(Stardate 47634.4) A Distraction /Conundrum into Space and Time

Edition 11, Vol 2, The Grey Swan Guild News Wrap

This week’s editors are Scott Phares and Antonia Nicols with submissions from the deep thinkers of the Grey Swan Guild, a virtual think tank that does stuff like this.

Photo by Paige Weber on Unsplash

hat is a distraction? In years past, a distraction might have been a hobby, a craft, or storytelling around a fire. In today’s world, it’s more likely to be your phone.

Stargazing on a clear night sky can be an example of a timeless distraction; one that has been universally shared since early humans decided to “look up” 😉, and something hopefully many of you take time to enjoy. This distraction spans across human existence, continents, cultures and languages. Some early human cultures were masters of astronomy and had deep knowledge of space that still holds true.

Photo by Chen Liu on Unsplash

Space is beautiful, fascinating, unimaginable and very deadly to us in almost every way. The study of space is a giant conundrum: distance is unimaginably vast, and time is altered once we leave our planet. For example, the term “light year” refers to the distance light travels in a year — which equals 5.87 trillion miles. Our closest neighbor star is 4 light years away at the speed of light or maximum warp speed. If that isn’t enough of a mind bender, the trip would take 4 years in “earth time”, but from the perspective of the people on the spaceship the trip takes about 5 earth days. To put this in perspective, the passengers would experience a “12 day journey”, but would return to earth after eight years had passed for their family and friends. (Insert Gilligan’s Island reference here.)

Since you are part of the all that is, part of its purpose, there is more to you than just this brief speck of existence. You are just a visitor here in this time and this place, a traveler through it. Gene Roddenberry

Neither Copernicus or Galileo would have been able to understand space and time in the same way as we do. Space and time cannot be calculated accurately without allowing for the roundness of the earth. Check out this great video of Neil DeGrasse Tyson illustrating this conundrum. They would marvel (380 years later) at our understanding of space/time. The new James Webb telescope would excite them beyond imagination. Thanks to modern technology and a vastly improved supply chain, we can have a plethora of astronomers, professional and amateur alike, who have more awareness of space and time than the most learned ancient SME. We have public and private global space agencies, some seasoned and others emerging, to deepen our knowledge. Wouldn’t logic dictate that humans would be distinctly aware of how special our planet is and think in broader time horizons beyond our lifespans by now?

Unfortunately, the question “Why don’t we ever learn from our mistakes?” is not an astronomical one, but a philosophical one. So let us trek into and wrap about the Great, Good, Bad and Ugly involving Space and Time. Deep Thought finds the answer to the conundrum of “The more we learn, the more we stay the same” may be 42.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

🤩 THE GREAT

The Starfleet Federation would be proud. On the eve of the invasion of Ukraine, the International Space Station was occupied by Americans and Russians, with a plan to carpool together back to earth. This is a situation right out of a movie or novel, some not ending well. After threats to abandon the American astronauts on the space station, both parties have agreed to the safe return for all. American astronaut will return to Earth on Russian spacecraft despite Ukraine invasion, NASA says | Space.

Don’t call it the Hubble. The James Webb telescope project has been a large-scale challenge for NASA and after a successful launch it had to perfectly align 11 mirrors, no small feat. Their first test images of a star have exceeded expectations! Astronomers continue to anxiously await the science and mind blowing pictures of deep space. The James Webb Telescope’s Camera is Outperforming Expectations | PetaPixel.

A buddy system. Drone enthusiasts continue to watch NASA fly and use their experimental drone on Mars. This was widely expected to crash within a month. But like many of NASA’s explorers it has now been flying for a year with 20 missions. It even scouts for its companion Perseverance, improving its mission performance. Go Ingenuity! NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter is on a mission (cosmosmagazine.com)

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

😃 THE GOOD

Have you ever wondered why Uranus is blue? Uranus, 1.8 billion miles from earth, has a distinct blue glow to our eyes. It seems the reason is methane, based on analysis from the Voyager 2 spacecraft. The Reason Uranus Has A Blue Glow (slashgear.com) .

