Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Falcon 9 Launches

Today the first Falcon 9 test launch was conducted by SpaceX (http://www.spacex.com), in their ongoing evolution to advance human spaceflight and help our species become true space explorers.

It was a great launch, and even though they were delayed due to an anomaly, they had plans and procedures to rectify the situation and get the rocket ready for launch. True professionalism on all fronts, with an attention to detail and safety that should quell latent fears about how commercial space will operate.

Many news articles and websites will cover all the details, so I'll keep this simple: They did it. Plain and simple, they did it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Scientific Method in Practice

I just finished watching the amazing NASA briefing on the new astrobiological discovery of Arsenic-Life.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/astrobiology_toxic_chemical.html

Needless to say, I love the discoverer of this revelation (Felisa Wolfe-Simon), because her passion for science flows from her like sound waves from a Bose Stereo System. Plus, she shows an energy that's severely lacking in scientists when they get in front of the public. Instead of hearing Charlie Brown's mom, I heard an excited, passionate scientist who wants to engage the audience and public with the information. The closest similar example I can think of is Steve Squyres from the Mars rover project (Spirit and Opportunity).

If you want to understand the true nature of the scientific method, just listen to the way Felisa Wolfe-Simon describes her work, herself, collaboration, etc. during the NASA press conference, which I'm sure will be on YouTube soon enough. It's not about selfish gain, but selfless collaboration, working with others, questioning oneself in the pursuit of what I like to call, "the truth of the moment", because as it's now obvious, "truth" can change with new information.

In relation to this, some people scoff at an organization I support, the Venus Project, but sadly the majority of the ridicule comes from people who seem to have no experience, clue or reference to what a Resource Based Economy would function like, because they are very good at projecting today's broken values on a future construct, or they outright lie to try and validate their position through baseless name calling and idiocy.

The core "mantra", if you want to label it, of the Venus Project is, "The Scientific Method for Social Concern." Just look at how the world works today, with rampant greed and selfish self interest flooding our lives as though it's normal, and sadly some people actually think this is normal. Now contrast that to how a scientific mind works by looking at a statement made directly by Felisa during the press conference, "It will take an army of scientists, clearly not just myself or my team, but other people to bear on this problem with their tools and their ideas." I'd love to see a politician or any "expert" step up and be humble, encouraging collaboration as a truth, and not just giving it lip service.

I also like Steven Benner (the panel skeptic) and his awesome statement about civil disagreement between disciplines, but that none of the discussion is personal, and that the goal is to find the truth. Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence to support it. Science begins when you distrust experts. I think there are many political and financial "experts" we need to start distrusting. Maybe one day people will wake up to that fact.

For now, this discovery highlights the best parts of science, the scientific method, and how such rationale can and should be used as the method by which society is governed. The more science advances, the less we shall cling to old world folkways as means by which to govern ourselves, especially since those have failed time and time again, and are failing us all now.

The Scientific Method: In practice, in action, for the future.

Monday, November 22, 2010

And When the 1% is Done & Bored?

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/news/bigelow-aerospace-ba2100-hotel

First, I love this technology,t he idea, the advancement, the systems, and the potential. What I hate is the economics.

Serious question for the new frontier that I have such a passion for: How does one envision the growth of space exploration and development once the 1% of the worlds wealthiest people have bought their rides (even a few times) and the remaining billions of people on the planet can barely afford to pay rent, much less $200k+ for a trip to space, and governments are conducting financial masturbation in an effort to mask their debt bubbles, while creating all the "invisible" money they're printing to cover their asses?

Archaic economic systems cannot support the modern world and the potential we have to grow beyond our wildest imaginations.

One Step Closer to Antimatter Space Drives!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827874.500-antihydrogen-trapped-at-long-last.html

Okay, maybe not, but the title got your attention, didn't it? :)

Still, this is a step in the right direction, even if it's a small and inefficient one. You have to start somewhere. Who knows what may happen in 10, 20, even 50 years.

After all, in Star Trek, nothing really started going strong until what...2063? :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Congress Shuffled, But Still The Same Cards


http://www.space.com/news/nasa-budget-midterm-elections-gop-101106.html

In my experience, it has been proven over the past few decades that the people of Congress have no real interest in actually advancing the technical progress of this nation when it comes to space exploration a development. They are more concerned with "traditional" political moves, rinse and repeat statements, and pandering to their political base in an effort to remain strong for the next election. So in short, it doesn't matter that the mid-term elections shuffled power in Congress...the same brain dead ideology still prevails.

As we all know, the impulse for starting the space program was fueled by nationalistic fervor, a passion to "beat the Russians" in whatever they did. If the Russians had instead decided to build a city in the Arctic, we would have done that instead of space exploration. In this respect, I thank Russia for choosing space as the battle ground. However, the time of space being a battle ground is over, and apparently so is the passion for space.

It seems the only reason for doing any large scale, large cost operation these days is for the purpose of chest thumping or conques...er...defense. I'll be interested to see the political stance when China announces its Moonshot and plans for Lunar base construction. Let's see how important it will be then, of course under the umbrella of national defense no doubt.

On that subject, as a former military veteran, I must ask: How much money do we need to keep the peace? As an associate of mine stated so correctly, "I believe the U.S. should have a "strong military". But how strong is "strong"? The present situation would only make sense if our goal were to "conquer the planet", not "keep peace.""

His statement comes from this article on World Military Spending, and the chart here shows the perverse distribution. Seriously, how many ways to kill a human being do we need to come up with? Last I checked, we already have the ability to send a missile hundreds of miles through the window or vent shaft of a building. Enough is enough. If that graph doesn't scream MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, then I don't know what does.

Yet people move about their daily lives, completely unaware or not caring about the money involved in this sector, all the while so many other social problems are literally destroying our civilization from the inside out. 1.5 trillion in military spending. 1.5 trillion! I can only imagine what NASA and the space industry as a whole would be able to accomplish with just 5% of that, 75 billion, which would be a 4 fold increase over what they get now.

Of course, the argument often then switches to, "Why NASA, when the money could be spent in other places?" Well, besides the jobs this would create throughout the space and tech sector, which would have a large overall positive impact, space exploration helps us develop technologies to live in harsh environments, and those technologies are then returned back to Earth and used in ways to help people live better lives.

Living in space requires...demands...long lasting, low energy demand but high output, closed loop sustainable and clean technologies, all of which are current needs if we expect to maintain a livable environment for ourselves. You can't really kill a planet, but you sure can screw up the ability for life to thrive on a planet, and we're doing a great job these days of ignoring the obvious toilet bowl swirl we've put ourselves in. The planet will exist for 4 billion or so years with or without us. I'd prefer with.

I have little faith in trumped up business people and lawyers (politicians) when it comes to advancing humanity into space, but hopefully people will become more knowledgeable with respect to what space exploration really means for us as a species, and even their daily lives. And with that progress, we can usher in a golden era for humanity, on Earth and among the stars.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Value of the ISS

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/science-research-international-space-station-101101.html

I only have one statement regarding this article:

The moment we try to justify science and human progress with dollar signs is the moment we regress.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Essence of Science

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/dark-matter-annihilation-fermi-101027.html

When it comes to Dark Matter, I do get annoyed when people claim it to be real without having ever provided a shred of evidence to support that assertion. Is DM possible? Sure, and there is a lot of theoretical analysis to support it, but theory is not reality, so I think sometimes that scientists fall off the wagon of what science is really supposed to be all about.

With that said, at least this new finding (see article) isn't a computer model or mathematical masturbation as a form of "proof". Don't get me wrong, those have purpose, but this kind of information is what I'm patiently waiting for, to see if the "place holder" of Dark Matter has any chance of being more than theoretical.

"I want a lot of people who are experts to think about this hard and try to make it go away," he said. "If we all agree we can't, then we'll have our answer." -- Dan Hooper

And statements like this confirm why I love science, and is the proper stance for the true nature of what science is supposed to be all about. No blanket acceptance, no dogmatic stance never to be challenged, but quite the opposite, an ever present challenge brought on by the very people who discover things. The, "Please, prove me wrong," mentality that helps solidify ideas or reduce them to the trash bin, helping to expand our knowledge, because even if something is shown to be wrong, we have learned something new.

Science is always searching for the truth of the moment, but is never satisfied and passionately hunts for the next best truth with new knowledge and tools.

And with that mindset, we advance.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zft4au0FVhk&feature=player_embedded

In the beginning there was dirt. Then trucks came with blueprints and a vision. Almost sounds like the beginning of Las Vegas, and in a weird kind of way, similar. A crazy guy implements his vision to entertain people in a way never before imagined, bucking the establishment and forging his own path.

As Spaceport America held its runway dedication, these thoughts occurred to me. Then I applied them to the new Lunar Facility a few years (decades?) later, albeit with a nice time delay, but at least the people there could do amazing jumps of joy the likes of which would make Jordan envious.

