There Used To Be An Island Here

Thousands of years ago, when the ocean levels were lower, an inhabited island once existed between Great Britain and Denmark. Who were the people who lived there? And what happened to Doggerland?

TRANSCRIPT:

In 1931, a fishing trawler was working in the North Sea in an area known as Dogger Bank, it’s an undersea raised formation about halfway between Britain and Denmark – it’s a popular spot for fishing because the water is shallower there, and that’s actually how it got its name, a Dogger is a type of Danish fishing boat.

Anyway, on this one particular fishing trip, they trawled a little too low and scraped the sea floor and pulled some of that floor up with it.

And as they were digging that sea floor stuff out of their nets they realized that what they had actually dug up underneath the sediment was peat.

Now this is weird right away because peat is a nutrient-dense organic soil that’s made from decomposing plant life over thousands of years, which suggests there was once dense vegetation there, totally not what one would expect at the bottom of the ocean.

But even weirder was that mixed in with that peat, they found this. A stone-age barbed hunting spear made out of antler bone.
What was this doing in the middle of the ocean? Was it dropped off a stone age boat? Did stone age boats even exist?

To get some clarity on this, they analyzed some of the peat from the same area and found pollen that suggested that the area was once a mixed woodland – in other words… This used to be dry land. Dry land with people living on it.

So… What happened?

To say that the world used to be different is the most obvious statement ever made. Of course continents have shifted and changed over time – South America used to spoon up against Africa in the giant continental orgy we call Pangea.

Ooh, naughty geology.

Hell, fossils of sea creatures have been found here in North Texas because back in the Cretaceous, there was an ocean here. It was called the Western Interior Seaway.

But these are things that take place over geologic time, hundreds of thousands, even millions of years. The idea that it could happen during the span of human history – and fairly recent human history at that – is kinda mind-boggling.

And yet, that’s what happened in this area of the North Sea that was once inhabited land. An area now known as Doggerland.

So what caused this to happen? The short answer, is the same thing that killed the dinosaurs… According to Batman and Robin.

Terrible pun. And even worse science.

No, the ice age didn’t kill the dinosaurs, but it did lower sea levels all around the world.

And this changed the map in a lot of ways. In Australia, it gave it this nice little peninsula that merged it with Papua New Guinea.

Just northwest of there, Vietnam and Cambodia merged with Indonesia and Brunei to create this giant land mass bigger than India today.

Speaking of India, it once had a peninsula where the island of Sri Lanka is now.

Saudi Arabia was merged with Iran with no Persian Gulf in between them.

And perhaps most famously, a land bridge formed over the Bering Strait, connecting the Eastern and Western hemispheres, allowing animals and humans to migrate into North America.
And in Northern Europe, the British isles merged with the mainland, forming this region that we’re talking about today.

The reason for this drop in

sea levels was, of course, the massive ice sheets that formed over the Northern Hemisphere during the Late Glacial Maximum.

This was a period where just incomprehensibly large miles-high glaciers began creeping down from the arctic starting about 33,000 years ago, and reaching their peak at around 25,000 years ago and finally retreating around 14,000 years ago.

It’s thought that 8% of the Earth’s surface was covered in this thick ice, and sea levels dropped by 125 meters. All because the average temperature dropped by 6 degrees celsius. (11 degrees F).

Now I’ve been calling this the “Late Glacial Maximum,” it’s also often called the “Last Glacial Maximum.” Because it’s not the only time this happened. It happened a lot actually over the years.

From about 800,000 to 500,000 years ago there was the Cromerian Stage, followed by the Elster Ice Age about 450,000 to 300,000 years ago.

This was when Neanderthals and Homo Heidelbergensis entered the scene, leaving behind flint rocks and wooden spears that have been found all over Northern Europe, including in Doggerland.

This was followed by the Saalian Glaciation from 300,000 to about 150,000 years ago, then the Earth had a warming cycle called the Eemian period that started about 120,000 years ago.

This caused ocean levels to rise by 9 meters, and put Doggerland back under water. This would actually happen several times, it would be inhabited, then it would flood, then dry and inhabited, over and over again.

The last of these glacial periods was the Weichselian Glaciation, this began 115,000 years ago, and would last until about 12,000 years ago.

This was the period that encompassed the Last Glacial Maximum and would bring an end to the Pleistocene Age. It was also when we, homo sapiens came on the scene in Northern Europe around 40,000 years ago.

The Pleistocene actually ended with a bit of a last hurrah, with a warming period from 14,690 to 12,890 years ago called the Bølling–Allerød interstadial, followed by the Younger Dryas, a rapid cooling period between 12,900 to 11,700 years ago.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%B8lling%E2%80%93Aller%C3%B8d_warming

This is when temperatures leveled off into the Holocene period, which is the era we’re living in today.

Now that was a lot of history to cover in a very small amount of time, so a ton got left out, but that brings us to what you might call the Golden Years of Doggerland.

Before the glaciers truly melted away and the seas rose, Doggerland was a lush woodland, populated by mammoths, bison, reindeer, and horses. And some more surprising animals like lions and hyenas.

This was like a Golden Corral all you can eat buffet for early humans in the area, and just to put this into perspective, the Pyramids of Giza wouldn’t be built for another 9,000 years.

Not only was hunting plentiful but fishing was relatively easy, and it boasted a slurry of tree species like Oak, Hazel, Birch, Pine, and Juniper.

It was the Ahrensburg people who populated Doggerland for much of this time, they were an early hunter-gatherer civilization that emerged after the climate shifts caused a change in ecosystems.

Ahrensburg items have been found in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, North France, and Eastern England, and it’s thought that Doggerland may have been especially popular during the Winter following the migration of reindeer.

And they’ve found similar barbed spears in Ahrensburg settlements much like the one they found on Dogger bank.

They were a group of nomadic tribes so they didn’t set up cities in Doggerland or anything, which is a good thing because as we already know, Doggerland’s days were numbered.

As the glaciers continued to melt and the water slowly rose, much of Doggerland became marshy wetlands, which actually still made for some pretty good hunting grounds for humans because it kept out other predators like sabre-tooth cats.

The Dogger Bank area was higher in elevation so probably still more dry and woody

But then, around 9,000 years ago, an event took place on the other side of the world that pretty much sealed its fate.

In North America, as the Laurentide Ice Sheet melted and receded northward, it left behind a massive lake just to the northwest of the current Great Lakes, called Lake Agassiz.

Lake Agassiz was bigger than all the Great Lakes combined, it covered 440,000 square kilometers, larger than any lake currently existing today – similar in size to the Black Sea.

And when that ice sheet receded past Hudson Bay, all that water – a Black Sea worth of water – spilled into Hudson Bay, which was connected to the Atlantic Ocean.

This rose ocean levels around the world practically overnight, and most of Doggerland slipped under the water. And Dogger Bank bank became Dogger Island.

Some suggest that the Lake Agassiz event might be the source of all the flood myths from all around the ancient world because it raised ocean levels everywhere.

And just like today, people back then tended to settle along coastlines. It’s likely a LOT of settlements got wiped out. Including Doggerland.

But this isn’t why they call Doggerland the Atlantis of the North Sea. No, at this point, Dogger Island still remained, along with a small land bridge connecting Britain to the mainland.

And Dogger Island wasn’t small, it was 23,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Sardinia.

Oh, and fun fact, in this same area is the world’s oldest boat. A canoe was found and is dated to be around 7750 BCE, so it’s possible people could have even traveled to it.
No, it was another event that has led some to call it Atlantis.

Around 6200 BCE, so 8200 years ago, the North Sea was hit with a series of massive tsunamis caused by the Storegga Slide.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storegga_Slide

That might sound like a dance you might do at a cousin’s wedding but the Storegga Slide was an underwater landslide that occurred when a massive chunk of the continental shelf broke off and displaced 3500 cubic meters of debris. That’s 840 cubic miles.

That’s basically like if an asteroid 9.5 miles wide dropped into the North Sea.

Experts suggest that this mega-tsunami wiped out both the remaining land bridge and Dogger Island, effectively wiping out any civilizations that might have remained there and separating Britain from mainland Europe.

You could call it the first Brexit.

Now, to the best of our knowledge, any remaining groups still living on Dogger Island were likely hunter-gatherers so the idea that an advanced and powerful civilization got wiped out like the Atlantis myth is kind-of a non-starter.

But it was an inhabited island that literally sank into the ocean in a cataclysmic event.

Of course nothing in science is that cut and dried, there is evidence to show that this happened, like the distribution of sand and clay in the area.

But other findings based off sediment cores suggest that it might have remained above water for several hundred years after the tsunami.
But investigations continue around Dogger Bank to learn more about what was lost all those years ago. Everything from lions to wooly mammoths to dozens more spear tips and tools.

As of right now, the youngest artifact found was from 6050 BCE.

Ironically, plans are in the works to use Dogger Bank to install an offshore wind farm, including a floating “artificial Island” in the same place a real island used to be.

Double ironically, the point of the wind farm is to help reduce the very kind of sea level rise that doomed it in the first place.

It’s a big project but there’s an even bigger project that has been discussed that could actually bring Dogger Island back.

I mean, it’s unlikely. But maybe?

Because of rising sea levels and cities like Amsterdam in the North Sea coming under threat, some proposals have been made to put a dam across the whole North Sea and The English Channel.

The plan is to extend a dam from Scotland and the Shetland Islands across to Norway and from the southwest coast of England to the Northwest tip of France.

This is being called the North European Enclosure Dam and it would not just protect the North Sea but also the Baltic Sea and all the cities that lie on that coast.

It’s a megaproject to say the least. The total length would be 657 kilometers, and it could cost up to $500 billion, but would protect the livelihoods and property of over 25 million people and prevent many times more cost in damages.

And hey, if they get really crazy with it, maybe they could pump out enough to bring Dogger Bank back out of the water, and discover all the secrets it holds.

Again, not likely, but an interesting thought.
And I mean, I think it would be cool to know more about the people who lived on Dogger Island. Like it’s easy to kinda blow it off say ah, they were stone age hunter/gatherers, so what but keep in mind, there were artists painting on cave walls going back 30,000 years.

