Courtesy of Posthuman Blues:
Seemingly, people in the space community have a tendency to push the boundaries of thought about all the possibilities that await us in the universe. Case in point: Geoffrey Landis. Landis is a scientist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center who writes science fiction in his spare time. Last week Landis shared with us his ideas for using a solar powered airplane to study Venus.Venus. Yes, Venus, our hot, greenhouse-effect-gone-mad neighboring planet with a crushing surface pressure that has doomed the few spacecraft that have attempted to reach the planet’s mysterious landscape. Landis knows Venus’ surface itself is pretty much out of the question for human habitation. But up about 50 kilometers above the surface, Landis says the atmosphere of Venus is the most Earth-like environment, other than Earth itself, in the solar system. What Landis proposes is creating floating cities on Venus where people could live and work, as well as study the planet below.
Ahh, cities in the sky, long a dream of many a science-fiction author. This is the first time I’ve seen it applied to Venus though.
Blogging biologist Peggy of Biology in Science Fiction goes on a small rant about stories that help, and hinder understanding of real biology:
In any case, the issue of public perception of science and scientists is an important one, if only because that public perception influences politics and funding. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that the anti-science stories actually ring true to many people who have a deep distrust (and dislike) of corporations, the government, and anyone who is an “expert”. It can be satisfying to see arrogant establishment types who believe themselves to be very clever shown up as bumbling and foolish, even if it does mean death and disaster as a result. Hell, I often enjoy those kind of stories, and I like science.
So what’s the solution? More positive SF? That certainly couldn’t hurt. But there’s no guarantee that any particular novel or movie will become popular enough to really make a difference in public perception. I suspect that education is really the key. Part of what feeds people’s fear of scientific progress is that they don’t understand it. I’m not sure how we can go about that, though, beyond ensuring kids get a thorough science education in school. Public lectures are a possibility, as are entertaining exhibitions at science museums, and maybe blogs too. I’d like to think that anyway.
I’m guilty of being ignorant of biology in science, and science-fiction. My last exposure to it was college long ago (my grade was pretty good actually) and my own biases of being a tech and historian.
Peggy makes valid points. I should read up on it more.
(The post referenced doesn’t have its own link. Click on the link at the beginning of this one, then scroll down at her site.)
Ever heard of the eBay $150,000 Bigfoot hunter? Neither have I, but apparently this guy is for real:
TPeterson6969 is Tim Peterson, the owner of Hawk Creek Taxidermy in Maynard, Minnesota. The business address of Hawk Creek Taxidermy & Archery is technically 12640 890 St. Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55401 , a mere 25.4 miles from Young America…
When asked for a comment for an interview, Tim Peterson briefly told me that he is a “big game hunting guide” for A Double J Outfitters in Buffalo, Wyoming. He claims to “have been hunting big game for 34 years” and is “experienced in the back country.”
If Tim Peterson helps you bag a Bigfoot, it is obvious he can mount it for you. He can also help you with the skull too. According to the links on his taxidermy website, it appears a relative of his, Rorri Peterson, runs Beetle My Bones Skullworks, a business preparing heads for trophy animal skulls displays.
Well, you hafta admit that a hunter/taxidermist would be the ideal person to track and bag a Bigfoot, that would settle it once and for all about the damn things.
I wonder what Peggy the Biologist thinks about Bigfoot?
From a Daily Galaxy post by Josh Hill :
The World… 2.0
Once in a while, you come across so completely bizarre and fantastic, that it just blows your mind. And though I’m sitting here listening to Tay Zonday’s deep voice, that isn’t what’s blowing my mind. What is is the fact that someone is building a miniature version of our planet off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
‘The World’ is a series of artificial island projects that are being designed, and is being built primarily from dredged sand. An oval breakwater surrounds the islands, which are laid out to look like a flat map of the planet.
This is, of course, a commercial venture, providing the wealthy the opportunity to own their small part of the world… sorry.
In the end, anyone who owns an island will be able to shape it accordingly. And though limited by the restrictions of ‘The World’, with plots including water areas, sand can be moved around to suit the owner’s whims.
