“That awkward moment when you realize a an energy drink has a better space program than your nation.”
Nevermind how egotistical that statement sounds to the majority of the world who doesn’t even have the capability of a space program thanks to local weather conditions and other environmental conditions such as latitude and elevation, the sad part is that such an awkward moment doesn’t exist even for the United States.
Why? Because of several reasons, as enumerated by Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy in one of his articles.
1. While extraordinary and recording breaking Felix Baumgartner’s skydive was, he did not jump from space. He was only about half way to the designated point that people agree is exiting the earth’s atmosphere and entering low orbit.
2. NASA is still doing amazing space exploration, and will continue to do so as long as it has a budget, regardless of its capability to send a person into space. Thanks to technology such as satellites and robotic rovers, we’re exploring our solar system faster than we ever have before, in an incredibly safe manner. We’re collecting the data we need for true human space travel. NASA isn’t half-assed when it comes to this stuff.
3. We’ve been unable to send people into space in the past. After the Apollo missions, there was a nine-year gap in which NASA did not have a space vehicle capable of sending people into space. In comparison, we’re expecting SpaceX and various other companies to being contracting human spaceflight to NASA within the next five years.
4. The shuttle retiring is not a bad thing. Yes most of you may have grown up with the NASA space shuttle program. But you do realize there were other programs before it? And there will be other programs after it. The shuttle program, while immensely successful in helping us build the international space station and fixing Hubble, and doing multitudes of scientific studies in space, outlived its estimated timeline for several years. Those shuttles needed to retire. We pushed them further on an increasingly smaller budget than we really should have. It is time for something new.
Phil Plait makes this points far more eloquently and with more inherent knowledge than I, but I felt like needing to share these things. I understand that a majority of people aren’t interested in space anymore. It makes me sad, considering how close we are to so many great breakthroughs.
A video parodying “Sexy and We Know It” referring to the amazing feat of engineering and science NASA made by landing Curiosity on Mars. Also hilarious.
So you may have heard that the Triceratops no longer exists. That is both true and false. You won’t go finding a dinosaur if you go looking for one, except for maybe in museums. Unfortunately even if go to a museum and find a dinosaur, you might not actually be finding a dinosaur. Let Jack Horner, dinosaur bone cutter, explain:
So basically we had a bunch of bad science back in the dinosaur gathering age. People who collected dinosaur bones for museums weren’t looking hard enough, and found different dinosaurs everywhere they looked, rather than determining that the dinosaurs they were looking at were actually different, or just juvenile versions of ones already discovered.
The good news is that, despite what the news may have told you, the triceratops still exists. It is its older, more adult form, Torosaurus, which no longer exists, since it was found after the more juvenile triceratops. Suddenly all those cartoons with dinosaurs wearing shades doesn’t seem so crazy anymore, huh?
Ever wonder what NASA is doing? Well the NASA website is actually a really good place to learn that but some people prefer to hear.
Long time readers will know I have a fascination with carbon nanotubes. They seems to hold the answer to so many problems. The above talk gives some of the best examples of what carbon nanotubes can give us and explains it better than most of the scientific articles I’ve posted.
One of my Science Future articles went up over on Escape Pod yesterday. In the article I talk about water producing quasars, faster than light travel, and just how easy it is to get a culture to change what it believes, all in the context of a great science fiction short story. Go check it out!
Sandra Tayler is the other half of the pair that make up the family Tayler. If that name is familiar it’s because I like Schlock Mercenary, a serial comic online written and drawn by Howard Tayler, the man who is famous (to me) for s stating that “You’re so talented.” is really an underhanded insult, and post links to the comic on this blog.
Sandra wrote a short but sweet article for Locus, a Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine that I would like to share.
In the articles I write for Escape Pod I try to link modern science with science fiction. Sandra has pointed out I think yet another possible link between the people who pushed us so far out into the stars and what they read as children. I remember reading various novels about colonies on Mars as a child. I agree with Sandra that it is both thrilling that one needs to no longer look in the fiction section of the library to find inspiring stories about our exploration of space but sad that entertainment media out there that help to inspire young people to purse a career in space are fewer than they once were.
I suppose there is always Schlock Mercenary?
I love the first part of the film, talking about how children interacted with her and her legs and the end when she talks about how this is augmentation. Transhumanity may come first from the people who due to birth or accident have become less capable than the average human, but through ingenuity and technology, will become even more capable.
I’m going to go with… 7! No wait, 6!
This is a dream I never knew I had. New Science reports on a newly made and completely synthetic tentacle that behaves almost exactly like an actual octopus tentacle. It is part of ongoing project to create a full robotic octopus. Yes, you heard it right, mecha-thulu is being created by scientists in Italy.