Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scandivanian Lecture Tour

This list will be updated as certain venues are officially confirmed.

Sweden Lectures:

Stockholm (Stockholm Univ), Jan 16th at 17:00.

Örnsköldsvik (Parkskolan), Jan 18th at 08:20.

Örnsköldsvik (Nolaskolan), Jan 18th at Noon.

Umea (details coming soon), Jan 19th at TBD.

Örnsköldsvik (Nolaskolan), Jan 21st at 15:00. Free event with multiple lecturers. Individual lectures will be followed by a panel discussion.

Norway Lectures:

Oslo (Realistforeningen - Math and Science Students), Jan 23rd at 18:00.

Bergen (Batteriet), Jan 24th at 19:00.

Trondheim (details coming soon), Jan 25th at 19:00.

Denmark Lecture:

The HUB Copenhagen, Jan 30th at 17:30.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kepler 22b - It is What We Thought it Was

I won't lie, the newest information on Kepler 22b is pretty darn exciting.

See here for details

The fact that we now have a confirmed Earth-like planet in the habitable zone is one thing, but the fact that there are a few hundred more options under consideration just goes to show how NOT unique we really are in the grand scheme of things.

I hope in time people come to understand that, and that it's actually a positive thing, because that means there are countless universal 'brothers and sisters' out there for us to eventually meet and learn from. Of course, we gotta get this house in order pretty quick, like ditching archaic modes of global operation in favor of something a bit more...suitable to our present day knowledge and capabilities. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Technology: Doing What It Should Do

Sometimes it comes to pass that someone says something so utterly absurd, that I can't help but to a double take and question how moronic people can be. A case in point is when someone says something to the effect of, "I'm sick of all this technology. It's taking away jobs. Whatever happened to a hard days work for a good days pay?"

Well, besides the economic fallacy loaded in those kinds of statements, I just want to address the 'taking away jobs' aspect. To do this, I will give but one simple recent advent, Cyborg Insects.

What's that? Well, details can be found here. In short, it's a lot safer, smarter and more humane to let technology do the dirty work in cases where it's simply too dangerous or risky to send people. Would you want your son or daughter to be sent into a hell pit if you knew there was viable technology available that can do the job? Doubtful.

And this is but one recent example of technology displacing people doing dangerous work. Technology (robots) can do mining. Technology can and does manage heavy manufacturing. In fact, were it not for the advent of some key technologies, we'd still basically be dependent on slave labor to accomplish some of the major construction tasks we do today.

Yes, technical advancement displaces human labor. GOOD! It's about time people wake up to the fact that we invent these tools to help us, and part of that process is developing tools that FREE us from the drudgery of monotonous and dangerous work, liberating us to pursue our personal passions, and more intellectual avenues.

Technology is more efficient, faster, doesn't need breaks, yadda, yadda. I'm sure you've heard all that before. Well, maybe you've heard that because it's true.

Now maybe it's time to reflect on what it means to work, what work is supposed to accomplish, and how mankind is supposed to live within a paradigm that renders human labor more and more obsolete.

Here's a hint: analyzing human labor for income is a start.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Long Absence

Hello everyone,

It has been a long time since I posted anything here. Sorry for that. A lot has been going on, most significantly being my pursuit to start my own company. Between that, being a teacher to my home schooled daughter, and my other various activities, I have neglected this blog. I hope to rectify that.

My goal is to post an article a week, and it might not ALWAYS be about space exploration. I am going to broaden a bit into all the sciences, but I can't really change the name of my blog.

Sadly, from my point of view, there isn't a lot going on in the space industry that has caused me to really want to blog about it. Everyone has their own likes and such...and as of now...everything has been rather "ho hum" to me as far as space news goes.

I mean yeah, we have asteroids flying by us...but we always do. And we have 2012 coming up, which according to some, will bring about some wild astronomical catastrophe. Whatever. The universe experiences catastrophes every second, so what makes us any less vulnerable to those things? If a giant rock is destined to smack us, then it's destined to smack us. Until we move past broken economic systems that restrict us and actually start becoming a space faring species, we're stuck on this island.

