There's been a lot of celebration this holiday season of the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, the first time humans went into (relatively) deep space and orbited another body, the moon. I'm glad to see Apollo 8 getting some recognition. It's usually overshadowed by Apollo 11, the first mission to actually land on … Continue reading The difficulty of going to Mars
Futurism.com has an article reviewing the results of a survey they conducted with their readers asking when the first human might leave the solar system. The leading answer was after the year 2100, which make sense given our current level of progress just getting humans back out of low Earth orbit. But I think the … Continue reading The difficulty of interstellar travel for humans
The other day, I highlighted the article by neuroscientist Kenneth Miller on the possibility of mind uploading. Miller saw it as possible, but thought it might be thousands or maybe even millions of years before we could do it. Here's a take by another neuroscientist, David Eagleman, being a bit more optimistic, and discussing the … Continue reading David Eagleman: Can a computer simulate a brain?
Last week, I was having lunch with some friends, which included a number of programmers. One of them mentioned an old urban myth, that I hadn't heard in several years, which claims that, due to a programming bug (involving a misplaced semicolon), NASA once accidentally sent a probe into the Sun. I pointed out to my friend how implausible this was. … Continue reading NASA has never accidentally sent a probe into the Sun.
This week, I watched the movie Interstellar, the Christopher Nolan film about travel to another galaxy, a black hole, a wormhole, and other exotic environments. I enjoyed it immensely, although I also had some issues with it. In the film, at some point in the future, the Earth is dying due to a global crop blight. … Continue reading Interstellar: more accurate than the typical sci-fi movie, but still had issues
Similar to the relative spacecraft and rocket sizes I linked to the other day, here's xkcd's version, in horse units. At first I thought he was referring to horsepower, but then I realized it was horse mass. (Click through for full sized version.) via xkcd: Payloads. It's worth noting how large the Saturn V and … Continue reading xkcd: Spacecraft and launch vehicle payloads, in horses
This is pretty nice. A short video by Erik Wernquist showing humans in various locations around the solar system, with a voiceover from Carl Sagan, always guaranteed to enrich the sense of wonder. via Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist on Vimeo. h/t Alex Parker
Click through for full sized version and the red button caption. via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Sometimes, learning science means discovering the constraints reality puts on us, and that part isn't always fun.
The other day, I did a post on interstellar exploration which linked to one by Sten Odenwald on the problems with interstellar travel. Well, he posted some follow-up remarks, expressing some surprise at the response, doubling down on the aspects of the limitations of interstellar travel he identified, and urging people to be optimistically realistic. (I predict he'll get … Continue reading The movie ‘Interstellar’ and wormholes
Sten Odenwald, an astronomer with the National Institute of Aerospace, has an article up at HuffPost that many will find disheartening: The Dismal Future of Interstellar Travel | Dr. Sten Odenwald. I have been an avid science fiction reader all my life, but as an astronomer for over half my life, the essential paradox of my fantasy world can … Continue reading Reaching the stars will require serious out-of-the-box thinking