Could Mercury be colonized?

Mercury is an often-overlooked planet when it comes to missions and discoveries. We’ve only sent a few probes there. But in the grand scheme of things, would it ever be worth colonizing the planet? How many people could it support? Where would they live? What would they do? Our goal is to theorize why one day, our innermost planet may see humans on it.


High resoultion photo taken by the Messenger spacecraft

High resoultion photo taken by the Messenger spacecraft


To go anywhere, one must have a reason for it. Christopher Columbus discovered America while trying to find an easier route to China. America was colonized for many reasons – by the pilgrims, by the conquistadors, and also by the natives that (likely) crossed the Bering Strait.

Mercury is a rather barren planet, so what does it harbor that we have need of?


Thanks to its (obviously) close proximity to the sun, the planet offers the highest amount of solar energy of any planet. The “Solar Constant”, or amount of energy available is incredible. At a peak of 14.5 kilowatts per meter -more than ten times as much as Earth – offers an unparalleled location in our Solar System. Only collectors closer to the sun may prove better, but a stable object like Mercury offers many advantages, such as available resources in which to create solar panels and the associated infrastructure.

Mercury may also offer “Peaks of Eternal Light” – areas that are constantly receiving sunlight. This, again, would make Mercury the best location in our Solar System for energy production.

Other important resources include the likelihood of ice at the polar caps, which have a very comfortable temperature of 0° C, or 32° F. Mercury also is likely to have very high amounts of Helium 3, a likely key resource in fusion reactions, as well as ores such as silicates, iron, and magnesium. This is very important, as these resources are all essential in the creation of solar panels. Think of Mercury as the Mid East of the Solar System.



The surface of Mercury is typically nightmarish, as it can get well over 700° F during the slow-moving day cycle. However, the polar regions are (as mentioned) a balmy 0° C, which means that temperature controls would not have to be as difficult to deal with as most other destinations in our Solar System.


, as they would mitigate issues on a planet with no atmosphere. Mercury does have a magnetosphere, which protects the planet from cosmic rays, which is a huge plus.

The poles - A very odd surface feature of Mercury

The poles – A very odd surface feature of Mercury

So the likelihood of a base near the poles is perfect. Points would likely feature the aforementioned peaks of eternal light, with reasonable temperatures. Also, due to temperature, ice is likely to be found, which is a very important resource for the spacefaring society. The fewer resources that must be imported, the more viable the colony is to be. This is the same, regardless if its a colony on the Moon, or an island in one of Earth’s oceans.




.lthough it is very attractive due to its proximity to the Sun, it is also a drawback. The gravitational interaction with the Sun results in more difficulty when launching craft to and from Mercury. As it stands, spacecraft launched to the planet take a significant amount of time to get there – despite being rather close to Earth.

Temperatures are also an issue when venturing beyond the polar areas. If vital resources are found outside the caps, then they may prove very difficult to extract. Mercury rotates just once every 352 days. This means that missions would need to likely take place near the terminator, which the area where day turns into night.




Mercury is unlikely to be a primary target of the first colonization missions outside of Earth, as more attractive options exist, such as the Moon, and Mars. However, as energy requirements become larger in a spacefaring society, Mercury becomes infinitely more valuable, especially in Helium 3 becomes very important, as only the Moon, Mercury, and Uranus are attractive options for extracting.

Although its hard to put a date on when its likely we would colonize, we should likely see some attempt made between 2080 and 2120, assuming our society begins to take colonization seriously.

Extraordinarily odd cave found on the surface of Mars

pavonis-mons-skylight (Small)This is Pavonis Mons (Click to enlarge, you’ll be glad you did).

This is what once was a active volcanic mountain that has since become inactive. Originally discovered by Mariner 9 in 1971, it was recorded and not considered very noteworthy up until recently. Now it is being highly considered as a potential landing sight for human travel to this planet. The former volcano could potentially shield Mars colonists from the harsh conditions of the planet.

It is unknown how deep the cave system could go, but it is estimated that it  could be anywhere from 50m (164ft) all the way to 250m (820ft)! This could potentially harbor life due to heating below the ground. This is an additional benefit to picking such a feature as a potential human landing site.
Additional photos of the cave

Did NASA cover up an accidential nuclear detonation on Jupiter?

Apache1024c20NASA has conducted countless missions since its inception in 1958. But did NASA make a decision in 2003 that went too far, creating the first inter-planetary nuclear weapon?

First, lets start with the evidence that makes this incredible story even possible. On October 19th, 2003, an amateur astronomer named Oliver Meeckers took a low-resolution picture of Jupiter, and noted an anomaly on the planet. Just south of the equator lie a massive, black spot – one foretelling that something grim had occurred recently on Jupiter.

Such black spots were not unknown in 2003. Almost a decade prior, a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 created a chain of dark black spots on the planet when the comet struck the planet with immense force. The fireballs were so unprecedented, that a similar event targeting Earth would have resulted in an extinction-level event.

But what was the cause of this dark spot? NASA, nor any space administration bothered to comment on what may have happened. It is certainly plausible that a rogue comet, smaller than Shoemaker-Levy 9 struck the planet. This has been documented once, in 2009 when Anthony Wesley of Australia photographed another dark spot on Jupiter. However, NASA released an official press statement on that event.

So why did NASA fail to respond to the impact in 2003? Could it be that they had an incentive to keep mum on the reason behind the massive blemish on the Jovian titan? We would suggest that the answer may be “Yes”.


