"I foresee a universal information system (UIS), which will give everyone access at any given moment to the contents of any book that has ever been published or any magazine or any fact. The UIS will have individual miniature-computer terminals, central control points for the flood of information, and communication channels incorporating thousands of artificial communications from satellites, cables, and laser lines. Even the partial realization of the UIS will profoundly affect every person, his leisure activities, and his intellectual and artistic development. ...But the true historic role of the UIS will be to break down the barriers to the exchange of information among countries and people." Andre Sakharov (Saturday Review/World, August 24, 1974
I don't think Andrei Sakharov got it entirely right, but man, did the internet come close to fulfilling his prediction!
I keep wondering what was in the ellipsis between "development. ...But the true historic role" - but that information is not on the Internet, yet. Books - at least the ones still covered by copyright, and those long out of print, but still covered by copyright - are only readily accessible via amazon, or not at all.
Babelfish was an early start at breaking down those barriers of language and culture, and google translate is taking that to a whole new level.
New forms of media have arisen, usenet, blogging, twitter, facebook... People can run simulations of the Hubble repair on their desktops, crowdsourcing has become popular where people routinely collaborate, in real time, all around the planet, from richest country to the poorest...
And yet, so many problems are still with us. Do I think they are intractable? No! If I didn't think that we could solve all the problems remaining for humanity, in part, via better technology, I'd be really depressed all the time, instead of just some of the time.
By your own words, you either dismiss or outright refuse to read certain works because they are not 'happy'.
His point stung. I DO try to read multiple viewpoints but sometimes fall into a rut of reading stuff that re-inforces my pre-existing opinions. So I read his links - Kunstler, about the cluster-f*** nation, and Orlov, about the effects of Peak Oil and definancialization...
I was depressed for days.
Yet, my reaction, my self-trained reaction, of looking for an opposing viewpoint, and exploring the history of the ideas and predictions, finally kicked in... I went and researched Kunzler, and found he'd made specific predictions that turned out to be wrong, so far. It doesn't mean that he's wrong on everything, it just means he isn't God. I completely agree with Kunzler about the core problem - today's civilization relies on cheap energy, and it is running out. His solutions are interesting, and no doubt there are others that both agree with (both of us) and are trying to solve the problem.
So, Chipper - I have a suggestion - go read someone optimistic for some balance, and some optimism, once in a while. I still find Buckminster Fuller comforting...
I have spent the last days being relentlessly optimistic, and arguing with people that I think are making the wrong decisions, or doing the wrong thing over and over again, because of habit.
Yesterday I ran into a lady with a BS in Social work, who was taking a quick two week tour of Central America before returning to America to study for a Masters. Getting more education is a worthy goal, but her reasoning was flawed - there were no jobs for her existing background and school was all she knew how to do. She had no debt but was preparing to take on a lot of it to get her Masters... I strongly encouraged her to continue her wanderjahr, if she could, find something that she loved to do, that paid, and stay out of debt....
Last week I also went and reviewed the current state of the climate change debate, and found no reason to change my opinion that waiting for more data to come in was the right thing. I am especially looking forward to Anthony Watt's report on the effects of bad siting for temperature measurement on the global warming average.
The detection of new Near Earth Asteroids (NEOs) continues at a rapid pace, a pace which will increase upon completion of the LSST in 2015. The number of NEOs known has at least doubled, perhaps tripled, since 2003. (cite needed, empirical evidence supplied below)
What I have in mind is a series of small spacecraft, say, 4-12 in number, that would each visit 3 asteroids or comets over a 4-6 year period of life. The tour is only "grand" in that we could explore nearly every known asteroid classification, and would probably be considerably cheaper in current dollars than Voyager 1 and 2 were, particularly if a new launcher like the Falcon 1 or 9 was used.
