Confused and Excited (By Aliens And Milk)

I’ve been known to be easily confused.

A few weeks ago I was presented with a high chair and the simple requirement to push a button and pull a handle to get it to expand and allow a baby to sit at the table and suck on part of one of my pancakes.  That’s the last time they’ll get wasted.

As I mentioned during my review of matcha tea, I was unable to get my milk to froth properly using the frother on my coffee machine.  I assumed the issue was using almond milk because I understand that a full fat standard cow variety milk will help the texture be perfect, so I persisted in my endeavors to make a decent latte.

However, I remained confused as even my new nearly-real milk was still coming out just looking a damned sight bigger and more watery than before I started.  Maybe I just didn’t get it hot enough.  Poor it out, start again.  More watery additionally volumous milk.


Then I thought about it.  Bigger and more watery…  Turns out you need to press a button to turn hot water in to steam, so all I had been doing was diluting my milk with nearly boiling water.  Penny well and truly dropped.

It was nice, though, to see that even clever people can get confused.  Apparently there is a potential “Alien Superstructure” (also known as Tabby’s Star or KIC 8462852 or the or WTF Star, formally for “Where’s The Flux?” but also “in jest”) 8,000 trillion miles away located in the constellation Cygnus.

Tabby’s Star was observed by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope and found to be a very erratic light source.  It brightens and dims a lot and without the degree of regularity and uniformity that would infer orbiting planets.  Over the course of days, this star can dim by more than 20%, something that ordinary stars never do.  Then it will brighten, followed by a relapse of darkening weeks or months later.  Over the course of observing the star, total overall light output has dipped by 4%.

One of the greatest thing about the scientists being confused is the hypotheses that they’re coming up with, and my favourite is the alien superstructure idea.  The idea is that extraterrestrial beings are building structures around their planet to harvest energy and this is what is causing the flickering.  These hypothetical structures are known as Dyson spheres.

Two things I like about this.  First is that, without evidence to the contrary, any cynicism borne out of such a fanciful idea is misplaces.  It’s just as likely as anything else at the moment.

The second thing is that being confused is driving exploration and learning and thinking.  A number of potential explanations have been put forward and there is a drive and motivation to find out more.  That exploration provides understanding that would not otherwise be known if the answer was provided at the outset.

As Jason Wright, the Penn State astronomer who first suggested the alien superstructure theory said, “That’s exciting!”  (As are decent lattes.)

It’s funny how it tears me apart
First it breaks your head then your heart
I should’ve loved you better
From the start
It’s chewin’ at my bones and my brains
It’s workin’ through the flesh that remains
Why can’t this feelin’ leave me
And just fade away?

From day one I led you on
I’m sorry girl, but I can’t stay
Things have changed, they’re not the same
Now I must walk the other way

Confusion raining down from up high
And all the time you ask yourself ‘why?’
Why can’t you make decisions
Can’t make up your mind

Although you’re trying hard to forget
The reason why you feel so misled
Now come on and forgive me
I’ll help you accept

From day one I led you on
I’m sorry girl, but I can’t stay
Things have changed, they’re not the same
Now I must walk the other way

From day one I led you on
I’m sorry girl, but I can’t stay
Things have changed, they’re not the same
Now I must walk the other way… home

Confusion by The Zutons


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