Archive | January, 2016

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Disagree (and Agree) With Stephen Hawking

Posted on 26 January 2016 by Jerry

Dr. Stephen Hawking, professor and research director at Cambridge University’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, has expressed his belief that technology will be our undoing and will bring new ways for things to go wrong and end humanity’s future existence. Hawking said at a teleconference in Hong Kong, “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.” He made substantially the same statements in response to questions when recording the BBC’s annual Reith Lectures on January 7, 2016.

He said that he believes our only hope is to spread out in space and colonize other worlds. He believes that it will take at least 100 years to establish a colony on another world in our solar system and the next 1000 years to spread to other solar systems. Our objective must be to establish self-sustaining colonies that are independent of our home planet Earth. This is because he believes we will kill ourselves on planet Earth and we need to be self-sustaining elsewhere for humanity to survive.

While we agree on the threats, we must be a pessimist about the space options and an optimist that human beings on this planet are taking the steps necessary for us to survive. We must support space colonization because of the knowledge we gain about surviving in hostile environments. We cannot believe we can colonize other solar systems. We cannot believe that colonies can support more than a few thousand humans, certainly not any real fraction of the seven plus billion population of the world.

Dr. Hawking has reliance on the science fictional development of a technology that allows our speed to approach that of light. The author sees no practical approach that permits us to significantly increase our speed.  This Hawking suggestion represents his ‘hail Mary’ pass about the future.

In our book, Beyond Animal, Ego and Time, it is shown it would take 18,000 years at 150,000 miles per hour, our current rate of maximum speed, to reach the nearest star. Even if you triple or quadruple this speed the time to reach the star dwarfs our ability to maintain life in outer space by a large margin. The book is explicit about our practical isolation in the universe (see Chapter 4 about travel to Alpha Centuri C).

Those readers who have the book Beyond Animal, Ego and Time or follow the blog know that the writer has warned about these hazards specifically with the exception of artificial intelligence. The author has warned about climate change, nuclear weapons and genetic engineering/synthetic biology. While we have also warned about the ozone depletion of the planet’s atmosphere, we have recently written blog articles about asteroids and meteors hitting the earth. On these threats there is agreement.

Although the writer wishes it were not so, he is not the fatalist that Dr. Hawking is proving to be. The outcomes we fear, while all legitimate, must be solved soon by us before our worst fears come to pass. There is certainly no option to wait for a century to solve these problems. The climate change outcome is dependent upon what humanity does in the next decade.

All of these problems should be dwelt with in the next few decades. We must have faith there is a solution to each of these hazards that has been spelled out in the blog articles over the last four years or so.

The only one we have not dealt with is the meteor strike on our planet and this too can be solved. We can interrupt the trajectory of a meteor or asteroid that we know is coming toward us. So far we are making too little an effort to identify these objects and are making no effort to learn how to modify trajectories. We just need to get going.

We must stay the course on each of the threats we face. None of them involve quick or easy fixes. We cannot give up as Dr. Hawking suggests. We can be fatalistic but not in his way. We must believe human beings will confront each threat and solve the underlying problems. We should believe in ourselves to triumph over problems we have created or we can foresee.

Use the following links to access additional information or the source documents used to support this article.

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Find Out Who Pays for “Denials”

Posted on 21 January 2016 by Jerry

Increasingly investigators are trying to find out who is paying for denial of the truth. We all watched for 50 years as the tobacco industry paid many people to lie about the dangers of smoking tobacco. If we had a smoking gun (no pun intended) like we had in the later years, we would have put warnings on cigarettes much sooner. It was the government’s filing of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) lawsuit that ended the cigarette industry’s deception. We need to know who is paying for falsehoods today.

We see lies and denials on a variety of issues. Probably the most famous deniers are in the climate change environment. We know they are being paid or are receiving campaign donations from wealthy individuals who run businesses that will benefit from stalling negative public reaction, political retribution or regulation.

We know for example that Harvard scientist and climate denier Wei-Hack Soon took a $1.2 million bribe from oil companies to produce 11 papers denying climate change since 2008. According to his deal, the papers were just “deliverables” he completed in exchange for their money. We subsequently found out he was actually an aerospace engineer and only a part-time employee at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

We can infer who is paying the deniers by looking at the companies that officially deny man-made climate change. Look at ExxonMobil as an example. Of 938 papers recently cited by a web site, sixty-seven papers denying climate change were written by Dr. Sherwood B. Idso. Dr. Idso is also the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an ExxonMobil funded think tank. The second greatest number of articles was written by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Michaels receives about 40% of his funding from the oil industry.

