Thursday, December 7, 2017

SPACE-WORMS READY FOR MARS…





When you speak of Mars (and all of do from the speculative to the fact-based discussions) do you ever chat about the space-worms? What are they?

Earth worms really. Two healthy brand new baby worms were recently born in the Martian Soil. OK, the simulated Martian Soil. This is really good news for the future share-croppers of the red planet. 

The recipe for the ‘Martian Soil’ was volcanic terrestrial rocks, pig manure, and live adult worms. If you saw the movie “The Martian” you may be wondering why the fuss? Mark Watney didn’t have any earth worms and he got potatoes to grow! What’s so special about Earth Worms?


First of all, like Mark Watney did, we need the plants in an oxygen friendly area. Perhaps a closed agricultural ecosystem -- one might start with an underground tunnel
And then oxygenate it….


Next we are going to want some Earth Worms spread all over and here’s why;
1.     Earth Worms loosen the soil and make it easier for plants to develop their roots in soil even though it may be too hard/compact for deep root development. They create tunnels that can provide channels that roots can grow through easily, further encouraging root growth. Loosening the soil also makes it easier for water to penetrate deep into the soil, ensuring there is enough moisture in the soil to support the plants and encourage deeper root growth. 

2.     When earthworms move through the soil, organic materials and soil particles cling to them and come loose in other soil layers. The worms also break up fungi, dead roots and other large pieces of organic material in the soil as they move through, mixing it in with surrounding soil.

3.     Earthworms eat organic material in the soil, with some worms eating up to half their body weight per day. The organic matter is ground up in a gizzard within the worm's body. Soil particles are also taken in by earthworms as they eat, with the particles becoming mixed in with organic waste as they move through the worm's digestive tract. The mixture of soil and organic waste is excreted from the worm's body as nitrogen-rich waste known as worm castings. 

4.     Bacteria and other microbes are an important part of healthy soil because they aid in the decomposition process and prevent harmful microbes from growing. Earthworms help to distribute these microbes throughout the soil and also drag organic material, such as dead leaves (not many on Mars), deeper into the soil for the microbes to break down. As earthworms break down larger organic materials in the soil, they also provide additional food for these microbes which in turn helps them to multiply.

So obviously, Earth Worms do quite a bit of work. And since now we know we can have them on Mars, maybe we can grow all sorts of stuff like Asparagus and Martian Tomatoes (I hear they are really good!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Danger Wil Robinson..” to Continuum Robotics, what a ride!



Euhler in his Euler-Cauchy’s stress formula or in his Euhler’s equations of motion has dealt with the distribution of forces and contact force density. This might not mean much off hand but if you were to think about Continuum Mechanics then the entire school of theories and thoughts gets interesting.

Continuum mechanics deals with physical properties of solids and fluids which are independent of any particular coordinate system in which they are observed. These physical properties are then represented by tensors, which are mathematical objects that have the required property of being independent of coordinate system. These tensors can be expressed in coordinate systems for computational convenience.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am expounding on a topic that seems to have little to do with space and the Universe…Well, it all starts with a robot. Remember “Danger Wil Robinson..” How hard and unforgiving the ‘tissue’ of that robot was? Or maybe you are a Stars Wars person, so let’s look at R2D2. Robotics is an active field and the look of Robots vary greatly, but until recently, the touch didn’t vary too much.

Welcome soft robotics.

Soft Robotics is the specific sub-field of robotics dealing with constructing robots from highly compliant materials, similar to those found in living organisms. Similarly, soft robotics also draws heavily from the way in which these living organisms move and adapt to their surroundings. In contrast to robots built from rigid materials, soft robots allow for increased flexibility and adaptability for accomplishing tasks, as well as improved safety when working around humans.

Then of course there is the hybrid soft robots that are built with an internal rigid framework and then a soft exterior.

MIT & Harvard have been working at length in the field of soft robotics seeking to make them stronger, but also to make them able to pick up irregular shaped objects (to use, for instance, working in a factory or manufacturing center).
What did this result in?

Scientists at MIT & Harvard were able to devise a new way to outfit the soft robots with more strength and this is done by using origami skeletons in the soft robots. For the muscles, yes, these robots have muscles; the scientists created a sealed bag filled with air or fluid with a folding origami structure inside which becomes the skeleton then in order to make the muscle contract, the pressure inside the bag is reduced, and the artificial muscle contracts just as the muscles in a human body do. The new technique allows the artificial muscles to lift 1,000 times their own weight.


These artificial muscles are little more than flexible actuators, yet the factor used to measure strength changes greatly. AND my tie in to space? These robots could be used in space. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

THE EARTH'S WAISTLINE GETS SMALLER, BUT THE TECTONIC PLATES REMAIN THE SAME...


