Mars colony: Humanity's greatest quest
Just how close are we to setting up camp on another planet? It's complicated.
LELAND MELVIN: We as a race, the human race, are intrinsically curious and we are wired in our DNA is that we are explorers. We look up at the night sky, we wonder what's up there, especially as children. And so this journey of exploring the things around us, whether they're close or far, that's what we do. That's what we do as humans.
BILL NYE: I meet a lot of people who want to go to Mars and make it like Earth. And I think people don't, first of all, don't grasp the scale of it. It's a planet. It's a whole planet. It's not, it's not a wetland that you can reclaim and build a parking garage on top of. It's a whole planet. Furthermore, this planet where you and I are from, is perfectly suited to us. We, our ancestors, and their ancestors and so on, grew up here tuned to these environments, to these climates that we have here on Earth.
And so people want to go to Mars in the spirit of adventure. It's a whole other thing to go to Mars, I tell people this all the time. There is nothing, there's hardly any water. There's a little bit. There is nothing to eat. There is no air! There's no air. 'Then we can build a bubble and you cook the Martian rocks and the oxygen out of them.' Okay. It's just not so easy and I say to everybody who thinks that they, well everybody, he or she who thinks he or she wants to colonize Mars: Go colonize Antarctica and see what you think. And don't, no no no, none of this going to the seashore where the penguins are swimming, and the orca are eating the seals, and there's krill for the very large whales. No, go to the dry valleys where it barely gets close to the freezing point of water. When there is water. It hasn't snowed or rained in a century. There's nothing to eat, and see what you think, really. See if that appeals to you.
STEPHEN PETRANEK: So the Martian soil can be anywhere from as little as 1% in some very dry desert-like areas to as much as 60% water. One strategy for getting water when you're on Mars is to break up the regolith, which would take something like a jackhammer because it's very cold. It's very frozen. If you can imagine making a frozen brick or a chunk of ice that's mostly soil and maybe half water and half soil, that's what you would be dealing with. So you would need to break this up, put it in an oven. As it heats up, it turns to steam, you run it through a distillation tube, and you have pure drinking water comes out the other end. There is a much easier way to get water on Mars. In this country, we have developed industrial dehumidifiers. And there's very simple machines that simply blow the air in a room or a building across a mineral called zeolite. Zeolite is very common on Earth, it's very common on Mars. And zeolite is kind of like a sponge. It absorbs water like crazy, takes the humidity right out of the air. Then you squeeze it and out comes the water. In many craters on Mars, there apparently are sheets of frozen water. So water is not nearly as significant a problem as it appears to be.
MELVIN: The food aspects. Eating food that not only tastes good, but it also has a nutritional value that you're going to get all the nutrients that you need to function and live for this extended period of time. The Martian environment is very harsh with the thin atmosphere, three-eighths G, solar radiation, all these things—building suits that can handle that when you're doing these excursions and going out and cleaning the solar panels, having robust systems that will keep you alive. Then water and food. I think I heard going to take 24,000 lbs of food for a colony of four or five to live up there. So do you pre-position, do you fly those and pre-position that there and hope that a dust storm or something doesn't wipe it out and know that it's still there? And then a shelf life of five years. Whereas the shelf life for the food on the Space Station is 18 months. So a five-year shelf life, and every time an item of food sits there for another month, another month, another month, it loses nutritional value, it loses flavor, it loses texture. So making sure that we have something that people will want to eat and will eat to stay healthy in this environment.
MICHELLE THALLER: Right now what I see is a really cool idea. It reminds me of a lot of my favorite science fiction stories, but it's basically just that: an idea. I think there's a long way to go before we actually see any significant colonization, any significant number of people going to Mars. First, we need to get one single person to Mars, or a small team of people, and that is something that is proven very very difficult. It's not so much a question that we can't build rockets to take us there because even today we have rockets that might have the capability of doing that. The problem is how you would keep a crew of people alive for the journey to Mars and then also alive on the surface and get them back. That would be very expensive, and because the astronauts would not be protected from the radiation of space, right now we really don't know how to keep them alive. It's not impossible. There's a lot of work that can be done. But when I see people thinking that SpaceX is almost ready to send people to Mars, that's where I have a bit of a wait-and-see attitude.
