Elon Musk SpaceX Plans To Send People to Mars By 2025

Elon Musk SpaceX Plans To Send People to Mars By 2025

If you have ever dreamt of becoming a Martian Citizen, your dreams could become reality soon, thanks to Elon Musk Spacex and his space agency. At a recent startup festival in Hong Kong, Musk said he plans to send humans to Mars in about “nine years from now”.

elon musk spacex
Elon Musk speaks at the StartmeupHK startup festival(Reuters)

SpaceX’s ambition to reach Mars is no secret – there were hints, leaks and Elon Musk’s tweets about this issue, but the actual plan and other details has not been shared by the company. All we know so far about SpaceX’s Mars craft is its name – Mars Colonial Transporter. It seems we have to wait another seven months for a glimpse at the actual plan as Musk announced that SpaceX was preparing to unveil its roadmap to Mars at the International Astronautical Conference, which will be held at Guadalajara, Mexico from September 26 to 30.

Speaking about the decision to visit the Red Planet, Musk said, “Mars is the next natural step. In fact, it is the only planet we have a shot at establishing a self-sustaining city on.” Musk explained that human beings must become a multi-planet species to survive. “It’s really a fundamental decision we need to make as a civilization. What kind of future do we want?” he said. “Do we want one where we are forever confined to one planet until some eventual extinction event however far into the future might occur, or do we want to be a multi-planet species and ultimately be out there among the stars among many planets and many star systems?” he posed. Musk’s plan to put humans on Mars by 2025 is truly ambitious considering that NASA’s Nebulous Mission to Mars is expected to be completed by 2030.

Spacex Falcon 9 successful launch and landing

SpaceX has a long way to go before it can successfully launch a space mission to Mars. Its latest attempt to successfully launch and land a rocket failed just last month. For now, SpaceX will be sending a crew to the International Space Station by 2017. Musk himself will be taking a trip into space as a tourist in 2020 or 2021, despite having minimal astronautical training. Currently SpaceX is busy with the Falcon Heavy which can lift 58 tons of material to Low Earth Orbit and is expected to be unveiled later this year. If Musk’s plan succeeds we may have cities on Mars sooner than we think. Here’s a cool visual to dream about:

An artist's depiction of a city on Mars
An artist’s depiction of a city on Mars

 

Could Europa or Mars Hold the Key to Extraterrestrial Life?

Could Europa or Mars Hold the Key to Extraterrestrial Life?

Icy moon Europa may be the smallest of Jupiter’s four moons, but it’s the most interesting due to its unique features. Europa was discovered by Galileo in 1610, and is believed to be approximately 4.5 billion years old. With a frozen surface covered in a layer of ice, it’s the solar system’s most reflective moon.

What makes Europa unique among moons is that scientists believe that its ocean is actually in contact with the moon’s rocky interior, meaning that the conditions there may be like the sea floor here on Earth. This would support the possibility of living organisms. In contrast, the two other icy moons that orbit Jupiter are believed to have an ocean layer positioned between two layers of ice.

extraterrestrial life
Jupiter’s smallest moon Europa may contain vast oceans underneath it’s surface which could hold the key to extraterrestrial life

The red planet, Mars, was named after the Roman god of war, because of its reddish surface color that resembles blood. It’s not known exactly who discovered the planet. Similar to Europa, Mars is thought to possibly have water under its surface. They are currently the best hope that scientists have for discovering extraterrestrial life in the solar system beyond planet Earth.

Mars
Image of Mars from orbiter

Related posts:

Life on kepler452b

 

 

CRISPR Cas9 Genome Editing: Biggest and Most Important Breakthrough of the Decade

CRISPR Cas9 Genome Editing: Biggest and Most Important Breakthrough of the Decade

Creation of efficient and reliable techniques of making precisely targeted changes to genome of living cells has been an objective for biomedical researchers for decades. Development of CRISPR/Cas9, a new genome editing method, has gained profound attention as it has created an efficient tool for genome editing based on Cas9. Studies by researchers found that cells respond to invading phages through transcribing spacers and palindromic DNA into the elongated RNA molecules. Then, the involved cell can use Cas9 to cut along RNA molecules since it is a nuclease that is specialized for cutting DNA. Therefore, this tool works by employing Cas9 enzyme to eliminate targeted genes in varied organisms and cell types; selectively repress or activate target genes; and other times purify selected regions of DNA.

cas9
Depiction of Gene editing (Spooky Pooka – Wellcome Images)

Cheap and Effective

As compared to other mechanisms for genome editing like zinc-finger nucleases and transcription-activator like effector nucleases, CRISPR/Cas9 has gained acceptance because it is the most scalable technology being used for generating gRNAs easily. It is easier, less expensive, and provides avenues for high throughput experimentations of gene functions. On the other hand, traditional approaches have the capability to generate permanent mutations via introduction of double stranded breaks; however, they are time consuming to engineer and costly thus their limitations in high throughput and large scale studies.

