Genesis cover

Want to learn the inside story of the Apollo lunar landing, now celebrating its 50th anniversary? Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 
The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

 

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Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

Leaving Earth cover

In March I obtained from my former publisher the last 30 copies of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. I quickly sold 10, and with only 20 left in stock I am raising the price. To get your own autographed copy of this rare collector's item please send a $75 check (which includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to
 

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652
 

I will likely raise the price again when only ten books are left, so buy them now at this price while you still can!


  Also available as an inexpensive ebook!
 

Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, is now available as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

 


Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke
Readers!
 
For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. They practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.
 
Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.

 

Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

 

You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Harvard researcher admits to research misconduct

Another scientific scandal, this time in the field of animal and human cognitive research: Harvard scientist Marc Hauser has admitted to eight instances of misconduct. Three key quotes:

The university said in a statement last week that Dr. Hauser or a co-author had been directed to correct three published papers for which the original data could not be found. [emphasis mine]

Harvard itself had faced growing criticism for not releasing more details of the inquiry since The Boston Globe reported on Aug. 10 that the university had found evidence of scientific misconduct in Dr. Hauser’s lab. On Friday, Michael D. Smith, dean of the Harvard faculty of arts and sciences, issued a letter to the faculty confirming the inquiry and saying the eight instances of scientific misconduct involved problems of “data acquisition, data analysis, data retention, and the reporting of research methodologies and results.” No further details were given.

Harvard’s findings against him, if sustained, may cast a shadow over the broad field of scientific research that depended on the particular research technique often used in his experiments.

Gee, this sure sounds a lot like the Phil Jones/East Anglia University climategate scandal, where both the researcher and his university provided cover for each other, thereby leaving a cloud over a vast amount of climate research that depends on Jones’s data.

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Space war breakthrough?

Is the space war over NASA’s future ending? I wonder, reading this report in which NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver confidently announces that a compromise between Congress and the administration is pending. More importantly, she said the following:

Many things are still uncertain, but one thing is not uncertain. Marshall [Space Flight Center] will lead the heavy-lift launch program.

Considering Garver’s previously strong opposition to Constellation, this statement indicates that she and the administration have backed down, and are willing to accept the heavy-lift part of Constellation, once called Ares V, as long as no one uses those Bush-era names.

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A cloudy day in Paradise

We were back at Mt. Rainier today, this time doing one short hike and one long one, totaling 8.6 miles. The short hike took us to the Grove of the Patriarchs, a small grove of thousand year old trees. The long hike took us up to 7200 feet elevation on the flanks of Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately, the mountain was shy today, keeping itself hidden behind clouds for most of the day. Near the top of the climb the clouds parted for about 30 seconds, and I was able to get a signal snapshot of it. Otherwise, we spent most of the hike in the mist, which was beautiful in its own way.

Grove of the Patriarchs

Mt. Rainier, in the clouds

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Plastic pollution down

Despite increasing use by humans, the plastic pollution floating in the North Atlantic ocean has not increased over the last two decades,and scientists don’t know why. From the Science press notice:

The authors propose a handful of possible explanations for why more discarded plastic is not appearing out in the open Atlantic Ocean. It may break up into pieces too small to be collected by the nets, or it might be sinking beneath the surface. Or, it might be consumed by marine organisms. More research will be necessary to determine the likelihood of each scenario.

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Obama’s traffic jam

The charade in Los Angeles on Monday when President Obama arrived for a fundraiser and shut down traffic during rush hour — causing a storm of angry protest — is another very obvious illustration of the great disconnect between today’s ruling class and the general public.

It’s not just that Obama seemed oblivious to the traffic chaos he created. It is that he, as well as most politicians today (from both parties), truly expect large areas of a city to be closed down for their convenience, and don’t seem to give a damn that by doing so they make life miserable for everyone else.

To paraphrase what Glenn Reynolds likes to say, traffic jams are for “the little people.”

Obama’s actions here are far from new and have actually been deeply institutionalized since the 1960s, following Kennedy’s assassination. Originally designed to protect a president from attack, the shutting down of highways quickly became a tool to make the president’s life as easy as possible while demonstrating to all his lordly superiority.

For example, I personally experienced this kingly arrogance back in 1979. I needed to get from my house in Astoria, Queens, to LaGuardia Airport, normally a very short 10 minute drive. But as I pulled into the ramp for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway I found myself being waved to a stop by a policeman. The expressway was being closed so that President Jimmy Carter could use it. I, along with hundreds of others, was forced to sit there for thirty minutes, waiting for his entourage of approximately thirty limousines finally go by. To say that this infuriated me is to put it mildly.

Nor do I think this behavior is reserved to Democrats. I am sure that my readers could easily cite similar events during past Republican administrations.

Nor is it limited to American political leaders. The ruling class of the defunct Soviet Union made it offical policy. There, those in power built many urban roadways with special lanes reserved exclusively for communist party officials. Moreover, when they used those lanes the street lights could be commandeered, turning them all green so that anyone on a cross street had to wait.

In the U.S. we have not yet come that far. Yet, that presidents feel it their right to shut down entire transportation systems for their mere convenience suggests that sadly we don’t have that far to travel.

Unless of course the public, which still has the vote, does something about it.

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Astronauts lose about half their muscle power on long space flights

Though this only confirms what the Russians learned on Mir, scientists have determined that long periods in weightlessness cause a significant loss in muscle strength. More research like this — to both study the problem as well as possibly solve it — is exactly what we need to do on ISS. Key quote:

Damage caused to the tissue is such that it is equivalent to a 30- to 50-year-old crew member’s muscles deteriorating to that of an 80-year-old. Despite in-flight exercise, the report warns that the destructive effects of extended weightlessness to skeletal muscle poses a significant safety risk for future manned missions to Mars and further afield.

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Not a black hole?

European scientists, using the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory, have determined that a magnetar (a neutron star pulsar with an extremely strong magnetic field) was formed from a star with a mass 40 times that of the Sun. This is a significant discovery, as most theories say that any star this heavy should instead become a black hole when it dies. That this particular star instead became a neutron star challenges present astronomical theory.

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