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Astronaut wars

[Update, 3:50 p.m.: President Obama just made news in his speech: Asteroid first, mid-2020s, then a Mars orbit by mid-2030s, then a landing at some further time but still within his lifetime. He picked destinations and laid out a rough timeline. Destinations and schedules were major missing ingredients of the Obama space plan until now. He had deleted from the manifest the moon in 2020 -- and today he pointed out the obvious fact that we've already been there -- but he hadn't replaced it with anything. Until now. Most importantly, he took full verbal ownership of his plan, rather than relying on surrogates and budget documents.

Excerpt from prepared text:

"There are also those who have criticized our decision to end parts of [parts of??] Constellation as one that will hinder space exploration beyond low Earth orbit. But by investing in groundbreaking research and innovative companies, we have the potential to rapidly transform our capabilities - even as we build on the important work already completed, through projects like Orion, for future missions. And unlike the previous program, we are setting a course with specific and achievable milestones.

"Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space. We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. [He ad-libbed that he expects to be around to see it.] Now, critical to deep space exploration will be the development of breakthrough propulsion systems and other advanced technologies. So I'm challenging NASA to break through these barriers. And I know you will - as always - with ingenuity and intensity.

"I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But the simple fact is, we have been there before. There is a lot more space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do. I believe it is more important to ramp up our capabilities to reach - and operate at - a series of increasingly demanding targets, while advancing our technological capabilities with each step outward. That is what this strategy does."]

Suddenly, it's astronaut vs. astronaut in the debate over President Obama's space plan. Sally Ride likes it; Jim Lovell doesn't (along with a bunch of other old-timers). But it's the Neil vs. Buzz situation that catches my eye. Once crammed in a tiny spaceship that landed on the moon, they're now galaxies apart when it comes to Obamaspace.

My impression is that those two have had a somewhat awkward relationship for more than 40 years, ever since they began training for the moon landing and both wanted to be the first to step out of the Lunar Module. They got over that difficulty and performed brilliantly in what is the iconic technological feat of human history. But they traveled different paths afterward. Neil Armstrong went radio silent and became an enigma, while Buzz Aldrin, after overcoming his battles with alcoholism and depression (he bravely went public with his illnesses), became a leading advocate for space travel as well as a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars." Now Armstrong is joining the attack on Obama's new strategy, while Aldrin is a strong supporter.

There's a lot of misinformation and hyperventilating in this debate. Some of it is just Obama hatred, I suspect: Anything Obama likes must be awful. [Of course, some folks out there may not like Bush's moon program simply because it's Bush's moon program.]

There's also some legitimate criticism that this is all too much, too fast, and that the existing program, Constellation, suffered only from a lack of money. The return to the moon was always part of a larger vision that included an eventual mission to Mars, a fact that probably gets lost in the discussion too often. What's not true, however, is that Obama is killing the space program. Some people who know better are still making noises to that effect. Let's single out a line from the letter to Obama signed by a bunch of astronauts and former NASA boss Mike Griffin:

"We strongly urge you to drop this misguided proposal that forces NASA out of human space operations for the foreseeable future."

Um, wait: NASA will still do space operations. We have a little doohickey in space called the International Space Station. NASA runs it out of Houston. American astronauts will still fly there. The Obama plan extends the station's life and gives it money for science experiments.

Obama is, in fact, pouring more money into NASA than President Bush ever did -- an uptick that many agencies would kill for (and that's in addition to stimulus money). Under Bush's plan, NASA wouldn't have been able to launch astronauts for at least five years and would have had to rely on the Russians to take American astronauts to the ISS; Obama's plan didn't invent the spaceflight gap. His gamble is that private firms such as SpaceX can launch astronauts in just a few years, which would actually close the gap. Will it work? No one knows. It's a riskier strategy in some ways. But no one ever said space flight was going to be a stroll in the park.

Clearly, the White House botched the rollout of the strategy and didn't do a very good job explaining why Constellation was being canceled (reason: without a lot more money it was going to take forever just to get back to the moon, never mind going someplace nifty such as Mars). Obama himself has been no help at all in selling the vision -- until today he's barely mentioned the plan in public. The White House insists Obama cares about the space program. But you can't take a man at his word when he doesn't actually open his mouth.

That changes today. He speaks this afternoon at the Cape. Expect to hear him say he's all about space. Loves it!

[See the Orlando Sentinel space blog or NasaWatch for all the nitty gritty details of what's going on today. FYI, I recently wrote about Harrison Schmitt opposing the Obama plan.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 15, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
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Next: Birding season: No grousing or sniping


Beware of Chinese shrimp.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Whenever I get to be commenter one, I post this, but no one asked why. Here's why from 'Consumer Reports:'

"The reason: “Current and continuing evidence that certain Chinese aquaculture products imported into the United States contain illegal substances that are not permitted in seafood sold in the United States,” is how the agency’s assistant commissioner for food protection, Dr. David Acheson, succinctly announced it.

Specifically, through targeted sampling from October 2006 through May 2007, the FDA repeatedly found that farm-raised seafood from China contained antimicrobial agents not approved for use here: nitrofuran, malachite green, gentian violet and fluoroquinolone. The first three have been linked to cancer in laboratory animals; the last may increase antibiotic resistance.

The FDA is taking the action because it said it was concerned about long-term exposure to these antimicrobials. Thus, it is not seeking a recall or advising consumers to destroy or return any of these products. The federal watchdog agency couldn't summarily recall the fish even if it wanted to; with the exception of infant formula, the FDA doesn't have mandatory recall authority over food products; only the company can. The agency will only allow future imports if companies prove their products are free of these chemical residues.

Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, commends the FDA for taking this action. “Strong action is clearly warranted based on the FDA’s alarming findings of broad-based contamination problems with antimicrobial agents and harmful additives that aren’t approved for fish production in the U.S.,” said Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist and policy analyst with Consumers Union.

