SpaceX’s Falcon 1 became the first privately built space ship to orbit the Earth tonight, following in the footsteps of SpaceShipOne which became the first privately built spaceship to fly suborbitally in October 2004. One other thing they both have in common? All the people who said it was impossible.
The live webcast swung their cameras around and zoomed in on SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s impromptu thank you speech to the dedicated employees who have worked countless hours over the long years to success. He was far away and had his back to the camera, but it made all the difference to share in that triumphant intimate moment.
“This is one of the greatest days of my life,” Musk said. Clearly buoyed by the huge win tonight, he also talked about their Falcon 9 rocket development program, “We are going to be taking over for the Space Shuttle when it retires.” You could hear the pride at the huge accomplishment of a U.S. company getting to the point where they could say that.
“A lot of people said this wasn’t possible— I mean a lot…” Musk went on. SpaceX, like many innovators in the industry, have had a lot of naysaying to contend with. Before SpaceShipOne’s flight, the naysayers said it wasn’t possible, after it they dismissed the huge accomplishment as trivial— that the real challenge was going orbital. You can expect them to do the same here. “Orbital space flight? I am still not impressed. It is just a little one engine rocket.” They will then move on to claiming that the Falcon 9 missions are impossible. My advice? Don’t listen.
Kudos to SpaceX for having the audacity to webcast all of their launches live, for believing in transparency, for sharing their successes and failures and every step along the way with us. It makes your success our success.
One other thing I love about Elon is that he is unapologetically committed to lowering the cost of launch not just for the fun of it or for the profit of it but for the impact of it. He made his millions at a young age and had the problem of figuring out what would now be the best use of his time, his talent and his wealth. He chose space. His notion was that the long term future of humanity depended on it. Some call it not keeping all your eggs in one basket. Elon, the consummate computer techie, calls it “backing up the biosphere.”
Either way we are one giant leap closer to that dream and that future tonight.
Thank you Elon for being willing to stand up against all that said it was impossible and thank you most of all for your commitment to never giving up.
Just as the U.S. begins it’s sharp decline in the world’s of economics and political power, we are also set to hand over the mantle to the Chinese in the exploration of other worlds. Check this story out from wired:
Chinese researchers claim they’ve confirmed the theory behind an “impossible” space drive, and are proceeding to build a demonstration version. If they’re right, this might transform the economics of satellites, open up new possibilities for space exploration –- and give the Chinese a decisive military advantage in space.
To say that the “Emdrive” (short for “electromagnetic drive”) concept is controversial would be an understatement. According to Roger Shawyer, the British scientist who developed the concept, the drive converts electrical energy into thrust via microwaves, without violating any laws of physics. Many researchers believe otherwise. An article about the Emdrive in New Scientist magazine drew a massive volley of criticism. Scientists not only argued that Shawyer’s work was blatantly impossible, and hat his reasoning was flawed. They also said the article should never have been published.
“It is well known that Roger Shawyer’s ‘electromagnetic relativity drive’ violates the law of conservation of momentum, making it simply the latest in a long line of ‘perpetuum mobiles’ that have been proposed and disproved for centuries,” wrote John Costella, an Australian physicist. “His analysis is rubbish and his ‘drive’ impossible.”
Shawyer stands by his theoretical work. His company, Satellite Propulsion Research (SPR), has constructed demonstration engines, which he says produce thrust using a tapering resonant cavity filled with microwaves. He is adamant that this is not a perpetual motion machine, and does not violate the law of conservation of momentum because different reference frames apply to the drive and the waves within it. Shawyer’s big challenge, he says, has been getting people who will actually look into his claims rather than simply dismissing them.
Such extravagant claims are usually associated with self-taught, backyard inventors claiming Einstein got it all wrong. But Shawyer is a scientist who has worked with radar and communication systems and was a program manager at European space company EADS Astrium; his work rests entirely on Einstein being right. The thrust is the result of a relativistic effect and would not occur under simple Newtonian physics. Many have dismissed his work out of hand, and British government funding has ceased. He has had some interest from both the United States and China. Now the Chinese connection with the Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Xi’an seems to have paid off.