Next, in a similar landscape for Spaceport America, I envisioned the same thing happening on Mars. By then, probably a bit less cumbersome of an undertaking, hopefully with less business and politics involved and more dedication to doing what's right for humanity in the long run. Nevertheless, the vision is nice. I wonder what spacecraft we'd have christened by then to accomplish the joyous task of ferrying mankind into the stars from whence we came?

Evolution is a constant construct, ever moving and fluid like water. Technical evolution, social evolution, mankind's evolution into something greater...hopefully more humble and thankful, more compassionate and caring, more open minded and magnanimous. An emergent man, not an established man.

To this end, Ad Astra Virgin Galactic. May the fruits of this labor lead to humanities self reflection as many start to gaze back upon this glorious world from a new perspective, a world where evolution never rests.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moving on Up!

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/private-space-station-first-clients-101019.html

It seems that while Congress is asleep at the wheel, Bigelow has decided to drive his bus towards the future. Good. And I venture to say that one of two things will happen. Either Bigelow will develop into a major global player with help from the government (by not getting in his way), or he'll start running into real roadblocks with ITAR crap and have to move everything overseas and tell America to piss off.

I say this because ITAR is retarded when it comes to commercial space and international cooperation. Really, it is. Just look at how ITAR completely screwed the American commercial satellite industry when it decided to make it nearly impossible for American companies to retain ties with its foreign clients or partners. Because as we all know, we must "protect" ourselves from everything, which includes screwing ourselves if necessary.

So with Bigelow announcing his deals with Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom, I wonder how his space stations, his technology, and his foreign relations will be treated under the thumb of ITAR and the paranoid military minds that seem to govern its implementation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Virgin's Virgin Voyage...for Enterprise Anyway

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-solo-test-flight-101010.html

This is great stuff, as is any positive development in the arena of space exploration and development. It's nice to see Virgin Galactic press on, in spite of the lack of space exploration push this nation (the USA) seems to be experiencing right now. Oh well, we are all part of the human race...people will wake up to that one day, one way or another...and in the long run I don't care if it's VG, SpaceX, NASA, China or Zimbabwe that helps propel humanity deeper into the beauty of space. For every expansion outward, we help solidify our inward capabilities. Better for us, better for the future, better for the planet and better for mankind.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The China Syndrome

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-viral-video-ufo-china,0,5226156.htmlstory

So there was another UFO over China, sending the world into a frenzy! Okay, maybe not the world, but all the fun loving UFO nutters are chomping at the bit over this one. I must admit, it's kinda weird, but as a science minded person, I will only conclude one thing, that it is a UFO. It's unidentified, it flies and it's an object. That's about it. Anything beyond that is just speculation or self placating Conspiracy Theory junk. Still, it looked kinda cool.
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http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/china-change2-moon-probe-maneuver-101006.html

China's second Moon probe is setting up shop in orbit. Soon it will start Lunar Observation science, probably establishing a data set to work from for the eventual Moon Base I'm sure they're going to build. After all, no other nation is really taking space exploration seriously.
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http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/china-launches-two-research-satellites-101007.html

"Two research satellites flew into a nearly 400-mile-high orbit early Wednesday (Oct. 6) on a Long March rocket, continuing a pace of nearly one Chinese launch a week since the end of July."

Yeah, that about covers it. On a related note, I got a cool gift yesterday, a small banner showcasing the end of the Space Shuttle Program and its 30 years of service to space exploration. A few weeks ago I got a neat little lapel pin. And in a about 6 months, I'll get a pretty pink slip.

Ad Astra!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

At the Zenith Hour

http://www.space.com/news/nasa-bill-passes-house-vote-100929.html

Okay, time to give credit where credit is due...such as it is. I'm not happy with many aspects of the new direction, but at least Congress acted before going on recess to play campaign politics for the mid-term elections and passed the NASA authorization bill.

I still strongly believe the new direction is too nebulous, fickle, vague and the time scales are far too large. Asteroids by 2030? Hell, we're not sure what life is going to be like in 6 months, economically, socially, globally, or in any other manner, so how the hell are we supposed to ensure a large time table like this is actually adhered too, especially since we'll cycle through a few Presidents before then?

We did the Moon Shot in less than 10, granted with a huge wallet supporting it, but with today's knowledge and advancements, 20 years is laughable. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I guess I should start learning this new phrase:

月亮一票吧。(Yuèliàng yī piào ba.)

Goldilocks Strikes

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/earth-like-exoplanet-possibly-habitable-100929.html

I wonder, if life is there, and its advanced life, what they name their own star. I have to assume that we'd defer to their name and not the one we've made up for the star.

Anyway, this is good stuff. Finally some positive news not related to computer model science or political BS. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Congress Recesses on Humanity

http://www.space.com/news/house-recess-nasa-bill-100927.html

I've been struggling over the past week or so to find something to blog about. Soyuz lands, a few asteroid things here, some math models playing with astrophysics theories there, but in short, basically everything is resting on Congress and their ability (inability?) to actually fund the federal aspects of the space industry to a point where it's really effective.

Well, I guess we get to wait a bit longer. I just love how politicians talk about their love of space, science, engineering and technology, but never really give two craps when it's an election season. I am so sick of these lawyers and career politicians with their fancy degrees and absolutely no technical knowledge of how to actually better the human race. Of course, that's not their goal, is it? It's all about the latest poll and the next election.

This broken f-ing system is showing itself to be what it is, over and over, yet people blindly follow along without giving two thoughts to how life COULD be if we maybe got some real smart people in places where it mattered.

End rant.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

That Which Was Old is New Again

I find this interesting for two reasons:

1. I talk about this stuff in my book. How funny. For greater details, buy the book. :)

2. This stuff has been a concept for a very long time.

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/rail-launched-scramjets-new-nasa-technology-100914.html

Friday, September 3, 2010

To Scoff is Normal...And Often Wrong

This morning on my way in to work, as with nearly every morning, I caught a great little piece on our local NPR public radio station called Engines of Our Ingenuity, presented by the University of Houston’s College of Engineering. These bits are very interesting, informative and educational, covering a wide variety of topics for all kinds of people...even non science/technology geeks like me. :)

Today, this particular piece was about numbers, but there is something very important nested within this piece that I want to highlight. For the sake of context, I'm presenting the full transcript of today's episode, and many more transcripts can be found here:

http://www.uh.edu/engines

I will highlight the parts I wish to focus on (and the reason for this post).
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What do the following words have in common: natural, imaginary, real, irrational, and transcendental. If you guessed “states of mind,” you’re probably not alone. But the better answer is they’re types of numbers. We take numbers for granted. One, two, three. These are the natural, or whole numbers. What could be simpler? Fractions are no trouble. Half a cup of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of salt. These are called rational numbers because they can be written as the ratio of two whole numbers. But many numbers aren’t rational. We call them irrational.

One of the most famous irrational numbers is the square root of two. The Pythagoreans’ of ancient Greece discovered this fact. They were a mystic cult, living according to strict rules established by their leader, Pythagoras. Numbers were divine to the Pythagoreans. So when one of their own, Hippasus of Metapontum, discovered the square root of two was irrational, it upset their entire understanding of the world. Legend has it that Hippasus was killed for his heresy. Ironically, we now call the rational and irrational numbers taken together, the real numbers. When we add a number called i, representing the square root of negative one, we get the imaginary numbers. They’re perfectly good numbers, though they’d probably have caused the Pythagoreans to drink hemlock-laced Kool-Aid.

And things only get stranger. We know that the rational and irrational numbers are both infinite. But there are infinitely more irrationals than rationals. That’s because there’s more than one type of infinity. This is the result of Georg Cantor’s pioneering work on transfinite numbers. Cantor’s contemporaries were extremely critical of his efforts. Henri Poincaré called Cantor’s transfinite numbers a “disease.” Leopold Kronecker, one of Cantor’s teachers, called Cantor a “scientific charlatan” and a “corrupter of youth.” Today, mathematics and engineering students can’t survive without knowing at least some of what Cantor unearthed.

Cantor’s work led him to study sets. The set of all red cars, the set of socks in the bottom drawer. Mathematicians believed sets were even more basic than numbers. So in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries they went about defining numbers using sets.

It seems crazy. Why fuss with sets? But it laid a foundation that helped us learn many surprising things about what we can and can’t do with mathematics. And … with computers. Today’s digital computers work with one thing, numbers. Peek inside and you’ll see everything expressed in numbers, from the icons on your desktop to the email waiting in your inbox. Numbers make our copiers copy, our phones phone, and our word processors process. We couldn’t do without them. Wonderful, practical, even divine numbers.
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Now let's focus back on the highlighted part of this transcript. Throughout history revolutionary ideas have been scoffed at, ridiculed and rudely (if not violently) challenged. This is but one example, and many can be researched beyond just the sciences.