Unfortunately — and we’re beginning to sound like a broken record here since we’ve said this before and know we’ll be saying this again — the latest FDA announcement also highlights the problems involved in policing a nation’s food supply, especially as food imports increase.

The FDA says it is currently inspecting only about one percent of all food imports and about five percent of fish imported from China, due to stepped-up monitoring. Needless to say, the FDA needs to do more. And it “needs to do far more testing, including testing of farmed fish from other Asian countries such as Vietnam, India, and Indonesia,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for CU.


Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Maybe today's Tea Parties will feature "Return to the Moon" banners.

The difficulty of launching people from the surface of Mars seems to prohibit a landing on the planet, though people in orbit are likely to be feasible--but vastly more costly than satellites. If even the moon isn't an affordable destination, is there any point in pursuing manned space activities beyond earth orbit?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 15, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse


"We urge Congress and the White House to give FDA the funding it needs to beef up its inspections — as well as the power to issue mandatory recalls.

In the meantime, the FDA action serves as a bold reminder that consumers have to become ever more vigilant about the food they eat. Rangan said. “Consumers should not buy the fish if they have any questions about its country of origin.” We agree with the FDA that the use of the antimicrobials poses a long-term health risk, but there certainly is no need to expose yourself to even small quantities of such chemicals for even a short period of time."

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

According to the NYT and CNN news, DNAgirl may never see DNAspouse again unless she takes up sea voyages to Itally.

Posted by: bh72 | April 15, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Husband and I spent the morning discussing exactly the issues in the new kit . . . after seeing Aldrin on several newscasts and reading new protests by Armstrong and company.

Look forward to hearing Obama at last articulate his positions, etc. . . .

Posted by: talitha1 | April 15, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Somehow, between this kit and the last one, I can't quit thinking about this movie:

Does that make me a bad person? At least I'm not a teabagger out there protesting Obama lowering my taxes.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Weed. I had noticed you began posting that. I vaguely knew about Bad Chemicals (Etc) in Chinese water bugs but am glad for the explanation. My question, as always, is how do I know the shrimp are Chinese? I may have a shot if I purchase a packaged frozen clump, but in a restaurant, or "live" or "freshly" frozen (landlocked state), I have no confidence I will know.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 15, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

That was a good movie, yello.

It angers me that the FDA does so little, especially after 9/11.

Eat more yak:

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 15, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The Tea Party protesters here are not talking about going to the moon. If asked they'd probly be agin it. There are a bunch of them and many, alas, left their guns at home or in their cars, so they can enter the Capitol and roam around. I wonder what they'd say if I mingled and joined in, explaining it was their tax dollars at work.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 15, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

" beef up its shrimpy inspections..."

Fixed that for them.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that most of the Apollo astronauts are simply ticked off (and rightly so) that we've never done anything terribly practical to capitalize on the enormous risks that they took. If we had continued from our initial investment in Saturn V and Apollo technology, we might really have had something great by now. However, we didn't do that. We let it sit for a few decades, then we restarted it with a joke of a program that was designed to fail. We can either take that program seriously, which means a big investment for doubtful returns, or we can do something entirely new. I'm with Obama on this.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

We don't need to go to the noon or other planets. We're in enough trouble on Earth.

Posted by: djmolter | April 15, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

We may not need to go to the noon, but we need to go to the five p.m. For crabs. There is a mission I can stand behind.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, Well, the answer starts with the fact that food merchants are required now to give you the country of production. The problem is that most merchants only know the country of export.

China has been under the gun with their farm raised seafood problems for years, so they have been shipping their goods first to an intermediary country like Indonesia, then having them re-exported. FDA and Homeland Security recently have "banned" many imports form China and also slapped their largest fine in history on the re-exporting companies.

All fish and meat has to have country of origin tags to be sold. If you go into a grocery store, you should see them posted. If not, ask. If you look at the fine print on the price label on Hamburger, for instance, you should see that the beef originated in the USA, Canada, or even Mexico.

I am to the point that I won't get shrimp from any other country than USA because of the scale of the re-exporting problem. There is a massive problem and, dare I say, it seems to go well beyond your basic problem of carcinogens.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

But, if it were a nooner?

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 15, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

jkt, I saw that, too. BTW, I am doing a web site for a small chain of chicken places and wonder if I can get cartoon chickens to hold up signs that say eat more beef?

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

AND, to quote my favorite philosopher, A. Whitney Brown:

"I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants."

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Well said, SciTim.

We need a president willing to say:

"My fellow Americans, enough pussy-footing around with half-measures and baby-steps. We either go to Mars or we throw in the towel. And I'm not a quitter. I've directed NASA to come up with a plan to put a manned mission into Mars orbit by the year 2025 and to tell me how much it will cost.

"We're going to Mars not because we have to or because we have run out of problems to solve at home. We're going because when humans see someplace they have never been, they go to it to look around. It's what we do. It is our nature to explore and stretch our boundaries. And if we learn something or invent something useful or do something cool along the way, so much the better. But since I was a small child, space has been promised to me and my generation as our destiny. It is probably too late for me, but I will not let this dream die. To Mars and beyond.

"I have also directed NASA to join efforts with the Federal Highway Association and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop within a decade flying cars, personal jetpacks, and transcontinental dirigible service.

"Thank you, and God Bless America."

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Don't need no steenkin' shrimp. Heard on the news this morning that the crab population in Chesapeake Bay has increased by a whopping 60 percent in just one year. A census was taken (I note with some pride that the Maryland Blue Crab as a species is much more cooperative with the Census Bureau than certain nut-case humanoids) and the estimate was we have about 638 million crabs this season.

Which is easily more than the Boodle can consume even in three or four IBPHs.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 15, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Thinking about a John Sayles film can never be a bad thing.

I thought that the dangerous Asian shrimp was that North Korean guy, but I guess there are others.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 15, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 15, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

The whole space program of the 1960s was pretty much a cover for the classified development of ballistic missiles.