One of my favorite things that I saw in Ireland on my trip there were stone circles and monuments and tombs dating back 6000 years.

These were mature civilizations with rituals and religions, and understanding of astronomy, they might not have been Atlantis but they were significant.

And since they lived on islands, that isolation probably created very distinct cultures that have now been completely lost to the sea.

Much like Ireland and Britain developed distinct cultures over thousands of years even though they were right next to each other. And this clash of cultures led to a catastrophe of its own that threatened to wipe out Irish culture.

This one, however, was entirely man-made.

The Irish Famine of the late 1840s was not the same as what happened in Doggerland. No tsunami was involved, but an argument could be made that it was the worst disaster that occurred in that area since Dogger Island was wiped away.

It was by far the biggest loss of life in that area – I mean, we have no way of knowing how many people were on Dogger Island when it went down, but it was undoubtably less than the millions of people who literally starved to death between the years of 1846 and 1849.

 

The Best Places To Live To Survive Climate Change

We hear a lot about ways to mitigate climate change, but as the effects start to pile up, we should probably talk about ways to prepare for the worst. So let’s look at the best places around the world to live to survive climate change.

TRANSCRIPT:

They say Texas is a state of extremes. And this summer has definitely lived up to that.

They say Texas is a state of extremes. And this summer has definitely lived up to that.
After two straight months of triple digit temperatures and almost no rain whatsoever, a storm blew through on the 22nd that caused widespread flooding here in Dallas.
How bad was it? Well according to Pete Delkus, the local weather guy around here, overnight it went from one of the driest Augusts on record to the 6th wettest.
Yeah. One storm.

Now, no one weather event is climate change, but climate change models predict more extreme weather events like this. And the extreme heat and drought that came before.
I talked earlier in the year about the problems with the Colorado River and not to pat myself on the back or anything but yeah… Everybody’s talking about that now.
There’s also the Great Salt Lake, which is 1/3rd the size it used to be and leaving behind dry lake beds filled with arsenic that could get blown around the city and cause health problems for hundreds of thousands of people.
The things is, we know this, we know that some places are going to be hit harder by climate change than others. We hear about that all the time. But what about the other places?

What are the places that could actually benefit from climate change?
Whenever you do a video on climate change, you will inevitably get that guy in the comments that points out that yes, climate change is a thing, because the climate it always changing, it always has changed, since long before humans got here, therefore it has nothing to do with us.
It does.

But let’s set that debate aside for the purposes of this video and focus on what we agree on…

1. The climate is always changing, it’s actually fluctuated quite wildly over geologic time.

2. The current change the climate is going through is it’s getting warmer. Kinda distressingly fast.

The best option we have for mitigating this is to change the  composition of our atmosphere to what it was 150 years ago or so. Hence the effort to get carbon dioxide levels down to where it was back then.
But even if we manage to cut all carbon emissions tomorrow, it would take decades, maybe centuries for things to stabilize, much less go back to where it was.
So while we do need to be doing all the things to mitigate it, we also need to accept that change is coming. And we are going to need to adapt.
It’s nothing new, throughout human history there have been farms that became deserts, land that became oceans – whole cities and civilizations have splintered, moved, or disappeared completely because the conditions that made it possible in the first place just… changed.
Different parts of the world have become more and less habitable as the global temperature has ebbed and flowed over the last 10,000 years of human history. Ten thousand years, by the way, that were actually remarkably stable in the big picture.
So as climate and ecosystems change, some areas will become more difficult to live in. But others will actually be easier to live in.

Ideal Conditions

There does seem to be a temperature range where humans thrive the most. Researchers call it the Human Climate Niche. And it’s fairly narrow.
At least according to a research study by ProPublica, most people have historically lived in places with a Mean Annual Temperature of 11 to 15 degrees Celsius, about 52 to 59 Fahrenheit.
And it turns out here in North America, historically anyway, we’ve been in that Human Niche.
For several thousand years, temperature and rainfall created desirable areas in a band from the Midwest to the Atlantic coast.  Some scattered regions, like the coast of California, are also ideal.

Climate Change Effects

But these ideal regions are changing. Over the next fifty years, the American Southeast is expected to continue getting warmer and drier. And this band of ideal conditions will shift north, nearly to Canada in some places.
And this is being optimistic. More drastic scenarios could see everything south of Colorado become uninhabitable.

Heat and Humidity

Southern states like Louisiana are famous for their humid heat.  In the future, Louisiana will be a steam bath, while states further up the Mississippi like Missouri and Kentucky could look a lot more like Louisiana today.
Ironically, changes in cloud cover could cause humidity to go up in the desert southwest, which will only add to the stifling heat there.
I mean, 110 degrees is one thing, but 110 degrees with 90% humidity? That’s a whole different thing.

Wildfires

But some places that could use that humidity is California and Oregon, where wildfires are expected to increase. Or I should say, continue to increase.

Sea-level Rise

On the east coast, sea-level rise will drive millions of people from their homes.  Don’t get me wrong, it’ll affect the Pacific coast too, but it’s not as densely populated.
Two-percent of New York County is expected to fall below the tide line.  That may not sound like a lot, but 8.4 million people live there.
It’s thought that 2 to 5% of property in Florida will be taken by the ocean and the various storms it produces. That equates to about  fifteen million people.
By the way, rising water levels are already having an effect in Florida.
Back in March Fox Weather did an article – yes, THAT Fox Weather –  about how popular spring break spots like Miami are already feeling the pain. 

Local businesses are seeing increased flooding, with water backing out of storm drains and going over sea walls.  Septic tanks have started flooding, sending their contents into the streets.
Obviously that’s not the Spring Break experience most people are looking for. [END TANGENT]
Now that may not be the most heartbreaking thing in the world, some frat bro’s gonna have to find a new place to shoot their Natty Lights, big deal. It’s not like our food is at stake.
Except our food is totally at stake.

Reduced Crop Yields

Experts predict crop yields will fall across most of the US, but especially in the South, from the East Coast to West Texas.
Some California crop yields will decline by 20 percent.  Avocados are expected to fall by 40 percent.
Reduced crop yields will increase the cost of meat. In Texas, 96% of our corn crop goes to livestock.  Imagine the price of beef when Texas farmers are growing 70% less corn.

Combined Effects

And it’s not like Texas, or anywhere else, will have to deal with one climate-related crisis at once.  Most areas are going to be hit with several, and these things are going to compound to make life miserable in a lot of states.
But not all.

Refuges: The Great Lakes States

As this Human Climate Niche shifts upward, the Great Lake States are likely to see a population boon.
As temperatures warm and winters become less severe, crop yields are expected to remain steady and the ample fresh water in the Great Lakes means they won’t be as vulnerable to droughts.
And their inland location means no sea level rise or hurricanes.
Rust-belt cities may see a return to peak populations.  Buffalo, New York hopes to reap the whirlwind.  The mayor declaring declared Buffalo a climate refuge awhile back.
Since then, the city has been working through a list of initiatives to make it resilient to climate change.

Refuges: Pro-active Cities

It’s one of a growing list of cities that are looking ahead with these effects in mind and making plans.
Boston, for example, is building roads, walkways, and seawalls to hold off an expected 1% sea-level rise.
New York City has been building a “flood protection system” since 2020, inspired by Hurricane Sandy.
Phoenix, Arizona is trying to combat heat by planting trees.  Phoenix is also looking to provide more shelter for homeless people, who are at the greatest risk of dying from heat.

 Lovable Underdogs

And credit where it’s due, the US government is still trying to keep New Orleans from washing away.

80% of the city was swamped by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The Army Corps of Engineers has been shoring up the levees ever since.
Unfortunately, those levees are sinking.  They’ll be mostly useless in about four years.  A new plan is underway to divert sediment from the Mississippi into nearby wetlands.

The plan will cost 1.5 billion dollars. But get this: some of the money is coming from BP, the company behind the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  BP’s money could buy New Orleans time.
But it won’t make it cooler.  In twenty or thirty years, the folks who live in New Orleans, or Phoenix, or Dallas, will have to learn to love heat, or leave it.  Some will definitely stay.
To be honest, that’s a discussion that we’ve been having around here lately. I mean, this summer was rough. And I’m really starting to question if I want to live the rest of my life in a place where you can’t really go outside for 3 months out of the year.

For all of these reasons, it’s thought that the US is going to have a population shift over the next several decades from the South to the North.
Now I make that sound like the South is going to empty out and everyone’s going to move up north, of course that’s not what’s going to happen. Some cities will shrink a little but probably it’s more like as the population grows, it’s going to grow faster in northern areas than southern ones.
Yeah, I actually don’t think we’re going to lose any whole cities, there are always going to be stalwarts who will stick around no matter what.

Hell there are still 5 people living in Centralia Pennsylvania, and it’s being swallowed up by an underground coal fire that’s been burning for 60 years. I did a whole video about it a while back.

Refuges: Other Alternatives

But if you’re not so ride-or-die for your hometown, you might consider a move to the Great Lakes in the coming years.
The ProPublica report also suggest areas in the Northeast like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and cities like Boston or Pittsburgh.
Other areas like Wyoming and Colorado look promising – their higher elevation means they’ll more temperate. Same for West Virginia.

The International Situation

Climate change is a global problem, pretty much every country is gonna get whacked by the climate stick.
So to find this answer, I’m using a report from a group called the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), they release a report every year since 2005 that lists countries by their climate protection.
This year’s report ranks Denmark, Sweden, and Norway near the top.

The list also puts India in the top ten.  But India is already the exception to the temperature rule.  Its Mean Annual Temperature is 26 degrees Celsius, nearly 80 Fahrenheit.

Refuges: The Scandinavian Countries

But in general, more northern countries will be the best bets, that’s why Scandinavian countries are close to the top – Finland and Iceland rated well too.
Iceland is an interesting example actually, because it’s already changed quite a bit due to melting glaciers.

Warmer seas have disrupted their fishing industry. But… crop yields are going up.
In fact, barley was abandoned a long time ago on Iceland but in the last couple decades it’s made a comeback and has actually become a valuable crop for farmers there.

