WBEZ | Nasa http://www.wbez.org/tags/nasa Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neil-whosis-what-you-dont-know-about-1969-moon-landing-110511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/krulwich.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Forty-five years ago, this week, 123 million of us watched Neil and Buzz step onto the moon. In 1969, we numbered about 200 million, so more than half of America was in the audience that day. Neil Armstrong instantly became a household name, an icon, a hero. And then &mdash; and this, I bet, you didn&#39;t know &mdash; just as quickly, he faded away.</p><p>&quot;Whatever Happened to Neil Whosis?&quot; asked the&nbsp;<em>Chicago Tribune</em>&nbsp;in 1974.</p><p>This is a missing chapter in the space exploration story. We like to think that after Apollo 11, the first duo on the moon became legendary. We know the names Aldrin and Armstrong now (or, at least many of us do), and we imagine they&#39;ve been honored and admired all this time, the way we honor our favorite presidents, athletes, and war heroes. But that&#39;s not what happened.</p><p>In his&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/331366334/no-requiem-for-the-space-age-the-apollo-moon-landings-and-american-culture">new book</a>,&nbsp;<em>No Requiem for the Space Age</em>,&nbsp;<a href="http://history.uconn.edu/people/tribbe.php">Matthew Tribbe</a>&nbsp;describes how only a year after the landing, a vast majority of Americans couldn&#39;t remember Neil Armstrong&#39;s name.</p><p>&quot;One year ago his name was a household word,&quot; said the&nbsp;<em>Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin</em>. But when the&nbsp;<em>Bulletin</em>&nbsp;asked its readers in 1970 to name the first man on the moon, the guy who said, &quot;One giant step for man ... ,&quot; 70 percent of Philadelphians didn&#39;t know.</p><p>As Tribbe points out, the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;did a similar study around that time, asking the same question in an informal telephone poll, and in St. Louis, only 1 in 15 respondents got it right.</p><p>In Portland, Maine, it was 1 out of 12.</p><p>In Milwaukee, 5 out of 12.</p><p>In New York City, 8 out of 22.</p><p><em>The World Almanac&nbsp;</em>(a one volume, pre-Internet&nbsp;<a href="http://www.worldalmanac.com/">compendium</a>&nbsp;of everything you needed to know) had Armstrong&#39;s name in the index in 1970, but in 1971, Tribbe says, they took it out. You could still read about the moon landing; Armstrong was still mentioned in the text, but while early &#39;60s hero-astronauts John Glenn and Alan Shepard stayed in the index, Armstrong didn&#39;t. Readers, apparently, weren&#39;t looking him up.</p><p>Armstrong, of course, noticed. &quot;I had hoped, I think, that the impact would be more far-reaching than it has been,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>The Chicago Tribune</em>. &quot;The impact immediately was very great, but I was a little disappointed that it didn&#39;t seem to last longer.&quot;</p><p>Same&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106749753">for Buzz Aldrin</a>: &quot;I&#39;m certainly a little disappointed,&quot; he told&nbsp;the&nbsp;<em>Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin&nbsp;in 1970</em>. After a world tour, a White House dinner, countless ticker-tape parades, Aldrin had left the space program, divorced, skipped from job to job. By the late &#39;70s, he wrote in his 2010&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/331733791/magnificent-desolation-the-long-journey-home-from-the-moon">autobiography</a>,<em>&nbsp;Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon</em>, Aldrin was working at a Cadillac dealership in Beverly Hills &mdash; where he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenational.ae/news/the-dark-side-of-the-moon">failed</a>&nbsp;to sell even one car in six months.</p><p>What happened? The space program, so glamorous, so exciting for a short while, failed to keep the public interested once the moon was conquered. As&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/books/titles/320780493/the-right-stuff">Tom Wolf writes</a>&nbsp;in his book&nbsp;<em>The Right Stuff</em>,&nbsp;by 1970, &quot;Things were grim. ... The public had become gloriously bored by space exploration.&quot;</p><p>Astronauts as a group seemed a little lonesome, directionless.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.harrynilsson.com/">Harry Nilsson</a>, the songwriter, wrote a tune in 1972 that went, &quot;I wanted to be a spaceman/ that&#39;s what I wanted to be/ But now that I am a spaceman/ nobody cares about me.&quot;</p><p>In his book, Matthew Tribbe explores some reasons for this falling off. He says the orderly, top-down, get-it-done, military/engineering style that created NASA (and was largely responsible for its success), bumped into a more skeptical, more mystical youth counterculture. Feats of engineering and technology didn&#39;t mesh with the campus kids&#39; enthusiasm for rebellion, self-expression, and a more open-minded approach to race, gender and drugs. NASA&#39;s engineers seemed like a tribe apart. They were widely admired &mdash; yet, over time, became defensive.</p><p>Tribbe also says the space race was basically a Cold War exercise, a USSR vs. America dash to the moon, and once the U.S. got there first, then second, then third, then fourth, the race was over. People asked, &quot;Why continue?&quot; And NASA didn&#39;t have a very good answer for that one.</p><p><strong>Fantastic, Beautiful, Fantastic, Beautiful</strong></p><p>But most intriguingly, Tribbe devotes a whole chapter of his book to, of all things, rhetoric. People, he thinks, were eager to hear what it was like to escape the Earth&#39;s atmosphere, to travel weightlessly, to touch down on an alien planet, to be the first explorers to leave &quot;home,&quot; and too often (much too often), the astronauts talked about these things using the same words &mdash; &quot;beautiful,&quot; &quot;fantastic&quot; &mdash; over and over. If space exploration was to be a grand adventure, it needed explorers who could take us there, tell us how it felt, explorers who could connect with those of us who can&#39;t (but want to) come along. Inarticulateness, Tribbe thinks, hurt the space program.