Posts tagged science

Put a candle out with “air”

What you will need:
Baking soda
White vinegar
Measuring cups
One or more candles
Lighter or matches
Stable flat surface
Tall pitcher or large glass
* Adult supervision

The Set Up

First, prepare the baking soda and vinegar. Measure out about 1/4 cup of baking soda and around 1/2 cup of vinegar (if you’re container is smaller use smaller amount to avoid a mess). Once you’ve done that, set them aside and you can light the candle.

Next, mix the baking soda and vinegar. Pour the baking soda in first and then slowly add the vinegar. This will help keep it from bubbling over. Once the reaction has settled down you’re ready to put the candle out.

The Experiment

Take the container and make a pouring motion directly above the flame as if you were pouring liquid onto it.

Note: Do not pour the liquid onto the flame.
It might take a little practice with your aim but the flame should go out. You’ll know when you’re close as it will usually flicker before going out. If it doesn’t then you can mix more baking soda and vinegar and try again. If you had trouble getting the flame to go out, the next section might help.

What’s Happening?

The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid (5% usually). It’s this acid that reacts with the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). The reaction, as you can see, can be pretty vigorous. The byproducts of the reaction are sodium acetate, water and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the one we’re interested in because it is what puts the fire out.
Carbon dioxide is heavier than the surrounding air and this allows us to trap it in a tall container and pour it onto the flame as if pouring a liquid. The carbon dioxide gas deprives the candle of oxygen and extinguishes the flame.

Beaker Freaks Out!

I promise this won’t happen!

Extra Credit

Try putting out multiple candles at once. Can you think of another way to cut off the oxygen supply to the candle using the materials on hand? Remember to ask your parents for help!

All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind. – Martin H. Fischer

* Remember, safety first! Children should have adult supervision when doing this.

He’s a nifty video showing it in action

 

Science. The Real Why… For Me

I love science but I am not a scientist.  I’m not one of those cliché guys/gals that just says they like science because nerds and geeks are the “in” thing.  I was well into it before that.  I will say that I do like that movement and hope it lasts.  The reason, for me, runs very deep.  I will explain.

Science is not some mystical subject.  It’s not some unobtainable understanding for the layman.  It isn’t for the elite few with lots of money, luck or both.  Science, unlike Justice, is not blind.  It is, or can be, all seeing and best of all it is one simple word: understanding.  You see you don’t have to have degrees and PhDs to get it.  It’s true that science and it’s inner workings require a lot of discipline to know and understand but fundamentally it does not.  I’ll explain.

The Sun's WorkingsTo know

As I said, it’s about understanding.  Here’s an example:

How does the Sun work?  If you’re not sure that’s ok.  If you’re an astrophysicist then I should hope you’d know.  The thing is, it’s simple to explain how it works.  That is, you can tell the average citizen how it works and you’ll see the light bulb go off in their head. Pun.

I won’t leave you hanging so here’s a rough explanation:

So the Sun works on a basic principle; nuclear fusion.  It’s some 75% hydrogen, 24% helium and 1% other stuff.  The intense (26,000,000F) heat and pressure are perfect conditions for hydrogen atoms to fuse into a heavier helium atom.  To simplify this a little, imagine that hydrogen weighs 1 and you add another 1 to it.  You might expect the helium to come out as weighing 2 but it doesn’t.  It weighs a little less.  So what happened? That mass it lost was converted into energy.  That energy is the heat and light we feel and see everyday.  The fusion process is in harmonious balance with the gravitational forces that would otherwise cause the Sun to collapse in on itself.

See? It’s pretty a pretty simple concept.  Yes, it’s way way more complex on a deeper level but that’s plenty easy for anyone to understand.

Boy is that cat pissed!Lifting The Veil Of Uncertainty

The thing is, people have to be willing to learn this stuff.  Some people are extremely narrow in their views and some view science as irrelevant.  That is a dangerous position to take.  Why?  Our world is more and more dependent on technology.  We cannot let the advancement of science and technology take a back seat to primitive tendencies that humans have an amazing knack for.

Ok, so the real why.  I’m at that point you see.  It’s not about “I know this and you don’t so neener neener!” No, absolutely not.  If anyone boasts on their intellectual superiority then they’re no better than the very people that I loathe.  Science gives you a broad view on the world.  It gives you a broad view on every single thing in the Universe.  You don’t look at a person and think “they are different/inferior to me…” you think “they are different and that’s fascinating…”  With the idea and concept of science, your view becomes unbiased.

