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comment by Lintel
Lintel  ·  2304 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Philae has landed! (We landed on a comet. +1 for humans)

Call it priorities. While I'm impressed that humanity has reached a technological level where it can land on comets, I'm less impressed with the fact people were and still are starving from hunger, dirty drinkingwater, poor nutrition etc, even as far back as 2004. The gentle radiation of this planet by a nuclearplant which is still spewing radioactive waste after 3 years might sound snark but the 'victory' of human inginuity as I feel it's being portrayed feels hollow as long as we haven't cleaned up our mess and misery which we could have done. But hey, who cares? We landed on a comet. Yay!





kleinbl00  ·  2304 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So... everyone who has any skillset should subvert that skillset and devote all their attentions to the immediate task?

Satellite phones are a direct result of GPS was a direct result of strategic battlefield intelligence was a direct result of a Cold War pissing match between Khrushchev and Eisenhower. If those guys in the labs hadn't spent their time trying to get Sputnik up, the guys out serving Doctors Without Borders don't have any way to coordinate supply and staffing. That's just one concrete example of the advancement of technology due to unrelated fields; did you know that cyanoacrilate adhesive came about because Dow was trying to make crack-resistant fighter jet canopies? Now it's the best way to close a wound short of stitches.

You're at a disadvantage, here. My best friend's dad was chief administrator on LIGO and is chief administrator on the TMT. So "astronomy" I have a more-than-passing familiarity with. My dad? has worked for NEST for the past 15 years and did radiation dosimetry and safety for Los Alamos National Labs for 30 years prior to that. So Fukushima's kind of my bag, too.

So when I say "my dad and my friend's dad can't do each others' jobs and shouldn't have to" it's directly applicable to your complaint.

Let's back it up further, though - suppose everyone should dedicate their focus to solving world hunger from secondary school onward. No engineers, no metallurgists, no computer scientists, just pure, raw agriculturalists. What happens when they need a more efficient tanker to transport grain? What happens when they need a better logistics system to prevent storage logjams? What happens when, oh, I don't know, they need to better predict the weather this season to maximize crop yields?

My problem with your attitude is it puts "science" in the "them" camp, as if you're doing your thing and all these "other people" are supposed to save the world for you and it's beneath you to have the vaguest appreciation for the intricacies of their tasks. Are you really suggesting that the human race lacks the diversity, the ingenuity, the manpower and the initiative to explore space and help the world? More importantly, are you really suggesting that the two are in no possible way related? We will get hit with a comet. It's going to happen.

Chelyabinsk was about 20m in diameter and yielded about 500kT of energy. Tunguska was between 60 and 190m in diameter and yielded 15MT of energy. That's in the past 100 years, mind - here's Tunguska over New York. So really, it behooves us to know a little sumpin' sumpin' about space rocks because there will come a time when we'll need to deal with one.

The Rosetta mission has cost a billion euros. Fukushima is likely to cost 80 billion. But shit - the spy satellite we put up to be sure about bin Laden cost 11 billion.

Sure, priorities. Sure, world hunger. Sure, disaster cleanup. But "disaster cleanup to the exclusion of all else" is a pretty facile position to take.

b_b  ·  2304 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hate to rain on your parade, cuz it's a good one, but you actually made a typo and set the map to 1.5MT. Here is 15. Yikes! (But what an awesome tool).

kleinbl00  ·  2304 days ago  ·  link  ·  

D'oh. I also went 1000ft with the airburst, just as a rough guess. Did you see they have a 3D one involving Google Earth? I haven't messed with it much.

