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The Curiosity rover turned its cameras upward for a first-ever clear, daylight color photograph of Phobos over Mars.

Phobos2

Note: The black dot to the left of Phobos is just a bad pixel.  The color of the overall image is characteristic of the Martian sky with a low dust load - under totally clear conditions, the sky is slate-gray at the zenith due to the thinness of the atmosphere and pales to a somewhat brighter shade closer to the horizon.  Blown up:

Phobos3

Sky conditions on Mars are mostly differentiated by how much dust is in the air.  The dirtier it is, the more pinkish/orange it is - with the shade differing from the zenith to the horizon, and of course with time of day.  So when there's little or no dust, it's just what the super-thin air can refract, which means no pink or orange - just shades of fathomless gray.  The above photos reflect relatively clear conditions in the evening sky.  I suppose dust could often make it too dim to see easily.

Deimos - the smaller, farther moon - is too small and far away to be more than a speck even under ideal viewing conditions, so it wouldn't be much to see.  Although Phobos is considerably smaller in the sky than Earth's Moon, it moves a lot faster because it's only 9,300 km above the ground - it crosses the entire sky in a bit over 4 hours.

It's about time NASA took such an image - I've found it irritating and dumbfounding that it just never occurred to them before now in all the years of roving the Martian surface to turn the camera up and take a plain old photograph of the sky with Phobos in it.  I can only speculate that maybe the cameras on the smaller twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity - the latter of which is still in operation - aren't fast enough to capture Phobos, or maybe can't pivot enough to get the viewing angle.  They have captured transits of the Sun by Phobos, but that only requires very simple light-sensing.  

Still, oftentimes it seems like NASA loses sight of the fact that they're not just there to do pure science and answer the abstruse questions of geologists and chemists - they're there to serve as the projected eyes of all humanity, to see what we can't yet see for ourselves: To bring another world to us, because we can't yet be there.  I'm glad some small measure of that most fundamental of missions is finally seeping into their awareness, through what I'm sure is the daunting fog of technical details they have to manage.

I'm sure others have also shown these additional self-portrait views of Curiosity beyond the ones I had shown earlier here - they were all released several weeks ago - but I just find these mesmerizing and worth showing, even if they've already been seen.  They're like some incredibly vivid steampunk dream:

Curiosity1

Curiosity2

The equipment seems like something that would be appropriate strapped to the back of Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler.  Curiosity is nuclear, after all.  Every bit of that thing is pure 21st century function, but it looks like art - technology having circled back around to Jules Verne.

Originally posted to Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos, SciTech, and Kossacks on Mars.

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  •  Tip Jar (285+ / 0-)
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    Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

    by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:45:12 AM PDT

  •  NASA tends to miss stuff like this (124+ / 0-)

    A dear friend pointed out something stunning and yet obvious to me recently-  one NASA's biggest boo-boos was not giving the International Space Station a name.  You can't call it Mir or Salyut or Skylab... it's just stuck with that ugly descriptive, which is why, I think, it's been mostly ignored throughout its life.  Naming the rovers and the rocks and the landing site is wonderful- it helps the public to connect to them.  As does stuff like this-  an alien moon in an alien sky, the rings of Saturn backlit by the sun, the Pale Blue Dot.  Science is wonderful, but we need the poets and artists aboard, too, if we're going to make all we can of our push to the stars.  

    •  yes, though it takes serious expertise... (49+ / 0-)

      ... to do that in a way that doesn't backfire.

      Lovelock and Margulis could have called their hypothesis "the dynamic homeostatic systems hypothesis," abbreviated to "DHSH", but instead they chose to call it "the Gaia hypothesis."  And while they saved the world from having to learn to pronounce a nasty tongue-twister correctly (try saying "DHSH" ten times fast), the reaction against the reference to a Greek goddess held back acceptance of their ideas, even to this day.

      So one has to be careful about these things.  Some of the world's best talent in this area is in the advertising industry, acutely aware of the emotional and demographic and other variables that affect the perception of new brands.  The days of naming a gasoline such that it translates in another language to the phrase "dirty carburetor" are long gone.    

      The name "Curiosity" for the rover, was brilliant: simple and straightforward, speaking to a universal of human experience, and not being susceptible to deliberate counter-memes.  We need more of this.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:38:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The two spacecraft in the GRAIL mission... (18+ / 0-)

        we're named Ebb and Flow by a Montana classroom of kids.


        The difference between stupidity and genius...genius has limits. ~ Einstein

        by jim in IA on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:11:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I am not convinced really (6+ / 0-)

        that the gaia hypothesis is really science.

        I personally wouldn't be surprised and rather wish they are right but it's completely and utterly untestable

        •  It's more of a philosophy than a hypothesis. (13+ / 0-)

          And basically trivial because all it states in effect is that balances occur that give rise to apparent structure, which borders on obvious and meaningless.

          Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

          by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:34:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  exactly which is why it's not science (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour, palantir, Knucklehead
            •  Don't cross the streams! (6+ / 0-)
              The equipment seems like something that would be appropriate strapped to the back of Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler.
              It would be bad!

              I wonder if they'll find the Stay-Puft microbes on Mars?  Love that rover!!!

              A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

              by jo fish on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:34:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Terminology (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ozsea1, Troubadour, G2geek

              There are plenty of philosophies that can be scientific and vice versa. An hypothesis just means a matrix of propositions as yet not empirically confirmed. Doesn't mean they can't or won't. By your rigid definition, math isn't scientific either.

              Someone saying something isn't science is not an argument. Is it wrong or not?

              GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

              by Attorney at Arms on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:41:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Maths are systems of logic. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                duhban, G2geek

                That's why they're typically cited separately from science - "math and science."  You can do (very clumsy) science without maths just by observing, but you reach a point of diminishing returns beyond which the information content of human language is insufficient to model what is being observed.  Without explicit quantities, you can only operate on the basis of inequalities - and that's only practical if you use it as the basis to make the conceptual leap to actual numbers and maths.

                We know that quantities correspond to some objective property of the universe because math works.  Using it to frame questions yields concrete answers.  No such statement can be made of "life" on a conceptually higher level than molecules - it's still almost entirely a matter of analogy that boils down to chaos when we try to include everything that happens in it as part of its definition.  It may not be possible to quantify life, in which case we would have to rely on something like Stephen Wolfram's algorithmic science rather than math to describe a recursive universe that is fundamentally different with every moment arising from the previous.

                Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 11:25:21 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  to me as a scientist it is enough (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Troubadour

                simply because it is presented as science and I have rather zero tolerance for peusdoscience even if it's  something I on the whole am tempted to agree with.

                Math (as already pointed out) is not science, it's logic but the system relies upon certain base assumptions and from there the system flows.

                Philosophy is great I love it and it challenges us (some do) to think and consider things that science can not speak to. But let's not mix philosophy and science.

                •  You can't avoid mixing science and philosophy. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  atana, G2geek

                  I am a scientist as well, a biologist studying population genetics (i.e., evolution). Science is based on the philosophy of empiricism - that evidence must be supplied to establish claims of truth.

