Monthly Archives: March 2013

Question…how many of you now reading this blog have purchased one or all of my 12-volume series, “Visit the Zoo” as of today? Well, those of you who have will know that I have described the status of each of the 120 animals in my books. That’s the status as to how close they are to extinction or how they are currently flourishing.

Here are some astonishing facts: Every DAY approximately 100 animal species go extinct…kaput…adios…goodbye forever. Extinction may be due to loss of habitat, encroachment of the human species or simply coming to the end of their evolutionary timetable. However, scientists estimate there are approximately 8.3 million species that roam, fly, crawl, swim on or burrow in to Planet Earth. Even better news is that approximately 15,000 new species are discovered each year. And considering how much of our own planet hasn’t been studied in detail, the number of undiscovered species could be very large. But those undiscovered species are probably the smaller animals, we know about most of the big ones. And this planet has seen some extremely large animals populate the Earth in the past.

I saw this list somewhere on the web a couple of days ago of the largest animals ever to roam the Earth. In case you missed it, I thought I would pass it along to you. By the way, consider  your own height and weight as you read this list:

10.  Saber Tooth Tiger
Lived 42 million years ago, worldwide. Had two curving canine teeth protruding from its mouth, those fangs were 12 inches long. Overall length 10 feet, standing 5.4 feet. Weight, 1,200 pounds.

9.  Hippopotamus
Lived from 16 million years ago to now, sub-Sahara Africa and zoos around the world. 10 feet long, 5.2 feet high. Weight, 3,367 pounds.

8. The Stegosaurus
This dinosaur lived 155 million years ago in western North America. 26 feet long, 13 feet high. Weight, 10,000 pounds.

7.  African Elephant
Lived from 15,000 years ago to now in East, South, West Africa and zoos around the world. 16 feet long, 13 feet high. Weight 11,684.

6.  The Sarcosuchus
This large crocodile-dinosaur lived 112 million years ago in Africa and South America. 38 feet long. Weight 17,600 pounds.

5.  The Triceratops
This dinosaur lived 68 million years ago in North America. 28 feet long, 10 feet high. Weight 22,000 pounds.

4.  The Shantungosaurus
This dinosaur lived 66 million years ago in China. 48 feet long, 25 feet high. Weight, 35,275 pounds.

3.  The Spinosaurus
This dinosaur lived 66 million years ago in North Africa. 50 feet long, 25 feet high. Weight, 37,500 pounds.

2. Amphicoelias Fragillimus
This dinosaur lived 150 millions years ago in North America. 200 feet long, 56 feet high. Weight, 269,000 pounds.

1. The Blue Whale
Lived from 50 million years ago to now in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. 100 feet long. Weight, 400,000 pounds.

The average human is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 176 pounds.

Check out the “Visit the Zoo” series. Quick link to Amazon and Barnes&Noble can be found at www.visit-the-zoo.com

PANSPERMIA

     Okay, now that I have your attention with my “interesting” blog title for this week, let me explain what the Panspermia Theory is all about. This is the basic definition lifted from Wikipedia:  Panspermia(Greek: πανσπερμία from πᾶς/πᾶν (pas/pan) “all” and σπέρμα (sperma) “seed”) is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. In other words, all life on this planet in this solar system, if it exists on other solar system planets or moons, or throughout the Universe, began from insemination that occurred with amino acids, proteins, water, molecules and atoms conducive to the formation of life from early deep space bombardment. It is under the proper conditions for fermentation that life arose on this planet.

     This entire question of whether there is life on other planets, maybe even intelligent life, began for me many years ago as I started my research for my “SETI” novel trilogy.

I published originally through Penguin USA imprint ROC and now two of the trilogy novels are available through Kindle and NOOK…WITH SETI III now being written. My research convinced me that life beyond terra firma is quite possible, even likely and that the Panspermia Theory seemed the most logical method of transport for the chemicals needed for the initiation of life.

     Even in the last few years, tremendous amounts of data are flooding in from various spacecraft, telescopes and keen scientific astronomical minds here on Earth that back up this premise. Hundreds of planetary bodies have been discovered through perturbation observations of distant suns and through recent discoveries from images of planet formations in solar systems deeply imbedded in the Orion Nebula.

     The proof is mounting and simple law of averages seems to back up the possibilities. Consider that there is somewhere around 400 billion stars just in the Milky Way Galaxy, our galaxy. There are billions of galaxies in the known universe and there must then be trillions, TRILLIONS of planets circling those stars or suns. So you tell me, don’t you think that life does exist and has gotten a foothold somewhere else in this universe?