NASA Loves Nukes


Nuclear energy plays a very critical part of interstellar travel. Unlike the pictures we see of Earth-orbiting satellites and space stations, replete with massive solar arrays, probes to the outer planets cannot rely on solar panels to generate significant amounts of energy in which to run the various scientific probes on spacecraft. Therefore, NASA relies on the Radioisotope thermoelectric generator (“RTG” for short) to supply power for probes. The usage of RTGs is very prolific among deep-space probes, and has been used since the 1970s for notable probes such as Pioneer and Voyager, up through current spacecraft that are still completing their missions such as Cassini and New Horizons.


The Jovian Connection

So how are RTGs connected with Jupiter and a possible nuclear detonation on the planet? The answer may be found almost exactly a month before Mr. Meekers’ picture was taken. On September 21st, NASA decided, in a very odd decision, to send their RTG powered probe named Galileo hurdling into the planet as its final mission.

Shoemaker-Levy9-HSTThe reason behind the destruction was mostly sound: NASA worried that a dead probe orbiting Jupiter could eventually contaminate its moons which may harbor life. Scientists believed in 2003, as they do now, that both Europa and Callisto have significant amounts of ice water, and are theorized to have subsurface oceans which may have microbial life.

With this in mind, NASA took no chances, and sent a kill order to the probe, directing the spacecraft to a suicidal dive into Jupiter to prevent contamination. Galileo was almost instantly destroyed during its de-orbit, much in the same way it’s atmospheric probe was crushed when it was released in 1995 to conduct experiments during a descent into the hostile planet.

But did more result from crashing the probe into the planet? Some experts warned that mixing radioactive material and Jupiter may have catastrophic results. Engineer Jacco van der Worp warned, via a radio show, that the RTGs may reach critical mass due to the intense pressure in the lower atmosphere of the planet, and the elements contained within Jupiter’s deep atmosphere.


How It Could Have Happened


Some of the science behind conversion of the spent RTG canisters into an atomic weapon is difficult to reproduce, which has caused some controversy on the issue of turning a peaceful space probe into a weapon of mass destruction.


Documentation on how nuclear weapons were and are built is well known, but very difficult to reproduce. However, the basic idea on how to build a nuclear weapon is as follows (image from Wikipedia):


The “Implosion Assembly Method” was  used in the first nuclear weapon utilized over the skies of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. This method closely mirrors the possible environment of the RTGs during their descent into Jupiter. Nuclear weapons employ powerful explosives to artificially create incredible pressures, forcing the radioactive material to compress, and attain fission, creating the chain of events leading to a nuclear explosion.

Jupiter naturally creates the incredible pressures needed to compress a radioactive material to achieve fission. After all, that is how our sun shines – immense pressures force reactions in various types of atoms, creating incredible amounts of energy.

One challenge, though, to the argument of plausibility is if the type of material in Galileo’s RTG, U238, could actually create such a weapon. It is absolutely true that U238 can’t create a fissile reaction per se. However, if U238 is enriched, the result is U235, which is considered “Weapons grade” for a nuclear bomb. Could Jupiter provide the needed foundation to enrich U238? We believe so. One of the first discovered methods for creating weapons grade uranium is called “Thermal Diffusion”, which involves the transfer of heat across a thin liquid or gas to accomplish isotope separation, forcing U235 molecules to diffuse towards a hotter surface, while U238 diffuses to a colder surface. We believe that its possible Jupiter created the perfect environment for the transformation of the spent RTG cells into a a nuclear accident waiting to happen.



Turning a Molehill Into a Mountain

hst_jupiter_scarOne additional criticism of the theory is that if a reaction did indeed occur, causing the radioactive material to explode, it would not create the dark spot seen in the initial picture. This is absolutely true, as the explosive yield would be in the area of 100 kilotons of TNT (or about twice the strength of the bomb used over Hiroshima).

So how could the small reaction spark something much greater? The answer lies in what is underneath the clouds of Jupiter. The gas giant contains high amounts of tritium and deuterium. Both elements are essential parts of the other type of nuclear weapon which results in a fusion reaction. This type of reaction is the basis of what we call a “Hydrogen bomb”, which yields much more energy than a simple fissile bomb.


As per the picture (source: Wikipedia), once the initial reaction is created, the fusion fuel is utilized, creating a much higher yield explosion. The most powerful weapon ever created, the Tsar Bomba used the same type of principle. Given the ample fuel that is available deep within Jupiter, it is plausible that the simple fissile reaction became much, much more.

In fact, such a reaction was the basis of the sequel to the brilliant space opera, 2001: A Space Odyssey, aptly named 2010. But this reaction brings up a great question: why didn’t all of the fuel ignite, creating an even bigger explosion? One that would consume the whole planet?

The answer for this is simple: Jupiter cannot maintain the pressure needed to create fusion on its own. To create the pressures needed to sustain such a reaction requires a much larger mass, to the tune of 10 times the size of Jupiter. These entities are called brown dwarfs, and are only recently understood. Therefore, once the initial reaction of U235 had dissipated, there was little to sustain the reaction.


But What About the Time Delay?

The final barrier to the nuclear explosion is the simple argument of time. The probe crashed into Jupiter on September 21st, and the spot showed up on October 19th – almost a month later. How is that possible?


One important aspect of atmospheric density is that the denser the atmosphere is, the more resistance an object faces when moving in the direction of travel. Therefore, as the Galileo probe hurdled through the Jovian atmosphere, the drag imposed on the craft would naturally slow it down. Scientists do not know if there is a true “Core” to Jupiter, or if it is simply so dense that it becomes as hard as any given rocky bodied object in the solar system.

