Newt’s new windmill: a moon base by 2020

That’s right, Newt Gingrich wants a permanent American-controlled moon base by the end of his second term in office. Don’t worry Republicans, he’s not suggesting, you know, actual funding by the government or anything — just that private enterprise will, somehow, for some inexplicable reason, become motivated to find ways to do it.

Speaking in Florida, hit hard by the loss of a large number of space-affiliated jobs, Mr. Gingrich said Wednesday that if elected, “By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.”

He said he believed such a project was possible with commercial and private efforts. According to USA Today, Mr. Gingrich said he had “a romantic belief it is really part of our destiny,” adding that the current state of the space program was a “tragedy.”

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Life may not depend on planet having a large moon

Via Universe Today, some news regarding the long-held belief that a stable axial tilt requires a large enough moon to provide stabilization — a study suggests it’s less necessary than previously believed.

Ever since a study conducted back in 1993, it has been proposed that in order for a planet to support more complex life, it would be most advantageous for that planet to have a large moon orbiting it, much like the Earth’s moon. Our moon helps to stabilize the Earth’s rotational axis against perturbations caused by the gravitational influence of Jupiter. Without that stabilizing force, there would be huge climate fluctuations caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis swinging between about 0 and 85 degrees.

But now that belief is being called into question thanks to newer research, which may mean that the number of planets capable of supporting complex life could be even higher than previously thought.

Anything that widens the scope of potential planets where life might have arisen is welcome news. We’re finding new exoplanets every damn day nowadays, so the search for extraterrestrial life-harboring planets is simply a matter of time, I’m willing to wager.

Donors Choose – Matching Dollars, Today and Tomorrow Only!

Today’s the Rapture Mk. III. What do you need your money for, if you’re going to be bodily swept away to heaven? Leave it to a good cause! For instance, the various causes I’ve added to my Donors Choose challenge. And today and tomorrow only, the good people in charge of the Science Blogs Challenge are matching all donations. That’s right — until Saturday at midnight EST, your dollars will have double impact.

It seems other bloggers have offered real things as incentive, rather than intangibles like the title of “Honorary Canadian”. I don’t have much I could offer you kind folks, though. I mean, I’ve got a dead computer power supply with bad capacitors… some old grocery receipts and other various scraps of paper. Oh, I DO have a can of Campbell’s harvest minestrone with real parmesan(!!), with reduced sodium. I suppose if people really really want the can of soup, I could skip lunch today, if it means some kids in significantly underprivileged areas have a chance to learn how amazing our world is. Would you offer your donations in exchange for a can of soup?
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RCimT: a quick science news roundup

Welcome to the first Random Crap in my Tabs posted to Freethought Blogs! Every once in a while, my browser’s tabs get far too full of “stuff that must be blogged”, stuff that I figured was too interesting to just read and close, and in order to free up resources so I can do other things, once in a while I aggregate a bunch of similarly themed items into a post with links and short commentary. It’s something like a blog carnival, but usually to non-bloggy stuff.

This one’s about some sciencey bits and bobs, and it’s all over the map. Allons-y!
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Mock the Movie: Rocketship X-M

Dr. Rubidium, Dr. Skyskull, Stephanie Zvan and I (yes, I just linked myself, whaddaya gonna do about it?) are teaming up once again this Thursday for our next Mock The Movie event.

Rocketship X-M promises to provide plenty of bad space science as Lloyd Bridges and his — what’s the opposite of “intrepid?” — crew somehow manage miss the Moon and land on Mars. Like you do. And encounter an alien civilization on that otherwise barren ball of rust. Like you do.

The rules for Mock The Movie are simple.

  • Start following @MockTM on Twitter.
  • Start watching Rocketship X-M on archive.org (public domain, free for everyone) Thursday, September 22, at 9PM EST.
  • Once you’ve got the movie playing, tweet your snarky comments to @MockTM. We have magical Twitter gnomes scraping the @-mentions and will have a transcript available as soon as possible over at The JAYFK. Directing our tweets to @MockTM will keep our followers from being overwhelmed with our snark!