Monthly Archives: January 2015

Chinese service module journeys to and from Moon

The competition heats up: The service module of China’s first lunar return capsule, launched and successfully returned to Earth in November, is returning to lunar orbit after journeying to L2 more than 35,000 miles from the Moon.

After testing its maneuvering ability at L2, engineers are now moving it back to lunar orbit for further tests.

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China lifts export limits on rare earth minerals

Having lost its case before the World Trade Organization China has lifted the limits it had placed on the export of rare earth minerals back in 2009.

Because of low costs, China produces about 90% of all rare earths worldwide, needed for most high tech electronics. This decision eases a concern that has existed now for better part of a half decade.

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Some details on the SpaceX’s attempt to land its Falcon 9 first stage

This SpaceX press release gives some good info on the difficulty they face getting the first stage on Tuesday’s Dragon launch to land successfully on its floating sea platform:

To complicate matters further, the landing site is limited in size and not entirely stationary. The autonomous spaceport drone ship is 300 by 100 feet, with wings that extend its width to 170 feet. While that may sound huge at first, to a Falcon 9 first stage coming from space, it seems very small. The legspan of the Falcon 9 first stage is about 70 feet and while the ship is equipped with powerful thrusters to help it stay in place, it is not actually anchored, so finding the bullseye becomes particularly tricky. During previous attempts, we could only expect a landing accuracy of within 10km. For this attempt, we’re targeting a landing accuracy of within 10 meters.

They are going to try however, and they will be filming their attempt all the way. Stay tuned for some very interesting footage.

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Why the pause in global temperature rise?

The pause in global temperature rise has now lengthened past 18 years, and climate scientist Fred Singer asks some good scientific questions why.

Global warming skeptics like myself have been quick to note the long pause in any temperature increase since 1998, the lack of which has essentially invalidated all the climate models put forth by the global warming activists in the climate community. Singer goes one step further, however, asking the next question: Why has the temperature not risen? He doesn’t know, but he does put forth a number of suspects that the good scientists in the climate field should be pursuing, assuming they can open their eyes and work with real data for a change.

As usual, it isn’t as simple as we would like. The sun for example might explain it, but so could a lot of other factors, including a number put forth by global warming advocates. Good science demands that we look at them all, and find out the truth, rather than cherry-pick our favorite answer and ignore all other evidence.

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Weather reports moderately favorable for Tuesday’s Falcon 9 launch

The weather for Tuesday morning’s SpaceX launch of Dragon/Falcon are presently 60% favorable.

If all goes right, SpaceX will also try to bring the first stage back to a vertical soft landing on a ocean-going platform. If they succeed, they will immediately revolutionize the entire space launch industry.

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Korean satellite threatened by space junk

Debris left over after the collision of U.S. and Russian satellites in 2009 threatens to hit a South Korean research satellite Sunday evening.

It appears that their options to prevent impact are limited. They are adjusting the satellite’s attitude to reduce its footprint relative to the junk, but do not seem capable of shifting its orbit enough to avoid the junk completely.

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Obamacare requirements to employers arrive in 2015

Finding out what’s in it: Beginning in 2015 employers of more than fifty employees will begin to pay penalties if they do not provide healthcare in precisely the amount and quality as required by Obamacare.

I challenge anyone who reads the article above to tell me exactly what those Obamacare requirements are. They are so complicated and obtuse that no one can easily decipher them. In other words, employers are going to be under increasing pressure — pressure they have already been under for the past four years — to reduce their workforce below 50 to avoid Obamacare.

Should do wonders for the economy, eh?

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Egyptian leader demands an Islamic reassessment

Pigs fly? Speaking at a religious conference on January 1, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for a major reassessment by Islam’s religious leaders.

I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world! Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now. All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

Sisi was bluntly telling the religious leaders of Islam that their radical and violent interpretation of Islam is making the religion an object of hate and contempt and disgust by everyone else in the world, and they had better rethink that interpretation before it destroys the religion.

If only more Islamic leaders were willing to make this kind of demand.

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Eye update

Since so many readers asked, here is a short update on my eye surgery. I saw the doctor again today, and he says all looks good. For me, however, use of the right eye is presently difficult if not impossible. For the moment the eye is covered with a patch, as it hurts too much to use it. In addition, bright lights make both eyes hurt. I find I can only read the computer screen if the room is dark.

Posting should continue, but it will be at a slower pace until the right eye recovers more.

Thanks again to everyone who has expressed their good wishes. I truly appreciate it.

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