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Space exploration: Where do we go from here?

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  • Warning, stream-of-consciousness rambling ahead...


    I didn't like this section:
    "We are unable to find another chemical species (known in current databases23,24,25,26) besides PH3 that can explain the observed features" "Thus, it's phosphine.. So let's start talking about what could produce this. Spoiler, it's life! Q.E.D."

    My stupid *** remembers a little from IR spec, mass spec, and NMR. When you have contamination, you can get absorption or peaks that can occur in weird places, especially NMR. I figure: These techniques aren't entirely analogous to Chemistry BS-level spec; the authors aren't morons and accounted for this; and Nature isn't going to publish non-peer-reviewed garbage with any kind of regularity (especially on something as monumental as "Sh-t's decaying on Venus guys, dafuq?")

    I'm just surprised that a group of researchers who have seemingly spent their lives on finding signatures of chemicals indicative of life haven't found a way to distinguish the fingerprints of PH3 from the rest of the noise (especially when this same research group confidently stated phosphine is an almost proof-positive signal of life just months ago). I know, that's an incredibly naive mouthful. It's just a breathtaking leap to go from "We can't find a pathway for phosphine synthesis on Earth" to "Phosphine is absolutely a marker of life" to "We found phosphine on Venus. Life!" And only then put out a call for help to make sure it's phosphine. Doesn't that seem like they skipped a few steps in the scientific method? If anything, this entire paper is just an opening sentence to an abstract. They're presenting the theory they want to test. So maybe that's what this is, the opening line in the thesis of their life's work.

    I really think the better approach would have been "We found what we think is phosphine on Venus. We need help confirming both the data and distinguishing it from other species" before they get into the discussion of life. It just seems... I don't know. The curmudgeon in my brain just keeps asking, "Isn't this backwards?" Perhaps this was a race-to-publish. It just seems off and a lot to stake a hell of a lot of your career on.

    This is the best take I've seen so far:
    https://***********/BBCAmos/status/1...847927296?s=20

    "If you want me to put money on it, I'd say there's an abiotic pathway that simply hasn't been identified yet. The team has worked very, very hard to find it, and is now asking the worldwide scientific community: 'What have we missed?'"

    It sums up my thoughts exactly after reading the paper. Which was exhilarating, but needs to be taken with that optimistic but skeptical view. Of course, the media, like a junkie, tossed caution to the wind and went after that sweet, sweet next hit. Then again "Something farted on Venus, we want to find out who"* one way to drum up grant money and jump to the head of the queue for telescope time. I'm going to laugh when this comes back as "She who smelt it, dealt it" and it was some sort of terrestrial contamination or bad data processing.


    That said... this section gave me goosebumps:
    The lifetime above 80 km on Venus (in the mesosphere22) is consistently predicted by models to be <103 s, primarily due to high concentrations of radicals that react with, and destroy, PH3. Near the atmosphere’s base, the estimated lifetime is ~108 s due to thermal decomposition (collisional destruction) mechanisms. Lifetimes are very poorly constrained at intermediate altitudes (<80 km), being dependent on abundances of trace radical species, especially chlorine. These lifetimes are uncertain by orders of magnitude, but are substantially longer than the time for PH3 to be mixed from the surface to 80 km (<103 yr). The lifetime of PH3 in the atmosphere is thus no longer than 103 yr, either because it is destroyed more quickly or because it is transported to a region where it is rapidly destroyed (see ‘Photochemical model’ in Methods, Supplementary Information, Extended Data Figs. 8 and 9, and Supplementary Tables 2 and 3).

    *I really hope that's what the Fark headline was
    Code:
    As of 9/21/10:         As of 9/13/10:
    College Hockey 6       College Football 0
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    Originally posted by SanTropez
    May your paint thinner run dry and the fleas of a thousand camels infest your dead deer.
    Originally posted by bigblue_dl
    I don't even know how to classify magic vagina smoke babies..
    Originally posted by Kepler
    When the giraffes start building radio telescopes they can join too.
    He's probably going to be a superstar but that man has more baggage than North West

    Comment


    • The EmDrive Just Won't Die

      More than 20 years after its introduction, the EmDrive is still being tested in labs around the world, including DARPA. But the controversial thruster's do-or-die moment is quickly approaching.

      When DARPA put money behind the controversial EmDrive in 2018, it looked like a big gamble. Many physicists had dismissed the revolutionary space drive as simply fake science. Now its EmDrive project is greenlit for Phase 2, DARPA told Popular Mechanics in February this year. Meanwhile, other teams are hoping to reach a final demonstration of the technology later this year.

