from the world's big
The definitive history of our moon
You've probably seen it hanging around. But how did it get there? And can we live there?
Our celestial companion in the midnight sky has been a constant source of wonder and awe. From anyplace on the planet, the brightest thing in the night sky is usually the moon. The moon is our only natural satellite and one of the nearest astronomical bodies at around 240,250 miles or 384,400 km away. The moon has a radius of 1079 miles and is approximately 27% the size of the Earth. SImilar to the Earth, the moon has a crust, mantle, and core. It's thought that it may have an iron core as well. This dark muse has had a rich and storied past both historically on a universal geologic scale and for the human race. Many ancient cultures revered the moon as a god or goddess. Going by names such as Selene and Luna, the moon has captivated many and still does to this day. It’s an astounding part of Earth’s system.
Before life and the biosphere struck this rock billions of years ago, the solar system was a place of chaotic creation. The sun spun from its spindle flame and released the planets forming the early solar system in the process. But it wasn’t until a few hundred million years later that the Earth’s moon would come to exist. There are a few theories for how the moon popped into orbit around our planet.
One of the prevailing ideas supported by the scientific community is the giant impact hypothesis, which suggests that the moon was formed when a large astral body slammed into Earth. The early solar system was a churning pool of formation and there were many numbers of early bodies that never made it to planetary status. It is thought that one of these smashed into Earth in its early years.
Astronomers call this object, Theia, which was as large as Mars when it collided with the Earth. After the collision, vaporized slabs of the planet were launched into space where gravity then assembled them together over the years to eventually form the moon. This would explain why the moon is made of lighter elements and less dense than Earth. As the material was being bound together by gravity, it would have centered near the ecliptic plane and began its orbit that it’s still on today.
On the subject of the explosive power felt on our humble planet, NASA stated:
"When the young Earth and this rogue body collided, the energy involved was 100 million times larger than the much later event believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs."
Before life was even a universal thought to the first primitive man gazing at the stars, the moon has been one of the most fascinating places near our Terra home.
An ancestral beacon over mankind
There have been many misconceptions over the years about what the moon was. Some ancients believed that the moon was a churning ball of fire. Early astronomers thought that the dark spots on the moon were seas and the lighter regions landmasses. Aristotle determined that the moon was a perfect sphere. A great deal of ancient Greek philosophers rightfully understood that the moon was in orbit around the earth, along with controlling the tidal waves and other phenomena.
In the year 100, Plutarch posited that there were other human civilizations living on the moon. As our astronomical views began to mature and grow, we went from believing Ptolemy’s view that the moon and sun orbited Earth to the correct view of Nicholas Copernicus – who developed the correct view that the Earth and other bodies in the solar system revolve around the sun.
Eventually, we’d gaze to the stars and moon with a telescope. Galileo first saw a new image of ragged craters and mountains. He watched as the month changed how the mountains cast their shadows and calculated their height. Eventually, Galileo’s observations would contribute to the rejection of old astronomical ideals and would replace the Earth-centered model of the universe.
He also, of course, explained that the light regions were rough and hilly areas while the dark regions were plains. Other astronomers throughout the years began to catalog every part of the surface they could see. More powerful telescopes led to these new detailed records. In 1645, the first full map was published by Dutch engineer Michael Florent van Langren. Another Bohemian Italian astronomer Anton M.S. de Rheita also drew up a map. It was by 1651 that the finalized map of the moon would be completed by two Jesuit scholars, Giovanni Battista Riccioli and Francesco M. Grimaldi.
Our long and fruitful observation of the moon would finally culminate in us first stepping on its surface in the 20th century.
That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind
Exploration of the moon in its many forms from robotic probes to men on the moon has taught us a great deal about our solar system and even ourselves. Our first visitors to the moon were robots that came in the wake of Sputnik 1 in October 1957. The Soviets were able to fly their Luna 1 past the moon in January 1959. This was followed by a number of probes that were eventually able to take photographs of the other side of the moon. Many surprises would come from these expeditions, like for example that the dark side of the moon didn’t have many smooth plains.
Not to be outdone, America’s space program called to the task of putting a man on the moon was ushered in. With some of the greatest engineering talent and know-how at the time assembled, we were able to manage the inconceivable and walk on the moon. In the span of eight years, Apollo had become the sole powerhouse of manned spaceflight.