You suddenly realize that you’re comprised of particles; that make up atoms; that make up molecules; that make up organic compounds; that form cells; that form our bodies to start living in a town; in a county; in a state; in a country; on a continent; on a planet; in a solar system; in a galaxy; in a galactic cluster; in a super cluster in the Universe.  While we’re each unique, we’re also so very, very tiny.  I mean VERY tiny.  It’s humbling and it opens ones eyes to the reality of the world beyond literal imagination.  It’s so big and vast that one might argue “Why bother anyway?”  The answer is “Why not?”  If we stop now, then the human race is done for.  If we want to progress as a species (yes, that’s right, people from ALL walks of life) then we must progress towards a grander understanding.

The Elusive Utopian Dream

nevergonnagetthereI know, it’s a fools dream.  I tend to believe that most people are good at heart and maybe they do stupid things under pressure of a small number not so good people.  Even the people that aren’t so good would probably benefit from just a basic understanding of why “knowing” is important.  That’s what science is; to know.  It’s the understanding of the natural world of which we are all a part of.  There’s no escaping it.  If you’re reading this, you’re a part of something really big, even if you’re just a tiny piece of the puzzle.

It’s our duty as human beings to try and be kinder to each other and for that matter the Earth upon which we live.  It can be scary to stray from old and comfortable ideas but we’re all in this together whether we like it or not.  Degrading someone because they’re different does not advance our species in any way imaginable.  The same goes for putting yourself on a pedestal above others.

Where Do We Go From Here?

All of this was spurred on by reading comments/tweets on the web regarding young children that were either of a certain ethnicity or had a disorder.  The most vile stuff spewed forth from the fingertips of these people.  Stuff that, if they had to say in person, they’d never be able to do.  The ‘man behind the curtain’ effect gives people an increased audacity.  Don’t even GET me started on cyber bullying.  I’ll stop there for now.  This was just a big late night rant but I firmly stand behind this reasoning.  I don’t ‘believe’ or ‘think’ that an understanding of the natural world would be enlightening to our species; I know it would be.

As always, keep looking up.

 

Aliens are not here; not proven at least

Ok, this one is kind of fun.  Aliens. Where are they?  I mean they’re here right? Not so fast.  Lets get this science lesson out of the way right here and now.

Science!

This is the Milky Way:

Here you are and most of everything you can see in the night sky

Here you are and most of everything you can see in the night sky

So there you have it. That’s us tucked away in a tiny corner of that galaxy.  What is a galaxy? Ok, more science so strap in.  Here goes…

We live on Earth, which orbits a star we call the Sun.  Our entire solar system is a few billion miles across.  Pretty damn big but paltry compared to the big stuff.  So our solar system is what is orbiting the center of the milky way.  Now, Earth goes around the Sun once every 365 days.  Our Sun orbits the galactic center once every 250,000,000 years (give or take. I mean really, what’s million years here or there).  So in comparison, our solar system is a spec of dust.  The galaxy we live in is some 100,000 light years across.  That’s the distance light travels in ONE Earth calendar year.  It’s around 10,000,000,000,000km.  So to get the distance across the galaxy, add six more 0s to that number for a whopping 10,000,000,000,000,000,000km across.  Ten quadrillion kilometers (or 6 quadrillion miles).  Yes.  It’s a very very big place.  Even so it’s tiny compared to the Universe.  We’re done with that stuff for now.  We’ll focus on the local area around Earth.

Tinfoil hats at the ready!

Aliens, right?  They’re here, right?  Ok, like I said before – hold the phone.  Think about this.  The nearest star to us is 25 TRILLION miles away.  Traversing interstellar space would be a mind boggling feat.  We can’t even begin to comprehend the technologies that would have to be employed for such a journey.  The space craft would be massive, supporting generations of their species perhaps.  It’d also move very fast I imagine.  So that’s why the stories of bizarre lights and little zippy dots caught on camera really make me roll my eyes.  Think about it.

