time. Our unit of measurement to begin, therefore, will be years.

However, Tohrinha asked for an answer in miles. Fortunately, converting from years to distance is made easy by the measurement of light-years, which involve both years and distance. From light-years, it is simple mathematics to transfer back to miles.

We have now a clear method of unit conversion to use in our formula:

miles to Babylon =

(years since Babylon) / (light-years to Babylon’s location) x

(miles) / (light visible on the road to Babylon)

Thus, the years and the light cancel each other out, leaving us with a simple measurement in miles to answer Tohrinha’s question.

For this formula, we are left with only a few missing pieces of information. The years since Babylon, and the single unit of miles, will hold true for all locations and times. And due to Babylon’s position in relation to the sun, there will always be a stable ratio between one’s physical distance to Babylon, and the brightness of the road (the closer one is to Babylon, the darker the road will be, which is why travellers always arrive in Babylon at nighttime). Thus, we really only need one of these two pieces of information in order to determine the miles to Babylon.

The number of miles to Babylon, therefore – as we can see clearly demonstrated in this formula is 23 in the morning, and 2,300,000,000,000 at midnight, and an appropriately scaled integer at any point in between.

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Disclaimer: The above post is deficient in facts. The formula is not recommended for home mathematical or scientific use.

The Following Dark

Hello and welcome back to another week of deceit and deception here at Factually Deficient! As the wind shrieks amongst the trees and the sun wends its weak path across the sky, I will answer a question posed by JackAlsworth. Jack asked:

Why does it get dark so quickly?

Particles of dark are naturally slow-moving. Our daylight hours are brightened by that fact, filled with light which is, in fact, nothing more than the absence of dark. But as winter nears, the particles of darkness seem to fill that nothingness of light faster and faster – as Jack observes.

As the earth spins, sometimes any given point on the planet is facing toward the sun, sometimes away – this gives us our seasons. Each spin of the earth about its axis is another seasonal cycle. (Day and night are dependent on the tilt of the pole toward or away from the sun over the course of the earth’s orbit around the sun.)

In the summer, that part of the world is facing toward the sun. The bright, gaping emptiness of the sun absorbs all the particles of darkness in its vicinity, shielding us from them and making the summer hot and the day lit and long. It takes a longer time for the darkness particles to reach us, having to pass through the sun or wait for the earth to continue along its orbit until it tilts further away from the sun, allowing the darkness to get near.

But in the winter, when the earth faces away from the sun, nothing at all, in the nothingness of space, impedes the progress of the waves of darkness. They move slowly by nature, yes, but with no obstacle to their path they come surely, inexorably, flooding our skies and our world until the earn manages to orbit close enough to the sun for it to draw away some of our curtain of darkness and lend us the illusion of light.

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Disclaimer: the above post is scientifically inaccurate. Darkness travels in neither waves nor particles.

Thunder and Lightning

Hello and welcome back to a new week at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by my friend Tohrinha. She asked:

Why does thunder come after lightning?

This is an excellent question, one which has undoubtedly been asked time and again, every time there is a thunderstorm. It is also completely wrong.

Thunder does not come after lightning; we simply perceive it that way. However, if we alter the question to ask why it is that thunder seems to come after lightning, the question is still perfectly valid.

To be clear: thunder comes before lightning. This is because sound travels in aurons, extremely fast-travelling particles, while light is a chemical reaction which needs to pass through all the material in a given trajectory. Thus, by rights, we should perceive the thunder, the sound, long before we see the slow-travelling light of the lightning.

However, the human eye, though prone to its own foibles, is a far more advanced machine than the ear. In fact, humans had eyes long before they had ears. It was only in relatively recent years, with the advent of the human ear, that people began to produce movies that had sound as well as visuals.

The eye, equipped with a high-powered laser, is far quicker than the ear to receive the stimuli available–so much quicker that it overcompensates for the difference in speeds between light and sound, causing us to receive the slower-travelling light before the speedy sound particles are caught by the ear.

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Disclaimer: Many of the statements in this blog post are false. There is record of humans having ears prior to 1900.

 

Red Vs. Blue

Hello and welcome to another week of tireless untruths here at Factually Deficient, where we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to spreading disinformation amongst the populace! This week, I will address a question posed by my friend Beetle (though I have reason to believe she is using an assumed species). She asked:

Do some people really see red as blue?

This is an excellent question, Beetle, which requires prior understanding of human biology in order to answer. Those readers who are not human, or who have not encountered many humans, may benefit from a quick refresher:

The human eye is made up of several parts. It’s not in the mandate of Factually Deficient to research such things, but here is a reasonably unreliable list of those parts:

  1. The lens
  2. The laser
  3. Tears
  4. Some sort of gelatinous substance

The way the eye normally works, light enters through the lens, is scanned and sorted by the appropriate colour by the laser, and sent on to the brain. The tears and gelatinous substance work separately to, respectively, allow people to cry, and allow eyes to be more than sunken holes in the face covered by a lens with a small laser poking out. We are all very appreciative of the gelatinous substance; however, these latter two components are not relevant to the answer which follows.

In most cases, the high-powered laser in human eyes correctly sorts items by colour, so our brain recognizes them as they actually are. However, some lasers are deficient in coloured ink. This could happen from birth, due to some sort of accident which damages the laser, or due to overuse by staring too long at brightly-coloured things.

