pace of innovation

May 3rd marked the birthday of Bill Sienkiewicz to whom I owe a lifelong love of The New Mutants! His revolutionary work in the 1980s broke the conventional boundaries of traditional comic book art and it is fantastic to see him today still at the top of his game, continuing to set the pace for creativity, innovation and style across multiple mediums. Happy Birthday, Bill!

Evolution of the Space Suit

The space suit is one of the most amazing inventions of our species. A suit that can sustain life in conditions which would normally kill us, simply astonishing. Some suits were pretty aesthetically pleasing(Mercury Suit above), while some……….left a little for our sci-fi imaginations to lust. From the age of the Mercury suit to the futuristic new concept which NASA revealed recently, I’ll take you on a journey of some of the most popular suits. 

As you can see from the image above, the number one function of a space suit is to keep the astronaut alive while in conditions which normally wouldn’t support human life. This means that the suits have to be pressurized so that the fluids in your body stay in a liquid state. Without this pressurization your bodily fluids would boil, which would really suck. The next vital function involves oxygen, space suits can’t use normal air which we breathe on earth( 71% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% other) because of the dangers of low pressure. For this reason the suits use pure oxygen to keep the oxygen levels in your lungs high regardless of the low pressure. The suits also must filter out the potentially lethal carbon dioxide which the astronaut would exhale, collecting it either in a lithium hydroxide canister or via the umbilical cord which would be attached to the shuttle. If those dangers weren’t enough, the suits must also regulate the temperature of the astronaut inside. Let’s say you were to sweat, the visor would fog up hindering the ability to see and also causing you to dehydrate. Most current suits use water cooled garments to keep the temperature regulated.

The suit you see above is the Apollo style suit which was used during the moon landing. Another feature of the space suit is the ability to with stand “micrometeoroids” which can be thought of as little tiny bullets which can puncture a suit causing depressurization which would result in almost instant death. Most suits use incredibly tough fabrics such as Dacron or Kevlar which can absorb the impacts with little to no discomfort to the astronaut.  Radiation is the one danger which we haven’t currently been able to eliminate or drastically reduce. A solar flare would pose a huge danger to even a modern space suit. As advanced as the tech to get us into space is, it isn’t advanced enough to protect us from all of the dangers of space so plans must be made according to solar flare predictions to prevent blasts of radiation from mutating the cells of astronauts. Prior to going out in a suit, the inside of the reflective visor has to be sprayed with an anti-fog compound to increase visibility. Most modern suits have lights mounted on the helmet so that dark places and shadows can be illuminated. 

The suit above, called the advanced crew escape suit(pumpkin suit), offered superior mobility when compared to the Apollo era suits which was essentially a large pressurized balloon. As you can see in the moon landing videos, bending and walking were chores. An astronaut could be immobilized like an arm flailing turtle if they fell over into a non favorable position. This suits sleekness is due to its partial pressure design, it relies on a rubber diaphragm around the wearers face. This suit design has metal locking gloves and other appendages making it a complete chore to put on despite its sleek design. The orange color is so that astronauts could easily be located by rescue crews in case of an orbiter bailout over the ocean. This is my favorite suit of the designs so far and the one tragically associated with the Columbia disaster. 

More futuristic suits are currently in development, such as the one above designed by Dava Newman(MIT),offer supreme mobility and give our sci-fi imaginations something to gawk at. The pressure in these suits are applied by incredibly tight fabrics and interwoven elastic patterns. Contrary to popular beliefs, the human body can withstand a brief time in a vacuum(about 15 seconds). The body would swell up more like Goku turning into Super Saiyan Broly as opposed to the sci-fi notion of bursting like a piece of popcorn. This can be counter-acted with mechanical pressure as opposed to the more traditional air pressure, which increases mobility exponentially. This design does however require the helmet to include all the gasses necessary for breathing and a way to protect the ears and eyes. This is the style of suit we can hope to see far into the future as it is a little impractical at the moment. 

NASA recently ended voting for it’s newest spacesuit design dubbed the Z-2 which is slated for completion in November of this year. The suit will be torture tested in various NASA facilities and exposed to its vacuum chamber which mimics conditions in space. The suit in its current form will more than likely NOT make it to space for a host of reasons including the fact that it is a prototype and doesn’t have the ability to protect astronauts from the host of dangers which we touched on earlier. Personally I’m not a huge fan of the design but it is a dramatic leap forward in the space suit program.

Ultra futuristic concepts like the one shown above are unfortunately a long way off. Perhaps in time we will be able to increase the size of NASA dramatically or have a host of other space agency options which would more than likely speed up the pace of innovation in this field. This is why it is incredibly important for us space, and science enthusiasts to spread of passions and share them with anyone who will listen. We must inspire new generations in the same way Nova and Zoom inspired me when I was a kid. A little thirst for knowledge can go a long way to drive innovation and lead to breakthroughs in the scientific field. We are smarter now as a species than we ever were but we still have an incredibly long way to go. Space exploration and colonization seem like the inevitable next steps in our evolution and progress as a species. 

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far-fiction-deactivated20150531  asked:

So, I just have a comment about your Science Fiction as Science Fact, and I just want to preface it with the fact that I loved the video, etc. When you relate the idea that the early science fiction writers were so accurate at predicting the future was there any thought given to the duration before the prediction becomes accurate? Could the fact that the change in technologies, with more things being plausible be something to look into?

(question is about this week’s video, in case you are confused)

I accept that we certainly have a little bias of time separation when it comes to older science fiction and sci-fi predictions. For instance, when it comes to the works of H.G. Wells, we have had a lot more time to see things come to fruition than say, someone more recent, like William Gibson. 

