Hyperspeed a Blur

Aloha – Two great film series, Star Trek and Star Wars provide a fireworks display to demonstrate when a ship transitions to hyper-speed, or speeds faster than the speed of light.  It turns out that the fireworks display will look more like a dull light.

Now keep in mind, if and when we do get hyperdrives we probably won’t have a lot of windows or balconies from which to observe the light show.  Let’s enjoy the idea of interstellar space without concern about the initial blast of fireworks :o)

Meanwhile for the movie industry we need the fireworks for the dramatic impact, so George and JJ you can keep those fireworks coming :o)




The X Files of Aviation

Aloha – If you’re an experimental and danger junkie you may remember such ’50s notations as X-1 and most especially the X-15.  It was through such test pilots and test designs that the U.S. first flew past the sound barrier.  Well they’re back.

NASA is taking on the atmospheric task of creating breakthroughs in aviation to reduce or eliminate sonic booms and increase fuel efficiencies that will eventually trickle down to commercial airlines.  Although this seems to be a distraction from space exploration, they certainly do have some ‘cool’ designs afoot.



Will the next Space Station of Marshmallows?

Aloha – I just got a look at the next generation Space Station, designed to replace the ISS.  It looks to be made out of marshmallows.  Take a look for yourself at http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/04/24/when-the-international-space-station-goes-kaput-in.aspx

They could face an unwieldy challenge though… have you ever tried to hollow out a giant marshmallow?

The next design is supposed to provide more space with a lower cost of launch.  Such things as the accordion design of living spaces on Mars and the Moon may be as viable and cost even less to set up.

Hmmm…. still marshmallows.  Well, anyway, the space station version is in a giant tic tac to arrangement so I guess that is their idea of original.  I wonder if you can do criss cross in that array or if you have to always move vertical or horizontal.  Guess we have to wait until 2024 to find out.



Sci Fi Vat meat becomes a reality

Memphis Meats, which grows meat from animal cells, will make its debut this week and plans to have its animal-free products on the market in three to four years. To show just how busy they've been in the lab, they unveiled the first meatball grown from beef cells

Aloha – Can we grow meat in a vat?  This is a mainstay of numerous science fiction novels I’ve read since the 50’s.  I’ve even used it with some distain in the Orion’s Spur series.  Again, the futurist visions of such writers as Robert Heinlein is becoming a reality.

Efforts to grow tasty, and I repeat tasty, meat products in a vat or test tube are in wide circulation.  Memphis Meats (pictured above) has successfully grown meat balls or materials to construct meatballs in their experimentation.  Apparently they don’t taste too bad and may have a future.  Unfortunately, at the moment they cost $18,000 per pound.  It will probably require more refinements to make something both tasty and cost effective.

Meanwhile, in real life space exploration, the efforts may not be in vein.  It costs up to $10,000 per pound to launch something into space.  So, although growing meat at $18,000 still isn’t break even, once they cut that in half, it becomes practical for future Mars explorers to get a meatball sandwich.



Neptune and Donald Trump

Composition of Neptune. Credit: NASA

Aloha – I was looking at an article about Neptune this morning and couldn’t help reflecting how much Neptune reminds me of Donald Trump.  Neptune is a deceptively simple planet.  The Blue tinge of the planet isn’t actually the surface, but clouds surrounding the planet, full of hot air.

The atmosphere itself is full of methane gas and as a result obviously stinks.  It is still deceptive.  When you reach what is the apparent surface of the planet it lacks substance and you would sink into a quasi liquid murky sea of liquid you cannot consume.  (Sounds a bit like Hell other than the temperature)

Finally if you sink through the muck you will eventually reach a core of rock and ice.  What is the intent and purpose of that core?  No one including the planet itself knows because it has spent so much of its existence in its facade.

Yup, it really does sound like Mr. Trump.  Maybe after he is elected he’ll rename Neptune in his honor.  He may even buy a trident.




