2012 Prometheus Award Finalist


Buy Kindle version
Buy Nook version

A young girl sets out to prove herself by resolving a long-forgotten mystery. But when she gets close to the truth, what she thought was a harmless adventure becomes a threat to the future of the independent commercial settlements on Mars.

March 2015
S M T W T F S
« Feb    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Archives

Inflatables Moving Closer to Use

Bigelow’s already demonstrated that inflatables can be deployed and operated in space. Now they’re moving closer to demonstrating an inflatable habitat with actual people in it: On the BEAM: Headed for the Space Station.

In its packed configuration tucked aboard SpaceX’s Dragon resupply spacecraft, BEAM will measure approximately 8 feet in diameter.

Once BEAM is attached to the International Space Station’s Tranquility Node, onboard crew members will perform initial systems checks before deploying the habitat…

During the BEAM’s minimum two-year test period, crews will routinely enter the BEAM. In addition, the module will be assessed as to its performance to help inform designs for future habitat systems.

The expandable habitat will be monitored as to its adaption to the thermal environment of space, reaction to radiation, as well as micrometeroids and orbital debris strikes.

 

How Far We’ve Come

Since just 1996: Infrared Camera:

The camera weighs only 9.9 pounds and measures 4.4 inches wide, 10.3 inches deep and 7.2 inches long. The prototype plugs into a wall socket for power but the camera can readily be converted to battery power for portability.

That eyeball ain’t gonna fit on a cubesat.

(Note the image suggests that the camera produces 256 x 256 pixel images…0.065MP.)

Rose Eveleth is a Parody

Rose Eveleth: plumbing the important issues in science!

FWIW, I’ve worked in the space industry since 1997, around the time our favorite Twitter-based science expert and fashion critic was in junior high.  Most of that work has been on projects involving vehicles for carrying people. I don’t recall a project or a period from then to now when we didn’t normally refer to such vehicles as “crewed” – Crew Return Vehicle, Crewed Exploration Vehicle, Orion Crew Module, etc.

Young Rose, it would seem, is fighting the battles of the 1970s.

Mystery Mars haze baffles scientists

So maybe Mars isn’t as inert as we’ve come to believe: Mystery Mars haze baffles scientists.

Would be interesting if this was a dust plume kicked up by a small asteroid impact. On the other hand, I’d think if it had been, someone would already have teased evidence of this out of the rover data covering the period in question, if either of them carry sensors sensitive enough to register the faint effects of a rather distant seismic event or transient pressure/acoustic pulse in the thin atmosphere.

Martian Cube-Copters

This is the Drone Helicopter NASA Scientists Want to Send to Mars

Amusing. If lift is the limiting factor rather than volume or mass, that suggests to me that a bunch of these things could be sent on a single entry vehicle. Not unlike a certain NIAC proposal we put in last year, as it happens.

If You Were a Depraved Nihilist, My Love

John C. Wright addresses the moral void that is the left.

It’s easy to fall into the mental pattern of believing that the left is simply the flip-side of the right – not its opposite, but rather a philosophical complement, mirroring the right in its positions on various issues but sharing the same overall goals. And that may be true in the case of most ordinary Democrats, vs. leftists, and what I think he is alluding to with his description of what the left used to be (or claim to be) about.

But when you encounter the true believers, such as those who made up the various tentacles of the Colorado Democracy Alliance, you see exactly what Wright describes as the left of today. They champion every movement or idea or person that opposes the good, the just, and the beautiful, and the more corrosive the movement or idea or person, the more strongly they champion it.

Yes, they are liars, brazen and habitual, devoid of intellectual integrity. Yes, they are crass hypocrites, cynically portraying themselves as champions of those they exploit. Yes, they are grownup toddlers, unwilling to take responsibility for their record of failure or accept any criticism or refusal without pitching mouth-foaming tantrums. But those things are secondary to the mindless destructive impulse that underlies their thinking as a whole. What may at one time have been an idealistic radicalism demanding the dismantling of an unjust status quo and its replacement with something better has over a few generations morphed into a nihilistic vandalism aiming to tear down anything positive with no other end in mind. The “hatred of the good for being good”, Ayn Rand’s definition of envy, is a useful measure for seeing this mindset in action – examine who and what leftists exalt, and what and who they revile, and this nihilistic opposition to the philosophic good becomes plain to see.

Yes, leftists are evil – this is not insanity, it’s a morally wrong choice they make and a corrosive state of mind they willingly persist in and promote and enforce. Mr. Wright hits on the symptoms here, but doesn’t go all the way to the root of that evil.

About this part:

Point out any barbaric act by any Jihadist, and the Leftist will say two things: (1) Christians are just as bad, and therefore cannot make the moral judgement that Jihadists have done bad things…

Point number might be confusing to you, like hearing a man over and over saying he can eat the Sun for lunch. It is so far removed from reality that their is no normal explanation for it. It is not the kind of lie one says in order to deceive someone, and certainly no one with an IQ number higher than his shoe size would deceive himself with such a comically unbelievable statement. What does it mean?