PETRANEK: The reason we need to travel to Mars and to establish a civilization on Mars is to protect the long-term survival of the human species. Eventually, the human species is going to disappear. That means everyone who is a human being will die eventually and this species will die out and go extinct. And there are a number of reasons how that could happen and why that could happen, including a large asteroid hits Earth and destroys everything larger than a rabbit. As happened in the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Or, eventually, our sun begins to die and that is a 100% probability. Our sun will begin to die in about 2 billion years and one of two things will happen. Either Earth will be thrown completely out of its orbit and go spinning off into space and everyone will die very quickly, or the sun will essentially irradiate Earth as it expands. Because what happens with a dying sun is it gets very large. And so in order to survive as a species, we have to become a spacefaring species. We have to get off this planet eventually, and that is the long-term hope for humanity. Mars is the most habitable place in our solar system by far, and even though it's an incredibly hostile environment, we've developed a technology over the last 50 years to survive on Mars and to survive quite readily.
THALLER: The astronauts on the Space Station are actually fairly well protected from radiation. The Earth has a liquid metal core, that generates a strong magnetic field around the Earth. Amazingly the Space Station, which is about 200 miles above us, is still in that protective magnetic field. So when you're just orbiting the Earth on the Space Station, the astronauts may get slightly higher doses of radiation, but they're actually fairly well protected. What happens if you go beyond the Earth's magnetic field though, is that all of a sudden you're vulnerable to the radiation of space.
PETRANEK: One of the defenses we will have against radiation on Mars is a spacesuit. A woman named Dava Newman has developed a space suit that looks more like something you would wear as exercise clothing in a gym. It's very tight fitting, kind of spandex like. It has metallic threads in it and it's fabulous at protecting you from radiation, at least in a short period of time. It also does another interesting thing which is, because the atmosphere on Mars is so thin, you would not explode and you would not have nitrogen narcosis like you do with the bends. But, you can't survive long on Mars because just walking outside if we forget about the radiation problem, because there's not enough pressure on your skin. On Earth, we have 15 lbs (14.7 lbs) of atmosphere piled up above us that presses on our skin at all times. And as human beings over a long period of time, we have evolved in our bodies to be pushing back. So underneath our skin essentially our bodies are pushing out at all times to compensate for that 15 lbs of atmospheric pressure. Now, you don't need 15 lbs of atmospheric pressure pushing on you to kind of keep you from turning into a balloon, but you do need about 5 or 6 lbs. A sort of spandexy space suit will create enough pressure against your skin. so that that problem is solved.
THALLER: We're working on technology and in some cases, it's a special kind of sleeping bag that you can get into and zip yourself up and have some protection. Other ideas, one of the best protectors against radiation is water. So if you have liquid water tanks on one side of your spacecraft, you might be able to shelter from the solar storm by putting the water tanks between you and the Sun. But if you're actually going to be living and working in space for a long time, this really is a problem. If we were to send astronauts to Mars for example, they wouldn't be protected from the radiation unless they could dig under the ground to build their habitats. Even just as much as 10 feet down would be enough, but that's hard. The Martian soil is very hard and rocky and not easy to dig through, and before you could go there you would have to send construction equipment to actually build all of these habitats.
We are observing some microorganisms that are very very good at protecting themselves from radiation. And one of them is my personal favorite animal. I have stuffed animal versions of this. It's a tiny, tiny, little microscopic animal called a water bear, or a tardigrade. And tardigrades are just little microscopic animals and they live on moss. All they do is suck nutrients off of moss, that's all they do. But a single tardigrade could take radiation levels that would kill a herd of 100 elephants. This tiny little animal is almost completely resistant to radiation, and its DNA works in a really cool way. Radiation breaks up DNA, that's one of the reasons you die when there's a lot of radiation around. And somehow tardigrades' DNA knows how to heal itself right back up. So we're studying how tardigrade DNA works in the hopes that maybe someday we could even repair radiation damage to human DNA.
MICHIO KAKU: Humans have to live in an environment where there's radiation; where there's loneliness; where the journey could take two years; where temperatures are below freezing; where the atmospheric pressure is only 1% the atmospheric pressure on the planet Earth. Eventually we want to create a base there. We're not going to go there just to plant a flag and come back and crow about it. No, we want a self-sustaining plant, a base on Mars that could support people. This means it has to be done in several steps.
