Please post any comments on The Athenaeum. pl
Please post any comments on The Athenaeum. pl
Earlier today, Colonel Lang momentarily emerged from his reveries to grace us with a bit of wisdom. Actually it was more of a “druther” than a bit of wisdom. Seems he would rather be a Sasquatch hunter than the Director of National Intelligence. He’d rather be stalking through a chilly forest in a drizzling rain than wearing a suit and dealing with the shameless political hacks at Liberty Crossing or in the halls of Congress. Not only does he want to search for Sasquatch, but he wants to ensure the “Sasquatch People” are protected from the inevitable ravages of mankind. Not too shabby a druther. I’d happily join the Colonel in this noble quest. DOL
In a peculiar coincidence, I discovered that the 2016 Sasquatch Summit will be held in Grays Harbor, Washington on 18 and 19 November. Well known Sasquatch researchers will present “two days of physical proof about Sasquatch, habitat, audio, video, photos, casts and more. In addition, [they will explain] how to identify hoaxes, the differences between authentic tracks and fake, plus tons more.”
I also found a piece in “The Atlantic” entitled “Why Bigfoot Sightings Are So Common Across Cultures.” Only three weeks old, this piece explores mankind’s need to believe in such creatures.
“Bigfoot might or might not roam the primeval forests of the Pacific Northwest, watching us and avoiding us, a reminder of our deepest, animalistic past. But whether or not there is an actual creature, the archetypal Sasquatch is, in his own way, very real.“ (The Atlantic)
I choose to believe if for nothing else than for the sheer adventure of it.
The Sasquatch Genome Project (link provided by Colonel Lang earlier today)
"In 2018—just two years from now—SpaceX plans to land the heaviest spacecraft ever sent to Mars on the planet’s surface, and to repeat these (uncrewed) landings at every available launch opportunity, or every 26 months. Meanwhile, the company will be developing the largest rocket ever built (Musk doesn’t have a generic name yet, but wants to call the first one “Heart of Gold,” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), which will be ready for booster tests by 2019 and Earth-orbit trials a year later. Once that’s done, SpaceX’s interplanetary ship—capable of carrying at least 100 people or 450 tons of cargo—could be ready to start taking the first settlers to Mars by 2024, although Musk calls that optimistic. Tickets for the journey will cost an estimated $200,000. Over time he sees a million people living on Mars, with fleets of 1,000 ships making the trip in as little as three months, or even, eventually, 30 days." Air and Space
We have some very technologically adept people on SST. Let's discuss the plausibility of this. pl
"“Some of the bad guys are fiddling around, trying to improve the performance,” she said. “It may be a very basic, ‘actually take off’ kind of improvement, but it says that there is some level of active work in the drone area. It’s probably not super-sophisticated yet, but they’re working on them.”
Out-of-the-box, tactically viable drones can be purchased on Amazon for under $100, but face major operational limitations due to their short range, slow flight speed and minimal battery life. ISIS has used commercial drones to capture propaganda footage of battlefields and suicide attacks since at least December 2014, but improvising solutions to their limitations would raise the ante — and potential lethality.
Weaponized payloads, while difficult for ISIS to pull off, are not too far a stretch. “If it was me, I would be asking ‘How can I extend the battery life, how can I extend the operational range, how can I stick a payload on here that I can actually use? How can I really get that to work?’” Grant said." Marine Corps Times
Having given drones (UAV) some thought, I have reached the conclusion that the introduction of UAVs to the kind of wars that I deal with will have a profound effect.
There has been a great deal of attention given to the use of very sophisticated UAVs by the US. The armed Predator has become the very symbol of the GWOT and it is not by any means the most fearsome UAV possessed by the US. Reconnaissance and armed UAVs are an interesting auxiliary capability for a state that possesses an air force.
OTOH, the possession of UAVs will be a game changer for those combatant parties that do not possess a traditional air capability. The ability to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance over extended distances will lead inevitably to armed systems.
The toy helicopter drones now being experimented with by IS are just the beginning. Fixed wing drones with actual engines are easy to make. The technology is familiar to model airplane enthusiasts who seem to exist in every country in the world. The process of scaling up sizes to pilotless aircraft with a wing span of ten feet or more is just a matter of experimentation and incremental improvement. Guidance systems over extended ranges will be more of a problem but some sort of GPS system and airborne relays of signals from the drone to its controllers can overcome that.
