Topics: International Space Station, Interstellar, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight, Star Trek
Light Sails were first mentioned in the year 1610 in a letter by astronomer Johannes Kepler to his friend, Galileo Galilei. “With ships or sails built for heavenly winds, some will venture into that great vastness.” In his character of Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Avery Brooks used his Starfleet engineering prowess deciphering ancient text to recreate an ancient Bajoran solar sail in the episode "Explorers." The possibilities have vacillated between science and fiction ever since.
I've enjoyed reading the speculation by Avi Loeb, Chair of Harvard University's Department of Astronomy on the Oumuamua object in Extraterrestrial. I've also enjoyed the healthy counter debate, as that's how ideas in science are refined before they become laws, doctrine, or accepted universal theorems.
On the "billionaire space race": Eli Musk started it with his SpaceX rocket system. It would be nice in current geopolitical tensions not to rely so much on Russian Soyuz capsules to get to the ISS. Brian Branson and Jeff Bezos have probably opened up space tourism, but in the foreseeable near-future and exorbitant price tag, it will probably be a dalliance of the wealthy. Desktop computers used to cost between $2,000 - 3,000, cell phones irradiating Gordon Gekko's skull in the movie "Wall Street" used to be the size of Canada. Even the fictional Zefram Cochrane needed a financier, Micah Brack, to get Warp One going. Whether that leads to a utopia of limitless energy, the end to poverty, money, life extension, and eliminating inequality is yet to be seen.
The article title, Breakthrough Starshot: A voyage to the stars within our lifetimes, Astronomy Magazine, takes into account the bane of our spacefaring existence: mass, quite literally a "drag," and cannot be compensated for by technobabble "inertia dampeners" or artificial gravity. We are currently accelerating at 9.8 meters per square second to the Earth's center, but we're used to it after living here a while. Twenty percent of the speed of light would get a nano solar sail craft propelled by a high-energy laser to Alpha Centauri in twenty years but would turn human passengers (if any were that small) into DNA goo against the bulkhead. Starshot launching in 2060 means my granddaughter will be forty-one, her parents might be grandparents, and I would have to be a spry ninety-eight to witness it. "Our lifetimes" must be humankind, that is if we haven't overextended our resources to make the endeavor fruitless. From the end of the article:
But as award-winning Cosmos writer and producer Ann Druyan, a member of the Breakthrough Starshot advisory board, said during a 2016 press conference announcing the initiative: “Science thinks in timescales of billions of years. And yet, we live in a society that only thinks in terms of, generally, the balance sheet of the next quarter or the next election. … So, this kind of thinking that looks at a horizon that’s 35 years away — possibly 20, possibly 50 — is exactly what’s called for now, because it’s this kind of multigenerational enterprise that nets us such great results.”
Topics: Astrophysics, Cosmology, Einstein, General Relativity, Star Trek
Note: One of the things you find out about sophomore, or junior year in physics is faster-than-light travel violates causality: the arrow of time points forward, not in "loop-de-loop." Thus, we can suspend belief as every version of Trek did time travel episodes, because superluminal speeds would allow grandfather paradoxes, so why not?
As a lifelong Trekkie, it pains me to critique genuine attempts at warp field mechanics. Just note the five stages of grief I have traveled often as I read such articles: "denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance" (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and David Kessler), but based on the post that will appear in the morning, a little diversion might be a good thing.
For Erik Lentz, it all started with Star Trek. Every few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard would raise his hand and order, “Warp one, engage!” Then stars became dashes, and light-years flashed by at impossible speed. And Lentz, still in elementary school, wondered whether warp drive might also work in real life.
“At some point, I realized that the technology didn’t exist,” Lentz says. He studied physics at the University of Washington, wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on dark matter, and generally became far too busy to be concerned with science fiction. But then, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Lentz found himself alone in Göttingen, Germany, where he was doing postdoctoral work. He suddenly had plenty of free time on his hands—and childhood fancies in his head.
Lentz read everything he could find on warp drives in the scientific literature, which was not very much. Then he began to think about it for himself. After a few weeks, something occurred to him that everyone else seemed to have overlooked. Lentz put his idea on paper and discussed it with more experienced colleagues. A year later it was published in a physics journal.
It quickly became clear that Lentz was not the only person dreaming about warp drives. Media outlets all over the world picked up the story, and a dozen journalists asked for interviews. A discussion on the online forum Reddit attracted 2,700 comments and 33,000 likes. One Internet user wrote, “Anyone else feels like they were born 300 years too soon?”