An expression called “Stokes Law” is the basis for calculating how long it’d take the RTG capsule to reach a depth in Jupiter to reach supercritical mass, which is found in the following formula:

V = (2gr²)(d1-d2)/9µ


V = velocity of fall (cm sec-¹),
g = acceleration of gravity (cm sec-²),
r = “equivalent” radius of particle (cm),
dl = density of particle (g cm -³),
d2 = density of medium (g cm-³), and
µ = viscosity of medium (dyne sec cm-²).

Applying the formula to the RTG canisters, we find that it would take just under 1 month to achieve the depth needed for the reaction – the same amount of time between the probe’s demise and the discovery of the Jovian “My stery Explosion”.

But could the RTG canisters survive so long in such a hostile environment? Galileo’s atmospheric probe only survived 53 minutes before it was destroyed at a depth of 160km and 23 times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere. Pulling data from the Galileo’s RTG containment field, we find that the uranium capsules were coated in iridium, which has a melting point of 4435 degrees Fahrenheit. The uranium capsules were then attached to a boron-graphite membrane that could withstand 6422 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the membrane mostly intact is an important part of the theory, as you would need at least 10 kilograms of the 45 contained within the RTG to create a fissile reaction.

Adding it all together, you have a “perfect storm” of sorts – a vehicle that may be able to withstand the temperatures and pressures needed to enrich the uranium and cause detonation, and the time lapse between the probes insertion into Jupiter’s atmosphere, and detonation.


And If You’re Still Not Convinced..

Even after all that has been said, our argument is merely a “What if” scenario of the perfect storm. But could such an event happen again? Space enthusiasts should take note of the following points:

  1. The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter – the first nuclear-powered probe (using an actual reactor) was cancelled shortly after the Galileo indecent.
  2. NASA has virtually abandoned RTG creation for new probes since the Galileo indecent (the citation being “Cost” to restart the lines needed to create the materials needed for new RTGs)
  3. NASA’s substitute for the JIMO mission is using solar panels instead of an RTG – despite the fact that the craft will receive only 4% of the solar energy a similar probe would receive in orbit around Earth
  4. The few probes that employed RTGs post-Galileo have have virtually no risk of crash landing into a gas giant, such as the New Horizons mission, which is traveling to Pluto.
  5. NASA has significantly discouraged the usage of RTGs in the wake of Galileo. Only New Horizons and MSL have been launched featuring RTGs in the past decade.
  6. The one probe currently still utilizing an RTG and orbiting a gas giant, Cassini-Hyugens has been continually extended, preventing decision about its fate. The spacecraft’s initial mission was for approximately 42 months. It was extended for an additional 10 years.

The final point brings the discussion to close. Ultimately, the proof is in the empiricism behind further research into this possible phenomenon. What happens if NASA decides to crash land the Cassini probe into Saturn? What if we find the same mysterious spot on Saturn? Will NASA fail to mention this? In the end, you, the reader, must decide for yourself if NASA did indeed create the most powerful weapon known to man on accident, and spark the first nuclear attack against another planet.

4 Amazing facts about Neptune

Throughout my life, I’ve always admired Neptune, our furthest planet* from the sun. As a child, I would find as many books as I could about the outer gas giants, especially Neptune. I always found it the most majestic of the gas giants, with its blue hues being a welcome contrast to the incredibly ordinary Uranus, ringed wonder Saturn, or the massive and sometimes ugly, Jupiter.

But what facts set Neptune apart from the other planets, and why should we consider these facts about Neptune?


Neptune Fact # 1 : Neptune is the Smallest, Most Dense Gas Giant in Our Solar System

Neptune-007Not only is Neptune the furthest out of the major planets, its also the smallest of the giants, but not by much. Its approximately 3% smaller than its neighbor, Uranus. However, it is more massive than Uranus, which makes Neptune the most dense giant in our solar system. Its density is likely due to the fact it contains heavier elements compared to the other gas giants. Neptune has the lowest amount of hydrogen and more helium when compared to the other giants in our solar system. The result is a greater density, at about 1.6 grams per centimeter.



Neptune Fact #2 : Neptune Was Found by Science, Not a Telescope


neptune-possible-comet-impact-100722-02The discovery of many planets in our solar system have been the result of looking up into the sky, either with eyes or telescopes. However, the discovery of Neptune is markedly different: it was discovered using mathematical models. Alexis Bouvard “discovered” the planet by completing observations of the other gas giants – Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus – which resulted in notable discrepancies in Uranus’ orbit. Mr. Bouvard noticed that there were significant irregularities with the mathematical model, and the actual orbit of Uranus. This led him to postulate that an eighth planet existed beyond the orbit of the last known planet.

His model was absolutely correct, and his facts about Neptune were found with a telescope in September, 1843 – three years after his death. Astronomers noted that his model was able to predict the orbit of Neptune to within 1 degree – which helped them find the planet in what amounted to finding a needle in not a haystack, but a barn of hay.



Neptune Fact #3 :Neptune is Blue Because of Methane


imagesNeptune’s color has always been fascinating to me. Its deep blue is very reminiscent of Earth’s oceans, and far more colorful than Uranus’ bluish-green color. What makes each gas giant a different color is all in what is in its atmosphere. Both Uranus and Neptune have a large amount of methane in their atmosphere, which makes them absorb red light, and reflect blue.