My knee-jerk hypothesis would be that our pace of realizing sci-fi technologies is increasing along with the pace of innovation itself, but I am not sure that’s actually true. Many of the predictions of the early- and mid-20th century sci-fi authors were realized within a couple decades of their writing (like Wells and tanks/airborne warfare, Clarke and geostationary satellites, Asimov with robotic Mars explorers). On the other hand, some took a lot longer (Twain’s internet, Wells’ genetic engineering).

Does a longer time between prediction and realization mean it’s a worse prediction? I don’t know. I don’t know how to fairly judge how long is “long” between sci-fi idea and scientific invention, and I’m not even totally certain it’s a valid question.

I mean, whether it took 20 years or 100 (it was closer to the latter), the fact that H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man devised a technology for invisibility that depended on metamaterials, something that had never even been dreamed of, is amazing on the level of flabbergastification! I mean, check out what Wells wrote about metamaterials, in 1897:

“…it was an idea… to lower the refractive index of a substance, solid or liquid, to that of air — so far as all practical purposes are concerned.”

That’s pretty much exactly how today’s metamaterials work! Sure, today’s cloaking devices don’t evanesce in the visible range of light like Wells’ did, but so what.

Something I didn’t talk about in the video (on purpose) was the extent to which the sci-fi creations act as inspiration for actual scientists. Many people have caught on to that idea in the comments, which is exactly what I hoped they would do. Scientists read and watch science fiction. They are humans who are subject to human influences. But I wonder if there’s a way to ever really know to what extent they were consciously or unconsciously driven by works of fiction. 

I guess this whole answer is a long way of saying I’m not really sure. Does the duration between prediction and reality relate to the quality of prediction? How does the whole process even work?

Future Has Vantage Points

This just dawned upon me. Grandparents are so amazed by video chat because it was an incomprehensible idea in their age. Just like time travel and warp drive is in our age. This gives me hope. One day I’ll look wide eyed at kids warping to andromeda. Internet and communications is the warp drive of our time; we’ve shortened virtual distances already, next is the physical realm.

BREAKING: FCC Chairman @TomWheelerFCC pens op-ed in WIRED explaining plan for ensuring net neutrality

After more than a decade of debate and a record-setting proceeding that attracted nearly 4 million public comments, the time to settle the Net Neutrality question has arrived. This week, I will circulate to the members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed new rules to preserve the internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression. This proposal is rooted in long-standing regulatory principles, marketplace experience, and public input received over the last several months.

Broadband network operators have an understandable motivation to manage their network to maximize their business interests. But their actions may not always be optimal for network users. The Congress gave the FCC broad authority to update its rules to reflect changes in technology and marketplace behavior in a way that protects consumers. Over the years, the Commission has used this authority to the public’s great benefit.

The internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. The modems that enabled the internet were usable only because the FCC required the network to be open.

Companies such as AOL were able to grow in the early days of home computing because these modems gave them access to the open telephone network.

I personally learned the importance of open networks the hard way. In the mid-1980s I was president of a startup, NABU: The Home Computer Network. My company was using new technology to deliver high-speed data to home computers over cable television lines. Across town Steve Case was starting what became AOL. NABU was delivering service at the then-blazing speed of 1.5 megabits per second—hundreds of times faster than Case’s company. “We used to worry about you a lot,” Case told me years later.

But NABU went broke while AOL became very successful. Why that is highlights the fundamental problem with allowing networks to act as gatekeepers.

While delivering better service, NABU had to depend on cable television operators granting access to their systems. Steve Case was not only a brilliant entrepreneur, but he also had access to an unlimited number of customers nationwide who only had to attach a modem to their phone line to receive his service. The phone network was open whereas the cable networks were closed. End of story.

The phone network’s openness did not happen by accident, but by FCC rule. How we precisely deliver that kind of openness for America’s broadband networks has been the subject of a debate over the last several months.

Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure internet openness through a determination of “commercial reasonableness” under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers.

That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.

Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.

All of this can be accomplished while encouraging investment in broadband networks. To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century, in order to provide returns necessary to construct competitive networks. For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling. Over the last 21 years, the wireless industry has invested almost $300 billion under similar rules, proving that modernized Title II regulation can encourage investment and competition.

Congress wisely gave the FCC the power to update its rules to keep pace with innovation. Under that authority my proposal includes a general conduct rule that can be used to stop new and novel threats to the internet. This means the action we take will be strong enough and flexible enough not only to deal with the realities of today, but also to establish ground rules for the as yet unimagined.

The internet must be fast, fair and open. That is the message I’ve heard from consumers and innovators across this nation. That is the principle that has enabled the internet to become an unprecedented platform for innovation and human expression. And that is the lesson I learned heading a tech startup at the dawn of the internet age. The proposal I present to the commission will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future, for all Americans. [WIRED]

Why ZnT is a masterpiece and why more and more series should follow its footsteps

As of now, we may be curling into fetal positions–with the fandom bracing themselves for the impending “feels wreck* that the next episodes might (okay scratch that, ”would“) bring to us. I have mentioned yesterday that the staff might just be made up of sadistic people–with Watanabe in the lead. 

So how do we adapt into this "week-long torture of a hiatus”? Let me bet. You’ve been excavating the “znt”, “zankyou no terror”, and of course, the “hisalisa” tag like some mad miner. And like the mad miner that you are, you look for those ores–ores that contain vital information and analysis of the teeniest bits of this series. 

The last time I felt this excited for an anime was towards Deathnote. If you are a fan of this genre, I reckon that you’ve found many similarities between these two. For one, both series are a battle of minds. Two, they belong to the suspense-thriller genre. You literally have no idea what the hell is going to happen next. But then, as much as I recognize the epicness of this masterpiece by the godly Obata-Ohba duo, there is something which makes Zankyou no Terror special, and superior in some aspects.

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