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Archive for the ‘environmental’ category

Feb 3, 2019

The Search for New Physics & CERN’s FCC Future Circular Collider

Posted by in categories: astronomy, engineering, environmental, ethics, existential risks, particle physics, physics, quantum physics, science

It is a few years since I posted here on Lifeboat Foundation blogs, but with the news breaking recently of CERN’s plans to build the FCC [1], a new high energy collider to dwarf the groundbreaking engineering triumph that is the LHC, I feel obliged to write a few words.

The goal of the FCC is to greatly push the energy and intensity frontiers of particle colliders, with the aim of reaching collision energies of 100 TeV, in the search for new physics [2]. Below linked is a technical note I wrote & distributed last year on 100 TeV collisions (at the time referencing the proposed China supercollider [3][4]), highlighting the weakness of the White Dwarf safety argument at these energy levels, and a call for a more detailed study of the Neutron star safety argument, if to be relied on as a solitary astrophysical assurance. The argument applies equally to the FCC of course:

The Next Great Supercollider — Beyond the LHC : https://environmental-safety.webs.com/TechnicalNote-EnvSA03.pdf

The LSAG, and others including myself, have already written on the topic of astrophysical assurances at length before. The impact of CR on Neutron stars is the most compelling of those assurances with respect to new higher energy colliders (other analogies such as White Dwarf capture based assurances don’t hold up quite as well at higher energy levels). CERN will undoubtedly publish a new paper on such astrophysical assurances as part of the FCC development process, though would one anticipate it sooner rather than later, to lay to rest concerns of outsider-debate incubating to a larger audience?

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Dec 31, 2018

Blue Rays: New Horizons’ High-Res Farewell to Pluto

Posted by in categories: environmental, space travel

This is the highest-resolution color departure shot of Pluto’s receding crescent from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, taken when the spacecraft was 120,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) away from Pluto. Shown in approximate true color, the picture was constructed from a mosaic of six black-and-white images from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), with color added from a lower resolution Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) color image, all acquired between 15:20 and 15:45 UT — about 3.5 hours after closest approach to Pluto — on July 14, 2015. The resolution of the LORRI images is about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) per pixel; the sun illuminates the scene from the other side of Pluto and somewhat toward the top of this image.

The image is dominated by spectacular layers of blue haze in Pluto’s atmosphere. Scientists believe the haze is a photochemical smog resulting from the action of sunlight on methane and other molecules in Pluto’s atmosphere, producing a complex mixture of hydrocarbons such as acetylene and ethylene. These hydrocarbons accumulate into small haze particles, a fraction of a micrometer in size, which preferentially scatter blue sunlight — the same process that can make haze appear bluish on Earth.

As they settle down through the atmosphere, the haze particles form numerous intricate, horizontal layers, some extending for hundreds of miles around large portions of the limb of Pluto. The haze layers extend to altitudes of over 120 miles (200 kilometers). Pluto’s circumference is 4,667 miles (7,466 kilometers).

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Nov 18, 2018

Masks, Purifiers and Other Steps to Reduce the Harmful Effects of California’s Smoke

Posted by in category: environmental

Here are some ways to stay healthy amid the smoke and smog from California’s wildfires.

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Oct 23, 2018

Fishing and emergency kit apps developed by Filipino innovators during the NASA Space Apps Challenge in the Philippines

Posted by in categories: astronomy, computing, cosmology, environmental

MANILA, Philippines — A mobile and SMS application developed by IT professionals Revbrain G. Martin, Marie Jeddah Legaspi, and Julius Czar Torreda to help fishermen receive real-time weather, sunrise and sunset, wind speed, and cloud coverage to plan their fishing activity, and an emergency checklist kit app was developed by students Jeorge Loui P. Delfin, Bluen Ginez, Samuel Jose, Rainier Garcia Narboneta, and Eugenio Emmanuel A. Araullo for disaster preparedness won the NASA Space Apps Challenge on October 19–21 at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, in partnership with the Embassy of the United States of America and PLDT.

Other projects and solutions developed are games using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, augmented reality mobile app to tell a story of the changes in the Arctic and Antarctic ice, artificial intelligence app helping scientists confirm the habitability of exoplanets, and story-based game using NASA Earth imagery.

They joined together with teams of coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, technologists, thinkers, designers, entrepreneurs, and everyone around the globe working together in a 48-hour sprint to develop solutions to some of the most pressing challenges on Earth and in space, using NASA resources and data.

