Well this week we can report on some of the ongoing space development progress, probably the only progress in the nation, and then search for the right oracle to review the other existential risks besides the one that keeps up stuck in our burrows.
We have mainly been posting about SpaceX progress in the Boca Chica area, but shouldn't forget that other Texas facilities are also continuing to make progress. Here we some great photos by neighbors in McGregor, TX, who were surprised to see these images through the windshield. Thanks for the photos, Reagan, @bluemoondance74!
|SpaceX rocket engine test in McGregor, TX (Source: Twitter feed from Reagan, @bluemoondance72)
Also, there was some more information regarding why copper of all the major industrial metals was so effective in disabling viruses, like the current SARS CoV-2, as we mentioned in the previous post of April 11, 2020. Well, someone, somewhere on the internet, said that it might be that copper has a single electron in the outer most electronic shell. Can that be the case? (Oops, I remember now that it was in a Smithsonian Magazine article of April 14, 2020, by Jim Morrison, "Copper's Virus Killing Powers were known even to the Ancients.") Well, we can see in this screenshot from chem.libretexts.org that, yes, copper is the only metal with just one electron in the outermost s-shell, while the other metals have a filled outer s-shell with 2 electrons. This is pretty neat! The single, un-paired electron would be more reactive. It does turn out though that after more review it is the case that other common metals like gold, silver and chromium also have a single outer s-shell electron.
|Copper is the one major metal with one electron in outer shell (Source: chemlibretexts.org)
Ok, enough of that little bit of progress news on the space exploration front and the electronic structure of metals. While we are stuck in our burrows, we should not forget to consider some of the other possible existential threats that could confront us. Here, you can see Resident Astronomer George, in his explorers cork hat, pondering which of two oracles to rely on as we review these other threats. I found the crystal skull on my front porch and wondered why is was found there and what its meaning is? (Ok, ok, it got on my porch with a little help from our friends at Amazon!) For me, the martini proved to be more effective oracle and guide to more deep and relaxed, non-worrying thinking!
|Resident Astronomer George ponders which oracle provides the best answer (Source: Palmia Observatory)
For instance, how many of you have considered the effects of being able to get and eat all of the food that we want, but are constrained by not being able to go to the gym or walk along the beach. Well, here we see one possible outcome at the end of the quarantine!
|Facebook post that poses on possible existential conundrum at the end of the pandemic (Source: Pic-Collage)
Ok, ok, it maybe is not going to be that bad, even though I know that my waistline has expanded during these past three weeks of sheltering in place. But we have other existential threats that we should also keep in mind. For instance, how many of you are prepared to ride through the big earthquake that is coming to California and is supposedly over due. We see that many countries are a little shorthanded in being prepared for the level of pandemic we now face, but how many of us have a week or two of food, etc, to ride through the big earthquake before the stores and trucking and maybe even gas and electricity are back online? You can check out many sources of information about being prepared, like this one from the-big-one.scpr.org.
|One big earthquake survival guide (Source: the-big-one.scpr.org)
In addition to earthquakes, our astronomer friends also warn us about a possible asteroid strike.
When you look at the orbits of the various families of asteroids and see that many of the orbits cross the Earth's orbit and it these orbits get perturbed then we could face a possible collision. The odds of it happening are quite low, but then the impact could be huge.
|Near earth objects and their known orbits (Source: cneos.jpl.nasa.gov)
Fortunately, there are ongoing studies that track and follow asteroids and try to spot and identify other unknown near earth objects. One study that goes into possible defenses is shown below. I'll bet that Loves the Mountains, David, is all over this defense topic!
Ok, so the risk of an asteroid strike is pretty low, but what about being stuck in our burrows without electricity for our access of the internet and online entertainment. It could happen if an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) were to take out the major electric transmission systems. EMP could be caused by some adversary or by a large coronal mass ejection (CME) from our sun. CMEs happen every now and again, luckily their trajectory is not aimed directly at the Earth. For now if you want to follow up on some of the issues, check out this EMP Task Force study by NERC.
|Recommendations from the EMP Task Force (Source: www.nerc.com)
Finally, let's wax philosophical for the moment. This pandemic has put all of our calendar plans on hold or cancelled and we all are trying to adapt to our new situations, which again is a minor inconvenience to those who are actually sick. At the same time the larger number of persons who cannot work causes much harm. What oracles do we turn to to help us get through this time and maintain our sanity. I remember that as a young, anxious college freshman engineering student, wondering what it was all about, that reading existentialist authors was the in thing to do in preparation for the late night dorm bull sessions. Well, here we are 50 years later and still anxious and still wondering with curiosity what it is all about. Maybe, now is the time to reread one of the classic existentialist novels by Albert Camus in 1947, "The Plaque." Besides, what else are we going to do while stuck in our burrows?
|Is it time to reread a classic existentialist novel? (Source: Albert Camus, "The Plague")
Until next time, here from our burrow, stay sane, stay safe,