These deceptions are in the face of overwhelming evidence that these issues are settled science. For example, turning once again to climate change, between 1991 and 2012 there were 13,950 peer reviewed climate articles published. Of these only 24 rejected global warming. This translates to a 0.17% occurrence of climate deniers. These documents show there is no lingering debate about climate change in the scientific community.

Articles identify Willie Soon, John R. Christy and Sallie L. Baliunas are frequent writers and deniers affiliated with the George C. Marshall Institute. This institute asserts, “…Efforts to reach agreement on inferences about human influence on the climate system that can be drawn from science and policy prescriptions for addressing the climate change risk have been controversial.”

We also know that Florida officials have banned state government use of offensive terms. We know that the state of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection was ordered to not use the terms ‘climate change’ as well as ‘global warming’. This department has about 3200 employees and a $1.4 billion budget.

While this order was never put on paper, the order was passed down verbally within each organization once republican Rick Scott was elected governor of the state. He is backed by the state’s real estate industry that is afraid of a lessening of demand for the state’s beach property, 30 percent of which is threatened by rising ocean waters in future decades.

We see investigations of the truth all around us. We see this in many ways including leaked documents, Freedom of Information requests, and university disclosures related to studies subsidized by government grants. These methods are being used in a variety of venues. For instance Justin Goodman is using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of the government to find out how U.S. laboratories and university labs are mistreating monkeys and other animals.

These same FOIA requests are being used to seek university and college documents surrounding government funded research on genetically modified (GM) organisms. The US Right to Know organization of Oakland, California is using this procedure. They are asking for copies of emails for example between Michelle McGuire, a nutrition scientist at Washington State University, and some 36 or so organizations and companies. What is being looked for is evidence of collusion between various researchers and the agricultural biotechnology industry.

We all need to know the truth of people’s motivation. Why would they deny knowledge and conviction to the rest of us? They want us to have doubt that leads to hesitation or downright refusal to act. They want to delay us from doing what is right. The question is how do these people rationalize their actions?

We must accept the reasons given by those who sell out to others. Their motivation is personal greed. The questions we have are for those who pay them to lie. How do they look at themselves in the mirror each morning? Do they know how their actions will damage human understanding and progress? Is their motivation just greed?

Why not take their successful companies and reposition them to offer the people of the world products that are relevant to the future not the past. Why not use their considerable resources to help humanity rather than hinder it.  We know that many of them believe they are doing the right thing. They must however, re-examine the evidence and give it the thought it deserves, the thought the rest of humanity deserves.

It is for us to decide. We cannot make a good decision if we have inaccurate information or reasonable doubt. Trying to do what is right will not guarantee agreement. Valid information however, is absolutely necessary to making good decisions. It is the first step to agreement. We applaud all of those truth tellers who are warning us against the foolish delay and the counterproductive results.

Use the following links to obtain more information or access the source documents.

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Asteroids & Meteors Are Still Dangerous

Posted on 07 January 2016 by Jerry

Our planet Earth is being bombarded all the time by asteroids or meteorites. Fortunately most of them do not hit the Earth, passing harmlessly by us in space. Even when they come in contact with the Earth’s atmosphere, most of them burn up before they hit the ground. Many of them are large enough to destroy a city. Some we see ahead of time. Some surprise us with no warning.

As an example, NASA shows approximately 90 near earth objects that will come toward Earth at a distance closer than our distance to the moon (~384,000 kilometers). These are only the asteroids or meteors that will pass us between January 1, 2016 and March 1, 2016 or just two months. At the larger end these range from 17 that are larger than 250 meters in diameter to over 2.1 kilometers. As a measure of scale, 92 meters equals ~100 yards or a football field.

February 15, 2013 was a historic day. In the same day we were visited by a flyby asteroid (DA14) we anticipated in 2012 and one not anticipated. The flyby came within 17,000 miles of our planet. Unfortunately, the average “house-sized”, unanticipated asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded just 12 miles up in the air. This was over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia. This explosion injured 1,000+ people mainly from flying glass.  Nova claims the explosion was 20 to 30 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

But how big can asteroids or meteors be? To answer that question we could go back to the largest known impact ever discovered on the Earth’s surface. We are talking about the Chicxulub Crater in the Gulf of Mexico. This was the asteroid/meteor given credit for wiping out the dinosaurs and ushering in mammals as the new dominant life form. This asteroid/meteor was estimated to be 10 km in diameter. It ended the Cretaceous period, about 65.5 million years ago.

