Lightning II

The Air Force has named the Joint Strike Fighter – Lightning II after the famous WWII warplane. As a former Blue Suiter and a student of all things related to Aerospace, I am a big fan of the P-38. Designed by the legendary Kelley Johnson and the fighter that America’s highest scoring ace Richard Bong flew, the original Lightning is a hard act to follow.

That said, I think the F-35 will blaze it’s own trail of greatness in aviation history.

P-38

F-35

Politics and Science

It’s very hard to get politics out of a discussion on scientific data. Especially when that data may lead to vast loss of wealth and or life in the future. It will always be in the interests of Big Business to keep things the way they are. Sell petroleum and make money now. Our entire infrastructure in the modern world revolves around oil and to change that infrastructure would mean that oil companies would loose money and society would have to suffer a lower standard of living while the economy struggled to convert to say, “solar power” or “modern miracle power source of your choice”. People dislike change. Keeping things normalized is in everyone’s best interest, except for the planet. If humans are indeed “Crapping in our Crib” as some have suggested, is that such a smart thing to do?

I study Astronomy and I can tell you that there is no other place for humanity to live anywhere near as nice as Earth – at least within our technological abilities. It is suicide as a species to destroy the Earth. You need only look at Venus to see what nature can do to a otherwise perfectly good planet. This does not mean that I think we are generating another Venus on Earth, just that by looking at our neighbors we can see how rare and fragile our ecology actually is. I believe the Earth does go through cycles of warm and cold that are related to our orbit and geological time scales. Up until the time of the Industrial Revolution, Man has had little effect on his environment. Oh sure, we’ve hunted some species to extinction, and that alone has probably affected the biosphere in some small way. However, it is illogical to assume that humanity is not now changing his environment to a much greater extent with current technology.

Before Global Warming reached the popular press, it was Global Nuclear War that the scientists were trying to warn us about. Again, we are capable of affecting our planet’s future in more ways than one. Not to mention the cosmic fate that took out the dinosaurs.

I don’t believe it’s a former “politician’s” place to warn society about future climatic change. I have not seen Gore’s movie, but I did see a trailer for it on iTunes. It looks like scare tactics are used heavily. Again, people don’t like to be told they need to change their ways. Trying to scare people into recycling or selling their SUV’s is not a good tactic in my opinion.

If Gore wanted to raise public awareness of Global Warming, he should have enlisted real scientists who are as much as possible, not influenced by government entities or politics. At the very least, he should have done it in a bipartisan manner by getting a Key Republican to join his efforts. That way the Right and the Left could not use politics as an excuse. But since Gore is a politician, he does what he knows. Pity.

I think the only good Gore is doing, its getting people’s attention focused on the problem. I don’t agree with his methods. The only defense against those who would use science to their own political will, is a skeptical mind. I like to think I’m more skeptical than most people and I don’t like what I see in Gore’s ways and I really don’t like what I see in the current administration’s ways either. Our rights are being taken away and science in general is being abused and ignored on many fronts. The demons of our distant past are returning and they haunt us still.

As for whether I believe in Global Warming, I can only believe the scientists whose work I am familiar with – Astronomers. And they are saying we should be looking for a new home.

The Demon-Haunted World

“The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan

Anyone who knows me very well, knows that I’m a big fan of Carl Sagan. I’ve read all his non-fiction books, most of them while I was still in high school. If you never read any other book by Sagan, this one should be it. There is a disturbing trend these days to slight science and science education. Fundamentalism is again raising it’s ugly head in the world and we could very easily loose everything and plunge the world back into darkness. This book explains why ID is insane, even if it was written long before Creationists thought of the title.

Life as We Do Not Know It

“Life as We Do Not Know It” by Peter Ward.
Ward’s writing sytle is approachable if not a tad bit too self absorbed. He has some valid ideas on classifying non-Earth related life, should it ever be found or created in the lab. I’d like to come back and read his other more well known work “Rare Earth” in which he takes the unpopular view that life may in deed be rare in the cosmos. I’m sticking with the Biology thread and delving into “The Beak of the Finch” next.

Planetary Society at 25

I was just a kid in junior high school when I heard Carl Sagan announce the formation of the Planetary Society on The Late Show With Johny Carson. I eagerly had my dad send in a check so that I could be a member.

Over the years I watched the achievements of the society and felt proud to be a member and to have my name rocketed to such real and wondrous places as Mars and Jupiter. Sail on Planetary Society, I’m right with you!

Space Wall Papers

Spotted this site on Shoutwire.com the Digg.com copycat for non-techies. It’s called Spacewallpapers.net and it appears to be a mix bag of NASA astronomy pictures and Sci-Fi inspired digital art. All images are suitable for large desk top images.

Note to Digg.com users – chill out! All the nasty posts on Shoutwire are in bad taste and poor judgment. I seriously doubt that Kevin Rose approves of your behavior.