I haven't the foggiest idea how to generate the enthusiasm for this idea, or the funding, aside from writing about it, and... perhaps... since my stock in trade is as a software engineer, maybe I could work towards making broadly available the software for calculating possible courses (trajectories). Perhaps being able to plot a real course for Cruithne, or tens of thousands of other small bodies, like Sulu from Star Trek, would get more people interested and involved. I know the simulations that Bruce Damer did of the Mars Rover were wildly popular, particularly among youth.
All I really know (thus far) about re-solving this problem is from a chat with one of the scientists involved (items in bold are my open questions, italics is what he told me):
The trajectory code used for that analysis was JPL's Midas patched conic trajectory tool.(how does a US citizen get access to Midas? The conic section tool appears to be a commercial product from JPL. Is there an alternative? Is it even necessary?) The tool was automated to run 1000's of combinations of solutions. (How? What happened to the code?) These solutions were reduced using impulsive delta-V as a primary FOM. (OK, that's the easy part) The solutions that filtered to the top were then run through a low thrust trajectory code, segment by segment, to generate a end-to-end low thrust trajectory profile. (Solar-Electric propulsion makes a lot of sense, but old fashioned chemical propulsion might be more sustainable for in-situ refueling, being able to simulate a wider variety of spacecraft (included manned ones) would be useful)
Unfortunately it was rather labor intensive process and the work did not continue. Sigh.
It has taken me a long time to get interested in space again, ever since Trailblazerbecame ashes over the Pacific. What is making me think about it is that orbit@home is now up and running, and there is an amazingly powerful n-body code out there for CUDA , as well. Perhaps this would make it possible to solve a "New Grand Tour" problem for large numbers of asteroid and comet targets using differing types of spacecraft. For all I know, a 200 dollar card with CUDA and suitable software may well be more powerful than the compute clusters used during the development of Hera. (see left for a lovely example simulation of whole galaxies in collision - surely something like that ought to be able to help plot a few courses in our piddly little solar system?)
In terms of delta-v: there are presently 952 good reasons to go to the asteroids rather than the Moon. Some delta-v reasons are almost twice as good than the moon option.
It's also worth repeating the Deep Impact or Don Quijote missions 3756 times by the same criteria....
PS: I note that estimated delta-v via shoemakers method is not a particularly good criterion for justifying asteroid missions over Moon and Mars missions, but it may provide a good starting point for a conversation over the resources required to explore the solar system.
PPS: I really don't want to explain delta-v, please see wikipedia for delta-v, interplanetary superhighway, etc....
I would really like to see the above chart updated, but given what we know know about the solar system, vs what we knew in 1996, it would be all orange and red inside of Jupiter's orbit, on the scale at which the objects are plotted.
Most days it adds about 45 minutes to 'bike' (I ride a trike) the last 10 miles vs what it takes to drive. However, when the traffic is particularly abysmal and noxious, I don't know that it takes me any more time at all. Guess why I don't know? I don't know because I am not stuck in it! I have no earthly idea what is going on out there on the roads. As these pics show, this is how I spend that + or - hour that makes up the last leg of my commute.
I had intended to get my ebike to SJDS last november. I had big plans on exploring the area and ultimately settling out of town somewhere, to live more harmoniously with nature and get out of touch with my inner geek, and back in shape. Regrettably, the airline I flew out on wouldn't let me take it, so it has sat in my parents garage since then, awaiting my return.
I miss my bike. I felt it would have been a lower-maintenance alternative to a horse and far better exercise, and I would have explored a lot more of my local area than I have been able to explore on foot. Perhaps this year I'll get it... or a horse.
We are all watching and waiting, the biggest thing we are upset about is that nic stopped sending us chocolate milk! haha. Kinda kidding...
It is pretty strange, we are cut off so much from everything here but yet in a way we are right in it. Last I heard the borders and all airlines were closed. Everyday we all try to share whatever that daily piece of info is that we get, more like gossip than news. It sounds as though Venezuela is threatening to cut off our oil supply, and that in general shit may hit the fan. There is a level of anxiety that we are dealing with, but the surreality of where we are can overshadow that so easily. I still spend my days diving, studying and lying in hammocks. Best as I can say, it would be best to get Zalaya out of power and for the US and the rest to back the fuck off because they are causing more problems than they are helping. It would be far more dangerous for me to try to leave and go through the mainland than it is for me to stay here. The military enforced curfew is a pain in the ass and very pointless here. I guess that my main point is that yes I am okay here, for the time being. We are starting to feel the ripples here and yes we are starting to get a bit nervous. I do believe that the best thing for me to do is stay here.