Refuges: NZ, UK, AU, IR

But let’s say the fit really hits the shan and massive waves of climate refugees cause societies to collapse. Then you might want to find a lifeboat country. A lifeboat country, according to this report, is a country with good climate protection plans but are also geographically isolated and somewhat self-sustaining.
Good examples of this are New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.
Ireland has a 125-billion Euro plan to combat climate change.  More importantly, only 2 percent of the Irish economy depends on agriculture, which makes the country less vulnerable than its peers.

Then you’ve got Australia on the other side of things, they’ve so far not done much to mitigate climate change, but geographically they’re in a good place.
I should note that plenty of countries in Africa and South America have done amazing things in their climate efforts. Just their locations kept them off the top of this list.

Developing Countries

Which kinda brings me around to the most important point. Some places are just going to suffer more than others. And most of those are the poorer parts of the world.
Like this whole time I’ve been saying “maybe you should move here” or “This place might be better” but that’s just not an option for a lot of people.
Moving is not cheap. The ability to do it is kind-of a privilege.
And just to pile on to the point, these are the people who have contributed the least to the problem, but they’re going to suffer the most.
But then there are weird knock on effects that could be both a blessing and a curse. Like Greenland.

A Greener Greenland?

I considered putting Greenland on the list of refuge countries. Because as its ice melts, more farmland is going to open up. Meaning someday Greenland might actually be green.
Right now only 2 of every 10,000 acres of land on Greenland is good for farming.

Obviously this sounds like a good thing, more green… land would be better. And it is in terms of having new land to put cash crops on… but it also puts a target on their back.
Right now, Greenland is one of the most contested pieces of real estate on the planet.  It’s coveted by China, Russia, and the US, among others.
Aside from valuable cropland, there’s also thought to be a wealth of rare earth metals under the ice.
And natives are already fighting to protect their land.  A law was passed in 2021 to block uranium mining near the port of Narsaq.

Time to Invest

But it’s safe to say that investors are smelling the chum in the water. Not just because of new lands that are opening up but as sea ice thaws in the arctic, new shipping lanes are opening up as well.
There are already predictions that port cities in Greenland and Northern Canada that are barely more than villages right now are going to explode in the coming decades, both in population and importance.

Now before I get accused of putting too much of a positive spin on this, I just want to reiterate, none of this is good. None of it.
Humans have spent the last 10 to 20,000 years settling in a nice little goldilocks zone here on Earth. And as things warm up and that zone moves away from the equator, we are likely to see mass migrations of people at a scale never before imaginable.
If you have the ability to, say, just pack up and buy a house in the Great Lakes region, you are one of the lucky ones. If you already have a home in the Great Lakes region, (pop in, menacing)

Gimme it. Gimme it now.
But don’t forget there are billions of people around the world who could be displaced in the coming decades.
If we’re lucky, this will happen slowly and gradually enough that it’ll feel natural. But I fear that if we’re going to talk about adapting to the effects of climate change, one of those effects will be massive social unrest.
But if I may try to end this on something resembling a positive note, massive social unrest often leads to positive social changes in the long run. Because something was out of balance that caused the unrest in the first place.
That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. So, if you have the means to do so, the time to prepare is now.

I’m curious to hear what you guys think, would you be willing to move to avoid climate change problems? Is there anything specific that would make you decide it’s time to do that? Share your opinion with the thousands of trolls and bots down below.

 

ASMR Does Something Weird To Our Brains | Answers With Joe

If you’ve been on the internet for more than 5 minutes, you’ve probably heard of ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s the weird – but pleasant – sensation some people get from certain trigger sounds or sensations. It’s sparked an entire industry of content, but it’s still a bit of a mystery. Let’s try to get to the bottom of it.

TRANSCRIPT:

It’s been called The Tingles, Whisper Porn, even Brain Orgasms. And much like regular orgasms, some people just can’t have them.It’s been called The Tingles, Whisper Porn, even Brain Orgasms. And much like regular orgasms, some people just can’t have them.
So I’ve been told. By some girlfriends.
It’s called ASMR, and if you haven’t heard of it, well, welcome to the internet.

It’s a sensation that people have probably felt for thousands of years, but it was only after the internet came along that millions of people looked at each other and said, “Oh, you too?”
ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response,” and it was coined by a woman named named Jennifer Allen in 2010.
She was part of a Reddit thread that was trying to get to the bottom of the phenomenon. And it kinda stuck. It was a clinical-sounding name designed to make it easier to talk about but also make it sound more legitimate to researchers. Not to mention negate associations with sexual fetishism. Because it’s not a sexual thing, even though they call it “whisper porn” and “brain orgasms,” and… every search result you get.

Dr. Craig Richard, from Shenandoah University in Virginia is an ASMR expert and created an online resource called ASMR University.
He’s also the author of the book Brain Tingles where he describes ASMR as:

“… a deeply relaxing feeling often accompanied by light and pleasurable brain tingles. It’s often stimulated during moments of positive, personal attention from a kind or caring person whispering, speaking, acting, and moving in a gentle way. It may be likely that about 10-20% of the global population is able to experience ASMR.”
Up until 2010, ASMR was sometimes called “The Unnamed Feeling,” “Weird Head Sensation,” and “Attention Induced Euphoria.”
It was also called “(head)tingle(s),” “head orgasm, and “braingasm.”

A person going by the screen name WhisperingLife uploaded the first, intentional ASMR video to YouTube in 2009.
It’s called “Whisper 1 — hello,” and it consists of a black screen and a lo-fi, whispered recording of her talking about making a YouTube channel specifically for whispering.
Since then, ASMR content has exploded online. When researching this video, a Google search brought up 244 million videos.

So you’re watching the 244 million and first video ever uploaded about ASMR.
It’s even making its way into mainstream commercials.
Hershey’s Chocolate Co. released an almost 90-minute online video titled “Reese The Movie: An ASMR Experience” in 2019.
The company brought together five popular ASMR creators to sit at a round table in an orange room and take turns whispering about the candy, along with crinkling its wrappers and eating the peanut butter cups.
Michelob Ultra ran a commercial during the Super Bowl in 2019 that had Zoe Kravitz whispering into a microphone and tapping her fingernails against a bottle.

So, how does ASMR work? What happens on a physiological level when it’s triggered? 

ASMR isn’t experienced by everyone. But for those who do, it usually starts in childhood.
Like you might feel tingles when your head was checked for lice or fingers running through your hair.
Or maybe you felt tingles when someone would trace a finger across your back.  (which to me doesn’t sound that strange, doesn’t everybody get a shiver?)

There are also consistencies in ASMR triggers. These include

Like some people have trouble experiencing them in clinical lab situations. For obvious reasons.
Its’ also kinda hard to determine whether people are having “true” ASMR experiences.
Regardless, there’ve been several studies over the last few years that look into the personalities of those who can experience it.
To better understand what happens to the brain, Dr. Richard and co-researchers had 10 participants watch ASMR videos in an fMRI machine for a study in 2018.
The participants’ brains showed significant activation in areas associated with reward and emotional arousal.
Brain activation also showed similarities to patterns observed in musical frisson, also known as music chills because of a chills-down-the-spine sensation.
As Dr. Richard told National Geographic in March 2022:

“[The study] showed that specific areas of the brain are active when someone is experiencing ASMR. Some of these regions highlight the likely involvement of dopamine and oxytocin.”
Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone.” Behaviors that trigger oxytocin release are similar to behaviors that trigger ASMR.
Oxytocin can also stimulate states of relaxation and comfort, which are similar to ASMR feelings. 
Another study in 2017 focused on the default mode network (DMN) of the brain.

This gets a little in the weeds but the default mode network is made up of several modules in your brain and it’s kind-of on when you’re not.
Like if you’re focusing on a task, something external, then the network is less active. But if you’re kinda relaxed and looking inward; thinking – being introspective, that’s when it becomes more active.

And in this study, they measured the DMN activity of 11 people who could experience ASMR and 11 people who can’t. And they found that there was less functional connectivity in people who can experience ASMR.
In other words, all those different modules that make up the DMN had weaker connections in the ASMR group. Possibly making it easier for certain sensory stimuli to kinda short it out.
But they also found higher connectivity in certain parts of the brain that manage executive control and visual resting-state networks.

To put all that together into some sexy science speak:

The researchers suggest that it’s possible that “ASMR reflects a reduced ability to inhibit sensory-emotional experiences that are suppressed in most individuals.”

In other words, it might be something that we all feel, but for most of us it gets suppressed in the brain.
The researchers made sure to point out this doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with people who experience ASMR, it’s not a mental disorder or anything. In fact, it may be actually be helpful as a tool to cope with depression or stress.
Speaking of coping, two studies published in PLOS ONE in 2018 looked into the physiological benefits of the ASMR experience, especially when watching videos.

One of the two studies showed reduced heart rates and increased skin conductance levels and said it could be “a reliable and physiologically-rooted experience that may have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health.”
The researchers specifically noted in both studies that ASMR is not associated with sexual arousal.

As the researchers wrote:
“This misconception may arise from the often interpersonal and intimate nature of some ASMR videos, but our research indicates that sexual arousal is not a reliable outcome of watching ASMR videos.”
The boobs in the thumbnails are just a bonus I guess.

Then there’s a new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality in April 2022 focused on sensitivity.
The study looked at 500 people and showed that people who experience ASMR scored significantly higher on tests involving  external hypersensitivity and body perception.
But as one of the researchers pointed out, this does have a downside. Saying:

“Highly sensitive people may be able to experience intensely pleasurable feelings like ASMR but this high sensitivity also has downsides. For example, the noise of a pen clicking or someone chewing gum could set off a negative reaction, which others would simply ignore.”
There is actually a term for what could be considered the opposite of ASMR, misophonia, where you experience discomfort or disgust at certain sounds.
Another study from February 2022 suggests ASMR experiencers may be more neurotic and have more baseline anxiety than non- experiencers.
This suggests that they may be more prone to experiencing negative emotional states as well as anxiety disorders. The good news is that they suggest the ASMR experience can help mitigate that.
One last study worth mentioning was published in Frontiers of Psychology in 2017 that focused on personality traits.

