NPR - In yesterday's post, I talked about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk across the lunar surface back in 1969 and wondered, how come they walked such a modest distance? Less than a hundred yards from their lander?
Today Neil Armstrong wrote in to say, here are the reasons:
* It was really, really hot on the moon, 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We needed protection.
* We were wearing new-fangled, water-cooled uniforms and didn't know how long the coolant would last.
* We didn't know how far we could go in our space suits.
* NASA wanted us to conduct our experiments in front of a fixed camera.
* We [meaning Neil] cheated just a little, and very briefly bounded off to take pictures of some interesting bedrock.
But basically, he says, we were part of a team and we were team players on a perilous, one-of-a-kind journey. Improvisation was not really an option.
But, reading between the lines, I kinda think he wanted to do more, go further. Anyway, read for yourself:
Dear Mr. Krulwich
I was delighted to read your December 7 column on the the Apollo 11 lunar surface traverses, The NASA maps do accurately portray the locations of the pathways used to complete the myriad of tasks we were assigned. And, although I have not checked, I believe the comparison with the size of athletic fields is reasonably accurate.
You asked: “Who knew?"
The answer to that question is: Just about anyone who had any interest in learning the answer. The plan for the lunar surface work was widely distributed and we even did a full dress rehearsal for the press at the NASA Johnson Space Center.
It is true that we were cautious in our planning. There were many uncertainties about how well our Lunar module systems and our Pressure suit and backpack would match the engineering predictions in the hostile lunar environment. We were operating in a near perfect vacuum with the temperature well above 200 degrees Fahrenheit with the local gravity only one sixth that of Earth. That combination cannot be duplicated here on Earth, but we tried as best we could to test our equipment for those conditions. For example, because normal air conditioning is inadequate for lunar conditions, we were required to use cold water to cool the interior of our suits. We did not have any data to tell us how long the small water tank in our backpacks would suffice. NASA officials limited our surface working time to 2 and 3/4 hours on that first surface exploration to assure that we would not expire of hyperthermia. After returning to and repressurizing the Lunar Module, we were able to drain and measure the remaining water in the backpacks to confirm the predicted.
There was great uncertainty about how well we would be able to walk in our cumbersome pressurized suit. My colleague demonstrated a variety of techniques in view of the television camera that I had installed in a position predetermined to be in the optimum spot for coverage of all of our activities. Preflight planners wanted us to stay in TV range so that they could learn from our results how they could best plan for future missions. I candidly admit that I knowingly and deliberately left the planned working area out of TV coverage to examine and photograph the interior crater walls for possible bedrock exposure or other useful information. I felt the potential gain was worth the risk.
It is true that we would have liked to stay on the surface longer and traveled further away from the Lunar Module and the television camera. But we had a number of experiments to install, samples to document and collect, and photographs to take. The time available was fully allocated and we were working diligently to complete our assigned tasks. The Lunar Laser Ranging Retroreflector we installed is still in use today in a variety of scientific experiments.
Later Apollo flights were able to do more and move further in order to cover larger areas, particularly when the Lunar Rover vehicle became available in 1971. But in KRULWICH WONDERS, you make an important point, which I emphasized to the House Science and Technology Committee. During my testimony in May I said, "Some question why Americans should return to the Moon. "After all," they say "we have already been there." I find that mystifying. It would be as if 16th century monarchs proclaimed that "we need not go to the New World, we have already been there." Or as if President Thomas Jefferson announced in 1803 that Americans "need not go west of the Mississippi, the Lewis and Clark Expedition has already been there." Americans have visited and examined 6 locations on Luna, varying in size from a suburban lot to a small township. That leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to explore.
I have tried to give a small insight into your question “Who knew?”
I hope it is helpful.
Voyager I Continues Journey to Interstellar Space
discovermagazine - Voyager 1 is one of the most successful space missions of all time. Launched in 1977, it visited Jupiter and then Saturn, providing better close-ups of the two planets than had ever been seen before.
But it sailed on, crossing the orbits of both Uranus and Neptune (a sister craft, Voyager 2, actually flew by the two planets). Over all those years, there has been one constant in the Voyager flight: the solar wind blowing past it. This stream of subatomic particles leaves the Sun at hundreds of kilometers per second, much faster than Voyager. But now, after 33 years, that has changed: at 17 billion kilometers (10.6 billion miles) from the Sun, the spacecraft has reached the point where the solar wind has slowed to a stop. Literally, the wind is no longer at Voyager’s back.
There is gas between the stars, which astronomers call the interstellar medium. The solar wind blows out into it, slowing. There is a region, over a billion kilometers thick, where the solar wind plows to a halt, creating a roughly spherical shell around the solar system. That’s called the heliosheath, and it looks like Voyager 1 is now solidly inside it. In fact, it’s been there for four months or so; the scientists measuring the solar wind speed noticed it dropped to 0 back in June, but it took a while to make sure this wasn’t just some local eddy in the flow. It’s not. Voyager 1 now has calm seas ahead.
But the probe is still moving outward at 60,000 kph (38,000 mph). In a few more years it’ll leave the heliosheath behind, and when that happens it will truly be in interstellar space, the vast and nearly empty region between the stars. At that moment it will be the first human device ever to truly leave the solar system and enter the great stretches of the galaxy beyond.
