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Date: Friday, 12 Apr 2013 03:26
Americans, Democratic and Republican, Conservative or Liberal, disagree on many things. However, just as in the 1960's, there is bipartisan support for going to the Moon. A group of Congress members has introduced the Reassert American Leadership or REAL Space Act. This legislation would direct NASA to return humans to the Moon. The bill's sponsors include Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat of Texas), Bill Posey (Republican of Florida) and Pete Olson (Republican of Texas). A National Research Council Report from 2012 found little support for the administration's stated goal of an asteroid either within NASA or among international partners. In contrast, the Moon mission has wide and bipartisan support.

Date: Sunday, 07 Apr 2013 18:25
NASA has been considering plans to capture an asteroid in Space. NASA to Lasso an Asteroid and Bring It Closer . Previous plans have suggested that astronauts using Orion make the multimillion mile journey to visit a Near Earth Object. This would be a journey of many months, far longer than any previous human space flight. Plans under study suggest that an automated spacecraft capture a small asteroid and bring it closer to Earth, possibly to the Earth-Moon L2 point. If that could be done by 2021, it would coincide with the first crewed flight of Orion atop the Space Launch System. Meeting up with a small asteroid would be an innovative and economical mission.

Date: Monday, 25 Feb 2013 03:18
On February 19, 2013 David S. McKay passed away after a long illness. He was. PhD student at Rice University in 1961 when President Kennedy came to Rice for his speech committing the US to land on the Moon. He worked for NASA since 1965. On field trips from Texas to Hawaii, he trained Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in geology. Dr. McKay was the only geologist present in Mission Control when Armstrong and Aldrin stepped on the Moon. Dave McKay is best known today for his team's 1996 paper finding signs of life in Martian Antarctic meteorite ALH84001. The meteor was formed 3.5 billion years ago before being ejected from Mars and eventually landing in Antarctica. A Johnson Space Center geologist named Robbie Score found the meteorite on an Antarctic expedition in 1984. The McKay group's findings began the modern science of Astrobiology. Old models of the Sun predicted that 3.5 billion years ago Earth and Mars were too cold to support life. The Sun converts fuel to energy according to E=mc^2. Because the speed of light was faster at that time, solar luminosity was almost exactly today's value, allowing life to have evolved on Earth and Mars. Indications of Martian life 3.5 billion years old are another sign that the speed of light has slowed. I had the honor or working with Dave McKay from 2008 until near the end. Dave's generosity and experience with lunar samples was deeply appreciated. Manu woman scientist's careers were aided by Dave. Today February 24 I attended his funeral in Friendswood, Texas. His loss is deeply felt by his family and colleagues.

Date: Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012 21:11
The American Astronautical Society (AAS) National Conference scheduled for November 28-29 in Pasadena, California has been cancelled. The event draws a lot of NASA speakers and scientists. Organizers blamed the lack of NASA participation due to travel budget restrictions. From Spaceref: American Astronautical Society cancels 2012 National Conference The agency that once sent Neil Armstrong to the Moon today can't send someone to Pasadena. Perhaps they can buy rides from the Russians, or wait several years until private companies can fly to Pasadena. This is disorganization of the highest order.

Date: Tuesday, 09 Oct 2012 18:50
As the science world awaits announcement of this year's Nobel Prizes, we recall that this year's prize amount is smaller. The Swedish foundation that awards the Nobel Prize is having financial issues: For Nobel Winners a Smaller Cash Prize On 2011 the Physics prize went to 3 scientists who in 1998 claimed to have discovered an accelerating universe. They split 1.4 million dollars 3 ways, with Adam Riess and Brian Schmidt getting only 350,000 each. That is not enough to buy a house in Maryland. All three men were part of large collaborations, of which the dozens of other collaborators get nothing. Starting this year the total prize will be only about 1.2 million. Only two women have ever won the Physics prize, in 1903 and 1963. If the Nobel committee waits past 2023 they will have broken the record. However, by then the world's economy may have improved enough to restore the Prize at least to its old value. The 2011 Prize was highly unusual in that it was given to the appearance of acceleration. There are many possible explanations that do not involve acceleration, from giant cosmic voids to (this writer's hypothesis) the speed of light slowing down. The 3 Nobel winners are at a loss to explain why they found indications of acceleration. Calculation of Lunar Orbit Anomaly GM=tc^3 predicts that light is slowing down. A child could figure it out.

