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Old 05-21-2012, 09:43 PM  
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Science is Cool....

This is a repository for all cool scientific discussion and fascination. Scientific facts, theories, and overall cool scientific stuff that you'd like to share with others. Stuff that makes you smile and wonder at the amazing shit going on around us, that most people don't notice.

Post pictures, vidoes, stories, or links. Ask questions. Share science.

This is in support of the Penny 4 NASA project. If you enjoy anything you learned from this thread, consider making a donation and signing the petition.

http://www.penny4nasa.org/

Why should I care?:


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Old 08-20-2013, 01:02 PM   #976
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Ion Thrusters! Engage!



Ion Thruster Sets World Record

While the Dawn spacecraft is visiting the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, NASA Glenn has been developing the next generation of ion thrusters for future missions. NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project has developed a 7-kilowatt ion thruster that can provide the capabilities needed in the future.

An ion thruster produces small levels of thrust relative to chemical thrusters, but does so at higher specific impulse (or higher exhaust velocities), which means that an ion thruster has a fuel efficiency of 10-12 times greater than a chemical thruster. The higher the rocket's specific impulse (fuel efficiency), the farther the spacecraft can go with a given amount of fuel. Given that an ion thruster produces small levels of thrust relative to chemical thrusters, it needs to operate in excess of 10,000 hours to slowly accelerate the spacecraft to speeds necessary to reach the asteroid belt or beyond.

The NEXT ion thruster has been operated for over 43,000 hours, which for rocket scientists means that the thruster has processed over 770 kilograms of xenon propellant and can provide 30 million-newton-seconds of total impulse to the spacecraft. This demonstrated performance permits future science spacecraft to travel to varied destinations, such as extended tours of multi-asteroids, comets, and outer planets and their moons.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:09 PM   #977
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Good thought but no it's actually competition from all the other Astro photographers who are out there and you want your pictures look better than theirs, that's the real motivation.
The competition isn't with other people in the field, it's with the interest of the general public, and their desire to stay interested in the research of something that they won't be part of (really). I think we (the whole planet basically) all know we'll never travel to the moon, much less Mars, so going to watch a quasar, up close, isn't going to happen either. So, now that we have a picture of one, why keep funding what we'll never see? Because each new picture that takes billions to get, is cooler than the last. So they feed us cool enhanced pics and we all say NASA needs to keep its funding and the kids in Africa can find a meal of their own. And when cool pics don't work, we move on to relevant facts , like, for every $10B NASA spends, we get awesome technology like a digital watch.

Don't get me wrong, I get it, I support it, and I'm the first to say the kids in Africa have been starving for, well, EVER (!!!); so the money we put into NASA and science in general (some more GloryDayz-life-impacting than cool pics of the horse-head nebula), need to stay funded because GloryDayz like cool stuff and cool pics...

But yeah, astrophysics is an expensive luxury because I'll never go to Mars...but that's OK, I'm worth ever $1B of it.... Now, if they find a earth-ending meteor some other science doode figures out how to put Bruce Willis on it to blow it the **** up before it hits earth, they're useful to me beyond benefiting science overall by entertaining me.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:31 PM   #978
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Depressing....



Today is Overshoot Day

August 20, 2013, marks Earth Overshoot day— the estimated date when the people on Earth have used up the planet's annual supply of renewable natural resources and reached its carbon-absorbing capacity. After that point, people are using more than the planet can sustain. It's a one-day reminder of a year-round problem — humans are living too large on a finite planet.

You probably have a general sense of why. The human population continues to grow. People are consuming more and more resources. And we still have only one planet. To appreciate just how large we are living in relation to our finite planet , let's look more closely at some numbers.

According to the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot day became an issue around 1975. That's when humanity's ecological footprint first exceeded the biocapacity of the planet.

Before that, people's ecological footprint — measured as the area required to supply the food, fish, fiber and energy we consume every year — was within what the planet could sustain. In 1975, there were about 4.1 billion people. Today there are more than 7.3 billion. As the cumulative footprint of the population grows, Earth Overshoot Day moves two to three days earlier each year.

