Sunday, September 20, 2009
Here is the third installment. Please read the first two chapters before this one if you haven't already. This story continues the school year story "The Children of Perikoi" that many of you did when here on field trips. Let me know what you think.
McAuliffe Station. Earth Orbit
“Please come in and sit down,” Admiral Meredith said as he led his command officers into the McAuliffe Station’s Briefing Room. Admiral Mark Daymont was waiting in the room, studying the holographs on the wall. He arrived at the Station two hours earlier on his way home for the holidays from Magellan Station. Behind Admiral Meredith were the Captains of the Lexington and Omar Bradley. Captain Young walked into the room with Admiral Williamson. The last to enter were the Captains of station's training ships; Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Emily Perry of the Odyssey and Stacy Carol of the Galileo. They each found a seat at the large rectangular table in the center of the room.
The Briefing Room of the station was located directly off the Command Deck. Along one wall were holographic pictures of military ships dating back 500 years. Large windows occupied the entire opposite wall. The vivid blues,whites and browns of Earth filled the first three windows. The other two showed the stark blackness of space dotted with diamond stars.
“Lights half,” Meredith said. The lights in the room dimmed to half brightness
“Thank you all for coming.” Meredith said as he sat at the head of the table. “You realize our situation. Farpoint Station was attacked. A surprise attack. News is coming in on the military net but very spotty at best. This is what we know. Multiple alien ships arrived through wormholes. The station had no warning. The radio traffic received over subspace was primarily battle updates. Twelve minutes into the attack the radio went silent. We assume the station is destroyed.”
Meredith pushed a button on the computer screen embedded into the table’s surface near his chair. A holographic view ring rose from the table top to a height of three inches. Hundreds of pinpoint lights appeared, emitting millions of colors around the circle. A ring of color rose slowly to the ceiling. A moment later the color condensed into a sharply focused picture of one of the attacking ships.
“This is a picture of what is believed to be the command ship. I want you to compare this ship to the one I’m about to bring up,” Meredith pushed another button. The color’s changed bringing another ship into view.
“This is a picture sent to us by the Starship Voyager. Do you recognize it Captain Young?” Meredith turned to Capt. Young of the Voyager.
“I do. It is the alien ship we engaged at Perikoi,” Brady looked surprised and concerned. The Voyager’s encounter nearly proved fatal had it not been the courageous actions of the crew of the Copernicus.
“Yes it is,” the Admiral said. “I’ve reread the report you filed. We all know the general story. Perikoi is a planet inhabited by a primitive race of humanoids. The gods they worshiped were alien life calling themselves Hellos. These false gods visited the planet every twelve years to kidnap hundreds if not thousands of children. The children were enslaved. You and the Hellos had a run in. The USS Copernicus was lost. You barely escaped with your lives. And if I’m not mistaken, the large alien ship was destroyed when the Copernicus exploded. Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Meredith looked at Brady. There was a pause while Brady reviewed all the omitted facts.
“No Sir,” Brady responded. “You covered it very well.”
“Their weapons were superior?”
“Yes Sir, very much so.”
“Thank you,” Meredith ended the conversation and turned to the company assembled. “You’ll see from this hologram that the ship destroyed at Perikoi is the same design and size as the ship that led the attack at Farpoint. They have superior weapons. They can travel through wormholes. A science we are decades from achieving. We haven’t a clue how this is done or where they get the power to open and maintain a wormhole. You realize the danger to the Federation. An attack could come without warning. That is why this station, along with all other stations, are at red alert.”
Meredith rose from his seat, turned and walked toward the windows. His hands were clasped behind his back. Worry was etched across his face as he looked down at the beautifully peaceful planet rotating below. "What did you unleash upon us at Perikoi?" He glanced at Captain Young from the corner of his eye. He held his hand up to silence a response.
“Lights full,” he said softly. The room brightened. He returned to his seat and looked at each member of his staff. “I’m not a politician so I won’t comment on the justification of the attack. I'm sure you understand their point of view. We were in their space. We interfered in their governing of Perikoi and we destroyed one of their ships. They see this as just retribution, which makes the fighting very personal. I don't fault your actions Captain Young. You were defending your ship. I only wish the outcome would have been less severe.”
Meredith rose from his seat. “We must be ready for war. We are going to institute the following actions, first.....”
An alarm sounded from the wall speakers bringing the station to battle readiness. The Admiral in mid sentence. His heart raced with a sudden rush of adrenaline. He touched his comm badge. “Command,” he said to the automatic switchboard in an unsteady voice.
“Command,” a small voice was heard.
“This is Meredith.”
“We are picking up odd energy patterns in multiple places around Earth,” the voice answered.
“Wormholes?” Meredith asked. He knew the answer before he asked the question.
“Thank you,” Meredith said touching the badge to close the link. He stared into the dark. Despair seemed written across his face.
“My God,” he said looking into the faces of those present. “Our fleet is still hours away. I believe they attacked Farpoint to learn about our defenses and our weaknesses. This attack will be their decisive blow.”
For a moment time seemed to stand still. Every eye was focused on the Admiral. Every ear waited for his orders. He ran both hands through his gray hair, down his face and under his chin. He looked out the windows. “It has begun. Day is turning to night. Look.”
Everyone in the room stood quickly and moved to the windows. Dozens of pinwheel lights were forming. Some were closer to the station while others far away.
“Something is coming toward us,” Stacy shouted as she backed quickly away from the window. Out in the darkness appeared several lengthening lines of glowing orange plasma exiting the nearest wormholes. Soon every wormhole in view was shedding the same orange arcing light trails. Each line trailed what appeared to be a missile. Several were streaking toward the station.
“Full Shields!” Meredith shouted into his comm badge. The station’s shield generators came on line instantaneously. Metal shielding slowly descended over the windows hiding the missiles from view. “Gibbons and Andrews to your ships and launch at once, defend the station. Go Go,” he said to the captain’s of the Lexington and Omar Bradly. They were up and out of their seats before he finished the sentence. “Williamson, get your cadets into the Voyager. We can’t use the transporters with full shields. Perry and Carroll take your ships into the Voyager’s shuttle bay. Warner, launch the Phoenix. Brady prepare the Voyager for launch. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor . One more ship won’t make a difference. I’m thinking of the safety of the cadets. Captain Young, launch and warp to the Magellan Station. Take Admiral Daymont with you. Move!” he shouted. Everyone ran from the room leaving Admiral Meredith alone, a commander at the wheel of a floundering ship. The party crossed the Command Deck and into the turbolifts.
“Deck 12,” Williamson said as the turbolift doors closed. The lift began moving. Williamson tapped his comm badge. “Command Training,” Williamson said.
“Clegg here,” came the worried voice of Aleta Clegg.
“We are on our way to you. Where is Lorraine,” Williamson asked.
“She and Shelia are helping the cadets get packed,” Aleta said. “This is bad isn’t it?” The sound of the station’s weapons was heard over the humming of the lift.
“Yes,” Williamson said. “Get the cadets to the Voyager at once. They take only what they can carry. No more packing. Hurry.... we are under attack.”
“Why don’t we beam the cadets to Earth. Won’t they be safer there?”
“The shields are up. The Voyager is the only thing we can do. We have orders to report to Magellan Station.”
“Yes Sir,” Aleta said. "Will you be joining th........"