      "This is a technology which could transform space travel and see craft lifting silently off from launchpads and reaching beyond the solar system," says Mike McCulloch, a lecturer in geomatics at the University of Plymouth, U.K., and leader behind DARPA’s EmDrive project. “We can also get an unmanned probe to Proxima Centauri in a (long) human lifetime, 90 years.”

      But DARPA is tempering that idealistic vision.

      “Theoretical model-based predictions of performance have led to new thruster designs, and these new designs may help inform future development and testing activities,” a DARPA spokesman told Popular Mechanics.

      With two ongoing studies rigorously testing the EmDrive’s “impossibility,” the controversial drive that’s hung around astro-engineering circles for more than two decades is only months away from its do-or-die moment.
      McCulloch has developed a theory of Quantized Inertia (QI), which explains the effect and how it could help with human space travel. McCulloch has spent much of the past 18 months honing this theory and checking how its predictions match results in the laboratory.

      Jose Luis Perez Diaz in Madrid, Spain, and Martin Tajmar in Dresden, Germany, are carrying out the experimental side of the project. Tajmar confirms that he plans to publish two papers in February 2021, one on the “normal” microwave EmDrives and the other on the laser-based EmDrives. On the experimental side, Tajmar is still working on eliminating every possible source of error.

      “We are still improving our balances and testing continues, “ says Tajmar. “In particular we are working on further reduction of magnetic field interactions with the environment, which was the major side-effect that we discovered in previous testing.”

      When asked whether he might have an alternative explanation for the apparent thrust seen in previous tests, Tajmar only says to “Wait for the papers…”

      There's quite a bit more to dissect including skepticism but the article is much too long to paste all of it. Very interesting stuff that possibly dx or Kep might be more able to critique.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Slap Shot View Post
        The EmDrive Just Won't Die

        ...

        There's quite a bit more to dissect including skepticism but the article is much too long to paste all of it. Very interesting stuff that possibly dx or Kep might be more able to critique.
        Way above my pay grade, but this suggests it is woo.

        The inventor claims that the device (engine) works by saturating a resonant cavity with microwave radiation; the radiation exerts pressure on the walls of the cavity. This is closely analogous to making a car move forward by sitting inside it and pushing the steering wheel, or using a fan to blow a sail;[3] momentum just doesn't work like that.
        Last edited by Kepler; 09-15-2020, 12:41 PM.
        Cornell University
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        Comment


        • Well blast it!

          Comment


          • Your anus joke here.

            (Uranus) is currently located within the constellation of Aries, the Ram, about a dozen degrees to the east (left) of the brilliant planet Mars. It's already one-third up from the eastern horizon by 11:30 p.m. local daylight time and will reach its highest point — more than two thirds up from the southern horizon — just before 4 a.m.

            It is best to study the accompanying chart first, then scan that region with binoculars. Using a magnification of 150-power with a telescope of at least three-inch aperture, you should be able to resolve it into a tiny, blue-green featureless disk.
            Here is a very good star chart.

            Edit: and I saw it, easy peasy, with my binocs. At 4:45 am ET it's way up in the sky. Draw an arc from Mars to the Pleiades, go about one third of the way up. You will pass a 2-star "pointer" formation about 1/2 the distance between Mars and Uranus. I will try again with my small refractor telescope tomorrow night (problem: I have no finder because it is placed for my useless right eye).
            Last edited by Kepler; 09-19-2020, 04:49 AM.
            Cornell University
            National Champion 1967, 1970
            ECAC Champion 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1980, 1986, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2010
            Ivy League Champion 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020

            Comment


            • I’d love to get a really nice telescope for this. Spend a couple grand on something nice when we have kids. Owning a shi—tty telescope as a kid helped inspire me.

              I saw the red spot on Jupiter once through a nice telescope. It’s incredible.
              Code:
              As of 9/21/10:         As of 9/13/10:
              College Hockey 6       College Football 0
              BTHC 4                 WCHA FC:  1
              Originally posted by SanTropez
              May your paint thinner run dry and the fleas of a thousand camels infest your dead deer.
              Originally posted by bigblue_dl
              I don't even know how to classify magic vagina smoke babies..
              Originally posted by Kepler
              When the giraffes start building radio telescopes they can join too.
              He's probably going to be a superstar but that man has more baggage than North West

              Comment


              • Watching the Challenger series on Netflix and wondering how some of these aholes didn't end up in prison.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by dxmnkd316 View Post
                  I’d love to get a really nice telescope for this. Spend a couple grand on something nice when we have kids. Owning a shi—tty telescope as a kid helped inspire me.

