November 21, 2016
By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large
and Agnett Bonwit, Managing Editor
H o t H e a d s
Now that practically every scientist in the world knows that a newly-ensconced Trump Nation means no federal funding for global warming research (even cosmologists whose eyes are stuck on telescopes, their heads marinating in quantum physics, have finally awakened to the smell of burning landscapes), we are at last seeing a bit of push-back against the upcoming onslaught of anti-science threats coming from the landed hard right.
As always, it is too little, too late.
NASA Earth science missions in danger of being dropped.
Recently, NASA officials piped up against the reactionary purge. At a press conference last week, NASA’s associate administrator for science Thomas Zurbuchen said, “Earth science helps save lives. It also helps grow companies and creates an awareness of environmental challenges that affect our lives today and tomorrow.”
Unfortunately, the tardy balking is akin to urinating in the wind at this point. Trump “science adviser” and – surprise! – Washington lobbyist Robert Walker poured salt in the wound by holding his own presser, and said, “[Trump wants] to redirect NASA budgets towards deep space achievements rather than Earth-centric climate change spending.”
Solar System family portrait.
There’s no misreading these tea leaves. It is clear that the Trump gang still does not understand (or for mercenary or other corrupt motives chooses not to understand) that Earth is a planet too, much like Mars and Jupiter. In fact, someone, anyone, should let them know that Earth resides in the same solar system as those planets.
Filling the swamp: The “brains” behind Trump’s space policy is also the chair of the influential lobbying firm, Wexler & Walker.
But alas, it looks like in the last seconds of the fourth quarter, we have fumbled the ball to Team Trump (thank you Electoral College) that will attempt to stack the deck even higher against humanity’s survival. In fact, by now, NASA head and former astronaut Charlie Bolden realizes that Trump is considering replacing him with an anti-science moron Oklahoman Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Bedlam). And what’s more, Trump’s space guru Walker has threatened that the real estate grifter wants Earth science studies to be eliminated from NASA, and for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency to take over those “weather monitoring tasks.” This echos what his Orange Headness said during a rally in Florida during a more hopeful time a month ago when he declared that “I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistics agency for low-Earth orbit activity,”
According to a BuzzFeed report, North Pole ice levels are “freakishly low,” with scientists reporting frozen water amounts 28% below the Arctic Sea medium between 1981 and 2010 (see orange outline above), with temperatures as much as 36 degrees F. above normal.
Ultimately, political rhetoric or maneuvering is meaningless when one is confronted with Mother Nature. Dr. Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, gave the world a wake-up call when he “tweeted” out last week, “Planetary warming does not care about the election.” That’s slapping it on the snout. Schmidt explains – or at least tries to enlighten idiots such as Trump’s yes-men – that large parts of the Arctic super-heated in October, as much as 15.6 6°F (8.7°C) above the 1951–1980 mean temperature. Scientists like Schmidt have been telling us for years that unless we act, our world will become a horrid hot house. Even in his 2015 “Climate Central” study, Schmidt said there is “a vast and growing body of research,” indicating that “humanity is about to experience an historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.
What a wet blanket that guy is! Such negative stuff. Sheeeeesh! Let’s ignore these buzz-kills and simply “Make America Great Again.” How’s that for putridity?
Sadly, this is the Brave New World. – Kate Woods, Writer-At-Large
F u l l S t e a m A h e a d
As we (Galactic Sandbox) predicted, Earth scientists are copping to the fact that they “low-balled” the acceleration rate of rising temperatures on Earth, and are now blowing their whistles that it is most likely too late for humans to “undo” the damage their out-gassing has done to the planet’s atmosphere. According to Science Alert.com, climatologists from the U.S. and Germany have laboriously analyzed Earth’s temperatures for the last 784,000 years (using core drilling at the poles and from ocean depths), and have concluded that it may be too late to avoid a temperature rise of 13.25 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by 2100. (Previously, researchers estimated a rise of 8.6 degrees rise in Fahrenheit by 2100.) As long as “Drill Baby, Drill” Republican climate-denying lawgivers are deciding which research gets funded or not, we will continue to get fed a picture that is purposely painted with roses and lollipops when it comes to how lovely fossil fuel energy is.