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Politics, Star Trek
I've been finishing up the semester. I passed my preliminary exam. Now I'm working on refining my research question for my dissertation proposal, due late spring. I usually take a break from blogging around the holidays, and as my Dean put it, dissertations proposals are "a bear." So don't be surprised if I take a blog break for LONG stretches.
o'thia Literally defined as "reality-truth" in Vulcan religion/philosophy, methods of emotional self-control, and teachings of pacifism. The term o'thia is also known simply as logic. Note: there is an error on the wiki - cthia, versus o'thia. See TOS novel: Spock's World, by Diane Duane. See beta wiki: https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Vulcan_language
As I type this, the FDA meeting on the Pfizer version of the coronavirus vaccine has concluded. They have taken the first steps towards approving the vaccine for distribution in America. The first woman in the world to receive it was a 90-year-old grandmother in Bristol. As she gave her arm and consent, many even in the UK expressed misplaced skepticism, expressing their version of European "anti-vax" sentiments. African Americans are still feeling the sting of the Tuskegee Experiment, decades later, and don't trust anything the current administration might have produced after waves of destructive behavior, destroying what was marginal "norms," but the pandemic has shown and is showing, we were not "normal," and we still aren't. The majority of WASP-C (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant Cisgender) countries are scarfing up vaccine supplies because they have the WEALTH to do so. We are still behaving carnally, like warring tribes over the next hill. The pandemic has revealed our world is imbalanced by racism and income inequality. A lot of the epidemics and pandemics stem from people trying their best to survive under circumstances they did not design for themselves. You can't complain about anyone eating a bat any more than you can about someone eating chitterlings and high-salt hog products when the scraps were literally all African Americans had to eat. See Umar Haque's article: "How Covid Proves the World is Even More Racist Than You Think." Start getting used to the term "vaccine nationalism." It's short-sighted: you can't do any international travel for business, or pleasure if developing countries - where we get a lot of precious metals - are still in lockdown.
Star Trek is modern mythology, born during the turbulent 1960s when there were the struggle for civil rights, women's rights, LGBT rights (Stonewall), civil unrest, assassinations, and the Cold War with the Soviet Union, "duck-and-cover" drills being as part of the school curriculum as masks are now. Gene Roddenberry envisioned a world in the far future, with fantastic technologies and cooperation among humanity that from September 8, 1966, to June 3, 1969, he obviously hadn't see demonstrated. In many ways, we're trying to "live up" to the optimistic (some would say Pollyannaish) vision today.
Star Trek inspired many P.E.E.R.s (People Excluded due to Ethnicity and Race, see David Asai, 2020 here, and here) into STEM, Dr. Ronald E. McNair, for example, and myself.
Spock particularly inspired me. He wasn't just Vulcan: he was biracial, not just of two cultures, but two worlds. From the canon, he seemed to experience xenophobia and insults from other "pure" Vulcans, as well as snarky humans like Dr. Leonard McCoy. Seeing myself in the outsider, "the other" in Science Officer Spock wasn't even a little stretch. Empathy for his fellow Vulcan's and some human's racism during the turbulent 1960s was easy.
We are a country in the aftermath of being gaslighted by a man his clinical psychologist niece says is so delusional, he can gaslight himself. We are a country in the aftermath of four-hundred years of gaslighting between "superior" and "inferior." "Reality-truth" is anathema to him and his cult following, primed by forty-years of AM talk radio and four-hundred years of generational brainwashing. The Fairness Doctrine wasn't repealed by Reagan, but it was abandoned in 1987 during his administration's lame-duck years. It affected radio broadcast licenses, so you can say this probably led to Rush Limbaugh and right-wing talk radio. Fox News is television, thus unrestrained by whether we had a fairness doctrine when they arrived in 1996 or not. The Texas AG and seventeen other AG's - all WASP-C males (White, Anglo Saxon Protestant-Cisgender) have filed a frivolous lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election results because the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People Of Color, and P.E.E.R.s among them) have no votes that they deem credible unless they vote for republicans.
[Chief Justice Roger B.] Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery and intent on protecting southerners from northern aggression -- wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it." PBS - Dred Scott case: the Supreme Court decision, 1857
Dr. Mary Trump is the author of "Too Much, and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man." She's apparently working on a follow-up book on the country's collective trauma due to her uncle's incompetence, and more likely, his many undiagnosed mental disorders. Also, as I listened to her View interview, she wants to talk about how we as a nation - not the BIPOC, or P.E.E.R.s - have collectively ignored our past and never reckoned with the slaughter of Native First Nation Peoples, the kidnap, rape, and slaughter-at-will of the African Diaspora, to the point the current dwindling majority can't see me any more than Taney did my ancestor, Dred Scott: we have no rights they are bound to respect, and our vote is by definition "fraudulent," unless we vote for them as "masters."
