Tuesday, July 26, 2005


36 years before Apollo 11
Wow. 36 years since Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon. It got me think about the pace of human technological progress, and I decided to do a little research.

36 years before Apollo, humans were already flying, but they had a long way to go in just 36 short years to be standing on the Moon.

So what about 36 years later? In 1969, most people assumed that by the turn of the millenium, humans would be permanently working and
36 years after Apollo 11
living in space-- both in orbit and on the Moon. Instead, our only space-going vehicle has been grounded for over two years, and until today, our only spacecraft in the U.S. cleared to fly was a sub-orbital craft built by an entrepreneur in Mojave, California.

Progress, indeed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Google Maps on the Moon

Yep, today is the 36th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's famous first step on the Moon. I can't believe that almost 40 years later, the U.S. has no functioning craft to even get us into Low Earth Orbit... oh well.

It's a cool day to commemorate, and Google has gone a step further than their usual special logo: They've created a special version of Google Maps for the Moon! It shows you the landing sites for the Apollo missions, and a special surprise if you zoom in all the way.



p.s. Google Moon is part of the Google Copernicus Project. These guys are forward-thinking!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Biodiesel: Not the answer, either?

A new study from Cornell and California-Berkeley says that it takes more fossil fuel to make ethanol than the ethanol itself will yield.

Supporters of ethanol as a renewable energy source have claimed in the past that only 60% of the yielded energy is needed to produce ethanol, but the new study challenges that number.

"The researchers included such factors as the energy used in producing the crop, costs that were not used in other studies that supported ethanol production, said Pimentel" [one of the study's authors].
Not wasting any time, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association issued a press release refuting the results, stating:
"Over the past decade, only two studies, both of which were conducted by Cornell University entomologist David Pimentel, have found the net energy balance of ethanol to be negative. The overwhelming majority of scientists... have argued Pimentel's studies use outdated data and a flawed methodology."

One thing that had not occurred to me before was this: How much fossil fuel energy is expended to produce petroleum fuels? Is it a productive formula?

Friday, July 15, 2005

Direct Link Between Lack of Exercise and Cancer Risk?

George sent me a clipping from Dr. Gabe Merkin's E-Zine on Health in which he describes the ways in which not exercising shortens your life:

How Lack of Exercise Shortens Lives

Many recent studies show that people die from inactivity, not just from aging. We know that as people age, they lose muscle, their immunities weaken and because of their weakened immunity, they are more likely to die of cancer and infectious
diseases. As you age, you lose your ability to kill germs because of lack of muscle. When germs get into your body, you must make white blood cells and proteins called antibodies to kill them. Antibodies and cells are made from protein and the only place that you can store extra protein is in your muscles. When you have
large muscles, you have a ready source of protein to make antibodies and cells. When you have small muscles, you have a very limited source of amino acids to make protein, so your immunity may be inadequate to kill germs.

You need antibodies to control cancer cells also. Each day, every healthy body makes millions of cancer cells. Your white blood cells and protein antibodies are necessary to ferret out and kill these cancer cells. You develop cancer when these
cancer cells survive and start growing. Having large muscles gives you the source of protein to make antibodies that kill cancer cells as well as germs. Furthermore, when your skeletal muscles are small, so is your heart muscle. A strong heart can withstand arteriosclerosis and infections that can kill a weak heart.

Lack of exercise causes muscles to get smaller. With aging, it takes increasingly longer to recover from exercise. When older people get injured or get tired too soon or feel sore too early, they do less and less or they stop exercising altogether. Instead, they should be exercising more intelligently so they can retain their muscles.

A major advantage of competing in sports at any age is that you can learn good training techniques and how to avoid injuries. If you can exercise into your nineties and beyond without quitting or getting injured, you can retain muscle mass, keep up your immunity and live longer and healthier.
Dr. Mirkin has a very informative website, and once hosted a wonderful radio program on health (you can still download over 200 hours of the programs in mp3 format). Unfortunately, he gave up the radio program to dedicate more time to bicycle racing. He has completed the Boston Marathon 6 times, has practiced medicine for over 40 years, and still is accepting new patients. Oh-- he's 70 years old.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Another Chance to see Battlestar Galactica

If you missed the Best Science Fiction on Television the first time around, you now can see the entire first season of the new Battlestar Galactica without having to buy the DVD Boxed Set.

The SciFi Channel will be airing a Battlestar Galactica marathon, beginning at 7:00am on July 6th. Check you local listings for times, of course.

Don't forget: The Season Two Premiere (which resolves the major cliff-hanger) will air on Friday, July 15th.