A vastly superior species shows up and they flit around in the sky at break neck speeds then disappear.  Uh, no.  Hell no.  I’ve traveled trillions of miles at the very least – I’m going to land and get shit done.  It doesn’t make any sense at all.  Ok, people that are abducted right, that’s a good one.  They recollect the entire story and what one thing is missing? The evidence is missing.  The actual physical evidence isn’t there.  NDT (Neil deGrasse Tyson) said it best “take an ash tray!”.  His point was that ANYTHING on a ship capable of interstellar travel would be worth looking at.  Where is this stuff? Oh it doesn’t exist.  Just like the aliens that took them in the first place.  Moving along to my final peeve.  Aliens were here long ago and vanished.

We’re awesome, screw this place and screw YOU!

Whoaaaaaa

Whoaaaaaa

So, yeah, they were here a long time ago and left.  In the process of leaving they also took every single bit of their technology with them.  Oh but they were nice enough to leave us stone carvings the vaguely depict that technology.  Gee, thanks, asses.  By the way, thanks for scaring the shit out of everyone with your damned outdated calendar.  Looking at you, Mayans.

Get on with it…

So that leaves me with this final note: I believe life exists elsewhere.  Mathematically speaking it just has to be true.  Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon and Oxygen are extremely abundant in the Universe.  We just happen to be made of those elements (minus the helium because that’s just for silly voices, duh).

Nope, nope, nope!

LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU

So in a Universe chock full o’ ingredients with hundreds of billions of stars JUST in our galaxy, we’d be fools to assume we’re special enough to be alone.  We are special as I think everything is special in its own way.  We’re amazing because we actually CAN understand the Universe if we open our minds to it.  That’s the real trick though.  Some people refuse to let that knowledge in or deny it.

I’m not saying you can’t have faith and all.  Sure, have it and let it better your life and those around you.  Just don’t suppress information.  Don’t feel you’re better or above someone else because your belief is better.  Just be a nice person, ok? Also, don’t deny that the study of the natural world is a good thing.  Of course it can be a double edged sword as can anything but most scientists have one common goal: to know.

Aliens might one day show up.  I can’t know that and no one can but I have a feeling we’ll HEAR them before we see them.  Even then, they won’t be talking to US but to themselves.  The profound thing is that if we listen in on a civilization that’s even 100 years more advanced than we are, imagine the implications of that.  Us + 100 years of advancement.  It’s exciting and a little scary to think about.  I’m optimistic that we’ll hear or observe something that indicates life elsewhere in the Universe but I think you can feel safe that the men in black won’t show up to zap your brain and make you forget the whole thing.

In the name of Science

A couple of weeks ago I posted something about being overweight, feeling run down, etc.  Well shortly afterwords I purchased my first ‘smart’ phone.   I can now track my caloric intake + exercise on the phone and it syncs up to a website so I can view the detailed information.

I’ve done this for the past two weeks and it’s been eye opening.  I was much more mindful of what I ate.  The intake was lower than it would have been but it wasn’t balanced.  My fat/carb/protein ratio is wonky.  I am way high on carbs, high-ish on fat and abysmal on protein.  This week my aim was to bring that more into balance.

Thus, the great experiment starts.  If I can thoroughly track my intake and expenditure then, theoretically, I can track my results with low margin of error.  Weight loss isn’t magic.  Waving a wand doesn’t work, unless it’s a 20lb wand that I wave vigorously for 20 minutes.  Don’t get me started on how insane the shake-weight looks!

Scienthusiast

What is that word?  I made it up.  It’s a mix of science + enthusiast.  I have to be careful though.  I’m NOT a scientist.  I’m enthusiastic about science.  So it’s what I’m going to start calling myself.

Yes, I’m a scienthusiast.

I guess it could be hyphenated  sci-enthusiast?  Maybe scien-thusiast?  Either way, I looked around Google briefly and it’s possible I thought of this before billions of other people?  Maybe it’s some horrible word that I shouldn’t use?  Nah, it’s great!  It describes me quite fittingly, I think.

So there, it’s my word.  It’s OK, you can borrow it.  I expect royalties though!

What to do with it?  Well, I think the world needs more enthusiasm for science.  Not to solve every lurking problem in our lives but to better understand how the world around us works.  Some mysteries shall remain so.  There are some exceedingly complex things in the Universe that aren’t really practical for everyone to know.  Unless it’s your job to know them, that is.

So, perhaps one of my goals in life is to help spread the word of science; Turn people on to how it all works, at a fundamental level.  It always goes back to a quote from Carl Sagan.  Roughly, we live in a world filled with technology.  So few people understand how it all works.  You don’t have to be a scientist to understand.  You simply have to open your mind to it.  When people learn how things actually work, it’s usually one of those “wow…” moments.