There was an explosion. The Command Deck took a direct hit. It sounded like the outer hull of the station twisted and folded upon impact. The lift shook violently and stopped. The lights failed momentarily.
“Come on Come on,” Brady shouted as he pounded the wall. He felt moisture near his mouth. His nose was bleeding. “We've have to launch," he said looking for something to stop the flow.
“What happened to the shields?” Emily asked picking herself up off the floor. “They couldn’t fail so quickly.” There was another explosion. The sound was further away. The lift rocked again. Whatever was holding it in place dislodged. It resumed its course. The deck numbers changed. The lift seemed to be running slower.
The screen above their heads flashed ‘12’. The lift doors partially opened. Smoke from multiple electrical fires filled the lift. Williamson and Brady moved toward the blocked doors. Each took a door and pushed. The doors parted with a grind. Deck 12 was littered with debris and full of smoke. The lights seemed unsure whether to stay on or off. Sparks from exposed wiring flashed up and down the corridor like fireworks on the fourth of July.
“Go Go Go,” Brady shouted. Everyone ran from the lift coughing from the fumes. Another massive explosion rocked the station. The floor fell six inches beneath them. They struggled to regain their footing. They had to get to the Voyager. Hopefully the cadets would be waiting. The station was running out of time.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Ellen Stofan, a planetary geologist at Proxemy Research in Maryland and an honorary professor at University College London is suggesting NASA do just. She is leading an effort to design and propose a low-cost mission to Titan, one of Saturn's moons.
Sailing — But Not In Water
Titan is the only place in our solar system other than Earth known to have lakes on its surface, Stofan says.
The liquid isn't water, of course. Temperatures on icy Titan reach minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit. The lakes are actually liquid methane and ethane.
Here on Earth, methane is an odorless gas. But on Titan, methane acts just like water acts on Earth. Methane forms clouds in the atmosphere. It rains down on to the surface and forms rivers, lakes and seas.
This radar image taken by the Cassini Space Probe in July 2006 of Titan, one of Saturn's moons, provides evidence that it is covered by large bodies of liquid.
A few years ago, the Cassini spacecraft sent back radar images of the north pole of Titan, and those pictures showed evidence of hundreds of lakes. Some of them are large — the size of North America's Great Lakes.
One of the large lakes — either Ligeia Mare or one called Kraken Mare — would be the target for a probe that would splash down and float around, according to the plan that Stofan is working on with some other Titan experts.
And that would be something new. In the past, space exploration has been done with spaceships that orbit planets or fly by them, or with probes that land on a planet's surface and maybe drive around, like the Mars rovers.
Floating Space Capsule
The "boat" or "lake lander" that Stofan is designing with her colleagues would not look anything like the ships used to explore Earth back in the days of Christopher Columbus or Ferdinand Magellan.
"It's certainly not going to look like what most people conceive of a boat looking like," says Stofan. "It'll look more like a little capsule that floats." She says it will drop straight into the sea. It will have a mast, "but that's just to hold a camera. We don't have a sail," she says.
Titan's wind will push this capsule around the lake. The probe could drift for months. It would have a small, nuclear-powered engine. And it could shout its data directly back to Earth.
There's no danger of a shipwreck, according to Stofan. Titan's lakes have waves, but probably just gentle ones — unless there's a storm. Still, even that doesn't worry her. "In fact, we'd love for that to happen, to be able to return an image showing a rainy day on Titan and to see those methane raindrops falling down into the lake," she says. "The wind might kick up a little, but nothing as violent as sort of the tropical storms and hurricanes we get here on Earth."
Eventually, she says, the ship might just run aground in a muddy beach and get stuck.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The students of Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove arrived at school this morning thinking this would be an ordinary day just like all the others since the start of the school year in August.
That feeling of samo samo was replaced with “Wow” as they entered the cafeteria for lunch. Sitting in the corner of their cafeteria was the Space Center’s new Galileo Simulator. It is reported that some students openly wept. Others fell to their knees in reverence. Still others stood still, blocking the serving line, and stared in disbelief that such a curious object found its way to their little school.
The custodian reported that hardly a morsel was eaten. The students were in a hurry to be excused so they could touch the new simulator. Everyone wanted to get in. When told no even the best behaved appeared to be on the verge of mental breakdown. We may have to put up signs warning of electrocution of anyone touches the shiny metal outer skin but I’m afraid that won’t stop them.
The new Galileo was delivered to the school and Space Center last night by Kyle Herring, Stacy Carroll, Megan Warner, Alex Anderson and several other Space Center staff. It came in pieces on the back of a large truck. They finished assembling the ship at 10:45 P.M.
It is finally home after a very long wait. Now, what do we have to do before we open it for missions?
- We need to do some finish work on the exterior.
- We need to purchase all the Mac Mini’s
- We need to replace the ball bearing wheels with real ones so the ship will move along the cafeteria floor without damaging it.
- We need to paint the exterior.
- We need to put in ‘fake’ windows to make it look really good from the outside.
Alex Anderson is finishing up the computer controls. Matt Long and our Programming Guild are working on the next generation Galileo controls programmed in Apple’s Cocoa language (iphone).
Stacy Carroll is the Galileo’s Set Director and is anxious to open the ship to the public and start taking missions. Stay in touch through the Blog to know when the first missions will run so you can book your own private party in this out of this world new simulator, the Galileo!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
This is Chapter two of a story posted a few days ago. If you haven't done so, please read Ch. 1 before reading Ch. 2.
December 22, 2321
McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.
Commander Williamson entrusted the briefing of the cadets to his instructors. They parted company on Deck 12 of the McAuliffe Station.
“Brief the Cadets and put them to bed. I’m going to the Command Level to get more information. Meet me in my room when you are finished. By the way, it’s OK for the cadets to place calls home if they can get through. I expect most subspace frequencies will be restricted to military traffic.” Williamson said to his staff as they exited the lift. They turned right and walked briskly away nodding to say they heard and understood. The turbolift doors quietly closed leaving Williamson alone with his thoughts and the humming of the lift as it sped through the shafts of the Station. Williamson wondered how chaotic it was going to be on the Command Deck.
The turbo lift doors opened revealing a room in controlled chaos. The atmosphere was tense as staff scurried about. It was obvious everyone was caught off guard by the attack on Farpoint Station. You could tell from comments heard in passing that more attacks were expected - it was only a question of when and where. Out of the corner of his eye Williamson saw the Command Officers of the Starship Voyager. The tallest of the pair was First Officer Alex DeBirk, recently transferred to the Voyager from the USS Francis Scott Key. Next to him was Captain Brady Young. The Voyager was once a deep space exploration ship. Top of the line in her day. One month ago Command reassigned the ship to the McAuliffe Station to assist in the training of new midshipmen from the Academy.
Against another wall Williamson found a group of very familiar faces. They were the command officers of the Station's other training ships: Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Stacy Carroll of the Galileo, and Emily Perry of the Odyssey. It looked like everyone had the same idea. If you want news go to the source. Williamson suddenly realized he was blocking the entrance to the turbolift. An officer brushed roughly against him as she rushed to catch the lift before the doors closed.
