M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

Why Japan and JAXA are definitely NOT the future of space exploration

November 26, 2022
MThomas

Falsified space research? No problem. The “apology bow” (sha zai, 謝罪) makes it all better.

There is a reason why Japan’s newest “micro” satellite spectacularly failed to do, well, anything.

The Japan version of NASA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, called “JAXA” for some reason rather than “JAEA” — maybe the founder was a fan of X-Japan?) is riddled with incompetency and sycophancy.

Much like the rest of Japan’s government, one of the most corrupt of the world’s industrialized countries thanks to its strict “senpai-kohai” hierarchy where those at the top do no work and those at the bottom have no choice but to do what those at the top say – even if it’s illegal or immoral.

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Another lost month…

November 8, 2022
MThomas

Sigh.

A whole month of no posts. Sorry, everyone.

Last weekend was partly fun (Halloween party with our kids, pre-teen and teen) and partly melancholic (4th year anniversary of my mother’s untimely death from cancer).

But even before then, I just wasn’t feeling all that great. Not sick. Just sort of…not with it. On autopilot, kind of.

Now that fall is well and truly here, the pollen is going away and the skies are clearing.

Hoping I’ll find my muse again.

And, no, I’m not going to write anything about Twitter, elections, or crazy beliefs in satanic rituals making a comeback among the bonkers-crazy folk of my home country. Way too easy.

The University of Tokyo just covered a robot finger with real skin. The jokes write themselves…

June 20, 2022
MThomas

Skin is also just the first step in combining organic matter with machines, and opens the door for incorporating nerves and sensory organs such as olfactory receptors which can detect scents.

https://soranews24.com/2022/06/16/robot-finger-covered-in-living-skin-developed-by-university-of-tokyo/

The original report was published online by the U of Tokyo before it was covered last week by several online sources, including WebMD, the Independent, France 24, and ABC7, but the Sora News is the only one to post Japanese reader comments about, well, what fingers can do. Ahem.

The final quote of the researchers was posted on WebMD as:

“We believe this is a great step toward a new biohybrid robot with the superior functions of living organisms.”

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20220616/robot-finger-with-living-skin-points-to-a-new-future

Eek. Maybe might wanna rethink this…

Amino acids found in material brought back by Hayabusa-2

June 6, 2022
MThomas

More than 20 types of amino acids have been detected in samples Japan’s Hayabusa2 space probe brought to Earth from an asteroid in late 2020, a government official said Monday, showing for the first time the organic compounds exist on asteroids in space.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/9a7dbced6c3a-amino-acids-found-in-asteroid-samples-collected-by-hayabusa2-probe.html

This lends support to the hypothesis that life on Earth was brought to it during the Late Heavy Bombardment period – in which meteors brought not just water but the building blocks of life…

Now imagine if someone were to find an asteroid with addition proteins NOT found on Earth… (i.e., my novel’s scientific premise…)

Apologies for the absence!

December 9, 2021
MThomas

Sorry, everyone, for the lack of posts lately!

I wasn’t able to post short stories and news from my smartphone (which is what I had been doing on the train to work) bc I went way over my ISP plan and got throttled for about a week.

Then December started, and work got really busy. And I look up and suddenly realized I haven’t even watched more than the first ep of the live action Cowboy Bebop.

(It was OK. Too many guns and not enough kung-fu.)

I’ll get back to regular posting soon.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of what it looks like on the hiking trail behind my house. (“Wild dogs and boar suddenly appear. Beware!”)

(Yes, I have seen a few. They come with their piglets down to the creek near us at night and then on the property next door dig in the ground with their tusks, looking for bugs to eat.)

Crap, I did it again

July 16, 2021
MThomas

Man, I did it again.

I forgot to post the next chapter of Bringer of Light.

Also the next one after that. And the one after that.

It’s been a very tiring summer so far.

(For starters, we STILL don’t have enough Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, doses are get wasted left and right as the elderly randomly cancel reservations and the bureaucratic pinheads in charge refuse to give them to others, and several students at my school went out drinking and guess what happened…)

I haven’t even posted any science news lately.

But I promise that I’ll make up for it. Soon.

In the meantime, here’s a neat little article about some wild theories of the universe, starting with the Brane Universe and the Big Splat.

Yeah. I thought you might like that one.

https://www.livescience.com/strange-theories-about-the-universe.html?utm_campaign=socialflow

Destination: Red Planet

June 27, 2021
MThomas

Like other nations, China “regards Mars exploration as the preferred destination for deep space exploration,” Wang said.

https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Technology/china-unveils-ambitious-roadmap-human-mars-exploration/

China’s plan calls for setting up a permanently occupied base and a fleet of interplanetary craft. Probably it’s a good idea to first see whether it can meet its goal of landing people on Mars in 2033.

Of course, China is “willing to join hands with our counterparts and partners all over the world,” but it’s unlikely NASA, JAXA, ESA, and the UAE and other countries not named Russia will “cooperate.”

The next space race is here. Just wait until multinats actually decide asteroid mining is worth the risk and expense.

Maybe there is Hope, after all

February 10, 2021
MThomas

Congratulations, UAE! The Hope Probe (al-Amal) successfully entered Mars orbit on February 9th.

Made in the US (Boulder, Colorado) and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) and launched from Japan, it shows what hat can be accomplished through international cooperation instead of competition.

Maybe it is truly Hope, after all, and not just for Arab states.

Nature

CNN

BBC News

How to get a new tooth in Japan

January 23, 2021
MThomas

Note: the screw is nowhere near this big.

This past Thursday I got a metal spike screwed into my jaw.

And it hurt.

But not as badly as I feared. To be honest, it’s all my fault. Well, all my 20-year-old-self’s fault. Too much soda and not enough brushing and flossing in college.

Damn you, Dr. Pepper!

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