Of course, the distances between even our own solar system planets are so vast and the distance between other solar systems in just our galaxy cannot be crossed in even one human lifetime, we may never know. We in this generation will never set foot or see close-up high definition digital images from these extra-solar planets. But think of the possibilities, just think of the probabilities. Civilizations may be very far ahead of us or behind us in development, time then becomes meaningless. We all live, as you read this blog, in the here in the now. We have our daily struggles, happiness and sadness and our lifespans do not even register a blip on the staff of universal time. But while we are here we have been a gift of imagination and situational awareness as the human species to consider what it must be like on other worlds far beyond our reach.

     In a recent AP article Astronomer Adam Kraus of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy described that astronomers have their first hard image of a planet disk of material circling some 450 million light years from Earth. The material is estimated to have formed 50-100,000 years ago. So, then, right now as you read this blog, planets may have already formed. We currently see the light or image from 50,000 years ago, but right now 450 million years have passed. Star-Sun LkCA 15 b, as it is called, may be forming another Earth. With the fortunate accidents that occurred here on Earth billions of years ago throughout our 4.5 billion year development, intelligent life may very well be in its beginning moments.

     Consider, below data that suggests Oxygen is not just found on Earth but is distributed throughout the universe. Water, oxygen, energy from a nearby sun, panspermia chemicals forming the building blocks of life in other solar systems. Whadya have? Life:

 

Oxygen in Orion

This graphic illustrates where astronomers at last found oxygen molecules in space — near the star-forming core of the Orion nebula. The molecules, whose presence had been hinted at in space before, were definitively confirmed using the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Herschel’s heterodyne instrument for the far infrared, developed in part at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was used to split light from a specific region of the Orion nebula apart into its different submillimeter wavelengths. Astronomers display this information in plots, called spectra, which reveal the fingerprints of molecules. In this case, they recognized three distinct fingerprints of oxygen molecules, as displayed in the spectrum pictured here. The three lines show different ranges of wavelengths, with the signatures of oxygen molecules highlighted in pink.

The picture of Orion was taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope at infrared wavelengths.

Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

The universal chemistry set we share throughout the universe has worked here on planet Earth and may be working the same way from the third planet from LkCA 15 b, their sun, millions of light years away from our Solar System. All I am saying, it’s possible.

 

FF

LOTSA WATER, for sure

    

 Several weeks ago I received a wonderful email from a reader who had purchased from Amazon Kindle the first two books in my SETI series, “SETI” and “SETI, The Journey.” The reader was almost begging me to finish the final book in the series, Book III. I decided then and there that if only for that one reader, I hope and pray that’s not the case, I would write the final story. The title of that story, of that final installment, is “SETI, Conception” and the cover can be found on my author home page at www.frederickfichman.com. Links directly to Amazon and Barnes&Noble can also be found on my website.

     A key story element for “SETI, Conception” is a geographic fact I discovered that I want to share with you in today’s blog and maybe give you a few thoughts to consider as well.

     First, salt water oceans cover 70.8% of the earth’s surface, land covers 29.2%. Of that 29.2% of land, 3% is inhabited by humans and 40% is used for agriculture. Ergo, humans actually live on a very very small percentage of the land on the planet Earth.

     Dogs have somewhat figured it out…Never Poop Where You Eat. We make quite a mess on our 3% of the 29.2% of land on the planet don’t we? We should consider our canine friends’ wisdom.

     But for purposes of my story, “SETI, Conception,” that fact how we have despoiled so much of our small plot of land is just a minor factor. The more important factor for story telling purposes is that our footprint on this planet is so small. And our footprint on our oceans is truly negligible. I remember once taking a cruise and standing on the top deck watching a land mass disappearing over the horizon. It was a bit unsettling to see all that water with no land in sight. I can only imagine that if an ant could posses the same visual acuity a human possessed and looked across a road or even a sidewalk, a feeling of great isolation and emptiness would surely fill his soul.

     To see how this all plays out in “SETI, Conception” I guess you’ll just have to read Book III in the SETI Trilogy when it is finally published. Stay tuned, I hope that will be soon. I will let you know. Thanks for joining me for my weekly blog. I love writing them, please let me know what you think.

Frederick Fichman



The Bunny Blog

Well…recently… you have your good news…and then you have your bad news!