</p><p>And yet, though Armstrong never got more eloquent, when he died last year his passing was widely mourned; his name, his image, his talents celebrated. He was a hero again. What changed? I think (and I&#39;ll talk about it in my next post) a lot of the change had to do with language. Stay tuned.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2014/07/16/331362649/neil-whosis-what-you-don-t-know-about-the-moon-landing-45-years-ago" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s Krulwich Wonders</a></em></p></p> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neil-whosis-what-you-dont-know-about-1969-moon-landing-110511 James Hansen drops the mic http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/james-hansen-drops-mic-106662 <p><p>In response to years of what he views as dithering and ineffectual responses by government to the problem&nbsp;<a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=3&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CEwQtwIwAg&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ted.com%2Ftalks%2Fjames_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html&amp;ei=wpBsUei3F8e3ywHL3YG4DA&amp;usg=AFQjCNFi15f09P1jsTli6kg75uWTtnSHIg&amp;sig2=9PuPlAscM2f18233maz3pw&amp;bvm=bv.45175338,d.aWc">he helped identify</a>, climate scientist James Hansen cited a moral obligation in leaving his post at NASA to campaign more actively for political and legal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.</p><p><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/29/090629fa_fact_kolbert">Hansen</a> spent more than four decades forging the scientific basis for manmade climate change. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html">In 1988 he was among the first to sound off</a> on global warming&rsquo;s hazards, and earlier this month he announced his next paper would be his last for NASA. (<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/science/james-e-hansen-retiring-from-nasa-to-fight-global-warming.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">He told <em>The New York Times</em></a> he would continue to publish after retirement and had not ruled out taking an academic appointment.)</p><div class="image-insert-image "><p>So-called &ldquo;doom-and-gloom&rdquo; projections of future climate change have been derided for their pessimism, or maybe more often for the unpleasantness of their messengers, to the point that addressing climate change on these terms makes one seem petulant or gauche&nbsp;&mdash; no one really wants to hear it. The national political conversation <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/the-issue-that-dare-not-speak-its-name/">completely buried talk</a> of the climate problem after national <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CD4QFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fblogs%2Fwonkblog%2Fwp%2F2012%2F10%2F25%2Fwas-u-s-climate-policy-better-off-without-cap-and-trade%2F&amp;ei=1pJsUefbKOGfyQGc9YCgBw&amp;usg=AFQjCNELqdfX3PGIgIg6XuV2rHzoCzws8g&amp;sig2=cqkwIUQlHv_4ZR5wLRnXXg&amp;bvm=bv.45175338,d.aWc">cap-and-trade legislation imploded in 2010</a>.</p><p><a href="http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ha06610d.html">Hansen&rsquo;s final paper</a>, currently in press, is scientifically rigorous, with seven pages of references, but it makes an impassioned plea for humanity to confront the consequences of climate change and fossil fuel consumption as an existential threat to society:</p><p style="margin-left:.5in;">&ldquo;Burning all fossil fuels, we conclude, would make much of the planet uninhabitable by humans, thus calling into question strategies that emphasize adaptation to climate change.&rdquo;</p><p>Such an assertion is not unexpected coming from Hansen, who has been criticized for his rhetorical flourishes, even by colleagues who respect his work. Earth won&rsquo;t turn into &ldquo;a Venus-like baked-crust CO<sub>2</sub> hothouse,&rdquo; (a claim he has made in the past), at least until the Sun&rsquo;s brightness increases over the next billion years and helps boil off the oceans. But, the paper reads, &ldquo;the planet could become uninhabitable long before that&rdquo; due to anthropogenic warming.</p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsaction/6094275077/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/james%20hansen.jpg" style="height: 457px; width: 305px; float: left;" title="James Hansen. (Milan Ilnyckyj via Flickr)" /></a>Scientifically, much of the debate fixates on nailing down the planet&rsquo;s &ldquo;climate sensitivity&rdquo; &mdash; how much warming actually occurs per unit of extra energy in the atmosphere. Looking at physical evidence of ancient climate change, the paper calibrates a computer model against times when greenhouse gas levels were comparable or higher than they are today.</div><p>The authors calculate an average warming of about 16 degrees Celsius if we burn available fossil fuels. Previous scientific publications have suggested temperature increases on that scale could practically wipe out grain production in many parts of the world, and severely diminish the ozone layer that protects us from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. Worse, it could get so hot in all but the world&rsquo;s very mountainous regions that anyone outside would overheat, suffering hyperthermia.</p><p>The paper &mdash;&nbsp;co-authored by Hansen&rsquo;s NASA and Columbia University colleagues Makiko Sato, Gary Russell and Pushker Kharecha &mdash; says current models exaggerate the slow response time of ice sheets, and assume the climate system&rsquo;s own inertia will forestall catastrophic changes longer than they actually will. Hansen&rsquo;s earlier research was instrumental in showing how, on a human timescale, oceans and massive ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica mask the planet&rsquo;s response to our feverish emissions of greenhouse gases. These systems have a long response time to human-made warming so, as Hansen writes, &ldquo;observed climate changes are only a partial response to the current climate forcing, with further response still &lsquo;in-the-pipeline.