Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just watched the inspiring liftoff of the NASA Curiousity Mars Rover, and it seemed a good time to post this one...

We are the LGMs

Are they little green men with antennae?
Or short fat ones with globular heads?
Maybe they are smart animals or
talking giraffes, purple tongues wagging.

Perhaps a herd of antlike beings with
one intelligent purpose behind them?
Or maybe huge things like elephants,
centuries old, wisdom beyond measure.

 If they can travel between stars,
it seems likely they are pure energy,
spindly or fleshy as they see fit, maybe
wearing appearance and transport as one.

 The truth may be far simpler than imagined...

DNA from the stars has seeded Earth from meteorites,
People evolved from aliens, arriving on an earlier flight.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In olden times the truth seekers chanted,
Marched in rhythm and wore special robes;
Burned special incense or sacrificed cattle,
Appeased gods so they might receive visions.

Manipulating magic stones and writing runes,
Or drawing symbols and casting certain spells;
they tried to control fate and influence the future,
Bodily movements helped  to decide the outcomes.

Science the usurper has upended old superstitions,
Steady march of technology changed our practices;
Now our moving fingers draw forth images and videos,
Gyrating bodies bring responses from phantoms on screen.

No need to shout into the sky at gods anymore,
We speak into iconic totems in our hands --
The entire Earth is shrunk to one village evermore,
More color, light and sound at our command
than any Norse, Germanic or Egyptian deity
could ever hope to have - as long as we pay the bill.


Friday, November 11, 2011


So much happening on this (fateful) date...

     Penn State reverberating with revenge over the Child Sex Abuse scandal.  As usual, in hindsight everyone is asking how can this be?  How did this happen?  Human beings are unfathomable at times - even we know that.

     Three Republican contenders are tied in a latest poll.   Those characters change positions more than any clump of racehorses coming around the track.  With their suits and stiff expressions, they all look unrealistic.  C’mon, guys.  Most Americans wear jeans and casual shirts, even to work.  You just separate yourselves from the bulk of the population with your stiffness.  But then, maybe that is the point, since you are the party of the rich and privileged.   Go buy a pair of jeans at K-mart.  It will be educational.

     The stock market soared today, regaining it’s losses from Wednesday.  Nice to see it go up.  But realistically it has been a roller-coaster all year.  Up and down, up and down.     I’m gonna stop watching it, it gets too dizzying - like watching a pendulum swing back and forth  (do they make those anymore?).

     We got an early snowfall here in Iowa.  Well, not really early, it was November after all.   Just a taste of what is to come.  And the antics of drivers was hilarious - that is, unless you were out there with them.  Ugh, winter.    Can’t wait until it is over with, and it hasn’t even started yet.

     Prices are going up, for the most part.  The distressing thing is, that wages are not.  It makes it really tricky to keep finances on an even keel.   Some of the pundits will say,  “Survival of the fittest” - well that means most of us are going down in flames.  Survival of the richest is more like it. 

     On this 111111, it is a Friday, and that is a good thing.  Means I can sleep in tomorrow, and then go off and do whatever on Saturday and Sunday  (and still come back to work on Monday).    Some people have to go job-hunting.  I do not - instead I’ll go try and sell some books.  Yeah, guess I’m a bit twisted.  But it will be fun.

     Hopefully dame fortune will smile and shower good things upon any who read this tonight, while it is still 11-11-11.  Otherwise you will just have to wait until 12-12-12.  And then come back here and see what good wishes await you then :)     Have a good night one everyone.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A departure from the usual fare here - and a suggestion to NASA-ESA-RSA...

Mirror smelting experiment to perform on the International Space Station:

Align several mirrors to focus sunlight onto a central point.  Brace them so they remain stationary. 

Possibly attach secondary  lenses in front of the mirrors.  These might be moveable, but could first be stationary.   Leave one side of the assembly open, to receive ores.

Then, place a sample of ore  (flown up for the purpose) at the center of the assembly.  While it remains in sunlight during an orbit, measure the temperatures inside or at the edge of the ores;  Visually inspect the ore to see if there is any melting.   In the short time it takes to complete the sunlit portion of an orbit, an astronaut could also simply observe  (or film) the sample as it is heated by the mirrors.

The second part of the experiment is to remove any melted materials, take them back inside the station, and try molding or forming simple shapes with the resulting ore-melt.  I.E. Squares, or circular forms.

The objective of the experiment is to find out if space rocks could be subject to simple solar focusing and heating, and thereby result in metals being smelted out from the ore.  Any resulting metal materials could then be used for assembly of habitations in space in the future.  

Materials needed:

At least three mirrors.

Aluminum or other lightweight framework to  hold the mirrors into place, all focused on a center point.
Framework to hold a specimen in the center (to be heated by the sun.)

Three (or more) different ore specimens.   Bauxite, Taconite and one other,( to possibly yield metals when heated.)    Additional ores could be added later to give a full range of possibilities.  One possibility is for NASA to donate some Moon rocks for the experiment.

Secondary lenses, either plastic or glass, to concentrate the sunlight to a higher degree.

Temperature probes and one or two viewing cameras.  Cameras could be locatged on the ISS itself.


Place the mirrors and assembly outside the station, nearby.  Preferably tethered in some fashion, or even held in place by the ISS robot arm.   Place a specimen ore in the center, and make sure the secondary lenses are focusing light on the ore.  When the ISS reaches the sunlit portion of orbiting, observe the heating of the specimen, and whether or not metallic substance is derived from the ores.  Measure the internal temperature of the ores.  Save the specimens. 

     Bring the heated specimens, and any metallic content, into the ISS.  Perform basic shaping and manipulation with simple tools.  Make squares, circles and rods. 

Anticipated results:   This could show us what to expect in future metal-smelting operations.   The benefits of solar melting of metallic ores are easy access to building materials for space habitats.  This experiment would help us lay the groundwork for future efforts in building space habitats.   Several succeeding experiments could find the optimum focusing and retrieval techniques. 

In Summary:   We are eventually going to be building some kind of permanent habitats, located either in orbit or on planets and Moons.  Might as well get started now on some of the methods to accomplish habitat construction!

Thanks for reading.