What would Neptune look like without the methane? One would likely have to look at Jupiter for the answer, as it is the closest planet in terms of composition, without the methane. Although, Neptune would still look very unique, as it has the most helium in its atmosphere when compared to all other planets in our solar system.


Neptune Fact #4 : Neptune’s Largest Moon Will Not Exist in the Future

Naiad_Recovery_v3Neptune is home to one of the most interesting moons in the solar system: Triton. Scientists believe that the moon is not natural to Neptune. That is, they believe that it was captured by the planet from the Kuiper Belt. Triton has a very strange retrograde orbit around the planet. This is causing it to inch closer and closer to the planet. Eventually, this will result in the moon reaching the Roche Limit, which will tear the moon apart, resulting either in it crashing into the planet, or creating a massive ring system around the planet, much like Saturn.

However, this isn’t to occur in a very long time. Scientists estimate that it is billions of years away. But it leads to an interesting discussion: What would Neptune look like with a large ring system?

And now you know more facts about Neptune.

Turning pee to power – Students in Africa build a revolutionary urine powered generator

4392977440_1c37eaa61cIt isn’t too often that you hear of teenagers halfway around the globe creating something cool from almost nothing.

Today however is different, four teenagers (The oldest of whom is only fifteen) have developed a very amazing way to generate electricity in their remote village in  Africa.

The process is extraordinarily simple – Take waste urine (pee) ,  feed the urine into a electrolytic cell , crack the urine into its base elements – Nitrogen, water & hydrogen. Filter the hydrogen through a normal water purifier, filter the hydrogen then through liquid borax, then feed the now pure hydrogen into a run of the mill generator.

The end result is extremely flammable, pure hydrogen which can be used to power a generator, or a airship.

While this process isn’t exactly new (It was initially developed in Athens Ohio in 2009) one of the more amazing things is the fact that these teenage girls are using materials that are all easily found in their remote part of Africa.

One of the most crucial features of this device is that it does not used platinum to generate the hydrogen. Here in the US, our electrolysis cells contain highly valuable platinum which costs a whopping $1550 per ounce. Instead, the girls are using nickel, which is extremely abundant, and quite cheap at only $7 per pound. On top of this, they are not feeding the pure hydrogen into a expensive fuel cell, rather a cheap Chinese generator. The result is cheap, rugged and will run off 6 hours from one liter of urine.

This technology will be of great use in Africa. It could also have a important role in here in the United States, but not for consumers. Instead, this could be utilized to produce additional electricity in space, as hydrogen fuel cells are becoming more of a mainstay in space exploration equipment.

Only time will tell if this technology becomes widespread. At any rate, we think this is pretty cool when kids develop something amazing.

7 Mind-blowing technologies the US government has made illegal

As a child, I was always told by my parents that somewhere, somehow there were evil companies that were secretly suppressing technology that would make life better. Hidden in a vault in some corporate HQ were pieces of paper containing things like the cure to cancer, cars that ran on water and Little Debbies that instantly made people skinny with just a few bites.

As a much more cynical teenager, I decided that it would be impossible in a free society for companies, no matter how large, to suppress powerful technology – especially when you have many companies in the same field dealing with the same technology. Heck, millions of dollars were spent by companies to keep pizzas hot while they delivered them to you.

Then, as an adult, I discovered the real truth – there are plenty of amazing things that are out there that can’t be brought to the market due to simple government over-regulation. Just like MTV killed rock ‘n roll, federal regulations are doing a good job of killing ingenuity.

Give up, just quit, because in this life, you can’t win. Yeah, you can try, but in the end you’re just gonna lose, big time, because the world is run by the Man. The Man, oh, you don’t know the Man. He’s everywhere. In the White House… down the hall… Ms. Mullins, she’s the Man. And the Man ruined the ozone, he’s burning down the Amazon, and he kidnapped Shamu and put her in a chlorine tank! And there used to be a way to stick it to the Man. It was called rock ‘n roll, but guess what, oh no, the Man ruined that, too, with a little thing called MTV! So don’t waste your time trying to make anything cool or pure or awesome ’cause the Man is just gonna call you a fat washed up loser and crush your soul.
Jack Black – School of Rock

So, here is our list of 7 amazing technologies that are illegal right here in the U.S.

#7 – Fuel-Efficient Cars

“Oh, come on now, we have fuel efficient cars! My Focus gets 38 miles per gallon!”

That will be the first angry email or comment I get from this entire article. I’ve been told this line by many people about their Focus, Prius or Insight.

FORD-FIESTA-ECONETIC-02 (Small)Yet somehow, for the most part the United States has seemingly gone backwards in terms of fuel economy for vehicles. Back in the 80s and early 90s, it was possible to find a vehicle that would produce nearly 50mpg in real-world performance. Vehicles like the Metro, Sprinter and CRX. Up until recently, VW still put out a few vehicles that would get over 50mpg, but since the EPA has changed laws against diesel, VW no longer has much interest in producing fuel-efficient diesels here in the US.

The proof of fuel efficient cars built in other countries isn’t too hard to find. VW Makes the Passat 1.6 TDI which blows any US made car out of the water with an average of 76 miles per gallon utilizing the UK’s version of fuel efficiency testing. If this vehicle would be brought to the US and driven, MPG ratings would likely be much higher. The method used in England uses primarily urban driving without any miles given to long distance highways, the kind that 60% of Americans utilize every day. Using some simple fuel saving methods and longer roadway usage, the TDI could get up to 80 or even 90 miles per imperial gallon when in use on this side of the pond.

