Category Archives: corporations

Of Lies, Obfuscations and Trust

From Intrepid Blog:

big-brother-1984

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

~George Orwell, 1984

“And era can be considered over when its basic illusions have been exhausted.”

~Arthur Miller

Our modern civilization seems to be perpetually plagued by the dangers provoked due to the scarcity of precious natural resources. Since the early 2000s articles in the media have been warning us about ‘Peak Oil’, ‘Peak Energy’ & ‘Peak Water’. Heck, there’s even fears about ‘Peak Helium’! which I’m sure keeps clowns & carnival managers awake at nights.

But the crisis that worries me the most is the shortage of an even more precious commodity: Trust.

stalin-posterThat we live in the Age of Peak Trust has become patently clear by the events that have shocked the world this year. When I first came across the news about the giant fireball on Russia last February, I was amazed to read a significant percentage of their population did not believe the ‘official’ meteor explanation! the favored alternative explanations ranged from an Amerikinsky weapons test, a UFO or a even a message from the Big-G himself –’cause you know how Jehovah liked to go all Roland Emmerich in the Ancient Testament.

I don’t think it’s too preposterous  to explain this current Russian distrust on official channels by looking into the past, understanding it as the logical outcome of the way the Kremlin manipulated the news with propaganda during the Soviet era. Let’s just keep in mind that George Orwell based his landmark novel 1984 in the Stalinist regime of 1948.

On the other side of the pond, things are no better by any stretch of the imagination. The continuous streaks of domestic violence plaguing the United States –Aurora, Connecticut, Newtown, Boston– have triggered a reflex reaction of distrust in mainstream media. In the case of the Boston bombings, more people were consulting the live Tweet feeds than paying attention to the sponsored talking heads on the 24/7 news channels.

‘Conspiracy theory’ has become both a slandering label in America, as well as a commercial brand selling all sorts of products customized to any kind of taste or sensibility. “Tell me your favorite conspiracy theory, and I’ll tell YOU your political affiliation” is one of my mottos –and just so you know, it’s copyrighted, k?

kennedys-assass-dallasAgain looking into the past to try to find a clue about the present, many people would agree that JFK’s assassination constituted a traumatic ‘loss of innocence’ for the American people, when the Baby Boomer generation realized it was no longer possible to trust implicitly in everything the government said, the way their parents used to do when America was fighting the evil powers of the Axis. And not longer after that came Vietnam & Watergate, and the toothpaste was squeezed out of the tube.

On my side of the border we also find quite a lot of mistrust in government institutions. One of the most prominent political figures in the Mexican landscape is a man named Andres Manuel López Obrador, who has carved his career out of denouncing endless conspiracies against him. Every time he loses an election the man cries foul & demands a recount!

But like Russia & the USA, Mexicans have also suffered our own growing pains. There was the Tlatelolco massacre of ’68, a wound that refuses to heal because those responsible were never tried & prosecuted. And if rumors of election fraud are so easy to believe, it’s because such practices were standard procedure for many decades.

Peak Trust is a global problem. Make no mistake about it.

So we’re leaving in an age where the public perception in government officials is at an ultimate low, where common citizens view financial institutions as white-collared thieves, and the hierarchy of churches as a band of hypocritical accomplices of pederasts.

Ah, but we still have Science, right? that immaculate ivory tower of uncompromising quest for the Truth! Unfortunately that tower is not without a few skeletons buried beneath its foundations. Case in point: The Cigarette Controversy

“The tobacco companies knew and for most part accepted the evidence that cigarette smoking was a cause of cancer by the late 1950s.

The documents also reveal that the tobacco companies helped manufacture the smoking controversy by funding scientific research that was intended to obfuscate and prolong the debate about smoking and health”

antivaxAs noble as its goals may be, Science is conducted by scientists, who are not above corruptibility. Global warming & the Antivaxxing movement are excellent examples of just how rampant the distrust in Science is now ingrained in a substantial part of the population.

But Nature hates a vacuum, and that’s equally true for Human nature; and the vacuum of trust in official institutions is easily filled by hawkers & peddlers of fear-mongering –I need not name them, everybody knows who they are.

And so it seems not a week goes by that a new scandal erupts, and this regularity causes a rather peculiar numbing effect in our minds. It’s like the abuse of profanity in someone’s vocabulary: repeating FUCK so many times deprives the word of its intended potency.

frog-in-potBut here’s the thing: That numbness is a potential threat. Like the proverbial frog that instinctively jumps out of a boiling pot of water, but will stay in the pot if the temperature is slowly increased, I view our getting used to expect the worst out of those in power as a pathological behavior. How could a civilization be able to properly function & adapt to new threats without a modicum of confidence in the scaffolding of the social structure?

If you see politicians as nothing but crooks & liars, where’s the incentive to follow their orders? If you think of your physician as a pill-peddler at the service of Big Pharma, why would you trust his diagnosis & follow his recipe? So the distrust is translated into stagnation & the waste of precious time.

Either we snap out of it, or we’re destined to end up as frog soup.

Asteroid headed for EarthLet’s illustrate this with a hypothetical scenario: Suppose next month president Obama called for a press conference, announcing the detection of a massive asteroid heading towards our planet. The impact, according to NASA scientists & confirmed by top astronomers around the world, was calculated for the year 2027. That would give us less than 14 years to coordinate an urgent international effort in order to launch an emergency program, so that we wouldn’t face the same fate of the dinosaurs.