This, to me, is a sure sign of clumsy censorship or a DoS attack against La Prensa within Nicaragua that is taking place as I write.
The subject of that apparently blocked article and precís are:
Asesor no notó nada extraño en Argüello
Un asesor del alcalde de Managua, Alexis Argüello, aseguró esta mañana que estuvo anoche con él y que no percibió que éste tuviera algún problema emocional. Según los primeros informes extraoficiales, el tres veces campeón mundial de boxeo, se suicidó de un disparo en el pecho poco antes de la dos de la madrugada. "
which, translated, is:
Adviser did not notice anything strange about Argüello
An adviser to the mayor of Managua, Alexis Arguello, said this morning that last night was with him and that he had not felt any emotional problems. According to early unofficial reports, the three times world boxing champion, committed suicide by a shot in the chest shortly before the two in the morning.
I really hate the word "coup". Usually it implies a military takeover, sometimes foreign backed, such as the one that took place in Guatamala in 1954, or the one that toppled Honduras's government in 1963.
What appears to have just happened in Honduras - the ouster of highly disliked (25% approval rating) president Manuel Zelaya - by order of the Supreme Court, Congress, AND the military - does not look very similar to that (at least from first appearances)
The rhetoric is being spewed by a peculiar alliance of just about every other politician in the world - left, right, it doesn't matter. It seems to boil down to: just about everybody holding power can agree on one thing: Arresting (and deporting) a president who clearly is attempting to violate his country's constitution, is wrong.
The irony of that observation is what is compelling me to write today - I confess to being amused by watching each ideology put their individual spin on things:
Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution, which forbids any former chief executive from being re-elected President, states that any citizen who proposes reforming this law, and any others who support such a person directly or indirectly, are to immediately "cease carrying out" any public office. The Constitution, however, establishes no process for impeaching or removing a president. Furthermore Article 42, Section 5 of the Constitution states that citizenship is lost for "inciting, promoting or supporting the continuation or the reelection of the President of the Republic." According to the same article, revoking citizenship for this reason requires a court sentence and then a government order ("acuerdo gubernativo").
The intended referendum was rejected by Congress, the attorney general, and the top electoral body, and ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, provoking a serious political crisis in the country. The National Congress passed a law forbidding holding referenda less than 180 days before the next general election; as the next elections are set for 29 November 2009, this invalidates the referendum bid. In addition, the Honduran Constitution expressly forbids amendments or reforms altering presidential terms or allowing re-election.
Congress had begun discussing how to impeach Zelaya but lacked a clear constitutional process to do so. Congress, including most of Zelaya's own party, had voted for an urgent investigation of whether Zelaya had violated the constitution and even whether he was "mentally incapable" to hold office.
(I note that the wikipedia article - several hours after I wrote this - bears little resemblance to the article I first linked to. I wish I'd taken a full snapshot of it then. Among other things, it used to have a translation of the referendum in it.The debate inside wikipedia is also very informative.)
Arrest, deportation, and same day release in a neutral country, like Costa Rica, I don't know if that was legal or not, by Honduras law. I've been trying to figure out the proper procedure for arresting a president for decades now... but they didn't have a procedure in place for impeachment, much less arrest.
Deportation (and the resultant freedom of movement, ability to organise, and mouth off to the press) seems like a pretty sane alternative to those options, however one with far less than ideal characteristics if you didn't believe that the truth was on your side.
Recent polls show support for Zelaya in Honduras has dropped to around 30 percent in recent months.