In 1968 during the Christmas season, Apollo 8 left the orbit and first reached the moon where they circled it for a day’s time. Here we gazed upon this legend and saw it devoid of life and gray. After being only 62 miles from the surface, NASA planned on journeying back to the moon and landing on its surface. In May of 1969, Apollo 10 orbited the moon and tested the new lunar lander without humans. These many missions paved the way as we grew our knowledge of lunar geology.
In a climatic descent spurned by computer malfunctions and frozen fuel lines, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 would be the first humans to land on the moon in Mare Tranquillitatis or the (Sea of Tranquility). July 20th, 1969 we had first landed on the moon. The two of them walked on the moon for 2 hours and began collecting rocks and soil samples. We learned a great deal about the moon. Most of the dark spots or dark maria were ancient volcanic lava streams that crystallized billions of years ago. We also found that lunar samples were similar in composition to rocks found on the Earth. New ideas like the formation of a magma ocean on an early rocky planet were founded as well.
We would go on to continue visiting the moon in the early 70s. Our landing zones can all be found on online. These are the approximate times that each Apollo landing becomes illuminated by the Sun.
- Apollos 17 and 11: Six days past New (April 24)
- Apollo 16: Seven days, or First Quarter (April 25)
- Apollo 15: Eight days (April 26)
- Apollos 12 and 14: Ten days (April 28
A return to stay permanently next time
A lot of factors contributed to the Apollo missions and future expeditions to the moon stopping. It’s been a real shame that we haven’t returned. But it seems that as of late the new space age is rising up again in our dreams. We can’t escape the space migration tuning in signals that the explorer human-race is known so much for.
Many private companies and even national agencies think that when we return to the moon (which is an inevitability,) we should stay there permanently this time. The moon still holds dreams for mankind. We may, one day, conduct commerce in lunar orbit and among new permanent space habitats nestled in craters. We’ll have gone from voyeuristic onlookers of this mighty deity-like moon to being its custodians of the new age.
Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.
- Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
- One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
- EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
The achievement is an important milestone in quantum computing, Google's scientists said.
- Sycamore is a quantum computer that Google has spent years developing.
- Like traditional computers, quantum computers produce binary code, but they do so while utilizing unique phenomena of quantum mechanics.
- It will likely be years before quantum computing has applications in everyday technology, but the recent achievement is an important proof of concept.
How quantum computers differ from traditional computers<p>Like traditional computers, quantum computers produce binary code to execute computing functions. But instead of using transistors to represent the ones and zeroes, as traditional computers do, quantum computers like Sycamore use quantum bits, or "qubits."</p><p>Qubits are extremely tiny pieces of hardware that act like subatomic particles, utilizing quantum phenomena like entanglement, superposition, and interference. Qubits can represent ones and zeroes. But thanks to superposition, qubits are also able to represent multiple states at the same time, meaning they can make calculations much faster than traditional computers. That's what helped Sycamore recently outperform a supercomputer.</p><p>Sycamore achieved "quantum supremacy," which occurs when a quantum computer can do something that a traditional computer cannot. To pass this benchmark, Google engineers pit Sycamore against the world's leading supercomputer, Summit, which is housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.</p><p>"Summit is currently the world's leading supercomputer, capable of carrying out about 200 million billion operations per second," William Oliver, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03173-4" target="_blank">"News and Views" piece</a> for <em>Nature</em>.</p><p>But the contest between Sycamore and Summit involved a highly specific task, one that was specifically designed to give a competitive edge to a quantum computer like Sycamore.</p>
Beating the world's leading supercomputer<p>The task involved estimating how likely it was that a processor would produce some "bitstrings" more often than others. As you continue to add information to the equation, it becomes exponentially difficult for traditional computers to conduct the calculations. (You can read more about the experiment <a href="https://ai.googleblog.com/2019/10/quantum-supremacy-using-programmable.html" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p><p>"We performed a fixed set of operations that entangles 53 qubits into a complex superposition state," Ben Chiaro, a graduate student researcher in the Martinis Group, which conducted the experiment, told <em><a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191023133358.htm" target="_blank">Science Daily</a></em>. "This superposition state encodes the probability distribution. For the quantum computer, preparing this superposition state is accomplished by applying a sequence of tens of control pulses to each qubit in a matter of microseconds. We can prepare and then sample from this distribution by measuring the qubits a million times in 200 seconds."