Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record break in Snooker

An evening pause: Hat tip Phill Oltmann, who has tried several times to explain Snooker to me and failed. The game however appears to be a variation of the U.S. pool game hi-low, though maybe more complicated.

The point is that in the video below, O’Sullivan starts the game and proceeds to clear the table, and he does it in less than six minutes, the fastest time ever. It is amazing to watch.

The Ukraine War: Increasing Ukrainian gains in the past week

The Ukraine War as of March 24, 2022
The Ukraine War as of March 24, 2022. Click for full map.

The Ukraine War as of March 31, 2022
The Ukraine War as of March 31, 2022. Click for full map.

Another week has passed in the Ukraine war, and with it we begin to see increasing evidence that not only has the Russian invasion stalled, but that the Ukraine is beginning to push back with more and more effectiveness.

The two maps to the right are from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and have been simplified, annotated, and reduced to post here. The top was from ISW’s March 24, 2022 report, the bottom from its report today. The dark red areas are regions either controlled by Russia or areas of confirmed Russian advance. The light red indicates areas the Russians claim to control without confirmation. The blue areas mark areas retaken by the Ukraine in battle. The circles indicate areas of recent heavy fighting.

The green arrows I have added to both maps indicate areas where there have been changes since the week prior. Like last week, the arrows point almost entirely to areas where Russian control has ebbed, either because the Russians have chosen to retreat, or because Ukrainian forces have pushed them out. The summary from ISW is succinct:
» Read more

Pushback: University’s blacklisting of a student quickly ends when confronted by lawyers

Boris Badenov: The school administrators at
Southern Illinois University

Today’s blacklist story came and went so quickly that no one in the press really ever had a chance to cover it. I however want to highlight it today because it tells us a great deal about today’s bankrupt academic culture, and its paper tiger nature if challenged.

On February 10, 2022, Jamie Ball, the director for Equal Opportunity, Access and Title IX Coordination at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, sent notices to Maggie DeJong, a student in the school’s Art Therapy Counseling Program, telling DeJong that she was forthwith forbidden to interact in any way with three other students.

Because DeJong attended classes and also worked at the same facility as these three students, the orders essentially blacklisted her from school through the end of the ’22 semester.

Ball provided no facts or reasons for the “no-contact” orders, other than saying that any contact between DeJong and these three students “would not be welcome or appropriate at this time.” Ball’s order also admitted that no harassment or violation of school policy had occurred. Her order was simply “to prevent interactions that could be perceived by either party as unwelcome, retaliatory, intimidating, or harassing.”

In other words, Ball was punishing DeJong for something that might happen, likely based on secret accusations made by those three students.

On February 23rd, less than two weeks later, lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent the school’s Chancellor, Randy Penbrook, a letter [pdf] outlining the illegality of this action, and demanding the no-contact orders be immediately rescinded.
» Read more

A large Martian river basin with delta

Map of Hypanis Valles river basin on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool map time! The map to the right, reduced to post here, is figure 1 in a new paper outlining the known geology of what appears to be a large ancient and now dry river basin with delta on Mars, found north of Valles Marineris and draining into the northern lowland plain dubbed Chryse Planitia where both Viking-1 and Mars Pathfinder landed, in 1976 and 1997 respectively.

The river basin itself is called Hypanis Valles. The white splotch at the river basin’s outlet is dubbed the Hypanis Deposit, and is thought by some scientists to be a delta of material that was placed there when the river was active 3.6 billion years ago and poured into what some scientists believe was an intermittent ocean in Chryse Planitia. From the paper’s conclusion:

As proposed in prior works, Hypanis may have formed subaqueously as a delta, and may record a water level drop of about 500 m[eters, or about 1,600 feet] as a shoreline retreated to the northeast. We identified kilometer-sized cones and mounds which appear to have erupted onto the surface. Characteristics of these features more closely resemble those of outgassing, sedimentary diapirism, and mud volcanism rather than of igneous volcanism.

The intermittent ocean theory has problems however. For this delta to have formed underwater that ocean would have to have been much much larger than estimated based on the present known data, extending out to cover almost all of Chryse Planitia, in some places to a very great depth.

