Archive for November, 2009

Kiwis in Space

Well  maybe. According to the news article below our cousins across the ditch have managed to launch an private rocket into Space. However there seems to be no independent verification of the altitude reached.:

New Zealand’s first space rocket has launched this afternoon.

The Atea-1 took off from its launch site at Great Mercury Island just before 3pm, after technical problems delayed this morning’s planned launch.

The launch company, Rocket Lab Ltd, started up three years ago with the aim to develop a series of Atea rockets that would make space more accessible, company director Mark Rocket said last week.

“This is the first step in a long journey,” he said.

The 6-metre-long craft should reach speeds of up to Mach 5, flying 120km into the air, before splashing down in the sea, where it will be picked up.

It is the first time in the southern hemisphere a privately owned company has launched a rocket to space.

Atea is the Maori word for space as the team wanted an indigenous name for the rockets.

The first rocket Atea-1 has been named Manu Karere by the local Thames iwi, which means Bird Messenger.


Today on Discovery Enterprise we will focus our attention on perhaps the least understood and the most destructive natural phenomena on Earth – Supervolcanoes.

Only a handful exist in the world but, when one erupts it will be unlike any volcano we have ever witnessed. The explosion will be heard around the world. The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.
Normal volcanoes are formed by a column of magma – molten rock – rising from deep within the Earth, erupting on the surface, and hardening in layers down the sides. This forms the familiar cone shaped mountain we associate with volcanoes.

Supervolcanoes, however, begin life when magma rises from the mantle to create a boiling reservoir in the Earth’s crust. This chamber increases to an enormous size, building up colossal pressure until it finally erupts.


The Universe: Dark Matter – Dark Energy

Today on Discovery Enterprise we explore the dark side of the Universe. Less than five percent of our universe is comprised of matter that is radiant or interacts with light or other forms of electromagnetic radiation.

For thousands of years we have looked at the night sky and believed the illuminated stuff was all that made up our universe. Scientists now realize it’s not what shines in the light but what hides in the dark that holds the true secrets of our sky. There is a mysterious dark matter that binds stars and galaxies together, and strange particles like wimps, axions and machos might be to blame. And there is a dark, repulsive energy that is creating space in the universe, that’s driving the galaxies further and further apart, to a dismal fate. Combined, dark matter and dark energy make up 96% of the universe and uncovering their secrets is like making the one-in-a-million shot. If uncovered, the ultimate fate of the universe might be revealed. Will it crash and burn in a horrific collision of gravitational forces? Or will dark energy tear the universe apart? This is a trip to the dark side of the universe; this is the hunt for dark matter and dark energy.

These are relatively new discoveries in Astronomy and have fundamentally altered our perception of the nature and ultimate fate of the Universe.

The Universe: Dark Matter – Dark Energy

Journey to 10,000 B.C.

Today on Discovery Enterprise we journey to the year 10,000 BC and experience the suspense and heart-pounding action of a woolly mammoth hunt. A single kill could feed the tribe for weeks. As the winters grow curiously colder and longer, this vital source of nourishment becomes even more critical. Experience the land where giant ground sloths, great saber-toothed cats, and camels roamed. Witness their extinctions and live through the cataclysms that we are only now beginning to understand.

Journey to 10,000 B.C.

The Huge Mistake: Why cap and trade would be bad for the environment and the economy

Here are two global warming believers explaining the flaws in the American version of  ETS. They propose an alternative, Fee and Rebate.  Note the Tony Abbott is also considering replacing the ETS with a simpler carbon tax.

Abbott is right

Tony Abbott is a big government conservative, I’m one of those small government types who thought his book “Battle lines” was just a recipe for greater state power and higher taxes but he is spot on the ETS legislation.:

Climate change certainly takes place. The issue is how much of it is due to man’s activity and what is the best response to it. We only have one planet and we have to look after it. Of course, we should take prudent precautions against foreseeable risk.

Still, it’s far from certain that the best response to rising sea levels, for instance, is lifting the price of electricity, rather than the kind of measures that have been used in The Netherlands for centuries. If there’s to be a carbon price to wean us off coal-fired electricity and oil-driven cars, an ETS may be the most market-oriented way to do so. The Howard government thought so, but many respected economists think a carbon tax would be more certain, less complex and far less open to manipulation than traded carbon permits.

At this point, though, the argument is not so much about the merits of an ETS as about whether it makes sense for Australia to have one before the US, Canada, China and India; and whether it’s good governance to have one designed in political horse-trading rushed through the parliament before its implications can really be digested.

Its completely wrong to think all the people against the ETS are global warming sceptics, What Tony and I are sceptical of is the ETS.

ATOM – Part 1 – Clash of the Titans

Today on Discovery Enterprise we explore the microverse of the atom with British theoretical nuclear physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili. The discovery that everything is made from atoms has been referred to as the greatest scientific breakthrough in history.

As scientists delved deep into the atom, they unravelled nature’s most shocking secrets and abandoned traditional beliefs, leading to a whole new science which still underpins modern physics, chemistry and biology, and maybe even life itself. Nuclear physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the story of this discovery and the brilliant minds behind the breakthrough.

ATOM – Part 1 – Clash of The Titans