Month: July, 2017

The Top 5 Places We Could Colonize In Our Solar System

The 5 best options for colonizing in our solar system are:

  • The moon
  • Mars
  • Europa
  • Titan
  • Venus


The moon

Gravity: 1/6 that of earth

Air pressure: none

Temperature: extreme (253 in sun, -253 in shade)

Why go – a place to launch to other places Orbiting at 2288 mph (3683 kph) – significant boost

Advantages: Instant communication with Earth Good place to learn how to colonize where Experts are available 24/7

Advantages: Lighter gravity means we could build bigger there
Advantages: could dome over craters to create housing
Advantages: water ice in some pole craters

One place we have talked a lot about is Mars



Gravity: Just over 1/3 (38%)

Air Pressure: .6% if Earth’s

Temperature: 70 in day (20C), -100 at night (-73C)

Why go: Most comfortable temperature-wise and gravity-wise, but pressure is still abysmal

Down-side: Thin atmosphere means not enough to support life but enough to make landings difficult.

Terraforming option – most potential for terraforming. Melting ice caps could pump CO2 into the air and thicken the atmosphere as well as warm the planet



Gravity: 13% of Earth’s

Air pressure: barely exists – mostly oxygen

Temperature: -260F -160C

This seems like a swing and a miss, but there’s something interesting under the surface of Europa

Tidal heating causes a sea of liquid water beneath the surface.
One of the best options for finding life in the solar system
Underwater habitats might be the answer.

Downside: radiation carried by Jupiter’s magnetic field would pose an issue



Gravity: 13% of Earth’s

Air pressure: 1.5x that of Earth

Temperature: -290F, -179C

Of all the places in the solar system, Titan’s air pressure is most like Earth’s You could just walk around on the surface without a suit, except for the fact that it’s so cold methane flows in rivers.

Could use the methane for fuel

But I promised something controversial, and here it is, my personal favorite option for colonizing another planet… Venus.



Gravity: 91% of Earth’s

Air Pressure: 100x that of Earth

Temperature: 872F, 467C

Now I know what you’re saying, you’re saying Joe, that only meets one of the three criteria, how can you possibly pick that as your number one?

Because those numbers are for the planet’s surface. Up in the clouds, it’s a different story.

Venus’ air pressure is insane. On the surface, it would crush you like a soda can. But about 50 kilometers up in the atmosphere, it’s about the same as here.

Which means that just like a ship can float on top of the water, we could build colonies that float on the upper atmosphere of Venus.

It would still be hot, but manageable.

And I know people will always say, but what if you fall? Or if you drop something, you’ll never get it back.

Well, I go back to the ship on the sea analogy. If you fall off the boat, you’re likely to drown. If you drop your phone over the side, you’ll never see it again. But we still have cruise ships carrying thousands of people and entire navies floating around out there.

Plus the communication time would be smaller than anywhere else.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Master Plan Is About To Become Reality

This Friday is a day that over 400,000 people have been waiting for since March of 2016. Tesla is officially handing out the first production line Model 3s to reservation holders.

(over footage)
They first introduced the Model 3 16 months ago to huge fanfare, more than $130,000 people put a thousand dollars down before the car was even revealed.

And, full disclosure, I’m one of them. (hold up card) Now, I didn’t put money down before I saw it, I was adamant about that, I had to see it first. But when I saw it, I was like, “eh, why not?”

I can always get the deposit back if I change my mind.

Now I know it’ll be a while before I get mine and that’s fine, my Jetta diesel isn’t going anywhere.

And before you call me a Tesla fanboy in the comments, I cop to it, I’m a fan. And I’m going to assume most of you watching this are fans because… why else would you watch this video, unless you get off on hating things, which… I dunno, that sounds miserable way to live your life to me, but… Kay.

So this is kind-of a big deal, so I wanted to talk about what this launch event means, both to Tesla and the car industry, and throw in my own thoughts and concerns along the way.

Hold on tight because this video’s going into Ludicrous mode.

A Ball And Disc Spinning Magnetic Fidget Toy


Fidget toys are certainly becoming quite prevalent everywhere within the last year.

Be it the fidget cube, fidget pens, fidget rings, or even a moon gravity simulating fidget toy, everyone seems to need to fill their busy hands with something to play with while they think, work, or just something to calm that ADHD.