Some scientists have hypothesized that the ocean need not have been that large because a land dam would have confined it to a smaller region at the river’s outlet. This research however found no evidence of such a dam. However, the paper also noted that “Further work could examine the role of ice or glaciers in the formation of Hypanis and determine if an ice dam would be plausible.”

And of course there remains the more fundamental mystery of liquid water on the Martian surface, which makes the river basin itself a puzzle. No generally accepted model allowing for surface liquid water on Mars presently exists. The possibility that ice and glaciers could have done the job comes to mind again. Though the geology in this region reveals what looks like to our Earth eyes to be a very large river system, now dry, this is not Earth but an alien planet. Tributary systems like this might form from different and as yet not understood processes on Mars, some of which might involve glaciers.

Scientists: On Mars surface elevation doesn’t matter that much in terms of radiation protection

In a paper published in February, scientists determined from models and data that the thickness of Martian cave ceilings required to protect you from radiation is not that much different whether you are on top of Olympus Mons (the Mount Everest of Mars), or at the bottom of Hellas Basin (Mars’ Death Valley).

From the paper’s conclusion:

Overall, the atmospheric thickness is not a dominant parameter for the required shielding. However, at a low-altitude crater where the surface pressure is above 1,000 Pa, the required subsurface shielding is about 10–20 cm [4 to 8 inches] less than at the top of high mountains where the pressure is below 100 Pa. Moreover, solar activities which determine the GCR flux arriving at Mars play an role. To reduce the annual effective dose to be below 100 mSv, the required shielding is 1.5–1.6 m [about 5 feet] during solar minimum and 0.9–1.1 m [a little more than 3 feet] during solar maximum. For a threshold of 50 mSv, the required shielding is 2.1–2.2 m [about 7 feet] during solar minimum and 1.7–1.9 m [about 6 feet] during solar maximum.

Essentially, what this research suggests is that to properly shield any underground facility, you need to cover it with at least seven feet of material, or be in a cave where the ceiling is that thick. It really doesn’t matter how much atmosphere is above you. Even at its thickest at the lowest elevation, Mars’ atmosphere doesn’t provide much protection.

Astronomers think they have detected the most distant star ever

The most distant star ever detected?
Click for full image.

The uncertainty of science: Using the Hubble Space Telescope astronomers now think they have detected the most distant single star ever located, the light of which is estimated to have come from a time only less than a billion years after the Big Bang itself.

The star, nicknamed Earendel by astronomers, emitted its light within the universe’s first billion years. It’s a significant leap beyond Hubble’s previous distance record, in 2018, when it detected a star at around 4 billion years after the big bang. Hubble got a boost by looking through space warped by the mass of the huge galaxy cluster WHL0137-08, an effect called gravitational lensing. Earendel was aligned on or very near a ripple in the fabric of space created by the cluster’s mass, which magnified its light enough to be detected by Hubble.

The arrow in the image, cropped and reduced to post here, points to the theorized star. Note the arc that tiny dot lies along. This arc is the result of the gravitational lensing, and illustrates quite bluntly the large uncertainties of this discovery. We are not seeing the star itself, but the distorted light after it passed through the strong gravitational field of the cluster of galaxies. The scientists conclusion that this dot is thus a single star, must be view with great skepticism.

Nonetheless, the data is intriguing, and will certainly be one of the early targets of the James Webb Space Telescope, which could confirm or disprove this hypothesis.

New Shepard completes another commercial suborbital flight

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft today successfully completed its fourth manned commercial flight, carrying six passengers to a height of about 70 miles for total flight time of a little less than eight minutes.

I have embedded the live stream below the fold, cued to just before launch. Everything went almost routinely, which is a very good thing for a rocket company.

The most interesting aspect of this flight was that one of the passengers was George Nield, who had:

…previously served as associate administrator for the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation from 2008 to 2018, being responsible for launch licensing and regulation for all commercial launch activities during that time.

During Nield’s term, the government worked very hard to help get launches off the ground, which laid the groundwork for the success of both SpaceX’s orbital Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, as well as the suborbital spacecraft of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. His effort also helped jumpstart the new smallsat rocket industry.

Since his retirement, the FAA’s attitude toward regulation has become more oppressive, especially since the beginning of the Biden administration in 2021.

» Read more

Another update on the lie that was COVID

How governments determined policy against COVID
How our governments continue to determine policy against COVID

One week ago I published a short essay listing a number of news stories that, as I wrote then, “illustrate starkly the foolishness and the over-reaction to COVID.”

