Archive for July 27th, 2011
Straight from Gizmodo: “Science decided to be unfun this morning. Physicists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology demonstrated that a single photon cannot be accelerated beyond the speed of light. This implies that faster-than-light time travel is impossible. FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU…
The research team, led by Professor Du Shengwang, set out to close the debate by measuring the speed of a photon, or the fundamental unit of light. Du adheres to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, stating that the speed of light is the “traffic law of the universe” that nothing can exceed. People have been arguing for decades that going faster than light could possibly allow you to travel forward in time. By showing that the theory holds up, Du pretty much went “Nuh uh!” and killed the party.
But! The study says nothing about wormholes and possibilities brought up by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. So maybe this one kind of time travel is impossible and the others still are? My inner child is not giving up so easily!”
Straight from Fox News: “Voters will get the chance to decide whether Ohio can opt out of the national health care overhaul after the state’s top election official said Tuesday that opponents of the federal law have enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Secretary of State Jon Husted determined that supporters of the amendment, which would prohibit Ohio from participating in the federal Affordable Care Act, had gathered 427,000 valid signatures. They had submitted more than 546,000 and needed roughly 358,000 of them validated to make it on to the ballot.
The amendment will find itself on the ballot alongside a measure to repeal a contentious new collective bargaining law. Advocates expect that the two measures will drive people to the polls, which are typically under-visited in off-year elections.
A liberal policy group, however, said it could file a challenge to the health care measure, because it was still finding invalid signatures in its review.
A coalition of tea party organizations, small government advocates and religious groups gathered the signatures to get the health care measure on the ballot and now plan to mount a statewide campaign in support of it.
The coalition has more than 35,000 volunteers, an “army of grass roots support,” ready to mobilize to raise money to turn out voters in November’s election, said Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, a group that played a large role in the petitions.
“This issue would not be on the ballot without the blood, sweat and tears of thousands and thousands and thousands of volunteers,” Longstreth said. “The message is clear: keep health care between doctors and patients, and keep bureaucrats out of it.”
The measure would change the Ohio Constitution to prohibit any federal, state or local law from forcing Ohio residents, employers or health care providers to participate in a health care system.
It also would prevent the state from enacting a Massachusetts-style health care program, where the state requires a minimum level of insurance coverage.
If passed, the amendment would not apply to any law or rule in effect before March 19, 2010, so as not to prohibit Ohioans for participating in programs such as Medicare.
A spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich told the Associated Press in an email that the governor remains opposed to “federal interference” in Ohio health care, and is pleased with the inclusion of the amendment on November’s ballot.
The groups backing the amendment are united by a common belief that government is overstepping its bounds by requiring individuals to purchase health insurance.
“If they can force you to buy a product, where does it end?” Longstreth said. “Can it dictate what you eat? Where you live? Where you can drive?”
The federal mandate goes into effect in 2014, when statewide insurance exchanges are supposed to go in operation. Kasich has said he is proceeding with putting the health exchanges in place in Ohio despite his personal opposition to the Obama plan.
Ohio religious groups oppose the national health care overhaul on the grounds that they say it would require taxpayer funding of abortions. The insurance exchanges allow plans to cover abortions, provided they collect a separate premium from policyholders and that money is kept apart from federal subsidies.
“It is an outrage that taxpayer dollars would go to abortion on demand,” said Chris Long, spokesman for the Ohio Christian Alliance. His group plans on using its network of churches across the state to encourage people to vote for the amendment.
Other provisions of the Affordable Care Act – including prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, raising the age to which young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance plan and allowing states to put more people on Medicaid – have already gone into effect.
The Obama administration has defended the insurance mandate, saying Congress has the constitutional right to regulate interstate commerce.
Supporters of Ohio’s proposed amendment say it would encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to come to a quick decision regarding the constitutionality of the federal law, since the U.S. Constitution bars state law from trumping federal statutes.