We are now glimpsing the shape of insurgent warfare to come. pl
"So what would happen if we learned that there is microbial life on Mars, or that it has existed there in the past? Well it would only challenge everything we know. We would have to come to grips with not having a unique status in the universe and will have to work out how to include extraterrestrial "life" in our existential or religious beliefs – to name a few.
On a scientific level, there's a lot at stake. Of course, it would also lead to major new efforts to find life on planets beyond Mars and even beyond our own solar system.
The first challenge if life is ever detected will be to prove that we didn't bring it there from Earth – a difficult task to achieve. Careful cataloguing of the "bioburden" load on the spacecraft and from the cleanrooms it was assembled in can provide a check on what organisms might have been present on the spacecraft when it left the Earth. Fundamentally though, life that arose beyond the Earth would likely result from subtly different chemical processes, so to find out for sure, a detailed in situ biochemical analysis would be required." phys.org
The political farce in the US and the never ending spectacle of the Borg's failures in the ME are boring. Now, here is something interesting. pl
There is so much going on in the world that I want state my opinions during these interesting days. I don't claim that this is reportage, only my opinion:
"Scientists announced Thursday that they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity."
"It will also inaugurate a new era of astronomy in which gravitational waves are tools for studying the most mysterious and exotic objects in the universe, scientists declared at a euphoric news briefing at the National Press Club in Washington." (WaPo)
This is a big deal. Judging by the giddiness and wide eyed enthusiasm of the scientists making the announcement today, this is a mind altering, stupendously big deal. They have proven the existence of ripples in the fabric of spacetime. Perhaps some of you understand this in its fullest meaning. Or perhaps some of you, like me, are more akin to a pig looking at a wristwatch… abundant curiosity, but precious little understanding. That lack of understanding does not diminish the greatness of this achievement. In the days to come, I will endeavor to reduce my ignorance. I want to share in the giddiness of those scientists.
I can still share in the pride of this scientific achievement. It brings to mind the Robert Ardrey quote I pasted above. I read “African Genisis” in high school. It was damned near a religious experience. Quite an accomplishment considering I was surrounded by Jesuits at that time. I’m not alone in sensing the momentousness of this accomplishment for mankind. Lawrence M. Krause wrote an insightful opinion piece in the New York Times today.
"With presidential primaries in full steam, with the country wrapped up in concern about the economy, immigration and terrorism, one might wonder why we should care about the news of a minuscule jiggle produced by an event in a far corner of the universe."
"The answer is simple. While the political displays we have been treated to over the past weeks may reflect some of the worst about what it means to be human, this jiggle, discovered in an exotic physics experiment, reflects the best. Scientists overcame almost insurmountable odds to open a vast new window on the cosmos. And if history is any guide, every time we have built new eyes to observe the universe, our understanding of ourselves and our place in it has been forever altered." (continue reading at NYT)
“Life on Earth is in trouble. That much we know. But how bad have things become – and how fast are events moving? How soon, indeed, before the Earth’s biological treasures are trashed, in what will be the sixth great mass extinction event? This is what Gerardo Caballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his colleagues have assessed, in a paper that came out on Friday.“ (The Guardian)
This paper lacks the cautious caveats that are usually present in scientific studies. The researchers are pretty damned sure of their results and the implications of those results. The entire study along with supporting data and metrics is freely available online under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial license. My guess is that the researchers feel it is too important to be merely summarized in a few sensational articles and then left to languish in an obscure scientific journal. It’s available here. This is one paragraph from the study.
“The evidence is incontrovertible that recent extinction rates are unprecedented in human history and highly unusual in Earth’s history. Our analysis emphasizes that our global society has started to destroy species of other organisms at an accelerating rate, initiating a mass extinction episode unparalleled for 65 million years. If the currently elevated extinction pace is allowed to continue, humans will soon (in as little as three human lifetimes) be deprived of many biodiversity benefits. On human time scales, this loss would be effectively permanent because in the aftermath of past mass extinctions, the living world took hundreds of thousands to millions of years to re-diversify. Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species and to alleviate pressures on their populations—notably habitat loss, overexploitation for economic gain, and climate change. All of these are related to human population size and growth, which increases consumption (especially among the rich), and economic inequity. However, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.” (Science Advances)
Gerardo Caballos, the leader of the research team, pointed to Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, as a sign of hope. This encyclical goes far beyond a simple message of “give a hoot, don’t pollute.” This sinner does not feel up to divining the deeper meanings of Laudato Si at the moment. That will take time and prayer. Pope Francis begins by saying the encyclical is for every living person on the planet, not just Roman Catholics. I suggest we all read it or, at least, read some of the more serious reviews. Is it mere coincidence that Laudato Si and the study on the sixth mass extinction appear within days of each other? Perhaps the timing is divine.