"Honduran constitutions are generally held to have little bearing on Honduran political reality because they are considered aspirations or ideals rather than legal instruments of a working government. The constitution essentially provides for the separation of powers among the three branches of government, but in practice the executive branch generally dominates both the legislative and judicial branches of government".
the action taken against Mr. Zelaya harkens back to a dark period in the region's history, when military coups were common... today, coups are not seen as acceptable under any circumstance and that international pressure likely will prevail.
"I am a Honduran citizen who feels extremely proud of the measures take by National Congress, The Supreme Court of Justice and our military forces. Mr. Zelaya had been warned many times that his actions were breaking laws of the constitution. There has been no "coup" in Honduras. Military Forces were simply following orders from the Supreme Court of Justice because Mr. Zelaya refused to back down from his plans. The poll is an illegal act benefiting only Zelaya and no one else. Good riddance!"
"I'm a Honduran resident, we are ok, it's true the situation in my country is not the best, but most of the people support the position here, we DON'T WANT Manuel Zelaya as a president again, during his period he has only been manipulating people, blackmailing ppl, threatening to dismiss state employees if they not support him, and many things that just people that we live in Honduras know...please take a look at the real situation not the lies that he says to the world."
"We're relieved that Zelaya was removed from the presidency. We´ve lived weeks of anguish watching how the ex president of Honduras acting as he was above the law, wondering what would happen to our democracy and to our country. If the President of Honduras thinks that he is above the Constitution, then what happens to the rest of the leaders? Are they above the law as well? Democracy has won, and the intl. community has to listen to the will of the people of Honduras. Don’t victimize Zelaya!"
How this plays out is going to be very interesting.
Update 8AM, Jun 30:
I am not going to change the text of what I wrote last night, although I may go back and clean up a few phrases and find more cites today, in addition to commenting further on this page. I find history changing under my fingers, as what happened in wikipedia in the last 24 hours, somewhat disturbing. The process by which wikipedia goes about that is transparent, open, and fascinating... and like wikipedia, I believe that "when the facts change, so does my opinion", but, in part, my blog is my journal of what I thought, when. Editing what I already wrote does not fit the wikipedia model in that respect.
Although I make it clear in the article and links above that I'm not particularly fond of Zelaya, or the CIA, or coups, or the ideological press, or the treatment of Madoff, and quite a few other things, I would like to re-iterate my main points were, 1) The multiple ironies involved and 2) the role of spin, and (indirectly) meme shifts, which I wrote about extensively in the last American election.
A comment (by a Honduran college student) on the wikipedia talk page put it best:
There should had been a lawful process to kick Zelaya. Without it, we lost the favour of EVERYONE in the world that doesn't live in Honduras. That means we are open to the invasion of nondemocratic countries that have close ties with Zelaya (understand Venezuela). BUT! With the help of every other country. So, democratic people (USA, Mexico, France, etc) will be fighting a democratic war against people that wanted to maintain democracy, and will reinstitute a anti-democratic leader.
Final statement: The problem is that it is easy to recognize armed assaults on the Rule of Law. But, when this Rule of Law is attacked without arms? When it's attacked with corruption, with helding of budget, corruption at the ballots (I know first hand, just, if I said something, they would kill me), and continuism? Why doesn't anybody recognize that, although the FORM of the coup was completely wrong, the REASON of the coup was completely right? Why would they support a unlawful president?"
2) The role of the media, and "spin"
Two competing memes are in play. 1) "coup" - and 2) "the referendum was about allowing the president to be re-elected"
Most newspapers reports have converged on these two memes as shorthand.
The Honduran government disputes the first, as do some bloggers inside the country (even if no-one else outside the country does, 24 hours later), and the second was not the text of the referendum. From that always helpful wikipedia talk page...
“¿Está usted de acuerdo que en las elecciones generales de noviembre de 2009 se instale una cuarta urna para decidir sobre la convocatoria a una Asamblea Nacional Constituyente que apruebe una nueva constitución política?”
