Tagnasa

NASA Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for Collapse

Nafeez Ahmed writes:

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

Full Story: The Guardian: Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?

(via Eleanor)

I haven’t had a look at the study yet, but will be published here. It sounds a lot like Peter Turchin’s Cliodynamics research.

See also: Ahmed on peak soil.

NASA is trying to figure out how to 3D print biomaterials like wood and enamel

Emelie Rutherford writes for TechCrunch:

Lynn Rothschild has short brown hair and smiley eyes. She cracks jokes about biology and microscopes with ease. Diana Gentry, her decades-younger Ph.D. student, loves classic video games and vegetarian cooking. She lives near Silicon Valley. The two colleagues have a funny banter, and have spent holidays together. But they share one unique goal.

They’re trying to 3D-print wood in space.

The Stanford University researchers have been working long hours honing a three-dimensional printing process to make biomaterials like wood and enamel out of mere clumps of cells. Pundits say such 3D bioprinting has vast potential, and could one day be widely used to transform specially engineered cells into structural beams, food, and human tissue. Rothschild and Gentry don’t only see these laboratory-created materials helping only doctors and Mars voyagers. They also envision their specific research – into so-called “synthetic biomaterials” – changing the way products like good-old-fashioned wooden two-by-fours are made and used by consumers.

Full Story: TechCrunch: How NASA Prints Trees

See also:

3D printers that print human tissue

Researchers building a pharmaceutical printer

My short story about pharamceutical printing

NASA Democratizing Space Research With Android Powered Satellites

NASA's Android powered PhoneSat

I wrote about NASA’s PhoneSat project for Wired:

The first version of NASA’s satellite — PhoneSat 1.0 — costs about $3,500 to build. It’s a coffee-cup-sized cube designed to withstand cosmic radiation, containing an HTC Nexus One phone running the Android operating system, an external radio beacon, external bateries, and a circuit that will reboot the phone if it stops transmitting data — all off-the-shelf commercial parts.

It has been tested under various adverse conditions, such as “thermal-vacuum chambers, vibration and shock tables, sub-orbital rocket flights and high-altitude balloons.” The plan is to launch this month with the modest goal of staying alive long enough to send a few photos back to earth.

The next version, PhoneSats 2.0, will use newer Samsung Nexus S phones and include a two way radio system that will enable researchers to control the satellite from earth. Other enhancements include solar panels and magnetorquer coils.

Last April, NASA sponsored a development contest giving programmers the chance to write Android apps that will run on the PhoneSat. Examples of potential applications include star tracking and radiation monitoring apps.

Wired Enterprise: NASA Builds Your Own Private Satellite — With Google Android

Previously: Want to Do Your Own Space Research Project? ArduSat Wants to Help

NASA May Have Found Remnants of a Black Hole at the Center of the Galaxy

Blackhole in the center of the galaxy

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy. […]

One possibility includes a particle jet from the supermassive black hole at the galactic center. In many other galaxies, astronomers see fast particle jets powered by matter falling toward a central black hole. While there is no evidence the Milky Way’s black hole has such a jet today, it may have in the past. The bubbles also may have formed as a result of gas outflows from a burst of star formation, perhaps the one that produced many massive star clusters in the Milky Way’s center several million years ago.

NASA: NASA’s Fermi Telescope Finds Giant Structure in our Galaxy

DARPA and NASA Funding Space Colonization Program

Microwave thermal propulsion

NASA Ames Director Simon “Pete” Worden revealed Saturday that NASA Ames has “just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,” with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA. […]

“The human space program is now really aimed at settling other worlds,” he explained. “Twenty years ago you had to whisper that in dark bars and get fired.” (Worden was in fact fired by President George W. Bush, he also revealed.) […]

Wordon also thinks we should go to the moons of Mars first, where we can do extensive telerobotics exploration of the planet. “I think we’ll be on the moons of Mars by 2030 or so. Larry [Page] asked me a couple weeks ago how much it would cost to send people one way to Mars and I told him $10 billion, and his response was, ‘Can you get it down to 1 or 2 billion?’ So now we’re starting to get a little argument over the price.”

KurzweilAI: NASA Ames’ Worden reveals DARPA-funded ‘Hundred Year Starship’ program

(via Richard Yonck)

See also:

Charlie Stross on why space colonisation is impractical

NASA Says There Could be Life on Titan

Titan

The Telegraph reports that NASA has discovered a dense atmosphere surrounding Titan, a moon of Saturn. “They suggest that life forms may have been breathing in the planet’s atmosphere and also feeding on its surface’s fuel.” Titan is too cold to support liquid water.

Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at Nasa Ames Research Centre, at Moffett Field, California who led the research, said: “We suggested hydrogen consumption because it’s the obvious gas for life to consume on Titan, similar to the way we consume oxygen on Earth.

“If these signs do turn out to be a sign of life, it would be doubly exciting because it would represent a second form of life independent from water-based life on Earth.”

Telegraph: Titan: Nasa scientists discover evidence ‘that alien life exists on Saturn’s moon’

Shhh, no one tell Stephen Hawking.

Offshore, carbon-negative algae-power on the cheap

OMEGA Systems - algae

The NASA-developed technology, called OMEGA (Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae) is a low-cost and low-tech method for growing algae. Unlike other approaches to growing algae, which require construction of massive energy-intensive facilities, OMEGAs are relatively inexpensive. OMEGAs are inflatable plastic membranes filled with processed wastewater, CO2 gas, and freshwater algae. OMEGAs float in water, and can be anchored off the coast of any ocean or salt lake. As the algae grow, using the energy of the sun, they convert wastewater and CO2 into biomass, and oxygen. OMEGA’s uniquely utilize forward-osmosis membranes to permeate purified water out of the OMEGA and into the surrounding water.

Oilgae: NASA Launches with Algae Systems on Eve Of COP 15: Carbon-negative Fuel from Sewage and CO2

Algae Systems web site

More info on OMEGA

See also:

Gasification, terra preta, and mechabolics: carbon negative fuels?

Technoccult posts tagged algae, especially how to build your own algae reactor.

NASA sending hammer to space

Somehow I’d think this would be bigger news, or have I just not been paying close enough attention?

You can learn something about a rock by looking at it. But what most geologists really want is to smack it with a hammer.

And that’s just what planetary scientists will do July 4 when NASA’s Deep Impact mission reaches the comet Tempel 1 after a trip of six months and 80 million miles.

If all goes well, an 820-pound copper “hammer” the size of a bathtub will separate from its mother ship and, 24 hours later, smash into the comet’s icy nucleus at about 23,000 mph.

The Baltimore Sun: The Earth Strikes Back

(via Corridor of Madness)

High Tech Sleuths Get New Tool

Technology inspired by a NASA space probe will soon be helping detectives solve gun crimes and murder cases far faster. A simple handheld device that instantly confirms whether a suspect has recently fired a gun means lab delays will not allow suspects time to get away.

New Scientist: Space probe kit will fight terrestrial crime

(via Die Puny Humans).

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