                  This, in turn, relies on the idea that there is an objective reality that can be measured, which is a philosophical notion. These assumptions must be made if we use the scientific method, but they are assumptions that cannot be themselves empirically tested.

                  Granted, the philosophical foundations of science are rarely taught, but they should be.

                  •  well (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Troubadour

                    for now let's just side step whether empiricism is a philosophy (I'd say it isn't it is just the a priori assumption science makes)

                    You're right science is founded on empiricism but that again goes back to the problem with the gaia theory, it can not be empirically tested. In a way it's like string theory, brilliant and interesting but utterly untestable.

                    I'm not against philosophy but I am against confusing philosophy or personal belief as science be it the gaia theory or creationalism.

                    •  a-priori assumptions are by definition.... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Troubadour

                      .... philosophical.

                      I'm highly skeptical of string theory precisely because it's untestable in its entirety.  Ditto the various "many worlds" theories (where does the energy come from to split universes at every wave-function collapse?), even though one of them appears to solve a couple of thorny issues in QM.  

                      But as for Gaia, we're already doing the experiment in the form of anthropogenic climate change (in pharmacology this would be considered a "pre/post design" showing a dose-response curve), and the results so far demonstrate that the ecosystems on which we depend are remarkably resilient: consistent with being homeostatic at a global level.

                      Here we run into an ethical limit on the experiment: we could attempt to falsify global Gaia by continuing to increase the atmospheric dosage of CO2, to see where the point comes that homeostatic mechanisms break and the system shifts radically into a state that is untenable to human life.  This would be roughly equivalent to a medical experiment that gradually removed chunks of subjects' brains to ascertain the point at which one or another behavioral capability ceased to function.  

                      What we can reasonably say is that within the boundaries of scientific ethics, it appears that global ecosystems do have built-in homeostatic mechanisms, and that attempting to disprove that point conclusively would entail the risk of human extinction, so we will not go there.

                      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                      by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:10:37 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  sorry I can't agree with that (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Troubadour

                        because then you're essentially saying EVERYTHING is philosophical which makes the term philosophical rather usefuless.

                        That the sun will rise in about 8 hours is an a priori assumption, do you really want to argue that's philosophy?

                        There are actually a number of tests going on and being designed right now precisely to test string theory (I'm unsure where many worlds is right now) but until they are done and until the gaia theory is tested (or whatever you'd have it called) they both are simply not science right now.

                         Lastly I also am highly skeptical that humanity can alter the climate enough to completely wipe humanity off the map. Humanity is adaptable and advanced enough that as a whole we'll survive it's just the hundreds of thousands if not millions that would suffer and/or perish in hte process.

                        •  predictions != assumptions (0+ / 0-)

                          "The sun will rise in 8 hours" is a prediction based on thousands of years of observation and well-supported hypotheses & theories about star systems and planets.  In fact it's nothing more than the belief 1) that the Sun, as with other stars, uses hydrogen fusion, and 2) that the Earth, as with other planets that revolve while in orbit around stars, will continue to do so.

                          A prediction is not the same thing as an assumption.  Asserting that they are is "not even wrong."  A prediction starts from a hypothesis and is testable: either it comes true or it does not.  An assumption precedes a hypothesis or underpins it and is usually not tested directly (else it would become part of the hypothesis).  Confusing or conflating the two leads to a high risk of doing bad science.  

                          String theory: wonderful!, thanks for the info and I'll have to look into that further.   IF there are testable hypotheses arising out of string theory, THEN it's within the realm of science.  It may have started out as unfalsifiable thus not within the realm of science, but if that situation has changed, then the status of the theory has changed as a result (and the status of my beliefs about it will also change as a result, as soon as I can look this up and find that you're correct about this; got any links?).

                          Philosophy provides paradigms that guide human decision making and other behaviors with respect to various subject matter.   Scientific method is one of the ramifications of the philosophical paradigm that reality is objective and measurable and lawful.  If we want to trace that back to its origins, they are theological: that deities create reality, and that deities are lawful rather than capricious and self-contradictory.  This idea arose at similar times in Western thinking and in Asian thinking.  It was explicated fully by various schools of thought notably in the Enlightenment period and by the Deists: that science could succeed precisely because it operated within a lawful and consistent universe created by a lawful and consistent deity.  Contrast to societies whose deities were viewed as arbitrary and capricious, which view tends to correlate with the absence of development of science.  

                          The preceding paragraph in no way constitutes an endorsement of theism, just to get that issue off the table.

                          As it happens, nature really is consistent and lawful, so empirical science succeeds, and in consequence science also endorses the philosophical views that follow from that ontology.  Those philosophical views coincided with reality, whereas others did not and have more or less died out as a result (or are on their way to doing so, the religious right notwithstanding).

                          But make no mistake, there are side-chains from the main thread, that are less well-supported or that have been directly falsified.  See also the example about the assumption that only behavior, and not consciousness, is a fit subject for research: that was eventually thrown out as a result of the development of electroencephalography as a research tool.

                          One necessarily has to be careful about how much "baggage" one carries to the airport.  

                          As for climate change and the risk of extinction or a near-extinction event, do you really want to do that experiment?  Nature works on longer timelines than human societies and their decision making apparatus.  

                          And oddly enough it does seem that those who do not believe that ecosystems are homeostatic, also tend to be  "skeptics" about the impacts of climate change.  But the answer to that, the thing that attempts to bridge the contradiction, is exactly what you said: the belief that "humanity is adaptable and advanced enough..."

                          Know what that belief is?

                          It's faith.

                          "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                          by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 12:35:49 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't think we'll agree here (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Troubadour

                            That the sun will rise again is an a priori assumption because it is assumed to be true without actually proving it. That's not a prediction it's just a plain assumption that something will happen

                            Just like it is a priori  assumption to say that everything in the universe is not only explainable but quantifiable.

                            A priori assumptions are not inherently philosophy though you can of course make a priori assumptions about philosophy

                            In regards to string theory, the researchers involved have been working hard at being able to actually test it because they know that's the current weakness of string theory. Frankly in a way those that advocate this gaia theory (or again what ever you would call it) would not be remiss in modeling on that situation because I think the biggest problem is you simply can not test it.

                            And sure operational basis is always a huge risk but then again as I said my philosophy, my belief is in favor of this being true. But I don't think as presented it's science.

                            Lastly, because this has so far been genial though contested I am going to ignore the inference there that I am a climate denier. Of course no sane rational person wants to take that risk. That's like saying you want to crash into a wall a 80 mph just because your car has the latest in safety tech and can take it. My point is simply I don't think even the most disastrous change in climate will kill humanity or even all life on the planet. Life is far too resilient and humanity far too clever. Which is as I understand it exactly the opposite of what the gaia theory would predict.