Anyway, future articles to come...thanks for your patience.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Up to the plate...

One more player in the Commercial Space front is now stepping up to the plate:

Orbital Sciences is now ready to test itself against the only other real player in the game, SpaceX. I hope they all succeed, because someone needs to pick up where inept governments leave off.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Visiting Asteroids

Well, I have to hand it to NASA, they absolutely have a crack CG and A/V staff that can paint fun pictures of what will likely not happen anytime soon. This video is pretty exciting!

Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE for this mission to actually happen, but with space exploration dependent on political whims, the NASA budget getting constantly pillaged, and an economic climate that is rendering thousands of scientists/engineers unemployed (post-shuttle), I'd like to know who really thinks this will actually happen?

And remember, space exploration doesn't revolve around election cycles, so whatever is decided now will likely be messed with when the next set of technically/scientifically uneducated schmucks get elected into political control. Sadly, NewSpace doesn't have the clout or resources to take on the charge themselves...not yet.

Suffice to say that I'm pretty sick of politicians (lawyers dominantly) dictating the future of mankind.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This Weekend & Fun News

Alright, so this weekend I have the honor of speaking at a conference in Liverpool, UK, called the School for Changemakers. It's a sister organization associated with the Caux, Initiatives of Change group in Switzerland, which I had the privileged of speaking at last year.

This is a special conference for young people ages 18 to 30, most between 18 and 25, who are dedicated to being change makers in the world, open to adopting new ways of doing things. I'm going to talk about science, engineering and technology for social concern, actually using our awesome tools to help people and society evolve to a new socioeconomic paradigm. Yeah...I never aim low. lol.

To go along with this concept, some really good news has developed in the R&D area of technical advancement. Here are a few articles to ponder. What's cool about this stuff is that it's just as applicable for space exploration as it is for terrestrial use. In fact, space exploration has been largely responsible for developing a lot of the core technologies that are being advanced now, and those advancements can give every person on the planet an amazing quality of life...if we'd just use them for that purpose. :)

Stanford team devises a better solar-powered water splitter

Japanese supercomputer 'K' is world's fastest

Car Bodies That Double as Batteries Extend EV Range While Cutting Weight

New Clues About Aging: Genetic Splicing Mechanism Triggers Both Premature Aging Syndrome and Normal Cellular Aging

Japanese ball drone knows how to make an entrance - Only because it totally reminds me of the Star Wars Interrogation Droid.

First Telecommunications Wavelength Quantum Dot Laser Grown on a Silicon Substrate

And remember, the source for all these links punches out new articles from around the world every day, and is an resource for learning what advancements are happening in several fields of research.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Endeavour Lands - My Personal Future

Well, my baby is back on Terra Firma, and the mission of STS-134 is now complete. Success on all fronts, and I'm happy that everyone is now home safe.

It's been a fun ride and I've enjoyed every moment working here. The next few months will see things slow down significantly. I'm still helping a bit with Atlantis's last mission, since the CM Manager for OV-104 is pregnant and going to be in and out basically from about now until after the program is over. But by all accounts the CM level work for STS-135 is done until she returns.

We're all effectively done come August 5th, plus a few days if the launch date for Atlantis slips, but not much more than that. Back to Orlando we go, and instead of working for someone else doing their bidding, I'm going to try and start my own company, using my technical education and background to try and do something positive for the world...fully automated off-grid self sustaining aquaponic farm systems. :)

To that end, this blog might have to take a back seat for a little while, as I will be working hard to get my company up and running. I hope to be able to post something of interest every once in a while, but I make no guarantees.

