Friday, February 27, 2009

What a Dirty Universe!

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090227-quasar-dust.html

So apparently there is a LOT more dust out there that astronomers thought. I don't mean dust in galaxies, I mean dust everywhere! Between galaxies, in places they didn't think it was. Stupid dirty universe, messing up all our measurements and causing havoc. Geeze!

Now this can cause us to question whether or not our measurements are right, like the fact that there is a significant amount of space dust between galaxies means that the most distant objects we've been observing (Type 1a Supernovae) appear dimmer than we thought they would be when we thought intergalactic space was just plain empty. Or that our universal acceleration maybe isn't so rapid and crazy after all.

The more we find out these simple facts, like faster rotational speeds and more intergalactic dust than thought possible, the less we will have to rely on made up gunk, like Dark Energy and Matter to account for current discrepancies.

The better our measurements get, the less we have to make up. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The National Space Society - Sustainable Space Exploration and Space Development ― A Unified Strategic Vision

Here is a link to a great paper written by Buzz Aldrin, Feng Hsu and Ken Cox, well known in the space advocacy community, especially Buzz of course. It's from the National Space Society.

http://blog.nss.org/?p=360

It's a bit long, and the beginning is obviously politically biased to smack Bush a bit, but I can get over that and look at the serious thoughts they propose in the paper.

The two parts I love best are the creation of an official Department of Space to oversee commercial space development and the restructuring of NASA to be a "Lewis and Clark" operation that is solely focused on the risky space exploration and advanced technology development that comes with decent government funding. NASA dumps its LEO obligation onto the private sector, as I think it should, making the ISS an international effort that NASA no longer has an obligation too.

There is more. It's a good read.

I also strongly believe that we've become a nation of risk averse pu**ies, afraid of our own shadow, much less the natural risk of extreme space travel. This is a byproduct of rampant political correctness, which disgusts me. We must get back to our John Wayne roots, where we explore not because it's easy and safe, but because it's difficult and dangerous, which is where the adrenaline rush comes from. Far too many of us have turned into metrosexual winos. It's time to tighten the boot straps, work hard to develop advanced technologies and blast off!

My Apologies

I have been wicked sick this past week and the last thing that has crossed my mind was to do anything on this blog. Today I am at 75% and hope to see what's going on out there and if anything jumps out at me, you'll know. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

NASA Making a MMO Video Game?

http://www.space.com/entertainment/090219-nasa-mmo.html#comments

This is great! Basically, it sounds like a SIM Solar System online massive multiplayer video game. I've been waiting for this.

This is a great way to get young minds thinking of how to actually get off Earth and colonize the moon and Mars, and hopefully NASA will provide them with of all the real life challenges that are being tackled now, so that they are programmed into the game and dealt with by the players.

The kids (and even adults) that end up playing something like this will end up having the kind of mind that will actually DO the colonization, for real. :)

The Mother of All Gamma Ray Bursts

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090220-gamma-ray-record.html

All I can say about this is that when the universe wants you to pay attention, it REALLY knows how to make you pay attention. 9000 Supernovae? Jesus Christ that's one hell of an explosion.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Model of Early Universe

Before I go on, here is the link to the article I'm talking about.

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090217-st-cosmic-dawn.html

The following are excerpts from the discussion forum regarding this article. It's actually much easier to just post this than rewrite everything. My points are still the same.

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So, let's get this right, we have an article about the simulation of a theory that, as of today, is completely unproven. Might as well just draw a cartoon and you'll get just as accurate results.

TJM wrote: Well, which is more likely? More than 85% of the universe is made up of stuff that we can't detect by any known technology; or our equations and models (which are holy and sacrosanct) are incomplete?

Amen! When broken equations are only solvable by inventing variables, it's all over.

Richter wrote: I don't see how anyone could reasonably just "deny" dark matter.

And I cannot fathom why anyone would just accept that Dark Matter exists either. Oh, and there was an article published on space.com back on January 5th where they've revised the mass of the galaxy because they measured the speed wrong the first time. Here's the article.

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090105-aas-milky-way-mass.html

The more we refine our measurements of the basics, the more we'll realize all of this hocus pocus made up stuff is just that...made up stuff. However, if I am wrong, I will gladly admit it, because for me this is not about being personally right, but about being universally accurate.

SpazzyMcGee wrote: And is it just me or is this forum full of people doing nothing but raging on modern cosmology?

Is it me, or is this forum full of people who worship the current cosmological model like a religion? I find that there are more of you than there are of us, but then again, that's always the case when you buck the system. It's all good. Through all this debate the real truth will eventually be learned.

