Toggle light / dark theme

Filthy Lucre will certainly destroy us all if we cannot even pass a law that makes food companies tell us what they are feeding us.

One more step has been taken toward making whole body cryopreservation a practical reality. An understanding of the properties of water allows the temperature of the human body to be lowered without damaging cell structures.

Just as the microchip revolution was unforeseen the societal effects of suspending death have been overlooked completely.

The first successful procedure to freeze a human being and then revive that person without damage at a later date will be the most important single event in human history. When that person is revived he or she will awaken to a completely different world.

It will be a mad rush to build storage facilities for the critically ill so their lives can be saved. The very old and those in the terminal stages of disease will be rescued from imminent death. Vast resources will be turned toward the life sciences as the race to repair the effects of old age and cure disease begins. Hundreds of millions may eventually be awakened once aging is reversed. Life will become far more valuable overnight and activities such as automobile and air travel will be viewed in a new light. War will end because no one will desire to hasten the death of another human being.

It will not be immortality, just parole from the death row we all share. Get ready.

Just as the tax incentives that expired after the Carter Administration destroyed a whole new industry, and just as bio fuels recently turned into the bio bomb, wind energy is poised to crash.

We just will not stop destroying our future.

A coal fired power plant runs for years with very little maintenance, without being shut down or started up- the boilers make steam and turn the turbines and we cannot see the stars because we might as well burn those city lights all night long. It is impossible to compete with black rock you dig out of the ground and put on a train and turn into dependable cheap electricity.

Bio fuel was a tax scam and wind energy will never be cheap, but if Germany is making solar work then by gosh we should be able to.

The only way we will stop burning is if it is legislated against. That’s it. Enough sunlight hits Nevada to power the whole country; that is a fact. We could cover the Mojave in solar thermal power towers and mirror fields for what we pay the military to keep the middle east oil flowing; that is a fact.

But we would have to change our lifestyle. The big corporations see no profit in this at all. So we watch dancing with the stars and drive our cars and wonder why everything get’s worse every year. It is no secret that they will take us for every cent they can until it is all gone and America becomes another third world slum.

A new corporation in Alameda California is pitching space tourism and the old Alameda Naval Air Station as America’s next spaceport.

Tritonian Cruises is seeking funding for a study of tourist submarine operations under the ice of the Neptunian moon Triton.

Modeled after successful tourist submarine businesses in Hawaii and other Pacific locations, the excursions under Triton promise to be exciting for adventurers and profitable. When asked about the distances involved, company representatives dismissed any difficulties as trivial. “Besides,” one remarked, “the taxpayers do not understand anything about space if they think we can go to Mars, so we should get funding.”

Over half a billion tax dollars have so far gone to commercial space companies developing private rockets for tourist purposes. Ostensibly for supplying the International Space Station, critics charge the ISS as a front and being “a useless collection of overpriced tin cans going in endless circles at very high altitude” and have also referred to these private inferior lift vehicles as “hobby rockets.”

Meanwhile, projects such as the sentinel warning satellite go begging for pennies.

AI scientist Hugo de Garis has prophesied the next great historical conflict will be between those who would build gods and those who would stop them.

It seems to be happening before our eyes as the incredible pace of scientific discovery leaves our imaginations behind.

We need only flush the toilet to power the artificial mega mind coming into existence within the next few decades. I am actually not intentionally trying to write anything bizarre- it is just this strange planet we are living on.

This essay was posted previously last year and removed and has appeared in abridged form in the European Space Safety online Magazine and can also be found on Yahoo voices.

Several dates are cited as marking the beginning of the space age. Sputnik, October 4th, 1957, Yuri’s day April 12th, 1961, and the first successful V-2 launch by the Nazis on October 3rd, 1942, to name a few. Some prefer December 21st, 1968, when human beings first escaped the Earth’s gravitational field on Apollo 8. When studying the events that allowed man to leave Earth, future historians may agree on a date not generally associated with space flight. July 16th, 1945 was Trinity, the first nuclear weapon test. Stanislaw Ulam, a 36-year-old Polish mathematician who helped build “the gadget”, visited ground zero after the test. Ulam later conceived the idea of propelling a spaceship with atomic bombs. Near the end of his life the eccentric genius stated the idea was his greatest work.