Mars Near Miss

Aloha – This is the summer when Mars attacks.  Could it be on a collision course with Earth?  At this point it is closing at a rate of 30 km per second.  Here we have been worrying about collisions with asteroids and we have a full scale planet on its way to disrupt our evenings.  Disrupt, yes; destroy no.

Over the next several months Mars will continue to approach Earth through August.  At that time it will be a mere 56 million kilometers away, or 35 million miles.  To put that in perspective that would be about 140 times as far away as the Moon, or 1/3 the distance to the Sun.  If we had been ready this would have been the year for a mission to Mars.  They can be as much as 225 million km apart, that is when they are opposite each other across the Sun.

Meanwhile, the night sky will continue to get brighter with each passing evening, and it will be getting up earlier (around 11pm).  Enjoy it while you can :o)  Doc


Mountains on Pluto?

Aloha – For those with little knowledge of exoplanets in our system, it may have not been that noteworthy that Mountain ranges the size of the Rockys was discovered on Pluto.  Meanwhile, the scientists stood all amazed.  Where did all them mountains come from?

The current theory appears to related to the equally surprising finds of massive glacier fields on Pluto.  Moving glaciers of course help create huge mountain ranges.  Pluto’s ice fields are a bit different than those of Earth as it is a frozen mix of chemicals such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

If you’d like the rest of the story with some great graphics, the link to the video story is below.  Enjoy, Doc


Antman meets Stephen Hawking

In a move reminiscent of a sequel to Antman Stephen Hawking and a Russian billionaire are doing a mind meld to sent miniature robots throughout the solar system and beyond in search of the fabled alien civilizations.

Conceptually I’m a big fan of the idea.  In Salt of the Earth r’ants, miniature robots are used for everything from housekeeping to saving a spaceship.  It is also tied to another book I’m just beginning on that ties to shrinking the entire human race.  What would that be like?  Especially if some of the animal life did not shrink with the humans.

Well, Antman reappears shortly in Avengers:  Civil War.  So shrunken warriors will be busy both in fiction and in reality.







London to be the new North Pole

Aloha – The Earth is tilting in a new direction.  Ironically I made a similar prediction several months ago, but was projecting the new North Pole to be on the Northeast coast of the United States.  Instead the Earth’s North Pole is shifting toward England.

The good news is that it probably won’t happen until after I’m dead, which means I can still visit the country while there are still some green spots left.  More good news, there is no one yet blaming the industrial revolution for this shift, but it is not much of a stretch.  Apparently the shift is occurring because of the changes in mass on the planet, and billions of tons of ice are melting in Greenland and points north.  Of course the counter point to this is that billions of tons of ice are melting at the South Pole as well.  If global warming is a reality, which it is, can we blame Geoffrey Mander, J.P. Morgan, Richard Arkwright, Andrew Carnegie and other industrialists for this shift.

Maybe its the other way around.  With the globe warming, the North Pole may wind up being the most comfortable environment on the planet eventually.  Congratulations to the Brits for their future as the number one, and perhaps only remaining population on the planet.




72 could be Earth’s unlucky number

NEO or Near Earth Orbit asteroids have been a subject of study by NASA for some time now.  They have identified 72 possible rocks that could cause serious mischief to our environment if they actually hit the planet.

Al Gore of course is blaming the Republicans for this and recommends that it is mankinds fault that we could fall victim to such a global warming incident.  On a more serious note, none of the 72 NEOs appear to be likely to hit us anytime soon (at least not in my lifetime), but some of you youngsters may have to watch out.

This of course does not account for smaller objects that could wipe out a city or knock down a forest if it hit the Earth such as the one that hit in Russia three years ago.  So, if like me you were a fan of You, Me, and the Apocalypse, it appears that we don’t need to go dig a bunker in Slough, England anytime soon.  In the words of Douglas Adams, Don’t Panic.  Doc