Archive for category Space Science


Posted by on Friday, 17 September, 2010


Image credit: NASA


You and I have been using rocket ships as our basic transportation into orbit for as long as we can remember. Could say they’re the cruise liners of the IPad era. But they’re a bit rich at 1.3 billion dollars per cruise, aren’t they? They’re also inefficient and they’re not exactly “Environment Green”. Also, since each launch is a boo boo  away from a “big bang”, you would be right to conclude they’re dangerous as crap!


Wasn’t it  Werner Von Braun who said that rocket ships give the Law Of Diminishing Returns a bad name, requiring, as they do, that the passenger list include the fuel tank, itself, which has to be dragged into orbit even as the stuff in it is being consumed? The tank (filled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen) weighs about 1.7 million POUNDS and you gotta bring it along each trip if you hope to escape the pull of SOL (Stupid Ol’ Earth).

Well it’s not as inefficient as democracy but it’s close.

So, where was I? I had a point here..

(MISTERScienceAintSoBad shuffles his papers).

Ah.. I think I was telling you that NASA’s having a change of heart about this idiocy of flying 10 story buildings into orbit. If a rocket scientist’s THAT smart, he.she oughta be able to think him.herself right outta business. Least, that’s the theory.

So Stan Starr, Chief of the Applied Physics Laboratory at the Kennedy Space Flight Center has been scratching together a proposal to combine some existing technologies and then throw lots of money at them to see if the bills’ll stick. The idea seems to be a three phase system where the first phase is some kind of track or sled (could be electromagnetic propulsion or something else) which would accelerate the craft faster and faster, horizontally.  Then, after reaching some horrifying number of machs, scramjet engines (phase two) would cut in to fly the beast up to the point where, in phase three, a relatively dainty “second stage” type rocket would boost it on its way to its mission. And, instead of jettisoning the usual singed and dented crap to be hauled back for retrofitting, the launch vehicle would simply return to base and land.


Really, really, elegant.

And fictitious.

None of this exists. But all the basics are there. Rail guns exist. Rocket sleds? check. Neither is anywhere near “up to spec” as a space launch platform but, in astronautics, hope springs eternal. Ramjet supersonic spaceplanes? Che… well, coming along, anyway. Point is, that each phase has advanced technology to build on and could, with appropriate guidance and a humongous “stimulus check”, become part of an entirely new vision of space transport.

ScienceAintSoBad greets this proposal with lots of enthusiasm.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10 big ones. Go for it, guys!


How do I introduce Stephen Hawking?

Monumental.  The best of the best in Physics. Creatively brilliant. Reaching up, out of an ALS destroyed body that barely keeps him alive, to the highest order of accomplishment in one of the most difficult fields of endeavor.


How could anyone ignore the most profound handicaps to accomplish what he has?

As for God, what can I say?

Really he needs no introduction.

Like Hawking, he stands alone and his very existence seems filled with miracles. He is beloved  and admired by billions who look to him for comfort and guidance.

G_d (Image suffers from the usual deficiencies of trying to capture an ubiquitous being)

So what is one to make of the current clash between the two?

Hawking says God’s role in the creation of the universe  has been overimagined. In his new book, The Grand Design, Hawking asserts that the laws of physics provide a perfectly adequate explanation  for the beginnings of the universe and that, therefore, God’s role is redundant,  unnecessary, and suspiciously convenient for the religious establishment which benefits from the widespread belief that nature needed a hand from the Big Guy (the Big Guy, being God, by the way,  not Hawking).

He confronts, directly, the argument that only God could create something from nothing, discussing the quantum mechanical implications of doing that very trick.

God, on the other hand, has chosen to ignore Dr. Hawking.

So far, at least.

A guy as smart as Hawking will surely appreciate the advantages of leaving things that way.

Japan Wins Moon Race.

Posted by on Monday, 31 May, 2010



Japan just revealed some of its plans for space exploration including the amazing hope of landing a robot explorer on the moon by 2015 and having an entire base of robots by 2020. –

Email from OldTrekie5: Jesus! The friggin’ Space Shuttle’s shutting down and we don’t have squat to replace it. Are you kiddin’ me? What’s wrong with this country? PLEASE Mister ScienceAintSoBad, you gotta jump on this one.  Thanks. We’re counting on you, man!

MisterScienceAintSoBad answers:

It’s “get real” time, OldTrekie. The national debt is about 13 billion dollars (wanna see how it breaks down?) . Humans in spacesuits do look neat but it’s IRRATIONAL to send people off to Mars and to the moon when we can’t afford to buy ourselves a good oil cleanup.


We humans had our chance to be heroes. It’s the turn of the robots now. Human space exploration isn’t too healthy for the humans doing the exploring (tendency to get nauseous,  irradiated, and, from time-to-time, blowed up) . It’s also super expensive.  And “human friendly” space systems dramatically stretch out the time it takes to get anything launched. So why not turn robots loose on the these projects? Worked on Mars, didn’t it?

A robonaut program would intensify our knowledge of sensors, communications, software systems and robotics, itself. That’s a bad thing?

Hey. It’s not like we have an alternative; we can’t AFFORD our “manned” programs. But I guess we’re gonna shuffle around fer awhile “studying it” till we admit the obvious. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, guess who’s going to the moon with a bevy of beautiful bots? Our Japanese comrades, that’s who.

Kadsuhiko Shirai, President of Waseda University, is the head of a government panel in charge of making us look silly while we’re scratching our butts debating the issue. “SHOULD we send humans to the moon? CAN we send humans to the moon? Whoops! Are those Japanese robots I see walking around on the moon?”