In saying that, remember, we can’t let go of reason for madness.  There was a time when people who studied the heavens feared retribution.  Good people were arrested, exiled or even killed for observing something knowable versus believing in something we couldn’t know.  It might seem insane to think that could happen again, but remember as a species, we’re very young.  There are a lot of good and honest people out there that speak for science.

Science is interesting because it changes based on observation.  In that sense, our view of the world has evolved, as our methods and tools have evolved.  The next few decades should prove to be very exciting in the realm of understanding.  How the forefathers of great thinkers should like to be alive today to have a glimpse at what we know.  How the great thinkers of our future might look back and realize how primitive our thinking was.  Each new generation stands on the shoulders of giants from the previous.

Life; space; time; the Cosmos; all encompassing and all waiting to be discovered and understood.  We are, in a way, how the Universe understands itself.

We, as the human race, must keep it going.  If we’re not to be scientists, we should at least be enthusiastic about science.

Enter: The Scienthusiast.

Space: The Final Frontier

No truer words can ever be spoken. The depths of the mind are indeed complex but not tangible. Our oceans floors hold many secrets about life and the history of our planet. Space is, for all intensive purposes, infinite. This isn’t technically true, to our knowledge. We estimate the true size of the Universe to be 93 Billion Light Years. So vast, in fact, that light from one side will never reach the other. This is why it is the pinnacle of exploration.

Eventually, one day, our destiny will lie somewhere in space. Perhaps another planetary body in this solar system or even another star system. That is, if we don’t blow ourselves up or suffer a cataclysmic set back.

The recent White House budget leaves me both concerned and yet I see an opportunity to be optimistic. I’ve been reading forums to get people’s takes on this. Mind you this is coming from people who work in the industry to plain people like myself. It is inevitable that politics gets head-firsted into the mix. I made that slang up. Nice eh? I guess there is no way around it but the degree of “This was Bush’s fault!”; “This was Griffin’s fault”; “Obama sux!” is just a little much.

I try my damnedest to take a middle road approach. I want science. I want exploration. I want a manned flight program (also termed HSF for Human Space Flight). At the moment we have it with Shuttle. In a few short months, it will be done and gone. What happens after that? We’re grounded, at least humans are.

Private companies are really getting into the mix of things which does excite me. Thing is, they’re a ways off from manned flight. It will happen, just not quite soon as we’d like.

Constellation is dead. I’m sad and yet I can understand this move. Some claim to have had the insight or ESP enough to know it was doomed from day one. I think having a pessimistic attitude isn’t very healthy. I don’t work in the industry, I follow it from a few rows back. I can say that my interest is important, not as a single entity but gathered with the combined interest of persons just like myself. Lack of public interest will kill a program deader than dead. Apollo anyone?

So, I thought about the cancellation of that program and realized, ok, maybe this isn’t as bad as it seems. I’m still icky feeling about not having the ability to put humans up but lets think this out. The downfall of Constellation was reaching back to the past to sort of re-use older technologies or at least model from them. What we need are newer technologies that are laced with our learnings of the past.

I think the biggest technological advance we need is in propulsion. Chemical rockets are dandy at getting heavy vehicles off the ground and into space but once in space you need something else. Something that’s less cumbersome, less prone to failure and has some oomph! These technologies should be researched to make Moon and Mars missions faster. Transit time to Mars is MONTHS. With new propulsion you could get it down to weeks; or so I’ve heard.

So, new technologies and private companies. I think I actually like the sound of that. Will they deliver? The talk is there, the walk is yet to come.

More notes on the budget are promised robotics and planetary missions. This is very exciting to me. Rovers are great tools for science! Just look at Spirit and Opportunity; they vastly outlived their planned mission time. If we had a mission going up every other month, I’d be stoked.

A final note about canceling the Moon program. Listen, we’ve been there before. Yes, actual people walked on the actual Moon. That program was initially a race; a race we would win. After that, you had a group of giddy scientists drooling over the prospect of getting some precious samples back. That came later and Apollo XVII was the final Moon-shot. We never spent more than a couple of days there. When we go back, we need to plan on STAYING for a length of time. Weeks, not days.