Laudato Si The encyclical on the Vatican website
Jason Petta, an associate professor of physics at Princeton and the lead author of the study, said, “It is basically as small as you can go with these single-electron devices.”"
I had never heard of "quantum computing" until recently. pl
What struck me is the creeping nature of discovering (the possibility turning into fact) that we have evidence of microbial life on Mars in the past eons. There was a famous ‘false positive’ during the Viking Lander era, the continuous discovery of spikes of methane (often related to microbial action on Earth) and various formations of mineral formation and deposit that, on Earth, occur in the presence of warm water. Yet rigorous science always demands that an observation is repeatable and other reasonable explanations have been ruled out.
That is obviously harder to do in the setting of studying these things on Mars. The rate of failure of probes to the Red Planet is high. The current advanced rover, Opportunity, took a impressive feat of engineering and program management to land a golf cart sized machine on the surface.
So, when a scientist says that a rock formation on Mars resembles the same pattern of fossils back on Earth, what references can we go to to understand how this more than likely billion year old formation near Opportunity is, in fact, an artifact produced by ancient life, the first to be discovered off our own planet?
We can go to Wiki to get a reference to a remarkable process that is probably 3.9 billion years old and can still be seen working today. It’s called stromatolite formation. The pictures in Wiki show both ancient fossilized stroma and current ones forming in Australia.
“”Stromatolites or stromatoliths (/strɵˈmætoʊlaɪts/; from Greek στρώμα, strōma, mattress, bed, stratum, and λίθος, lithos, rock) are layered bio-chemical accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains by biofilms (microbial mats) of microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria. Stromatolites provide ancient records of life on Earth by fossil remains which might date from more than 3.5 billion years ago.””
The microbial mats mentioned are the same mechanism that Nora Noffke is proposing as the agent in creating the fossil presentation she detects in the Opportunity pictures.
If we can verify this as highly probable, we will have crossed the ‘life can only form on Earth’ threshold. As our science is busy looking for exoplanets in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ (most favorable orbits for the formation of earth like life in other solar systems), we get to confront the questions to our view of our place in the universe. What will the anti-Darwinists say, other than denial, in the face of reason, when some future astronaut/scientist looks into an electron microscope and declares that a formation on Mars was in fact created by microbes, perhaps a billion years ago?
For myself, if I am alive to hear and see that, it will be perhaps the most profound moment of my life.
"On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, NASA scientists attending the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco announced the detection of organic compounds on Mars. The announcement represents the discovery of the missing “ingredient” that is necessary for the existence – past or present – of life on Mars.
Indeed, the extraordinary claim required extraordinary evidence – the famous assertion of Dr. Carl Sagan. The scientists, members of the Mars Science Lab – Curiosity Rover – mission, worked over a period of 20 months to sample and analyze Martian atmospheric and surface samples to arrive at their conclusions. The announcement stems from two separate detections of organics: 1) ten-fold spikes in atmospheric Methane levels, and 2) drill samples from a rock called Cumberland which included complex organic compounds." Universe Today
I would bet my own money that there is a lot of water on Mars. Terraforming is probably a real possibility. pl
"United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) is an armed forces sub-unified command subordinate to United States Strategic Command. The command is located in Fort Meade, Maryland, and centralizes command of cyberspace operations, organizes existing cyber resources and synchronizes defense of U.S. military networks" wiki
If it is established that the North Korean government and/or its agents attacked Sony then I say, let slip the dogs of cyberwar. Hacking? You like hacking and destructive cyberwar activity? Hah! We will burn your servers into piles of smoldering kimchi !! pl
"Heberprot-P is the brand name of a drug developed by scientists at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Cuba as a cure for diabetic foot ulcer. The product contains epidermal growth factor (EGF) to be applied by intra-lesional injections directly in the wound site. It has been found to "promote granulation and healing in advanced diabetic foot ulcers". Heberprot-P is indicated for the treatment of poor prognosis of deep, extensive, and terminal DFU not responding to comprehensive and/or extensive conventional methods, particularly in grades 3, 4 and 5 of Wagner's Classification with average ulcer size bigger than 20 cm2, of both neuropathic and ischemic etiology with high risk amputation. Clinical studies in 344 patients with advanced diabetic foot ulcers (Wagner´s grade 3 or 4, median size >20 cm2, ischemic ulcers not excluded) have shown that injected recombinant EGF has the potential to promote complete granulation in more than 80%, with complete wound healing (re-epithelialization) in more than 50% of subjects usually unresponsive to other treatments. Injected recombinant EGF has the potential to reduce amputation rates, with a considerable personal and public health improvement, including longer survival." Wiki
As I have just explained to someone who used to comment on SST, I have no use for communism and its friends but the devil must be given his due.