To get a feeling for what humanity's global footprint looks like, consider the land people use to feed themselves. People presently use 38 percent of the planet to grow crops and raise livestock (check out Navin Ramankutty's animation of global cropland for a "wow" visualization). Many of the agricultural lands are in places that were once temperate grasslands. So much habitat has been turned under by the plow that temperate grasslands are the most imperiled and least protected habitat types on the planet. Future frontiers of agricultural expansion will most likely be in the tropics as people clear high-biodiversity tropical forests to raise cattle, grow soy and install palm oil plantations.

By 2050, the human population is projected to be about 9 billion people. Over that same time, demand for food, water and energy are expected to double. If you think about today's consumption rate per billion people as a shopping cart, people are filling 7 shopping carts. Earth Overshoot Day is a reminder that such a high level of demand is already putting a huge ecological strain on our one planet. By 2050, 9 billion people will be filling twice as many carts per billion — for a total of 18 shopping carts. That's a 150-percent increase in demand!

How can society start to bend the trend to put the planet on a sustainable trajectory?

A first step is to change the mentality about how people grow food and use other natural resources like forests, water and energy resources. Instead of taking more to make more, people need to commit to making more with less. Society also needs to become passionate about efficiency — more crops per drop of water, more miles per gallon of fuel. It's a challenge that should inspire innovation and ingenuity about how people produce and use precious and finite natural resources.

Here is just one of many examples emerging around the world. The Better Cotton Initiative (a partnership that included WWF) worked with cotton farmers to improve management practices on their farms. Over five years, from 2005 to 2010, the results were dramatic — pesticide use was reduced by 60 percent, water use was reduced by 40 percent, synthetic fertilizer use was reduced by 30 percent, and the associated cost savings meant those farmers' incomes increased 15 percent to 20 percent. That's great for farmers, and for the planet, because cotton accounts for 24 percent of the world's insecticide market and 11 percent of global pesticide sales, and 73 percent of the world's cotton crop grows on irrigated land.
I'd say its just about time for another plague. We need to get rid of about half these ****ers...
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:24 PM   #979
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But yeah, astrophysics is an expensive luxury because I'll never go to Mars....
And it seems an expensive education
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Originally Posted by GloryDayz View Post
but that's OK, I'm worth ever $1B of it.... Now, if they find a earth-ending meteor some other science doode figures out how to put Bruce Willis on it to blow it the **** up before it hits earth, they're useful to me beyond benefiting science overall by entertaining me.
My son said they have already put a car on Mars, I hope by the time I'm done educating myself, i'll have figured out the next big cool thing to do.
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I believe Hitler hated Jews and had a lot of them killed. I dont believe it was anywhere close to 6 million though. I'm not an anti-semite; I just think that number has been severely inflated and there is a lot of evidence that supports this belief.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:14 PM   #980
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Kinda like if someone said the best way to install floors is with Elmer's glue. I'd expect you to fire off a post or two.
I would let them go ahead and do it just to enjoy the hilarity later.

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Old 08-20-2013, 09:24 PM   #981
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Originally Posted by GloryDayz View Post
The competition isn't with other people in the field, it's with the interest of the general public, and their desire to stay interested in the research of something that they won't be part of (really). I think we (the whole planet basically) all know we'll never travel to the moon, much less Mars, so going to watch a quasar, up close, isn't going to happen either. So, now that we have a picture of one, why keep funding what we'll never see? Because each new picture that takes billions to get, is cooler than the last. So they feed us cool enhanced pics and we all say NASA needs to keep its funding and the kids in Africa can find a meal of their own. And when cool pics don't work, we move on to relevant facts , like, for every $10B NASA spends, we get awesome technology like a digital watch.

Don't get me wrong, I get it, I support it, and I'm the first to say the kids in Africa have been starving for, well, EVER (!!!); so the money we put into NASA and science in general (some more GloryDayz-life-impacting than cool pics of the horse-head nebula), need to stay funded because GloryDayz like cool stuff and cool pics...

But yeah, astrophysics is an expensive luxury because I'll never go to Mars...but that's OK, I'm worth ever $1B of it.... Now, if they find a earth-ending meteor some other science doode figures out how to put Bruce Willis on it to blow it the **** up before it hits earth, they're useful to me beyond benefiting science overall by entertaining me.
You couldn't be more wrong... and you've obviously missed the entire point of this thread. Saying NASA does nothing but provide pretty pictures is downright ****ing insulting. An expensive luxury? Just because you can't personally experience the manned mission to Mars? JFC.

What do you think NASA really costs?