“NPU started their research program in June 2007, under the supervision of Professor Yang Juan. They have independently developed a mathematical simulation which shows unequivocally that a net force can be produced from a simple resonant tapered cavity,” Shawyer tells Danger Room. “The thrust levels predicted by this simulation are similar to those resulting from the SPR design software, and the SPR test results.”
What’s more, Shawyer says, NPU is “currently manufacturing” a “thruster” based on this theoretical work.
“I could confirm that our mathematical simulation gives the results Dr. Roger Shawyer told you. Now we are submitting our result to a journal. It is now under the consideration of the editor,” Professor Yang adds. “We also developed a tapered cavity and are preparing an experiment which will be completed at the end of this year.”
Needless to say, independent confirmation is a big deal — though many will want to see it published in a peer-reviewed journal. Even when it is, I doubt the controversy will subside. Prof. Yang has plenty of experience in this type of area, having previously done work on microwave plasma thrusters, which use a resonant cavity to accelerate a plasma jet for propulsion. While the theory behind the Emdrive is very different, the engineering principles of building the hardware are similar. The Chinese should be capable of determining whether the thruster really works or whether the apparent forces are caused by experimental errors.
The thrust produced is small, but significant. Shawyer compares a C-Band Emdrive with the existing NSTAR ion thruster used by NASA. The Emdrive produces 85 mN of thrust compared to 92 for the NSTAR (that’s about one-third of an ounce), but the Emdrive only consumes a quarter of the amount of power and weighs less than 7 kilos, compared to over 30 kilos. The biggest difference is in propellant: NSTAR uses 10 grams per hour; the Emdrive uses none. As long as it has an electricity supply, the Emdrive will keep going.
The possibilities are phenomenal: Instead of going out of service when they run out of fuel, satellites would have greatly extended endurance and be able to move around at will. (We wouldn’t have to shoot them down because of the risk from toxic fuel either.) Deep space probes could go further, faster –- and stop when they arrive. Shawyer calculates that a solar-powered Emdrive could take a manned mission to Mars in 41 days. Provided it works, of course.
What will China do with the technology? It may be relevant that professor Yang is not unknown in military circles, having published a paper called “Plasma Attack Against Low-Orbit Spy Satellites.”
Meanwhile, what about the American interest? Shawyer told me that “the flight thruster program is on hold for the present. [O]nce the U.K. government had provided an export license for a U.S. military application, the major U.S. aerospace company we had been dealing with stopped talking to us. ”
The company may have decided that the Emdrive could not work. If they’re wrong, China has at least a year’s head start in a technology that will dominate space and make previous satellites as obsolete as sailing ships in the age of steam.
Dear Terror Suspect,
I’m worried about Florida and the Republicans, what should I do?
Don’t worry, here is why I love the idea of Florida:
Police in Port St. Lucie are on the lookout for a cross-dressing man who snatched a 74-year-old woman’s purse. As if that weren’t odd enough, they’re depending on a strange clue. The suspect left behind a condom filled with water he had been using as a fake breast.
Now if you don’t love books, you will love Sarah Palin.
Thanks to Bush, the Republican Party is not strongly associated with intellectualism. But Sarah Palin has apparently taken the conservative derision for book-learnin’ to a whole new level: Time reports that as mayor of Wasilla, Palin asked the town librarian how to go about banning books from the local library. News reports from the time show that the librarian, who, strangely enough, was opposed to a tactic commonly employed by totalitarian regimes, had her job threatened for not giving her “full support” to the mayor.
And if you don’t love Sarah Palin, maybe you are a member of the anarchist “RNC Welcoming Committee”
A year ago, the Ramsey County sheriff’s office began looking closely at a group called the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee. What it found, according to an 18-page search warrant application and affidavit, was an anarchist group that allegedly discussed the possibility of kidnapping delegates, blockading bridges and using liquid sprayers filled with urine or chemicals on police.