China wants to go there. Let them go, plant their flag and then come back. It’s a great thing for a country. I’d applaud them for it. As the saying goes “been there, done that”. It’s time we went a step ahead. That way when countries are landing and planting their flags, we can wave at them from our cozy Moon habitats. From that point we can build on and then eyeball Mars or even asteroids.

So, finally, it’s bittersweet for me. I wanted to see Constellation work but ultimately I want to see anything work. I’ll hold on the promise of some serious R&D and science missions. I’ll hold on to private companies keeping us in orbit too. It’s a big time shake up of things. Perhaps it was needed.

Obama says we need to get young people into science and math. I couldn’t agree more. If he truly means this then he needs to deliver on this budget. NASA has inspired generations of people. Let’s keep it that way.

If this flops as a dud and our space program is left floundering for years, I’ll be one mad space cadet. >:o

The Scale of the Universe [Updated]

This is a very clever little bit of flash put together by someone whom I have no idea who they are. All I know is that the site was blocked at work. I went in and nabbed the SWF file and I’m going to place it on my blog. You still have to endure the Newgrounds logo to see the animation.

[swfobj src=”http://static.onemorelevel.com/games3/scale-of-the-universe-2.swf” alt=”Scale of the Universe” width=”640″ height=”440″]

Use the keyboard to move left or right for a smoother experience. The largest things in the Universe are mind boggling. The really fascinating stuff is all of the tiny things that go into making the world around us. You can see how small a neutrino is for instance; and why it passes unhindered through just about everything (including entire planets!).

The music is very pleasant too. 🙂

Venus and Mercury sitting in a tree…

Ok, maybe not sitting IN a tree but I had to dodge trees to be able to see them both.  I went out with my D3000 and snapped a few pics with the standard lens.  I can bet a telephoto or even a cam attached to a telescope would take a great pic.  So long as the field of view allowed them both in the same photo!

So here is a smallish version:

Venus & Mercury

Together, at last!

And here is the higher resolution version clickety

Large Hadron Collider

This is COOL!

I wanted to get that out of the way.  Well when they first fired this thing up over a year ago it didn’t go so well.  Something broke so they had to go back in and fix it.  This isn’t like replacing an alternator on a car.  The circumference of the collider is 27km.  On top of that it is just insanely complex.  Well they worked and worked and yesterday it went back online.  I watched some of the webcast.  It was great to see all the people there celebrating as it appeared to work as planned.

Well, what IS the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  Ok, I’m not really smart enough to type it all up and have it work.  So I’m going to take it from the actual site itself.   Here are two explanations:

Simple: Take two beams of particles (protons or ions) and send them whizzing around a circular track at 99% the speed of light.  Merge the beams near a detector.  Watch to see what happens when these little particle smack into one another.

More detailed:

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.


Two beams of subatomic particles called ‘hadrons’ – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.


There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what’s for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model of particle physics has served physicists well as a means of understanding the fundamental laws of Nature, but it does not tell the whole story. Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.

What I found interesting was the power at which is operates.  Right now it’s going to 7TeV or Tera-electronvolts.  Sounds insane!  Though that’s about the same kinetic energy of a mosquito in flight, from what I read.  So, I suppose you might not even feel the beam hitting your hand.  I want to clarify, that having a ‘few’ particles pass through you isn’t a big deal.  Having them pass through you in the trillions IS bad.  I understand that’s the rate at which these hadrons will be passing each other; trillions per second. Whoa!

Other cool LHC facts from their site:

At full power, trillions of protons will race around the LHC accelerator ring 11 245 times a second, travelling at 99.99% the speed of light. Two beams of protons will each travel at a maximum energy of 7 TeV (tera-electronvolt), corresponding to head-to-head collisions of 14 TeV. Altogether some 600 million collisions will take place every second.


The data recorded by each of the big experiments at the LHC will fill around 100 000 dual layer DVDs every year. To allow the thousands of scientists scattered around the globe to collaborate on the analysis over the next 15 years (the estimated lifetime of the LHC), tens of thousands of computers located around the world are being harnessed in a distributed computing network called the Grid.

Safety?  Yes it’s safe.  The bottom line is that collisions like these occur in space all of the time.  I think you have as good a chance of passing through a wall with both you and the wall in one piece as this machine creating a killer black hole.  So, don’t worry about it.  Also, if it DID create a killer black hole, well, no one will be around to care, eh? 🙂

If you made it this far, I commend you and you deserve cool linkage.  Here is your gift, a link to see some of the data coming from LHC while it is online.  This. is. cool.

