Category Archives: Science

We live in the future. Come join us.

I am unapologetically pro-science and pro-technology. I am also a futurist as my blog postings show.

However science, technology, and futurism should not and must not equate to the destruction of culture and tradition of any peoples. The current wave of protests against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, while news to me, is an ongoing clash between the culture and traditions of native peoples and the interests of outsiders.

I have no opinions on the current protests, but this post is a good starting place to learn more.

Additional sources of information 

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/05/mauna_kea_telescope_protests_scientists_need_to_reflect_on_history_and_culture.html

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/04/peter-apo-mauna-kea-under-siege

KE KAUPU HEHI ALE

Adapted from NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


We Live in the Future. Come Join Us.

by Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada

“Hawaiians need to stop living in the past.” We’ve all heard this before, and we’re probably going to hear it a lot in the coming days. Brave people are getting arrested up on our sacred mountain right now in frigid temperatures (there was even a blizzard there a couple of weeks back), continuing a years-long fight and engaging in a blockade to prevent the further cultural and environmental desecration of the very piko, the umbilicus, the center of our islands by the Thirty Meter Telescope. I attended an overnight vigil a few nights ago on our island to show support for these koa on theirs, and we got an update via phone from Kahoʻokahi Kanuha and Lanakila Mangauil, two of the humble young leaders of the blockade. I…

View original post 1,461 more words

How We’ll Live on Mars

In the same way we can draw a line from Wernher von Braun straight to Apollo 11, when a spaceship carrying astronauts lands on Mars in 2027, we may well be able to draw a line straight to Elon Musk—because that Mars lander will most likely have the SpaceX logo on it.

Musk is arguably the most visionary entrepreneur of our time. Seven years after he quit a PhD program in applied physics at Stanford University, he sold his share of PayPal and Zip2, companies he cofounded, giving him a reported net worth of $324 million. He rolled his money into Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), a company he founded in 2002, then went on to cofound Tesla Motors, which is poised to revolutionize the automobile world. He is a devout environmentalist and proponent of solar energy—his Teslas can literally be driven on sunlight. In 2013, Musk proposed a unique high-speed transportation system in a vacuum tube called Hyperloop, which he put into the public domain. A Hyperloop tube running between Los Angeles and San Francisco could reduce travel time to thirty minutes.

Musk formed SpaceX just when it seemed as if NASA was slipping into irrelevance. Like von Braun, he is a transplant, in this case from South Africa and Canada. Musk, like von Braun, is a perfectionist who is convinced of his vision and determined to achieve it. And as with von Braun, no one seems to understand how serious Musk is when he says we must get to Mars. Against all advice and all odds, he has managed to do the impossible: find enough capital to finance Space Exploration Technologies and to keep it afloat and moving forward even when its first three rockets blew up. Along the way, he has raised a truly revolutionary question: Who needs NASA to get to Mars?

 
Excerpt From: Petranek, Stephen. “How We’ll Live on Mars.” TED Conferences LLC. iBooks. 

This material may be protected by copyright.

 
Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/5DUPZ.l

Also available from Amazon and all of the usual sources.

  

 
I am currently reading … and listening … to this book (via Audible.com).

Happy Aniversary

To me …

  

Will the 3rd time be the charm?

THE WHY AND HOW OF LANDING ROCKETS (SpaceX)

http://www.spacex.com/news/2015/06/24/why-and-how-landing-rockets

Even given everything we’ve learned, the odds of succeeding on our third attempt to land on a drone ship (a new one named “Of Course I Still Love You”) are uncertain, but tune in here this Sunday as we try to get one step closer toward a fully and rapidly reusable rocket.

Stay tuned …

Monolithic Memory

I am neither a software engineer, hardware engineer, nor electrical engineer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (obscure, questionably humorous ad reference). Technically I am a Data Wrangler, an Oracle DBA (Database Administrator), a SysAdmin (Systems Adminstrator), a troubleshooter, yada, yada, yada. I have a keen interest in all things technological. I am a geek (if that is a positive accolade) and was a nerd (a negative accolade) as a kid. I have some cred.  

I present for your consideration that monolithic memory is the holy grail of computing and within our grasp in the next few years. This is good news for consumers, not so much for old guard industries.

Consider the modern computer. By computer, I include desktops, laptops, servers, tablets, phablets, smart phones, whatever … running any operating system including but not limited to Windows, Linux, Unix, MacOS, iOS, WatchOS, Android, DOS … you get the idea. Regardless of manufacturer, these systems are all remarkably similar. They each have one or more CPUs (Central Processing Units), each CPU having one or more levels of dedicated ultra-high-speed memory called cache. 

