Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Gehrels/Swift space telescope enters safe mode

The Neil Gehrels Swift observatory ceased science observations and entered safe mode on January 18, 2021, when one of its six reaction wheels experienced a failure.

It appears the other five reaction wheels, which function as gyroscopes to point the telescope accurately, are working properly. If engineers can’t recover the lost wheel, the telescope will still be able to operate with no problems.

Swift was launch seventeen years ago in order to solve the mystery of gamma ray bursts, which it did most successful. The man who most made the observatory possible, its principal scientist, Neil Gehrels, passed away in 2017, and to honor his memory the telescope was then named after him.


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  • Gary M.

    By my rough count that is around 9 reaction wheel failures since 1997.

  • Gary M. Reaction wheels are moving parts that, though the technology has improved, still fails to keep them running as long as one would like. Hubble’s six for example were replaced multiple times, including all six during the last servicing mission in 2009, and 12 years later it now sits with only three working, with at least one of those three questionable.

    These last Hubble gyroscopes actually have done extremely well, lasting as long as they have.

  • wayne

    This might provide some background–

    Scott Manley (2018)
    “Scientists May Have Figured Out Why So Many Spacecraft Were Failing”

    “In the last 20 years it’s been surprisingly common for space probes to end missions early because reaction wheels have failed, moreover there’s been a large number of failures associated with a specific supplier – Ithaco. ”

    In the YT description Manely links to a PDF study done by United Technologies entitled:
    “A Newly Discovered Branch of the fault Tree Explaining Systemic Reaction Wheel Failure and Anomalies “

  • Willi

    “the mystery of gamma ray bursts, which it did most successful. ” As a test, I entered the quoted text into a Gmail message. Gmail underlined “successful”. Clicking on the underlined word results in an offer to change it to “successfully”. When did Gmail go beyond simple spell checking?

  • Andi

    Willi – in Gmail’s settings, there are toggles for spell check, grammar suggestions, and autocorrect. Don’t know for sure when they were added.

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