Earthly/Geo/Astro · Science

Before Deep Space, NASA Heads Deep Under Water

NASA may have retired its shuttles, but it has its sights on sending astronauts deeper into space than ever before.

These voyages are years away, but on Monday, astronauts are heading underwater to take part in a simulation that will help them figure out how they might explore one possible new destination: a near-Earth asteroid.

It’ll be the space agency’s 16th NEEMO expedition — NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations — commanded by astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. She flew on one of the last space shuttle missions, and even helped prepare Atlantis for its final launch.

“It was a very bittersweet time,” says Metcalf-Lindenburger, who wants to go into space again. In the meantime, she’s commanding a four-person crew that’s putting on scuba gear instead of space suits. She says we all have to move on.

“Like in all things. I just had my daughter finish up her last day of preschool before she goes off to kindergarten. We have to shut chapters and begin new chapters and we had to do that in the space program, too,” Metcalf-Lindenburger says.

Excerpt of an article written by Elizabeth Shogren, at NPR. Continue HERE

Earthly/Geo/Astro · Motion Graphics · Science

The evolution of the moon

From year to year, the moon never seems to change. Craters and other formations appear to be permanent now, but the moon didn’t always look like this. Thanks to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now have a better look at some of the moon’s history.

Via NASA

Human-ities · Philosophy · Social/Politics · Technology · Theory

We’re Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction

Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth. We have learned to worry about asteroids and supervolcanoes, but the more-likely scenario, according to Nick Bostrom, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, is that we humans will destroy ourselves.

Bostrom, who directs Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, has argued over the course of several papers that human extinction risks are poorly understood and, worse still, severely underestimated by society. Some of these existential risks are fairly well known, especially the natural ones. But others are obscure or even exotic. Most worrying to Bostrom is the subset of existential risks that arise from human technology, a subset that he expects to grow in number and potency over the next century.

Despite his concerns about the risks posed to humans by technological progress, Bostrom is no luddite. In fact, he is a longtime advocate of transhumanism—the effort to improve the human condition, and even human nature itself, through technological means. In the long run he sees technology as a bridge, a bridge we humans must cross with great care, in order to reach new and better modes of being. In his work, Bostrom uses the tools of philosophy and mathematics, in particular probability theory, to try and determine how we as a species might achieve this safe passage. What follows is my conversation with Bostrom about some of the most interesting and worrying existential risks that humanity might encounter in the decades and centuries to come, and about what we can do to make sure we outlast them.

Excerpt of an article by Ross Andersen at The Atlantic. Continue HERE