From monkeys to Guerillas…I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged here about Guerilla Gardening before. Here is a little more on it. My friends C and Hunter have started to build permaculture gardens in the wasting dirt areas of parking lots here in Hawaii.
Flower power sums it up exactly. War, like gardening, is about destruction as a means to creating a better civilization. Guerrilla gardeners fight neglected land, fight the scarcity of land and fight the pests in their way. But of course using garden tools and flowers means our approach does not draw blood. Frankly, people who see gardening as something devoid of anything warlike are not in my experience serious gardeners but whimsical dreamers, the type of people who feel guilty pulling up weeds and foolishly imagine the best kind of garden is one in which humans have an absolutely minimal role — the wilderness, for example.
And then there is poor John McCain. His wife is a large shareholder in the now Belgian owned Anheuser-Bush beer company. Turns out the company’s Belgain side has been selling beer to Cuba for a long time, will they stop to keep McCain from eating his words about a Cuban Embargo or will he change his stance so that Cindy doesn’t have to sell her beer shares? Time will tell.
McCain’s wife, Cindy, owns the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributor in the country — which means she would stand to profit by partnering with a company that is in business with the Cuban government.
McCain is a staunch advocate of the embargo, which bars most American companies from doing business in Cuba.
In the sad and bizarre death departments we have two entries today.
1.The corpse of Father Adelir Antonio de Carli was spotted by a tugboat at sea near the city of Macae, three months after he disappeared while flying a contraption buoyed by balloons over the Atlantic Ocean in a fund-raising stu
2. An autopsy showed that a woman who was found dead near a burning boat on a Lummi Reservation road near Bellingham, Washington was dead before the fire started.She was badly burned in the July 24 fire and the body was found by firefighters.
I used to date a Lummi girl and I hope it wasn’t her. I also used to work in a bar that was primarily filled with Lummi Indians and ex-military bikers. Fun place. I broke up 3 fights in the first night I was bartending there, after that it got better. In any event, strange things happen on the res, that is for certain.
On to economics and diet…
First, the big mac index:
Want to try to understand the complicated world of exchange rates? Look no further than burger prices.
In Malaysia, for instance, a McDonald’s Big Mac, which goes for $3.57 in the States, costs $1.70. In Norway, it costs $7.88.
Although no statistics are available for garage sales, it appears that more folks are staging them to put extra change in their pockets, but fewer are actually attending them, garage sale regulars say.
As to what to eat, my advice would be to avoid the big macs completely. I’m not alone in this:
Check this out from Slate.
There’s never been a better time to be a half-assed vegetarian. Five years ago, the American Dialect Society honored the word flexitarian for its utility in describing a growing demographic—the “vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” Now there’s evidence that going flexi is good for the environment and good for your health. A study released last October found that a plant-based diet, augmented with a small amount of dairy and meat, maximizes land-use efficiency. In January, Michael Pollan distilled the entire field of nutritional science into three rules for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” According to a poll released last week, Americans seem to be listening: Thirteen percent of U.S. adults are “semivegetarian,” meaning they eat meat with fewer than half of all their meals. In comparison, true vegetarians—those who never, ever consume animal flesh—compose just 1 percent.
