Posted tagged ‘Technology’

WANTED: A SciTech Revival

November 12, 2011

The ECO-FANDANGO that is going on right now is a save Big Money dance that makes sure not to disturb the profits-above-all-else motives of corporate America. Most corporations are flush with cash and are coasting along on set, big-bank supported business strategies that are enhanced by lowered worker populations. Status Quo is the rule and gets solid political support. Meanwhile, America is in an socio-economic decay cycle that will eventually undermine the status quo and all of us.

America’s rise to prominence and world leadership came about from a combination of brave, risk-taking innovators and a bold new growth of both science and technology. Right now the fiscal crisis hoax is directly seeking to discourage risk taking and definitely a turn away from aggressive science and technology advances. This is coupled with actions by Big- Money duped politicians to continue to protect corporate profit growth at the expense of employment and our natural resources conservation. Another very active example of our dedicated self-destruction.

SCI-TECH TO THE RESCUE:  First, corporations must decide to loosen their grip on their cash reserves and begin to invest in new technology. Secondly, the Federal government must inspire those corporate risk-takers by offering earned credits applied to their fully restored tax obligations. The elimination of all the tax breaks and other fiscal benefits we taxpayers provide corporations will make the chance to earn reasonable tax-breaks highly attractive. This is accomplished by reinvesting in our sci-tech revival . If done properly this becomes an attractive incentive for big business to again behave like real American industrial innovators. Additional credits can be earned by providing sci-tech employee training for those job applicants which corporations currently list as unqualified for current job openings. ‘

So what are some examples of this sci-tech revival. We will look at three key areas. They are (1) new energy systems, (2)breakthrough transportation technology, and (3)natural resource conservation. We, our government and our corporations need to understand that there is an incredible sci-tech research and development resource just waiting to be unfettered and financially supported. We must not ignore it and its almost instant availability. Let’s start the revival.

1. NEW ENERGY SYSTEMS:  Right now we are in a diddle mode by toying with systems (wind, bio, current solar, etc) that either by themselves or jointly are not going to meet both current and future demands for energy. Yes, solar could grow as a high resource, but it has its limitations as a sole resource. If immense solar array systems are linked with thorium based nuclear power systems we could very will establish a safe and fossil-fuel free energy generation, transmission and storage system. To achieve this we need to gain considerable maturity in the design, constructions and safe operation of this composite energy system. We CAN do it, We HAVE the sci-tech skills and wherewithal to start now. Status quo stalling, however,  imperils this entire energy future. In this regard, we must acknowledge that the delays to move in this direction are not precautionary, they are political obeisance to big-oil and big-money forces. We must break that choke-hold.

2.BREAKTHROUGH TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY: Again we are currently dancing around with energy efficient transportation systems. The diddle rules. Yes, there is a mild increase in both US and foreign development of electric vehicles, but we have yet to commit to infrastructure changes that will support a fully EV based transportation model. Additionally, although there are musings about fuel-cell and hydrogen powered systems this again is in diddle mode. A solid program that seeks to achieve a mixed migration from pure EV to EV+FuelCell technology is a possible strategy. Regardless, unless, as mentioned above, we can break the Big-Oil /Big-Money choke-hold on SciTech progress we are stranded in petrol-quicksand with no rescue in sight.

They, being the media, say we are too timid, too intimidated, and too indifferent to push forward. Well if we do not push forward we will surely FALL BACKWARDS!  In that case, shank’s mare will be our most innovative means of transportation.

3. NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION: What? Where is the Sci-Tech challenge here? Well, it could be the greatest and most rewarding that we can conceive. No, watering the flowers is pretty well accomplished, but dumping industrial offal on those flowers (Flowers in this case should be seen as our entire environment aka Planet Earth) kills them and most likely stifles all life in the area. This must be stopped.

Oh no, here we go with more restrictive rules and regulations and many marches of protest against polluters. Alas, more diddle! This is not to say that environmental protection by legislation and regulation is not important, but the real challenge is to find ways to give the polluters methods to produce and NOT POLLUTE! This is a sci-tech challenge, and for it to be effective it must be fully encouraged and financially supported by both government and private industry. The rewards to all parties, including Mom Nature, are immense. Here are just a few areas of research and development challenges and opportunities:

