Category Archives: Points of Information

Reviewing the flight rationale for Discovery’s launch

NASA management is reviewing the “flight rationale” for Discovery’s next mission, considering the cracks in the external tank. Key quote:

Troubleshooters are assessing the structural integrity of the tank and its foam insulation to develop the necessary flight rationale, or justification, for proceeding with another launch as early as Nov. 30.

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Scientists succeed in trapping atoms of anti-matter for the first time

For the first time scientists succeed in trapping atoms of anti-matter. Key quote:

The team know the trap worked because they made about 10 million antihydrogen atoms which promptly obliterated themselves. Then they turned off their new trap and saw 38 more obliterations — meaning those 38 antihydrogens stuck in the trap.

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Sea Life Flourishes in the Gulf

Despite the howls of panic over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill this past summer, sea life is flourishing in the gulf. Key quote:

A comprehensive new study says that in some of the most heavily fished areas of the Gulf of Mexico, various forms of sea life, from shrimp to sharks, have seen their populations triple since before the spill. Some species, including shrimp and croaker, did even better. [emphasis mine]

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Penn at airport threatens to press charges against TSA for assault

A blow for freedom! Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) called the cops and threatened to press charges against a TSA security agent for assault during his airport screening. Fun quote:

I tell the cop the story, in a very funny way. The cop, the voice of sanity says, “What’s wrong with you people? You can’t just grab a guy’s crank without his permission.” I tell him that my genitals weren’t grabbed and the cop says, “I don’t care, you can’t do that to people. That’s assault and battery in my book.”

The story gets even crazier afterward, when a pr gal from the TSA calls Penn and tries to placate him. This quote is especially telling:

“If you give me your itinerary every time you fly, I’ll be at the airport with you and we can make sure it’s very pleasant for you.”

Update: I just realized that this event occurred in 2002, so it isn’t part of the recent TSA craziness, only past TSA craziness that is as unacceptable as the new TSA craziness.

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Continuing resolution likely into 2011

The space war returns! The lame duck session of Congress is now expected to pass a continuing resolution that extends into next year, leaving the final decisions about the budget to the next Congress. This is very bad news for NASA and what’s left of the government space program.

Update: I should add that I’m not bothered in the slightest that this might happen. The money that the present Congress proposed giving to NASA will not make the exploration of the solar system possible, and in fact might hinder that exploration significantly under the weight of government regulation. It is time to cut the cord, and stop depending on the damn government to conquer the stars.

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