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Thus, his earlier dig at adaptation strategies. Broadly, there are two key categories of climate change action: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation means pursuing efforts that limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation assumes a certain amount of warming and asks what humans can do to adjust to their new environment in the future. If our current course of action even flirts with consequences like those suggested in this paper, Hansen and his co-authors suggest, adaptation will be impossible &mdash; a moot point.</p><p>By the scientific assessment of Hansen <em>et al.</em>, an extra 12 watts of energy per square meter in the atmosphere could have devastating effects. But could that much warming happen? Yes, they conclude: there are more than enough fossil fuels available to cause this warming (coal alone could do it, not to mention with the help of unconventional sources like oil sands and natural gas freed up by fracking).</p><p>&ldquo;It seems implausible that humanity will not alter its energy course as consequences of burning all fossil fuels become clearer,&rdquo; reads the paper&rsquo;s conclusion. &ldquo;Yet strong evidence about the dangers of human-made climate change have so far had little effect. Whether governments continue to be so foolhardy as to allow or encourage development of all fossil fuels may determine the fate of humanity.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 21:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/james-hansen-drops-mic-106662 Jail for JJJ? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-02/jail-jjj-105396 <p><p><a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18059047-761/sneed-exclusive-pending-jesse-jackson-jr-plea-deal-includes-significant-jail-time-source-says.html" target="_blank"><img alt="Sandi and Jesse Jackson Jr., Aug. 26, 2008. (WBEZ)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JJJ.jpg" style="height: 234px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Jesse Jackson Jr. and wife Sandi (WBEZ/August 26, 2008)" /></a><strong>JAIL FOR JJJ?&nbsp;</strong>A plea deal on the table for ex-Rep. <strong>Jesse Jackson Jr.</strong> would include &quot;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18059047-761/sneed-exclusive-pending-jesse-jackson-jr-plea-deal-includes-significant-jail-time-source-says.html" target="_blank">significant jail time</a>,&quot; a source tells the&nbsp;<em>Sun-Times</em>. Another source tells the paper Jackson&#39;s wife, <strong>Sandi</strong>, &quot;feels like she was thrown under the bus&quot; by Jackson Jr.</p><p><strong>STORM WARNING.</strong> As a fresh <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/weather/stories/Winter-Storm-Watch-Issued-For-Lake-McHenry-Counties-190037811.html" target="_blank">round of winter weather</a> menaces Chicago and points east, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2013/02/06/airlines-waive-fees-as-blizzard-menaces-northeast/1897609/" target="_blank">airlines are offering flexible rebooking waivers to passengers</a> for the next few days,&nbsp;<em>USA Today</em> reports.</p><p><strong>CTA UPGRADES. </strong>The Chicago Transit Authority&#39;s planning to buy <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-cta-to-spend-2-billion-for-846-new-rail-cars-20130206,0,1482382.story" target="_blank">up to 846 new rail cars</a> for up to $2 billion. And the plan includes a request for new seating designs, which could improve on <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-22/news/ct-met-cta-seats-survey-1022-20121022_1_scoop-seats-transit-riders-active-transportation-alliance" target="_blank">the widely criticized &quot;scoop seat&quot; benches</a> in the batch of cars the CTA&#39;s deploying this year.<br />* <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/chicago-transit-authority-one-day-pass-190138201.html" target="_blank">The increase in the CTA&#39;s one-day fare hurts the poor</a> (NBC Chicago&#39;s Carol Marin and Don Moseley).</p><p><strong>FLUSH WITH SUCCESS.&nbsp;</strong>The City of Chicago says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18054592-761/malfunctioning-hygienic-toilets-working-again-at-ohare-city-says.html" target="_blank">those supposedly hygienic O&#39;Hare International Airport toilets</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;<em>weren&#39;t</em>&nbsp;hygienic are hygienic now, the&nbsp;<em>Sun-Times</em>&nbsp;reports.</p><p><strong>TESTS PROTESTED.&nbsp;</strong>Chicago parents -- inspired by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/02/01/will-the-standardized-testing-boycott-spread-to-chicago" target="_blank">Seattle teachers&#39; boycott of a standardized test</a>&nbsp;-- are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/02/06/chicago-parents-and-teachers-unite-against-standardized-testing" target="_blank">demanding Chicago schools cut their reliance on tests</a>&nbsp;and reveal just how much the 22 tests the district administers now cost.</p><p><strong>&#39;WE DON&#39;T MIND YOU KNOWING ABOUT SHIT WE DO ONCE WE DON&#39;T DO IT ANY MORE.&#39; </strong>On &quot;The Daily Show,&quot;<strong>&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/wed-february-6-2013-ed-whitacre" target="_blank">Jon Stewart mocks President Obama</a> over drone attack policy secrecy.<br />* Journ prof: U.S. news organizations&#39; failure to reveal drone base location in Saudi Arabia was <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/06/newspapers-accused-of-shameful-complicity-for-hiding-existence-of-secret-u-s-drone-base/" target="_blank">&quot;shameful&quot; and &quot;craven.