The universe is not only strange but stranger than we can imagine


Working “transporter” beams photons miles away

transporterScotty, have you been drinking again?

No, it’s true. Scientists have succeeded in sending entangled photons to different locations miles apart and then reuniting them.  “So what?” you might say. Well, this apparently is a small step towards being able to communicate information very quickly, using the quantum states of subatomic particles as “messengers.” It seems to also be one of the first times that actual particles — photons in this case – have been “teleported” over a distance. Confused yet?  Wikipedia to the rescue:

Quantum teleportation is a process by which quantum information (e.g. the exact state of an atom or photon) can be transmitted (exactly, in principle) from one location to another, with the help of classical communication and previously shared quantum entanglement between the sending and receiving location. Because it depends on classical communication, which can proceed no faster than the speed of light, it cannot be used for faster-than-light transport or communication of classical bits. While it has proven possible to teleport one or more qubits of information between two (entangled) atoms,[1][2][3] this has not yet been achieved between molecules or anything larger.

Although the name is inspired by the teleportation commonly used in fiction, there is no relationship outside the name, because quantum teleportation concerns only the transfer of information. Quantum teleportation is not a form of transportation, but of communication; it provides a way of transporting a qubit from one location to another, without having to move a physical particle along with it. However, quantum teleportation of particles has been theorized to also be possible, and to perhaps be an explanation for the teleportation-like effects seen in superconductivity and superfluidity.[4]

Although this experiment may (or may not) have moved the possibility of quantum teleportation slightly closer, it will likely be a very long time before we are beaming ourselves to parties, concerts or other planets. For the foreseeable future, we are stuck with planes, trains and automobiles.  And of course, spaceships. (Go Elon!)

Photo source: Working Transporter Beams Photons Under Four Miles Away | Digital Trends

Heading off collision with asteroid


It’s a heck of a good idea! Taking out asteroid avoidance insurance is one thing we humans really ought to do if we don’t want to end up like the previous tenants of Planet Earth,  AKA our pals the dinosaurs. An asteroid known as Bennu is headed our way, and will cross very close to us in 2035. At 500 metres across, it is smaller than the asteroid which did for the dinosaurs, but if it hit Earth, we would surely get our hair mussed, in the immortal phrase of General Jack D. Ripper of Dr. Strangelove fame. Many millions would be killed outright, and the consequences for the environment are incalculable.

At the moment, Bennu is supposed to miss us by a narrow margin — but it sure would be nice to have Plan B ready, in case something changes in the meantime.

NASA launches mission to study massive asteroid in hopes of preventing catastrophic collision in 2035 | National Post

The problem with warp drive…

Starship ENterpriseThis is too funny, in a sad way maybe. We might be able to get to distant planets with FTL travel, but we may destroy them when we arrive.  NASA is apparently playing with a form of warp drive known as Alcubierre drive (after its inventor, Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre) The drive works, according to Wikipedia, “by contracting space in front of it and expanding space behind it, resulting in effective faster-than-light travel.” (Got that?)

The problem is, on decelerating from its space/time bubble, the spacecraft may (or may not) destroy everything around it.  The end result — you get to your interstellar destination, but destroy it on arrival. Aaurgh! Keep thinking guys!

Space exploration is our destiny


Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.

William S. Burroughs


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Ready for launch

It’s hard to understand why anyone would turn away from the ultimate adventure that is space exploration. Sure, there are (rather unconvincing) economic arguments about how money could be better spent elsewhere, and sure it will be hard and expensive to get out there. And yes, many people will die in the attempt. So what? The same can be said for every risky voyage of exploration that our race has ever undertaken — and yet those voyages were undertaken, to our immense gain.

It won’t be easy
Critics of space travel point to the huge difficulties in getting to the high frontier from Earth, and surviving once there. Space, they point out, is an incredibly harsh, unforgiving environment: no food, no water, no air. We would have to build vessels or shelters which reproduce our natural environments, at least sufficiently to support life.  

Our ancestors faced similar challenges
True — and yet much the same thing could be said of, for example, the people who set out in outrigger canoes or flimsy sailing vessels across the wide oceans, sometimes with no clear idea of what – if anything — lay beyond the vast expanse of water. To do so, our bold ancestors prepared themselves as best they could, sometimes showing extraordinary ingenuity. They designed vessels that could carry them and their goods for weeks and months at a time. They preserved food using salt and smoke. They carried extra water in jars, gourds or skins. They even brought domestic animals and seeds to feed themselves in transit and to farm with, should they reach their unknown destination.

An island of safety
How are their ventures so very different from the challenges facing us in space? Like them, we must create a little island of safety in the middle of a hostile ocean. Like them, we must carry our food and water with us. Like them, if our craft fails, we die. You can’t breathe underwater, any more than in the hard vacuum of space.

Just preparing for these challenges teaches us much. The original space program brought a wealth of new technology and know-how in its wake. What leaps in knowledge might we make if we made a serious effort to colonize The Moon and the planets, to mine the asteroids for the incredible mineral riches? There would be an initial investment, certainly, but an investment that would almost certainly pay huge dividends long term — something that presumably has not escaped the first generation of space-bound entrepreneurs, who are already among us.

It`s not about the cash
But money, ROI, payback, is not ultimately what space exploration is about. The desire to explore is a fundamental aspect of being human. Wanderlust is built into our very genes, and to deny its attraction is to deny our heritage and our own humanity.  For all these reasons, and more to be explored in greater depth here in future posts — we must take a step further out. We must move into space.


Europe to build base on MOON by 2030 using 3D printer

The futuristic settlement would most likely be located on the rim of Shackelton crater, with robots laying the groundwork for humans to move in

Oh please, make it so! We so desperately need to take that next “step further out.” It is hard to believe that no human has been back to the Moon in nearly half a century. We were there, the future was in our grasp — and we let it go. Yes, there are troubles and things that need to be done on Earth, yes, there is no sure guarantee of short-term payback for space exploration. And yes, we absolutely have to explore space if we are to survive and prosper as a race. Maybe the time and the technology are finally right for a return to the “High Frontier.” Outward ho!

Source: Europe to build base on MOON by 2030 using 3D printer – Mirror Online