Instead of using their wealth for altruistic ventures as nuclear fusion, space exploration, finding ways to teach the poor self-reliance through education and stopping wars, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has decided that the rich elite need to have their little piece of the Earth terra-formed, quite literally, off the coast of his little sheikdom.
Like these arseholes don’t already own their piece of the action anyway.
Hey, I’m not against people getting rich through their own labor, but when people who think they are gods rub people’s noses into the sh*t, isn’t right in my book. Especially when just across the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea human beings are starving to death and being systematically wiped out. Not to mention across the Gulf into Iraq either.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and paraphase my buddy, The UberHighwayman (a very controvertial character), “…Global Warming, i.e., Climate Change is a racket dreamed up by the elite, which is backed up by dubious science and to push their “green” products for exorbitant prices. It is also a way to scam more taxes from the serfs of the planet…”. That said, here is an excerpt from today’s Daily Galaxy :
Common sense and history says it would be only a matter of time before entrepreneurial enterprises in our era made themselves known in the fight against global warming.
Sadly, they’re not necessarily out to help; or at least, not entirely.
A month or so ago a group called Planktos wanted to begin dumping large amounts of iron in to the water around the Galapagos Islands. The theory is that by artificially increasing the amount iron in the water, it will help seed plankton that eats (stores) carbon from the atmosphere.
The Galápagos Islands -a protected archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator, 965 kilometres (about 600 miles) west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific are all part of Ecuador’s national park system, was the catalyst for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection during the famed voyage of the HMS Beagle in 1835.
Over the past several decades, the seas have begun to decrease their carbon consumption. Man-made pollution has severely damaged our oceans, and one must only look at the dead zones forming in the China East Sea and the Gulf of Mexico for proof.
Algae blooms are the issue that companies like Planktos are trying to combat. By ‘seeding’ the oceans, they believe that they can combat the blooms and bring oxygen back to the waters.
But, when you think about it, what are the companies getting out of it? A warm fuzzy feeling for helping the environment? Unlikely. No, by being able to “clean up the environment” Planktos believe that they can then sell carbon-offset credits to companies. It’s all about the bottom line.
Now if anybody has ever read UHs’ posts (he himself admits they’re rants), you know he doesn’t think very highly about the New World Order (NWO) and climate change. He isn’t the only one. Alex Jones of Prison Planet also says that Global Warming is an elitist scam. He often goes one better by claiming that it’s caused purposely by the elites using HAARP technology!
My purpose of writing this little tome is not to say yay or nay about human causation for Global Warming, 250 years of Industrial Revolution or military HAARP technology not withstanding. But what I do find interesting is the sudden “appearence” of these companies that are capable (that might be debatable) of technologies that could help alleviate the CO2 problem and counter dead zones in coastal regions. All ready to make some money of course.
Couple that with megacorps that are eager to exploit the retreating Arctic Ice Cap that’s opening the North West Passage and Russia planting its’ flag under the Arctic Ocean on a continental shelf, it does make one wonder whether this is all just coincidental, or a well planned out project.
Paranoid am I? Oh, but I do love conundrums!
The Atlantropa Project, or it’s earlier name Pantropa was the brain-child of German engineer Herman Sorgel (1885-1952). The main thrust of the project was to build a dam across the Straits of Gibraltar, generate electrical power for the citizens of Europe, lower the level of the Mediterranean Sea creating new new land area to be used for farming and city building and link Europe with Africa. Also the creation of two inland seas similar to the Great Lakes in North America, Lake Congo and Lake Chad would happen because of flooding of the Congo River. Various other projects on the African Continent would take place, a new Suez Canal Project, a newer “Second Nile River” and other dam projects could solve the ever growing demands for fossil fuels. Another added benefit would be the de-desertification of the Sahara Plains, reverting it to it’s Ice Age temporate climate. Also the more fruit bearing portions of Europe would come back:
“The Canal des Deux Mers (Two Oceans Canal) comes to mind, 2 connecting Marseille and Bordeaux, the Mediterranean and the English Channel, the Panropa-Project, which wants to recover Europe’s actual fruit country, the Mediterranean Basin, by uncovering the once flooded areas with the help of the Gibraltar dam.”
