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#1 May 04 2012 at 8:20 PM Rating: Excellent
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Totally random thread, but in the past week I've seen or been sent three pretty awesome space-related links. Thought I would share them. Figured there had to be posters who loved astronomy and/or physics as much, if not more, than I do.

Oh yeah, and I advise you go as high in resolution as you can.

New NASA video that's very cool (Mainly 3D rendering of hubble photos, as well as some really awesome views of Mars/the Moon/Earth):
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tE5XJzZ-Rw]

A video of Saturn that totally made me cry. It was made out of high def images from Cassini and Voyager, and strung together by a Dutch artist.


The Scale of the Universe interactive... thing.. I don't know what to call it. But it lets you zoom in/out to the smallest theoretical area all the way to the size of the universe, comparing sizes and such throughout. Pretty amazing, how much work went into it.

Going into space is probably my biggest dream. Unfortunately, I was born too early for that to be a realistic one. So it's lucky I'm at least late enough that I can look through the little windows we have, even if they aren't portholes.

[EDIT] Borked link.


Edited, May 4th 2012 10:22pm by idiggory
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#2 May 04 2012 at 11:40 PM Rating: Excellent
One of the first things my professor did in my astronomy class this year was to impress upon us a sense of scale. Which ends up being pretty difficult, since the human mind has trouble wrapping itself around just how big the universe really is.

Here's an example. This is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image. Warning, big picture is big.

To take it, they basically pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at a tiny patch of sky. 3 arc minutes across. That's roughly 1 tenth of the diameter of the moon when viewed from here on Earth. They left the shutter open for 114 days.

There are roughly 10,000 galaxies in that one image, in that one tiny patch of sky.

Some of those galaxies, or rather the images of them, are from 13 billion light years away - meaning that some of them likely formed between 500 and 700 million years after the Big Bang. There are likely some of the first galaxies in this image.

Now, let's do some math. Imagine that each of those galaxies has 300 billion stars. That's actually probably a low number. It's roughly the amount of stars the Milky Way has, and the Milky Way is only "meh" when it comes to numbers of stars, and the universe was actually much more active in terms of star formation earlier on in its lifetime. Still, 300 billion is a nice baseline number.

So, assuming that each galaxy has ~300 billion stars, and there are 10,000 galaxies in that picture, we're looking at 3 quadrillion stars. 3 x 10^15. 3,000,000,000,000,000. 3 million, billion stars in that tiny patch of sky one tenth the width of the moon. Now think for a second about how big the sky is when you look at it. Think for a second about how many of those 1/10th of the moon pieces you could cover the dome of the sky with. 10,000 galaxies in each one. 3 quadrillion stars in every little arc minute. 30 quadrillion stars, blocked by the moon alone.



The Universe. Is. Huge.



Now, here's where it gets fun. Current estimates put the average percent of stars with planets at between 20% and 50%. Let's average that and say 35% of all stars have planets circling them. Now let's look at our three quadrillion stars and say that of those, there are 1.05x10^15 with planets. In reality, planets wouldn't have formed for another few billion years, but shut up, I'm having fun with this image. That's 1,050,000,000,000,000 stars with planets around them.

Say that only .1% of extrasolar planets actually end up with a planet that can support life.

Say that only .01% of those planets actually develop life.

Say that only .001% of those planets develop sentient life with any meaningful civilization.

In that one picture we're looking at? 1,050 different civilizations.

@#%^ yeah, space is awesome.

Screenshot


Edited, May 5th 2012 1:46am by IDrownFish
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#3 May 04 2012 at 11:59 PM Rating: Good
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F*** yeah, I love the Drake Equation. Smiley: grin

Also, findings this year have been suggesting that planetary formation is even more common than we thought it was (though I don't know the percentages, so I can't say if your teacher was teaching off of those findings or old, conservative estimates). That means that the probability for sentient life elsewhere increases, too. :D
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#4 May 05 2012 at 12:02 AM Rating: Good
Dibs on the first Asari.
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#5 May 05 2012 at 12:25 AM Rating: Good
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
F*** yeah, I love the Drake Equation. Smiley: grin

Obligatory
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#6 May 05 2012 at 12:33 AM Rating: Good
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Lol, fine by me. But if given the chance, I may have to switch up the chirality of some proteins. If you know what I mean.
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#7 May 05 2012 at 1:12 AM Rating: Good
I get that joke.

Not sure if that's a good thing.
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#8 May 05 2012 at 6:26 PM Rating: Excellent
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Space is awsome! Someday we'll get there in force. Someday.
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#9 May 05 2012 at 7:34 PM Rating: Excellent
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You might enjoy this Kao:


That's footage of a shuttle launch. From the shuttle's cameras. Music's annoying, and there are some points where you really can't make anything out, but it's otherwise awesome.