                          •  we probably won't but it's interesting anyway. (0+ / 0-)

                            One can "assume" that the sun will rise, but as soon as one takes it to the level of an explicit statement, it becomes a "prediction" because it follows from so much empirical evidence.

                            The statement that everything in the universe is explainable and quantifiable is an assumption since it attempts to reach into areas about which we truly have no empirical knowledge.

                            ---

                            In any case it's also questionable for things that are clearly within the range of our empirical knowledge:

                            How do you quantify the experience of seeing the color orange?  And how do we compare my experience of seeing the orange print on this page, with yours?  

                            What we're discovering about visual perception is that if you tap into the optic nerves you get a stream of "stuff" that bears very little resemblance to the images that people actually perceive: a very large element of visual perception is the set of operations performed on those inputs by the brain.

                            Now as it turns out, there has been some research on this issue of "quantifying qualia," at least as far as visual perception of color goes:  Siegel at UCLA trained a bunch of research subjects to identify colors with angstrom units and thereby describe subjective visual imagery in a more objective manner.

                            But try doing that for smell & taste, and you'll rapidly run into the "wine review syndrome" where the language used is so subjective that the best anyone can do is say "when I see these people using these words, that roughly translates to something I'd like (or dislike)."   In fact it would be most interesting to "do the experiment," and seek to have different people attempt to identify which wines (or other foods etc.) are being described by which review language.  I'm going to guess that the correlation coefficient would be just a tad above chance for anything more complex than "sweet/sour/bitter/(etc.)."  

                            So here we run right into the philosophical problem of qualia, which despite the best efforts of many over time, has not gone away.   Qualia, by definition, are those phenomena of experience that do not lend themselves to quantification: and the fact that some of them have been quantified does not make the bigger question go away.  "What is it like to be you?"  

                            ---

                            One can make a-priori assumptions in the course of doing philosophy.  Obvious example: someone who is focused on ethical philosophy may not feel any need to explicate their ontology: they just assume the world is a certain way, and proceed from there.  

                            Here I should mention that I'm a pretty ferocious empiricist, and highly skeptical of most a-priori statements, with a few notable exceptions that I mark clearly for contrast.

                            ---

                            String theory: got any leads I can follow on that?  Names of persons, institutions, key concepts that I can concatenate into searches to get right down to this stuff (rather than pull in a million hits for string theory in general)?  

                            ---

                            Gaia has been supported by a range of findings in regards to smaller ecosystems, to the point where ecosystem homeostasis is now an accepted part of biology & ecology.  

                            That does not translate into supporting the extrapolation to whole-planet ecosystems, but there doesn't seem to be a good way to experiment on the latter without incurring high risks of system disruption if the hypothesis is false.  

                            In a way, we might be up against a kind of Godelian problem here, in that one element of a system (humans) is attempting to devise tests for the whole system: something that might end up being possible only from outside the system, which is not possible for the planet on which we actually live.  But the existence of a Godelian problem does not by itself render the problem impossible to solve, it just sets boundaries and conditions.  

                            This leads to an interesting science fiction plot whereby space aliens attempt to invade Earth to use it as a lab to test their own version of the Gaia hypothesis by breaking Earth's homeostatic network.  This of course would have the effect of killing off all the humans.  

                            Toward the end of the story, a human scientist convinces the aliens that humans already know about their hypothesis, and that we call it the Gaia hypothesis.  The aliens, upon learning that humans already know the hypothesis, conclude that this situation fatally confounds the experiment.  So they abort the experiment and make peace with the humans.  The story ends with the humans and the aliens sitting down to collaborate on seeking a planet that can be used as a test case.  

                            ---

                            I didn't say you were a climate denier.   I used the word "skeptic" in quotes to refer directly to your statement "Lastly I also am highly skeptical that humanity can alter the climate enough to completely wipe humanity off the map" (emphasis added).  Climate denialists deny that anthropogenic climate change is occurring at all.  

                            However I also disagree with the statement in full, and with the one that follows it, because both are based essentially in faith.  The first part (we will not go extinct) is the collective extension of the belief in the continuity of existence, essentially the same thing as the belief in a hereafter (once again, human brains have a tough time representing negatives, the prospect of their own cessation into "nothingness" being the supreme example).  The second part is the psychologically lawful consequence of the first: IF we will continue to exist, THEN there will be a means of doing so, QED we will solve the climate crisis short of our own extinction.  

                            What if I'm wrong?, and what if you're wrong?  I'm choosing to err on the side of caution: to assume that there is a risk of extinction, and that we cannot count on "someone somewhere in the future" to save our descendants from that risk, but instead we have to do so ourselves in the present, using existing technologies.

                            This is an extension of the "no miracles" principle, that I also use for interstellar travel (and a range of other issues): how can we accomplish that goal within the limits of present physics and the engineering that is consistent with present physics?  

                            If we assume a risk of extinction, and assume that we can only use present tech (one step back from "present science," because although we know certain things are "possible," we don't yet know how to actually do them) to bail ourselves out, then what we get is:  renewables, fission, efficiency, birth control, etc., a difficult road to travel but none the less can be done if there is the will.  If I'm wrong, we end up with a smaller population using sustainable technologies to provide itself with a sustainable standard of living.  Not bad.  

                            But if one assumes that we can't totally screw the pooch, and that someone will think of something before it's too late, we run the serious risk of continuing on the present path waiting for the "someone, somewhere, something."  And if that's wrong, we end up with at best, a major human dieoff and the remnants reverting to a cave-man existence.

                            "Mars and the stars?, or graves and the caves?"

                            "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                            by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:27:41 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  in regards to a priori (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm just going to leave it there we don't agree and it's impossible to argue definition really.

                            http://www.pbs.org/...

                            that's the most recent thing I could find on string theory

                            ------

                            And course there are things that are difficult in our current level to quantify which is why science continues to push outward and advance. Even 100 years ago the science of emotions was murky and yet our understanding has increased 100 fold.

                            ------

                            I don't know what to say about testing this theory I've never really thought about it too much. It is something that needs to be addressed though in order to be considered science. I will say that only after a decade of trying is anything of string theory actually being addressed so this might not be a quick fix on this.

                            ----

                            Fair enough, I took some issue with what you seemed to be implying but if that was the wrong interpretation then that was the wrong interpretation.

                            I will say that my statement has nothing to do with faith. Humanity surivived a massive ice age, Younger-Dravis, the little ice age and warming and cooling. Even the most dramatic current predictions are frankly nothing that the earth in it's geological history has encountered. Thus life will go on even if it is without us and I remain scientifically skeptical that humanity will end that way.

                      •  What you're describing as "homestasis" (0+ / 0-)

                        is just the heat capacity of water.

                        Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                        by Troubadour on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:03:11 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  There's a difference between an axiom (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    duhban

                    and a metaphysical claim about the subjective nature of something.  Gaia is not an axiom, because it has neither exclusive interpolate-able assumptions nor exclusive extrapolate-able consequences - it's just a statement of belief and moral valuation that can be fit to any conceivable set of information.  

