Haven't we already figured out what happens to animals if we blast them into space? Isn't sending them up there now just asking for trouble? Like, taking the chance that they will pass through some cosmic gamma rays and come back as super-rodents bent on revenge? I mean, that is my understanding of how space travel works. I could be wrong. Anyway, if nothing else it seems kind of cruel, although I guess it is probably better than living in Russia.
We live on a small-ish planet orbiting a standard G-type main-sequence star floating through the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way, which is itself a standard barred-spiral galaxy among so many others in the Virgo Supercluster. But it's a nice planet, even if there are probably 17 billion just like it, just within our own minor galaxy. And NASA has just announced that another galaxy has been confirmed as the biggest measured so far, at five times' the size of our own puny galaxy.
It was 40 years ago when humans last made the effort to visit another heavenly sphere, on the Apollo 17 mission that launched on this day in 1972. But astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt didn't just walk on the lunar surface—they also drove around in a dune buggy, and also skipped around while singing songs. Nixon was so angry about this expression of joy that humans were banned from every visiting the moon again.
Space. It's the final frontier. It's that big black thing up above the clouds. It's where we keep all the stuff that makes our mobile phones and computers and GPS systems work. It is also the next place that bad people will try to do bad things in. What does it all mean?
Our overwhelming reliance on space technology makes us acutely vulnerable were it to ever break down or be deliberately sabotaged. For those gathered at the conference on national security and space at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) yesterday it was an issue they felt needed to be confronted more [...]
“Space tourists are usually high-income earners whose survivors can use high-powered lawyers—insurability for private space travel flights is a big issue at this time." —Space lawyer Doug Griffith talks to Fast Company's Neal Ungerleider about the growing field of space law.
If you put on your headphones and expand this clip to fill your screen you can imagine that you are deep in outer space, watching the planets, far away from your home and all the problems that plague your life. It's just you and Saturn and… nothingness. Sweet, sweet nothingness. The calming joy of oblivion. Anyway, it's a pretty cool video. [Via]
- He saved the world from destruction with his rocket science. He and Wernher von Braun saved the world and all its vegetables.
- Smoking will make you impotent.
- He knows "Goodnight Irene" in German.
- He was raised by nuns because he was an orphan, but he was kicked out when he made a pass at a nun novice. "Early pooberty." He was 9. She was 13.
- Crazy hats get you a good job.
- Irene's skin has a pink glow so she'll have at least 3 children.
- He dated a [...]
Guess what people on the Internet have discovered? Life on Mars! But it is not, according to current theories, Martian. It's a … ground squirrel, or perhaps a regular Martian rock that looks a little like a ground squirrel from a certain angle and a certain light. The very large NASA image from the rover Curiosity is here, so you can spend the next hour or so looking for Waldo the Martian Ground Squirrel, or you can just accept the conclusion of this UFO blog:
A lot of people are emailing me saying that this squirrel was part of a NASA experiment to test how long it [...]
Here is the kind of space math that is completely appropriate for 2012: SpaceX founder Elon Musk says he's preparing for a permanent Mars colony stocked with 80,000 wealthy humans in their 40s. Are you in your 40s right now? Too late! This won't happen for another decade, or more. Are you poor and 30? Well maybe you've got a shot, but probably not. Do you have a degree from a good school and maybe a new job at Facebook or Twitter or Google? You might get to be a "new pilgrim," on Mars! You'll even get to enjoy gardening, the latest craze for people who build APIs [...]
Would you like to take a tour of the earth from space? Then please allow Dr. Justin Wilkinson of the International Space Station to be your guide. Fair warning: If today's shockingly dingy weather is making you sleepy, the twinkly music in the background here is certainly not going to do anything to help. Anyway, enjoy. It's pretty beautiful. Yes, even the moon part. [Via]
NASA's Curiosity Rover is prepped to deliver color video from the surface of Mars. And equipment with science instruments designed to tell us "if Earth's neighbor is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life." So I sure hope it survives the "seven minutes of terror" that will be its landing on Sunday night. There are not enough exclamation points on this planet to express the drama of this video.
"Full disclosure: something about really cut girls really clunks up the screen, and the same goes for really cut boys. Most of the budget for Prometheus went for weight-training; even a gazelle like Charlize Theron looks like she was up on a treadmill all day between takes wearing a do-rag while like, field recordings of Sean Penn yelling played on her iPod." —Some short stray thoughts on Prometheus, scifi and "cool."
Today at 1:30 p.m., don't forget to tune into the livecast of the announcement by Planetary Resources about how rich people are going to blow up some space crap in the hunt for platinum and palladium. With the backing of the likes of Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Google, this seems like a good time to get out of the Google system entirely, you know? We already gave them ownership of all our data, and the relationship between your Gmail and now the annexation of space for mining is seriously some Total Recall prologue. In fact basically all of the movies have warned us about what [...]
The heroic Iranian monkey who supposedly rode a rocket into space last week returned to Earth with strange new powers. For instance, the monkey's distinctive face mole was completely gone when the creature was photographed by government officials upon landing. The creature's white-blonde hair had changed to brunette, too, much like the hair of Moses changed from black to white after he spotted the Hebrew God cowering under a bush. What other mutant powers could the Persian primate have developed while exposed to dangerous gamma rays or whatever, in orbit?
The Times of London doubts the superhero animal's mysterious changes occurred in space. Could the sneaky Iranians have [...]
With just over a week remaining before the Mayan Apocalypse, the situation around Planet Earth has been anything but calm. If you've been busy getting drunk at Christmas parties, you may be blissfully unaware of the huge flying mountains that have very nearly obliterated our world. But the asteroids are only half of the story: broken comets, secret meteor storms and a mysterious robot space shuttle are also haunting our skies this week.
"The BBC's star science presenter Brian Cox thought he might have a scoop on his hands when he trained his telescope at a newly discovered planet in search of alien life. But the professor said his hopes for an exclusive were brought back down to earth after he was told by the BBC that impromptu extraterrestrial contact would break health and safety guidelines." —Best check with the Department of Live Radio Broadcasts With Space Aliens before doing anything hasty.
Photo by Karen Roe via Flickr.
"Catching a planet in the act of being devoured by a star is an almost improbable feat to accomplish because of the comparative swiftness of the process, but the occurrence of such a collision can be deduced from the way it affects the stellar chemistry. The highly elongated orbit of the massive planet we discovered around this lithium-polluted red giant star is exactly the kind of evidence that would point to the star's recent destruction of its now-missing planet." —Eva Villaver, one of a team of astronomers whose spectroscopic analysis recently documented a red giant star called BD+48 740 eating one of its own planets. This will likely happen [...]
Recently I've been rewatching "Battlestar Galactica." On a rewatch, I feel like it's a very long haul. And I've now seen a lot of people cruise through the first couple seasons then get bogged down in, say, season three. It's quite a bit of TV! For a non-fanboy or non-fangirl, it can get tedious. Reordering the Star Wars movies made so much sense; the so-called "machete order" for Star Wars (IV, V, II, III, VI, skipping "Episode One"!) is a work of genius. So I began to wonder, not so much about order, but: how can we chop down "Battlestar"? The answer: pretty easily. (DON'T KILL ME, FANS!)
"There is an immense opportunity—maybe it’s even a business opportunity—to look at our temporal world and think about calendars and clocks and human behavior, to think about each interaction as a specific unit, to take careful note of how we parcel out moments. Whether a mouse moving across a screen or the progress of a Facebook post through a thousand different servers, the way we value time seems to have altered, as if the earth tilted on its axis, as if the seasons are different and new." —In case you haven't read this a thousand times yet.