That may be so, but the Mediterranean had immense salt plains during the last Ice Age:
“At the Strait of Gibraltar, deep, salty Mediterranean water flows into the Atlantic and northward as it mixes up into the salty Gulf Stream surface water. Today some of that mixture flows westward into the Labrador Sea Southwest of Greenland, and much of it also flows beyond the Faeroe Islands off Scotland and eventually into the Arctic Ocean. About 160,000 years ago, an ice age was already under way, and the seas east and west of Greenland were very cold. But the salinity of the mixture reaching Labrador made the water dense enough to sink easily when cooled in winter, and the warmer salty replacement mixture kept the seas south of Greenland relatively warm.
“Storms usually track over areas where warm and cold conditions exist side by side,” said Johnson. This temperature contrast with the Greenland ice sheet and other cold areas kept eastward-moving storms to the north. This channelled large amounts of moisture over both European and Siberian areas, causing enormous growth of the ice sheets there.”
So there’s the rub, build the dam and you may gain in surface area, but you’ll cause and Ice Age because of increasing cloud cover and salinity of the Mediterranean. According to some advocates though, this is to be expected and not a big deal:
Late in the Late in the 20th century, Robert Glenn Johnson, suspecting that the increasing salinity of the seawater exiting the Mediterranean Sea at the Strait of Gibraltar might be the near-term future cause of a new Earth ice age – the beginning of its onset predicted 30 years hence – proffered a controversial proposal to study the Macro-engineering concept of a porous barrier, a permeable rubble-mound dam, emplaced in the fluid connection between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea (Johnson, 1997). Johnson’s artificial reef-like rubble pile seawater flow throttle was only intended to slow the outflow of highly saline water, which eventually affects the essential physical characteristics of seawater in the North Atlantic Ocean, in order to prevent ice sheet formation in northeastern Canada. His anti-ice age macroproject rests entirely on the proposition that Egypt’s Aswan High Dam (closed in 1965) has caused the measured increased salinification of exiting Mediterranean Sea water; Johnson’s rubble mound dam – really a proposal for an anthropogenic submarine ridge – becomes an expensive and worthless techno-fix if the Aswan High Dam were simply breached! If the Aswan High Dam were suddenly demolished naturally – as in Michael Heim’s terrifying novel Aswan! (1972) – or simply breached by macroengineers, release of the reservoir’s entire contents would raise temporarily the Mediterranean Sea’s level by about 6.6 cm. (A new Ice Age could cause global sea level to lower! Both the elevating and the declining global sea level will form new base level’s of continental and islandic erosion and also affect national legal systems of real property ownership.) Johnson’s neo-ice age concept of past and future climate changes is fully and carefully described in Secrets of the Ice Ages: The Role of the Mediterranean Sea in Climate Change (2002). By 2006, the scientific controversy over R.G. Johnson’s theory remained scientifically unresolved (Bryden and Webb, 1998; Skliris and Lascaratos, 2004). Both Johnson’s and Sorgel’s barriers would alter (de-tune) the Mediterranean Sea’s tides, in some instances (such as in the case of the Aegean Sea) possibly doubling the amplitudes of its semidiurnal tides. Furthermore, changes of the Mediterranean Sea’s wave climate will also occur (Lionello and Sanna, 2005), forcing prudent revision of existing ship weather-routing procedures. In addition, both barriers would probably terminate the anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide gas drawdown currently performed by the Mediterranean Sea (Alvarez, 2005). It is doubtful that the Gibraltar Strait Dam could imitate China’s Great Wall as a notable impediment to gene flow (Su, 2003).
When Sorgel first proposed the Atlantropa idea, not once did he consider the Africans in the equation. He was a product of his racist times, which considered the white male the pinnacle of God’s Creation. Thus Africa was; ” turned into a territory actually useful to Europe“. I wonder what present day Africans would say about that?