It appears I might have to make this a weekly feature. In the last seven days I’ve collected a whole bunch of new articles, all of which provide further evidence of the lie that was COVID. Not only did our political and health leadership in government routinely lie to us, they often exhibited a remarkable ignorance about some basic science. Until there is reckoning that cleans house in these government agencies, Americans should never believe anything they say.

Most of the stories this past week document the overall failure of the COVID shots to do what these government officials promised: to prevent infection. To understand the significance of this fact, one must go back and review the claims made by government health officials when these shots were first developed. From the beginning these officials repeatedly claimed that the shots would prevent transmission of the virus, and protect people from any Wuhan flu infection if they got the jab. Just watch some of the videos here. Over and over again so-called experts claimed back in the spring of 2021 that the shots would “prevent transmission.”

NOT. » Read more

March 30, 2022 Zimmerman/Pratt on Texas podcast

Robert Pratt invited me to appear on his radio podcast once again, first for a short five minute segment to discuss the Biden administration’s effort to block Starship launches in Boca Chica, and second a long 40 minute discussion about some of my recent blacklist stories.

The short segment starts 13 minutes into his podcast from yesterday, available here.

The long blacklist discussion can be found here.

Active volcanoes on Pluto?

Elevation map of Wright Mons on Pluto
Elevation map of Wright Mons on Pluto

The uncertainty of science: According to new research published yesterday, scientists now posit that there might be recent volcanic activity on Pluto, based on data and images sent back by New Horizons during its fly-by of the planet in 2015.

You can read the paper here. From its abstract:

The New Horizons spacecraft returned images and compositional data showing that terrains on Pluto span a variety of ages, ranging from relatively ancient, heavily cratered areas to very young surfaces with few-to-no impact craters. One of the regions with very few impact craters is dominated by enormous rises with hummocky flanks. Similar features do not exist anywhere else in the imaged solar system. Here we analyze the geomorphology and composition of the features and conclude this region was resurfaced by cryovolcanic processes, of a type and scale so far unique to Pluto. Creation of this terrain requires multiple eruption sites and a large volume of material (>104 km3) to form what we propose are multiple, several-km-high domes, some of which merge to form more complex planforms. The existence of these massive features suggests Pluto’s interior structure and evolution allows for either enhanced retention of heat or more heat overall than was anticipated before New Horizons, which permitted mobilization of water-ice-rich materials late in Pluto’s history. [emphasis mine]

The image to above is Figure 10 in the paper’s supplementary material [pdf]. It shows the volcano-like appearance of Wright Mons on Pluto, a mound approximately 3,000 feet high with a central depression equally deep, with a volume “similar in magnitude to that of the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa.”

These conclusions are quite tantalizing, but the amount of data is sparse, and thus it is wise not to take them too seriously. For example, the scientists have no idea how Pluto could presently have any form of liquid or active volcanism. Another mission to Pluto — studying it over a long time from orbit — will be required to determine how active the planet really is, or if it is active at all.

Europe’s deep space communications network to support India’s next two missions beyond Earth orbit

The new colonial movement: Based upon a 2021 agreement, the European Space Agency (ESA) today outlined how its deep space communications network of antennas will support India’s next two missions beyond Earth orbit.

ESA’s global deep-space communication antennas will provide essential support to both missions every step of the way, tracking the spacecraft, pinpointing their locations at crucial stages, transmitting commands and receiving ‘telemetry’ and valuable science data.

In June 2021, ESA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed an agreement to provide technical support to each other, including tracking and communication services to upcoming Indian space missions via ESA’s ground stations.

The first missions to benefit from this new support agreement will enable India look to the Sun and the Moon with the Aditya-L1 solar observatory and Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander and rover, both due to launch in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota Range (SDSC SHAR), India.

Though scheduled for launch this year, ISRO (India’s space agency) has not yet announced firm launch dates for either.

This arrangement signals an effort by India and Europe to remain independent of the American Artemis program, which is NASA’s central program for manned missions beyond Earth orbit. To partner with NASA for such missions the Trump administration had demanded nations sign the Artemis Accords, though that requirement might have been eased by the Biden administration for deep space communications.