When considering nuclear propulsion, it must be understood that space is not an ocean, though often characterized as one. The distances and conditions are not comparable. While chemical energy has allowed humankind to travel across and above the surface of Earth, the energy required to travel in space is of a different order. Water, in the form of steam, was the agent of change that brought about the industrial revolution. Fossil fuel, burned and transformed by steam into mechanical work, would radically change the world in the span of a century. What is difficult for moderns to understand is not only how limited human capabilities were before steam, but how limited they are in the present in terms of space travel. The psychological limits of human beings limit space journeys to a few years. Chemical propulsion is not capable of taking human beings to the outer solar system and back within those crew limits. The solution is a reaction one million times more powerful. Nuclear energy is to the space age as steam was to the industrial age.

Space is not an ocean and this was the correct lesson drawn by Stanislaw Ulam after that suddenly bright morning in 1945. While metal can barely contain and harness chemical energy, Ulam thought outside that box and accepted nuclear energy could never be contained efficiently by any material. However, nuclear energy could be harnessed to push a spaceship in separate events to the fantastic velocities required for interplanetary travel without any containment problems at all- by using bombs. An uncontained burst of nuclear generated plasma could be withstood by a surface momentarily before the physical matter had time to melt.

Sixty years after Ulam’s stroke of genius, atomic bomb propulsion still has no competition as the only available propulsion system for practical interplanetary travel. This fact is almost completely unknown to the public. The term “ISP”, expressed in seconds, is used in measuring the efficiency of a rocket engine and chemical rockets have low ISP numbers but high thrust. The most efficient rocket engines, such as the space shuttle main engines, with a listed ISP of 453 seconds are also among the most powerful. Atomic bomb propulsion, thanks to the billions of dollars poured into star wars weapons research, would have an ISP exceeding 100,000 seconds. While other propulsion systems that use electricity have similar or higher numbers, the amount of thrust is trivial and requires months or years of continuous operation to develop any significant velocity. Considering space travel as not only a speed and distance problem, but also a time and distance problem, low thrust lengthens any missions to the outer solar system beyond crew limits. The thrust imparted by atomic bombs can in a short period easily accelerate thousands of tons to the comparatively extreme speeds necessary and then coast. Unlike an electric propulsion failure, a few dud bombs need not doom a mission or crew.

Though an incredible use of awesome power, the obstacles to employing bomb propulsion are not technical as some of the best engineers and physicists on the planet evaluated and validated the concept. A cadre of celebrity scientists also endorsed atomic bomb propulsion, including Werner Von Braun, who was present as a Nazi SS officer at the first successful V-2 launch, and as an American citizen at the launch of Apollo 8. Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan were also supporters. The first serious work on bomb propulsion was done by physicist Freeman Dyson and weapon designer Ted Taylor on the top secret project Orion. Dyson’s son, in his book Project Orion, refers to the classified star wars project Casaba Howitzer. This device focused most of the energy of a nuclear explosion in one direction. Ted Taylor’s specialty was small warheads and he designed the Orion bombs, aka “pulse units.” The “unclassified” state of the art in nuclear weapons can direct 80 percent of bomb energy into a slab of propellant, converting this mass into a jet of superheated plasma. A pusher plate would absorb the blast without melting for the fraction of a second it lasts and accelerate the spaceship in steps with each bomb. Perhaps the closest experience to riding in an atomic bomb propelled spaceship would be repeated aircraft carrier catapult launches. Instead of the ocean- space, instead of supersonic fighters- a thousand ton spaceship.

