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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Too much time on my hands

At first I tried to go to work today, but anything resembling an energy reserve dwindled by 9 AM. The manager took one look at me and said, 'go home', so here I am. Box of Kleenex and Ricola cough drops by my side. I'll take some Dayquil in a bit and try to rest.
The other day I noticed the parsley in the garden has come back with a vengeance. Grabbing a pair of scissors (hopefully not the ones my wife uses for her sewing.) I snipped a small bushel and quickly dried it out. That tuckered me out and I had to sit down a couple of times during the drying process. I swear I'm going to lie down, honest.
The grass is still wet from the weekend rain, but it needs a trim badly. I'm worried about the dog getting fleas. The ego wants to do it. My body says to delegate it to the kids. Body wins that one. The other good thing is if I drift off to sleep in my chair, no one is going to berate me for it. Perhaps the dog will hop up and lick my face, but that's not the same thing.
Okay, enough of the sick crap.
The Dawn spacecraft is making news that matters. It entered orbit around Ceres March 6th at an altitude of 13,500 km. Presently it is circling the proto-planet at roughly 4,400 km, and it's going to spiral closer. By the time November rolls around it will be 375 km above the surface. Dawn is already taking pictures and mapping Ceres. There is a neat animation gif on this blog, but there's more information and pictures over here.
Some of those pictures show two bright spots in a crater. What is that? Ice? I read an article last week that speculated Ceres might contain an underground ocean.
There is a possibility of life, even microbial life out there. Europa, Ganymede, and now we add Ceres to that list. We officially have a mission slated for Europa. That's great, fantastic even. Personally, I'm hoping when we drill through the ice and poke a camera into one of those icy moons, we stumble upon an underwater city inhabited by squid-like creatures. Actually, if a tiny shrimp or plankton crosses the lens, I'll be amazed.
I don't give a shit about the Duggars or the Kardashians. Taylor Swift can date whoever the hell she wants. I don't need to know about it. This quote sums it up quite nicely.
Thank you Dr. Asimov

The fact that in a few short months we will complete our solar system family portrait. It seems I'm the only one who gets excited about this stuff. Coworkers and people on the street, not so much.
There is a rule among the technically savvy known as Moore's law.
In 1965, Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, noted the number of transistors per one square inch of integrated circuits doubled every year since the circuit was invented. He noted the trend would continue, and it has. The data density doubles every 18 months and this proves to be a useful guideline for technological development. It sounds neat to call it a law when it should be referred to as an observation or conjecture, nevertheless it's a very accurate one.
There is another term I first heard of ten years ago called technological convergence. Our televisions are becoming information centers. We watch programs on our laptops or our phones. Just recently Apple launched the Apple watch. From what I've seen, it looks like a smartphone you wear like a wrist watch.
It's all coming together folks.
Watching a show on my iPhone that I'd missed because my daughter wants to watch The Voice would have been inconceivable twenty years ago, hell... ten years ago. Netflix killed Blockbuster, plain and simple. Video streaming wasn't even a word not too long ago. AT&T is my internet provider and I didn't even bat an eye typing that. Go figure.
I'm going to make a prediction: as we step out into the solar system, our technology is going to increase geometrically much like Moore's law. There will always be the have's and the have not. We will always have the nerds and the jocks. There will come a time when a faction chooses to leave the planet. A group of scientists will set up a permanent orbital city. A corporation will mine an asteroid. Someone will set up a colony. Recently a report critical of Mars One popped up. I'm not 100 % surprised in this, but I don't believe it is a scam like critics say. There are easier ways to run a con. Insurance and real estate come to mind.
That's not to say I'm giving Bas Lansdorp, the CEO of Mars One the benefit of the doubt. There is a fair load of chutzpah involved, but not outright bullshit. Most of the technology is there.
A group of MIT scientists took a look at the Mars One mission profile. Here's the PDF. It's a 25 page report that states once they get there, how do they stay alive? Oxygen. Water. Spare parts, communications, and logistics were key points addressed. And they're right. Once those colonists leave Earth orbit, they are on their own. If something were to go wrong on the Martian surface and we decided to effect a rescue mission, they would only be dead for the 39 days it takes us to get there. That is assuming the closest approach between Mars and Earth. It could take longer depending on orbits. Any police officer will tell you, in a missing child case after 72 hours the chance of finding the child alive is slim to none.
Mr. Lansdorp is trying to carry a baton and lead people to a new era of exploration. He knows the tech isn't fully ready. Just because you try and rally people together doesn't mean it's going to happen on your time table.
Mars One will happen eventually. I'm thinking there will be a lunar base and a couple of orbital cities at liberation points before it does come about though.






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