Posts from the ‘NASA’ Category

quantumaniac:

Todd Akin and the Anti-Science House Science Committee

Aside from the sheer biological ludicrousness of Todd Akin’s ideas on female physiology, one unsettling subplot to the debacle is his presence on the House of Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

That’s right: A moron who, to put it gently, ignores what science tells us about how babies are made, helps shape the future of science in America. It would be shocking, but for the fact that many of the committee’s GOP members have spent the last several years displaying comparable contempt for climate science.

Now, there’s no question that climate change is less well understood than human reproduction. The rate at which warming permafrost will release methane is open for debate, whereas it’s a long-settled fact that women can become pregnant from rape. But in both cases, there exists a factual proposition that can be studied through observation and hypothesis-testing — and it’s the scientific method itself that’s ultimately under attack in the House science committee.

The committee’s chair, Ralph Hall (R-Texas), lumps “global freezing” together with global warming, which he doesn’t believe humans can significantly impact because “I don’t think we can control what God controls.”Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) thinks cutting down trees reduces levels of greenhouse gases they absorb. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) still trots out the debunked notion that a scientific consensus existed in the 1970s on “global cooling,” which he portrays as a scare concocted by scientists “in order to generate funds for their pet projects.”

Dan Benishek (R-Michigan) strikes that climate-scientists-as-charlatans note, dismissing contemporary research as “all baloney. I think it’s just some scheme.” Paul Broun (R-Georgia) says that “Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community.”

Broun, who likens the CDC’s encouragement of fruit and vegetable consumption to “socialism of the highest order,” is also seen by some people as anti-scientific for asserting that an embryo is a human being, though that criticism is unfair: When life begins, and whether and how to value the existence of an embryo, are moral questions, and science can’t answer them except to contrast the properties of embryos with people.

Also tarred as anti-scientific are votes against funding certain types of research, from studies on embryonic stem cells to sociology, government support of which has been recently attacked. Funding, however, is ultimately a political decision. It’s possible to reject support for certain scientific endeavors without denying the fundamental validity of science itself, just as it’s possible to think climate change isn’t a terrible problem while respecting the science describing it.

But when it comes to climate and the House science committee, the rhetoric shows that it’s about the validity. And whatever Ralph Hall purports to support when he says, “I’m not anti-science, I’m pro-science. But we ought to have some believable science,” it’s not science.

In-depth look at what’s wrong with our House science committee. Stay informed, and you can be more effective in spreading science literacy!

c4tc4k3:

Vortex cloud, Wallops Island, VA

The photo below is from a NASA study on the wake vortices of aircraft. Here, the vortex phenomenon is made observable with the use of colored smoke. The formation occurs naturally in many diverse scenarios — tornadoes, hurricanes, and cyclones being obvious cloud-related examples.

(Source: matadornetwork.com/bnt/60-insane-cloud-formations-from-around-the-world-pics/)

ikenbot:

Supermassive Black Hole at Work

Image Credit: NASA, S. Gezari (The Johns Hopkins University), and J. Guillochon (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Back in 2010, astronomers witnessed an explosion of light from a star that was obliterated by a supermassive black hole. This is an accurate computer simulation of the event that took place.

Well this looks awesome.

A simplified demonstration of how planets move:

The planets orbit the sun in ellipses on a relatively flat plane

The sun is moving through space around a massive black hole in the middle of our galaxy, the Milky Way. This is the second part of the .gif, when the planets start spiraling.

The Milky Way is part of a cluster of galaxies called the Local Group, which orbit around a center between us and the Andromeda Galaxy.

And the Local Group is part of the Virgo Supercluster, which is one of millions to billions of superclusters in the observable universe.

Not to mention all of that is speeding “outward” as the universe expands. Probably. At speeds approaching light-speed. 

But despite all of this movement, we are able to shoot a rover attached to a lowering crane and hit a designated landing spot on one little planet. 

If that isn’t an awesome example of science, I don’t know what is.

jtotheizzoe:

propagandery:

What’s the value of space exploration?

This week, elated by the Curiosity rover, I posted something about how great NASA is to my FB page. Someone immediately commented that it cost $3B already (which I don’t think is even accurate), and complained that it was a waste of money that would be better spent on immediate needs back home.

Of course, I ranted about how the space program has provided nearly limitless value in terms of the technology it’s provided the United States and the world. And of course, he was unconvinced, calling quantifiable and demonstrable advances in communications, medicine, public safety, engineering, transportation, etc., “subjective benefits.”

So in the interest of assisting anyone else who may have encountered such a myopic lack of vision and, what else can I call it but flat-out ignorance, and since NASA’s budget is forever on the chopping block, here are a few links to more information about what is known as NASA’s “spinoff technologies.”

Wikipedia list of spinoff tech

NASA’s own Spinoff home page

back issues of Spinoff magazine, a free annual PDF that’s over 200 pages of details about NASA advancements

NASASpinoff Twitter account

Top 10 NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day from Discovery.com

10 Best NASA Spinoffs from Wired

In a nutshell, if you drive, fly, walk, use a cell phone, use a computer, use a smoke detector, use a GPS device, wear shoes, sleep on a bed, wear glasses, check your kid’s temperature, check the weather, or ever had a CAT scan… your life has been positively impacted by NASA technologies.

Yours, propagandery

Protip: Science haters gonna science hate.

Not to mention the research opportunities and what we’ve learned about both ourselves and the rest of the universe from NASA. 

Not to mention, Curiosity cost about $2.5 billion. Air conditioning in the Iraq War was at least $15 billion dollars a year. If we can produce all of this awesome stuff on just $19 billion a year, imagine what we could do with a dedicated national research effort.

sciencepopularis:

This week in science #3

Stunning satellite imagery of earth from The Guardian

The Petermann Glacier photo is particularly good

Cannabis good, cannabis bad

The argument rages on 

Evidence for plate tectonics discovered on Mars

Watch yourself Curiosity

Next week: NASA announce news conference for record-breaking galaxy cluster

Tweet of the week

“Niece scolds me for Toms with sox. In my defense, they’re ankle sox.” – Bill Nye

jtotheizzoe:

WTF NASA?

If someone asks you “What has NASA ever done to make our lives any better?” … show them this site. Benefit after benefit from space research to Earth!

(via HuffPost Science)