"Excuse me," the yeoman said as she entered the cubical and turned around. She glanced up giving an embarrassed look for nearly knocking him over - then she looked down to her feet. She mumbled something to the computer. The doors slid shut. The sound of the moving car rapidly faded into the hum of the busy Command Deck. A moment later Williamson recognized who she was - Admiral Schuler’s Assistant. If she was here then so was the Admiral. Williamson wondered what Admiral Schuler was doing on the McAuliffe? He thought a more appropriate place in this situation would be Central Command planetside.
Williamson stepped back from the lift entrance and attached himself to the wall. Best to stay out of the way for a moment and listen. He chose to hold his questions until he found someone that could take a minute to answer them.
"Where can we find the Station Commander?" Williamson overheard DeBirk ask the station's science officer.
"We have orders from the Commander to report to a briefing,” Captain Young said, giving a purpose for their presence.
"He is in his ready room with the Admiral." the science officer replied. "You can wait here. By the way, tread carefully around Admiral Schuler . Many of the Inland Defense Ships are on maneuvers at Centari, and that's several hours away at max warp. Right now its Earth's planetside defense grid, a few foreign starships, this station and our training ships. That's all we've got for defenses should......well, you get the picture. You all command the training ship. I expect that's why you were summonsed. Careful, here they come."
The door to the Commander’s Ready Room parted and out came Admiral William Schuler followed by Admiral Meredith - Commander of the McAuliffe Station. Again, Williamson wondered what Admiral Schuler was doing on the station at this time of night. The only explanation was the Station Christmas Party.
The appearance of Admiral Schuler was enough to make the hair on a captain's neck stand to full attention. The Admirals walked toward the turbolift. Schuler stopped suddenly when he saw Capt. Young and redirected his eyes to look directly into his. The Captain stood at attention returning the Admiral's stare. Debirk was also at attention thinking how glad he was that Young was standing closest.
“Are those Captain’s Pips?” the Admiral asked with a sound of complete disbelief. “Who are you?" he continued in his loud booming voice hardly giving Capt. Young time to answer either question. Young was wondering what was louder, the beating of his heart or the Admiral’s agitated voice.
"Captain Brady Young just appointed captain of the USS Voyager Sir!" was the young captain's shaky reply.
"The Voyager, You?............You?! How old are you? I'm expected to provide some kind of Earth defense with training ships under the command of children? What is going on?" The Admiral raged. Young looked anxious to defend his record but was wise enough to understand the Admiral wasn't asking a question but making a statement.
"Sir," came a reply from behind Young. It was first officer Debirk's voice. Young thought he was either very stupid or very ........very.......no, just plain stupid.
"You have something to say to me?!" Admiral Schuler said as he moved toward Debirk like a cat about to bounce on its prey.
"Captain Young is a decorated war hero from the Borg war. Why he alone was responsible for saving the USS......."
Admiral Schuler didn't let him finish his sentence. Instead he let loose a stream of profanity that slowly turned the color of the bridge's atmosphere from clear to a faint green with a slightly acidic smell. Williamson noticed the turbo lift open during the "attitude readjustment". Two junior officers stepped out, saw what was happening, and immediately did what everyone else wished they could do - disappear. They turned and shuffled back into the lift praying the doors would slide together quickly.
Brady didn't know someone could swear as artfully as the Admiral. The words seemed so well chosen and fitted together like an 500 piece crossword puzzle. The Admiral was a master of communication. His reputation was well earned. Capt. Young waited for the right moment to tell Debirk to shut up and leave it alone. He couldn’t do it while the Admiral was spewing at full gale. He waiting for an opportunity. Suddenly the Admiral’s attention was diverted to a new piece of news coming in from Central Command. The Admiral turned his back to them. Young saw his chance. He didn't want to get caught breaking attention so he had to act quickly. He turned his head and gave Alex the look - eyebrows drawn together and down word with a slight left to right shaking of the head.
Debirk’s eyes returned Young's gaze acknowledging his error in judgement. He should have kept his mouth shut. He was learning a hard lesson. Young noticed moisture droplets covering Alex’s face. It was spittle from the Admiral's mouth. Not only did Debirk get to hear the Admiral's dressing down but he got to bathe in it as well.
The Admiral turned back to his wounded prey. He drew in enough air to arm both lungs and prepared to continue his description of Alex’s genealogy when the ship's intercom sounded. The Admiral was being ordered to report immediately to Starfleet Command. He stopped in mid sentence.
“Good luck,” he said to Admiral Meredith. He snorted at Young and half marched - half walked to the turbolift. Shuler nodded toward Williamson as he passed. Williamson stayed at attention, praying he blended artfully into the wall. No one on the Command Deck moved until the lift doors closed and the Admiral was gone.
Debirk leaned against the wall for support while wiping his face with the sleeve of his uniform. Admiral Meredith motioned for everyone to follow him into his Ready Room.
"We have problems," Williamson thought as he crossed the room. His cadets and the training ships may need to step up to the plate. The Command Training Academy's curriculum would be put to a real test. Goodbye simulations. The cadets would have to grow up quickly.
Chapter 3 follows in one week.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
“Well that sucks,” was the response of one of the eleven year old Phoenix officers.
I was sitting at my desk computer writing the final sentences to my Cloverdale post when I heard his matter of fact summation of the Romulan’s plight. There was something about what he said or maybe how he said it that made me laugh. His expression was so uncaring. Kind of like,
“Oops, I spilled my drink,”
“Well, that sucks.”
It was said with about the same emotion. On the Phoenix screen was a montage of disaster. Romulan bodies sailing across the screen as the warbird was tossed to and fro in the wash of hot plasma. Green blood dripped from their faces. Smoke filled their ship. Sparks from dozens of broken wires illuminated the carnage. And in all of that, our nonempathetic young crew member said,
“Well that sucks.”
I started laughing. It just caught me off guard. How British of him. You know - stiff upper lip. Can’t be bothered. Vulcan emotional steel. This youngster was the kind of person you’d want beside you in a crisis. I can see him on the Titanic.
“Sir, We’ve hit an iceberg. The ship is going down. We don’t have enough life boats for everyone. Its women and children first. We haven’t a chance!”
To which this young man would reply, “Well that sucks. Now how about a nice cup of tea?”
It was just one of those things that happen at the Space Education Center on any given day. That’s what makes working here Magic. We have our good days. We have our bad days. We have days where our crews amaze us with their intellect and others where its like pulling teeth to get them to say or do anything. Each day is the same and each day is different. Just another day in paradise at the second happiest place on Earth.
Our week at the Space Center ends. Sunday off, then back in the saddle again on Monday. I will once again take the Flight Director's seat on Monday to fly the 5th grade missions for Central School. My time away from the hot seat was necessary to recharge my batteries. So, recharged and more than ready - here I come.
"Engineering to the Bridge. Engineering to the Bridge. You've got Tex. Captain, I'm your chief engineering aboard the USS Voyager NCC 1990. I've been asked to take a minute and introduce you to some of the people that work for you aboard this ship........"
Bring it on Younglings. Elvis is back in the building.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Space Center Educator
Space Center Educator
From his Blog: Spacerubble.blogspot.com
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Voyager Club is open to all students between the ages of 10 and 14 . It meets at the Space Center once per month on either a Wednesday or Thursday evening from 7:00 - 8:00 P.M. There is no charge to attend. All students must wear their Space Center T-Shirts. If you don't have one you may purchase one at the door for $10.00.
- A place for students interested in physics, astronomy, aviation, engineering to meet together, learn and make new friends with similar interests.
