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P. McRell
Attends the school of hard knocks


P. McRell

Space Exploration  - 
Buzz is right: we can get to Mars faster, cheaper; and with more permanence by focusing on one-way missions.
Buzz Aldrin showed his support for a permanent human settlement on Mars before the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. Check out this interesting article for more information! - NBC News
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kidfarthest's profile photoJan Wallgren's profile photoSidney Rooks's profile photoT.d B's profile photo
I like Musk's take on this. He's fully planning on sending the Mars Colonial Transporter back to Earth (as it's going to be expensive). Whether people chose to stay or leave on a given trip is their business. :D I think this is too often bill as a permanent one way trip. It could be for some, but then folks could always head back after a number of years working on the colony as well. I suspect once we get into the habit of sending regular supply runs, the costs will come down.
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P. McRell

Space Exploration  - 
NASA's last CTO has a strong opinion on Mars One
Defeatism, cynicism and mindless conservatism didn't get us to the moon, writes Mason A. Peck, an associate professor of engineering at Cornell University and an unpaid adviser to Mars One.
P. McRell's profile photoSean Johansson's profile photoJuan Manuel Grau Lafaurie's profile photoKarim Qaiser's profile photo
+Sean Johansson How do they resupply those bases with toilet paper? You seem like the kind of guy who is in the know.
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P. McRell

Science News (Pop Sci)  - 
Who cares about consumer goods - this is the real threat to Western dominance...
Robert Scholz's profile photocharity ferguson's profile photoCalamity Mia's profile photoSilas Botwin's profile photo
Matt, no evidence, no respect. The information you have posted could have been generated by a 6th grader whereas we have posted examples of scientific proof. So in regards to rhetoric, that's all you.

Show us why Thorium can't be used as the primary feedstock in a fission reactor as my sources clearly illustrate or we will continue to treat you as an uneducated crank.
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P. McRell

➥ Project/Product photos  - 

As if it itsn't cold enough around here...  may I present the poor man's cryo-cooler.  For this project you will need the following:

Alcohol, the purer the better.  Don't use less than 99% isopropyl 
A tall soda can (16 oz) (a shorter one would probably work fine).
A plastic vessel the soda can fits in but leaves a little room on the sides.
3lbs of dry ice.

Safety gear:
Safety glasses
Insulated gloves
Long pants and long sleeve shirt

Toenail cutter
Aluminized mylar blanket "space blanket"

Safety notices:
The alcohol bath gets down to -77F (-60C).  While not as cold as liquid nitrogen, this stuff also doesn't immediately turn to gas when in contact with your skin.  Instead it will cling to your skin like cold napalm continuing to burn until it finally reaches an equilibrium temperature.  

Do not let the chilled alcohol touch your skin and take great pains not to have an accident.  If the alcohol spills on your clothing, remove it without delay.  If you are too slow, it will freeze the article of clothing to you.  If it does, do not attempt to pull hard; you will only succeed in removing a chunk of meat from the affected area on your body.  In any event, seek medical assistance immediately.

Do not breathe the CO2 vapor and do not perform this procedure in an enclosed area.  A buildup of 10% CO2 in an enclosed space can kill you in under 15 minutes.  If you experience headache, sweating, rapid breathing, increased heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, mental depression, visual disturbances or shaking, immediately leave the area where the experiment is happening, alerting any others in the area of your situation.  

After drinking the contents, cut the top off of the soda can with the toenail clippers.  The technique is to place the jaws of the clippers over the crimped edge on the top of the can, then squeeze the lever while moving the non-cutting end of the clippers away from the center of the can.  When it cuts through the aluminum you will hear a soft click.  Work around the top of the can until the whole top comes off.

Rinse the inside of the can to remove any of the original contents and dry thoroughly. Be careful, the cut edge will be razor sharp.  To make it safer, I bend the tapered edge inside the can little by little bending it by hand and working my way around.  Precision is not required.  

Drill several holes in the side of the plastic container at the top and bottom.  Place the can inside the plastic container making sure that there is some room for the air to flow around the can inside the container.  See the drawn illustration.  

We will use the space blanket to wrap the dry ice in for storage.  Unfold it completely, then loosely fold it in half 3-4 times.  This will yield several layers of the material with air layers between, making it very insulative, denying radiation, convection, and conduction as methods of heat transfer.  

Wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt when doing the next steps.  Put on the gloves and eye protection.  Place the dry ice on a solid surface and break it with the hammer into pieces small enough to drop into the can.  If you can, collect the dust that chips off the dry ice and dump that in the can as well.  The can will make some haunted house noises as it contracts from the extreme cold, this is normal.  

Completely fill the can with dry ice chunks.  Place the remainder of the dry ice in the center of the space blanket and wrap it up, keeping the mylar layers fluffy.  Slowly pour the alcohol into the can.  It will cause the dry ice to sublimate into CO2 pretty violently with the characteristic fog.  

