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Category Archives: Space Travel
Posted: March 29, 2020 at 10:48 am
Space anemiaposes a significant risk to deconditioning, and should be considered as spacetourism becomes more popular and available, according to a paper published inthe American Journal of Hematology.1
Space travelrelated anemia has been a concern for the past 60 years, though conflicting data have prevented researchers from determining, with certainty, that being in space can directly lead to the condition. Researchers determined that evaluating hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations and red blood cell (RBC) mass within 7 days of returning to Earth from space would, however, be sufficient for determining any link.
For this study,the authors evaluated data recorded in the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministrations Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centers system, which containsrecords for all astronauts since the programs inception, to determine anycausal relationship between space travel and changes in Hb concentrations.
Two datasetswere included, the first of which contained records from 711 mission-astronautswith 1962 Hb measurements and 721 mission-astronauts with 17,336 Hbmeasurements. All data were compared with those from control records taken atthe time of each mission.
Forty-eightpercent of astronauts were anemic when they returned to Earth after spacetravel. Longer trips to space also appeared to require more recovery time afterthe journey than did shorter trips, with Hb levels returning to normal after 49days for trips of 11.5 to 145 days vs 24 days for trips of a mean of 5.4 days.
Astronauts whosetrips lasted 5.4 days, 11.5 days, and 145 days had Hb decrements of -0.61 g/dL(4%), -0.82 g/dL (5%), and -1.66 g/dL (11%), respectively.
Wecharacterized space anemia, its dose-response relationship with exposure to spaceas well as longitudinal effects, the authors wrote. Whether acute spaceanemia will turn into chronic anemia depends critically on the duration ofexposure to space.
Trudel G, Shafer J, Laneuville O, Ramsay T. Characterizing the effect of exposure to microgravity on anemia: more space is worse. Am J Hematol. 2020;95(3):267-273.
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Astronomers group celebrates Iowa’s ‘unheralded’ contributions to space travel for Apollo 13 50-year anniversary – The Gazette
Posted: at 10:48 am
ELY A local astronomers group is celebrating the major yet unheralded roles played by Iowas three state universities in the history of astronomy and space travel in connection with the Apollo 13 50-year anniversary.
During the Apollo 13 mission, which was April 11 to 17, 1970, an explosion on board the spacecraft left the fate of three astronauts unknown for seven days as people around the world feared they may never make it back to earth.
Historian David V. Wendell, curator of an exhibit called Our Finest Hours: Apollo XIII and Iowas Universities in Space Exploration, had planned an event with panel discussion on the date of the launch April 11 at the astronomical research complex operated by the Cedar Amateur Astronomers, 1365 Ivanhoe Road, in rural Ely. The COVID-19 crisis has put the event in doubt, as some of his planned speakers backed out.
Wendell still hoped to pay tribute to Iowas space travel efforts in conjunction with the anniversary.
Perhaps the virus, therefore, gives us a deeper insight into the psyche of what it was like to be on that fateful flight not knowing if one would survive or not, Wendell said. Just as today, on Earth, we wonder in the back of our mind if we will make it safely through a daunting ordeal, they, too, faced this dilemma of uncertainty, but came through successfully.
Wendell highlighted the contributions of three scholars:
Gurnett, professor emeritus of astronomy at the University of Iowa, was a protege of James Van Allen, the UI professor who designed and built the experimental equipment aboard Explorer 1, Americas first man-made satellite to circle the Earth. Gurnett went on to assist and engineer experiments on board Injun 1, Americas first satellite designed by a college, and to create the instruments aboard the Voyager Spacecraft, the first man-made object to fly out of the solar system and into interstellar space.
The event also was to celebrate Gurnetts 80th birthday on April 11.
Willson, professor emeritus of astronomy at Iowa State University, has been one of the nations leading experts in variable star research in this century and the latter half of the last. Variable stars are those that vary in intensity. She has used the worlds most advanced telescopes, including Hubble, to identify planets in orbit around stars far distant from our solar system.
Morgan, chairwoman of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Northern Iowa, is recognized as one of the states leading authorities on stellar pulsation in an effort to understand how stars evolve and its implication for the future of our planet, as well as others like it in the universe.
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Posted: at 10:48 am
Will Whitehorn argued there are massive commercial opportunities to Britain becoming a real spacefaring nation. The UK Space Agency, a Government body, wants Britain to hold 10 percent of the global space economy by 2030.
Funding has already been provided to establish Spaceport Cornwall, which plans to launch satellites into space via Richard Bransons Virgin Orbit, with proposals from two Scottish sites also being considered.
According to Mr Whitehorn Virgin Galactic, which plans to take humans into space, could also operate from the site.
Speaking to Express.co.uk he said: We should be taking people into space from Britain. I dont see why Spaceport Cornwall cant, as well as carrying satellites with Virgin Orbit, host Virgin Galactic.
Its going to be commercial by the end of this year or early next year. I have a ticket for a flight, well maybe my ticket could be from Cornwall. Im thinking within two years.
I think we need to move quite quickly on this kind of stuff. We need to get everything up and running as fast as we can.
We can do launch here. It was difficult to do launch with old style rocketry. But for instance Virgin Orbit, which has the 747 with the air launched satellite launching vehicle, that can come to Cornwall and launch satellites anywhere out over the Atlantic very safely and we build the right sort of satellites for that.
