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Turning Over New Leaf

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It Can’t Be Done, Until It Can


ship

I suppose people have thought about the prospect of reaching the stars since the beginning of human existence. We really do not want to hear that it might not be possible.

Realistically, however, it should never happen. Although there are approximately 10 trillion billion stars in the universe, the Sun is the only star in our solar system. It sits about 93 million miles from Earth, and just to put things into perspective, the moon is a mere 250,000 miles away.

Interplanetary travel is certainly possible. Man has already gone to the moon, and unmanned vehicles have landed on Mars.

The Voyager 1 space probe left Earth in 1977, and has traveled beyond Jupiter and Saturn. In space travel terms, that means nothing. The ship could have gotten a propulsion boost from Saturn’s gravity and headed for Pluto, but for scientific benefit, the craft’s trajectory was re-directed toward Titan, Saturn’s gigantic moon. If all goes well, Voyager 1 will approach the heliopause, or the separation between our solar system and interstellar space within a couple of years.

Here lies the problem. Should that occur the craft would be on its own, without power, going nowhere. In order to reach the next closest star to Earth, Alpha Centauri, some 4.3 light years away, it would require all the power of the entire planet Earth, plus the mining of all the power of the rest of the planets in our solar system, all converted to fuel and put into one ship. Not likely. However, if that were even possible, it would then take 50,000 years to get there.

So could it be done, perhaps with alternative-propulsion systems not yet invented? Doubtful. Even in the wildest imaginations of the top scientists in the world, it is not feasible.

Scientists and archeologists believe humans first appeared on the planet in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago during the Middle Paleolithic period. About 70,000 years ago, humans began to leave Africa, and spread to Asia and Europe some 40,000 years ago, eventually reaching the Americas about 15,000 years ago. In that time, homo sapiens populated to 7 billion, and especially in light of the dawn of nuclear weapons, have done little to move in a direction suggesting longevity. It is highly unlikely we can survive as a species long enough to even begin the first steps toward discovering a sufficient non-science fiction source of rocket power.

Now, I know all about Columbus, Magellan, and Neil Armstrong. Yet, human experience thus far has not prepared us enough to grasp the concept of an infinite universe. We most likely will never leave our solar system. Since the next galaxy beyond our Milky Way is 2 million light years away, man will never arrive there. Our universe is only 14 billion years old, and it would take us longer than that to reach it. That’s one heck of a lifespan.

So maybe the moral of this story is to improve human conditions on our minute speck of property we call a planet, before we cease to exist. We will not leave this region of the universe anyway.

Of course, human beings always say it can’t be done, until it can.

20 comments:

  1. I think you are talking about the concept of brightening the corner where you are... and that is always a good idea no matter what happens in terms of scientific space travel:)

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  2. " It is vital to the welfare of our nation to ban the purchase of assault weapons and ammo, and...oh, look!! There's Mars! Let's go there!!"

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    1. Judie: This post had nothing to do with the gun control debate, but I disagree with your conclusion. We have a gun violence problem, but it is not for the reasons expressed by the biased, non-journalistic media. Before any reasonable discussion, "Assault Weapons" must be defined. They are not what the media and the current administration would have us believe. To a Navy Seal, a knife can be an assault weapon.

      The problem that in the name of "freedom," the Far Left has prevented adequate background checks claiming invasion of privacy and racism. Now, their solution is to eliminate the 2nd Amendment and take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

      I also blame the Far Right. There is no need for citizens to walk the streets with AK-47s in the name of self-protection.

      In short, I have found that very few people can engage this subject in an intelligent discourse in a positive way. I hear nothing but namecalling, insults, and personal attacks. In a nation of 350 million people, one size does not fit all, despite the wishes of the ideologues.

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  3. I came back to check my comment on space travel, and discovered that the topic had turned to Gun Control. Didn't see that one coming, but I am willing to play ball.

    I think the thing that everyone needs to remember before they even start talking about Gun Control is the 2nd Amendment. Let's take a look:

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    Before we even begin to parse this out, note that there is no mention of HUNTING, GUN COLLECTING, or PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM HOME INTRUDERS. So, clearly that is not why the 2nd Amendment exists. If it that was the intent of the 2nd Amendment, those things would get a mention. They don't. Let's now parse it out to see what does.