Many Americans are mutilated or die every year because of diabetic foot ulcers. First the toes go, then the feet and later the legs. Death follows.
This drug has been available since 2007? One might ask why it has not been available in the States? Was this caused by the idiocy of the present sanctions against Cuba? Did the possession by the Cuban government of the world patent pose an insuperable barrier to entry of this drug into our marketplace? Would the FDA have proven to be another insuperable barrier?
Col. Lang, I spent my early years at a skeptical boarding school in New England. They taught us that faith was an artifact of a more primitive time. It was to be humored but never to be taken seriously. Man had moved on, or at least that culture in New England had moved on, to better things. These were modern men with modern answers. They no longer needed the prophets to guide their lives. I have to laugh, now, when I think of that. Obamas words are a testament to that culture and how my classmates thought. We were infused with purpose, and we were intent on redeeming the world. In our own right, as his language suggests, we were no less religious than the dour pilgrims before us. Our faith was a secular one, but it was no less dogmatic. We had lost our god, but we had not lost Winthrop's creed. We were so convinced of modernism though. Our answers, unlike those who came before, were both right and universal. Indeed, we believed that backward beliefs and the shackles of primitive religions were the only obstacles to our mission. We were missionaries, but we couldn't understand that. Obama suffers from that, as do many in his circle. They do not understand the peculiar nature of their values. They do not understand that their values are the product of their culture, and can hardly be considered universal truths. They do not understand that the primitive and backwards peoples of the world will resist them, and forcefully so. - Eliot
""The point is that Afghanistan has got to figure out how to get along as a nation, and there have been a lot of steps toward nation building," he said. "A lot of local warlord-type leaders have been marginalized - not all of them completely."
Mr. Boucher, who is assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, also attributed some of the chatter to political jockeying ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in Afghanistan late next year.
"That's bringing out a little more these days - resentments and alliances between groups and talk about ethnic politics, but I think there is a stronger movement toward creating a sense of nation."
The Northern Alliance was founded by mostly Uzbek and Tajik warlords and took power after the Soviet pullout in 1989. The Taliban was formed later as a Pashtun resistance to the alliance and seized control of most of Afghanistan in 1996. The Bush administration relied on the Northern Alliance to capture northern Afghanistan in 2002. Washtimes
This kind of policy formulation is derived from an excessive exposure to political science (PS) professors at an impressionable age.
PS sells the idea that human society is evolving towards higher forms. The creed in this secular religion holds that human behavior is universal in nature in all important aspects and that apparent differences are fated to disappear as mankind and its societies develop toward higher and more general forms. The form sought by the more practical is that of national states. Some of the more visionary seek the emergence of a globalized world culture and state. PS is an idea system, that originated in the age of cultural, literary and scholarly romanticism of the 19th Century. European scholars like Durkheim and Weber reflected the same set of ideas that created romantic nationalism, marxism (a very romantic idea), belief in the "Golden Ages" of various peoples, Germans, Italians, Jews, etc. For minority group scholars like Durkheim and Weber, the notion of redefining societies within a new paradigm is always attractive. The Arab World was late to the European "Romantic Age" so the creation of paradigms like Baathism, Phalangism or the Syrian Social Party came along a bit later than the European copies of this phenomenon. For the minority member, a new paradigm that does not recognize the old one that considered you to be marginal is clearly a good thing.
These State Department types are soaked in PS. It permeates their thinking as much as it does that of the Jacobins. The Defense Department is also infested with this kind of thinking since so many military area specialists and civilian policy people have been sent to graduate school in PS and/or International Relations, a related disorder and delusion.
