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Stop Building Bombs and Start Building Starships

In Archive, News, Science & Technology on April 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM

By Steven Ross Pomeroy Scientific American

In 1969, a great shadow was cast over the United States. That shadow, however, was not one of gloom. Instead of evoking the absence of light, this shadow caused us to look up in wonder at the brightness that created it. When the Saturn V Rocket propelling Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins dashed across the blue, cloud-splotched sky, we did not see a dark present. We glimpsed a bright future.

Elsewhere, however, truly ominous shadows were cast by rockets which never saw the sun. Nestled in silos and buried beneath barren landscapes, “Minuteman” missiles meant not to uplift man, but to deliver the end of man, shrouded much of our world in trepidation.

These two rockets, with two very distinct purposes, bring into focus a problem that has long plagued our nation. We spend far too much money on war, and not enough on science.

Considering that we are nearing the ominously titled “fiscal cliff” — a series of government spending cuts and tax increases that will automatically take effect if Congress and the President do not act to stop it — we have a unique opportunity to review Federal spending and ensure that we are investing our time and wealth to their most productive ends.

I argue that such a review – if guided by reason – would reveal that defense spending should be reduced in order to make way for a world-changing commitment to science and technology, a bold move that will put both the United States and the world on a path to a bright future.

As it stands today, the United States is clearly over militarized. Defense spending in 2011 was estimated at $711 Billion. That’s equal to the combined budgets of the next fourteen top-spending countries, over half of whom are strong U.S. allies. Moreover, a 2011 Government Accountability Office audit of defense spending found that a combined $70 billion was wasted in 2010 and 2009.

This over-the-top spending is indicative of a military-industrial-complex run amok, precisely the scenario that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, perhaps the most revered military commander of the 20th century, warned against in his farewell address. “Together, we must learn how to compose differences not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose,” he avowed.

I can think of no better way to fulfill Eisenhower’s vision than through the pursuit of science.

By intelligently, purposefully, and gradually drawing down the defense budget from 4.7% to 3.0% of GDP (from $709 to $453 billion), and diverting some of those funds to meaningful science projects of both national and global significance, the United States can accomplish the essential goal of protecting its citizens, while simultaneously making the world a safer, healthier place and reinvigorating our economy.

We can begin the funding transition at home by re-committing ourselves to NASA. If we double the space agency’s budget (currently at $17.8 billion), our space accomplishments in ten years will dwarf even the monumental success of this summer, when the Curiosity rover landed on Mars.

We can complete the James Webb Space Telescope, allowing us to peer farther into the Universe than ever before. We can go to Mars by the end of the decade, a mission which astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson insists “would reboot America’s capacity to innovate as no other force in society can.” And with the recent news that warp drive may be more feasible than originally thought, we can focus on researching and eventually engineering interstellar starships that could one day take humans to Gliese 581 g — a potentially habitable Earth-like planet — in a mere two years. Along the way we could solve a myriad of other problems, writes Space.com’s Clara Moskowitz:

“…if human beings can solve the challenges of interstellar spaceflight, in the process they will have solved many of the problems plaguing Earth today, experts said. For example, building a starship will require figuring out how to conserve and recycle resources, how to structure societies for the common well-being, and how to harness and use energy sustainably.”

In addition to funding NASA, we can make fusion energy research a top national priority. Fusion power – an unparalleled energy source that generates electricity by effectively creating a miniature star – has eluded scientists for decades, but researchers now believe that successful fusion is within mankind’s grasp. Before the year is out, scientists at the National Ignition Facility in California hope to fire the world’s most powerful laser into a small test chamber with pea-sized fuel pellets of deuterium and tritium inside. The two isotopes of hydrogen will fuse together and potentially create up to one hundred times more energy than was used to ignite the fuel.

This breakthrough could serve as our “Sputnik Moment” for energy production. If we can put a man on the Moon a mere eight years after deciding to do so, then surely we can master “star power” if we pledge ourselves to the task. Fusion produces no carbon emissions, could provide power for thousands of years, is estimated to be cost-competitive with coal, and is unquestionably the energy source of the future. Yet despite the impressive resumé, fusion energy research is only allotted a relatively paltry $474.6 million. Why wait for the future to happen later? With additional spending freedom by making cuts in defense, we can fund fusion and make that future happen now.