It isn’t just European automakers. America’s own Ford produces the ECOnetic ,which is a variation of the Fiesta for the European market. It boasts a combined MPG rating of 74 to 76 miles per gallon. It, however can not be produced – or even imported to the United States due to strict “environmental laws” (For some reason, using one petroleum distillate like diesel is barbaric, while gasoline somehow is much better).

So, as it stands now, we’re stuck with underwhelming performers like the Prius and other hybrid abominations until someone does something to overturn EPA rules on diesel, or NHTSA rules regarding smaller, light weight cars. Maybe while we’re at it, we could finally let companies use advanced composites to build cars and replace mandated steel.

#6 – Outer Space

We LOVE space (hence the website name). However, as it stands right now, there are absolutely monumental restrictions for private individuals as well as companies to go to space.

Recently, many videos have been appearing on Youtube where people send different things “To Space” by way of hydrogen balloon lifting a cooler. Some examples are here, here and here. They are great examples of the ingenuity of Americans who want to send things to the upper atmosphere and claim some fame.maxresdefault

The sad thing is…Every one of these cases that we can find is illegal. In order to send a cooler to space, you need clearance from the FAA to go above a certain altitude. There are also MANY restrictions on things such as radio wave emission, altitude and many other things. In reality, the vast majority of these civilian balloon ‘space shots’ are illegal. Thankfully the FAA hasn’t fined anyone…Yet, but eventually it will happen, ending everyone’s fun. One great example of someone getting fined by the FAA for this very thing was the man who attached balloons to a chair and flew up to 15,000 feet – Larry Walters. Poor Larry was fined $4,000 for not having the proper permits. Far more than his 15 minutes of fame gained him.

It gets worse though. Not only are civilians not allowed to send things like an Iphone or beer to space, but private space companies are becoming the target of overwhelmingly tough legislation.

The worst example is SpaceX. The company that is in the forefront of commercial space development is coming under more scrutiny by the US government. In the forefront is the odd requirements to “Human Rate” equipment. Based on some recent statements by NASA, they want SpaceX capsules (like the Dragon)  to be 100 to 200 times more reliable than the absolute best space vehicles that NASA can produce. This is quite absurd, and if things don’t change will make it much harder for space to be commercialized. Can you imagine the federal government mandating that all new cars be 100 times safer? It’s practically impossible, and therefore essentially makes such a thing illegal.


#5 – Cheap, Reliable Meltdown Proof Nuclear Reactors

Imagine that some day, the world no longer has a need for additional electricity generation. No more brownouts or blackouts, electricity has become immensely cheap to produce. This energy is produced by something extremely clean and abundant, in fact the United States has the capacity to power the world for the next thousand years.

Now , imagine that this technology was almost perfected in the late 1960s and 1970s but put on the shelf due to government regulations.

Unlike a typical nuclear power plant that Utilizes enriched Uranium as its primary fuel source. LFTRs produce almost no hazardous waste and are meltdown proof. Not only do they not produce significant amounts of radioactive waste, they can actually burn the waste generated from current nuclear power plants as the source.  The little amount of waste that is produced has a phenomenally short half life – 30.7 years. This compared to the half life of U-238 which is 24,000 years is an amazing thing. As an added bonus, there is some economic value to the byproducts of LFTRs (Cesium 137 and Strontium 90) that virtually no waste would need to be buried or otherwise disposed of, it could be used for beneficial purposes.420px-PressurizedWaterReactor

Finally, the most important thing is that thorium is cheap and readily available in the United States. In fact, we’ve got enough to power the world for a very long time. Thorium is so cheap that you can find it at your local WalMart or Harbor Freight. They currently use it as wicking for camp stoves and for welding. The alpha particles it emits are almost harmless (That is unless you readily eat the stuff) so you don’t have to worry about some sort of cancer from exposure.

While LFTRs aren’t completely illegal to build (yet) the government has made them for all purposes impossible to build. Right now, anyone wanting to develop one is likely to spend $10 billion dollars in planning, permits and pre-construction costs before even being approved by the government. Let’s be serious, who would spend that kind of money for a ‘Maybe’ from the federal government?

One article reader provided some great thoughts on the PRISM reactor which is a bit different than the LFTR. Instead of being a thorium-based reactor, it is something called a Integral Fast Reactor. The Clinton administration canceled the IFR project that was underway and left it for “Private companies to accomplish”. Sadly, even though Hitachi has developed a IFR for use in the United States. The NRC is overly dragging their feat on it. Requiring massive, and almost unattainable expenses to build it.

It seems the UK will be deploying one in the near future, but there is no plan to deploy one at any time in the future. From current estimates, the UK reactor will be able to provide 600mw of continual output for OVER 500 years. Running on nothing but nuclear waste.

#4 – Long Range WiFi

Ever get tired of dropped wifi coverage? How about the fact that your wifi router can barely make it through a few walls before the signal is almost useless.

Interestingly enough, with a quick firmware upgrade of most wireless routers, this can be fixed. By increasing power by a reasonable amount, you can get quite a bit more range from your personal wifi router.

Unfortunately, this is quite illegal.

Sadly, WiFi routers in the USA are limited to a total of 1 watt of effective radiated power (ERP).

Sure, it’s important to be safe with microwave energy (which is what all wifi routers emit) however 1 watt ERP is almost nothing. With a $25 amateur radio license, magically the government seems to think that a person is capable of handling 200 times this output.

