Ed Hudgins

Is Space Still an Awe-Inspiring Frontier?

Recommended Posts

Is Space Still an Awe-Inspiring Frontier?
By Edward Hudgins

Rather than continuing to be awe-inspiring, has the prospect of space exploration become boring to most Americans?

On New Year’s Day 2019, NASA’s New Horizon probe, which gave us spectacular photos of Pluto back in 2015, sent back images of a snowman-shaped asteroid named Ultima Thule. That object sits at the edge of the solar system and is the farthest ever photographed by a space probe.

Soon thereafter, China landed its Queqiao rover on the far side of the Moon. Just as remarkable was the communications satellite parked at a gravitationally stable location in space beyond the Moon that allows the rover to communicate with scientists on Earth.

Generations of Americans have found space, both the place and our efforts to explore and understand it, awe-inspiring. NASA landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in 1969. Our robots now roam the Martian deserts. Probes gave us close-ups of giant Jupiter and of Saturn’s rings. The Hubble telescope imaged breathtakingly beautiful star clusters, nebulae and the most distant galaxies.

Has interest waned? For some, fiction is more fun than fact. CGI sci-fi flicks give us spaceships and alien worlds that, as eye-candy, beat out yet another picture of an actual dusty crater or astronaut floating in the International Space Station. For others, it might be that they’ve seen those craters and astronauts for years.

Familiarity breeds ho-hum.

The knowledge we gain from our space efforts will always be a source of awe and inspiration because, as Aristotle said ... (continue reading here.)

https://www.insidesources.com/is-space-still-an-awe-inspiring-frontier/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Ed Hudgins said:

Is Space Still an Awe-Inspiring Frontier?
By Edward Hudgins

Rather than continuing to be awe-inspiring, has the prospect of space exploration become boring to most Americans?

On New Year’s Day 2019, NASA’s New Horizon probe, which gave us spectacular photos of Pluto back in 2015, sent back images of a snowman-shaped asteroid named Ultima Thule. That object sits at the edge of the solar system and is the farthest ever photographed by a space probe.

Soon thereafter, China landed its Queqiao rover on the far side of the Moon. Just as remarkable was the communications satellite parked at a gravitationally stable location in space beyond the Moon that allows the rover to communicate with scientists on Earth.

Generations of Americans have found space, both the place and our efforts to explore and understand it, awe-inspiring. NASA landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in 1969. Our robots now roam the Martian deserts. Probes gave us close-ups of giant Jupiter and of Saturn’s rings. The Hubble telescope imaged breathtakingly beautiful star clusters, nebulae and the most distant galaxies.

Has interest waned? For some, fiction is more fun than fact. CGI sci-fi flicks give us spaceships and alien worlds that, as eye-candy, beat out yet another picture of an actual dusty crater or astronaut floating in the International Space Station. For others, it might be that they’ve seen those craters and astronauts for years.

Familiarity breeds ho-hum.

The knowledge we gain from our space efforts will always be a source of awe and inspiration because, as Aristotle said ... (continue reading here.)

https://www.insidesources.com/is-space-still-an-awe-inspiring-frontier/

We didn't follow up our Lunar Landings partially because JFK  framed the space race  as a pissing context between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.  Well  we won, right?  The Soviets lost.  And eventually the Soviets folded.  We won't get back in  Go To The Moon (or Mars)  mode until the  PRC  does.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Ed Hudgins said:

Rather than continuing to be awe-inspiring, has the prospect of space exploration become boring to most Americans?

Ed,

I get really excited when I think the people who believe manmade climate change is destroying the earth have a possibility to leave it.

:) 

btw - Good article. We need to be reminded to look up and not down all the time. :) 

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From today’s news. Amaze Lab: NASA's Excited About the God of Chaos Asteroid Heading Toward Earth. There’s an asteroid out there called 99942 Apophis that’s over 1,000 feet wide, and it’s scheduled to fly by Earth on April 13th, 2029.

And here is an old letter (I think I wrote most of it,) discussing what I gleaned from some Educational channel videos. I mentioned the price of some books, so I think those prices for paperbacks may be from long, long ago. Peter

Professor Freeman Dyson works at the independent Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. (Where Einstein spent his days in the US.) He was speaking on the University of California TV, the other day. He is one of the first modern proponents of the Open Universe Theory. He didn't win a Nobel prize, but many scientists think he deserved it. He was a key developer of the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED) - a theory for which the Nobel prize was indeed awarded - but a maximum of three researchers may win the prize in a given year. (The award was given in 1965 to Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonga.) As you may know Dyson's ideas are also the inspiration for Niven's ring world science fiction novels.