A study has shown that many people incorrectly assume NASA’s budget is 20% of the total US budget. In reality, funding for NASA is only represents 0.6%. The entire history of NASA does not add up to the amount spent on the military in a single year.

Quote:
Americans in general have no idea what NASA’s "cost" is. In fact, most members of the public have no idea how much any government agency’s budget is. What we do know — and have recently documented — is that the public perception of NASA’s budget is grossly inflated relative to actual dollars. In a just-completed study, we asked respondents what percentage of the national budget is allocated to NASA … NASA’s allocation, on average, was estimated to be approximately 24% of the national budget (the NASA allocation in 2007 was approximately 0.58% of the budget.)
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba.../#.UhQpk5K1GkB



Interactive version with more info: http://public.tableausoftware.com/vi...g/USPriorities

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A lot of people think NASA is a waste of time and money, and maybe this is why; they have a grossly overinflated idea of how much NASA spends. When NASA loses a $150 million probe, that’s a lot of real money, but hardly a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend as a nation (and remember, we spend $11 million per hour in Iraq).

I’ve written about this before, on what NASA does with its paltry percentage. NASA faces a clear issue here: they do an incredible amount of work and exploration with a small amount of money. People think that they don’t do very much at all and spend vast amounts of money. All NASA needs to do is educate the public on their real budget. Once it’s put into perspective, really made clear, I bet public support for NASA would go way up.

To be sure, a huge amount of NASA’s budget is wasted (I am not a big supporter of the space station or the Shuttle because of cost and mission, though I do not deny how cool they are), and that is a priority. But at the same time, if they could get the public to truly understand how little of the national budget they get, they might be able to actually get them to rally behind a real project, like getting back to the Moon, or building even better probes to the planets, moon, comets, and asteroids in our solar system — not to mention building bigger and more sensitive telescopes that can see the Universe across the electromagnetic spectrum.
In 2010, Americans spent just as much money on pet food, as they did NASA's annual federal budget. Think about that..

And NASA creates jobs too..

Quote:
And those who complain that it is a waste to spend money in space forget that NASA creates jobs. According to the agency, it employs roughly 19,000 civil servants and 40,000 contractors in and around its 10 centers. In the San Francisco area alone, the agency says it created 5,300 jobs and $877 million worth of economic activity in 2009. Ohio, a state hard-hit by the Great Recession that is home to NASA’s Plum Brook Research Station and Glenn Research Center, can’t afford to lose nearly 7,000 jobs threatened by NASA cuts.

Even more people have space-related jobs outside the agency. According to the Colorado Space Coalition, for example, more than 163,000 Coloradans work in the space industry. Though some build rockets for NASA, none show up in the agency’s job data.

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2...esearch-center
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:38 PM   #982
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Chronostasis. The fascinating phenomenon where your brain seems to briefly perceive time as freezing or even going backwards... for... some reason.....



Do you have an explanation for human-perceived chronostasis ?

Human eyes have constant breaks in perception whenever they flit about, in blind jumps called saccades. To experience this temporary blindness, look at your own eyes in a mirror and shift your sight focus from one eye to the next. Although a person standing next to you and watching you will effortlessly see your eyes flit and shift from one direction (line of sight) to another, you will never be able to see your own eyes move - even though they do move and are indeed seen as such by the other person. This blindness is due to the saccades.

Almost everyone has had the slightly odd experience of looking at their watch, and believing that the watch had stopped. Then, after a perceptibly longer time than a second , the seconds hand of the watch (or its digital display) starts moving again and all subsequent measured seconds last for, well, a second.

This well known effect happens because the brain fills backwards in time the period of time when it was blind with more of the same, to wit, with the image it saw first when the cascade ceased. So far, so good, although we can wonder at how the brain can fill time backwards in our perception. But at least this is an explanation that only involves our brain and our perceptive skills.

And then this explanation breaks down, because of something called the dead phone illusion. It's a like effect that can happen when picking up a telephone handset with an intermittent dial tone (pause/tone/pause/tone …): The first pause seems longer than the subsequent ones, and the explanation by saccadic eye movement does not apply.

Yarrow et al. have investigated further reproducible kindred cases, such as when tactile perception actually precedes the time of actual physical contact, and so on.