Back in the day, FAS had their serious simulator online. You could plot fallout maps and shit and it would incorporate the day's jetstream, topography, the whole nine yards. That went off the air many years prior to 9/11/

Lintel  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I haven't said everyone should subvert their skillsets to the imlmediate task, however it might not be a bad idea if we took a few steps in that direction once in a while. The other result of the Cold War pissing contest were the Berlin Wall, the Stasi (whose tactics we've been enjoying so very recently again, see Snowden etc), the dividing of Yugoslavia and Tito's brilliant legacy, etc etc etc. So please don't come with a wound-closer: it's not worth the suffering, as far as I'm concerned. I have yet to read where in my previous posts I have been talking down on 'astronomy' or on your familiarity with the subject. I'm happy your dad landed himself a good job, same for your best friends' dad. Congratulations, I mean it. I don't know what 'my attitude' should be. Maybe feeling frustrated we're letting half the planet die and burn up because our scientists are allowed to examine comets instead of being funded to help and alleviate human suffering has something to do with it. Nobody is supposed to work for me, nor is it beneath me: we're back at the priorities-part of the discussion. I'm not suggesting the human race lacks the diversity, ingenuity, manpower and initiative to explore space and help the world. Far from it. Mankind merely lacks the will to do so. And that's disgusting.

It's not just worldhunger I'm talking about: I'm talking about the clean water, clean air, the non-GMO food, the non-radioactive regions etc etc. There are a lot of problems right now, maybe even more than we can handle, but to aim for the one that will hit us in the (far) future instead of tackling more pressing matters closer at hand does not justify the almighty hoopla Rosetta has stirred up.

kleinbl00  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I'm not suggesting the human race lacks the diversity, ingenuity, manpower and initiative to explore space and help the world. Far from it. Mankind merely lacks the will to do so. And that's disgusting.

So what have you done?

Because the only reason we're having this discussion is we're all sitting around going "yay comet" and you come in all "boo hiss comet think of the children." Okay, let's think of the children.

My father has helped to ensure that nuclear power and nuclear deterrence has propagated throughout the world without nuclear terrorism or nuclear accidents. Let's think of the children.

My best friends' father has helped to ensure that the quest for knowledge continues unabated for public consumption so that people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson have something to talk about. Let's think of the children.

Me? I make reality television for a living. I'm literally Hitler. But I also put a social worker through grad school so that's not nuthin'.

Be the change you want in the world. Instead of sitting around pissing on everyone else's parade because we want to celebrate scientific advancement, go enroll with AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps or hell - go collect quarters for UNICEF. You're not doing anything here and now to improve the situation one iota, you're just pissing others off (and we get a bye - we're here to revel, not to think of the children).

Because you know what? Whipping out Tito and the Stasi in a discussion about technology spinoffs just makes you look reactionary and uneducated.

"As far as I'm concerned."

Lintel  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So what have you done?

-Living in a forest and guarding/surveilling it 24/7 for 7 months in order to protect an area of 300km2 of woods and forests; which were to be cut down illegally in order to install a highly polluting incinerator. Try and do that yourself when your nadgers are freezing off. -Protecting highly fertile acres of agricultural lands which would have been paved over in order ro make 'room' for an aeroport (the fact that there's an other aeroport a few miles away which hasn't even reached peak-capacity). Cops who just have nothing better to do than 'follow orders' and start bashing some skulls. Want to know more? Do some research on Notre-Dame-des-Landes, and you'll find out what I'm talking about. -Trying to protect some areas of natural wildlife for my children and children's children, only to have a friend getting slaughtered by cops (see Remi Fraisse, Barrage de Sivens). -Apart from volunteering in order to give until-very-recently homeless people a set of lodgings, clothes, furniture, etc etc free of charge in order for them to make their life better than before, working with abused and maltreated adolescents who are so messed up emotionally you couldn't handle their life for a day. You try to get a kid back on a stable emotional plane when his dad raped him, then killed his mom before his eyes. Good luck. -I help build eco-houses on a voluntary basis.

So yeah, I have been doing something to leave this a better planet for my children. What about you? Again, kudos for your father and friends father. There should be more people like them. Then we'd be in a lot less trouble as a species. Don't get upset when I come with counter-arguments for your Cold War pissing contest; it was okay to drag it in the discussion to prove your point when it came to wound-plasters but as soon as I pointed out the darker sides of that, I'm reactionary? So you put a social worker through grad school: good work, there should be more people who do that, I mean that.