"Two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
“I am extremely excited,” said Rudolph Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the research. “These findings could be a game changer.”" NY Times
I look forward to asking to be recalled to active duty. Hah! pl
"Researchers in the US have overcome a key barrier to making nuclear fusion reactors a reality. In results published in Nature, scientists have shown that they can now produce more energy than put into igniting fuel, at least on an experimental scale. The use of fusion as a source of energy remains a long way off, but the latest development is an important step toward that goal. Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the Sun and billions of other stars in the universe. If mastered, it could provide an unlimited source of clean energy because the raw materials are plentiful and the operation produces no carbon emissions. During the fusion process, smaller atoms fuse into larger ones releasing huge amounts of energy. To achieve this on Earth, scientists have to create conditions similar to those at the center of the Sun, which involves creating very high pressures and temperatures." Ars Technica
I find it difficult to imagine how a fusion technology could be made to work at the pressures and temperatures mentioned in the article or if the system did work how large the mechanism would have to be.
Nevertheless, the prospect of virtually unlimited energy supplies without any carbon emissions is certainly enticing. pl
MONICA LANGLEY: That’s a good question. At first the head of the N.I.H. is Francis Collins and he’s the one who sequenced – led the human genome experiment – and he wanted to map all diseases. That was his grand idea. And the drug companies were like ‘Are you crazy? We can’t think of some big experiment like that. We want something that will go into our pipeline and help us make money. So they looked at what diseases they thought were within the realm of possibility or else were what patients really wanted. And they came up with Alzheimer’s with the aging population; diabetes with the population getting fatter. And they also came up with two autoimmune diseases – rheumatoid arthritis and lupus — for this initial five-year project." Newshour
I think I will try to stick around long enough to see how this works. pl
"Moon Express recently unveiled the MX-1 spacecraft design at the Autodesk University in Las Vegas. The Mountain View, California-based company is in the commercial space race, competing for the $40-million-Google Lunar X prize. The coffee-table sized spacecraft will be powered by solar panels and hydrogen peroxide and can move about the lunar surface. Water on the lunar surface could be a "potential source of rocket fuel on the lunar surface," the company said." Nature World
I would think that it is clear that without commercial profits or at least a "break even" point with big salaries and bonuses the long term prospects for the whole space thing are dim.
I say that with great sorrow because "space" like Bigfoot is high on my personal agenda. There are lots of ore laden rocks out there and Heinlein long ago and he devised a great way to transport ;the loot" back to earth. His sociological musing about things like "line" marriages were also entertaining. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
COL Lang asked for information pertaining to centrifuges, enrichment, and proliferation. At the following two links are two excellent articles - one article and one report - dealing with these issues.
Alexander Glaser's "Characteristics of the Gas Centrifuge for Uranium Enrichment and Their Relevance for Nuclear Weapon Proliferation (corrected)" from Science and Global Security, 2008
Krass et als "Uranium Enrichment and Nuclear Weapon Proliferation" from SIPRI, 1983.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Cultural Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College and/or the US Army.
** Imageof Krakoa the Island that Walks Like a Man, found at Doctor Nerdlove and taken from the story in Giant Sized X-Men #1
"On Thursday, however, CERN stopped hesitating. They’ve announced that the the particle described in July 2012 was, in fact, a Higgs Boson. “The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is,” spokesperson Joe Incandela said in a statement. To make this final determination, the dataset was analyzed to see if the quantum properties of the boson discovered in July matched the properties that are currently predicted by physics. After tests in two different detectors, it was confirmed that the particle possessed those properties." forbes
OK. I actually know a little physics, but I would like to have someone here explain the answer to my question. pl
Non-Solar Images: Astrophotography by John Minnerath, Part 3
In honor of the approach of Christmas festivities and such like that I offer this recipe which I "inherited" from a friend's grandmother down in Southside Virginia. Over the years I have tinkered with it a bit here and there and would welcome suggestions. I won't necessarily take them, but I WILL welcome them.
The culinary influence of the South seems to be growing. "Miz Paula's" show on the cooking channel is an example, but sometimes people don't know where the dishes come from.
I once had a friend (Northern) express surprise when informed that "Biscuits and Gravy" are not a new thing developed in LA. Oh, well.
