John Shirley

A Moon Ocean!

Scientists learn that Saturn’s moon Enceladus has the only ocean beyond Earth known to contain all six elements needed for life.“We now really have found that Enceladus’s subsurface ocean is the most habitable place in the solar system, at least as far as we know,” said lead author Frank Postberg, a professor at the Free University of Berlin.

The discovery of dissolved sodium phosphate, announced in a report published Wednesday in the journal Nature, makes Enceladus all the more intriguing.

Probably carried out with remote robotics, the marvelous opportunity for exploration of the ocean on the moon Enceladus may bring the real possibility of discovering new forms of life and studying a primeval ocean–but it may also be a boon to humanity, in the next century, in other ways.

Suppose humanity established a colony on Mars, or in an interstellar setting,  we could also set up a robotic developmental center on Enceladus, processing its primordial soups into a variety of useful products, possibly spurring it to create new forms of life. It could be a vast supply of basic resources for space colonies. But, what’s this, you say, it sounds like more Manifest Destiny thinking. If there’s sophisticated life on Enceladus, we should leave it alone. If there’s primitive life, we can develop the moon’s practical utilization in a careful, selective way.  Possibly, in time, a floating human colony could arise there, using genetic engineering to develop piscine organisms, ie new kinds of edible fish (engineered for the peculiar chemistry of the ocean on this moon) and aquatic plants, for exportation to space colonies and Earth.

Clean Energy 24/7: Engineers Use Nanotechnology To Harvest Electricity “From Thin Air”

“Engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a technique for harvesting electricity from air humidity, dubbed the “generic Air-gen effect.” According to research published in Advanced Materials, any material with nanopores less than 100 nanometers in diameter can be utilized to continuously generate electricity.”

From Brock Hinzmann:

PESSIMISM! Various disruptions around the world, driven by climate change, authoritarian political upheaval, virtual world desires, and other factors, are creating a large population of international migrants and neo diasporas. Which of these groups can we plan ahead to ‘port over’ from other countries? Pockets of populations, having culturallyderived skills or proclivities, will find each other and settle in places where they will help each other to have a multiplier effect in their new homeland. In some cases, the effect will be positive, as in supplying talent and new businesses in an emergent industry, and in other cases it will be negative, as in slums of people trapped in a vicious cycle. National governments, city governments, large corporations that are able to recognize the emergent cluster, will take advantage of the trend, developing anticipatory policies and hiring practices. Those that don’t will resent the newcomers and suffer a string of local or national conflicts.

Call them BLEADERS–as in B-Leaders. They’re sure not A-leaders. Current and future leaders in metropolises, cities, towns are the ones that are going to be called upon to create and carry out local strategies for dealing with future crises, which are still coming. Various recent trends indicate a lacking and failing class of current leadership around the world’s institutions, including in business, as well as in politics. ‘Bleaders’ hide behind excuses, fail to accept any blame, but continue to seek personal or political advantage in the Climate Change and immigration chaos. Important decisions that need leadership are being put off and nothing will be done to prevent future disasters.How their leadership is received will largely depend upon how they are personally perceived.

Is leadership slipping away from countries like the US to places like China?  One wonders  if the current youth rebellion, against our leaders failure to address Climate Change is widespread, and bound to last, or whether it is superficial, among the small percentage of youth that have always rebelled, periodically, over the centuries, and will fade back into a cautious youth, who will adopt more conservative lifestyles, in order to get a job, buy a house, and raise a family.


MAKERS IN SPACE: As commercialization of space is heating up, whole new industries are beginning to appear, having megatons of money thrown at them, leaving behind the detritus of failures, but also giving lift to some unexpected successes. Early efforts including launching tens of thousands of satellites, which will be sensing the Earth and selling back data of all kinds, and efforts continue to make things in space, which require new technologies in order to meet the specific limitations in space and in order to be affordable. Largely unregulated commercialization will lead to some creative things, but might also have some unintended and self-defeating consequences.

I’m particularly interested in 3-D printing and additive manufacturing in space and for the space industry, as it has struggled to find a killer app here on Earth, where mass manufacturing still rules, but wherein it has advantage in the emergent space industry, which has need of unique and one-off inventions and designs. I wondered how some of the stranger things we abstracted might end up in space.

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