Unless there's some real concern that potentially hostile nations like Russia or China are proceeding with the militarization of space, there's just no need for a manned space program beyond having an international space station (where everyone can more or less keep an eye on what everyone else is doing in space).

If at some point it becomes economically justifiable for future generations to go to the asteroid belt, or the moons of the gas giants, in search of resources, then those generations can figure out how to pay for it themselves, and develop the technology accordingly.

I'm a big-time science fiction fan. But I recognize the difference between fiction and fact, and right now, the idea that we should be spending billions of taxpayer dollars on this is something that should remain in the realm of fiction. There are many, many things that can be accomplished from earth orbit, or perhaps the moon, and those things should be done first before we go further into space.

Posted by: stillaliberal | April 15, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

So, the BPH starts at 5-ish later today?

*synchronizing watch* (and yes, I recognized that "watch" should be plural, but, hey, I'm only wearing *one* watch, see?)

Posted by: -ftb- | April 15, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Mudge... Raugh if you must.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

BTW, mudge, Governor Bob of Virginia, I often think of Fireman Bill, can't wait to have lots more She Crab Soup.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Came in for lunch and turned on TCM to see what great oldie movie they were showing . . . turns out to be a day of B-corn sci-fi fare from the 40s/50s/60s.

Interesting . . .

Posted by: talitha1 | April 15, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

If it's good enough for our shrimp, its good enough for our space program. Outsource our launch booster production to China. Old Neil can go along as a project manager.

We _will_ want to empower the FDA to inspect the "food in a tube" for contaminated shrimp paste.

And now that we're going to collect all the highly enriched uranium from around the world, we can build the nuclear-bomb powered Orion spacecraft and use it for lift-off from Mars where a little dispersed fallout won't much matter.

Don't let a crisis go to waste!

Posted by: j2hess | April 15, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

GM's 300-pound Robonaut 2, or R2, is going into space and will make its home on the IIS. I imagine at some point in the future R2 will meet D2.

Posted by: omni3 | April 15, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

um... mudge - i would like to point out that i mentioned that crabby bit LAST NITE! when everyone was ignoring me!!


Posted by: mortii | April 15, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I was encrabtured with your link, mo. If you don't want to backfinboodle, here is the link again:

So roe, roe, roe your boat and get shellshocked.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I can see your point about why Apollo astronauts might be unhappy about this.

And I can see that we need to shake the manned space program up, but at this point I'm not sure to make of what I've heard so far, and think that Augustine's comment from yesterday - translated into the English I'm familiar with - sounded rather self-serving and somewhat disingenious.

I love the idea of domestic private industry with ground-to-LEO or better flight capabilities, but the idea of putting all the eggs in that basket makes me nervous. Oh, wait, right - the Russians. Look, they can get cheezed off about something and deny any more Americans access to orbit *just*like*that*, and then what?

I wonder if the US military has some Aurora-esque backup system for getting folks into space, somewhere in all those classified programs and dollars...

Perhaps not.

I'll just hold any further comment until I hear what the President has to say.

Yello, I'll see you on this evening's mission.


Posted by: -bc- | April 15, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

TCM - "War of the Planets" (1966) in which: "Martians without bodies try to take over 21st Century Earth by taking over human beings." Are we safe yet?

Stop talking about bluecrabs . . . can't get 'um here and I crave them now! Well, just crack a half-dozen for me, please?

Posted by: talitha1 | April 15, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, mo. I may have gone to bed early.

Weed, your 1:42 made me do just that.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 15, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

And we have our first sighting of a crypto-racist teabagger sign:

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 15, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm just giving them the benefit of the doubt. They could be protesting student exchange programs or the expansion of an H-1B visa preference to professional marathon runners. They might not be making a rather unsubtle reference to President Obama's ethnic origin at all.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

yello's example is explained.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 15, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Just popping in to say that reservations at the Quarterdeck are at 5:30 (in my name). I'll try to be there by then, but not sure if I can make it.

See you there!

Posted by: -TBG- | April 15, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say this, but I don't really care what most of the astronauts have to say on the topic. Sally Ride is a special case because she has remained closely involved in matters of space policy.

Neil Armstrong's opinion, I fear, I find especially irrelevant. You can't seclude yourself and refuse to take part in any of the discussions for 40 years, and then expect everyone to take your opinion seriously about policy when you suddenly decide to say something.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 15, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing I might not get there until about 6, ftb.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 15, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes, please stop with the crab talk.

While we are wary of Chinese shrimp, let's not forget responsible worm disposal (which I haven't ranted about lately) and more bears!

Had a nice chat with my local census taker this AM (no USPS delivery here, so everyone gets a visit). I think they got it right this year in Our Fair City. This guy is well regarded across racial/economic lines and should get a good count-even among the nutjobs who think the census is unconstitutional (despite the constitutional mandate to do the).

Interesting split among the astronauts, but not surprising. They are regular people after all, despite being extraordinarily accomplished.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 15, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Also.. a cousin just sent me this great quote...

"Taxes create the kind of community that I want to live in."

-- Rev. Jennifer Hope Kottler, from her commentary, "You Get What You Pay For," in the April issue of Sojourners

Posted by: -TBG- | April 15, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Further, of course, many of the astronauts are older affluent white men with military backgrounds, a demographic that, in general, skews heavily conservative. I'm not saying these individuals are being deliberately disingenuous, but smart people who have a strong political orientation are very good at self-rationalization.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 15, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"HOUSTON-WE HAVE A PWOBLEM"!!! Maybe not all of Houston, or those in charge of the Space Station-but the repukithugs sure do, have a BIG pwoblem. "FOILED AGAIN"!! To quote Elmer Fudd, "that wascally Pwesident did it again"!! *NOTE-(I said wascally, not radical.) Their cries of "SOCIALISM"!! WE MUST THWART HIS EVERY ENDEAVOR!! THE SHROUD OF SOCIALISM IS ENVELOPING US!!
His plan for privatizing the space program, however diversive, is about the
furthest thing from socialism as he can
get. All in all, they repukithugs are the
ones being thwarted in ALL their endeavors to brandish this President as anything other than a man on a mission, and they better get a clue, they are falling behind his band wagon, being left in the dust of progress and recovery. 201 days until SWEET TUESDAY!! Dems are already on their way-Democrat Ted Deutch won the first special election in Florida, tromping his repukithug opponent Lynch by a margin of 62% to 35% on Tuesday, it was the FL-19 House Race. GO DEMS!!

