To celebrate hitting 5 million views, I recently recorded a lightning round video, taking questions from all over my social media platforms. Here is what came out of it.
To celebrate hitting 5 million views, I recently recorded a lightning round video, taking questions from all over my social media platforms. Here is what came out of it.
From 1983 to 1991 on the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, an experiment had been under way by the University of Utah called the Fly’s Eye Cosmic Ray Detector.
And this is how they found the Oh My God particle, but before I explain it, let me back up and talk about cosmic rays so you can fully grasp the Oh My God reaction here.
Cosmic rays are mostly made up of the nuclei of atoms, 90% of them are single protons – the nuclei of hydrogen atoms. These are much higher energy than solar radiation because unlike photons they actually have mass.
This was the first ultra-high energy cosmic ray discovered, which was shocking not just because of it had a lot of energy, but because it kind-of shouldn’t have been possible thanks to something called the GZK cutoff.
GZK stands for the scientists Kenneth Greisen, Georgie Zatsepin and Vadim Kuzmin, who set a speed limit for cosmic rays at 5 x 10 to the 19th electron volts, or 8 joules of energy. It was believed that particles couldn’t exceed this limit due to interactions with photons in the microwave background radiation.
This new class of cosmic rays became known as trans-GZK cosmic rays. They are super rare and believed to be from fairly close by in order to have that kind of speed – the less they’ve travelled, the less they would be slowed down by the CMB.
Since discovering the OMG particle, there have been a slew of new cosmic ray observatories like the Pierre Auger observatory and the Telescope Array Project, which is the successor to the fly’s eye.
There have also been efforts to focus on high-energy neutrinos with the belief that they may be created in a similar process to the high-energy cosmic rays. There’s an observatory underneath the south pole that specializes in that.
Jacque Fresco was born in 1916 and spent his young adult life struggling through the Depression, which informed his ideas about the economy and society as he grew older. He was a self-taught designer and architect who championed pre-fabricated homes in the 50s and 60s but his real passion was the future.
In 1969, he published a book called Looking Forward, which imagined a future society where technology has made it possible for everyone to have their needs met.
He continued on this line of thinking for the rest of his life, eventually forming The Venus Project with Roxanne Meadows, advocating for a resource-based economy. They built a research center near Venus, Florida based on his design principles and used that as a home base to give presentations, tours, and make videos promoting their new social model.
And that social model is an entirely new economy that is not based on money, where automation and technology provides all our basic needs, nobody has to work, there’s no crime, no poverty, no waste, and it’s totally sustainable.
The Venus Project’s plan for smart cities is to incorporate a circular design, with the central hub housing the core of the cybernated system that controls resource management, educational and healthcare facilities, and communications networks.
Radiating out from there in all directions are concentric rings of buildings housing office space, institutions, and research laboratories.
Surrounding that is a green belt providing recreation and parks, then a residential belt with pre-fabricated homes.
From there, we find a band of apartment buildings and high-rises, again made from preformulated, modular pieces that also contain entertainment venues, theaters, and restaurants. Then an agricultural belt that grows all the food for the city along with hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic facilities.
A circular waterway surrounds the agricultural belt for irrigation, and last but not least, a second recreation belt with paths for walking and biking, golf courses, and outdoor activities.
Anybody who’s been to Disney World in Florida or just watched the Disney Channel when they were kids knows about Epcot Center, but what you may not know was that the original plan for Epcot was something much, much more ambitious.
Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. According to Disney’s vision, it would be an ever-evolving city designed to test the newest and greatest ideas in housing and urban planning. It would be connected by monorail to the theme park and would house the employees of the park.
But Epcot is not alone. From Octagon City in 1850’s Kansas to England’s Ebenezer Howard and his radial Garden City at the turn of the century to Broadacre City, planned by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright, the circular, modular city of the future is something that always seems to be planned… but never executed.
Earlier this year a company called Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of the Alphabet umbrella that includes Google, purchased 12 acres of waterfront property in Toronto, with the goal of testing out smart city designs and technology.
Just last week, Bill Gates purchased land outside of Phoenix Arizona with the purpose of creating a smart city, though we don’t have any idea on designs for that yet.
