All posts by Davy

The Drake equation

Fifty-odd years ago, S.E.T.I. – the US government funded Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence – was founded. Its creation was due in large part to a then recently formulated equation (the Drake equation, to be precise) which, in trying to mathematically determine the number of intelligent civilizations that exist in our galaxy (or as I prefer to refer to it, the infinite inky blackness of space), came up with the conclusion: ten thousand.

So we, as a species, started searching the infinite, inky blackness of space (metaphorically of course, for as both you and I know, space is actually predominantly green in colour).

So we searched it, remember? That infinite inky blackness of space? And do you know what we found?

Well, yes, of course you do. We found nothing.

Nothing in the infinite inky blackness of space. Nothing.

We would have remembered hearing all about it if we’d found something, wouldn’t we, in the infinite inky blackness of space? But we never did.

We found nothing.

In the infinite inky blackness of space; nothing.

And that’s what I love about our planet, the one we cling to. The Earth.

There it is, glittering away. All alone. The only smudge of intelligent life in the whole, infinite inky blackness of space.

That’s us, innit? You and me and them. The inhabitants of, the passengers on, space-ship Earth. Hurtling through nothing at 60,000mph, the only intelligent lifeforms, you may recall, in the whole fucken Galaxy.

And we, all of us down here, really, really fucken hate each other.

The only intelligent life in the infinite inky blackness of space, and we all, as a species, hate each other.

Isn’t that remarkable?

Go us.

Cataclysmically sucked off

Well, it’s certainly a big fucker, innit, measuring as it does 27 kilometers. Lying underneath the Franco/Swiss border, it’s reputed to be the largest machine on Planet Earth. It looks like something out of a Bond movie, a colossal and expensive machine intended to study the ultimate building blocks of all matter, and in particular to search for the Higgs boson, known as the God particle because of its postulated commanding role in explaining how subatomic particles interact with each other.

So, what did you think?

Was it was the greatest scientific endeavour since the (disputed) Apollo moon landings, or – like the type of folk who once believed that an atom bomb blast would ignite the entire atmosphere, or that train travel was impossible due to the human body being unable to withstand speeds of 24 mph – did you think that it would open a gateway allowing Our Lord Satan to enter our world?

Me? I felt cheated.

At the time, the thing that I did find rather distressing was the mention (admittedly in the less scientific quarters) that, when the last AA batteries were finally inserted, some ‘mini’ black holes could be accidentally created. And doesn’t that sound to you like an oxymoron?

“It’s alright folks, it’s only a mini black hole”.

“Oh, okay.”

I mean, I’m no scientist, honest, but surely a black hole is an awesome, indescribably powerful phenomenon. The fact that they now apparently come in ‘mini’ size did not offer me too much consolation.

I mean, black holes; they’re just not the same as Mars Bars, or ladies skirts, are they?
It’s like saying a mini cataclysm, or a minor apocalypse – can these things ever be less than fucken momentous?

And how the fuck do you make a black hole anyway? I’m guessing, and again I must reiterate that I’m guessing so as not to lend too much credence to my musings (for they are only that; I’m no fisiks boffin furfuxake), that the answer may be rather simple – step number one: you make a mini black hole.

Any yet, despite the combined brain efforts of billions of boffins, and the pissing up against a wall of literally thousands of money (or was it the other way around? The finer details are already sketchy to me) the mighty Death Metal Colander sucked, and we failed, yet again, to destroy man’s oldest nemesis: the Earth.

It was all just a bunch of bullshit, wasn’t it?

Some egg-headed fools promised that maybe, ‘round about 8.30am, on the morning of the 10th September 2008, when the Metallic Machine (in reality probably just the world’s longest torch) was plugged in, we would all be cataclysmically sucked off into another dimension.

And we weren’t.

Not even a wee bit.

What a pisser.

It was even predicted, by a few of the less enlightened boffins, that when the promised black hole was conjured up we’d all have roughly eight to ten minutes before our eyeballs were sucked through our pulsing bodies and out of our collective cocks, draining us away down a cosmic plug hole, forever. I forget the actual physics.

Some even put forward the proposition that, mibee, those last ten minutes would wind strangely back on themselves, like a snake swallowing it’s own tail, and we’d be forced to repeat those final moments over and over and over and over and over again. To infinity, and beyond, I believe was the time scale quoted, though I may have to recheck my sources on that.

And I can recall thinking on the morning of that fateful day; in an ideal (end of the) world, how would I like to spend those remaining/ever repeating final last 10 minutes?

It’s a good question, innit?

Of course, in actual real reality, how did I spend that historic moment?

If I remember correctly, I took a nice, if rather large shit, and thunk up all this old bollocks.

And failed, once again, to be sucked off.

Note: Since this article was written existence of the Higgs particle has indeed been confirmed, by data from the LHC, in 2013. Also, since the time of writing I can confirm that the author has still failed to be sucked off.

Music for airports

The most ambient album in the world, I reckon, has got to be Ambient 1 (Music For Airports) By Brian Eno, and here’s my reasoning.

Firstly, here’s Brian himself, from the album sleeve:

“Over the past three years, I have become interested in the use of music as ambience…I have begun using the term ‘ambient music’. An ambience is defined as an atmosphere, or a surrounding influence: a tint. Ambient music is intended to induce calm and a space to think. Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular, it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

So there you have it, argument number one – if it was Mr Eno himself that invented, and labeled, the term Ambient Music, then it stands to reason that it would most probably be him himself who’d produce the most ambient album in the world…ever, innit?

Yes, it does.

My other, much more convincing argument for this particular album, the first in the genre remember, to be dubbed The Most Ambient Album In The World, is based on the following true story.

A while back I was tuned into that Pandora website, wherein it generated customised music playlists based on my preferences for different bands and music. I was playing my Orb playlist; a nice mix of ambient-type stuff that I’ve found makes a good, unobtrusive background, useful when reading, or writing or just wanting to subtly drown out the noise of shrieking from next door’s TV.

On this occasion a song had been delicately playing away for about 10 minutes, chilling me out nicely, so I looked up to note what this particular interesting/ignorable track was, and saw that it was from Ambient 1 (Music For Airports) by Brian Eno – available, a helpful ad informed me, to buy now from Amazon.

Aye, sounds good that, I thought, I wonder how much Amazon is selling it for? The minimum amount of clicks later and my basket was once again empty, Ambient 1 (Music For Airports) by Brian Eno was collecting air miles, and a hefty carbon footprint in the process, as it winged its way across the sea from the States.

I was looking forward to its arrival until a couple of days later when, searching my CD collection for something suitably ignorable/interesting to play, I noticed that there, already in my fucken collection, was Ambient fucken 1 (Music For Fucken Airports) by Brian Fucken Eno!

I mean, how much more fucken ambient an album can you get? An album I’d listened to on a good few occasions already, and I end up buying it again cos I didn’t even recognize it when I heard it!

“Intended to induce calm” is it Brian? Not that night it didn’t; I was fucken livid. Seven fucken quid that cost me, for a fucken doubler.

Bastard.