                    If there's any substance with high thermal capacity in an environment, Gaia claims that's global "homeostasis," basically begging the question and engaging in ex post facto fallacy by defining the environment in which life arises as life itself because it exhibits the attributes of the conditions in which it evolves.

                    It's not merely a matter of untestability, but undefinability, and that's a terminal flaw in science.  Until life is phenomenologically definable in terms that exclude something and are therefore possible to apply to unknown situations, it's not actually a hypothesis - just an arbitrary claim based on feelings, like any spiritual system.

                    Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                    by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:27:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  bingo! (0+ / 0-)

                    And thus people make wholly philosophical assumptions, very often wholly implicit ones, about what is and what isn't science.

                    During the 1960s  - 1970s, behaviorism was the mainstream paradigm in experimental psychology: anything concerned with subjective experience was ruled out, a-priori, as unscientific.  The very existence of consciousness was considered inappropriate subject matter, a career-killing taboo (and let's not forget: taboos are superstition).

                    Yet, the tools were already at hand, and experiments had already been performed, flying in the face of that philosophical outlook: specifically the use of the EEG in sleep studies, to demonstrate the correlation between objectively-measurable brain activity and subjective reports of dreaming.  (There is a great irony here: we could say, as of the mid 1950s, that the altered state of consciousness known as "dreaming" was objectively real, and yet we could not say that our baseline state of waking consciousness was "real.")  

                    Over time, behaviorism had to make room for subjective experience as a variable in behavior, and today cognitive science routinely deals with all manner of "subjective" experience and its objective correlates.  

                    We have better tools for measuring brain activity, more elegant operationalizations of subjective variables, better experimental designs, etc.  This to the point of being able to de-mystify and understand wide ranges of subjective experience that formerly remained inaccessible to scientific method and were more or less the stuff of myths and legends.  

                    Two examples from consciousness studies come to mind:  One, the work on lucid dreaming by Stephen LaBerge at Stanford, demonstrating 1) that it was real and measurable, 2) that it has an identifiable pattern of EEG activity, and 3) it is teachable to normal subjects using methods that are entirely mundane.  Two, the work on religious experience by Persinger, Griffiths, and others, demonstrating that 1) it is reproducible under experimental conditions, and 2) it is mediated by a particular structure in the brain (the right temporal lobe in normal right-handed subjects).  

                    Rationalists should delight over such things.  

                    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                    by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:57:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  This is a misinterpretation of the boundary (0+ / 0-)

                      between subjective and objective.  What's being correlated are the reports of subjective experiences - reports that represent objective information - and the physical data, not subjective experiences themselves.  It is not possible to verify subjective experience: You can't prove that when one person says "yellow" they're actually seeing the same thing as someone else who says "yellow."  You're just connecting one objective occurrence - a person saying they see yellow - to another, the activation of some region of the brain.  There's no subjectivity involved.

                      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                      by Troubadour on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:08:41 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  but it's neither obvious nor meaningless. (0+ / 0-)

            It implies a philosophical paradigm shift, equivalent to that which occurred when cooperation became an accepted factor in natural selection, alongside competition.

            There was at one time an ideological bias, no doubt cultural in origin, to rule out or downplay dynamics other than competition as factors in natural selection.  Over time enough counterexamples came in, that the paradigm had to shift, to accept that cooperative relationships are relevant within and between species.

            Never underestimate the degree to which cultural and emotional factors act as biases both for and against hypotheses, theories, and paradigms.  

            Sometimes these can be incredibly petty.  For example:

            I originally had a bias against the Gaia hypothesis because it used a foreign-language word that I would be most likely to mis-pronounce time and time again, leading to endless embarrassment.  "Is it guy-uh or gay-uh?...." (snicker-snicker, blush, oops, er uh no I'm not stoopid....)  ..."OK, never mind, better to not deal with this..."

            But at some point the correspondence between its tenets and those of systems analysis won me over: the central claim was that ecosystems behave in a similar manner to, and use similar dynamics (reinforcing and limiting feedbacks, etc.) as, other types of systems that can be modeled and studied.  OK, now that made sense, and so I was forced to deal with the nasty pronunciation issue (easier when writing than speaking!), and so it goes.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:30:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cooperation in natural selection (0+ / 0-)

              is not a philosophical principle, it's a testable and repeatedly confirmed theory that cooperation has adaptive advantages.  Every evolutionary simulation you can run that even allows the possibility will produce cooperation in some manifestations.

              If you reduce the Gaia philosophy to a claim that "reinforcing and limiting feedbacks" occur, then you've just defined every single thing in the universe as living.  That's fine, but it's not science.

              Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

              by Troubadour on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:14:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  It's not untestable (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1, Simplify, Dvalkure, G2geek

          It's just not testable in a classic lab experiment. It's testable through observation of a myriad of environmental data, synchronically and through the geological record. It's testable in computer simulations as well. And you could argue that all of humanity is collectively testing it, since we're clearly doing our utmost to break the planetary systems that sustain life on Earth.

          The primary obstacle for verification/falsification is perhaps that the hypothesis in the statement that I'm familiar with is fairly vague. There is ample empirical evidence for numerous interconnections between the biosphere, the atmosphere, and the lithosphere and hydrosphere. The question is how much interconnectedness needs there to be in order for us to legitimately speak of a single system? Well, that's for systems theory to spell out.

          •  How does "single system" = living organism? (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, duhban, pvasileff, side pocket

            By definition anything that is causally linked is part of the same system, and science holds that definition to encompass the entire universe just by axiom / Occam's Razor.  Once we have a quantitative thermodynamic definition of life, we'll be able to empirically test its existence everywhere, but just saying that balances occur in nature is utterly meaningless, and limiting the scope to a single planet is utterly arbitrary and unjustifiable.

            You would either have to hold that not only is the entire universe a living organism - again, a scientifically meaningless supposition since it adds nothing to objective understanding (the causal how of what happens, not what moral quality we choose to give it) - but that every possible combination of every sub-system of the universe is likewise alive, which is an equally meaningless claim to make.  I don't disagree on a philosophical level, but the position has absolutely no objective value and cannot yield any information.  Yet.

            I suspect that once we do have a quantitative definition of life we'll find it in a lot of surprising places, in phenomena that our intuition would never identify as being alive, but there will be huge gaps between those places both in space and in terms of how long a time the definitive processes take place over.  However, the attempt to ascribe "will" or corrective purpose to changes in systemic balance is not even philosophical, but sheer religious fallacy - there is no basis whatsoever to claim that planetwide adaptive feedbacks exist or have even had time to evolve beyond the straightforward physical consequences of a species causing radical environmental changes.  

            If we hamper our own survival, then it's just that - we hamper our own survival, it's not some magical or gestalten life force punishing us or responding to rid itself of us.  If you jump off a cliff, there's no divine conspiracy to kill you - kinetic energy accumulates and is then released asymmetrically as flesh encounters obstructions harder than itself.  And really, we haven't even proven that what we already describe as life is anything special, or likewise just the illusion of complexity arising from large numbers of simple occurrences as perceived by organs existing as a result of those occurrences.  