</p><p>"For classical computers, it is much more difficult to compute the outcome of these operations because it requires computing the probability of being in any one of the 2^53 possible states, where the 53 comes from the number of qubits -- the exponential scaling is why people are interested in quantum computing to begin with," Brooks Foxen, another graduate student researcher in the Martinis Group, told <em>Science Daily</em>. "This is done by matrix multiplication, which is expensive for classical computers as the matrices become large."</p><p>But the specific nature of this task has led some to question the utility of quantum computers like Sycamore.</p><p>"One criticism we've heard a lot is that we cooked up this contrived benchmark problem—[Sycamore] doesn't do anything useful yet," Hartmut Neven, a Google engineering director said at a press event on Wednesday. "That's why we like to compare it to a Sputnik moment. Sputnik didn't do much either. All it did was circle Earth. Yet it was the start of the Space Age."</p>
A proof of concept for quantum computing<p>Although it could be decades until we see quantum computing powering everyday devices, Sycamore serves as a proof of concept that there exists a form of computing that has the potential to be vastly superior to traditional computing.</p><p>"This demonstration of quantum supremacy over today's leading classical algorithms on the world's fastest supercomputers is truly a remarkable achievement and a milestone for quantum computing," Oliver wrote in his piece for <em>Nature</em>. "It experimentally suggests that quantum computers represent a model of computing that is fundamentally different from that of classical computers. It also further combats criticisms about the controllability and viability of quantum computation in an extraordinarily large computational space (containing at least the 253 states used here)."</p>
A study published Friday tested how well 14 commonly available face masks blocked the emission of respiratory droplets as people were speaking.
- The study tested the efficacy of popular types of face masks, including N95 respirators, bandanas, cotton-polypropylene masks, gaiters, and others.
- The results showed that N95 respirators were most effective, while wearing a neck fleece (aka gaiter) actually produced more respiratory droplets than wearing no mask at all.
- Certain types of homemade masks seem to be effective at blocking the spread of COVID-19.
Fischer et al.<p>A smartphone camera recorded video of the participants, and a computer algorithm counted the number of droplets they emitted. To establish a control trial, the participants spoke into the box both with and without a mask. And to make sure that the droplets weren't in fact dust from the masks, the team conducted more tests by "repeatedly puffing air from a bulb through the masks."</p>
Fischer et al.<p>The results, published Friday in <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/08/07/sciadv.abd3083" target="_blank">Science Advances</a>, showed that some masks are pretty much useless. In particular, neck fleeces (also called gaiters) actually produced more respiratory droplets compared to the control trial — likely because the fabric breaks down big droplets into smaller ones.</p><p>The top three most effective masks were N95 respirators, surgical masks, and polypropylene-cotton masks. Bandanas performed the worst, but were slightly better than wearing no mask at all.</p>
Fischer et al.<p>Research on mask efficacy is still emerging. But the new results seem to generally align with <a href="https://newsroom.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2020/04/Testing-Shows-Type-of-Cloth-Used-in-Homemade-Masks-Makes-a-Difference" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">prior tests</a>. For example, a study from June published in <a href="https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0016018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Physics of Fluid</a> found that bandanas (followed by folded handkerchiefs) were least effective at blocking respiratory droplets. That same study also found, as <a href="https://newsroom.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2020/04/Testing-Shows-Type-of-Cloth-Used-in-Homemade-Masks-Makes-a-Difference" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">others have</a>, that masks made from multiple layers of quilter's fabric were especially effective at blocking droplets.</p><p>The researchers hope other institutions will conduct similar experiments so the public can see how well different masks can block the spread of COVID-19.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This is a very powerful visual tool to raise awareness that a very simple masks, like these homemade cotton masks, do really well to stop the majority of these respiratory droplets," Fischer told CNN. "Companies and manufacturers can set this up and test their mask designs before producing them, which would also be very useful."</p>
Sharing QAnon disinformation is harming the children devotees purport to help.
- The conspiracy theory, QAnon, is doing more harm than good in the battle to end child trafficking.
- Foster youth expert, Regan Williams, says there are 25-29k missing children every year, not 800k, as marketed by QAnon.
- Real ways to help abused children include donating to nonprofits, taking educational workshops, and becoming a foster parent.