Translated: "Do you agree for a Fourth Urn to be installed on the November 2009 general elections in order to decide whether to call or not for a National Constitutional Convention to approve a new Political Constitution?" -- so the question is not: Do you want the current president to be re-elected?
It is interesting to compare DailyKos's (A progressive-liberal) views of Honduras - and Iran. This article, although not representative of dailykos's views as a whole, was interesting, as were the comments.
More on this in a bit, I need a few more cites from more varying perspectives.
Update: Jun 30, 5:00 PM I haven't had power all day, a major storm hit this morning.....
Update: Midnight A lot has happened today, everything from the UN voting unaminously to endorse Zelaya's continued presidency to multiple protests on both sides, to me losing contact with the one friend I have in Honduras for the last 24 hours, entirely.
Probably the most elequent person inside Tegucigalpa, in her own way, was Figgylicious yelling back at the TV. I keep wondering when or if the MSM will try and follow up on the thousands of blog writers and commenters I've seen typing their hearts out.
I haven't been writing about space a lot recently. Progress in that field is slow, so I figure that only writing about it once every 3-6 months will suffice. After September it looks to be an exciting time in space again, with the Falcon 9 scheduled to fly, as is a primitive Ares. Rumor has it that SpaceShipTwo will be in drop testing by then too....
This July should be good, with the 5th Falcon scheduled to fly sometime then.
Presently there is a lot of political manoeuvring around finding an alternative to Bush's VSE that the latest crop of politicians can put their stamp on. Much seems up for grabs, ranging from outright cancellation of Ares-1, to extending shuttle life, to swapping engines to the SSME in the VSE, to refocusing on getting to Mars via Phobos or the asteroids and comets.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 continues to make steady progress. 6 of the engines have checked out, the first Dragon capsule has been built, and Elon musk has been talking up his story in front of the Augustine commission. (video here)
1) Mike Griffin's departure from NASA occurred 6 months back, and a replacement, Charles Bolden was named. Although the two next-gen R&D projects (Constellation and Ares) are a mess, the rest of NASA is functioning as well as it has in a long time - All Griffin's shuttle missions were great successes. The magnificent Hubble repair mission puts a final feather in the cap of Griffin's NASA, with a second shuttle, ready on the pad for a rescue mission, also an impressive feat. Numerous instrument missions were launched without a hitch, even including Dawn, which was flying with nearly obsolescent hardware. The COTS program, also, appears to be successful.
(For the record, I opposed both the Dawn and the Hubble missions)
Griffin, the technologist, was better than his bean-counting predecessor by a country kilometer. Let's hope his shuttle pilot successor can navigate Congress and future NASA R&D as well as Griffin got our existing space assets to LEO.
Aldrin concludes: "But for this dream to happen, NASA needs to dramatically change its ways. Its myopic Vision for Space Exploration will never get us to Mars. Progressive innovation and enlightened international cooperation will. President Obama and Congress need to set NASA right - and soon."
Aldrin's separate vision for space exploration dovetails more closely with mine (or rather, mine dovetails with his).
3) China - it would take more time today than I have to write about China... try this for updates. They are going to Mars this year, and plan to launch over fifteen satellites this year, too. Aldrin seems far more concerned with Russia than China, for some reason...
4) Europe's ESA launched Herschel, and the first images came back recently, the resolution (right) appears far superior to the American Spitzer telescope.
5) I have been patiently waiting to see if more Apohele asteroids would be confirmed. They are very difficult to detect using our existing methods. In addition to their potential hazard, they appear to be easy to reach from a delta-v perspective, and given their distance from the sun, exploration using solar powered devices appears cheap and effective, although heat is a problem - 163693 Atira, a 2km in diameter asteroid, apparently has a temperature of 323 Kelvin (50 Celsius, 122 degrees F)!
I'd like to see an instrument mission launched, call it: the Inner Solar System Explorer (ISSE), which would look for and at asteroids and dead comets in the region between Venus and Earth, looking back at space from well within Earth's orbit.
Perhaps it would be able to get close-up looks at a few of the hundreds of rocks passing through.