They studied 290 ASMR experiencers and 290 controls and found that the ASMR group demonstrated higher scores on Openness-to-Experience and Neuroticism and lower levels of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness when compared to the controls.
In other words, introverts may be more likely to have them.

They said:
“It may be that inward looking people are more likely to experience ASMR symptoms than more sociable, outward looking people. Alternatively, the ASMR symptoms may lead people to be less sociable and more introspective.”

Little bit of a chicken and egg thing there but especially if the hypersensitivity to stimuli thing is true, then yeah, I can imagine those people preferring to be in a more relaxed, quiet setting.
So, what are we to make of all of this? ASMR is non-sexual… (thumbnails) really… some people who experience it may have more anxiety than others, may be more introverted than others, but the experience is a beneficial one for them.

Also, ASMR could be triggering memories from infancy.
In fact, Dr. Richard thinks the quality that is underneath almost all ASMR videos is a “tranquil, womb-like intimacy.”

He believes that sounds like towel folding and whispering are about triggering the experience of being loved.
When his study participants were asked how they most prefer to experience ASMR outside of videos, they ranked receiving light touches with their eyes closed first.

Sound triggers were ranked second, and visual ones below that.
And he points out that interestingly, this is how our senses develop over time.

When you’re born, you receive most of your information about the world through touch. Parents often coddle and stroke their newborns.
So, ASMR could be an experience of reliving your newborn time.

As Dr. Richard told Smithsonian Magazine in 2017:
“The reason people can get tingles and feel relaxed and comforted listening to Maria GentleWhispering is because she’s acting very much the way a parent would care for you, with the caring glances, gentle speech and soothing hand movements.”

This is classic pattern recognition. Our brains recognize the pattern of someone who cares, and that comforts us. And it activates that oxytocin that makes us feel good.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about – feeling loved and cared for. After all the studies, all the theories, all the debates, it’s really just the deep down universal human need to feel loved.
So if you are into ASMR content and someone tries to give you crap for it, you’ve got the perfect comeback.

So, do you experience ASMR? If so, what’s your trigger? Or misophonia? Anything weird you can’t stand to hear?
My little weird thing is when people wear thong sandals and they kinda slap the bottom of their feet as they walk…  I don’t know why, I hate it. Just… (react)
But either way, if you do enjoy a good brain tingle, I say go for it.  Life is hard, times are tough, self care is important.

 

…And Then 1700 People Died.

This sounds crazy, but it’s true. There are lakes in the world that randomly explode, and it works in much the same way as soda cans, but on a massive scale, and cause massive death and destruction. They’re called limnic eruptions, and they’re super weird.

TRANSCRIPT:

Maybe I should do the whole Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle thing in my carport and then explain why it does this. Something about how the chemicals in mentos rapidly pull CO2 out of the carbonated water.

I’ve never actually done this…

Well that made a mess. And it’s like a hundred degrees out here so… I’m going to do the explanation part of this inside.

After I clean this up.

Carbonation happens when carbon dioxide dissolves in water to make carbonic acid, and it does this through pressure. Reason number 1001 that pressure changes everything.

There’s a couple of different ways to do this. Beer makers for thousands of years would add sugar and yeast into a sealed container – the yeast eats the sugar and produces CO2, which with no place to go builds up pressure and dissolves into the water.

This… can go badly.

Today, soda companies add fizz to drinks by injecting carbon dioxide into water and pressurizing it.
To get a little nerdier, the chemical reaction looks like this: H2O plus CO2 produces H2CO3 in dynamic equilibrium. The “dynamic equilibrium” part means the reaction can go left-to-right or right-to-left.
Add pressure, and the reaction goes to the right. Release that pressure, and the process reverses.

So when you open a soda can…

That sound is water and CO2 breaking up. Still a better love story than Twilight.

That’s the sound of water crying.

But why does Mentos make it so explosive? Well the surface of the Mentos is rough, and that rough surface which creates millions of tiny spots where the water and CO2 can break apart, and because they’re heavy, they sink to the bottom, allowing more of the surface to be in contact with the water.

Now this is just a fun little science experiment that might help teach about how soda works but mostly it’s just fun blowing stuff up.

But it turns out, this can happen in nature, on a massive scale. And it’s not quite so fun.

The Lake Monoun Disaster

Late in the evening of August 15, 1984, an explosion rocked the residents of the village of Njindoun in Cameroon. They told police the next morning the sound had come from the direction of Lake Monoun, 5 kilometers to the south.

A policeman went to the lake to investigate, and he brought a doctor with him just in case anybody was hurt. And before they even reached the lake, they came across a strange cloud.

It looked like pale smoke and kind-of hovered near the ground, only reaching a height of about 3 meters. But before they got a chance to really investigate it, they both started feeling sick, so they got out of there.

Once the cloud dispersed, they came back to the area and discovered that whatever that cloud was… it killed everything.

Strewn all over the place were bodies of animals and birds… and 37 people. All of them asphyxiated, and many had strange blisters all over their skin.

The investigators were baffled. There was flattened vegetation around the lake that suggested a 5-meter high wave had crashed at the shore, and there was a sulfurous odor in the area.

As time went on and no answers were found, rumors started to spread that the deaths had been deliberate. Maybe even some kind of biological weapon.

Why Did it Happen?

This, of course, got the attention of the U. S. government. Because weapons… That’s OUR thing.

So they asked Professor Haraldur Sigurdsson to investigate. He is not only the most Icelandic sounding human being alive, he is also an expert volcanologist and geochemist. Which… being from Iceland would make sense.

In fact I believe he popped up in my supervolcanoes video.

And he’s the right person for the job because Lake Monoun was created by a volcanic eruption way back in the day, and it’s actually one of 38 lakes that lie on a chain of volcanoes called the Cameroon Line.

As part of his investigation, he interviewed locals went went out into the lake on a boat to take samples.

It turned out finding the right spot was easy because bubbles were still breaking the surface.

And what he figured out was that these bubbles were carbon dioxide. The lake had become saturated with it and these bubbles were the lake literally fizzing just like a carbonated soda.

Only something caused this lake to erupt. Something was the Mentos that caused this lake to explode. And in the process released so much carbon dioxide gas that everything and everyone in the area choked to death.

After two years of studying this eruption, Haraldur published his theory and gave the phenomenon a name. Limnic eruptions.

Danger at Depth

Well how does a lake get saturated with CO2? It’s the same as with the beer and soda examples earlier – you add pressure.

And it turns out an easy way to add more pressure is just add more water.

If a lake is deep enough, water at the bottom will be under so much pressure from the weight of the water above that water will bond with carbon dioxide, just like in soda.

Now, most lakes absorb CO2 from the air, but since the source of the CO2 is at the top where the pressure is low, it doesn’t become carbonated.

So for that water down at the bottom to become saturated, there has to be a source of carbon dioxide down at the bottom of that lake.

And there are two sources that fit that bill – volcanic gas vents and decomposing plant or animal matter. Both of which create methane, too, which also can dissolve under pressure.
And what happens when lake water combines with CO2 or methane at depth? Well, nothing, so long as the pressure stays high. But if pressure drops….

Imagine fifty billion Mentos falling into a hundred billion liters of Diet Coke. This is a phenomenon that Haraldur Sigurdsson called Lake Overturn.

And Lake Monoun isn’t the only lake to experience this, or the deadliest. Actually, not even close.

The Lake Nyos Disaster

Literally 2 months after Haraldur Sigurdsson published his findings, a second event occurred only 100km away at Lake Nyos.

Around 9 PM on August 21, 1986, people living near the lake heard a rumble. A wind caused some to pass out.

The next day, investigators found the lake transformed. The blue waters had turned red, from iron being dredged from the depths.

They found that a massive wave had struck portions of the lakeshore, with water cresting as high as 100 meters in some places.

It damaged the contours of the lake so much it dried out a waterfall.

But far more disturbing was the death around the lake. It wiped out literally everything.

Eyewitnesses described a chilling silence in the area. No bird calls, no animals moving around. Not even any bugs.

I think the creepiest detail from the eyewitness accounts was the absence of flies. Dead bodies were all over the place and none of them had any flies on them. Because even the flies were dead.

The human death toll in the end came out to 1,746 people. This was a massive disaster. And it brought a lot more experts to Cameroon.

They found blisters on the bodies, as they had at Lake Monoun. This lead some to believe that a volcano had erupted. But volcanoes… let’s just say they aren’t that subtle.

Volcanic eruptions throw out huge quantities of rock and ash, create lava flows, and release sulfur in the air. Now you might remember reports of a sulfur smell at Lake Monoun, well it was also smelled by Nyos survivors, but when investigators couldn’t find evidence of elevated sulfur levels anywhere.

The water was also too cool to have suffered a volcanic eruption. Investigators found that if it was volcanic the water would be 40 degrees Celsius warmer.

It was pretty clear that CO2 was the culprit for the deaths, in fact, one of the key investigators name George Kling took a sample of Lake Nyos water and said it literally exploded from its container.

Unanswered Questions

But there were still some major questions around this. Number one was the smell. CO2 doesn’t smell like sulfur.

On the other hand, it has been known to trigger sensory hallucinations. Maybe the sulfurous odor was an illusion.

Or maybe the survivors did smell sulfur, but at such low doses, it left only traces were found.

What about the blisters? One theory was that it wasn’t carbon dioxide but carbon monoxide, which has been known to cause blisters, by limiting the circulation of blood to a person’s skin.

Or they could have been caused by trace, toxic gases mixed in the CO2 cloud.

Which leaves only the big question. Why, exactly, did the lakes erupt? What caused that pressure drop that set everything in motion?

Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos appear to have been accumulating gases for some time. Both are thought to be fed by “soda springs” that carry gasses from deep underground.

One theory was that a landslide may have broken the lake’s seal. Or a volcanic eruption that was too small to leave direct signs.

