Taking Your Next Step (Part 1 of 3): Personal Learning Network

Guest post by Kevin Flora (Cross post from kevinflora.com


The beginning to taking your next step in life will start with a personal learning network.  Two phrases come to mind when thinking about the personal learning network: 

  • Birds of a feather flock together – A similar phrase would be “you are who you hang with”.  If you have a group of individuals that you are constantly around, either you will have an influence on them, or they will have an influence on you.
  • Your income can be estimated as the mean income of your friends – This lesson comes from a great podcast I have been listening to, Entrepreneur on Fire.  If this formula proves true, and you are looking to increase your income, then your friend group would contribute.
  • Think back to when you were growing up.  Whether you were the ringleader or just a member in a group of individuals, the individuals around you helped to shape the person that you were at the time.  As we grow older, we begin to fade away from the idea that others around us can mold us into something other than what we want to become.  The reality is, those around us can indirectly influence us to extremes we didn’t even know to be possible.  We can sometimes catch a glimpse of other’s influence in our lives in hindsight.  When is the last time you had a hard evaluation of who you surround yourself with?  What influence are you having on those around you?  And what influence do others have on you?

    So what does a personal learning network look like?  I have seen this in many different ways.  Personally, many personal learning networks exist in my day-to-day life.  I have a group of friends who keep in touch with my routine happenings and question the purpose behind much of what I do.  I also have identified a number of individuals who I meet with individually to gain insight and wisdom into problems throughout my life.  There are times I won’t call them up for a few months and other times where I count on them to be present once a week.  I don’t expect each person to come running when I call, but I know that I can rely on them to follow through.  Likewise, I am ready in a moment’s notice to run to their doorstep in any situation.  To benefit from a strong personal learning network, each relationship should either be reciprocal or you putting in more time and effort than the other.

    Your next step for today is to evaluate your current personal learning network and see if you can add to, take away from, or strengthen your relationships for your benefit.  You can put together a personal learning network based on almost any situation, attitude, habit, or practice you would like to see increased (or decreased). 

    IMAGE credit from Flickr user Archbob.

    Drill, Baby, Drill: What will we look for when we mine on Mars?

    It's unlikely that there's anything on the planet that is worth the cost of shipping it back

    Surprising Science
    • In the second season of National Geographic Channel's MARS (premiering tonight, 11/12/18,) privatized miners on the red planet clash with a colony of international scientists
    • Privatized mining on both Mars and the Moon is likely to occur in the next century
    • The cost of returning mined materials from Space to the Earth will probably be too high to create a self-sustaining industry, but the resources may have other uses at their origin points

    Want to go to Mars? It will cost you. In 2016, SpaceX founder Elon Musk estimated that manned missions to the planet may cost approximately $10 billion per person. As with any expensive endeavor, it is inevitable that sufficient returns on investment will be needed in order to sustain human presence on Mars. So, what's underneath all that red dust?

    Mining Technology reported in 2017 that "there are areas [on Mars], especially large igneous provinces, volcanoes and impact craters that hold significant potential for nickel, copper, iron, titanium, platinum group elements and more."

    Were a SpaceX-like company to establish a commercial mining presence on the planet, digging up these materials will be sure to provoke a fraught debate over environmental preservation in space, Martian land rights, and the slew of microbial unknowns which Martian soil may bring.

    In National Geographic Channel's genre-bending narrative-docuseries, MARS, (the second season premieres tonight, November 12th, 9 pm ET / 8 pm CT) this dynamic is explored as astronauts from an international scientific coalition go head-to-head with industrial miners looking to exploit the planet's resources.

    Given the rate of consumption of minerals on Earth, there is plenty of reason to believe that there will be demand for such an operation.

    "Almost all of the easily mined gold, silver, copper, tin, zinc, antimony, and phosphorus we can mine on Earth may be gone within one hundred years" writes Stephen Petranek, author of How We'll Live on Mars, which Nat Geo's MARS is based on. That grim scenario will require either a massive rethinking of how we consume metals on earth, or supplementation from another source.

    Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, told Petranek that it's unlikely that even if all of Earth's metals were exhausted, it is unlikely that Martian materials could become an economically feasible supplement due to the high cost of fuel required to return the materials to Earth. "Anything transported with atoms would have to be incredibly valuable on a weight basis."

    Actually, we've already done some of this kind of resource extraction. During NASA's Apollo missions to the Moon, astronauts used simple steel tools to collect about 842 pounds of moon rocks over six missions. Due to the high cost of those missions, the Moon rocks are now highly valuable on Earth.


    Moon rock on display at US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL (Big Think/Matt Carlstrom)

    In 1973, NASA valuated moon rocks at $50,800 per gram –– or over $300,000 today when adjusted for inflation. That figure doesn't reflect the value of the natural resources within the rock, but rather the cost of their extraction.

    Assuming that Martian mining would be done with the purpose of bringing materials back to Earth, the cost of any materials mined from Mars would need to include both the cost of the extraction and the value of the materials themselves. Factoring in the price of fuel and the difficulties of returning a Martian lander to Earth, this figure may be entirely cost prohibitive.

    What seems more likely, says Musk, is for the Martian resources to stay on the Red Planet to be used for construction and manufacturing within manned colonies, or to be used to support further mining missions of the mineral-rich asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

    At the very least, mining on Mars has already produced great entertainment value on Earth: tune into Season 2 of MARS on National Geographic Channel.

    Harvard scientists suggest 'Oumuamua is an alien device

    It's an asteroid, it's a comet, it's actually a spacecraft?

    (ESO/M. Kornmesser)
    Surprising Science
    • 'Oumuamua is an oddly shaped, puzzling celestial object because it doesn't act like anything naturally occurring.
    • The issue? The unexpected way it accelerated near the Sun. Is this our first sign of extraterrestrials?
    • It's pronounced: oh MOO-uh MOO-uh.
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    Study: The effects of online trolling on authors, publications

    A study started out trying to see the effect of sexist attacks on women authors, but it found something deeper.

    Maxpixel
    Surprising Science
    • It's well known that abusive comments online happen to women more than men
    • Such comments caused a "significant effect for the abusive comment on author credibility and intention to seek news from the author and outlet in the future"
    • Some news organizations already heavily moderate or even ban comments entirely; this should underscore that effort
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