Project Orion was canceled due to nuclear weapon treaties requiring international consent for using any such devices in space. A parallel to the failure of atomic bomb propulsion may be found in an examination of the industrial age. In The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention, author William Rosen theorizes English patent law was the key enabler of the industrial age by allowing inventors to retain and profit from their intellectual property. The atomic bomb originated with a letter to President Roosevelt in 1939 from pacifist Albert Einstein- who was afraid the Nazi’s might build one first. With the human race living at the bottom of a deep, damp, and easily contaminated gravity well, atom bombs have never been applied successfully to a peaceful purpose. Stan Ulam, who lost most of his family in the holocaust, held the patent on atomic bomb propulsion. In the space age, nuclear weapon treaties and anti-nuclear activism have had the opposite effect of patent law and prevented atomic bomb propulsion from opening up the solar system to human exploration and colonization. Ironically, the nuclear industry is not safe on Earth- but deep space seems designed for it. There are no contamination or waste hazards, no long-term storage problems.

The problems with space travel are more than just the political barriers to detonating nuclear devices. The space industry is ipso facto a nuclear industry. Not only is nuclear energy the only practical source of propulsion in deep space, nuclear radiation generated by supernova and other celestial sources permeate space outside the protection of the earth’s atmosphere. All astronauts are radiation workers. Most, but sadly not all, space radiation is relatively easy to shield against. Many will argue using atomic bombs for propulsion is unnecessary. The presence of a small percentage of highly damaging and deeply penetrating particles- the heavy nuclei component of galactic cosmic rays makes a super powerful propulsion system mandatory. The tremendous power of atomic bomb propulsion is certainly able to propel the heavily shielded capsules required to protect space travelers. The great mass of shielding makes chemical engines, inefficient nuclear thermal rockets, the low thrust forms of electrical propulsion, and solar sails essentially worthless for human deep space flight. Which is why atomic bomb propulsion is left as the only “off the shelf” viable means of propulsion. For the foreseeable future, high thrust and high ISP to propel heavy shielding to the required velocities is only possible using bombs. The most useful and available form of radiation shielding is water. While space may not be an ocean, it appears human beings will have to take some of the ocean with them to survive.

The water comes before the bombs in human space flight because of the humans. The radiation hazards of long duration human space flight beyond earth orbit are only recently being addressed after decades of space station experience. The reason for this neglect is low earth orbit space stations are shielded from much of the radiation found outside the Earth’s Van Allen belts and magnetic field. An appreciation of the heavy nuclei component of galactic cosmic radiation, as well as solar events, will put multi-year human missions beyond earth orbit on hold indefinitely until a practical shield is available. While vested interests continue to promote inferior or non-existent technology, dismissing the radiation hazards and making promises they cannot keep, radiation scientists studying deep space conditions are skeptical- to say the least.

In the March 2006 issue of Scientific American magazine, Dr. Eugene Parker explained in simple terms survivable deep space travel. In “Shielding Space Travelers”, Parker states, “cosmic rays pose irreducible risks.” The premise of this statement is revealed when the only guaranteed solution to reducing the risk- a shield massing hundreds of tons- is deemed impractical. Active magnetic shields and other schemes are likewise of no use because while they may stop most radiation, the only effective barrier to heavy nuclei is mass and distance. The impracticality of a massive shield is due to first the expense of lifting hundreds of tons of shielding into space from Earth, and secondly propelling this mass around the solar system. Propelling this mass is not a problem if using atomic bombs, however, another problem arises. Even if the bombs could be politically managed, there is still the need to escape Earth’s gravitational field with all that shielding. Bomb propulsion is ideal for deep space but cannot be used in Earth orbit due to the Earth’s magnetic field trapping radioactive fallout that eventually enters the atmosphere. Not only lifting the shielding into orbit but chemically boosting it to a higher escape velocity away from the Earth is thus doubly problematic. Earth is a deep gravity well to climb out of.

The situation changed in March 2010 when NASA reported Mini-SAR radar aboard the Chandrayaan-1 lunar space probe had detected what appeared to be ice deposits at the lunar North Pole. An estimated 600 million tons of ice in sheets a couple meters thick. Moon water would allow a spaceship in lunar orbit to fill an outer hull with the 500+ tons of water required to effectively shield a capsule from heavy nuclei. This would enable an empty spaceship to “travel light” to the Moon and then boost out of lunar orbit using atomic bomb propulsion with a full radiation shield. Parker’s guaranteed but impractical solution had suddenly become practical. Fourteen feet of water equals the protection of the Earth’s air column at an altitude of 18,000 feet above sea level. This would protect astronauts not only from all forms of cosmic radiation but the most intense solar storms and the radiation belts found near the moons of Jupiter. With water and bombs, epic missions of exploration to the asteroid belt and outer planets are entirely possible. The main obstacles are again political, not technical. Bombs work, water works, and the Moon is in range of chemically propelled spacecraft launched from Earth.