This newest installment of a fidget toy consists simply of a magnetic disc and a metallic ball. Known as the Orbiter, the unique fidget toy allows you to do a multitude of things with it, including letting you spin the metal ball around the edges of the disc super quickly, spinning it like a top, a hand spinner, and more.


By default the metallic ball rests in the depression of the base. But once you’re ready to start using it just flip it out of the base with your finger and start fidgeting.

The Orbiter fidget toy is super small, as it easily can be placed in your pocket when not in use, then just slip it out when those fidget cravings come along.

With just a few minutes of practice you can become a master Orbiter user to help relieve stress and increase your focus.


Your purchase includes 1 orbiter, 1 metallic ball, and a carrying pouch, all packaged within a high quality gift box.

The device is made using grade 5 titanium and powerful neodymium magnets, weighs well under 2 oz, and can easily be stored in a pocket, purse, or just right on the front of your desk at work.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

How Big Is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

marine debris

Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific trash vortex, spans waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan. The patch is actually comprised of the Western Garbage Patch, located near Japan, and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between the U.S. states of Hawaii and California.

These areas of spinning debris are linked together by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, located a few hundred kilometers north of Hawaii.

This convergence zone is where warm water from the South Pacific meets up with cooler water from the Arctic. The zone acts like a highway that moves debris from one patch to another.

The entire Great Pacific Garbage Patch is bounded by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. An ocean gyre is a system of circular ocean currents formed by the Earth’s wind patterns and the forces created by the rotation of the planet.

The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is created by the interaction of the California, North Equatorial, Kuroshiro, and North Pacific currents. These four currents move in a clockwise direction around an area of 20 million square kilometers (7.7 million square miles).


The area in the center of a gyre tends to be very calm and stable. The circular motion of the gyre draws debris into this stable center, where it becomes trapped.

The amount of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch accumulates because much of it is not biodegradable. Many plastics, for instance, do not wear down; they simply break into tinier and tinier pieces.

For many people, the idea of a “garbage patch” conjures up images of an island of trash floating on the ocean. In reality, these patches are almost entirely made up of tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics. Microplastics can’t always be seen by the naked eye.

plastic debris

Even satellite imagery doesn’t show a giant patch of garbage. The microplastics of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can simply make the water look like a cloudy soup. This soup is intermixed with larger items, such as fishing gear and shoes.

The seafloor beneath the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may also be an underwater trash heap. Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

No one knows how much debris makes up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is too large for scientists to trawl. In addition, not all trash floats on the surface.

Denser debris can sink centimeters or even several meters beneath the surface, making the vortex’s area nearly impossible to measure.

north pacific


About 80% of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia. Trash from the coast of North America takes about six years to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, while trash from Japan and other Asian countries takes about a year.

The remaining 20% of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from boaters, offshore oil rigs, and large cargo ships that dump or lose debris directly into the water.

The majority of this debris—about 705,000 tons—is fishing nets. More unusual items, such as computer monitors and LEGOs, come from dropped shipping containers.


While many different types of trash enter the ocean, plastics make up the majority of marine debris for two reasons. First, plastic’s durability, low cost, and malleability mean that it’s being used in more and more consumer and industrial products. Second, plastic goods do not biodegrade but instead break down into smaller pieces.

Marine debris can be very harmful to marine life in the gyre. For instance, loggerhead sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellies, their favorite food.

Albatrosses mistake plastic resin pellets for fish eggs and feed them to chicks, which die of starvation or ruptured organs. Marine debris can also disturb marine food webs in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

As microplastics and other trash collect on or near the surface of the ocean, they block sunlight from reaching plankton and algae below.


Algae and plankton are the most common autotrophs, or producers, in the marine food web. Autotrophs are organisms that can produce their own nutrients from oxygen, carbon, and sunlight.

If algae and plankton communities are threatened, the entire food web may change. Animals that feed on algae and plankton, such as fish and turtles, will have less food.

If populations of those animals decrease, there will be less food for apex predators such as tuna, sharks, and whales. Eventually, seafood becomes less available and more expensive for people.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Study Suggests That House Dust May Spur Growth Of Fat Cells


Could something as simple as household dust be contributing to America’s obesity epidemic?