The first step would be to create a base on Mars with power—solar power can provide the energy— and lava tubes. Underground lava tubes might be able to provide caves by which astronauts could live and create the first outpost underground. And then once you have the base setup, you have to begin the process of creating a self-sustaining agriculture there. I mean what are you going to eat on Mars? You can't order a hamburger because everything has to be shipped from the planet Earth. You want to create an agriculture, and this means genetic engineering. Then we have to create mining operations. We have the mine the ice. Ice can provide oxygen for breathing, water for drinking, and hydrogen for rocket fuel.
The last step in the process, and this will take maybe another hundred years, is to send satellites—satellites orbiting around Mars to begin the process of melting the polar ice caps. This is called space solar power. We have the blueprints already. The problem is cost, but the costs are dropping for sending payloads into outer space dramatically, and so people are once again dusting off these old plans to create satellites around Mars that can beam energy and begin the process of melting the ice caps. In 1966, the NASA budget consumed 5% of the entire federal budget. It was impossible to sustain that level of spending. Now it's about .5%. However, now with the injection of new ideas, fresh enthusiasm from the private sector, from Silicon Valley billionaires, we have a whole new different landscape.
NYE: So you can get humans in orbit around Mars without raising the NASA budget beyond letting it increase with inflation, which is an increase but not an extraordinary one. Furthermore, in order to pull this off without any increase in the NASA budget, everybody has to stick to these agreements that NASA will no longer be the lead funder or supporter of the International Space Station. That they're going to retire the Space Station or let commercial entities take it over. But if you did that really stuck to the agreements and you let the NASA budget increase with inflation, you could have humans were being Mars in 2033.
KAKU: To put me in orbit around the Earth costs about $10,000 a pound. That's my weight in gold. Think of my body made out of solid gold. That's what it takes me just to go around the Earth in near orbit. To go to the Moon would cost about $100,000 a pound. To put me on the Mars will cost at least a $1,000,000 a pound. That is unsustainable. And that's where the reusable rockets come in, because we're not talking about dropping the cost by a factor of 10. Instead of $10,000 a pound, SpaceX wants to bring it down to $1,000 a pound.
MELVIN: Exploration leads us to a better life. Heart pacemakers, smoke detectors, all these things have come out of the space program. But it's also not just the technological things, but it's the part that brings us together as a humanity. I was in space on my first mission with African American, Asian American, French, German, Russian, the first female commander. People we used to fight against were now breaking bread at 17,500 miles per hour, going around the planet every 90-minutes, seeing a sunrise and a sunset every 45, while breaking bread listening to Sade "Smooth Operator." Okay, that was surreal. That blew my mind and gave me this perspective shift when I looked back at the planet.
NYE: If we make this discovery of life, it will not have been done by an individual. By Galileo, or Copernicus, or Irene Curie. It would be done by a society who invested its intellect and treasure in this quest. Let's go see what's out there. Let's learn more about ourselves, our past, and we all want to know whether or not we're alone in the universe. So if we look on these two worlds, the Earth and Mars, and find life on both of them, that would suggest that life is very common in the cosmos. This would affect the way each and every one of us feels about what it means to be a living thing in the cosmos what it means to have this place in space.
MELVIN: So I think as a race of people, I think it's imperative that we continue to explore but also that we visit this neighbor that might have been like our planet at one time before. So this can be a harbinger of maybe things to come that we need to understand what happened there and what's going to potentially happen here on Earth. No matter what that time frame is, understanding that is very important.
- We are closer than ever to actually putting human beings on Mars, but exactly how close is very much still up for debate. Getting there is one thing, and we eventually may not have a choice, but there are a number of problems that need to be solved before our species can call the Red Planet home.
- In this video, former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, educator Bill Nye, science journalist Stephen Petranek, astronomer Michelle Thaller, and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku consider mankind's fascination with Mars and explain why the planet may be the most viable option for colonization. They also share difficult truths about what it will take for this expensive dream to become a reality.
- From finding a way to protect against radiation and adjusting to the difference in atmospheric pressure, to mining for ice and transporting food, to significantly lowering the cost of space travel, it certainly won't be easy. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth doing. As Leland Melvin says, the spirit of exploration and curiosity is in our DNA.
- We Might Be Able to Survive on Mars—But Can We Live There ... ›
- How to colonize Venus, and why it's a better plan than Mars ›
- Inventions needed for space colonization - Big Think ›
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From "mutilated males" to "wandering wombs," dodgy science affects how we view the female body still today.
- The history of medicine and biology often has been embarrassingly wrong when it comes to female anatomy and was surprisingly resistant to progress.
- Aristotle and the ancient Greeks are much to blame for the mistaken notion of women as cold, passive, and little more than a "mutilated man."
