Scott's Column
New Apartment, and Why Haven't We Found Life Out There

April 3, 2015
By Scott Lewis

I am (oops, was) looking for a new apartment. It took less time than I thought. Just two main trips out. I also came across an interesting article on life "out there." We haven't we discovered alien life. I was disappointed in the lack of 1 very important reason. Check it out.

Current Topics:

New Apartment

the last column I very mentioned I was looking for an apartment. That has happened, though I have not moved into it yet. I have a move in date of 4/24.

In looking for an apartment I did my usual. I created a spreadsheet with all the items in an apartment that are important to me, and listed every apartment I could find in the area. I then proceeded to eliminate apartments just doing online research. Price too high, not the right school district, yucky floor plans, etc.

Then it was time to start visiting apartments. I had previously visited one apartment a couple of months before, because I really liked it from its web site. It had a gym that almost matches Gold's Gym. I revisited this apartment with my youngest son, as he will be moving in with me. He liked it. We also visited another apartment on that same day just across the street. My son liked it even more, though I still preferred the one with the fantastic gym. It was a "hotel" style apartment, meaning you walk into the building and then go to your apartment. This is the first time I have seen this in living in San Antonio. All the other apartments I have seen are "motel" style where each unit has an entrance from the outside.

So my son and I went to a few other places. We eliminated a few immediately based on school district. I did not want me son changing schools, so we wanted an apartment that had bus service to his high school.

We had 3 nice apartments in the running after that day. Then I went another day to look at apartments without my son. I was able to move faster alone, and saw another 8 apartments (I think we say 6 together). Based on this second session, I added two more apartments into the running, and removed one. That left me with my top 4 apartments.

Now... between trip 1 and trip two to look at apartments I changed my budget. My original budget was $1200/month. Once I learned my son would be moving in with me I raised it to $1600. After all, I would not be paying child support anymore. But then I realized I would be getting a car as we get into my son's senior year (I promised him I would buy him one or give him mine). So I wanted to have more of my budget for a car payment. So I lowered it to $1400.

Of the 4 apartments in my top 4, 1 was over budget. The apartment my son liked the best. It was nice enough, but the living rooms were a tad smaller than I wanted. But they all had some kind of attached garage (whether one car, two car tandem, or two car traditional [side-by-side]). When we went in thinking our budget was $1600 they gave me pricing on a lot of large 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom apartments in the upper $1500 range to the low $1700 range.

I want to check out one of their smaller 2 bedroom apartments and see if it was big enough, and how much it would cost. Well, the 2 bedroom was just big enough. But when I got back to the office to get the price, one of the girls working there said that they just lowered the price of ALL their 3 bedroom apartments to the price of the 2 bedroom. So I picked the best 3 bedroom plan, with 1700 sqft., and a traditional 2 car attached garage. The price was $1399. Perfect. Well, not exactly. They had one unit with this floor plan that would be available in the second half of April that was an "upgraded" apartment. The upgrades includes wood floors (fake, but I hate carpet, and what I wanted), granite counters and glass top stove. I am not sure what else in included in the upgrade. But all of it was worth the extra $80. I don't mind going over budget.

I was working with a realtor, and when I told him about the price he told me to immediately go back and sign the application and lock in that price. Almost every apartment I looked at was at or slightly above $1 per sqft. This apartment is $0.87/sqft. Sweet!

Here is the floor plan:

I should be getting the keys on April 24th, and have until April 30th to get out of my current apartment.

I'll have to report back later on how things go with moving into an apartment that is 950 sqft. bigger than the apartment I am leaving.


Is There Life "Out Their" Part I

I recently read this very good article that tried to explain the possible reasons why we have not had contact with intelligent life on other planets.

It is called The Fermi Paradox.

Read the article yourself. But beware, it is a long article.

I loved the article, but wondered why 1 very important "great filter" wasn't listed. The speed of light is the speed limit of the universe.