[edit]

Woot, annoying music turned out to be from another tab.

[edit]

Also, I'm pissed that there's so much cloud cover for the supermoon tonight. Gonna go for a long walk anyway, in hopes that it opens up some.

[edit]

Nope, cloud cover has completely obscured it. Smiley: frown

Edited, May 5th 2012 10:47pm by idiggory
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#10 May 06 2012 at 1:09 AM Rating: Excellent
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I'm watching "The Right Stuff" again.
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#11 May 07 2012 at 8:05 PM Rating: Decent
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Jophiel wrote:
idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
F*** yeah, I love the Drake Equation. Smiley: grin

Obligatory


I've always thought that the equation was missing a critical element: The odds that the lifetime of said communicating civilization happens to do so at the right distance from us the right time period in the past for us to hear anything they said. Space is vast, but so is time. You have to take both into account.
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#12 May 07 2012 at 8:45 PM Rating: Good
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It doesn't need that. You're trying to make the equation to do something it does not. All it does is generate a number of advanced civilizations from a set of probabilities within your specific parameters (galaxy, local cluster, universe). Well, the initial equation was just for our galaxy, but it is easily spread.

That's all it does. It doesn't say anything about whether or not we'll find them, though it could be useful as a factor in another equation trying to answer that question (though it would need to be MUCH more advanced, considering the probability of communicating within our galaxy is far more likely than with another).

It's like saying that the formula to calculate the area of a circle is lacking because it needs something else to calculate the volume of a sphere. Your asking for different outputs, and each equation is built around those.

If you are interested in a formula that uses the Drake Equation as an input to calculate the number of potentially communicable civilizations, I'm sure it exists. It would be much less useful though. The Drake Equation is cool because it shows how little it takes to believe in the existence of alien life. It's not meant to give a reliable number of possible civilizations, because we can't actually reliably calculate most of those probabilities.

[EDIT]

Actually, I looked it up. I learned a version of the Drake equation that differs from the widely used one (being the original). I'm guessing my professor was just trying to prove a point by leaving out the last two variables of the equation, that being that the chance for life was huge.

That said, there still doesn't need to be an adjustment for the distance because the version of the equation I was unfamiliar with has it built in. The chances for detection increase linearly with the amount of time they are broadcasting. It may not be perfect, but it's good enough. Since the equation is returning an average number of potentially communicable civilizations, it shouldn't be an issue--you're going to assume they are relatively homogenous across distances, for the purposes of the equation.

It's really just a thought experiment. And the constraints are left to you. Their distance from me doesn't matter at all if I'm not limiting form of communications to light, for instance.

Edited, May 8th 2012 12:42am by idiggory
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#13 May 08 2012 at 8:21 AM Rating: Good
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I believe in extraterrestrial intelligence because they've been smart enough to not make contact with us.
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#14 May 08 2012 at 9:28 AM Rating: Excellent
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And now I'm wasting my whole morning watching shuttle pieces crash to earth. Smiley: mad

Also I thought if we ever met other civilizations all our little microbes would assume we killed each other off or something. Let the aliens be aliens elsewhere if that's the case.
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#15 May 08 2012 at 9:55 AM Rating: Good
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That's a difficult question. I mean, one of the biggest critiques of the most common search tactics for alien life is that we're assuming they'd be sufficiently like us to be detectable. We also limit life bearing planets to ones that would support life like us, and we assume their forms of communication would be similar.

So they could affect us, in ways that are probably totally distinct from how they'd affect the original species, but they easily could have no effect at all. This is even more true if the other species did not evolve with similar DNA structure to our own, as the kinds of transcription organelles the virus interacts with wouldn't exist in our own bodies.

What's potentially more likely is that we could have adverse reactions to such organisms as toxins or allergens.

In time, life would probably evolve so that there were inter-species infections, but probably not right away.
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#16 May 08 2012 at 10:06 AM Rating: Excellent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
So they could affect us, in ways that are probably totally distinct from how they'd affect the original species, but they easily could have no effect at all. This is even more true if the other species did not evolve with similar DNA structure to our own, as the kinds of transcription organelles the virus interacts with wouldn't exist in our own bodies.