And making reality tv for a living... well, this comes to mind

kleinbl00  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't know why I expected any different, but your contribution to the world has been squatting in a forest to prevent public works. In essence, you are of the opinion that you know better than everybody else, that the best way to fix the system is to break the system.

And then to top it off with a 3 minute rant suggesting I kill myself. Yeah, we're done here.

Lintel  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Nope, they were private factories profiting from public forests, public subsidies and public funding. For a 100% PRIVATE profit.

And the best way to fix this system is to not participate in the system but to abandon it altogether. Don't know if I know better than everybody else. I try to leave this planet in a better shape than I found it.

Apparently you haven't read the other 'contributions' as you call them but you've made your mind up already eh? RTFR and then get back to me. Btw, weren't YOU the one who called himself 'literally Hitler'? I'm not suggesting you kill yourself; I do however agree with his remark that people like that are filling the world with garbage.

AlderaanDuran  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    the non-GMO food

Oh, you're one of those... Everything makes a little more sense now.

Lintel  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah, because not wanting to eat something which has unforseen results on the long-term health makes me some kind of looney. Good on yer, buddy.

OftenBen  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Do you eat corn?

How about apples?

Lintel  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Corn? No, unless I either planted it myself and thus know what is feeding me or know the farmer who planted it. And even then, it's rare. Apples: yes, I happen to have acces to a couple of older specimen. The pre-war varieties, don't ask me the strain.

OftenBen  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ok, let's stick to apples then, for the purposes of discussion. You mentioned that yours are heirloom varietals. I live in Michigan, we grow a lot of good apples, I appreciate your point, they are good. So lets say that your variety was around, oh, 200 years ago, which is old, comparatively. But, was it around 500 years ago? How about a thousand? A few thousand? See, if you go back enough on the family tree of most species of plant that humans consume now, you'll notice a few things. Your apples, which are now, large, sweet (or tart), and delicious, were once a small, hard, bitter ball of cellulose and seeds. Now, this is still an apple, we still have varieties like this today, crabapples. Humans realized that, by breeding plants that have traits that they like, they can encourage changes. Selective breeding is a type of technology. So, humans, using technology, performed a change on the species.

GMO's are just skipping, in the case of some crops such as wheat (First cultivated 8000 BCE), thousands of years. Given enough time, we could, by selective breeding, probably create a strain of wheat that would grow well in cold climates. Hell, given enough time you could create a strain of rice whose vitamin content was pretty close to modern Golden Rice.

I happen to be against a lot of things related to crops that are genetically modified, but my problem is with patent laws, pesticide incompatibilities, and a lot of modern farm law. But I am not against the modification of existing organisms genetic material to create versions better suited for human needs.

Lintel  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

As I read your comment, it seems you think I don't know the difference between crossbred/selected breeding and the genetically-modified/gene-infused Monsanto-monstrosities. I have no problem with the first: we've been doing that for as long as there's been agriculture. That's way different than eating a vegetable which thrives on a patch of land that has to be heavily sprayed with chemicals. There are already plenty of examples of people falling ill because of GMO's (the explosion in gluten-intolerance comes to mind). And that's just the short run. THe indications that GMOs have a negative influence on fertility aren't made up. Btw, remember the rat-tumor-research where tghe rats had been fed GMO-corn. Yeah.

Ever seen a farmer spraying his GMO-crop with special pesticides? He's fitted out as if going into space, helmet and airtight suit and all. THe farmers who aren't protected like that and either inhale of touch the stuff fall ill, often violently. So no, I don't want to eat food which has to be chemically blasted and drenched before it yields crop. Heirloom-plants don't seem to need that.

OftenBen  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    That's way different than eating a vegetable which thrives on a patch of land that has to be heavily sprayed with chemicals.