An ultimate explanation for chronostasis - when time stands still - is still elusive.
I've never experienced this, but at the same time, I have a really distorted perception of time compared to other people. A "chronological" past is a very difficult concept for me; I get the idea of "past" but the ordering of past is what is tricky for me. I have a hard time distinguishing something that happened yesterday vs something that happened a couple of weeks ago. Something that happened 15-20 years ago still seems relatively recent to me. I know when folks talk about events regarding the Chiefs, saying such and such happened in such and such year, it is such a foreign concept to me.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:46 PM   #983
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And it seems an expensive education
My son said they have already put a car on Mars, I hope by the time I'm done educating myself, i'll have figured out the next big cool thing to do.
I pray my kids have the option too. So like I said, keep funding science at the expense of other man-made needs since history has shown those other needs won't even end (they defy physics)...

One has to wonder where we'd be today had we not seemingly gone chincy on space exploration after beating the Russians to the moon and then the space shuttle. Yeah, there have been a few things here and there, but NOTHING like the effort we made in the 60s...
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:58 PM   #984
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:00 PM   #985
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You couldn't be more wrong... and you've obviously missed the entire point of this thread. Saying NASA does nothing but provide pretty pictures is downright ****ing insulting. An expensive luxury? Just because you can't personally experience the manned mission to Mars? JFC.

What do you think NASA really costs?

A study has shown that many people incorrectly assume NASA’s budget is 20% of the total US budget. In reality, funding for NASA is only represents 0.6%. The entire history of NASA does not add up to the amount spent on the military in a single year.



http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba.../#.UhQpk5K1GkB



Interactive version with more info: http://public.tableausoftware.com/vi...g/USPriorities



In 2010, Americans spent just as much money on pet food, as they did NASA's annual federal budget. Think about that..

And NASA creates jobs too..
You know what pal, life's what you make of it, and what you do for the next generation. Ever been to Langley (the north side of the base/facility!)? Yeah I worked there, so don't tell me what I know and what I don't about science and what it's doing for mankind. I love science and I want it to continue in all the way "science" presents itself. I want it funded, and I don't care what they have to do to keep us interested and amazed to keep the funding rolling in. What I do know is black-and-white shots of the specs of light that are the stars I just went outside to look at while you were typing your reply ISN'T going to sell the large mission of NASA and science the larger community of science (that makes NASA look like a grain of sand on the beach). NASA is only a spec of a much larger picture, but they are one hell of a self-promoting group. Good for them!!! Unfortunately, most people identify scientists with NASA. Why? i don't know, maybe because they get a lot of press. Watch the science channel and see how much is dedicated to the cosmos vs. the ceramic scientists.

So don't think I don't know or get science, I'm just OK with them enhancing some pics to keep the funding flowing into the community. Money well spent IMO.
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:02 PM   #986
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You couldn't be more wrong... and you've obviously missed the entire point of this thread. Saying NASA does nothing but provide pretty pictures is downright ****ing insulting. An expensive luxury? Just because you can't personally experience the manned mission to Mars? JFC.

What do you think NASA really costs?

A study has shown that many people incorrectly assume NASA’s budget is 20% of the total US budget. In reality, funding for NASA is only represents 0.6%. The entire history of NASA does not add up to the amount spent on the military in a single year.



http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/ba.../#.UhQpk5K1GkB



Interactive version with more info: http://public.tableausoftware.com/vi...g/USPriorities



In 2010, Americans spent just as much money on pet food, as they did NASA's annual federal budget. Think about that..