- Motivate students to study math and science.
- Teach students the history of science.
- Exercise imaginations and wonder through discussions of where science and math can take us in the future.
- Let's not forget a good helping of science fiction as well because at the Space Center we believe science and science fiction can complement each other. Remember, it starts as science fiction before it becomes science.
Now the best news for all you Space Center Frequent Flyers desperate to increase your rank. Each time you come to a meeting you'll receive a certificate for 1 class hour, and you didn't have to pay for it! Now that's quite the deal.
This club is sponsored by the Space Education Center and run by its staff. Students are expected to be respectful of the staff and each other during the meetings. Any student not able to control their actions or voices will not be allowed to return.
Well, there really aren't any except the class hours, the learning and meeting other students your age with similar interests. We can't offer discounted missions. The Space Center does not receive a yearly budget from the School District. We earn our own way and the only way to do that is through our mission and camp tuitions.
You'll get Club notifications through the Space Center's Blog. The blog is the only tool we will use to communicate Club meeting times and news. So, read the blog to know what's happening. Don't call the Center. If you do you'll be told to go back and read the blog.
So here it is in a nutshell. You read about an upcoming meeting in the blog. On the day of the meeting you put on your T-Shirt and find tranportation. You participate, learn, and engage your imagination for one hour and you go home. See how easy.
Sorry, no camp outs, extra meetings or parties, however, we may do one field trip to Clark Planetarium by school bus to see their new dome show expected in February.
OK When is the First Meeting and What are We Going to Do?
- Date: October 21
- Time: 7:00 - 8:00 P.M.
- Where: Discovery Room. Space Center
- What to Bring: Wear your T-Shirt.
- What Will We Do:
- Briefly discuss the latest in space news.
- Mr. Daymont, Magellan Flight Director and Space Center Educator will be speaking on the current Space Shuttle Program and the future of space travel in the United States.
- I'll have a few words to say myself. Don't know what. I'll think of something intelligent ;)
Now, Have A Good Day,
Space Center Educator
From his blog: http://spacerubble.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
When I was a child I was taught that Earth was a special place. It alone harbored life. We knew there were countless numbers of stars in the universe. We knew about galaxies, but it all seemed so far away. All we knew was what we saw, and life is what we saw - here on Earth and no where else.
I first believed life could exist somewhere other than our beautiful blue marble in space when I was in elementary school. One night a TV show about space travel aired across the country. It was called Star Trek. I was fascinated by the possibility that some day in the future, if we all worked hard enough, we could build great starships and venture to the furthest reaches of the known universe in a grand quest for knowledge to answer life’s most important question, Are we alone?
I enjoyed the episodes where the starships fought bad aliens. They were by far my favorite. The phasers and photon torpedoes were awesome. But that wasn’t the primary reason I watched the series. I watched Star Trek because it made me think about who I was as a person. The stories forced me to question the values of the 1960’s. America was involved in a bloody war in Vietnam. People I knew were dying. Every evening I watched demonstrators marching through some American city. I saw whites against blacks and rich against poor. It seemed the world was coming apart to a young ten year old in a small town in South Dakota. And then it was time for another episode of Star Trek.
I knew that no matter how dismal things seemed, every week another episode told us to stop for a moment and forget about the here and now. These stories taught us that humanity survived its adolescence and matured into a wise and caring adulthood. Of course I knew some bad alien would soon appear wanting to take everything we accomplished away. Little did they know about the power of the Enterprise. Our phasers could slice through the darkness like the sword of an avenger and our torpedoes brought justice like the lightening bolts of Zeus. It was groovy man. Just groovy.
Today I look at the new pictures released by the Hubble Space Telescope and feel those same feelings I had as a child watching my favorite TV show. I see a never ending number of galaxies each holding trillions and trillions of stars in their gravitational embrace. I know most of those stars have planets and that some of them are Earth like. And if they are Earth like with a warm climate and liquid water then life would be present. Some of that life would evolve and gain self awareness. Their intelligence would continue to increase and evolve, driving them to explore first their world and then the universe around them.
Look at all these stars. This photograph shows only a small small fraction of the stars taken in a sliver of sky by the Hubble Telescope. Each dot is a star with planets. Some of them Earth like. Some of them with intelligent life. And some of them with life looking upward into their night sky searching for answers to the same questions we ask. Perhaps somewhere in this universe at this very moment there is a child looking at a similar picture. And in this picture is a white dot - our sun. And he wonders if anybody out there.
We are shouting, “We are Here! We are Here!”
We hope someone is listening for logic demands we surrender isolationism and continue to search for life. Friends, support America's space program. Vote for representatives that will work to increase NASA's budget.
Congratulations astronauts. You did a bang up job refurbishing the Hubble. Look at what it is doing now.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
One of the blog's readers sent this comment after reading the last Blast From the Past blog post.
"I don't know what the new Magellan looks like. I haven't been in several years."
I searched my photos and found the following. Please forgive the out of focus photographs. The shaking was caused by either too many 20oz. bottles of Diet Coke or the super cheap camera I bought hoping to capture amazing HD photographs at a budget price. I guess you get what you pay for.
Just out of curiosity, are there any special commemoration ceremonies or medals of honor bestowed upon us overly obsessive veterans who reach 20 missions? ;)
Again, thank you so much for changing my life for the better.
Thank you Ashley for the kind words. I'll pass them along to Saturday's staff. Next time you come to the Center remind me that you've completed twenty missions. I'm sure we can find a suitable pin to mark the occasion. Perhaps the pin of your favorite simulator.
Monday, September 7, 2009
This is a repost of the first chapter of a story I'm writing. It was orginally posted last Christmas. I haven't done much with it since then. I've decided to continue the story now that the school year is underway.
I enjoyed writing our school mission 'The Children of Perikoi'. I enjoy telling it even more. I've wanted to continue the story and did once several summers ago. The mission was told in the Galileo. It was OK but not what it should have been. I blame myself for that. Not everything you write is good. This is another attempt at a continuation of Perikoi using our own staff and volunteers as characters.
Enjoy and post comments. I'd like to know what you think.
December 21, 2321
McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.
The McAuliffe Station’s Lounge was located at one end of Hallway 12A on Deck 12 near the Officer's Quarters. The hallway was futuristic in design, with softly rounded corners where the walls met the holotop. The holotop ceiling displayed a 3D sky as one would see on the planet's surface. A holosun tracked the correct position of the Sun as seen in the sky over San Francisco. A bright moon and stars lit the hallway a deep twilight during the evening hours.
Two brightly polished oak doors separated the lounge from the hallway. Each door had an over sized port hole with the station’s logo etched in glass. The station’s Command Training Academy (CTA) was a brisk 45 second walk to the opposite end of Hallway. The CTA section housed the staff and instructor's office's and academy class rooms. Between the lounge and academy, Hallway 12A passed several staff quarters, two turbolift elevators and a small convenience shop managed by the academy's senior class. The shop benefited the both the senior and junior cadets. The senior's got valuable work experience and the cadets had access to a never ending supply of reasonably priced sweets and sodas. The hallway was carpeted in a speckled blue carpet. Fiber illuminated lighting was stitched in the carpet, displaying the number of each room.