Posted by: patriotgmalou | April 15, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

That was, well, enthusiastic.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

tbg - you think you reserved enuff crustaceans?


Posted by: mortii | April 15, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Have fun at the IBPH! I'll be on a jet usual. I don't think the volcano ash will make it to the west coast...but ya never know. Geesh. It's always something.

Posted by: Windy3 | April 15, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else miss Mel and Fritz as much as I do?

Posted by: qgaliana | April 15, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Love that quote, TBG...

You even get what you pay for with shrimp. I used to buy the shrimp from Thailand (cheap!) at my Harris-Teeter, but the dottirs refused to eat it. I have to agree that it didn't taste nearly as good as the shrimp caught off the NC coast. So now I only buy the local product, even though on sale it's three times the price of the Thai farmed shrimp.

Posted by: slyness | April 15, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, it was the Higgs Ocean. Since I don’t do numbers I must rely on the kindness of those willing to give me a metaphor. It may always the the ether/aether to me.
Speaking of metaphors, the phenomenon that Virtanen described resembles quantum entanglement only on a much, much bigger scale (i.e. out of the quantum realm and, as I understand it, firmly governed by classical physics). She described a specific type of communication at a distance in which a person deeply emotionally connected to another person experienced some sense that something life-threatening was happening to that other person. (This was consistent whether or not the person making the report believed ESP was possible.)
This is interesting, and maybe real. Unfortunately, since it is absolutely involuntary it doesn’t sound promising for communicating with alien intelligence.

thinking about your 10:05 post from last night: there is so much to say, but I will try not to overwhelm. ... Drat, I can’t find the quotation I wanted, but to you and bc I send this other:

“Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.
Whether love is from heaven or from earth,
it points to God.” ---Rumi, “Mathnawi”

I am now in vacation limbo, waiting for the volcanic cloud to dissipate. And for the first time in my life I was already packed!

Posted by: caroling | April 15, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The Brits will be treated to their first-ever live televised debate tonight, featuring the leaders of the three major parties.

It's estimated that 65% of eligible voters will tune in.

For more info,

Posted by: MsJS | April 15, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I will await you, Mudge, with bated breath -- but since this evening revolves around crabs (I being one of them (temporarily, we all hope)), perhaps it should be "baited" breath.

And, RD_P, I agree with you about Armstrong. The sell-by date has past, and what's past is past. So to speak.

Who is Mel and Fritz? (where have I been????)

Posted by: -ftb- | April 15, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

When I was in Vietnam we passed a region near Halong full of shrimp farms. We did get a brief editorial from our guide that Vietnam did not 'dump' their shrimp in the US market. He asserted that the shrimp really were that cheap to grow and process.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

*beaming in from the road*

SciTim, hope all's well with the SciKid & SciPup!!!!

Where's that humming coming from? :-)

Managed to hear a little of the President's speech -- anyone else think the Air Force One joke augured in rather spectacularly?

And I'm waiting for the Aldrin-Armstrong / "Duelling Banjos" mashup.

*no-shrimp-round-these-here-parts-but-plenty-of-good-BBQ-even-if-you-keep-your-dress-shirt-clean Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 15, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Mel Blanc and Fritz Lang- at least those are the ones I miss.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 15, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I cannot begin to tell you how verklempt I am. The Elco Company, the electric boat outfit I've been associated with and working with off and on for years, has just launched its new/improved Web site, and it's really a beauty.

You may recognize a familiar name on the history page, and you may not know it, but you are reading/hearing prose that is, well, quite familiar to me. Ahem. Also, in the history section, they've included some YouTube clips of WWII promo stuff about PT Boats, one called "Giant Killers" and one called "Devil Boats." Both are highly enjoyable and about 97 percent accurate (just a wee bit of spin involved, but not too much).

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 15, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Which reminds me-

Posted by: kguy1 | April 15, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Fritz Lang, you miss? Not Fritz Freleng?

The ScienceDog had her rabies booster shot and general check-over this morning. Animal control has placed a trap to try to capture the fox. Two other dogs from our neighborhood also reported to the same vet last night, both having been attacked by a fox and getting off much worse than our dog. The ScienceSpouse and ScienceKid#1, both of whom had some exposure to our dog's blood and thus the fox-saliva from the bite wound, are at the ER right now for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. If I understand it correctly, that consists of living inside a giant condom for the next two weeks. I might not have that exactly right.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

You have to rent a giant condo now, SciTim? In this housing market?? What????


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 15, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

*Humming louder so Snuke can hear it over the sound of the BBQ*

Posted by: -ftb- | April 15, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I miss Fritz Lang a lot more. Metropolis? M? The Big Heat? Rancho Notorious?

"Go away and come back ten years ago."
-Marlene Dietrich in Rancho Notorious

Posted by: kguy1 | April 15, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Joel updated the kit and Obama added a timetable on the orbit of Mars like I told him to. No word on the flying cars and dirigibles.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Very cool, Mudge. Anything about the famous PT-73?

Posted by: -TBG- | April 15, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I was talking about Freleng, but to each his own. His work appealed more to my age at the time it was still kinda current. Too many pale imitations now reminding me they're gone.

Posted by: qgaliana | April 15, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama just laid out an aggressive, though realistic scenario. But why did he wait so long? If I have any serious criticism of the guy, it is that he doesn't get ahead of criticism soon enough.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 15, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Ah, those great Lang/Blanc collaborations. Metwopowis. Wancho Notowious, Fuwy, The Woman in the Window -- wait, that's no fun.