Crispr cas 9
CRISPR Cas9 mode of action. (ViktoriaAnselm, CC BY-SA)

Crispr Cas9 has a host of benefits. It creates the potential to produce offspring that have have no risk of developing diseases thus also preventing future descendants from inheriting diseases. Dangerous malaria causing genes can also be edited out of mosquitoes. These newly edited mosquitoes can then spread eventually wiping out the old population with malaria. This same method can be applied to other disease causing organisms. Watch the video below to see how CRISPR can be used to edit malaria out of future mosquito populations for good:

Now just like other scientific developments, this genome editing technology is being subjected to intense debates and controversies about its ethical constructs. Introducing gene modifications into the human population to create genetically modified people has grave ethical, safety, and social concerns. The ethical aspects are related to issues like causing irreversible harm to the health of future generations, and, creating opportunities to new forms of social inequalities, conflicts and discrimination. Also, there is a possibility of misusing the technology to make alterations that are beyond the range of human variability such as superficial characteristics justifying the current ethical concerns. Nonetheless regardless of which side of the debate is correct, the genie is out of the lamp and there is no turning back. Efficient genome editing now exists, it is cheap, easy to use, and those who want to use it will. The best thing that can be done now is to point it in the right direction as much as possible. CRISPR has the potential to be a blessing not only for us but every ecosystem in the world so long as we take the right steps.

How Big is Our Universe

How Big is our Universe

Planet earth is situated in the universe in the Virgo Super cluster of galaxies. It is specifically placed in a small group of galaxies named the Local Group. In one of the spiral arms of the milk way lies the earth. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of the total number of planets in the universe. However, it is estimated that they may be anywhere from two trillion or potentially up to a septillion planets or 10^24 planets in the universe, and that 100 billion habitable earth-like planets are in our own Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way galaxy is disk-shaped, about a hundred thousand light-years across and in terms of thickness it is about two thousand light-years. The smallest dwarf galaxies happen to be a small percentage of this particular size. The biggest galaxies, located at the centers of galaxy clusters are more than ten times the size of the milk way. So how big is our universe?

Basically, it is estimated that there are about 100 billion galaxies in the universe. However, advancements in technology are proving otherwise especially leaps in telescope technology. Recent advancements in telescope technology give an estimate of about 200 billion galaxies.

galaxy
The galaxy above may contain an estimate of 100 billion earth-like planets

May be you are wondering, “How big is our universe”? The diameter of the observable universe is about 93 billion light years. Scientists remain uncertain on whether the size of the universe is infinite or finite. Some people wish to believe that the universe is finite in size. Well, that is unbounded. Imagination as a matter of fact remains to be the only limitation. The universe is a large field and we all vibrate within it.

How big is our universe
Artist’s depiction of the observable universe, which may contain about 200 billion galaxies.

Science is helping us make tremendous steps toward helping humans observe the greater universe physically from television sets, observatories and the internet too. Using tools such as the Spitzer Space Telescope at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, it is possible to find galaxies as deep as 11 billion light-years from our mother planet. The light we see today may have taken about 2 million years to reach us from the Great Galaxy. The universe is also by far much older than 2 million years and it is possible to know that looking at the fact that we observe light from stars and galaxies much further away than our local group. The first planet outside our solar system was discovered in 1995 and since then over 2000 more extrasolar planets have been discovered.

It is critical that we understand the great need to get a sense of the size and age of the universe. It is important that we stop looking at the universe and our own galaxy from the inside. The universe does not have an outside. In fact, it may go on indefinitely. The universe is a massive area and since humans are inside it, it becomes impossible for them to see it the way they wish to. Humans have come up with mechanisms to get to try and understand the universe over the years. They have resorted to making imaginations of travelling at the speed of light. The efforts have somehow been productive since we have made tremendous steps towards attaining some tangible understanding of the universe. Indeed, the universe is quite larger in size and our galaxy forms a section of its many parts. The more we discover, the more there is to discover and there is no end to it. Recently physicists have come up with a new theory which proposes that there may possibly be somewhere between many up to an infinite number of universes. This would mean that there could be an infinite number of galaxies and planets.

multiverse
Artist’s depiction of a multiverse containing many bubble universes. There could be an infinite number of universes.