It was 23:00 hours. The Station’s Christmas party was in its third hour. The sound of laughter and singing poured into Hallway 12A every time the doors slid open. The noise didn’t matter . Two thirds of the station’s staff were at the party. The others were on duty.
A large Christmas Tree stood on the opposite end of the room from the entrance. It was decorated with holographic ornaments. The ornaments changed color and design to match the beat of the music. False Flame took the place of traditional Christmas tree lights, giving the tree a very 19th century look. A two hundred year old glass star crowned the tree, compliments of the station commander’s wife.
The people in the room divided themselves by choice. Starfleet Officers occupied one end of the room. They were the ones who ran the daily military operations of the station. The educational staff gathered on the other end of the room. They commanded and staffed the Command Training Academy (CTA). The CTA was a special military boarding school for gifted 13 to 16 year olds wanting careers in Starfleet. After graduation, most CTA students found themselves at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. Their time in the CTA placed them well ahead of their peers. That advantage made getting into the CTA very competitive. The majority of the academy’s cadets were on home leave for the holiday. Those who remained were looked after by instructors and the academy's house parents.
The Lounge doors slid open. The director of the CTA, entered the room. Commander Williamson was fashionably late. He looked around and noticed the demarcation line between the two camps. He moved toward the side of the room reserved for the CTA staff.
“Hello Sir and Merry Christmas,” Lt. Stacy Carrell said. She was the first to see the Commander. The others in her group stopped talking in mid sentence and extended their holiday greetings .
“I see you’re all having a good time,” Commander Williamson observed. He glanced around and noticed the absence of his senior officers. “Where are the old timers?"
“There were sitting at that far table. They’re gone now,” replied Lt. Bracken Funk.
“I see that Lieutenant. Anyone have an idea where they went?” the Commander asked.
“Not a clue,” Lt. Emily Perry sang as she danced rhythmically to an upbeat Christmas carol. She had a drink in her hand. Some of it spilled onto the carpet. Williamson reached out, took the cup and smelled its contents. “I don’t drink Commander,” She replied curtly while taking back the drink. “Besides alcohol is banned on this base so we make due with what ‘s available - we are drunk with joy!” she exclaimed as she picked up her prancing.
“You younglings have fun. I’ll just back away before I get hurt.” Williamson moved from the table and did another glance around the room looking for people closer to his age. His senior staff were nowhere to be found. As he turned toward the door he caught the eye of the station’s commander. The commander gave Williamson a polite nod. Williamson returned the nod and the pleasantries were finished. The Admiral was well respected throughout Starfleet.
The Commander ran the station by the book and strictly followed the chain of command. He rarely questioned his superior's decisions but strongly disagreed with the decision to place the Command Training Academy on his station. It was something else on his plate even though the school was, for the most part, self sustaining.
Williamson picked up a cranberry juice from the bar in one hand. His other hand dove into a bowl of yogurt covered pretzels . He walked out of the lounge to find his senior teachers. The hallway went quiet when the doors closed behind him. He walked slowly toward the turolift elevator. The lift opened as he approached. He stepped in. The doors closed.
“Destination?” the computer waited for his response. He thought for a moment. Where would they be? He knew they were going to the party so they had to be together somewhere. He could ask the computer to locate their comm badges but wanted to try a guess before taking the easy route.
“Observation Deck,” he replied. The lift moved upward and then sideways. Seconds later, upward again. The lift stopped and opened on deck 3. In the doorway stood two of the Academy’s students, Midshipman Aland and Midshipman Merryweather. They stopped dead in their tracks upon seeing their Commander occupying the same lift they were waiting to enter. They were caught. They were suppose to be in their squadron's common room enjoying their own party. Instead they were loose.
“Well, well, well..... what do we have here?” Williamson asked. Both boys jumped to attention. “Two cadets roaming the station without clearance. I do believe that is a violation of curfew. Please correct me if I’m wrong,” he asked. Neither of the boys spoke. Their gaze was unbroken on a spot on the wall.
“Sir, we were on our way....” Aland began speaking only to be cut off by the Commander.
“Not interested. Sorry. If I want to hear a fine piece of fiction I’ll go to the theater. Let’s see, what is playing tonight on the holoscreen? Yes, I believe it is ‘Caught in a Web of Lies’. No gentlemen - words would be a waste of breath at this point and we don’t want to overwork the oxygen generators.” Both boys squirmed every so slightly. Merryweather’s eyes rolled upward and then toward Aland. He knew it was pointless to explain a breech of curfew. He was surprised Aland had tried. “Gentlemen, you will take the next lift and go straight back to your dorm. You will report to your leader, explain what you were doing and then go straight to bed. You will bypass the party in your Common Room. Tomorrow we will sit down with your squadron leader and decide on a suitable punishment. I don’t want to make such an important decision now. This is something that needs thought. You know what I say - the punishment must fit the crime. Now step back and you have my permission to breath.” The boys took one step back. The lift’s doors closed. “Resume,” Williamson said. The lift speed off. Seconds later the doors opened. Williamson stepped out onto a solid floor. The rest of the room appeared to be open space. He was right - there at one of three tables sat his senior officers. “I thought I’d find you in the Observation Deck,” he said moving toward the table.
“Too noisy in the Lounge,” Mark Daymont said. Sitting with him were five other CTA officers. When they were alone they called each other by first names. On Mark’s left sat Aleta, Lorriane, and Sheila on his right sat Dave and Bill. The table was full of snacks all hand carried up from the party below.
“You’ve got the right idea,” Williamson said as he moved a chair out and sat down. “This view never gets old.”
“That’s why we came up here. Quiet talk and a great view,” Dave explained. The blues and whites of Earth nearly filled the sphere over their heads. Beyond was the star studded blackness of space. Their conversation wound it way through many topics. Time was spent on the students. They discussed the new simulations being prepared for the Senior Cadets. Lt. Megan Warner, assisted by several of the younger instructors, was writing a complete military campaign involving several simulations to be told in three of the station's training ships.
Two hours passed in good conversation. It was getting late. They agreed to call it a night. As they stood the station's alarm sounded. The klaxon's pitch caused some in the party to cover their ears as it reverberated around the transparent ceiling of the Observation Deck . The alarm stopped just as suddenly as it started. A second later the voice of the Station’s Commander came through the speakers.
“Alert Condition One. This is no drill. Alert Condition One. This is no drill,” his voice sounded firm and emotionless.
“We are under attack?” Lorraine asked with a puzzled expression. Everyone in the room starting looking up through the sphere into space. There were no ships. All seemed peaceful.
“Control,” Williamson said as he tapped the communicator pinned to his uniform. There was a slight pause before the call was answered.
“What can I do for you Commander?” the voice responded.
“Where is the attack?” Williamson asked.
“We’ve received word from Command that Farpoint Station has been destroyed,” the duty officer answered.
“Farpoint Station?” Williamson was surprised by the answer. Farpoint Station was the Federation’s furthest starbase, four months away at maximum warp from Earth. He wondered why the station was placed on battle alert if this attack occurred so far away.
“Farpoint was attacked by an alien race only recently encountered,” the officer answered his unasked question. “They use wormholes.” That statement made it clear. Anyone able to use wormholes could strike anywhere and at anytime.
“Who are they?” Williamson asked almost fearing the answer.