I guarantee you that after 10 years of such an announcement, the emergency program would have made very little progress, because by then the public opinion would still be divided due to those denouncing the asteroid threat as a complete fabrication. And even the support of the United Nations would only help exacerbate the claims of those accusing the ‘defense asteroid program’ as a smokescreen campaign — I do believe the proper term is ‘false flag attack.’

global_warming_by_endlesshate

Sounds familiar?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLsBwLhIVkk

Thinking-MonkeyLying. A trait so common in men it’s even brought up in the Genesis tale, when Cain feigns not knowing where his brother is after he rearranged Abel’s skull with an ass jaw bone. But looking away of religious interpretation, believe it or not there are scientific theories suggesting it’s our bullshiting nature one of the crucial factors to our species’ vertiginous evolution. Studies with chimpanzees have proven our hairy cousins have a limited capacity to detect deception, because lying & cheating is an advantageous way to form coalitions, find food & mating. Other scientists suggest we’re constantly studying the facial features of those around us, trying to read their Po-po-poker face & call their bluff.

We pair sentience with deception. Don’t believe me? Think of the ultimate trial for Artificial Intelligence: the Turing test. The objective of the test is to see whether a computer program can successfully deceive you to believe you’re chatting with another person. Leave it to a scientist worried with masking his true sexual orientation to come up with such a trial…

Does that mean lying is common in ALL societies? Not necessarily. In hunter-gathering groups, lying carries a heavy penalty, since it may endanger the survival of the entire group. These groups tend to be more egalitarian than the hierarchical we live in, and perhaps this fosters an appreciation for Truth, and the avoidance of deception –at least among the members of the same clan/group.

But with increased numbers so to increase the chance to deceive your neighbor & getting away with it. I remember that scene in Spielberg’s film Amistad, when Baldwin (McCounaghey) is trying to explain to Cinque they need to retry the case again, even after they won. Cinque’s response is very telling:

Joseph Cinque: [in Mende] What kind of a place is this where you almost mean what you say? Where laws almost work? How can you live like that?

Indeed, how can we?

But the fact is that in our society we not only put up with deception, we recognize it as a tool to climb the social ladder –The better you are lying, the faster your career will advance. And it takes a very peculiar personality to make a successful liar: a natural charisma mixed with a high level of intelligence, coupled with a necessary lack of empathy for the person or persons you’re deceiving. People who show all these characteristics are easily recognizable by psychiatrists: they call them psychopaths.

The loonies are running the asylum, my friends. They always have been.

The loonies are running the asylum, my friends. They always have been.

Because even though deception might have been an advantageous trait among our primate ancestors, like the rest of our violent proclivities so too we must find a way to rein to our lying impulses. We must realize that level of bullshit has raised so high we’re soon gonna drown on it, and that deception might pose a serious threat to our future.

dr_floydConsider the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Most people think of that film as a Sci-Fi story in which a computer goes crazy, but almost everyone overlooks the reason why HAL goes bonkers: it’s heuristic programming couldn’t cope with its orders to withhold the information about the monolith discovered on the Moon from its human colleagues, which provokes a sort of cybernetic paranoia. When David Bowman & Frank Poole find out HAL lied about the antenna’s malfunction, how did they choose to respond? By LYING to Hal & go hiding on one of the pods with the sound off so they can scheme its disconnection! Lies upon lies upon lies.

I agree with Christopher Knowles: Dr. Heywood Floyd is the real villain of that flick.

Or if you find 2001 to dry & intellectual for you, what about one of the greatest Sci-Fi spoofs of all times: Galaxy Quest!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VGajDTNKFU

So how do we go about getting rid of the bullshit? Do we attempt the ‘evangelization’ approach favored by the so-called ‘Skeptic’ groups? IMO that has the exact opposite result, because the more you ridicule & mock a certain viewpoint, the more resistance you will engender among the same people you’re trying to convince –what we might call the ‘LA LA LA I can’t hear you!’ effect.

So ironically, all those pundits & pop scientists denouncing the insanity of the Mayan doomsday last year, probably helped promote it even more!

Speaking about 2012, I must confess that one of my favorite ‘doomsday scenarios’ –mind you, NOT because I was expecting it to happen, but because it was a fun idea to consider– was that on that fateful day of Dec. 21st we would all wake up, get out of bed, have breakfast & go to our works, and suddenly we’d realize that everybody became telepathic! A major solar flare would have excited the human pineal gland & activate a dormant capacity in our brains or whatever.

Think of it: if everybody could read each other’s minds, it would truly be the end of the world as we know it! Spouses would know their other half was cheating on them, employers would learn what their employees REALLY thought about them… Politicians would run to a cliff like a band of neurotic lemmings, closely followed by the Wall Street stock brokers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeoFv3dOeqo

Pure, absolute chaos. See why it’s such a fun scenario?

charles_xavierAlas, Dec 21st came & went, and our little peccadilloes remain secure in the safebox of our minds. Is telepathy even possible, one could ask? In his first book Jadoo, John Keel narrates his encounter with at least 2 ascetic masters–one in India, the other in Nepal– who seemed to have the capacity to read his thoughts. An accomplishment reached after a lifetime of mental training & spiritual discipline, they explained to the young adventurer.

Could we find a way to ‘mimic’ telepathy, using our modern technology? I believe we’re halfway there, whether we want it or not, thanks to the disruptive power of the Internet & social networks –which is perhaps the veiled drive behind our governments’ obsession with the regulation of online communications.

There’s also a great deal of research funded by Darpa, that mad-scientist wing of the US Defense Department, seeking to be able to scan & interpret the electrochemical activity in the human brain, and to wirelessly send direct command to the minds of soldiers.

With all this in the works, perhaps it’s not unlikely to predict that Deception has its days numbered. But a new question arises: are we ready to live in a world without lies, no matter how brutal it could be to be deprived of comfy delusions & false assumptions?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mub2JIwTtX8

Would the eradication of Deception be what frightens us the most about the so-called Singularity? With the veil of lies, might we be also casting away that which we identify as the Human condition?

Are we sure we can handle the Truth?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2F4VcBmeo&feature=youtu.be&t=16s

Will the Truth set us free?

Fuck if I know, y’all! All I know is… I’m tired of the taste of bullshit.

Aren't you?

Aren’t you?