Dyson spoke about the origins of life here on earth – how single celled animals evolved, first through symbiosis and synthesis with other life forms, which in turn lead to differentiation and as evolution worked its inexorable magic, to more advanced life forms. The multitudes of ‘impact catastrophes’ that have struck the earth have rewarded the most adaptable species. Luckily for humans we are the most adaptable of all. We will “boldly go, where no one has gone before.”

A big day for life on earth was when it entered the amphibian stage because now life could exploit the land and the air.  Humankind’s current first steps into space are analogous to this amphibian stage. Eventually, we will adapt to space and our little tag along critters, our parasites and symbiotic life forms such as bacteria, will evolve in places with lesser gravity and lesser atmosphere. It is inevitable that earth-life, with or without us, will seed space. The leap from the ocean to land is no greater than the leap from the earth (or the air) into Vacuum.

What is holding back life’s expansion into the universe? Primarily, gravity.  Of  the many forces in the universe, gravity is quite special. Gravity is Not entropic. It does not lead to chaos – it is a gathering of matter and carries no disorder with it. However, it also confines life. If life cannot hitch a ride with us, to Mars for example, it will need to first thrive in the uppermost atmosphere and then it will still have gravity to contend with. Life may undoubtedly evolve on a planet but it will eventually seek low gravity and cheap transportation. Scattered and flourishing, non-planet life forms may be bountiful off-planet.

If we are looking for established life, other than our own, in the wrong places, then The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) should be looking in asteroid belts and in comets, avoiding the death trap of gravity, for evolved, intelligent life.

Science Fiction Author, David Brin, (who wrote “Foundation’s Triumph” the Latest And Best sequel to Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Trilogy - a Harper Torch paperback, $6.99, $9.99 Canadian) of UC San Diego was in the audience and asked an intriguing question. “Would Vacuum Life be observable?”

Professor Dyson replied that it is hard to tell. Out there, around the asteroid belt for example, objects move very slowly in relation to each other. Perhaps their communications systems, evolved over great distances and time, are different from ours, or currently beyond our technology to detect. One thing is for sure. If life is not living in gaseous nebulas or comets at this time, then it will eventually live there, carrying earth DNA. Low gravity and cheap transportation will guarantee that life is seeded throughout this galaxy and throughout the whole universe.

Incidentally, Professor Dyson shocked me with one of his pronouncements. He is an Anarchist!  Is he naïve in the field of Political Science or am I missing something?

I have also just finished reading, “Wake of the Perdido Star,” a Signet paperback priced $6.99 also, by actor Gene Hackman and Daniel Lenihan. It was also quite good, though not as good as Patrick O‘Brian of course. I was impressed by such a noble first effort. I highly recommend it to adventure fans and fans of high seas adventure . . . .

Data from instruments flown on airplanes during last year's Leonid meteor shower show that the seeds of life, long suspected to exist in comet dust, could have survived a fiery passage from space to Earth's ancient atmosphere. A range of findings, reported by an international team of NASA-led scientists, provide support for panspermia, which holds that life on Earth did not spring up spontaneously out of some primordial soup, but was instead seeded from space.

"Findings to date indicate that the chemical precursors to life -- found in comet dust -- may well have survived a plunge into early Earth's atmosphere," said astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute. The studies were published in a November 14 special edition of the Netherlands journal Earth, Moon and Planets.

Sowing the seeds. The idea that the seeds of life, or life itself, constantly fall from space is the central idea of panspermia. Not only did life on Earth begin this way, the concept holds, but the genetic pool is constantly modified, even today.  "This idea that the evolution of life has been tied to space is one that has been growing stronger and stronger."

Many mainstream scientists have long derided panspermia. But the view has shifted noticeably in recent months. Other researchers have shown that meteors both small and large do not heat up as much as previously thought, allowing the possibility that dormant life could arrive on an incoming space rock or, just possibly, embedded in the dust grain of a comet. Jenniskens and others said all this work at least supports the notion that life's recipe -- in the form of organic molecules -- can survive the trip into the atmosphere. Chandra Wickramasinghe, a leading proponent of panspermia, cheered the newest work. "I think the results reported by NASA are clear proof that bacterial particles could survive, hence vindicating panspermia," Wickramasinghe said. He and astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle have, since the 1970s, argued that organic particles of bacterial sizes survive entry through the atmosphere.

