Daily Archives: October 24, 2008

India in Space: Bang, Zoom, to the Moon

What did Jackie Gleason know when he said, “To the moon, Alice. To the moon”? That one day without the aid of his hollow threats to Alice, that people would go to the moon. India has now joined the US, USSR, China and Japan in sending a ship to the moon. This is an unmanned, information gathering, two-year trip. NASA has also tossed a bunch of bucks toward it and India signed an agreement with NASA.

Back when the US was putting a man on the moon the USSR had to do so too in the Cold War era. Was it just  a need to explore, for humankind’s reach to go further into the mystery of the stars or was it a race of paranoia so that one superpower could have supremacy over the other? Later there was the Star Wars program and other scary propositions on just what would happen if one country got the big guns into space before the other.

When I heard India was punting a ship to the moon I first thought, “What, another country that has to prove it can do it?” But after reading a bit more, it wasn’t another case of one upmanship but an effort in working together to further research and for India to be included in the future. Space travel has always been phenomenally expensive and the only way, and the most logical way, is to pool resources, both financial and research.

There is already a group of countries (Insternational Space Agencry) that are working together for future space flights and plans for Mars. But there are countries that continue to do their work in secret, not sharing and suspicious of any questions. China comes to mind. Perhaps as time and modernization progress China won’t see the US as running dog lackeys and the US won’t see China as the yellow menace.

Between India and China they hold one-third of the world’s population, and Asia has about 61% of the population according to a United Nations report. As time progresses more and more races will mix and eventually everyone may have the same creamy brown skin. White people are the minority as population goes. It will be a good thing when everyone looks like everyone else and racial fear will be lessened.

World population is expected to increase from the current 6.1 billion (2000) to 8.9 billion in 2050. That’s a 47% increase in 50 years. Natural resources will be depleted even further and pollution will accelerate, perhaps beyond repair. Truth to tell, work on pollution should have begun thirty years ago when Lovelace put forth his Gaia hypothesis. So let’s say that people keep multiplying like roaches. That’s why there is Mars and moon exploration. Sooner or later the infestation will have to spread or the human race will die down. Personally, global birth control wouldn’t be a bad thing. Limit how many children everyone can have, but that could be ugly to enforce unless people chose to do so to help keep the planet sustainable. Go forth and multiply is no longer needed. We’ve succeeded to the point of implosion.

You could say China and India have the most to gain with getting some of their two billion plus people into space. But what if religious, geographic or philisophical conflicts persist? What if people don’t share? Then it’s a race not just to see who can get to Mars or the moon or some other place first. It’s a race to see who can colonize first.

The chance of shooting people from Earth to space is still a pretty slim and expensive possibility though there is the capacity to do so now. The chance of taking over all of the moon or Mars is also slim and a long way in the future. Like the world’s mosaic, I hope that when we get to peopling the moon and Mars that it will be considered an extension of Earth and all races will have equal ownership. That does mean that there could be religious colonies or ethnic colonies and that we could bring our grievances and hatred into the stars. There is the fear of course of some fanatical group getting a stranglehold first but the moon and Mars are still pretty big places and trying to enforce sole ownership will be nigh to impossible for a long time .

I’m going to hope that we slow down our population growth, work together in space exploration and maybe by the time we’re colonizing, the world will be one big happy place. I can dream, can’t I?

 News article on India’s moon flight http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/world/6073509.html

United Nations report on world population http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf

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Dublin and Ireland

 Tsk, yesterday, I was in a such a rush that I post a piece that I had posted the week before. So, here is a different piece on Ireland. First posted Oct. 14, 2007 on Blogspot
Now that I’ve been back for a few days, I’m starting to sort through my pictures. Dublin was the first real landing spot in Ireland. So of course there are many shots of the streets and the housing, which differs from Vancouver. Architectural history, barring the earlier dwelling of the coastal other indigenous people (and not many of those remain due to the deterioration of wood and leather) in most of Canada goes back about three hundred years. Yes, there are a few exceptions like bits of a Viking settlement in Newfoundland or the 16th century Basque whaling village, but all in all, our civic history is relatively young. So Dublin like many European cities has history steeped in history that can be seen in the shape of the streets and the buildings.

The link listed here connects to my photos of Dublin, with the exception of the two fox pictures from my friends’ back yard in Glasgow (where we first landed). Foxes are the local vermin in Glasgow but protected there now. Some of the pictures I’ve included are fuzzy. I was still learning the digital camera and in some cases the lighting was very low but I have them here out of interest.

Dublin’s one day included a trip to Christchurch Cathedral. Parts of it date back a thousand years. Some of the tile work is still beautiful and holds up well after thousands of feet walking over them and hundreds of years. Some of the tiles are originals. Others were redone in the 1700s. Interestingly there was a glass encased, mummified rat and cat, found in an organ that had been restored. Who was chasing whom, we may never know. We also went to the famous Temple Bar area, which is trendy but has some interesting pubs and restaurants. We ate at Fitzers which was very good and not that cheap. A drink of rum and coke and a cider cost about 15 Euros in Dublin. It’s 1.5 dollars CDN to the Euro. Dublin is supposed to be the most expensive city in Europe right now.

We also went to Dublin Castle, which like many structures has many centuries of history and more modern parts built on the remains of the older places. Still used today by Ireland’s president (who serves a seven-year term) the rooms are of 17th-18th century designs. Under the buildings are excavated ruins of the original walls and towers. We were told that they used to take the heads of the executed and stick them on pikes about the castle. Eventually the heads would rot and plop into the moat. How do they know this? Well, they found four hundred severed heads in the moat. Which spawned this drinking song that you can sing to “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Ninety-nine severed heads in the moat, ninety-nine severed heads.
You take one out, you toss it about, ninety-eight severed heads in the moat.
At which point, you could take a sip of said beverage and pass it down the line. More than ninety-nine heads though and it gets quite ungainly to sing. My sister and I had the opportunity to sing through all the heads to zero while stuck in rush-hour traffic in Cork. It kept us amused and even if our windows were open a bit, the people stuck in traffic beside us studiously ignored us.

Last was wandering around the River Liffey. This bisects south and north of the city. There are various car and foot bridges over the river and the areas between are called quays, such as Merchants quay, which gives you an idea of what it must once have been like before the advent of cars.

If you wish to use these photos, please ask. They are copyrighted.

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