Next, they each have a shared block of high-speed RAM (Random Access Memory) which is dynamic (hence DRAM). DRAM is fast. But that speed comes at a price. All data is lost when power is turned off. Recall the time you forgot to save that epic document or spreadsheet and the power went out? Yeah, that drawback.

Finally there is storage, usually in the form of a hard disk drive (HDD), although more and more computers use some form of solid state or flash storage (SSD for Solid State Drive). Mobile devices make heavy use of flash storage. Storage is persistent, but slow. Historical forms of storage include floppy disks, magnetic tape, and even paper punch tape and punch cards. Slow, but persistent.

The term memory is used contextually to describe each of these “data buckets”. The statement “I have 16 gig of memory”, is ambiguous without context. Do you have 16 GB (gigabytes) of RAM in your laptop? Or 16 GB of storage on your iPad? The former is a lot unless you are a gamer or scientist. The later is woefully small especially if you want to store a video or audio collection. RAM is currently supplied in tens of GB and usually in powers of 2: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 GB. Storage on the other hand is now commonly hundreds and thousands of GB.

Modern computer systems have evolved the subsystems necessary to route data between the CPU, cache, dynamic RAM, and persistent storage. These subsystems are comprised of both hardware (controllers, data busses, I/O channels, etc.) and software (drivers, modules, packages, etc). Data flow is a well choreographed dance between low, medium, and high-speed subsystems and pipelines. A true monolithic memory system would eliminate the need for all of this. No more need for swap or page files. No more paging of memory out to disk. No more “saving” work out to disk. No more disk.

In the previous post, I addressed claims by Nantero that their carbon-nanotube-based NRAM offers the tantalizing possibility of lower power, higher data density, faster response, and lower cost than all other types of conventional memory. NRAM has the potential to provide the basis for true monolithic memory. But it won’t happen overnight. Even assuming that NRAM (or a competing technology) is up to the task, no existing operating system or hardware platform is up to the task. A complete redesign of memory management of both the hardware and operating system would be required. 

As a consumer, this is great news. All consumer computer devices will become like smart phones and tablets from the user’s point of view. Always on, instant “save”, super fast. Except that now the amount of storage will be many times greater. Power consumption will be primarily a factor of display efficiency. Speed and power will be better in every way. Prices will fall as capability increases. The consumer wins all the way around.

Not everyone will be a winner. Old school RAM, flash, and hard drive manufactures will have an uphill fight to remain relevant. Their investors will suffer as the share value of these companies fall. Mergers and acquisitions will contract the industry like a collapsing blackhole. History repeats. How many steam locomotive or buggy whip manufactures can you name?

Nantero NRAM 

 The future will be tubular …

 

      

  

This will change the world of consumer, commercial, and military electronics forever. Low power, ultrafast, high-density persistent storage – capable of operation at high temperatures. Mark my words … this is the future … and it does not appear to be very far off. 

I will be back in a future post with my thoughts on Nantero, NRAM, and carbon nano-tube memory. Until then take a look at what others have to say (be sure to read the “comments” sections to get the best depth of understanding).

http//www.computerworld.com/article/2929471/emerging-technology/fab-plants-are-now-making-superfast-carbon-nanotube-memory.html

http://www.anandtech.com/show/9314/nantero-exits-stealth-using-carbon-nanotubes-for-nonvolatile-memory-with-dram-performance-unlimited-endurance

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/12/carbon_nanotube_memory_tech_gets_great_big_cash_dollop/

http://techreport.com/news/28377/nanotube-infused-nram-promises-dram-speeds-with-unlimited-endurance

  
http://nantero.com

  

PS: I sure hope this doesn’t turn out like GTAT

A day without …

  

  

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/abd4/   (out of stock)

  

https://www.etsy.com/listing/176132788/a-day-without-fusion-is-like-a-day  (text only)

  

Which reminds me of a story …

The astronomy professor just completed her lecture on the life cycle of the sun and had commented that the latest theories suggested that the Sun would run out of hydrogen in 2.8 billion years, killing all life on Earth.

A hand frantically waved in the back of the lecture hall.

“Question?” the professor asked.

“How much longer until the sun runs out of hydrogen?”

“Approximately 3 billion years.”

  

“Oh thank god,” the student uttered in obvious relief. “I thought you said million years.”