Time will tell how everything will pan out, but that's how the universe operates...always moving forward. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spaceship 2 Feathers

Well, check one more milestone off Virgin Galactic’s list. Honestly, the video says more than I ever could, so with the video. :)

Two Updates

Two updates regarding my past appearances:

1. The video from my lecture at the University of Illinois is now available for viewing: 10/16/10: Guest Speaker at the University of Illinois Reflections | Projections Conference

2. Last night (5/20/11 at 10am Bejing time) I was honored to be a panelist on a live radio discussion regarding the end of the space shuttle program and the role of commercial space. That is now available online: 05/20/11: China Radio Intl Panelist: Space Shuttle Ending & Commercial Space (Hour 1)

I just realized the large gap between these events. I need to get more on the ball with trying to get myself out there to talk about space, science, engineering and technology to the masses!

Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yes, my eyes watered a bit. Thanks for asking.

Well, there she goes. Or there she went. My baby. Well, many of us claim a little "ownership" of Endeavour, those of us who work with her daily in some capacity or another. Not many people can lay claim to that in their lives. I'm humbled and fortunate to be among the few who can stamp part of my career as an Engineer for the Space Shuttle Program. So yes, my eyes watered a bit.

As we all know, the Space Shuttle Program is going away, and for this blog entry I'm not going into all the nonsense that has led to this point. The fact remains that Discovery is done, Endeavour is en route to being done and Atlantis has one more mission...and that will be it. End. Fin. Kaput. So yes, my eyes watered a bit.

I have a personal connection to this flight as well, because I happen to know the pilot, Greg Johnson, because we're on the same bowling league together. A launch is always "nail biting" for me, with x-million pounds of thrust pushing a brave and highly skilled crew into space, knowing the dangers and risks involved (as we all know and accept), but in this case there was a personal connection. To that end, I couldn't help but think of the families involved and how they must feel watching their loved ones climb the ladder to space, especially Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, given all she's been though, and her husband, Commander of the mission Mark Kelly. So yes, my eyes watered a bit.

In the end, the launch was smooth as silk. Now we focus on a smooth mission, getting the AMS fired up for some great scientific work, and getting important logistics up to the ISS in a way no other spacecraft can right now. I cannot be more proud of OV-105, her performance, and all the amazingly talented men and women who comprise the OV-105 and STS-134 teams. So yes, my eyes watered a bit.

Ad Astra.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weary of "Super Earths"

I'm growing just a tad weary of the label "Super Earth" for planets that are absolutely NOTHING like Earth. Come on astronomers, enough with the false hype nonsense and just talk about the findings without the "attention getting" pseudonyms that are, in all fairness, complete bunk.

Super-exotic super-Earth = NOTHING LIKE EARTH AT ALL.

With that said, this is a pretty whacked out planet. 18 hours to fly around the star? Sheesh.

Monday, April 25, 2011

SpaceX Aims High

Mars in 20 years or less? I like it! At least someone out there is setting a lofty goal. I wonder who they plan to work with when it comes to building the bases, or if it will just be a fly by, or fly around mission.

One has to think that Bigelow has been working on some sort of Mars Base system, even if it's just the initial in-orbit docking station around the red marble, but of course that's just speculation on my end. :)

If one were to imagine the best possible scenario, in my opinion anyway, but also shared by others in the space-geek community, it would be that SpaceX and Bigelow (or any such companies) would work on establishing an automated LEO refueling station and another automated LO (Lunar Orbit) refueling station (or an L point one), which would solidify the infrastructure for an easier hop to Mars.

My only concern with all this is the global meltdown of economics, and since space exploration is heavily tied to economics, one must be pragmatic enough to see that even though we have the mental fortitude, knowledge and technological capabilities to explore our solar system with humans at the wheel, we might never establish the economic viability to make it happen.