- Thanks to this dubious science, and the likes of Sigmund Freud, we live today with a legacy that judges women according to antiquated biology and psychology.
The story of medicine has not been particularly kind to women. Not only was little anatomical or scientific research done on women or on women-specific issues, doctors often treated them differently.
Even today, women are up to ten times more likely to have their symptoms explained away as being psychological or psychosomatic than men. Worryingly, women are 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed after a heart attack, and drugs designed for "everyone" are actually much less effective (for pain) or too effective (for sleeping) in women.
Are these differences real or imagined? And what can the history of female medicine teach us about where we are today?
A mutilated male
Aristotle is rightly considered one of the greatest minds of all time and is recognized as the founding father of many disciplines, including biology. He was one of the most rigorous and comprehensive scientists and field researchers the world had known. He categorized a large number of species based on a wide range of traits, such as movement, longevity, and sensory capacity. His views on women, then, stemmed from what he thought of as good, proper study. The problem is that he got pretty much all of it wrong.
According to Aristotle, during pregnancy, it was the man who, alone, contributed the all-important "form" of a fetus (that is, its defining nature and personality), whereas the woman provided only the matter (that is, the environment and sustenance to grow the fetus, which was provided by the menstrual blood).
From this, Aristotle extrapolated all sorts of dubious conclusions. He ventured that the man was superior, active, and dominant, and the woman inferior, passive, and submissive. As such, the woman's role was to nurture children, run a household, and be silent and obedient — political and cultural manifestations of dodgy biology. If women did not provide a child's form and nature, how important could they really be?
Given this passivity, Aristotle argued that the woman must be associated with other passive things, like being cold and slow. The man, being dynamic and energetic, must be hot and fast. From this, Aristotle concluded that any defects or problems in childbirth can only be due to the sluggishness of the female womb. Even the positive biological aspects of being female, such as greater longevity, were put down to this cold rigidity — a lack of metabolism and spirit. Most notorious of all, since Aristotle believed that female children were themselves the result of an incomplete and underdeveloped gestation, women were simply "mutilated males" whose mothers' cold wombs had overpowered the warm, vital, male sperm.
Aristotle can still be counted as a great mind, but when it came to women, his ideas have not aged well in just how far they negatively influenced what came after. Given that his works were seen as the authority well into the 16th century, he left quite the pernicious legacy.
A wandering womb
But, how much can we really blame Aristotle? Without the aid of modern scientific equipment, physicians and biologists were left to guess about female anatomy. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and Aristotle's ideas of a troublesome uterus became so mainstream that they led to one of the more bizarre ideas in medical history: the wandering womb.
The "wandering womb" is the idea that the womb is actually some kind of roaming parasite in the body, possibly even a separate organism. According to this theory, after a woman menstruates, her womb becomes hot and dry and so becomes extra mobile. It is transformed into a voracious hunter. The womb will dart from organ to organ, seeking to steal its moisture and other vital fluids. This parasitic behavior caused all sorts of (female only) illnesses.
If a woman had asthma, the womb was leeching the lungs. Stomach aches, it was in the gut. And if it attacked the heart (which the ancients thought was the source of our thoughts), then it would cause all manner of mental health issues. In fact, the Greek word for womb is "hystera," and so when we call someone (often a woman) hysterical, we are saying that their womb is causing mischief.
The "solutions" or "remedies" for a wandering womb were as strange as the theory. Since the womb was supposed to be attracted to sweet smells, placing flowers or perfumes around the vagina would "lure" it down. On the flip side, if you smoked noxious substances or ate disgusting foods, it would "repel" the womb away. By using all manner of smells, you could make the womb move wherever you wanted.
The oddest "remedy" — and most male-centric of all — is that, since the wandering womb was said to be caused by heat and dryness, a good solution would be male semen, which was thought of as cooling and wet. And so, the ancient and highly inaccurate myth was born that sex could cure a woman of her "hysteria."
A lingering problem
We live today with the legacy of this kind of thinking. Freud was much taken with the idea of "hysteria," and although he did accept that men could be subject to it as well, he believed it was overwhelmingly a female problem caused by female biology. The woman, for Freud, is mostly defined by her "sexual function." What Freud calls "normal femininity" (the preferred and best outcome) is defined by passivity. A woman's ideal development is one which moves from being active and "phallic" to passive and vaginal.