There are other challenges to long duration beyond earth orbit human space flight but the solutions have been known for many decades. Zero gravity debilitation causes astronauts to weaken and permanently lose bone and bone marrow mass. The most practical solution, theorized since the early 1930′s, was investigated in 1966 during the Gemini 11 mission. A 100-foot tether experiment with the capsule attached to an Agena booster was successful in generating a small amount of artificial gravity by spinning the two vehicles. Equal masses on the ends of a tether can efficiently generate centrifugal force equal to one gravity. The concept is to “split the ship” when not maneuvering under power so the 500+ tons of shielded capsule is on one end and the rest of the craft of equal mass is reeled out on the other end of a thousand foot or more tether. Looking out through 14 feet of water, the crew of such a spaceship would view a slowly rotating star field. Long duration missions may last close to half a decade and the only option for providing air and water is to use a miniature version of Earth’s ecosystem. Equipment to enable a closed cycle life support system providing years of air and water is now available in the form of plasma reformers and facilitated by tons of water in which to grow algae or genetically modified organisms. With Earth radiation, Earth gravity, and air and water endlessly purified on board, crews can push their psychological limits as many years and as far out into the solar system as the speed of their atomic spaceships allow.

At the time of this writing, in early 2011, the outlook for human space flight is not encouraging. There are zero prospects for funding a long duration beyond earth orbit mission. Using atomic bombs to push minimum spaceship masses of over one thousand tons around the solar system for years at a time would cost as much as several major U.S. department of defense projects combined. Space flight is inherently expensive; there is no cheap. However, there is a completely valid military mission for atomic bomb propelled spaceships. Planetary protection became an issue in 1980 after the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico was assigned blame for the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Though overshadowed by the cold war, the impact threat remains. Comet and asteroid impacts are also the stuff of Hollywood movies and this is unfortunate in that a grave threat to the survival of life on earth is viewed as fictional entertainment. The impact threat is not science fiction; it is quite real, as the frequent near misses and geologic evidence of repeated extinction events show. Optimized directional bombs used in bomb propulsion could also be employed to deflect comets and asteroids long before they approach Earth.

While the consequences of ignoring the threat of an inevitable tsunami, earthquake, or hurricane are bad, the consequences of ignoring the inevitable comet or asteroid impact are apocalyptic. It is not only random impacts that could strike at any time the human race need guard against. In April of 2010 renowned physicist Stephen Hawking warned of alien civilizations posing a possible threat to humanity. Several large comets purposely crashed into a planet to wipe out the majority of indigenous life and prepare for the introduction of invasive alien species may be a common occurrence in the galaxy. Before readers scoff, they might consider towers brought down by jetliners, the discovery of millions of planets, and other recent unlikely events. It is within our power to defend Earth from the very real threat of an impact, and at this time self-defense is the only valid reason to go into space instead of spending the resources on Earth improving the human condition. Protecting our species from extinction is the penultimate moral high ground above all other calls on public funds. The vast treasure expended by nations threatening each other is not protecting the human race at all. Earth is defenseless. President Ronald Reagan in his 1983 Star Wars speech said, “I call upon the scientific community who gave us nuclear weapons to turn their great talents to the cause of mankind and world peace.” President Barack Obama has expressed a desire to reduce the world nuclear arsenal and converting these weapons to propulsion devices would do so. A powerful force of nuclear powered, propelled, and armed spaceships cannot guarantee Earth will not suffer a catastrophe. The best insurance for our species is to establish, in concert with a spaceship fleet, several independent self-supporting off world colonies in the outer solar system. The first such colony would mark the beginning of a new age.

