Archive for category Space

Giant Woop!

wealthy landing

Competition among billionaires has actually landed a rocket on earth.

Almost 50 years ago, the United States sent men to the moon, landed them there, and brought them safely back to earth, just like president Kennedy envisioned, and less then ten years after he envisioned it.

Today, Billionaires are sending spacecraft into near earth, and landing them, with the hope that someday, we’ll be sending other very wealthy people into space for a sort of amusment park ride, and returning them safely to earth.

I don’t really have anything against Elon Musk, the Virgin guy, or the Amazon guy following their spacey dreams, but I think the government did pretty well in the past, and I’ll bet you it could have even come up with reusable rockets by now.


Do we really need billionaires to create our future, or would a government, elected by the people, as it was in the past, work better to educate our kids without burying them in debt, and build the great innovations that can get us out of the mess the giant corporations have created for us?

Today, we have a handful of un-elected, plutocrat Kings telling our – sort of – elected leaders to ignore us.

Happy Holidays though. It’s actually – sort of – snowing in Utah for a change. You won’t have to worry about having a “White Christmas”, unless the rain melts it. 🙂


Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’

Gargantuan black hole

“Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan’s ninth film, is the most ambitious thing he’s ever done (this is the director of “Inception” we’re talking about here). It’s a $165 million visual masterpiece about an ambitious attempt to save the human race, trapped on a dying Earth. The science is shaky to say the least, and there’s an excess of melodrama IMHO. But it’s well worth seeing. Features include:

  • Big ideas
  • Terrific cast & acting
  • Plenty of plot twists
  • No sound in space (like “2001: A Space Odyssey”)
  • A wormhole to another galaxy
  • Time dilation
  • A gargantuan black hole (which doubles as a plot hole)

And Matthew McConaughey gets to say, “We don’t have time to argue about relativity right now.”


More Hexagons in Nature

Did you know that snowflakes always form as hexagons?

Adding to my previous post on the subject:

So now we have this:

The circulating cloud formation at the pole of Saturn:

And snowflakes, just in time for Christmas.

snowflake hexagons

Beautiful, aren’t they?

Feel free to explore this incredible website!

Here’s a more recent NASA photo of Saturn which also shows the hexagon.

A mosquito:

mosquito eyes

A turtle:

turtle hexagons


I Guess “The Moody Blues” Need A Category Of Thier Own

Perhaps in a Hall of Fame somewhere in a child’s imagination or somewhere else:

Somehow a catolog of great music spanning decades doesn’t measure up to the Rock n’ Roll hall of fame.

If I were they, I would tell them to keep it!

I’m sure The Moodies don’t really want my input here. I once heard a horrible story about people in wheelchairs showing up at their concerts wanting to be healed.

All they were trying to do is enlighten us.


Hexagons in Nature

I’ve always been fascinated by the symmetrical shapes of the honeycomb, but a couple of days ago, I got blown away by an image of the planet Saturn.

The planet Saturn stands out from all the others in our solar system because of it’s beautiful, and mysterious rings, but I have never seen anything like this before. It’s going to be making me wonder for the rest of my life. I like wondering. I think it’s healthy to contemplate about scientific discoveries, even if they don’t seem to make sense.

I’m not sure how I missed reports of this strange phenomenon happening on Saturn, because it’s existence has been known for a long time. New photos have brought it back to light.

I have a website that I visit every day which features pictures and videos of amazing and often mysterious things about the earth and the universe around it, with commentary by scientist’s who give their knowledge or best guesses about the content. This particular entry – February 20 2013 – really made me sit up in my chair.

Saturn hexagon

Apparently Saturn, which has no solid surface, harbors a cloud formation shaped like a hexagon which is large enough to house four earths. It’s not sort-of a hexagon; it’s a hexagon with six equal length sides. But, that’s not all. It rotates and it’s been there for at least 20 years!

Be sure to look at this fantastic time-lapse animation of the object, and visit the massive archive section of “Astronomy Picture of the Day”.

What do you think could cause this?


Sci Fi Overdose In 2013

The future is here, in the form of 20 upcoming sci-fi films. Including long-awaited adaptations of the classic stories Ender’s Game and The Forever War. The list begins with a 2012 release that I missed – maybe it will turn up somewhere.

“Robot and Frank” (2012)
Starring: A robot (Rachael Ma) and Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon and Liv Tyler
Director: Jake Schrier (first feature film)

Frank is an aging ex-convict living alone. To help, Frank’s son (played by James Marsden) buys a robot (with the voice of Peter Sarsgaard) to help around the house and keep the old man company. Frank’s initial suspicion gradually gives way to delight when he discovers that the robot may be able to help him with his criminal exploits.

“Oz The Great And Powerful” (March 8, 2013)
Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz
Director: Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man 3”)

A stage magician is hurled into a fantasy world, and must use his wits to stay ahead of three enchantresses who have plans for him. Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum.

“Oblivion” (April 19)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko
Director: Joseph Kosinski (“Tron Legacy”)

Jak Harper is a drone repairman whose longstanding battle with alien invaders is drawing to an end. But when his aircraft lands on a barren Earth one day, his encounter with a mysterious woman named Julia throws everything he thinks he knows about the war into doubt. Based on a graphic novel the director wrote back in 2005.
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…one giant leap

Just saw this bit of very sad news over at DailyKOS.

Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the surface of the moon, has died at age 82.
The family described him as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend, and also as “a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job.”
That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.

When Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, he fulfilled the goal that had been set by President John F. Kennedy just eight years earlier. […]

Armstrong’s family said, “While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request: Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

I recall a couple of interviews I saw with him when I was very young. I seem to recall that he was simply acting as outreach for some NASA science project at the time. Something he had very little to do with, but that someone at NASA saw a spokesman opportunity for him to do. Roll out the old hero of yesteryear sort of thing and let him wow the public. He seemed genuinely amazed that people thought so highly of his step and one liner while they couldn’t name the others who had been to the moon and back. I wonder if enough YouTube surfing could find that, or if it is something I am simply mis-remembering.

“…just doing his job.” Incredible.


We went to the moon, and discovered earth

I posted the first part of this in a thread, but this second part really needs its own space.

We have a chance to go to Mars, maybe becoming Martian could help us become human…


In Related News…

One of my little joys in life, one of the simple things that keeps me sane (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) is hearing or reading news items that are related, if only you have the right bits of knowledge to put them together. I love these things. It is like a personal game of six degrees I like to play when listening to the news. It makes my day.


Today I heard that astronomers have been looking at old galaxies, and discovered that dwarf stars are much more common than previously thought. And that wikileaks says that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban.

Bear with me here…
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Obama Wants to Privatize WHAT?

Thanks to Steve Murray of West Bountiful for bringing this to my attention with his pointed letter to the sltrib.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that “Obama wants to outsource future space flights to private companies.” This hits me close to home, because I have a brother-in-law who works for a rocket engineering firm. I am, of course, concerned about his job security. Rob Bishop and Bob Bennett (Rob and Bob), on the other hand, have much larger concerns. Read the rest of this entry »



Bush’s Moon Base Cancelled

Constellation program
Sorry, this is just too expensive and there’s no scientific rationale for it.

During the 2004 election, Karl Rove was hard pressed to offer any reason why anyone should want a second term for President Bush. One of his desperate election-year stunts was a grandiose announcement of NASA manned missions to the Moon and Mars. For which there was no money.

President Obama will send a $3.834 trillion budget to Congress today for Fiscal Year 2011 that includes the cancellation of the NASA Constellation program, aka Bush’s Moon Base. The program was hopelessly behind schedule and over budget.

Manned spaceflight is a waste of money. Most space science is done with automated vehicles that don’t need to carry people, food, water and air out of Earth’s steep gravity well. The Mars Pathfinder succeeded beyond the expectations of the designers. Since then, NASA has run 7 more successful Mars missions. What could astronauts do that these semi-autonomous landers can’t?

Previous One Utah posts:

No Bucks, No Buck Rogers (August 14, 2009)
NASA Offers Science Fiction Justification for Manned Moon Program (July 16, 2009)
NASA Abandoning Plans for Bush’s Moon Base (May 4, 2009)
Obama Should Cancel Bush’s Moon Mission (December 13, 2008)


The Right: ‘Avatar’ Is ‘Super Mega Ultra Left-Wing’

James Cameron's Avatar
James Cameron’s Avatar

One of the most-anticipated movies of the year is James Cameron’s “Avatar.” The story is set on a planet in the Alpha Centauri system, 4.3 light years from Earth. Humans want to: (1) eradicate the blue-skinned natives and their civilization, which thrives in harmony with nature, and (2) open up strip mines.

Perhaps not surprisingly, right-wing commentators have immediately leaped to the defense of genocide and the rape of natural resources.

AllahPundit: “Super mega ultra left-wing… A three-hour lecture on imperialism starring Smurfs.” “Think of ‘Avatar’ as ‘Death Wish 5’ for leftists. A simplistic, revisionist revenge fantasy where if you freakin’ hate the bad guys (America), you’re able to forgive the by-the-numbers predictability of it all and still get off watching them get what they got coming.”

Jeffrey Wells: “Not right-wing friendly… Call it the most flamboyant, costliest, grandest left-liberal super-movie anyone’s ever seen… totally pro-loincloth, pro-native, despise-the-greedy, hug-the-earth, worship-the-earth, down with the soulless short-end, down with the us-first, masters-of-the-universe thinking behind the Goldman Sachs/Timothy Geithner culture and up with the eternal/spiritual in all cultures and all corners of the globe. The tragedy of the Vietnam War echoes all through this film. Somewhere Ho Chi Minh is smiling.”

John Nolte: “Set in 2154, “Avatar” is a thinly disguised, heavy-handed and simplistic sci-fi fantasy/allegory critical of America from our founding straight through to the Iraq War.”

Wow. Do you think some of these people have guilty consciences? It’s a science-fiction movie about humans trying to wipe out a race that exists in James Cameron’s imagination. Maybe it’s a heavy-handed allegory, or else it’s action-adventure entertainment. Did they say “Titanic” was an anti-capitalist screed because the third-class passengers didn’t get lifeboats? Not everything is partisan politics, you know.

See below for a hilarious clip from Kent Jones of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

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