  • Just how hard have we looked at possible by-products from many industrial wastes?
  • Have we really determined the very best synthetic fertilizer for the farming industry that grows produce and does not produce stinking, life-stifling run-off?  No way?  Are you really sure about that?
  • CO and CO2 are generally bothersome, but as researchers already know they also are chemically useful. So why don’t we find more ways to pull them from our big polluters and put them to use for all of us? Stick the dollar incentive under our noses and guess what; VOILA; progress!  This is another critical joint government and private industry support activity.
  • GREEN is critical, and again sci-tech has and can produce answers to ways for we humans to co-exist on this planet while keeping it alive and well. Doing so definitely keeps us alive and well too. This latter point is conveniently ignored by both politicians and the BIGGIES.
SUMMARY: We already have the power to take these and many other progressive steps that will enrich our lives while protecting and preserving our home. Why, then, do we allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into accepting that the status quo is best for all and that progress is a hoax except where it benefits the BIGGIES? Have we given up on ourselves and on our amazing capacity to innovate and move all of us forward? If we are, in fact, giving up them we are denying our purpose as humans in the Cosmos. Well, don’t give up unless you are ready to simply let the status quo snuff out all your hopes and your life and the lives of your offspring – our future.


June 30, 2011

Ages hence will remember our century not for its barbaric wars, but for its major contributions to fundamental scientific knowledge…..Whatever the scientific discoveries of future ages, they will be based upon the body of twentieth century science.” 

From: “Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science” by Alan Cromer ISBN 0-19-509636- 3(Pbk.)

When the brothers Robert and Courtland Gross hocked just about everything they owned to raised the $40,000+ to buy Lockheed from the Scottish Loughead brothers it was a very bold, very innovative move. One could say they definitely used uncommon sense, considering the fledgling world of aviation at that time. I personally hope, they regularly shake hands, even hug, as they look down on their dream today.

When that young, bold airmail pilot, Charles Lindbergh decided to enter the contest for a transoceanic flight to Paris, he had a dream far beyond that of winning the challenge money. Like the Gross brothers, Lindbergh was motivated to boost aviation as an up and coming means of safe transportation that also would spell great opportunity for humankind. When he declared he would enter the contest as a solo pilot in a single engine plane he used brave, stunning uncommon sense to fulfill his dream. I hope he and the Gross brothers, whom he knew well, gleefully join in frequent celebration as they look over the results of their efforts.

The above stories are just two examples of many, many cases where bold entrepreneurs have used uncommon sense to make dreams and ideas into productive reality. Well, right now in this country, we are running low on uncommon sense and running high or finger pointing and blame dodging which produces screeching halts in our reputation for striking, and successful innovation. Yes, the political cries calling for common sense in this and that is a daily diatribe. Once in awhile we here a faint whisper calling for more uncommon sense. The problem is, the investor, the bold entrepreneurs of the Gross and Loughead brothers type are today playing with paper (stocks and bonds, etc) rather than dreams and ideas. We have essentially ceded to EurAsia (Europe, India, China, etc) the uncommon sense modus operandi. Interesting enough, in America the continuing examples of that uncommon sense rests with those early pioneers that produced Lockheed, Boeing, Northrup, Ryan, Douglas and many other dreamers. So, why have we given up on what we do best – innovation?

When the shuttle Atlantis launches next month in its final flight and the closing chapter of NASA’s glorious, innovative shuttle program, the book of uncommon sense stands the chance of being slammed shut. Yes, just like in those earlier, innovative days, there are young design and development companies out there struggling to break out on their own. They are trying to do this in a national atmosphere of fear. Fear of deficit an arch enemy of innovation. This barrier is exacerbated by political opportunists who see the deficit as the lever to bring the nation into a sharp turn backwards. If this should come to pass then both common and uncommon sense will be locked away. The best and saving solution is an immediate burst of uncommon sense, or more practically speaking, an outburst of innovation.

Now, President Obama has spoken eloquently about the importance of innovation in our future and as a mechanism to invigorate our economy, but he too is hampered by the deficit aura. This is where the breakout must occur. The White House and Congress must exercise uncommon sense to defy the deficit by directly stimulating innovation in our automobile, energy, science research, and space systems activities. Yes, there are other areas, but these areas will respond most quickly to uncommon sense by exercising it themselves to design, develop, and discover new paths of growth for this nation and for humankind.  We need:

  • Fuel efficient cars – not legislation, but actual vehicles that use other energy sources efficiently and inexpensively.
  • To accept the responsibility of nuclear power generation as the greenest method of high energy production. The challenge is not design, the challenge is to innovate safety and endurance.
  • To discourage political opportunists who seek to stifle science not recognizing that our future existence depends on a broadly aggressive scientific research environment.
  • To prevent the stifling of our exploration of our solar system and deep space. To ignore this urgent matter is to essentially return humankind to darkened caves at a time when our continuing evolution demands that we seek understanding of all that surrounds us.
  • To acknowledge the warnings and cries for help from our environment and in doing so begin to recognize that a safe and living Earth is the most vital resource we have for our continuing existence.
So, uncommon sense, long in use to move humankind beneficially forward must not be discouraged or disabled. If  boosted by government support and allowed its fullest expression, we will see that deficit dragon diminish in pace with the increased innovation that will set us free again. Mr.  President, Congress, don’t tell us about it, DO IT,  get uncommon and sensible now and save this nation.