Remember: After it is all cooked, including baking, put it in the refrigerator over night. It is ALWAYS served cold. SLICE IT THIN!!!!"A country ham can be hung up in your basement indefinitely before it is re-hydrated. Pay no attention to any signs of mold, etc. To cook a dry-cured country ham from Madison County in God's own Commonwealth, you first take it out of the net bag, then soak it in a big cauldron in which the ham will be covered with cold water. You soak it for anything from 10 to 18 hours, depending on how much salt you want to get out of it. I would recommend about 15 or 16 hours, changing the water 2 or 3 times. Throw the water away, fill with new water to cover the ham. In the water put a medium sized quartered onion studded with six or eight cloves, a dozen black pepper corns, half a dozen Allspice berries, a bay leaf, a quartered apple, and some cider. I would put in a cup of Bourbon whiskey, but maybe you won't. Incidentally, the alcohol will all cook away, so all that will be left is the taste. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat so that the ham simmers in all this wonderful stuff. Simmer 20 minutes a pound plus another twenty minutes to be sure. Take it out of the pot and let cool until "just warm." Skin it with something like a really sharp "boning" knife. Work the blade parallel to the surface of the ham to take off the skin and then the thick layer of fat underneath. Take the fat off in thinnish layers. You will be surprised at how much fat there is. Be careful you don't get into the meat underneath. The fat is translucent. The meat is, well, not translucent. Once you get all the fat off, score the ham lightly and stud with cloves. Coat this marvelous object with a glaze. We use one made of real maple syrup, brown sugar, dry mustard, and a cup of Bourbon whiskey. Remember. The alcohol will be gone after cooking. Put the ham in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour. Let it cool completely and you are ready to carve. The ham has two flat sides and two curved sides. Using a very sharp ham slicer with a long, narrow blade, slice some very thin slices off the less curved of the two curved sides to make it flat. Then stand the ham on that side and start carving off the more curved side. Start down near the hock by making a vertical cut to the bone, then slice paper thin slices, working your way toward the big end of the ham and gradually inclining the knife so that after a while you are cutting long, very thin slices that are six or eight inches long. This ham will keep in the refrigerator two or three months, wrapped in aluminum, and is an endless source of sandwiches (turkey and country ham is one great possibility), snacks, etc. Make sure you slice it as near to paper thin as you can manage. Otherwise, the full flavor of the ham will overwhelm you."
"The newly released study has found that water was most likely formed on the surface of the Moon by the constant stream of charged particles ejected from the Sun. The finding “represents an unanticipated, abundant reservoir” of water on the moon, according to researchers from three U.S. universities, who formally reported their results Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience." Bell Jar
I remember this. Robert Heinlein wrote about this 60 or 70 years ago in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." In his novel, Luna has been colonised and Terra is the colonial overlord exploiting the mining products of the Loonies. The big rocks mined are filled with lithium and other rare earths. They are shot back to planet earth with a mass driver (someone will explain). The rocks land in the Pacific Ocean somewhere where they are retrieved, for...?
The inevitable revolt takes place on the moon and freedom rings forth through the maze of tunnels that these people live in. The best part of the book was the obsessive, inevitable meditation by Heinlein on the various forms of marriage among the Loonies. As a teenager this certainly seemed the most interesting part to me. The most exotic of these forms was the "line marriage." Look it up.
So now it is known that there is a lot of water of the moon. The sky is the limit. pl
At 3:44am this past Tuesday, a rocket blasted off from Cape Caneveral, Florida on a historic mission to demonstrate the ability of a commercially developed and operated transportation system to safely deliver cargo to the International Space Station. This flight is only the third flight of the Falcon 9 rocket, developed by Elon Musk’s startup Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), and the second flight of their Dragon capsule, so the tension in the atmosphere at SpaceX was understandable. The first launch attempt, last Saturday morning, was scrubbed due to a leaky check valve in the central engine’s turbopump, which was fortunately caught by the Falcon 9’s flight computer, enabling a safe abort of the engines with only half a second to spare before the planned liftoff. SpaceX was able to diagnose and repair the problem over the weekend, and was ready to go again at the next launch window, on Tuesday morning. Fortunately, the Falcon 9 delivered a flawless performance, lifting the Dragon capsule safely to orbit a little over nine minutes after liftoff. I had literally been keeping my fingers and toes crossed for the whole flight while watching things from home (my past experience in rocket testing has made me somewhat superstitious). I choked up at the reaction of the SpaceX team when the Dragon’s solar panels finally deployed. If you need some inspiration, and haven’t seen the flight footage, I’d strongly suggest watching the unedited SpaceX broadcast (launch starts at ~44:40 mark).