If you have a hard time imaging the scale of the universe, think of a grain of sand on a beach. That grain of sand can be divided into an infinite number of smaller grains, and those smaller grains can be divided to even smaller grains. The next time you ask the question, “How big is our universe?”, remember that when it comes to the size of the universe, there are no bounds.

The Simulation Hypothesis: Are We Living In the Matrix?

The Simulation Hypothesis: Are We Living In the Matrix?

To many, the simulation hypothesis theory which suggests that we may be living inside of The Matrix or a fake reality that may sound like just another ridiculous and far-fetched science fiction theory that is based on no real scientific evidence.  However, many scientists around the world are taking the theory very seriously, exploring and hypothesizing on the “simulation argument”.

In short, the simulation argument is based on the theory that humans are living in a computer simulation that is indistinguishable from real reality that contains all possible realities.  This describes what is called a posthuman world where many of our conscious minds are no longer present in a biological structure.  Philosopher Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford has been studying the simulation hypothesis, and in 2003, attempted to conduct the first real exploration of this intriguing hypothesis.  He argues that the human conscious can survive in a non-biological structure, or a computer. He has also developed some theoretical equations that calculate the probability that any individual has a simulated mind.  In order to calculate the probability that any one person has a simulated mind, one must first calculate the total number of simulated minds, which is based upon the total number of real minds.  The research resulted in a few different possibilities: our minds are probably not a simulation, or our minds are very likely a simulation.  Ultimately, these possibilities are based upon whether or not we believe that civilizations are interested in transitioning into the posthuman stage.

For decades, there have been projects focusing on simulating the human brain inside of a computer. The Human Brain Project (HBC) won over one billion euros in 2013.  Many argue that the brain is simply too complex to simulate fully.  This theory does not bode well for the HBC, which now must deliver a human-like computer.  However, Henry Markram, the director of the Human Brain Project has a plan that will shatter the notion that the human brain cannot be artificially recreated.  He plans to build the brain in great detail down to its ion channels, and he wants to simulate thousands of synapses that allow neurons to communicate. He plans to examine the different types of cells that exist in the human brain, and artificially recreate the electrical behavior of each of these unique cells.

The Simulation Hypothesis: are we living in the matrix

While the work being done by The Human Brain Project may seem intriguing, a direct replication of the human brain is not the only method of creating a simulation of reality. A brain-interface simulation involves a human connecting their brain to a computer.  The computer communicates with their brain creating a virtual simulation that feels very real to the user, who is most likely represented by an avatar in this virtual world.  Another example of a simulation is a little less farfetched then the prospect of connecting the human brain to a computer.  Dreaming is a sensation that nearly ever human on Earth has likely experienced.  Similarly to a brain-interface simulation, dreaming typically fools the user into believing that the simulating is real.  The fact that our brains can be so easily fooled suggests that we should trust our sense of reality much less, and spend more time examining what we take for granted as being part of reality.

Brain in a vat
Brain in a vat. Image by Alexander Wivel under CC-BY-3.0

However, don’t start panicking that your entire world is actually just a simulation of ones and zeros, or that some day you will suddenly wake up from this dream that you have been calling reality for your entire life.  The simulation theory is still very much in development, and the Human Brain Project still has a long way to go before it can fully simulate the human brain.  That being said, maybe some day, we will all be living in our own computer simulation!

Kardashev Scale – Type I, II, III, IV and V Civilizations

As we progress towards an age of greater technological advancement, our energy requirements will increase exponentially. This will decide whether the human race gets to live or die. For this purpose scientists have come up with a scale to measure the advancement of the human race. This scale uses the magnitude of the energy utilized in communication to quantify the technological advancement of a civilization. This hypothetical scale is called the Kardashev scale and is divided into three categories, Type I to Type III.

Type I

A Type I civilization is defined to be able to save and use all of their planets energy and some of the energy available from its neighboring star. For example in our case that star would be the sun. However with respect to this scale, we are not included in Type I yet. We would need to harness at least a hundred thousand times more energy than we do right now in order to be categorized as a Type I civilization. Being a Type I civilization would enable us to control the weather, storms, earthquakes and all natural forces.