Time line

1939 (August) Einstein sends letter recommending atomic bomb.

1939 (September) Germany invades Poland, World War 2 begins.

1942 First successful V-2 rocket launch by the Nazis.

1945 Trinity, the first atomic bomb is detonated.

1957 Sputnik achieves orbit using a rocket designed to carry an atomic bomb.

1961 Yuri Gagarin orbits Earth.

1966 Gemini 11 mission demonstrates artificial gravity.

1967 Outer Space Treaty restricts nuclear weapons in space.

1968 Apollo 8 crew escapes Earth’s gravitational field.

1980 Chicxulub impact crater revealed as dinosaur killer.

1983 Ronald Reagan gives Star Wars speech.

2006 Eugene Parker explains survivable deep space travel.

2010 (March) Millions of tons of ice are discovered on the Moon.

2010 (April) Stephen Hawking warns of alien civilization threat.


George Dyson, 2002, Project Orion: The True story of the Atomic Spaceship, Henry Holt and Company, LLC

Eugene Parker, March 2006, Shielding Space Travelers, Scientific American Magazine

William Rosen, 2010, The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention, Random House


China is a rising world power with: increasing international economic power; improving military strength; tumultuous social issues. Exiting from the recent global economic and financial crisis, China sees itself strengthening and growing while America (and much of the ‘Western’ world) struggles to recuperate. This recovery disparity has given support to Chinese sentiment suggesting the superiority of Chinese policy and social culture.

China’s newfound (or newly revived) superiority complex has complicated American interaction with the government, where China now appears to be doing everything it can to avoid looking weak and to resist US/Western influence. With China’s rise, incentives for America to pressure democratization, establishment of free market economics, and improvement of human rights have grown in intensity. The US has very direct interests in the ‘Westernization’ of China and China does see benefits to cooperation, however they seem to resist or avert most American challenges to the Sino-status quo.


America can become aggressive, passive, apathetic, or cooperative in its relationship with China. The US could seek to dominate China, let China strengthen its own dominance, ‘step out of the picture’, or work with China to grow and develop both countries simultaneously.

It is more likely that the US will work to cooperate with China, perhaps doing so with a passive-aggressive bias that asserts American interests without direct systemic attempts to alter Chinese institutions. China and the US have committed to positive and cooperative relations, however it can be expected that such a commitment will only be honored as long as it serves the interests of both states.


Differences over human rights, domestic/foreign policy, democratization, and economic/financial theory and practice will greatly influence how the two states interact. Economically and politically it behooves both states to cooperate in the short and long runs. Also, much of Asia supports and welcomes American presence in the region. As long as the US restrains itself from imperializing the region and overthrowing China’s presence, and as long as China does not attempt to oust America, a relatively stable base that assures permanent presence of both parties in the region can be used to develop further policy on.

America is influenced by its democracy, free market policies, and strong human rights, as well as its desire to impose these principles on other states. The base previously described provides the US with a simple supportive argument; ‘if we’re both going to interact in the same place, we better learn how to interact productively’. The simple presence of such an argument influences America’s decisions as it provides a point China cannot ignore.

The US is very economically interested and invested in the greater Asian region. America will surely seek out policy that improves US — China relations, however it will levy importance on policy that enhances economic efficiency and effectiveness in the region (perhaps at the expense of US — China relations).

Another great influence on America’s decision making process is the power China has in the international system. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China’s ability to veto measures and resolutions greatly affects America’s (perceived) international power. Learning to effectively interact with China would improve international US — Chinese efforts.


US — Chinese relations should focus around three main points: policy cooperation; healthy economic competition; political and cultural respect.

The US should help China grow as a world power, including it in international issues and decision making processes as well as new and/or existing trade organizations. By helping China to grow it shows America is interested in seeing the country develop rather than restraining it. This will make negotiation easier and will help to keep China from making extremist policy decisions. Cooperation shows desire for mutual progress.