 The Earth’s waist line, when the Earth was very young, was much larger waistline (ie. the equatorial circumference was larger) due to a faster rotation. It has been suggested that it may even have been spinning fast enough to have "Saturn type rings" around it. But then time happened to it.

You see for four and a half billion years, Earths entire lifetime, our rotation has been gradually slowing. The speed of average day has grown longer by (between 15 millionths and 25 millionths of a second every year) and you probably think that would not be large enough to have an effect, and you’d be wrong.  What we have is a constant struggle between the planet's gravity and its centrifugal force as its angular motion slows. Due to the loss in the Earth Kinetic Energy from all forms of forces acting on it from the tides, or galactic space dust, include the solar wind, also the space weather, the geomagnetic storms, all working to slow it down.

This slow down permits gravity to pull the planet's shape into a more perfect circle or sphere. Like a daisy chain of one thing causing another, tremendous stresses within the Earth and in its crust struggle to fit on the slowly changing mantle. Were the Earth's rotation not slowing, there would be none of this stress, and the Earth would maintain its girlish curves throughout time. Its rotation is gradually slowing however, (even taking the conservation of momentum into consideration), causing its angular momentum to become progressively weaker. Gravity remains just as strong as ever and continues to exert the same amount of inward pressure.

This continuous struggle between gravity's centripetal force and angular momentum's centrifugal force results in tremendous dynamic stress within the Earth as it attempts to adjust to its trimmer shape. The Earth finds itself gradually shifting its shape from that of an oblate spheroid with a bulging equator & flatter pole regions to that of a more perfect sphere. Throughout the ages, since day one, the Earth has been going through this constant gradual change.
The surface of the Earth's mantle, especially in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Earth is becoming smaller while the pole regions have uplifted and become rounder. The fact that the Earth is getting rounder, even today, has been confirmed by the satellite "Lageos" which is being monitored by scientists at the University of Texas Center for Space Research and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
What it comes down to is an imbalance exists between the angular momentum and gravity that cause the subduction motions of the continental crustal plates due to their crusts shifts and crunches as they continually try to fit what has become a diminishing area of mantle. There are hundreds of GPS sensors along the Pacific Coast which indicate North America is moving westward at about 3 inches per year and that the Pacific plate is subducting under the continent's Pacific coast. Then the subducting ocean plate is replaced by the central Pacific ridge of mantle oozing up to form a new ocean bottom.
And guess what, it is this very activity, this relentless, extremely slow, tremendously powerful, shrinking equatorial region that then cause earthquakes to occur, volcanoes to erupt and the Earth's vast mountain ranges to rise.
Dr. Roger Bilham from the University of Colorado has said that the intense correlation between the changing rotation and the earthquake and volcanic activity suggest there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year. During these periods the Earth's mantle sticks a little more to the crust, which changes how outer core flows, creating a mismatch between the speed of the solid crust and the mantle.

Experts warn we 'had it easy this year' with just six severe earthquakes and claim that next year we could have at least 20 serious earthquakes, and the most intense ones are expected to occur in tropical regions, home to around one billion people and plenty of vacationing resorts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A DIRE “WARNING TO HUMANITY” – take two



How much does your government love you? Do they aim to make your breathing easier, more of a guarantee than a hope? Are they willing to make the unpopular choices because those choices are in fact the better choices or do they opt to make the easier choice because it gives you what you want right now?

A government is not supposed to love you, want your vote yes, love you? Breathing, well, given choices made thus far, it’s clearly not a future goal. When it comes down to it, in general, people want what will make they’re life better today and do not have much interest in tomorrow. We could have a long debate about why, but let’s just concede that as fact. In general politicians aim to provide a better tomorrow, maybe extend that a year or two, but rarely do things that are for generations to come when it the current generation, that’s the people who voted for them, doing less well. So, basically, avoiding things shouldn’t impact the daily lives of John or Jane Q. Public.

Understanding that, is it any wonder that on the 25th anniversary for the original dire warning to humanity in which 1,700 scientists from around the world listed the environmental plaques humanity faced, that this time 15,000 scientists from 184 countries around the world found it necessary to issue a more dire warning ?

In 1992, the original dire warning was sent out. The catastrophic losses were listed as follows: stratospheric ozone depletion, air and water pollution, the collapse of fisheries and loss of soil productivity, deforestation, species loss and catastrophic global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

25 years later has the world changed its tune? Cleaned up its act? Anything?

25 years later, in 2017, 15,000 scientists have this time come together and say “Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse…Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.