In some cases, off the shelf, highly effective antennas make a run of the mill router highly illegal. I don’t know about you, but I figure it would be nice if it was legal to have a router that could make it through two or three walls before becoming completely impotent.

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Is there a link between anti depressants & mass murders?

prozac-225x300Ran across a bit of research dug up by the late John Noveske that is amazingly interesting. This was posted just a few days prior to his death. Thankfully he did a great deal of research into this, and really makes you wonder. From the research done, it appears nearly every single person involved in mass murder in the United States in the past 10 to 12 years has been on some sort of prescription anti depressant or SSRI.

Standard Gravure shooting – First known shooting with ties to Prozac. Joseph Wesbecker kills 12, injures 9.

Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.

Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.

Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.

Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.

Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.

Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.

Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.

A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.

Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..

A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.

Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.

TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.

Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.

James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.

Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania

Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California

Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.

Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.

Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.

Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.

Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.

Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.

Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.

Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family’s Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.

Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn’t take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…”)

Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,
(Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself.)

Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.

Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.

Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.

Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.

A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.

Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”

Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.

Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.

Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his
New York high school.

Missing from list… 3 of 4 known to have taken these same meds….

What drugs was Jared Lee Loughner on, age 21…… killed 6 people and injuring 14 others in Tuscon, Az

What drugs was James Eagan Holmes on, age 24….. killed 12 people and injuring 59 others in Aurora Colorado

What drugs was Jacob Tyler Roberts on, age 22, killed 2 injured 1, Clackamas Or

What drugs was Adam Peter Lanza on, age 20, Killed 26 and wounded 2 in Newtown Ct
Roberts is the only one that I haven’t heard about being on drugs of some kind.

Media ignores facts on another shooting

11982762-largeIt was national news but for a short while.

The ATF has finally released a report detailing the source of the Keltec 9mm firearm used to kill

Was it from a gun store not doing background checks the right way? Maybe a gun show through that pesky loophole they all talk about? Maybe some well-meaning family member transferring it?

Nope, it was stolen in 2011 during a burglary which resulted in a total of 4 missing guns.

Once again , here is yet another shooting where the law was broken to obtain a firearm used to commit a murder that made national headlines. We can add this to the list of recent high-profile shootings where the firearm was obtained in a illegal manner. In the case of Sandy Hook, Klackamas mall shooting and the NY firemen ambush, all firearms were procured by highly illegal means.

10 Things they never told you about the moon landing

il_570xN.311721352In its relatively short history, America is known for a lot of things. The Revolutionary War, Apple Pie, Honey Boo Boo, and many other cultural and historical contributions. But what event outshines them all? We believe the Apollo Program outshines them all on the scale of America’s greatest moments.

But why was July 20th, 1969 and the following landings so important? We discuss ten reasons as to why it’s still relevant, and still one of the most meaningful contributions America has made to the world.


#1 – We Did it to Beat the Commies

Rocky and Apollo Creed. The Jedi and Sith. Ohio State and Michigan. The Axis and Allies. Throughout movies, sports, and history, there have been many mortal enemies that have fought against one another. By 1961, the United States had been embarrassed multiple times by communist countries. First by the Soviet Union successfully launching Sputnik 1 in 1957, and more recently by Yuri Gargarin’s orbit of Earth in Vostok 1, as well as the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Gumdrop_Meets_Spider_-_GPN-2000-001100America was reeling from its many losses. So what did President John F. Kennedy do? He delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress on May 25th, 1961. In the speech, he told those in Congress and the American people that we would embark on one of the largest projects in American history, beating our hated rivals, the Soviet Union, in a field they had recently had much more success in.

Imagine having a neighbor that had a party featuring a loud stereo system that was the envy of everyone on the block. To get back at him, you throw your own party, and get Aerosmith to play it. That is an apt comparison of exactly what JFK decided that America would do in response to the Soviet’s achievements, providing history with the greatest tale of one-upping the competition. Although JFK wasn’t around alive to see the results (Richard Nixon, his adversary in the 1960 US Presidential Election did), it cemented his legacy as one of the 20th centuries’ most remarkable presidencies.

So what happened to the Soviets after the Moon Landing? Very little, and that is exactly what NASA and the ghost of JFK wanted. The Soviets never attempted to land on the Moon, and their contributions to records in space began to steadily decline. If you ever want to see how sad the Soviet and Russian programs have become, just take a look at their Buran Space Shuttle. They did take some cool pictures of Venus, though.



#2 – The Average Age of a NASA Engineer Was 28 at the Moon Landing


The Moon Landing was something only dreamed about in sci-fi literature prior to the 1960s. Even when America embarked on the path to the Moon, there was a lot of hatred over the supposed boondoggle. Such hatred was probably rational in the early 60s. After all, about half of America had grown up without indoor plumbing, so how was it we were going to put someone on an alien surface 250,000 miles away?

The impossible was accomplished with the 1960′s equivalent of Sheldon Cooper. Even then, its not a fair comparison, as the average engineer was even younger than The Big Bang Theory’s wunderkind. This was in stark contrast to the NASA of today, which has an average age of 47. Some of America’s most incredible advancements have been accomplished by young men and women, such as the Manhattan Project, as the average age of their scientists was just 25 years old.

Pictured to the right is a man named John Wolfram. Other than having an awesome last name, he was one of four Navy SEALs who were part of assisting the Apollo 11 crew after splashdown. He was just 20 years old when he attached a 200-pound sea anchor to the capsule, ensuring the survival of Neil Amstrong and company after their triumphant return to Earth. His story and contribution was one of the many thousands involved in the Apollo program.

