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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

AN ELEVATOR TO GOD (ok, to space because we don't actually know where heaven is located) IN OUR LIFETIME! (Not yours though baby boomers)

Blogger note: This original post was published almost 5 years ago... but amazingly, it is now a doable thing to cheaply deliver people, supplies to the International Space Station AND BEYOND! Read this post because it is accurate and good... but then read the addenda at the end which adds a few more truly amazing facts, though some information on Elon Musk has changed to date.

SciFi author Arthur C. Clakre wrote about it in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise and it WAS science fiction then... but not any more. There are scientists who think it can be done--and it could be a reality in this century, possibly as early as 2050.

Now that's pretty impressive!

Spoiler alert: much of the technical language is not understood by mere mortals. It is included to impress you so you think I do.)

"It's a phenomenal enabling technology that would open up our Solar System to humankind," says Peter Swan, President of the International Space Elevator Consortium. "I think the first ones will be robotic, and then 10-15 years after that, we'll have six to eight elevators that are safe enough to carry people."

The concept is simple. First, you would need a landing station that, let's say, would be the equivalent of floor 12,000,003 (avoiding the 13th floor, of course). That landing station, maybe called God's Little Acre, would be a satellite or space-debris platform in geosynchronous orbit with the earth--a floating anchor, so to speak--and there are lots of possibilities out there.

Earth station would best be about 600 miles west of the Galapagos Islands because of the rarity of hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons in that area, say those smarter than me.

Then you need a very strong cable--which doesn't yet exist--running between the two. There are now several concepts that would produce a cable with sufficient strength. One is a diamond-like nanothread material. Another is a cable made of carbon nanotubes with a tensile strength of 63 gigapascal--about 13 times stronger than the toughest steel. And that cable would need to be about 60,000 miles long. (Remember, up AND back with a counterweight and/or maglev technology similarly as used on high-speed trains.)

Oh, and we'd have to dig up an extra $100 BILLION or so.

Now here's the kicker... IT IS POSSIBLE, say many involved with the knowledge and desire to do it. But how does one go from concept to reality?

The reason we would do this? It would be incredibly less costly to send stuff to space... and from this platform, the universe would open to us as never before. 

Elon Musk, one of the most fascinating people of today, has offered his say. He is the genius behind SpaceX which develops and launches space vehicles, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors. He is also the founder of SpaceX and a co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors. He has also envisioned a conceptual high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop.

With Hyperloop, Musk envisions 'shooting' people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a metal tube in just 35 minutes. How's that for a starter? But regarding the space elevator, he says it would be easier to "have a bridge from LA to Tokyo." So what does he know?

Interestingly, as bizarre as this seems, remember that the Wright brothers' first flight was in 1903. Who then would have visualized humans would land on the moon just 66 years later--less than a lifetime!

As Groucho Marx said, "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

Special updated info... this is not only doable but in the planning stage!

Lead from the Wall Street Journal, Sept., 2018

"Gradually you accelerate upward, reaching a cruising speed of several hundred miles per hour. Your elevator car moves up a cable 100 million times as long as it is wide--connected on one end to a platform in the ocean (Ed. comment--See, I told you so) and, on the other end, to a counterweight, a heavy mass orbiting high above the planet--kept taut by centrifugal forces. It takes about two weeks to reach the top of the cabl, some 60,000 miles above the Earth's surface. But the trip is serene, with none of the G-force of a rocket ride."

The elevators would be able to carry people and supplies to space without the need for a space shuttle and the special skills required of its occupants to fly it... and at much less cost! But really, can we do it?

Yep, it is technically possible... and as we do more, we learn more and have the advantage of all the discoveries to follow by the target year, 2050. A Japanese firm is already working on it and says do-ability by 2035 is target.

Well, then all we need is that little bit of competition to do it first. A NASA-backd company won the battle to try.

In a word, WOW! 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

All The News That's Fit to Print: Eulogy for a dying media

The NYTimes and one of its special inserts

It was Benjamin Harris of Boston who, in 1690, published Public Occurrences, the first newspaper in America. While it lasted just one issue, it was the beginning of the most informative media ever.

This is a look at that media in all its glory, the irony being that as it gets better, it still dies in the hearts and minds of today's world, replaced by the internet, that snot-nosed little kid, Social Media and its siblings.

Newspaper readership today is just half the number that read in the mid 1970s. And of those newspapers, less than half are today published daily.

Newspapers, however, still have a unique place. They are overwhelmingly honest and sincere in coverage of all the news, no matter how they are tarred by the President.  They are honest, albiet with an editorial voice that expresses a specific view point at times. There is no made-up news, quite unlike social media where users are allowed to say anything without check.

All newspapers have suffered the loss of readers and advertisers by glitzier competition that does have its place, but nothing covers more local and national news as newspapers,  Today's people just have more options to choose from and more things to do than read a newspaper. That's life.

