The future of space travel started today

The first reusable spacecraft – Falcon-9R – successfully took off today. Here is a video of what this type of rocket will provide us.

And here is a recent test flight if the compete Facon-9R:

From almost 1000 feet the rocket returned to the same place it took off from. When this becomes routine, Space-X homes to reuse it up to 100 times. This will greatly lower the price of space travel.

Mankind just entered a new age a few minutes ago, thanks to Space-X


We just had the successful launch of a Space-X Falcon 9 to resupply the ISS. The reason this is a new age is that this is a newversion of the Falcon 9 – it has retractable landing legs!

This will allow the first stage to be brought back to Earth safey, to land on a landing pad and to be reused. On this flight, they will not try to land the first stage, But they will soon.

Yes, for the first time in human history, a rocket that can be reused. Space-X- hopes to be able to do this perhaps 100 times. This reduces the cost of getting tnto space a lot if it can be done routinely.

Perhaps down to $10 a pound! That will change everything.

But we need to see some successful experiments with the technology. They expect only a 30% chance of success today. Keep your fingers crossed.

Americans are confident about the future. Not as much about the present

Many Species. One Planet. One Future 

Future of Technology | 
[Via Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project]

The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage. This is among the main findings of a new national survey by The Pew Research Center, which asked Americans about a wide range of potential scientific developments—from near-term advances like robotics and bioengineering, to more “futuristic” possibilities like teleportation or space colonization. In addition to asking them for their predictions about the long-term future of scientific advancement, we also asked them to share their own feelings and attitudes toward some new developments that might become common features of American life in the relatively near future. Overall, most Americans anticipate that the technological developments of the coming half-century will have a net positive impact on society. Some 59% are optimistic that coming technological and scientific changes will make life in the future better, while 30% think these changes will lead to a future in which people are worse off than they are today. 


Looking forward 50 years, almost 60% of Americans are confident that technology will provide tremendous gains (although they still want their jet cars). As we look closer to the present, the confidence drops tremendously.

So, we just need to move some of that future confidence to the present.

Neil deGrasse Tyson moderating a debate on selling space

From March 2014. We live on the cusp of an amazing age. It will save us all.

Isaac Asimov discussing global warming and the exact way the world needs to be saved – 25 years ago

An amazing speech that could be given today.  Done without notes.

And it recapitulates almost everything I have been focussed on for some time. Talk about walking in the footsteps of giants!

Oncoming global warming. The amazing benefits of the Cold War. The changing aspects of nation states. National security. 

The sticks that are driving cooperation between nation states. And the carrots.

How the Constitution shows us a path forward. How Westward expansion produced a united country, not one with Southern separatists.

It will be about getting into space and beaming power back to Earth.

We now no longer can simply have one nation state fight another. Because what they do affects us all.

We need to figure out how to deal with the effects of humanity that transcend all national boundaries.

It is well worth watching the whole thing. It will be 45 minutes that could make a difference.

The more ignorant the American, the more they want to send the military into Ukraine

The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene
[Via Washington Post] 

Since Russian troops first entered the Crimean peninsula in early March, a series of media polling outlets have asked Americans how they want the U.S. to respond to the ongoing situation.  Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation at least “somewhat closely,” most Americans actually know very little about events on the ground — or even where the ground is.


They surveyed over 2000 people. They asked them to find Ukraine on a map and to indicate whether the US military should intervene against Russia.

Their results:

The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S.  to intervene with military force.

The more ignorant, the more they wanted to use force.

Here is the map, red if they were close to where Ukraine to blue if they were way off:


Only 16% of Americans knew where Ukraine was. Fifty percent were over 1800 miles off.

Even the demographics are depressing. Members of military households were no more likely to know where Ukraine was than non-military, Seventy-seven percent of college graduates failed to find Ukraine.

Both Republicans and Democrats were similarly ignorant. Younger people did slightly better than older but not much better.

And how does this correlate with their attitudes regarding military action?:

However, the further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent  confidence level.


Like something from “The Andromedra Strain”, our sewer pipes are being dissolved by microbes

Concrete tubes 

Concrete-Dissolving Bacteria Are Destroying Our Sewers | 
[Via Gizmodo Australia]

Underground in places nobody likes to look, bacteria are doing terrible things to our sewage pipes. The concrete pipes that carry our waste are literally dissolving away, forcing engineers into a messy, expensive battle against tiny microbes.

“The veins of our cities are in serious trouble, and they’re in serious trouble because of corrosion, and this corrosion has been unanticipated and it’s accelerating,” said Mark Hernandez at a symposium on the microbiology of the built environment in Washington DC yesterday. Hernandez is a civil engineer, but he’s meeting with microbiologists because this problem is bacterial. Essentially, it’s an infection of the nation’s sewage system.


Now this could really bring us down- our underground sewer pipes simply dissolving. It makes sense. 

Some bacteria turn sewage into hydrogen sulfide. Others turn the hydrogen sulfide int sulfuric acid, which dissolves the concrete.