Provision of challenging economic competition motivates economic improvement and progress. China artificially inflates its currency, dramatically boosting its exports. However, China has realized it cannot grow/mature on export economics. The US should focus on aiding China to develop its own domestic market. As China’s economy develops, its growth rate will slow as it begins to peak its international efficiency under current economic conditions. China will not remain a manufacturing economy forever. When export-based economic policy no longer supports the country the way it does now China will have to consider new ways to compete efficiently and effectively, and the best way (and currently only way) to do so is to enact free market economic policies. Establishing and continuing healthy economic competition (with reduction of protectionist barriers) will naturally drive China towards free market economics over time as China becomes dissatisfied with its socioeconomic disparities, low GDP-per capita, lack of economic diversification, and constant threat of unemployment-related unrest.

Henry Kissinger stated, “Lecturing a country with a history of millennia about its need to ‘grow up’ and behave ‘responsibly’ can be needlessly grating”. Including China in important international and regional decision making processes shows respect to Chinese policy makers and culture. China is attempting to assert new power domestically, regionally, and internationally. Though the US is concerned with China’s growing power and influence, America needs to realize the main challenge for China has been to maintain domestic stability while simultaneously maintaing sustainable economic development. By respecting Chinese sovereignty and withholding from direct intervention and overly-aggressive assertion, Chinese policy makers are less likely to become defensive. China is intent on showing the world its strength and capability as an important and powerful international and regional actor. Allowing China to develop respect will give America a long-term edge in policy making. The US does need to constantly voice its stance on human rights, economic development, and democratization, though. Failing to maintain its stance would render the US as weak/defeated in Chinese eyes.


China does not desire poor relations with the United States. Both the US and China want good, stable relations that maximize the capabilities of the two states to seek their own interests while allowing a degree of economic, political, and social cooperation to exist. However America is the regional hegemon. China seeks to displace America. In seeking to displace America, China will resist American influence.

There is a common Chinese perception that the US is damaged/weakening while China is growing and becoming stronger. China will do anything to prevent itself from appearing weak, influenceable, and without regional/international political, economic, and social clout. Therefore, the US should refrain from attempting to directly influence and intervene in Chinese policy as this will only galvanize Chinese self-inflated power and make current and future cooperation more difficult. China will not accept foreign ideas, suggestions, or demands as this would make it look inferior to and impressionable by foreign states. If the US wants to change China it needs to make China believe itself that US-desired reform is in its best interest.

The US needs to get China to come to democratization, free market capitalism, and associated levels of human rights on its own accord, as US intervention will only make these doctrines less attractive to Chinese policy makers. By cooperating on policy development, continuing economic competition, and respecting Chinese sovereignty (and dignity), the US puts itself in an advantageous long-term relations position.

Read the original post at

America has been a spacefaring nation since 1958. Over the past fifty-three years, America overtook its first rival, the Soviet Union (spacefaring since 1957), and maintained its supremacy in the aerospace and aeronautical industries, having the most developed and successful space program, the strongest private aerospace/aeronautical industry, and the most intelligent engineers and scientists. During times where space exploration and advanced scientific research programs seem inappropriate to publicly fund and continue where economic difficulties, contested military actions, and other civil/financial issues seem to demand precedence, it needs to be promoted that NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is of immense importance to the security and welfare of the United States of America and must remain a national priority. NASA drives STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education as well as the development of commercial and defense technologies and works with private engineering and science companies across the country, employing thousands of brilliant engineers, scientists, and technicians to ensure the safety of the American people and maintain the technological and explorational prestige this country has always possessed.

NASA’s accomplishments are inspirational to students. It is capable of orbiting people around the planet in minutes, building a space station, and placing man on the moon, and in doing so powerfully inspires individuals to aspire for careers with the organization. In order to become involved with NASA, a student must study science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics, and by creating a strong incentive for people to study these topics, demand for STEM education increases. As demand increases, more STEM programs will develop and more people will become involved in STEM disciplines. Students studying STEM subjects develop critical thinking skills and strong senses of logic to overcome various problems and conflicts. New generations of engineers and scientists will rise to replace the retiring generations and surpass them in their accomplishments, but only will do so if opportunities to take such careers exist. Should NASA decay, it won’t only be NASA careers disappearing. Jobs at firms like Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and SpaceX among others will be lost as well and some of these firms will face immense downsizing or possibly even be forced to shut down, severely harming motivation for younger American students to pursue a degree or career in STEM related fields.