Arguing that technology has ensured that “complete privacy does not exist,” Google contends that a Pennsylvania family has no legal grounds to sue the search giant for publishing photos of their home on its popular “Street View” mapping feature. Responding to an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed by Aaron and Christine Boring, Google has countered that the couple “live in a residential community in the twenty-first-century United States, where every step upon private property is not deemed by law to be an actionable trespass.” In a motion to dismiss the Borings’s federal complaint, Google’s six-lawyer team asserts that, “Today’s satellite-image technology means that even in today’s desert, complete privacy does not exist. In any event, Plaintiffs live far from the desert and are far from hermits.” An excerpt from Google’s U.S. District Court motion can be found below. The company asserts that the images of the Borings’s Pittsburgh-area residence were “unremarkable photos of the exterior of their home,” and were taken during a “brief entry upon their driveway.” In their lawsuit, the Borings charged that a Google vehicle–outfitted with a panoramic camera on its roof–drove down a private road to take images of their Oakridge Lane home. In its dismissal motion, Google noted that it intends to prove that there was “no clearly marked ‘Private Road’ sign at the beginning” of the Borings’s street.
In returning to the purely mundane for a minute…the great american beer (I’m not describing quality here btw) Budweiser is no longer American.
The Belgian company InBev has reached a $52 billion deal with Anheuser-Busch to purchase the American beermaker for $70 per share, which upon shareholder approval will create Anheuser-Busch InBev — a brewing colossus controlling a quarter of the world’s beer market.
It’s funny to think that when Ralph Nader was in town speaking, this odd little man threw a question about this very topic to Nader…it didn’t make much sense in terms of Nader’s platform, but perhaps there is more to this than one might suspect. For those of us who have been watching closely, there has been an exodus of capital from the United States to the old world in the past decade or so. Add to that the exodus to the Middle East and Asia and what one might surmise as happening is that the secret rulers of the world are in the process of abandoning a sinking ship and in the process making it sink that much faster. If the house is on fire, the best thing to do is get out. It’s something to think about.
Another example of the sinking ship or buring house phenomenon can be seen in an English couple who staged his death to avoid financial crisis. They would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids.
Here is something that makes me laugh.
The Obama’s it turns out, don’t really have a sense of humor. Why am I not surprised?
On the other side of the Republicrat system, Bush has given the green light to offshore drilling in the U.S. I remember going to Huntington Beach as a kid and having to use solvent to get the tar off my feet later that night. Nice that today’s youth can look forward to more of that. Suck it dry and abandon ship.
The U.S. Terror Suspect list has topped 1 million. I think that means that if you sit in a movie theatre with 200 people than at least 3 or 4 of them are on the list. If 54 people work in your office, one of you is being watched or monitored. Comforting, right?
Here in Hawaii there is more talk of exporting- not pineapples, sugar cane, or aloha. We want to export our garbage to mainland North America…
For all its natural beauty – spectacular mountains, volcanic-sand beaches, and a delightful floral scent that rides on the gentle sea breezes – Oahu produces an awful lot of garbage: 10 pounds per resident a day, compared with a national average of 4.5, according to Russell Nanod of Waste Management, the company that operates the sole municipal landfill.
In a study published today in Nature, researchers led by Brown University geologist Alberto Saal found evidence of water molecules in pebbles retrieved by NASA’s Apollo missions.
This of course changes the rules of the game considerably. Does it mean that we go back to the moon? I hope so. As a matter of fact, I’d like to volunteer. Moon or Mars.
We won’t be going in space shuttles though. The aging fleet of shuttles is set for retirement in 2010 and they will be replaced with the still in testing “Orion” spacecraft and a return to celestial bodies with the Constellation program.