All our genius, squandered by money. How nice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Face in Space - Yuri's Night Relfection

This is not really a scientific or technical post related to any article, but I felt the urge to mention that my face will be in space. :)

You see, I am on a bowling league with the pilot of STS-134, Mr. Greg Johnson (who is a good bowler by the way). We all took pictures of our league and he's taking that up to space with him. We hope maybe he'll have time to have pictures of him taken holding our pictures, looking out Cupola. Not sure if that will happen of course, but WOW would that be nice. :)

It's fun to know and work with people in the human spaceflight industry. As Yuri's Night is upon us, today I reflect on this awesome job I have, but also the sadness that fills me that I live in a country that is more interested in blowing things up around the world than exploring the space around it.

I hope soon the sentiment changes, locally and globally, and we can evolve ourselves towards a Type 1 Civilization, shedding the baggage this "old world" has saddled us with, so we can pursue new and amazing things for mankind. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

NewSpace Booking Science

This is quality stuff, merging research and science with space travel on the private level, getting away from the government and the "big 3" corporate aerospace/defense monopoly that's existed for pretty much the duration of space travel by mankind. Onward and upward. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dark Energy Alternative Gets Hit

If anyone knows me, they know my feelings on the place-holder theories of Dark Matter and Energy. When the math doesn't work according to plan...make something up and stick it in to fix it. lol. I don't really like that method, since of course it's never been proved and falls into a pit of inconsistency more often than not.

Nevertheless, I love this particular statement in the article:

"Thomas Edison once said 'every wrong attempt discarded is a step forward,' and this principle still governs how scientists approach the mysteries of the cosmos," said Jon Morse, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "By falsifying the bubble hypothesis of the accelerating expansion, NASA missions like Hubble bring us closer to the ultimate goal of understanding this remarkable property of our universe."

I will really applaud when the 'establishment' of scientists start to question the dogmatic view of universal shape and origin. I hope one day we stop treating infinity (big or small) as if it's a profane concept. There is a plausible chance that the premise on which everything is based might itself be flawed.

But eh...that's why we do research...right? :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Discovery Away

And so she's off! Discovery launched yesterday, but not without a bit of excitement as Range Safety had some glitches that caused the launch to hold at T-5 minutes. Given such a small launch window, the clock was restarted with basically less than 10 seconds of cushion. WHEW! Talk about a James Bond moment! lol.

What's Discovery doing this time? ISS visit, dropping of droids (R2...and yes, I love the Star Wars linkage here), resupplying some things, basically keeping ISS happy for a little while longer while the shuttles still exist. Ugh...while they still exist. Every time I think about how all this is unfolding, I get so annoyed that we don't have shuttle 2.0 tested and ready to pick up where shuttle 1.0 left off. We upgrade everything these days, but not one of the most successful and amazing accomplishments in the history of mankind? Stupid Congress.

Bright side? Well, Boeing et al have proposed making the three shuttles into commercial spacecraft. After all, Boeing owns them, not NASA. Most people don't know that. They think "Space Shuttle" and they instantly think NASA, which is how it's always been promoted of course, but little thought is given to who actually owns the shuttle, and the hundreds of contracted companies that provide the real support for ensuring that vehicle remains functional, like mine, GeoControls.

Anyway, the launch was nominal, which is always good. A few pieces of this and that flew off and struck the Orbiter, but nothing beyond tolerance limits. Reports and analysis will come soon verifying all that, which is what science and engineering is all about...analyze the data and issue a finding (report). Hooray science! :)

So now we have 2 flights left, my baby (Endeavour) for STS-134 sometime in April and Atlantis (STS-135) who knows when. lol. The delay of Discovery put everything else in a nice state of flux. I've seen launch dates change about 10 times in the past few months, so I give guesses. I'll know what the official launch date will be when NASA makes it public. lol. Well, I'll know several days before that because of the CR mods that make the changes, but eh, that's all behind the scenes mumbo-jumbo. :)

Safe mission Discovery, we look forward to your safe return, and revel in your past accomplishments.

Ad Astra!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Close, But Not Quite (MARS 500)

This is a really cool simulation, but here's my problem with it, on the psychological level...