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Sep 18, 2018

Japan eager to be on board vertical-takeoff ‘flying cars’

Posted by in categories: drones, environmental, government, mobile phones

Electric drones booked through smartphones pick people up from office rooftops, shortening travel time by hours, reducing the need for parking and clearing smog from the air.

This vision of the future is driving the Japanese government’s “flying car” project. Major carrier All Nippon Airways, electronics company NEC Corp. and more than a dozen other companies and academic experts hope to have a road map for the plan ready by the year’s end.

“This is such a totally new sector Japan has a good chance for not falling behind,” said Fumiaki Ebihara, the government official in charge of the project.

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Sep 16, 2018

Scientists Say We Can’t Terraform Mars. Elon Musk Says We Can

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, Elon Musk, engineering, environmental, space

SpaceX’s CEO shrugs off 20 years of NASA research.


SORRY, ELON. To be ready for human occupants, Elon Musk has long called Mars a “fixer-upper of a planet.” But according to a new NASA-sponsored study, a better description might be a “tear-down.” The scientists behind that project say it’s simply not possible to terraform Mars — that is, change its environment so that humans can live there without life support systems — using today’s technology.

BUILDING AN ATMOSPHERE. Mars has a super thin atmosphere; a human unprotected on the surface of Mars would quickly die, mostly because there’s not enough atmospheric pressure to prevent all your organs from rupturing out of your body (if you survived a little longer, you could also suffocate from lack of oxygen, freeze from low temperatures, or get fried from too much ultraviolet radiation).

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Aug 21, 2018

Rethinking the Mars terraforming debate

Posted by in categories: engineering, environmental, space

In late July, Bruce Jakosky and Christopher Edwards published a paper titled “Inventory of CO2 available for terraforming Mars,” which was sponsored by NASA. The paper analyzed the amount of volatiles, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), on or in Mars currently, and concluded reasonably that there are not enough volatiles available on Mars to terraform it sufficiently for a person to not need a pressure suit. Jakosky is the principal investigator for MAVEN, the NASA Mars orbiter studying the planet’s atmosphere. He and his co-author wrote what is technically an accurate paper, in spite of what was an existing mild controversy over the amount of some volatiles in the soil and regolith of Mars.

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Aug 20, 2018

Beijing Enjoys the Bluest Skies in a Decade

Posted by in category: environmental

Beijing residents have been breathing some of the cleanest air in a decade as they begin to reap the benefits of China’s anti-smog push.

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Aug 5, 2018

Sorry Elon Musk, But It’s Now Clear That Colonizing Mars Is Unlikely — And A Bad Idea

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, engineering, environmental, government, space travel, sustainability

This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Space X and Tesla founder Elon Musk has a vision for colonising Mars, based on a big rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there. This was seen as highly ambitious but technically challenging in several ways. Planetary protection rules and the difficulties of terraforming (making the planet hospitable by, for example, warming it up) and dealing with the harsh radiation were quoted as severe obstacles.

Undeterred, Musk took a first step towards his aim in February this year with the launch of a Tesla roadster car into an orbit travelling beyond Mars on the first Falcon Heavy rocket. This dramatically illustrated the increasing launch capability for future missions made available by partnerships between commercial and government agencies.

Continue reading “Sorry Elon Musk, But It’s Now Clear That Colonizing Mars Is Unlikely — And A Bad Idea” »

Jul 14, 2018

NASA director reverses on climate change, after 1 month

Posted by in categories: astronomy, climatology, education, environmental, ethics, existential risks, governance, government, lifeboat, science, space, sustainability

For millennia, our planet has sustained a robust ecosystem; healing each deforestation, algae bloom, pollution or imbalance caused by natural events. Before the arrival of an industrialized, destructive and dominant global species, it could pretty much deal with anything short of a major meteor impact. In the big picture, even these cataclysmic events haven’t destroyed the environment—they just changed the course of evolution and rearranged the alpha animal.

But with industrialization, the race for personal wealth, nations fighting nations, and modern comforts, we have recognized that our planet is not invincible. This is why Lifeboat Foundation exists. We are all about recognizing the limits to growth and protecting our fragile environment.

Check out this April news article on the US president’s forthcoming appointment of Jim Bridenstine, a vocal climate denier, as head of NASA. NASA is one of the biggest agencies on earth. Despite a lack of training or experience—without literacy in science, technology or astrophysics—he was handed an enormous responsibility, a staff of 17,000 and a budget of $19 billion.

In 2013, Bridenstine criticized former president Obama for wasting taxpayer money on climate research, and claimed that global temperatures stopped rising 15 years ago.

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