Originally published 06-02-2013
Hello and welcome back to the ‘Ever the Optimist’ podcast. We’re back and raring to go, so let’s get started! Remember, you can Like “Ever the Optimist” on Facebook and as always you can find links and discussions of show topics in our show notes at www.wyethdigital.com/optimist
Question of the week:
Russian researchers have discovered a prehistoric mammoth carcass in the New Siberian Islands in the arctic circle, that was so well preserved that when they began to remove the ice from around it’s belly, thick red blood began to flow out. Samples of blood, muscle tissue, teeth and bones have been sent to university labs in Yakutsk. A South Korean team, known for cloning a dog, have expressed interest in cloning the mammoth, which was about 60 years old when it died some 10,000 years ago. So the obvious Question of the Week is: Should we do this?
Bonus question: If successful, what should happen to the live mammoth?
A NASA scientist giving a talk at the 100 Year Starship conference in Houston, Texas last September declared that he has put together a theoretical model for a warp drive. Harold “Sonny” White, a nine year NASA veteran with a lab dubbed “Eagleworks” at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, claims that he’ll soon begin physical testing of his theories. If faster-than-light warp drive travel is possible, that means a trip to our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, that would take 75,000 years with conventional propulsion could take a mere two weeks with a warp drive. Engage!
Not only did famed science fiction author and notable recluse, Arthur C. Clarke, predict placing manmade satellites in geosynchronous orbit, he pretty much pioneered the concept. There’s no denying that he was a genius and a visionary, but let’s face it, even the best of us have an off day or two. Check out the link to the video of a rare in-studio interview of Arthur C. Clark by the BBC, circa 1963. He discusses moon colonization and moon-based astronomy among other things. But what was one of his biggest future fails? For one thing, Mr. Clarke predicted that the Russians would win the race to the moon, and that the United States would not likely reach the moon until after 1970. His quote:
“I think that it’s very unlikely that the American Moon project, which is really a colossal thing, costing $10 million a day, will succeed in getting a man to the Moon and back—which is equally important—before 1970, but it will not be much after that.”
Bzzzzt! Sorry, Artie, but you were wrong on that one! Care to try another?
Clarke also predicted that there would be a human mission to orbit, but not land, on Mars in 20 years, with a landing in 25 years. “So a Martian base may just come in this century.” That, too, was wrong. But I like the optimism!
Glass Half Full:
I’m going to travel back to this 100 Year Starship initiative. Imagine, if you will, an organization dedicated to the long-term endeavor of building and researching technologies that will, over the course of time, lead to a star ship designed for interstellar travel. An organization who’s ultimate goal will not be realized in the lifetimes of it’s progenitors, yet still inspires the dedication of philosophers, scientists, engineers, civil servants, industrialists and, hopefully, an engaged public. You can find them at 100yss.org, to learn more, but their mission statement is simple:
“We exist to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years. We unreservedly dedicate ourselves to identifying and pushing the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight, while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth. We actively seek to include the broadest swath of people and human experience in understanding, shaping and implementing this global aspiration.
Taking up this task ignites not only our imagination, but the undeniable human need to push ourselves to accomplishments greater than any single individual.”
Glass Half Empty:
In what may be an extremely short-sighted move, the International Science and Engineering Fair disqualified a teen who built a nuclear reactor. Wyoming high school senior, Conrad Farnsworth (relation unknown to future scientist, and Doomsday device collector Prof. Hubert Farnsworth) was disqualified from the fair on a technicality — apparently he had entered too many science fairs. There’s a couple of half-empty things wrong with this:
1st – Too MANY science fairs? He’s only one of 15 teens in the world to ever build a nuclear fusion reactor and someone is worried about how many science fairs this genius has entered? What, do they want to make more room for baking soda volcanoes?
2nd – He’s a TEEN WITH A NUCLEAR REACTOR! Do you really want to piss off a bucket of hormonal soup who spent four years building his working fusion reactor instead of (presumably) going on dates?!?
Also, he’s from Wyoming, the state that “gave” us Dick Cheney.
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