My point is that when people attack, ridicule, scoff and degrade "radical" ideas like the Venus Project, the Electric Universe, or people like Nassim Haramein, or conduct any other such action, remember that history is full of people who do this. They are the ones challenged, fearful, or simply too egotistical to accept something different.

In time, they are typically proved to be wrong at least to some degree, but I'm certain at the time they wielded great swords of superiority...at least in their own minds. :)

So remember that time based validation is the true test, and so is social and technical evolution.

Onwards and upwards, let not the baggage wielders of outdated thinking hold back the progress of mankind.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

SpaceX Achieves Another Milestone

SpaceX successfully tests its parachutes

Video of the SpaceX drop test


Note: I wouldn't call this entry much of an article, but a nice passing along of information. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I have been so busy these past few weeks that I've kinda neglected this blog. Not that I don't read articles and find neat tidbits of news on space, science, engineering and technology, but I've just not had the gumption to write about it.

Anyway, I'll try to do better and develop more detailed blog entries, but I make no promises, because if certain things occur over the next few months, this whole blog might fall away permanently as I graduate to bigger and more important things. Time will tell.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Virgin Galactic - Not Immune to Failure

Which of course is understandable given that they are designing a completely new system for space exploration. Well, exploration of sub-orbit by paying passengers anyway.

So VG took a small spill because of a landing gear failure. No one was hurt, so study it, gather all the data and details, and press on. After all, this was bound to happen during the test phases of the project. As someone astutely said, "Rutan knows composites, but he's the grandmaster of one-off experimental designs rather than production aircraft." I agree with that. This is uncharted territory for the space ship wizard, but not for the people he's working with. They'll figure this all out, but it just goes to show that even the best aren't immune to incidents during testing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Post Switzerland Trip Article - Potpouri

Hello everyone! Well, without question, my trip to Switzerland to attend the Caux Initiatives of Change conference was absolutely one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. The people I talked too were incredible, I made some great contacts, I learned new things and passed on information regarding sustainability and our true technological potential, most of which was derived by space exploration and development. :)

Because of this trip, I haven't exactly been following space news much, but I hope to get back into the flow starting today.

I see the ISS is going through some repair work. Nothing like a "fix-it" job in orbit. Isn't it amazing what we can do these days?

A big ole' skydiving attempt looks to be coming soon. Now THAT would be one hell of a ride! Now just imagine trying this out of a Virgin Galactic ride...at apogee of course.

Celebration V. Star Wars, although sci-fi, was the catalyst that drove me and many others into the space industry. It's because of sci-fi that we develop sci-fact. Now the fun part is actually using our sci-fact to benefit humanity. It seems we're still kinda "stuck on stupid" with our global socioeconomic system that's rooted in the 17th century while it tries (and fails) to govern the 21st century. As goes our technical capability, so should go our systems of governance...forward and evolving to be better.

I guess that's a good quick summary of today. Remember, question the "unquestionable" and challenge the "unchallengeable". Only then do you truly progress.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Off to Switzerland - Sustainability Conference

Needless to say I'm pretty excited about my upcoming trip to Caux, Switzerland to attend and speak at the Initiatives of Change conference, Leading Change for a Sustainable World. As the days draw closer to my actual departure, I'm thinking about my lecture, what I'm saying, and how awesome this trip is going to be. Okay, so the last part isn't exactly a factor of the conference objective, but come on...it's SWITZERLAND! :)

One of the many things I love about space exploration and development is that it forces us to conquer challenges that simply are not a factor in everyday life on Earth. We must rise to a new level just to maintain the basics of life in space, and this leads us to the invention of technologies that make such a life possible. Sustainability is by far one of the most paramount goals of space exploration. Without it, we could not survive there.

Sustainability is a factor in many aspects of space exploration, such as energy, air supply, food, water, and more. As we know, space is unlike any other environment. It's not like there's a 7-11 down the road to do a quick resupply, nor can you do flyover cargo drops like Arctic missions can do, or like our military does in remote locations. Space is just a wee bit more challenging than that, so your living conditions must be as sustainable and robust as possible.

And as I mentioned, it's because of those conditions that we end up inventing technologies that inherently benefit life on Earth. If you can create sustainable clean energy systems in space, you can apply that to Earth. If you can create sustainable food production facilities in space (like for a Moon Base), then you can do so on Earth. There are many sustainable, long lasting solution options to satisfy humanity while maintaining a solid respect for the environment, and those solutions are technically driven.

The human brain, with its imagination and its innovative capabilities, is an amazing bio-computer, and the people who have used it for positive gain have given us the ability to live amazing lives on this Earth while simultaneously maintaining the positive natural environment we all need to survive long term on this planet. If we do not adapt and use our innovation to this end, we will bring about the systematic self destruction of the human species. The planet will move on, but we won't.

As the late, great George Carlin said, "The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles…hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages…And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet…the planet…the planet isn’t going anywhere. WE ARE!"

I don't know about you, but I'd like to stick around, so let's do the right thing and make sustainability a paramount issue and technological advancement as the tool to implement it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Congress...in...Space!!!


More fun by Congress regarding the space program.

It sounds kind of good, but I'll breathe a sigh of relief once it's officially signed. We all know Congress has the ability to muck up a good compromise.

Plus, with all these letters out there promoting one way or the other, like from Astronauts who are okay with Commercial Space transport, it's hard to gauge where the final stop on this train will leave us.


P.S. Hope you got the Pigs in Space reference. :) You have to laugh every now and then, no?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lutetia the Lovely

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM44DZOFBG_index_1.html

Some things are just too cool for words. In such cases, I'm glad we have missions in space to bring back these awesome pictures. Congratulations ESA for Rosetta and these stunning pictures. I look forward to future amazing visuals.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

U.S. Space Policy 2010

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/national_space_policy_6-28-10.pdf

Here's a bit of reading material for you to go through. What peaked my interest is the section on Space Nuclear Power. Interesting change of thought that personally am all in favor of. It's about time we started implementing nuclear powered rockets for long duration missions.

The Commercial Space Guidelines are also of interest. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Algae Plastic

When I suggest to people that the end of fossil fuels is now, they generally raise two issues:

1. Energy needs

2. Material needs

The energy needs argument is somewhat comical and illustrates perfectly the lack of proper education and access to information that shows, without question, that the global combination of solar, space based solar, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal and fuel cell technologies are fully capable of supplying clean energy for the entire global population (such that they all have high standards of living) for the rest our existence on this planet, especially if we seriously do all we can to utilize energy efficiently and smartly, and not just give it lip service. For example, ensuring every building has some level of energy creation for itself (photovoltaic paint, solar panel tiles, built in wind generators, fuel cell systems, etc). This doesn't have to mean that every building is off the grid, but it can mean that some buildings are sources when at off-peak use, or less of a sink when they are running full tilt.

Now let's look at materials. Plastic is a huge argument by many to justify the need for fossil fuels like oil. Well step back and behold the power of innovation and science, because we are on the verge of replacing that idea completely...

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/biofuel/algae-to-plastic

The article above, in Popular Mechanics, covers this, and I want to make note of a few specific comments in the article that one should consider:

"The myriad companies running at algal biofuels today, for example, must first find and cultivate a precise strain of algae from among thousands, harvest and dry the stuff, and then somehow extract oil from the plant on a cost-competitive basis with now very cheap crude."

"But, like his comrades in the algae-oil business, the trouble hasn't been so much the science, but the supply of algae to his lab."

So let me get this right, by all technical accounts we have the technology to do this on a large scale, but costs make it "difficult" to compete in the market. Oh 'money', how I love the freedom you give us for innovation and doing the right thing. How stupid are we that we let a man-made construct restrict us so much in a time when we are capable of greatness?

Space Cooperation

http://www.space.com/news/national-space-policy-cooperation-100627.html

One of the best things about space exploration is the fact that it's pretty much financially and logistically impossible for any one nation to do it alone. Space has been one of the best sources for global unification over the past 20 years or so.

Mr. Carl Sagan said it best, "The old appeals to racial, sexual, religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalist fervor are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet. One of the great revelations of the age of space exploration is the image of the earth finite and lonely, somehow vulnerable, bearing the entire human species through the oceans of space and time."

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Pitiful Path We Walk Today

Space.com Article: Air Force Sees Hypersonic Weapons and Spaceships in Future

Nothing like a pithy comment by yours truly to start a raging debate...but a polite one. Not sure if it's really done yet, but hope it's not. I enjoy polite debates, key word here being polite. FYI, I am MasterSith. :) And for the record, my original comment has over 50 recommendations, over double that of the next closest, for whatever that's worth. lol.

