Planning a Trip to Kepler-438b?


So, say we want to go live on Kepler-438b. It’s 1,400 light years away, so that means it would take a spacecraft that could travel very near the speed of light over 1,400 years to get there. Prohibitive, right?

Well, yes and no.

Indeed, watching from our vantage point on earth, it would appear to take our brave colonists that long to reach the planet. But how long would the trip seem to the colonists themselves? Thanks to Einstein’s time dilation, things would be very different from their perspective.

Since Kepler-438b has 2x the Earth’s gravity (2 Gs), let’s say we start the acceleration of the spacecraft at 1G, and gradually dial it up to 2Gs by the end of the trip. You know, to help them get used to their new, heavier life. That acceleration would seem indistinguishable from the sensation of gravity.

Then, at the halfway point of the trip, the ship turns its thrusters around, and decelerates at the same gradually increasing G force, finally coming to a complete stop at Earth 2.0.

The duration of the trip from the traveller’s perspective? Just a hair under 10 years. Not so bad, right?

Now, going that fast isn’t the hard part. You just… keep accelerating. But the energy required to pull this off is kind of hard to conceive.

Let’s try. I’m certainly not smart enough to do the math myself (the above was done with an online calculator) but I read once that the energy required to move a modestly sized ship only 20 light years would take 3 million years to collect — if the entire Earth was covered in solar panels.

So, there’s that part to figure out.

The Annoyance of Dumb Dreams


The following is something I wrote as a Facebook status the other day, just for shigs and gittles. Thought you might enjoy it here. Cheers!

I have been troubled recently by what I can only suspect are the grown-up variety of nightmares. Not scary dreams, but deeply annoying ones.

In them, I always have some problem to solve. Four flat tires and a cross-town appointment to keep. A mass of wires I’m trying to untangle. A party with more guests than expected, and not enough food to serve them.

I’m not stressed or panicked – just consumed by the problem. My mind races trying to navigate a way around it. Strategizing. Failing. Trying again.

But this is the worst part. In my youthful days of lovely dreams, if my sleep was even momentarily interrupted, the dream would vanish. I would try desperately to get back to sleep and resume the experience, without ever succeeding.

Not so now. My new ‘procedural dreams’, as I like to call them, appear to survive the gaps of waking. My eyes fly open, and in a moment of foggy judgement, against all reason, I turn over and get right back to the dream.

You know, to solve the problem. The make-believe problem.


So this is what I need.

I’m willing to pay somebody — anybody — to sit beside my bed and watch me as I sleep. To notice when I begin to toss and turn. To lean over me when I’m most obviously lost in the throes of one of these vexing fantasies, and be at the ready, for the moment in which I open my eyes.

Just then, I want you to grab me by my shoulders, and yell straight into my face as loudly as you can:


I’m willing to pay a small fortune for this service. Applications will be accepted below.

Wanderers – a short film by Erik Wernquist

I don’t know if anybody still reads this page. And I don’t know if any of its former readers could have somehow missed the following video.

But if you did, watch it. Trust me.

(more from me… soon?)

‘Imagine’ — My new short film

Some time ago I was asked by the folks at Penny4NASA to make them a film. It took a long time to complete, but here it is.

What is Penny4NASA? It’s a grassroots movement advocating for a marked increase in NASA’s funding, currently sitting at 0.48% of the U.S. national budget. As a passionate supporter of science, and space exploration most of all, I was happy to volunteer my time.*

The concept was simple. I wanted to portray both humanity’s curiosity about space, along with its occasional indifference, in a single character. Two flip sides of a coin—a little girl named Penny.


Allowed by her mother to play outside a little later than usual, Penny becomes captivated by the twinkling heavens. In this moment she must decide how far her curiosity will take her. How badly does she want to know what’s up there?

How badly do we?

If you like this film, please consider sharing it far and wide. Tweet it, Facebook it, act it out for your friends. And if you really want to help, please join our Thunderclap campaign to spread the message even further!

*Thanks to my team, composer Bob Mills, and sound engineer Sebastien Breton. The same guys who helped out on my last science film, ‘Vision’.

A Skeptical Blast from the Past

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Sorry folks. No new posts from me, I know. I feel like there may be more coming in the near future, but don’t hold me to that. Just waiting for the blog-urge to swell again.

In the meantime, I was looking through some old music this week and came across one of of my favourite artists: MC 900 Ft Jesus. In the following song, one of the sillier experiments in the artist’s daring portfolio, there seems to be a message that I somehow missed in my youth; and one that I’m very glad to discover now.

As a card-carrying skeptic, somebody who’s alarmed by the prevalence of postmodern “personal realities” in our culture, a person campaigning for belief based on evidence; the lyrics of this tune seem even more appropriate now than when it was released.

Could we have a new, albeit old, skeptical anthem?

Making Skulls


Hi there haunters! (the small percentage of this blog’s readers who care about Halloween, anyway)

To be brief, I did a 3 part tutorial series on YouTube over the last few weeks, so I wanted to collect them in one place. If you’d like to know how to make something like the image above, have a watch!

First, a prelude.

And now, the tutorial itself.

Saw a comet. Froze my ass.


I stood out under the stars tonight, freezing my tender regions, in search of a comet.

Comet PANSTARRS made another appearance this evening, and some of the folks from the local astronomy association e-mailed to say they’d be meeting in a local school field.

I must admit that I debated the trip before embarking on it. The air carried a definite bite, and I wondered how much better the object could possibly look through binoculars than seeing it on the internet.

Read the rest of this entry

Update on this blog and my unbelief


Some frank talk about the future of this blog, and some religuous propoganda that got my goat.

Well howdy folks. Been a spell.

So, obviously I’ve lost my passion for this blog, and I should apologize to those few among you who call yourself fans. While a part of me wants to keep the conversation that we started going, over the last year and change my enthusiasm for writing seems to have drifted away.

I’ve also let my Twitter account go fallow, and have strayed from the public discussion of topics like skepticism, secularism, and rationality. While I still care about these issues, I’ve felt less of a need to defend or argue them recently. I’m still not sure why.

Read the rest of this entry

Highlights from ‘The Norse; an Arctic Mystery’


Hi everyone! I mentioned a while back the documentary I was working on, but I never shared any of the footage.

So, apologize in advance for the brevity, but here it is! (a sample of it anyway)


Some highlights from the animation I created for “The Norse, an Arctic Mystery”, a documentary that aired last November on CBC’s “The Nature of Things” with David Suzuki.

Directed by Andrew Gregg for 90th Parallel Productions.

What exactly did you EXPECT to happen?


So the world didn’t end. Shocking.

Leading up to December 21st, as the apocalypse seemed less likely, the jokes started bubbling to the surface on social media. As the day drew near, folks began to notice a sky conspicuously vacant of Nibiru. The volcanoes weren’t heating up, the sky wasn’t turning green, and people weren’t suffering from lethal cases of Montezuma’s revenge. (the instrument of destruction that I hoped the Mayans would use*)

With the apocalypse looking less imminent than previously feared, folks started to savagely mock the Mayan meme. I’m sure you saw the same thing in your newsfeeds. As my friend Steve Blacker put it: “Man… people are telling end-of-the-world jokes like there’s no tomorrow.”

So listen. I had friends who bought in to the whole Mayan thing. A number of them, in fact. And I don’t intend to rub their noses init, now that the
*Yes, Montezuma was Aztec… I know. Call it comedic license. 


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