In The Andromeda Strain, the foreign organisms ate through plastic. Here we have normal organisms eating through concrete.

Hope we find a solution that works.

Zero Marginal Cost – the end of capitalism or its rebirth

Forex Money for Exchange in Currency Bank 

Is The Zero Marginal Cost Society The End Of Capitalism… Or A Way To Fix Capitalism?
[Via Techdirt]

As regular readers here on Techdirt will know, I’ve been talking about the importance of understanding what happens to economic equations when the marginal cost of something is zero for over 15 years already. It’s a very common theme around here. One of my complaints has been that those who came out of an economic world viewpoint in which economics is entirely about dealing with the efficient allocation of scarce resources, tend to fall into a weird intellectual black hole when they try to put a zero in the equation. But I’ve long argued that this is the wrong way to look at things. The basic equations still work fine, it’s just that you have to recognize the flip side of zero is infinity. When you have a zero marginal cost item, you are creating an infinite good — a resource that can never run out. When you begin to realize that you have a new form of resources — inputs in economic terms — suddenly you realize that you’re massively expanding the pie, allowing incredible new things to be created from that limitless pool of resources. That’s powerful stuff.

So, as you can imagine, I was excited when the publisher of Jeremy Rifkin’s new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, reached out to send me a promo copy a few weeks ago. I am only halfway through it, so I’ll probably write more about it when it’s done, and there’s an awful lot of really interesting examples and profound thinking going on. So I’m really enjoying the basic part of it. However, there’s one aspect of the book that I have trouble with, and it’s exemplified in Rifkin’s op-ed in the NY Times a few weeks ago, called The Rise of Anti-Capitalism. You can probably already suspect the problem I’m seeing, based on the title. The explanation of zero marginal cost and how more and more of our economy is heading there is spot on. And, as we’ve been noting for over a decade as well, this goes way, way beyond just “content” like music and movies. It’s going to impact nearly every important industry in our lives:


Nice discussion. The endeavors that are most disruptive right now, as marginal cost begins to move to zero, are those that enhance social activities and collaborative needs.

And most are acting in very capitalistic ways. But in ways that mirror more closely just what Adam Smith hypothesized in Wealth of Nations than we have grown used to calling capitalism today.

Add in increased resources from space and things will change a lot.

Truth invites trust. Lying invites apprehension.

 Leaves with drop of water

[Crossposted at SpreadingScience]

Complete Honesty is the Access to Ultimate Power
[Via Rands in Repose]

Rebekah Campbell via the New York Times:

A study by the University of Massachusetts found that 60 percent of adults could not have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once. The same study found that 40 percent of people lie on their résumés and a whopping 90 percent of those looking for a date online lie on their profiles. Teenage girls lie more than any other group, which is attributed to peer pressure and expectation. The study did not investigate the number of lies told by entrepreneurs looking for investment capital, but I fear we would top the chart.


Peter maintains that telling lies is the No. 1 reason entrepreneurs fail. Not because telling lies makes you a bad person but because the act of lying plucks you from the present, preventing you from facing what is really going on in your world. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.

Drink a cup of coffee before reading this one.


Telling th truth, especially when it exposes errors you have made, can make you feel vulnerable. Especially with so many sociopathic people running things.

Looking weak is not a plus for sociopaths.

But telling lies creates a disconnect from reality, a Cargo Cult World that leads away from what actually happens. It invites more lies that divide you even more from reality.

Eventually you inhabit a world that not only does not exist but can actually prevent you from thriving in the real world.

Too many people today simply construct unsustainable Cargo Cult worlds to inhabit by lying to themselves and others. They will fall.

Here the author shows how even in business setting, telling the truth is best. Because Nature always wins. 

How things have changed – Leave It To Beaver and toilets

Minimalist men WC 

Potty Time
[Via New Urban Legends]

Was Leave It to Beaver the first U.S. network television program ever to show a toilet?


To think that the show was censored and held up simply because it showed that a bathroom (a normally taboo room) had a toilet.

Glad they figured out an adaptive way to route around bureaucratic hierarchies without losing the creativity of the show. 

The next El Nino may be on the way. And it looks like it will be huge

 Super Swells Again

Monster El Nino Emerging From the Depths: Nose of Massive Kelvin Wave Breaks Surface in Eastern Pacific
[Via robertscribbler]

Monster El Nino

(A monster Kelvin wave, possibly more powerful than the 1997-98 event, is now rushing toward the surface of the Eastern Pacific. Image source: NOAA/ESRL.)

We are observing an extraordinarily powerful Kelvin Wave, one that was likely intensified by factors related to human global warming, traveling across the Pacific. It appears to be an epic event in the making. One that may be hotter and stronger than even the record-shattering 1997-98 El Nino. What this means is that we may well be staring down the throat of a global warming riled monster.


Good times might be over. If this new El Nino is anything close to the one in the late 90s, temperatures could begin rising fast. That first animation is shocking.