Nowadays, Freud and Aristotle's legacy lies in just how easily women are defined by their sexuality. Given that men and women, both, are equally dependent on their biology, it is curious how much more often women are reduced to theirs. The idea that women are more emotional or slaves to their hormones than men is still a depressingly familiar trope. It is an idea that goes back to the Greeks.
If we think biology is important to who we are (as it most certainly is), we ought to make sure that the biology is as good and accurate as it can be.
People tend to reflexively assume that fun events – like vacations – will go by really quickly.
For many people, summer vacation can't come soon enough – especially for the half of Americans who canceled their summer plans last year due to the pandemic.
But when a vacation approaches, do you ever get the feeling that it's almost over before it starts?
If so, you're not alone.
In some recent studies Gabriela Tonietto, Sam Maglio, Eric VanEpps and I conducted, we found that about half of the people we surveyed indicated that their upcoming weekend trip felt like it would end as soon as it started.
This feeling can have a ripple effect. It can change the way trips are planned – you might, for example, be less likely to schedule extra activities. At the same time, you might be more likely to splurge on an expensive dinner because you want to make the best of the little time you think you have.
Where does this tendency come from? And can it be avoided?
Not all events are created equal
When people look forward to something, they usually want it to happen as soon as possible and last as long as possible.
We first explored the effect of this attitude in the context of Thanksgiving.
We chose Thanksgiving because almost everyone in the U.S. celebrates it, but not everyone looks forward to it. Some people love the annual family get-together. Others – whether it's the stress of cooking, the tedium of cleaning or the anxiety of dealing with family drama – dread it.
So on the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2019, we surveyed 510 people online and asked them to tell us whether they were looking forward to the holiday. Then we asked them how far away it seemed, and how long they felt it would last. We had them move a 100-point slider – 0 meaning very short and 100 meaning very long – to a location that reflected their feelings.
As we suspected, the more participants looked forward to their Thanksgiving festivities, the farther away it seemed and shorter it felt. Ironically, longing for something seems to shrink its duration in the mind's eye.
Winding the mind's clock
Most people believe the idiom “time flies when you're having fun," and research has, indeed, shown that when time seems to pass by quickly, people assume the task must have been engaging and enjoyable.
We reasoned that people might be over-applying their assumption about the relationship between time and fun when judging the duration of events yet to happen.
As a result, people tend to reflexively assume that fun events – like vacations – will go by really quickly. Meanwhile, pining for something can make the time leading up to the event seem to drag. The combination of its beginning pushed farther away in their minds – with its end pulled closer – resulted in our participants' anticipating that something they looked forward would feel as if it had almost no duration at all.
In another study, we asked participants to imagine going on a weekend trip that they either expected to be fun or terrible. We then asked them how far away the start and end of this trip felt like using a similar 0 to 100 scale. 46% of participants evaluated the positive weekend as feeling like it had no duration at all: They marked the beginning and the end of the vacation virtually at the same location when using the slider scale.
Thinking in hours and days
Our goal was to show how these two judgments of an event – the fact that it simultaneously seems farther away and is assumed to last for less time – can nearly eliminate the event's duration in the mind's eye.
We reasoned that if we didn't explicitly highlight these two separate pieces – and instead directly asked them about the duration of the event – a smaller portion of people would indicate virtually no duration for something they looked forward to.
We tested this theory in another study, in which we told participants that they would watch two five-minute-long videos back-to-back. We described the second video as either humorous or boring, and then asked them how long they thought each video would feel like it lasted.
We found that the participants predicted that the funny video would still feel shorter and was farther away than the boring one. But we also found that participants believed it would last a bit longer than the responses we received in the earlier studies.
This finding gives us a way to overcome this biased perception: focus on the actual duration. Because in this study, participants directly reported how long the funny video would last – and not the perceived distance of its beginning and its end – they were far less likely to assume it would be over just as it started.
While it sounds trivial and obvious, we often rely on our subjective feelings – not objective measures of time – when deciding how long a period of time will feel and how to best use it.
So when looking forward to much-anticipated events like vacations, it's important to remind yourself just how many days it will last.
You'll get more out of the experience – and, hopefully, put yourself in a better position to take advantage of the time you do have.
Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.
- U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
- Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
- While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
The U.S. Navy controls patents for some futuristic and outlandish technologies, some of which, dubbed "the UFO patents," came to light recently. Of particular note are inventions by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose tech claims to be able to "engineer reality." His slate of highly-ambitious, borderline sci-fi designs meant for use by the U.S. government range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to next-gen hybrid aerospace-underwater crafts with revolutionary propulsion systems, and beyond.