So far it is completely true. Nothing goes faster than the speed of light. NOTHING! Einstein's Special Relativity from 1905 tells us this. Time dilation is the prediction Special Relativity makes that tells us how slow your clock ticks as you approach the speed of light. And this has been measured to be true to 10 decimal place accuracy. I don't know yet why we still call it a theory.

  Theory vs Law

Newton's theories are called laws. Recall from your elementary school days, Newton's Three Laws of Motion and Newton's Law of Gravity. Yet these were superseded by Einstein's Theory of Special Relatively (motion) and Theory of General Relativity (gravity). The most common layman's reason for this is, "it's just a theory until it is proven wrong." This is a cop-out excuse by people that do not want to believe it. General and Special relativity both state the time passes at different rates for different objects when they are moving faster (Special Relativity) or in higher gravity (General Relativity). In fact, BOTH of these are used to create accurate GPS. The satellites are moving faster than us, slowing their clock, yet we are at a higher gravity so our clocks are move slower still. These "theories" are not waiting to be proven wrong. We use them everyday. They have been tested to be accurate to 10 decimal placed where they apply. Granted, they don't apply everywhere. But that is what the elusive Theory of Everything is supposed to handle. And if we come up with a Theory of Everything (that merges Special & General Relativity with Quantum Mechanics) it will HAVE TO be in addition to Special & General Relativity. Just as Special & General Relativity extend Newton's Laws, so must a Theory of Everything extend Special & General Relativity. It won't prove them wrong, it will just be even more accurate and applicable in even more circumstance. So why not call them Law of Special Relativity and the Law of General Relativity? Because to call it a law means you must believe that everything it predicts is true. And it predicts that NOTHING MOVES FASTER THAN LIGHT. So forget believing in interstellar travel. It just is not possible (at least not possible with "warp speed" or "hyperspeed"). You just have to take a very, very long time to get there.

Every one talks about sci-fi ways of going faster than the speed of light. What if it never will be possible? More importantly, what if communication (which we know to be currently travelling at the speed of light) is also the fastest possible communication. Again, this could be the "great filter." Let's listen to the Sci-Fi crowd for a second and you can create a worm hole, and traveled through it. You end up light years, or hundreds of light years, or millions of light years away. Now you send a message back that you made it. That message with takes years, or hundreds of years, or more millions of years to get back. Let's assume for a another second that when you arrive, whatever device you brought with you to create the worm hole broke. Now you can't get back. The people that sent you are long gone, and will have no way of knowing if you made it or not.

Let's look at Science fact. As you approach the speed of light time slows down. If you reach the speed of light (not supposed to be possible, but let's go with this one small hurdle before we try to go past the speed of light), your on board clock stops. So essentially you get where ever you were going instantaneously. A photon of light that leaves the Andromeda Galaxy doesn't experience any time coming to us. It arrives instantly (relative to itself). So you go somewhere and do what? Send a signal back? Or maybe you turn around and come back. It will feel instantaneous for you both ways. But all the people that knew you left are long gone. If you travel AT the speed of light, you could go ANYWHERE in the universe in an instant. The problem is when you come back years, or hundreds of years, or millions of years have passed on your home world, depend on how far away you traveled. Why would you do this?

This is why we want to go faster than the speed of light. We need to go AND come back in time to tell the tales of our trip to the people that knew we were going on the trip.

So.. I present to you the most likely "great filter"... the speed of light can't be broken. No civilization would ever justify the massive cost of sending its people out into space at less than the speed of light for millennia never to heard from them again.

And since communication with other intelligent life is based on this one simple & universal speed limit, all communication is the same way... and it would take years, or hundreds of years, or millions of years to send AND receive messages. And we have only reached out less than a 100 years so far. A tiny speck of distance in a universe so incredibly large. And the reverse is true... we really have only been listening to such a small part of the sky. So it is extremely likely that given the speed of light being a true speed limit of the universe it could take millions of years to find another civilization worth communicating with.

And we just got started. Patience young grasshopper.