            You can't use a computer to compute itself or something similarly complex, let alone something more complex, so at some point there's just a fudge factor - a simplification that allows for the process not to bog down in calculations beyond its raw capacity.  That's where magical thinking enters human consciousness, and it's not a reflection of anything real.

            Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

            by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:34:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  here's a definition of life for you: (0+ / 0-)

              Self-replicating energy converters, that process and propagate information, and that are subject to natural selection.  

              "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

              by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:17:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Fire is self-replicating and converts energy (0+ / 0-)

                and everything in the universe "processes" and "propagates" information and is subject to natural selection based on its relationship to the environment.  Fire propagates faster where there is more and better fuel, invades individual objects along paths best suited to subsequent propagation much like an infection, and clears ground for new growth to fuel subsequent fire.  

                At this point in our understanding, the only definitions of life are either totally subjective or else so broad that they describe everything in the universe.  And really, some of the things you're defining life as being don't actually apply to it - nothing is fully "self" propagating: Energy and materials from the environment have to come into play, and who's to say where the line is to be drawn between a straightforward non-living process and one that is information-dense enough to be considered alive?  It's totally arbitrary.

                Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                by Troubadour on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:22:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  straw-men produce goo: (0+ / 0-)

              The statement that "Earth is a living organism" and its derivations such as "the universe is a living organism," are mis-statements, straw men, and over-generalizations to the point of mush.  

              The hypothesis  is more accurately stated as "Earth's ecosystems exhibit behaviors that are characteristic of a single organism."  The transition from that to "the universe's ecosystems" first requires another step that you and others have omitted:  ascertaining whether in fact there are "ecological" interactions in the universe at-large, specifically the transmission of organisms between planets and star systems (e.g. transpermia, including human colonization since after all humans are organisms).  

              ---

              The assumption that one has to extend an ecological hypothesis into the cosmos at-large, and until such time as that's been done it has to be considered untestable, is an exercise in setting a goal that is for now unachievable as a way of putting off a conclusion that is a-priori uncomfortable.

              As a matter of fact I do consider that Earth is only one ecological niche, and that if any form of transpermia is correct (including human colonization of other planets in our star system, and in other star systems), then the universe at-large can be considered as at least comparable to an ecosystem but with very large time delays built-in.  

              ---

              A purely thermodynamic definition of life will prove to be incomplete, as there is no thermodynamic penalty for semantic information among humans (any given ordered configuration of bits as compared to any other), and thus it's likely that there are ranges of configurations of ordered bits used by other organisms that are also orthogonal to thermodynamics.

              However, thermodynamics is only one axis of measurement; there are others (e.g. kinetics), and there will eventually be rigorous methods of objectively quantifying semantic information (the present approaches leave much to be desired) and its equivalents.  

              ---

              "Ascribing 'will' (to ecological processes)" is another straw-man.  Nobody who is the slightest bit serious is doing that.  We're ascribing "emergent behavior" to ecosystems, which is a subtle but important distinction.  

              Once again, Lovelock's unfortunate choice of names produces an emotional bias against the hypothesis, per your language "sheer religious fallacy."  If you keep finding religion every time you turn over a stone in the garden, you're going to have to conclude that salamanders and toads and possibly ants also have religion, since they're under those stones too;-)

              Also you have the relationship backwards when it comes to us hampering our own survival.  If Gaia is correct, the ecosystems upon which we depend are far more resilient than if Gaia is not correct.  This because our impact on ecosystems will be offset somewhat by their own adaptations as each component organism and interaction seeks its own advantages and thereby promotes conditions favorable to itself.  

              So oddly enough, if Gaia is correct, we can "get away with" a greater degree of ecological impact than if Gaia is incorrect.  So far that seems to be the case.  But testing the hypothesis to its breaking point is like using live humans in automobile crash tests: an ethical limit rather than a strictly scientific one.

              "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

              by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:49:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Troubar said already alot of what I wanted (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            to say but I will add that the fact is obseravtion is not proof of causation which is why the theory is untestable. You can not just observe changes and say that proves ___ that's bad science. You have to show the link and you have to do so rigourously

            •  I assume you also think that global warming (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              is untestable. And evolution.

              •  oh good gods (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Troubadour

                if you really want to challenge a chemist on global warming fine but be prepared to be embarassed.

                Evolution has tons of evidence for it perhaps the most famous and most indisputable is Dwarin's Finches. Where is the same for this gaia 'theory?

                Global warming is the same the chemistry behind it is well established and the role of carbon dioxide is too. Frankly I don't feel like teaching a class on it so see else where.

                Non scientists really shouldn't pick arguments on science.

                •  I am a scientist. Sigh. (0+ / 0-)

                  First of all, your ad hominem appropriately categorizes yourself. People who have good arguments don't need to resort to trying to belittle or denigrate their opponents. Second, I have no interest in defending the gaia hypothesis. I was merely pointing out that if that hypothesis is taken to state that the planetary systems are interconnected, then that hypothesis is not untestable. If the hypothesis is taken to be the stronger hypothesis that the Earth is a living organism, then you have to define what you mean by living organism, and whether the hypothesis is testable or not depends on that definition. Thirdly, the reason I cited global warming and evolution is that you made a gratuitous reference to the problem of distinguishing between correlation and causality. If the gaia hypothesis is taken to be the hypothesis of interconnection among planetary systems, then the problem of distinguishing between covariation and causality in testing it is not fundamentally different from that of distinguishing between covariation and causality in empirical tests of the hypothesis that climate change is induced by humans.

                  •  not nearly as bad as your arrogance (0+ / 0-)

                    And frankly while certainly short on patience nothing I have said to you really rises to the level of ad hominem.

                    Though I am confused, if you do not wish to defend this theory then why are you? This behavior is contradictory to what you're saying now.

                    Further your reference to evolution and global warming was in and of itself an attempt to insult me and lump me into people that deny science. Except this theory isn't science, so if you really want we could trade accusations of ad homimen though that probably would go no where.

                    Next time you want to jump into a conversation try not to insult people especially over things that you'll be dead wrong on; oh and  paragraphs wouldn't hurt either.

                    •  I happen to be interested in testability (0+ / 0-)

                      I am writing a book that touches on that topic in my own field. That's why I got drawn into the discussion. I had no intention of attributing global warming denialism to you. I brought up human made climate change by way of a reductio ad absurdum: if the hypothesis that the planetary systems are interconnected were untestable because of an impossibility of distinguishing between causation and correlation, then testing the hypothesis that climate change is upon us and is induced by humans ought to suffer from the same impossibility, since that hypothesis involves the same planetary systems.

                      As for arrogance, I take you have heard of projection?

                      •  you know I'd be willing to believe you (0+ / 0-)

                        if you had just brought up only global warming as your argument as it makes sense there but you also brought up evolution which you are now desperately pretending you didn't do (judging from how much you want to make this about only half of what you said). Because you brought up both I'm not inclined to change my initial reading of your comment.