And in South Korea, a major smart city project called Songdo has been under construction for the last few years, but it seems to be short of reaching its goals and over budget. It’s supposed to be finished in 2020.
With both SpaceX and NASA ramping up plans to go to Mars, maybe it’s time to consider the other side of the discussion – that traveling to Mars might be a terrible idea.
Issue number one: Radiation.
Outside our protective magnetic sphere, space is a shooting gallery of solar radiation and cosmic rays that would wreak havoc on our bodies to a level that right now we can only speculate.
And then there are the 18 months you would spend on Mars, which doesn’t have a magnetosphere and a very thin atmosphere.
Humans have never been exposed to this type of radiation for this long. It’s a problem we’ve never dealt with before, and it’s going to be a huge challenge to overcome.
Number two: Extremely low air pressure.
The Martian atmosphere has only 1% of the air pressure of Earth.
Walking outside on Mars is not that much different from walking on the moon, from a life support systems perspective.
The thin atmosphere is also a nightmare for landing on Mars.
That’s why smaller rovers like Spirit and Opportunity used bizarre airbag systems to land and Curiosity, which was much heavier, had to use a combination of parachutes, thrusters, and a cable system to get there safely.
So SpaceX’s vertical propulsive landing option is probably best for Mars, but this is something that’s never been done up to this point, so it’s hard to know what challenges there are in attempting this with the thinner atmosphere and lower gravity.
Number 3: Perchlorates in the soil.
In the Biosphere 2 project, they grew their own food and struggled to have enough for everyone to eat. When they emerged at the end, many were malnourished and emaciated.
In 2008, the Mars Phoenix lander found significant quantities of perchlorate in the Martian soil.
Perchlorates are salt compounds that are often used in rocket propellants and they’re extremely harmful to humans.
They interrupt the thyroid gland and prevent the body from absorbing iodine, which leads to aplastic anemia.
That’s when your bone marrow can’t make new red blood cells. Red blood cells are what carry oxygen through the body. Minor problem.
Or, if aplastic anemia isn’t your thing, you might get agranulocytosis, which prevents your body from making white blood cells.
Chris McKay at the Ames Research Center said that if your backyard had this much perchlorate in the soil, it would be considered a Superfund site.
Basically, Mars is a giant toxic waste dump.
Number 4: The gravity problem.
Mars is smaller than Earth, with gravity only 38% of what you’re used to here. An average 150-pound person on Earth would weigh only 57 pounds on Mars.
We do have some idea of what to expect from long-term zero gravity thanks to astronauts like Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, who just this year completed a year-long space mission.
Although the record was set in 1995 by Valery Polyakov, who flew on the Mir space station for 437 days.
And last but not least, number 5: The Contamination Problem.
We’ve talked in videos about the Fermi Paradox and the Drake Equation in the search for intelligent life in the universe.
Because if life could form twice in one solar system, the potential for life in other solar systems, and intelligent life, becomes very significant.
So one of the biggest problems when it comes to traveling to Mars is that we’re not just bringing ourselves… We’re bringing our microbes.
The second we land on Mars, we have contaminated it.
It’s the ultimate nightmare scenario: A bubble in spacetime that grows at the speed of light and eventually destroys the universe. That’s vacuum decay.
Try to imagine somewhere in the universe, a tiny subatomic bubble formed. A bubble inside which all physics as we know it ceases to exist. Particles don’t form into atoms, atoms can’t turn into molecules, all the fundamental forces cease to have any meaning.
And then that bubble expands outward at the speed of light, obliterating everything it touches. Asteroids, comets, planets, stars, whole galaxies just dissipate immediately, their constituent particles flung apart like ashes in the wind. Until eventually the entire universe ceases to exist.
This is a real thing that could happen, spontaneously at any time and at any point in the universe. In fact, it could have already happened, and we’d have no way of knowing it. Because it travels at the speed of light, the first sign we’d get that it happened would be us and everything we know blinking out of existence in a fraction of a second.
This is vacuum decay. And to understand how this could happen, there are three concepts we need to understand.
The first is the standard model of particle physics.