"However, there is still a tendency to interpret results like this as merely showing that organics, rather than life, are being added to the Earth, but the trend is surely moving towards panspermia," Wickramasinghe told SPACE.com.

Flying high. The new study reports on data collected during the 1998 and 1999 Leonid meteor showers. The annual event, which peaks again this weekend, occurs when Earth moves through a stream of debris left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle. That comet passes through the inner solar system every 33 years, with its grains of dust zipping along at 160,000 miles per hour (72 kilometers per second) relative to Earth. When they hit our atmosphere, friction vaporizes many of them. From the ground, we see blazes of light commonly called shooting stars. But studying small meteors from the ground can be frustrating. So Jenniskens and his colleagues at the Aerospace Corporation in Los Angeles, along with other researchers, used two airplanes to create "stereoscopic" images of the meteors. Ground-based instruments were used, as well. In one striking image (see the click-to-enlarge animation) they followed a meteor that exploded into what scientists call a fireball. The trail left by the fireball contained what the researchers called the "fingerprint of complex organic matter.

The fingerprint involves higher-than-expected concentrations of carbon monoxide and carbon compounds that seemed to develop as the meteor interacted with Earth's atmosphere. Henniskens and his colleagues caution that more work needs to be done to confirm these findings.

Heat created by the meteors' race through the atmosphere sets up an environment conducive to combining substances to form new compounds, Jenniskens explained in an interview. He suggests, therefore, that comets could have supplied basic chemicals that were lacking on early Earth. The whole recipe might have gotten mixed in the air, he said, before settling on the planet and getting down to the business of breathing.

Changing picture of meteors. Jenniskens and Michael Wilson, of the University of California, San Francisco, also found evidence that the light we see from a meteor comes not from the head of the meteor, but from the wake. This wake is similar to the one created by a boat. In this analogy, the boat plows the water, but the energy goes into the wake. With a meteor, it means that the heat energy does not destroy the molecules in the dust particle.

"The findings were somewhat surprising because it indicates that the process that gives rise to the light we see from a meteor is more complex than simple heating of the air through collision with the 'head' of the meteor," Wilson said. "The temperature associated with the light is much cooler."

Jenniskens said that the temperature of the wake, 4,300 degrees Kelvin (7,200 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3,982 degrees Celsius), is just right for breaking bonds in carbon monoxide, from which other life-seeding carbon compounds can form.

One view of how life began on Earth

Wickramasinghe, director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, described his view of the most likely scenario for how life began on Earth, using the new findings as a springboard for a more controversial view:

"Comets are the breeding sites for cosmic bacteria," he explained. "In the early history of the solar system comets picked up enough viable microbes from interstellar space to incubate them in their warm watery interiors."

A million years later, the bacteria exhausted the comet's heat source, were freeze dried, and became dormant. Then, as the comet approached the Sun, some of its material was blown off into space.

"It is these ready-formed bacterial particles that entered the Earth for the first time 4 billion years ago and established the ancient Kingdom of Archaea, for which we have evidence in the geological record."

Caution reigns. Other researchers are warming to the idea of panspermia, but remain cautious. "This idea that the evolution of life has been tied to space is one that has been growing stronger and stronger," said Benjamin Weiss, a Caltech researcher. Weiss led a recent study of a Mars meteorite found in Antarctica, discovering that the space rock remained cool enough to have supported the transfer of microbial life.  "But until someone actually finds evidence that life has come from space -- not just evidence that such an event is highly likely -- panspermia is still going to be just a hypothesis, and rightly so," Weiss said.

Jenniskens and his colleagues will not conduct such thorough research of this year's Leonids, but they hope to be back at it in 2001. Meanwhile, NASA will loft a weather balloon toward the stratosphere on Saturday to record the sights and sounds of the 2000 Leonid meteor shower. Video will be broadcast live at LeonidsLive.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They can't explain the complexity of DNA so they turn to panspermia, which also doesn't explain it. DNA is just a blank out.

They are also mixing up hypothesis with speculation. They also don't deal with humanity being on the cusp of self evolution. It's in and from the brain, not the body per se.

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

They can't explain the complexity of DNA so they turn to panspermia, which also doesn't explain it. DNA is just a blank out.

They are also mixing up hypothesis with speculation. They also don't deal with humanity being on the cusp of self evolution. It's in and from the brain, not the body per se.

--Brant

Mix salt water, sunlight, tides and the minerals found on earth and voila! Life springing from naturally forming DNA. So why are we Still alone in the universe? Good question Pedro. But I will keep looking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Peter said:

Mix salt water, sunlight, tides and the minerals found on earth and voila! Life springing from naturally forming DNA. So why are we Still alone in the universe? Good question Pedro. But I will keep looking.