I agree. I don't like that kind of farming.

    Ever seen a farmer spraying his GMO-crop with special pesticides?

I go to an agricultural school, a fair few of my friends farm or are in the industry. I completely understand.

BUT.

These things are dangerous extremes and should be prevented. It's a misapplication of technology to create crops that have a chemical necessity for X Brand fertilizer, pesticide, insecticide. It should be considered a crime, in my opinion, to specifically create mule strains of crops with terminator genes. Oversaturating crops with chemicals and hurrying them off to market before they can flush those toxins should be a crime too. But again, that's not the fault of the technology, it's the fault of the people using it.

Your problem (And mine, I agree with you more than you think here, don't tear out my throat) isn't with the alteration of genomes, it's with bad agricultural practice driven by market forces.

Those of us interested in the long-term future of the species want us to be able to feed everybody, using only what land/resources are required for it. Our current system is incredibly wasteful from just an analysis of chemical energy in, chemical energy out. Hopefully we can use Models like this one to produce exactly what we need, with precisely the right chemical composition, with minimal waste.

If you really care about these issues, go talk to some farmers. If you can find any still alive that is.

kleinbl00  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I haven't seen very many examples where genetic modification produced a better, more expedient varietal than good, old-fashioned husbandry. At the same time, the increase in gluten sensitivity probably has a lot to do with the absolute gonzo emphasis on gluten in wheat over the past 30 years for the production of more stable baked goods.

Sure, golden rice but that never really caught on and there are better ways toward it. I guess what I'm saying is GMO crops, outside of nasty little gotchas like terminator genes, aren't necessarily worth the trouble. But then, that argument doesn't get written up much.

OftenBen  ·  2302 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I haven't seen very many examples where genetic modification produced a better, more expedient varietal than good, old-fashioned husbandry.

It's usually not a change in yield(including chemical content), but a change in weather tolerances/requirements.

    At the same time, the increase in gluten sensitivity probably has a lot to do with the absolute gonzo emphasis on gluten in wheat over the past 30 years for the production of more stable baked goods.

I agree, but that's not the fault of the technology of genetic engineering. That's the fault of people misusing the tech.

    Sure, golden rice but that never really caught on and there are better ways toward it.

There are legal issues about it too, and other problems that aren't related to the organism itself, but it's implication.

    I guess what I'm saying is GMO crops, outside of nasty little gotchas like terminator genes, aren't necessarily worth the trouble. But then, that argument doesn't get written up much.

The terminator gene thing is a problem. A big problem, but again it's not the fault of the tech, it's the fault of the people. There is an economic incentive to screw farmers as regularly and for as much cash as possible, and that should be stopped. But again, it's not the fault of the tech.

kleinbl00  ·  2301 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We clearly agree that there's a problem of implementation... and again - I think most of the problems that GMO is applied to have a lot more to do with exclusivity and monopolistic tendencies than they do with solving agricultural problems. Take your "change in weather tolerances/requirements." part of agriculture is in selecting varietals that adapt better to the particular microclimate of a farmer's plot. Been that way since Babylon. When you take something that wasn't originally there and introduce it, you run the risk of an invasive species. An invasive species that's genetically engineered to defeat the pests that keep the plant from thriving? definitely an invasive species... unless you introduce one of those lovely terminator genes, at which point we're back to square one.

If it takes ten years to breed a crop that can tolerate one zone hotter or colder or five years to genetically engineer a crop that can tolerate three zones hotter or colder, I'd rather go with the 10 year plan. There's a checks'n'balances thing that comes about through breeding that you don't get with GMO.

And that's my whole point, really - GMO has the potential to solve a lot of problems, but the current state of technology, from what I've been able to gather, doesn't have much of a leg up on traditional approaches once you eliminate the nasty Monsantoism of it all.

veen  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I just wanted to add to the discussion that you have two assumptions that aren't necessary true: 1. that we haven't found the solutions yet to save the earth (we have), and 2. that a scientific / technologic solution is what will save us from ourselves (if only we can create a CO2 converter or some reasoning like that).