Posted by: rashomon | April 15, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

You know, RD, the president just can't win. Just can't! No matter what he does or when he does it, he's going to be criticized. There are only 24 hours a day, how much can we expect him to do?

I'm glad, though, that he stepped up to the plate on space. Good move.

Posted by: slyness | April 15, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I liked Metropolis. Freddie Mercury was especially good in that one. I don't understand why they cut him out of the earlier releases -- I prefer the Director's Cut. It was also nice when they got projectors that could show color, so the movie could be seen as Freddiee intended it.

I've never actually gotten around to seeing M. I wonder if Netflix has it...

Fritz Lang makes an appearance in the Full-Metal Alchemist movie, as our universe's version of a character whose Doppelganger is an evil quasi-human monster. He is actually a very decent guy in our universe. Whether that resembles the real Fritz Lang, I couldn't say. Maybe the character is really more like Freddie Mercury.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Y'know, I really wasn't caring much about the whole thing. And then I read the updated kit, and I thought, hey, cool! Asteroids! A plan for Mars! Not bad work for a snippet of a speech. I bet morale at NASA will do a big turnaround.

Posted by: -bia- | April 15, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Air travel in and out of the UK is virtually shut down until at least midday tomorrow due to the Iceland volcano.

Posted by: MsJS | April 15, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I liked Metropolis. Freddie Mercury was especially good in that one. I don't understand why they cut him out of the earlier releases -- I prefer the Director's Cut. It was also nice when they got projectors that could show color, so the movie could be seen as Freddiee intended it.

I've never actually gotten around to seeing M. I wonder if Netflix has it...

Fritz Lang makes an appearance in the Full-Metal Alchemist movie, as our universe's version of a character whose Doppelganger is an evil quasi-human monster. He is actually a very decent guy in our universe. Whether that resembles the real Fritz Lang, I couldn't say. Maybe the character is really more like Freddie Mercury.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, a double-post. Sorry about that. It just sat there, "Loading", forever. Evidently, the submission was successful, but redrawing the screen was not.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

What's this about 'she crab soup"? On the left coast from Alaska to California, she crabs can't be taken.

Posted by: bh72 | April 15, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

To meander back on topic via the last kit, "Where is the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth shattering kaboom." I think we can guess where that great smoking hole in Iceland came from.


Interesting update. If he's serious about still delivering manned missions throughout the solar system (I was inclined to believe manned space was being quietly phased out) the implication is that Constellation was a colossal train wreck maybe beyond the worst rumours. Some people may be cheered, but if I had been at NASA prominently defending that project I'd be updating my CV right now, since it would be clearly some time before my judgement was worth anything.

I have a theory for why Obama seems so quiet about this particular policy decision. It may have come strongly recommended by advisors, whose reasoning he accepted, but doesn't personally have a good handle on yet. He's shown a reluctance to discuss matters that he's not comfortable with and rocket science might be one of those. Personally I would consider it wise restraint, but I'm just speculating.

Posted by: qgaliana | April 15, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Nobody does manned space travel better than NASA. Obama's going to put manned space travel into the hands of developers, entrepreneurs, and web billionaires. Just wait until China or Russia lands on the moon. Then, people will be asking what NASA's been doing. Well, they'll have done exactly what Obama wanted, sitting around watching web billionaires re-create the wheel.

Posted by: LauraBlack | April 15, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

bh72, as I understand it, there has been a 2 to 3 year effort to greatly limit taking females in the Bay, here. The joke is that Gov. Bob (of Va.) -- he of the appropriate conservative lifestyle of the new new Virginia keeps coming up with the one thing he shouldn't say, and that was my subtle reference to his faux pas.

Of course, Martin O'Malley of Md had his announcement over a bushel of big ones.

For Gov Bob, I guess women should stay home and not work OR be in his soup.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 15, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

How about making that asteroid we're going to in 2020's Phobos and Deimos (moons of Mars). They are captured asteroids anyway and closer than the asteroid belt. Swing by Mars while you're in the neighborhood instead of waiting another decade.

Posted by: gaaallen | April 15, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

The tricky thing is that a visit to Mars means getting into orbit and then getting out of orbit. Visiting a near-Earth asteroid is an easier prospect in terms of propulsion. Orbiting Mars is easier than landing on Mars, but it's harder than orbiting an asteroid. The Obama plan (which really is an endorsement of one particular alternative of the Augustine commission's report, IIRC), as I read Joel's reporting, plans for incremental steps in terms of the delta-vee (change in velocity) required to accomplish a visit to each destination.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

RD, David Ignatius comments on your concerns about the President:

Posted by: slyness | April 15, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Where is everybody? Stuffing their faces with crabs? Does the season extend to mid-May?

I thoroughly enjoyed the Elco link Curmudgeon. Nifty little fighting boats them PTs. The early wood composites and the casual references to Monel fasteners and Aluminium Bronze screws made my metallurgist's day.

Have they ever burned down a plant? I noted the liberal application of phenolic resins (usually in a flammable solvent) without any positive ventilation scheme. It was the death of many early fiberglass plant.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 15, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Not that I'm jealous or anything, I'm just peckish for arthropods.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 15, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

For all of you rabid Capitals fans it's 1-1 midway through the game. Relax, it's just the warm-up game.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 15, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I think Ignatius, unsurprisingly, makes a great point. And, slyness, you are quite right. There will always be critics.

Further, after thinking about it a little bit, there isn't necessarily anything intrinsically wrong with letting a bit of controversy brew. It makes it all the more effective when you respond forcefully to the arguments presented.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 15, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree, SciTim, that Obama has taken the Augustine "fly-by" option to heart. Which is fine by me because I think it is the most effective manned spaceflight alternative out there. As we've discussed, it's a good compromise, especially if coupled with remote probes. Further, as you point out, it pushes drive technology in a way conducive to real advancement, and it keeps options open.