Red Pill Junkie is one of my favorite bloggers and he appears on many blogs.

He tells heap big truth to power and as his moniker implies, partakes of the red pill.

And like him, I’m pretty sick of the taste of bullshit in my mouth.

Peak Trust

International Spacecraft To Hit Asteroid in 2022

From Huffington Post:

Aida Mission

Scientists in Europe and the United States are moving forward with plans to intentionally smash a spacecraft into a huge nearby asteroid in 2022 to see inside the space rock.

The ambitious European-led Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, or AIDA, is slated to launch in 2019 to send two spacecraft — one built by scientists in the U.S, and the other by the European Space Agency — on a three-year voyage to the asteroid Didymos and its companion. Didymos has no chance of impacting the Earth, which makes it a great target for this kind of mission, scientists involved in the mission said in a presentation Tuesday (March 19) here at the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Didymos is actually a binary asteroid system consisting of two separate space rocks bound together by gravity. The main asteroid is enormous, measuring 2,625 feet (800 meters) across. It is orbited by a smaller asteroid  about 490 feet (150 m).

The Didymos asteroid setup is an intriguing target for the AIDA mission because it will give scientists their first close look at a binary space rock system while also yielding new insights into ways to deflect dangerous asteroids that could pose an impact threat to the Earth. [Photos of Potentially Dangerous Asteroids]

“Binary systems are quite common,” said Andy Rivkin, a scientist at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., working on the U.S. portion of AIDA project. “This will be our first rendezvous with a binary system.”

In 2022, the Didymos asteroids will be about 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from the Earth, during a close approach, which is why AIDA scientists have timed their mission for that year.

Rivkin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory are building DART (short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test), one of the two spacecraft making up the tag team AIDA mission. Like its acronym suggests, the DART probe crash directly into the smaller Didymos asteroid while travelling at 14,000 mph (22,530 km/h), creating a crater during an impact that will hopefully sending the space rock slightly off course, Rivkin said.

The European Space Agency is building the second AIDA spacecraft, which is called the Asteroid Impact Monitor (or AIM). AIM will observe the impact from a safe distance, and the probe’s data will be used with other data collected by telescopes on Earth to understand exactly what the impact did to the asteroid.

“AIM is the usual shoebox satellite,” ESA researcher Jens Biele,  who works on the AIM spacecraft, said. “It’s nothing very fancy.”

AIDA scientists hope their mission will push the smaller Didymos asteroid off course by only a few millimeters. The small space rock orbits the larger, primary Didymos asteroid once every 12 hours.

The goal, Rivkin said, is to use the DART impact as a testbed for the most basic method of asteroid deflection: a direct collision with a spacecraft.  If the mission is successful, it could have implications for how space agencies around the world learn how to deflect larger, more threatening asteroid that could pose a threat to Earth, he added.

At the moment, AIDA researchers are not sure of the exact composition of the Didymos asteroids. They could just be a loose conglomeration of rocks travelling together through the solar system, or made of much denser stuff.

But once DART impacts the asteroid, scientists will be able to measure how much the asteroid’s orbit is affected as well as classify its surface composition, Rivkin said. And by studying how debris floats outward from the impact site after the crash, researchers could also better prepare for the conditions astronauts may encounter during future manned missions to asteroids — such as NASA’s project to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025, he added.

The AIDA mission’s AIM space craft is expected to cost about 150 million euros (about $194 million), while the DART spacecraft is slated to cost about $150 million, mission officials said.

While the DART and AIDA missions are relatively inexpensive ( $150 and $194 million respectively ) private companies such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries don’t just plan on impacting asteroids, they plan on mining the crap out of them.

The question is whether these companies are willing to wait on the science to be obtained by these government probes in order to save them money on research.

Asteroid Deflection Mission AIDA Set To Crash Two Spacecraft Into Space Rock In 2022

Another Asteroid Mining Company Start-Up

From Centauri Dreams:

Deep Space Industries is announcing today that it will be engaged in asteroid prospecting through a fleet of small ‘Firefly’ spacecraft based on cubesat technologies, cutting the costs still further by launching in combination with communications satellites. The idea is to explore the small asteroids that come close to Earth, which exist in large numbers indeed. JPL analysts have concluded that as many as 100,000 Near Earth Objects larger than the Tunguska impactor (some 30 meters wide) are to be found, with roughly 7000 identified so far. So there’s no shortage of targets (see Greg Matloff’s Deflecting Asteroids in IEEE Spectrum for more on this.

‘Smaller, cheaper, faster’ is a one-time NASA mantra that DSI is now resurrecting through its Firefly spacecraft, each of which masses about 25 kilograms and takes advantages of advances in computing and miniaturization. In its initial announcement, company chairman Rick Tumlinson talked about a production line of Fireflies ready for action whenever an NEO came near the Earth. The first launches are slated to begin in 2015. Sample-return missions that are estimated to take between two and four years to complete are to commence the following year, with 25 to 70 kilograms of asteroid material becoming available for study. Absent a fiery plunge through the atmosphere, such samples will have their primordial composition and structure intact.

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The Deep Space Industries announcement is to be streamed live later today. It will reflect the company’s ambitious game plan, one that relies on public involvement and corporate sponsorship to move the ball forward. David Gump is CEO of the new venture:

“The public will participate in FireFly and DragonFly missions via live feeds from Mission Control, online courses in asteroid mining sponsored by corporate marketers, and other innovative ways to open the doors wide. The Google Lunar X Prize, Unilever, and Red Bull each are spending tens of millions of dollars on space sponsorships, so the opportunity to sponsor a FireFly expedition into deep space will be enticing.”

The vision of exploiting space resources to forge a permanent presence there will not be unfamiliar to Centauri Dreams readers. Tumlinson sums up the agenda:

“We will only be visitors in space until we learn how to live off the land there. This is the Deep Space mission – to find, harvest and process the resources of space to help save our civilization and support the expansion of humanity beyond the Earth – and doing so in a step by step manner that leverages off our space legacy to create an amazing and hopeful future for humanity. We are squarely focused on giving new generations the opportunity to change not only this world, but all the worlds of tomorrow.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?”