AdmiralQuality wrote: What are you again, a welder or something? This is akin to a dairy farmer thinking everything in the universe is caused by cows. Sorry, but you're (Solrey) just nowhere near smart enough to realize how wrong you are and I really wish you'd stop spamming this board with your EU "theories".

WOW you're an arrogant...never mind. I know Solrey isn't just a welder, but even if he was, are you saying that it's impossible for someone of a basic background to ponder and maybe even solve difficult theories of the universe? What, only highly educated mathematical geniuses are capable? I find it interesting how we never insult you, just disagree and offer alternative explanations, but you constantly find the need to be rude, arrogant and condescending. Why?

SpazzyMcGee wrote: I don't care how much science you have taught yourself, you have to have at least a PhD in my book if your going to tell me the sky is green.

Given that PhD's are all educated in the same "system", with little thought to real independent thinking, I would be concerned that you're more interested in following a dogmatic norm than being a free thinking individual on your own. I am going to get my PhD in Astrophysics, but that doesn't mean I'm going to just accept everything "they" teach me. Questioning everything is the truest sign of an expanding mind.

Also, and you must acknowledge this to be true, that once a particular point of view is pushed to be main stream, it's very difficult for alternative ideals to garner support. This is true in politics, religion, and also science. Those with the power wish to maintain and control it. Those with the dominating theory are just the same.

The, "sum total of millions of hours of research," is a byproduct of a system that pushes one point of view while disregarding others. Of course the gravity based cosmological models have more substance behind them, because they are the ones getting the funding and propagating the theory.

Also, I myself find huge faults in the whole EU theology bit. Saturn used to fill our night sky bigger than the sun. Venus was a comet that scarred Mars and the ancients witnessed it first hand. Kind of hard to swallow any of that. But to use THAT as a sole focus for ridiculing the serious science part of the theory is disingenuous.

And that's another point, Solrey frequently gives links to non-EU websites to prove his points. It's not like he always goes to one page on one website, as if pounding a droning drum in the same pitch all the time. You get links to news articles from major papers, science journals, and research documents, all supporting his comments. Yet many of you still revert to insults, scolding and admonishment. Ridiculous.

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Aren't these forum debates fun? :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Little Here and There

In an effort to not let this blog stagnate during slow news times, I guess I'll comment on a few things of mild interest to me. It's just that over the past few days, nothing had jumped out at me as a WOW event.

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Two satellites crash - Okay, so a dead Russian satellite and a U.S. Commsat got a little too friendly a few days ago. Great! More debris to worry about. More space junk. You know this was bound to happen. My concern is the chain reaction effect due to random debris now flying in all kinds of interesting orbits. Every satellite should be made with de-orbit capability. The fact that this dead Russian satellite was up there in the first place is a red flag. Sooner or later, we are going to start looking like the Earth depicted in Wall-E.

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Axel, the Marsupial Martian Rover - Okay, so it's not Axel Rose (but that would be one hell of a GnR concert right?), but basically it's a baby rover on a tether, connected to the main rover of the mission. Since driving down into craters is risky for primary mission rovers, Axel is the attachment that you can let go down into the danger zone and gather science for you, while the primary rover sits up top safe and sound. When Axel is done, it's brought back up via the tethered wench system. Sounds like a fairly non-complex, suitable way to gather crater samples to me.

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NASA vs. Rebel Insiders - This is a no brainer. NASA squashes them, threatens them with their jobs, and basically forces everyone to accept what management decides without question. That's the way to foster a productive work environment; remove the ability of anyone to question the current plan, reduce their ability to imagine better options, and insult their innovative ideas. And if you don't think that happens, you're a dumbass.

Just have a look at a video made by a NASA insider, depicting how this occurs. Now the acting is horrible, no Oscars here that's for sure, but the message is what's important.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_424YskAfew

Another case in point, Ares I vs. Jupiter Direct. When a significant number of seasoned veteran engineers join together and call Ares I bunk, they propose a more cost effective and better performing alternative. The problem is, they have to do it in secret, like some covert black ops mission, because NASA is so narrowly focused on former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's pet project that all other options are void.

Ares sucks. I can't stand the project. It's a new design being played off of an old design. So many things had to be redone to make the system work that it might as well be labeled as a brand new system. The Jupiter Direct system, on the other hand, requires no major adjustments or new design. Argh, you can read the article to get the details.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4295233.html?page=1

Here are my thoughts. NASA gets funding no matter what, so I honestly believe they don't care about better ideas. They only care about the ones they've got funding for now. If this were a private company, every new and better idea would be seriously entertained, because in the end, the profit margin is what matters. The only way to maximize your profit margin is to foster an environment of thinking and innovation, where you allow everyone to always think of a better way to do things. Better generally means cheaper in the long run.

