Why We Don't Need to Study Microgravity

Why We Don't Need to Study Microgravity

Think about this: NASA currently spends billions of dollars each year on conducting scientific research on how living in microgravity effects biological organisms. The International Space Station has cost around $150 billion dollars to build and maintain, so far.

But do we even need to conduct these microgravity experiments? Is that a worthwhile endeavor? I don't think so. And I'll explain why.

Imagine, if you will, a long-term goal for humanity to achieve with regards to space exploration and colonization. What do we want our far, far future to one day look like? There are a few different camps here.

Banned from the Indian Space Museum

Banned from the Indian Space Museum

This was going to be a blog post about some of the cool things the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been doing. Instead, it's a blog about bullshit.

I'm currently traveling in India, nearly two weeks into a two-month stay (that may be the reason why my recent blog posts haven't been of the best quality lately—sorry). I've wanted to write on a few topics related to India and it's flourishing technology sector. For this week's post, I had planned to visit the Indian Space Museum outside of Thiruvananthapuram on the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.

Spoiler: it did not go well.

The Tragedy of Life According to Nietzsche

The Tragedy of Life According to Nietzsche

Life, according to Nietzsche, is tragic. We're thinking beings trapped in a cycle of life, suffering, death and, worst of all, we have no guide to life. God is dead, so religion can be of no counsel to our worldly woes. And the world itself—nature, the cosmos—can be no guide either, as it is wholly indifferent to our all too human existence.

Shakespeare in Space #10: Thinking Makes It So

Shakespeare in Space #10: Thinking Makes It So

There's no objective experience in life, no absolute good or bad. In science, there's no proof, no truth, and no facts.

All knowledge is a matter of perspective. And perspective depends on how we think about the world around us. Our whole universe is built on the collective thoughts of conscious minds. Everything we know about the world has, at one time or another, been constructed in the mind of a human being. 

Without these collective minds, our knowledge would not exist. And if our knowledge of the universe didn't exist, would the universe itself even exist? It's the classic problem of a tree in the woods—if nobody is around to hear it fall, does it make a sound? If nobody is around to perceive and think about the universe, is it still there?

The Case for Life on Enceladus

The Case for Life on Enceladus

Scientists have been trying to explain how life got started on Earth since Darwin upended biology over 150 years ago. This same question persists in planetary science today: we explore our Solar System largely because we want to figure out if life also started up somewhere else. And if so, we want to find out how and why it starts at all.

We may soon have a definitive answer. It turns out Cassini may have sniffed hydrogen gas in the plumes of Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons known to harbor a large subsurface ocean beneath its icy crust. According to the research team, the release of hydrogen gas suggests the presence of underwater hydrothermal events similar to those found throughout our oceans here on Earth. 

5 Reasons Humans Haven't Gone Back to the Moon

5 Reasons Humans Haven't Gone Back to the Moon

It’s been 45 years since humans last stepped foot on the Moon and, in that time, no human being has even traveled beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA currently plans to resume human activities in deep-space in the 2020’s, though the agency is also looking into the possibility of flying its own astronauts again as early as 2019. Meanwhile, SpaceX is aggressively pursuing a plan to send two paying customers around the Moon and back as early as 2018.

But why is all of this happening today? And why the huge delay in going back to the Moon in the first place? Well, the history of spaceflight is long, complicated, and ultra political—it’s far more than just rocket science. Here’s a brief (as can be) overview of a few of the reasons no human has traveled more than a few hundred kilometers beyond Earth’s atmosphere since 1972:

SpaceX and the Inevitability of the Future

SpaceX and the Inevitability of the Future

In case you hadn't been following along, rocket technology is on the cusp of changing human civilization forever.

Over a decade ago, SpaceX started out with the goal of drastically reducing the cost of spaceflight. How? By reusing flown rocket boosters. How? Well, no parachutes—upon releasing its cargo into space, the rocket booster is piloted back into the atmosphere and down to the surface for a precise landing. How? With really good software and slight hardware improvements (ie. landing gear).