My summary of his view here is that this lie is meant to forestall the holocaust they imagine will take place if Christians are allowed to respond to Islamic threats as they intrinsically wish to do. (This worry about Christians’ purported Islamocidal tendencies would seem to contradict his argument that this leftist concern for minorities and tolerance and such is merely a facade, until you recognize this worry is motivated not by the left’s purported humanitarianism inspiring them to protect innocents from a violent intolerance being loosed from its chains but rather a consuming hatred and bigotry towards Christians that inspires them to imagine the possibility of such a thing in the first place.)

What struck me about this part was that he incidentally touches on the Big Lie tactic. Effective lies require some foundation in truth, which in this case is provided by the left’s narrative of ‘historical Christian barbarism’ – exaggerated to wholly inaccurate views of the Crusades, the Reconquista and Inquisition, witch burnings, etc. – long promoted to undermine the prestige of Christianity as a rival social force to the totalitarian collectivism with which leftists seek to replace it. The Big Lie here is indeed not meant to deceive, or to be believed. It is meant to shame their opponents into silence with a moral equivalence so astonishing that it disarms them, or at the very least bogs them down in trying to untie the knots of the dishonest narrative and establish credibility by separating modern Christianity from whatever happened in the past, wasting their time and patience and energy on unproductive efforts that do nothing to repel the leftist attack, let alone advance the cause of the good.

 

‘Digital nose’

‘Digital nose’ on a chip can sniff out diseases

Heh. I suggested that application for a sensor technology LM owned, three years ago, on the same inspiration (dogs being trained to sniff out cancer).

Test Stand to Nowhere

NASA’s $349 million monument to its drift

Ugh.

And naturally, because the article mentioned the Tea Party, it’s somehow the Tea Party’s fault. Sure, Republican officials appear to hold much of the blame in this, but WaPo appears to have guessed correctly that its loyal readership/cult would snap up the bait and blame it all on the Goldsteins-of-the-hour. (Silly me – I was so surprised at how even-handed the description of the Tea Party was that it was only when I got to the comments that I realized it was just a setup to show that the Tea Party is a bunch of hypocrites taking government money while demanding lower spending.)

Funny that any one of those Republican-bashing commenters would, in a different context, demand that we give more money to NASA, not realizing that given the realities of politics “more money” often means boondoggles of this sort rather than more Voyagers or more Hubbles or more Curiosities or more of the R&D-type projects that can potentially spawn useful new technology.

[facepalm]

In This Week’s Episode of #Science With @NeilTyson ….

And my non-STEM friends wonder that I consider this guy an overhyped midwit and second-rate Carl Sagan substitute.

Mars Society: Space Advocates, or Military-Industrial Complex Front Group?

You decide!

Which Seed Do We Carry?:

You can find many links between outfits like Lockheed Martin and corporate front-groups such as the Mars Society.  The Mars Society line is that the Earth is a rotting, dying, stinking planet and we need to terraform Mars and move our civilization there.  Likely ride on a nuclear powered rocket to a nuclear powered Martian mining colony.  I’m not interested in that trip.

I hope when the opportunity comes to settle Mars, Bruce’s lack of interest is typical of his kind. The rest of us will be more than accommodating to this desire to be left behind.

ETA: naturally, Bruce either misunderstands the point of the Mars Society or is dishonestly misrepresenting it. It’s not that “Earth is a rotting, dying, stinking planet and we need to terraform Mars and move our civilization there”, for the MS it’s that the Earth is a single eggbasket, that we would be wise to establish human civilization on another planet as insurance, and that both planets will benefit from the exercise in terms of social, cultural, technological, and economic innovation.

I suspect that his vitriolic misrepresentation of the Mars Society’s aims has more to do with his own negative, cynical, and self-loathing view of humanity. And it’s actually Bruce and his fellow travelers who see the Earth as a rotting, dying, stinking planet, as they make abundantly clear through their incessant guilt-wracked Chicken Littleing over the apocalyptic consequences of any human activity whatsoever – including, no matter how ‘environmentally conscious’, their own.

Now, I can’t speak for the Mars Society, but personally I like Earth. It’s a great planet. My thoughts on settling Mars coincide with how I’ve described the Mars Society’s above. But to those I would add my desire to get the hell away from people like Bruce and other Rand villains brought to cartoonish life, who are doing everything they can – despite whatever they claim or believe to be their intentions – to turn Earth into “a rotting, dying, stinking planet” mixing beehive commune, neolithic village, pharaonic hierarchy, and police state in proportions varying according to their individual ideological tastes.

ETA2: I missed this earlier – note here the use of the unsupported assertion, ubiquitous among leftists, that any organization with which one disagrees is necessarily a “front group” or astroturf or the like. By this tactic leftists attempt to dishonestly discredit and disqualify their opposition with the implication that the opposition is paid to lie, manipulate, etc. on behalf of this or that Goldsteined locus of wealth and/or power, thus anything the opposition says regarding its goals or philosophy or any facts or arguments it presents are to be dismissed out of hand.

Nice tactic, if you can make it stick. Demonizing the opposition as a seductive font of lies relieves one of the terrible burden of actually having to craft a reasoned argument in response to their words and deeds, a coherent explanation of one’s disagreement with their aims, or a persuasive presentation of one’s own position. Emotional manipulation and strident moralizing require less effort and intellectual capacity.