Thanks to commercial sub-orbital space flight, we now have comics in space! Pete Davidson will be taking the next flight on the Blue Origin along with five paying passengers. Seems inflight entertainment is provided for this flight. SNL’s Pete Davidson will fly to space next week with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin | Space

Asteroid impacts actually do happen. Most end up as shooting stars once they enter our orbit, or fall in the ocean, but there are past and recent events that have negatively impacted inhabited regions of the world. Planetary Defense at NASA, established in 1998, continues to come up with ways to keep us safe, but to date NASA has only tracked 40% of the larger objects passing us by. We need to become more diligent about tracking — and dealing — with large scale objects hurtling in our direction. An asteroid could wipe out an entire city. Here’s NASA’s plan — Big Think

Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

😔 THE BAD

Just last week astronomers detected a large meteor just 2 hours before it entered the earth’s atmosphere. Lucky for us, it was small and fell over the Arctic Ocean. This is an example of one of 5 such near-earth objects to be discovered just hours before impact. As much as we try to identify the NEO’s that will be a danger for our way of life, instances such as these remind us that space has many dangers. EarthSky | Asteroid discovered hours before Earth impact

As much as we want to believe that opportunity is equal among us all, examples of the contrary can be found even in Astronomy. Astronomy has been a male dominated field, but women are making strides to make it more level and freer from harassment and minimization. Unfortunately, they still must fight an uphill battle despite being some of the most decorated astronomers for their accomplishments. Women Are Creating a New Culture for Astronomy — Scientific American.

The US has accelerated its spending to launch a space-based missile warning system. It seems the National Space Defense Architecture has accelerated the full system deployment due to hypersonic weapons being developed and tested by Russia and China. How would this tech be better served applied outward vs inward? Space Development Agency to launch next missile warning satellites earlier than expected (defensenews.com).

Earth by night, taken from the International Space Station. Soyuz is visible in the foreground.

😣 THE UGLY

NASA prepares to launch the new Artemis rocket in May that will take us back to the moon, one thing that is not being discussed is the price of this project. NASA continues to use the same bureaucratic wheels to create their flight systems, while private companies such as Space X have re-invented space flight and equally reduced the costs. It seems the program and price tag will be tolerated only to keep up with other countries that aim to claim the moon’s resources for themselves. NASA’s monstrous moon rocket is an overpriced, political beast (mashable.com).

As global tension continues to rise against Russia, the ISS could be in possible jeopardy. Russian propaganda has threatened everything from abandoning a US astronaut to detaching their module that provides propulsion and letting the station crash into the ocean. Lucky for the rest of the ISS global partners, development of commercial space companies such as Space X can fill the gaps to supply/man the station and there is even a replacement propulsion module available. What Will Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Mean For the ISS? — ExtremeTech

This week has generated a lot of anxiety for the solar guardians that warn us of magnetic storms approaching earth. There are many examples of how these storms can damage power grids, satellites basically disrupt life as we know it. NASA has about 29 satellites devoted to monitoring the sun for early warning but also to learn and predict events impactful to us in the future. This week we managed to get lucky but with an increased solar activity cycle we may not be on the right side of the sun next time. Dodging a solar bullet — The Review Newspaper.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

🧐 THE GREY ZONE OF UNCERTAINTY

Are we made of stardust and peptides? The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft brought back asteroid particle samples as part of its mission. Once scientists were able to analyze the samples, they found far more amino acids in the samples then they had ever seen before. The samples are also more primitive than have been previously recorded. Also it has been found that peptides, the basic building blocks of life, can form in space without water. That helps prove the theory that solar winds and amino acids could have seeded life on earth and other planets. Scientists found the building blocks of life on an asteroid (bgr.com)

There is no doubt that this subject could be debated until the end of time but Neil deGrasse Tyson postulates that the age difference between a 63 year old man and a 19 year old woman is a mere nanosecond. The study of astronomy must include relatives — er, relativity, to include the 4th dimension, time. The earth is 4 billion years old, so, relatively speaking, that awkward age difference between your cousin and his new girlfriend is really less than the blink of an eye. Another advantage of using space time as a regular unit of measurement! In Cosmic Terms, The Age Difference Between A 63-Year-Old Man And A 19-Year-Old Woman Is But A Mere Nanosecond (By Neil deGrasse Tyson) (clickhole.com).

