It’s not quite Time for the Stars, but my inner sf geek is still thrilled. Per the Washington Post, the awesomeness as “Half a pair of twins leaves for a year in space“:
When Astronaut Scott Kelly volunteered to spend a year in space, he asked NASA scientists whether they’d take advantage of the near-perfect copy he’d be leaving behind: His twin brother Mark, who retired from spaceflight in 2011 after four shuttle flights.
On Friday, a Soyuz rocket brings Russian Mikhail Kornienko and American Scott Kelly to the International Space Station for its longest expedition ever. The first and last time astronauts spent such a stretch in space was decades ago on the now-defunct Russian Mir space station. This time NASA is going in with its science guns fully loaded…
The space-bound Kelly will take blood samples just before each time a shuttle returns to Earth during his tenure, allowing scientists to study fresh, unfrozen cells just hours after they’re drawn. Meanwhile, Mark will donate countless hours of the next year to providing samples of his own, as well as undergoing the same psychological and cognitive tests his brother completes in space.
The applications in space travel are obvious: Man has never traveled farther than the moon, and NASA wants to take astronauts much, much farther. To do that, scientists have to ensure that the isolation, radiation and zero-gravity environment won’t send astronauts off the deep end after a year or two. For an astronaut like Scott Kelly, whose three missions have brought him closer and closer to his long-term stay — eight-and 12-day shuttle missions followed by a 159-day stay on the space station — the hope is that things will go smoothly….
“NASA is working on this science project that’s the greatest in the history of civilization,” Feinberg said. “They’re turning humankind from an Earth-dwelling species into a space-exploring species. One day, humankind will be a species that can settle on other planets. It might be a hundred years before we have humans living on Mars, but this is a whole new kind of science. It’s a multi-generational effort.”
I love this. I love that we can still do great science even through all the political bullshit.
So why weren’t they doing this when the other brother was the one flying?
@Keith P: The opportunity to study the effects over the year is new. Previously they didn’t stay up in space for that long.
I guess this isn’t directly related to the topic of the piece so the omission is understandable but Mark Kelly is Gabby Giffords’ husband.
EDIT: Oops, nevermind. The linked piece does indeed mention Giffords.
Watched the liftoff. Always a thrill.
Of course, these days watching the American and Russian astronauts/cosmonauts working together whilst their respective countries kvetch at each other reminds me of 2010 (great movie, especially with Helen Mirren and Roy Schieder in the lead rolls).
This should go over well with the BJ collective.
Since this is an open thread, what’s up with West Virginia’s obsession with cost to “drill a well”?
The strange things people Google in every state
I can understand most of the other states’ cost-of obsessions.
Re space-exploring, our squishy human bodies are way too sensitive to radiation damage. If we solve that one somehow, then maybe… else it’s robots, of continually increasing sophistication, because autonomy is important light-minutes (or hours) away from the nearest human.
Actually, given WV industry’s propensity for spilling toxic waste into rivers without penalty or any requirement to store said toxic waste more safely, it makes perfect sense to me that people in WV would want to figure out a way to have non-poisonable water.
Of course, the massive fracking going on is going to poison the underground reservoirs as well, but good try!
Our Prez, being the coolest guy in the room yet again.
I think it might have something to do with what the chemical companies have been spilling into their rivers.
boingboing.net: Let’s compare the backgrounds of science writers for Fox and NPR
I found it amusing, perhaps just confirmation bias. Probably there is some cherry picking too.
I think space exploration is both awesome and utterly necessary.
The thing that had me scratching my head with I heard the Kelly brothers’ story this morning is that they’re making it sound like nobody at NASA had thought of doing a twin comparison study until Scott asked what he should say in an upcoming press conference if anyone asked him about such a study. I would have assumed that NASA would have been all over that from the moment they considered picking Scott for this particular mission! It’s such a freakishly unusual and outstanding research opportunity. I certainly hope that this is just a good story tweaked a little to far in t he telling – I’d hate to think that NASA was that slow on the uptake!
Polyethylene and water both do a great job at blocking radiation. Surround the ship with plastic lined tanks of water, which you’re going to need to take along anyway. Then the problem is that a pint’s a pound the whole world round. At $10,000 per pound to orbit, it adds up quick.