Date: Sunday, 07 Oct 2012 15:54
Most scientific papers are lucky to reach a few dozen readers. This article has just passed 1000 free downloads: Calculation of Lunar Orbit Anomaly As a comparison, the novel "Gabriel's Inferno" had 4000 free downloads from twilighted.net before moving to Omnific and selling 165,000 copies. Published evidence that light slows down is going to be huge.

Date: Sunday, 30 Sep 2012 01:57
These have been a quiet few months, but this author has quietly published a peer-reviewed paper with evidence that light is slowing down today. The evidence comes from Apollo missions to the Moon: Calculation of Lunar Orbit Anomaly Someone has both predicted how much c is slowing, and used the Moon to successfully test the prediction. This major, major discovery is the most-viewed paper of the new journal Planetary Science. Read and access it often! The paper has raised such a ruckus that the journal editor is threatening to censor it out. Please read it today, for today could be your last chance!

Date: Monday, 06 Aug 2012 03:21
We anxiously await news from the Curiosity Rover approaching Mars. Syria’s first man in space, Mohammad Ahmad Faris, has travelled fr his homeland to Turkey to join the anti-Assad opposition.

Date: Wednesday, 13 Jun 2012 15:22
While Spacex is justly celebrating the Dragon docking with ISS, this month China plans a docking to their Space station with a crew, including one woman. This will be China's fourth human mission in Space, and the second with a 3-person crew. One crewmember will remain in the orbital module while two occupy the Space station. The Chinese Space program openly advertises their intention to land people on the Moon by 2024. Does the US even care?

Date: Sunday, 10 Jun 2012 23:48
The passing of an era: Friday June 1 the mockup Shuttle Explorer, which had previously been displayed at Kennedy Space Center, arrived by barge to be displayed at Space Center Houston. From the patio at Outrigger's Grill and Bar I photographed Explorer passing under the Kemah bridge into Clear Lake. Explorer's destination was the Clear Lake dock South of Johnson Space Center, which once saw Saturn V stages arrive. Thousands of people lined Clear Lake to see Explorer arrive. Friday afternoon became a Shuttlebration for the arriving mockup. Sunday June 3 Explorer travelled by road past the JSC main gate to its final home at Space Center Houston. That's JSC Building 4 in the background. Houston was quite disappointed not to receive a flying Shuttle for display. The greater disappointment is that they are being retired with millions of useful miles left in them.

Date: Tuesday, 29 May 2012 17:10
May 29, 2012 is 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge opening. Until the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in 1964, Golden Gate was the world's longest span at 1280 meters. From anchorage to anchorage the Bridge is 1970 meters, nearly two kilometers long. On Saturday another wonder, the Battleship USS Iowa sailed beneath the Golden Gate on her last voyage. Iowa will be on permanent exhibit in San Pedro, California. Seeing this bridge and battleship together, we can believe that humans can built giant starships.

Date: Monday, 28 May 2012 22:53
Happy Memorial Day! Last Tuesday's New York Times lamented on the sad state of Physics funding. Despite Physicists' being awarded the title of astronomer along with a Nobel Prize, there is zero interest in funding for "dark" energy. American Physics Dreams Deferred "Dark energy is, according to Dr. [Frank] Wilczek, the most mysterious fact in all of physical science, the fact with the greatest potential to rock the foundations." The 8 billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope will be consuming NASA's astrophysics budget until its launch, hopefully in 2018. A proposed Space mission to find more DE, once called SNAP or JDEM, has been postponed at least until 2025. The unfunded mission, now called WFIRST, would cost at least 1.6 billion. JWST was also once projected to cost less than 1 billion. Hypothesis of "dark" energy has led Physics nowhere. Even if a WFIRST mission were flown, it would not return a single particle of DE, only an "equation of state" that would be subject to systematic error. If DE existed it would have no conceivable use, it would be too diffuse in Space to power a flashlight. The answer is not in darkness but in light. Observations of an "acclerating" Universe are signs that the speed of light has been slowing down. GM=tc^3, a child could figure it out.

Date: Wednesday, 23 May 2012 15:59
3 minute, 48 second video from ATK of the Liberty booster, currently under development. Liberty is outwardly similar to the cancelled Ares 1, based on the 5-segment solid rocket booster developed for the Constellation program. An existing Ariane V upper stage eliminates the need for developing a new engine and upper stage. The crew capsule is based upon a lightweight composite version of Orion that was developed for NASA. (The heavy metal Orion design that was accepted had serious weight issues.) By using these components, ATK has been able to develop this system without any extra government investment, using an unfunded Space Act agreement with NASA. Liberty is true Private Space!