Regardless, this agreement gives both India and ESA flexibility for remaining outside the accords, at least for now. Neither India nor most of the partners in the ESA have signed, with France and Germany the most notable European nations remaining outside the accords.

Soyuz capsule returns three astronauts safely, completing Mark Vande Hei’s 355 day mission

A Russian Soyuz capsule successfully returned three astronauts back to Earth today, thus completing Mark Vande Hei’s 355 day mission, the longest so far achieved by an American astronaut.

Vande Hei’s record is the fifth longest overall, behind four other Russians on Mir. Musa Manarov and Vladimir Titov were the first to complete a year-long flight in 1987-1988. Sergei Avdeyev’s flight of 381 days on Mir in 1998-1999 is the second longest. Valery Polyakov holds the record for the longest flight, 437 days in 1994-1995.

Now that Vande Hei is safely back on Earth, expect Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, to make some announcement in the next day or so further limiting cooperation at ISS. It is my expectation he will end the discussions between Roscosmos and NASA to exchange one-for-one flights on each other’s capsules. While the partnership to maintain and occupy ISS will continue, Rogozin will likely end any cooperation otherwise.

China’s Long March 11 rocket launches three satellites

China today successfully launched what appear to be three technology test satellites using its Long March 11 rocket.

The three satellites Tianping-2A, Tianping-2B and Tianping-2C will provide services such as atmospheric space environment survey and orbital prediction model correction.

This is all we know about these satellites.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

11 SpaceX
8 China
4 Russia

The U.S. still leads China 17 to 8 in the national rankings.

Today’s blacklisted American: Vassar’s college newspaper retracts story because it quoted “too many whites”

Vassar College: now run by clowns

The new dark age of silencing: The Miscellany News, the college newspaper at Vassar College, recently retracted an article not because it contained any errors of fact (which it did not) but because the article had simply interviewed too many white students in its reporting.

The article had been written to describe the controversy surrounding the school’s decision to have Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, speak at the school, and his decision to withdraw because of the uproar from students demanding he be blacklisted. From the newspaper’s retraction announcement:

We would like to use this statement to both emphasize our values of diversity and inclusion, and delve deeply into our editorial process and the resulting article in question, especially since we understand that many people in the Vassar community are unaware of the article’s removal. … In this article, we attempted to include a variety of quotes from students describing why there was protest to the announcement of him as speaker in the first place, and the students’ reaction to his withdrawal.

In prioritizing urgency over thoroughness, we made misguided and insensitive oversights with whom we were representing in the article and failed to provide in-depth reporting of the issue at large. The majority of our quotations came from white students and therefore we reduced the positions of students of color to a singular, tokenized perspective. After this was brought to our attention, the paper decided to remove the article online in an attempt to prevent further harm among the communities we misrepresented. [emphasis mine]

» Read more

Surprise! NASA’s ’23 budget request asks for more money!

In releasing its budget request this week to Congress for the 2023 fiscal year, NASA did what it routinely does each year, ask for more money, this time asking for an 8% increase from what Congress appropriated last year.

NASA’s FY2023 budget request is $25.974 billion versus the FY2022 appropriation of $24.041 billion. NASA had requested $24.802 billion in large part to pay for the Artemis program to return astronauts to the lunar surface, but Congress wasn’t willing to allocate that much. While supportive of Artemis and NASA’s many other science, aeronautics and technology programs, there is a limit as to how much Congress is willing to invest.

NASA is requesting not just another boost in FY2023, but in the “out years” thereafter, rising to $28 billion in FY2027, though much of that purchasing power likely will be lost to inflation.

…In essence, the agency wants more money for everything it is doing.

The budget request also asks again for Congress to terminate the SOFIA airborne telescope, which NASA contends is not producing enough science to justify its $80 million annual cost. Congress has repeatedly refused to do so in past years. As should be expected, Congress will likely not cancel SOFIA again, as it likes to spend money we don’t have.

The goal of the increased funding for Artemis is also to continue the SLS program for many years to come. Expect Congress to also fund this in the coming few years, though the long term future of SLS remains in doubt, especially if SpaceX’s Starship begins flying. Artemis won’t be cancelled by our spendthrift Congress, but Congress will likely decide to shift that spending to Starship and other private rockets rather than SLS as those private rockets come on line.