However, to salute the power to be important, there are few that do it as well as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and others like them, most in major markets where there is the population and are advertisers that help make them go.

Where I live, my very fine local paper is published only twice a week. It covers important local news really well. But I still fork out $6.41 every Sunday for The NY Times. It remains a full-day read of 5 or 6 sections, feature stories as well as news, plus a  highly regarded book review magazine and The NYTimes magazine with a crossword that could last far longer. No comics though.

It has many special sections like the impressive one shown here, Sunday In the Park, a 16-pager pulled together by 10 photographers and reporters to feature all 117 people enjoying the Sheep Meadow section of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan on a warm summer Sunday. It is filled with special interest and people personality... and the tiny stories that wouldn't see the light of day if it weren't for newspapers. It is a treat to enjoy. Take that Facebook. Newspapers have staff to do that stuff... and be held responsible.

Here's how the pros do it

The overview of A Sunday in the Park, 4 feet wide unfolded
The other side... the people close up with comments
Another take on newspapers: Today's Riddle: What is black and white and red all over?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Is it all in the music? Hope not!

Take it from a guy who can't carry a tune, these one hit wonders had this take on where we are headed as a people way back in 1969. In the Year 2525 topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for six weeks, maybe because it had that perfect melody and mood for the time but more because it was a haunting look at a future that can't be fully imagined until we are half-way there, almost 500 years early according to the song.

"Its overriding theme of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence and overdependence on its own overdone technologies struck a resonant chord in millions of people in the world in the late 1960s, " says Wikipedia.

Imagine... in the 1960s there was evidence, even years before personal computers were sold, let alone the cell phone which now puts 1,000 time more computer power in your hand than the units first used to send man into space. Of course we did have Popular Science Magazine, (founded in 1872) and the like, which became outlets for ideas and writings of Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Henry Huxley, Henry Ward Beecher and other brilliant minds. We were dreamers than and now.

And look at how far we have come: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the name of the game. Robots doing everything imaginable, Cars, trucks and plane driving and flying themselves, The capability to print body parts ... and guns too, Social media and the capability to know everything about everybody, Global warming... and we are still a long way away from a full roll-out of what might, could, or will be done for good... and the not so good alike. I think that is called unintended consequences.

Wanna see? Here are the lyrics:

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do, and say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs got nothing to do
Some machine is doing that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube' Whoooa

In the year 7510
If God's a-comin' he ought to make it by then
Maybe he'll look around himself and say
Guess it's time for the Judgement day

In the year 8510

Judgement Day by Willirm de Kooning in the National Gallery

God is gonna shake his mighty head then
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Now it's been 10, 000 years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through
But through eternal night
The twinkling of starlight
So very far away
Maybe it's only yesterday

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may thrive
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do or say
Is in the pill you took today....(fading...)

And the song as sung by Zager and Evans.

Yep, sometimes songs tell a story that rings too true to enjoy. 

Blog note: I'm hardly ever this dark but when reminded of this song, I couldn't help myself but to draw an eerie parallel. However, as a glass half-full person, this is only an observation in time. But it does feel we are moving ever faster down that path.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

John McCain, SNL host and star

It's not often we see a politician turn comedian and be really good. This is not one of those times... but it it a view into the SNL life of a great man with a healthy sense of humor.

This clip has a few of his skits when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2002. He wasn't the best host ever, but what he was, is plenty good enough. He not only hosted  SNL but he had numerous other cameos that were seriously funny. See the clip below for when he sings Streisand and other bits of gold.

There has been an outpouring of love and affection for McCain because he has truly earned the honor and respect of most people... unless you are somewhat in the dark or President of the United States.

A current documentary of his life includes rare footage of the 5 1/2 years he spent in "Hanoi Hilton," perhaps the harshest and most dreaded prisoner of war compound known during the Vietnam War. How anyone could have sustained through what McCain and all the other brave men to suffer such a plight is unimaginable for most of us. I actually met and heard a speech given by the next P.O.W. to arrive after McClain and he spoke of those times and the will and spirit to sustain with honor. Two full years of solitary confinement and torture... and then 3 1/2 more. Really!

Then, as a public servant of highest regard for the rest of his life. Who could ask for more?

McCain believed in cooperation and compromise with others for the better good of all. Sadly, there are few like him remaining.
"Ameria didn't invent human rights. Those rights are common to all people: nations, cultures, and religions cannot choose to simply opt out of them. John McCain

And talk about McCain singing Streisand and more, you really should watch this.

We will miss you, John McCain... both Republicans and Democrats, Independents and almost everyone else, save one, we shall miss you.

LAST BIT OF HIS WISDOM: "If you want to persevere--and I am very serious now--if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started." John McCain