Not only that in Scotland there are a couple of sites which are almost fighting to see whos going to be the one to be basically the vertical launch site.
We could have real launch capability and that matters for reasons of commerciality, the industrialisation of space and also for national security.
Mr Whitehorn was formerly president of Virgin Galactic and is chair of Clyde Space, a UK based commercial space company.
READ MORE:NASA astronaut about to escape coronavirus for ISS: 'Good luck'
The Government is currently working on the UKs Defence Space Strategy, the release of which has been repeatedly postponed.
According to Mr Whitehorn the UK space industry is significantly bigger than much of the public realises.
He claimed: We need to industrialise space and Britain is in a position to be part of that story in a major way. We are, without any doubt now, one of the countries with the most developed industries to build satellites.
Were building something like 35-40% of the worlds commercial satellites here in the UK.
Our universities with their commercial arms build most of the best instruments used on the missions people get excited about going to Mars or going to the Moon. Now you add to that the expertise Britain has been building up in artificial intelligence and quantum technologies.
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Last year the UK announced it would increase its funding of the European Space Agency, a coalition of 22 nations, by over 15 percent.
In a blog published in June 2019, shortly before he took up a position advising Boris Johnson in Downing Street, Dominic Cummings suggested Britain could work with Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to establish a manned base on the Moon.
Asked about the Governments target for Britain to hold 10 percent of the global space market by 2030 Mr Whitehorn was optimistic.
He stated: I think it is ambitious but its achievable.
It wouldnt have been achievable in a world where we could only produce the hardware but we in this country are now capable of doing things like the robotics.
I believe we will have server farms in space that displace the ones you now see on the ground and they will be built in space by robots where the artificial intelligence and the thinking behind how they work comes from this country.
I also believe we are going to be able to launch a lot of these smaller type satellites from the UK. We couldnt do that in the past.
Then we can create a viable space economy which can also help maintain Britains national security because if youre not in space youre not going to have any security in the future.
Mr Whitehorn noted renewed space travel could have a radical impact on human society within a few decades.
He explained: I can imagine in 20 or 30 years time a small group of scientists going from Oxford University in their hover flivver down to Cornwall and getting onboard a Virgin Galactic spaceship with their new experimental molecule that they think can cure viruses, but they need five minutes of weightlessness to combine it.
Then they get back onboard and theyre back at Oxford that night and have done it. Thats the kind of world we want to create.
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Posted: at 10:48 am
Inan effort to mitigate damage from COVID-19 here on Earth, people worldwide are practicing social distancing, attempting to limit the spread of the disease. However, space is extremely tight on space stations, and the first lunar and Martian colonies are also likely to house occupants in close quarters. Disease in space has been affecting astronauts for decades. So, how will we respond to epidemics in space when they inevitably occur.
Since the dawn of the human exploration of space, illnesses and medical emergencies have stricken space travelers. The first missions to space took just a single occupant beyond the bounds of Earth. The number of people traveling on each mission went up to two, then three. Now, four to seven crew members typically take part in each flight, and the International Space Station (ISS) is usually home to six occupants. Lunar and Martian colonies would house hundreds to thousands of people.
Living in space also changes the way bodies react, and alter health under the best circumstances. For this reason, NASA and other space agencies study the effects of space on the human body. Not only will these studies helpprotect those living in space, but lessons learned from these studies could help protect populations here on Earth.
Factors like radiation, microgravity, stress, and altered sleep cycles could all affect astronaut immune systems Understanding these immune system changes may help scientists pinpoint the onset of illness, and suggest monitoring strategies, or treatments, that can boost the immune system and prevent full-blown infections and diseases here on Earth,NASA officials report.
The human immune system reacts differently in the microgravity environment of space than it does here on Earth, studies find. The immune system is disrupted, altering the way bodies react to infections.
The immune system is very complex, and several aspects of immunity remain uninvestigated during spaceflight. We now need to delve deeper into the immune system changes that happen in space, and also determine if immune changes during flight elevate clinical risks for astronauts in future deep-space missions. All the factors that change immunity on the ISS will be worse on longer missions to an asteroid or to Mars, Dr. Brian Crucian of NASAs Johnson Space Center (JSC) states.
During the Apollo 7 flight in 1968 (the first Apollo mission to carry astronauts), the crew all came down with colds, altering mission plans. NASA officials believe commander Wally Schirra likely had a mild cold when boarding the spacecraft, before spreading the illness to his crew mates. Due to their illnesses, the crew refused to wear helmets during reentry into the Earths atmosphere.
Surprisingly, the crews of the next twoApollo missionsalso developed colds during their flights. Following these experiences, NASA developed quarantine procedures, limiting human exposure to astronauts prior to their flights.
Since the early days of space travel, advances in communication have made it possible to treat a wider variety of ailments in space, using knowledge and resources on Earth.
NASA was even once able to treat anastronautwho developed a blood clot while visiting the ISS. At the time, the space traveler (whose name is protected for privacy concerns) was two months into a six-month mission when the deep vein thrombosis (DVT) was discovered during a routine test on how space affects the flow of body fluids.
Dr. Stephan Moll, a blood clot expert at the UNC School of Medicine, was called in to help treat the astronaut by teleconferencing.