"Reality-truth" - o'thia - saved the mythical Vulcans from self-annihilation.
We might want a steady diet of o'thia if we want to survive as a species.
"Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We can not. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe." Chadwick Boseman as King T'Challa in the movie Black Panther, Rest In Power.
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Star Trek
Iran's most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran, the country's defense ministry has confirmed.
Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, in Damavand county.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has condemned the killing "as an act of state terror".
Western intelligence agencies believe Fakhrizadeh was behind a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.
"If Iran ever chose to weaponize (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb," one Western diplomat told Reuters news agency in 2014.
Iran insists its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.
But news of the killing comes amid fresh concern about the increased amount of enriched uranium that the country is producing. Enriched uranium is a vital component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons.
Yes, just like something out of Marvel's Captain America. According to reports by U.S. intelligence, China has conducted human testing on members of the People's Liberation Army with the ambitious goal of developing soldiers with enhanced biological capabilities.
Though it may sound like something out of science fiction, emerging technologies capable of augmenting the human body paired with the rapidly evolving world of genome-editing could arguably spawn the dawn of super-humans.
Concepts like artificial intelligence symbiosis, bionic body parts, and self-regenerating limbs are not too far off into the future.
Though the idea of getting your hands on some highly coveted Marvel-Esque superpowers sounds exciting, there are some real-world fears and ethical questions that need to be asked. Should we if we can?
Act Two McCoy is conducting a medical analysis on the unidentified man at sickbay on the Enterprise. McCoy is amazed at the physical and recuperative power of the man.
In sickbay, Kirk arrives to speak to the man. McCoy notes his superior bodily strength and efficiency of his lungs, hinting at his Augment origin. McCoy estimates that the man could lift both he and Kirk with one arm. He tells Kirk that it would be interesting to see if the man's brain matches his body.
In July, we were estimated losing a person a minute to COVID-19. We may now lose the equivalent of a 9/11 per day by Christmas. Bah, humbug!
In the constitutional "peaceful transfer of power," you would think the current occupant of the Oval Office would be laser-focused on the pandemic. He would have his agencies coordinating with the incoming administration to ensure its success, and minimize the loss of life due to a virus that spreads exponentially. You would think his Oath of Office would come to mind, the whole "protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign, and domestic." That the safety of the nation and its citizens would be his highest priority.
No action on the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, no condemnation of the act, or sanctions on an ally that approved this action, nor officially logging our disapproval.
China is on the verge of fielding "Captain China" supermen on a future battlefield we may find our soldiers dying on. They're already on the verge of technological supremacy without augments. Their fascination with Nazi lawyer Carl Schmitt is disturbing.
Of course, his priorities are arguing an election that he clearly lost.
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that China's economic and military transformation, under the current Communist regime, has the potential to seriously threaten the future security of Canada and the West. The paper first looks at the economic reforms that have radically changed the Chinese economy. Then, the paper presents the significant changes that have taken place concerning military strategy, equipment modernization, and power projection capability. The strategic view and policies of Canada and the US are discussed in light of these changes and other recent incidents. The paper then presents the argument that there are three potential problem areas in which China could possibly threaten the West. The paper concludes by noting that China is a Communist country that is dissatisfied with its status in the world and that the West must not be naive to its intentions and ambitions.
When China awakes, it will shake the world - Napoleon Bonaparte
Once China becomes strong enough to stand alone, it might discard us. A little later it might even turn against us if its perception of its interests requires it - Henry Kissinger
The economic conditions before the first and second world wars were similarly dire, and related to each other. The gist of each causing massive losses of life (inclusive of the 1918 pandemic) was arrogance and greed.
We live in a cartoon. We think our actions are recoverable and survivable. We think there's a "Season Two" to stupidity. We think that minerals we've given agency over our lives, spewed as the guts of stars parsecs away are valuable enough to hoard, steal, and kill over.
We elect caricatures of gangsters to high office: sociopaths with Twitter followers that are equally psychotic. We're at the Entropy of our political experiment. Chaos is kind of unrecoverable without benevolent aliens and fictional warp signatures.