IMAGE CREDIT: Wright brothers first flight at KittyHawk, NC


June 7, 2011

Well lunacy got its first use as a way to describe the suspected effects of our Moon (lovely Luna) on human behavior.  Luna, of course is the Roman Moon Goddess and it did not take long for early philosophers to assign strange human mental behaviors to the work of Lady Luna and lunatic has been with us ever since.

There is no denying the many influences Luna has had on human history. One could fill an entire library with all the scientific studies, novels, plays, movies and music that talk about or talk to our Moon. For most of us, all the above represent deep expressions of endearment we all feel for Luna. In fact the Moon affects most of life. Wolves and dogs howl at Luna, owls hoot hello, bats dance in her light, some exotic flowers wait to bloom at her bidding, and legions of tiny creatures break into boisterous song upon her appearance. So, should we Earthlings be satisfied with just one, brief visit with Luna? Can we really be satisfied with that fleeting assignation and go galloping off to Mars and beyond?

Now some serious space exploration advocates believe a return to the Moon at this point would be a bit loony when there is Mars out there waiting for us. Well, we will go to Mars, the important thing is how we go, and how well we stay there. The establishment of a fully active and fully international Lunar Research Base will offer a host of scientific knowledge that will directly affect all of our future space explorations. There are cosmic messages waiting to be discovered and read on Luna that relate to the evolution of our solar system, and most likely to the development of exo-systems like the newly discovered GL581 system. So, returning to Luna with an international team would be what we see as Lunar Smarts. Nothing loony and filled with both scientific and promising commercial discoveries that will hold promises for both research and private development.

There will be obstacles, even life threatening ones, as well as revelations about humans existing functionally in the rather unfriendly environments of Luna and certainly Mars. What is learned in working on Luna will better ensure a safe and highly productive exploration of Mars and beyond. All of these lessons will be provided at a lower cost, than a gallop to Mars that is fueled more by “guts and glory” than by careful and concentrated scientific investigations. Of equal importance, is that while we are learning on Luna, when serious things happen that need rescue, it will come quickly whereas on Mars, it most likely will not come at all.  This development will not deter our exploration of Mars, but when we do make the trip we will go with extensive Lunar foreknowledge and an established rescue protocol based on time and distance from Earth.

Lastly, if we bypass Luna, others will not, and we will immediately lose any leverage about what should happen both scientifically and commercially on our only Moon. Those kinds of assessments and decisions should be derived and followed internationally. We can assure that only if we, this nation, take the initiative to bring it about in an orderly manner. If we wait and in a startled and rushed response seek to resolve that problem. it most likely will fail.

Brave men, dedicated support staff, tons of money were spent to visit Luna. Let us not waste all of that great achievement by casting aside those first, magnificent steps across the wide, wide river of space. Luna awaits with open arms, a greater supply of water than we initially thought, and as stated above a glorious and important history lesson about how we all came to be. So lets be Lunar Smart and set sail, soon, for lovely, lovely Luna.

IMAGE CREDIT: Image of Orion spacecraft approaching Luna courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

WE WILL GO THERE, But First….!

April 8, 2011

The “October Sky” style youthful achievement shown in the above video is a clear statement of the deep commitment to space exploration that we must achieve to again venture forth. Human spaceflight will evolve as a combination of government, private industry and both human and robotic astronauts. Right now, in this year 2011, it all looks only slightly brighter than dim. Most importantly, real and awesome success will come from the unity of effort of government and industry as well as with our international partners. We must work as one if we are to successfully go into deep space.

The following are five critical accomplishments that must become active reality if we are going to take humankind to our solar system and then out into our newest frontier – our galaxy. We must also realize that it is not a “final frontier”. We have an entire Cosmos to explore. Let’s get started.