Date: Tuesday, 22 May 2012 18:02

This morning, after many delays, SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifted off for a rendezvous with the International Space Station. As this blog reported back in February '009, SpaceX Aims High, this docking was originally planned for May-November 2010. The 18-24 month delay is partially due to NASA and Russia's stringent requirements for docking with ISS. SpaceX claims that they can turn Falcon 9/Dragon into a human-rated system in 3 years. We wish them Godspeed and a successful flight, but rocket science is full of delays. Meanwhile, with less of a media spotlight, ATK is forging ahead with their Liberty booster. Outwardly similar to the cancelled Ares I, Liberty has for a first stage the 5-segment solid rocket booster developed for Ares I and the more recent Space Launch System. The crew capsule will be built from modern composite materials, based on an all-composite design built and rejected for Orion. Unlike SpaceX, ATK is building a complete system without any more government funding. They are using an unfunded Space Act agreement, and funds already spent by NASA for Ares I. ATK claims that this system could be flying crew into orbit by 2015, potentially beating SpaceX. We also wish them and the other competitors every success.

Date: Thursday, 19 Apr 2012 02:57
The 1976 Viking mission to Mars, sent to seek signs of life, may have found it. Viking's Labelled Release Experiment fed a mix of nutrients to Martian soil, cooked it, and measured the resulting gases for carbon dioxide or other products of biological action. To everyone's surprise, the soil yielded far more products than expected. Principal Investigator Gilbert Levin wanted to immediately announce the discovery of life on Mars, but was delayed by NASA bureaucracy. Before an announcement was made, other scientists popped up to claim that the results were due to non-biological chemistry. No scientist has ever found a way to reproduce these results without life. After 35 years Gil Levin continues to claim that his experiment found life on Mars.

A new study uses mathematical techniques to examine the Viking data. The study examines the raw data for signs of complexity, an indicator of life forms. Chemical processes are not complex; life forms are. The study appears to indicate that the labelled release results were produced by life. The paper, with Gilbert Levin as co-author, appears in the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences:

Compexity Analysis of the Viking Labelled Release Experiments

This writer had the privilege of working with the scientists who in 1996 founds signs of fossil life on Martian meteorite ALH84001. That evidence has also been disputed. The argument over life on Mars may not be settled until scientists have a sample of Martian soil beneath their microscope. In today's funding climate, Mars has a low priority. While NASA was promised the basic research funding to go beyond Earth, planetary science budgets are being slashed. A complicated sample return mission is in jeopardy without US participation. Another way would be to send a scientist to Mars with a microscope. We all hope that the argument is settled someday.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (L. Riofrio)" Tags: "mars"

Date: Sunday, 15 Apr 2012 19:53

In 1992 a FULL SCALE Starship Enterprise was planned for Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The mammoth 150 million dollar project would have been the Wienie (in Disneyspeak) drawing crowds to the undervisited "old" end of Vegas. Analysts calculated that, in addition to admission fees, the Enterprise would have paid for itself by increasing Vegas tourism. The NCC-1701A design measures 1000 feet long, longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. This would have been 8th Wonder of the world, a tourism symbol along with Sydney's Opera House and the Disney castles. The project was approved by everyone from investors to Las Vegas' Mayor, but was stopped by a single veto from the old man who happened to be CEO of Paramount.

World-renowned attraction creator Gary Goddard recently talked about the Enterprise in his company's blog. Goddard quotes Albert Einstein: "Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds".

The Star Trek Attraction That Almost Came to Life

In one fell swoop Paramount lost countless milllions in licensing dollars, for there was no financial risk to the studio. Las Vegas eventually built the Fremont Street Experience, which revitalized that end of the Strip but had none of the Enterprise's drawing power. Some of the idea lived on in The Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton1998-2008. We all hope to look up and see giant Starships someday. Hats off to the real USS Enterprise CVN-65, now on her final deployment!

The Star Trek Experience closing in 2008.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (L. Riofrio)" Tags: "star trek"

Date: Thursday, 12 Apr 2012 02:11

2 minute 40 second video of the Moon's history. According to the most popular theory, the Moon was created when a Mars-sized planet struck the Earth. The impactor was vaporised, and Earth's mantle was blown off into Space. The pieces of mantle were large enough to coalesce in Earth orbit until they formed the Moon. The Giant Impactor theory became popular after Apollo Moon samples were found to resemble parts of Earth's mantle.

