These days when it seems like humanity isn’t up to dealing with the problems of police shootings, politics, terrorism and numerous other challenges, remembering the big challenges we have overcome can be useful. The Abundance book has plenty of examples of the progress being made to raise the quality of life for more and more people, but that takesa good bit of time and thought and just doesn’t feel big enough. There’s a quick and easy way to be reminded of how people of all races, genders, political parties and countries can work together to tackle enormous problems successfully – look up in the sky. Tonight(7/7/2016) and for the next few nights, one can see Jupiter near the moon in the western sky where the sun has just set.
3 days ago, a basketball court sized spacecraft completed a 5 year journey and successfully entered orbit around Jupiter. This has been described as “the hardest thing NASA has done” – comparable to hitting a golf ball in New York into a hole in Los Angeles! Jupiter is 540 million miles away and as wide as 11 Earths! One could fit all of the planets in our solar system inside Jupiter.
Another benefit of looking up and seeing a place humans have sent equipment to is that it reminds us there is an abundance of material resource available to us. It’s awesome and anyone can choose to go outside, look up and be inspired.
Last and First Quarter Moons
Part 1 of this series began at the first quarter phase of the Moon on 01-16-2016. Today we’re at the last quarter which is as illustrated above, the visual and geometric opposite of the first quarter. These two positions of the Moon are also the second primary set of binary/polar relationships after the new and full Moon positions. Today, in part because few people farm we’re not as directly connected to the practical value of these polar relations. The full moon is hard to ignore but we’re generally not familiar with waxing, waning or gibbous(when’s the last time you heard someone say that word). Ironically, while science pays less attention, there are many people who are aware of at least the crescent moon phases for religious reasons. Still, our awareness doesn’t change the fact these relationships encode the same valuable knowledge as boolean math and logic gates which power computers. In Part 3, we’ll take an in-depth look at how digital logic drives the relationships which govern how the Moon’s orbit presents the Sun’s light to us.
The image above shows the moon at the beginning of its first quarter phase as it appeared in the northern sky on the evening of January 16th, 2016. It was generated by NASA’s Dial-A-Moon visualization system. While the moon has traveled one quarter of the distance it will cover during its orbit, it has also moved exactly one half of the distance between the new and full moons. It will be shown in subsequent posts that halving the distances between the 8 lunar phases gives expression to a system of boolean logic of two variables generated by the dynamics of the moon’s orbit. How this relates to many different fields, including but not limited to digital sciences will be explored.
Understanding first quarter moon | Moon Phases | EarthSky
The Universe Today
This NY Times article on upward mobility quotes a study showing that where you live plays a big role in determining economic opportunity. This leads some to believe that moving is the answer but the article concludes that
For all the benefits that moves can bring, they are not a solution to poverty, said people who have seen the new paper as well as the researchers themselves. Finding ways to improve those neighborhoods, for people who cannot or do not want to move, is also important, researchers and policy makers said.
This reminds me that 50 years ago after the 1965 unrest in Los Angeles, the Watts Labor Community Action Committee(WLCAC) was founded with the motto Don’t Move – Improve. Studies by researchers and policy makers can be helpful but did we really need to wait 50 years to be told about something someone in the village had already done? Look around you, find a problem, come up with a solution, use family, friends and the web to find the intellectual and monetary capital to implement it. While the steps are pretty simple, committing to see it through takes a great effort.
It was good to see conservatives and liberals agreeing on Morning Joe and elsewhere that decades of systemic economic failure are creating a permanent underclass in Baltimore and throughout America. At the same time there’s a need to recognize that people have been not only saying this for some time, but also acting to prevent the present crisis. One participant in CNN’s Black In America Part 4 Silicon Valley documentary in 2011 noted:
As I said in the documentary, not fixing this problem ultimately leads to a permanent underclass. And if you think Occupy Wall Street is a troubling signal regarding dissatisfaction around wealth distribution, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I fear the growing wealth disparity, particularly along racial and ethnic lines, will be catalyst for significant civil unrest.
Commenting in 1982 on the 1965 Watts riots, the late community pioneer and founder of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee Ted Watkins said:
If we continue in the direction that we are heading in cutting out all of the support a community like this is getting. Not only Watts but New York, Washington D.C. and Detroit MI, possibly, people will be at war.
A Practical Man
Perhaps what’s needed most is a sense of urgency and the will to move beyond relying primarily on protests and government programs. We don’t have all of the science, technology, engineering and math resources we need but we have enough to start making an impact right now today. We can’t “buy black” if there’s no black company making the product, but we can choose how we spend our money so that we can invest in ourselves, our past and present knowledge of how to make products.
Although this was definitely not my plan, it seems fitting that the first, last and only posts of this month have a Star Trek component. As the passing of Leonard Nimoy is being commented upon by people the world over including statements by President Obama and Charlie Bolden – leaders of the US space program, I am reflecting on the juxtaposition of art and science. On the one hand, in the modern mythology of Star Trek, Vulcans observing the “real” first manmade artificial satellite Sputnik in 1957, crash in a fictional town in Pennsylvania. In the “real” world town of Lakehurst, NJ a few years later, a ground station at the naval base relayed the first live two-way telephone call between heads of state via geosynchronous satellite Syncom II to President Kennedy. On the other end of the call, via the US Kingsport docked in Lagos Harbor was the Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Balewa. In a brilliant essay entitled The Race for Space written sometime in late 1957 but unpublished until 1993, Duke Ellington articulates how racial issues were holding America back in the space race. Pointing out the lack of educational and employment opportunities in the fields needed to compete The Duke said
“Everybody has to get in the game if we are playing to win”
America won, but barely and then stumbled. In 1958 Ellington named his band The Spacemen one of the first in the lineage Big K.R.I.T recognizes in this Rolling Stones interview from Nov of 2014, African-American musicians were not only tuned into outer space, but saw themselves as intellectually and creatively capable of contributing to the US space effort. Now we’re in a new race for space with an African-American in charge of NASA but no companies like Space X or Virgin Galactic. Dr. Ellen Stofan, Chief Scientist at NASA puts it this way:
“When you have problems like trying to get humans down onto the surface of Mars, if you don’t have all the best minds in the world — not just white men — then you’re not utilizing humanity the way you should.”
Even though the benefits of the space program have been well documented, some people still don’t see why we should care(let alone spend money on) space. There’s one simple reason why every human should care about space. It’s home! Someone might say that our home is here on Earth, but Earth is a planet orbiting a star in space. Space is also a repository of vast material resources and has proven economic value. Contemporary astronauts speak about the transforming impact of seeing Earth from orbit – something called the Overview Effect. At least 6000 years ago on what is now the Nubian desert, ancient astronomers at Nabta Playa were charting the stars.