Tuesday, January 31, 2006
It is Deja Vu all over again!
A serious look at a strange feeling that many of us experience. This is an article about those who really have it bad. Unfortunately, while they have a certainty of prior experience, they can recall no details until the experience happens again!
Friday, January 27, 2006
or "I love the smell of alternative fuel in the morning".
This is, I fear, an overly optimistic story. Please review and comment.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
The crew of the International Space Station are throwing out an old space suit, equiped with batteries and a transmitter to determine whether or not such suits would make good satellites. Tine to 145.990 mhz. when the suit goes over your location to hear it!
Why did not I think of that???
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Book 'em Nano
Instead of the advice "Plastics, my boy, plastics"
Maybe it is "Nano, my boy, nano!'
CONELRAD | ATOMIC PLATTERS: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security
"The unexpected pleasures are many. This is history as it should be: a dance of laughter in he dark, the eternal lesson that fear and repression will not deliver us. Nor will advice from Connie Francis to keep an emergency supply of food and water in case of a nuclear attack."
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Books from the Earth Policy Institute - Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble
Lester Brown and the Earth Policy Institute. I heard Brown interviewed on the radio show of physicist Michio Kaku. Brown, in this book, explores the past and warns of future problems, especially if China follows our path to an auto-centered, throw-away culture. I trust Kaku and plan to read this book. Comments from those who've followed Lester Brown are invited.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Let's go skiing and sunbathing!
Saturday, January 21, 2006
People laughed at Ronald Reagan when he said: "Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources." This might not have been entirely correct, but, hey, he was getting old!
This climate change thing is getting very confused. Perhaps we are not yet able to even analyze the issue. I go back to my contention that we should just be conservative in our use of resources for the sake of being conservative. This would have many positive effects and might help the global warming issue.
I once read a book discussing the complexity of the subject. One approach was to postulate how to increase greenhouse gases by massive human intervention...seeding the atmosphere and such, as a way to reverse engineer the problem. There is also the theoretical possibility of seeding the ocean to increase phytoplankton. Pytoplankton takes CO2 out of the air and into the ocean. There is even a foundation formed to research this, Planktos
I would suggest this would need much study to avoid unforeseen consequences.
You might recall Biosphere 2, the closed enviornment built in the late 1980's. Bionauts were to enter the closed system and stay for a year in a completely sealed environment to show how humankind might fare in a closed circuit during space travel. The problem was that they were forced to pump in air to counteract a rising CO2 level. Until much later, no one knew why this happened as the best minds had developed this closed loop environment. They finally figured out that the large cement foundations and other cement in the structure gave off C02 while curing. You might consider visiting Biosphere 2 in Arizona. It is now maintained by Columbia University for enviornmental research. I have heard rumors that they gave it up and the facility is now vacant, but there is still an active website. (See http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-2.1/specmain.htm)
Another example of unexpected consequences inovlves an invasive species and the Oregon Dunes. These great sand dunes are shrinking because of a the planting of European beach grass in the first half of the last century to stabilize some of the dunes for development. It got out of hand and is almost unstoppable!
Well, enough babbling for today!
Friday, January 20, 2006
"And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart
You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust
Of the years
Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights
Dreaming of a song.
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you.
When our love was new, and each kiss an inspiration.
But that was long ago, and now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song.
Beside the garden wall, when stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew.
Though I dream in vain, in my heart you will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain."
uwnews.org | University of Washington News and Information
Thursday, January 19, 2006
I don't want to be a Cassandra on this issue...but it is really beginning to look like global warming. Of course, the change in the Gulf Stream may mean no more sunny vacations in the South of France!
Oliver Sacks wrote the book "Awakenings", made into a movie with Robin Williams. I once attended a presentation he gave and he was brilliant. He is now exploring the relationship between music and brain function. Music may be able to help those with a variety of brain maladies.
Also, see Beliefnet for a discussion on a Zen way to look at Alzheimer's....everything is in the now.
"The slow peeling away of the self caused by Alzheimer's opens a window on what it means to be human."
We are off for a trip to the last "traditional planet" not yet visited by person-kind. We still have Voyagers leaving the solar system (with mysterious speed changes that have left astrophysicist and cosmic navigators baffled)! Also on the way is Messenger to Mercury (Clever, eh wot?) and of course, Cassini still exploring the Saturian System. These along with a plethora of probes to Mars and the European Space Agency's Venus Express, launched in November 2005. Future Venus missions include: Planet-C is a Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) mission to study the dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus from orbit, particularly the upper atmosphere super-rotation and the three-dimensional motion in the lower part of the atmosphere, using multi-wavelength imaging. It will also measure atmospheric temperatures and look for evidence of volcanic activity and lightning. Also to be planned is the BepiColombo is a European Space Agency (ESA) Cornerstone mission to Mercury that will fly by Venus.