E l i m i n a t i o n R o u n d
In keeping with the inanity of the world this week, we wanted our readers to know about this withering but world-shattering news flash: NASA is throwing a contest to come up with a better feces disposal system for spacesuits. We wish we were yanking your chain, but we aren’t. NASA is actually calling it the “Space Poop Challenge,” and there is $30,000 up for grabs for the winning inventor who comes up with a “fecal, urine and menstrual management system for spacesuits, that would work for up to six days.” As it is now, astronauts have to wear diapers in their spacesuits whenever they are launching, landing or spacewalking. The diapers are only good for a few hours, and once they are “soiled,” they have to remain on the derriere of the wearer until whatever task at hand is finished– and that can cause great discomfort, not to mention a bad case of diaper rash. The submission deadline for the Space Poop Challenge is Dec. 20, and winners will be announced Jan. 31, 2017. You can see all the guidelines and rules on this website.
S l u s h F u n
Pluto’s 1,000 kilometer-wide, nitrogen-covered Sputnik Planitia basin is located in the dwarf planet’s Heart-shaped northern region.
Pluto most likely has an icy ocean, scientists have declared in a new study published in Nature. They believe it exists in a basin called Sputnik Planitia, which could be covered with a sheet of frozen nitrogen anywhere from two to six miles thick. Sputnik Planitia is “a big, elliptical hole in the ground, so the extra weight must be hiding somewhere beneath the surface. And an ocean is a natural way to get that,” said Francis Nimmo, the study’s first author and a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Nimmo and his coauthor, professor Richard Binzel of MIT, deduced the existence of the ocean on the dwarf planet by calculating the way Pluto’s biggest moon, Charon, lines up to its mother sphere, producing a “gravitational anomaly.”
F a s t a n d C u r i o u s
Sun’s interaction with Earth’s magnetosphere.
Brainiacs at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center say they are mystified at finding electrons just outside the Earth’s magnetosphere that are zipping along near the speed of light. The perplexed physicists cannot account for this type of acceleration so far outside the magnetosphere, and insist such a scenario should not exist. “This is a puzzling case because we’re seeing energetic electrons where we don’t think they should be, and no model fits them,” says one of the researchers, David Sibeck. “There is a gap in our knowledge, something basic is missing,” he added. The discovery came out of the agency’s 2-year THEMIS mission, which consists of five orbiting probes that study the Earth’s violent and colorful auroras. The original THEMIS mission goal was to find out what triggers geomagnetic storms that can wreck havoc on Earthlings’ communications, but now it has opened a can of deeper quantum questions.
R a c e A g a i n s t T i m e
Since the U.S. is plunging into full-throttle plutocracy, and now that the new Republican powers that be will soon be gleefully dumping any climate change efforts that this nation has undertaken, some scientists are musing the dire prediction that famed physicist Stephen Hawking imparted to the world a few years ago: Specifically, Hawking gives the human species, at best, only 1,000 years more on this planet before we screw ourselves out of a seat at the dinner table and go extinct. We here at Galactic Sandbox think that Hawking is being generous, whereas others think not.
Hawking cites a plethora of dangers that could bite humankind on the backside, including global warming, nuclear holocaust, even genetically engineered viruses – how about Frankenfood? – that could help bring homo sapiens down. As 50 percent of Earth’s wildlife species have gone extinct in the past 50 years, some scientists believe we are in the midst of a sixth great extinction. Hawking says the only way humans can survive is to colonize other worlds, and if we don’t develop the space travel technology to do it, then we can forget it.
However, before you buy your one-way ticket to anywhere-but-here, John Sterman, director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, believes Hawkings premise may be too pessimistic. Sterman opines that humanity has a choice, and while it might get dicey and “uncomfortable,” the species could do the right thing if it changes its greedy ways now. While we applaud any constructive optimism, we fear that our planet is perilously close to having no time left (let alone a 1,000 years), as illustrated by the eco think-tank Global Footprint Network, which estimates that humanity uses up the resources of 1.5 Earths every year at this point, which at a minimum sounds like we will gobble ourselves up in less than a millennia.