The problem is that NASA never seems to think for the long run and they aren't concerned with making a profit. Faults that the private space companies cannot afford to have, which is why the future of space lies with them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gravity, Anti-Gravity & Space Travel

Currently, the only way we know how to get from Terra firma to space is via controlled explosions. This can be solid fuel, liquid or hybrid. The struggle, of course, is to always beat gravity, this invisible force constantly keeping you down.

The fun part is trying to beat gravity with gravity, or anti-gravity as the case may be. The challenge is that we still really have no idea what gravity is in the first place. We know its effects. We know what it does. But we have no idea what it is...fundamentally. Oh, there are countless theories, but it's not like someone has stepped up and displayed a mason jar, stating, "We finally have a bit of gravity in this jar. Woohoo!"

I have always thought there are two ways to approach the challenge of beating gravity with gravity:

One is to develop anti-gravity. I mean, it must exist, no? The one thing I can say, with almost certainty, is that the universe is an amazing balancing act. Up, down, left, right, front, back, positive, negative, black and white. It only stands to reason that somehow, anti-gravity exists that counters gravity. Of course, there are those that would argue against me, and that's fine. Debate is good. It is also obvious that finding this elusive anti-gravity thing is overtly complicated, especially since we don't even know what regular gravity is in the first place.

The second option is to make a substance that is relatively small, but very dense, such that it actually has a measureable gravity well of its own. Of course, we all have our own gravity well, but our mass is so small that the gravity we posess is effectively zero when compared to all of the other influences around us, like friction. But what if you had a substance that did attract you, even just a little, such that it's gravity waves were accessible? Then maybe you could amplify the gravity waves emitting from the object, increasing their intensity to whatever you desire.

Think about that. If you have this object above you, and you increase its intensity such that the resulting "g" value is 9.9 m/s/s, you would start accelerating up, away from Earth, at 0.1 m/s/s. Increase the value, increase the acceleration. Basically, you're falling up! You're creating a gravitational influence greater than that of the Earth. Once you get to the altitude you like, balance the value with Earth and you hover, right there, being pulled down and up with the same gravitational force. Talk about making space flight wicked easier! No drastic g forces on the way up or down. No issues with heavy heat shielding on spacecraft, because you have controlled reentry at a smooth and comfortable speed. No extreme heating.

Of these two options, I firmly believe the second one is more realistic to accomplish sooner than the first. Studying gravity to figure out what it is is an important science, but not for the purpose of space travel. Creating super heavy elements, that are stable and don't decay instantly, with their gravity waves accessible, is a science that can help human achieve the ultimate next step in space exploration...smooth and easy space flight using gravity as the fuel. I'm all for that!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SpaceX, COTS D & Stimulus

This one is pretty obvious. Look, if you're going to spend a crap load of money under the guise of economic stimulus, then at least put money towards programs that will not only offer jobs, but also bolster the American private sector space initiative.

SpaceX is starting to become the poster child of the private space movement. NASA likes what they've done, so it only makes sense that they be the first, in what I feel to be a long line of great private American businesses, to receive direct support for their forward thinking and innovative business model for private space.

As stated by Elon Musk, "Since COTS Capability D is an existing option in an already competed contract, NASA could exercise it right away, resulting in immediate job creation. It is also worth noting that COTS D, like the COTS A-C funding, is a fixed price agreement and is only awarded as each milestone is achieved. If SpaceX is unable to pass the milestones, no taxpayer money is spent. "

Go here for the whole Press Release: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=27552

I cannot agree more! In one move you encourage the private space movement, relieve pressure on NASA to provide the service, entice entrepreneurs to pursue their goals, employ thousands of people, foster the imagination of children who see that it IS possible for private industry to get into the space business, and spawn further technological development.

Of course, a move like this requires people who actually give a damn about true economic salvation and not those we currently have, who are more interested in growing government in an emergency so that they can hold onto that new found power after the crisis is over. Common sense does not prevail here, and the will of the people is being thwarted and ignored.

Space is the new frontier for development, advancement, employment and the growth of our nation, and the best thing about space...there's a LOT of it to explore.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Economic Stimulus Package - The Space Case

I have no desire to go over every page and rant, because I probably could, but in the interest of staying topical to space news, I felt the urge to bring to your attention a little part of this package that has to do with space science.