As you'll notice, I do all I can to support my claims with links to solid sources. The only way to debate, intelligently, is to behave respectfully and support your claims. I still can't stand how we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on more unique ways to kill people, and pennies (relatively) on peaceful cooperative space exploration. What's wrong with this picture? Anyway, here's the debate thus far...
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MasterSith wrote: "We could have in the future such things as hypersonic weapons that fly 600 nautical miles in 10 minutes."

-- Or we could actually fix our global social problems and completely eliminate 90% of the reasons why people fight in the first place, and actually elevate the standard of living of all the world's people.

Yeah, I know, how crazy is that in the 21st century with all this amazing technology, medicine, abundant food production capabilities, clean sustainable energy options, automated robotic housing construction techniques (a 2,000 sq ft home built in 24 hrs) and robust transportation systems based on clean tech, maglev train systems and GPS/automated safety foundations. Yeah, might as well just continue to blow sh*t up instead of bridging differences and helping people live in environments where being bastards is a pointless option.

I love the tech, but I hate the premise on which it is reasoned for use.
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Ken_Forees_Forehead wrote: a paltry two recommendations for your post, one of them from me. sad state of affairs.
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Windbourne wrote: It is easy to hate its use, BUT, the truth is that military RD has done a great deal to advance society, then to hurt it. Take the example of DARPA. Prior to W basteridizing it, it was devoted to long term RD that involves lots of money. Some of it was really on the edge WRT the military. Sadly, W perverted it, killed the majority of the university connections and then sent a lot of it to the commercial world, esp. in Texas. HOPEFULLY, Obama has restored what we had, along with the ppl that used to run it. To be honest, I am not in touch with them anymore, so, I do not know where they sit.

Look, I KNOW that you are not wild about the military (few really are; even in the core military). But the thing to keep in mind, is that a strong military prevents anybody from doing real wars with us. It takes a terrorists with nations like Pakistan/Somalia to take us on. HOWEVER, if we have a weak military, or if anther nations THINKS that they can take us on, then with the wrong leader in place, they will do so.

Also, keep in mind that a mach 10-15 weapon like this, is IDEAL for ABMs. If successful, then we can take out something launched from say NK, Iran, Burma, and quite possibly, Venezuela, or even China. That is why I think that this will be developed VERY quickly.
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Windbourne wrote: BTW, what robotic system builds a home in 24 hours?
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MasterSith wrote: Ken - I see 7 now, but I'm waiting for the accusation that I'm a wide eyed peace loving hippie Utopianist. lol. Which are typical accusations by people who are so well programmed that they cannot fathom actually using our technical capability to actually make the world a better place. Oh, and I am not that.

Then you get the "human nature" nonsense, which has already been proven to be a false notion. Human behavior is 90% environmentally driven. Not just parents, which is just one part, but also society, commercials, friends, what you see, how things are taught, etc.
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Windbourne - Remember, I served in the Navy, so I was part of the military. It's not about weak vs. strong military. That idealism is archaic in today's world. What matters is figuring out WHY people are being aggressive in the first place.

Take for example terrorism. I strongly believe, and studies have proven this, that psychotic bastard terrorists would have very little recruiting power if the people of their nations lived amazing, high quality lives. Why the hell would one kill themselves for a twisted ideology when their real lives are actually amazingly good? In reality, the people are subdued, poor, uneducated, and live very difficult lives, so psychologically they are prime for conversion and brainwashing. To them, their lives are crap, so why not "fight" for something, and a persuasive psychotic is still persuasive. Better the environment, eliminate the cause by which people would even behave that way.

24 hour home: Look up Contour Crafting. It's a tech developed by a professor at USC. All he lacks is the funding to build the full scale prototype.
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Windbourne wrote: Oh, I had not forgotten your service (thank you btw).

As to the terrorism, you hit it right on the head. We DO need to help all, come up in living standards. That was the idea of our doing Free Trade Agreements with so many nations. The problem is that nations, like china, SK, Iran, and Burma, are totalitarian countries in which the upper crust do NOT care about ppl since they already have it so good. In addition, those nations still see themselves at war with the west esp. USA. Our FTA will not work with them as long as they get to manipulate money, and ppl, at will.

I disliked our going into Iraq, while ignoring Afghanistan. Any nation that we go into, I believe that we NEED to re-build. Iraq at least is looking like they will do ok. Now that we have found minerals in Afghanistan, HOPEFULLY, we can help these ppl to rebuild their lives, and forget all about terrorism.

But in the end, we still need a strong military. It prevents nations like NK, Burma, Iran, and even China from pushing their will on others.
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MasterSith wrote: Windbourne - The upper crust in America don't care about people beneath them either, else they'd not always prefer profit over people, and would gladly use larger percentages of their wealth for worthy causes that help build hi-tech sustainable systems, even for those in our own nation, instead of keeping their wealth in off shore banks and "buying" politicians to do what they want them to do.

The problem with Afghanistan's mineral finding is that powerful nations have historically raped and pillaged smaller nations of their resource wealth for their own benefit, the USA included. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ignoring history.

The USA is brilliant at masking this fact by suggesting we're "helping" other nations, but in fact it's our companies and our industry that infiltrates these nations and basically dominates their landscape. It would be nice if we'd stay out of it, and let Afghan companies work on Afghan resources, but I don't think that will happen. Mark my words, American companies will make their way into Afghanistan to mine the resources and the Afghan people will not benefit from it. Corporate hostile takeover is the American way these days.

Check out this simple video as an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7Fzm1hEiDQ

"But in the end, we still need a strong military. It prevents nations like NK, Burma, Iran, and even China from pushing their will on others."

-- We'll need less of a strong military the moment we start actually giving a damn about people around the world and start doing what's right to better all lives, and not just the lives of a select few. And besides, how many more extravagant ways of killing people can we come up with? Between laser guided missiles that enter windows and global nuclear threats, I'm pretty sure we've reached the peak of killing efficiency. Time to start putting our amazing scientists and engineers to work on long term self sustainable systems that benefit the world. But then again, there's no profit in self sustainability.

As for pushing will on others...last I checked, the USA does a pretty good job of doing that too, but we mask it as governmental and economic freedom, when in fact our very practices are destroying the planet and are linear in consumption with no regard for the end game...which at this rate means nothing left for anyone...dead planet, dead humanity.
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rreilly656 wrote: """" Then you get the "human nature" nonsense, which has already been proven to be a false notion. Human behavior is 90% environmentally driven. Not just parents, which is just one part, but also society, commercials, friends, what you see, how things are taught, etc. """""

Sorry Doug, you are making a false supposition to try to support your notions. Human nature is not the strict taskmaster that animal nature is, but it is an underlying natural phenomenon that well-meaning "enlightened" people, as well as hard-core totalitarians ignore at their peril. It is the ignoring of human nature that is at the root of a whole lot of the world's problems. Your dismissal of human nature is a recipe for disaster.

But keep in mind that accepting human nature for what it is is not fatalism. As you allude to, what distinguishes us humans is our capacity for choice and our ability to develop all sorts of new options for ourselves. The conceit comes when one assumes (as you seem to do), that "technology" will "save us." No. It. Won't. Technology will help, but wisdom will matter more, and one wise thing to remember is that there will always be human conflict, with the attendant miseries it creates. No utopias, ever. Utopian thinking is dangerous and deluded.

As to the pessimism about the human condition I see from your posts and some respondents, I've got some very good news, if you'll only accept it. It is indeed tha natural human condition to desire peace and peaceful pursuits than to desire conflict. It is also a fact that most humans most of the time spend, and have spent in the past, most of their time in peaceful pursuits. That there is too much conflict and upheaval is a given, and it is both rational and worthwhile to want to reduce the levels of conflict, violence, and upheaval. Appreciating human nature at its core is one of the most important elements of resolving world problems; these days most governments and institutions stubbornly and persistently refuse to do so. Well-meaning progressive solutions and technological advances aren't worth spit if the powers-thst-be ignore or show contempt for the way humans really act and think, and what ordinary humans actually want in their lives.
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MasterSith wrote: rreilly656 - Thanks for the comment, because I see I need to be more clear. I appreciate that.

I'm not dismissing human nature, I'm properly defining it so that people understand the difference between what we can control and what we can't, nature vs. behavior. You can't do much about genetic defects or propensities or eye color as passed by parents to children, which is real human nature, but you can modify the living environment to help foster a positive and amazing life for people such that there is no need to steal, kill, or exhibit any other aberrant behaviors.

