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Why We Should Explore the Ocean as Seriously as We Explore Space
We should be exploring the oceans as seriously as we explore space.
Anyone who's found themselves beneath a spectacularly starry night sky has to wonder what's out there. That same person, though, might stare out at a dark ocean at night and ponder the very same thing. And yet the resources we've committed to the vast, largely unexplored ocean is a mere fraction of what we've invested in space exploration. Jacqueline Ronson, writing for Inverse, makes the case that we need an "upside down NASA."
NASA's budget request for the 2017 fiscal year that began October 1 is $19 billion (last year's appropriation was $19.3 billion). The federal organization charged with ocean science is NOAA, and their budget request for 2017 is $5.8 billion. It seems to many, though, that both efforts are underfunded, and that scientists shouldn't be in competition as they mount equally valuable projects.
Global ocean-floor map (NOAA)
Still, the difference in committed dollars — and the technology it can buy — is exemplified by a comparison of the quality of their mapping equipment. NASA can chart the terrain of Mars every 330 feet, producing maps unlikely to miss much. In the ocean, by comparison, NOAA charts the underwater world in three-mile chunks at best — missing everything in between the points it captures — resulting in maps that capture only the roughest outlines of what's down there. During the search for Malaysian Flight M370, two previously unknown volcanoes were discovered. As far as the rest of the ocean goes, who knows what's really down there?
According to Amitai Etzioni, writing for Issues, the "oceans are nearby, and could prove helpful for addressing a wide range of national concerns from climate change to disease; for reducing energy, mineral, and potable water shortages; for strengthening industry, security, and defenses against natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis; for increasing our knowledge about geological history; and much more." Etzioni proposes that until the government is willing to increase science funding altogether that some of NASA's funding should be moved over to a revitalized, streamlined, and upgraded NOAA.
In the meantime, XPRIZE — noting that only about 5% of the ocean floor has been thus far explored — has announced the XPRIZE Shell Ocean Discovery Competition. 32 international teams are competing for $7 million dollars to "push the boundaries of ocean technologies by creating solutions that advance the autonomy, scale, speed, depths and resolution of ocean exploration."
The 32 teams will be judged after two rounds of testing in which each will have a specified amount of time to launch exploration devices from shore or air with limited human intervention from shore, and explore the 2,000-4,000-meter deep competition area. When they're done, they have to produce:
1. a high resolution bathymetric map
2. images of a specified object
3. identify archaeological, biological or geological features
Jyotika Virmani of XPRIZE told Inverse, "The technologies that they are proposing are phenomenal, including drones that can go from air to sea, swarms of robots — it’s going to be very exciting." You can follow the latest breakthroughs on the competition's web page.
Anybody studying earth from out in space would think of it as a water planet. The oceans, of course, cover 75% of its surface, so we Masters of the Land command not much more than a puny 25% of it. Really, visiting aliens should want to meet the whales and dolphins, not us.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.