Type II

A Type II is able to transfer all the energy from their star to their planet. For this there is a concept which is called the Dyson’s Sphere, a mechanism by which we could harness all the energy of a star to our planet. Another way would be if we perfect nuclear fusion, we could build a reactor that orbits a star and slowly drains it of energy. It is said that a Type II civilization will become completely impervious to all cosmic dangers making it essentially resistant to extinction. It could move the objects in its galaxy as it pleases.

Dyson Sphere concept
Concept of a Dyson sphere surrounding a sun. Kevin Gill/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Type III

A Type III would be able to harness the energy of their entire galaxy. Although to date the scale is limited to these divisions, however many extensions have been proposed which extend the scale to include Type IV and Type V, which would include the ability to harness energy from all existing universes.

 Kardashev Scale Type Civilization
Infographic of the Kardashev scale

How can humans manage to come in the Kardashev scale?- How to harness more energy

Humans are not yet included in type I as already stated. But still, we can harness more energy and possibly in the next era, we will be a Type I civilization. In order to do so, we need to harness more energy from the large scale application of nuclear fusion power. Type I implies that we are able to convert 2 kg of matter to energy in 1 second. If we reach this level , we will be included in the Type I civilization. In the same way, we can also use antimatter to harness large amounts of energy. A large quantity of antimatter will have a mechanism that is able to produce a huge amount of power. You can estimate it by considering the fact that in order to measure that energy, we will need to upgrade our current technology to over several magnitudes. Actually, when we collide antimatter and matter, then the entire rest mass of the particles is converted into the radiant energy. The energy obtained from the antimatter and matter collisions will be about four orders of magnitude greater than that energy that we get from using nuclear fusion.

Are we alone in the universe? The Fermi Paradox

Are we alone in the universe? The Fermi Paradox

Are we alone in the universe? That’s a question that’s been asked for thousands of years. Our universe is so big and so old, and with the advent of space and interplanetary exploration, that should be a question that should be answered. Yet, the question still remains.

The Fermi Paradox addresses the issue of whether or not humans are really the only intelligent life forms in the universe. It seeks to answer the question many ask, “Are we alone?”. Named for scientist Enrico Fermi, the Fermi Paradox states that life probably exists on other planets, but that so far, humans haven’t found any evidence of this life.

Still, under the Fermi Paradox, some would consider it to be small-minded thinking to believe that we are alone in the universe. After all, our Sun is a normal star. If there are billions of other stars in the universe, and the Sun is typical, others would also have many planets. Assuming that even if a small number of these planets are able to sustain life (let alone intelligent life), that’s still a large number of planets. We need to assume that Earth is not atypical in that it can sustain life and that other planets out there would also have a chance of doing so. The following videos are a brief glimpse of the Fermi Paradox:

Part 1

Part 2

 

The Paradox also considers that because humans have already visited other planets and explored outer space, intelligent beings on other planets might also have done the same, and in that line of thinking, they may already have visited Earth without our knowledge. Still others may argue that there hasn’t been any evidence that we have had a visit, but again, the lack of definable proof is not a reason that it has not happened.

More on the Fеrmі Pаrаdоx

Fеrmі раrаdоx іѕ thе арраrеnt соntrаdісtіоn between thе hіgh рrоbаbіlіtу extraterrestrial civilizations еxіѕtеnсе and thе lасk оf соntасt wіth such сіvіlіzаtіоnѕ. The Fеrmі Pаrаdоx ѕееkѕ tо answer the question оf whеrе thе aliens аrе. Are we alone? Given thаt thе ѕtаr аnd earth аrе раrt of a young planetary ѕуѕtеm compared tо thе rеѕt оf thе unіvеrѕе аnd thаt interstellar trаvеl mіght bе fаіrlу еаѕу to achieve.