Real ways you can help stop child trafficking<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="21fc2dc85391501eec28c4bf46d7db15"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AXL0q9jNZGU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Williams is the founder and CEO of <a href="http://www.seenandheard.org/" target="_blank">Seen and Heard</a>, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that helps foster youth develop character through the performing arts. She's been involved with foster youth for years; I <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/child-sex-trafficking" target="_self">wrote about her work</a> in child trafficking just over a year ago. Tragically, since that time, the situation for these children has only gotten worse, in large part because of QAnon.</p><p>Williams says child trafficking is an easy cause to rally people together. Fear is also a powerful unifying force, one that QAnon believers are already primed for via the news they consume. Almost every parent cares about their children, making them the ideal target to solidify groups. </p><p>The real problem, she says, is that the youth she works with are falling for these conspiracy theories. Trauma is a particularly powerful tool for indoctrination. If you're a teenager that's been abducted or abused, your trust level is already extremely low. Then you read about a global cabal of powerful men (and a few women) secretly abusing children, and the narrative seems ready-made for your personal history.</p><p>When Williams tried to "lovingly and kindly correct" the youth she was working with after learning about the Wayfair conspiracy, the girls' response was, "well, who owns the media?" </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"She goes from this small little thing to a QAnon talking point. I've been thinking about why she would believe such a preposterous idea—and there are others; it's not just one student, and they're in in deep. I think that when something horrific happens to you as a child, it's a lot easier to distance yourself from the immediate reality that it was an uncle or a parent or a sibling that hurt you. By detaching from that immediate person, they project it onto Bill Gates or Chrissy Teigen. Then it's not so personal, it's global." </p>
A man wear a shirt with the words Q Anon as he attends a rally for President Donald Trump at the Make America Great Again Rally being held in the Florida State Fair Grounds Expo Hall on July 31, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images<p>As Williams mentions, there are over 30,000 kids in foster care in the Los Angeles area alone. It's easy to fall through the cracks. The systems in place aren't perfect; they're certainly underfunded. When you're in a system trying to support you yet isn't capable of doing so, viewing the world as imperfect, and even harmful, becomes the lens through which you see reality. Again, this makes for a perfect indoctrination tool.</p><p>One popular QAnon talking point is that 800,000 children are missing. As Williams says, child trafficking experts "don't buy this for a minute." The number makes for a good meme but a poor representation of the problem. </p><p>To source better data, Williams turns to the <a href="https://www.missingkids.org/" target="_blank">National Center for Missing and Exploited Children</a> (NCMEC) and the <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ncic" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">National Crime Information Center</a> (NCIC). An important factor when reading data: if a teacher <em>and</em> a caregiver report a missing child to NCIC, that counts as two children, not one, which accounts for some of the fluctuations in numbers. In total, between 25,000 and 29,000 kids go missing every year. Importantly, 94 percent of those children are recovered within four to six weeks. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They're not documenting the recovery rate. It's not like these numbers are perpetually hanging out there. So this 800,000 number is just ludicrous." </p><p>Williams compares what's going on to Black Lives Matter. Blacking out your Instagram profile picture is performative. It signals that you actually care, which is great, but if you're not supporting Black-owned businesses, for example, there are no teeth to your activism. </p><p>Of course, blacking out your profile doesn't cause the real-world harm the QAnon virus does. Sharing misinformation is ultimately harmful to the children in need of help. Williams offers the resources below—ranging from donations to nonprofits to educational trainings to becoming a foster parent—for people that actually want to do something to help victims of sexual and physical abuse. They might not make a great Twitter meme, but in the actual world, this support makes all the difference. </p><p><strong>To report abuse/neglect, call the child abuse hotline: 800.540.4000 (LA county) / 800.422.4453 (National)</strong></p><ul><li>Support anti-trafficking organizations by donating to <a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="http://savinginnocence.org/" target="_blank">Saving Innocence</a>, which runs the continuum of care from rescue to recovery, <a href="http://gozoe.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Zoe</a>, a reputable faith-based organization, and <a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="https://withtwowings.org/" target="_blank">Two Wings</a>, which helps to rehabilitate female survivors</li><li><a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="http://www.nolabrantleyspeaks.org/" target="_blank">Nola Brantley</a> offers in-person and online trainings to help combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children</li><li><a rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" href="http://instagram.com/imrebeccabender" target="_blank">Rebecca Bender</a> is a trafficking survivor that runs "Myth Busters," which combats conspiracy theory disinformation</li><li>The <a href="https://www.instagram.com/missingkids/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">National Center</a> of Missing and Exploited Children</li><li>Operation <a href="https://www.instagram.com/ourrescue/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Underground Railroad </a></li><li><a href="https://www.instagram.com/defendinnocence/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Defend Innocence</a> offers tips for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe</li></ul><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>