As to whether there are strange creatures in space, truth is there are strange enough creatures here:
Meet Patrick Bishop. The Wisconsin man, 37, allegedly robbed a convenience store yesterday morning and made a highly unorthodox getaway attempt on a bicycle. According to police, after the stickup Bishop peddled away from the crime scene on a silver Mongoose mountain bike and began removing all of his clothes, with the exception of a pair of underpants (Fruit of Loom briefs, one cop reported). Bishop also allegedly discarded the “facsimile firearm” he used during the robbery at the West Side Auto Mart, according to a Hartford Police Department release. Apprehended shortly after the heist, Bishop was found with $412 stuffed into his underpants, which also held his empty wallet and a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes boosted during the holdup. The loose cash was arrayed in Bishop’s drawers in a manner similar to the way tips are provided to exotic dancers, noted Hartford Police Chief David Groves. Bishop told cops that he had “been robbed by an individual, whom he described as looking a lot like him, and wearing the same clothes. He claimed that this subject had stolen his clothes, but had left him with his wallet and all of his money.” That explanation, not surprisingly, did not deter police from charging Bishop with armed robbery
And here is another odd one, The Crown Prince of Terror, Hamza Bin Laden. This teenage son of Bin Laden is calling for the destruction of the West…come on Hamza, can’t you come up with something a little more original than that? How about destruction of the descecrators of Babylon, or destruction of the honky nations, or destruction of the underpants robbers, or annhilation of the pimps and hos and all their gangsta posses…get creative kid…and stop using my title…
Have you ever had a conversation with one of those people that just won’t stop talking? Or worse yet, someone who seems to be having a conversation with you, but in fact does not react or respond to anything you say but only doggedly keeps talking about whatever it is that comes to their minds or pops out of their mouths? You know like:
Talker: “Hey Chris, I planted a new garden”
me: “Cool. I’ve been meaning to ask you why you are parking your car in front of my living room and blowing leaves into my garage”
Talker: “Yah, totally, I’ve got tomatoe and peas…”
me: “And I dont’ appreciate you stealing my bicycle and locking it up with your lock..
Talker: for sure…and you should see my lettuce…off the hook…
Speaking of tea, I’d love to have a cup of tea with Drew Barrymore now that she is single again. Just one first date will be enough though…thanks. I think I am quirky enough for it to work out in the long run. Just imagine…she and I could take a ride in the new flying saucers.
We could even bring along Obama and his flip flop drive:
I will pull the troops out, I’ll think about the troops coming out, they will come out, they won’t come out, I mean they will but they may have to stay a while before they do but I mean what I said about the troops coming out and I didn’t flip flop, not really, I mean it was the same thing I said almost, just a little different and really I am the least worst choice you can choose for President anyway.
I like this term because it evokes images of privateers and pirates scouring the seven seas in search of freedom and adventures. The thing I don’t like about it is hearing it from the lips of the men and women that are suppossed to be our leaders. I recognize that Bush and Company are not much different than pirates as they loot us and everyone else they can find a profit in. They are growing poppies in afghanistan and you can be sure they are selling the opium and heroin that results to fund black ops too, they have managed to pay hundreds of billions to weapons companies to destroy Iraq and now are paying more to consturction companies to rebuild it. They just need eyepatches and peg legs to complete the picture, of course that is left to the men and women who are doing the fighting on both sides. The people who think that they are doing something noble while they are being used as mercenaries for greedy bankers on all sides. Meanwhile, the U.S. is skirting domestic and international law by holding terror suspects on ships
That being said, here is a great story about finding some treasure. Dan Deming found a box filled with old cash when he was tearing down an old shed on his property. Sometimes money just appears from nowhere as in the case of 100 million Indonesian Rupiah falling from the sky in Jakarta to promote a new book.
Well, phew. I guess we can just keep trashing this solar system then.
Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a distant star which looks much like our own.
They found two planets that were close matches for Jupiter and Saturn orbiting a star about half the size of our Sun.
Martin Dominik, from the St Andrews University, UK, said the finding suggested systems like our own could be much more common than we thought.
And he told a major meeting that astronomers were on the brink of finding many more of them.
The St Andrews researcher said this planetary system, and others like it, could host terrestrial planets like Earth. It was just a matter of time before such worlds were detected, he explained.
Dr Dominik told BBC News: “We found a system with two planets that take the roles of Jupiter and Saturn in our Solar System. These two planets have a similar mass ratio and similar orbital radius and a similar orbital period.
“It looks like this may have formed in a similar way to our Solar System. And if this is the case, it looks like [our] Solar System cannot be unique in the Universe. There should be other similar systems out there which could host terrestrial planets.”