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Old 09-08-2004, 03:34   #1
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Alvin's replacement

”Deep-Sea Vessel Puts Ocean Floor in Reach” By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new deep-sea research vessel will be able to carry people to 99 percent of the ocean floor, diving deeper than the famed Alvin that pioneered the study of seafloor vents, plate tectonics and deep ocean creatures over the past 40 years....
Goto: http://cnn.netscape.cnn.com/news/sto...30.htm&sc=1501
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Old 09-08-2004, 18:09   #2
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Fascinating, but

fascinating but a little sad to me. I love the spirit of exploration but I also love mystery and think our technological power is getting too much for our planet. I like having a large ocean that is largely mysterious. We have great opportunities available with exploration of the seas, but it will envariably result in exploitation and, led to its logical conclusion, the ocean will look like Newark, NJ. I would prefer to spend our explorative efforts in space where there is enough room to do so without spoiling a fragile paradise. I find the ocean crowded enough as it is.

I used to fish a great deal, and am also a certified divemaster and I decided long ago that when fishing, it was more emotionally satisfying to try and figure out the water and the correct fishing technique by the clues on the surface. Diving and getting all the facts removed the romance.

All of this is whining in general and in no sense a criticism or complaint directed to you Gord, who posts more useful, productive, informative material than anyone could expect. I just think we could use a little bit of unexplored space.
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Old 10-08-2004, 04:22   #3
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SJS ”..would prefer to spend our explorative efforts in space where there is enough room to do so without spoiling a fragile paradise...”

I too, am "saddened", and agree that we could use a "little unexplored [read: un-exploited ?] space".

Mankind has an insatiable quest for knowledge, for exploration, and for discovery. That's why what we've done to our oceans, and (now) to near-earth space orbit is so shameful disgusting and (ultimately) short-sighted .

Space, much as our oceans used to be, is commonly thought of as a vast emptiness. Stars, planets, asteroids and gaseous clouds are contained within this vast void. And this is a (more or less) correct view of most of space. But within the part of space known as near earth orbit there is a lot more stuff in space. It's man-made junk. Millions (perhaps Billions of pieces) of old space ships, satellites, rockets are right now orbiting the earth at speeds between about 20,000 and 25,000 miles per hour, at altitudes from hundreds of miles to many thousands of miles around and above the earth.

A BB-sized piece of aluminum hurtling around the earth at 22,000 miles per hour has about as much kinetic energy as a bowling ball does at 60 miles an hour. In other words, if a BB-sized piece of aluminum strikes the space shuttle from a perpendicular direction (comes in from the side), it will have the same force as a bowling ball would if dropped on the space shuttle from about 100 feet high. If the BB-sized piece of aluminum collides head-on with the space shuttle, the effect would be much, much worse.

To put this in perspective, the heat shields on the space shuttle can be scratched and broken with a fingernail! So imagine what a bowling ball dropped from 100 feet could do!

But there are, of course, much bigger and more dangerous pieces of space junk than BB-sized pieces of aluminum. A piece of space debris the size of a small marble, traveling at 22,000 miles per hour, has the kinetic energy of a 400 pound safe dropped from about 100 feet. Imagine the damage that would do if it hits something like the future space station FREEDOM, or a space ship. A 1999 study estimated there are some 4 million pounds of space junk in low-Earth orbit, just one part of a celestial sea of roughly 110,000 objects larger than 1 centimeter in diameter.

The true legacy of man's early exploration of space will be that future generations will curse us and despise us for polluting that part of space through which all other space exploration must start (near earth orbit). We are in essence closing the door in front of us - the door to the stars, the other planets, and to the moon. Indeed, the door to mankind's future. By making all future astronauts run a deadly gauntlet at the start of every flight, we have guaranteed that accidents, disasters, and major malfunctions (as NASA first described the Challenger disaster) will continue to occur. What some feel is our greatest achievement - space exploration and walking on the moon, and sending exploratory space craft to the other planets, has left a legacy of pollution that will haunt future generations for tens of thousands of years.

Not long ago, the world’s oceans were thought to be self-perpetuating due to their immense size and volume. Let’s not let that same sort of hubris blind us to the finite ability of our universe to cleanse itself of mankind’s detritus.

FWIW
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Old 10-08-2004, 08:28   #4
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Well said Gord. As a species, we are pretty rude guests in this universe.
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Old 10-08-2004, 10:06   #5
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Tho’ I (personally) may be rude, I (and my specie) are not guests of this Universe - we're native-born, full-time, legal residents.

Personaly - coming from a “place far, far away, and a time long, long ago”; I suppose I’m just a guest of this Planet.
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