“I’m not sure what they call themselves but the Voyager and Copernicus encountered them at PCX2214. It is also referred to as Perikoi. We lost the Copernicus. They lost one of their ships. It appears they are back and in force.” The conversation ended. The room was still. Everyone knew the implications of wormhole travel.
“Well ladies and gentlemen, life is about to become very interesting.” Williamson said to the small gathering. “Let’s go to the Common Rooms and explain this to our cadets. I’m sure they are as concerned as we are.”
The group moved for the turbolift. The doors opened and closed leaving the quiet of space behind.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I watched a National Geographic Special on this cute star named Wolf-Rayet 104. Isn't it something the way it pinwheels in space? The pinwheel is actually caused by a smaller companion star. You see, they orbit each other which causes their solar winds to interact making a kind of space dust that we can see here on Earth a mere 8,000 light years away.
WR104 is soon to become a naughty star. It will blow its top in a brilliant explosion. That explosion is the problem we may have to face on Earth. Now when I saw 'may' I mean it could happen tomorrow or over the next few hundred thousand years - a mere snap of the fingers in space time but forever away from human perspective.
So we can add Wolf -Rayet 104 to the list of things that are queueing up to snuff us out. Don't know where to put it on the list? Let's see:
The North Koreans may blow us up with one of their kitchen crock pot made nukes because we don't pay proper homage to their Dear Leader.
Iran may do the same just because we are infidels. I don't recall ever converting to Infidelism but if they say I did then who am I to argue? Infidel and proud of it. Are there any benefits?
There is always Global Warming. Of course the benefit to going this way is the chance my home on benches overlooking beautiful Pleasant Grove and Utah Lake may someday become oceanfront property. Let those Ice Caps melt! I'm taking surfing lessons.
Let's not forget a Pandemic. They say somewhere in the world lurks a virus that has our names written into its DNA. Well, it will have to find me first. Let the little bugger try to get me. I'll retire (luckily I'm close enough to buy out my last few years. That will give me a monthly income) and seclude myself in my Fortress of Solitude only coming out at 3:00 A.M. to purchase necessities at the Lindon WalMart. The plan is flawless with one exception. What if this virus turns people into brain eating walking dead? Mmmmmmm. The thought of trying to enjoy an evening of pleasant TV with several former associates banging at my door and windows crying "Brains......Brains......." makes me think a different course of action may be required. I'll pack necessities and loved ones into the Battlestar and head to rural South Dakota. I own 8 acres of pine covered land in the Black Hills where the only thing I'd need to fear are rabid squirrels.
Then there is the potential for an Asteroid Impact. That one is tricky. It could come from anywhere and anytime because NASA and the Feds aren't spending enough money to track all the near Earth objects that could bring Armageddon down upon us. This is one where I hope we have at least a few days warning if its going to hit anywhere near the intermountain west. Knowing the roads will be clogged with the unprepared hopelessly trying to get out of Dodge, I'll plan on driving to my favorite exercise spot - Timp Cave. I've made friends with several of the Rangers. I'm trusting they'll let a few of us into the cave to ride out the impact and ensuing fire (trusting the cave doesn't 'cave' in around us). If that doesn't work well...... here's hoping there will be a forgiving priest in the cave with us ;)
Did one of you mention Alien Attack? Come on, we got that covered. I control five starships - don't I? I say "LET 'EM COME! LOAD PHOTON TORPEDOES AND PHASER BANKS." And if all else fails we can beam Admiral Schuler into their ship complete with an assortment of Slime Devils. Nothing could survive a double knockout.
The Obama Administration? Are you asking me if its possible to survive the Obama Administration? Are you serious? I'm an independent. I sit on the fence with one leg on each side. Listen, if I survived Bush / Cheney then I can survive Obama / and.......what's his name?
Taken from Space.com
A beautiful pinwheel in space might one day blast Earth with death rays, scientists now report.
Unlike the moon-sized Death Star from Star Wars, which has to get close to a planet to blast it, this blazing spiral has the potential to burn worlds from thousands of light-years away.
"I used to appreciate this spiral just for its beautiful form, but now I can't help a twinge of feeling that it is uncannily like looking down a rifle barrel," said researcher Peter Tuthill, an astronomer at the University of Sydney.
The fiery pinwheel in space in question has at its heart a pair of hot, luminous stars locked in orbit with each other. As they circle one another, plumes of streaming gas driven from the surfaces of the stars collide in the intervening space, eventually becoming entangled and twisted into a whirling spiral by the orbits of the stars.
The pinwheel, named WR 104, was discovered eight years ago in the constellation Sagittarius. It rotates in a circle "every eight months, keeping precise time like a jewel in a cosmic clock," Tuthill said.
Both the massive stars in WR 104 will one day explode as supernovae. However, one of the pair is a highly unstable star known as a Wolf-Rayet, the last known stable phase in the life of these massive stars right before a supernova.
"Wolf-Rayet stars are regarded by astronomers as ticking bombs," Tuthill explained. The 'fuse' for this star "is now very short — to an astronomer — and it may explode any time within the next few hundred thousand years."
When the Wolf-Rayet goes supernova, "it could emit an intense beam of gamma rays coming our way," Tuthill said. "If such a 'gamma ray burst' happens, we really do not want Earth to be in the way."
Since the initial blast would travel at the speed of light, there would be no warning of its arrival.
Gamma ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the universe. They can loose as much energy as our sun during its entire 10 billion year lifetime in anywhere from milliseconds to a minute or more.
The spooky thing about this pinwheel is that it appears to be a nearly perfect spiral to us, according to new images taken with the Keck Telescope in Hawaii. "It could only appear like that if we are looking nearly exactly down on the axis of the binary system," Tuthill said.
The findings are detailed in the March 1 issue of Astrophysical Journal.
Unfortunately for us, gamma ray bursts seem to be shot right along the axis of systems. In essence, if this pinwheel ever releases a gamma ray burst, our planet might be in the firing line.
"This is the first object that we know of that might release a gamma ray burst at us," said astrophysicist Adrian Melott at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, who did not participate in this study. "And it's close enough to do some damage."
This pinwheel is about 8,000 light years away, roughly a quarter of the way to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. While this might seem far, "earlier research has suggested that a gamma ray burst — if we are unfortunate enough to be caught in the beam — could be harmful to life on Earth out to these distances," Tuthill said.
What might happen
Although the pinwheel can't blast Earth apart like the Death Star from Star Wars — at least not from 8,000 light years away — it could still cause mass extinction or possibly even threaten life as we know it on our planet.
Gamma rays would not penetrate Earth's atmosphere well to burn the ground, but they would chemically damage the stratosphere. Melott estimates that if WR 104 were to hit us with a burst 10 seconds or so long, its gamma rays could deplete about 25 percent of the world's ozone layer, which protects us from damaging ultraviolet rays. In comparison, the recent human-caused thinning of the ozone layer, creating "holes" over the polar regions, have only been depletions of about 3 to 4 percent, he explained.
"So that would be very bad," Melott told SPACE.com. "You'd see extinctions. You might see food chain collapses in the oceans, might see agricultural crises with starvation."
Gamma ray bursts would also trigger smog formation that could blot out sunlight and rain down acid. However, at 8,000 light-years away, "there's probably not a large enough effect there for much of a darkening effect," Melott estimated. "It'd probably cut off 1 or 2 percent of total sunlight. It might cool the climate somewhat, but it wouldn't be a catastrophic ice age kind of thing."