                  I saw the red spot on Jupiter once through a nice telescope. It’s incredible.
                  I have a terrible scope (10-year service gift from company) too and was thinking the same thing. But I live in light pollution hell so why bother?

                  Someday in AZ.
                  Last edited by Kepler; 09-19-2020, 11:11 AM.
                  Cornell University
                  National Champion 1967, 1970
                  ECAC Champion 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1980, 1986, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2010
                  Ivy League Champion 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Kepler View Post

                    I have a terrible scope too and was thinking the same thing. But I live in light pollution hell so why bother?

                    Someday in AZ.
                    Some of the higher end ($2-8k) telescopes actually do fairly well in cities. I guy I follow on youtube does pretty cool planetary astronomy while in the city with this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000XMSQG...language=en_US
                    In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, gopher'.

                    Originally posted by burd
                    I look at some people and I just know they do it doggy style. No way they're getting close to my kids.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Kepler View Post

                      I have a terrible scope (10-year service gift from company) too and was thinking the same thing. But I live in light pollution hell so why bother?

                      Someday in AZ.
                      You’d be surprised what driving an hour will do.

                      Minnesota tan has some class 6 dark spots within a couple hours IIRC.
                      Code:
                      As of 9/21/10:         As of 9/13/10:
                      College Hockey 6       College Football 0
                      BTHC 4                 WCHA FC:  1
                      Originally posted by SanTropez
                      May your paint thinner run dry and the fleas of a thousand camels infest your dead deer.
                      Originally posted by bigblue_dl
                      I don't even know how to classify magic vagina smoke babies..
                      Originally posted by Kepler
                      When the giraffes start building radio telescopes they can join too.
                      He's probably going to be a superstar but that man has more baggage than North West

                      Comment


                      • Gak, I always get my class orders backwards. Class 2.
                        Code:
                        As of 9/21/10:         As of 9/13/10:
                        College Hockey 6       College Football 0
                        BTHC 4                 WCHA FC:  1
                        Originally posted by SanTropez
                        May your paint thinner run dry and the fleas of a thousand camels infest your dead deer.
                        Originally posted by bigblue_dl
                        I don't even know how to classify magic vagina smoke babies..
                        Originally posted by Kepler
                        When the giraffes start building radio telescopes they can join too.
                        He's probably going to be a superstar but that man has more baggage than North West

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by dxmnkd316 View Post

                          You’d be surprised what driving an hour will do.

                          Minnesota tan has some class 6 dark spots within a couple hours IIRC.
                          Oh, you darling Minnesotan angel. Let me hold you and protect you.

                          I would have to drive 20 hours.

                          Edit: oh sh-t, no I wouldn't. 2 hours will do it.
                          Cornell University
                          National Champion 1967, 1970
                          ECAC Champion 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1980, 1986, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2010
                          Ivy League Champion 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020

                          Comment


                          • : D

                            a
                            Code:
                            As of 9/21/10:         As of 9/13/10:
                            College Hockey 6       College Football 0
                            BTHC 4                 WCHA FC:  1
                            Originally posted by SanTropez
                            May your paint thinner run dry and the fleas of a thousand camels infest your dead deer.
                            Originally posted by bigblue_dl
                            I don't even know how to classify magic vagina smoke babies..
                            Originally posted by Kepler
                            When the giraffes start building radio telescopes they can join too.
                            He's probably going to be a superstar but that man has more baggage than North West

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by dxmnkd316 View Post
                              : D

                              a
                              "a"?
                              Cornell University
                              National Champion 1967, 1970
                              ECAC Champion 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1980, 1986, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2010
                              Ivy League Champion 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020

                              Comment


                              • Too lazy to white it out. To maintain the capital D. ; )
                                Code:
                                As of 9/21/10:         As of 9/13/10:
                                College Hockey 6       College Football 0
                                BTHC 4                 WCHA FC:  1
                                Originally posted by SanTropez
                                May your paint thinner run dry and the fleas of a thousand camels infest your dead deer.
                                Originally posted by bigblue_dl
                                I don't even know how to classify magic vagina smoke babies..
                                Originally posted by Kepler
                                When the giraffes start building radio telescopes they can join too.
                                He's probably going to be a superstar but that man has more baggage than North West

                                Comment

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