Besides, I think a road trip to the asteroids would be awesome. And, if we end up flying by the Chinese as they pour gazillions into a lunar station, well, let's just be sure to honk and wave.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 15, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Good President. Give that man one of MsJS's cookies!

Honestly, I don't understand the umbrage that we're not going back to the moon. Granted, my understanding is limited. However, we have been there. if the Chinese or Russians land there, okay. Of course, if they claim Moon resources that we might want, there'll be a big fight, but we don't have to go to the Moon for that to happen. I'm glad to see Obama set some non-Moon spacey goals.

ScienceTim, thank you for the update. I hope your better half and progeny enjoy their giant condom. It might permanently affect their view of life but one must take this chance.

We feel as if we're living in some kind of bubble here; there is a 7-day (yes, seven) stomach bug involving no effective digestion going around, and the Boy has had it now since Sunday. We keep giving him food and he keeps returning it.

Enjoy your IBPH, y'all. Snarf some crabs and adult beverage for me! I'm joining you in spirit, with scrambled eggs. Wait. I guess that's not much like crab. Ah well.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 15, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama is working hard on so many things that he gets criticized for not keeping jobs, or space, or financial reform out front. There was that health reform bill, then he trotted out the nuclear treaty, then the nuclear summit, etc, etc. He's doing more in his 1st year (going on 2 years now) than Bush did in 2 terms...especially if you count constructive things.

The BPH must be going well.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 15, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

It's still 1-1 after 2 periods but there is no need to panic (or gloat).

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 15, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I want Cruithne mission!

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 15, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

The more I think of this fly-by the more I like it. It almost sounds like the cosmic joyride that we mentioned on the boodle a few weeks back (cue the Grateful Dead audio cassette). Of course, feedback may be less positive when Mudge gets back from his crab dinner.

Posted by: qgaliana | April 15, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

i just got home from the IBPH -- what a lovely time, even though it took *forever* to get there. Rush hour combined with horrific traffic not connected to rush hour. And, well, it *was* in Virginia, after all, and I with Maryland tags on my buggy.

Yoki was her wunnerful self, as was CpQ, TBG, bc, yello and wife, rickoshea, and we shall *not* leave out the always delectable Mo, and last (but not *ever* least, we had the equally wunnerful Mudgekins. The lampshade did not quite fit his fine head, but he did make his presence felt.

Lovely groupa people.

Posted by: -ftb- | April 15, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and the crabs were good, too.

Posted by: -ftb- | April 15, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

In a Bombay (AP) article published in the Toronto Star on January 15, 2001, Stephen Hawking, the world renowned Physicist predicted that humans will spread out to planets in the nearby solar system and then to nearby stars. On Monday March 29, 2010, a report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology reported scientists to have stated that in just two centuries humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes that we actually might be ushering in a new geological time interval, and altering the planet for millions of years. They predict a dawnn of the Anthropocene epoch that may include the sixth largest mass extinction in the earth's history.

That concern about mass extinction is surfacing at this time could be coincedental, in that it is occuring close to the end of the Mayan Calendar and the beliefs of Native Canadians that the world will experience a rebirth in December 2012. As we contemplate the strange occurrences around our world today, it is possible that we are approaching such a time. We may yet have to transport some humans off this earth for some length of time, in the interst of continuing the human race. Therefore, getting back to the Moon might not be such a bad idea after all. If we cannot make it possible for man to survive on our closest neighboor, the Moon, it would be certainly be foolhardy to aim for Mars. We should first prove that we can establish colonies fit for human existence on the nearby moon, before we shoot for Mars or other sites. I believe the Chinese people recognize this because of their commitment to land on the moon. It should never be that China would occupy parts of the moon before America can do so, given the head start the U.S. has. It is good to be ambitious and talk about being on Mars, but we should creep before we walk or run.

I wonder if the private enterprise companies expected to contribute to America's efforts in space, after benefitting from tax-payer funds and experimentation, would be small enough to be allowed to fail? I also wonder if the U.S. knew of the cost to send Astronauts to the space station that the U.S. has contriburted so much to, before announcing that we would make ourselves so totally dependent on the Russians for transit.

Posted by: CalP | April 15, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Tomorrow I get to go hear one of my most favorite storytellers:

as well as several other fine folks:

and on Saturday afternoon, I get to do some public yammering, myself. Where is all this fine gabble going to take place? Why, at the Sounds of the Mountains Storytelling Festival in Fincastle, VA:

(Fincastle, I have been told, is the place where the Fincastle Ordovician formation was identified. Or, so I have been told.)

You will notice that I have deleted the http:// from each URL, so the pesky filtering software does not hold my comment for "review."

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the BPH was fun. Glad your family is being monitored Science Tim. That's scary stuff. Ivansmom, we've got a slightly shorter version of that bug going around here combined with a low grade fever. Granddaughter #2 and #1 daughter have suffered from it this week.

Ignatius makes sense and if he's correct, and there's no reason to think he isn't, it's one of the reasons I still like our President. As for the space thing, I have no educated thoughts, just the pragmatic view that since we've been to the moon, we should spend our money going elsewhere.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 15, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey I can't remember if I thanked whomever (DNA Girl?) for the Rabbit Whisperer article. Awesome. Inspiring. Delightful.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 15, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Ah Geez, she was right next door and I didn't go.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 15, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

SciTim-Kling is a MN treasure, glad he is among your faves.

I have brownies fresh for faxing for anyone who didn't attend the IBPH and wants to drown some sorrows in chocolate. Those who were able to attend are welcome to have some too-I'm not bitter.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 15, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

dmd, you didn't cough up a measly $200 for a ticket? Apparently you just don't 'love your freedom' enough. ;-) Do not get me started on that woman - ugh.

This has been a rather unproductive week. We'll be away for the weekend and the forecast is for rain. I just hope the cellar is okay as I plan to get into some projects down there next week.