Cosmic ray danger
One unknown about gamma ray bursts is how many particles they spew as cosmic rays.
"Normally the gamma ray bursts we see are so far away that magnetic fields out in the universe deflect any cosmic rays we might observe from them, but if a gamma ray burst was pretty close, any high-energy particles would blast right through the galaxy's magnetic field and hit us," Melott said. "Their energies would be so high, they would arrive at almost the same time as the light burst."
"The side of the Earth facing the gamma ray burst would experience something like getting irradiated by a not-too-distant nuclear explosion, and organisms on that side might see radiation sickness. And the cosmic rays would make the atmospheric effects of a gamma ray burst worse," Melott added. "But we just don't know how many cosmic rays gamma ray bursts emit, so that's a danger that's not really understood."
It remains uncertain just how wide the beams of energy that gamma ray bursts release are. However, any cone of devastation from the pinwheel would likely be several hundred square light-years wide by the time it reached Earth, Melott estimated. Tuthill told SPACE.com "it would be pretty much impossible to for anyone to get far enough to be out of the beam in a spaceship if it really is coming our way."
Still, Tuthill noted this pinwheel might not be the death of us.
"There are still plenty of uncertainties — the beam could pass harmlessly to the side if we are not exactly on the axis, and nobody is even sure if stars like WR 104 are capable of producing a fully-fledged gamma-ray burst in the first place," he explained.
Future research should focus on whether WR 104 really is pointed at Earth and on better understanding how supernovae produce gamma ray bursts.
Melott and others have speculated that gamma ray bursts might have caused mass extinctions on Earth.
Friday, September 4, 2009
How about a blast from the past?
Many of you younglings to the Space Center are rubbing your eyes in wonderment at this picture. You’re texting each other seeking the answer. What is this room? Where is it located? Is there a simulator at the Space Center hidden away behind some fake wall? Is this like Disneyland’s Club 33. A place for ‘special’ guests. A place where the Space Center reserves its best stories for preferred clients? If so, you’d like to know the requirements to get membership wouldn’t you?
Let me answer your questions and put you out of your misery. No, there isn’t a secret simulator hidden away somewhere at Central School. No, we don’t have a Club 33 where members pay thousands of dollars a year for membership. I wish there was but our Club 33 would be named 33 because of the price we could get away with charging for our memberships - $33.00 :)
So now that we’ve dispensed with that possibility, let’s look at the clues. It is a room with stadium seating and computers. Now think carefully. What simulator at the Space Center resembles the one you see here?
Yes, its the Magellan. The original Magellan from years past.
I’m the dashing young man at the front of the room doing what I do best - talking. If allowed I tend to hog the conversation in any room. My magnetism and gravity (attributed to my larger than average mass) draws people’s attention like water falling toward the drain in the bathtub. I like to think everything I say is interesting, although I fear the reason they are all so enraptured with my prose is my position as their boss.
The person standing against the wall in the green shirt is Kyle Herring. Lorraine Houston sits to his right in pink. Lets see if you can pick out some of the other staff pictured.
The old Magellan went extinct about four years ago. Out of the ashes rose our new Magellan. I admit there are times I miss the old simulator. It had a charm of its own. Don’t you just dig those strawberry iMacs? Groovy is the word that comes to mind.
But, we are all happy with the new and improved Magellan. Less colorful than the original but easier to operate and easier on the eye.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Space Center Educator
Magellan Flight Director
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
There are times when I need special help at the Space Education Center. At those times I sit back, cross my fingers - eyes - legs - arms and toes, and pray the right person(s) will walk through the Briefing Room’s door and take the burden off my back.
This kind of divine intervention occurs more than you’d think! I like to believe someone up there takes pity on us poor mortals slaving away in our simulators and classrooms. Its either that or word spreads through the community that Mr. Williamson’s got that disheveled look of panic again and if something isn’t done quickly he’ll soon forgo regular bathing, shaving, and grooming until his needs are met. Well, several months ago I was near that state. My barber forgot who I was and flies provided that extra bit of air conditioning to cool me in the heat of summer.
You’re wondering what it was that put me in such a state? I answer with a question back to you. What is the cause of most of my problems? Think about it........ yes........ I see you’re catching on. I AM THE CAUSE OF MOST OF MY PROBLEMS.
Here it is in a nutshell. I started the volunteer card program in hopes the school district would give me permission to purchase rewards with Space Center money. I’ll wait until you stop laughing. ......................................
OK, got it out of your system?
I was crazy to imagine they would let me spend Space Center money to purchase modest gifts to reward our awesome volunteers but there are regulations, laws, rules and commandments scratched into stone tablets that forbid such a thing. So, now what? Volunteers were coming in daily and I was swiping their volunteer cards with nothing to offer in the way of redeeming their points. Sound like a government institution? Yes, after working for the government for 26 years I've got it down pat.
For several weeks I carried a pocket full of pennies to drop into any fountain or puddle I found. A penny into a fountain and a wish granted - Right? I stayed up late into the night out on my deck searching the skies for a falling star. I searched Ebay for a lucky rabbit’s foot someone had no further use for and spent far too long in several fields on my belly looking for a four leaf clover. The result of my quest? Nothing......
Then, one dark and stormy night a knock was hear on my chamber door. Standing in the dark stood a figure. His face was lit by the light of a single candle protected against the wind by a glass lantern. In his hand - a plastic bag.
“Compliments of Juicy Development,” said the cloaked stranger. “Continue your endeavors and your vassals will be rewarded with more.”
He turned and disappeared into the dark. A moment later I heard a horse galloping away down the lane.
Juicy Development creates applications for mobile phones (iPhone and Google’s Android). Their top iPhone applications are Talk Radio and Police Scanner. Both are top sellers on iTunes. By the way, Juicy Development is always looking for good employees, especially anyone that can program in Cocoa (Apple’s iPhone language). Contact me for further information.
Folks, I want to thank the following people from Juicy Development for pulling me from the brink by providing hundreds of dollars worth of volunteer rewards for your volunteer points (yes - those iTunes cards you all pant over).
CEO of Juicy Development. Red Cross Volunteer. Parent of two Space Center Volunteers. Scholar. Gentleman and a Good Judge of Horse Flesh.
Todd is a man that never met a computer he didn’t like. He is a friend of the Space Center and has made us the primary beneficiary of Juicy Development’s philanthropic donations.
Vice President of Development. (On temporary leave of absence while serving an LDS mission in the Czech Republic).
Product Manager for Juicy’s top two Apps: Talk Radio and Police Scanner.
Kyle has spent more money than I want to know to help the Space Center finish the Galileo simulator (and countless other things). A volunteer at the Center in his spare time and responsible for simulator design and construction since he was a real youngling.
And now troops, I can rest at night knowing that someone has my back concerning the rewards program.
Now, if anyone else works for a company that would be kind and generous enough to provide products for our volunteers as rewards for their work at the Space Center please let me know. We will take anything from candy, cookies, to movie tickets to gift cards to whatever. I can even give you an in kind donation slip from the Alpine Foundation so the product can be written off your taxes. You see - everyone wins.
And now I’m off to take a nice warm bath to relieve my aching bones. After that, I’m thinking of a British Comedy. After that I’ll sit and think for awhile and come up with something new to get me into trouble. Soon I'll be looking skyward for another shooting star.....