&quot;</a></p><p><strong>&#39;CONGRESS IS FULL OF COWARDS.&#39;&nbsp;</strong>And that, <em>Salon</em>&#39;s John Tierney says, is what&#39;s behind <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/02/06/congress_not_email_destroyed_the_postal_service/" target="_blank">the U.S. Postal Service&#39;s meltdown</a>.<br />* <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/netflix-mail_n_2632397.html" target="_blank">Netflix&#39;s DVD business could benefit</a> from elimination of Saturday mail.<br />* How to lower your cable TV bill:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/timothylee/2012/06/06/comcasts-obnoxious-price-discrimnation-strategy/" target="_blank">A phone call every six months</a>.</p><div><strong>&#39;SO MUCH FOR GOOD/TALENTED GUY WITH A GUN BEING ABLE TO STOP MENTALLY ILL GUY WITH A GUN.&#39;</strong> That tweet about the killing of &quot;American Sniper&quot; Chris Kyle triggered <a href="http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/things-get-rough-on-twitter-over-gun-debate/" target="_blank">death threats for a <em>Mother Jones</em> co-editor</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>JOB ONE: BOOST U.S. STRATEGIC CARABINER RESERVES.</strong> President Obama&#39;s <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/obama-to-nominate-ceo-of-outdoor-equipment-giant-rei-to-become-interior-secretary/2013/02/06/da9d2dcc-7007-11e2-ac36-3d8d9dcaa2e2_story.html" target="_blank">pick to head the Interior Department</a>: REI chief Sally Jewell.<br />* Chicago TV news veteran&nbsp;<a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/chicago-media-blog/16051216/white-house-promotion-reminds-avila-of-chicago-roots" target="_blank">promoted to White House beat</a>.</div><p><strong><object align="right" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0" height="292" id="flashObj" width="400"><param name="movie" value="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1" /><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF" /><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=2146795786001&amp;linkBaseURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.space.com%2F19662-earth-like-planets-orbit-nearby-red-dwarf-stars-say-scientists-video.html&amp;playerID=1403109806001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAAFR6xVM~,85KKOZyvPf6qwFANvqEzo9EFltY58YnJ&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" /><param name="base" value="http://admin.brightcove.com" /><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><embed align="right" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="http://admin.brightcove.com" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="videoId=2146795786001&amp;linkBaseURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.space.com%2F19662-earth-like-planets-orbit-nearby-red-dwarf-stars-say-scientists-video.html&amp;playerID=1403109806001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAAAFR6xVM~,85KKOZyvPf6qwFANvqEzo9EFltY58YnJ&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height="292" name="flashObj" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" seamlesstabbing="false" src="http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400"></embed></object><strong>IF WE RUIN THIS PLANET, REPLACEMENTS MAY BE SURPRISINGLY NEAR.&nbsp;</strong></strong>New findings from the Kepler space telescope suggest <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/earth-like-planets-are-ri_n_2632324.html" target="_blank">billions of Earth-like planets may be as close as 13 light years</a> -- &quot;practically next door,&quot; an astronomer tells <em>The Huffington Post</em>.<br />* Possible &quot;<a href="http://www.livescience.com/26909-comet-ison-nasa-spacecraft-photos.html?cid=dlvr.it" target="_blank">comet of the century</a>&quot; -- to pass the sun in November -- photographed by NASA probe.</p><hr /><p><strong><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em></strong><br /><em>* <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-01/its-news-quizzin-time-105270" target="_blank">News quiz</a> tomorrow. Don&#39;t be late.<br />* Get this blog by email. <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 07 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-02/jail-jjj-105396 Apollo astronauts commemorate 40th anniversary of last moon mission in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/apollo-astronauts-commemorate-40th-anniversary-last-moon-mission-chicago-103829 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6655_P1050580-scr.JPG" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell and Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, the last manned mission to the moon. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Tuesday, the Adler Planetarium commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, the last manned mission to the moon. Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan were on hand to cast hand and boot prints for display at the Planetarium. Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell was also on hand for the festivities.</p><p>Eugene Cernan holds the distinction of being the last man to set foot on the moon. A Chicago native, he wondered what his father would think if he could have seen him now. He shared a piece of advice his father shared with him:<br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/n-iyFQIaYIA?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>With Congress facing the fiscal cliff, I asked the astronauts about the future of NASA funding. &quot;We&#39;re going to go back to the moon, we&#39;re going to go to Mars, but first we&#39;ve got to get our fiscal house in order,&quot; said Cernan.</p><p>Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist to ever go to the moon, called the space program a national security concern. &quot;The amount that NASA spends and would need to spend in order to have a vigorous and geopolitically relevant program is so small compared to other things going on, that it has to be looked at not as a budgetary issue but as a geopolitical issue,&quot; Schmitt says. He says long-term national security is not certain if we are not the dominant space-faring nation.