So we have asteroid sample return as part of the mix, but the larger strategy calls for the use of asteroid-derived products to power up space industries. The company talks about using asteroid-derived propellants to supply eventual manned missions to Mars and elsewhere, with Gump likening nearby asteroid resources to the Iron Range of Minnesota, which supplied Detroit’s car industry in the 20th Century. DSI foresees supplying propellant to communication satellites to extend their working lifetime, estimating that each extra month is worth $5 million to $8 million per satellite. The vision extends to harvesting building materials for subsequent technologies like space-based power stations. Like I said, the key word is ‘ambitious.’

“Mining asteroids for rare metals alone isn’t economical, but makes sense if you already are processing them for volatiles and bulk metals for in-space uses,” said Mark Sonter, a member of the DSI Board of Directors. “Turning asteroids into propellant and building materials damages no ecospheres since they are lifeless rocks left over from the formation of the solar system.  Several hundred thousand that cross near Earth are available.”

In the near-term category, the company has a technology it’s calling MicroGravity Foundry that is designed to transform raw asteroid materials into metal parts for space missions. The 3D printer uses lasers to draw patterns in a nickel-charged gas medium, building up parts from the precision placement of nickel deposits. Because it does not require a gravitational field to work, the MicroGravity Foundry could be a tool used by deep space astronauts to create new parts aboard their spacecraft by printing replacements.

The team behind Deep Space Industries has experience in commercial space activities. Tumlinson, a well-known space advocate, was a founding trustee of the X Prize and founder of Orbital Outfitters, a commercial spacesuit company. Gump has done space-related TV work, producing a commercial shot on the International Space Station. He’s also a co-founder of Transformational Space Corporation. Geoffrey Notkin is the star of ‘Meteorite Men,’ a TV series about hunting meteorites. The question will be how successful DSI proves to be in leveraging that background to attract both customers and corporate sponsors.

With such bold objectives, I can only wish Deep Space Industries well. The idea of exploiting inexpensive CubeSat technology and combining it with continuing progress in miniaturizing digital tools is exciting, but the crucial validation will be in those early Firefly missions and the data they return. If DSI can proceed with the heavier sample return missions it now envisions, the competitive world of asteroid prospecting (think Planetary Resources) will have taken another step forward. Can a ‘land rush’ for asteroid resources spark the public’s interest, with all the ramifications that would hold for the future of commercial space? Could it be the beginning of the system-wide infrastructure we’ll have to build before we think of going interstellar?

All of this asteroid mining activity sounds exciting and I can hardly wait for DSI and Planetary Resources to begin their plans. Both are using untried and new technology to develop these new industries and can be extended to such environments as the Moon and Mars.

Mankind will eventually follow. And these new technologies will let us expand into this Universe.

Or the Multiverse.

Deep Space Industries: Mining Near-Earth Asteroids

Mars and all that radiation

From Phys.org:

Can humans live on Mars ?

Curiosity is taking the first ever radiation measurements from the surface of another planet in order to determine if future human explorers can live on Mars – as she traverses the terrain of the Red Planet. Curiosity is looking back to her rover tracks and the foothills of Mount Sharp and the eroded rim of Gale Crater in the distant horizon on Sol 24 (Aug. 30, 2012). This panorama is featured on PBS NOVA ‘Ultimate Mars Challenge’ documentary which premiered on Nov. 14. RAD is located on the rover deck in this colorized mosaic stitched together from Navcam images. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Ken Kremer / Marco Di Lorenzo

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-humans-mars.html#jCp

NASA’s plucky Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has thrived for nearly a decade traversing the plains of Meridiani Planum despite the continuous bombardment of sterilizing cosmic and solar radiation from charged particles thanks to her radiation hardened innards. How about humans? What fate awaits them on a bold and likely year’s long expedition to the endlessly extreme and drastically harsh environment on the surface of the radiation drenched Red Planet – if one ever gets off the ground here on Earth? How much shielding would people need? Answering these questions is one of the key quests ahead for NASA’s SUV sized Curiosity Mars rover – now 100 Sols, or Martian days, into her 2 year long primary mission phase. Preliminary data looks promising. Curiosity survived the 8 month interplanetary journey and the unprecedented sky crane rocket powered descent maneuver to touch down safely inside Gale Crater beside the towering layered foothills of 3 mi. (5.5 km) high Mount Sharp on Aug. 6, 2012. Now she is tasked with assessing whether Mars and Gale Crater ever offered a habitable environment for microbial life forms – past or present. Characterizing the naturally occurring radiation levels stemming from galactic cosmic rays and the sun will address the habitability question for both microbes and astronauts. Radiation can destroy near-surface organic molecules.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-humans-mars.html#jCp

Can humans live on Mars ?

Longer-Term Radiation Variations at Gale Crater. This graphic shows the variation of radiation dose measured by the Radiation Assessment Detector on NASA’s Curiosity rover over about 50 sols, or Martian days, on Mars. (On Earth, Sol 10 was Sept. 15 and Sol 60 was Oct. 6, 2012.) The dose rate of charged particles was measured using silicon detectors and is shown in black. The total dose rate (from both charged particles and neutral particles) was measured using a plastic scintillator and is shown in red. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ SwRI