Both disasters occurred during monsoon season, so George Kling suggests a rain storm might have cooled the water and allowed the deep water to rise, which would lower the pressure.
We may never have all the answers to these two eruptions. But we do know arguably the most important thing – how to prevent them in the future.

Degassing Efforts

In 1990, a team of engineers added plumbing to the exploding lakes. There were money problems and it took a while to build but they basically installed artificial fountains that let the gassy water escape from the depths.

Nyos was so saturated the fountain shot up to 45 meters high. At first. It’s gone down since then, which is a good thing, that means it’s working.

And yeah, thanks to these efforts, Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun are now considered safe.

But… in the words of the great Master Yoda… There is another.

Lake Kivu’s Danger

About 2000 kilometers west of Lake Monoun lies Lake Kivu. Kivu is not only much larger and considerably deeper than these two lakes, but it’s also sitting on top of volcanic vents that have been releasing gas into it for thousands of years.

Yeah, they estimated in 2021 that the amount of CO2 in Lake Kivu equals as much as 5% of global CO2 emissions. That’s in one lake.

So if Lake Kivu exploded, that would be bad for, like, everyone. But for the people nearby… It would be an absolute disaster.
https://www.nature.com/immersive/d41586-021-02523-5/index.html

Actually, no Lake Nyos was a disaster, and that was with a population of 14,000 people living around it. Lake Kivu is on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And there are nearly 2 million people living around it.

And it’s also bordered by an active volcano, Mount Nyiragongo, which actually erupted in May of 2021. Half a million people had eo evacuate. Luckily Kivu didn’t explode.

Actually the size of Kivu might be its saving grace. It’s just so big and heavy it can keep that pressurized gas trapped down there.

But don’t relax too much because it also contains huge amounts of methane, which is more prone to the overturn effect.

The upside to methane is that it’s a natural gas, so if you can get it out of the lake, you can sell it. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

Power Plant Plans

In 2015 a new power plant came on line called KivuWatt that’s currently delivering 26 MegaWatts of electricity to the Rwandan power grid. I mean talk about a win-win.

Of course every rose has its thorn. Some experts are concerned that methane extraction can destroy the layer of dense water that keeps the gasses trapped.

And if that doesn’t trigger an explosion directly, it could make the lake more sensitive to other triggers, like Mount Nyiragongo.

On top of that, many of the locals make a living by fishing the lake, and there are concerns that the methane extraction could stir up other toxic gasses that the volcanic vents have been releasing.

To be fair, the Rwandan government is monitoring the water and so far, so good.

But KivuWatt isn’t a perfect solution. At their current rate, they will extract less than 5% of the lake’s methane in 25 years. Plans to expand are in place, but they have moved slowly.

Of course, they kind of have to. Lake Kivu is a time bomb.

Except with a time bomb, at least you know how much time is left.

So next time you crack open a soda, just remember you’re flirting with some dangerous chemistry. and don’t get me started on the sugar, it’s bad for you…So bad for you.

Could SpaceX Beat Artemis To The Moon? (And Other Questions)

From the mystery of what cars birds poop on to an update on the Dear Moon mission, these are the burning questions from Patreon this month.

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey today we’ve got a lightning round video, which is where I take questions from Patreon supporters above a certain level, that level being $50 a month.

Yeah, I know, that’s insane but those insane people are the ones who help keep this channel going, so I want to make them glad they made this insane decision.

And the whole “get a question answered” thing is one of their perks. But there are other perks at much lower levels, like interacting with me in live streams and zoom calls, and access to a private Discord server, this has now become a shameless Patreon ad…

Anyway, sometimes in these lightning round videos I get asked a question and the answer goes to a place I really wasn’t expecting… And today definitely had one of those. Actually 2.

So I encourage you to stick around to the end because it does kind-of spark a debate that I would really love to know your thoughts on. Anyway, let’s start this thing.

Brian Beswick
The first images from Webb are a big deal, but we also heard something big too. What’s your thoughts on the new FRB discovered?
So Brian sent me to this Space.com page where somewhere in this sea of ads is an article about a weird new FRB that was discovered last month.

FRBs are Fast Radio Bursts and they’ve been kind-of a mystery for a while now, I think the first one was discovered in 2009, and they’re basically extremely short, like millisecond-long but can release as much energy in a millisecond as the sun does in 3 days.

And the spooky part? Nobody knows what causes them!

The most likely candidates are pulsars or magnetars but it’s still not completely settled.

ANYFART…

What’s interesting about this new one is instead of the burst happening in milliseconds, this one is 3 seconds long, so like thousands of times longer.

And it also happens in regular intervals so they’re saying it’s kind-of like a universal heartbeat.

So poetic.

They named it FRB20191221A and what’s cool about it is they think it could help shed some light on what these things are but it s regularity could be used to help measure the expansion of the universe.

By the way, the instrument that detected it is called CHIME, which stands for Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment. Love me some acronym porn.

Fishtail
Are you planning on doing a speaking tour?

I was actually just talking to someone about that the other day. It’s being talked about. Nothing concrete but… Yeah. Maybe.

John Regel
Have you ever been recognized in public outside of Creator-specific venues? If so, would you mind sharing an anecdote about it from your perspective?

It doesn’t happen a lot, but it happens enough for me to always be aware that someone might recognize me, so I try to be on my best behavior.

The most recent one that really surprised me was when I was in Ireland, I got recognized in Galway, and I’m sorry his name dropped out of my head but that was a nice surprise.

For anybody who bumped into me out in the world, I guarantee I walked away from that encounter second-guessing everything I said.

What’s even weirder is when people see me and they don’t say hi but then they send a tweet at me like, “I saw you at the mall today.” (shiver)

But feel free to say hi if you see me, it’s always nice to meet viewers in person because this is so impersonal.

Fishtail
What do you think about YouTube thumbnails that are intentionally designed to make you “rage watch” the video? Example: The Empire Was Right in Star Wars.

I hate them. And I hate even more that they work.

“Rageonomics” is a term I’ve heard lately.

I don’t think anybody wants this to be a platform where people have to resort to that to get people to watch their videos. But here we are.

Robin Tennant Colburn
A friend told me that someone at a local scientific institution told her birds poop on blue cars more than any other because “that is the color of water, and birds tend to drop their and their offspring’s poop over water.” I started searching the internet for corroboration but I keep seeing the number one “pooped upon” car color is red. Is there a truth out there? Or is it really maybe just random?

RobIn always brings the weirdest questions. And I love it, because weird is fun. But I also kinda hate it, because they’re really hard to answer.

So Robin, love ya… But hate ya.

So I found this article from a site called the Charm City Circulator, which I can only assume is out of Baltimore, but it’s all about car repair and maintenance, but anyway, according to this article, a study was actually done on this in the UK by an auto parts company called Halfords.

They looked at over 1100 cars in five cities and found that red cars got it the worst at 18%, blue cars at 14%, black cars at 11%, white at 7%, gray or silver got 3% and green only 1%.

Now, they don’t provide a link to this study, so I don’t know exactly what their methodology was, like did they count individual droppings or was it just by car? Like did a car with 5 turds count the same as a car with 1 turd?

Actually the percentages only add up to 54 so I’m guessing they looked at 1100 cars, and of the cars that had turds on them, these were the colors.

But there’s still a lot I can’t know like what locations did they pick because different socioeconomic areas are going to favor different types of car, some of which are more popular in certain colors…

I feel like I’d want to see an experiment where they take 5 different colored cars and park them under a balcony, or around a tree and see if one consistently gets more than the others.

Like this is one of those studies that could be done in a million different ways and could lead to a million different conclusions.

In fact, the British Trust for Ornithology pushed back against the study saying, “We do know that birds can be attracted to certain colors during display but droppings on cars is probably more to do with where you park; if you park where birds roost, then you are going to get more droppings on your vehicle.”

So there you go guys, scientists have proven that if you park where birds poop, you’re more likely to get pooped on. (The More You Know jingle)

The article goes on to say that birds might poop on red cars because they think it’s food, because it’s the color of blood, so they’re drawn to red cars and therefore poop on them more.

Another theory is that red is a mating color, so birds might seek out that color to use to attract mates. And one theory even suggested that clean cars get pooped on more often because the bird sees their reflection and it scares them enough to poop.

“Females would poop because they thought they saw a male they could mate with. But they’d defecate out of frustration when they realized they couldn’t mate since what they thought was an actual bird was only their reflection.”

I mean who hasn’t been so frustrated with the dating scene that they physically shit themselves?

I don’t know, I think this might be one of those things like the claim that red cars get more speeding tickets, therefore if you drive a red car, you’re more likely to get pulled over?

And people look for all these reasons why that happens, everything from profiling to the color red messes with the cops’ radar guns…

When what it really comes down to is red is a popular color for sports cars. And people who drive sports cars tend to drive faster… Because that’s what they’re made for. Hence, more speeding tickets.

I imagine this is something like that, maybe red cars are more popular in places that have more pigeons, or I don’t know, park under trees more or something like that.

Assuming that this was even a real legit study, it was done by a company that sells car wash accessories. So take from that what you will.
And I saw a butt-ton of articles that referenced this study from back in 2012, it looks like it was first reported in the Daily Mail and even they don’t have a source linked so I can’t find the actual study to save my life. If any of you can find it, feel free to share in the comments.

So yeah, there’s a chance this whole study could turn out to just be one of those internet things where someone says a thing and then it gets passed around and eventually becomes common knowledge.

Fishtail
If Zoe chews shoes, whose shoes does she choose?

She wasn’t picky. Thankfully she doesn’t really do that anymore.

John Regel
How many Lowe’s could Rob Lowe rob if Rob Lowe could rob Lowe’s?

Okay, what happened on Patreon this month?

 

Cole Parker
What’s the update on Dear moon and would you think about applying to go yourself and do a few Answers with Joe in orbit around the moon!

Well they closed down submissions a while back and I did think about applying – and chose not to.

There really hasn’t been a lot announced, especially this year, but if you haven’t been following it since the first announcement, here’s some of the broad strokes…
It was first announced in 2018, it was the brainchild of Yusaku Maezawa and the original idea was he was going to invite 8-12 artists and entrepreneurs to fly around the moon on the SpaceX Starship so that they can share that experience with the world.

