Archive for the ‘Space Exploration’ Category


Thursday, January 29th, 2015




Monday, December 29th, 2014


Eric Metaxas  Mr. Metaxas is the author, most recently, of “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” ( Dutton Adult, 2014).


In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 21 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researches have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing.

What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”

As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here. (more…)



Wednesday, March 20th, 2013



Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

STEWARD: Weighty words from space pioneers

NASA heroes advise climate-change alarmists to stick to science

By H. Leighton Steward

Friday, May 4, 2012

  • Illustration by John Camejo for The Washington TimesEnlarge Photo

    Illustration by John Camejo for The Washington Times

Astronauts have had a unique perspective of Earth, home to us all. Having viewed it as a whole from above, they realize the finite nature of our planet and have had to weigh what humans may be doing to it through industrialization. The upshot is they’ve become supersensitive to published information relative to man’s potential influence on the planet but concerned over the direction NASA has taken on climate-change science.

Earlier this month, a group of 49 former NASA astronauts and the scientists who put them in space and on the moon raised a red flag over NASA’s questionable embrace of climate-change alarmism. In a joint letter to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, those American heroes admonished the agency for advocating a high degree of certainty that man-made CO2 is a major cause of climate change while neglecting empirical evidence that calls the theory into question.

The group, which includes Apollo astronauts Walt Cunningham and Harrison Schmitt, lays out the astronauts’ concern that “unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.” They fear NASA’s unproven and unsupported advocacy risks the exemplary reputation of NASA and the reputation of science. (more…)



Friday, May 18th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal

  • May 15, 2012
  • Here Comes the Sunstorm

Electric Grid Is Vulnerable to a Big Solar Blow; Officials Spar Over What to Do


[0514flare02jpg] ReutersU.S. electricity regulators are studying the impact of historic sunstorms. Pictured, a NASA handout image of the sun.

With a peak in the cycle of solar flares approaching, U.S. electricity regulators are weighing their options for protecting the nation’s grid from the sun’s eruptions—including new equipment standards and retrofits—while keeping a lid on the cost.

They are studying the impact of historic sunstorms as far back as 1859 to see if the system needs an upgrade, and encountering a clash of views on how serious the threat is and what should be done about it.

Among the events they are examining is the Canadian power outage of 1989. On March 13 of that year, five major electricity-transmission lines in Quebec went on the fritz. Less than two minutes later, much of the province was in the dark. The cause: A storm of charged particles from the sun had showered Earth, damaging electrical gear as far away as New Jersey and bringing displays of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, as far south as Texas and Florida.

NASA, Associated Press, Istock

The sun is expected to hit a peak eruption period in 2013, and while superstorms don’t always occur in peak periods, some warn of a disaster. John Kappenman, a consultant and former power engineer who has spent decades researching the storms, says the modern power grid isn’t hardened for the worst nature has to offer. He says an extreme storm could cause blackouts lasting weeks or months, leaving major cities temporarily uninhabitable and taking a massive economic toll.

“This is arguably the largest natural-disaster scenario that the nation could face,” said Mr. Kappenman. (more…)



Monday, March 12th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal

  • Updated March 9, 2012, 7:17 p.m. ET

Humans are born with the curiosity of scientists but switch to investment banking.


New York

By 2020, the word “computer” will have vanished from the English language, physicist Michio Kaku predicts. Every 18 months, computer power doubles, he notes, so in eight years, a microchip will cost only a penny. Instead of one chip inside a desktop, we’ll have millions of chips in all our possessions: furniture, cars, appliances, clothes. Chips will become so ubiquitous that “we won’t say the word ‘computer,'” prophesies Mr. Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York. “We’ll simply turn things on.”

Mr. Kaku, who is 65, enjoys making predictions. In his latest book, “Physics of the Future,” which Anchor released in paperback in February, he predicts driverless cars by 2020 and synthetic organs by 2030. If his forecasts sound strange, Mr. Kaku understands the skepticism. “If you could meet your grandkids as elderly citizens in the year 2100,” he offers, “you would view them as being, basically, Greek gods.” Nonetheless, he says, “that’s where we’re headed,” —and he worries that the U.S. will fall behind in this technological onrush.

To comprehend the world we’re entering, consider another word that will disappear soon: “tumor.” “We will have DNA chips inside our toilet, which will sample some of our blood and urine and tell us if we have cancer maybe 10 years before a tumor forms,” Mr. Kaku says. When you need to see a doctor, you’ll talk to a wall in your home, and “an animated, artificially intelligent doctor will appear.” You’ll scan your body with a hand-held MRI machine, the “Robodoc” will analyze the results, and you’ll receive “a diagnosis that is 99 percent accurate.”

In this “augmented reality,” as Mr. Kaku calls it, the Internet will be in your contact lens. “You will blink, and you will go online,” he says. “That’s going to change everything.” Students will look up the answers to tests while taking them. Actors will cheat from their scripts while performing onstage. Foreigners will translate their conversations with natives instantly. Job-seekers will identify “who to suck up to at any cocktail party” surreptitiously. And President Obama “will never have to have teleprompters in front of him,” he jokes. (more…)



Saturday, December 31st, 2011

The Register-Guard


human survival rests on politics

Published: Friday, Dec 30, 2011

Huge excitement. Two Earth-sized planets found orbiting a sun-like star less than a thousand light-years away.

This discovery comes two weeks after the stunning announcement of another planet orbiting another star at precisely the right distance — within the so-called “habitable zone” that is not too hot and not too cold — to allow for liquid water and therefore possible life.