I'm just assuming you're being facetious.

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

I'm just assuming you're being facetious.

--Brant

I was being facile and not facetious. That is what I remember from an article in Scientific American Magazine. Now I am being facetious. I think scientists have tried to duplicate that formula but they have never been able to create life, even with a bolt of lightning added into the  . . . "mix." Mud, ooze, time, evaporation, and then add more water. Repeat. It still never works. They have duplicated the "building blocks" but not actual life. So, what are we missing? Ba'al might have a suggestion. Peter  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Peter said:

I was being facile and not facetious. That is what I remember from an article in Scientific American Magazine. Now I am being facetious. I think scientists have tried to duplicate that formula but they have never been able to create life, even with a bolt of lightning added into the  . . . "mix." Mud, ooze, time, evaporation, and then add more water. Repeat. It still never works. They have duplicated the "building blocks" but not actual life. So, what are we missing? Ba'al might have a suggestion. Peter  

Someone left that cake out in the rain.  I don't know if I can take it, it took so long to bake it  and I'll never have the recipe again... oh no......

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree Ba’al, not EVEN MacArther Park is a magical place to create life. Humans successfully living in space or on another planet is more probable than creating life. Created life would be like “real magic.” So of course, you cannot have evolution without that original “spark.” But now that we lifeforms have that spark we may guide our own evolutions. The following letter, is from 18 years ago. What has happened since then, in secret? There may be 18 year olds and toddlers amongst us who are genetically superior to the average human, and in spite of my added humor, I am not worried. Watching for superior humans is little different than watching to see what new scientific discoveries are made. New top model. New top singer. New MacArthur Award recipient. Peter

From: "Mark Plus" To: atlantis Subject: ATL: BIO:  "Genetically altered babies born" Date: Fri, 04 May 2001 18:56:00 -0700. From: nbc at bbc Friday, 4 May, 2001, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK

Genetically altered babies born. By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse Scientists have confirmed that the first genetically altered humans have been born and are healthy. Up to 30 such children have been born, 15 of them as a result of one experimental programme at a US laboratory. An "unwelcome" development say scientists. But the technique has been criticised as unethical by some scientists and would be illegal in many countries, including the United Kingdom. Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year-old children confirm that they contain a small quantity of additional genes not inherited from either parent. The additional genes were taken from a healthy donor and used to overcome their mother's infertility problems.

Germline modification. The additional genes that the children carry have altered their 'germline', or their collection of genes that they will pass on to their offspring. Altering the germline is something that the vast majority of scientists deem unethical given the limitations of our knowledge. It is illegal to do so in many countries and the US Government will not provide funds for any experiment that intentionally or unintentionally alters inherited genes. There is no evidence that this technique is worth doing

Lord Winston: The children were born following a technique called ooplasmic transfer. This involves taking some of the contents of the donor cell and injecting it into the egg cell of a woman with infertility problems. The researchers, at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St Barnabas in New Jersey, US, believed that some women were infertile because of defects in their mitochondria. These are tiny structures containing genes that float around inside the cell away from the cell's nucleus, where the vast majority of the genes reside. There can be as many as 100,000 of them floating in the cells cytoplasm.

Two mothers. They are essential to cellular energy production and scientists suspect they have many other important but as yet unappreciated roles. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from generation to generation along the maternal line. The US researchers wanted to supplement a woman's defective mitochondria with healthy ones from a donor. Having just tested the children born as a result of this procedure, the scientists have confirmed that the children's cells contain mitochondria, and hence genes, from two women as well as their fathers. Writing in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers say that this "is the first case of human germline genetic modification resulting in normal healthy children".

'Great reservations' British experts have severely criticised the development. Infertility pioneer Lord Winston of the Hammersmith Hospital in London told BBC News Online that he had great reservations about it.  "Regarding the treatment of the infertile, there is no evidence that this technique is worth doing," he said. "I am very surprised that it was even carried out at this stage. It would certainly not be allowed in Britain. "There is no evidence that this is a possible valuable treatment for infertility," he added. Lord Winston said that, although the number of additional genes involved was tiny, it was in principle the wrong thing to do. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the body that monitors and regulates UK reproductive medical activities, told BBC News Online that it was aware of the technique but had decided not to allow it in the UK because of its uncertainties and the possible alteration of the human germline.