Finally, there is a Japanese HAYBUSA returning from a mission to an asteroid with samples. This craft had an ion engine. The NASA Stardust recently landed a capsule with cometary dust. However, the mothership is still in orbit awaiting another mission. There are also a few other craft monitoring the sun as well as a few space telescopes and countless satellites no exploring the solar system. Did I miss any?
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
The Chinese, when asked why they wanted to go to the moon, answered: "helium-3". As you may know, and shown earlier on this blog, there is a chance that fusion power may be feasible in the somewhat near future using helium-3 as a fuel. It is available in quanity only on the moon. The University of Wisconsin researcher interviewed for this article claims that, contrary to other reports, fusion with helium-3 is not just a distant pipe dream.
Quoting from the Technology Review Digital Magazine Blog:
"TechWeb.com has a story about an interesting phenomenon -- an online instruction manual called Anoniblog for people looking to post online without fear of having their identity exposed. The tool, which is published in several languages, is meant to help bloggers who live in countries with restrictive governments; however, as the article rightly points out, it doesn't promise that following the guidelines will insure safety."
Until recently, I would not have thought this be necessary in the U.S., but, well, Beware the NSA!
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Guidelines for Cats
Well, the Europeans are starting their own GPS system. Those poor Germans got their GPS systems in their Mercedes and BMW's and such turned off when the U.S. Military turned off the switch during the invasion of Iraq. Nich mer!
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Almost home...let's hope nothing was installed backwards as in the previous return mission involving the solar wind. I plan to get up early Sunday morning, look east from Portland towards Utah and see if I can detect the craft burning through the stratosphere. Unfortunately, we have nothing but continuous rain and overcast, so I'll most likely see nada.
Next, it is the Japanese return from an asteroid with a sample. See the Japanese Space Agency's site at: http://www.jaxa.jp/missions/projects/sat/exploration/muses_c/index_e.html
I believe they had some problems when they encountered the asteroid, but methinks all is now well.
Friday, January 13, 2006
See if you can ID the computer from the human. Is this still a good test? Artificial intelligence (AI) has not come as fast as we had once thought. After all, it is well past 2001 and we do not yet have HAL . . .though we do have Marvin, the Paranoid Android (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)!
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Germans are still against it, but France may forge ahead with a new reactor design that they consider cleaner and safer. All of Europe is thinking twice about abandoning nukes because of the recent problems with Russian natural gas and the paradoxical cooling of Europe due to global warming.
We in Portland, Oregon had the Trojan Power plant built by Portland Gas and Electric ("PGE" of recent Enron fame). It did run well for a number of years, but later discovered construction and design flaws closed it early leaving rate payers holding the bag for decommissioning. Even if they can be made safe, they have to be economically viable. PGE is about to topple the giant cooling tower on the banks of the Columbia River and eventually donate the land (except for the radioactive wastes in cooling ponds) to the state as a park. Many have suggested calling it the Homer Simpson State Park in honor of Homer's creator, Matt Groening, who grew up in Portland. See http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=12392
Doom to you all!
Monday, January 09, 2006
Gagets, gagets, Gadgets. Pardon the lack of activity. I got a flu shot in early December and got a very nasty flu last week!
Friday, January 06, 2006
This is a step towards the Interplanetary Internet! Messenger, bound for the planet Mercury, communicated with the earth from several million miles out!
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
"While many are adamant about heavy-lift technology being an absolute necessity for both lunar and Mars exploration, others nevertheless contend that bigger boosters only represent bigger failures in economic judgment, and that, if space exploration using HLLVs was truly cost-effective, the Apollo Saturn 5 would not currently adorn the grounds of Kennedy Space Center as a lawn ornament."
The Space Review: The case for smaller launch vehicles in human space exploration (part 1) (page 1)
Monday, January 02, 2006
New Scientist SPACE - 13 things that do not make sense - Features
New Scientist SPACE - Features - 13 things that do not make sense
The realm of reality is as vast as cosmic space; it is the knowing mind of sentient beings that is small. Just as long as you do not become egotistic and selfish, you will be ever sated with the spiritual food of nirvana.
From "The Pocket Zen Reader," edited by Thomas Cleary, 1999. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston, www.shambhala.com.
news @ nature.com - Tree planting not always green - Forests can suck up water and change the soil.