5 scary things to think about this Halloween


Halloween is rapidly approaching, which means the season of scary has arrived. The holiday features frights such as ghouls, clowns, bats, feeding copious amounts of candy to pre-diabetic children, and the fact that sexy Olaf costumes are a thing. To add to that list of horrors, try thinking about these 5 alternative scary things this Halloween:

1. The national debt

The national deficit is the money the government takes in minus the money the government spends, and the national debt is the total amount borrowed to fund that deficit. The current national debt totals in around $17,904,969,580,881.62. That’s more than $17 trillion, folks, increasing by $75 million every hour. Bored in class? Watch the debt go up in real time here. Fun! Eerie!

2. The capriciousness of life

Everything that happens in life is random. There are no constants. Despite any attempt to find patterns or systems of causation, there is no way to predict or explain why things happen to us. Nothing happens for a reason. Success is not guaranteed, and every step forward is just the result of a lucky draw from a rigged lottery. Consider how everything you do doesn’t really matter as you wait in line for for the Midnight Organ Concert. Hair-raising!

3. Your own insignificance

You are very insignificant, in the big scheme of things. You are just one of over 7 billion people in the world, part of a single iteration of the human population. It has been only 200,000 years since anatomically modern humans first appeared. The first life forms appeared on earth between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago. The earth itself was formed around 4.54 billion years ago. The span of modern civilization is a millisecond in comparison to the history of this planet. You take up a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of that millisecond. You are an indiscernible smudge on the surface of our planet, just a minuscule sphere composed of crust and mantle, in our solar system, in a galaxy, in the ever-expanding, timeless vastness of the universe… Think about that as you wolf down excessive amounts of candy this Halloween. Creepy!

4. Your own mortality

This Halloween, try to get a grasp on your own mortality. You may think you are young and invincible, but every day is just one step on the slow march toward death. Death is life’s principle constant. Just as everybody poops, everybody dies, though death cannot be better regulated with Activia or a high-fiber diet. Death is everywhere. As you go out next weekend, take a look at all the things dying around you — leaves, insects, and also, yourself. Chilling!

5. Blue Room muffins are 400 to 600 calories each.

I know. *cries* Spooky!



Images via and via. 

Science Beyond the SciLi: Are we alone in the Universe?

It can seem like the field of science is limited to torturous problem sets in the SciLi dungeon basement. But there is awesome stuff going on in the sciences at Brown and beyond, though it can be difficult to find when you’re wasting away in the library. BlogDH presents “Science Beyond the SciLi”; so even if you’re reading this inside those concrete walls, you can see a glimmer of scientific hope.


Science isn’t a mystery novel, so here’s the punch line: we are probably not alone. There are most likely other life forms out there wondering if they are alone in the universe. Makes your midterms feel a little less important, doesn’t it?

Now, let’s back up a second. How can I make this crazy claim? Well, I went to the inaugural lecture of the Presidential Colloquium Series ThinkingOut Loud: DECIPHERING MYSTERIES OF OUR WORLD AND BEYOND (the formatting of the title might be the biggest mystery of them all). President Paxson introduced the speaker (hence “Presidential Colloquium”), John Johnson, a professor of astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who lectured on “Searching For Life Basking in the Warmth of Other Suns.”

Johnson’s job is to search for life on other planets. But he doesn’t just sit around basking in sunlight while sending signals to aliens and waiting for them to respond (although we have done that). He researches exoplanets, planets that orbit stars other than our own sun. A stellar astrophysicist by day and a planet hunter by night, Johnson finds undiscovered exoplanets and characterizes them, looking for planets that are not too hot and not too cold—ones that might be just right to harbor life. Continue Reading