@Keith P: “So why weren’t they doing this when the other brother was the one flying?”
Because their mom liked Scott best.
yeah well yeow.
just signed on to “twitter” for the first time in my life
what i posted – “the goal of progress is extinction” -doesn’t appear.
but two innocuous, irrelevant comments i posted to “baloon juice” are.
ah well, i live in florida now.i will be jaccuzified and pulverized by plastic micropartiles in a minute.
it’s all good, said ted cruz.
@Mike J: Well duh, we better start harvesting ice from comets!
Glad to see this story. They are taking advantage of an unique opportunity with the Kelly brothers and will get some invaluable information without spending a whole lot of money.
They need to accelerate one of the twins to near the speed of light…
American exceptionalism X 2
@rlrr: What could go wrong?
@trollhattan: Considering he’s done this before, how do radio stations handle “This is the president of the United States” and verify that it’s not a prank caller?
@Belafon: Obama probably doesn’t dial, an underling does. Tell them you’ll call them back. Dial 202-456-1414, and ask for the underling.
NSA takes over the switchboard.
Maybe the radio stations get a heads-up from the White House (or the other way around) about the interview, and the calls are set up beforehand — you know, staged and not actual surprises. For me, that would be the most likely scenario.
@Mary G: Mary G, did you see that Cole was asking yesterday whether you are still interested in Ginger AND that there is somebody here at BJ with a rescue contact who is willing to do a home inspection for you?
Off topic, but Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito were just acquitted of murder in the Italian courts.
I wonder if he will be circling Uranus looking for Klingons?
@Amir Khalid: They could be an actual surprise to the people on the air, but the producers/screeners are going to need enough time to verify. If they’re any good.
This is more art than science (although certainly there is some high-powered technology happening) but tomorrow morning (5:30 a.m. EDST) NASA is participating in a Global Concert. My former sister-in-law, who recently retired from NASA, will be participating. I’m setting the alarm for an early rising.
I just got an email from David Simon via the official White House email list – talking about the interview with the President. The message ended with:
So whoever suggested in the earlier thread that the president is laying the groundwork for something with this interview, I believe this is an indication that you are correct.
Time for the Stars was one of books of my impressionable youth…. strange to see it become something akin to reality….
Fascinating. I know a little while ago they were urging certain prisoners to fill out applications for pardons for certain drug charges. Maybe something will happen soon on that front.
Today’s the day for email messages that make me hopeful…
The email was titled: Morris Dees slams Alabama’s GOP leaders
I just watched the video.
I have been donating to the Southern Poverty Law Center for a long time, but I have never been prouder of that than I am right now.
Take 5 minutes and watch the video. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Since open thread, interesting post on the ‘pre-history’ of same sex partnerships, marriage, and etc. at LGM blog.
Quote below shows the evil effect of the liberal NYT on morals even in 1883, in an article about an arrangement that shocked the good folks of Vermont (Edit: sorry, I meant Waupun, Wisconsin, which is only Waupun I see in US in wikipedia)
Same-Sex Marriage Pre-History
‘ If Mrs. Dubois chose to marry a woman, whose business was it? ‘
Unless you can get a connection that goes through an academic library with a subscription, the article is behind a paywall. Which is too bad, since it has a lot of interesting stories on same sex marriages of men and women going way back.
@Baud: Is it too much to ask that he pardon every single person who is in prison with a non-violent drug conviction?
I’m not sure about the scope of the pardon review, although I think it’s supposed to be pretty broad.
@WaterGirl: He can only pardon federal convictions.
ETA: In addition, there’s a five year waiting period.
Here’s an old Dkos post about it.
And while I’m posting about email messages that made me feel good today, here’s Elizabeth Warren:
How much do you love Elizabeth Warren for saying “fanny-kissing” while she’s calling out these arrogant banksters?
@Mike J: What does this mean in English?
I got the same email and thought the same thing. That was a very impressive interview and makes me feel, once again, both tremendously hopeful for change in the drug wars front, and unbelievably proud of this president.
@WaterGirl: It means that it is very rare that a pardon will get you sprung from prison. You may get your record cleared, but not until five years after you get out of prison.
A Tang kid here: two thumbs up and we are a go.
Two times I had to take a forced nap: to stay up for the moon walk and to watch Nixon resign.
Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason
I read Time for the Stars once when I was a kid. Being a twin, I found it to be a really disturbing book. Never read it again.
Here are the rules for the new clemency initiative.
Under the new initiative, the Department will prioritize clemency applications from inmates who meet all of the following factors:
They are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today;
They are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels;
They have served at least 10 years of their prison sentence;
They do not have a significant criminal history;
They have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and
They have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.
It’s insane that those two things together ever happen. Sadly believable, but insane.
The five year waiting period isn’t in the Constitution; it’s something they’ve added as an administrative rule to make sure they aren’t handing out pardons to repeat offenders who are going to go out and commit the same crime again. The president could ignore it if he wants.
She should go ahead and use “ass” instead of “fanny”. Other than that, I like it fine.
Knox and Sollecito have been cleared. There will be no retrial.
@Roger Moore: Rules are for little people, King Obama ignores them.
@BillinGlendaleCA: It’s good to be the king.
A pardon can serve two purposes. One is to give somebody an immediate release from prison. The other is to clear their record after they’re already out of prison so they can regain full civil rights. This means that the normal use of pardons is the second one, and they want people to keep their noses clean for a minimum of 5 years before they bother asking for one. You can still ask for a pardon without 5 years with a clean nose, but you have to make a special request, and it’s very rare for it to be granted.
I just read the Wikipedia summary of “Time for the Stars” and, seriously, WTF was up with Heinlein’s obsession with having relatives get married? I suppose a great-grandniece is sufficiently far in genetic terms, but a marrying a great-grandniece who’s been telepathically reading your mind since she was a child has its own special level of squick.
The President’s power to pardon is very much a monarchical holdover, so nobody should be surprised when it gets used like a monarch’s power.
@Bill Arnold: Some of the comments on boingboing are excellent. I think they caught a paid troll.
I really wish everybody would get over the notion of spreading humanity much beyond the gravity well of Earth.
1. By the time the technology is adequate for radiation shielding and enough spin for maintaining muscle mass for organic species for long duration missions, any function involving exploration or mineral extraction would be performed better by robots with some AI capability.
2. Energy costs are too great to exit any star’s gravity well in conventional space.
3. Assuming an FTL drive or generational ship could reach a habitable world, imagine the problem of atmospheric mismatches, toxins and allergies decimating humans arriving at a new destination.
Nope, our interstellar cultural continuity is in transmitting our humanity to AI…
@Roger Moore: Have you met the modern Republican party?
@Mike J: That was my thought exactly. Except for punctuation marks and expletives, which seem to be missing from your calm statement.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Heinlein was like that, yes he was. Very conservative and militaristic and yet with an increasingly developed personal liberty streak. I grew up reading him and don’t regret it one bit. (Grains of salt, etc.)
For example, see Nixon, Richard/Ford, Gerald.
Manned space exploration…still a complete waste of money.
I’m not sure how I missed Heinlein in my science fiction reading, but I’m not too sad that I did. I did read a lot of Andre Norton and L. Sprague DeCamp, though.
I’m just not buying that humans will ever successfully live anywhere besides Earth’s immediate vicinity. And why would they want to? The most habitable planet that we could remotely have a chance of reaching with a manned mission, Mars, is a frozen, dusty hell that you could never inhabit without a space suit or other artificial environment. Imagine being on Mars for a few months or years. Wouldn’t you get to the point where you’d do anything just to get back to Earth, where you could breathe some fresh air, listen to the rain fall or the wind blow through the trees, or go swimming in a lake or the ocean? Why would anybody want to live on Mars? And outside of Earth, Mars is about as good as it gets. The space station is pretty cool and all, but let’s be honest: it’s not our species’ stepping stone to the cosmos. We’re not going anywhere, and the vast expense of keeping the space station in orbit might be better spent on robotic probes that have given us far more valuable scientific information and even better pictures of far corners of the solar system that, let’s face it, we’re never going to see in person.
Uh … if marrying a great-grand-niece squicks you out, then please don’t yield to any random urge to read any of Heinlein’s later stuff – father-daughter and brother-sister incest had become pretty standard towards the end. And they were really just self-indulgent story-spinning – he hadn’t created a whole new world or a society since, oh, what,The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, maybe? I will stand for correction … I was so disappointed in him I’ve blanked some out.