Let’s think about this, we live in a world where there was the Paris Climate Accord. Wait, but we’re not in it. The last few years the Great Barrier Reef (Coral reefs are complex structures built mainly from the calcium carbonate [limestone] skeletons laid down by hard corals. These reef-building corals are highly vulnerable to rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification. Slowed growth and loss of hard corals will reduce essential habitat for many other reef creatures) has gone through a lot, several bleaching events, some loss from extreme weather, some ocean acidification and none of it good. The Larsen C Ice shelf collapse, upper ocean temperatures have increased more than 1 degree, the distribution of penguin colonies has changed, decline in the krill (a tiny ocean crustacean resembling a shrimp that is the primary food of baleen whales and other animals that filter their food from seawater. ), and underneath all that ice that’s no longer there are nearly 100 volcanos – which is another climate change nightmare. We’ve had storms that are stronger, bigger, and more destructive than ever. But we are the one country in the world that hasn’t signed the Paris Accord. Remember what I said in the second paragraph? Well, as long as it is believed by politicians that people want what will make they’re life better today and do not have much interest in tomorrow than nothing will ever change. Even though, and I am not positive, but I know it in my gut, the pentagon has to prepare for Climate Change because it is a major threat.


It is a major threat-that’s why 15,000 scientists just sent you a dire warning.

Monday, November 6, 2017

SOMETHING TO QUARK ABOUT!


First I’ll make a statement, then I’ll explain, but hold on to your periodic tables as it’s a doozy!
Fusing heavy quarks can produce 8 times more energy than Nuclear Fusion.
Hmmm. Okay, so remember how Nuclear Fission was all we could do a while back? Remember Three Mile Island and that sort? Then we thought nuclear fusion was the answer. After all, Fusion is what powers our Sun. Take some atoms of Tritium and Deuterium (isotopes of hydrogen, Hydrogen-3 and Hydrogen-2, respectively) bring them together under extreme pressure and temperature to produce a neutron and a helium isotope. And voila; an enormous amount of energy is released, many times the amount produced from fission. Well, move over fusion, and move up quarks.

So what is a quark? You know how everything we know about gets smaller and smaller as we obtain more advanced ways of looking? Heck, quarks were no more than a theory in 1964. Well, Quarks were completely accepted by the 1070’s. They are the most basic building blocks of matter. Where are they? The protons and neutrons that make up matter are composed of quarks. Unlike protons and electrons, which have charges of +1 and -1, however, quarks have fractional electric charge. Quarks that are joined together form composite particles called hadrons. Quarks come in six flavors namely: up, down, top, bottom, strange and charm. Fun, right?
And the fusion of Quarks can produce massive amount of energy. It has been shown in a new study that two bottom quarks could theoretically fuse together in a powerful flash that can result in massive amount of energy that can spill out into the universe. The amount of energy? The fusion of two bottom quarks will produce will produce 138 megaelectronvolts (MeV), that’s eight times the amount of energy in an individual nuclear fusion event in a hydrogen bomb.


Now, the next logical question or statement if you think about the human experience is, can they make a bomb from it? I mean that’s where “they” always go.  No. We’re safe, at least from that! A nuclear fusion event occurs only in a reactor (unlike fission a pure fusion does not daisy chain) or a hydrogen bomb as it is a chain reaction in a mass of particles, hence creating a bunch of energy. This is not possible simply by melting heavy quarks, basically because the raw materials cannot be accumulated in the melting process.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Interstellar Surprise Visitor


https://static01.nyt.com/science/gifs/comet20171025-16.gif

It wasn’t really that big – only about a quarter of a mile long. And yes it was going somewhat fast, say 55 miles per second. (Actually, too fast to get caught in the Suns gravity.) It was unexpected, ask anyone from Rob Werk at University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, to NASA’s JPL to Europe’s ESA. It was also from outside of this solar system. This interstellar visito, or small space rock, or A/2017 U1 as it is known, slipped in, and is trying to slip out just as quickly.

 

It was discovered on October 19 by Dr. Weryk when he was reviewing images captured by the Pan STARRS 1 telescope, located on the island of Maui. While first thoughts were of an NEO (near Earth object), it was soon realized that it was both too fast and it moved a tad differently than either a comet or asteroid. It was alien. (ie. not of this solar system)

Oddly enough, such an occurrence has been predicted, just never recorded. You see in astrodynamics or celestial mechanics, a hyperbolic trajectory is the trajectory of an object around a central body with enough speed to escape the central object's gravitational pull. The name comes from the fact that if one were to look to Newtonian theory such an orbit would be likened the shape of a hyperbola.

For the past few days Dr. Farnocchia, a navigational engineer for NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. , has been calculating the strange object’s path. He spoke of it having a hyperbolic orbitand said that shows that it came from outside the solar system and will leave the solar system.