                        And let's be clear here climate change is not proof of whatever you want to call this theory. Climate change is proof that if you dump enough of the right chemicals into atmosphere you can alter heat retention.

                        Further the difference with climate change is you can show direct causation there is no such thing here (in my opinion because the system chosen is so large you lose the ability to distinguish between causality and correlation. The role of CO2 in greenhouse effects is well known, the planet being a living organism is not.

                        It is funny that you bring up reductio ad absurdum though as your argument is indeed absurd but you forget the crucial chain in such an argument. Namely that you have to show how your argument relates here and that's because it doesn't

                        As to your little chip at the end, of course I have arrogance but I am not the one that tried to accuse a random person of being against science simply because you can not accept that the gaia theory (or whatever you choose to call it) is science. And being aware of my arrogance I do what I can to take it into account but don't mistake my unwillingness to teach a class on global warming or evolution for arrogance. I don't know what kind of scienctist you are but I would think you'd know the case for both of those. And if you don't there are better teachers then me out there.

        •  that's exactly my point: (0+ / 0-)

          Using the name of a deity created a gut-level emotional bias on the part of rationalists, agnostics, and atheists, that interfered with evaluating the hypothesis on its merits.  

          Consider how fast a brand of chocolate ice cream would flop if the picture on the carton made the scoops in a bowl look like a bowel movement.  

          This is also why Monsanto tries to pass laws against dairies saying they don't use BGH or R-BST on their cows: because that immediately sets up a comparison whereby Monsanto-ized milk is identified with pus, which grosses people out.  (Dosing cows with BGH etc. leads to the production of excess levels of "somatic cells" in milk, aka pus.)  "I wouldn't drink that brand, it has pus in it."  Ewww!  

          This got worse for the Gaia hypothesis when all the new-agers started getting all wooie-woo about it.

          But in the most objective sense, all Gaia says is that organisms in ecosystems act to preserve conditions favorable to their own existence, such that in total, ecosystems are homeostatic, and that this scales all the way up to the whole-planet level.  

          There's a temptation to say that the whole-planet level is untestable in the absence of having another planet that we could experiment on.  But the blunt fact is that we are doing the experiment right now in the form of climate change.  And we are discovering that the ecosystems on which we depend are extraordinarily resilient, as organisms react to our impacts and systems adjust: right through a couple of centuries of increasing CO2 output.  

          Climate denialists use this as evidence that our CO2 output is harmless.  What they fail to recognize is that there come various tipping points beyond which these homeostatic mechanisms break, at which points ("punctuated equilibrium") rapid and unfavorable changes occur.  

          So in total, we can take human CO2 output as a "pre/post" experimental design, with an increasing dosage level showing a dose-response curve.  And so far the results support whole-planet homeostasis as far as humans are concerned.  

          If we do nothing about our CO2 outputs, we'll get to discover the outer limits of the homeostatic mechanisms on which we depend.  Here science runs up against ethics, as with medical experiments on human patients: there are some experiments that are forbidden on ethical grounds.  But the refusal to conduct an ethically forbidden experiment does not mean that a hypothesis is a-priori unscientific.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:13:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  they could have called it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            Bob and it still wouldn't be actual science.

            While I'll concede that you have a point for lay people, I'm not a lay person I don't care about the name I care about the science and the science for whatever you want to call this theory is nonexistent because it is not science.

            It is completely untestable

            •  What point is that for lay people? (0+ / 0-)

              About the name being off-putting to rationalists?  I've run across working scientists who have many of the same biases as laypeople, including about subject matter in science.  

              I've already conceded that whole-planet Gaia is untestable except by attempting to break the homeostatic mechanisms planet-wide, which carries risks that place it in the realm of ethically forbidden, like deliberately testing medications to LD-50 in humans.

              Or alternately, by finding another planet to do it to.  Which has the same ethical problems, though it suggested an interesting science fiction plot (per another of my comments).

              Any encapsulated artificial system we attempted to test on, would only be a model, which by definition doesn't get at the actual "thing" in question, which requires an entire planet to test.

              "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

              by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:54:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Completely agree. (18+ / 0-)

      It's sad that the need to remain international kept the ISS from having a name, leaving it basically soulless in the eyes of all but those who personally experience it.

      Space needs narrative.  Life needs narrative.  It can't just be a bunch of facts laid out in a table.

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:42:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same problem with astronomy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      the classical astronomers gave the heavenly bodies beautiful names.  Modern scientist give each discovery a hideous combination of a letter and a few numbers or so, a name that is not worth caring about.

      Is it any wonder why science has a problem with public appreciation and support?

      Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

      by Nulwee on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:47:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think they want to know something about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        a planet before naming it these days.  It would be pretty silly if we end up giving a bunch of useless gasbags all the awesome names and then have to find out that all the cool planets are called Snorgertoopshpip and Glibberdiempugne because we ran out of aesthetically pleasing non-gibberish before getting to them.  And we literally don't have enough names in all human languages combined for even a small fraction of the stars in this galaxy, let alone planets.

        Give something a name and people want it to be significant, but if it turns out not to be significant it devalues everything else with a name.  Right now there's just no basis: The closest thing to significant right now are a handful of planets that could be verdant paradises, hellish Venus-like shitholes with molten surfaces and/or cauldron atmospheres, or completely sterile iceballs.  I.e., we know nothing.  

        Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

        by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 04:02:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The discoverer of Eris, a large trans-Neptunian (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, Troubadour

        with a moon, wanted to call it Xena. But the International Astronomical Union balked at using names of characters from TV programs. In a hundred years, nobody will be able to remember what "Xena" meant.

        If anything, the IAU may be the last bastion of classical literature in science...

      •  but ultimately it has to be done with numbers: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        atana, Troubadour

        There aren't enough viable combinations of letters to make names for all the objects.

        The telephone companies figured this out in the 1890s - 1910s, when they did away with "calling by name" and assigned "telephone numbers."  

        The internet is still behind the curve with all this BS about domain "names," leading to all manner of squatting, sniping, phishing, etc. etc.  

        But in any case, we have to give numbers to celestial objects, and should reserve names for the ones that we interact with in any significant way (e.g. planet 12345 in star system 67890 turns out to be a candidate for life so we name it e.g. Jacques and start referring to it as Jacques).

        "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

        by G2geek on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:57:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't forget the hairdressers and accountants! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shenderson, Troubadour, G2geek

      heh...

      One free internet if you got the reference.

      'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

      by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 04:20:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dave (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, Troubadour

      They should have named it "Dave"

      Not a lot more to be said...

      I hope that, during my lifetime, there will be a liberal president.

      by rantsposition on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:34:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For lack of any witty (or lame) Phobos puns, (17+ / 0-)

    I'm just gonna say this is really rather awesome & offer many kind thanks.