I did a whole video on the standard model that I’ll share right here, so I won’t go too in the weeds about this but a quick overview is that all atoms are made up of fundamental particles that fall into 3 categories, leptons, quarks, and bosons.
Leptons are our electrons and neutrinos in their various flavors, quarks make up protons and neutrons, and bosons are force carrier particles, they make the four fundamental forces possible.
But the final piece of the standard model that we know of so far anyway was the famed Higgs boson.
But the Higgs boson is actually just a tiny chunk of the Higgs Field. Which brings us to the second concept we need to understand… Quantum field theory.
So I’ve never really done a video on Quantum field theory, so that’s long overdue, but the basic gist of it is that all of the particles I just mentioned are actually just excitations in a corresponding field.
In other words, reality as we know it is made up of layers of fields of different energy levels. You’ve got quark fields, electron fields, neutrino fields, boson fields, and most important for this discussion, the Higgs field.
When the Higgs field was predicted, by the illustrious Peter Higgs, it was calculated at a very specific energy level. Any higher or lower and physics as we know it ceases to exist.
126 GeV is a tiny amount of energy to us, but as particles and fields go, it’s pretty high. Scientists began to wonder if this was really as low as it could go.
And with a little fancy math, scientists at CERN in 2013 were able to prove that there is, theoretically, a lower energy level that the Higgs field could exist in. An ultra-dense Higgs field.
This means that the Higgs field that keeps the entire universe together is not a stable true vacuum, it’s a metastable false vacuum.
Which means that if at any place in the universe a tiny part of the Higgs field slipped down into this energy level, entropy would take over and the entire Higgs field would collapse into the ultra-dense state.
From ancient unreadable texts to the 60-year fantasy world of a mentally ill recluse, these are the 5 most mysterious books of all time.
Billions of dollars are going into age research, and many experts believe that we’re on the cusp of beating aging. Here are 7 technologies and strategies to look out for.
Caloric restriction or dietary restriction is a diet that decreases your calorie consumption by at least 30%. People on caloric restriction eat very little food along with a regimen of vitamins to make sure they get all the nutrients they need. They say it lowers your body’s metabolism by putting your body into a fasting state.
The theory is that when your body is in a fasting state, it focuses its energy on tissue repair, which means less tissue damage and a longer lifespan.
Experiments with caloric restriction in mice showed up to a 45% increase in lifespan, and similar results were found in experiments with rhesus monkeys.
But studies have started showing similar results from intermittent fasting.
There are different types of intermittent fasting, one involves fasting every day, basically not eating until late in the afternoon. This is actually advocated by the actor Terry Crewes.
This has some noted benefits but the type of fasting that’s of interest to age research involves going for 5 days a month without eating.
Studies tend to show that this puts your body into extreme tissue repair and is even helps prevent cancer.
One of the things that causes the most metabolic wear and tear on your cells is oxidative stress.
Luckily there are antioxidants that bind to the free radicals and prevents them from damaging the cells. Just in case you ever wondered what the whole antioxidant thing was all about.
Now antioxidant supplementation has shown a lot of promise in preventing different types of cancers, but it hasn’t shown to really affect the aging process.
A lot of research in the last couple decades has focused on telomeres.
Well, scientists discovered that these telomeres get shorter every time your cell and chromosomes divide and the theory is that over time throughout your life, this leads to the chromosomes and the DNA becoming frayed, which leads to cells becoming damaged and thus, stop reproducing.
This is a point known as the Hayflick limit.
But, they discovered an enzyme that’s created in cells that reproduce often like skin cells and more so in stem cells called telomerase that actually lengthens and prevents the shortening of telomeres, meaning the cells and tissues survive much longer before hitting the Hayflick limit.
This was a big deal, and won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 2009.
But the drug that’s really got everyone talking these days is metformin.
Metformin is a drug that’s been used since the 1950s to treat diabetes, so it’s nothing new. But researchers started noticing something over the decades.
Patients who took metformin tended to live longer and suffer from fewer age-related illnesses. One study found that diabetics on metformin not only lived longer than diabetics who aren’t on metformin, they lived longer than non-diabetic people as well.