There appears to be more heat in this water than was in the huge El Nino of 1997.It was the largest such event in the 20th century. The global temperatures due to that event increased to such hugh levels that it would be almost a decade before the world became that hot again.


This is what happened along the Washington Coast during the 1997 event: huge rises in sea levels making storms much more destructive along the coast.


Sometimes the sea level was almost half a meter higher than normal, with wave heights a full meter higher than normal. It will not be a good year to be along the West Coast.

And while it may break the drought in Texas, it could well bring huge amounts of flooding due to extreme weather events. That it, lots of frog stranglers hitting dry ground and running off instead of penetrating.

The West Coast will get little rain and be much hotter, so the food producing areas of the state will be hard hit. 

Are we on the way to a colllapse? Not so fast

Collapsed pyramid of Sneferu, Meidum, Egypt 

Judging the Merits of a Media-Hyped ‘Collapse’ Study
[Via Latest Blogs]

As I discussed in the previous entry, a recent Guardian blog post (structured loosely as a news article) made worldwide headlines. It was trumpeted by the Guardian blogger as an “exclusive”; he was given a copy of a paper soon to be published in the journal Ecological Economics. Because he didn’t provide any context for the paper (the authors were not interviewed, nor were any independent  experts), I thought I’d jump into this vacuum.

Let’s start with the first paragraph of the study’s abstr


The article provides a lot of useful skepticism, including the fact that just what a collapse is was not defined.

As one of the critics stated, it is the Limits to Growth all over again.

There will have to be a lot more work before this is even close to being generally accepted.

And, it can all be brought down in a short time if access to space changes the resources shortage. NASA is planning on retrieving asteroids, which wii=ll change everything.

The Costco Model in a Burger Chain

Retail Costco Wholesale 

The Burger Chain That Pays $10 An Hour With Benefits |
[Via  ThinkProgress]

Shake Shack, a burger chain with locations in Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. as well as international locations in the Middle East, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, pays starting workers $9.50 an hour outside of New York City and $10 an hour for New Yorkers, CEO Randy Garutti told ThinkProgress. It also offers full-time employees health, dental, vision, retirement, and disability benefits plus paid time off.


{I’ve been a Costco member for over 20 years.)

The Costco model is to pay better than prevailing wages and good benefits but to make up for it in much lower training costs due to turnover. They hire from within (it does not hire MBAs to fill positions) and provide people a long term position treated with respect rather than a race to the bottom, like the WalMart model.

The result is sales per employee that are almost 3 times higher than WalMart’s.

The WalMart model may get to big profits faster but, as we are seeing, is not a sustainable model.

This is not the only fast food place using this model. In-N-Out burger does also. I

Perhaps we are beginning to move away from the sociopathic, authoritarian model of the last 30 years to a more community-based, supportive one. 

Because, as has been shown, it is possible to make money with each.

Going to prison for life because of a stillborn birth – what women face

 Prison corridor with cells inside Alcatraz main building san francisco califfornia

A Young Mother In Mississippi Could Face Life In Prison For Giving Birth To A Stillborn Child
[Via Think Progress]

Under a controversial law in Mississippi that allows the state to prosecute women for causing harm to a fetus, Rennie Gibbs could be sentenced to life in prison because her daughter never took a breath.

As ProPublica reports, Gibbs was just 16 years old when she gave birth to a stillborn baby girl, who she named Samiya, back in 2006. Samiya was born premature, and medical records indicate that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. But, since Samiya’s autopsy turned up traces of cocaine, Gibbs was indicted by a grand jury for “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously” causing the death. If Gibbs receives the maximum sentence, she’ll spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Gibbs’ case is an example of a dangerous trend that’s certainly not specific to Mississippi. Across the country, there have been hundreds of documented cases of fetal harm laws being used to criminalize pregnant women. This is partly due to the proliferation of state-level abortion restrictions — since there are so many complicated regulations stipulating how women may legally end a pregnancy, that’s created a world in which miscarriages can fall under increased scrutiny, and desperate women can face charges for resorting to illegal abortions. But it’s largely due to persistent issues with this country’s War on Drugs.


Even though there are studies that show that cocaine has no effect on births, we see states routinely act like a crime has been committed.

The government as midwife should be an anathema to most Americans. Apparently not.

Using chickens to track human migration in the Pacific


Chicken bones tell true story of Pacific migration
[Via Eureka! Science News - Popular science news]

Did the Polynesians beat Columbus to South America? Not according to the tale of migration uncovered by analysis of ancient DNA from chicken bones recovered in archaeological digs across the Pacific.


Cool. They found a specific genetic marker for the chickens that the Polynesians took from island to island. One not found in European populations.

So they were able to show that chicken bones found in South American were derived from European chickens and not those of  Pacific Islanders.

But the coolest thing is that some populations of chickens on isolated Pacific Islands maintain the Polynesian marker, not the European one.

So this diversity might be used to help our current breeds which suffer from too much in-breeeding.


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