There are 26 known asteroids larger than 200 kilometers in diameter. The largest asteroid is Ceres. It is 974 km in diameter. The next three are 2 Pallas, 4 Vesta and 10 Hygiea. They are all between 400 and 525 km in diameter. All of these are much larger than the Chicxulub asteroid.

Chicxulub was an extinction event. Its energy was more than a billion times the explosive power of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima atom bombs. Earlier dating methods place the asteroid at 300,000 years before or 180,000 years after the end-cretaceous mass extinction. Newer, more precise dating methods however put the asteroid at no more that 33,000 years from the end of the K-T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) extinction event. For purposes of dating 33,000 years is simultaneous and represents the most accurate timing humans have yet to devise.

Recent research has shown that there was a basalt volcanic eruption on the other side of the Earth, the Deccan Traps in India that was influenced by the asteroid’s impact. Research on the asteroid points to shock waves created by the asteroid that reached the volcanic eruption on the other side of the world and may have accelerated the flows which only increased the deaths of dinosaurs during this period.

Unfortunately we are not paying a lot of money to detect new asteroids.   An article which appeared on in 2013 one month after the flyby and explosion over Chelyabinsk describes the problem we face.   Roughly one month after the asteroid officials on capital hill asked NASA and the military what they were doing to combat the problem of unknown asteroids.

The article stated, “Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, said it was not reassuring to learn that NASA has so far detected only about 10 percent of the near-Earth objects that are wider than 459 feet (140 meters) across. Holdren (Science advisor to Obama) estimated there may be hundreds of thousands of such objects within one-third the distance from Earth to the sun that remain unknown.”

The article continued, “In 2005, Congress directed NASA to detect, track and characterize 90 percent of these space rocks – those near-Earth asteroids larger than 459 feet (140 m).” Charles Bolden, NASA’s chief is quoted, as saying there was no way the space agency would meet its deadline. He reminded Congress they has not appropriated any money and said, “Our estimate right now is at the present budget levels it will be 2030 before we’re able to reach the 90 percent level as prescribed by Congress.”

The University of Hawaii and its Institute for Astronomy at Manoa founded the Pan-STARRS project that searches for large “killer asteroids”. While the Pan-STARRS project takes a month to complete one sweep of the sky in a deep but narrow survey the recently funded ATLAS will use 8 smaller 20-inch telescopes to look at the visible sky twice a night. The ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) is a result of a $5-million grant from NASA.

ATLAS is designed to offer a one-week warning of an impact by a 50-yard asteroid or “city killer.” It will also offer three weeks of warning of a 150 yard-diameter “county killer”.

Also the non-profit B612 Foundation has been started and is raising money to create an advance warning system for Earth to ward against the threat of a sizeable impact from outer space. The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization put up a network of satellites around the globe that are being used by the B612 Foundation to record asteroid impacts on the planet.

This Foundation also plans to deploy a satellite, in conjunction with Ball Aerospace, that will implement an infrared survey mission which will catalogue 90% of asteroids that are 140 m (459 feet) in diameter in the our solar system. This will involve placing a satellite in a Venus-like orbit around the sun to scan the solar system for asteroids through the 6.5 years for which the program is funded.

These were the only references to funding found. Certainly elsewhere in the world are former astronauts, scientists, or academics that have used this need to fund their favorite capabilities. Only time will reveal them.

We all have seen movies about asteroids hitting the Earth. In some of them, the citizens of Earth are saved by a heroic astronaut, like Bruce Willis in Armageddon. Where are you Bruce when we need you!

It would be a tragedy if we were involved in an extinction event that ushered in another species but it might be a good thing. At least the new species would have a chance at survival considering all of the other threats that we have wrought that threaten life on the planet; all of the other threats that we have mounted only half-vast plans to correct or end.

People who have read my book should do as the book suggests. They should pick their favorite problem that humanity is wrestling with and should dedicate a significant amount of their money and effort to a solution. They should pick a calamity of their choice and focus on seeking its resolution.

Use the following links to get more information or access the original documents used for this article. (access film embedded in article. Second picture frame.)


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