This is one of the “a few times a year” Space News E-mails from author Jeff Bennett. You can subscribe with the form on the lower right side of this blog page.
With 2015 is coming to a close, I thought I’d share what to me are three of the most iconic space science videos of the year. The total run time for all three combined is only about a minute and a half, so I hope you’ll take the time to watch them and think about what they tell us about the future of the human race. But first, a quick note about upcoming events:
- Boulder, CO — Thursday, Jan. 7, 12-1:30pm: I will be presenting my talk “Global Warming Demystified” at the Highland City Club luncheon in Boulder. For details or to purchase tickets to the luncheon, visit https://highlandcityclub.com/events/science-city/.
- Golden, CO – Tuesday, Jan. 12, 6-8pm: I’ll be presenting “What is Relativity?” for the Golden Beer Talk at the Windy Saddle Cafe, details at http://goldenbeertalks.org. No cover charge.
- For Colorado (and region) Teachers: I will be presenting 5 different talks at the upcoming CCIRA meeting in Denver, Feb. 5 and 6; for conference information and registration, see http://www.ccira.org/ccira-conference.html.
- For those outside Colorado: I’m beginning to schedule engangements for my 2016 “Global Warming Demystified” tour; note that there is no speaking fee for this tour, so if you are interested in trying to schedule something, see the details at http://www.globalwarmingprimer.com/tour/.
One more exciting piece of news for teachers, parents, and kids interested in seeing astronauts read books from space: With thanks to NASA, Orbital ATK, CASIS, and many others, the second set of books for Story Time From Space successfully reached the International Space Station (ISS) this month. My new book I, Humanity is part of this second set (making it my 7th book in space along with The Cosmic Perspective [in 2009] and my other five children’s titles that are already aboard the ISS). See the videos that have already been posted at http://storytimefromspace.com/library/.
And now for my selection of three iconic videos of 2015:
1. Pluto Revealed: When 2015 began, Pluto was little more than a fuzzy dot visible only to powerful telescopes. Now, after the July flyby of the New Horizons spacecraft, it is an amazing world, full of incredible surprises that continue to perplex scientists as they try to understand what we see. The following video shows some of the best views of the surface. As you think about what this means to the future of the human race, I’d encourgage you to think in terms of human potential, and the amazing things we are capable of when we use our minds for constructive rather than destructive purposes.
2. Falcon 9 First Stage Landing. Just over a week ago, SpaceX successfully completed an amazing “first” in space travel, when it successfully landed its first stage booster back on Earth after a launch. Why is this so important? Because the first stage is generally the most expensive part of a launch, so if you can reuse the same rocket over and over, in principle the cost of space launches could fall dramatically. So as you think about what this means to the future of the human race, I’d encourgage you to think about what we may be able to do if we can make space travel cheap enough and safe enough so that we might someday take space trips almost as easily as we take airplane trips today.
3. Global Warming Visualized. The following video from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) shows how Earth warmed from 1880 through 2014, showing 5-year running averages through the period. Blue is cooler and red is hotter. In terms of thinking about what this video means to the future of the human race, my own thoughts are: (1) This video should scare you, because it not only makes the magnitude of the problem clear, but if you extrapolate into the future, you can see that if we don’t change our path, we are going to leave our children and grandchildren with a climate that will pose daunting challenges to their well-being. (2) But before you get too scared, look again at the first two videos above, which should prove to you that we are fully capable of solving this problem and creating a world of wonders for future generations. The choice is ours — and yours: Pledge action to move us away from dependence on fossil fuels and toward cleaner, cheaper, and more abundant sources of energy such as renewables, nuclear, and new technologies now under development. What action is needed? In my opinion, the answer is simple and clear: Stop subsidizing fossil fuels and instead charge their full costs by instituting a carbon tax; to learn more, see http://www.globalwarmingprimer.com.
Happy new year to all!