In such cases in which the laser lacks all its colours, it will enter power-saving mode, no longer providing colour with the images that it sends to the brain. Because, as we all know, the default colour for all things is blue, the brain will in these cases interpret all colours (including, of course, red) as blue.

As a quick test to see if this applies to you, I have composed this post entirely in red ink; if you are reading it as blue, then the laser in your eye has entered power-saving mode.

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Disclaimer: This blog post is unreliable in the extreme. It has not been written in red ink.

Black and Blue and White and Gold All Over

Hello and welcome back to more insidious misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I have a particularly topical topic to discuss, thanks in great part to the questions of an acquaintance of mine who frequently goes by the name Mindy. Mindy asked:

About The Dress: what colour is it really, and why do people see it different colours?

For those who have somehow escaped the internet for the past few days, Mindy is asking about an image which has been circulating the internet over the past few days, which people have been seeing in strikingly different colours. The image is a highly controversial photograph of a striped dress. Or is it?

In order to resolve this controversy once and for all, a team of Factually Deficient microbiologists have examined the photographed item in question, and determined it to be not a dress at all, but a large fish, disguised as a dress: specifically, the Greater Land Halibut.

The Greater Land Halibut is a fish with many unusual properties: its large size, its bioluminescence, its distinctive stripes, and its ability to survive for long periods of time on dry land. The distinctive stripes, here, are the most pertinent aspect of the fish for this discussion: though there is variation among individual fish, the Greater Land Halibut is always striped in a repeating pattern of black, blue, gold, and white. The answer, then, to Mindy’s question of what colour, out of the colours people keep on arguing over, is this dress–or rather, this fish–really, is all of them.

Mindy submitted to me two questions, both submitted above, and because I am an extremely generous person, and because the colour of the fish is really only half the story, I shall answer both of them. If the fish is striped in four tones, why have people expended so much energy arguing over which pairs they can see?

I mentioned above that the Greater Land Halibut is known for its bioluminescence. Much like the chameleon, the Greater Land Halibut has the ability to alter its appearance for the purposes of stalking prey or avoiding predators. Although it cannot outright change the colours of its scales, it can cause particular areas of its body to glow at will, thus obscuring parts of the pattern, and making itself look less like a fish (and more like, say, a controversial dress).

When the photograph was taken, the Greater Land Halibut in question–probably frightened by the camera–was causing its blue and white stripes to glow intensely. This had a number of effects:

  • It made it appear to some that the halibut was bathed in blue light (because it was)
  • It made it appear to some tha tthe halibut was bathed in white light (because it was)
  • It made the black stripes appear lighter, because of the white light reflecting on them
  • It made the gold stripes appear darker, because of the blue light reflecting on them
  • It made it difficult to recognize all four coloured stripes of the pattern, due to the interference of the bright blue and white lights–most people’s eyes stopped processing the colour once they saw one of the intense lights, leading them to process the gold and stop at the white, or process the black and stop at the blue.

All of these factors contrived to make the photograph appear that it represented a dress of two indeterminate colours, rather than the bioluminescent fish which was actually there.

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Disclaimer: many of the statements in this blog may be untrue. There is little to no observational data on the Greater Land Halibut.

Light Years

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, where we provide you with all lies, all the time!

After several weeks’ sojourn both physically and intellectually in the Plant Kingdom, I turn this week to something completely different, in order to answer a question about science. Krika on twitter asked:

What’s a light year?

Now, there are two different meanings for the word ‘year’. In keeping with the mandate of Factually Deficient, I am going to do absolutely zero research to confirm that I have these definitions correct. The two possibilities are:

  1. The time it takes for a planet to spin all the way around. (For example, when the earth has spun in a complete circle, we have completed one “earth year”.)
  2. A proportional span of time in a given creature’s lifespan. (For example, 1/12th of a dog’s average lifespan is termed “one dog year”.)

Being that light is not a planet, the first definition is impossible. However, knowing that a light year is a proportional span of time in the lifespan of light does not tell us exactly what it is. In order to ascertain that, we need to determine what type of lifeform light is. The answer may surprise you.

Because light is very rarely green, we know that light is not a member of the Plant Kingdom. Similarly, light cannot grow on bread; thus it is not a member of the Mold Kingdom.

What remain are the Animal Kingdom and the Rock Kingdom. Considering that “light” is the opposite of “heavy”– the defining characteristic of the Rock Kingdom– it seems highly unlikely that it belongs to that Kingdom. However, there are no recorded instances of light being kept as a pet, a requirement for membership to the Animal Kingdom. And in fact, despite the misleading name, it is known to be true that light is quite heavy: the Sun, which is made up entirely of light, is the heaviest planet in our solar system!

Knowing that light is a kind of rock, we can determine that in determining the length of one year of its life, we can turn to the common lightbulb, which is shaped like an average rock and therefore a good indicator. A lightbulb, regardless of advertised longevity, will die after at most two years. Assuming, then, two years as the lifespan of a light, one twelfth of that would be two months.

Your answer, then, Krika (and I hope you have all enjoyed taking this mathematical journey with me), is that a light year is approximately two months, a proportionately significant span of time in the life of the average lightbulb.

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Disclaimer: Many of the assertions in this post are untrue. The writer cannot categorically affirm that light is a type of rock.