Abroad, armed with science, the United States could make an even bigger difference. Instead of paying $1 billion for a new B-2 bomber or $2 billion for a Virgina Class Submarine – tools designed to forcefully combat the symptoms of the world’s problems — we could pay less and actually work to solve those problems. We live in a new age where people can collaborate as never before, working cooperatively across previously insurmountable barriers of distance and language. In this modern age, we don’t need an army of soldiers; we need an army of scientists.

The United States should spearhead a global public-private coalition with the aim of using science and technology to solve the pressing problems of the present and the surfacing challenges of the future. Partner countries will join and lend funding as well. Such a program could recruit scientists from around the world and form them into separate divisions, each tasked with an individual goal, such as curing disease, solving the emerging water crisis, or spreading modern agriculture practices.

Effective communication and outreach on an unprecedented scale will be paramount to the project’s success. This must involve on-the-ground collaboration with local governments, scientists, and stakeholders, especially in the Global South and the Third World. Solving global problems will need to be reconciled with local priorities.

Such an initiative would be a boon, both foreign and domestic. It would create jobs, spur innovation, foster global goodwill, and boost the world economy. It may also result in revolutionary discoveries that would eliminate many of the primary causes of conflict and war. In a world fortified by scientific discovery, there would simply be no need for exorbitant defense spending.

After reading this proposal, it’s natural to be somewhat incredulous. The undertaking that I have outlined is bold and would require the type of political consensus that we haven’t seen in well over a decade. But it is not wistful, nor is it too costly or overly naive. It can be done.

Setting our defense spending at 3.0% of GDP is far from unprecedented; it’s the same level we had during President Clinton’s second term. And the notion of aiding the developing world through a massive, coordinated scientific endeavor was also previously conceived. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy entertained a proposal to undertake a large-scale irrigation project to benefit the Third World. Instead, he chose an equally worthwhile enterprise: going to the Moon.

That courageous expedition – conducted in the midst of a Cold War with the Soviet Union and a hot war in Vietnam — proved that Science can be mightier than the Sword. In the decades that followed, we have forgotten this. It is time to remember it.

Images: Submarine and Starship

Steven Ross Pomeroy About the Author: Steven Ross Pomeroy is the assistant editor for Real Clear Science, a science news aggregator. He regularly contributes to RCS’ Newton Blog. As a writer, Steven believes that his greatest assets are his insatiable curiosity and his ceaseless love for learning. Follow on Twitter @SteRoPo.

France bans all GMO corn, including Monsanto

In Archive, France, GMO, News, Science & Technology on April 19, 2014 at 8:17 AM

(rt) France’s lower house of parliament passed a law Tuesday prohibiting genetically modified (GM) maize from being grown, citing environmental concerns. The law can be applied to any GM strain that is adopted at EU level.

The law follows a decree last month, which halted the planting of Monsanto’s insect-resistant maize MON810, which will be allowed for cultivation in the EU, Reuters reported.

But if any strain of GM crop is adopted in the future at EU level – including Pioneer 1507, which was developed by DuPont and Dow Chemical – it will be subsequently banned in France.

Pioneer 1507 could be approved by the EU later this year, after 19 of the 28 EU member states failed to gather enough votes to block it.

The law adopted Tuesday by France’s lower house (National Assembly) is similar to one rejected by the upper house (Senate) in February, which was seen as unconstitutional.

“It is essential today to renew a widely shared desire to maintain the French ban. This bill strengthens the decree passed last March by preventing the immediate cultivation of GMO and extending their reach to all transgenic maize varieties” Jean Marie Le Guen, the minister in charge of relations with parliament, told the National Assembly.

The current Socialist-led government in France, like the previous conservative one, has opposed the growing of GM crops because of public suspicion and protests by environmentalists.

Le Guen called for an EU system that would make sure that the decisions of member states not to adopt GM crops could not be challenged legally.

A debate on the future of EU policy is going on at EU level, with the European Commission suggesting an opt-out that would allow individual countries to ban GM crops.

The French ban on GM maize will now have to go to the Senate for approval. However, even if it is rejected again, the National Assembly will have the final say.

While France is against genetically modified crops, the UK argues that without them, Europe risks becoming “the museum of world farming.” Spain also says its own farmers have to be able to compete with those outside the EU – many of whom are growing GM crops.

GM crops, though still unpopular in Europe, are widely grown in the US and Asia.

Two Astonishing Cases Of Men Who Say They Traveled Through Time

In Archive, Conspiracy, News, Science & Technology on April 5, 2014 at 1:40 AM

MessageToEagle.com – If a person told you he has visited the past or future, you would probably not believe him.