DO NOT breathe this.  CO2 is not a breathable gas, and it will contain the isopropyl alcohol in an aerosol.  This would be profoundly bad for and to you, not get you high.  

Keep adding the alcohol until the dry ice is covered in liquid.  You will notice that the alcohol does not freeze, but instead gets thicker.  As it approaches the consistency of thick motor oil you will notice the bubbling begin to calm down.  This is because the alcohol is near the sublimation point of the dry ice, around -77F (-60C).

At this point you can put the assembly into a cooler, and the convection flow around the can will cool the air inside the cooler.  Just drop a lump of dry ice in occasionally to maintain the temperatures.  I will report the temperatures in the cooler shown over time.

You can also freeze things like flowers or gummy bears by dipping them briefly in the alcohol bath.  These will shatter when dropped or struck with a hammer.  Most cryo experiments will work reasonably well at these temps, but bear in mind that Methanol and isopropyl alcohols are not food safe.  Use pure ethanol for food experiments.

Another good use is to demonstrate the hazards of extreme cold.  Take a hot dog and place it in a work glove finger.  Place this finger in the chilled alcohol for a couple of minutes.  Remove the glove and simulated finger from the bath, shaking off the excess alcohol.  Strike the glove finger against a hard object like a wall or steel hand rail.  If the glove stays together, there will be cracks, but the hot dog will have shattered in the glove, just as a finger would have.
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P. McRell

Science Bytes (Memes, Cartoons, Images)  - 
Imagine what our grandchildren/great grandchildren will be able to holographically explore even before they can talk.
Astronomers Create First 3D Map Of Hidden Universe

Mapping the cosmos sounds like a daunting challenge, but now an international team of astronomers has managed to do just that.
Using a powerful new computer algorithm and observational data from one of the world's biggest telescopes, the astronomers have created a luminous 3D map of the universe as it was just 3 billion years after the Big Bang (the universe is now 13.8 billion years old).
The astronomical equivalent of a medical CT scan, the so-called "Lyman-alpha tomographic" map gives an unprecedented look at the cosmic web -- the vast galaxy-containing filaments that form the backbone of the universe.

To create the map, the team -- led by Dr. Khee-Gan Lee of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Astronomy -- pointed the 10-meter Keck I telescope atop Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on a portion of the sky equivalent to one-tenth of the full moon. The telescope picked up light from galaxies more than 15 billion times fainter than the faintest stars visible to the naked eye, according to a written statement issued by the institute.

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P. McRell

Space Exploration  - 
Are big dreams like colonizing Mars or traveling between LA and SF in 35 minutes actually possible in the 20's? 

Elon Musk and the pioneers of trains, planes and automobiles before him were smiled at as dreamers when the public first got wind of their literally unbelievable vision. 

Apollo was considered by most Americans to be a waste of money and extravagantly dangerous even after it succeeded. Once Nixon discovered it wasn't polling even 50% he shut it down rather than allow Apollo to achieve boots on Mars in 1982 as NASA had planned. People didn't much cotton to passenger airlines or cars for several decades after introduction because of similar reasons.

What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches? - The Quarterly Review, England (March 1825)

A new source of power... called gasoline has been produced by a Boston engineer. Instead of burning the fuel under a boiler, it is exploded inside the cylinder of an engine. The dangers are obvious. Stores of gasoline in the hands of people interested primarily in profit would constitute a fire and explosive hazard of the first rank. Horseless carriages propelled by gasoline might attain speeds of 14 or even 20 miles per hour. The menace to our people of vehicles of this type hurtling through our streets and along our roads and poisoning the atmosphere would call for prompt legislative action even if the military and economic implications were not so overwhelming... [T]he cost of producing [gasoline] is far beyond the financial capacity of private industry... In addition the development of this new power may displace the use of horses, which would wreck our agriculture. - U. S. Congressional Record, 1875.

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. - Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), ca. 1895, British mathematician and physicist

I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. Two years later we ourselves made flights. This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet gave me such a shock that ever since I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions. - Wilbur Wright (1867-1912)

To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth--all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances. - Lee deForest (1873-1961) (American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube.) Feb 25, 1957.

Space travel is utter bilge. - Dr. Richard van der Reit Wooley, Astronomer Royal, space advisor to the British government, 1956. (Sputnik orbited the earth the following year.)

Look, if a few fools think that removing hours off the transit time between major American cities or enabling our species to become interplanetary has significant merit, and are even crazy enough to think that the silly Pollyanna who reinvented the yellow pages (zip2), financial transactions (payal), solar power for the masses (solar city), electric cars (tesla), and rockets (spacex) might be able to figure out how, call me crazy.

And Musk isn't the only one credibly working towards these goals whose development isn't even a rounding error in the global economy...Can we agree that it's high time we dream and work towards a future that blows away the scarcities and constraints of the present, creates a new frontier with new technology for all humanity, and inspires our youth as we once did? 