Volcán de Colima 28 de marzo de 2015

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPkA19JaHRM

Sergio Tapiro Velasco 

Published on Apr 3, 2015

El Volcán de Colima, a lo largo de los primeros meses de 2015 ha dado muestra de actividad, por algo se le considera el Volcán más activo de México. Este video corresponde al 28 de marzo de 2015 a las 22:28 horas. Espero que lo disfruten. Fue una noche increible. Aun tengo mis dudas sobre si era un meteorito o un satélite.

Life in the Back of a Truck

https://vimeo.com/115803822

Life in the Back of a Truck

from Sara Edith 5 months ago / Creative Commons License: by ALL AUDIENCES

The shaky life style of working on Volcán de Colima in Mexico, driving around the jungle, watching glowing rockfalls, road trip to beautiful waterfall of Tzararacua, Michoacán, and jungle ruins of Palenque, Chiapas.

Rather low quality footage – HD highly recommended !

Music: Acapulco – Naxxos

Volcán de Colima

https://vimeo.com/114020795

Volcán de Colima

from Sara Edith 5 months ago / Creative Commons License: by ALL AUDIENCES

Put on HD for this glowing experience at the Volcan de Colima, Mexico.

Another night spend at the volcano filming and taking photos. 

This is from La Lumbre in Colima (Mexico) where you get an excellent look on the volcano from SW, and the lava flow that has reached the bottom of the flank. The glow from tumbling rocks and at last an ash rich explosion. 

Sunset & a Starry night & Sunrise & Explosion.

The pictures are from mid October. 

Music: Spleen United – My Tribe part II
==========================================================================

  
See also http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colima_(volcano)

Martian Glaciers

  

Credit: Mars Digital Image Model, NASA/Nanna Karlsson

  

Ice on Mars: Mars has belts of glaciers consisting of frozen water

Date:  April 8, 2015

Source:  University of Copenhagen – Niels Bohr Institute

Summary:

Mars has distinct polar ice caps, but Mars also has belts of glaciers at its central latitudes in both the southern and northern hemispheres. A thick layer of dust covers the glaciers, so they appear as surface of the ground, but radar measurements show that underneath the dust there are glaciers composed of frozen water. New studies have now calculated the size of the glaciers and thus the amount of water in the glaciers.

“We have calculated that the ice in the glaciers is equivalent to over 150 billion cubic meters of ice — that much ice could cover the entire surface of Mars with 1.1 meters of ice. The ice at the mid-latitudes is therefore an important part of Mars’ water reservoir,” explains Nanna Bjørnholt Karlsson.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150408102701.htm



  

http://shop.spacex.com/tshirts/occupy-mars-t-shirt.html

USDA

And you call yourself a geek … 

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What is the next number in the series?

X Marks the Spot

Via email from


 

X Marks the Spot:  Falcon 9 Attempts Ocean Platform Landing

During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt the precision landing of a Falcon 9 first stage for the first time, on a custom-built ocean platform known as the autonomous spaceport drone ship. While SpaceX has already demonstrated two successful soft water landings, executing a precision landing on an unanchored ocean platform is significantly more challenging.

The odds of success are not great—perhaps 50% at best. However this test represents the first in a series of similar tests that will ultimately deliver a fully reusable Falcon 9 first stage.

Video of previous first stage reentry test with soft water landing

 

Returning anything from space is a challenge, but returning a Falcon 9 first stage for a precision landing presents a number of additional hurdles. At 14 stories tall and traveling upwards of 1300 m/s (nearly 1 mi/s), stabilizing the Falcon 9 first stage for reentry is like trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm.

To help stabilize the stage and to reduce its speed, SpaceX relights the engines for a series of three burns. The first burn—the boostback burn—adjusts the impact point of the vehicle and is followed by the supersonic retro propulsion burn that, along with the drag of the atmosphere, slows the vehicle’s speed from 1300 m/s to about 250 m/s. The final burn is the landing burn, during which the legs deploy and the vehicle’s speed is further reduced to around 2 m/s.

Landing legs deployed just before soft water landing in the Atlantic Ocean

To complicate matters further, the landing site is limited in size and not entirely stationary. The autonomous spaceport drone ship is 300 by 100 feet, with wings that extend its width to 170 feet. While that may sound huge at first, to a Falcon 9 first stage coming from space, it seems very small. The legspan of the Falcon 9 first stage is about 70 feet and while the ship is equipped with powerful thrusters to help it stay in place, it is not actually anchored, so finding the bullseye becomes particularly tricky. During previous attempts, we could only expect a landing accuracy of within 10km. For this attempt, we’re targeting a landing accuracy of within 10 meters.

