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How Do You Deal With Trash On The Moon? Not As Easy As You'd Think

Mar 18 2018 - 14:03

How do you deal with the trash on the Moon? This is not an exciting or glamorous subject I know, but it is part of the reality of space travel. This is something that's easy to forget about, how much trash astronauts generate every year. We don't notice it so much on the ISS because it is easy for the astronauts to dump it, and it all burns up cleanly in the atmosphere. The Apollo crew didn't spend enough time on the Moon for it to be that noticeable.You may be surprised at how much trash the ISS generates. And what about footprints on the Moon, and rocket exhausts, and all the dust thrown up by spaceships as they land and take off (two tons of dust in the case of the Apollo misisons)?

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RIP Stephen Hawking

Mar 14 2018 - 07:03
I do not keep crocodiles[*] in my drawer, so this short piece will have to do today.... Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned British cosmologist, passed away yesterday, and with him we lost not only a bright thinker and all-round scientist, but also a person who inspired two or three generations of students and researchers, thanks of his will to live and take part in active research in spite of the difficulties he had to face, which he always managed to take with irony. Confined on a wheelchair by ALS, and incapable of even speaking without electronic assistance, he always displayed uncommon sharpness and wit.

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Let's Make Sure Astronauts Won't Extinguish Native Mars Life - Op Ed - Short Version

Mar 11 2018 - 23:03

Lisa Pratt, the new planetary protection officer for NASA takes up her job at a challenging time for astrobiology. We are approaching a major decision point for Mars. If Elon Musk succeeds in his ambitious plans, then some time in the next couple of decades we may introduce trillions of hardy microbial spores to the planet. Not deliberately, but just because we can't help but take them with us wherever we go. This is a major quandary for astrobiology. But not just for astrobiologists. 

I think almost anyone would be saddened if we had this headline news story in the 2030s:

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Let's Make Sure Our Astronauts Won't Extinguish Native Mars Life?

Mar 11 2018 - 03:03

Lisa Pratt, the new planetary protection officer for NASA takes up her job at a challenging time for astrobiology. We are approaching a major decision point for Mars. If Elon Musk succeeds in his ambitious plans, then some time in the next couple of decades we may introduce trillions of hardy microbial spores to the planet. Not deliberately, but just because we can't help but take them with us wherever we go. This is a major quandary for astrobiology. But not just for astrobiologists. 

I think almost anyone would be saddened if we had this headline news story in the 2030s:

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On Lawrence Krauss, BuzzFeed, And #MeToo

Mar 09 2018 - 06:03
Large amounts of ink (well, electrons) have been spilt over the web in the past few months to discuss the #MeToo movement. It seems this blog will eventually join the crowd, although a bit belatedly, and with a slightly different viewing angle. 
After keeping silent on the matter, I am stimulated to discuss it after a BuzzFeed article exposed several cases of alleged sexual harassment and related inappropriate behavior by world-class cosmologist-cum-science-pop-guy-cum-skeptic Lawrence Krauss. Plus, yesterday was international women's day, and I never miss a chance to miss a deadline.

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How's About Civilian Space As Route To Reunification Of Koreas?

Mar 09 2018 - 02:03

Well, to everyone’s surprise, it seems that Trump and Kim Jong Un are going to meet. So this is no longer a hypothetical question. Trump accepts invitation to meet Kim (This originates as my answer on Quora to: What would happen if Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump could meet and talk to resolve the tension over North Korea?

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One Thing Hitler Did Wrong

Mar 05 2018 - 06:03

In 1917, Kelly Miller (scientist) published an open letter to President Woodrow Wilson in the Baltimore Afro-American against lynching, which he called "national in its range and scope," and called the government's failure to stop it "the disgrace of democracy." He also stated “It is but hollow mockery of the Negro when he is beaten and bruised in all parts of the nation and flees to the national government for asylum, to be denied relief on the basis of doubtful jurisdiction.

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Might We Colonize Saturn's Moon Titan? It Has A Thick Atmosphere After All

Mar 03 2018 - 15:03

Titan might seem an unlikely place to colonize at first, since it is so far from the sun, and cold. But actually it's got more going for it than you might think. It's got many possible native sources of energy for one, including chemical, wind, hydro and (surprisingly) solar power too. The thick atmosphere and the low gravity greatly simplifies the process of building settlements and it has abundant hydrocarbons which are great for making plastics.

