Sunday, March 30, 2008

Apollo 11 neighborhood to scale

Apollo 11 landing map superimposed on a soccer field

Apollo 11 landing map superimposed on a baseball diamond

Apollo 11 landing map superimposed on the moon's surface

Apollo 11 landing map superimposed on a Universal soundstage

Thanks to and

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quantum Linguistics Roundtable Discussion

Quantum Linguistics Roundtable Discussion

"Quantum Approaches to Consciousness" Physics Conference

August 1, 1999, Flagstaff AZ

"Well, the most frequently asked question of me during this conference is: What is quantum linguistics? In a few words, it's a corrective linguistic lens for quantum theorizing. It's a response, to Heisenberg's Lament: "We've reached the limits of our language." And, it's an antidote to the unchecked Chomskyan formalism that has been dominating linguistics for the past few decades.

Quantum linguistics is to normal Chomskyan/classical linguistics as quantum physics is to classical physics. In physics, you often get your insights from fairly culture-free mathematical languages. But quantum linguistics derives most of its insights from the qualitative language/culture systems of Native America. I can give you quickly, in a brief sketch, three foundations of quantum linguistics: consciousness, nonlocality, and relativity.
-- Dan Moonhawk Alford

Full article

Friday, March 21, 2008

Meet the First Realistic Martian Woman

What would we have to do to our bodies if we wanted to live on Mars? io9 consulted scientists, our imaginations, and a designer, and came up with the most realistic-possible portrait of a Martian colonist who might truly exist on the Red Planet in 100 years. She's really tall, doesn't have to wear a bra, and has some pretty awesome photosynthesis and water-reclaiming implants in her exosuit. It's time to meet the first Martian woman. Click through for full frontal.


Somebody had better check the air composition in the io9 comments section -- they're getting awfully giddy over the notion of braless Martians. Let's hope these lads have the waist drawstrings of their exosuits nice and tight so their errant emissions don't end up fogging the faceplates of their suits.

Listen. The same lower gravity which would not pull so much on breasts would allow them to bounce upward more. Breasts move in three planes of motion. It's that motion that causes discomfort, and stretching of the ligaments. That's why a good sports bra will suppress the motion in all directions.

If Martian tits go wibble wibble wibble all the time unsupported in the weak Mars gravity, there's a chance that centrifugal force will eventually lead to them being stretched out so much that buxom Martian lasses will be able to do the classic "tie them in a knot" and "tie them in a bow."

Lower gravity would "require" her to be tall? Why?

So you figure 100 years of living on Mars (4 or 5 generations) will make Lamarckism suddenly kick in? Or that a Mars colony has so many potential parents that they can afford to be choosy about which colonists the eugenicists will allow to breed? Or that screwing around with genes or our endocrine systems will be routine on a frontier colony that needs to focus on basic survival?

In her boots and strapped to her thighs, she has water drilling/processing packs. A cannulated drill can extend out of it, go deep under martian crust, suck up water, run it through a filter to get the salt and acid out, and then store it close to her body to keep it liquid so she can sip from it.

If she's outside long enough to need enough water that she's got to drill for it and process it, rather than carrying her own supply of potable water with her, what will she be doing with the piss, shit and menstrual blood she'll be producing during that time? Does that mean she needs a separate, parallel processing unit for those wastes? Maybe a menstrual cup? Will the solids and liquids somehow be collected and jettisoned? Or saved for their precious composting value back at the colony?

There are elaborate waste collection devices for shuttles and space capsules, designed to keep both liquids and solids from floating free in zero gravity. Current space suit designs seem to employ a version of an adult diaper to simply trap any wastes generated in the few hours the suit will be worn, until the suit can be removed.

Special thanks are due to the team whose very informative draft paper on"Waste Management in Space" for Space Science Outreach and Research (SSOAR) is available online. Their work seems to confirm that you really aren't going to be wearing a space suit for any longer than you can handle pooping in your diapers and not wiping your butt. Given that the weight of any drinking water you'd need in that time would far lighter than the water you'd carry for a few hours hiking on Earth, the notion that you'd need to drill and process water using your martian Uggs is just plain goofy. Perhaps that is why the scientists and designer allegedly consulted for this are un-named.

Other than the titillation of bra-less women, there is nothing in io9's piece that seems to be gender-specific. Perhaps someone has been doing too much drooling over pictures of Dejah Thoris.

Let me repeat the realization that came out of writing my response to the io9 article. While there are occasional articles on how astronauts go to the bathroom in space, what this means has not been taken further.

We are a clever and ambitious species, who may eventually walk the surface of many of the planetary bodies in our solar system if we don't kill ourselves first. But without nano-bots who can carry away those particles which would create diaper rash, our direct space-suited exploring and experience of the surface of Mars, the moon, or any other bodies will be limited to the number of hours we can handle wearing poopy diapers.