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-humans-mars.html#jCp

Researchers are using Curiosity’s state-of-the-art Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument to monitor high-energy radiation on a daily basis and help determine the potential for real life health risks posed to future human explorers on the Martian surface. “The atmosphere provides a level of shielding, and so charged-particle radiation is less when the atmosphere is thicker,” said RAD Principal Investigator Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. See the data graphs. “Absolutely, the astronauts can live in this environment. It’s not so different from what astronauts might experience on the International Space Station. The real question is if you add up the total contribution to the astronaut’s total dose on a Mars mission can you stay within your career limits as you accumulate those numbers. Over time we will get those numbers,” Hassler explained. The initial RAD data from the first two months on the surface was revealed at a media briefing for reporters on Thursday, Nov. 15 and shows that radiation is somewhat lower on Mars surface compared to the space environment due to shielding from the thin Martian atmosphere. RAD hasn’t detected any large solar flares yet from the surface. “That will be very important,” said Hassler. “If there was a massive solar flare that could have an acute effect which could cause vomiting and potentially jeopardize the mission of a spacesuited astronaut.” “Overall, Mars’ atmosphere reduces the radiation dose compared to what we saw during the cruise to Mars by a factor of about two.” RAD was operating and already taking radiation measurements during the spacecraft’s interplanetary cruise to compare with the new data points now being collected on the floor of Gale Crater. Enlarge Curiosity Self Portrait with Mount Sharp at Rocknest ripple in Gale Crater. Curiosity used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the robotic arm to image herself and her target destination Mount Sharp in the background. Mountains in the background to the left are the northern wall of Gale Crater. This color panoramic mosaic was assembled from raw images snapped on Sol 85 (Nov. 1, 2012). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-humans-mars.html#jCp

Mars atmospheric pressure is a bit less than 1% of Earth’s. It varies somewhat in relation to atmospheric cycles dependent on temperature and the freeze-thaw cycle of the polar ice caps and the resulting daily thermal tides. “We see a daily variation in the radiation dose measured on the surface which is anti-correlated with the pressure of the atmosphere. Mars atmosphere is acting as a shield for the radiation. As the atmosphere gets thicker that provides more of a shield. Therefore we see a dip in the radiation dose by about 3 to 5%, every day,” said Hassler. There are also seasonal changes in radiation levels as Mars moves through space. The RAD team is still refining the radiation data points. “There’s calibrations and characterizations that we’re finalizing to get those numbers precise. We’re working on that. And we’re hoping to release that at the AGU [American Geophysical Union] meeting in December.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-humans-mars.html#jCp

This article epitomizes the battle between the sending humans to explore space and the artificial life-form/machine crowds.

I can truly understand the human exploration groups – they are the folks I grew up with during the Gemini/Apollo/Moon-landing eras and I will forever regard those folks as heroes and pioneers.

But as a late middle-aged adult who has followed the Space Age for the past 50 years I see the writing on the wall – economics are determining the course of spaceflight into the Solar System and Universe. And machine explorers are definitely more economical than human ones, especially in the foreseeable future.

I remain hopeful however that individuals like James Cameron and Elon Musk will find economical ways to colonize Mars and eventually nearby planets within 4 – 6 light-years.

Hey, if the Marianas Trench can be explored by folks like Cameron, so can Mars and Alpha Centauri Bb!

Can humans live on Mars?

One Way Interstellar Space Crews

Would you go on an one way interstellar trip to Alpha Centauri? ( Or Proxima if planets were found there? )

The question was put out to the public about one way trips to Mars recently, but interstellar travel is an entirely different animal due to the infinitely longer distances and travel times involved.

But according to Paul Gilster on the Centauri Dreams web site, filling a crew roster might not be a problem:

If you were offered a chance to make an interstellar journey, would you take it? How about a garden-variety trip to low-Earth orbit? I’m often asked questions like this when I make presentations to the public, and I have no hesitation in saying no. Though I’m no longer doing any flight instructing, I used to love flying airplanes, but getting into a rocket and being propelled anywhere is not for me. To each his own: I’m fascinated with deep space and hope many humans go there, and you can count on me to write about their missions and robotic ones as well while keeping my office right here on Earth.

The point is, the percentage of people who actually go out and take the incredible journeys and fly the dangerous missions is vanishingly low. But throughout history, there have always been a few intrepid souls who were willing to get into the canoes or the caravels or the biplanes and open up new territories and technologies. Thank God we have the Neil Armstrongs and Sergei Krikalyovs of this world. And somewhere in England there are the relatives of some young 18th Century adventurer who signed up as a cabin boy and wound up living out his life in Australia. People like this drive the species forward and put into action the yearning for exploration I suspect we all share.

I’ve told this story before, but in the past few weeks a high percentage of the people coming to this site are coming for the first time, so I’ll tell it again. Robert Forward was the scientist who more than any other argued that we study methods for reaching the stars, saying that it could be done without violating the laws of physics and would therefore one day occur. Forward’s son Bob told me what happened one night at dinner when he asked his father whether he would get on a starship if it landed nearby and he was asked to go out and explore the universe, with the proviso that he could never come back. Forward’s response was instantaneous: “Of course!”

To which his wife Martha could only reply: “What about us? You mean you would just leave your family and disappear into the universe?” That made Forward pensive for only a moment as he replied, “You have to understand. This is what I have dreamed about all my life.”

To be fair, if an Earth-type world was ever found at Alpha Centauri, the chances of ever traveling there would be extremely low. It’s just plain cheaper to build super-telescopes to zoom in and literally “scope-out” any kind of life forms and biospheres there. No environmental issues, no contamination and no astronauts need apply.

The only way a planet at Alpha Centauri will be touched by human beings is like in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar.’ An “unobtainium” element with extraordinary abilities would have to be found that would make the time, effort and investments cost-effective to exploit.

As in Solar System exploitation, the reasons to explore extra-solar worlds would have to involve a strong economic element. Even personal freedoms comes in at a distant second.

Deck Hands for a Four Decade Journey

Baumgartner Breaks Sound Barrier

From Sky.com:

A skydiver has made history by smashing the world record for the highest skydive after leaping from 128,097ft.

Daredevil Felix Baumgartner ascended to the edge of space in a pressurised capsule suspended beneath a giant helium balloon. He then jumped out, freefalling for four minutes and 19 seconds before opening his parachute.