Actually, it was originally going to be on a Crew Dragon in 2018, but it would have required going up on the Falcon Heavy, and it hadn’t been crew rated yet. Eventually SpaceX decided not to crew rate the Falcon Heavy and focus on Starship.

So he upgraded the plan for Starship and set it for 2023.

In March of last year, Maezawa announced that he was going to open up 8 seats to the general public and encouraged people to apply with videos detailing why they wanted to go. Apparently they got over a million entries from all over the world.

They did close down applications later on last year and haven’t really made any announcements other than to say that they have narrowed down the finalists and are doing medical checks and testing qualifications and stuff.

And it hasn’t been publicly announced, but there are rumors that the crew has been picked… But I don’t know who those people are.

The only name that’s been floated around is filmmaker Damien Chazelle, he shot the movie First Man with Ryan Gosling and apparently in an interview Maezawa invited him to join if he wanted.

To my knowledge he hasn’t accepted. But they’re being super secretive around it so who knows.

Asking if I would ever want to do something like that… I mean… I’m probably not American Hero material but no, I’m not gonna be first in line to do something like that.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely a dream of mine to go to space someday and I hope space tourism becomes so commonplace that it becomes like taking a cruise or something, I would totally be up for something like that, but no… I’m not gonna be one of the pioneers.

I’ll just talk about it on my channel.

As for timelines and how realistic they are, it’s still being planned for 2023 from what I can tell but since SpaceX still hasn’t gotten it to space yet… Consider me super doubtful.

Now something I keep saying ad nauseum is that I think it’s going to be a while before they’ll be flying people on a Starship that involves propulsive landing, especially if the landing involves catching it in the chopsticks.

It’s just such a brand new thing that’s never been tried before (riff)

I know this is a private flight so it’s outside of NASA’s authority but I don’t know if they still have to be approved by the FAA… I’ll confess to ignorance on that.

So I think it’s more likely to get pushed to 2024 at least but if it does, that brings up a really interesting debate… Who’s gonna get there first? Dear Moon or Artemis II?

Because Artemis II is scheduled to go up in 2024, and it’s going to have almost the exact same flight plan.

Just sit with that for a second… if SpaceX sends a dozen artists and poets and dancers around the moon in a fully reusable ship BEFORE NASA can send 4 highly trained astronauts in a single-use ship that costs $2.2 billion… (shrug) I mean, I don’t think we’ll ever see SLS again.

BUT… And this is a big butt (sir mix-a-lot flash) that’s only if SpaceX can develop the Starship fast enough. Because as of the day this video goes out… assuming everything goes to plan… NASA will be ahead. Their vehicle will have gotten into space.

Of course, SpaceX could be right behind them, they might be doing their first orbital test in a month or two, so… Yeah. 2024 could be really interesting.

I’m curious to hear who you’d bet on in the comments but yeah… I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

 

 

Theranos Was A Dumpster Fire – But Here’s Where It Was Brilliant | Answers With Joe

The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is a story of a big idea that got overshadowed by even bigger lies. Here’s why the idea was actually kinda great, why it failed, and how it could still be a reality. (Sort-of.)

TRANSCRIPT: 

By now you’ve most likely heard the story of Elizabeth Holmes, once considered the next Steve Jobs and one of the youngest billionaires in history… And who now is a disgraced fraud with a felony conviction.

And you thought your pandemic was bad.

The story is crazy and Elizabeth Holmes is fascinating for all the wrong reasons but what gets missed in the whole thing is the idea itself. The thing she was selling. I mean she made billions of dollars selling it, so it was valuable to someone.

The idea was a desktop device that with just a few drops of blood could diagnose up to 200 diseases in a matter of minutes. Think about that for just a second.

While other countless tech startups are building new apps and cryptocurrencies and gadgets, this would democratize healthcare, this would change the world. In theory.

I mean going to the doctor is basically like taking your car to the mechanic, but with the hood welded shut. Doctors have to figure out from clues what’s going on in your body because you’re sealed up pretty tight.

With the exception of a couple of places. And the long, swirly tube that connects them.

The history of medicine is really just a history of trying to figure out what’s going on in this black box we call a body in the least invasive way possible.

In the past, this often meant, you know, just opening a guy up. With no anesthetic. And dirty instruments that give the guy sepsis and he’s dead in a week.

Today we have comprehensive blood panels but they take several vials of blood that get tested on different machines, sometimes in different places, and it takes days or even weeks to get results.

But imagine with just a few drops of blood from a pinprick, a doctor could feed it into a machine right there in their room and know what’s wrong, right on the spot.

You’d be out the door in 10 minutes with the medicine in hand.

Not only would it free up busy doctors offices but imagine what it could do in developing nations and underserved communities.

It’s actually a brilliant idea… In theory.

The problem with it it’s just not really possible. We’ll get to why in a minute but first let’s refresh our memories about what happened to Theranos.

HOLMES’ STORY

Elizabeth Holmes got her start in much the same way as some other tech billionaires – as a college dropout.

Yes, much like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – whose name will pop up a lot in this video – Holmes dropped out of Stanford in 2003 to start her own tech company. She was only 19 at the time.

She named this company Theranos, which by the way is a portmanteau of “therapy” and “diagnosis.”

In 2005, she partnered with entrepreneur Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani; he’d had a successful software industry career and sold an e-commerce startup. So she could be the vision guy and he would be the guy who gets it done.

He didn’t come on in an official role until 2009, when he loaned $10 million to Theranos, but one of the more scandalous things that came out later was that they had actually been in a relationship and living together and they hid that from the rest of the company and the investors… This story doesn’t need a sex scandal in it, but it’s there.

Theranos operated in stealth mode for nearly 10 years, nobody really knew what they were working on but finally, around 2014, they went public.

They announced that they could run up to 200 tests from a single drop of blood using a technology they named Edison.

And people kinda lost their shiiiiiiiit.

Walgreens especially was on board, they imagined testing centers in all their stores, where instead of having to make appointments with doctors, people could just come to Walgreens and take a quick test for a few Hamiltons and walk out the door with the medicine, which might cost a few Benjamins.

So they partnered with Theranos. Investors saw an opportunity and flooded the company with cash. By 2014, Holmes is named one of the richest women in America by Forbes, with a net worth of $4.5 billion.

In summer 2015, the FDA approved Theranos’ technology for testing herpes simplex 1 virus. Just 199 more to go.

But then, cracks began to form. In October, The Wall Street Journal published a report claiming that most of their tests were being done on traditional machines, with vials of blood from patients’ arms.

Apparently… The thing never worked at all, they were just sending blood off to labs like everyone else.

Walgreens backed out of their partnership in January 2016, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services took legal action, banning Holmes and Balwani from the lab business for two years.

Balwani left Theranos in May 2016. Right about that time, Forbes revised her net worth from $4.5 billion… to zero.

Jump ahead to March 2018, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charges Holmes and Balwani with fraud.
The SEC claims Holmes and Balwani defrauded investors of more than $700 million, creating “an elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.”

They had insider documents that showed that they knew that their machine could only perform 12 of the 200 tests it claimed on its patient testing menu.

It’s then that Holmes gives up company control and most of her stake in it.

Earlier this year, she was found guilty on four of 11 federal charges, and he was found guilty of 10 counts of federal wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

They’re both scheduled to be sentenced later this fall.

Yeah, this story is crazy pants. It’s crazy in the pants.

Like, I don’t know if it’s a thing where she was running a scam all along or if she really believed – in her young naïveté – that if you sell the idea well enough and raise enough money and throw enough money at the problem, that smart people would figure it out.

She saw herself as bold, visionary leader, she wasn’t there to solve the problem, she was there to galvanize resources around it and facilitate the solving of the problem.

So what she focused on, very obsessively, was her image.

She… really studied Steve Jobs.

From quoting him in interviews to maintaining super strict diets and schedules, to straight up stealing his black turtleneck look.
Like it’s so obsessive I kinda wonder if the only reason she dropped out of college was because that’s what he did.

But she cultivated this image of herself as a tech prodigy, this unicorn, this next-level genius that’s just about to change the world before she even turned 30. And then there was the voice.

Yeah somewhere in the pile of leadership books she read along the way, she found out about a study saying that people with more masculine voices are taken more seriously in business settings.
Hence the Barry White impression.

And some have come to her defense a bit because there is sexism in Silicon Valley, but it does highlight how much effort was put into the facade. To the point that the word sociopath has been used quite a bit.
Or as John Carreyrou, the journalist behind that Wall Street Journal piece said, “I’ll leave it to the psychologists to decide whether Holmes fits the clinical profile, but there’s no question that her moral compass was badly askew.”

By the way, when I suggest that maybe her original intentions were good… I might be going a little too easy on Elizabeth Holmes here.

Like I think the word “scam” gets thrown around way too much these days, pretty much any time someone takes money from other people, somebody will label it as a scam, when most of the time… It’s really just capitalism.

Especially in the startup space, if you’re developing a new technology or pushing the limits of an existing technology, that requires money. So there’s no getting around it, you have to raise money for something that doesn’t exist yet.

So as long as your science and engineering is solid, as long as you are working in good faith to solve the problem, as far as I’m concerned, that’s not a scam, that’s just the development process.

But in the case of Theranos, I do think the word scam applies because regardless of her original intentions, it became clear at a certain point that their science and engineering was not solid. And they kept selling it anyway.

They kept selling it and tried to cover up the fact that their machines didn’t work. So yeah. It definitely became a scam.

All right, so why didn’t their machines work? What in their science and engineering was so flawed?

The biggest reason is that there isn’t enough data from a drop of blood to test for all the conditions they claimed.

There are a finite amount of molecules in any collection of blood.

While some condition markers have a high presence of molecules, others are less prominent and would need more blood to get an accurate reading.
According to Dr. George Yaghmour, a hematologist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, “It depends what kind of test you are running,” “Platelet count, kidney function, liver function, sodium level, electrolytes —basic stuff. It would be doable, you don’t need much blood. But if you talk about culture and infection, then you need a specific amount of blood.”
Now, there are devices that run multiple blood tests. Like the Siemens Advia 1800. It’s about the size of a minifridge, and it can run dozens of tests at the same time.