He's running a con. He's ALWAYS running a con. The con started with Reagan: "government is the problem" is as catchy and myopic a slogan as "defund the police." What does either one mean? I don't think officers should show up to a mental health crisis with guns blazing: that usually doesn't turn out too well. Was there a libertarian rocketeer that had a cost-effective method of getting to the moon? Was there some unknown genius living in his mom's basement that had a better solution than ARPANET (that became the Internet)? I'm as against bad, racist cops as anyone, but if my home is broken into, I EXPECT a government structure capable enough that when my glass break goes off, SOMEONE that my taxes pay for their salaries comes a-running, whether they like me personally, or not!
He's making far more money in small-dollar donations by losing the election, whining about it was "rigged," and putting out 46-minute bullshit infomercials to morons than winning it. As a malignant narcissist, he could care LESS who his rhetoric influences to commit violence, whether they're Republicans, Independents, or Democrats. He's probably as surprised as the 80 million who voted for the sane candidate that there are 74 million that would consciously and deliberately vote for him!
He's running a grift reality show, while we all sit on a powder keg for forty-six days.
As he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945, a piece of Hindu scripture ran through the mind of Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. It is, perhaps, the most well-known line from the Bhagavad-Gita, but also the most misunderstood.
In Hinduism, which has a non-linear concept of time, the great god is not only involved in the creation, but also the dissolution. In verse thirty-two, Krishna speaks the line brought to global attention by Oppenheimer. "The quotation 'Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds', is literally the world-destroying time,” explains Thompson, adding that Oppenheimer’s Sanskrit teacher chose to translate “world-destroying time” as “death”, a common interpretation. Its meaning is simple: irrespective of what Arjuna does, everything is in the hands of the divine.
"Arjuna is a soldier, he has a duty to fight. Krishna, not Arjuna will determine who lives and who dies and Arjuna should neither mourn nor rejoice over what fate has in store, but should be sublimely unattached to such results,” says Thompson. “And ultimately the most important thing is he should be devoted to Krishna. His faith will save Arjuna's soul." But Oppenheimer, seemingly, was never able to achieve this peace. "In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humour, no overstatements can quite extinguish," he said two years after the Trinity explosion, "the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”
Topics: Moonbase, NASA, Space Exploration, Spaceflight, Star Trek
Cultural references: Neil Armstrong's quote: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," and the title of a Star Trek Voyager episode, season 6, episode 8.
On August 4, 1972, the sun unleashed an incandescent whip of energy from its surface and flung it toward the planets. It was accompanied by a seething cloud of plasma called a coronal mass ejection, which traversed the nearly 150 million kilometers between sun and Earth in just more than half a day—still the fastest-known arrival time for such outbursts—to briefly bathe our planet in a cosmic fire.
Earth’s shielding magnetosphere crumpled and shrunk by two thirds, sending powerful geomagnetic currents rippling through the planet. Dazzling displays of “northern lights” stretched down to Spain, and overloaded power lines strained as far south as Texas. Off the southern coast of Haiphong, North Vietnam, the seas churned as the celestial disturbance prematurely detonated some two dozen U.S. Navy sea mines. The geomagnetic storm is one of the most violent solar events in recorded history, certainly the most violent of the space age.
The astronauts of Apollo 16 had been home about three months from their lunar foray, and those of Apollo 17 were still preparing for their December launch. The fact that the solar outburst happened between the penultimate and final crewed moon missions was simply a matter of chance. If the members of either crew had been in space during the solar storm, especially if they had been traversing the portion of the “cislunar” region between Earth and the moon that lies outside the magnetosphere, they would have been exposed to a potentially deadly dose of radiation.
We got lucky in 1972. And in terms of space-based hazards, that luck has largely held throughout humanity’s off-world excursions. To date, the only humans to actually die in space were the three cosmonauts of Soyuz 11, who asphyxiated because of faulty hardware as their spacecraft began its descent to Earth. Yet despite what most estimates would seem to consider a near-sterling safety record, today the prospect of venturing back beyond low-Earth orbit somehow seems more daunting—more dangerous—than it did when the Apollo program ended. Equipped with more knowledge than ever about the environs beyond our home, we now seem more reluctant to leave it. Maybe we know too much.
Historical Bureau of Investigation Agents Tad Jones and Kim Davis research history with The Time Telescope in order to reconnect with their history due to the Great Cataclysm. They discover unknown Historical Heroes such as Sybil Ludington, Squanto and Crispus Attucks and more. But what happens when they are TRAPPED in the past. Will they ever return to the 23rd Century? History and Science meet at The Time Telescope. This is the Season One of a comic book series that combines Star Trek with Doctor Who. This has a great educational value. Everyone has heroes that look like them. Now you can see them for yourselves.