</p></p> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 16:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/apollo-astronauts-commemorate-40th-anniversary-last-moon-mission-chicago-103829 Princesses and bacteria: Mars and Earth, past and future http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/princesses-and-bacteria-mars-and-earth-past-and-future-101702 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mars%20rover.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="his mosaic image shows part of the left side of NASA's Curiosity rover and two blast marks from the descent stage's rocket engines. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech)" />On Monday, President Obama<a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/obama-praises-mars-rover-curiosity-team-mohawk-guy-.html">&nbsp;paid homage to</a> the Mars Science Laboratory mission team as &ldquo;examples of American know-how and ingenuity.&rdquo; Northwestern University professor Bill Savage takes it one step further and gives a lot of credit to Curiosity,<a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html"> the Mars rover itself</a>. &quot;Perhaps&nbsp;Curiosity&nbsp;takes us elsewhere in science fiction: Time travel,&quot; he said at <em>The Paper Machete</em>. &quot;Like the Hubble Telescope searching for distant images of the Big Bang,&nbsp;Curiosity&nbsp;is a time machine of sorts, looking into our past. . . And perhaps into our future.&quot; Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>Mars, the brightest object in the sky after the sun, the moon and Venus, has long fired our imaginations. Ancient civilizations observed the red wanderer (that&rsquo;s what &quot;planet&quot; means in Ancient Greek, wanderer) and saw the God of War. Millennia later, Percival Lowell trained his telescope on Mars and saw canals as evidence of advanced civilizations. [Last] week, the NASA probe Curiosity. . .&nbsp;successfully landed on Mars to look for signs of life.</em></p><p><em>In our contemporary cultural imagination, space exploration is tied up with both politics and fiction. Politically, both presidential campaigns offered boilerplate praise to NASA, though Romney&rsquo;s encomia seem a bit inconsistent with the Republican Party&rsquo;s general rejection of any science, from evolution to climate change, not approved by the Bible or Exxon-Mobile.</em></p><p><em>So, let&rsquo;s put politics aside for science fiction, if we can.</em></p><p><em>We can&rsquo;t. Ray Bradbury&rsquo;s </em>The Martian Chronicles <em>shows how we use other worlds to think about our own, and that means thinking about politics. His stories of the colonization of Mars and the exploration of its ancient civilizations spoke to the time of their composition, the late 1940s and early &lsquo;50s, the Cold War, the allure and horror of the Bomb, the nuclear power.</em></p><p><em>In his 1963 novella &ldquo;A Rose for Ecclesiastes,&rdquo; Roger Zelazny wrote about Mars because once we actually visited there&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;</em><em>&nbsp;which was due to happen any time now, then, during the early days of the Space Program (capital S, capital P)&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;</em><em>&nbsp;there&rsquo;d be no more room for tales of dying civilizations.&nbsp; In it, a poet visits Mars to learn the Martians&rsquo; language, and of course, there&rsquo;s a beautiful Martian babe&nbsp;</em><em>&mdash;</em><em>&nbsp;a dancer. But the Martians&rsquo; interest in him is physical rather than poetic. While they very much appreciate his translation of Ecclesiastes and the observation that &ldquo;nothing is new under the sun,&rdquo; a moribund race sometimes just needs a quick injection of young spunk, and he&rsquo;s kicked to the curb by his Martian honey after delivering the genetic goods. I think of her as kind of a red Kardashian.</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 15 Aug 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/princesses-and-bacteria-mars-and-earth-past-and-future-101702 The fear of the robopocalypse: What fools these mortals be http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/fear-robopocalypse-what-fools-these-mortals-be-100787 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3465967256_515da9d427_z.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="The Mars Rover (Flickr/Ianan)" />Robots are awesome, argues comedian Whit Nelson &mdash; and who are we to disagree with him? Despite their awesomeness, we still worry about them taking over the world.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;It is the same choice we face when we have children, or pets, or anything else that can go haywire,&quot; says Nelson. &quot;There is always a risk your children will turn out terribly. But that risk alone isn&rsquo;t enough to stop most of us from having kids. The potential rewards are simply too great. So let us charge headlong into a possibly dystopian future with our fingers crossed, and our firearms ready, just in case their eyes turn red, and they start chanting destroy, destroy, destroy.&quot; Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>On <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html">August 5th, 2012</a>, less than a month from now, a spacecraft will descend from the sky and using a series of jets, it will hover over the planet&#39;s surface. It will then use a sort of sky-crane to lower a robot by cables down to the ground. The parent craft will power up and fly away. The landing vehicle will be a six-wheeled robot the size of of MINI Cooper. It will be smart enough to navigate and explore by itself. It will be nuclear powered. It will have lasers that shoot out of its eyes. Yes, those kind of lasers, for blasting things.