January 31, 2012

The Overview

One of the most amazing things to come out of the space race (aside from the obvious) are the two treaties from 1967 and 1968, most especially the idea that
"the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
And that
"astronauts are the envoys of mankind" and should be treated as such. As such, I support similar expressions and intents found in this recent state department release concerning national security in space.

State Department: "Space Security - An American Perspective" | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "- It is in the shared interest of all nations to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust.

- All nations have the right, in accordance with international law, to explore and use space for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity. Consistent with this principle, "peaceful purposes" allows for space to be used for national and homeland security activities.

- The United States considers the space systems of all nations to have the rights of passage through, and conduct of operations in, space without interference. Purposeful interference with space systems, including supporting infrastructure, will be considered, in the U.S. view, an infringement of a nation's rights."

I strongly believe that space is the province of all humanity. I also strongly believe that the only way we, as a species, are going to have a long lasting presence in these cosmos is by working together, as one planet. I want to see, within my lifetime, not American boots on Mars, not Russian or Chinese or European boots on Mars. I want to see Human boots on Mars, I want us, as one species, to become more than we ever hoped for.

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January 21, 2012

A More Peaceful Competition

""The report includes an impressive list of accomplishments, impressive as much for the political will for success demonstrated as the technical achievements," Johnson-Freese said. Furthermore, the document notes that "guaranteed funding" through "multiple funding streams" is a goal, she added.

"The Chinese do an excellent job in learning from others and I think they do not want to see themselves in NASA's position of having lots of good ideas, but more rhetorical political support than actual funding to follow through on those ideas," Johnson-Freese said."

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Any form of government will work perfectly if the people in charge are perfect. Since people aren't perfect, I prefer democracy. But there are definitely certain attributes of tyrannical communism that helps to get things accomplished. Joking aside, I don't think that we will see a new space race with China, at least, not like the first one. There's certainly a heady atmosphere of nationalism to be sure, but there isn't near the same feeling of hostility that permeated the Cold War era. Though I do hope that we (Europe, Russia, et al) start competing to be the best in space. Just not with bombs and trying to destroy each other and stuff. But with you know, telescopes and satellites and rovers and stuff. Science is way cooler than wholesale death any day.
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January 20, 2012

How to Settle, Once and for All, the Whole "What's a Planet?" Debate | New Planets | DISCOVER Magazine

I like this article. There's one part in particular I enjoyed, where the author is talking about how scientists work with concepts, and not definitions. Which is why Pluto was ultimately demoted. Scientists changed their concept of 'planet' after finding a whole bunch of other objects in the solar system. The concept of 'planet' no longer includes Pluto, which is fine. As N.D. Tyson says, "We put Pluto with it's brethren." Pluto is now the star of a whole new concept in the solar system.

How to Settle, Once and for All, the Whole "What's a Planet?" Debate | New Planets | DISCOVER Magazine:

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This also clears up a misconception about the Linnean taxonomic system. We don't define animals, like the Desert Horned Lizard. Sure, we call it Phrynosoma platyrhinos, of the Family Phrynosomatidae, Order Squamata. But these classisifications are only concepts that help us find order and connection in the natural world. We do not define the natural world. But we do have conceptions about the world, and these conceptions help us to learn about the world. For example, because both the Desert Horned Lizard and Short-horned Lizard are in the Genus Phrynosoma I know that those two creatures are related. Why? Because the concepts of evolutionary biology and the Linnean taxonomic system.


January 18, 2012


So there's this whole kerfluffle happening in regards to two bills in congress, S.O.P.A & P.I.P.A. These bills are intended to stop online piracy by overseas offenders. But there are many who say that while yes, the bill does achieve that goal, it also opens the door to extreme censorship, shifts the burden of proof onto those accused, and ultimately assumes guilt rather than innocence. I'll not try and give a thorough run down of the bills and their potential repercussions. But I will post a bunch of links for further reading by those interested.

Popular Mechanics
Stanford Law Review
CBS News
Bad Astronomy

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3261: (The actual SOPA bill)

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.968: (The actual PIPA bill)

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January 17, 2012

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

So I checked out this article from Universe today, which is about the recent rash of astronauts who are selling their Apollo mission memorabilia. NASA doesn't like it, astronauts say they have the right to sell their personal property, and so the two groups are working together to find an agreeable solution, nice and friendly.

After reading the article I decided to check out the authors blog, Vintage Space. I particularly enjoyed this piece written about Apollo 8, or more accurately, the events that led up to the Apollo 8 mission.

Reading this made me wonder what John McCain had to do with with Apollo 8 (You'll have to read the article to find out why). This lead to some genealogical confusion for a bit, but this article from PBS and good ol' Wikipedia helped clear things up for me.

I enjoyed this particular journey through history, I highly recommend reading these articles. Especially the PBS one.


January 16, 2012

Triangle is a funny word

In the interest of increasing awesome I will now share with you this video series! These are drawn in that nifty whiteboard doodle, except it's mostly done on notebook paper. But that only adds more flavor to the awesome. These videos are made by Vi Hart and have a really eclectic style that  is both amusing and entertaining (triangles triangles triangles) Short, fast paced, these are great for someone already immersed in the subject discussed to find new factoids or think about things in new ways. And if I were just learning this stuff again I would totally dig these videos as a distraction from homework. Of course I'll let you discover what the subjects discussed actually are. Be amused! Be entertained! Go to the link!

January 03, 2012


I have been reading a blog called Behind The Black by Robert Zimmerman for some time now. I find we have some things in common. He posts cool stuff about space! Plus a whole host of other stuff ranging from awesome college football plays to interesting comments on topical issues. Unfortunately I must disagree with his stance on climate change. As level headed as he seems when it comes to understanding the intricacies of NASA contracts and how they will effect the emerging private space sector is a stark contrast to his blind devotion to climate change denial. I have for the most part refrained from making arguments against his position. It's his blog and his opinion. Though I will correct the more egregious paraphrases and misinterpretations. But for the most I keep my opinion to myself.

But in a recent post he asked questions, and I decided to answer them. I would suggest going to the original post to get the background. I am posting my comment below the break.