All in all, expect Congress to give NASA more cash, but not as much as the agency requests.

Five European and Canadian teams win ESA contest to develop lunar rovers

Capitalism in space: Five European and Canadian teams have been awarded 75K euro contracts to develop their own lunar rovers, with these winners determined during a European Space Agency (ESA) contest that tested a prototype design in a simulated lunar polar environment.

“The competing rovers had to navigate and map the whole test environment to prospect for useable resources – meaning first of all to track down their location, identify the best and safest passages to access them, then to gather information about the characteristics and the composition of the rocks they find,” explains Massimo Sabbatini, overseeing the contest’s first phase for ESA.

“The various teams took various approaches in terms of locomotion – we had wheeled, tracked and also walking vehicles – as well as visual and multi-spectral instrumentation, and in a few cases multiple instead of single rovers. The five out of 12 teams who move forward to the next stage receive a development grant to increase their technology readiness ahead of the second stage challenge, hosted by ESRIC in Luxembourg this autumn.”

This contest mimics the American effort to transition from government-built space probes to privately-built. The goal is to encourage private development of lunar rovers, capable of providing this service to future ESA projects at a lower cost and much more quickly. The contest is also designed to encourage such private companies outside the U.S., so as to compete with the emerging American industry of lunar rover companies.

Scientists: Ice layers in Burroughs Crater confirm Martian orbital climate cycles

Layering in the west side of Burroughs Crater
Click for full image.

According to a new paper published today, scientists have used the ice layers inside Burroughs Crater on Mars to confirm the theory that the Red Planet has undergone numerous climate cycles during the past four million years, caused by the swings in the planet’s rotational tilt and eccentric orbit. From the press release:

Previously, Martian climate scientists have focused on polar ice caps, which span hundreds of kilometers. But these deposits are old and may have lost ice over time, losing fine details that are necessary to confidently establish connections between the planet’s orientation and motion and its climate.

Sori and his colleagues turned to ice mounds in craters, just tens of kilometers wide but much fresher and potentially less complicated. After scouring much of the southern hemisphere, they pinpointed Burroughs crater, 74 kilometers wide, that has “exceptionally well-preserved” layers visible from NASA HiRISE [Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s high resolution camera] imagery, Sori said.

The researchers analyzed the layers’ thicknesses and shapes and found they had strikingly similar patterns to two important Martian orbital dynamics, the tilt of Mars’ axis and orbital precession, over the last 4 to 5 million years.

The photo above of those layers was taken by Europe’s Trace Gas Orbiter on March 13, 2019, cropped and reduced to post here.

This research greatly strengthens the theory that the ice on Mars gets distributed to different latitudes in cycles, depending on the cyclical fluctuations in the planet’s orbit and tilt. However, it does not yet confirm these cycles apply to the glaciers found in craters in lower latitudes. Burroughs Crater is at 72 degrees south latitude, near the southern polar ice cap, well south of the band of glaciers scientists have discovered in the mid-latitudes down to 30 degrees latitude. Nonetheless, this research strongly suggest the same cycles apply in those lower latitudes.

Japanese satellite startup Synspective raises $100 million

Capitalism in space: The Japanese satellite startup Synspective announced today that it has successfully raised $100 million in private investment capital.

The latest funding was led by Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. (Tokyo, Japan), Nomura SPARX Investment, Inc. (Tokyo, Japan), and Pavilion Capital Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) among others, as well as bank loans, and it is supposed to be ranked within the top ten largest startups in Japan. This puts our total funding value at US $200M (22.8 billion yen) since our founding.

The company plans to launch a constellation of 30 radar satellites by 2026, designed to do Earth resource observations.

Synspective had hoped to launch its first demonstration satellite in ’23 on a Soyuz rocket. That launch is presently threatened by Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, though it is not clear if it has been cancelled.

China successfully launches Long March 6A for the first time

China today successfully completed the first launched of its Long March 6A rocket, upgraded significantly from earlier versions of the Long March 6.

The launch also debuted a new launchpad at China’s Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the country’s interior. The two payloads deployed appear to be technology tests, though China provided little information.

The launch of the Long March 6A also sported four solid rocket strap-on boosters. With these and the core first stage all crashing on land in China, there was no word whether any had any technology for controlling their landings.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

11 SpaceX
7 China
4 Russia

The U.S. now leads China 17 to 7 in the national rankings.

