Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Space... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the spacecraft Keppler. It's five three-and-a-half year mission : to explore strange new worlds...

Or at least, detect them. From NASA :
Kepler's mission: to peer closely at a patch of space for at least three-and-a-half years, looking for rocky planets similar to our own. The spacecraft will target an area rich with stars like our sun, watching for a slight dimming in the starlight as planets slip through the space between.

"Kepler is a critical component in NASA's broader efforts to ultimately find and study planets where Earth-like conditions may be present," said Jon Morse, the Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The planetary census Kepler takes will be very important for understanding the frequency of Earth-size planets in our galaxy and planning future missions that directly detect and characterize such worlds around nearby stars."
It will be some time before we go there though, alas. It's a good question whether the probes that will be launched taking tens of thousands of years to get there will be overtaken by events though. How long does it take to develop a system that's able to get to a reasonable fraction of c, or even just skip the intervening distance?

One problem with accelerating something to a useful speed - the energy cost. The entire output of the Sun is 4.26 megatons converted to energy per second. So to accelerate a starship the size of the NCC-1701 USS Enterprise, which massed 275,000 tons, to a little less than the speed of light would take the entire output of the sun for about 1/150 of a second. Or about 750 million 1-megaton H-bombs.

It will be some time before we "boldly go" and all that.


Anonymous said...

That is a very nice picture, Zoe.

tee hee


Anonymous said...

I think though that we should have a pretty good presence in the solar system off of earth before we try that. We need to invest in infrastructure such as space elevators and launch loops so that we can start moving stuff into space for a very low cost. (Launch loops can be made with today's technology.)

Anonymous said...

You wrote on eternal damnation a couple posts back. Read this post:

Perhaps your perpective on it might change.

::There is a certain kind of person that would be condemned to it, one who is utterly self-consumed, so as to want to follow up every want and every desire without regard to the negative consequences they would inflict upon others. Perhaps you can see more clearly?

Zoe Brain said...

They're the ones who most need help.

Eternal torture, with no chance of repentance or remission, is not an option. Not for them, not for anyone.

They're imprisoned in their own minds, but there is a thread of good in everyone. Given enough time, they can heal, though it may take help.

And the helpers heal themselves while they're at it, because no-one is perfect, and everyone needs the chance to understand and overcome their own imperfections.

Life just isn't long enough. It could take an eternity.

View the vows of the Boddhisatva again. We know the task of achieving perfection is impossible. We vow to do it anyway. And how could I be perfect if another human was suffering?

I believe that no-one can perfect themselves alone. That we're all in this together.

And I am acutely aware of my own failings. I have a very very long way to go. Am I better than, say, the one who in their selfishness and pride killed so many innocents? Yes. Doesn't mean I'm good though. Compared to perfection, the difference between them, and myself, well it's almost negligible.

I have the potential to be better. So do they. I cannot actualise this potential in myself while leaving them behind. Even if I could, I won't.

I often tell people I have a monstrous ego, and often they don't appear to believe me. But look at what I've written above. It comes from the heart. See how arrogant it is though? How "holier than thou"?

I have a long way to go too, you see.

One more thing - I was banned, and all my posts on every subject put into the bit bucket over at Free Republic. That very special treatment is rare. I got it for being too pursuasive, for making arguments they could not answer.

Laserlight said...

I don't know how eternity works. I suspect there are people who will choose to be miserable rather than to change, no matter how much time and love they get...but I could be wrong. The Word says "God is not willing that any should perish"; presumably He has a better idea than I do as to how to accomplish His ends. I just need to minister to the people around me as best I can. "Lord, when did we feed You, clothe You, or visit You when You were sick or in prison?" "When you did it for the least of these my brethren, you did it for Me."

Anonymous said...

The title caught my eye, Zoe. So, what do you think? Pie in the sky, or worth a try?

It's nice having a rocket scientist for a friend.