"Always Telling the Truth Means Never Having to Remember Anything"
By Dennis Balthaser
Every so often I just have to stop for a few moments and take inventory of what is happening around me. Being a half century old I sometimes wonder were things moving this fast and progress being made this swiftly when I was younger? Maybe I wasn't paying attention then, but it appears that technology is advancing at an unbelievable "clip" these days in many fields.
Do you also realize that many people today have witnessed us going from the Wright Brothers first flight in the early 1900's at Kitty Hawk, to landing on the moon and beyond in their lifetime. (Of course there are also those that don't believe we ever landed on the moon). With the aid of such instruments as the Hubble telescope, we are looking back through time billions of years and perhaps learning more about ourselves and maybe why we're here or how we got here.
In this article I want to touch on some of the technology and throw out a few facts about some of the things we are discovering. I also came across some quotes from 5th and 6th grade students pertaining to science, from their perspective, (which you'll have to admit is sometimes better or at least more honest than the information we get from the real scientist's). So if you see KOS (Kids On Science) through out this editorial, be prepared for the mind of a 5th or 6th grader to tell you how it really is.
"You can listen to thunder after lightning and tell how close you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it, you got hit, so never mind".
How many of us realize that the Hubble telescope just celebrated it's 9th year in space, since being launched on April 24, 1990? (time is going fast). Some little known facts about the Hubble are as follows:
The Hubble telescope has logged 1.4 billion miles in its rotation around the earth, equal to 3,000 round trips to the moon.
It has provided enough information, (6 terabytes of data) which is equal to about a two-mile-high stack of 1 million floppy disks.
It has snapped 237,566 pictures and looked at 12,042 celestial objects.
The most distant object, if verifiable by further study, was taken in 1997, believed to be a galaxy some 11.4 Billion light-years away, indicating this object existed when the universe was 5 percent of its present age.
The closest object observed of course is our own moon.
The brightest and most massive star to be observed was the Pistol Star, located in our own Milky Way , 25,000 light-years away and glows with the brilliance of 10 million suns.
The biggest star seen thus far is Alpha Orionis, or Betelgeuse recorded on March 3, 1995. If it replaced our sun, its outer atmosphere would extend past Jupiters orbit.
The most massive black hole observed by Hubble was seen in February, 1994, 50 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. (A black hole is an object so massive and compact that nothing can escape its gravitational pull, not even light).
"Someday we may discover how to make magnets that can point in any direction".
Very recently Hubble began photographing Jupiter's moon Io, which contains hundreds of volcanoes, although only a few (8 or 9) have visible plumes at any given time. Io is roughly the size of our own moon, but 2000 times farther away. It circles around Jupiter at an amazing rate in 1.8 days (roughly 38,000 mph or 17 kilometers per second), as compared with 28 days for our own moon to circle the earth.
"Most books now say our sun is a star. But it still knows how to change back into a sun in the daytime".
The technology we are obtaining from such instruments as the Hubble telescope is not cheap, nor is the maintenance of such equipment, but in my opinion well worth it, compared with how our government spends money in some other areas. To position the telescope during science observations, it needs three of its six gyroscopes to properly function, and it was recently discovered that not all six are operating properly. The telescope will be serviced in October, 1999 at which time Astronauts will replace all the gyroscopes and upgrade other components, assuring us of even more breathtaking views of the universe, that only a few years ago was not imaginable.
"Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun. But I have never been able to make out the numbers".
Its estimated that during the next 10 years 1,700 satellites will be launched into orbit. (Its going to get more difficult for the UFOs to travel through the maze of hardware that we're putting in space). NORAD, the early warning system in Wyoming, indicates there are currently about 8,000 on-orbit objects being tracked by the Space Control Center. Since 1957, when space tracking began 24,000 objects have been cataloged, many of which have since re-entered the atmosphere. At least six private companies are designing reusable space planes that they hope will become the transportation system of the next century. In addition, 15 states are offering some 30 potential sites for spaceports and its easy to see the economical advantages of obtaining this.
"I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing"
I guess the advancement in military aircraft and weaponry would also be one of the areas of technology that appears to be improving at a staggering rate. Who would have thought a few years ago we would watch conflict taking place (live) on our television, such as we've recently seen in the Middle East or Yugoslavia, utilizing "smart bombs" and stealth aircraft. That however creates another scenario. What has already been developed to replace existing military equipment, and can we even imagine what might be on the drawing boards or at secret bases or underground security facilities, to be used in the future. The names "Aurora', "Black Manta" and others come to mind .
NASA recently announced it was unveiling a new reusable, robotic rocket plane called the X-34. It is a single-engine rocket plane, which will fly itself using onboard computers. Speed? Eight times faster than the speed of sound. It will also according to NASA, have the ability to fly within 24 hours of its last mission, using a small ground crew, land horizontally, initially on a dry lakebed, but eventually on a runway. By the way, Columbia made the first shuttle flight 18 years ago, and NASA plans to continue using the shuttle's for the next 10 or 20 years, or until something better comes along. Something better is probably already close to being used.
I want to thank the 5th and 6th graders for their quotes and by the time they are my age, I hope they take pictures while on vacation on the moon or maybe Mars. Its possible you know!!!!!
"Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know we know they're there"
"When people run around and around in circles we say they are crazy. When planets do it we say they are orbiting".
"Lime is a green-tasting rock".
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