Small amounts of household dust appear to contain many of the compounds that can spur fat cells to accumulate more fat at least in lab settings, according to research published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers took samples of indoor dust from 11 North Carolina homes, and tested extracts from those samples in a mouse pre-adipocyte cell model.

According to the researchers, extracts from seven of the samples triggered the cells to develop mature fat cells and accumulate fat.


Extracts from nine samples spurred the cells to divide, creating a bigger pool of precursor fat cells. Only one sample showed no effects. The researchers concluded that house dust is a likely source of chemicals that can derail metabolic health.

The study, which is notably small, suggests that the conversation around reducing obesity, which is often anchored in questions of diet and exercise, needs to expand to incorporate a better understanding of environment and pollution.


It doesn’t take much dust to see a negative impact, at least under lab conditions: dust amounts as small as 3 micrograms showed measurable effects, according to the researchers.

Looking beyond simple household dust, environmental pollution poses a deadly threat to children worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die annually due to the effects of living in polluted environments.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Take A Virtual Tour Of The International Space Station


Ever wondered what it’s like to be an astronaut aboard the International Space Station? Now, thanks to the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Google, you can find out.

Pesquet returned to Earth in June after six months as a European Space Agency astronaut on the ISS.

During his trip, he made an exhaustive photographic survery of the interior of the station and sent the images down to Google engineers on Earth.

They in turn stitched the photos together into 360-degree panoramas that can be navigated using the Google Street View interface.

So what’s it like? Words like “cramped”, “cluttered” and “claustrophobic” spring to mind for this armchair astronaut, though the explanatory notes are fascinating and the views out the window are truly superb.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Largest Dark Web Market Closed In Massive Government Take-down

cyber crime

Adios, AlphaBay. US and European law enforcement agencies have slammed shut a booming online trade in drugs, weapons and stolen identities. Two of the three largest dark web markets are closed for business.

The Department of Justice and Europol announced Thursday that they have shut down AlphaBay and Hansa, two massive marketplaces on the dark web that served hundreds of thousands of customers trying to get their hands on illegal goods online.

While you or I can easily buy groceries, electronics and clothes online, when it comes to finding drugs, weapons and stolen identities, things can get a little more complicated.

Merchants of contraband hide out on the dark web, a hidden part of the internet that you can only access through special browsers like Tor. There, buyers and sellers are anonymous, and so is the currency, with most transactions happening through bitcoin.

AlphaBay alone had 200,000 customers and more than 40,000 sellers peddling illegal goods, making it the largest takedown for a dark web marketplace ever.

cyber crime

The website had 100,000 listings for sale when the governments took it down. In comparison, Silk Road, one of the most notorious dark web markets, had 14,000 listings when the FBI shut down the site four years ago. Hansa was the third largest dark web market when it shut down.

The website made $1 billion in sales before it was shut down in a joint operation of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Dutch police and Europol.

Visitors first noticed AlphaBay was down on July 5, when Alexandre Cazes, better known as Alpha02, the website’s creator and admin, was arrested in Thailand.

cyber crime

On July 12, he was found dead while in custody there, in an apparent suicide. Frequent AlphaBay users were concerned that the shutdown was an “exit scam,” in which a market owner takes the money and runs.

Terbium Labs had been following the dark web for months, specifically in marketplaces like AlphaBay. After the fallout in early July, Wilson said former moderators and well-known users were left in confusion.

After AlphaBay’s shutdown, its users flocked to Hansa, increasing the dark market’s traffic in eightfold, Wainwright said. Dutch police took over Hansa last month and have been collecting thousands of user’s information in an undercover operation.


Wainwright said officers are tracking down Hansa buyers and sellers through their usernames and passwords.

But that’s just one chapter in the fight against illegal online transactions. Just as AlphaBay rose and became 10 times larger than Silk Road, FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe predicts there will be another dark web market to fill the void.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

North Sea Cod Is Now Sustainable And Can Be Eaten With A ‘Clear Conscience’


It’s good news for people who love nothing more than tucking into battered cod and chips at the seaside, because the much-loved fish has been classified as sustainable by a global fishing standards body.

After a decade of being under threat, The Marine Stewardship Council has advised eco-friendly diners that North Sea stocks can be consumed with a ‘clear conscience’.

The popular fish has been on careful watch after stocks fell to 36,000 tonnes in 2006 – down from 270,000 tonnes in the 1970s.