The 43-year-old Austrian also broke the record for the highest manned balloon flight after riding with the capsule 24 miles above New Mexico.

He also achieved the fastest freefall after reaching a top speed of 834mph (1,342km/h) and broke the sound barrier, according to mission spokeswoman Sarah Anderson.

The speed – revealed at a news conference a few hours after the leap – was significantly higher than that given earlier by a spokeswoman, who had put his maximum speed as 706mph (1,136km/h).

In this photo provided by Red Bull, pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria is seen in a screen at mission control center in the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, N.M. on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012.

Col Kittinger watches Baumgartner on a video relay at mission control

A minor problem had developed as Baumgartner’s capsule ascended when a heater failed on his helmet faceplate, which meant his visor became fogged when he exhaled. However, it was not enough to stop him jumping.

In a nail-biting event watched live around the world, Baumgartner stepped to the edge of the capsule and saluted the camera, before saying: “Sometimes you have to go up really high to realise how small you are.”

The biggest risk Baumgartner faced was spinning out of control, which could have exerted enough G-forces to make him lose consciousness.

At one point he appeared to have become unstable, but he managed to get himself into a flat, controlled position for the rest of the skydive.

The balloon lifts up during the ascent
The helium balloon after take off from Roswell, New Mexico

Temperatures of -68C (-90 Fahrenheit) could also have had unpredictable consequences if his suit had failed.

He had been due to jump from 120,000ft, but the balloon went higher than expected, to just under 128,000ft.

The previous record for the highest jump was held by Colonel Joe Kittinger, who jumped at an altitude of 102,800ft (31,333m) in 1960.

Bamgartner’s leap was watched by Baumgartner’s tearful mother Eva and by Col Kittinger, who co-ordinated the jump from mission control.

Col Kittinger told the man who went on to break his record for the highest jump: “Our guardian angel will take care of you.”

However, the Austrian was unable to break Col Kittinger’s record for the longest time spent in freefall. Baumgartner’s total of four minutes and 19 seconds fell 17 seconds short.

The reason for the shorter-than-expected freefall was not immediately clear, although live commentary during the leap suggested he opened his parachute at an altitude above the 5,000ft level that had been announced in advance.

The Red Bull Stratos mission was the second attempt for the skydiver. An initial bid last week was aborted at the last minute due to the wind.

Felix Baumgartner

Some folks dismiss this as a corporate shill act just to sell an “energy” drink that’s full of sugar and caffeine. And they’d only be partially correct.

The fact is that Baumgartner and Red Bull Stratos had to design the “spacesuit” from scratch, and with no help from NASA.

There is no doubt in my mind that private launch companies like Virgin Galactic,  XCOR, Bigelow and probably even SpaceX will show interest in the modern design of the suit with it’s emergency egress capabilities.

Kudos to Felix and Red Bull!

Space Jump: Felix Baumgartner Sets Leap Record

Wanted: Asteroid Miners

From Kurzweilai.net:

“Do you want to be an Asteroid Miner? Well, here’s your chance!” — an email we just received.

“We’re looking for passionate college students for paid coop positions to help us mine asteroids this spring and summer,” it reads. “If you love space and want to contribute directly to the development of the next generation of space exploration technologies, we want to hear from you (or from anyone you know that you think would be interested). Click here to apply today!

— Chris Lewicki, President & Chief Asteroid Miner, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Planetary Resources’ Asteroid Miners Wanted page reads:

If you are a college student passionate about space and want to be a part of history by helping us develop the technologies that we’ll use to mine asteroids, we want to hear from you today.

This your chance to join our team onsite in Bellevue, Washington for a paid cooperative education position and get hands on experience working with our team.

PRI provides a unique and intimate work environment where you can make an immediate impact on product development and the fulfillment of primary company objectives. Join us in changing the way we explore the solar system!

Click here to apply now and be a part of history in the making!

I hope this is for real, hiring future asteroid miners might be a glamor job now, but it will be a top blue-collar occupation of the 21st century.

At last!

Planetary Resources ‘now hiring asteroid miners’

On the Cusp of Wormhole Technology?

Wormhole technology, or any kind of faster-than-light space travel is considered tin-foil hat fantasy with current technology.

But Gary S. Bekkum of STARstream research interviewed a young Iranian physicist in May of this year who just might’ve discovered a way using present day tech of producing wormhole technology and they discussed the ramifications of said technology:

Gary S. Bekkum for STARstream Research: The world has lived under the threat of nuclear fire from an atomic war for more than a half century, and in all of that time we have not heard of any new, viable weapons of mass destruction appearing on the horizon. Politicians remain focused on the proliferation of nuclear technology, such as under development in your home country of Iran. Do you believe that the governments of the world have been conducting secret research into new technologies that might someday replace atomic devices as the ultimate weapons of mass destruction

Mammad: I’m not sure Gary, but its probability sounds low. Like many others, I’ve heard about Death Ray Weapon or potential nightmares of X-Ray laser, but I have a different viewpoint.

Consider the dangers of current atomic weapons, expenses for supporting their security, fear of using them in a classic war or by terrorist groups, troubles of successful hitting them to a target, and converting them as a  prestigious symbol of the having nations, while I feel that’s not a real honor for the people. If we in the south countries, or you in the west are proud of ability to destroy the human beings, that would be a sign of throughout depression, frustrated to improve the global situations by peaceful approaches. In the modern era, no government imagines an extensive assault on a location causing the effects more than that of a nuclear bombarding.

