Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Space with the SciSchmooze

from the desk of Herb Masters

It’s one frontier


Greetings Friends of Science,

It was 60 years ago that Alan B. Shepard, Jr. climbed into a rather tight capsule and was launched in to “space”. (Be sure to read the section on Launch) He traveled 116.5 miles up and 303 miles away from the launch site in 15 minutes, 28 seconds. Less than a month before that Yuri Gagarin was the first to do it. Note that Yuri actually completed a full orbit of earth in 108 minutes. You can still celebrate Yuri’s accomplishment. Today a not so private person got to less than ½ the altitude ~55 miles, didn’t make it to the Kármán line and returned to where he started about 17 minutes after leaving the mother ship. Getting to space with humans on board is really hard. Science, engineering, and technology make it possible.

It’s easy to think that “the scientists” have it all figured out. It isn’t hard to realize they don’t. We are impacted by science in so many ways it’s hard to comprehend. Consider one of the arguments being put forth about the security of elections.

I remember hearing about manganese nodules on the floor of the oceans many years ago. There was great hope for mining them. Well it was a lot tougher to get them to the mill and foundry than expected. Now many decisions are being made on far more sophisticated science that we had just a few years ago… “The Pacific island nation of Nauru last month triggered a clause in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”. The prospect of mining the seafloor is prompting calls for more research about its potential impact on the ocean and sea life. The unknowns of mining the deep sea It’s easy to ignore how dependent we are on our oceans. The damage being done to them is becoming more apparent thanks to science. The ocean is full of tiny plastic particles – we found a way to track them with satellites. Just because someone says something is biodegradable or recyclable doesn’t make it OK! It seems that humans are still the best at imagining new ways to use science and technology all the time!

It’s summertime (if temperature is any measure)! Some presenters cut back during this time but there are plenty that still have things to intrigue us. Here are a few that look pretty interesting to me that are coming up this week.

Combatting Misinformation: Incorporating Primary Sources in Your Science Classroom to Promote Critical Thinking in Students Tue 7/13 @ 1:00 PM

Question Your Perception Thu 7/15 @ 6:00 PM

On Cults, Language, and Social Science Wed 7.14 7:00PM

If you are intrigued by the problem of misinformation… Misinformation The big picture

You may have felt the earth move the other day. It turns out it moved a bit more than what you likely felt… Tectonic mystery swirls as earthquake rocks California-Nevada border. Sometimes I wonder about the different ways we experience the world around us. Many of us have slight differences in how we perceive what is going on around us. There are many though that completely miss what some of us take for granted because we are all different. It might be from vibrations we feel with our feet. Sometimes you need to just stop and be amazed. Here’s one of those that I find incredibly inspiring… You and the thing you love.

It might be a bit hot out there this week. Make sure to drink lots of water and appreciate that you have good clean water to drink. If you have air conditioning you might want set it at a much higher temperature or even go to a mall and watch all the people since we haven’t been able to do much of that for the last year!

Whatever you do, be safe and learn something new and interesting.

Still thinking about it…
herb masters

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”
– Jessica Hische

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