If the same person revealed to you that he is a regular time traveler, you would most likely never talk to him again.

The subject of time travel is considered to be just as fascinating as contradicting. “How can we solve time travel paradoxes? Is faster than light travel really possible?” These are just some of the scientists have been asking themselves while scratching their heads.

People’s interest in the possibility of time travel started a long time.

H.G. Wells book The Time Machine, one of the earliest works of science fiction and the progenitor of the “time travel” opened the way to many more publications and interest in the topic spread quickly. Both the public and some elements of the scientific community began to ponder if time travel made any sense at all.

If traveling back in time is possible at all, it should in theory be only possible to travel back to the point when the first time machine was created and so this would mean that time travelers from the future would be able to visit us, many scientists speculated.

While the possibility of time travel has never been eliminated, scientists have identified a number of physical challenges and the debate is ongoing.

In September 2011, CERN researchers announced the discovery of sub-atomic particles apparently traveling faster than light.

According to Jeff Forshaw, a Professor of particle physics at Britain’s Manchester University, these results if confirmed would mean it would be possible in theory to “send information into the past.”

The discovery would open up intriguing theoretical possibilities.

“Light speed is a cosmic speed limit and it exists in order to protect the law of cause and effect,” said Professor Forshaw.

“If something travels faster than the cosmic speed limit, then it becomes possible to send information into the past – in other words, time travel into the past would become possible. That does not mean we’ll be building time-machines anytime soon though – there is quite a gulf between a time-traveling neutrino to a time-traveling human.”

The biggest theoretical problem is known as the time-travel paradox. If someone travels back in time and does something to prevent their own existence, then how can time travel be possible? The classic example is the time traveler who kills his grandfather before his own father is conceived.
Civilization stuck on an endless loop on the very fabric of time. Is time travel possible?

Cosmologists, renowned for their imaginative ingenuity, have come up with a way round this paradox.

They have suggested that there is not one universe but many. In fact there could be so many different universes that every possible outcome of any event actually takes place. In this multiple universe, or “multiverse” model, a woman who goes back in time to murder her own granny can get way with it because in the universe next door the granny lives to have the daughter who becomes the murderer’s mother.

Recently, scientists announced they have discovered the first evidence of a multiple universe, , which is another indication we should not dismiss the possibility of time travel too quickly. There is still a lot we don’t know and our knowledge of science and the universe keeps expanding every day.

The subject of time travel has fascinated humans for a long time.

There are many people who claim to have traveled through time. Among them are Seattle Attorney Andrew Basiago and Håkan Nordqvist from Sweden.

In 2004, Andrew Basiago made a very controversial announcement publicly claiming that from the time he was 7 to when he was 12, he participated in “Project Pegasus,” a secret U.S. government program that he said worked on teleportation and time travel under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“They trained children along with adults so they could test the mental and physical effects of time travel on kids. Also, children had an advantage over adults in terms of adapting to the strains of moving between past, present and future,” Basiago said.

During this time, Basiago said that he experienced eight different time travel technologies. Mostly, he said, his travel involved a teleporter based on technical papers supposedly found in pioneering mechanical engineer Nikola Tesla’s New York City apartment after his death in January 1943.

“The machine consisted of two gray elliptical booms about eight feet tall, separated by about 10 feet, between which a shimmering curtain of what Tesla called ‘radiant energy’ was broadcast,” Basiago said. “Radiant energy is a form of energy that Tesla discovered that is latent and pervasive in the universe and has among its properties the capacity to bend time-space.”

Basiago also said that he had seen a photograph of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863 and traveled to Ford’s Theatre the night of Lincoln’s assassination on five or six occasions, but he never witnesses the assassination.

Basiago said each of his visits to the past was different, “like they were sending us to slightly different alternative realities on adjacent timelines. As these visits began to accumulate, I twice ran into myself during two different visits.”

These time travelers returned to the present day or their point of origin with help of some sort of holographic technology allowed them to travel both physically and virtually.

“If we were in the hologram for 15 minutes or fewer,” Basiago explained, “the hologram would collapse, and after about 60 seconds of standing in a field of super-charged particles … we would find ourselves back on the stage … in the present.”

Basiago said the technology should only be used for real-time teleportation, not time travel, because, “It would be chaos.”

Andrew Basiago shares his story of time travel and Project Pegasus with activist and radio host Bob Tuskin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7lflso7mT0

Håkan Nordkvist in Sweden claims to have visited the future and he says he has proof of it. 