'Back door' The HFEA said it was an unwelcome development that "adds additional concern" to their worries. US researchers have also criticised the production of genetically altered children.

Eric Juengst, of Case Western Reserve University, said: "It should trouble those committed to transparent public conversation about the prospect of using 'reprogenetic' technologies to shape future children."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just thinking about human thoughts like "awe" and "wonder." Is it appropriate or scientific to have thoughts like those?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Peter said:

I was just thinking about human thoughts like "awe" and "wonder." Is it appropriate or scientific to have thoughts like those?

Peter,

When you look at neurochemicals involved, it's more than appropriate and scientific.

It's already possible to induce awe and wonder through drugs.

:) 

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

I'll take the awe you can do the wonder.

--Brant

Aw. Awe. OH. I wonder wonder, wonder, wonder, who wrote the book of love. Was it Rogers and Hammerstein? Maybe there have there been songs throughout the ages about breaking the bonds of earth, living in space and extraterrestrial life. Imagine Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Brother Iz Kamakawiwoʻole, and Commander Riker on trombone, singing from The USS Enterprise:

Somewhere over the rainbow, Way up high, There's a land that I heard of, Once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow, Skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream, Really do come true

Someday I'll wish upon a star, And wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops, Away above the chimney tops, That's where you'll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow, Bluebirds fly, Birds fly over the rainbow, Why then oh, why can't I?

(When all the world is a whole glass jumbled, And the raindrops tumble all around, There's an old place of magic ways) A place behind the sun, Just a step behind the rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow, Bluebirds fly, Birds fly over the rainbow, Why then oh, why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, Why oh, why can't I?

Ohhh, Yeeeah.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Soot. I was typing about bread and lost the text. What is the best use of bread? Peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish sandwiches with a little dressing, onion, and pickle, ham and cheese, or toasted cheese? Holiday stuffing? Hamburger on a bun? Yummy.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/2/2019 at 12:45 PM, Peter said:

Mix salt water, sunlight, tides and the minerals found on earth and voila! Life springing from naturally forming DNA. So why are we Still alone in the universe? Good question Pedro. But I will keep looking.

Dream Weaver on another site wrote: Origin of life: A prebiotic route to DNA. Date: June 18, 2019. Source: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Summary: DNA, the hereditary material, may have appeared on Earth earlier than has been assumed hitherto. Chemists now show that a simple reaction pathway could have given rise to DNA subunits on the early Earth.

The crux: [A] team of chemists led by LMU's Professor Oliver Trapp has proposed a much more direct mechanism for the synthesis of DNA subunits from organic compounds that would have been present in a prebiotic environment. "The reaction pathway is relatively simple," says Trapp, which suggests it could well have been realized in a prebiotic setting. For example, it does not require variations in reaction parameters, such as temperature. In Trapp's experiments, the necessary ingredients are water, a mildly alkaline pH and temperatures of between 40 and 70°C. Under such conditions, adequately high reaction rates and product yields are achieved, with high selectivity and correct stereochemistry. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Peter said:

Dream Weaver on another site wrote: Origin of life: A prebiotic route to DNA. Date: June 18, 2019. Source: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

 

Summary: DNA, the hereditary material, may have appeared on Earth earlier than has been assumed hitherto. Chemists now show that a simple reaction pathway could have given rise to DNA subunits on the early Earth.

 

The crux: [A] team of chemists led by LMU's Professor Oliver Trapp has proposed a much more direct mechanism for the synthesis of DNA subunits from organic compounds that would have been present in a prebiotic environment. "The reaction pathway is relatively simple," says Trapp, which suggests it could well have been realized in a prebiotic setting. For example, it does not require variations in reaction parameters, such as temperature. In Trapp's experiments, the necessary ingredients are water, a mildly alkaline pH and temperatures of between 40 and 70°C. Under such conditions, adequately high reaction rates and product yields are achieved, with high selectivity and correct stereochemistry. 

The is reminiscent of the Urey-Miller experiments.  Please see:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller–Urey_experiment

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wiki. Miller–Urey experiment . . . it was conducted in 1952 . . . More recent evidence suggests that Earth's original atmosphere might have had a composition different from the gas used in the Miller experiment, but prebiotic experiments continue to produce racemic mixtures of simple to complex compounds under varying conditions. end quote

Attempts to “create life” may not have any ill effects. But I worry about gene splicing leading to a plague. “CRISPR technique allows for gene splicing without introducing foreign DNA bits.” Crony protected China seems to have few restrictions on trying to make a buck off of anything and everything. Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...