    "Four more years!" (Obama Unencumbered - The Sequel)

    by jwinIL14 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:44:44 AM PDT

  •  Amazing photos and diary Troubador! (11+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting... even though I live in NASA's backyard I managed to miss these pics in our local media. Amazing that I found them on a political blog site... I love that the Kos community and diaries are so diverse :-)

  •  fear and panic in the air (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Rashaverak, jayden, Nulwee

    well only fear in this case, still assume song

  •  Every time I see one of Curiosity's self-shots, I (27+ / 0-)

    think, "That is the coolest shit ever, & WE helped build it.  Go Socialism!"

     

    Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

    by Leftcandid on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:33:22 AM PDT

  •  ET call home (8+ / 0-)

    (the rotary dial-looking thing)

    NASA, I would like to see a picture of Earth from Mars.

    Thank you, Troubadour.

  •  As beautiful as Phobos from Mars... (19+ / 0-)

    is the cable lacing on Curiosity, along with it's overall inadvertent sculpture.  (At least to us old techie types.)

    In days of mass produced robots that mass produce robots that make mass produced things.. this assembly of instruments is a one-off tour de force of skills and craftsmanship that rivals the best of those aspects found in any fine art.

  •  Phobos and Deimos go to Mars (6+ / 0-)

    From the 1978 album "Cords." by Larry Fast. a/k/a Synergy.
    Larry played keyboards on several of Peter Gabriel's solo albums.

    Thank you for the great diary!

  •  I wonder, how safe is it to have all that exposed (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, marina, Gorette, jayden, Simplify

    hardware - Shouldn't it have a dust cover?

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:18:34 AM PDT

  •  WOW (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, Troubadour, Gorette, jayden

    Very cool start to my sunday!  Thanks Troubadour!!

  •  Wonderful pictures, thanks! The Curiosity (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, jayden, xaxnar, niemann, NWTerriD

    close ups are fascinating. Hadn't seen that.

    Very weird seeing that moon that looks so like ours.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:54:18 AM PDT

    •  Looks like ours? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NWTerriD

      Its reflected light is relatively pale - you wouldn't see it at all if it were darker than the sky, which is why moons have phases - but other than that it's nothing like the Moon.  It's shaped like a potato, and you can see 3D structure in the blown-up version - it's not just 2D light and dark regions.

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:09:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what struck me as looking "alien": (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, NWTerriD, Gorette

        Mars' moon isn't round!

        But the thing that makes it seem so strange to me is that it does indeed look much like our moon, in a rather comfortingly familiar sort of way -- being a whitish thing up there in the air, with a sort of crescent -- but at the same time it is slightly, discomfortingly "off" from what we're used to.

      •  Oh, I didn't see that! Duh. Potato moon? yikes. (0+ / 0-)

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:45:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lies, Lies, Lies (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, jayden, mkor7, ozsea1, KenBee

    I can take better pictures with a pinhole camera. And that black dot is probably an ant. As brother Friedman says, "Stay flat, my friends!".

  •  So Their Camera Has A Bad Pixel? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    While tweaking some photos I realized mine has a bad pixel.

    I guess every digital camera could be fingerprinted that way.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:28:45 AM PDT

  •  That is soooo (3+ / 0-)

    R2.

    Why is it that a 3% tax increase for the wealthy is considered "socialism" and an 8% wage cut for the middle class is "doing your part"? MartyM

    by delphine on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:38:06 AM PDT

  •  Cool! They've recycled an old rotary phone dialer. (9+ / 0-)

    So Curiosity can phone home!

    Seriously, awesome photos. I'd love to show the one of Earth to all my Texas religionists friends and ask them "Are you sure we're the center of the universe?"

    The earlier pictures of the desert around Curiosity were stunning. I kept thinking to myself, "That's on another planet. Another planet!"  It really looked as though camels, or Mongols on ponies, would come over those ridges....but it's on another planet!

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:52:48 AM PDT

    •  Religionists can't even wrap their heads around (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Cassandra Waites

      themselves personally not being the center of the universe, so the world they stand on not being the center is probably a bridge too far for their infantile minds.  The very concept of a planet - a spheroidal body held together by gravity - seems to be too hard for them.  They probably think gravity was invented by Super Mario Galaxy.

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:05:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think they changed the definition of 'center' (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, xaxnar, happymisanthropy

      If I remember correctly (not guaranteed) the Catholic church re-defined us as not being at the literal 'physical' center of the universe, but at the 'spiritual' center - still God's most important item/people. This is important because it still makes them 'right', but also can never be scientifically disproven.

      (romney)/RYAN 2012 - Look at those clouds. It's beautiful. Just look at those things!

      by Fordmandalay on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:23:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The spiritual sum of 2 and 2 is 5. (0+ / 0-)

        Religion is Satanic.

        Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

        by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:31:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Then came the re-re-definition (0+ / 0-)

        Catholic theology now accepts that it's possible that intelligent life exists on other planets, and some may not have been tainted with Original Sin.  (The others -- well I hope that God's Son found a path to Atonement that did not involve a crucifixion.)

        (And imagine the boost to Creationism if all the intelligent life forms appear and reproduce as humans do on Earth.)

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:32:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How big of the Vatican to admit (0+ / 0-)

          what precisely no one was waiting for their permission to accept.  But something tells me when we find ET, and it looks nothing like humans, suddenly they'll be crying fire and brimstone and calling the aliens the spawn of Satan.

          Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

          by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:54:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, jayden

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:11:29 AM PDT

  •  Nuke-powered robot with a laser on Mars - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, jpmassar, Simplify

    How cool is that!

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:43:12 AM PDT

  •  For a good time, follow (5+ / 0-)

    Sarcastic Rover on twitter.

    SarcasticRover ‏@SarcasticRover
    All I've got is atomic-power & I shoot lasers & x-ray vision & a robot drill-hand… BUT NO SUPER-POWERS!

    SarcasticRover ‏@SarcasticRover
    Soaking up cosmic radiation for almost 2 months and I don't have a single damn super-power. STAN LEE IS A LIAR! EXCELSIOR!

  •  You gave me goosebumps. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, ozsea1

    Thanks.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:09:25 AM PDT

  •  Phobos? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    Grunt...

    (apologies to the Russian space program.)

    Intended to be a factual statement.

    by ipsos on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:37:12 AM PDT

  •  Check before you criticize NASA! (0+ / 0-)

    "It's about time NASA took such an image - I've found it irritating and dumbfounding that it just never occurred to them before now in all the years of roving the Martian surface to turn the camera up and take a plain old photograph of the sky with Phobos in it."

    You should contain your irritation and do a bit more research before making this false statement.  The MER missions (both Spirit and Opportunity) have photographed Phobos several times, including several eclipses of the Sun.

    -lono- ® Disjecta Membra, Belligerati R.C., San Francisco

    by lono on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:51:36 AM PDT

    •  Ugh, read what I said again. (0+ / 0-)

      I mentioned transits of the Sun (eclipses are not possible with Phobos), and I'm well aware there are vague, dim images in black and white - just nothing of the same quality as we get of the surface.

