Oh, Canada?

June 8, 2007

Well it seems that our united Canada is doing just fine, as was evidenced by the attitude of my Coach Canada bus driver as I boarded in Toronto on route to Montreal.  When I showed surprise that there would be a different driver after our stop in Kingston the driver quipped:”I don’t drive to Montreal, I prefer to stay in Canada.  If I make one trip to Montreal a year that is one too many.”  Go Leafs Go, eh?

In this regard I tend to agree with Noam Chomsky when he says that the nation state is an unnecessary and evil human construct, I’m paraphrasing there but that is the gist of it.

And to recall one of my other great influences, Robert Anton Wilson, one day when we are all living on exo-planetary colonies, drawing energy from the virtually limitless source that is our sun, while the Earth has been declared a Galactic environmental protection zone, borders will be quite meaningless.


Week in Toronto

May 1, 2007

We just returned from a week in Toronto.  Dannielle was taking in the HotDoc festival while Taj, Deszmo and I hung out.


Deszmo and taj posing for their new album from the lookout of the CN Tower.


Deszmo on the glass floor 500 some meters above downtown Toronto.


Taj reflecting from an eastbound subway car.

Howdy Y’All From Texas

April 12, 2007

I am in San Antonio, Texas this week for the annual meeting of the International Society for Gravitational Physiology . I gave a presentation on some of the results I obtained while working on the WISE bed rest study over the past year or so. I suppose that means that I am a gravitational physiologist.

I am dog tired and suffering from meat hangover right now so I will leave you with a few photos and try to come up with more interesting banter tomorrow.

This is the view from my hotel room during the day:

view day

This is a view from my hotel room during the night:


The views are of the side of the Alamo, this is the front:


An interesting mailbox:


A Texas BBQ at the ISGP banquet, not quite the same effect without the country music (cowboy covers of Beatles songs no less) but you get the point:


Tasty Fish

December 14, 2006

I just unearthed this video from my trip to Japan in 2005.

This restaurant had the true “live food” experience.  The patrons are given a fishing pole with a shrimp as bait to catch their own dinner.  Upon yanking a fish out of the large central pool (which has boats floating in it where you can sit and dine by the way) a wait staff runs over to you, quickly unhooks it, and asks how it should be prepared.

Our Japanese friends ordered ours served up like so:

Maniana, Maniana

October 3, 2006

Quick update as folks other than those in Valencia have not seen any pictures or read any words from me in a few days.

I will try for more detail about the goings on at the Space Conferences maniana.

Well today I finally took some time to myself to explore a bit of Valencia. After the afternoon session on Space Life Science research, where I met the Russian life science legend, Inessa Kozolovskaya, I headed to the sea.

These are the rocks I had to climb down to get to the beach (took a wrong turn at the America’s Cup harbour)

Here is a look at the beach and Mediterainian Sea

I have no pictures of me in the water, as I did not want to harm the camera, however this footage was caught by amature video

I’m alright though, here I am out of the water again

I have an early morning tomorrow so goodnight.

Oh and I have not been able to get the SGC audio and video uploaded to the website yet.

For that I appologize, please stand by.

SGC 2006

September 28, 2006

I am still fighting the effects of altered time zones, and need to sleep right now, but for those of you who are keeping score:

I am in Valencia, Spain for the annual Space Generation Congress. My objective in being here is to help in the preparation of two documents produced and sponsored by the group. One document will be put forward to the established space agencies/industries/policy makers with recommendations for the use of their resources. The other document will be a strategic plan for the Space Generation Advisory Council that will ensure the implementation and completion of grass roots projects geared towards advancing our progress towards becoming a true space faring species.

We are hoping to have video of the conference procedings available on-line, for those of you who are interested in more details.

Following are a few pictures that chronicle my trip over here, I will try to find time to post more interesting photos tomorrow.

The smallest plane I have ever been on
The smallest plane I have ever traveled on.

High-speed trains from Barcelona to Valencia, at Valencia station.

The Nest hostel


Up on the roof


Good night


NASA Ames, Day 4

August 19, 2006

Well the conference has now come to an end. As I mentioned in the last post, the final day consisted of presentations given by representatives of each of the main working groups. Very encouraging, and eye opening, to me was that of the 6 presenters 4 were from Canada (and at a NASA event, eh).

I will give just a few points from each of the group’s reports to give you a flavour of what was discussed. There will be two documents drafted from these reports to be forwarded to the NASA exploration directive, one for Lunar and one for Mars exploration. I am working with the group that is drafting the moon paper. Stay tuned for updates on the state of theses documents.

The Asteroid group pointed out two areas of concern with regards to asteroids, the threat of asteroid collision with earth and the possibility of using asteroids for human settlement. They made the recommendation that there should be a narrowing of the detection radius to focus on real catastrophic threats. They also called for student led projects to explore the possibilities of using asteroids as settlements and vehicles, perhaps using the existing Centennial Challenge framework.