A key upgrade to enable precision targeting of the Falcon 9 all the way to touchdown is the addition of four hypersonic grid fins placed in an X-wing configuration around the vehicle, stowed on ascent and deployed on reentry to control the stage’s lift vector. Each fin moves independently for roll, pitch and yaw, and combined with the engine gimbaling, will allow for precision landing – first on the autonomous spaceport drone ship, and eventually on land.

Similar steerable fins can also be seen in this test video:

The attempt to recover the first stage will begin after stage separation, once the Dragon spacecraft is safely on its way to orbit. The concept of landing a rocket on an ocean platform has been around for decades but it has never been attempted. Though the probability of success on this test is low, we expect to gather critical data to support future landing testing.

A fully and rapidly reusable rocket—which has never been done before—is the pivotal breakthrough needed to substantially reduce the cost of space access. While most rockets are designed to burn up on reentry, SpaceX is building rockets that not only withstand reentry, but also land safely on Earth to be refueled and fly again. Over the next year, SpaceX has at least a dozen launches planned with a number of additional testing opportunities. Given what we know today, we believe it is quite likely that with one of those flights we will not only be able to land a Falcon 9 first stage, but also re-fly.

http://www.spacex.com

Merry Critmas

As in Critical mass

Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1) was the world’s first artificial nuclear reactor. The construction of CP-1 was part of the Manhattan Project, and was carried out by the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. It was built under the west viewing stands of the original Stagg Field. The first man-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1 on 2 December 1942, under the supervision of Enrico Fermi. Fermi described the apparatus as “a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers.” It was made of a large amount of graphite and uranium, with “control rods” of cadmium, indium, and silver, and unlike most subsequent reactors, it had no radiation shield or cooling system.

Reference: Wikipedia

December 2nd also just happens to be my birthday.

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The Near Future of Space Travel

An Essay

This week saw the crash and burn of two commercial space ships; one manned, the other unmanned. Regardless of how commonplace spaceflight seems to have become it is still dangerous business. As Elon Musk quipped when a SpaceX test vehicle self-destructed (as intended) when something went haywire over the McGregor Texas test site, “Rockets are tricky“.

Continue reading The Near Future of Space Travel

100th Merlin 1D Engine

In stark* contrast to both Orbital Sciences and United Launch Alliance, both of which use Russian-made main engines, 100% of SpaceX vehicles, are designed, manufactured, assembled, and tested in the U.S. at SpaceX-owned or leased facilities. SpaceX recently announced completion of it 100th Merlin 1D engine in two years.

Continue reading 100th Merlin 1D Engine

Russian rocket engines suspected in launch blast

http://m.phys.org/news/2014-10-russian-rocket-blast.html

The AJ26 engines—modified and tested in the U.S.—originally were designed for the massive Soviet rockets meant to take cosmonauts to the moon during the late 1960s.

The massive explosion of the Russian Moon rocket dashed the Russian bid for the Moon. Faulty AJ26 engines … the same used on the Antares booster … most likely caused the Russian Moon rocket explosion. [my comment]

In 2012, SpaceX’s billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk, called the Antares rocket “a punchline to a joke” because of the Russian engines. SpaceX, by contrast, makes its own rocket parts.

“I mean they start with engines that were literally made in the ’60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere,” Musk said in an interview with Wired magazine.

2001 Theatrical Re-Release

2001: A Space Odyssey … Returns

UK Re-release to theaters in November

New Trailer

 

Original Trailer

Only the big screen can do justice to this film. I hope it comes to the States.

Source: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/10/21/2001-a-space-odyssey-trailer/

See also last year’s post: 2001

Apollo Retroreflectors

IMG_3534.PNG

http://www.xkcd.com/1441

Yet more proof that man really did walk on the moon.

IMG_3535.GIF

Left on the moon by Apollo missions 11, 14, and 15 the three retroreflectors continue to provide an ultra-precise means of determining Earth-Moon distance.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Laser_Ranging_experiment

Retroreflectors provide surveyors a precise way of measuring point-to-point distance by timing the two-way time of a laser pulse. The optical design is such that reflected light is returned in the exact direction from which it was sent with very little scatter.