Human nature is very important, but far too many people "think" they know what it is, and unfortunately they're wrong. Most people suppose human nature to be fatalistic, as you mentioned. Ideas like, "Well, mankind is just aggressive and will always be that way...it's human nature." Or, "Greed is natural," as if it's like breathing. Nonsense, and I don't just say things without being able to back it up with scientific study, so here's a lecture by an expert in the field that sites many other experts and studies in this field:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vMC3TPuOOo

Another thing of serious note by a leading expert in the field:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KahBhoHvd-M

"The conceit comes when one assumes (as you seem to do), that "technology" will "save us.""

-- Your assumption about me is incorrect. I wish you'd ask me instead of making assumptions. No, tech will not save us like that. Tech gives us the ability to save ourselves. Big difference. People starve around the world and many fight because of their desperate situation, yet we have the tech to build solar/wind powered self sustaining hydroponic farm facilities (10 story buildings) that can feed 200,000 people a wide variety of fruits and vegetables without any soil requirements. A one acre footprint would be the equivalent of 400 acres of farm land. One acre feeds around 500 people, and that's actually low balling it considering the tech used. And these systems could be made of the best materials so they last 20 years without need for maintenance, or at least very minimal maintenance. But of course, this would drive the big food industry out of business. Can't have that now, can we.

Proof of this:

www.omegagarden.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCTOR6m3k9w

So as you can see, right away we can eliminate a stress just with food. And stress leads to irrational and improper mental states, making people prone and susceptible to aberrant behaviors. Same goes for shelter, transport, communication, energy...especially energy which is the driver of all other things, etc. It's not that we can't relieve these stresses, it's that we don't.

And here you go throwing out the Utopian statement, which I knew would come. Another assumption you are projecting on me as if you know what I'm thinking, and I even mentioned this earlier. lol. Utopia is fantasy. There is no such thing as perfection. The only constant in the universe is change. What is possible is developing a system that is better suited and capable of utilizing that change, embracing that advancement (not restricting it), and properly evolving itself as things progress. It's not Utopian, it's just a better method that's adaptable for change.

I actually fully accept that people are more prone to peaceful pursuits and cooperation than they are of violence and selfishness. We would never have survived as a species if our neanderthal ancestors didn't work together for survival. For another example, the human being was not designed for war, because if it were, our veterans would not have so many mental and physical issues after returning from combat. We'd not be so traumatized by seeing death and destruction and we'd have little or no empathy. We're not designed like the fictitious Klingon's, who actually revel in violence. Quite the opposite, we suffer serious mental and physical hardships when exposed to or having to participate in violence.

However, we live in a system that promotes and glorifies selfishness, greed and aggression. When war is profitable, who the hell will stop it? I guarantee if the government conscripted companies to fund wars, and no profit was to be made from it, we'd rarely be in war and spend most our time actually bridging the differences in peaceful manners.

When the pharmaceutical industry actually profits off people being sick, who's to think they'd actually want to heal everyone?

When using money to make money off of others is glorified, why would people stop doing it?

When cutting corners and making the least common denominator products for the maximization of profit is standard practice, what stops people from continuing the practice?

So to recap, we can use our tech to better our world, better our living environment, better the natural environment, and live high standards of quality life, thereby enabling us to save ourselves from our self inflicted negative traits, but we need a better system to accomplish that, and the current system and its practices cannot do this.
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rreilly656 wrote: Doug,

Thanks for your reply to my reply. We are not as far apart now, but still separated by matter of degree: I give more value to human nature, which is not just about genetic traits, but much deeper and more pervasive in how it affects human interactions, than you're willing to believe.

It's OK, because I also know you're not a utopian, and should have left those references out.

The other thing to note is we're not that far apart on the notion that technologies can have huge beneficial effects for humans, including on the individual level. We may only differ in that we come from different directions on how technology helps, or not.
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AirSpaceMan wrote: Doug - I haven't seen you this exercized about something in quite a while! Who put the burr under your saddle?
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Windbourne wrote: The burr was probably from me. Doug has total belief that we can solve these issues, and get all nations to work together. I do not believe that.

It is easy to solve the terrorists. They are typically a group of ppl that count on the majority of the population to look the otherway, while they push their way. They also count on hard times. If they did not have that, they could not recruit. Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. are PERFECT breeding grounds for these areas.

That really is why we MUST re-build these nations, and give them hope and a future. Without that, we can not solve it. BUT, terrorists also know that, and will work hard to block progress while blaming the other guy.

Totalitarian nations are a very different creature. The heads of North Korea, CHina, Burma, Iran, etc live MUCH better than their own nation does. They have a very different motivation. They are not into ease of living. They are into POWER. And there is not enough in the world to satisfy that desire for those kinds of ppl. Basically, no matter what we do, they will want more.

Doug is frustrated because ppl like myself support the military on this. BTW, doug, I agree with much of what you say. I have no issue with most. The thing is, that you try to apply logic to a situation that is not logical: the desire to seek power.
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MasterSith wrote: rreilly656 - Quality discussion is always awesome to me. :)

I value human nature too, but I guess what matters is how we define it. As I mentioned, it's not just about genetics, but I think people put too much stock into the genetic part. It's more about environment than genetics, and science is proving that (nature via nurture, not versus nurture). They are complementary, not competitively exclusive. It's more like 90/10 or 80/20 in favor of environment over genetics as far as what molds our behavior.

We might actually be debating the wrong thing here. I'm more interested in human behavior than I am in human nature. How we interact with each other, the values we hold, are directly representative of the environment (culture) we live in. Better the environment and, by default, you better the people.

Not perfect, as you'll still have a small percentage that will be mentally unstable for no reason whatsoever, and it's hard to address that unless you adequately solve real mental illness (not fake illness like A.D.D. in 10 yr olds, when all they are is 10 and loaded with energetic boredom). lol.

"We may only differ in that we come from different directions on how technology helps, or not."

-- Very well, I would ask you then, in what ways do you see tech as being a benefit, or detriment? And a follow up, (hypothetical thought experiment) assume money is gone and there are no longer financial restrictions to what we can do, our collaboration, and our purpose. In what way then would you envision the role of tech?
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AirSpaceMan - lol. The burr was placed when I woke up and realized that we are capable of so much good, but are doing so much wrong, and that it's not really the fault of the people, but the fault of the system under which the people are reared.

Our potential is being squandered by archaic principles that should have long since been allowed to go extinct.
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MasterSith wrote: Windbourne - Ah, but I maintain that the desire to seek power is programmed into us, and cultivated by the very nature of the system we've created for ourselves. It's profitable (financially and otherwise) to be a power seeking selfish bastard. This is what we teach, this is what we cultivate. Change the system, change the outcome, change the value system from self to others because of abundance.

Before the 21st century...totally not possible. No instant global communication for the sharing of information, no means of highly efficient abundant production with zero human labor requirement for sustainability, no clean energy options, no method by which to supplant a monetary exchange system, etc. So for all time prior to the 21st century, that status quo made sense, and bred status quo thinking. But today...ah today...things are very, very fundamentally different.

The situation is logical, and can be fixed, because the problems are technical in nature. Technical problems warrant technical solutions, which are logical. From your statements, you see mankind as fated to be as it is, distraught and constantly defensive. I see mankind as stuck in that scenario by its own devices, so if you change the devices, you change mankind and its behavior toward itself.
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AirSpaceMan wrote: Windbourne - Yup, that was the burr. I don't remember a time that MasterSith got this excited since Bill Wright would post about about perchlorates from the SRB's for the shuttle.

Talking about human nature will set all sorts of people in various directions.
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MrcACrl wrote: I'm with the Sith on this one.
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motie wrote: Have you noticed that as our weapons technology becomes more expensive and advanced, our success in war decreases? Where is the return on investment? Have you ever suspected that the big weapons contractors may exert undue influence over war policy? What other nation is stupid enough to spend millions on each "enemy" killed?

I'm amazed that some of you are still talking about "terrorism". Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden will never be defeated, because the US needs a bogeyman to justify its endless wars in central Asia. Do you think it's a coincidence that central Asia, including Iran, is the "center of gravity" for the world's oil and gas supplies, and major pipelines from/to Russia, China, and Europe? Have you ever wondered why Saudi Arabia is our "friend" even though most of the 9/11 suspects came from there, and Wahabi fundamentalism is based there, and Saudi Arabia exports its brand of religion all over the Muslim world? Have you ever wondered why the mainstream media never explores these issues in any depth, and almost never talks about the relationship between our wars and oil?

Our wars are dictated by our total addiction to fossil fuels. And I don't see a way out. Without fossil fuels, our industrialized western civilization, as well as Russia and China, collapses. Think about this: the third world supports a huge human population with almost no wealth and almost no artificial energy sources. When fossil fuels and uranium are gone (in roughly 50 years), the third world may have the right set of survival skills. That's assuming that the industrial world doesn't start the mother of all wars, and "cleanse" the planet with their nuclear-armed hypersonic playthings.