Of course, the existence of patents does not mean these technologies have actually been created, but there is evidence that some demonstrations of operability have been successfully carried out. As investigated and reported by The War Zone, a possible reason why some of the patents may have been taken on by the Navy is that the Chinese military may also be developing similar advanced gadgets.
Among Dr. Pais's patents are designs, approved in 2018, for an aerospace-underwater craft of incredible speed and maneuverability. This cone-shaped vehicle can potentially fly just as well anywhere it may be, whether air, water or space, without leaving any heat signatures. It can achieve this by creating a quantum vacuum around itself with a very dense polarized energy field. This vacuum would allow it to repel any molecule the craft comes in contact with, no matter the medium. Manipulating "quantum field fluctuations in the local vacuum energy state," would help reduce the craft's inertia. The polarized vacuum would dramatically decrease any elemental resistance and lead to "extreme speeds," claims the paper.
Not only that, if the vacuum-creating technology can be engineered, we'd also be able to "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," states the patent. This would lead to major advancements in aerospace propulsion and generating power. Not to mention other reality-changing outcomes that come to mind.
Among Pais's other patents are inventions that stem from similar thinking, outlining pieces of technology necessary to make his creations come to fruition. His paper presented in 2019, titled "Room Temperature Superconducting System for Use on a Hybrid Aerospace Undersea Craft," proposes a system that can achieve superconductivity at room temperatures. This would become "a highly disruptive technology, capable of a total paradigm change in Science and Technology," conveys Pais.
High frequency gravitational wave generator.
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Another invention devised by Pais is an electromagnetic field generator that could generate "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." This shield could protect from threats like anti-ship ballistic missiles, cruise missiles that evade radar, coronal mass ejections, military satellites, and even asteroids.
Dr. Pais's ideas center around the phenomenon he dubbed "The Pais Effect". He referred to it in his writings as the "controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma) via accelerated spin and/or accelerated vibration under rapid (yet smooth) acceleration-deceleration-acceleration transients." In less jargon-heavy terms, Pais claims to have figured out how to spin electromagnetic fields in order to contain a fusion reaction – an accomplishment that would lead to a tremendous change in power consumption and an abundance of energy.
According to his bio in a recently published paper on a new Plasma Compression Fusion Device, which could transform energy production, Dr. Pais is a mechanical and aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Pais was a NASA Research Fellow and worked with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His current Department of Defense work involves his "advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design." He also has expert knowledge of electrooptics, emerging quantum technologies (laser power generation in particular), high-energy electromagnetic field generation, and the "breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion."
Suffice it to say, with such a list of research credentials that would make Nikola Tesla proud, Dr. Pais seems well-positioned to carry out groundbreaking work.
A craft using an inertial mass reduction device.
Credit: Salvatore Pais
The patents won't necessarily lead to these technologies ever seeing the light of day. The research has its share of detractors and nonbelievers among other scientists, who think the amount of energy required for the fields described by Pais and his ideas on electromagnetic propulsions are well beyond the scope of current tech and are nearly impossible. Yet investigators at The War Zone found comments from Navy officials that indicate the inventions are being looked at seriously enough, and some tests are taking place.
If you'd like to read through Pais's patents yourself, check them out here.
Laser Augmented Turbojet Propulsion System
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
A global survey shows the majority of countries favor Android over iPhone.
- When Android was launched soon after Apple's own iPhone, Steve Jobs threatened to "destroy" it.
- Ever since, and across the world, the rivalry between both systems has animated users.
- Now the results are in: worldwide, consumers clearly prefer one side — and it's not Steve Jobs'.
A woman on her phone in Havana, Cuba. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous the world over — and so has the divide between Android and iPhone users.Credit: Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images.
Us versus them: it's the archetypal binary. It makes the world understandable by dividing it into two competing halves: labor against capital, West against East, men against women.
These maps are the first to show the dividing lines between one of the world's more recent binaries: Android vs. Apple. Published by Electronics Hub, they are based on a qualitative analysis of almost 350,000 tweets worldwide that presented positive, neutral, and negative attitudes toward Android and/or Apple.