IMG_3536.JPG

These methods are faster, safer, and infinitely more accurate than measuring distance by stretching a long steel tape (called a chain for historical reasons) as I did in college surveying camp over 30 years ago. Laser range finders and retroreflectors are the mainstay of modern surveying. This technology did not become commercially available until the 1980s, yet NASA used it in 70s to accurately measure Earth-Moon distance.

With the right equipment anyone can measure the precise distance to the Moon and simultaneously confirm that MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH
FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A.D.

IMG_3537.PNG

Lockheed Compact Fusion Reactor

Can this be real?

 

The Skunk Works mind-set and “the pace that people work at here is ridiculously fast,” he says. “We would like to get to a prototype in five generations. If we can meet our plan of doing a design-build-test generation every year, that will put us at about five years, and we’ve already shown we can do that in the lab.”

The early reactors will be designed to generate around 100 MW and fit into transportable units measuring 23 X 43 ft. “That’s the size we are thinking of now. You could put it on a semi-trailer, similar to a small gas turbine, put it on a pad, hook it up and can be running in a few weeks,”

Thomas McGuire, AviationWeek interview (see link below)

Wow …

Links

http://m.aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-reveals-compact-fusion-reactor-details

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/lockheed-martins-new-fusion-reactor-design-can-change-h-1646578094

http://www.businessinsider.com/scientists-bash-lockheed-on-nuclear-fusion-2014-10

Background Radiation

Screen captures from the documentary Pandora’s Promise

The sievert (Wikipedia)
1 Sv = 1 joule/kilogram – a biological effect. The sievert represents the equivalent biological effect of the deposit of a joule of radiation energy in a kilogram of human tissue.

Background radiation is measured in microsieverts per hour (one millionth of a sievert).

Continue reading Background Radiation

Pandora’s Promise

Former anti-nuclear environmentalists reevaluate their position on nuclear power in light of the Fukushima disaster.

They present the past, present, and future of nuclear power including Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Their conclusions will surprise you.


 

Continue reading Pandora’s Promise

Energy Density

Log Scale

http://xkcd.com/1162/

The energy density of fissionable uranium in megajoules/kilogram is 1.7 million times that of gasoline. This one of the reasons for why we cannot choose to ignore nuclear power in our energy mix.

The number of deaths, injured, or sickened from the combined nuclear incidents of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima is less than the annual deaths, injured, or sickened in the coal, oil, solar, or wind industries. The global push to decommission nuclear power plants in wake of Fukushima is driven by baseless fear and media hype.

Suggested blogs and podcasts

http://atomicinsights.com

http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com

http://pandoraspromise.com

Bendgate

Op-Ed

No pictures, no links, no embedded videos.

By now surely you and everyone else in the world has heard of Bendgate. The iPhone 6 Plus can be bent. It’s thin, it’s light, it’s a large, it’s flat, it’s aluminum. The laws of physics and material strength properties apply.

For Apple to have made a phone this large and thin and light and also have it be impervious to bending, one of the following things would have to change: the material the back is made of, the shape of the back, or the thickness of the back.

Thicker aluminum would make it stronger and heavier and more expensive. Titanium would make it stronger but much more expensive. Steel would make it much stronger and much heavier. I can only assume that Apple choose the grade of aluminum that they did based on a combination of strength and price point.

A curved back would make it stronger. A corrugated back would make it much stronger. Either would make it thicker. Either could be considered less aesthetically pleasing.

Making the iPhone 6 Plus thicker or at least making the back thicker would make the phone … well, thicker … and heavier.

There’s another way to make the iPhone 6 Plus stronger and thicker and heavier. Buy a case for it. There are sure to be a variety of cases for the iPhone 6 Plus. Many people religiously buy cases for their phones anyway. Why should this be any different?

If you watch the videos you see that a fair amount of stress must be applied to bend the iPhone 6 Plus. It’s not like you laid it on the table with half of it on the table and half of it off and came back in an hour and found it bent at 90 degrees as if it were in a Salvador Dali painting. You have to try very hard to bend it. Or you have to sit on it. Or do you have to wear very tight pants.

I sport a naked iPhone 5S. It gets its own pocket … in the front. I often take it out of my pocket when I sit down. I don’t want to put it in the case, so I have to be extra careful with it. The same would be true for an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

This is much ado about nothing. This is in the same category as people who intentionally microwave their phones. Or shoot arrows at them. Or see what it actually takes to destroy them. On YouTube, where the goal is to get as many views as possible.

Might be a good time to buy some AAPL stock, what with the price drop and all …

The Cost of Ignorance

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.

We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Continue reading The Cost of Ignorance