The Moon first coalesced less 1/4 its present distance from Earth. Since that time 4.5 billion years ago the Moon has been slowly drifting away. This is interpreted as tidal forces transferring angular momentum from Earth's rotation to the Moon. Apollo's Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment measured this distance increasing at 3.82 cm/yr, anomalously high. If the Moon were today gaining angular momentum at that rate, it would have been in the same place as Earth only 1.5 billion years ago.

If the speed of light were slowly decreasing, time for light to return from the Moon would increase each year, making the Moon appear to recede faster as seen by LLRE. Change in the speed of light, predicted by the simple expression GM=tc^3, precisely accounts for the lunar anomaly. This is striking evidence that the speed of light is slowing today.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (L. Riofrio)" Tags: "speed of light, moon"

Date: Tuesday, 10 Apr 2012 03:50
At the American Physical Society (APS) April meeting in Atlanta, physicist Saul Perlmutter again argued for more dollars to find hypothetical "dark energy". In 2011 Saul, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess split the Nobel Prize for claiming to discover DE. Unsatisfied with a measly 1.4 million dollar prize, they want 1000 times more money for a Space mission--once called SNAP, later JDEM, now WFIRST. Because of delays to the James Webb Space Telescope, WFIRST or anything like it will not fly until 2025 if ever. Nobel Prize or not, there is very little public support for "dark energy".

A supernova discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope on January 25, 2012 has been named by Adam Riess and his team at Space Telescope Science Institute for Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. This has led many to complain that only the International Astronomical Union can name an astronomical object. Keith Cowing of NASAWATCH called it Shameless Kissing Up to Congress at STSci. Nobel holder Adam Riess chose to defend himself in comments on Keith's blog post, with a supporting comment from Tod Lauer. Naming an exploding star for a sitting US Senator does seem like a desperate bid to curry a woman's favor.

The claim of "dark energy" rests on one main line of evidence, redshifts of Type Ia supernovae. Redshifts of distant objects increase linearly with distance, indicating expansion of the Universe. supernova redshifts appear to increase non-linearly, leading to speculation about acceleration and "dark" energies. A slowing speed of light, predicted by the simple equation GM=tc^3, fits the supernova redshifts precisely. The answer to the DE mystery lies not in darkness, but in light. If Nobel Prize winners are smart, why haven't they figured this out?

UPDATE: In the past day this story and outrage has spread to websites like the Daily Caller:

A New Way To Bribe Congress

"NASA’s pathetic move to name the Hubble data archive after the Senator (Mikulski) who controls their appropriations."

Also the conservative National Review:

Shameless Politicians Continued

One quarter of a Nobel Prize is still a great honor, one that no woman has received since 1963. Let us hope it is not sullied.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (L. Riofrio)" Tags: "cosmology, speed of light"

Date: Monday, 19 Mar 2012 21:26
I have started a new project on Kickstarter, to spread models of the Universe. You've seen globes and models of the Moon, planets and solar system. For the cost of a latte, you will have a downloadable model of the entire Universe sitting on your desktop! The model also includes the stars and constellations of the hemisphere. Any proceeds will go toward publication costs and registration at an international conference I'm invited to. Check it out and tell all your friends!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (L. Riofrio)" Tags: "cosmology, astronomy, physics"

Date: Wednesday, 14 Mar 2012 03:54

Albert Einstein's birthday is easy for mathematicians to remember, March 14 or 3.14! The Einstein-de Sitter Universe has a "critical" density of (6 $\pi$G t^2)^(-1), a density that keeps it from collapsing or expanding without bounds. Scientists long wondered why the density is exactly this, invoking strange ideas like "inflation" to explain it.

A cosmology where GM=tc^3 actually predicts that the "critical" density is in fact the stable density. If the Universe were less than this density, matter would be created via pair production until this density were reached. For a 4-dimensional spherical Universe of mass M, initial density is just (2 $\pi$^2 G t^2)^(-1). Difference between initial and final density is the difference between 3 and $\pi$ or 4.507034%. The density of baryonic matter that has been measured by the WMAP spacecraft may be precisely predicted from pure math.

Ancient Greek mathematicians first thought that the ratio between a circle's circumference and diameter was exactly 3, then later wondered why it should be an irrational number like 3.14. Fortunately $\pi$ does not equal 3, or the matter that we are made of would not exist!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (L. Riofrio)" Tags: "cosmology, einstein"

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