Both stories are as interesting as unbelievable, but as Einstein said: ” The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

Can we with certainty say what is really possible and not?

Follow MessageToEagle.com for the latest news on Facebook and Twitter !

10th Anniversary; The Face on Mars: Q&A

In Archive, NASA, News, Science & Technology on April 5, 2014 at 12:14 AM

faceonmars

Mysterious Universe; Nick Redfern

This summer will mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of Mac Tonnies’ book on the “Face on Mars.” Its title: After the Martian Apocalypse. While, today, the “Face” may not provoke the scale of controversy that it did a decade ago, there are still significant things to say about it. One of them is an interview I did with Tonnies just after the book was published.

The Q&A was for a magazine that folded just after it barely began, which meant it never saw the light of day. But, I kept the interview on file and figured: why not bring it to your attention? It’s a long interview, so I’ve split it into two-parts. In the Q&A below, I am, of course, “NR,” and Mac is “MT.”

NR: How did you get interested in the controversy surrounding the so-called Face on Mars?

MT: I’ve always had an innate interest in the prospect of extraterrestrial life. When I realized that there was an actual scientific inquiry regarding the Face and associated formations, I realized that this was a potential chance to lift SETI from the theoretical arena; it’s within our ability to visit Mars in person. This was incredibly exciting, and it inspired an interest in Mars itself — its geological history, climate, et cetera.

NR: What is your background?

MT: I have a BA in Creative Writing. So, of course, there are those who will happily disregard my book because I’m not “qualified.” I suppose my question is “Who *is* qualified to address potential extraterrestrial artifacts?” Certainly not JPL, whose Mars exploration timetable is entirely geology-driven. We direly need to rethink how we practice SETI; in that spirit, After the Martian Apocalypse can be read as an editorial or manifesto.

NR: For readers unfamiliar with the story of the Face and Mars and associated structures, what is the background to it, how was the face first identified, when, and who by?

MT: The first two objects to attract attention were the Face and the “D&M Pyramid,” both unearthed by digital imaging specialists Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar. Their research was published in “Unusual Martian Surface Features”; shortly after, Richard Hoagland pointed out a collection of features near the Face which he termed the “City.” NASA itself discovered the Face and even showed it at a press conference after it had been photographed by the Viking mission in the 1970s. Of course, it was written off as a curiosity. Scientific analysis would have to await independent researchers.

cydonia

NR: When and how did the controversy really start?

MT: When NASA dismissed the Face as a “trick of light,” they cited a second, discomfirming photo allegedly taken at a different sun-angle. This photo never existed. DiPietro and Molenaar had to dig through NASA archives to find a second image of the Face — and, far from disputing the face-like appearance, it strengthened the argument that the Face remained face-like from multiple viewing angles.

NR: What were/are the primary theories of the leading independent researchers?

MT: The prevailing alternative to NASA’s geological explanation — that the Face and other formations are natural landforms — is that we’re seeing extremely ancient artificial structures built by an unknown civilization.

NR: What does NASA say about the controversy?

MT: NASA chooses to ignore that there is a controversy, or at least a controversy in the scientific sense. Since making the Face public in the 1970s, NASA has made vague allusions to humans’ ability to “see faces” (e.g. the “Man in the Moon”) and has made lofty dismissals, but it has yet to launch any sort of methodical study of the objects under investigation.  Collectively, NASA frowns on the whole endeavor.  Mainstream SETI theorists are equally hostile.

pareidolia

MT: Basically, the Face — if artificial — doesn’t fall into academically palatable models of how extraterrestrial intelligence will reveal itself, if it is in fact “out there.” Searching for radio signals is well and good, but scanning the surface of a neighboring planet for signs of prior occupation is met with a very carefully cultivated institutionalized scorn. And of course it doesn’t help that some of the proponents of the Face have indulged in more than a little baseless “investigation.”

NR: What are your views/conclusions?

MT: I think some of the objects in the Cydonia region of Mars are probably artificial. And I think the only way this controversy will end is to send a manned mission. The features under investigation are extremely old and warrant on-site archaeological analysis. We’ve learned — painfully — that images from orbiting satellites won’t answer the fundamental questions raised by the Artificiality Hypothesis.

NR: Do you believe all the perceived anomalous structures are indeed that or do you feel some are of natural origin while some are of unnatural origin?

MT: I suspect that we’re seeing a fusion of natural geology and megascale engineering. For example, the Face is likely a modified natural mesa, not entirely unlike some rock sculptures on Earth but on a vastly larger and more technically challenging scale.