Less viral, more bacterial or fungal or something. Like would any of the billions of little critters we carry with us find them tasty? I mean there's no guarantee they could eat 'em at all or anything, but still!
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#17 May 08 2012 at 10:14 AM Rating: Decent
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The chances of life being out there are pretty good I think, the chances of our species ever meeting or even communicating with extraterrestrial life are probably just about non-existent though. Even if we did manage to find a way to communicate with a species directly I doubt we'd have any common ground at all, we probably would be incapable of communicating in any meaningful way, not because we couldn't put together a common language but because we just wouldn't understand each other on a basic level.
#18 May 08 2012 at 10:27 AM Rating: Good
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Yeah, human language is built around genetic preconceptions. The concept of "I" for instance--a lack of personal identity would already be a massive hurdle. And that's on top of so many others.
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#19 May 08 2012 at 11:20 AM Rating: Decent
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Or perhaps they communicate through scent instead of sound and we resemble their equivalent to rats and smell like alien putrification effectively making us the harbingers of death in their nostril equivalent organs.
#20 May 08 2012 at 11:22 AM Rating: Good
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That takes "talking out your ass" to a new level.
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#21 May 08 2012 at 11:26 AM Rating: Decent
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Oh, but the things we could say...
#22 May 08 2012 at 11:28 AM Rating: Excellent
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Smell you later?
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#23 May 08 2012 at 11:37 AM Rating: Good
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I doubt it will cut down on sh*t talk.
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#24 May 08 2012 at 1:52 PM Rating: Excellent
This conversation stinks.
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#25 May 08 2012 at 2:57 PM Rating: Good
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Way to flush this thread down the toilet.
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#26 May 08 2012 at 3:28 PM Rating: Good
Yeah, we kind of crapped the bed on this one.
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#27 May 08 2012 at 3:46 PM Rating: Good
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Smiley: mad
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#28 May 08 2012 at 5:23 PM Rating: Good
I know how you feel. Take some stool softener, won't have to make that face so often.
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#29 May 08 2012 at 7:54 PM Rating: Decent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Actually, I looked it up. I learned a version of the Drake equation that differs from the widely used one (being the original). I'm guessing my professor was just trying to prove a point by leaving out the last two variables of the equation, that being that the chance for life was huge.


And to be fair, this is how most people view the equation. But Drake himself was attempting to justify SETI funding, so he's specifically talking about the odds of actually communicating with (or receiving communications from) an extraterrestrial life form. While just thinking about the odds of intelligent life developing somewhere somewhen other than our own planet is interesting and perhaps makes one feel better about the universe itself, it's not terribly useful. If we can never actually interact in any way with that life, there's no real reason to spend any effort beyond the self affirming "we're sure there's other life somewhere".

Spending time and money attempting to pick up communications from alien civilizations should be based on the odds of us ever doing so. And given the methodology (scanning for light speed limited RF), it's absolutely critical to include time into the equation. Think of it this way: Our Galaxy is about 120,000 light years across at its widest point. It's a bit over 13 Billion years old. Graph that in four dimensions and you're talking about an object that is 100,000 times longer on the time axis than it is "wide" on the space axis.

Imagine a pencil that's about a quarter of an inch in diameter and about half a mile in length. The Drake equation is the equivalent of attempting to calculate the number of dark spots in the wood of a pencil in a single short cross section (all of human existence is only about 1/20th of an inch in length), but is really calculating the total number that exist at any point along the whole length of the pencil. That's why I say that time is a huge factor. It's the factor IMO. It's far far far far far far (enough fars?) bigger than the distance in space.

Quote:
That said, there still doesn't need to be an adjustment for the distance because the version of the equation I was unfamiliar with has it built in. The chances for detection increase linearly with the amount of time they are broadcasting. It may not be perfect, but it's good enough.


I suppose it depends how you calculate "L" though. If it's lifetime of a communicating species divided by the total years of the galaxy's lifespan, then it is going to take that into account. But I've never seen anyone use this as something that reduces the value, but only increases it. So we assume that all species that ever will exist all exist at the same time, and the longer they exist, the more likely that their communication will bridge the distance between them and someone else. That's the assumption. And IMO it's wrong.


Quote:
It's really just a thought experiment. And the constraints are left to you. Their distance from me doesn't matter at all if I'm not limiting form of communications to light, for instance.


Correct. As a thought experiment, we can do what we want with it. My issue is with how it is commonly used to convince people that the odds of there being alien life right now that we might just hear any day now is much much much higher than it really should be. Hell, I'm as big a fan of space and science and alien life as the next guy, but we ought not to lie to ourselves along the way. The odds of ever picking up a signal from aliens via the methods used by SETI are about as close to zero as you can ever get. And if we continue listening for a thousand years, they will still be virtually as close to zero. If we listen for a million years, it'll still be quite low (and if we haven't come up with better methods by then, we've probably been wiped out anyway). Because the odds that any species evolved and communicated at any point within a range we could pick up signals at the correct distance and time for us to pick said signal up during that time period is very close to zero. Even if we assume that 1,000 intelligent species will evolve in our galaxy, when we divide that by just the current lifespan (and it's probably less than halfway through its total), that gives us one species in the galaxy per 13 million years. Increase that to 10,000 species during that time period and we're about 50/50 in terms of being able to find evidence of them after a million years of looking.