Out of hundreds of pages, "Science" gets two. Two! Are you kidding me? Do these people not realize the long term economic benefits of the national space program? For every dollar spent, the return is about $3 to $5 to the economy. Also, spin off technologies spawn new companies, small businesses, and a better life for all Americans, if not the world.

With that said, the money they have allocated to space is ridiculous. In fact, it's political. Here's my example, directly from the document itself.

Subtitle C—Science

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

SCIENCE

For an additional amount for ‘‘Science’’, $400,000,000, of which not less than $250,000,000 shall be solely for accelerating the development of the tier 1 set of Earth science climate research missions recommended by the National Academies Decadal Survey.

This is a direct result of the political dogma of Global Warming...er...Climate Change. Notice how I didn't say scientific, but political. Just look at the text: $250,000,000 MUST be used for Earth science climate research. Global Warming (GW) is an UNPROVEN theory, yet it is constantly being shoved down our throat.

There is still significant debate among scientists about the true existence of GW, or if there is a global climate adjustment, what the real cause is. Politically though, it makes sense to push this fear tactic upon America, because without the support of the environmentalists, there are several key politicians that would not have received major donations to conduct their successful election campaigns. Not that I'm saying it's all payback or anything. ;)

You know what would be truly funny? If this $250,000,000 actually helped to disprove GW, or at least reduce its overbearing, almost Armageddon like aura. Yet something tells me that the "powers that be" wouldn't let that happen, especially since they control the purse strings of the very scientists doing the "research".

Ares I and NASA's Lack of Vision

This post will be relatively short, because I just want to vent.

Von Braun said that someone is crazy if put a crew on a solid fuel rocket. I completely agree. Once you light the candle, you're done. Just hold on. Oh, and if something goes wrong, it REALLY goes wrong.

Plus you have to deal with the vibrations and the fact that SRB's are just plain heavier and less efficient than liquids. Aarugh. I hate this design. Hate, hate, hate this design. Why the hell didn't we work with the private sector and develop a leaner, meaner shuttle over the past 10 years?

God, it's like we just sat on our a$$es and did NOTHING! Every time I think of this, I get pissed. Sorry.

This tirade brought to you by...

http://www.space.com/news/090209-griffin-ares1-safety.html
Former NASA Chief Says Ares I Rocket Two Times Safer
By Todd Halvorson
FLORIDA TODAY

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Origin of Life

I think I will utter one of the most OMG statements you will ever hear regarding the topic of where the origin of life comes from.

Who the hell cares?! Figuring this out is not, in any way, ever going to affect my life right now, if ever. Knowing how single celled organisms evolved to become people, or a tree, or a cat, or whatever, is absolutely NOT going to affect what's going on in the world right now, or help in the advancement of the human race off this flippin rock.

I almost feel the same way about looking at galaxies that are 100 million light years away, where we don't even get to see what's happening NOW, but regulated by the laws of physics to only see what happened THEN. And I can't fly there. I can't get there. I can't touch, smell, or taste there. What would a nebula taste like?

Anyway, I would seriously like a more concerted effort to be placed on the things we need to do NOW, and not so much focus on things that are in the past, too old, or will not really contribute to the immediate advancement of our species. We need better power systems, energy systems, propulsion systems, long duration human exposure to space systems, yadda yadda.

Looking 100 million light years away or spending time wondering about how life started on Earth or in general is not going to get us there any faster.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Feasting on Cycles

Consider today's post more of a thing to think about than an opinion on a news article, or something I've read recently. This is more like thinking out loud. :)

Cycles dominate our universe. We have weather cycles, tidal cycles, solar cycles, menstrual cycles, and unicycles (yes, those last two are important). I wonder if anyone has bothered to measure, or account for, our galactic cycle. If I remember correctly, our solar system bobs up and down from galactic center. I know we go around every some hundred odd million years from galactic center, but what is the sinusoidal frequency of our up and down from the galactic plane?

With the majority of the energy in our galaxy being thrown out in a planar direction from center, I bet crossing the center line could cause all kinds of interesting adjustments to our star, such as an increase in gamma ray bursts, x-rays, etc. How much would the galactic cycle affect our sun and its cycle? And would this more grand and energetic cycle affect our planet as well, or solar system as a whole?

Something to ponder the next time you think the sole reason for this trumped up global warming thing is vile human existence and technological advancement, because we are starting to cross that plane. Oh, I guess I did have a point after all. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Star Fleet Academy Coming Soon

I am a die hard member of SEDS, so it's time to name drop. I have partied with Peter Diamandis. I have had dinner with Bob Richards, which was in fact just back in November. Not the kind of dinner where I was 12 tables away mind you, but at the same table, one chair separated. We passed the butter.