Anyway, I can last my justifications for a long time for you that the general psychological conditions of the world do not accept such weapons, however that can be felt naturally. For example, if America announces inventing such kind of innovations while is not in a serious conflict with China or Russia, they might threaten to exit the UNO and deny their global responsibilities until a new military balance, moreover they might found an extreme desire to apply their H-bombs, as soon as feeling the tiniest suspicious sign, like biting a man by a terrified snake, because it feels being weaker. Since researching on military inventions originates from the fear of “others,” I think more and more education by the independent mass media, along with more clearance and highest precision toward minimizing the mistakes in military decisions in free countries, plus most extreme and roughest global observations on dictator regimes and/or with retarded culture, having old conflicts with neighbors, unusual nationalist roots in their history, etc, could help to not watching a warfare by more deathful devices. As a good news, if I’d realize a practical space warp, that would imply fundamentally novel orders of using the mass destruction weapons.

[...]

Bekkum: How do you foresee the governments of the world responding to the military implications of worm hole technology?

Mammad: Well, answering to this question needs citing some psychological facts. I think people most commonly terrify of the phenomena that do not know and have an unpleasant feeling – by the instinct – toward something they cannot recognize. When a place, a stuff or a face is unfamiliar to you, your natural behavior is taking a defense guard, up to habituating with the surrounding. Therefore, what is the source of this sense? Survival! Disregarding suicide committers among some humans and dolphins, all organic systems try to live and stay alive, longer and better.


Wormhole technology, like any sort of communicational technology, has one basic goal: taking something from the point A, to the point B (safer, and more rapidly).


Remember the history of with-wire and wireless telephones, cars and tanks, planes and fighters, telescopes and satellites, missiles and shuttles, ships and submarines, etc and see how they found application in the wars. All of them have the role of contact, deliver something to another, and gather more information for a better knowledge. Wormhole technology can be analyzed within this frame. I’ve heard there is a motto in Texas, which is: “God created the people and Colt made them equal,” but equal in what? Killing each other! Well, that’s the American style of living and has some good and some bad features. No matter how much you’re strong, if you can hurt or kill me, I might be unable to hurt you, but I can kill you. Now, generalize this picture to a world where every country has the capability of achieving others without any serious trouble. For instance, White House might be afraid of conventional bombs of the North Korea, not even the unconventional ones!

So the immediate cure to that end, if all would make an agreement that life is a good thing for us (and should be good for others too), and we do not intend to die in a war (at least until a second announce), is try to become the world more ethical. However, it seems like a dream, but has the most importance. I guess and hope this technology would cause to deep modifications in the UNO, toward establishing a real “global republic.” By adopting a suitable policy, fighting for the ground gets meaningless (more than now). Hitler attacked on Poland in 1939, and said the Germany needs more “living space.” When there is no serious physical distance, satisfying such a “need” would not require a war.

The young man brings up a very valid point; every advancement in technology during the past 5500 years have either been discovered during a war, or used by a nation’s military if a civilian source invented it.

Not a good track record.

But imagine the world with wormhole technology, instantaneous communications (communication satellites would be extinct), travel, space observations and computing would be vastly improved.

Also spying on people and nations would be very common.

In short, the world would be vastly more changed than it’s changing now.

Could humanity survive such changes?

STARstream Research Interviews Iranian Physicist Mohammad Mansouryar

Related post: “Better than most in the field”

The Politics of Fear

The 21st Century is one of William Gibson’s dystopic tales.

Or maybe Philip K. Dick, I can’t tell.

Anyway, one can’t deny the fear and anxiety that permeates the air like a thick cloud of smog.

Couple that with technology accelerating toward a Technological Singularity that seems to want to enslave all ordinary folk, well, one can see why people are slowly going insane.

At the center of this? Who knows? Theories go from the politicians, Bilderbergers, Freemasons, Trilateral Commission, to the Jesuits, Catholics, the CFR, all worshipping Lucifer!

The person studying the result of all this fear is Ignorance Isn’t Bliss and he’s made quite a few films on these subjects and my chicken scratchings hardly do him justice:

In the 21st Century we have two primary threats thrown at us. In the blue corner we have man-caused Global Warming, and in the red corner we have Islamic Terrorism. What are the risks and absurdities of each, and what is really driving these agendas?

The intention here isn’t to convince people they’re right or wrong about being liberal or conservative, but to point out how remarkable it is that each side of the agenda setters & policy makers have taken such staunch stances on these opposing issues, and to show the realities of the perceived threats..

These proclaimed threats are complex issues. The point here is to put them into perspective. What can we compare these issues to? How much do we know? What don’t we know? What makes sense? How far should we go? What should we jeopardize? What are the ascertainable risks?

These are the questions that need to be asked no matter the issue, especially if any given issue is to cost into the range of a trillion dollars per year, as regardless we all face total economic collapse. So hang up your preconceptions and political biases for a chance at a better understanding of many things. Let’s try to slow down for a minute, and try to assess what the non-Left/Right biased realities are, while discovering the unifying benefactor in pursuing both objectives as we’re being told to.

Ask yourself when haven’t you seen 2 people dramatize an event between them, and didn’t each have different stories as to what actually happened. Now consider, Democrats are supposed to be anti-war and pro-Global Warming mitigation. Republicans are opposite on both issues. This creates a small selection of scenarios: (1) One side is right about both, making the majority of the other side wrong about what they advocate (consider the odds of over 50 million people being totally wrong on both major issues). (2) Each side is right about what they promote, which makes them each wrong about what they argue against. (3) Each side is wrong about the intensity of what they advocate for, and are overall right about the lack of doomsday threat about what they argue against.

Odds are that either scenario 2 or 3 is the right answer. Then consider how hyped everything always is, and then crunch some odds numbers. Before we explore each issue, consider what is known in academia as the “Politics of Fear”.

A Primer On Fear

In the archetectualization of policy responses to perceived threats, few thinkers actually seem to address their statistical realities, nor do advocates of such policies. Should we listen wholeheartedly the strongest advocates of policy responses to any majors threats? The fact is, humans are aren’t very often ‘logical machines’ with emotions, instead humans are ‘emotional machines’ that think.