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What President Putin Actually Said - Not Threatening War - Nuclear Deterrent To Preserve Peace

Mar 02 2018 - 17:03

I’ve had several PM’s and we’ve had comments by scared people in our Doomsday Debunked Facebook group who have read alarmist stories suggesting that Putin threatens to attack the US. It is worth listening to his actual speech to get their perspective on it, which is the opposite of that. They think of this as the only way to preserve peace. So I thought I should post here, since if so many people in the group are getting scared by the misreporting of his speech, maybe others will too who haven't found us.

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When Did BPA Stop Being Toxic?

Mar 01 2018 - 07:03

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Excited B_c State Seen By ATLAS Is Not Confirmed By LHCb

Feb 27 2018 - 11:02
Statistical hypothesis testing is quite boring if you apply it to cases where you know the answer, or where the data speak loud and clear about one hypothesis being true or false. Life at the interface between testability and untestability is much more fun. -->

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Why The Moon Is By FAR The Best Place For A Backup - NOT Mars

Feb 27 2018 - 03:02

I think we should build our first offworld backup on the Moon. Like the Svalbard seed vault. Not instead of it, but as well as it. Once we have easy access to the Moon that is. It can be very simple, as the caves are naturally at the right temperature. Just include a vacuum sealed packet of dried seeds on a rover that explores a suitable lunar cave, and leave it there at the end of the mission, inside the rover, and that’s a start of a future seed vault.

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Virtual Reality Improves Empathy In Domestic Abusers

Feb 25 2018 - 10:02
A virtual reality system for men who committed a domestic violence crime allows them to 'get into the victim’s shoes' - not by beating them, that likely caused the cycle of violence, according to sociologists. Instead, the belief is that violent people have a lack of emotional recognition and that virtual experience improves the participant’s perception of emotions.

Sociologists contend that violence is related to a lack of empathy or the abuser’s difficulty to put him/herself on the victim’s shoes. Although there are surveys which contend that violent people have difficulties in identifying emotions like fear or rage, there are some discrepancies due the used methodology to determine empathy and ethical problems these studies present.
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McMindfulness: Buddhism Sold To You By Neoliberals

Feb 24 2018 - 09:02

Mindfulness is big business, worth in excess of US$1.0 billion in the US alone and linked – somewhat paradoxically – to an expanding range of must have products. These include downloadable apps (1300 at the last count), books to read or color in, and online courses. Mindfulness practice and training is now part of a global wellness industry worth trillions of dollars.

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Diboson Resonances Review Available Online

Feb 22 2018 - 11:02
This is just a short note - a record-keeping, if you like - to report that my long review on "Collider Searches for Diboson Resonances" has now appeared on the online Elsevier site of the journal "Progress of Particle and Nuclear Physics". 
I had previously pointed to the preprint version of the same article on this blog, with the aim of getting feedback from experts in the field, and I am happy that this has indeed happened: I was able to integrate some corrections from Robert Shrock, a theorist at SUNY, as well as some integrations to the references list by a couple of other colleagues.
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So You Thought We Could Terraform Mars In A Few Centuries?

Feb 19 2018 - 20:02

You may have seen one of the SpaceX videos with Mars terraforming as it spins, spinning faster and faster and transforming from the current red Mars to a planet with an ocean and tinged with green in a half dozen revolutions. Of course that was poetic exaggeration - it wouldn't terraform in a week. So how long would it take? You may have read Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars Trilogy" during which Mars is terraformed in a couple of centuries. But that's science fiction, not a terraforming blue print. Is it possible at all, and how long do scientists think it would take?

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Searching For Light Dark Matter: A Gedankenexperiment

Feb 18 2018 - 06:02
Dark Matter (DM), the mysterious substance that vastly dominates the total mass of our universe, is certainly one of the most surprising and tough puzzles of contemporary science. We do not know what DM is, but on the other hand we have a large body of evidence that there must be "something" in the universe that causes a host of effects we observe and which would have no decent explanation otherwise.  -->

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Why Haven't We Found Life On Mars In 40 Years? Well, It Might Help To Send Instruments That Can Detect It

Feb 16 2018 - 15:02

We have been sending missions to Mars since the 1970s. So, why can't astrobiologists answer the question definitively when you ask them if there is life on Mars?

 Well the main reason we haven’t detected life yet (if it is there) is because we haven’t looked. You might think, "Absurd, what about Curiosity or Opportunity" but as we'll see, these aren't looking for life, they are looking instead for evidence of past and present water and organics, and testing for habitability. We haven't searched for life there since the two Viking landers in the 1970s which were the first and last dedicated astrobiology missions to Mars. It's not actually been a search for life for getting on for 40 years.

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恭賀新禧 And The Moon

Feb 16 2018 - 08:02

To observers in much of North America and East Asia, on January 31st, the second full moon of the month, passed through Earth’s shadow in a Super Blue Blood Moon.

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