If you haven’t filled out this survey, you should get right on that because it is a real eye opener.
What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?
Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD: The most astounding fact… is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth, the atoms that make up the human body, are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars, the high mass ones among them went unstable in their later years they collapsed and then exploded scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy. Guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas cloud that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems… stars with orbiting planets, and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself.
So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us.
When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small because they’re small and the universe is big – but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant, you want to feel like a participant in the goings-on of activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive…
I appreciate this train of thought.
Disintegration of an asteroid
This series of Hubble Space Telescope images reveals the breakup of an asteroid over a period of several months in late 2013.
The largest fragments are up to 200 yards in radius, each with “tails” caused by dust lifted from their surfaces and pushed back by the pressure of sunlight. The 10 pieces of the asteroid drift apart slowly and show a range of breakup times, suggesting that the disintegration cannot be explained by a collision with another asteroid.
One idea for the breakup is that the asteroid was accelerated by sunlight to spin at a fast enough rate to fly apart by centrifugal force. The images were taken in visible light with Hubble’s Wide-Field Camera 3.
60,000 miles up: Space elevator could be built by 2035
Imagine a ribbon roughly one hundred million times as long as it is wide. If it were a meter long, it would be 10 nanometers wide, or just a few times thicker than a DNA double helix. Scaled up to the length of a football field, it would still be less than a micrometer across — smaller than a red blood cell. Would you trust your life to that thread? What about a tether 100,000 kilometers long, one stretching from the surface of the Earth to well past geostationary orbit (GEO, 22,236 miles up), but which was still somehow narrower than your own wingspan?
The idea of climbing such a ribbon with just your body weight sounds precarious enough, but the ribbon predicted by a new report from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) will be able to carry up to seven 20-ton payloads at once. It will serve as a tether stretching far beyond geostationary (aka geosynchronous) orbit and held taught by an anchor of roughly two million kilograms. Sending payloads up this backbone could fundamentally change the human relationship with space — every climber sent up the tether could match the space shuttle in capacity, allowing up to a “launch” every couple of days.
The report spends 350 pages laying out a detailed case for this device, called a space elevator. The central argument — that we should build a space elevator as soon as possible — is supported by a detailed accounting of the challenges associated with doing so. The possible pay-off is as simple as could be — a space elevator could bring the cost-per-kilogram of launch to geostationary orbit from $20,000 to as little as $500.
I would love to take a ride on one of these. If it were built of course.
Should we Shower?
Depending on how your brain likes to work, you get a different reaction from having a shower. Normally the difference comes in having a cold shower but it can be known for a hot shower to do the same.
How Military Technological Changes Shaped Geopolitics and the Fortunes of States and Civilizations
Seventeen years have passed since the publication of Jared Diamond’s groundbreaking Guns, Germs and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies - a Pulitzer winning global account on the rise of civilization, which formed the foundations to explain European supremacy in conquering other regions from the sixteenth century onwards, and dismantled unreservedly the theories of racial superiority in vogue with many researchers.
But the question why Europe performed better and why it emerged ultimately victorious in the competition with other civilizations in the second half of the past millennium still puzzles economists, sociologists, historians and the general public. It is now Jimmy Teng’s turn to contribute to the lively discussion on how the world became what we know today, in his Musket, Map and Money – released now fully Open Access by De Gruyter Open.
Always love anything about History!!!!
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