The Good News: A majority of the species living on planet Earth have not been discovered as of yet.

The Bad News: Several weeks ago a mini-asteroid, 17 meters or 55.7 feet in diameter came streaking into the earth’s atmosphere above the Russian city of Chelyabinski. It was traveling approximately 40,000 miles per hour when it exploded 12-15 miles above the earth’s surface. The energy released was estimated as 470 kilotons or 40 times more powerful than the atom bomb the U.S. dropped on Japanese city of Hiroshima during WWII. The mini-asteroid was smaller than the 130 foot visitor from outer space that flattened 825 square miles of forest in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908.  But, thousands of buildings were damaged, 1,000 people were injured in the Chelyabinski “hit” several weeks ago. 

The Bad News, it will happen again. Can you imagine what would have happened if that asteroid that slammed into the atmosphere was just 74 feet larger? 825 square miles of the earth’s surface and what was on top of that surface, buildings, humans, cats and dogs, all would have been flattened like the endless numbers of trees in Siberia one hundred years ago.

Back to the Good News:  The hidden species estimate of over 11 million still undiscovered species, from microscopic to large, was made by Thomas Lewinsohn, a well-known professor in Sao Paulo, Brazil. These un-named creatures are hidden in jungles or on top of mountain peaks, supposedly. I am not so sure about the veracity of this hopeful claim by the good doctor of ecology at State University of Campinas, only time will tell. Not in our lifetime, but new species will be discovered and others will die out…most have since the earth began, replaced or evolved by other species.

The point of all of this has to do with the picture of the bunny above.  Here’s the explanation. Several mornings ago I just stumbled out of bed and was ready to start pounding away on my computer keyboard when I wandered to a rear window facing out toward our backyard. I saw the bunny pictured above; I ran for my camera and voila…the bunny picture.

What I am trying to say is that I took my time to stop what I was doing or thinking or planning or imagining. I stopped for a moment to look around at my environment…to look carefully at the trees, the sky, the birds, the small furry creatures scampering sometimes at my feet. I think we all have to do this from time to time. I certainly have to do this more. We have to consider the beauty of nature, life and the universe around us. The world and universe far beyond us is like a marvelously complex Swiss clock, all seeming to work in harmony.

Now if we can live our lives in synchronicity with that harmony, taking each event bad or good in stride, we could handle the stress of life much better.

I think I am going to pour another cup of coffee, wander through my outside world and see if I can spot my bunny friend again. I see this bunny often, in the same location. I think I will give him, or her, a name. Any suggestions? Thanks.

 

Frederick Fichman

My Ray Bradbury Tribute

I was cruising the web today looking for clues and hints on ways to market my writing on the internet when I stumbled onto someone, who shall remain anonymous, who used a quotation from 20th Century writing giant, Ray Bradbury, as an example of how to write a book and become immediately famous and successful. It doesn’t quite happen like that, by the way. But it triggered again my personal memories of Ray Bradbury who passed away last year on June 5, 2012 in Los Angeles. At the time of his passing I wrote a tribute that I never could publish in a proper venue. I wanted something more than just a Letter to the Editor. So, I have saved this tribute for you, the readers of this blog published on my two websites, www.frederickfichman.com and www.visit-the-zoo.com. It is my way of saying thank you to a true writing legend…here it is, composed June 10, 2012:

 

Just this morning I paused in front of a signed autographed Ray Bradbury photo Ray sent me, through a mutual friend, many years ago; that wonderful smile, those really cool black heavy glasses. I had the privilege and honor to know Ray, to share a meal with him, to speak with him on the phone and to pass correspondence. Through my connections while working at ABC-TV in Hollywood, I met Ray and had a wonderful introductory lunch with him talking for hours about the craft of writing. It was at a time when my avocation, now my full time vocation of authoring Science Fiction and other genre, was just beginning and now flourishes with my “SETI” trilogy on Kindle and Nook. Ray graciously gave of his time and expertise and to this day has made me a better writer.

It had been some time since I last spoke with him and was saddened to hear the recent news of his passing. I thought a man of his strength, cunning, wit and intelligence could figure out a way to live forever. But in a way…he does. We can read his mind by reading his books. His stories will live forever in print and digitally as well. My only hope is that there are some hidden edit-corrected manuscripts from his pen that are ready for publication. If not, just re-reading his work is enough for me. Have a pleasant journey my friend to your new destination…oh wait, you are already there.

ff