Why NASA Should Abandon a Manned Mission to Mars
Brent Sherwood of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory wants the agency to take a hard look at its plans to send humans to Mars, perhaps concentrating on colonizing the Moon instead.
What's the Latest Development?
With NASA's latest and most powerful rover, Curiosity, now safely on the surface of Mars, Brent Sherwood of the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says a manned mission to the Red Planet is not worth the costs. "Sherwood thinks the agency should re-examine its human spaceflight program, because pushing for the Red Planet in the next three decades or so may not constitute the best use of NASA's limited resources." Costs of a manned Mars mission are estimated to run about $100 billion and it is questionable whether humans could perform scientific experiments of greater value than the ones Curiosity plans to carry out.
What's the Big Idea?
Sherwood proposes several convincing alternatives to sinking NASA's budget into a manned flight to Mars. One is colonizing the moon, which could extend the reach of our species beyond Earth and teach us how to use space-based resources. "Sherwood said a focus on lunar settlement could conceivably result in 100 or so people living on Earth's nearest neighbor by 2050." Another option for NASA is to encourage civilian space travel, which could mean thousands of people visiting orbital hotels by mid-century. Finally, Sherwood advocates making space-based solar power a reality, helping to secure "a clean-energy future for the planet and give our species a foothold in Earth orbit."
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Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Long hidden under trees, it's utterly massive
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Christmas has many pagan and secular traditions that early Christians incorporated into this new holiday.
- Christmas was heavily influenced by the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
- The historical Jesus was not born on December 25th as many contemporary Christians believe.
- Many staple Christmas traditions predated the festival and were tied into ancient pagan worship of the sun and related directly to the winter solstice.
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