Think about this: the world's wealth is being concentrated in the Middle East, China and Russia. If the US continues to pursue its arms race (even though it is nearly broke), who will ultimately come out on top? Hint: follow the money, always follow the money.

All the information that you need to understand this is accessible via Google. Or read "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet", "Globalistan", or any of the many other books on the subject. Please note that I have not mentioned global warming. My argument is based solely on resource dependency.
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MasterSith wrote: AirSpaceMan - Nope, I mentioned the cause of the burr already. :) It's not Windbourne, although he does spawn lively debate, but that's a good thing. :)
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motie - "Our wars are dictated by our total addiction to fossil fuels. And I don't see a way out."

-- Under the current system, I completely agree. Change the system and you change the outcome significantly. This is what the Venus Project is trying to do, and it's not just about energy, but everything else as well.

Your notion regarding resources...natural ones, not artificial ones like money...is right on. It has always been about resources. Sadly, people are blind to the fact that our current socioeconomic system is the destructor of resources in a linear fashion. Nature doesn't work that way, and no matter how technologically advanced we become, if we don't use that tech properly in accordance with natural law (the ultimate law) then we're dooming ourselves.

This is what the Resource Based Economy is all about. It's always been about resources, but throughout history, we've never had the tech to actually manage global resources effectively or efficiently for all the worlds people. Now we can. The paradigm has shifted so drastically that we can now not only manage the resources wisely for the whole human race, but also ensure that the whole human race lives amazing, high standards of life.

Billions of dollars spent on missiles, bombs and guns would be better served building solar/wind powered automated self sustaining hydroponic farm towers, 10 stories tall, that can feed 200,000 people a variety of fruits and vegetables, yet only take up 1 acre of land space to do it. You solve conflict by resolving the problems that cause the conflict, not by just spending money on more weapons. Yet our current system is predicated on the latter of those two, and it needs to go.
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END


Whew, what a discussion. lol.

Come Sail Away

So JAXA's Ikaros, short for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun, is now gliding its way through our solar system.

This may be slow, but it's cool. And ya know, the idea of using this as a big power collector is good, because maybe it could power VASIMR rockets. :)

Who knows, but I love science, engineering, collecting new data and space. :) Beautiful combo package!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dark Matter Challenged?

Ah, little does my heart fonder than a good old scientific counter punch on a controversial topic. The article I'm referencing is here on Space.com. And my comments are as follows:

Consider this: What if the premise (theory) by which all other measurements are made is in and of itself, wrong, and that other "ludicrous" ideas might actually have merit, but are ignored? Just something to chew on.

Anyway, a quote form the article interests me. "Yet other astronomers, particularly those who first analyzed the WMAP results, remain unconvinced."

Well of course they are. If they were convinced they were wrong, their funding would stop and they'd all have to find another gravy train to study on. As altruistic as I'd like scientists to be, money still drives the boat, especially in today's world, so you don't bite the hand that feeds you...or at least you allow that hand to blind you just enough to conflicting data that you hold steadfast to your position.

I'm not saying astrophysicist Tom Shanks of Durham University in England is right or wrong (although I personally can't stand this Dark Matter/Energy dogma), but I do like his position that he hopes future measurements of the microwave background radiation from new telescopes will help clear up the issue. At least he's not saying, "We're right. You're wrong."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

SpaceX Launch Afterthoughts

It's been a few days since SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 test. I didn't post anything on this immediately on purpose, just so I could see how the mass media would digest this, and follow the blogs, and see what people thought.

News: Small quick blip on their radar. Typical.

Blogs: Loaded with opinions...like mine. Some informed, others not.

Reactions: Generally good. I guess all the SpaceX and Commercial Space haters went into hiding.

In summary, I wouldn't call this a victory, nor would I minimize the accomplishment. It was awesome! It was special, and it was vastly cheaper and better than the Ares-IX test launch. At least this went to orbit. There, I got my jab in. :)

Nevertheless, it's time to turn things around, check the data, do another launch, then ramp up for bigger and better things. All things considered, it was a good day for NewSpace and Government space, as one proved it's worth and the other probably gave a sigh of relief.

Now if we could just get the government to commit to a real plan with a serious deadline, like building a Moon Base in 10 years. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Student Probe Goes Kaput?!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18982-first-studentbuilt-interplanetary-mission-goes-silent.html

Alright, so the story is pretty simple, but my 2 cents are thus: It's still pretty sweet that students are working on designing and launching real systems into space. More of this needs to happen, especially probes to other planets, whether they're landers or orbital platforms doesn't matter. The point is getting young minds actively involved, building things, doing things, and contributing to science.

As noted in this article, this student built system piggybacked on an existing mission, so it's not like there was major expense or infrastructure needed to make it happen. I'd like to see things like this launch on every rocket we send into space. The more we have out there, the more we learn.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Impossible Possible

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18944-levitating-glass-bead-proves-einstein-wrong.html

I love the word "impossible". So many people throw it around, and sadly, even prominent scientists of massive intellect and world renown status even do it. Still, science is an ever progressing system, constantly evolving and changing itself to reflect better data and better analysis. This is why I love it so much.

We don't...well, we shouldn't...ever state that something is final and nothing more can be done. Or that anything is "holy" and unquestionable. LIFE is nothing BUT a series of questions for which we strive to find the answers. Blind faith results in just that...blindness. What was once thought to be impossible can quickly become commonplace is a short amount of time.

Just look at space travel. Kind of mundane now, right? Major news stations cover a Shuttle launch for about 2 minutes and then bugger off to go talk about Lindsey Lohan and her ever present social retardation. Now, go back 200 years and discuss space travel and people would think you're nuts, or a witch! lol. Careful what you say...representatives of God might try to get you.

My point is, whether in science or any other aspect of life, do your best not to throw around the word impossible, because even for great minds like Einstein, that word can come back to bite you in the butt. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Been Away...But Back

So yes, I've been off for a bit, mainly due to the fact that I finally had my officially wedding ceremony in Orlando.

Been together 8+ years with my lovely bride, have a wonderful daughter, and finally now had the ability to have the ceremony. It was a Star Wars wedding, very awesome, came together perfectly, weather was awesome (outdoor wedding) and in general was amazingly fun for all. It was elegant Star Wars, not corny Star Wars.

Anyway, now that I'm back I will be catching up on space/sci/tech news and posting my 2 cents on whatever appeals to me. That's kinda why you guys follow this blog, right? :)

Oh...if you want to see a boat load of wedding pix, they are on my Facebook profile. Just look me up. Until then, take care and best wishes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

NewSpace Players in the Highest Game

With President Obama's new vision of space exploration laid out, although by no means final, it's important to note some of the main players in the game. After all, with so much riding on NewSpace (Commercial Space), these companies might be headliners very, very soon.

Virgin Galactic is probably one of the best known NewSpace companies with its sights set on catering to the public more than to the government. Now yes, I'm sure SpaceX wants to get into that game as well, but they're taking the government path, which may or may not be a good idea. That really depends on how the dominoes fall over the next few years, and whether or not SpaceX turns into Boeing or Lockheed...a government contractor. I lump Orbital Sciences into this mix as well, since for the most part they already are a government contractor in most respects.

But one must also remember that there are more players in the game than just the ones who currently grab the media spotlight. Armadillo Aerospace seems to have just locked down a deal with Space Adventures that hopes offer a sub-orbital ride at half the cost of Virgin Galactic. We shall see. I'm hopeful and curious to see how this unfolds.

It's hard to mention Armadillo without mentioning Masten Space Systems, who beat out Armadillo for the $1 million dollar prize in the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge. Now Masten seems to be more focused on payloads than people right now, but I don't see them stopping short of the human launch goal.

Then you have Blue Origin, whose work seems to be more classified than the X-37b that was recently launched by the Air Force. Jeff Bezos seems to like keeping things hush hush, which could be a good idea. At least then when you test something and it fails, the media doesn't get all reactionary and all the pundits against NewSpace can't step up and spout off like idiots. It seems people forget that testing can and does result in failure, but the media just doesn't get that. Bunch of non-contributing zero non-scientists. :)

Now don't forget about XCOR, when back in December of 2009, the South Korean Space Center selected XCOR's Lynx for suborbital operation. They are moving hot and heavy on getting their craft up and running, and firing off thrill seeking people to the edge of space.

And to top things off (but this is by no means ALL of the companies, just those that I consider to be the biggest players) is Bigelow Aerospace. No, they aren't a launcher, but they will provide a destination. It would be kind of difficult to justify so many NewSpace launcher companies if they didn't have somewhere to go, and Bigelow is current the front runner in providing habitats in space, either orbiting in LEO, placed in GEO, stuck in a Lagrangian Point, or part of a Lunar Base infrastructure. Bigelow has a lot of options, especially once more of these NewSpace Heavy Lift options come online.