Steve Jobs wanted to go "thermonuclear"
Feelings between Android and Apple were pretty tribal from the get-go. It was Steve Jobs himself who said, when Google rolled out Android a mere ten months after Apple launched the iPhone, "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
Buying a phone is like picking a side in the eternal feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Each choice for automatically comes with an in-built arsenal of arguments against.
If you are an iPhone person, you appreciate the sleekness and simplicity of its design, and you are horrified by the confusing mess that is the Android operating system. If you are an Android aficionado, you pity the iPhone user, a captive of an overly expensive closed ecosystem, designed to extract money from its users.
Even without resorting to those extremes, many of us will recognize which side of the dividing line that we are on. Like the American Civil War, that line runs through families and groups of friends, but that would be a bit confusing to chart geographically. To un-muddle the information, these maps zoom out to state and country level.
If the contest is based on the number of countries, Android wins. In all, 74 of the 142 countries surveyed prefer Android (in green on the map). Only 65 favor Apple (colored grey). That's a 52/48 split, which may not sound like a decisive vote, but it was good enough for Boris Johnson to get Brexit done (after he got breakfast done, of course).
And yes, math-heads: 74 plus 65 is three short of 142. Belarus, Fiji, and Peru (in yellow on the map) could not decide which side to support in the Global Phone War.
What about the United States, home of both the Android and the iPhone? Another victory for the former, albeit a slightly narrower one: 30.16 percent of the tweets about Android were positive versus just 29.03 percent of the ones about Apple.
United States: Texas surrounded!
Credit: Electronics Hub
There can be only one winner per state, though, and that leads to this preponderance of Android logos. Frankly, it's a relief to see a map showing a visceral divide within the United States that is not the coasts versus the heartland.
- Apple dominates in 19 states: a solid Midwestern bloc, another of states surrounding Texas, the Dakotas and California, plus North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
- And that's it. The other 32 are the United States of Android. You can drive from Seattle to Miami without straying into iPhone territory. But no stopovers in Dallas or Houston – both are behind enemy lines!
North America: strongly leaning toward Android
Credit: Electronics Hub
Only eight of North America's 21 countries surveyed fall into the Apple category.
- The U.S. and Canada lean Android, while Mexico goes for the iPhone.
- Central America is divided, but here too Android wins hands down, 5-2.
Europe: Big Five divided
Credit: Electronics Hub
In Europe, Apple wins, with 20 countries preferring the iPhone, 17 going for Android, and Belarus sitting on the fence.
- Of Western Europe's Big Five markets, three (UK, Germany, Spain) are pro-Android, and two (France, Italy) are pro-Apple.
- Czechia and Slovakia are an Apple island in the Android sea that is Central Europe. Glad to see there is still something the divorcees can agree on.
South America: almost even
Credit: Electronics Hub
In South America, the divide is almost even.
- Five countries prefer Android, four Apple, and one is undecided.
- In Peru, both Android- and Apple-related tweets were 25 percent positive.
Africa: watch out for Huawei
Credit: Electronics Hub
In Africa, Android wins by 17 countries versus Apple's 15.
- There's a solid Android bloc running from South Africa via DR Congo all the way to Ethiopia.
- iPhone countries are scattered throughout the north (Algeria), west (Guinea), east (Somalia), and south (Namibia).
Huawei — increasingly popular across the continent — could soon dramatically change the picture in Africa. Currently still running on Android, the Chinese phone manufacturer has just launched its own operating system, called Harmony.
Middle East: Iran vs. Saudi Arabia (again)
Credit: Electronics Hub
In the Middle East and Central Asia, Android wins 8 countries to Apple's 6.
- But it's complicated. One Turkish tweeter wondered how it is that iPhones seem more popular in the Asian half of Istanbul, while Android phones prevailed in the European part of the city.
- The phone divide matches up with the region's main geopolitical one: Iran prefers Android, Saudi Arabia the iPhone.
Asia-Pacific: Apple on the periphery
Credit: Electronics Hub
Another wafer-thin majority for Android in the Asia-Pacific region: 13 countries versus 12 for Apple — and one abstention (Fiji).
- The two giants of the Asian mainland, India and China, are both Android countries. Apple countries are on the periphery.
- And if India is Android, its rival Pakistan must be Apple. Same with North and South Korea.
Experts point to the fact that both operating systems are becoming more alike with every new generation as a potential resolution to the conflict. But as any student of human behavior will confirm: smaller differences will only exacerbate the rivalry between both camps.
Maps taken from Electronics Hub, reproduced with kind permission.
Strange Maps #1096
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