    "A well regulated militia"... Who is the that? The writers of this precious document considered that to be every person who was not part of the government. That meant every law abiding citizen was entitled to gun ownership, and once upon a time, not so long ago, people considered it their duty to have one and know how to use it. They understood the 2nd Amendment and knew that We The People were the well regulated militia. Not the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or even the National Guard, who all report at the discretion of the President, the Senate, and Congress. We The People.

    "being necessary to the security of a Free State"... Why would guns in the hands of law abiding citizens be NECESSARY to the security of a free state? Well, let's look at all the times when the government had all of the power and the people had none. What happened? It was either extermination or slavery. I can see why they thought it NECESSARY.

    "the right of the people to keep and bear arms"... The Founding Fathers mean arms that are in PARITY with whatever the Government has so that the people can rise against a tyrannical government. That is what this Amendment is about. If the government turns on the people with Assault Rifles, but have banned weapons for the populace to the point that they can only fight back with pea shooters or kitchen knives... that is not PARITY. Had King George III insisted that the colonists give up all of their muskets to a ban because all they needed were bows and arrows for HUNTING, I do believe that they answer would have been a resounding, "NO." Our Founding Fathers understood PARITY. Mental health checks are an excellent idea. Removing PARITY is not. It undermines the heart of the 2nd Amendment.

    "shall not be infringed." Well, that is pretty clear. It doesn't say anything about disallowing certain weapons that are available to the government, making magazines that contain more than 10 rounds illegal, or anything of that nature. It says these right shall not be infringed. Period.

    The truth is that the 2nd Amendment is the only thing that protects the 1st Amendment. You let this one go folks and the other one will be right behind it. When they start burning books and art there will be a huge outcry, but no one will be able to stop them. They will have all the guns. And we shall have none. And our right to even say anything about it shall be gone. Think long and hard about this one. The 2nd protects the 1st. (This may not happen in our day, but it will be the legacy you leave for your children. Pick your soapbox well.)

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    1. Robin: I don't disagree. As a political Independent, I attempt to open my mind to reasonable discussions about gun violence. I know that since the 1960s, if you give the Far Left, like the ACLU, a little leeway, they will destroy the Constitution. While I am not convinced we need AK-47s and 100-round clips, those are not the weapons killing our citizens. Given two choices, I agree with you and would vote to preserve the 2nd Amendment in its entirety.

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    1. Judie: I believe we can colonize Mars. In the words of Elton John, "Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact, it's cold as hell." However, it is looking better every day.

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  5. Thought-provoking and interesting. Thanks.

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  6. The only thing left to add to this particular dialogue about the hottest topic of the day- gun control, it seems to me is this. Read up on the history of gun control if you happen to be someone who thinks it is such a fantastic idea. Really get into the whole picture of what happens when the government takes guns away from their citizens to help keep them safe. It is scary, sad and unbelievable all at the same time. I wish somebody would have taught me this stuff in public school. They still don't teach it, I am certain.
    And as for JJ's original post, it does relate to the gun control debate in some ways I think. Nobody ever could have imagined all the types of guns that would be available to buy back when the second amendment was written. However, the intention is clear that the people are to be protected FROM their government by being able to keep and bear arms. Although we can never see into the future, we CAN keep our values and rights intact no matter what the future holds.

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    1. Jasmine: Those last two lines are very important. All Americans should take heed.

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  7. You mean there's really no such thing as warp drive and worm holes? Oh, dear. Well, I guess that means that no one will find us either. Hmm, maybe it doesn't mean that, but it means that no one "like us" will find us.

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    1. Galen: It does mean they will not find us either. That is, if they are people.

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  8. Before we even think about colonizing Mars, we should take care of all the issues we have here at home. If we don't, we'll just be taking them along as excess baggage.

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    1. Judie: You got that right. When I left New Hampshire, I swore off Mars. Too damn cold! St. Augustine today: 80 degrees.

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  9. I love how a post about space exploration became political. LOL.

    I think the most important point you made in your post is: never stop exploring. Ever. If all we do is think inside the box and do what has already been done, we'll never get outside the box. Here's to the dreamers and inventors and the hard workers. :)

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    1. Phoenix: I'm always up for a good scrap. As for space, I remember my father calling me for dinner. I hemmed and hawed, but he made me shut the TV and come to the dinner table. I told him I wish they would invent something that would enable me to pause a TV show and pick it up after dinner. He laaughed and said, "Not in your lifetime." I've always been a dreamer - and a hard worker.

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  10. I agree that first we need to work on improving things In our own backyard. Lots of interesting comments here, and I like how you came up with the idea of pausing TV shows. You were always ahead of your time JJ!
    Julie

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