Imagine! It was launched before personal computers were everywhere, before cell phones, before the internet! But it was given a powerful boost by its rocket, and another by the two largest planets in the solar system as it swung by them. And now, in just a few more years, it will have left our nest forever.
abajournal - Locked up in a California jail, Malcolm Alarmo King wanted healthier meals. In an argument apparently made to a friendly court, he won a ruling from Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson that he should be fed double-portion kosher meals.
Battling to keep its food costs down, the sheriff's department argued that King himself admitted "healthism" was the so-called religion justifying this request. But Johnson wasn't daunted, calling a sidebar with King's lawyer, Fred Thiagarajah, and the county prosecutor and asking for suggestions about a religion he could cite in the kosher-meal order to nail the issue down once and for all, reports the Orange County Register.
“I said Festivus,” Thiagarajah tells the newspaper--and Festivus it was. The holiday (Festivus for the rest of us) was created by the writers of the popular Seinfeld television show, county counsel argued to no avail.
King, however, has now served out his sentence, so further argument over the issue may be mooted.
Chinese 'Science Cop' Attacked For Skeptic Views of Traditional Beliefs
chinadaily - Fang Zhouzi, known as a "science cop" for his battles against pseudoscience and academic misconduct, pledged on Monday to continue exposing academic frauds after being attacked and slightly injured on Sunday afternoon.
"I will not be frightened and will stick to what I have been doing," Fang told reporters on Monday afternoon.
He said he had received threatening calls over the past 10 years.
"I will not stop battling pseudoscience," he said, while adding that he will be more careful about his personal safety in the future.
Fang said he was attacked by two men in the street after he finished a TV interview near his home at about 5 pm on Sunday afternoon.
One of the men sprayed a pungent liquid on his face and another man hit his waist with a hammer, Fang said.
When Fang ran into his residential area, the two men stopped chasing him and threw the hammer at him, causing minor injuries.
The plotted attack must have been organized by someone who wants revenge for his disclosure of some misconduct, Fang said.
"I've told everything to the police. I hope the police will investigate and discover the identity of the criminals soon," Fang said in his blog.
Calls to the Shijingshan police bureau of Beijing, which Fang said is in charge of his case, went unanswered Monday afternoon.
Fang said he believes that the attack against him is related to a recent one against his friend, Fang Xuanchang, a journalist from Caijing Magazine, who was also attacked last month in Beijing in a similar way.
"I was also attacked by two men who came out unexpectedly and started to beat me with sticks," Fang Xuanchang was quoted by ifeng.com as saying. "The police haven't found out who they are."
Fang Xuanchang, however, doubts that the two attacks were plotted by the same person, because he and Fang Zhouzi worked together to disclose the misconduct of more than 10 people.
The attacks could have come from any of those people, Fang Xuanchang said.
Fang Zhouzi, who was born in Southeast China's Fujian province in 1967, is well known for disclosing bogus research and academic frauds in China, including the latest case of Li Yi, a Taoist priest in Chongqing who has been accused of faking his credentials and promoting himself as a health guru.
Last month Fang Zhouzi also accused Tang Jun, former CEO of Microsoft Greater China Region, of fabricating his academic credentials in the United Sates.
El Caganer - The Catalan Christmas Crapper
In Catalonia, as well as in the rest of Spain and in most of Italy and Southern France, the traditional Christmas decoration is a large model of the city of Bethlehem, similar to the Nativity scenes of the English-speaking world, but encompassing the entire city rather than just the typical manger scene. The Catalans have added an extra character that is not found in the manger scenes of any other culture. In addition to Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Shepherds and company, Catalans have the character known as the Caganer. This extra little character is often tucked away in some corner of the model, typically nowhere near the manger scene, where he is not easily noticed. There is a good reason for his obscure position in the display, for "caganer" translates from Catalan to English as "pooper", and that is exactly what this little statue is doing — defecating.
Possible reasons for placing a man who is in the act of excreting waste in a scene which is widely considered holy include:
*Finding the Caganer is a fun game, especially for children.
*The Caganer, by creating feces, is fertilizing the Earth. However, this is probably an a posteriori explanation, and few cite this reason for including the Caganer in the Nativity scene.
*The Caganer represents the equality of all people: regardless of status, race, gender everyone defecates.
*Increased naturalism of an otherwise archetypal (thus idealised) story, so that it is more believable, taken literally and seriously.
The exact origin of the Caganer is lost, but the tradition has existed since the 17th century. An Iberian votive deposit was found nearby Tornabous in the Urgell depicting a holy Iberian warrior defecating on his falcata. This started a short lived series of polemics between the Institut d'Estudis Catalans and the Departament d'Arqueologia in the Conselleria de Cultura of the Generalitat de Catalunya as to whether that can be regarded as a proto-caganer (which would draw the origins of this tradition far before than it is thought) or just a pre-combat ritual.
Originally, the Caganer was portrayed as a Catalan peasant wearing a traditional hat called a barretina — a red stocking hat with a black band.
The practice is tolerated by the local Catholic church. Caganers are easiest to find before Christmas in holiday markets, like the one in front of the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, which has tables and tables of caganers. Caganers have even been featured in art exhibits.
The caganer is not the only defecating character in the Catalan Christmas tradition—another is the Tió de Nadal, which also makes extensive use of the image of human waste production. Other mentions of feces and defecation are common in Catalan folklore, indeed, one popular Catalan phrase before eating says "menja bé, caga fort i no tinguis por a la mort!" (Eat well, poop strong and don't be afraid of death!).