You really can’t talk about aging research without talking about Aubrey De Grey. He’s the founder and head scientist at the SENS Research Foundation and the SENS foundation has pinpointed 7 different categories of cellular damage that leads to aging and has set about fixing them one by one.
But of course, the ultimate option is nanobots.
Swarms of blood-cell size robots that can be programmed to repair tissues, destroy tumors, clean blockages in our arteries and physically connect neurons are the ultimate life expander.
Greg Porter is an architect, designer, maker and the host of the YouTube channel Greg’s Garage, where he builds cool designs and solutions using 3D printing and fabrication machines that he built with his own hands.
In this interview, we talk about his journey to being an architect, what moves him as a maker and designer, and the future of design as we integrate our creativity with artificial intelligence.
You can find more about Greg on his website, www.gregsgaragekc.com.
You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPy-ulK_kHKVnSmb62uOncg
On Friday, Elon Musk spoke to the International Astronautical Conference in Adelaide Australia to update us on his plans for SpaceX. Here’s the nuts and bolts of it.
Friday, Elon took the stage at the International Astronautical Conference in Adelaide Australia and around the world, musketeers gathered around their computers to watch their favorite billionaire visionary slash chief executive stammerer talk about his new plans for Mars.
But that’s not really what they got.
Yes, Elon talked about Mars, but this wasn’t really about Mars so much as it was about the future of SpaceX.
And the first hint of the future of SpaceX is the name he used for their rocket.
Last year, the spaceship he presented was referred to as the ITS, for Interplanetary Transport System.
This was a rocket system specifically designed for voyages to Mars and beyond. This time, the letters ITS were never used. Instead, he went with BFR. For Big F*cking Rocket.
Musk’s new version of the BFR gets smaller, and far, far more versatile.
Satellite deployment, refueling, lunar landing, and shuttling astronauts to the ISS. And as this picture shows, it’s still a pretty big fucking rocket.
This is the future of SpaceX. A one-size-fits all workhorse that can perform a wide variety of functions with only slight modifications to the original design.
In fact, he said that this configuration would make everything before it obsolete, which makes me wonder what is the future of the Falcon Heavy and the Dragon 2?
This workhorse has 31 engines in the first stage as opposed to 42 in the original design. And it’s designed to carry 4400 tons of vehicle mass with 5400 tons of thrust.
He showed in a chart just how much more that is than any other rocket, including the Falcon Heavy. By a long shot.
So maybe the Heavy will just be kept around for special payloads that require it? I don’t know.
But the second stage had a few major changes, including a small delta wing with yaw and pitch controls for better control during re-entry.
He described the crewship as a combination of the Falcon 9 second stage and the Dragon capsule, but bigger.
The crew cabin is designed to carry up to 100 passengers with 40 capsules that Elon says are built for 2 to 3 people each, though you could get 5 in there if you weren’t claustrophobic.
And he says it has as much cabin space as an Airbus 380, which just for reference can carry 853 passengers fully loaded.
One thing that was new was he talked about lunar expeditions and possibly setting up a moon base, which is new for SpaceX but also in line with NASA’s plan to return to the moon.
This obviously positions SpaceX to get some government contracts for lunar missions, which could be a money maker for the BFR.
And back to Mars, he showed a visualization of how the Mars landing would work, using that delta wing shape to slow the craft down in the atmosphere before doing a propulsive landing.
Now he did say that the Mars missions would require producing fuel on Mars, which in rocketspeak is In-Situ Resource Utilization.
Elon’s new timeline put the first trips to Mars in 2022, these are unmanned missions that will carry solar-powered fuel plants to carry out all the stuff I just talked about, along with cargo and food for future missions.
In 2024, he wants to launch 4 ships to Mars, 2 crewed and 2 uncrewed, which are stocked with provisions for a long stay on Mars.
And he showed how a base would start with one landing pad, then becoming multiple landing pads, and growing out a city from there.
Elon himself called these timelines “aspirational” but did say they are already starting to build the first ship so maybe we’ll see these things sooner than we think.
But the big surprise of the night came at the end when Elon channeled his inner Steve Jobs and had one more thing. And suggested that if these rockets could send people to Mars, why not other places on Earth? And unveiled this plan.