Category Archives: Space Exploration/ Astronomy

A Class Divided – A Truly Exceptional Frontline Documentary

Ok, so for whatever reason, PBS’ embed code doesn’t seem to be working, so I’ll try to get an actual video link for this article in a few days. Until then, you can scope out the Frontline doc A Class Divided here.

I share the opinion of the teacher who created this experiment – hopefully, one day it will be a thoroughly useless experiment, as the dangers of discrimination are understood as a fundamental evil in our society. Until that day, I would hope that every parent and teacher out there watches this and uses it to rid our world of this unimaginable evil.

As I said to my 8th great physical sciences teacher, a bit of a cranky old guy from St. Lucia, way back in the day – our blood is the same colour. All of humanity’s differences are merely skin deep, and we are but one people living on a small planet hurtling through space at the edge of our galaxy.

There may be as many as 500 million potentially habitable planets – another 500 million Earths, within our galaxy alone.

If we don’t figure out how to live together soon, we have no hope of ever establishing contact with those who assuredly live beyond the Sun. This is an evolutionary step, and we cannot afford to miss it.


Montreal Close Encounter July 10 2011 – Verified with Reddit!

This is a CBC file photo of a mysterious aerial phenomenon which occurred in Newfoundland in January of 2010. It kinda looks like contrails to me.

So yesterday about an hour before midnight I was on the back terrace doing what I enjoy doing, looking up at the stars. It was partially cloudy last night, which made the stars slightly more visible – if you could catch them between the clouds that is. I could spy Cassiopeia between the clouds just over the roof of the small condo behind my apartment, which is to say I was looking Northeast. My apartment is in Westmount, near Mount Pleasant and Sherbrooke, and I was looking up into the night sky when I noticed an orange flash overhead, moving ‘Montréal West’, as if it was following the outline of Sherbrooke at that long straight stretch near Dawson. It happened very quickly, but what I saw wasn’t that different what the picture above, aside from being at night and with clouds overhead – there was a big enough break in the cloud cover to see whatever it was unhindered, brief though it was.

Today on Reddit/Montreal, I find this:

Anyone see an orange thing flying in the sky around 11ish last night?

Here’s the r/montreal self-reddit plenty more fascinating details in the comments section; apparently, at least four other people saw something similar last night.

I really want to know – did anyone else see something? Ask around, maybe someone you know saw it as well. If so, add a comment to this post, and hopefully we’ll bump it up to the top of the page. How much you want to bet we could create a delayed-reaction slow-news-day report?

*Incidentally – I’m not making a claim as to what it was. It was weird, but I’m sure it has a logical explanation. Or maybe it doesn’t – who the fuck knows right? Either way I can guarantee you that I’ll continue, as always, to look up.

Endeavour II – Gliese 581d

Final Spacewalk mission for the Shuttle Atlantis - clearly not the work of the author; I thank NASA & Kennedy for making this possible

So it’s confirmed. A mere 20 light-years away is a planet orbiting the Red Dwarf star Gliese 581. It is situated within the so-called ‘Goldilocks Zone’ and thus can likely support life as we know it, being the perfect distance from the star so as to be just warm enough. France’s CRNS has developed computer models which suggest a habitable temperature zone with a dense and stable carbon dioxide atmosphere, likely with rain, clouds and vast oceans. This planet may be in an early stage of development, but the discovery is extremely encouraging.

And unfortunately, the number of people who fully comprehend the implications of such a discovery seem to be quite small to me. You don’t have to look very far either; consider how many Americans believe the Theory of Evolution to be utter nonsense, or better still the number of Americans who believe the Sun revolves around the Earth, or that the Earth is flat. Consider the Obama administration’s decision to cut funding to NASA while straight-facing the ‘don’t worry, corporations can handle this’ response to the incredulous scientific community.

I personally doubt any consortium of private interests will be able to throw the full weight of the State behind a ballsy project like trying to confirm life can exist elsewhere in the universe. It takes charismatic leaders with a lot of coin and resources to put man on the Moon (which we haven’t done since Apollo 17 and have only done 6 times in total. In other words, no one has set foot on another planetary body since the early-1970s, under Nixon, the same guy who authorized the Space Shuttle project, the Clean Air Act and founded the Environmental Protection Agency – just sayin’).

If the Apollo program had been continued to accomplish the third and fourth phases (planned in the mid-1960s), man would have established moon bases in the late 1970s and would have further completed several manned fly-pasts of Venus. Accomplishing these additional tasks (more info on cancelled Apollo missions here, and more info about the Apollo Applications Program can be found here. Imagine how much more we might have accomplished had this been the case. Instead, it seems that we’re retreating away from the vast ocean of space, retreating into our caves, scared by the brilliance of the potential of human achievement. Sometimes I feel we’ve become a species of cowards, afraid to try and commit to the innovative and to understanding the mystery of our existence. If you can’t be amazed and thrilled by the limitless possibilities inherent in staring up at the night sky, what will it take to make you dream?

Have we forgotten how? Or are we just too lazy?