My first reaction when NASA reached out to me was to ask if I could visit the International Space Station (ISS) to examine the patient myself. NASA told me they couldnt get me up to space quickly enough, so I proceeded with the evaluation and treatment process from here in Chapel Hill,Moll recalls. The NASA video below shows how Dr. Stephan Moll treated a blood clot on the international space station while remaining firmly on terra firma.
Treatment for this condition often involves putting the patient on blood thinners, slowing the growth of the clot, potentially reducing damage caused if the clot breaks free, and travels to another part of the body. However, the ISS is only equipped with a limited supply of medicines, but some Enoxaparin was available, which the astronaut used for 40 days until a supply ship delivered another drug, Apixaban, to the space station crew.
During the course of treatment lasting more than 90 days, the spaceborne patient took regular ultrasounds of their neck, following guidance from a radiology team on Earth. Following a safe landing on Earth, no additional treatments were required for the once-ailing astronaut.
Influenza and microbes like coronavirus could quickly work their way through a crew isolated together in the depths of space.
The absence of gravity precludes particles settling down, so they stay suspended in the air, and could be more easily transmitted. To prevent this, compartments are ventilated and the air HEPA filters would remove particles,Jonathan Clark, a former six-time crew surgeon for NASAs Space Shuttle program, stated.
A 2012 study examining health records of 742 astronauts who flew on 106 flights revealed 29 cases of disease transmission, including fungal, urinary tract, and skin infections, as well as the flu.
For reasons scientists have not quite figured out, the immune system can go on the fritz in space: wounds heal more slowly; infection-fighting T-cells send signals less efficiently; bone marrow replenishes itself less effectively; killer cells another key immune system player fight less energetically. At the same time, the pathogens grow stronger, developing thicker cell walls, greater resistance to antimicrobial agents and a greater ability to form so-called biofilms that cling to surfaces, Jeffrey Kluger reported inTime Magazine.
Physical changes caused by radiation may present problems keeping astronauts and space colonists healthy. Another challenge for space travelers is that dormant viruses, like herpes simplex, can reawaken during space travel.
Visitors have spent a year or more aboard the International Space Station. Colonists on the Moon orMarswould stay even longer, increasing health issues including sleep deprivation, even without an epidemic. Without proper sleep, and suffering from high stress levels, space travelers could be even more susceptible to infections their bodies may have fought off at home.
The types of problems you may encounter are a decline in mood, cognition, morale, or interpersonal interaction. You could also develop a sleep disorder because your circadian rhythm might be thrown off due to the 38 extra minutes each day on Mars, or by a small, noisy environment, or the stress of prolonged isolation and confinement, NASAsHuman Research Programsuggests. The video below shows alook at how the human immune reacts to the strange conditions of space.
Astronauts aboard the ISS are regularly tested to ensure once-dormant viruses are not re-activating. Bacteria taken from body swabs of astronauts are regularly examined, revealing populations of bacteria and viruses onboard the space station. Air circulating though the orbiting outpost is safe from both biological and chemical contaminants.
Just as on Earth, isolation and containment of those potentially infected by a disease. The International Space Station is equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, and containment masks are available for infected residents of the ISS. Following any sort of infection, space travelers could be quarantined after returning to Earth, as they were in the early days of human space travel.
Future colonies on the Moon orMarswill, almost certainly, have similar facilities for lessening the reach of outbreaks like the one currently engulfing our planet.
Answers to the challenges of epidemics on Earth much less onlunar or Martian colonies remains unanswered. And, viruses are more likely to spread, and be harder to treat, in space than they are on Earth.
But, many of the same treatments and procedures that we employ on Earth to limit the spread of disease and to flatten the curve of infections would also likely play significant roles in protecting colonists exploring theSolar System.
As we expandout into the solar system, epidemics are bound to follow us. But, even today, we are already protecting the explorers who are pioneering our quest to reach beyond the confines of our planet.
This article was originally published onThe Cosmic Companionby James Maynard, an astronomy journalist, fan of coffee, sci-fi, movies, and creativity. Maynard has been writing about space since he was 10, but hes still not Carl Sagan. The Cosmic Companionsmailing list/podcast. You can read this original piecehere.
Read our daily coverage on how the tech industry is responding to the coronavirus and subscribe to our weekly newsletter Coronavirus in Context.
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Posted: at 10:48 am
During the global pandemic, cities around the world are recognizing it makes sense to take road space that is usually used for moving and storing cars and instead give it to people. Theyre reallocating the right-of-way from travel lanes and parking to create emergency bikeways for essential workers, and open space where residents can safely walk, bike, and exercise, with sufficient room for social distancing.
Dr. Tabitha Combs, a transportation researcher at the University of North Carolina, and Mike Lydon, founder of transportation design firm Street Plans, have started a crowdsourced database of what cities are doing to create safer, people-friendly streets during the shelter at home era.
View Coms and Lydons database here.
So far, Chicago has taken the opposite approach. Last week Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed the citys most important routes for car-free transportation and recreation, the Lakefront Trail and The 606 elevated greenway. It was an understandable emergency response to dangerously crowded conditions on the paths and the failure of some residents to practice social distancing. But hopefully a compromise can be reached to allow residents to use these facilities for essential trips. In the meantime, Streetsblogs Low-Stress Lakefront Pandemic Cycling Route offers an on-street alternative to the shoreline path.