So, I was extremely happy to read today that the Singularity University (SU) has started in the United States, backed by NASA. The article is here...

http://www.space.com/news/090203-singularity-university.html

As the article states, "The Singularity University (SU) plans to offer a nine-week graduate studies program, as well as three-day chief executive officer-level and 10-day management-level programs, starting in June. It will be located at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif."

Basically, the classes cover
space and physical sciences; policy, law and ethics; finance and entrepreneurship; and more. What does this have to do with Peter and Bob? They are some of the ones instrumental in making this happen. As with the ISU (International Space University), located in Strausburg, France, this marks the next step in fordging a college of higher learning that is solely focused on the advancement of the human species into space.

I'm a Star Wars geek through and through, but I welcome an institution that is modeled after Star Trek's Starfleet Academy. This country should be the host of such an institution and I am beyond ecstatic about the emergence of the SU.

GO SU!!!

Iran Launches a Satellite

For context, here is a link to the article:

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Iran_puts_first_satellite_in_Orbit_agencies_999.html

Now on to my opinion. This scares the hell out of me, because of the basic and simple truth that Iran is not trustworthy. When a nation openly invokes the destruction of a culture, mixed with its sketchy ties to the terrorist world, mixed with its stubborn and arrogant refusal to "play nice" with the rest of the world, the mere thought of that nation having the ability to launch anything into space is unnerving.

Iran's questionable nuclear aspirations are definitely in play here. Oh yes, they say their nuclear program is for peaceful use, but they have never shown themselves to be a peaceful and trustworthy nation, period. They need to prove it. If Iran was to wake up and allow (hell, invite) inspectors to visit their country throughout the duration of their nuclear development, it would go a long way to building a trust between them and the rest of the world. But they expect us to just take their word for it. I don't think so, Tim.

Note: It's not just America that is concerned about this development. France was the first nation to openly express concern. And you can bet Israel has its eyes fixed east, as they probably always do.

Being a nuclear nation involves a serious amount of responsibility. It's very simple: don't be a jackass that threatens to eradicate an entire race of people, call one of the most peaceful and helpful nations in history "Satan", and basically try to force your narrow minded, cultural oppressive, religious zealot views on the rest of the world.

Iran seems to be more like a rebellious teenager, and while the rest of the world has grown up, they refuse to adopt a more responsible position in the world. Do I mind them having a space program? Yes, until they prove that their intentions are pure and just, with no air of plausibly aggressive & destructive tendencies. Once that happens they should be, along with any peaceful nation, be welcomed among the stars.

Monday, February 2, 2009

GM/Ford/Chrysler & NASA

Okay, so why not stimulate the economy in such a way as to help the auto industry and progress science? These untracked handouts are ridiculous, but here is a simple...how radical...idea to do this.

Via NASA, contract the auto makers to mass produce rovers for Mars, or anywhere else for that matter. NASA dumps a crap load of cash into the design and build of just 1 vehicle, then they move on to something completely different. Complete redesign every time. By having the auto industry mass produce a series of rovers, you can drastically reduce the cost, people keep their jobs building something WAY cooler than just a car, and the scientific return would be amazing.

Can you imagine what kind of scientific return we'd get if we have 300 Spirit's and Opportunity's on Mars, all over the place? Ford could make one type of rover for a certain complement of instruments. GM another. Chrysler another. Send 3 or 4 of these babies at a time. Also send them to the moon. Send them wherever they could be used.

This would not only save NASA the headache of having to worry about a rover supply, but would boost the economy in the right way, through technological advancement, scientific advancement, and human advancement. Much more important than just dollar signs.

The Superbowl

Not everything I talk about will be space related. So, as a die hard football fan, but especially a Cowboys fan, I was vigorously engaged in the Superbowl last night. I was for Arizona, the underdog by many, but I gave them more credit than most.

I think they fought their butts of in that game, and at 20 to 7 with a quarter to go, I bet most people wrote the Cards off. I was reserved, but hopeful. The next thing you know, BAM BAM, the second of which was an awesome Fitzgerald catch and run. Up 23 to 20 with under 2 to go. Can't argue with that.

Then the Arizona defense forgets that all they had to do was hold the Steelers. And at one point it was 1st and 20 from what...the 12!? Arizona, through all their fighting, laid an egg at the end. I'm so pissed it's not funny. They fought back, had control, had momentum, and hosed it. I do think, however, the this was not a flash in the pan for Arizona, as many of their key players should return next year. We shall see, but I'm still not happy.