</em></p><p><em>Thankfully, this Orwellian nightmare will be landing on the surface of Mars, the latest in a series of missions in which NASA telecommutes to the Red Planet. Having long ago outsourced exploration to robots, NASA now spends millions of dollars making them larger, packing them with plutonium and arming them. And they aren&#39;t the only ones. Robotic advancement has accelerated in the last three decade, reaching into our homes and workplaces. Robots now roam our houses cleaning up after us, moving supplies around warehouses and hospitals and thanks to Google and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, they even drive on our highways. And why shouldn&#39;t they? I tell you why they shouldn&#39;t. EVERY SCIFI MOVIE EVER.</em></p><p><em>There is a theory in anthropology that says humanity uses use film and literature in the same way that it&rsquo;s said our dreams are supposed to work. We run simulations, we see if we like the outcome, and change our behavior to steer away from bad outcomes or into good ones. For example, in the film </em>The 6th Day<em> with Arnold Schwarzenegger, we saw that cloning human beings resulted in two Arnold Schwarzenegger&#39;s, so we banned human cloning. We worry about the consequences of our actions, and we move to steer human progress. In nearly every other field of study we seem to be we build legal and moral boundaries around this kind of progress. We don&#39;t just engineer new viruses all willy-nilly. But for some reason, we behave completely different when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. Nearly every movie about Artificial Intelligence either begins or ends with the robots becoming self-aware, which most of the time includes lots and lots of homicide.</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Jul 2012 09:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/fear-robopocalypse-what-fools-these-mortals-be-100787 Whit Nelson on the NASA that boldy goes nowhere http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-09/whit-nelson-nasa-boldy-goes-nowhere-97010 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-06/5666182721_8435c34c53.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-06/5666182721_8435c34c53.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 199px; " title="A Kennedy Space Center Tweet-up (Flickr/Dave Schumaker)">The organization that once inspired thousands of kids to pack their bags and go to Space Camp has been looking a little <a href="http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/02/10/mars-lost-nasa-cutting-mission-to-red-planet/">worse for the wear lately</a>. Comedian and science buff Whit Nelson reveals why we should be worried about the aliens coming to get us. Read an excerpt or listen below:</p><p><em>"Last month, our distinguished guest, President Barack Obama made a huge mistake -- all due respect -- by killing the NASA funds which would have underwritten the next two missions to Mars. These funds were culled from the budget in order to fund the replacement to the Hubble telescope, called the James Webb telescope, which is now massively overbudget. as a result, we have just sacrificed two trips out into the universe in order to get a better view from our front porch.</em></p><p><em>NASA doesn't go boldly anywhere anymore. NASA studies weather patterns, they track asteroids, and they have, no joke, created a facebook page to get kids interested in space. </em></p><p><em>It was not always like this. There was a time when science and exploration were more than to-do items for the United States, they were existential necessity."</em></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332746551-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/whit nelson.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>This Saturday at the Horseshoe, expect performances by Colleen Doyle and friends, Monica Reida, Eric and Andy, Paul Oakley Stovall, Vallea Woodbury, Josh Zagoren as Chad the Bird and music from Maria McCullough as well as the Bama Lamas. Featuring&nbsp;<strong>Dr. William Ayers</strong>&nbsp;with a story about his most recent Super Bowl party, attended by the late Andrew Breitbart.</p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.org/thepapermachete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Mar 2012 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-03-09/whit-nelson-nasa-boldy-goes-nowhere-97010 Boeing to build more space crafts http://www.wbez.org/story/boeing-build-more-space-crafts-93639 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-31/AP Photo NASA, File.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago-based Boeing announced new plans on Monday to build space shuttles for people and cargo. Boeing will build reusable capsules that can take up to seven people into space.</p><p>Ever since NASA's space shuttle program ended, the U.S. has been relying on Russia to get to the International Space Station. Boeing's new program is expected to provide another way to get there.</p><p>Morningstar analyst Neal Dihora said Boeing's space technology accounts for about 13 percent of the company's sales this year.</p><p>"With the space shuttle shut down, they were going to see some exits or decreases in revenue and this actually helps them over a longer time frame," Dihora said. "But it's not really that big of a material difference for the entire company as a whole."</p><p>Boeing will lease a former shuttle hangar at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.</p><p>The project is expected to create more than 500 jobs by 2015. More than 4,000 space-related jobs have been lost in the Cape Canaveral area.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/boeing-build-more-space-crafts-93639 Though shuttles are retired, NASA needs more astronauts, panel says http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-07/though-shuttles-are-retired-nasa-needs-more-astronauts-panel-says-91674 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-08/astronauts_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>NASA needs to hire a few more astronauts. That's according to a panel of outside experts enlisted by the agency to review the size of the astronaut corps now that the space shuttles are retired. (The panel's <a href="http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13227" target="_blank">report is posted here</a>.)