Wednesday, December 14, 2011
A Date For Humanity's Diary
NASA has announced that - all being well - the first mission to the International Space Station by a privately built and operated spacecraft will lift off on February 7. The craft will be a Dragon capsule launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket, both made and handled by techbiz visionary Elon Musk's new company SpaceX.
We really can be that close to a commercial space Singularity.
The term "technological singularity" was originally coined by Vernor Vinge, who made an analogy between the breakdown in our ability to predict what would happen after the development of superintelligence and the breakdown of the predictive ability of modern physics at the space-time singularity beyond the event horizon of a black hole. Some writers use "the singularity" in a broader way to refer to any radical changes in our society brought about by new technologiesThat and Presidential front runner Newt Gingrich proudly defending his support of space industrialisation from a disingenuous attack by Romney on a national, TV debate (Romney must note that Newt supports X-Prizes not the conventional and wasteful funding of NASA.)
Can anybody imagine any main party leader showing such vision and commitment in a party debate here. To be fair John Redwood has written in favour of space and I can well imagine UKIP doing so, but they haven't yet.
Mars Goldilocks Zone May be Larger Than Earth's
A group of Australian scientists have created a “whole of planet” model that suggests large parts of Mars are capable of supporting life – as long as it doesn’t mind living underground.I would never have thought of this but in retrospect it is obvious that Mars, with a lower gravity will have a much lower pressure gradient. This doesn't mean anything but microbes and may not mean that since an input of some highly organised form of power (ie light) seems necessary for energy using life. But if life is at all common across the universe it will be there. The options are that it is life related to us - ie that either light pressure or meteors brought it from one planet to the other; that it is life unrelated to us - it is conceivable that life only developed once in the universe but not only twice; that it isn't there - which makes life anywhere else that much less likely; or the not thought of yet option.
Instead of the piecemeal approach followed by most astrobiologists – which, it must be said, is fair enough since the various probes sent to the Red Planet have only sampled tiny areas – the Australian National University team led by Dr Charlie Lineweaver sought to compare what’s known about the whole planet to Earth’s environment.
They focused on two characteristics, comparing the temperature and pressure conditions here to those likely to exist on Mars. Their estimate comes up with a surprise: while only one percent of Earth’s entire volume falls under the heading “habitable”, Mars beats us at three percent.
Whatever , if this isn't worth orders of magnitude more than anything we could get from Afghanistan there isn't intelligent life on Earth.