While those initial thrilling moments were an excellent start to a historic mission which is the culmination of nearly six years of hard work at SpaceX and NASA, the most historic portion of this mission is about to begin tomorrow morning. Over the past two days since the launch, the Dragon capsule has been slowly catching up with the space station, while performing several tests to demonstrate to NASA the capsule’s ability to safely operate near the station. Earlier this morning, the Dragon performed a maneuver that allowed it to pass only 2.5km below the station, where the picture at the beginning of this post was taken by an astronaut on board the ISS (Don Pettit, the one who will be operating the robot arm for tomorrow’s “berthing” operation). This final test verified the ability of ISS crewmembers to send commands to the Dragon, and to test the inter-vehicle communication system. With the completion of today’s tests, SpaceX has actually fulfilled all the requirements they had originally planned for their second Dragon flight. However, over the past year, SpaceX has worked with NASA to gain permission to combine the second Dragon flight with the third and final Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight, where the Dragon capsule will ultimately berth with the station (using its robotic arm, controlled by astronauts on-board), cargo will be unloaded from inside the Dragon capsule, and a small amount of non-critical cargo will be loaded back into Dragon for the return flight. It is this final set of operations, which will start in the early morning hours tomorrow (around 7:30am on the east coast) and end with the hatch to the ISS being opened early Saturday morning, which will be the truly historic part of this mission—marking the beginning of service of the world’s first commercial space cargo delivery vehicle, completing SpaceX’s part in the COTS development program, and marking SpaceX’s transition into operational service as part of the Commercial Resupply Services program which it won flight contracts from at the end of 2008.
If I recall correctly, my three year old mind registered the work of the Seven Dwarves as mining?
This really appeals to the science fiction reader that I was in my youth. I read a book about this. Heinlein, right? "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?" As I recall the Moon colony (Gingrich was not yet a candidate for mayor) mined various rare earths like lithium or some such thing. They then loaded the rocks into an electrically driven rail gun, a mass driver. The ore fell in the ocean somewehere at a reasonalble depth and were recovered. Easy huh?
Actually it was the marriage customs of the moonies that really interestrd me, but, then, at that age.... pl
"Researchers reanalyzed the results of a 1976 experiment conducted by NASA’s Viking robots to detect for life on Mars. The robots picked up soil samples from the Red Planet and looked for signs of microbial metabolism. At the time, scientists concluded the Labeled Release Experiment showed geological activity, not biological.
This time, researchers distilled Viking data into sets of numbers, hoping that method could better reveal complexity. The result: Close correlations were found between the complexity of the Viking data and those of terrestrial biological data sets. The researchers say their findings show NASA’s Viking robots found biological activity after all." Washpost
Worth noting. pl
A great project. Come August we will see if they get the thing down to the surface in running order. The re-entry vehicle will burn its way down to 200 miles an hour, then parachute drag down to 50 then a self contained rocket with the rover on a tether will lower it to the surface. Let us pray. pl
"The initial series of experiments, comprising 15,000 separate measurements spread out over three years, found that the neutrinos arrived 60 billionths of a second faster than light would have, travelling unimpeded over the same distance.
The idea that nothing can exceed the speed of light in a vacuum forms a cornerstone in physics - first laid out by James Clerk Maxwell and later incorporated into Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity." BBC
OK, science boffins, what are the implications if the CERN data proves correct? pl
If the experiment is independently repeated - most likely by teams in the United States or Japan - then it would require a fundamental rethink of modern physics." Forbes
Ahah! I knew it all the time! Einstein? There always seemed to me to be flaws in his equations.
All of us Asimov, Pournelle and Drake readers will be vindicated. I want to ship over in "Hammer's Slammers," or "Falkenberg's Legion," or maybe those Germans in one of the David Drake books, you know, the Panzer guys.
I went down to the Eastern Shore floating fish market in the Washington Channel on Maine Avenue. Captain White's is my favorite place. John "Duke" Anthony once told me that this one of the few places where you could still see the "old Washington." He should know. I bought some of this and that. A kilo of white head-on shrimp went in the bag. I am marinating the shrimp bodies to cook on the grill tonight, an east Asian marinade. My wife likes tuna steaks, so one of those for her.
I saw someone eating tempura shrimp heads on the tube a while back. This looked great. I saved those. Does anyone have a favorite recipe? pl
The discovery could be useful in treating humans with degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy, as well as help everyday people prevent at least some of the ravages of time, the researchers said." Discovery
I'll have some of those for Christmas and I would like them to start with the stenosis in my Lumbar vertebrae. pl
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is not a new thing. Throughout the 20th Century soldiers have been subject to blast effects from artillery, mortar fire, roadside bombs and other load noises that produce a shock wave or weapons which actually drive hard objects into one's skull.