One of the greatest positive externalities of NASA is the technology developed as ‘spin-off’ used in the commercial and defense industries. When NASA was tasked with putting man on the moon, NASA realized the Apollo capsule would need computing systems installed within it that were far greater in power and far smaller than those currently in use and therefore tasked private industry with the development of compact computing devices that later became the PC and laptop. Without NASA funding, heart rate monitors, thermal video imaging, light emitting diodes, and velcro among many other technologies would not have been developed. While current domestic debate surrounds whether or not NASA should be downsized, enlarged, or completely phased out over time, foreign countries and blocs such as China, India, and the European Space Agency are investing even more time and money into improving their programs, their educational efforts, and plan to surpass American capabilities within the near future. Technological innovation, though still very prevalent within the United States, is beginning to grow very rapidly in foreign countries and more new technologies are being imported rather than exported every day. Instead of questioning whether or not NASA is necessary, America should be questioning what seemingly impossible task NASA should be working on next. Originally, the Apollo project seemed insurmountably difficult. But when national security threats (Soviet technological capabilities during the Cold War) met technological challenges (the Apollo program), NASA proved to be an irreplaceable source of innovation and wonder that united a nation, inspired a generation with dreams of space exploration, and provided a feeling of security to millions of people who feared another devastating war.

Which is also why NASA is critically important in the defense industry as a customer. NASA helps improve private and public defense and communication technologies. The relationship between NASA and the private industry is very symbiotic. NASA develops a plan or project and administers/contracts production and testing tasks out to the private industry, challenging thousands of engineers and scientists to improve their designs and inspires technological and manufacturing developments, which in turn allow NASA to complete its mission in an efficient and effective manner. China has proven it is capable of destroying our satellites by destroying one of its own and has announced its desire to develop a space program separated from America’s influence and plans to land on the moon in 2020. India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Romania, Japan, and Ukraine among others have all had confirmed launches and are working to become space powers themselves, developing their own aerospace industries and programs. Iraq and North Korea have also both touted successful launches, though their success are unconfirmed. NASA helps to keep America competitive by constantly challenging private industry and by making sure its goals for space and technological development are always beyond those of other countries, which helps to prevent enemies from defeating our technologies, thus keeping us safe.

NASA’s importance as a national priority is great. It inspires and motivates American students to study math, science, and engineering, expands our knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, economics, geography, and oceanography, develops unimaginable technologies, promotes international teamwork with a healthy amount of competition, and unites a nation under a common passion and history for exploration of the unknown. We were once afraid of what may have been beyond the edge of the ocean. Now we’ve become curious about what lies beyond the edge of the universe, and NASA’s journey to explore our reality has so far improved our quality of life, improved our technological advantages, and solidified our defenses against national threats.

Read the original post at

The biggest challenge to the ‘ecosystem’ of world economics that keeps society ticking over is how to overcome our inability to regulate a sustainable economic model. In Europe at present we are undergoing the difficult measures in setting about rules of austerity to ensure that government borrowing never gets as out of hand as it has done on our watch. I post on this topic now as it is topical to me — back home here in my native Ireland we are voting on a referendum this week to ensure we no longer borrow from our children to fuel indulgences today — a referendum on rationality and responsibility.

The topical of austerity reminds me of an opinion I blogged on a crisis in the Obama administration last August on national debt in the light of striking comments from foreign figureheads amid the storm from the ‘Tea Party Taliban’. I share with you for to see if anyone cares to comment on an operandi of living like parasites off the global economy:

Living Like Parasites Off The Global Economy, originally written 3 Aug 2011:

With the US in turmoil over its national debt, and held to ransom by a ‘Tea Party Taliban’, last week China publicly mocked American democracy. Yesterday, the world witnessed the humbling of America after a trillion-dollar deal marked the end of an era for the US. The US now faces a shift in its relations with creditor nations, and it was not all too surprising to hear Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, yesterday accusing Americans of living “like parasites off the global economy”. If America had defaulted on its international debt obligations, that is exactly what it would be. While America continues to service it’s debt, it is quite the opposite — for now at least- as is perpetually paying interest to its creditors.

