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.

 

Scroll down for new updates.

First planet discovered that might harbor life!

Big news! Scientists have discovered the first rocky terrestrial planet orbiting its sun at a distance where life as we know it could form. The planet itself has a mass three to four times Earth, so no matter what, conditions on its surface would be very different than here. Nonetheless, this is a major discovery, and is only the first of many. Key quote:

The discovery suggests habitable planets must be common, with 10 to 20 per cent of red dwarfs and sun-like stars boasting them, the team says. That’s because Gliese 581 is one of just nine stars out to its distance that have been searched with high enough precision to reveal a planet in the habitable zone.

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Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. 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

Iranian blogger sentenced to 20 years

So, how does this prove that Islam is the religion of peace? In Iran today a blogger was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Key quote:

Hossein Derakhshan was “convicted of cooperating with enemy states, making propaganda against the Islamic system of government, promoting small anti-revolutionary groups, managing obscene web sites and insulting Islamic sanctities,”

It appears that Derakhshan’s worst crime might have been to visit Israel, though speaking freely in an Islamic state might also have been considered blasphemous.

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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:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


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.

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 (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

Results from Hayabusa delayed till next year

We won’t know if the Japanese probe Hayabusa actually brought asteroid materials back to Earth until spring 2011. Key quote from the project scientist:

Kawaguchi said his science team found “tens of particles” in Chamber A of the canister. The tiny particles are being removed one-by-one in an extraction process that is stretching longer than anticipated.

Note that they still have not opened Chamber B, which is thought to have had a better chance of capturing asteroid material because it was the chamber in contact with the asteroid Itokawa.

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Hoyer says Americans are “conflicted”

At a press briefing today my congressman, Steny Hoyer, said that he thinks Americans are “conflicted”, have “a lot of angst and anxiousness”, and are “not sure” which party will move the country forward. Steny is partly right about the first two points, but quite wrong about the third, considering his party’s dismal poll numbers.

I also suspect that Steny has a lot of his own angst and anxiousness, considering the momentum his opponent, Charles Lollar, is building.

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Only one step short of tyranny

Obama is asking the court for the right to assassinate American citizens, without due process, and in total secret. Key quote:

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality. [emphasis in original]

The Bush administration was wrong when it tried to imprison an American citizen without trial. The Obama administration is even more wrong now to claim it has the right to kill an American citizen without trial. Such behavior is unconscionable.

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One third of so-called extinct species have turned up alive

Back from the dead! A new study has found that scientists are significantly over-estimating the number of animal extinctions, with approximately one third of the so-called “extinct” species turning up alive. This quote makes one wonder if politics have been a factor:

The mistakes cannot be blamed on primitive technology or old fashioned scientific methods. “Mammals missing in the 20th century were nearly three times as likely to be rediscovered as those that disappeared in the 19th century.”

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Violence by Democrat Party activists

Two violent incidents against innocent citizens, exercising their first amendment rights, have occurred in the past week. The first video shows a man being attacked because he is filming the Democratic candidate for governor at a public event.

Details about this incident can also be read here.

In the second incident, a Republican staffer and Iraqi war veteran was filming at a rally for Ted Strickland, Democrat candidate for Ohio governor, when a Strickland supporter came up behind him and poured a cup of hot coffee down his back.

Details can be found here.

Note that in both cases, it is the Democrat that is committing the violence. This has been the pattern since the Tea Party protests started in April 2009. In almost every case, it has been a liberal/Democrat/union employee who has attacked a conservative protester.

To put it mildly, such stormtrooper behavior by Democratic operatives is not the smartest way to win votes.

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House will vote on Senate NASA plan

The space war appears to be over. Based on several news reports, the House will vote this week on the Senate plan for NASA, not on the House plan.

Despite this agreement in Congress, the future of NASA remains murky, at best. As written, this plan forces NASA to continue construction of some form of heavy lift rocket similar to the Ares I and Ares V it was building under Constellation, but gives the agency less money and time to do it. It also hands out a lot of money to commercial companies for so-called launch services, but outlines few details about how that money should be spent.

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A November wipe-out

This article suggests that the Republican victory in November is going to be far greater than any polls have indicated. Key quote:

Only about 160 of the Democrats’ 239 Congressional Districts are even remotely considered to be in play. But that playbook is badly out of date. The Republican message has raced far ahead of the GOP campaign and put a lot of new seats in play. We just have to work these districts to win them.

In fact, there are no polls to analyze in most of these 160 districts. Nobody considered them in play enough to poll them. We just don’t know how vulnerable these extra incumbents are. But, given the surprising vulnerability of the first eighty seats, we believe that a substantial number of these formerly invincible Congressmen can be ousted. [emphasis mine]

I strongly suspect that my home district, the 5th Congressional district of Maryland, is one of these 160 unknown districts. My congressman, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, is running against Republican Charles Lollar. For years this district has been considered safe for Steny. No more.

Lollar, a black conservative with Tea Party connections, has run an aggressive campaign, raised lots of money, and has been unafraid of taking the race into the hardcore Democratic areas near Washington. His signs are up everyone, only a week after clinching the nomination in the primary.

Come November 2, I think that the results from this district will be a stunning upset. I also think these results will only be one example among many others.

Full disclosure notice: In all my life, I had never given money to any political candidate. I considered such contributions a waste of my money. This year, however, I broke that string. Soon after the healthcare bill passed Congress (under Steny Hoyer’s leadership), I contributed $200 to Charles Lollar’s campaign. Not only do I believe this contribution will not be a waste of money, I think the fact that I did it is another indication that the results of this coming election will be very surprising.

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Dangerous asteroid discovered by new telescope

A new survey telescope, designed to scan the entire available sky approximately three times every month, has discovered its first potentially hazardous asteroid (PHO) , 150 feet in diameter and set to speed past the Earth at a distance of 4 million miles in mid-October. Key quote:

Most of the largest PHOs have already been catalogued, but scientists suspect that there are many more under a mile across that have not yet been discovered. These could cause devastation on a regional scale if they ever hit our planet. Such impacts are estimated to occur once every few thousand years.

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