🎼 THE TAPESTRY

Graph of The Week

Asteroid chart reference: An asteroid could wipe out an entire city. Here’s NASA’s plan — Big Think

Lexicon — Words that describe space things

Test yourself how many did you know…

  • Supermassive — description of objects with a million or more times mass than our sun
  • Oort cloud — shell around our solar system in the shape of a sphere
  • Kuiper Belt — ring of icy objects, like Pluto (which some of us are still rooting to become a plaent again), beyond Neptune’s orbit
  • Exoplanet — freely floating planet that goes between stars or orbits a star outside our solar system
  • Gantry —a frame consisting of scaffolds on various levels used to erect vertically-launched rockets and spacecraft
  • Dark Energy — the easiest way to think of it is a property of space that accounts for an expanding universe; the universe’s “empty space” may still have its own, dark energy.

Here are 50 other space terms for those wanting the 201 version.

Source: Canadian Space Agency

Movies of the Week-long Marathon

Some of the best 25 movies about space you can watch, plus a couple of campy ones thrown in

  • Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980) IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Interstellar (2014) IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Star Wars (1977) IMDB Rating: 8.6/10
  • Aliens (1986) IMDB Rating: 8.6/10
  • Alien (1979) IMDB Rating: 8.5/10
  • WALL-E (2008) IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) IMDB rating: 8.3/10
  • Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983) IMDB rating: 8.3/10
  • Guardians of The Galaxy (2014) IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
  • Dune (2021) IMNDB Rating: 8.1/10
  • The Martian (2015) IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
  • Star Trek (2009) IMDB Rating: 8.0/10
  • Solaris (1972) IMDB rating: 8.0/10
  • Planet of the Apes (1968) IMDB rating: 8.0/10
  • Avatar (2009) IMDB Rating: 7.9/10
  • Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015) IMDB Rating: 7.9/10
  • Serenity (2004) IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
  • Moon. (2009) IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
  • Gravity (2013) IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
  • Star Trek (1982) IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
  • Apollo 13 (1995) IMDB rating: 7.5/10
  • Galaxy Quest (1999) IMDB Rating: 7.4/10
  • Spaceballs (1987) IMDB rating: 7.1/10
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957) IMDB Rating: 3.9/10
Plan 9 From outer Space — So Bad, It is Good

Infographic of the Week

The Nearest Stars to Earth (Source: Space.com)

Meme of the Week — Get It?

Source: Bored Panda

Why not join us on Sunday, March 20th at 8am (PST) 11am (EST) / 4pm BST We’d love to hear your thoughts on this wrap, so why not join us on Clubhouse this Sunday the 20th of March 2022 at 8 am PST | 11 am EST | 4 pm BST | 5 pm SAST to make sense of it all.

Join us Sunday at 11am ET: https://www.clubhouse.com/join/grey-swan-guild/eFK3yTWx/xqal13Vn?utm_medium=ch_invite&utm_campaign=NCAPPcNQNVytEZmEbY-bfQ-109950

Have your say, and engage with your lead editor of this week Scott Phares and your favourite Grey Swan Guild Wrap Editors:

Doyle Buehler, Sylvia Gallusser, Sean Moffitt, Agustín Borrazás, Rob Tyrie, Louise Mowbray, Ben Thurman, Antonia Nicols, Esmee Wilcox, Geeta Dhir, Gina Clifford, Su McVey with Clubhouse Captains Howard Fields, Scott Phares, and Lindsay Fraser.

Past Episodes | The OmniFuture

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