What will happen?

Lets find out! ( I did not draw this it links to where I got it from)

Read more here if you are REALLY interested

Space: The Final Frontier

No truer words can ever be spoken.  The depths of the mind are indeed complex but not tangible.  Our oceans floors hold many secrets about life and the history of our planet.  Space is, for all intensive purposes, infinite.  This isn’t technically true, to our knowledge.  We estimate the true size of the Universe to be 93 Billion Light Years.   So vast, in fact, that light from one side will never reach the other.  This is why it is the pinnacle of exploration.

Eventually, one day, our destiny will lie somewhere in space.  Perhaps another planetary body in this solar system or even another star system.  That is, if we don’t blow ourselves up or suffer a cataclysmic set back.

The recent White House budget leaves me both concerned and yet I see an opportunity to be optimistic.  I’ve been reading forums to get people’s takes on this.  Mind you this is coming from people who work in the industry to plain people like myself.  It is inevitable that politics gets head-firsted into the mix.  I made that slang up.  Nice eh?  I guess there is no way around it but the degree of  “This was Bush’s fault!”; “This was Griffin’s fault”; “Obama sux!” is just a little much.

I try my damnedest to take a middle road approach.  I want science.  I want exploration.  I want a manned flight program (also termed HSF for Human Space Flight).  At the moment we have it with Shuttle.  In a few short months, it will be done and gone.  What happens after that?  We’re grounded, at least humans are.

Private companies are really getting into the mix of things which does excite me.  Thing is, they’re a ways off from manned flight.  It will happen, just not quite soon as we’d like.

Constellation is dead.  I’m sad and yet I can understand this move.  Some claim to have had the insight or ESP enough to know it was doomed from day one.  I think having a pessimistic attitude isn’t very healthy.  I don’t work in the industry, I follow it from a few rows back.  I can say that my interest is important, not as a single entity but gathered with the combined interest of persons just like myself.  Lack of public interest will kill a program deader than dead.  Apollo anyone?

So, I thought about the cancellation of that program and realized, ok, maybe this isn’t as bad as it seems.  I’m still icky feeling about not having the ability to put humans up but lets think this out.  The downfall of Constellation was reaching back to the past to sort of re-use older technologies or at least model from them.  What we need are newer technologies that are laced with our learnings of the past.

I think the biggest technological advance we need is in propulsion.  Chemical rockets are dandy at getting heavy vehicles off the ground and into space but once in space you need something else.  Something that’s less cumbersome, less prone to failure and has some oomph!  These technologies should be researched to make Moon and Mars missions faster.  Transit time to Mars is MONTHS.  With new propulsion you could get it down to weeks; or so I’ve heard.

So, new technologies and private companies.  I think I actually like the sound of that.  Will they deliver? The talk is there, the walk is yet to come.

More notes on the budget are promised robotics and planetary missions.  This is very exciting to me.  Rovers are great tools for science!  Just look at Spirit and Opportunity; they vastly outlived their planned mission time.  If we had a mission going up every other month, I’d be stoked.

A final note about canceling the Moon program.  Listen, we’ve been there before.  Yes, actual people walked on the actual Moon.  That program was initially a race; a race we would win.  After that, you had a group of giddy scientists drooling over the prospect of getting some precious samples back.  That came later and Apollo XVII was the final Moon-shot.  We never spent more than a couple of days there.  When we go back, we need to plan on STAYING for a length of time.  Weeks, not days.

China wants to go there.  Let them go, plant their flag and then come back.  It’s a great thing for a country.  I’d applaud them for it.  As the saying goes “been there, done that”.  It’s time we went a step ahead.  That way when countries are landing and planting their flags, we can wave at them from our cozy Moon habitats.  From that point we can build on and then eyeball Mars or even astreriods.

So, finally, it’s bittersweet for me.  I wanted to see Constellation work but ultimately I want to see anything work.  I’ll hold on the promise of some serious R&D and science missions.  I’ll hold on to private companies keeping us in orbit too.  It’s a big time shake up of things.  Perhaps it was needed.

Obama says we need to get young people into science and math.  I couldn’t agree more.  If he truly means this then he needs to deliver on this budget.  NASA has inspired generations of people.  Let’s keep it that way.

If this flops as a dud and our space program is left floundering for years, I’ll be one mad space cadet. >:o

Go to Top