Trusting your life in the hands of a kid fresh out of college is an incredible act of faith, but that’s exactly what countless astronauts did leading up to, and through the moon landings. So the next time your Starbucks barista begins to tell you about her amazing career in gender-sensitive sustainable quinoa farming, remind her that the kids her age used to be more concerned with inventing nukes and getting people to the moon.


#3 – There’s an American flag on the Moon


Planting an American flag has become one of the countries’ greatest feats and accomplishments through very turbulent times. Marines planted a flag on Iwo Jima on February 23rd, 1945, despite huge firefights in the vicinity of Mount Suribachi. Likewise, after the tragic events of 9/11, another iconic picture was taken of firefighters raising the US flag over the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Yet despite those two events, there is one flag that is likely still there, just as it was over 40 years ago – the American flag on the moon. Although according to Buzz Aldrin, the flag was tipped over as the astronauts left the Moon in the Lunar Lander, its still quite an accomplishment, as scientists still have evidence that the flag is indeed there.

Originally, the plan was to plant a UN flag on the Moon, but thank God it was nixed. Can you imagine the most permanent symbol on the moon being an agency that excels at nothing?

Every lunar landing has seen the planting of the Stars & Bars somewhere on its barren surface. If aliens have ever visited the Moon, then there is no doubt as to who has been there.

#4 – No One Has Copied It


Apollo_10_Lunar_ModuleTechnology has progressed at an incredible pace since the dawn of even the 18th century. Lifestyles and livelihoods change with each generation. Yet one thing has remained consistent for the past 43 years: No one has landed on the Moon except for American astronauts.

Let’s put that in perspective: In 44 years, aviation went from the Wright Flyer 1 to the F-86 Sabre Jet. In another 43 years, military aircraft like the F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber had just begun to fly from secret locations to blow up unsuspecting bad guys like a ninja version of Rambo. Yet in a similar time span, no one has even come close to the accomplishments of NASA and the Apollo astronauts. Even the Chinese are still decades away from landing on the Moon, despite the fact they always find a way to make an inferior copy of something in a few weeks.

If someone ever lands on the Moon again, its likely they’re going to be American, too. Companies like SpaceX and the newly-announced Golden Spike are planning on returning where Neil, Buzz and the boys played golf a generation ago. When it happens, the likely 50-year record will be something for the ages. And its all thanks to the men (and probably a few women, too) that risked their lives to do something few thought possible.



#5 – They Invented It All To Get There


Invention is the mother of necessity, they say. In the case of going to the Moon, an incredible number of things had to be invented. When Kennedy announced that we were going to the Moon, the US hadn’t even sent a man into space (John Glenn did the next year aboard Friendship 7). Much less, the amount of technology it takes to put a man on the Moon is vastly higher than it is to simply get them to orbit in space. It’s like the difference between a Lady Gaga song, and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Sure, they’re both music, but guess which one was harder to compose?

For example, rockets are a critical component of getting anything into outer space. But not just any rocket will do. It required the aptly named Saturn V. Badass Supreme may have been an even more apt name, but we’ll settle for the Roman god of liberation. The Saturn V tipped the scales at 6.2 million pounds fully fueled. How big is that? Other than the nifty comparison chart below, lets put it a few other ways:


1 Saturn V rocket is the same weight as:

17,500 Ford Mustangs
1,460 F-16 Falcons, Fully Loaded
46 M-1 Abrams Battle Tanks

And of course, the Saturn V goes directly up into space, making it an unbelievable feat. The Saturn V is the only launch vehicle to have sent humans to the Moon. Its just one of many things invented to get Americans to the Moon. So what else was invented from the Apollo Program? Kidney dialysis machines, water filtration systems, cooling suits, and range-of-motion exercise equipment. They aren’t quite as awesome as a 3,000 ton rocket that could put people on the Moon, but they’re existence is tied to the Lunar landings.



#6 – NASA Brought Everyone Back Alive


Apollo_11Exploration can come at a huge price. If you don’t believe us, just ask the Donner Party. In the pursuit of incredible achievements, there is always the possibility of tragedy. However, tragedy among the Apollo Program was almost non-existent. Of the 12 men that landed on the Moon, everyone came back. That is not to say there weren’t incredible risks surrounding the missions, as we all learned when Tom Hanks and company witnessed Ron Howard rupture an oxygen tank on Apollo 13. However, thanks to some incredible ingenuity and the will to survive, the crew made it back to Earth safely. Three people did die as a result of the program (Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee), but all were Earthside.

Comparatively, the Soviet program was a little more reckless with its projects. The true cost of lives is likely locked forever away inside destroyed records from the Soviet Union, but we do know that at least 4 cosmonauts died prior to the completion on the Apollo program. Additionally, if any of the Lost Cosmonaut theories were true, it would add significantly to the numbers of people the Soviet Union lost during their space program.

You also have the utter failures of NASA post-Apollo with two shuttle disasters. Its interesting to compare the results of safety standards in the 1960s with the Apollo and Gemini programs, and contrast them to the Shuttle Program. In 135 STS launches, 12 people died, or approximately 1 per 11 launches. Comparatively, zero died from 11 manned Apollo missions, 10 Gemini missions, and various other launches throughout the 60s and 70s. We do note, though, that many men gave their lives during Earth-based training, but its still a stark comparison between launching men into outer space among both programs.



