Another awesome video

This is the most beautiful video I've seen in a long time, so I just wanted to share it. The music, the video... It's all perfect. Viva la human race! :)


Merry Newtonmas!

"25 December is the birthday of one of the truly great men ever to walk the earth. His achievements might justly be celebrated wherever his truths hold sway. And that means from one end of the universe to the other. Happy Newton Day!" - Richard Dawkins

Sir Isaac Newton (16421225 - 17270320) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian. He was probably the greatest scientist who ever lived, and his contributions to science will forever have a special place in the history of mankind. He described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion in his monograph Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, a work that laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics.

Even tho he was deeply religious, and spent a lot of his time working with occultism and alchemy, his influence on science of yore, as well as today, can not be ignored. So, you see, even atheists have a reason to celebrate today - we raise a glass in honor of one of the most important people ever to live on this tiny little planet.  

Merry Newtonmas, my dear rationalists, atheists and skeptics!

I will raise a few more glasses today, probably, since this year I'm celebrating both Hitchmas and Newtonmas at the same time. It's more convenient, I think. :)


Goodbye, little friend.

This is Nero, the ninja cat. I found him somewhere in the middle of summer this year, half-dead, sick and weak. His eyes were still closed even though he was already almost two months old, due to severe case of conjuctivitis, and he couldn't breathe through his nose. I took him to the vet, cared for him for a while, and in a few week's time, he grew stronger and healthier. His fur become shiny and dark, his strength returned and his eyes fully opened.
Throughout the summer, almost every afternoon, after I'd return from work, I would head straight to the Garden and sit to read a book. Nero would jump into my lap, curl up and fall asleep. Oftentimes I would fall asleep too, and together we would sleep the slow, lonely summer afternoons away.
On Saturday, just like every other day, he came to the door, as he always does when he's hungry. I opened the door, and he slowly came in. He was breathing heavily, whimper escaping from him with every breath he took. He was weak, so very weak, and I knew right away something was terribly wrong. At first I thought he was suffering from a cold, or possibly pneumonia, as the past few days were really cold here in Croatia. But he seemed to become weaker and weaker, and I realized he needed to see a vet right away. Seeing how I live in a huge primitive village that has the nerve to call itself a town, no vets work on weekend, and the two I called didn't even answer their emergency numbers. Luckily, somebody, my mother or my girlfriend, I don't remember clearly, remembered there's an animal shelter called near Dubrovnik, so I called them, and they recommended a vet just outside Dubrovnik. I didn't have my car, so I called a friend, and he was kind enough to leave his work for later and take us to the vet. For this, I cannot thank him enough.
After checking him, the vet said Nero's condition was critical, and that she wasn't sure he could survive for long. She gave him a therapy, tried all she could, and sent us home with instructions for the rest of the day. While in the car, Nero became really nervous, so we hurried up and ran into the house. I lowered him to the floor, and he lay down, still very weak. As we gathered around him, he took a few breaths, and just like that, he wasn't breathing any more. His heart stopped, and his eyes lost the glow. Nero died around 0500 PM. He was about seven months old.
Nero died from poisoning. Since he lived in my garden, I am almost completely sure he was poisoned on purpose. It's been two days since he died, and I cannot find a single reason why somebody would do such a thing. He didn't bother anyone, he wasn't loud or wild. I wonder what kind of sad, sick person you'd have to be to purposely poison another living being, and scar another one for his or her life. I am insanely angry, and terribly sad. It's a sad, sad world in which you have to be afraid to have a pet in your own garden.
I don't have many friends, nor do I wish for more. But, as strange as that may sound, I feel like Nero was one of the closest ones I ever had. I know that, with time, I'll be able to spend time in the Garden and not feel that there's something missing. I also know that it won't happen any time soon.

Goodbye, little friend. I saved you once, but I couldn't save you twice. I'm no Superman.

P.S. I want to thank Marjan, who was willing to postpone his work and takes us to the vet; a girl who works at animal shelter "┼Żarkovica", for recommending a vet; a vet, who did all she could for Nero; and Gaby, my girlfriend, for being with us the whole time.


Atheist Census DDoS-ed

Atheist Census, a project of Atheist Alliance International, was taken offline by a DoS (denial of service) attack, less than 24 hours after it was launched.

Atheist Census is "a global project to count and collect information on the world's atheists." The response from atheist community was quick and impressive, with more than 8,000 participants from all around the globe in less than a day. I am proud to have been the first participant from Croatia, and the last time I was able to check the data, there were 7 more Croats counted. This was just hours after the start of the project. Now, however, not even the local data is accessible, due to the whole page being down.

It is as yet unknown who the culprits are, but it's safe to assume they don't like the idea of the real number of world's atheists being so easy to check. This is a shame, as it only serves to prove the common prejudice against religious people as paranoid and afraid of non-religious folk. It seems as though somebody, a ruling class of some denomination perhaps, doesn't want its flock to get encouraged to leave their faith after seeing the sheer number of non-believers whom they'd be able to join. Putting it this way, this almost seems like a first move in an open-out war, if you will. By the love of Darwin, let's hope this never happens.


Earth at night. From space!

Today's post is a coincidental continuation of this one. Once again it revolves around a picture. More precisely, around today's 'Astronomy Picture of the Day'.

Pictured above, as you can clearly see and hopefully recognize, is the Earth at night. The image is actually a composite of many cloud-free night-time images made by VIIRS, Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, situated on Suomi-NPP satellite, circa 824 kilometers above the surface of our majestic homeworld.

Images of the Earth at night are, in my opinion, much more beautiful and awe-inspiring than the 'Blue marble' type of images, because, during the night, you can really see how evolved as a species and a technological culture humans have become. To be able to be visually seen from outer space is an achievement every species should be damn proud of.

Except if it's actually a universal sign for "Hey, we're here, come and conquer us!" In that case, shit.


Dogs driving cars? Yes please.

A charity in New Zealand is teaching dogs how to drive cars. Real dogs. Driving. Real cars.
I know, it's as crazy as it sounds. Also, damn awesome.

Apparently, the experiment is supposed to show how intelligent dogs can be, in order to encourage people to rescue more dogs and abandon less of them. And while I doubt that a bunch of learned reactions to outer stimuli accurately shows an animal's intelligence, this is both cool and it serves a good purpose, so I'm all for it. And you have to admit - there aren't many things cooler than having a dog driver.
Let's just hope it doesn't come to this.

Source: The Huffington Post


The dark, spinning Earth

Another awesome video today: A spinning night-clad Earth, set to the dark backdrop of space.

 Click full screen, an choose the highest quality.

To read more about the video, visit Phil Plait's awesome blog Bad Astronomy. :)
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