Or are we having too much fun bitching and fighting over the same old pie?
55 votes
Big Dreams, I'm in
We can't afford such silly distractions
P. McRell's profile photoChris Ehmett's profile photo
+Thomas Hill You can often contribute your thoughts and hopes to hundreds, thousands, or even more on the web whenever you have time.

For the vast majority of time since we became human, that was all but impossible for even our most ambitious and charismatic leaders.
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P. McRell

Science News (Pop Sci)  - 
NASA's last CTO has a strong opinion on Mars One and its technical/scientific challenges 
Defeatism, cynicism and mindless conservatism didn't get us to the moon, writes Mason A. Peck, an associate professor of engineering at Cornell University and an unpaid adviser to Mars One.
Jamie Doggett's profile photoKULDEEP SHARMA's profile photoJennifer Ballard's profile photoCarlos F. Lange's profile photo
Better to try and fail than to never even try. I fully support Mars One. The entertainment side is just an ingenious way to fund it, it's not the primary goal of the mission to make a reality TV show. The candidates are going in to this with eyes wide open as to what it means for them and the rest of their lives, and if successful they will go down in history and be remembered forever. Yes there are technical hurdles to overcome, but if we never even try, we will never overcome them will we?
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P. McRell

Discussion  - 
NASA's last CTO is concerned that the cynics of the future are winning...
Defeatism, cynicism and mindless conservatism didn't get us to the moon, writes Mason A. Peck, an associate professor of engineering at Cornell University and an unpaid adviser to Mars One.
Armando OrtizV's profile photofocusontheargument's profile photoMario Radanovic's profile photoSean Homer's profile photo
Maybe what is needed is a talented public relations guy and propaganda machine. Just like in some countries (excluding those who oppressed their people); actions of their politicians are clear lies, and some were stupid, but they had a very large following.
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P. McRell

General  - 
Not a movie set - but the kind of aesthetic 100 people at a time might experience on their way to Mars in the 20's if Elon is successful with Falcon Heavy/MCT/re-usable rockets in the next few years
NASA's Next Space Race: SpaceX vs. Boeing ... BELOW: The inside of SpaceX's Dragon V2, designed to take seven crewmembers to space. ... "Two American spaceflight companies are quietly competing in a space race for the new era.

SpaceX and Boeing are vying to become the first private firms to fly astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA sometime in 2017. NASA chose both companies as part of the agency's commercial crew program, which may effectively end NASA's current sole reliance on Russian vehiclesto get astronauts to and from the orbiting outpost. ..."

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Alexander Fretheim's profile photoP. McRell's profile photoFinal Cut Media Productions's profile photoUriel Orozco's profile photo
O2 will take a very long time because it will be done the way it was on earth - with archaea, but creating a warm atmosphere would only take decades or centuries at the worst.

If you built a 100% sunshade for Venus in the Venus-Sun LaGrange, it would take hundreds of years just to freeze out the atmosphere. The sunshade would have to be 4x the diameter of Venus.

You could build cloud cities, but lack of water and intense radiation would require incredible amounts of mass and that isn't terraforming.

Either way, days and nights last for almost 4 months on Venus and that will require asteroid bombardment to speed up rotation on a scale beyond anything practical in our foreseeable future.

Mars just needs its nominal atmosphere heated by 5C and you are off to the races. It's trivial in comparison.

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P. McRell

Space Exploration  - 
Exploration has always been dangerous and controversial. I doubt we'll ever live in a society where high risk endeavors, even those critical for our species, don't attract critics.
Another exciting Mars Exchange article has been released! Mason Peck, PhD, who served as NASA’s Chief Technologist, discusses whether broadcasting the human mission to Mars as entertainment opens up moral risks. - Mars Exchange
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P. McRell

• Computer Science  - 
His HHMM algorithms have already made Google's natural language capabilities much better - what's next?
Is Google a Search or Singularity Company: Ray Kurzweil

"But what if Google had something bigger in mind for its vast field of data? What if the end goal is Google was not simply to collect and archive all of our data for ad sales, but to use their data to advance the goals of Singularity? With the resources available to it, there is little that Google is not capable of achieving."
What if the end goal is Google was not to collect and archive all of our data for ad sales, but to use their data to advance the goals of Singularity?
15 comments on original post
Lacerant Plainer's profile photoPeter Edenist's profile photoGary Ray R's profile photoP. McRell's profile photo
How to build a mind by Kurzweil is what Larry page read right before he hired him to run AI for Google. It's basically hidden hierarchy markov models built from genetic algorithm selection- very similar to what Hawkins (EE who founded palmpilot)
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P. McRell

Science News (Pop Sci)  - 
It would have been great if they had interviewed Mars One people like the last CTO of NASA or Dr. Zubrin as well...
Earth is the only home we've ever known, and it's treated us well so far. But it is time for humanity to settle on a different planet: Mars! Whatch this amazing +Motherboard +VICE  documentary with Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp, Mars One candidate +Kellie Gerardi, +NASA Ames Research Center, +Virgin Galactic, and many more:
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