Singapore signs Artemis Accords

Singapore announced yesterday that it has become the eighteenth nation to sign the Artemis Accords with the United States.

The full list of signatories: Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the Ukraine, and the United States.

Though the press announcement claims the accords are “grounded in the Outer Space Treaty,” this is only superficially correct. The real goal of the accords is to build a coalition of governments that wish to overcome the treaty’s restrictions on property rights in space.

Russia and China oppose the accords. Of the other big space-faring nations, France, Germany, and India remain uncommitted one way or the other. The Ukraine War could very well push all three to sign the accords, as their partnerships with Russia have largely vanished, and with them any incentive to stay out. Moreover, the U.S. has made it clear that for a nation to participate in its Artemis program it must sign the accords.

Ice sheets on Mars below 30 degrees latitude?

Cracks in Ice on Mars?
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on November 29, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a collection of scattered thin surface fractures, grouped in clusters of parallel lines with the orientation of the clusters all somewhat random to other clusters.

The fractures, as well as the material inside the craters, appears to resemble glacial features, suggesting that these fractures are the result of either the past motion of the glacial sheet, or the sublimation of the buried ice, which causes it to crack and shrink as it slowly dissipates away.

The problem with that hypothesis is the location, as shown by the overview map below.
» Read more

Today’s blacklisted American: TV reporter fired for covering protest objectively

Johathan Choe, blacklisted for being a good reporter
Johathan Choe, blacklisted for being a good reporter

The new dark age of silencing: A television reporter for the ABC affiliate in Seattle, KOMO, Jonathan Choe, was fired after he had covered, as accurately as possible, a peaceful Proud Boys demonstration in Seattle, including a photo montage of the event.

Choe, a reporter of 20 years, created a photo montage with sound from the march to end his day. In the clips, he included music from the rally that included a song called “We’ll Have Our Home Again.” Although Choe was unfamiliar with the tune, it is allegedly played frequently at Proud Boys rallies and similar gatherings.

“I wanted to simply capture a moment in time, with authentic visuals and sounds. It was clearly misinterpreted by some on-line,” Choe wrote.

Because of the uproar, Choe said his news director told him to take down all his social media related to the Proud Boys rally. He did so, but was fired the following day, he said.

By his own response to his firing Choe reveals that he himself buys into the racist, anti-American propaganda of today’s left, focusing much of his commentary on his race (he is Asian-American) and noting that though he has been a successfully journalist “for more than 20 years,” he has somehow “faced years of discrimination for my race and ethnicity.” The willful blindness of these statements is astonishing. How could Choe get a great job for a major television affiliate reporting the news if he was living in such a terrible bigoted nation (which by the way has recently twice elected a black man as president)?

No matter. He tried to do his job well and fairly, and a Twitter mob immediately descended upon him. His boss then cowered in fear, forcing Choe to first censor his work, and then firing him because the only thing that will satisfy a lynch mob is a lynching.

Of course, the lynching is not enough. » Read more

The seeds of today’s madness were planted decades ago

Political journalist Doug Ross yesterday re-posted an essay he had written a decade ago, which had successfully predicted the crime wave we are undergoing today.

In it, he outlined how the growth in 2011 in government anti-poverty and welfare programs — which acted to further tear apart families — was going to lead to what he called “a true Obama Crime Wave” sometime in the early 2020s.

  • Fact: There are a record number of Americans dependent upon government anti-poverty programs thanks to the Obama Democrats
  • Fact: Expanded access to welfare and food stamps greatly increases the number of children born to unwed mothers
  • Fact: Single-parent families correlate to higher crime rates
  • Conclusion: with the unprecedented increase in welfare, food stamps and unemployment, we will also see an unparalleled increase in violent crime within the next dozen or so years.

Obama and his Democrat sycophants in Congress will have created hundreds of thousands of single-parent families. These kids, born out-of-wedlock, will find themselves trapped in lives of criminality at far higher rates than kids from two-parent families.

Fast forward a dozen years, give or take a couple, and we will see a true Obama Crime Wave. I predict that we will see an unprecedented increase in crime. In fact, you could call it historic.

And the question is not whether it will happen. The question is just how bad it will be.