I understand your frustration at our inability to work towards solutions regarding environmental problems, but I don't think 'putting all scientists on it' will be the way to get there.

Lintel  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Exactly: we do have the means to make this planet into a paradise instead of the partial hellhole it is today, but we as a species lack the (political) will to do so, and as far as 2) goes, I don't think science is the be-all and end-all of our problems though it might help a lot. I'm merely stating that the funds for a mission like this could have been used to save many lives.

AlderaanDuran  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Call it priorities.

This came from the ESA (European Space Agency) budget and has nothing to do with Japan. Are you honestly suggesting that a decade ago the EU should have put this money aside knowing that they should just give it to Japan 8 years in the future to help clean up a nuclear disaster that hadn't happened yet? Is that honestly the priority you are implying should have taken precedence?

    I'm less impressed with the fact people were and still are starving from hunger

So by your logic of being mad other countries are spending money on things you think would be better spent on fighting hunger in other countries you should be selling your laptop/computer you are typing this comment on to feed some people. Again, by your logic, "while I'm impressed you can type ignorant comments from a computer and post them online, I'm less impressed with the fact people were and still are starving from hunger, dirty drinkingwater, poor nutrition etc, even as far back as 2004." How much money and how much time did you donate to fighting those issues over the last 10 years? Or is this one of those things where you just sit back in your arm chair and gripe that OTHER people aren't doing things you care about? You know what I did earlier this year? I pledged a financial contribution to purchase 100 Life Straws that were sent to Africa. Not a huge contribution, but I'd bet my house it's more than you've ever done. I'm also one of the biggest space exploration supporters you'll ever meet. We can do both.

Also, you know the US and the EU send BILLIONS to Africa every year, right? You know we have the DoD over their setting up Ebola treatment facilities right? You know that even though we throw billions at the issue that sometimes bad things still happen, right?

    But hey, who cares? We landed on a comet. Yay!

But hey, who cares I have a computer and laptop and and can post comments from my ivory tower online while doing nothing myself. Yay!

Lintel  ·  2303 days ago  ·  link  ·  

See comment below. What have you been doing to make this a better planet?

Money? About 1% of my income, which, since I made less than minimum for the most time of the last decade, wasn't that much, I grant you that. Please, don't thump your chest like that. You can at least try to give arguments in a reasonable fashion instead of stating you've done more than I have. I have no way of veryfying, neither have you. So a statement like that looks silly. Time? Last 2.5 years I'm full-time trying to improve the situation. You? THe fact that you did both makes already a difference. You can do that, I do this, the only problem is politicians find it far more profitable to invest in other things than in saving lives.

Btw, I already gave away my stuff. I need nothing more than what I can carry on my back. The comp I'm on right now belongs to the lady whose mom's dying right now, and for whose animals and house I've been taking care this last couple of weeks. Cost me a couple of thousand in seasonal-work, but there's things more importat than just colored pieces of paper. So yes, you're absolutely right: if you want to speak about improving the world, lead by example. That's what I'm doing. You?

thenewgreen  ·  2304 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Your argument was perhaps best summed up by Gil Scott-Heron in Whitey on the Moon:

It's not an accurate representation of our choices. There are any number of expenditures in our national budget that dwarf that of NASA's etc. It's not space vs food and to color it as that is a pretty naive thing to do, don't you think?

Lintel  ·  2304 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Not a bad find. You're talking nationally, I'm talking humanely. Whitey/whiney on the moon has nothing to do with it.

It might not be space vs food per se but it's (take-your-pick) vs human decency. Yes, naive I might be but I do not see the importance of shouting 'excelsior!' for landing on a speck of spacedust whilst allowing individuals of your own species to die of malnourishment, preventable disease and pollution.