Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Martian: Space Colonies

This is one of the best films of the year. Don't miss it.

Watch the movie segment and prepare yourself for a debate about the colonization of Mars by humans. 


Divide the class into two groups. One group - A - will be responsible to defending the idea of the colonization of Mars. The other group - B - will be against it.

 Group A - Read the argumentation that supports the endeavor. 

Group B - Read the argumentation against the endeavor.

Pros: (adapted from this awesome site - Don't miss it!

1. Its Similarity to Earth

Mars has water, frozen underground and at the polar caps. There is evidence that this water has, in the past and present, flooded the surface in liquid form. Signs of erosion can be found on the slopes of craters and volcanoes. Geological features resembling those on Earth suggest that Mars was once a wet and hospitable planet. A day on Mars is 24.5 hours long. Mars is a third the size of Earth, but it has as much land area as the seven continents combined. Its gravity is 2.7 times less than that of Earth: enough to remain flat-footed on the surface, but a low enough escape velocity to make launching from Mars relatively simple. 

With its similarity to Earth, there is a strong possibility that bacterial life (or something more?) exists on the planet. 
Mars is exciting because it offers scientists a view of how planets develop. Mars is billions of years older than the Earth, and its features are much more exaggerated. The largest canyons, volcanoes, and craters in the solar system are available for our study.

3. Its Economic Value
Mars is worth a lot of money. There are 144 trillion square meters of surface area, roughly the land area of the Earth, available for development. 
There is an abundance of rare metals on Mars such as platinum, gold, silver, and others. Shipping from Mars to Earth, as mentioned above, is much easier than the other way around.

4. Its Home for Mankind

It offers a backup plan for humanity. 
A colony on Mars is not far off. The time will come when Mars will not need Earth to sustain it.  We may be able to grow our own food on the planet in greenhouses, but what about wild animals, and birds, and fish, and rivers, and oceans? 


Adapted from this informative site. It is worth visiting. I learned a lot there.

1. Cold

You would agree that the center of Antarctica in winter is cold, not the best of places to set up home? Well Mars is far colder. At the Curiosity site, which is close to the equator, typical night time temperatures are -70 °C. Occasionally it drops to below -100 °C. It is often cold enough for the CO2 in the atmosphere to freeze out as dry ice. A human couldn't survive those temperatures without technology.

2. Vacuum

Mars does have an atmosphere, but it is so thin  it would count as a laboratory vacuum on Earth. 
A human would need to put on a spacesuit to survive the low pressure, never mind the lack of oxygen. The pressure is so low, your saliva and the moisture coating the interior of your lungs would boil.

3. Dust and Dust storms

Every Martian summer, roughly every two Earth years, you get a higher chance of global dust storms. These can last for weeks, and the light from the sun drops by over 99%. During the dust storms, then artificial light is needed in middle of the day to grow crops, and you won't be able to see anything. Solar power won't work.

4. Hard to make self sufficient - need for parts and supplies from Earth

There are lots of resources available on Mars. Mining on Mars will be hard to do, as hard as in space. You still need to use space suits because of the vacuum conditions. And however much you can make from native Mars materials, at least at present levels of technology, then many components and replacement parts will have to come from Earth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking

This is a tearjerker with excellent acting. I admire Hawking very much, 

Work together:

1. What do you know about Stephen Hawking? What's your opinion about him?

2. What do you know about his health conditions? Does it make his discoveries less or more impressive? Or it just does not matter?

Read about his disease: Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, shortly after his 21st birthday. In spite of being wheelchair bound and dependent on a computerised voice system for communication Stephen Hawking continues to combine family life (he has three children and three grandchildren), and his research into theoretical physics together with an extensive programme of travel and public lectures. He still hopes to make it into space one day.

3. Read about Hawking most important contributions and opinions about the world. Tell each other what his beliefs are and how you think his contributions might help the world.

Stephen Hawking's main contributions to the field of physics and cosmology lie in the studies of:

The origins of the universe and Time.

The Big Bang theory. The big Bang theory says that the universe of matter and energy began at a single point, which reached a critical mass, then exploded outward. The universe continues to expand.

The universe began with a gravitational singularity, which are more common in the universe than we think.

Stephen Hawking postulated the existence of radiation, emitting through the black hole and coming out the other side. This is now accepted science.

The universe has no space/time boundaries.

There is no god. he doesn't believe that there was a God who created the universe. He doesn't believe in any sort of afterlife; he doesn't believe in heaven or hell. He does, however, believe in a grand celestial order to things, could we but understand it. He believes that there is a grand design to all the systems of the universe, and to life itself.

Stephen Hawking is dearly beloved in the common world by sci-fi fans and outer space enthusiasts, because he is a strong proponent of the likelihood of extraterrestrial life.  He postulates that the earth has already been visited by extraterrestrial life in the form of viruses. We have a failure of imagination when it comes to extraterrestial life in fiction and in movies. We just can't imagine intelligent life that isn't humanoid, it seems. Stephen Hawking thinks that should we be visited by intelligent alien life, it might be the worse for us. "Like Columbus discovering America," he says. "That didn't turn out so well for the native Americans."

4. Watch the movie segment and prepare a speech that reflects your opinions about Hawking, and the pros and cons of his ideas. Have a reporter present the most important points of your discussion.