NR: What are your views on the idea that some more recent images appear to show signs of vegetation?

MT: The Mars Global Surveyor has taken images of anomalous branching objects that look for all the world like organic phenomena. Arthur C. Clarke, for one, is sold on the prospect of large forms of life on Mars, and has been highly critical of JPL’s silence.

NR: Can you expand on this – theories as to what sort of vegetation (if indeed that is what it is), the areas it has been seen in, implications.

MT: Clarke’s most impressive candidates are what he has termed “banyan trees” near the planet’s south pole.  And he collaborated with Mars researcher Greg Orme in a study of similar features NASA has termed “black spiders” — root-like formations that suggest tenacious macroscopic life.

mars-trees

NR: Is there a relationship between the face and the pyramids and similar in Egypt? What does the research community think of this perceived connection?

MT: There’s a superficial similarity between some of the alleged pyramids in the vicinity of the Face and the better-known ones here on Earth. This has become the stuff of endless arcane theorizing, and I agree with esoteric researchers that some sort of link between intelligence on Mars and Earth deserves to be taken seriously.

MT: But the formations on Mars are much, much larger than terrestrial architecture. This suggests a significantly different purpose, assuming they’re intelligently designed. Richard Hoagland, to my knowledge, was the first to propose that the features in Cydonia might be “arcologies” — architectural ecologies — built to house a civilization that might have retreated underground for environmental reasons.

And part-2 will follow soon…

Google Claims it Will Now Encrypt All Search Data – Do You Believe Them?

In News, NSA, Science & Technology, Surveillance, USA on March 15, 2014 at 5:57 AM

via 4thAnon

21st Century Wire says…

The headlines read, “Google to encrypt searches, aims to foil NSA and China”. Really?

Google aims to foil the NSA… now that sure sounds great, but beyond the flowery headlines, that’s pretty hard to believe considering how from the beginning, Google’s financial and boardroom links to the NSA, CIA, DARPA, and Bilderberg have defined its ‘higher purpose’ as the data infrastructure of choice which the general populace works through.

From a PR standpoint, it’s a no-brainer that Google and other big players who dominate the global user base – have to clean up their public image and repair trust issues by simply releasing grandiose statements in their corporate press releases.

China is always a great media buzzword, but post-Snowden, Americans no longer see China as the evil neighbor, rather, as our Orwellian brothers and sisters.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s made a grand pledge recently that Google would use encryption in order “to counter internet censorship”.

“I believe there’s a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade”, said Schmidt.

This is the same Eric Schmidt who meets in secret with two hundred other global luminaries every year in June at the Bilderberg Summit to chart humanities course for the coming year. There is no transparency with Bilderberg’s agenda, so it’s highly doubtful that Schmidt’s Google would be transparent either.

What more likely here, is that Google will provide encryption, but they will still analysis the raw data and players like the NSA will be given (or will take) the encryption keys. Just a minor formality at the end of the day.

Bottom line: because of the collusion between firms like Google, Facebook and Microsoft – the trust is gone.

Until the NSA is scrapped and firms like Google have to sign public charters guarranteeing compliance to Americans’ Bill of Rights, then it’s just more of the same.

Google is encrypting search globally. That’s bad for the NSA and China’s censors.

Craig Timberg and JIa Lynn Yang
Washington Post


Google has begun routinely encrypting Web searches conducted in China, posing a bold new challenge to that nation’s powerful system for censoring the Internet and tracking what individual users are viewing online.

The company says the move is part of a global expansion of privacy technology designed to thwart surveillance by government intelligence agencies, police and hackers who, with widely available tools, can view e-mails, search queries and video chats when that content is unprotected.


China’s Great Firewall, as its censorship system is known, has long intercepted searches for information it deemed politically sensitive. Google’s growing use of encryption there means that government monitors are unable to detect when users search for sensitive terms, such as “Dalai Lama” or “Tiananmen Square,” because the encryption makes them appear as indecipherable strings of numbers and letters.

China — and other nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, that censor the Internet on a national level — will still have the option of blocking Google search services altogether. But governments will have more difficulty filtering content for specific search terms. They also will have more trouble identifying which people are searching for information on sensitive subjects, experts say.

The development is the latest — and perhaps most unexpected — consequence of Edward Snowden’s release last year of National Security Agency documents detailing the extent of government surveillance of the Internet. Google and other technology companies responded with major new investments in encryption worldwide…

Continue this story at Washington Post

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