</p><p>With the <a href="http://www.npr.org/series/137712255/the-end-of-the-space-shuttle-era" target="_blank">shuttles headed for museums</a>, NASA will be flying fewer astronauts — only four to six will go up to the space station each year, for long-duration missions that last months. The agency currently has about 60 active duty astronauts.</p><p>"Why did we need so many astronauts? That was what we went in basically questioning," says Joe Rothenberg, a former NASA senior official who co-chaired the National Research Council committee that examined the astronaut corps.</p><p>He says, to his surprise, the committee found that NASA actually needs to keep a few more astronauts on staff. "We realized that they were taking some risks, or building some risks into the program, by not having enough astronauts," says Rothenberg.</p><p>The committee did not recommend a specific number of additional astronauts that NASA should plan to keep on staff in the future, says Rothenberg, because factors like maintaining the right skill mix may influence that number. "It's less than ten. Maybe closer to five," he estimates.</p><p>Long duration missions pose staffing challenges that are different than two-week shuttle trips. Astronauts need years of training to be ready to live and work on the station. They need to be familiar with laboratories built in other countries. And because the Russian space agency currently has the only spaceship capable of carrying crew to the station, American astronauts have to be trained to fly in it.</p><p>Health requirements are more stringent for long-duration missions, and the report notes that 13 astronauts have become medically ineligible for long-duration missions after they were assigned to a mission but before they could fly — highlighting the need for an adequate number of potential replacements with the right skills.</p><p>The report cites recent examples of NASA already having trouble in finding the right replacement astronaut in a pinch — for example, after one astronaut assigned to a shuttle mission experienced a serious bicycle injury. "This incident highlights that the Astronaut Corps is approaching a point where it lacks sufficient margin required to deal with unexpected personnel situations," the report notes.</p><p>Plus, when astronauts return from a six-month stay in space, they may not re-qualify for flight, for medical reasons including vision problems, bone loss, or radiation exposure.</p><p>Astronauts also have to be available to fill other important roles, such as working in Mission Control and training other astronauts.</p><p>What's more, commercial companies are working to develop private capsules that could carry NASA astronauts up to the station. The agency wants those "space taxis" or "rental cars" to fill the old transportation role that its space shuttles used to play. Those companies will expect some involvement from NASA astronauts in developing those new vehicles.</p><p>The number of active-duty astronauts working for NASA has declined dramatically in recent years — from around 150 in 1999 to around 60 now. And the committee notes that, in the coming years, NASA may see more astronauts than usual retiring, because of uncertainty about the future of spaceflight.</p><p>Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</p></p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 11:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-07/though-shuttles-are-retired-nasa-needs-more-astronauts-panel-says-91674 NASA's eyes in the sky study pollution on Earth http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-02/nasas-eyes-sky-study-pollution-earth-90041 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-03/mid-atlantic-haze-aug-2-2006.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>NASA, the agency best known for exploring space, is trying to answer some urgent questions about air pollution right here on Earth.</p><p>For much of July, the agency flew research planes between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore as part of a mission known as <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/discover-aq/index.html">DISCOVER-AQ</a>. The planes, along with weather balloons and ground stations, were gathering data on how pollutants such as ozone and particulates behave in the atmosphere.</p><p>The short-term goal is to learn more about where these pollutants form, how far they travel after forming, and how they are distributed at different elevations in the atmosphere.</p><p>The long-term goal is to make it possible to use satellites to provide hour-by-hour monitoring of pollution levels across the country. That would help the Environmental Protection Agency and other parts of government enforce air quality standards.</p><p>One reason NASA picked the Baltimore-Washington traffic corridor to fly over is that it's a particularly bad place to inhale.</p><p>"It's a rather polluted region," says Ken Pickering, a scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who is part of the DISCOVER-AQ mission. Maryland frequently violates the national ambient air quality standard for both ozone and for particulate matter, he says.</p><p>Ozone can damage your lungs. Airborne particles have been linked to cancer and heart attacks. And even though air pollution in the U.S. isn't as bad as it used to be, more than 125 million Americans still live in places that often fail to meet EPA air quality standards.</p><p><strong>Preparing For Flight</strong></p><p>For several weeks, Pickering and other scientists were flying out of a NASA facility in Wallops Island, Va., about 100 miles south of Washington, D.C.</p><p>On one morning before a flight, Pickering was on the phone in a makeshift office next to a cavernous hangar. He was about to deliver some bad news about one of the instruments on the P-3, the mission's main research plane.