M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

Tech visionaries are needed. Scientists are more important.

September 1, 2020
MThomas

I get the attraction of people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. They have big ideas. They’re enthusiastic, ecstatic, even. They’re great at simplifying difficult concepts and promoting tech to the lay person.

But they’re not creators. They’re “visionaries.”

I.e., salespersons.

Is that a bad thing? Of course not. I was in computer sales once. It was hard. Only the charismatic are good at it. But I didn’t have the knowledge and ability to make the products I was selling, let alone the power to innovate.

Sticking a chip in a person’s brain and sending thousands to the Moon or Mars sound cool. Possible, even.

But science isn’t sales. Someone might die.

Small difference.

We need visionaries, but scientists are more important. Maybe if they talked to each other…

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53987919

Drill, rocket launch, catch, ferry, repeat?

August 2, 2020
MThomas

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The Airbus spacecraft will have to manoeuvre itself into a position to capture these samples that will be packaged inside a football-sized container.

After ingesting this container, the satellite must then prepare it for return to Earth.

This means not only shipping it across hundred of millions of km of space, but also putting the football inside a re-entry capsule that can be dropped into Earth’s atmosphere to land in an American desert.

This would be, indeed, a feat of engineering as well as a first in interplanetary exploration.

But I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an “interplanetary cargo ship.” Unless the intention is to maintain it as a permanent link between research locations (i.e., some kind of permanent orbitor stationed above the Jezero Crater) and research facilities on Earth (or the Moon, or the International Space Station).

Political will is needed in addition to the enormous funding. Semi-privatization, anyone?

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53575353

 

 

SpooQy-1 action at a distance!

June 30, 2020
MThomas

“In the future, our system could be part of a global quantum network transmitting quantum signals to receivers on Earth or on other spacecraft,” says Aitor Villar, lead author of the study. “These signals could be used to implement any type of quantum communications application, from quantum key distribution for extremely secure data transmission to quantum teleportation, where information is transferred by replicating the state of a quantum system from a distance.”

OK, OK, so it’s not the first time quantum entanglement has been demonstrated. But it sure is the smallest. Only 20 cm by 10 cm!

Now we only need a few thousand of these things and a way of somehow making tangled photons actually carry encrypted messages…

(Sorry, thinking of the SF novel I should have published by now…still figuring out the last two chapters!)

See more at New Atlas (note: I seriously doubt the CubeSat actually looks like that picture when it’s doing its thing).

Five reasons why NASA is sending a Dragonfly to Titan

February 29, 2020
MThomas

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  1. It’s the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere.
  2. This atmosphere is more similar to Earth’s (especially ancient Earth’s) than any other atmosphere in the solar system.
  3. Chemistry, baby. Microbes, maybe.
  4. Labs take too long. Experiments on Titan would be short.
  5. The terrain is pretty wild.

Check out the link below for more detailed explanations and a neat video.

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/1184/why-is-nasa-sending-dragonfly-to-titan-here-are-five-reasons/

One pill to block the emotions from bad memories…and another to…?

February 12, 2020
MThomas

We’ve seen this before. Tragic romance framed by sci-fi fantasies. But now it may be possible to block the emotions the amydala associated with painful memories. Continue Reading

Artificial intelligence-created medicine to be used on humans for first time

January 31, 2020
MThomas

“This year was the first to have an AI-designed drug, but by the end of the decade all new drugs could potentially be designed by AI.”

Philip K Dick would have had a field day with this. Imagine what will happen once we start ingesting nanobots…

I, for one, welcome our AI drug overlords.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51315462

‘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

ESA and NASA? Airbus? Still not ready? 🤦‍♂️

December 6, 2019
MThomas

Right now, engineers have got a dummy rover practising the business of retrieving packaged rock samples. And, yes, the stand-ins really are whiteboard markers.

Yay! Whiteboard markers. Um. OK.

But different agencies and companies are finally working together?

Great!

Wait. What’s the catch?

It is, though, going to take more than a decade to achieve.

Sigh.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50663278

The exciting world of regolith oxygen extraction

October 25, 2019
MThomas

Future moon settlers might benefit from oxygen extraction from lunar regolith as it can be used to create breathable air as well as a source for fuel. In addition, the newly found extraction method might also be useful for Mars colonization.

Regolith covers the Moon and Mars (and presumably many other potentially habitable rocky bodies).

Of course, the composition of regolith on the Moon differs from that of Mars.

But if the new method can extract sufficient quantities of both oxygen and hydrogen, there should be ample amounts for both human usage and rocket fuel.

(Yawn.) “Dry” science? Sure. But think of the (fictional) possibilities!

https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2019/10/17/scientists-discovered-how-to-extract-oxygen-from-the-moons-soil

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