Meanwhile Mexico City, Bogot, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis have prohibited cars on certain streets. Berlin has created new temporary bike lanes.
Privately-owned bike-share companies in Mexico City and Bogot are offering free rides to healthcare workers during the pandemic. (These companies supplement the cities publicly-owned bike-share systems). Divvy, Chicagos publicly-owned bike-share network, is also offering free rides to healthcare workers, plus $1 rides and $49 annual memberships to everyone else.
The database also notes that five cities have removed beg buttons from intersections, which pedestrians are normally required to press to request a walk signal. This can result in people crowding on sidewalks waiting for a walk signal, which creates a risk of viral transmission. Thankfully, beg buttons arent common in Chicago. The Chicago Pedestrian Plan of 2012 (see page 40) called for removing nearly all of them, but some still remain.
Back to the Lakefront Trail issue. Although Chicagos non-essential workplaces have been closed during the pandemic, there are still Chicagoans who need to commute for essential jobs and errands. But because there are so few people driving at this time, the streets are relatively empty, which encourages dangerous speeding.
Reopening the Lakefront Trail for essential commutes would help keep workers safe from traffic crashes. And opening some streets in various parts of the city for car-free transportation and recreation is a very practical idea. Our city hosts hundreds of street festivals, races, and other special events that involve temporarily pedestrianizing streets, so this isnt rocket science.
Shortly before I wrote this post, I biked to the grocery store. The other shoppers were careful to give me the prescribed 6 of space at the store. But on my way home, not a single driver provided me with the three feet of clearance thats required by Illinois law.
If you hear of a city doing something innovative with their streets to improve safety during the pandemic, add it to the shared spreadsheet or email me. Hat tip Daniel Ronan.
Here are some tips on preventing the spread of coronavirus, and advice for Chicagoans on what to do if you think you may have been exposed to the virus.
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Posted: at 10:48 am
Conferences and events have historically presented excellent opportunities for businesses of all kinds to get out and network and learn from industry experts. They enable collaboration across topics of all kinds; from branding and lead generation to industry education. During an unprecedented pandemic like what the world is currently experiencing, we need to look to new ways to approach these events that enable the same kind of innovation and relationship building while being mindful of everyones health and wellbeing.
The costs often associated with both planning and attending industry events can be staggering. They often take a year or more to line up. For businesses, it can really add up between buying booth space, travel expenses for teams, and developing the collateral to present. Its often one of the largest line items in a marketing budget. As marketers get more and more pressure to keep costs under control and show ROI, event participation has come under more scrutiny.
There have been many attempts to do more digitally by offering videos and virtual events such as webinars. But these tend to be one-off experiences that dont provide all the social and collaboration benefits of in-person events. Until recently, this social element has been very hard to replicate digitally.
Augmented and virtual reality have the potential to bring valuable change to this industry by delivering highly immersive, collaborative digital experiences with all the social benefits of events. These technologies are able to gather detailed data that can be used to personalize event content and participation for each company or each participant segment. Like many new technologies, AR and VR went through an early phase when the cost and complexity of implementing solutions for use cases such as events were prohibitive. It often required significant development budgets and large ongoing maintenance costs just to produce one application that wasnt always scalable. However, todays fully productized immersive solutions offer highly accurate and precise AR technology plus administrative tools and flexible business models that make it easier to implement, manage and scale.
With the right combination of VR and AR software, any event venue can be transformed into an intelligent digital environment and once digitized, can provide event marketers with the ability to inject an ongoing stream of new content and immersive experiences. Not only are AR events immersive, but they can also be much more efficient to produce & manage. Once a venue is digitized, content can be injected into the space remotely, access can be managed via an administrative tool remotely, and administrators gain detailed data analytics that can serve to improve content, customize experiences and create event efficiencies.
Another huge benefit of digitizing a physical venue with AR and VR is that it creates new digital real estate. This new digital space offers many opportunities for new monetization models, which can be particularly helpful for industries whose revenue streams have taken hits in the current economic environment. This could include new digital advertising and an endless possibility of promotions that combine the digital and physical world. The detailed stream of data that is gathered from AI/AR applications combined with these new digital spaces gives event marketers a high level of control over these new monetization opportunities. As AR evolves and the physical and digital continue to merge, event marketers can reap the benefits of these new revenue streams that may one day exceed the physical ad and promotion revenue.
The COVID-19 crisis is setting the stage for a new era of events and conferences as businesses look for alternative options to travel. We are at the point in development that business ready AI/AR platforms exist and can offer real value for event marketers that want to offer highly immersive digitized experiences and gain access to detailed analytics to create efficiencies and personalize content.
To garner the full benefits of AR, event marketers should seek fully productized software platforms that leverage existing hardware, offer flexible business models, and provide the ability to automatically scale to multiple events and locations. As AR continues to proliferate, event marketers may find that its a cost-efficient way to offer new experiences that complement their physical events and conferences. Businesses may find that AR events are a more cost-effective option that provides a higher ROI, while still offering all the collaborative and learning benefits.
Related: Will iOS 14 Lessen AR Friction?
The article Can Immersive Tech Save Industry Events? by Emil Alon first appeared on AR Insider.