  1. To ensure that we support a growing population of bright, young minds like those in the above video, we must both standardize and diversify our education system. This must start at the elementary level and progressively move all the way to graduate level studies. Diversification calls for strong science education, but also equally strong and inspiring education in the arts. Humankind is motivated both by dreams and by the arts (music, art, writing) that spread the word and the glory of those dreams. In all cases imagination and innovation dominate. Education cultivates and insures that domination.
  2. Solid, progressive governance is a vital ingredient of a space faring civilization. To insure both national and international political sanity we-the-people in all nations, must strive to achieve and sustain real democratic governance. To do this we must make sure that people shall prevail, and not greed and the addiction to power. The people must not let those dangers erode or even destroy that system. Not an easy task, and without an alert and devoted electorate, any nation can easily slip into pseudo-democracies dominated by only a select few. It is easy to snarl and complain, but that simply signifies a nation of people who have let things slip. Citizens committed to both democracy and to global unity have no time to snarl and complain, they are too busy and too involved in making governance work.
  3. Anyone who chooses to look up and behold the awesome glory of the night sky, or breathtaking dawns, or sunsets is easily mystified by all that overpowering beauty. Earliest humans translated those mystifying moments into expressed and treasured celebrations. These revered practices expanded and now seek to relate human morality and behavior to that mysticism. When all of those practices induce widespread compassion and a global sense of community among humankind they become strengthening and unifying. At the same time, science, equally mystified by all it sees and explores, diligently seeks to explain fully and truthfully. In both practices there are many moments of deep spirituality as we humans strengthen the bond between ourselves and all that surrounds us. For us to proceed across the cosmic seas we must achieve mutual respect and eschew distrust, suspicion and fear. We are enriched and made whole by all we come to learn. Lastly we come to accept all that proves to be true and to see it as a bond between humankind and the Cosmos. When we achieve this, we then joyfully join the cosmic community.
  4. We are not exclusive to all that is around us. We are in unity with it. Yes, all life-forms share resources and that give and take process is life-sustaining for the entire community. In this relationship, there is no malice or evil or chicanery only interdependence. When we nurture this interdependence we enrich both our lives and the community of  life that comprises this planet. If we fail in this respect we threaten the community and cause a decline in those vital resources and weaken that essential interdependence. Science calls this the process of extinction. If we seek to explore the Cosmos we must first stabilize and sustain the resource that supports that exploration. For now, for decades or maybe even for centuries to come, planet Earth (our community of life) must be protected to enable us to seek those cosmic revelations.
  5. We are not alone in the Cosmos. Yes, we have not yet made direct contact with other life-forms, but science on almost a daily basis is uncovering many clues that support the presence of life across the Cosmos. Life, in all its forms is, as stated above, interdependent and when we succeed in both respecting and protecting that reality then we are philosophically and sociologically reaching the stage where we can successfully meet other life in the Cosmos in a peaceable manner. Unlike those who first came from afar to this continent, we must not arrive to conquer, but to rejoice in our reunion with other members of the cosmic community. We must shed our warrior complex and sail that glorious cosmic sea as ambassadors of unity and peace. Remember, we are all interdependent.

Each of those five goals include within them long lists of responsibilities that we must fully exercise to meet each criterion to the fullest. In other words, we are facing an evolutionary life change. Hey, this is as it should be; otherwise, we stumble down the extinction pathway. There are a bounty of rewards as we exercise those responsibilities. Those rewards enrich us and inspire us to continue to move forward as a community of life. All of this, in my mind at least, restores and embeds hope in each of our hearts.

Lastly, the following video is a repeat, but says more eloquently than anything else who we are and why we are here and the glory that awaits us. Welcome to spaceship Earth.


March 26, 2011

A modified model of the Orion spacecraft serves as the Gliese Explorer

Get ready! We are going again to the Gliese family of exoplanets, and especially Gliese 581g. This is not a deep future program, it is a program that can and should occur within the 21st Century.

Visiting an Exoplanet That Isn’t? Yes because we are not sure it isn’t there. If it is there, as originally presented, then it is important because it is the first suspected rocky, Earth-like planet orbiting within .its parent star’s habitable zone. This, as we have all come to know, means the strong possibility of life existing on Gliese581g.

Should we determine that Gliese 581g really does not exist, then we do not cancel the mission we simply select another likely candidate that is in a star system within the 25 light year or less distance profile.

So we propose to launch a human space flight to a maybe exoplanet 20+ light years distance? Yes and no.  Yes we should launch a mission to the Gliese family, but NO it should not be a human spaceflight mission.  Read on to follow our plan.

The power of IF: In the case of Gliese 581g some scientist maintain it is actually there while other competent astrophysicists express doubts. The overlying question is: If it is there, and if it is in a habitable zone, is there life on the planet? This is exciting science and the only way we can be certain is to test the validity of our earlier theories and observations. That is exactly what we will be doing with the Gliese Explorer program. Please read further for more detailed justifications for this expedition.