And NASA creates jobs too..
0.6% of the budget is a whole heck of a lot higher than I would of anticipated; with that big of a chunk of the budget, it is a relative boondoggle of a program when you get down to it. That is a HUGE percentage of the budget when you consider how many programs are competing for a piece of the budget pie. You look at that percentage and think it is underfunded because you personally value it so much, but I doubt that you've ever really had to look at a large overall budget before (I may be mistaken in that). NASA should have its budget whacked; the privitization of space exploration will result in much more effective results. NASA laid a lot of groundwork--it was crucial for where we are now, but we are no longer in the mid 60s. Good things still come out of it and that is why I don't advocate for abolishing it completely. Give the reigns over to guys like Elon Musk and use the money for other emergent scientific disciplines. Cut it by 2/3rds and split the money between the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Health; you'll get more bang for your buck there.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:24 AM   #987
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Instead of "wind" mills why not "magnet" mills? Too costly?
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:26 AM   #988
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0.6% of the budget is a whole heck of a lot higher than I would of anticipated; with that big of a chunk of the budget, it is a relative boondoggle of a program when you get down to it. That is a HUGE percentage of the budget when you consider how many programs are competing for a piece of the budget pie. You look at that percentage and think it is underfunded because you personally value it so much, but I doubt that you've ever really had to look at a large overall budget before (I may be mistaken in that). NASA should have its budget whacked; the privitization of space exploration will result in much more effective results. NASA laid a lot of groundwork--it was crucial for where we are now, but we are no longer in the mid 60s. Good things still come out of it and that is why I don't advocate for abolishing it completely. Give the reigns over to guys like Elon Musk and use the money for other emergent scientific disciplines. Cut it by 2/3rds and split the money between the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Health; you'll get more bang for your buck there.
This amazes me sometimes. Did you look at the defense budget? How many multi-million dollar bombs do we need? Not nearly as many as we buy, and the defense budget is a contract sweepstakes for a handful of rich investors at the expense of the american public. We cant take care of hungry or sick people, but we can line the pockets of defense contractors with tax money, and then call for budget cuts to the greatest science organization ever known. phewwwwwwwww

I mean.. you do realize NASA does more than just send robots to mars right?
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:28 AM   #989
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You couldn't be more wrong... Think about that..

And NASA creates jobs too..
Here's an article I read a few years back, you might have read it too, that I think articulates your points (at least some of them) pretty well. I don't think we're really in disagreement, I think we just have different ways of arriving at the same point.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/898/1

Reletive to feeding the hungry the article says "Does anyone seriously believe that increasing spending on social programs from $1.581 trillion to $1.597 trillion would make any appreciable difference", and I think that's spot-on.

And you're right, we need NASA, we need the jobs it creates and we sure as hell need the many benefits it brings beyond those pretty pictures. But for every one of us who have an appreciation for particle physics, quantum theory, string theory, and the advancement of young minds, there's somebody who see those billions potentially being part of their next handout. And those handouts are their plan for funding their life.

So scientists getting funded will always be a sales jobs, on that you can count my friend. No matter if it's NASA, DARPA, or the sweet little lab in the basement of your favorite institution for higher education - science, unfortunately, needs salesmen. I hate reality sometimes Sir..
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:04 AM   #990
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Originally Posted by hometeam View Post
This amazes me sometimes. Did you look at the defense budget? How many multi-million dollar bombs do we need? Not nearly as many as we buy, and the defense budget is a contract sweepstakes for a handful of rich investors at the expense of the american public. We cant take care of hungry or sick people, but we can line the pockets of defense contractors with tax money, and then call for budget cuts to the greatest science organization ever known. phewwwwwwwww

I mean.. you do realize NASA does more than just send robots to mars right?
I don't know what your "argument" has to do with anything I said. If anything, you just supported what I was saying. The amount we spend on defense (and hey, lets include debt servicing while we are at it) really distorts "percentage" comparisons when we are talking about funding programs like NASA.

You have to look at return on investment--and that changes over time; during the 60s you had an incredible return on investment with the money spent on NASA even though in today's dollars valuation we actually spent a lot more money on the program. There were a lot of new discoveries and branches of sciences that spun off of the NASA program. Today, however, we have gone beyond a point of diminishing returns. The majority of money that currently goes into NASA would be better spent funding other science programs, as I mentioned, such as the National Science Foundation and National Institute for Health.

I'm all for slicing the defense budget; cut it in half. The cost of maintaining our military is strangling us. We didn't win the Cold War on the battlefield; we won it because we bankrupted the Soviets. Cutting the defense budget in half would eliminate a lot of deficit spending, that money could go towards paying down the servicing of our debt. We could then plow that money back into education, infrastructure and social programs (whose costs should start declining again in about 2035 when the boomers start dieing off). In the meantime, 2/3rds of the current NASA budget would go towards branches of science that have a higher RoI and as deficit spending decreases and is eliminated, the percentage of the budget spent on scientific research increases dramatically.

Just because you perceive that a particular program is a relatively small percentage of a budget doesn't mean it is a small program. 0.6% of the water in a bathtub is a completely different scale than 0.6% of the water in the Pacific ocean.
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