</p><p>"The pump for the ozone instrument failed this morning," he says, and the flight can't leave until it's fixed. After the call, Pickering explains that the timing of the pump failure is unfortunate. "Today is going to be a very hot day in the Baltimore-Washington area," he says. "Only some scattered clouds. And this will allow plenty of sunlight to cook up a lot of ozone."</p><p>Ozone is a tricky pollutant to study because it isn't expelled from tailpipes or factory smokestacks. Instead, it forms when other pollutants, usually hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, react in the presence of sunlight. The NASA mission is hoping to learn more about how far from the sources of pollution ozone forms and at what altitude.</p><p>After a two-hour delay, the mission's principal investigator, Jim Crawford, of NASA Langley Research Center, strides through the door to announce that the faulty pump has been replaced. "We have an ozone instrument," he says. "So if you want to proceed out to the plane, I'm hoping we're out of here maybe half-hour, 45 minutes at the worst."</p><p>Scientists and other personnel head for the P-3, a four-engine turboprop that was used in the 1960s to track enemy submarines. On this mission, NASA is using a highly modified version to sniff out dangerous chemicals and particles in the air.</p><p>From a distance, "it looks like any other aircraft," Crawford says as he walks past the plane's massive nose gear. But up close, he says, "You begin to notice tubes and probes poking out the side."</p><p>Those tubes and probes outside allow the instruments inside to take air samples as the plane flies. And this plane is crammed with instruments, Crawford says as he climbs a set of rolling stairs and steps through the door into what used to be the plane's cabin.</p><p>"You're looking at a plane with a fuselage that's basically been emptied to start," He says. "And so we build these instrument racks, which are basically, I would say, maybe 4.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide that we anchor to the floor and then begin to fill with scientific instruments."</p><p>Any room left over is for the scientists, who sit in seats squeezed between instrument racks.</p><p><strong>Measuring Columns Of Atmosphere</strong></p><p>Soon the plane is airborne and heading north. Gradually, the fields below give way to urban sprawl and the concrete stripes of major highways.</p><p>The plane's interior is so noisy that scientists and the crew communicate primarily through headsets.</p><p>As the plane approaches Beltsville, Md., a town just north of Washington, D.C., the interior is a hive of activity. The scientists hover over instruments measuring the size and density of particles in the air, and the concentrations of many different gases, including ozone.</p><p>As forecast, it's a bad day for air quality, which makes it a good day to collect data.</p><p>"They say that there's a red condition in a lot of the surface stations, which means that ozone levels are exceeding the EPA-recommended exposure levels," says Bruce Anderson from NASA Langley.</p><p>The plane follows Interstate 95 at an altitude so low you can make out the color of each car and truck below.</p><p>Then, at a designated point, it begins a steep, spiraling ascent to more than 10,000 feet. That allows the scientists to see how pollution levels are changing with elevation.</p><p>Usually the air gets much cleaner at higher altitudes," Anderson says. "Today the pollution is extending up to about 8,500 feet. So you have to get above that level before you really see a clear blue sky."</p><p>The P-3 is just one of three planes taking part of this NASA mission. There is also a boat on Chesapeake Bay, people and pollutions sensors on the ground, and even weather balloons measuring pollution levels as they rise through the atmosphere.</p><p>And the P-3 is flying in crowded skies, on a circuit that takes it close to Baltimore Washington International Airport. At times, there are four people in the cockpit making sure the P-3 stays clear of other flights.</p><p><strong>Improving Satellite Measurements</strong></p><p>The DISCOVER-AQ mission isn't just about understanding pollution in this one area. NASA will be flying over other cities in the coming years.</p><p>The goal is to figure out how to use satellites to monitor pollution across the country, Crawford says. Right now, he says, satellites can't do that very well.</p><p>"They paint great visual pictures of pollution," he says. "But they don't allow us to make clear judgments on exactly how much pollution exists and at what altitude in the atmosphere it resides."</p><p>Reliable, detailed pollution measurements from a satellite would be a major improvement on today's patchwork of ground measurements, which have lots of gaps, Crawford says.</p><p>"What a satellite can begin to do is fill those gaps," he says, revealing what's happening to air quality downwind of the urban areas often responsible for air pollution.</p><p>Today's flight will be a long, hot, hectic and noisy six hours in the air. But the scientists on board say it's worth it because of what's at stake.</p><p>"I look at the atmosphere like an astronaut might look at a spacesuit," says David Knapp from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The Earth's atmosphere is what keeps us alive as our planet hurtles through space, Knapp says. He says this NASA mission should serve as a reminder of that. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. <img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1312384002?&gn=NASA%27s+Eyes+In+The+Sky+Study+Pollution+On+Earth&ev=event2&ch=1025&h1=Environment,Research+News,Science,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=138890522&c7=1025&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1025&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110803&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Wed, 03 Aug 2011 03:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-02/nasas-eyes-sky-study-pollution-earth-90041