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.

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via Paypal or Patreon. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. Or you subscribe or donate using PayPal as follows:

 
 
 

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

 

If neither Paypal nor Patreont work for you, you can support Behind The Black 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
 
Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.

Diversifying your research portfolio

In this paper [pdf] adapted from a lecture he gave at an astronomy conference, Harvard researcher Abraham Loeb warns young scientists that their tendency today to take on safe research projects is unwise. Moreover, he notes the increasing “herd mentality” due to “stronger social pressure”, “more competition in the job market,” and the “growing fraction of observational and theoretical projects . . . done in large groups with rigid research agendas and tight schedules.” Key quote:

It is always prudent to allocate some limited resources to innovative ideas beyond any dogmatic “mainstream,” because even if only one out of a million such ideas bears fruit, it could transform our view of reality and justify the entire effort. This lesson is surprisingly unpopular in the current culture of funding agencies like NSF or NASA, which promote research with predictable and safe goals.

Hubble image of face-on galaxy

Another spectacular Hubble Space Telescope image was released today, showing a face-on spiral galaxy in the Coma cluster, located about 320 million light years away. Key quote:

The galaxy, known as NGC 4911, contains rich lanes of dust and gas near its center. These are silhouetted against glowing newborn star clusters and iridescent pink clouds of hydrogen, the existence of which indicates ongoing star formation. Hubble has also captured the outer spiral arms of NGC 4911, along with thousands of other galaxies of varying sizes.

NGC 4911

Leaving Earth cover

There are now only 6 copies left of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. After I sell one more, I will be raising the price substantially. Thus, if you want to get an autographed copy of this rare collector's item for only $100, plus $5 shipping, now is the time to buy. Once I sell one more book and only have five copies left, the price goes up to $150 (plus shipping for the next two.

 

To get your copy while the getting is good, please send a $105 check (which includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to
 

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

 

Leaving Earth is also available as an inexpensive ebook!

 

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

 

If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big oppressive tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

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

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, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


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

Interview with Elon Musk

Spacevidcast has posted on YouTube as well as on their own webpage the first 10 minutes of a 20 minute interview with Elon Musk of SpaceX. You can see the full 20 miutes if you sign up for their Epic service.

For me, the interesting part of the interview is when he discusses the recent story about SpaceX’s plans to build a heavy-lift rocket, dubbed Falcon X. He explained that the proposal was not actually part of the company’s official plans. but the brainstorming ideas of one of the company’s engineers at an engineering conference. He also made it clear that he did not reject the idea. He likes giving his engineers the freedom to talk about such things publicly, even if the company is not yet ready to pursue them.

Historians identify early English scribes

Two University of York researchers have identified the scribes who first made copies of some of English literatures most important early works. Key quote:

The discoveries were the result of painstaking research in the London Metropolitan Archives, where the York scholars matched the handwriting of scribes copying important early English literary manuscripts with the hands of Guildhall clerks copying documents and custumals.

Repair strategy for Wednesday spacewalk

NASA engineers are working out a strategy for the next spacewalk, now tentatively scheduled of Wednesday, to continue repair efforts on the International Space Station. The new plans call for the astronauts to close several valves on the leaking coolant line while ground controllers lower pressure on the line, then drain the excess ammonia from it. This will hopefully allow the astronauts to disconnect the line from the pump without spewing ammonia all over the place, and then proceed with the removal of the failed pump.

Griffin’s take on the Obama space plan

On August 6 former NASA administrator Mike Griffin bluntly attacked the Obama proposals for NASA in a speech at the 13th Annual International Mars Society convention in Dayton, Ohio, Key quotes:

We’re not going anywhere and we’re going to spend a lot of money doing it.

The US space program has not accomplished as much in its last 15 years as in its first 15 years, given more money. So, if you like that, you’ll really like the next decade, in which we do almost nothing and spend just as much.

The Sun’s oxygen content does match the galaxy’s

A preprint paper [pdf] published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph website has found evidence that the oxygen and neon content of our Sun matches the abundances found in the galaxy. This result is important in that previous research has suggested that the Sun’s oxygen abundance was significantly higher than the rest of the galaxy, a possibility that not only caused problems for the theorists but raised interesting questions about the uniqueness of our solar system.

Robot to explore Egyptian pyramid

British engineers/scientists are about to send a robot into the Great Pyramid at Khufu in Egypt to find out what lies hidden behind the doors at the end of two 200 foot long shafts. Fun quote:

No one knows what the shafts are for. In 1992, a camera sent up the shaft leading from the south wall of the Queen’s Chamber discovered it was blocked after 60 metres [200 feet] by a limestone door with two copper handles. In 2002, a further expedition drilled through this door and revealed, 20 centimetres [8 inches] behind it, a second door.

“The second door is unlike the first. It looks as if it is screening or covering something,” said Dr Zahi Hawass, the head of the Supreme Council who is in charge of the expedition. The north shaft bends by 45 degrees after 18 metres [60 feet] but, after 60 metres, is also blocked by a limestone door.

ISS tour, part 1

An evening pause: We talk a lot about the International Space Station. Why not take a tour? In this January 2009 video, part 1 of 4, astronaut Mike Finke starts us out at the docking port used by the shuttle and takes us through the Harmony and Kibo modules. Along the way he gives a great view out the port side of the station.

You can see the remaining parts of Mike’s tour by clicking through, or you can wait until I post them over the next week.

Aqua tracks carbon monoxide over Russia from wildfires

Data from the AIRS instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows the dramatic increase in carbon monoxide in the atmosphere at 18,000 feet over Russia due to the wildfires there. Key quote from press release:

The concentration of carbon monoxide is continuing to grow. According to Aug. 4 NASA estimates, the smoke plume from the fires spans about 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) from east to west.

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