Posted by: badsneakers | April 15, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe I have ever turned down an offer for brownies.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 15, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, frosti. I'll fax you some DD coffee if you'd like.

On this day in history, dbG, having dispatched her taxes 3 days early, also made the deadline to file for the tax software rebate (4 days early). I have no idea where this organization and motivation has come from.

Good thoughts to the science family.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 15, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I have been only a spectator to U.S. space achievements over the last 45 years. It is clear that the path from the last administration was good PR but lacked the necessary resources to achieve schedule. The moon is interesting, but we've already gone there. If there are other things to be learned there, robots can get the data or return samples from additional locations.

So now the question is - do we have clear objectives for human exploration beyond the moon, are the resources there, and do they make sense or are they merely Power Point visions without backup. If we have objectives, timeline, and resources, we should proceed with something beyond interminable shuttle flights to the space station - we've learned a great deal from assembling the space station and servicing it over a long period - I don't know if there is much scientific return as it continues to operate. What can't be allowed is what some people (including the Apollo commanders) fear - terminating the current effort without a clear plan for the next steps. I am a few years older than President Obama, but I would also love to see a human expedition to Mars in my lifetime. I want to see a very clear timeline and a plan that does not involve magical creation of systems by the private sector with no details. If the United States can revitalize space exploration and push beyond where we have gone before - we should proceed. But a real program with real resources and schedule must be put in place.

Posted by: karlanne1 | April 15, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Lovely time at the porch. Wish you were there. We beemed good cheer and a big ole super-sized can of Old Bay to you.


And, next one home will beem some
Wet Paper Towels (TM)
and Bactine for your stinging carapace-chitosan wounds.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 15, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a fabulous BPH! Hope someone took pictures...after wiping their hands, of course. I'll take some brownies. Mr seasea is on a no sweets regimen, so I am too (we both need to stay away from sugar).

I appear to be employed, at least temporarily. I'll be one of Obama's jackbooted thugs, also known as Census workers. So some wine and chocolate to celebrate is in order.

Posted by: seasea1 | April 15, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I made the mistake of going home from the IBPH via Falls Church. My wife began whimpering as we passed Eden Center. Fortunately, a few of the shops were still open. We went into Saigon Bakery where the old Song Que used to be and got some banh mi's for lunch tomorrow and some bubble tea for the road.

Mo chastised me for not sucking the meat out of the crab legs. I told her to be grateful I ate the little crustaceans at all. Crab meat is oh so sweet, but way too much work. Gimme a G&M crabcake anytime.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 15, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

CalP is off base in many many ways. I'm not brushing him/her off when I say that there are just too many errors to be worth refuting here -- there's a whole popular press out there that covers this topic. You need to read some of it. Preferably, the responsible writers, like this Achenbach dude of whom I have heard some good things.

karlanne1 makes only one egregious error, so it's much easier to deal with. No matter how cute and concise it feels to say it, "been there, done that" is not the reason to eschew further Moon exploration. No, the reason to eschew it is that there are many many places where we have not been at all, nor have we done much there, and for many of them the technological hurdles are far smaller than landing on a planetary-size body. We don't deny the Moon -- rather, we have other targets, and the positive value of those targets (and the technology we will gain in reaching them) outweighs the positive value of the other target.

We don't leave exploration to the robots after we have done the reconnaissance with humans, it's the other way around. Robots are great for reconnaissance, but humans are great for changing our mind in an instant to fit he exploration needs of the situation we find in front of us. Apollo was not our first exploration of the Moon, it was preceded by orbiters and by Ranger splat-landers and Surveyor soft-landers. We preceded human exploration with the robotic technology of the day, THEN we sent the humans. Today, we have much better robots and much better instruments, so we have gotten back to a situation in which humans aren't really all that necessary for the things we want to find out right now. The day will come when human presence on the Moon can make a real pay-off, but the scientific argument for humans on the Moon is not very strong at present.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 15, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, your family's travail reminded me that my cat needs her rabies shot updated. She seldom goes out at night, but we have skunks here among the other wildlife and they have a reputation for having rabies.

The dog saw a skunk in the yard last week and went over for a better look at the "cat" (he likes cats) and the skunk applied a bit of French "in his general direction" and I had to give him a bath. Not having tomato juice I had to use V8, but he did smell better!

Posted by: nellie4 | April 15, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

In terms of human habitation, eastern Siberia where temperatures fluctuate nearly 200 degrees F during the year is a far more hospitable place than anywhere on another planet. Mars is a hopelessly bad place to be a human.

We humans have profoundly affected earth and its life for maybe 50,000 years or longer. Australia seems to have lost its large animals about then, thanks to recently-arrived people.

Even back then, people were probably setting fires, causing grasslands to expand. Since then, grain crops, sheep, rice paddies, and native American terrace farming remade entire landscapes. There's a plump scholarly book titled "Deforesting the Earth). The Tokugawa government of Japan (roughly 1650-1850) was something of an anomaly, restoring the country's forests. Japan's mountains could easily have been barren when Millard Fillmore's ships arrived.

William F. Ruddiman's "Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate" suggests that human activity may have already forestalled the start of a new ice age.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 15, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Absurd. Why not just admit your waiting for NASA to develop star trek dilithium crystals, warp drive, and teleporters before we start exploring space. Idiot.

Any nebulous "new" as yet undefined deep space propulsion system will still need to be "lifted" into space and beyond leo before we can test it. And a deep space capable craft will be large, not small. We need heavy lift capacity that is reliable. The Moon is Terra's version of Americas San Fransisco for the pacific. A natural low g harbor, shipyard, resource supply and depot, potential colony and stepping stone to new horizons.

Beyond the military maxim of "take the high ground" we have many "educated" reasons to return to the Moon:

NASA recently demonstrated the moon has an apparent abundance of water. Good ol H2O that we can use as a propulsion source, building blocks, and a life source. The moon also has an atmosphere and not just oxygen interred in the regolith. Most people dont know that but its true, and we dont know what or why. There is also miraculously an abundance of H3 on the moon, if you dont know what H3 is its the future of energy. Clean nuclear power with no waste by product. Look it up if you dont know. Add to all this the Moons regolith makes a superiour grade of concrete that we can build not only habitats out of it but space faring craft as well.