The Cis- Lunar group dealt with issues related to the exploration and utilisation of everything within the Earth-Moon system. They highlighted environmental, policy, settlement, and economic issues. They recommended that there must be funding for cross-disciplinary funding for a common planetary exploration program. Paramount in the advancement of space technologies is that more private industry be used to provide services to the space agencies and that once government facilities are established on outer-space bodies that these facilities are transferred to private interests. Also raised was the issue of the lessening of restrictions on the transfer of intellectual property across international borders and the assurance of the ownership of intellectual property for researchers on government lunar facilities. They emphasized that acceptance by the general public of the costs and risks of space exploration and settlement would not be possible without the message that settlement is a primary objective and indeed required for the long term survival of the human species. They suggested that outreach should be comprised of identifying the space industry technologies that are transferred to daily life and that this would best be served by educating current media sources as well as utilising new media outlets to showcase space travel.

The Earth 3.0 group concerned themselves with the possible next steps in the evolution of humanity. They called for the establishment of a standing advisory board that would report to the space agencies. They envisioned that human-nature interaction would be a fundamental principle of space exploration and that to explore is an inately human characteristic. They see the need for new/improved means of communication so that ideas, words, and emotions could be better understood across languages and cultures. They recommended outreach efforts that emphasized a space vision statements with Earth focus and that these efforts should involve non-science/engineering disciplines.

The Mars Science and Exploration group addressed the questions: Why Mars? And if Mars then how to prepare? They outlined that Mars is the perfect location to search for life (a possible second genesis), to characterize a planetary system other than ours (thus giving us that all important second data point on the planetary scale), to study the evolution of the solar system, and to test human biological limits. Mars also has the unique opportunity to unite international communities and help to define humanity’s place int he universe. They also contend that Mars provides many economic benefits such as the provision of new energy resources and the potential for tourism. The group layed out a plan for pre-Mars strategies such as the development of a system of milestones that should be met before a mission to Mars, the facilitation of international cooperation, the involvement of all facets of society. They also point out that the public should be informed of the risks of such an endeavor but that it is of fundamental importance that the risks be taken. This last statement reminds me of an example given to our group by Chris McKay last Tuesday (paraphrasing) “if you stand in the middle of a freeway you are taking a large risk, but that is stupid, if you survive you get nothing out of it, however if you climb a mountain there is also a risk, but if you survive the risks you get a marvelous view of new vistas”.

The Virtual Exploration group identified a technology that is already present yet is not being utilized to the potential that it can be in the space exploration realm. There are many examples of virtual worlds in existence over the internet that could be tapped into to promote space exploration. They highlighted that these virtual worlds could be used for public outreach, environmental simulations and presentation, communication, and increasing productivity. In the area of mission planning, the group identified that virtual simulations could be used before, during, and after missions. Their immediate action plans involve the identifying of useful existing technologies and performing trial runs on their usefulness in the promotion of space exploration.

The Mars Settlement and Society group (of which I was a member) identified five themes that must be addressed for the successful execution of Mars settlement. These are: the development of human subsystems, the design of habitats, the building of communities, the creation of stakeholders, and a philosophical framework for exploration. We came to the conclusion that humans living on Mars will be intrinsically different from humans living on Earth, from physiology to philosophy. Medicines, surgery and exercise activities will have to be adapted due to the radiation and reduced gravity conditions. These adaptations will have to be examined first with near Earth analogues and then eventually by sortie missions to Mars. The far side of the Moon could also be used as a psychological analogue for the isolation of living on a planet where the Earth will not be seen (a well documented comfort to inhabitants of the International Space Station). Habitats on Mars will have to be able to withstand radiation and micro-meteorite impacts. The first habitats, erected during the initial sortie missions, should be modular, thus enabling for the growth of interconnected habitats that would then be used for the permanent inhabitants. Communities on Mars will have to become autonomous from Earth due to the shear distance involved. A major theme for all the groups in the conference was outreach and this was not lost on our group. We were very much convinced that stakeholders in space exploration must be identified and that each of these groups should be made aware that they do hold a stake in space exploration and habitation of the solar system and beyond.

After the presentations and open discussions we were all delighted to hear that we were all invited to tour the winery established by George Cooper (who just happens to be the second human to break the sound barrier). Turns out that two of the Girl Scouts who were invited to participate in the group workshops happen to be his granddaughters. We were treated to an explanation of wine-making techniques by Colonel Cooper himself, who confessed that test piloting came much easier to him than wine-making, however he doen’t have to worry about his engine cutting out at 30,000 ft.


So all in all I had a great time out here in the Silicon Valley. Perhaps I am being nieve, but I really think that a good portion of the work done over the past three days will be taken seriously by NASA and the other world agencies to help shape the strategy for exploration. Indeed it was my impression that NASA really has no real clue as to how to sell a space program. The Apollo program is always sited as the climax of the space program. At that time there was a cold war going on and the rational for getting to the Moon was clear: beat the Soviets to it. It seems that the American people bought into that (to the tune of 30% of the federal budget), they do not seem to be buying into finding water ice on the Moon though (they are upset at a request to increase the 1% current allotment to NASA). Many of the above suggestions speak to this disconnect. It is my belief, and that of most of the delegates this past week, that it is imperative for the prosperity of all life on this planet that we explore and inhabit the solar system and beyond. I sincerely hope that I can maintain the momentum that I was infused with these past few days and continue to push for a Canadian exploration agenda back home, and that the officials who will read the conference documents get back to us so that a feedback loop is created that will push forward the exploration agenda.

Thank you for reading, next stop Valencia.