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Tuesday, September 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on PBS
Space Center Educator
National Geographic Bee
Monday, August 31, 2009
By Mark Daymont
From his Blog (spacerubble.blogspot.com)
Mission STS-128 finally got off the ground with the great nighttime launch of shuttle Discovery Friday night. I was unable to watch NASA TV as I usually do for a launch, as I was busy directing a flight of students in the Magellan Simulator at the Space Center. However, the NASA TV replays got me caught up on events and the flight has proceeded as normal so far.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I would like to congratulate Zac H. for becoming our newest Magellan Flight Director! Zac started training at the beginning of the summer and has worked tirelessly to master all of the ins and outs of the Space Center's largest simulator. After a period of observation and teaching, I was able to turn over the reins to Zac and he just took off! He has developed an engineer unlike any I have ever seen before and has mastered the complex computer and sound systems. Between flights he has devoted time and energy to learning music tracks and creating his own mission and music ideas. Zac has definitely gone the extra mile to learn to fly and it shows in his work.
This past weekend Zac proved that his hard work has paid off when he successfully flew several private missions that incorporated all the things he has learned, thus earning his private mission flight pass. I am proud to work with him and can't wait to see what he brings to the Magellan! His energy and enthusiasm for what he does is fantastic. From now on Zac will be a regular flight director during our weekday missions. Congratulations Zac!
Magellan Set Director
A Note from Mr. Williamson.
Good job Zac. May I add one thing to this remarkable tribute payed to you by your Set Director. Don't forget your belt! I'm getting tired of reminding you. Appearance Zac... Appearance ;)
From my balcony on the top turret of the Fortress of Solitude I see a haze blanketing Utah Valley. That means fire or desert dust carried in by a strong west wind. If its fire then Utah is on the receiving end of another California import. Isn’t it enough that Utah has become the sanctuary for thousands of Californians escaping across Nevada’s desert for this oasis of civility? Why must they bring the smoke from their fires with them? May I remind everyone that we don’t need lessons from out of state visitors on the correct way to pollute our air. We do well enough on our own thank you very much.
I’m actually pleased so many move to Utah every year. If they keep coming our home values will increase. Maybe we can recoup some of the losses we’ve taken because of this little bump in the road called The Great Recession. It’s gotten so bad I hesitate to open my investment's quarterly reports fearing the depressing news will dampen even more my strained optimistic mood about the world we live in. By the way, is it just me or have you noticed a general sense of pessimism in the food, water and air? Everyone I know seems to be afflicted to one degree or another by pure unrefined negativity.
Now, I consider myself an optimist and sit at one end of future’s teeter totter. I know several that sit opposite on the pessimistic side of this handy playground example. Most times our numbers are fairly equal. There are enough like me that balance the “glass is half empty” crowd opposite. Lately I feel myself and those with me, starting to pick up altitude as more and more scoot down the plank toward the other side.
I’ll give you an example. Yesterday before leaving the Space Center I was stopped by a member of Central’s staff.
“Come here, I’ve got something to share with you,” he said while curling his index finger as one does when you want someone to follow. “I don’t know if I should be sharing this or not but I think you’d like to know.” He said as we turned down an empty hallway.
I leaned up against the brick preparing myself for Earth shattering news. My mind sped through the possibilities. I started with the Swine Flu, wondering if it mutated and killing half everyone it infects. While my secret bearer glanced up and down the hallway to see if anyone else was within earshot, my mind walked carefully across a mental tightrope to the other extreme - the possible news that an asteroid large enough to snuff out mankind was discovered and the government decided not to inform the general public to prevent mass panic. Of course, I then understood why I was being told. I would be one of those considered too important to die and would therefore be given special instructions on when and where to gather at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado for a briefing and then journey with all the others sharing my uniqueness, through the Star Gate to Earth 2 in some far distant corner of the Galaxy with instruction to continue the Human story on another shore.
“A friend of mine was at a wedding reception yesterday and was talking to another friend of someone who’s husband is a policeman. Well, he told his friend who then told mine that he was called to Washington for special training on what is about to happen. He told this person that after hearing about this unspoken event that he didn’t want to remain a policeman and decided to begin looking for other work. Well, what do you think?” he asked, searching my face to see if I understood the gravity of what he had just shared.
At that moment I felt myself rise higher out of balance on emotion’s teeter totter. What does one say when confronted with news like that? If its true then why look for other work? Surely everything we know and love is about to be pulled from us. Surely he implied mass rioting and looting and, according to this person, possible cannibalism......... .
“Well, I’m glad I live in Utah Valley,” I answered.
“Why is that?” he questioned. "Even people in Utah Valley will do unspeakable things if they are hungry... well you know what I mean."
“The reason I’m glad is because at least here in the center of Mormonism there is another governing structure in place if civil authority breaks down. That’s what I'm saying.”
It was the most positive thing I thought I could say at that moment and still remain respectful of his feelings. In reality I wanted to say that I didn’t belief a word of it and thought that it, along with all the other things I’ve heard whispered around the water cooler and spread over the internet was just the wailing of the doom sayers, who I might add, have always been here, living among us. During good times they generally remain silent and if pushed to the wall will tell you the world is doomed to destruction but they never know when this will happen. When times are bad, like now, they emerge from their basements into the sunlight, rubbing their eyes in an attempt to adjust to the beautiful world around them and a to the light of a kind warm sun shining on all equally and justly.
In the end I turned the conversation’s direction into something benign. Moments later I was in the Battlestar warping for home grateful another week at the Space Center was over and even more grateful for a day off to recharge and rewit myself for more of the same.
Friends, as I’ve said before and will say often. This world has been scheduled for destruction ever since man first looked into the stars to try to read their messages for the future. Yet are we not all still here?
Do I believe the world will end some day? Yes. My religion gives me an answer to that, and if I wasn’t religious then the answer is still yes. Nature will see to the Earth’s demise. One day the sun will bake the planet as it expands its diameter into old age.
So, we are doomed no matter what. I suppose its all a matter of time, isn’t it?
Until then, I need more of you to slide down the teeter totter to my side and lets balance out those that see darkness , doom and despair around every corner.
Listen, we got ourselves into this mess so we need to get ourselves out of it. Let’s become the force for good by setting the proper example to the next generation. Let’s borrow money only when absolutely needed for major purchases. Let’s stay out of debt even if it means giving up our rabid desire to keep up with the Jones. Let’s live within our means even it means wearing those pants and shoes a bit longer before spending money to replace them. Let’s spend more time together as families building righteous walls. Righteous walls protect us from the real and observed darkness that exists and has always existed in this world, yet open to let in the good and beautiful. Let’s use the power of our voices and speak out for what we believe, be it republican , democrat or independent. Let’s put muscle behind our voice by becoming involved in community affairs. Volunteer for a local charity. Volunteer at your school. Volunteer to work for a candidate that shares your core values.
Here is one voice that says the world is good but can be better. I see possibilities and to me, the future looks bright if we get involved with others of like mind and make the world the place we want it to be. We’ve one life and one planet to live it on in the vastness of space. Get educated, get involved, and believe the best is still to come.
Now make it so.
I'm finished and stepping off my soap box. Sorry for the length of this rant. If you know me you know I can be long winded.........................but I hope interesting......... (don't answer that).