And since COVID, there have been efforts to improve on this, you know, developing devices that could check multiple things like the flu and COVID at the same time.

But designing something the size of a desktop computer that can run hundreds of tests at once is way more difficult. And to do it with only one drop of blood? Practically physically impossible.
Or, according to Dr. Mike White from Washington University in St. Louis, “There’s no magic bullet, and that was the weird thing about Theranos’ claims… They seemed to claim that they had one key trick that made a whole bunch of different things easy, and that turned out not to be true.”

So, yeah, there were problems all around the idea, from the science behind it to the technology to the people running it.

But… the dream isn’t dead. There have been some advancements in microfluidic testing that might get us a little bit closer to this vision.

It’s possible now to run multiple diagnostic tests on just a few drops of blood, but not hundreds as Theranos promised.

For example, Abbott Laboratory’s i-STAT 1 is a handheld blood analyzer with single-use cartridges for specific tests that offers multiple results from a finger-prick sample.

Their Chem 8+ cartridge can deliver results for nine metabolic measures with just a few drops of blood.

The tests include blood gases, cardiac markers, coagulation, chemistries, electrolytes, glucose, and hematology.

Abbott representatives say that results are available in two minutes.
And then there are some tabletop blood chemistry analyzers.

For example, the Piccolo Xpress is around the size of a shoebox. It can perform 14 tests on a finger-prick sample and offer results in 12 minutes.
There’s also the Maverick Diagnostic System from Genalyte. It uses a silicon chip-based photonic ring resonator to perform multiple, rapid tests on a small volume of blood or serum.

In fact, the company says its Maverick Immunoassay Analyzer can run up to 26 tests on a single drop of blood.

Genalyte’s FDA-approved system is cloud-connected for assay protocol retrieval and clinical oversight.
And don’t get me started on their retroencabulator. I know that’s what I’m starting to sound like right now.

So we may not ever be able to reach the lofty heights that Elizabeth Holmes was shooting for, but we are getting closer, and the fact of the matter is, blood testing in general is central to the future of healthcare.

As people are getting proactive with extending healthspans and lifespans, regular blood tests are essential to catching problems early and maintaining healthy biomarkers.

Many companies like BioIntelliSense are working on creating health dashboards that basically work the same way as a car dashboard, giving you a real-time status on your health.

Some of these use devices like wearable glucose monitors which obviously is great for diabetics but also used by non-diabetics just to monitor how various foods spike their blood sugar.

Hamish Grierson, the co-founder of a blood test startup called Thriva described it by saying, “This is mission critical for society and it doesn’t require giant leaps in medical science,” Grierson says. “Increasing healthspan is reliant on proactive health interventions and lifestyle medicine and will increasingly be driven by our use of data and technology, powered with diagnostics tools like blood testing.”

We might soon be living in a world where simple, accurate, and fast blood testing just becomes a regular part of life, and Elizabeth Holmes will finally see her big idea come to fruition. From the comfort of her jail cell.

Feeling Weirdly Optimistic With Hank Green – Episode 17 Information

Hank Green is one of the first and most popular science communicators on YouTube, having started out with his brother, author John Green, on their channel Vlogbrothers, and growing an empire of science channels through his company, Complexly. Along the way, the two of them founded VidCon, now the largest online video conference in the world, and he’s written two books, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor.

He joined me to talk about all things science and YouTube, a little bit of politics and some surprising reasons to be optimistic about the world right now.

Find more about Hank and his endeavors at his website: https://hankgreen.com/

The Full Plan For Artemis Part II: Back To The Moon

With the upcoming launch of Artemis I, NASA is officially on the way back to the moon for the first time in 50 years. Recently I posted the first of 3 videos designed to cover the entire Artemis program. The last video focused on the uncrewed missions, today we’re looking at the human missions, the ones that will finally put boots on the moon again.

TRANSCRIPT:

So last month I kicked off this series on the Artemis program by talking about the robotic and uncrewed missions that will do some research and set the stage for the next generation of humans to walk on the moon.

Today, we’re going to talk about those humans.

All right, so we’ve sent the robots, we’ve conducted the tests, we’ve stockpiled supplies and instruments through the CLPS program, now it’s time to send living, breathing, pooping humans back to the surface.

By the way, if you haven’t seen my previous video on those robotic missions, I’ll put a link on screen or down in the description – I encourage you to check that out because… well… that’s how I make money.

Honesty.

But those robotic missions are interesting and it also establishes why we’re going back and the water resources that are going to make going back and staying back possible.

So if we’re going to return humans to the moon, we’ve got to talk about how they’re going to get there, and for Artemis, that’s the Orion capsule.

ORION

A lot of attention has been paid over the last several years to the next generation of crewed vehicles designed to send astronauts to the ISS. This is a job NASA handed off to private companies as part of their Commercial Crew program.

So we’ve heard a lot about the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the Boeing Starliner, and the Sierra Space Dream Chaser… Only one of which has actually flown people to the ISS.

But at the same time, NASA has been developing the Orion capsule, designed to handle the rigors of deep space outside of low Earth orbit and the magnetic shield.

And that’s really what sets this one apart from the others, it is specifically designed for deep space travel.

The obvious comparison that you want to jump to with Orion is to compare it to the Apollo command module, but they’re different in some significant ways.

First and most obvious, Orion is bigger, built to carry 4 passengers as opposed to 3 for Apollo.
Orion crew capsule dimensions
16.5 ft wide
316 ft^3
Capacity six astronauts but likely
Apollo
13 ft wide
219 ft^3
Capacity three

But just as obvious, the technology in Orion is like a million times what Apollo was.

You always hear that you have way more computer power in your phone than the Apollo module had, well Orion has the power of… 2 phones. Progress.

I’m kidding, I’m sure it has far more than that but the point is the navigation, guidance, and communications systems are top of the line tech and far beyond what Apollo had.

It also has a brand new toilet on board. Because enter joke here.

There’s also a bunch of storage behind the seats and in the event of a solar storm, there is extra shielding back there so they can take shelter.

It’s being built by Lockheed Martin, so just like Boeing has the Starliner, Lockheed has Orion. And it’s designed to support the crew for up to 21 days without docking.
And it comes with this massive launch abort system that covers the entire capsule and jettisons away after it leaves the atmosphere, with four larger motors in cast they need to abort closer to the pad.

Assuming they’ll still be allowed to abort in Florida.

European Service Module

Attached to Orion is the European Service Module, which you could compare that to the service module on Apollo except this is obviously being built by the European Space Agency.

This thing is loaded with engines, 33 engines total including the main engine which will push it out to lunar orbit, auxiliary thrusters, and reaction control thrusters.

All of which will make this a very stable, precise vehicle. Which is what you want from something that will be docking a lot.

This will carry the power and propulsion systems and “consumables” like air and water for the crew.

One other thing it will have that the Apollo service module didn’t is solar panels.

The ESM will have four solar array wings that NASA says will generate enough power to run two 3-bedroom houses.

Together, this is the system that will ferry astronauts back and forth from low Earth orbit to Lunar orbit.
If you recall in my video on the Space Task Group plans for NASA post-Apollo, you might recall they advocated for something like this, basically a ferry that can move people and cargo back and forth between space stations and lunar bases.

Except theirs was based on the nuclear NERVA engine, which is featured in For All Mankind.

NARRATOR:
How to make a Space Launch System. Start with a Space Transportation System.
Remove the Orbiter. Detatch the engines and apply them to the bottom of the external fuel tank. Throw in one more engine just for good measure.
Then, top the fuel tank with a second Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), and stack the Orion Capsule and European Service Module, or any moon-bound payload on top of that.
And presto!
Congratulations. You’ve made a SLUSS!

Easy peasy!
Except actually difficult pifficult.

SLS looks like a cross between a Saturn V and the Space Shuttle, which seems like it would simplify everything, because we’ve done all that before, but this is many ways an entirely new rocket, which is why it’s been in development since 2011. It’s been 11 years and it’s just now ready to go up.

And there have been delays this year too. It was supposed to launch in June but back in April they rolled it out on the launchpad for a wet dress rehearsal and found a faulty helium valve that needed to be replaced.

And look, it would be very easy to start getting ranty right now about the entirety of the SLS program, it definitely has its issues and there’s plenty of content out there for that. I will skip that here, just check out the comments if you really want to go down that road. Because it’s already started.

But in an attempt to be more positive, I’ll just say that’s what testing is for. That’s the point of wet dress rehearsals, to find the issues and take care of them. And that’s what they’re doing.

To be fair this is not a small rocket, in fact, it is currently the biggest, most powerful rocket in the world.
It tops out at 322 feet tall on the landing pad, which is just a little bit taller than the Statue of Liberty. Slightly shorter than a Saturn V, but at 8.8 million pounds of thrust, it’s 15% more powerful. And it’ll carry five tons more cargo than the Space Shuttle. Not too shabby.
These are powered by those four Shuttle proven RS-25 engines and those two magnificent solid rocket boosters that I just can’t wait to see back in action.

ARTEMIS 1

Luckily you and I both won’t have to wait too long to see it because as of this recording, Artemis 1 is scheduled to launch on August 29th. T-0 is set for 8:33am from Pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, with extra opportunities on Sept. 2nd and 5th.

Artemis 1, also called Exploration Mission 1 or EM-1 will be an uncrewed test of the SLS, Orion and… well, everything. The plan is to go into Earth’s orbit, then fire a translunar injection burn out toward the moon. Once at the moon, it will do a little loop-de-loop that will actually go further out into space than any human-rated vehicle has ever gone (280,000 miles) before coming back to Earth.

Once back in Earth’s orbit, the Orion capsule will separate from the service module and re-enter the atmosphere, splashing down in the ocean.

Altogether the Artemis I Mission will last about 3 weeks and will test all the new propulsion, guidance and communications systems.

Along the way, Orion will drop off 13 cube sats that will run a variety of deep space experiments including one where they test the effect of deep space radiation on yeast and scanning the moon’s surface for water ice and other resources.