The people inside know that there are people on the other side of that wall that can run in a save them if a real accident happens. The stress related to that scenario isn't there, but in a space trip, it's DEFINITELY there.

So, why not do this in the Arctic, with a minimum 3 day travel distance between the outpost and any rescue attempt? At least then you mimic the travel time for the Moon. If stuff hits the fan on a Moon base, it'll be three days before any help arrives...assuming you have a standby rocket on the pad for such a scenario that can launch nearly instantly.

Psycho-social stress is one thing...being locked up with your mates for months at a time. But REAL danger stress is something even more pronounced when it comes to space travel, and this experiment completely bypasses that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Jesus Rocket!

Just a simple observation...

Funny how ancient mythology dominates space exploration nomenclature.

You never see the Jesus rocket! lmao.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Planets Packed in Tight

And you think the lines at movie blockbuster releases are packed. When it comes to interstellar planetary packing, it seems Kepler-11 is the winner for stuffing more stuff in a small space than I can into a UHaul truck when moving! lol.

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Discovers Extraordinary New Planetary System

Although I must admit, I'm getting a bit bored with all these discoveries of things that aren't even remotely close to looking like our solar system. The gas giants are huge, the Earth's are SUPER, and the temperature extremes are, well, extreme.

I do wish the aliens would just show up, smack some sense into the human race, and set us on the right path to living sustainably on this finite Earth. Eh, one can dream.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Comfort with the Unknown

You'll have to read the article to understand my comment, but here it is anyway:

But never entertain the notion that maybe some of "God's" other creatures might have paid a visit or influenced the mythology of this planet long, long ago. That would just be silly. ;)

Anyway, I'm okay with not knowing, and refuse to make up answers as a means to placate my own happiness or comfort. In fact, I am comforted that there are things I don't understand and things I may never understand, because I enjoy the knowledge that comes with trying to accurately and honestly solve those unknowns without adding mythical attributes to them.

All that does is give a false sense of comfort within a universe that is so much more amazing than that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One Stop Spot

I often note that space exploration helps bring about technologies that are not just useful in space, but eventually find places to be used on Earth, as it should be. In tackling the unforgiving and harsh environment of space, we invariably will develop technical systems and ideas that could be used and/or modified to solve terrestrial issues as well. Higher the target, broader the scope.

With that said, sometimes the opposite occurs, where a technology designed for use on Earth ends up being quite useful for some space application.

The fun part about all this is learning and finding out about all these new and interesting technologies. The hard part is having to sift through many technology news websites to find something, and even then, it might not be very easy to isolate any particular topic you might be interested in.

However, this is no longer the case:

ZeitNews is a new technology news aggregate website that brings to light many various new and developing stories from many different websites, so that you can find out about the newest news, hence the term "zeit" which is "time" in German. Timely technology news, up to date and constantly updated. There's nothing quite like a one stop spot to see what's clicking in the realm of science, engineering and technological development.

I love information sharing and knowledge expansion. :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Curse You, Infinity!

In a random act of brilliance, if I do say so myself, I made up a catchy little phrase and then posted it to my Facebook as my status, as any self respecting social butterfly in the 21st century should do. :)

"In the beginning, there was no beginning. Who am I to tell time when to start?" ~ Me

Well, that's true, isn't it? Who am I, or you, or anyone else to dictate when time itself begins? We have no clue about the scales of which we speak. We pretend too, a false sense of self importance, but in all reality, all we've ever known are finite scales, not the infinite.

Human life is short. We're born, we live, we die. Everything around us follows similar patterns of birth, life and death, from trees, to animals to stars! Because of this, we seem prone to attaching that model onto everything, as if it's universally applicable.

The problem begins when finite starts losing its relevance. In math, the mathematicians cancel infinity as much as possible. They fear the lazy eight. Infinity is turned into some constant, or "normalized" as a way to make it disappear. It's with this rationale that I believe we start breaking down reality, forcing the space/time continuum into our own comfort zone. Since when did the universe have to appeal to OUR sense of comfort?

