Thursday, October 1, 2015

September Links

An alternate possibility is to locate a colony on the surface of another planet. Most recently, the case for colonizing the surface of Mars has been argued by Zubrin [1996]. However, at least compared to the benign environment of Earth, the surface of Mars has several disadvantages. It has a low atmospheric pressure, low temperatures, and high exposure to cosmic radiation, and, while it is not a zero-gravity environment, it is not yet known whether the roughly one-third Earth-normal gravity of Mars is sufficient to avoid the bone decalcification and muscle tone loss experienced by astronauts in microgravity.

So let's colonize Venus (pdf)

Here's a blog on art at Burning Man.  Here's some more. Sort of makes me want to go.

There was a recent quiz on Vox to help people figure out how much their political beliefs influence their factual beliefs.  I'm reminded of this.

This huge photo of Pluto is gorgeous.  This has a lot of good pictures of mountains that seem huge compared to the former planets curvature.  And here are some more cool photos with nifty explanations.

In addition to New Horizons unburdening itself of all the photos it took there was also a big discovery of liquid water on Mars.  There'd been a lot of evidence pointing that way previously so I guess I wasn't too excited about that.

All probes that we send to Mars are sterilized to make sure we don't spread Earth life there but I wonder if there's any point to that.  We've found that meteors that originated on Mars can land on Earth with structures showing they haven't been sterilized.  Now, ok, the escape velocity of Earth is 11 km/s and the value for Mars is just 5 km/s so it's probably easier for rocks to be ejected from Mars than from Earth.  But Earth has had life for a long time and I think that if Earth life could live on Mars it probably would have gotten there already.  Or maybe there's something I'm missing?

Japan passed a law allowing the deployment of military forces oversees.  It seems like that would run afoul of the constitution to me but I'm no expert.

There was a pretty good article in 538 earlier this month about how the FDA could change how it approves drugs to allow less scrutiny for drugs treating very deadly diseases but more scrutiny for drugs treating less serious things.  Seems like a good idea to me.  In other drug related news someone jacked up the price of a generic drug from $15 to $750 a tablet.  Which is a terrible thing done by a terrible person.  But it's bad that we've created a system where terrible people can do terrible things.  Companies in India are selling it for about 10 cents now and if we don't trust India then in theory we could import it from Europe for it's previous, reasonable price.  But that would be illegal.  Here's a much longer (but worthwhile) discussion of generic drugs.

In Oklahoma it looks a lot like an innocent man is going to be executed soon.  He was going to be killed today but the governor delayed things due to a procedural issues.

On a sort of happier note I want to say how happy I am about Germany welcoming Syrian refugees.

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