In fact, present day Africans might actually have a lot of say if an Atlantropa ever gets off the grawing board. According to Richard B. Cathcart, founder of GEOGRAPHOS Consultancy and a geographer who specializes in macroengineering projects, the changing demographics of Europe might launch Atlantropa:
Currently, a demographic shift in Europe seems to presage an epoch – occurring, perhaps, sometime around 2010-2050 – that will forever alter Europe’s still distinctive culture: post-World War II Europe has been colonized by Muslims mainly from North Africa. By 2010-2050, Muslims in southern Europe (Spain, France, and Italy) may form ~25% of the total population and working Muslim adults may total ~40% of the available labor force. This means that an almost forgotten macroproject such as the Gibraltar Strait Dam and its associated infrastructure developments may find future acceptance amongst voting citizens of southern Europe and northern Africa. Forecast future climate regimes in the Mediterranean Sea Basin are likely to be the initial stimulation for a re-thinking of the old macroproject proposal (Kepner, 2005). “By……North Africa’s population should exceed Southern Europe’s by close to 100 million people” (Sandell (2004). The Netherlands owns infrastructure worth approximately $2.5 trillion – put into perspective, that is equivalent to the annual USA-European Union commercial relationship – that has been emplaced to protect the people of that country from unwanted seawater incursions. There appears to be a 1% chance that a 1 m rise in global sea level will come to pass during the 21st century. [A 2 m rise is the current threshold defining “dangerous anthropogenic” alteration of the world’s ocean level (Hansen, 2005).] Assuming a cost of $1 million/linear kilometer, a total safeguard for the Mediterranean Sea Basin’s coast from incursive future sea level rise might cost almost $13 trillion! Of course, that is an excessive cost, quite unlikely to ever be considered anything other than ultimate limitation (Valiela, 2006). Such a completed macroproject would resemble David Ely’s imagined East Coast USA “dyke-wall” of AD 2064 postulated in his science-fiction novel A Journal of the Flood Year (1992)! Since “miscalculation or sheer ignorance of cost and difficulties was the key to launching a number of great and successful enterprises, from canals and railroads to mining and manufacturing” (Sawyer, 1952), it might seem best, even wise, to glibly gloss over the Gibraltar Strait Dam’s dangers and difficulties in public media so that modern-day macroengineers can be inspiring and calm, reassured by displayable positive cost/benefit analyses, attractive detailed construction blueprints and privately adjustable building timetables! As the 37th CIESM – The Mediterranean Science Commission Congress (7-11 June 2004) collectively generalized, the activities of humans tends to “globalize” the Mediterranean Sea, both biologically and otherwise. Nevertheless, some of the details of this possible macroproject proposal are revealed below. The optimal style of dam building is specific to the particular macroproject, the nature of the geophysical worksite (Anon., 2005) as well as social uncertainty, the undertaking management organization’s experience, the operational complexities of many kinds of construction machinery and worker nationalities, the macroproject’s situational geography and the logistics of its required compositional materials.
The Atlantropa Project is compared quite a bit with the Netherlands North Sea Reclaimation Project with its dam, dike and canal construction. While the engineering end of it isn’t as large in scope as Atlantropa, the tools and know-how utilized are similar because changing coastlines, fresh-water and land reclaimation play a vital role on evironmental impact studies. So the Netherland Project is closely monitored.
Professor Michio Kaku of the City University of New York stated that our present civilization is only a “Type Zero” on the Kardashev Scale of Technical Civilizations (I, II, III and even a IV). Type I indicates the planetary culture has full command of all planetary resources, i.e., can control the weather, use all energy resources (hydro, geothermal, nuclear, wind, solar, etc.) and live under under peaceful, or as close to peaceful conditions as possible. The Atlantropa Project is a terraforming endeavor that could determine whether mankind has what it takes to bring itself to the Type I level without destroying ourselves and the planet.
Is this tinfoil or not? You decide gentle readers.