I'm actually okay with infinity, in both directions of scale. I bet once the LHC breaks open the "smallest" thing we know of, it will reveal even smaller things. And smaller, and smaller. The catch is that you need a lot of energy to get smaller and smaller. Infinite energy to reach infinite smallness. That's a hard goal to reach, and not very easy to get funding when your goal is infinite, so it's best to put a stopper on it and claim, "Voila! That's as small as she goes! Gimmie the cash to do that." At least until the next person finds something smaller.

As for infinite big, I'm good with that too. Same goes for time. I have no idea when it started, and honestly, I don't care that much. I could extrapolate a thousand generations from now and none of that time would be a fraction of a fraction of the time this planet has been around, much less the universe. Can we just be a little humble...just a little?

Also, we have no idea whether or not the universe itself is cyclical. There may be a crunch to accompany the bang and it's been going on for 10^100 years! Who knows!? So all this speculation could be for naught if the whole thing behaves like a gigantic heart.

Of course, during the process of trying to chase down infinity, you do learn many neat things, so I think it's high time we start looking at infinity as our friend, not the enemy, and see how things pan out with that new mindset.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hacky Sack Wheels?!

I'm sure the stoners who love hacky sack...and those of us non-stoners who also love hacky sack...will find this technical advancement totally cool and far ;)

On a serious note, I find this to be quite interesting on a practical level. A tire like this can "hug the road" a lot better, and get over obstacles a lot easier because of that.

I think it's about time we start looking at different tire options for our vehicles right here on Earth. Tire pressure affects gas mileage, and tire blowouts are obviously dangerous in and of themselves. I've always been a fan of solid tires, made of light weight, squishy (such a technical term, right?) materials that could last decades and provide adequate safety and security while on the road.

With all the material advances we've had, why do we still use such old school tire systems? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

A One Month Hiatus

Hello friends,

Well, yes, I've been off for about a month. I don't really make any money with this blog, so it's not like I'm up against a wall, so with that comes the benefit of getting away for a little while and not worrying about it. Of course, I do risk the chance of followers and subscribers ejecting and leaving because I'm not posting anything new, but since this is just my hobby, I'm okay with that.

With that said, I'm back. It's been a very busy past few weeks on many fronts, not the least of which is the chance that I may get a new job with Virgin Galactic, the amazing company that I've talked about many times here on this blog. If you don't know what Virgin Galactic is, first get out of the cave you're in (lol), then go here:

I expect to find out this week if I get the job. If I do, I'll be moving to California and starting this February. Yes, a fast turn around, but I'm 110% eager and ready to get going! After all, it's NewSpace, and anyone who knows me (or follows this blog) understands my passion for NewSpace and how I feel about it. In poker terms...I'm ALL IN! :) After about 2 years, whenever Spaceport America is completed, we'll all be moving operations to New Mexico and setting up our permanent address. Woohoo!

I'm not sure what will happen to this blog if/when this happens. I might just post once a week. That's basically what I've been doing recently anyway since it seems that space news has slowed, a lot. I thank a retarded Congress for that, since government space is still the biggest player in the game and they are woefully inept at pretty much everything. But that won't be the case for too much longer...well, the "government space being the biggest player" bit...I don't think government itself will ever NOT be inept. lol. I see government space falling away, and NASA becoming a shell of its former self. We'll fund the hell out of wars, but not so much for the advancement of the human species. How nice. But I digress.

I hope I'll be able to ramp up this blog again, getting back to my in depth analysis of things sci/tech/space related. Don't be surprised if I talk about articles that aren't exactly space related, but have a space connection in some way. I've always said that one of the greatest purposes of space exploration are the innovations that can be turned around and used back on Earth for the benefit of mankind. If I see a space based tech that fits the bill, I'll talk about it.

So, that's it. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Talk atcha later peeps!

Ad Astra! :)