However, one needs to look at the bigger picture. In 1980, the size of US debt was $1 Trillion. It stabilized in 1995 at $5 Trillion until 9/11 after which the gross military spending on combating dubious wars saw it rise to where it is now — $15 Trillion and rising rapidly out of control. An 11th hour rescue deal that was far less than the Obama administration wished for sees its debt ceiling rise further, though perhaps finally brought to account.

The US debt is the largest in the world. Purchasers of Treasury bills still reasonably expect the US economy to recover enough to pay them back and foreign investors like China and Japan, the US is such a large customer it is allowed to run a huge tab so it will keep buying exports. The debt is 95% of GDP, and interest alone on the debt was $414 billion in Fiscal Year 2010. One wonders when the US is going to pay it all back. It is reasonable to anticipate that sooner or later, an 11th hour rescue package, like the one negotiated with The Tea Party Taliban this week, will not be there to save the US from defaulting on its debt, at which point the US will have proven itself to be a parasite on the world stage — one that borrows and declines to pay you back.

The alternative scenario paints a parasitic picture of only a different hue — if the US government and similars do eventually pay back all their borrowings in recent decades via raised taxes and spending cuts, we are in a situation where ones children have to collect the invoice for the excessive indulgences of today. A falsis principiis proficisci…

On the cusp of graduation, I’ve had two major realizations in college.

One: most of America’s worst economic crises have been a result of financial obscurity. The first major crash in my lifetime was in the tech bubble of the early 2000s, where Wall Street traders were overrating the quality of Internet stocks. Once the broader market realized this, the values of many tech companies were obliterated. Millions of investors exposed to this sector lost their entire investments because they were unaware of these misrepresentations. In the most last recession, where lenders were underrating the riskiness of homeowners and financial institutions were securitizing riskier-than-advertised mortgages, millions of investors lost their entire investments yet again because they were unaware of further misrepresentations.

Two: economic history repeats itself, even if as a society, we might be aware of this pattern. Taking these two market crises as an example of this bleak fact about our species, it seems that we’ll always have the shortest of memories. In this case, history repeated rather quickly – twice in the span of a decade. Is it possible that people are cognizant of a recurring mistake before it happens, even if it’s happened before in their lifetimes? Most likely not, if the last recession is any example. A significant number of real estate professionals, banking gurus, and regulators were responsible for inflating a price bubble in the housing market, even though some fraction should have been economically conscious enough to understand the problems that would eventually arise.

The question then remains: is there a way to solve both of these problems, assuming the best of all possible worlds? Yes. Imagine a place where peoples’ understandings of basic economics and financial practices was commonplace, where a homeowner and a lender had an equal comprehension of a mortgage, where a hard-working breadwinner knew the dangers of payday loans, and where a child could sit side-by-side with his or her parents while overseeing family finances. All of these possibilities – and more – can come into fruition if we as individuals place a greater emphasis on financial awareness. Note: I don’t say “financial learning” because all of these concepts are innate to us, though hidden by verbiage and stigma. Whether we like it or not, if our career is in finance or not, we must come to terms with the economic world that surrounds us.

If we are lucky, a societal “financial flowering” may just reduce the severity of future crises, and will definitely place more dollars in the pockets of our grandchildren. Just think, if we are able to teach future generations about the dangers of debt, or the linkages between well-being and sound investing practices, our world will be a better place. For lack of a better cliché, this is not rocket-science, which is why it is actually possible. I work for WealthLift, a company that teaches novice investors how to evaluate and trade stocks, while providing them with educational lessons about topics such as hedge funds, the Federal Reserve, and retirement planning. I hope that more people will try to make a difference in the realm of financial clarity, because it is an issue that affects us all.

At the end of the day, our lives are a factor of the number of Greenbacks we hold, whether we like it or not. I want to raise my children in a culture that has a better grasp on these issues, not for wealth or power, but for peace.