The fear reaction reflex is the most overpowering of all neural mechanisms. It’s a hard wired survival system, and when it goes into effect our cognitive abilities to rationally respond are almost quite literally physically incapable of rational thought. This is particularly the case if we don’t understand and acknowledge this inherent feature of quite literally all human brains. Without understanding this you’re almost powerless to suppress it when faced with complex fears.

[...]

There have been countless scholarly papers studying the media-driven Politics of Fear, but you wont hear about these on the news like you would the latest scholarly paper on global warming. Consider the intro of this paper by Frank Furedi:

Fear plays a key role in twenty-first century consciousness. Increasingly, we seem to engage with various issues through a narrative of fear. You could see this trend emerging and taking hold in the last century, which was frequently described as an ‘Age of Anxiety’. But in recent decades, it has become more and better defined, as specific fears have been cultivated.

Fear is often examined in relation to specific issues; it is rarely considered as a sociological problem in its own right. As Elemer Hankiss argues, the role of fear is ‘much neglected in the social sciences’. He says that fear has received ‘serious attention in philosophy, theology and psychiatry, less in anthropology and social psychology, and least of all in sociology’. This under-theorisation of fear can be seen in the ever-expanding literature on risk. Though sometimes used as a synonym for risk, fear is treated as an afterthought in today’s risk literature; the focus tends to remain on risk theory rather than on an interrogation of fear itself. Indeed, in sociological debate fear seems to have become the invisible companion to debates about risk.

Agenda’s tend to be pushed based on how much fear potential they carry, while the metrics of actual risk are ignored. The problem with all of this is the majority of issues trumpetted as primary items have been decreasing for decades, and not just because we’ve been afraid or because of insane funding for various things. In general, itis the issues that we’re most helpless against that are pushed the hardest. Issues like crime, school shootings, airplane crashes, airplane hijackings, terrorism, nuclear armageddon, and a pissed off planet frying us with CO2 that we breath out of our faces are all over-reported based on the actual ascertainable risks.  As fear expert David Altheide explains in his paper “Notes Towards A Politics Of Fear“:

The politics of fear relied on terrorism as a constant threat that can never be defeated; The term “terrorism” was used to encompass an idea as well as a tactic or method. Like the Mafia, it was everywhere and nowhere, all-powerful, but invisible. Crime helped shape the direction for terrorist victimisation. The politics of fear joined crime with victimisation through the “drug war,” interdiction and surveillance policies, and grand narratives that reflected numerous cultural myths about moral and social “disorder”. Numerous “crises” and fears involving crime, violence, and uncertainty were important for public definitions of the situation after 9/11. So perhaps it was natural that the terrorist attacks fed off this context of fear. The drug war and ongoing concerns with crime led to the expansion of fear with terrorism. News reports and advertisements joined drug use with terrorism and helped shift “drugs” from criminal activity to unpatriotic action. A $10 million ad campaign that included a Super Bowl commercial stated that buying and using drugs supports terrorism, or as President Bush put it, “If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terror in America.”

The Politics of Fear is going strong in 2010. The bruhaha over the mosque near the site of the old World Trade Center exemplify this by the inhabitants of New York City expressing their fear and anger with/of the Muslim community. Another example of the meme of fear and anger management by the political class/corporate media is the scheduled Koran burning in Florida on the September 11th anniversary.

Is this what Jefferson and Franklin had in mind when they formed the Republic 234 years ago?

Search within yourselves and answer that question.

The Global Meltdown of FEAR: Eliminated by 60+ visual aids.

Google and the NWO

By now most folks have heard about the Google and Verizon deal to create a multi-tiered Internet and eliminate Net Neutrality. That news alone is disheartening.

Now there’s proof that Google is going to end street privacy, under the guise of ‘street mapping':

Citing a German news report, Techeye.net reports that Google has purchased small UAV “microdrone” aircraft manufactured by Germany’s microdrone GmbH, perhaps for use to augment the company’s Street View mapping data. Techeye says:

The UAVs being flogged are mini helicopters with cameras attached that can be flown about all over the place. They’re quiet and resemble sci-fi UFOs for the vertically challenged alien.

They can fly up to 80km per hour, so Microdrone CEO Sven Juerss suggests they’ll be brilliant for mapping entire neighbourhoods really quickly and relatively cheaply.

Even before Google started data mining on open web networks itsStreet View operations were controversial, with Google Maps picking up on people who didn’t exactly want their faces plastered all over the internet. With the kind of high-angle aerial shots this sort of kit can achieve, it boggles the mind as to the sort of images that may be accidentally captured.

Our take: Skepticism is warranted, and outrage is probably premature.

Our understanding is that FAA certification procedures for civilian UAVs operating in domestic airspace are not yet in place, so it is not clear that the regular operation of such UAVs would be legal — never mind prudent from a privacy or public-relations point of view.

Meanwhile, the Techeye report, while fascinating, is also single-sourced, with the news of the UAV sale to Google coming from the manufacturer of the UAV — which is to say, he’s hardly a disinterested conduit for information. There has been no confirmation of the sale from Google, so far as we know. (Indeed, Forbes reports a Google spokesperson says, “”This was a purchase by a Google executive with an interest in robotics for personal use.”)

So, while curious and exciting, Telstar Logistics suggests keeping cool pending further information about Google’s plans and the regulatory environment that may or may not make such plans viable.

UPDATE: Our friends at BoingBoing link to more information about Google’s UAV denial, as well as further detail about the air-certification challenges such UAVs would present.)

We’ll keep our eyes in the skies, but in the meantime, here’s some nifty footage of the Microdrone in action, during which we can see just how adept the tiny aircraft is at peeking into the windows of private homes.

Google once had a motto, “Don’t Be Evil.”

I think it might be safe to say that the definition of evil either changed, or Google doesn’t adhere to that particular motto any longer.

Does Google Plan to Fly UAV Spies in the Skies?

hat tip

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