The current path is a path to failure in that it is the long walk. Constellation on the other hand is the path to success and a jump into the future. Figures Obama either didn't read GW's memo, or is letting his dislike for his predecessor blind correct action.

Posted by: Homunculus | April 16, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

The 'eponymous argument' of which I've heard so much? ahem.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 16, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Welcome, Caroling. Looks like you won’t be starting your vacation for a few more days.

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 16, 2010 4:27 AM | Report abuse

The moon has some water in very sheltered places near the poles. I doubt anybody has described that as an 'abundance.'

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

jkt, I think that the moon has materials that we could use to make ceramics. Possibly, Obama could launch a 5 year program to begin a colony of potters up there on the moon.

Posted by: russianthistle | April 16, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Morning, it's Friday. Hi Cassandra!

Okay, I'm over going back to the moon. (My first thought was, I'm over the moon, but I'n not, so whatever.)

Hope everyone has a nice day, and last nights IBPH attendees don't have tummyaches from eating too much!

Posted by: slyness | April 16, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Caroling, good to see you again. Nothing worse than being stuck before vacation! Hope you're comfortable where you are.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 16, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Caroling, good to see you again. Nothing worse than being stuck before vacation! Hope you're comfortable where you are.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 16, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, boodle! I'm up, dressed, coffeed and making breakfast.. earlier than I am when I have to go to work.

Yoki of the Mountain Time Zone is still sleeping upstairs in Son of G's room. A full house last night with my friend, T, who stays with us occasionally, also here in "her" room. The only person missing was Son of G, but we'll see him tonight in Charlotte.

Last night's IBPH/Crabfest was absolutely delightful. The weather couldn't have been better and the company was perfect! We missed all of you folks, but of course you were there in spirit.

Yay for seasea and her temporary employment. Maybe you can find out what I'm supposed to do if I lost my Census form.

(I'm still chuckling over "NASA recently demonstrated the moon has an apparent abundance of water." For someone who rarely digs deeply into the Space Kits, even I know that's not quite accurate. I guess we know what the talking points include now, don't we? Keep your ears perked for "abundance of water.")

Posted by: -TBG- | April 16, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone talk about the Midwestern fireball?

Posted by: -TBG- | April 16, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Today's unbidden mental movie image is the pottery scene from 'Ghost' as performed in 'Space 2001' spacesuits.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Where are my manners?

Warm welcome to caroling, although I must confess that mentally I keep pronouncing your name Care-o-ling. Also a much belated welcome to tatianna and qgiuliani and j2hesstruck and all the other recent newish boodlers, exposed lurkers, the more polite trolls, and other infrequent posters of whom I have overlooked.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

"In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty."

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

cyclistCqP here. Off to pour knowledge upon the foreheads of the young ones. Libation, etc.

bikerchicCqP says that last night in a spontaneous display of synchronous good taste both tall and wandwillow Yoki and compactviburnum CqP totally rocked the biker leather jacket. We did not plan this. Huzzah for convergent evolution style choices.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 16, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Inspired by Sarah Palin's recent sartorial choices no doubt.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

But how will my tomato plants do on the moon with two weeks of dark every night? Huh? Batteries and artificial lights, you say? Argh!

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 16, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

But here is a lovely breakfast awaiting astronauts on the ISS. Yum!

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 16, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! Gorgeous sunshine on deep blue water this morning. We've had a whole extra month of this as the ice is not normally out already.

Fatuous Garden Report-Sedum and Columbine are lush with new growth-with the Columbine now reseeding freely. How glad my NoVA gardener's heart would have been had I known one day I could grow these with ease. Ephemerals are leafing out so flowers will follow shortly. On the lookout for fiddleheads, then fresh asparagus should hit the farmers market next weekend. Ah, spring.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 16, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Dang. Nobody announced the new kit.


Posted by: yellojkt | April 16, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Just so a load of misinformation should not be allowed to stand:

Homunculus, you are over-confident and over-eager in several respects:
(1) The He-3 content of the lunar regolith has been a proposed energy source for a very long time. Not H3, which is tritium; the half-life is too short to permit it to be effectively mined. A few problems: (a) we don't have working nuclear fusion power-reactors here on the ground, even using exotic fuels; (b) we don't have a confidence that there would be all that much He-3 implanted into the regolith; (c) we don't have effective mining technologies to recover it; (d) we don't have an international treaty framework in place to support mining the Moon for resources, but we DO have a treaty that says we may not do so. Even if not that many nations signed on.

(2) The lunar atmosphere is not so mysterious as you imagine. It is mostly atomic sodium and potassium. The lunar surface is an exobase, meaning that atoms released from the surface are capable of flying unhindered into space with velocities characteristic of the local temperature. This is an atmosphere as a technically-minded planetary scientist defines it, not something you could breathe or fly an aircraft in.

(3) The abundance of water is dramatically overstated. Yes, there is H2O ice (more than there is He-3). In principle, we understand how to mine it, extract it, and split it into hydrogen and oxygen so that we can use it for liquid rocket fuel and for breathable oxygen. There is a very long way to go from principle to practice, and we don't know yet whether there is enough water to make it practical. And we don't really know how we would mine it. And we have those treaty issues. This is a cart before the horse issue.

(4) In the mean-time, if you want to make cement and concrete, you will need water. Lots of water. Which you would have to send from Earth. Along with bull-dozers, and kilns, and rock-grinders, etc. Cart before the horse issues, again.

(5) If you land on the Moon, you have to take off from the Moon. Gravity is less than on Earth, but it's not all that low. If you want to recover resources from space, asteroids actually are a better bet -- no gravity issues, and the treaty limitations are much less clear.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 16, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

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