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:58:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your diary was in error, your response as well. (0+ / 0-)

        You stated NASA had never used another rover camera to photograph Phobos.  NASA certainly did on several occasions.

        You stated that eclipses are not possible with Phobos.  Check the definition of an eclipse:

        e·clipse  n.
        1.a. The partial or complete obscuring, relative to a designated observer, of one celestial body by another.

        To be most specific, a transit is also termed a "secondary eclipse".

        -lono- ® Disjecta Membra, Belligerati R.C., San Francisco

        by lono on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:43:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Will you seriously compare (0+ / 0-)

      the above images to results like these:

      http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/...

      http://astronomy.nmsu.edu/...

      http://0.tqn.com/...

      Sorry, not even in the same universe of quality and immediacy.

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:03:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    I never would have thought to look at the Martian moon Phobos from the Rover's pictures if not for  your diary.  It was a gift.

    "The Trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat." attributed to Lily Tomlin

    by uniqity on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:20:18 AM PDT

  •  Anyone know why they have so much of the rover (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Simplify

    exposed?  Seem like they are not concerned about something flying around in the wind and hitting it?  Unlikely?

    “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” Former Democratic Congressman - Tom Perriello "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - MHP

    by justmy2 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:36:39 AM PDT

    •  The air is so thin that wind has very little force (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vger7

      and can't really carry much even when it's blowing at hurricane speeds.  If you were standing in such a wind, it wouldn't even be hard to walk against it.  Most of what gets carried around is microscopic dust - still a problem, of course, especially since its granules are abrasive, but I'm pretty sure they took care of that in the design of the rover.  

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:44:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I made a draft video of a Phobos solar eclipse (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    using Celestia. First cut quality was beat, so I will try again.

    I'll get it posted ASAP. It's way cool to watch "live". :)

  •  I asked my co-worker what he thought (7+ / 0-)

    about the latest Mars pictures. (Rocks in the stream bed)

    He immediately fired back:
    "That's all bullshit! Those pictures were taken in Utah!"

    I'm totally shocked as we both have technical jobs at an aerospace firm.

    I tell him that he can't be serious.
    His reply, "well it could be. The moon landings could be fakes also"

    oy vey!

    I think he was mad at me for making a joke in the morning about work coming our way building new aircraft with roll-down windows.

    He's a right-winger who despises Obama and a raving racist.

    •  I honestly couldn't tolerate working with someone (0+ / 0-)

      that stupid who has so few excuses to be (given working in a technical field requiring above-average mental competence).  

      You should make him a little tinfoil hat as a present and tell him it's to protect him from the signals being broadcast into his brain by the secret Kenyan satellite.  Sign him up for text alerts for Nutter Butter brand cookies and Cheez Whiz.

      I couldn't get any work done dreaming up all the ways to make someone like that pay for being a civilization-eroding hemmorhoid.

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 11:54:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Were a small team of seven people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        and pissing him off would be counter-productive.
        His cage gets easily rattled.

        He is definitely an enigma wrapped in a paradox.

         

        •  I don't find wingnuts puzzling. (0+ / 0-)

          They're just bad people, and to the extent their viciousness doesn't translate to the personal level, it just compounds their failure as human beings that they're incapable of extending what they know on a personal level to a larger scale.  But if you can tolerate them, you have a valuable skill.

          Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

          by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 01:06:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  as a sailor and professional knot nerd (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      I appreciated that.
      Also he mentions zip ties with metal inserts: I haven't seen or used that kind in a very long time, all I have seen for at least the last 15 years are plastic teethed on both sides.
        Int5eresting NASA and aerospace industry still does use them..basic store bought are rated for 50 lbs and small and cheap, and seem to meet their rating..interesting.

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 04:14:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lovely! I also recall (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, KenBee

    that a day or two after Rover landed, a photo was released showing the Martian sunset. So I've now lived to see a sunset and a moon in an alien sky :)

    Thx for posting, T&R

  •  The humble zip tie goes to Mars. ;-) n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 11:28:04 AM PDT

  •  Awesome. Thrilling. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, KenBee
  •  First photo of Curiosity with Phobos AND Deimos!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, KenBee

    Sorry if this is not the rover you were looking for...

    curiositymars

    (romney)/RYAN 2012 - Look at those clouds. It's beautiful. Just look at those things!

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:29:09 PM PDT

  •  totally cool, Troubadour! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, KenBee


    appreciate the photos!

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 01:13:39 PM PDT

  •  This is special (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Simplify

    we truly do live in wonderful times <3 It looks and feels so familiar. Its odd to say, but it makes it easier to remember we're part of something larger.

    This XKCD comic seems fitting for this occasion too!

    Now what's going on? Not only is this the wrong defendant, but he's brought his whole entourage along! Kids these days, think they can just do whatever they want. Oh well, moving on...

    by kamrom on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 02:45:07 PM PDT

    •  Ah, never seen that one. Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

      And remember: Every one of those giant planets could have systems of moons every bit as interesting as Jupiter's and Saturn's, so every exoplanet represents several more chances for Weird Stuff to be going on - especially if the system is in the habitable zone of its star.

      Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

      by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:13:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very cool comic. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      So Jupiter's not actually a large planet after all.

      "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

      by NWTerriD on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:21:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting point about planet size: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Panbanisha, NWTerriD

        Gas giants that are that massive don't necessarily get bigger when you add mass - gravity presses them smaller up to a point.  They're often bigger because they're young and haven't released their heat of formation yet, or if they're close enough that their star makes them hot and causes them to bloat up and be really diffuse.  

        The prevalence of "hot Jupiters" in the planetary sample confirmed thus far accounts for the large statistical sizes at this point, since they have the biggest effect on their star (hence, easiest to detect indirectly by watching the star).  But just being bigger doesn't make it more substantial - some of these planets are really "weak tea" bags of thin, hot gas.  And some of the ones smaller than Jupiter would rip it to shreds.

        Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

        by Troubadour on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:47:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The name of the diary alone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Panbanisha

    was enough to get a rec from me. Seeing the incredible photos -- both Phobos and Curiosity -- just made it all that much better.

    Thanks, Troubador.

    "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

    by NWTerriD on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:23:07 PM PDT

  •  I, for one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    welcome our alien sky moon overlords.

    "I'm sorry, I have no pithy, insightful, enlightening quote for my signature." --- Me

    by liberalagogo on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 04:30:05 PM PDT

  •  Coolest thing I've ever seen? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    Quite possibly. Awesome diary, wish I could recommend you 10 times.

    Progress 365 not just a slogan a goal - 300 progressive seats in the House and 65 progressive seats in the Senate.

    by jusjtim35 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:17:45 PM PDT

  •  I think it's a hoax. (0+ / 0-)

    That's CLEARLY one of Jupiter's moons.

    Follow Me on Twitter @SmartyFeldman

    by The Swimmer on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:37:16 PM PDT

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