M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

35 Years Ago: Remembering the Challenger

January 28, 2021
MThomas

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 35 years since the disaster that claimed the lives of all seven Space Shuttle Challenger crew members.

I remember it well. Being sent home early without being told. Watching the TV news at home in silent shock with my parents and younger siblings, tears streaming down our faces.

President Reagan’s speech at Congress, made in the place of the traditional State of the Union address, ended with “they slipped the surly bonds of Earth…and touched the face of God.” Probably the finest and most decent thing he ever did (even my parents, who voted for Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale and intensely disliked Reagan and everything he stood for, couldn’t help but be moved by his words that day).

Thoughtless jokes circulated our school the next week or two. (“What’s the last thing Christa MacAuliffe said to her husband? “You feed the dog; I’ll feed the fish.”)

Even today, we focus on the school teacher who died and almost ignore the rest of the crew. Something like three dozen schools now bear her name. But NASA engineers have never forgotten. They just find it so difficult, so painful to write and talk about their friends and colleagues who perished.

There was a morbid fascination with the way in which the Challenger crew met their fate. My friends came up with all sorts of gruesome stories they claimed to have “heard,” mostly about body parts washing up on beaches around the Caribbean.

The fact is, we were traumatized. Kids do all sorts of insane things to hide their fears, insecurity, and general inability to answer the question what am I supposed to feel/do/say about this?

Challenger marked a turning point in the US space program. It set NASA back in many ways but also provided great insight into what needed to be fixed, what needed to be done to push forward our knowledge of space and the great beyond.

There is/was no going back. Humanity is a space-faring race and must continue to strive to reach beyond its grasp…”Or what’s a heaven for?”

Remember, honor.

Emulate.

Onward and upward.

75 years and counting

August 9, 2020
MThomas

DSC01148.jpg

14 years ago, my wife and I went to Hiroshima by high-speed ferry boat, on our way back from visiting her parents in Kyushu. Her father’s family comes from Hiroshima (although her father was actually born in Dairen/Dalian (大連), China) and her uncle and his family still live about an hour’s drive north of the city.

It was my first time to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. We arrived about a week after the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony and Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony, but the museum was a very sharp reminder of the horror that my country visited upon Japan.

August 6th, 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima.

August 9th, 11:02 a.m. Nagasaki. Continue Reading

Just in time for COVID-19 self-isolation and quarantine: A whole lot of online books for (15th to 19th century) kids

March 15, 2020
MThomas

PickeNotteThyNose

Includes such favorites as “pyke notte thyne errys nothyr thy nostrellys” and “spette not ovyr thy tabylle.”

Oh, and there’s some stuff by Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, i.e., Alice in Wonderland) and Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), among many others.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/21/pyke-notte-thy-nostrellys-15th-century-guide-on-childrens-manners-digitised-for-first-time

Have some Proxima Centauri with ESPRESSO

January 20, 2020
MThomas

“Proxima is our closest neighbor in an immense universe. How could we not be charmed by it?

Well, the planet may or may not exist (the confirmation data won’t be publicly available for another couple years).

And it is most likely not inhabitable — despite being dubbed a “Super-Earth” (which really only refers to size and not whether it’s “Earth-like” or not).

Still, regardless of these facts, the most important part of this article in Scientific American is the science:

“We tried different tools to prove ourselves wrong, but we failed. However, we have to keep the doors open to all possible doubt and skepticism.

Yes, the astronomers tried to prove their own discovery was a mistake. That’s how it works, folks. Challenge your assumptions, not jump to conclusions. Continue Reading

‘PigeonBot’ Brings Robots Closer To Birdlike Flight

January 18, 2020
MThomas

True story: On the first day of our honeymoon, a pigeon shat on the top of my head as we were walking to the mountain hot spa.

I wonder what would come out of robot pigeons 🤔

— Read on http://www.npr.org/2020/01/16/796786350/pigeonbot-brings-robots-closer-to-bird-like-flight

99.9999999% of Your Body Is Empty Space

January 14, 2020
MThomas

atoms gif.gif

Are you sitting down for this? Well, you’re not really. Your butt isn’t actually touching the chair you’re sitting on. Since the meat of your atoms is nestled away in nuclei, when you ‘touch’ someone (or something), you aren’t actually feeling their atoms.

Nobody has ever really touched anything in their lives.

Sleep tight…

(Not exactly a new article, but still interesting; and, yes, I might be using this to justify an awful lot of my soon-to-be-beta-read new novel 😉

No, it’s not actually an iPhone. Yes, please stop the sloppy reporting, thanks

January 9, 2020
MThomas

AncientIPhone

This is already a few months old, but I thought I’d finally get around to blogging about it: The “ancient iPhone” of “Russia’s Atlantis.”

Spoiler alert: it’s not one, and there was no such place. But that didn’t stop the “news” from spreading. Continue Reading

Aliens are among us! Um, apparently…

April 30, 2019
MThomas

oxford-invisible-aliens-breeding-humans-1200x630

Still, the fact that someone as highly educated as Chi wrote an entire book based on salvation by extraterrestrials could be a sign of how daunting our future is starting to look.

Or, conversely, how wack some Oxford dons really are…

https://futurism.com/the-byte/oxford-invisible-aliens-breeding-humans?fbclid=IwAR16jgOZNhpe6Q4tQrjDD7myYRF7vhC3ZJhf15GoPxrYPbMDxMF7fH5Xz2o

Why bother looking for aliens? Because we’re probably not all that smart

March 5, 2019
MThomas

[A]n obvious obstacle to identifying our neighbors is the tendency to limit our imagination to what we already know. But this should not necessarily remain the case in the future.

Frankly, I think it’s high time that somebody invent the warp drive so that the Vulcans will finally notice us.

blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/are-we-really-the-smartest-kid-on-the-cosmic-block/

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