But maybe one of the most important tests for Artemis I is just seeing if we can do this again. This is the first time a human-rated craft has visited the moon in 50 years. 49 years and 9 months, specifically.

Artemis is a massive program involving 3,200 suppliers and contractors from every state in the country, including Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Jacobs, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman – because that’s how these things get funded. And yes, there’s plenty of debate around whether this model still makes any sense.

ARTEMIS II

Artemis II is basically the Apollo 8 moment of the Artemis program. It’ll do basically the same thing as Artemis 1 without the moon loop de loop but with four astronauts on board.

And just like Apollo 8, they will have the experience of coming around the moon and seeing the Earth in its entirety in the distance. They’ll be the first human beings to see that in 50 years.

And maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll livestream that moment so we can all experience it with them, which is something we’ve never been able to do before.

I feel like I’m saying that a lot but I think a lot of people kinda blow off Artemis because we’ve already been to the moon before, but there are a LOT of firsts taking place in this program. And I think that’s worth mentioning.

Artemis II is scheduled to launch in 2024 from a slightly evolved SLS rocket that will be able to lift 45 metric tons, so it’ll be bigger and badder than before.

It’ll be a 10 day mission during which the crew will test out all the systems including system performance, crew interfaces, guidance and navigation systems, and that fancy new toilet I talked about.

They will also do something different from Apollo missions in that they will rely on the Deep Space Network to communicate as opposed to the Earth satellite networks, so they will be testing that as well.
The DSN consists of three facilities spaced equidistant from each other – approximately 120 degrees apart in longitude – around the world. And this is how NASA keeps track of solar system probes, Mars rovers, the Voyagers, that kind of thing.

But I think this it’s interesting that they’ll be using this network designed for deep space missions for a human flight. I think this is the first time they’ve ever done that, which is really cool.

You could imagine someday school children on Mars will be learning about the first time humans communicated over the Deep Space Network that they use every day.

And the names of those astronauts will be… We don’t know yet. They haven’t been picked, but there have been 18 astronauts chosen for the Artemis team. It’s a diverse group of equal parts men and women, reflecting the agency’s goal of putting the first woman and person of color on the moon.

So assuming Artemis II goes off without a hitch, now it’s time to land. There’s just one thing to do first.

I talked in the last video about the Lunar Gateway, and it’s funky rectilinear halo orbit, well the first couple of modules are scheduled to go up in November of 2024 on a Falcon Heavy, so maybe right after Artemis II.

Another module called I-HAB will be added later (2026), more on that in a minute.

Because once that’s ready to go, it’s time to put some boots on the regolith. Of course… you need something to get you to that regolith… So… I guess we need to talk about the Human Landing System.

HUMAN LANDING SYSTEM

It’s a very simple nomenclature, this Artemis program. The Space Launch System launches people into space. The Human Landing System… lands humans.

So again… this could be and has been its own video a million times over, feel free to browse around, there are a million hot takes out there, but the short version is… it’s a lunar version of the SpaceX Starship.
NASA opened up the Human Landing System to private industry, and it came down to three proposals, SpaceX with the Starship variant, a company called Dynetics, and Blue Origin’s National Team, which included Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper.

And in April of 2021, to pretty much everybody’ shock, NASA chose SpaceX. And then Blue Origin sued NASA and it got ugly and stupid.

But I say shock because… I mean look at this thing.

But maybe not a shock because it’s the only option that was fully reusable. All the others left a landing stage behind when they ascend like the Apollo lander, and you can only do that so many times before the landing stages start to pile up.

We haven’t seen any official renderings of the interior but we do know that the crew space will be WAY up at the top.
Yeah the plan seems to be that they’re going to engineer a crane like this to get crew and cargo down to the ground, which sounds insane to me, especially considering how abrasive lunar dust is. I have honest concerns about the longevity of this solution.

You know another reason NASA may have chosen this is because SpaceX has already shown they can do human rated flight with the Crew Dragon. In fact, this kinda looks like a hybrid of the Starship and Crew Dragon.

They’ve also shown that they can land rockets pretty well. So yeah, maybe not so shocking.

Now it should be mentioned, the choice NASA made was which company they were going to contract to build this thing, so they are helping to fund the Starship Lander. The other two companies can still revise their plans and then lobby NASA to use their lander, which they seem to be doing.

But yeah, it’s a huge lander, and it looks especially insane next to the Gateway. I mean… Why even have it?
But this version of Starship is not designed to ever come back to Earth so there’s no heat shielding on it, it is a deep space vessel.

And we don’t know exactly when they’ll have it done but it’d better be by 2025 because that, at long last, is when we land on the moon again, on Artemis III.

ARTEMIS III

So if Artemis II is this generation’s Apollo 8, Artemis III would be Apollo 11. The math checks out.

So we’re doing in 3 steps what Apollo took 11 steps to do. That’s progress.
Artemis III will take off on the SLS with a crew of four, and after a few orbits will head out to the moon where the Gateway and Lander will be waiting for them. They’ll dock Orion with the Gateway and do a few orbits before 2 of the astronauts move over into the Lunar Lander, and then on the next swing by the moon, they drop down to the surface and land.

These two astronauts will spend about a week on the moon, performing experiments and testing out all the systems while looking for water ice in nearby craters. All the while the other two will be doing the same from orbit in the Gateway.

So like the command module pilot from Apollo except they get to have a buddy.

Anyway, after the mission objectives are complete, the lander will launch back up to dock with Gateway, the crew will transfer cargo and themselves back into Orion, and then head back to Earth for a splashdown.

Along the way, I’m sure that we are going to see some great live events from the Moon which is wild to think about.

The first moon landing was shown in grainy detail on a black and white CRTV to streaming 4k on Twitch.

So Artemis III will be a technology demonstration and celebration of American ingenuity. A very big deal will be made for this.

But just like Apollo 11 wasn’t the end of the Apollo program, Artemis III is just the beginning for Artemis.

ARTEMIS IV

Next up will be Artemis IV, which actually won’t land on the moon, it will be a crewed mission to deliver the I-HAB module to the Gateway and spend some time on that, testing out human habitation in deep space.

It will also go up on a bigger, beefier SLS Block 1B that will replace the ICPS second stage with a larger Exploration Upper Stage.

The mission objectives are still being solidified but this is currently scheduled for launch in 2027, followed by Artemis V in 2028.

ARTEMIS V

Artemis V will go back to the surface of the moon, and it’ll be a similar flight profile as Artemis III, with two astronauts going down to the surface and two stay up in the Gateway.

They are bringing with them another module for the Gateway called the ESPIRIT module and the advanced Canadarm.

They’ll also be bringing a new unpressurized moon rover to cover more ground on the moon and will likely spend more time than Artemis III.

AND THEN…

So that brings us to 2028 – assuming things stick to plan – and we will have landed on the moon twice with a total of 4 astronauts. And this… is all that’s been funded.  Things get kinda murky after this.

If you go to the Wikipedia page, there are proposed missions going up through Artemis X roughly in 2032, but right now NASA has only been funded through Artemis V. So what does that mean for the future of the Artemis Program?

The answer depends on a lot of things, not least of which what the economic and political landscape looks like in 8 years, both of which are super stable these days.

Also as many are already saying in the comments, if SpaceX really nails the Starship platform, I think you can say goodbye to the SLS, it’s just a no-brainer.

Though I’ve said it once and I’ll keep saying it, I think it’ll be a very long time before Starship is human rated, especially for landing.

Also who knows, the private space industry is changing super fast, maybe another company steps up and provides a different more affordable solution

A lot of the future of Artemis also relies on whether or not they’re successful at finding water ice in those craters. After all that’s kind-of the whole point is to find resources that can sustain a long-term base on the moon and exploration beyond.

And I have to say as I was researching this, I was kinda surprised how much the “beyond” part gets hyped in NASA’s Artemis discussions. They really do see it as the first step to Mars.
I mean, I found this page where they kinda explain the Artemis logo and what all the elements mean and they reference the words “Mars” and “Beyond” almost as much as they do the moon. Even that red swoosh that completes the letter A is colored red – for Mars.

NASA has totally framed Artemis as the just the first step toward human exploration of the solar system. And I’m not gonna lie… I like it.

I feel like so much press has been given to Elon and his Mars ambitions, we don’t hear as much about the fact that NASA’s got very similar ambitions, just through a moon infrastructure.

There are still some hurdles, one worth mentioning is the next generation moon suits.

I’ll point you to a video from Real Engineering that breaks it down really well but the original Apollo suits really didn’t hold up very well against the lunar regolith. And the longest any of them were on the moon was 22 hours on Apollo 17.

With no water or wind to break it down, lunar dust is basically a bunch of microscopic shards of glass. And these new suits need to hold up to that for years at a time.

Not to mention provide more freedom of movement and longer time for moonwalks that will be needed for the construction and maintenance of a moon base.

And yeah, there have been some major stumbles on the new suits, some are concerned it’s going to throw the schedule way out of whack.

So I do expect delays, there will be some bumps in the road. But I have a reason to believe NASA will pull it off.

Two words. Pissing. Contest.

China’s space program has been making huge progress with their Tiangong space station and Chang’e lunar program.

So far they’ve launched 7 successful missions to the moon, including orbiters, landers, and rovers and have shown interest in landing humans there and establishing a habitable base on the South Pole.

In fact, in 2021, they announced a partnership with Russia to build a moon base they’re calling the International Lunar Research Station.

So yeah… they see an opportunity to position themselves as the true superpower in the world. To say that sure the US was able to do great things 50 years ago but now we’ve got the advantage. And the moon is the ultimate high ground.

And I don’t see the US just letting that happen. That’s the kind of thing that makes dollars flow toward NASA.

So my bet is, even though Artemis is only funded through the Artemis 5 mission, we’ll see more funding in the future as that rivalry heats up. It’s starting to look like Artemis could be fueled by the same forces that fueled Apollo.

And if that is the case, what happens next? What is this “beyond” NASA keeps referring to with Artemis? That’s the subject of the next video in this series.

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