Posted: at 10:47 am
What does wealth at that scale even mean? For one thing, obviously, it means you can buy whatever you want anything money can buy. A $65 million private jet? No problem. A $165 million estate in Beverly Hills? Go for it. But consumer goods, even the most luxurious of luxury consumer goods, cant adequately convey the significance of this much money.
More than buying power, its a form of social power essentially, the ability to command the labor of other human beings. A person living on Seattles minimum wage would find it a stretch to enlist the labor of, say, a massage therapist for the occasional hour. A well-off homeowner, on the other hand, can set in motion a small crew of skilled workers to remodel a kitchen or build a deck. Bezos, with his billions, is in another league altogether. He can call into existence vast armies of human beings to do, within the broad bounds of the law and what people are willing to do for pay, whatever he desires. He could, if he wanted, pay thousands of workers to try to dig a hole through the Earth to China, and when they couldnt dig any further, he could pay them to fill it all in again.
In fact, Bezos has decided to journey in the opposite direction not to the center of the Earth, but outward, into space. Blue Origin, the space flight enterprise funded entirely from his personal fortune, is headquartered in Kent, right here in King County. In 2018, just a few days before Amazon took the gloves off to kill a modest Seattle tax on big business, Bezos explained in an interview: The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it. The Twitterverse latched on to this remark and was pleased to suggest some other uses for Bezoss billions. It was easy to hear in his words a kind of flippancy, the out-of-touch attitude of a man so unimaginably rich that not merely the world, but the universe, has become his playground.
But theres more to the story, as becomes clear if you actually listen to the interview, or even better, read Franklin Foers excellent piece on Bezos that appeared in The Atlantic last fall. For one thing, Bezos has a lifelong obsession with space travel. As a child he devoured science fiction, and he was and is a total Star Trek nerd. As a teenager he read a book by the physicist Gerard K. ONeill, who imagined human civilization expanding into space, not by colonizing other planets, but by constructing enormous habitats to float between the Earth and the moon, spinning to simulate gravity. Above all else, Blue Origin is about building the infrastructure that will allow a new generation of entrepreneurs to realize that vision.
This all may still sound frivolous. But Bezos is not merely the exceptional geek who, entertaining the idle thought, Whoa, wouldnt it be cool if , can actually make a serious go at whatever comes out of his mouth next. In fact, he ardently believes that we must go to space on a mission to save Earth.
Bezos believes we are running out of room, resources and energy on our home planet. In 2016, speaking at Seattles Museum of Flight, he explained: We need to go into space if we want to continue to have a growing civilization. If you take baseline energy usage on Earth and compound it at just 3% a year for less than 500 years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. Thats just not going to happen. Without new room to grow, humanity faces a grim future of stasis, rationing, stagnation. But if we can mine the moon and the asteroids and build ourselves some ONeill cylinders, the Earth can be salvaged and turned into a paradise or, more prosaically, end up zoned residential and light industry. Eventually our solar system could support a trillion humans, with a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts.
Lets take a moment to appreciate what is admirable in all this. When it comes to billionaires peering anxiously into the crystal ball of the future and making plans, things could be much worse. Bezos is not investing in a palatial underground bunker, or scheming to upload his consciousness to the cloud, or preparing some other personal escape from the coming apocalypse. He has a vision that includes the rest of us, too, still in our flesh-and-blood forms, enjoying Maui on its best day, all year long. Hes genuinely worried about humanitys future, he has a plan and hes doing his best to execute it.
Theres something else to appreciate, too. Jeff Bezos is a man whose day job is basically to stoke the fires of global consumerism, spurring on the devastation of the Earth in the name of profit (sorry, the customer). So its nice to hear him acknowledge that we have a problem. Bezoss choice of 3% sounds suspiciously like whats often considered the ideal growth rate for a developed capitalist economy. Sure, hes talking about energy, and you might argue that long before we run out of that, well run out of other things untapped markets, debt-fueled demand, docile workers. But you dont have to agree precisely with Bezoss analysis of the problem, or buy into his solution, to appreciate that hes grappling with a question many of his peers would prefer to avoid altogether: Jeff thinks we cant keep this up much longer unless we go to space. Whats your plan?
And this brings us to the limits of the Bezos vision. For him, its space or bust. He is apparently unable to imagine the continuing progress of science and technology, or the flourishing of art and culture, on any basis other than an ever-expanding whirlwind of production, distribution and consumption, resource extraction and the endless piling up of material wealth. Its notable that in fishing for exemplars of creative genius, Bezos reached back centuries, to times when the Earth supported a fraction of todays population. Maybe, just maybe, a societys artistic and scientific achievements, its capacity for ingenuity and originality, dont have all that much to do with the sheer quantity of human souls. Maybe what we need most today is to find a way to live that doesnt systematically snuff out, misdirect or neglect the human potential of the great mass of people who already exist.
Im not saying that our grandchildrens grandchildren will never live in great rotating cylinders filled with elk, elevated trains and replicas of medieval cities. I was never a Bezos-level nerd, but my adolescence contained its share of Carl Sagan and wormholes and gazing up at the stars. I have nothing against mining asteroids. I just think that when humanity does expand into space, it will be a collective endeavor, filled with purpose and adventure, not something were driven to do because the imperative of 3% GDP growth is coming up behind us like the yawning jaws of a bear. Lets climb that tree because we want to see the view.
