Religion from an abstract angle

I believe that a person is a physical being and has a core spirit. This has been labeled many things in many cultures but for this conversation, I will refer to it as a persons spirit.
Religion has been one of the greatest unknowns and/or confusions, due to the way I was raised. I grew up in a family of Assembly of God Pentecostals. For Generations the family has been pastors, missionaries, etc.... in the church. I too was brought up in this traditional family structure. As I got older I questioned the entire concept of religion. The hypocrisy was more than I could excuse. So I started looking at other religions and the beliefs of other cultures.
There are many religions thousands of years older than our North American version of the divine and afterlife. Also having an interest in space and astrophysics; keeping up with the advances of understanding of the Universe, I have come to a personal explanation of the afterlife that gives me a since of peace about this subject.
Simple explanation:When contemplating the Universe, space, time............ the one thing that is clear is that "infinite" is common in Universal contemplation. "Infinite" is the common thread tying all bonds to this space that we occupy. 
Well, with "infinite" being so common, how can there be one answer for the afterlife? It just doesn't fit. So, it seems just as likely that there might just be "infinite" answers to the question of the afterlife.
What if the spirit that resides inside each one of us continues on in whatever state the believer believes. Say the Christian that believes in his/her core being that when they die they will be walking the streets of gold, in Heaven with Jesus Christ for eternity. 
It could also be just as plausible that the Buddhists could experience the things in the afterlife they spent a lifetime preparing for. It could also mean that the Muslims would achieve their place in heaven with their prophet as they see it. This would mean every person that has ever lived has and will achieve whatever they believe in their core of cores, in their soul of souls in the afterlife.
This is just as likely to happen as any other explanation of religion and the afterlife. Because of "infinite", anything is possible. 
This is what gives me peace in my spirit, having an inability to have faith in any established form of religion. I would not claim to be an atheist, I don't know a definition to what I am. An atheist would believe that when they die, the experience of the spirit is over when the heart stops beating. I believe the spirit continues on.
In my spirit I have a quest for knowledge. I would like my spirit to continue learning all of the things we as earth bound beings will never even be able to come up with the questions to ask.
I am at peace with my eternal existence.

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

  • 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.

How humans evolved to live in the cold

Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science
  • According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
  • Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
  • Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
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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.

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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