#7 – One Small Leap for Man, One Giant Leap for ‘Merica-kind


Its estimated that 530 million people tuned in to watch the Moon landing. It was only in 2006 that any other even rendered audiences as captive as Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Given the number of actual TV sets worldwide at the time, its likely a feat never to be repeated. Its been argued that for a moment in time, the whole world was unified in watching Neil utter his historic phrase.

But what has the impact been since the Moon landing? There are many arguments that discuss the impact of the Apollo Program. But the cultural influence can’t be denied, as its very rare that anyone can think of a more important achievement that was watched worldwide. If anything is to be argued, the Lunar Landings sparked a huge cultural shift into everything America. More and more nations began to become steeped in Americana thanks to the television, and the quintessential live spectacle of the landings.

Since then, the goal of beating the Soviets wasn’t just achieved, but it (along with Reagan’s Star Wars Death Ray) was likely a gentle push to destroy the Soviet Union. They couldn’t compete with American dollars in sending people to the Moon. From 1969 on, communism began its slow decline worldwide. Up to that point, it had taken over the hearts and minds of so many. But since 1969, only a handful of tinpot premiers have tried to captivate people with ‘ole Karl Marx. There are probably many reasons for that, but we’d like to argue that the Moon Landing was the watershed moment that told the commies that Democracy and Capitalism could do far more amazing things than bread lines and Bolshevik revolutions.



#8 – The Event Was So Awesome, It Had to Be Fake


800px-Apollo_11_Crew_During_Training_Exercise_-_GPN-2002-000032Everyone loves a conspiracy theory, don’t they? According to some, the same government that blew up the Twin Towers in NYC, killed JFK (or did Castro do that?), and many other clandestine activities isn’t adept at launching a rocket to the Moon. Conspiracies are nothing new, but there have been many people involved in trying to provide proof that the landings were fake.

Although NASA and the astronauts that went to the moon are pretty pissed off at the people that believe they spent $25 billion USD on Hollywood movie sets, it does speak to an interesting aspect of the Moon Landings: Nothing that awesome has ever happened, nor happened since, so it must be fake.

It doesn’t take a genius, or Buzz Aldrin beating the tar out of Bart Sibrel to provide a laundry list of reasons that we went to the Moon, as well as why we never went back. The Apollo landing was a massive government undertaking, which at its peak soaked up almost 5% of the federal government’s annual budget. Most of the reason we never went back (or to Mars for that matter) is simply because there isn’t enough money to go back. Since 1972 – the last year we landed on the Moon – NASA’s budget has been cut by 66% in terms of total government outlays, and approximately 50% in constant 2001 dollars. Despite advances in technology, its still very expensive to go back to the Moon. However, that is changing rapidly, as SpaceX and Golden Spike believe they can go back to the Moon for just $1.5 billion USD – less than 1/10th of NASA’s Apollo budget. If and when someone goes back, maybe they can send some pictures back of the fake Hollywood set Neil, Buzz and friends made on the Moon.




#9 – Every Footprint on the Moon is American


When was the last time you bought a shoe made in America? It seems today that everything is made overseas, from shoes to Shake Weights, its either from China, or a country you can’t pronounce. There is one place, though, that has only American-made boots on the ground, and that is the object directly above us – the Moon. Other countries have landed probes on the Moon, but its been incredibly rare. In fact, the Soviets launched (and failed) 21 times before they finally put the Luna 9 on the Moon.


In fact, the United States is the only country still in existence that has any material on the Moon, thanks to the collapse of the Soviet Union. This should speak volumes of the dedication and value that America has placed on the Moon.
In the future, countries will likely fight over who owns the Moon, if anyone is allowed to own it. Unlike most any other exploratory event that has taken place on Earth, the first Moon landing was and is uniquely American, and will always be. America does certainly owe a great debt of gratitude to men like Nazi Mad scientist turned NASA architect Werner Von Braun, who came to America to help develop the American space program. Certainly, it took other men and women scattered throughout the Earth to ensure each mission was on track that went into orbit, but it does not change that the undertaking was, and will always be an American initiative.
And thanks to the vacuum of space, many instruments remain on the Moon, just as they were when they were left there 40 years ago. One day, when we colonize the Moon, they will be put into museums, and every piece involved in the landing will say or at least infer the slogan “Made In America”.

#10 – We Didn’t Kill Anyone To Get It Done


There are a lot of badass events in America’s history. The signing of the Declaration of Independence, freeing the slaves, defeating the Nazis and Imperial Japanese, bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice, and so many more acts of defiance, courage and bravery. Yet in almost every instance, badass has also meant bloody. Landing on the Moon was done without bloodshed, as far as we know.


Maybe as history goes forward, more can learn from what NASA accomplished in a 12 year span. It may or may not be governments that accomplish greater feats in space, but anyone that attempts to beat NASA should at least be in awe of what many young men and women endeavored to achieve – all without killing or subjugating someone else to get it done. Given the aforementioned Von Braun’s involvement in the project, its also a tale of redemption of a man that was able to turn the proverbial sword into a spaceship.

In the years following the Apollo missions, many children found a new love for space and space travel, and have taken up the banner of continuing the development of space travel and exploration. Visionary men like Elon Musk, John Carmack and Richard Branson have used (and in many cases, mentioned) the Moon landings as a stepping stone to what they’re currently doing to further space travel where NASA can no longer tread.

Its our hope at SpaceO that the Lunar landings continue to inspire young men and women to dream large and work hard until the day that the achievement becomes common place, and at that time, find new challenges to take on.