In five U.S. District Court decisions, three judges upheld the constitutionality of the law, while two struck it down. In the first ruling by an appellate court, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati held that it was constitutional for Congress to mandate individuals to purchase health insurance.
Opponents of the proposed amendment include liberal groups. They say it continued a misinformation campaign surrounding the health care overhaul by keeping the public agitated instead of educating people on the law’s effects.
Those opponents have volunteers independently checking signatures and plan on filing a challenge, ProgressOhio executive director Brian Rothenberg said in a statement.
The group has found that about 20 percent of collected petitions are flawed, according to the release. If more than 20 percent of the 546,000-plus petitions were flawed, the amendment would still have enough signatures to appear on the ballot, but Rothenberg said he expects the number of unacceptable petitions to grow as more are examined.
They have until Aug. 5 to file any challenges. If a challenge is successful, proponents of the amendment would have 10 days to collect more signatures.”
Straight from Fox News: “Fly me to the moon? Sure thing.
Private spaceflight company Space Exploration (SpaceX) has received tentative approval from NASA to send its Dragon cargo craft on a landmark first mission to the International Space Station on November 30, which would make it the first private company to dock with the space station.
A successful docking on December 9 would be a dramatic validation of NASA’s plan to replace the now-retired space shuttle fleet with cheaper, private vehicles — though how the space agency would send astronauts to space remains an open question.
The Dragon capsule, one of several vehicles competing to haul cargo for NASA into space, had planned two test missions for this winter. One would gauge the capsule’s ability to do a “drive-by” of the space station, where it would approach close enough to test navigation and communication gear. A second mission would test the craft’s ability to dock.
But SpaceX is ready now, the company argues. Why not combine the two and hit the milestone earlier?
“We technically have agreed with SpaceX that we want to combine those flights,” William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, said at a July 21 media briefing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “We are doing all the planning to go ahead and have those missions combined, but we haven’t given them formal approval yet.”
If approved, SpaceX would deliver cargo to the space station in early December. And if successful, it would validate NASA’s plan to replace the shuttle with dramatically cheaper private spacecraft.
SpaceX will charge NASA at least $1.6 billion for 12 cargo shipments to the ISS, or $133 million per flight. The space shuttle costs exceed $1 billion per flight.
SpaceX is not alone, however: Orbital Sciences Corp. also has a contract with NASA to supply cargo ships. And it plans to launch the Cygnus resupply ship into space in February 2012.
David Thompson, chairman and CEO of Orbital Sciences, recently noted that the addition of the final Atlantis flight allowed NASA to stock up on food and other consumables, giving private industry a little wiggle room — but only a little.
“This most recent space shuttle mission … was able to stock up the space station with supplies and consumables to buy some time for both us and SpaceX to get our cargo systems operational, but the pressure is on to get both of these delivery systems proven and into service over the course of the next year,” Thompson told industry blog Spaceflight Now.
SpaceX’s craft consists of two parts: the Falcon 9 rocket, a multistage reusable rocket capable of lifting significant amounts of cargo, and Dragon, a reusable space capsule that will carry the cargo, dock and parachute back to Earth, ultimately splash-landing in the ocean.
The first and second stages of the Falcon 9 rocket for SpaceX’s cargo flight are already at the company’s Cape Canaveral launch pad. The Dragon spacecraft is due to arrive in August or September, the news site noted.
“We’re doing all the planning to go ahead and combine those missions,” Gerstenmaier said. “The capsule is being designed that way and the software is being built that way, and we’re just kind of waiting for the right formal time where we collectively agree that this is the right thing to go forward.”
A half-century of America sending Americans into space came to an end July 21, when space shuttle Atlantis became the final shuttle to touch down from space.
“Job well done, America,” mission control told Atlantis pilot Doug Hurley and the thousands watching and listening to the landing in the pre-dawn dark. Russian space agency Roskosmos used the occasion to give a nod to America’s contributions — and signal the beginning of the era of its spaceships instead.
“From today, the era of the Soyuz has started in manned space flight, the era of reliability,” Roskomos said.
SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. may see things differently.”