Time is the factor, not space. It's entirely possible (quite probable in fact) that we could develop FTL capability tomorrow and explore every planet in the galaxy over the next thousand years and still not find any intelligent life, not because it's too far away but because there simply isn't any that happens to be alive at the same time and in the same galaxy as us. Now maybe most species who develop far enough never die out (or rarely do). In which case there might be hundreds of species that are millions or even billions of years old floating about. In which case, when we advance far enough, they'll probably contact us and until then they'll likely want nothing to do with us. Tons of possibilities I suppose, but I just personally find the approach SETI used to be overly optimistic and extremely unlikely to yield any results.


Never know though!
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#30 May 20 2012 at 7:23 AM Rating: Good
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I believe in extraterrestrial intelligence because they've been smart enough to not make contact with us.

Like Carlin said, they've probably realised we're circling a drain here.
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#31 May 21 2012 at 7:46 AM Rating: Good
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Noone posted this yet?



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#32 May 27 2012 at 3:52 PM Rating: Decent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
A video of Saturn that totally made me cry. It was made out of high def images from Cassini and Voyager, and strung together by a Dutch artist.

grab a box of kleenex buttercup!
http://www.wimp.com/feynmanbeauty/
#33 May 27 2012 at 4:42 PM Rating: Good
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Amazing stuff.

That last video on beauty would've been awesome if he hadn't been talking throughout the whole thing. It was interesting what he said, but that accent, man.
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#34 May 27 2012 at 5:06 PM Rating: Excellent
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Every time I read the title of this thread, my mind continues "...the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise. Her continuing mission, to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before". Patrick Stewart's voice, etc.
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#35 May 28 2012 at 1:22 AM Rating: Good
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Nilatai wrote:
Every time I read the title of this thread, my mind continues "...the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise. Her continuing mission, to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before". Patrick Stewart's voice, etc.
Nerd.
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#36 May 29 2012 at 6:06 AM Rating: Good
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His Excellency Aethien wrote:
Nilatai wrote:
Every time I read the title of this thread, my mind continues "...the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise. Her continuing mission, to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before". Patrick Stewart's voice, etc.
Nerd.

I know... Smiley: grin
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#37 May 29 2012 at 7:37 AM Rating: Decent
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I read it as the Space Personality Sphere.
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#38 May 29 2012 at 9:23 AM Rating: Good
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Nilatai wrote:
Every time I read the title of this thread, my mind continues "...the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise. Her continuing mission, to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before". Patrick Stewart's voice, etc.


Isn't is "To boldly go where no man has gone before"?

Edited, May 29th 2012 10:23am by Bigdaddyjug
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#39 May 29 2012 at 9:25 AM Rating: Excellent
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Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Nilatai wrote:
Every time I read the title of this thread, my mind continues "...the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise. Her continuing mission, to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before". Patrick Stewart's voice, etc.


Isn't is "To boldly go where no man has gone before"?

Edited, May 29th 2012 10:23am by Bigdaddyjug


*insert politically correct feminist rant here*
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#40 May 29 2012 at 9:30 AM Rating: Good
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#41 May 29 2012 at 10:10 AM Rating: Good
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In ToS I believe it is "no man". I think they changed it to "no one" for TNG.
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#42 May 29 2012 at 11:38 AM Rating: Excellent
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If Gene Roddenberry gave a damn about what feminists thought, all the women wouldn't be wearing spandex suits.


This would be a valid argument if the men didn't wear the same damn outfits. I mean really, who wants to stare at Jonathan Frakes' man bulge for an hour?
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#43 May 29 2012 at 12:11 PM Rating: Good
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Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Uglysasquatch wrote:
If Gene Roddenberry gave a damn about what feminists thought, all the women wouldn't be wearing spandex suits.


This would be a valid argument if the men didn't wear the same damn outfits.
Smiley: lol Very naive of you.
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#44 May 29 2012 at 1:45 PM Rating: Good
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Uglysasquatch wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Uglysasquatch wrote:
If Gene Roddenberry gave a damn about what feminists thought, all the women wouldn't be wearing spandex suits.


This would be a valid argument if the men didn't wear the same damn outfits.
Smiley: lol Very naive of you.


Smiley: dubious
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#45 Jun 01 2012 at 10:17 PM Rating: Decent
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