IED's were very common in Vietnam. All roads in disputed territory had to be cleared every day and kept that way. We rode around in wheeled vehicles that had the floors packed with sandbags in a probably futile effort to mitigate blast effects.
The point? There are a lot of people out there with injuries like this from earlier wars.
Maybe this will explain why Uncle Fred was always a little strange after the war. pl
"The US government has known about the flaw since the US campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said." CSM
"That final sentence is a bit worrying, and reflects a common pitfall within the US and many other "sophisticated" armed forces: Officers and war-planners often make the mistake of assuming their enemies are dumb, and not particularly adaptable. " WSJ
Not a big deal? Maybe not except that a look at what your opponent is watching is ALWAYS useful. You may also discover that what you are doing is more visible than you thought.
The question remains why this downlink was not encrypted to begin with. I think that the CSM has it right in attributing this failure to what I would call the "Raghead" factor. This is the tendency among Americans to assume that people who are culturally different from them are also primitive. This frequently shows up as a factor in our foreign affairs and we never seem to learn. We spent several billion dollars in Iraq trying to beat the ever shifting and evolving IED challenge and found that as fast as we devloped technical counter-measures or more sophisticated surveillance platforms, the insurgents developed new IEDs. They often bought parts for their new designs on the internet electronics market, disassembling larger gadgets if necessary to get the boards, etc., that they wanted.
This blind spot seems odd in a culture (ours) that is obsessed with levelling and the rejection of the idea of elites. I suppose that the level that is sought is one that represents the lowest common denominator of US society?
We actually DO have elites. To see them, all you have to do is tune in "Morning Joe" in the AM on MSNBC to watch the elites of left and right preening in their splendid plumage.
Nothing will change. We are sure that we are smarter, more virtuous, more ingenious, have better health care, etc., than anyone else. pl
OK. Someone altered the photograph. That is interesting but not the primary curiosity about these "long and medium range missiles." To justify this description it would seem that they would have to be ballistic missiles of the Shehab series, probably Shehab 3b.
Is it not the case that ballistic missiles rise nearly vertically from the Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) in the launch phase of flight?
These are photographs of the Shehab 3 in the launch phase.
I am not an expert in the field of missile technology, but the missiles in the faked photograph appear to be anti-aircraft ground to air missiles or artillery rockets. The slanted attitude of launch speaks to that. No? Anti-aircraft missiles would be a threat to aircraft, not to Israeli cities. Artillery rockets are a battlefield weapon.
If those missiles are not ballistic missiles, then several interesting questions arise:
1- Which governments are fooling around here?
2- If these are not ballistic missiles, why are the MSM propagating the implication that this photograph displays missiles that are a threat to Israel? pl
I first became interested in these about twenty years ago after watching a "Nova" production about them. They feature prominently in the old Heinlein novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as a cheap way to deliver the ore products of Lunar mining to target areas in the Pacific Ocean where they could be recovered. If you are getting the idea that I am interested in space programs, you are right.
"..And Thou Beside Me In the Wilderness." Omar Khayyam was always an odd Persian but I think he would have serious problems living with many of his present countrymen. He was a scientist and mathematician as well as a poet, but his skepticism would not have been appreciated in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
What are we to make of Iran's nuclear intentions and capabilities? Courtesy of my Alexandria neighbor, John E. Pike and the "Daily Telegraph" we have the materials shown above.
Shahab-6? 10,000 kilometers in range? "Two to three years" to weaponization?" If this is true, then Iran would hold English cities at risk. When? No one really knows how long that would take. Three years? Five years" Ten years? Nobody knows really? The Mullahs probably do not know.
Would they use the weapons? This is actually rather unimportant. As a consequence of Iranian nuclear weapons, the playing field would be leveled to a remarkable degree. T. Friedman would begin to be right about something in his vision of the future. Could we still crush Iran? Certainly, but it would probably not come to that. Rather, we would experience a marked diminution of US influence and leverage in the region, and an upsurge in the general willingness of crazies around the world to believe that we are weaker. A perception of weakness on the part of one's enemies is a dangerous thing. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other "emerging" countries would feel encouraged or threatened (choose your term) into taking similar paths. Would this danger drive these countries further into our arms? It is impossible to say, but with my usual pessimism I fear the worst.
Obviously, diplomacy and persuasion should be played out to the end, but the reactions of the Iranian government thus far are not encouraging.
People will say that this is all "cooked up" by the neocons and Bushies. I do not think that is true.