But a carefully managed cross-industry ‘rescue plan’ has helped to encourage cod numbers to recover exponentially on the east coast.

The MSC made the decision to award Scottish cod the ‘blue tick’ eco label, after emergency measures were brought in to stop the industry collapsing.


These included introducing new nets with bigger holes that allow young cod to escape, closing spawning areas to fishing and managing fishing practices.

When customers purchase North Sea cod in the supermarket from now on, they will see the organisation’s eponymous blue label, which assures shoppers that the fish has been responsibly caught by a certified sustainable fishery.

The cod stock has now recovered to 167,711 tonnes – the highest it has been since 1982 – and this marks the first time that North Sea cod has ever been approved by the MSC in the organisation’s 20-year history.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

The Fermi Paradox, Cyborgs, And Artificial Intelligence – My Interview With Isaac Arthur

Isaac Arthur runs the YouTube channel Science and Futurism With Isaac Arthur, where he goes into incredibly deep dives on subjects like megastructures, future space colonies, aliens, and little things like farming black holes (like you do). Here we touch on a few of those topics and do a little shop talk about life as YouTubers.

If you enjoy this episode, check out Isaac’s channel at

SpaceX Says It Plans to Send A Spacecraft to Mars


Today, Elon Musk suggested that SpaceX will abandon its plans to land the company’s Dragon capsule on Mars — a mission the company had been aiming to do as early as 2020.

SpaceX will not fully develop the landing technique it was going to use to land the Dragon on Mars. Known as the Red Dragon mission, the capsule was meant to lower itself to solid ground using engines embedded in its hull.

And then touch down gently on landing legs in a method known as propulsive landing. But Musk said the company will come up with another way to land vehicles on the Martian surface.

“There was a time when I thought that the Dragon approach to landing on Mars… would be the right way to land on Mars,” Musk said at the ISS R&D Conference in Washington, DC today.

“But now I’m pretty confident that is not the right way. There’s a far better approach. That’s what the next generation of SpaceX rockets and spacecraft is going to do.”

Musk did not explain what that approach would be, though, or which vehicles the company would try to land on Mars in the future.

Later, Musk tweeted that SpaceX is still going to try to do a propulsive landing on Mars at some point, just with a bigger vehicle.


The decision means SpaceX’s Dragon capsules will stick to landing with parachutes here on Earth, too.

That’s the current method SpaceX uses to land its cargo Dragon capsule, a version of the vehicle used to deliver supplies to and from the International Space Station.

The company has been working on an updated version of the capsule called Dragon 2 that will eventually carry people back and forth from the ISS, and SpaceX hoped to have that vehicle land propulsively with people on board.

Safety concerns prompted SpaceX to abandon the concept for Dragon 2. Specifically, Musk said that “it would have taken a tremendous amount of effort to qualify that for safety” with NASA.


But it’s not clear if safety was the main reason for not landing the Dragon on Mars, too. The propulsive landing technique may have simply been too difficult to develop for carrying a crew on the Dragon, so SpaceX decided to just go with parachutes. It wouldn’t then make sense to use the Dragon to land on Mars.

Musk said the Dragon 2 will still be capable of landing propulsively, though. That’s because the engines it would need to do the landing will still be installed on the capsule.

The engines are crucial for the Dragon’s abort system: they can fire up if there’s an emergency during launch and carry the capsule and its crew up and away to safety.


However without landing legs, landing with the engines would be extra difficult to pull off. “You’d have to land it on some pretty soft landing pad,” he said.

Musk also announced that he may update his Mars colonization plans at the upcoming International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, this September.

He didn’t say much about what has changed except that the huge rocket SpaceX hopes to build for the endeavor is going to be a little bit smaller than its original design.


Musk also brought up another rocket that SpaceX has been working on for many years: the Falcon Heavy. The vehicle, which is essentially three Falcon 9 cores strapped together, is supposed to fly for the first time later this year.

But Musk made sure to lower people’s expectations about the rocket’s first flight. He’d consider the flight a success if it doesn’t burn up the launchpad; the Falcon Heavy likely won’t reach orbit during its maiden voyage, according to Musk.

He also had an adjective for the customers whose payloads are slated to fly on the Falcon Heavy’s first flight: “brave.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science