Mission Overview: The Gliese Mission is essentially a digital exploration. This means that the entire program is focused on the use of extensive electronic and robotic systems that will help detect, evaluate and describe the entire celestial environment of the Gliese family. Additionally the mission will conduct ongoing evaluations of the deep space environment while enroute to Gliese 581g. If it is determined that Glieses 581g physically exists and that it has an environment that could be life supporting, then one of the two Robonauts on board the spacecraft will physically visit Gliese 581g. It is anticipated that the reports back from that robonaut will be all of a breakthrough quality and importance. To review a more detailed presentation of the mission objectives go here.

Why an all robotic mission? The exoplanet count grows almost daily, and although we are improving our deep space detection capabilities, the final analyses will require a close encounter with a selected, Earth-like exoplanet that promises to be life supporting. Preparations for and the costs of human spaceflight (HSF) missions are time consuming and incredibly expensive. To launch an HSF mission to investigate only a marginally defined life supporting exoplanet could be wasteful in both time and resources. This is particularly the case where the travel distances are in multiple light years. We should only send in human astronauts after we have completed a detailed up-close visit by robotic systems. For a more detailed discussion of those robotic systems, please visit here.

The Abort, Redirect or Return Option: The Gliese Explorer craft is equipped with a infrared telescope that is continuously pointed and focused upon the Gliese environment and specifically searches for Gliese581g. Now this telescope is not of a Kepler size or quality by fully capable of detecting and assessing exoplanets in the Gliese family. Should this detection and tracking system confirm that there is no Gliese 581g or another Earth-like exoplanet in the Gliese family, then the system initiates an abort query sequence and awaits instructions from Mission Control on Earth. Depending upon the distance already traveled, the communication cycle time could be lengthy. In the interim, the spacecraft continues on toward the Gliese system. Once there is a complete data exchange between the Gliese Explorer and Mission Control, a decision is made to either redirect the spacecraft to an alternate destination or to return home. To learn more about this function as well as the overall functions of the spacecraft, please visit here.

Discovery and Confirmation: The odds are that with the onboard telescope system, it is doubtful that the Gliese Explorer will go the full distance if there is not new evidence (at closer distances) of GL581g. In that case the system would initiate the Abort regimen as described above.

Should the ideal happen in that as the explorer gets closer to the Gliese family and confirms the existence of GL581g; including its orbit within a habitable zone, then the mission is on course and begins the preparations for an eventual rendezvous with the exoplanet. For the details of the rendezvous program and the investigations it includes, please visit here.

Summary and Conclusions: The long term advantages of this mission are derived from all of the development work that leads up to its launch. Some of the key advances include:

  • Although the Kepler mission profile is continued, there is an additional effort to find and confirm Earth-like exoplanets that are in star systems that are 25 light years distance or less from Earth. This is in support of the Gliese Explorer concept of all digital deep space explorations.
  • Development of a propulsion system that supports sustained speeds of 20% the speed of light, and is either nuclear or a combination nuclear and a fuel regeneration system.
  • Development of complete neural network artificial intelligence that equips the Robonauts with extensive data analysis and decision capabilities.
  • Development of Robonauts that are fully articulated and can perform EVAs both in space and on the surface of a planetary body.
  • Design and development of a radiation shielding technology that protects all electronics as well as the Robonauts from damaging radiation.
  • Production of a modified Orion spacecraft to facilitate a totally robotisized mission. Excludes unnecessary life support required only for Astronauts.
  • Design and development of a communication system that anticipates and supports the long, long delays in transmission and reception due to light year distances. Actually enhancements to the Deep Space Network (DSN) are the most likely advancement.

The above is not a complete or exclusive list. What the items do emphasize is that the design and development for this mission is directly supportive of future human spaceflights into deep space. The data feedback that will come from Gliese Explorer will serve to advance overall spaceflight technology toward a safe and productive HSF goal. All of which will enhance NASA’s stated goal of 100 year intrastar travel.

Some may view the all digital space exploration concept as an unnecessary preliminary to HSF deep space explorations. A combination of sound technology and cost controls will allow a consortium of space faring nations to jointly pursue the first steps in deep space exploration. All of these efforts can serve to refine and improve the success of future HSF missions.These would be to fully identified and defined planetary targets. Most importantly, nothing has changed in the long history of the human drive to explore. We are now simply maximizing our efforts by increasing the effectiveness of new technologies and the vital science they can perform.

Hand in hand with our Robonauts, we will go into the unknown of deepest space where no Earthling has ever ventured before.

Astronaut and Robonaut in historic handshake - Photo by NASA

Click Image for Deep Space


Image of the Orion capsule courtesy of NASA and Lockheed Martin.

Image of Astronaut and Rob0naut shaking hands courtesy of NASA.