Ross’s prediction in 2011 was of course guaranteed to be right, as good social science research since the early and mid-twentieth century had shown that if you raise children in broken homes, chaos ensues when they reach adulthood.

I think however that Ross and most previous researchers have missed half the equation. Broken homes certainly produce adults who don’t know right from wrong, and thus become hardened and violent criminals.
» Read more

SpaceX to freeze its manned Dragon capsule fleet at four

Capitalism in space: According to SpaceX officials, the company is suspending construction on any further manned Dragon capsules, freezing its fleet at the four capsules they have now built, Endeavour, Resilience, Endurance, and Freedom.

“We are finishing our final (capsule), but we still are manufacturing components, because we’ll be refurbishing,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters, confirming the plan to end Crew Dragon manufacturing.

She added that SpaceX would retain the capability to build more capsules if a need arises in the future, but contended that “fleet management is key.”

This decision — to only use reused capsules — will of course give SpaceX to ability to lower its prices for manned tourist flights, but I doubt that will happen at this time because there isn’t anyone presently available who can compete. Instead, the company will rake in more profits.

The decision however does indicate SpaceX’s own assessment of the present space tourism market. If the company thought it needed more capsules in its fleet to match the demand, it would of course build them. Right now, it appears the company has decided four capsules is enough to cover NASA’s needs, as well as any additional private commercial flights. It also suggests SpaceX is anticipating the eventual arrival of Boeing’s Starliner into the mix, which will pick up some of the business that so far has belonged entirely to SpaceX.

Curiosity presently traveling over broken sandstone from an ancient dune field

Gator-back terrain on Mars
Click for full image.

According to a new paper, scientists now think that the rough and broken cap layer of the Greenheugh pediment that Curiosity is presently traveling across was originally a dune field periodically washed by water runoff, which with time eventually hardened into sandstone.

That broken terrain, dubbed “gator-back terrain” by the Curiosity science team, is shown clearly in the image to the right, taken on March 20, 2022. From the paper’s abstract:

The Greenheugh pediment is capped by a unit of broadly uniform thickness which represents the remains of the Stimson dune field that existed <2.5 Ga (mid- to late-Hesperian). ChemCam geochemical data shows that the sands deposited at the Greenheugh capping unit were sourced from a nearby olivine-rich unit. Surface waters then cemented the windblown sand deposits, ponding at the unconformity with the underlying mudstone unit, creating concretions towards the base. Episodes of groundwater circulation did not affect the rocks at Greenheugh as much as they did at other Stimson localities with the exception of acid-sulfate alteration that occurred along the unconformity. These results suggest that the ancient Stimson dune field was a dynamic environment, incorporating grains from the surrounding geological units on Mt Sharp. Furthermore, liquid water was stable at the surface in the Hesperian and was available for multiple diagenetic events along bedrock weaknesses.

In other words, material from Mount Sharp formed the dune fields, all of which were reshaped by groundwater circulation, with the dunes higher on the mountain seeing less groundwater.

The biggest uncertainty of these findings is explaining how surface liquid water could exist on Mars. Scientists have yet to develop an accepted model that would allow it. Another possibility would be the recent data that suggests Gale Crater was filled with glaciers. If so, scientists would need to figure out how the interaction of a Martian glacier might have geologically changed those dunes in a manner similar to groundwater.

ISRO pinpoints cause of August ’21 failure of India’s GSLV

India’s space agency ISRO has completed its investigation of the failure of the third stage of its GSLV rocket during an August ’21 launch, identifying a leaky valve as the cause.

The leakage in the Vent and Relief Valve is being attributed to the damage in the soft seal that could have occurred during the valve operations or due to contamination and valve mounting stresses induced under cryogenic temperature conditions.

“The committee has submitted comprehensive recommendations to enhance the robustness of the Cryogenic Upper Stage for future GSLV missions, which includes an active LH2 tank pressurization system to be incorporated to ensure sufficient pressure in the LH2 tank at the appropriate time before engine start command, strengthening of Vent & Relief Valve and associated fluid circuits to avoid the possibility of leakage along with the automatic monitoring of additional cryogenic stage parameters for giving lift-off clearance,” Isro said.

India entire space industry almost completely shut down for two years due to its panic over the Wuhan flu. This launch was part of its effort to resume launches, and the failure only added to that shutdown.

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