For now, though, its a billionaires world. We can keep fighting to wrest away some of their wealth in taxes, and we can pressure them to make better choices. But in large measure, Jeff Bezos and his ilk get to decide what our problems are and what solutions deserve attention, labor and resources. But lets finish on the bright side. Space tourism may soon be a thing this year, in fact and the man behind it has a track record of customer obsession and cutting costs. Start saving those quarters!
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Posted: at 10:47 am
An empty Copacabana beach in Brazil.
Images taken by Earth-orbiting satellites have revealed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Earth, with a third of the worlds population now under lockdown.
Once populated areas are now deserted as people remain indoors, from previously bustling city centres to places of worship. Roads that had been full of cars are now empty, while beaches are devoid of pretty much all human activity.
The amazing images were taken by California-based company Planet Labs and Colorado-based Maxar Technologies, both of which have fleets of Earth-imaging satellites in orbit. And by comparing the latest views to archival images, stark changes around the world can be seen in impressive detail.
In these two images below supplied by Maxar, the Park Meadows shopping centre is seen in Colorado first on March 10, and subsequently on March 22.
Park Meadows shopping center in Colorado on March 10.
Park Meadows shopping center in Colorado on March 22.
Next, a busy highway interchange is seen in Los Angeles is seen first on January 28 this year, and then on March 22.
Maxar said it usually takes images during the middle of the day, between 10.30 A.M. and 1.30 P.M., with the images highlighting a notable decrease in traffic on highways and at commuter parking lots since social distancing measures and work from home policies have been put into place.
A highway interchange in Los Angeles on January 28.
The same highway interchange in Los Angeles on March 22.
At the Salt Like City International Airport in Utah on March 5, multiple planes are seen at gates dropping off or picking up passengers. Two weeks later on March 16, however, the planes are all but gone as air travel grinds to a halt.
Salt Lake City International Airport on March 5.
Salt Lake City International Airport on March 16.
A rental carpark at the same airport has seen massive increases in vehicles with a fall in customers. On March 5 it looks about half full, but on March 16 it is close to overflowing.
Cars in rental car lots have skyrocketed, said Maxar. At some airports, rental cars are overflowing into newly creating parking areas.
Customers have taken many of the rental cars at Salt Lake City International Airport on March 5.
But on March 16 the rental carpark is almost overflowing with unused cars.
Similar increases in vehicles can be seen at Phoenix International Airport in Arizona below on March 5 and March 23.
Rental cars at Phoenix International Airport on March 5.
And again on March 23.
Meanwhile, visitors to Denver International Airport have plummeted, as these images from March 7 and March 22 show.
Denver International Airport carpark on March 7.
Denver International Airport carpark on March 23.
Its not just in the U.S., of course. Images show how the number of unused parked planes at the Munich International Airport in Germany has dramatically increased.
Munch airport on February 7.
Munich airport on March 20.
And at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport, both the number of planes and cars have dropped considerably between February 12 and March 19.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport on February 12.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport on March 19.
Tourist destinations too have seen big changes. Below is the Santa Monica Pier in California, first on March 11 and again on March 22.
Many tourist attractions recently closed as social distancing became widely embraced as a strategy for fighting the coronavirus, said Maxar, noting their imagery demonstrates the significant decrease in visitors at these sites.
Santa Monica Pier on March 11.
Santa Monica Pier on March 22.
The outside of the Colosseum in Rome is bustling with visitors on February 21, but is then completely deserted on March 18.
Rome's Colosseum on February 21.
Rome's Colosseum on March 18.
And similarly, the Taj Mahal in India on February 10 is busy, with people visible all over the site. One month later on March 18, most people are gone.
The Taj Mahal on February 10.
The Taj Mahal on March 18.
Maxars images on April 28, 2017 and subsequently on February 22, 2020 also show the arrival of a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China, to tackle the pandemic.
Wuhan on April 28, 2017.
And again with a temporary hospital on Febuary 22, 2020.
Images from Planet Labs tell a similar story. On February 19, the area around the Chicago Shedd Aquarium in the U.S. is full of cars and activity. By March 17, however, its all but a ghost town.
The area around Chicago's Shedd Aquarium on February 19.
And again on March 17.
Seen here is the Copacabana beach in Rio, Brazil. The first image shows the beach bustling with people on April 28, 2018. The next is taken on March 23, almost entirely empty.
Copacabana beach on April 28, 2018.
Copacabana beach on March 23, 2020.
These next images show Disney World in Florida, first on January 6 and full of cars and people, then again on March 18, empty.
Disney World packed with visitors on January 6.
And Disney World empty on March 18.
Heres Mecca in Saudi Arabia, first on January 25 and bustling with lots of people, and then again on March 10, nearly empty.
Mecca on January 25.
Mecca on March 10.
This is Piazza San Marco in Venice, first seen teeming with boats on October 20, 2019, and then devoid of activity on March 18, 2020.
Plenty of visitors are visible in Venice on October 20, 2019.
But activity has dramatically dropped on March 18, 2020.
And finally, traffic in Wuhan seen first in full flow on January 12 this year, followed by near silence following the lockdown on January 28.
Traffic flowing on a bridge in Wuhan on January 12.
The traffic has completely stopped by January 28.