Grоwth оf thе аmоunt of probes wоuld оссur еxроnеntіаllу аnd therefore, thе Galaxy may be explored іn 4 mіllіоn уеаrѕ. Whеrеаѕ thіѕ роіnt ѕраn lооkѕ lоng соmраrеd to thе age of human сіvіlіzаtіоn, keep in mіnd thе Galaxy is оvеr 10 billion years оld and any раѕt extraterrestrial сіvіlіzаtіоn mіght hаvе explored thе Gаlаxу 250 times оvеr. аmоng ѕоmе mіllіоn years, еасh star ѕуѕtеm mау bе brоught underneath the wіng of еmріrе. A couple of mіllіоn years could sound lоng, hоwеvеr іf truth bе told іt’ѕ quite ѕhоrt соmраrеd wіth thе age оf the Galaxy, thаt іѕ roughly 10 thоuѕаnd million уеаrѕ. Thе very fасt thаt aliens dо nоt арреаr tо bе walking thе еаrth apparently іmрlіеѕ that thеrе аrеn’t аnу еxtrаtеrrеѕtrіаlѕ аnурlасе аmоng thе lаrgе trасtѕ оf thе Gаlаxу. Yоu wіll contemplate thіѕ to be a rаdісаl соnсluѕіоn tо drаw frоm such a ѕtrаіghtfоrwаrd оbѕеrvаtіоn, ѕurе there’s аn еаѕу сlаrіfісаtіоn fоr whаt hаѕ become саllеd the Fеrmі paradox. Thеrе should bе a wау to account fоr уоur арраrеnt lоnеlіnеѕѕ during a Gаlаxу thаt уоu juѕt аѕѕumе іѕ full оf dіffеrеnt сlеvеr beings.

Are we alone

Possibilities That Exрlаіn Whу We Sее Nо Aliens

Whу is thаt, whеn we lооk up іn the sky оn a сlеаr, blосk-раrtу-bаrbесuе nіght, аll wе see аrе planets аnd ѕtаrѕ but nо signs оf life beyond the оnеѕ flung uр thеrе from Eаrth.

Aliens, іf they are оut, thеу would have visited uѕ lоng аgо, and wіthоut аnу vіѕіblе ѕіgnѕ оf аlіеn vіѕіtаtіоn, thіѕ mеаnѕ that wе аrе аlоnе. Thе assumptions thаt hаvе уеt tо be proven assumes thаt аlіеn technology іѕ no more advanced to whаt wе саn іmаgіnе fоr оurѕеlvеѕ іn the future.

We ѕее no Alіеnѕ bесаuѕе

We are the first іn the gаlаxу, life іѕ new tо thе gаlаxу and еvоlutіоn tаkеѕ tіmе. Wе аrе thе fіrѕt intelligent сіvіlіzаtіоn. Problem: Thе Sun bеіng an average star, if other ѕtаrѕ fоrmеd a mіllіоn уеаrѕ ahead of uѕ, thеn thеу wоuld bе a million уеаrѕ аhеаd оf we human tесhnоlоgісаllу ѕреаkіng.

Plаnеtѕ wіth thе rіght conditions аrе rare

Hаbіtаblе zоnеѕ, рrореr оrbіt fоr lіԛuіd water аrе rare

The Gаlаxу іѕ a dangerous рlасе (аѕtеrоіd impacts, gаmmа-rау buѕtеrѕ, еtс)

The Eаrth/Mооn ѕуѕtеm іѕ unique (lаrgе tіdеѕ needed fоr mоlесulаr еvоlutіоn)

Lіfе is rare

Lіfе’ѕ gеnеѕіѕ іѕ rаrе

Intеllіgеnсе аnd tооl-mаkіng is rare

Lаnguаgе is unіԛuе mаnkіnd

Tесhnоlоgу and ѕсіеnсе is nоt іnеvіtаblе

 

Whеn you think аbоut Fеrmі paradox, it makes lоtѕ оf sense. Thіnk аbоut Plutо, hоwеvеr lоng іt tооk tо іnduсе there аnd аlѕо thе indisputable fасt thаt it rеvоlvеѕ rоund the ѕаmе ѕun wе tеnd to do. Evеrуоnе’ѕ fаvоrіtе hеаrt-tаttооеd dwаrf рlаnеt is, at іtѕ nighest, ѕtіll оvеr 2 billion mіlеѕ frоm Earth. Now, keep in mind thе ѕun іѕ оnе аmоngѕt thе roughly 200 billion stars (оn the ѕuреr conservative end)within the Gаlаxу. In gеnеrаl, thеrеfоrе, еасh mаjоr instance оf ѕuреrnаturаl phenomena іn past history muѕt bе rіgоrоuѕlу ѕсrutіnіzеd for ѕіgnѕ оf аlіеn іnvоlvеmеnt.

Sо, thе unіvеrѕе іѕ on thе fаr ѕіdе іmmеnѕе, and it mіght tаkе millions (іf nоt bіllіоnѕ) оf years to explore. However if the universe іѕ 14 bіllіоn years rесеnt, thеn, hуроthеtісаllу, аlіеnѕ may hаvе already found uѕ. Thus what оffеrѕ?