Unfortunately, the planets of the right size are too close to their sun, and thus too scorching hot, to permit Earth-like life. And the Goldilocks planet in the habitable zone is too large.

At 2.4 times the size of Earth, it is likely gaseous, like Jupiter. No earthlings there. But it’s only a matter of time — perhaps a year or two, estimates one astronomer — before we find the right one of the right size in the right place.

And at just the right time. As the romance of manned space exploration has waned, the drive today is to find our living, thinking counterparts in the universe. For all the excitement, however, the search betrays a profound melancholy — a lonely species in a merciless universe anxiously awaits an answering voice amid utter silence.

That silence is maddening. Not just because it compounds our feeling of cosmic isolation. But because it makes no sense. As we inevitably find more and more exo-planets where intelligent life can exist, why have we found no evidence — no signals, no radio waves — that intelligent life does exist?

It’s called the Fermi Paradox, after the great physicist who once asked, “Where is everybody?” Or as was once elaborated: “All our logic, all our anti-isocentrism, assures us that we are not unique — that they must be there. And yet we do not see them.” (more…)



Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Becy Yeh – OneNewsNow California correspondent – 11/28/2011

David CoppedgeAn attorney says NASA had a “knee-jerk reaction” when it fired a Christian employee after he mentioned intelligent design.

David Coppedge, a 14-year employee for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s mission to Saturn, was fired last year for handing out DVDs to coworkers that mentioned intelligent design (see earlier story). He was issued a written warning for “pushing his religion” on coworkers, charged with harassment, and finally demoted. When JPL veteran filed suit, the company fired him, claiming his termination was necessary to reduce the workforce due to budget problems.

JPL filed a motion for summary judgment, and the court held oral arguments, but reversed a tentative ruling. In a final decision, the court denied the summary judgment motion, and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge sent the case to a jury.

“The judge’s ruling on the summary judgment indicates that there are some very strong arguments to be made in this case that JPL is acting on biased reports from coworkers, who were claiming that my client harassed them,” says William J. Becker, Jr., the Los Angeles attorney representing Coppedge. “A jury would have to determine whether or not my client was discriminated against on the basis of religion.”

Becker tells OneNewsNow that the theory of intelligent design is often mistaken for creationism, and causes a knee-jerk reaction.

“Intelligent design has nothing to do with the doctrine of creationism, and people often confuse it with creationism because the central argument of intelligent design is that there is scientific evidence to show that the universe, and life within it, did not evolve randomly,” he explains.



Sunday, November 27th, 2011

ZUBRIN: Obama readies to blast NASA

Ending planetary exploration would leave agency adrift

by Robert Zubrin

Robert Zubrin is the president of Pioneer Astronautics and author of “The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must” (Free Press, 2011, second edition).The Washington Times

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Illustration: NASA by Alexander Hunter for The Washington TimesIllustration: NASA by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

Word has leaked out that in its new budget, the Obama administration intends to terminate NASA’s planetary exploration program. The Mars Science Lab Curiosity, being readied on the pad, will be launched, as will the nearly completed small MAVEN orbiter scheduled for 2013, but that will be it. No further missions to anywhere are planned.

After 2013, America’s amazing career of planetary exploration, which ran from the Mariner probes in the 1960s through the great Pioneer, Viking, Voyager, Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Spirit, Opportunity, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Galileo and Cassini missions, will simply end.

Furthermore, the plan from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also leaves the space astronomy program adrift and headed for destruction. The now-orbiting Kepler Telescope will be turned off in midmission, stopping it before it can complete its goal of finding other Earths. Even worse, the magnificent Webb Telescope, the agency’s flagship, which promises fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the laws of the universe, is not sufficiently funded to allow successful completion. This guarantees further costly delays, with the ensuing budgetary overruns leading inevitably to eventual cancellation.

The administration’s decision to derail planetary exploration and space astronomy is shocking and portends the destruction of the entire American space program. As an agency, NASA is a mixed bag. It includes a large bureaucracy and wasteful, pork-driven spending. But it also includes departments that are technically superb and really deliver the goods. First and foremost among NASA’s most productive divisions are the planetary exploration and space astronomy programs. Kill those, and what is left will be indefensible. (more…)



Saturday, November 19th, 2011
The Wall Street Journal

  • NOVEMBER 17, 2011

If we’re looking for a way to stimulate our economy, a new space race building on projects like SpaceX is a good place to start.

A Russian spacecraft carrying an American astronaut and two Russians blasted off from Kazakhstan Monday in a flawless launch. The mission? Bring the International Space Station back to full strength. Sadly, now that our shuttles are relegated to museums, we have no way to launch our astronauts into space and must pay the Russians to do it for us.

As ironic as that is considering the history of the space race, hiring the Russians isn’t what hurts me the most. What’s painful is my conclusion that as a people, as a government, and as a country, we don’t seem to care if we can put astronauts into space or not.

How did we get to this sorry state? Where are those days when every American boy and girl dreamed of flying to the moon, Mars, the very stars; when an entire country was energized to set sail on a new ocean? President John F. Kennedy said it best in September 1962: “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. . . . We mean to be a part of it—we mean to lead it!”

And we did. We put our sweat, intellect, money and the very souls of our astronauts into that marvelous enterprise—and succeeded. Who would have imagined that one July morning in 2011, when the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down at the Kennedy Space Center, that America’s manned space program would come to an end? (more…)

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