Perhaps these images, more than anything, highlight just how much of the world has shut down as it continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The top 30 sports movies of all time for your viewing and arguing pleasure in the absence of real games – West Hawaii Today
Posted: at 10:47 am
There are a lot of fight films among the greatest sports movies, and still more fights about them not just concerning which sports movies are truly the greatest and where each ranks, but over what even constitutes a sports movie.
We ranked the top 30 non-documentaries in the hopes of giving fans something to both enjoy and debate in the absence of actual games being played, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of your favorites undoubtedly are missing or ranked lower than you think they should be. Thats just how these things work. Lets see what made our cut.
30. Love &Basketball (2000)
This is a standard love story in many respects. Boy meets girl as childhood neighbors. They attend high school and college together then go off in separate directions only to rejoin each others orbit. But the characters played by Omar Epps Jr. and Sanaa Lathan are also first-rate basketball players, and its the ending along with supporting players Dennis Haysbert and Alfre Woodard that elevates what might otherwise have been mere soap opera.
29. I, Tonya (2017)
This dark comedy begs you to feel sorry for Tonya Harding, whose 1994 Olympic bid is best remembered for the conspiracy of dunces that injured rival U.S. figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. Dont fall for it. Kerrigans the one who deserves sympathy, but fact-based sports movies rarely stick to the facts. Margot Robbie gives a terrific performance as Harding, while Allison Janney steals the movie with her Oscar-winning turn as Hardings chain-smoking mother.
28. Remember the Titans (2000)
27. Rudy (1993)
26. Chariots of Fire (1981)
25. Caddyshack (1980)
Heres proof that it isnt necessary for a great sports film to be a great film. This slobs vs. snobs tale is so quotable and rewatchable that it would have been sacrilege to omit. Its a series of scenes strung together more than a story. Some of those scenes dont even seem like theyre from the same film, and some havent aged well. But theres no getting around the fact Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase are just flat-out funny. So its got that going for it, which is nice.
24. Field of Dreams (1989)
Phil Alden Robinson built this adaptation from a novel by W.P. Kinsella, and we paid to see it because its money we have and peace we lacked. For some the appeal may be quixotic Iowa farmer Kevin Costner putting his familys future at risk by carving a baseball diamond from cornfield to make it a purgatorial playground for dead ballplayers and/or the quest to round up James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster. Theres also the lyrical ode Jones recites (People will come, Ray) and the mystical cleansing of the Black Soxs Shoeless Joe Jackson. But a lot of us are simply suckers for a father and son playing catch, especially when dad is long dead and the two never exactly saw eye to eye.
23. Bend It Like Beckham (2003)
22. Downhill Racer (1969)
21. Invictus (2009)
20. Happy Gilmore (1996)
Its a little bit stupid, a little bit sly and all heart. Adam Sandler is a winner in this story of a hot-tempered but inherently sweet, failed hockey player whose powerful slapshot somehow translates to driving a golf ball exceptionally well. The scene with lovable game show host Bob Barker is a show-stopper, but Christopher McDonalds arrogant antagonist Shooter McGavin, Carl Weathers patient mentor and Julie Bowen as the romantic interest are the glue that holds it all together.
19. Miracle (2004)
If all this film had going for it was Kurt Russells stirring delivery of Team USA coach Herb Brooks Great moments are born from great opportunity speech, this movie might well have made this list. But the story of how the Miracle on Ice 1980 U.S. mens hockey team came together and not only jelled, but triumphed beyond the worlds expectation is an unbelievably compelling narrative told exceptionally well. You cant improve on the true story, but there are a lot of ways this could have been screwed up. This film didnt.
18. The Natural (1984)
17. Girlfight (2000)
16. Moneyball (2011)
15. The Harder They Fall (1956)
This boxing film is based on a novel by Budd Schulberg and, like other Schulberg works (including the novel What Makes Sammy Run? and screenplays for A Face in the Crowd and On the Waterfront), theres a fair amount of cynicism laced through it. Humphrey Bogart, in his final film, plays an out-of-work columnist whose desperation leads him to become a tout for a corrupt boxing promoter. Hes stuck talking up a no-talent South American fighter who becomes a heavyweight contender through a string of fixed bouts. But Bogie being Bogie, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to sell out both his convictions and the Argentine palooka who thinks its all on the up-and-up. Real-life heavyweight champs Max Baer (father of future Beverly Hillbillies star Max Baer Jr.) and Jersey Joe Wolcott lend a patina of realism to a story that would seem to need it by modern standards. When it came out, however, real-life fighter Primo Carnera (who lost a title fight to Baer) sued the filmmakers for appropriating his life story. Despite some similarities, Carnera was unsuccessful. (Fun fact: Chicagos Tribune Tower gets a cameo.)
14. The Wrestler (2008)
The trajectory of star Mickey Rourkes lends power to director Darren Aronofskys film about a professional wrestler, decades removed from his glory days, coming to terms with the consequences of time and bad choices. A bid to reclaim his past imperils whatever shot he has going forward to repair his frayed relationship with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and pursue romance with an aging stripper (Marisa Tomei). Pro wrestling may be as fake and scripted as most movies, but the people in them can be very real indeed and never more so than here.