So as you can see, the game is in full swing. For the first time in human history, at least in my informed opinion, there is a light at the end of the tunnel that has restricted space travel to the select few as appointed by government. That light is NewSpace, and they are ramping up right before our eyes. What an exciting time we live in, because as far as I'm concerned, space exploration is a key variable in the equation for human advancement. Ad Astra was never a more valid term than today.

Let the games begin.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cassini Flyby

So NASA's Cassini probe "buzzed the tower" over Enceladus last night. I look forward to seeing what the data shows, well, at least reading the reports on what the scientists say the data showed. I can't wait until we actually drop a probe that drills down and unloads a cute little robotic submarine to go snooping around. Now THAT should be...maybe...headline news worthy stuff. That is unless some political scandal or ridiculous financial shenanigan is going on. Funny how we focus on the idiocy more than we focus on advancement. Such a shame, but hey, at least us science geeks are out there trying to do something to better humanity and its knowledge. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Obama NASA Speech Reactions

http://www.newsy.com/videos/pres-obama-defends-space-program/

Interesting video. I like how they bring several sources into one piece, showing different angles. I still stick by my thoughts on this issue, and completely disagree with people who dislike commercial space for LEO operations. I don't think NewSpace is ready to build Moon bases or conduct Mars missions yet, but NASA sure as hell is. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Obama Addresses NASA

Alright, so I decided not to make a canned blog article that I could post 10 seconds after the speech. I listened to the whole thing, did my best to remain objective, and have concluded thus:

Although I do like the mission ideas (human asteroid visit and Mars orbit), the time frame is way too long. Congress will mess this up within 10 years, and that's the real problem. When an organization lives and dies, financially, based on political ebb and flow, there is no way a plan spanning 20+ years is going to work. Period. I'm pretty sure that's why Kennedy wanted the Moon in 10. At least then he could have the chance to oversee the majority of it directly.

Hell, it took just 8 years for NASA to fall under the gun for the Constellation Program. I admit, I didn't like that plan myself, but it's always politicians (who for the most part don't have the foggiest clue about science, engineering, or technology -- other than the on/off switch) who jump in and screw up the process and the flow. Lawyers and bankers have no business regulating that which they have no knowledge.

It would be more prudent to just give NASA HSF a lump sum of $60 billion and give them a more definitive goal set and time line. At least then Congress can't muck it up. Here's what I think is a solid plan of action (based on historical evidence that we can move fast if given the resources). This also includes using international partners AND bringing China, India and other aspiring nations into the mix. Nothing should boost national pride more than WORKING with other nations to do amazing, peaceful things in space.

1. Establish a Trans-Lunar Infrastructure by 2015. Spacecraft (commercially developed), Orbiting fuel depots around Earth and Moon (NASA developed) and dropping supplies on the Lunar surface for phase 2 (both). Work on phase 2.

2. Build Lunar Base for 15 people by 2020. Both commercial and NASA partnerships to be used by NASA and general public scientists (globally as well, but as a rental space).

3. Spend the next 5 years (up to 2025) learning how to maintain, hold, operate and expand the base. 5 years to learn lessons AND inspire. Actually having a base there manned full time would kind of be a big deal for kids.

4. Mars landing by 2030. Use those lessons learned for the next main step, Mars mission. Probably just a landing for a month, depending on the orbital trajectories used, but a mission nonetheless.

At least in this manner, you have something big happening every 5 years. Things are being built, established, done and move forward. Yeah, NASA might need more money after the initial $60 billion, maybe not given commercial and international involvement, but either way at least we'd be getting things DONE! That's the problem with the current way of thinking...will we ever get anything actually done before it's messed with?


As an aside: For NASA doing R&D on advanced systems, I think it's about time we demand the military (Air Force especially) to reveal and employ all the Top Secret crap they've been working on with respect to space based assets. No more cloak and dagger nonsense. It's time to grow up and use what we've already paid for.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the Eve of Announcement

So Obama will be giving a speech tomorrow at the Kennedy Space Center, and it appears that a small amount of back peddling is underway as politicians scrap and fight to do what they can to "save" space...more like save their jobs from pissed voters.

I think it would be more prudent to base all decisions regarding human space exploration not on what makes Florida happy, ergo Florida voters, but what's in the best interest of the longevity of human space exploration and the advanced technology it develops, our passion and desire to learn and do complex things, and our ability to pass that spark to future generations who will, without question, be the ones who implement and drive the bus.

So let me see if I get this right:

1. Orion is back in a light form to act as the ferryboat for the ISS. Didn't we have CRV (X-38) on the table for this? And CRV was canceled in 2002 for...er...whatever.

2. The new system does nothing beyond LEO. How nice...more laps around the same track.

3. It looks like Lockheed makes out rather well in all this. I wonder how much their lobbyists got paid for pulling this one off?

4. NASA is going to put serious focus on R&D for beyond LEO operations. Okay, as long as there is a good amount of 'D' being done and not just a bunch of 'R'.

5. And just how do we get our own people up there to use this lifeboat (if necessary) in the first place? Build the lifeboat, then the crew launcher? Or, what's missing in the data, are we relying completely on SpaceX ET AL for that bit? Which is fine by me, but just not stated.


What we have here is a supreme failure to announce a mission, a mission with substance, drive, passion and goals. I am getting very sick and tired of lawyers and bankers determining my fate, my future, the future of humanity and the future of space exploration.

I am getting sick and tired of people who don't have a clue about anything regarding space to be the ones who dictate how space is funded, what we do there, and hold the strings of who's put in charge.

I am getting sick and tired of risk averse pansies who don't have the courage to step up and announce that space is difficult...duh...but vastly rewarding, and every astronaut or person who wants to go into space is well aware and fully accepting of the challenges. BRING IT ON!

But oh, someone might get hurt. PEOPLE DIE BY THE THOUSANDS ANNUALLY IN CAR ACCIDENTS, YOU IDIOTS!!! Do you see Congress regulating that sector as they do space? In fact, I'm sure you can come up with many other things that are far more dangerous and deadly than what we've experienced in space exploration.

When is enough enough? When do we step up and demand better? When do we elect better (not that we really have a choice with who we're presented with, do we)? Will we EVER be educated enough to understand how damn important things like this are, and how completely incompetent the people are that we put in charge? All the while we struggle to survive daily, our world view so narrowly focused on just making it through the week.

THIS is why we are in need of a system change. We're being herded, blinded and led by jackasses whose personal political and financial interests trump common sense, reason and logic...oh yeah, and OUR interests and survival without stress or dominance from controllable forces.

Vision, focus and clarity would be nice right about now, something that inspires...not just placates.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bob Lazar's Vindication?

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/04/finally-element-117-is-here.html

Okay, maybe not, but still, the development of making a few atoms of element 117 is pretty cool.

Oh, and if you don't know who Bob Lazar is, just Google him. It's interesting stuff, and great fodder for alien lovers and conspiracy theorists about Groom Lake. Nevertheless, his element 117 notions and the 'island of stability' are interesting, so there may be a kernel of truth to be found yet, no? :)

Ocean Power

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-04/submarine-runs-eternally-thermal-power-ocean-currents

So a question here would be, can this technology be used on Europa? I know the thermal differences are vast between here and there, but if the material in the system that expands and contracts can be made to work with the temperature differences on another world, then maybe we could power an other-worldly submarine that way.

Of course, maybe a simple RTG system would be a more logical approach, but hey, it's something to think about. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Robotic Winged Space Plane

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100403/ap_on_sc/us_mystery_spacecraft

I find this to be fascinating and annoying both at the same time. Fascinating because I love advanced technology and pushing our knowledge to the next level. Annoying because of all this top secret, cloak and dagger bull crap associated with anything done involving the military.

I want to know what this craft is, what it's supposed to be doing, what data collection capabilities it has, and what the purpose of the craft is anyway. It's not like they're punching out future versions, and up sizing it to carry people has already been done...it's called SpaceShipTwo. lol.

So in short, I'm fascinated and annoyed. Time for some coffee.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Small Sensor - You Name the Task (Audience Participation)

http://www.livescience.com/technology/smallest-solar-powered-sensor-100209.html

The only thing I have to say about this article is that it's wicked cool. Now, what do you think this kind of tech could be used for in space applications? Just something to get you thinking and hopefully stimulate your brain for a moment. :)

I look forward to seeing what people think.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One More Step Along the Journey

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-carry-test-100322.html

Virgin Galactic has completed one more step along the journey of making Commercial Space a reality. Yesterday marked the first attached flight of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, taking to the air together. Moving in the forward direction, it's nice to see Virgin Galactic making progress towards their ultimate end goal of providing more people a way to see the Earth as never before, and experience a thrill of a lifetime. One can only hope that that eventually leads into an avalanche of support for the advancement of humanity into space. :)

On a side note, SpaceX recently did their Falcon 9 three second test fire on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center. I didn't think that was really Blog worthy, even though it is important, but what could I say about that. Still, in the next month or so I hope to be writing about their successful Falcon 9 test launch. Now that is Blog worthy...at least to me. :) That is another step forward to the end goal, but only one goal of many to be set, I'm sure.

