Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Evolutionary Transitions

"The transition to multicellular organisms with many kinds of differentiated cells occurred on three occasions, suggesting that it may not have been particuularly difficult. This would be explained if the main cellular novelty required was an epigenetic inheritance system, as this existed already in protists. If so, the emergence and radiation of the metazoa had to wait only for suitable environmental condition."

p.231 of Szathmary, E. and J. Maynard-Smith. 1995. The Major Evolutionary Transitions. Nature 374:227-232.

Well, maybe. There's a lot going on in that sentence

I wonder what evolutionary transitions -- I mean really big ones, like the origin of molecular coding or sexual replication -- are or can still occur in Earth life-forms?


I sure wish that Angela were here to see the pressure suit coming along.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Presentation: More Photos

Photos from the recent Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Presentation. Featured are Ben Wilson, in the suit, and Alexander Knapton, running the suit controller. I am awfully fortunate to have such great hands, on hand! I'm in one photo, rather excited about the whole thing!

First Research Brief

First Research Brief of Pacific Spaceflight is now available to all (link)! Draft, but just typos to do now. The suit worked, as indicated by concrete numbers in my blood oxygenation!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Dig Greek philosophy? Thank this little champ, a Medieval scribe. It's mostly from these interesting folk that we get Aristotle and his whole crew. I am fascinated with Medieval Europe. 15th-century illustration from France. The monk is cutting the parchment in preparation for binding, and then copying of information--like Greek philosophy--onto this medium.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Surrealist Rocket Paint Job

Currently there is a debate at Copenhagen Suborbitals regarding whether or not to fly the rockets with flags painted on them (e.g. EU flag, Danish flag, whatever flag). Personally, I would track down the craziest surrealist painter I can find, hand them $5000 and let 'em loose to paint the ship. With the democratization of space access that I'm currently involved in I want to get as far away from the old Space Race era--and all its overtones of technocracy and nationalism--as possible. Have a look at the beautiful paint job on the lower end of a recent Russian booster used to take the Olympic torch into space (ye torch was just carried along with space station crew, not a huge $ boondoggle just to take the torch up):


Paint is heavy so not all is possible but people are also inventive and I bet a surrealist rocket would be pretty interesting; a rocket with a paint job never seen before by humankind -- that's what I suggest.

Well, them's my two cents!

OMSI Pressure Suit Demo Mon 18 November

Good preparations on Wed PM, looking forward to another public suit demo, this time for Oregon Museum of Science and Industry on Mon PM!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Decompression Sickness Update

Despite 50 years of research on decompression sickness (DCS) (for divers coming up too fast to aviators going up too fast), the actual mechanisms remain poorly understood. Aviation DCS (important differences from diving DCS) authority James Webb recently indicated that while formation of nitrogen bubbles in body tissues is strongly correlated with DCS, this is unlikely to be the actual cause, and DCS still occurs among pilots despite all usual protocols being taken. Still, DCS mitigation strategies (e.g. prebreathing pure 02 to flush the system of N2) are so strongly inversely correlated with DCS, in 000's of tests, that they are strong predictors of DCS risk for aviators and are 'the best tools we have' for DCS prevention in high-altitude aviation. I've been working on the pressure schedule for the 2015 flight for about a year. This tells what suit pressures I need to maintain at certain altitudes while flying to avoid DCS (planning your own flight? don't copy my table, it is particular to my pressure exposure regime!). I base these estimates on years of research into DCS (32 great papers on it are here in case you're interested:;jsessionid=11p6vj18liy3v13rp09yutfgl0?profile.profileId=C1869700#.UoL6vHBJPzg).

My DCS mitigation for flight will look something like 60 minutes of breathing 100% oxygen before flight, also 10 min exercise breathing that 100% ox at about 75% cardio capacity, followed by staying on pure ox for entire flight (c.180 minutes) and simple post-flight measures such some supplemental pure ox, air transport to a pressure chamber with flight lower than 1000 feet and a few hours in that pressure chamber (in Copenhagen), essentially like a decompression episode for deep-divers experiencing DCS. Cool stuff!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Website Coming Along

We're building a website for Pacific Spaceflight, partner of Copenhagen Suborbitals. Currently we're on Twitter. I'll keep this blog for my personal notes, but a lot of the space-related activity is going to head to those platforms. Have a thrilling weekend! CMS

Monday, November 4, 2013

'Within 12 Light Years'

"A major question is whether planets suitable for biochemistry are common or rare in the universe. Small rocky planets with liquid water enjoy key ingredients for biology. We used the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Kepler telescope to survey 42,000 Sun-like stars for periodic dimmings that occur when a planet crosses in front of its host star. We found 603 planets, 10 of which are Earth size and orbit in the habitable zone, where conditions permit surface liquid water. We measured the detectability of these planets by injecting synthetic planet-caused dimmings into Kepler brightness measurements. We find that 22% of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-size planets orbiting in their habitable zones. The nearest such planet may be within 12 light-years." From this paper.