And so now it’s moving away at about 25 miles per second and will exit the solar system at about 16 miles per second. To give you an idea of what that means – it is faster than the current speed of the Voyager 1 spacecraft, our first spacecraft interstellar space traveler, or as much as three times faster than the escape trajectory for the New Horizons spacecraft.

It has become teacher to the worlds scientists who now are all scrambling to get as much data as they can before it is gone. What they are looking for? Well, it may be made up of completely different material than the asteroids and comets that we have studied. That and where did it came from?

Why did this Alien Object surprise us so? This object came into the solar system blocked by the brightness of the sun. To this, NASA’s planetary defense officer says that an NEO is many times more likely to hit us than is a rogue rock. Uhm, I am worried about anything that comes flying really fast from an area obscured by the Sun. Just out of curiosity, are we doing anything about that?

 

 

 

  Visitor

It wasn’t really that big – only about a quarter of a mile long. And yes it was going somewhat fast, say 55 miles per second. (Actually, too fast to get caught in the Suns gravity.) It was unexpected, ask anyone from Rob Werk at University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, to NASA’s JPL to Europe’s ESA. It was also from outside of this solar system. This interstellar visito, or small space rock, or A/2017 U1 as it is known, slipped in, and is trying to slip out just as quickly.

 

It was discovered on October 19 by Dr. Weryk when he was reviewing images captured by the Pan STARRS 1 telescope, located on the island of Maui. While first thoughts were of an NEO (near Earth object), it was soon realized that it was both too fast and it moved a tad differently than either a comet or asteroid. It was alien. (ie. not of this solar system)

Oddly enough, such an occurrence has been predicted, just never recorded. You see in astrodynamics or celestial mechanics, a hyperbolic trajectory is the trajectory of an object around a central body with enough speed to escape the central object's gravitational pull. The name comes from the fact that if one were to look to Newtonian theory such an orbit would be likened the shape of a hyperbola.

For the past few days Dr. Farnocchia, a navigational engineer for NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. , has been calculating the strange object’s path. He spoke of it having a hyperbolic orbitand said that shows that it came from outside the solar system and will leave the solar system.

And so now it’s moving away at about 25 miles per second and will exit the solar system at about 16 miles per second. To give you an idea of what that means – it is faster than the current speed of the Voyager 1 spacecraft, our first spacecraft interstellar space traveler, or as much as three times faster than the escape trajectory for the New Horizons spacecraft.

It has become teacher to the worlds scientists who now are all scrambling to get as much data as they can before it is gone. What they are looking for? Well, it may be made up of completely different material than the asteroids and comets that we have studied. That and where did it came from?

Why did this Alien Object surprise us so? This object came into the solar system blocked by the brightness of the sun. To this, NASA’s planetary defense officer says that an NEO is many times more likely to hit us than is a rogue rock. Uhm, I am worried about anything that comes flying really fast from an area obscured by the Sun. Just out of curiosity, are we doing anything about that?

 

 

 

 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Electric Slide – Mars style


 

149,600,000 kilometers (km) or 92,900,000 miles. That’s the distance between Mars & the Sun. You probably didn’t consider solar wind might be a problem when you thought of Mars. Well, it is. And for more reasons than you would think. 

 

Solar wind is a flowing of the charged particles that make up the outer layer of the Sun coming away from the star at speeds of almost 900,000 miles an hour. Here on Earth, we don't feel the impact of solar wind because of our magnetic shield which absorbs most of it. We have the aurora borealis, the beautiful northern lights that are a constant reminder of the particles from the sun striking atoms in Earth's atmosphere, the electrons in the atoms move to a higher-energy state. Then it is when the electrons drop back to a lower energy state that they release a photon/light. But Mars, and particularly, Phobos (Remember the Moons of Mars, Phobos & Deimos?) has no protection. (Actually, scientists blame the solar winds for blowing the Red Planet's atmosphere away.)

 

NASA had been considering as a possibility landing on Phobos and this way they could better control equipment on Mars from there. Also, coming home from Mars would be so much easier as there is less gravity on the 14 mile wide Phobos which translates into less fuel necessary for leaving.  Seems, however, thanks to the solar winds, that might just be a problem.

 

Irregardless of what side of Phobos is facing the sun that side is constantly being pummeled by the charged particles or plasma that is solar wind, basically giving the side facing the Sun an electrical charge. The opposing side or dark side of the moon, a  "plasma void," is created which also has a slight electrical charge. While on the day side, that charge can dissipate; on the dark side it's trapped.

 

Oh, and FYI? When the Sun has a coronal mass ejection or even just a solar flare, it’s exponentially worse.

 

Sorry team, next plan?