Credit for above photo:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


Oil Spill

I SUPPOSE MisterScienceAintSoBad should have something more to say about the oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. But he’s as depressed about it as you are. We’re all riding this big wobbly planet together with nobody else to help us if we screw it up before we figure out how to drive it properly. Science is interesting and amusing. But it’s the competition that offers religious salvation. Don’t get TOO snooty. If we keep fouling things up, we may need them.

For this disaster, we’ll leave the blaming and the investigating to others, but if it makes you feel any better, we award the BP disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico a ScienceAintSoBadRating of ZERO .


Our LectricLifter (TM) product’s coming along (slowly, I admit). We’ve actually had a  meeting with the testing lab (for the equivalent of UL listing) and we’re pretty sure we know who will be manufacturing it.

CORRECTION (Thanks, Alano)

The national debt should only BE 13 billion dollars. Make that 13 TRILLION big ones.


Posted by on Wednesday, 24 March, 2010




Hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy. Hundreds of billions of galaxies.  Lots of stars and lots of planets.

Lots .

How many restless alien souls are looking this way, wondering what’s over here?


Meanwhile, we’re looking for planets; we’re listening to signals; and we’re trying to figure out how to tell  if a planet has life on it from a long, long distance away.

If we keep at it long enough, won’t we come up with something?


MISTER ScienceAintSoBad knows it’s been a while since we started “the search” (in the 1980’s).  One of our first readers, BlaseBoy14 says: “If it were out there, we’d a heard by now.  If it was gonna happen, it woulda happened.

Well, yeah, MISTER ScienceAintSoBad‘ll fall of his chair about the same time you do if we do hear from the pickle brains in the Andromeda Cluster. But stay with me here.  You knew the Red Sox would never win the World Series, didn’t you? You knew an African American would never become President of the United States, right? And you knew those electronic book things would never catch on and replace real books. So let’s SAY you’re wrong this time. Let’s just SAY we get “pinged”. What do we do?

“We’re HERE! We’re HERE! We’re HERE! Whoopee! Oh BOY!


No reason not. They’re gonna be too far away to hurt us. Plus they’ll be wise and kindly.  Maybe they’ll tell us how to end wars.

Nuh uh.  We have an agreement. I’m sure you never heard about this, but there’s to be NO talkin’. At least not till we’ve checked around with all concerned parties (which would be, more-or-less, the occupants of this particular rock).

paper by Michael Michaud, written back in 1991, talks about what’s to be done before answering a signal received from ANY non-Earthians but, basically, it consists of some careful checking around to make sure us Earthians are on the same page about accepting the tiny risk that off-Earthers we’re chatting with, turn out to be the North Koreans of Andromeda.



Then there this:

We’re wasting money looking for intelligent life “out there” when we should be spending it on our own people right here on earth. At 10 billion dollars a month, this stupid diversion of funds is more expensive than a major war. And what good is it? How’s it going to help us to hear the a-m-a-z-i-n-g opinions of some slithery space creatures? I say close down the programs and concentrate on poverty in this country.  – Proud2BeLiberal14

Aw Proud. You should be ashamed.  Here’s the cost of war . And, anyway, your numbers are all wrong. Searching for intelligent signals is cheap, cheap, cheap and the funding is private.


science ain’t so bad’s t-shirts and mug’s and such

Uncle Europe Wants YOU!

Posted by on Sunday, 29 November, 2009
First Humans On ... Earth

First Humans On ... Earth

Image based on a model (Lunar Electric Rover) by Google 3D Warehouse.

SpaceScience: Mars Without The Gamma Rays. The European Space Agency’s looking for volunteers to spend 520 days pretending they’re on a trip to Mars.


Posted by on Thursday, 12 November, 2009
A Planet-happy Star

A Planet-happy Star

SpaceScience: Stars Give Themselves Away

How do you know if a star has planets?


In fact, it wasn’t until 1995 that we nailed the first such planet (I’m not counting the one we’re standing around on, or its neighbors, of course).

Even “neighboring” stars are so far away and so bright that you can’t really make out their planets with a ‘scope. So two indirect methods are used to find out if a planet’s present: We look for a slight reduction in starlight as a planet passes in front of its star. Or we try to observe the miniscule wobble of the star due to the orbiting planet.

We’ve been, it seems, doing it the hard way.

An article in Nature (lead author, Garik Israelian) says that stars with planets seem to use up more lithium than stars that don’t. The authors figured this out using the European Southern Observatory’s ability to analyze starlight as well as to detect (the hard way) planets.

This is amazingly fantastic news as it will greatly speed the time that we can say, for certain, that the only Republicans in the entire universe are on this planet.*

Very, very nifty piece of work.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10

* I’ll make fun of liberals in my next post, OK?


Posted by on Friday, 13 February, 2009

As you may have read by now, a Russian satellite tried to occupy the same space at the same time as a satellite that is (was) part of the Iridium system. The collision (why am I going over all this if you’ve already read it?) spewed space junk – many thousands of pieces – into orbit and in one of the most used portions of near space for satellite deployment.

You might not think this matters much unless you are an astronaut/cosmonaut, but you would be surprised how much earth-bound life now relies on satellites. Our broadcast system, communications system, defense, and more. Aircraft carriers would suddenly rely on those few crewmen who still know how to use a sextant if we lost the ability to keep our satellites aloft. Sextants. Imagine.

Each little piece of debris is, potentially, very destructive because of the high speeds. Energy, (I’m sure you remember) is proportional to the SQUARE of velocity. So a l’il speedin’ fingernail sized piece of plastic can destroy about an Obama Stimulus worth of satellites. Slight exageration. But still..

Suddenly there’s talk of a “Space Situational Awareness” system to keep track of the stuff. Maybe we should loook into a self propelled craft that scoots around in orbit, sweeping up junk. Maybe it could compress it into bracelets. If billionaires pay small fortunes for a ride into space, what would an exotic space junk bracelet be worth?