13. The Karate Kid (1984)
12. Major League (1989)
11. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
10. Creed (2015)
Keep reading. Well get to this in No. 9
9. Rocky (1976)
These two films are essentially the same movie the story of a boxer given a shot at the champ and showing their mettle through their determination to endure. Common threads include Sylvester Stallone and flag-inspired shorts. The original Rocky, a Best Picture winner, was a revelation when it launched the movie series and Stallones superstardom in 1976, but in many respects the remake/reboot 39 years later is more impressive in that it manages to make the whole thing fresh.
8. Slap Shot (1977)
7. Hoosiers (1986)
6. Bull Durham (1988)
5. The Hustler (1961)
Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie give stellar performances in this dark drama about the kind of trouble (with a capital T) that you can get into in at a pool hall. Newmans self-centered Fast Eddie Felson (a role he would reprise 25 years later opposite Tom Cruise in Martin Scorseses The Color of Money) is all talent and ambition. Hes too blind and nave to see the game thats really being played and what hes losing along the way. By the way, the real Jake LaMotta of Raging Bull fame plays a bartender.
4. A League of Their Own (1992)
I have seen enough to know I have seen too much. If all you remember is Tom Hanks saying, Theres no crying in baseball and Geena Davis catching the ball one-handed or doing the splits, you need to rewatch Penny Marshalls classic about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. How good is this film? Madonna plays off her outsized rep and still disappears into her role. The cast, top to bottom, is terrific from Hanks, Davis and Lori Petty all the way down to smaller, memorable turns by Jon Lovitz, Rosie ODonnell, Megan Cavanagh, Garry Marshall, David Strathairn, Bill Pullman and David L. Lander. In the end, there are some unknowable (or at least debatable) points: Do we think the ball was dropped on purpose, and what exactly happened to the Hinson sisters relationship after their playing days ended?
3. Breaking Away (1979)
Victories large and small require sacrifice, determination, hard work and no small amount of faith. Thats the underpinning of this tale of four young men played by Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earle Haley coming to terms with their place in the world and what can and cant limit them going forward. Its sweet and sage and often quite amusing. No one deadpans like Stern. Paul Dooley, always a great choice to play a movie or TV dad, ensures youll never hear the word refund the same way again.
2. Brians Song (1971)
Just a few bars of Michel Legrands The Hands of Time is enough to make grown men weep and talk about how Ernest Hemingway said all true stories end in death, and this bromance tearjerker about a pair of Bears running backs might be their favorite true story. Burt Reynolds was the networks choice to play ill-fated Brian Piccolo, and he wanted the role that ultimately went to James Caan (before his turn in The Godfather). Billy Dee Williams got the part of Piccolos fellow Bears running back Gale Sayers only because Louis Gossett Jr. tore his Achilles tendon while he trained. Clearly this TV movie was touched by magic. Jack Warden is outstanding as George Halas, even more convincing than Abe Gibron as Abe Gibron. But the real miracle may be William Blinns script, which packs so much into just 73 minutes. Years later, the language can seem a bit jarring, like watching an uncensored All in the Family rerun. But its worth remembering a 2001 remake that softened that and other hard edges fell utterly flat.
1. Raging Bull (1980)
So give me a stage / Where this bull here can rage / And though I could fight / Id much rather recite / Thats entertainment. Robert De Niro won the only best actor Oscar of his career with his portrayal of boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorseses tour de force. (De Niro won a best supporting actor Oscar for Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II.) This film that first paired De Niro with Joe Pesci is about boxing the way 2001 is about space travel. Unlike most of the entries on this list, it is not much fun to watch. But its as visceral as it is cerebral and emotional, and by the end you sense you know what it feels like to stagger away after losing a championship fight. As a meditation on toxic machismo, violence, insecurity, self-sabotage and pain, its unmatched, a true work of art.
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Posted: at 10:47 am
While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to develop rapidly the world's knowledge of contamination is rising in parallel with the sale of hand sanitizer.
Large and small events have been cancelled globally and air-traffic is drifting to a standstill. The spread of the deadly virus has almost brought our busy planet to a halt.
The effect contamination can have on a planet is not just a recent important topic for consideration. In 1967 a treaty was drafted called 'The Outer Space Treaty'. Now over 50 years old, the treaty has 109 signatory countries. It provides the basic framework on international space law. The treaty was a progressive step to make space travel a peaceful endeavour by stating 'space and celestial bodies cannot be appropriated by a nation. This means a country cannot claim the moon or any other planet as their own.
Abiding by the treaty each space mission must avoid the harmful contamination of celestial bodies. This is one reason why space crafts are often built, tested and prepared in 'clean rooms'. Measured by particle count, there are different grades of decontamination to which a space mission must adhere to. This is mission-specific. For example, if a spacecraft were to land on Mars it would have more stringent decontamination procedures than a mission simply orbiting and not touching the surface of the Red Planet.
Euronews spoke to Mr. Alawadh, an engineer for the Mars Hope mission, based in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai. He told us how a low particle count is best practice for a successful mission. If the 'Hope' probe were to have particles on its thrusters or valves, it could potentially affect the directional control of the craft. Launching in June 2020 the Hope probe has multiple instruments onboard including an infrared spectrometer, an ultraviolet spectrometer and an autonomous camera. To get the optimum data collected during the mission there must be no particles obstructing the instruments.
After a 7 month journey, the Hope probe will enter the Red Planet's orbit. The data that it will collect will give an insight as to how Mars experienced climate change. Scientists here on Earth could then see if there is any correlation with the transformation of our planet's climate.
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