The steps that will be taken over this next year will probably come slowly, with little fanfare by the mass media who find it more compelling to talk about athletes and their infidelity for hours on end than serious news that can positively affect many of us. Alas, that's the pop culture we live in. I guess it's up to us insiders to do what we can to bring it to the forefront, a job I'm more than willing to undertake. :)

Ad Astra!!!

The Idiocy of Lunar Ownership

http://www.space.com/news/soviet-moon-rover-space-law-100322.html

This is where the notion of ownership becomes retarded. We're going to commit the same acts of stupidity on the Moon that we do/did on the Earth if we don't change our ways. Territorial disputes account for what...over half of all wars in history? Yeah, those are great parts of our history, where we killed each other over dirt (or the resources on or below said piece of dirt). Of course, that's no better than killing each other over fairy tales, mythos, or faith I suppose.

Sure, let's do the same stupid things on another solar system body by establishing property, ownership, false borders and selfish nonsense...idiotic.

No one owns the Moon, just like no one owns the Earth. And the notion that it's human nature to assume control and fight for 'things' is asinine. We are TAUGHT those values, they are not born into us. You can teach people to share and get along just as easily as you can teach them to be selfish and fight for pieces of dirt. Unfortunately humanity isn't civilized enough to teach the former of those two...yet.

I'd like to assume we would learn from our mistakes and not take our negative baggage with us when we start to expand humanity into the stars. I guess that's too much to ask once you bring lawyers into the mix.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Imagine If You Will

Imagine if you will...

You wake up on a Monday, living somewhere in the central United States (could be anywhere, but I'm using my local reference for the sake of discussion). When you wake up doesn't really matter. If you're a night owl, who functions better in the dark, maybe that's around noon. If you're a morning person, it could be at the crack of dawn. It really doesn't matter since you dictate your own schedule like everyone else does anyway, but let’s just say it was at 8am.

You stroll yourself to the kitchen, noticing that you're a bit low on some groceries. You make your way over to the kitchen wall computer, access your local food distribution center, and select what you need. The system says your goods will arrive in an hour via the automated cargo transport system. That works. This gives you time to eat breakfast and then take a shower. Good thing money is gone, because the high level of technology now implemented in agriculture has made food plentiful for everyone around the world, and the advances in robotic transportation are no longer hamstrung by costs or profit margins.

Breakfast is uneventful as you watch television, uninterrupted by commercials since there’s no such thing as “selling” products anymore. Now what used to take 30 minutes to watch (like the morning news), takes only about 15, and it’s nice that the majority of the news is about technical developments, the budding space exploration programs around the world, fun social events in the city and the past months efficiency ratings on key city systems. Always nice to see those numbers creep up, and numbers like the global crime rate continue to decrease.

Anyway, the shower is typical, and with a few minutes until the groceries arrive you check email and video chat with a friend in England, who you might visit today. The computer calls out indicating your groceries are about to arrive, so you grab your holding cart and walk out to the front yard. The cargo transport pulls up, the on board computer (with GPS and built in radar systems) knowing where you live just like the old post office people did when sending mail. You pull out the full cart with your groceries and replace it with your empty one, so that it can be returned, cleaned and used many times over throughout the city by the people. You press a button on the transport and it zips off back to the distribution center. A few moments later, your groceries are put away and it’s only 9:30am.

Well, what to do now? Last week was your only real work week for the year, as a volunteer technical expert on the automated hydroponic greenhouse building in your area. If something goes screwy, your volunteer team would be called in, much like how volunteer fire fighters used to operate, well, until we started building things out of fireproof materials. Anyway, with over 300 of you living in the area, it’s easy to rotate 5 to 6 person teams so that you’re “on call” for a week, but off for the next 51 weeks of the year. Of course, personal projects are what drives you, like the one you’re working on with about a thousand other people around the world on a new improvement to the international transportation grid system, but you don’t need to do that every day. That’s just interesting for you. And last week was uneventful, with no calls, so you spent your time researching on your project, and you did try to paint something...but we won’t talk about that endeavor. It’s nice to be able to work on what you like, instead of behaving like a rat in a maze doing something you “need” to do just to survive.

Take this house for example as a necessity for survival...shelter. After living in an apartment for a while, you decided a few years ago that a little place of your own away from everything would be nice, if just for a little while. It’s not like you have to lug furniture or many things around, since everything is always furnished how you like anyway. So you went downtown to the residential development building, selected an open plot of land, and started telling the computer what kind of house you wanted. Man you love voice recognition software. Those software people are amazing. Of course with millions of them working collaboratively around the world, it’s no wonder we always have the most amazing capabilities. After an hour or so, you’ve put together the exact house you like, including a nice virtual walk though in the VR room, complete with your personal landscaping touch and all the best furniture you enjoy.

Of course, everything produced these days is of the best possible quality, designed to last as long as possible. Good thing too. It was getting ridiculous with the amount of waste that went into making a bunch of redundant, second rate products. People used to complain that we didn’t have enough resources. It had nothing to do with availability, it had everything to do with waste and misuse. Anyway, your house was ready in less than a week, constructed by the automated robotic systems that build virtually everything these days (bye bye pointless human labor), complete with its own power system, independent of the grid. Although there is a grid system as backup, provided by the geothermal/solar hybrid plant in the center of the city, but it’s mainly used for powering city systems like the transport conveyors and automated subways. Anyway, the move was a piece of cake, since it’s not like you have to schedule everything in your life around a soul sucking job requirement, or bills, or costs, or what you can afford to do.

So, you decide you would like to visit your friend in England and call them up to make sure it’s all good. Sounds good to them, especially since you’ll be there in just under 4 hours and will be able to hit the clubs later that evening, no problem. 45 minutes from your house to the station, and the bullet train leaves at 11am and arrives around 7pm London time. Man you love those 2,000mph Maglev trains! Why did we ever use those loud, inefficient, gravity competing, pollution contributing airplanes that could only hold 400 people at a time anyway...and go only about 400mph?

Getting to the train station is no big deal, and the ride is just as relaxing as all 1,500 people on the train have their own suite (well, families have their suites as families). Might as well fit a workout in today by hitting the gym on the train. A good workout and a nap later and you’re notified by the lovely voice computer that you’ll be arriving in London shortly. Your friend greets you, and hoping you had not eaten yet, wants to take you to a nice restaurant in town with the newest meals programmed using the latest cooking techniques employed by an amazing up and coming chef. You knew they’d do that, so you held off dinner until now. The restaurant ambiance is amazing, as all restaurants are these days, since they all reflect what used to be called 5 star ratings. Some have people serving the food and some have robotic waiters or conveyor systems that serve the food. Either way is fine by you, but your friend is nostalgic, and this restaurant has a service staff of good old flesh and blood people.

The best thing, in your mind, is that the people are always nice and happy, always. It’s not like they’re working to pay bills anymore, or pay for college, or any other old world cost reasoning that would drive up their stress level and sour their mood, but they’re working this kind of job because they simply love interacting with people, serving food, having pleasant discussions and making people happy. In fact, the stress level of the whole planet has dropped significantly, including you, save for when your annoying sister calls, but that’s family. In general, people are now free to pursue their intellectual or artistic passions, no matter what they are, because nothing is holding them back.

The robots in the back kitchen, programmed to mimic the cooking styles of the most world renowned chefs on the planet, have just been upgraded to reflect the newest style of chef Antonio Misconi. Italian food never tasted so good, and no matter where you go in the world, the robots make it exactly as he would make it. It’s beautiful, and tasty.

The conversation is great, the food wonderful, and the nightlife just as enjoyable and fun. While out, you have a flash of brilliance, or so you think anyway, and you use your phone to add a suggestion to the global central database where that project is that you’re working on with others around the world. Your friend mocks you for always “working”, then you both bust out laughing and enjoy the nightlife of the city. You’ll get back on the details of that idea later when you get home in a few days, if you don't decide to take a trip to the Moon Base you've been thinking about, and maybe by then someone else in the world would have taken that idea and expanded it to arrive at a solution. Who knows, but right now, life is for living. And the best thing about this day is that never once did you have to worry about the old world notion of cost. You just live.

Note: If you’re a married person in this scenario with a family, it’s really no different.

Every single aspect of this mental exercise is possible in today’s world. The question remains, do you want to continue living in the world we have now, or be part of the solution that drives humanity to the next step in our social evolution, on Earth and among the stars?

www.thevenusproject.com

www.thezeitgeistmovement.com