Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas 2015

Visiting family in California, after an intensive year of talks, pressure suit developments and writing. Also a new illustration for my Iceland book, which was written over several years and which I am editing at the moment. Back to flight training now, for testing and certification in January 2016 so that I can start flying my pressure suit!

From the book, and related to the drawing below:

"It is known that each Icelandic valley ('dalur') is attended by some ghoul; from trolls to witches, giantesses, ghost-sorcerers....elves and goblins...As I scurried along a frozen river that ribboned down the bottom of the Hofelsdalur--my headlamp just a spark in the night-- hurricane-force wild winds whipped snow from the peaks and then avalanched down on me in bizarre vertical downdrafts. I imagined a great ghoul up in the crags, thrilled to have discovered a plaything in his lonely valley. The steep black basalt valley walls were snaked with frozen waterfalls that terminated half way down, acres of ice crust spattered below on near-vertical rock."

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Iceland Drawing!

Up Periscope! Grades turned in, I'm a free man! From my book-in-progress on my Iceland expeditions;

"I slowly gained elevation up the low grade of the glacier. Strange ice and snow features, sculpted by wind, rain, and summer sun, occasionally caught my eye. The ice I walked on was frequently transparent. My crampons bit into what appeared to be a thick pane of irregular glass, beneath it clouds and galactic tendrils of black ash and white bubbles swirled, trapped in the ice...Some bubbles were a spray of soda fizz, others were large, lonely balloons...There were contorted blue and green swaths, painters’ brushstrokes, some long and lazy, others mere jabs. All appeared to writhe if I was moving, but when I stopped and sat like a child to examine them, they were motionless in the ice. Even here, the glacier was hundreds of feet thick, and I couldn’t tell how far down I was seeing. Irregular drapes of aqua-colored ice seemed to be sandwiched between masses of something that was nearly transparent, but still caught some of the starlight and redistributed it in random waves and flourishes. When melt water flowed half an inch thick across the ice, the strange spectacle rippled and squirmed. It was a surreal painting, drunk at having discovered motion.

The effects were hypnotic. Already the ice was enchanting me, molding my actions. It had already brought me to my knees in wonder. And now, if I tilted my head a little, or scanned slowly from left to right, the leaps and oozes of the deep ice-light swirls were a spell indeed. I swayed gently, like a snake before the flute, to keep the lights in motion. It was easy to imagine that some Icelandic sorcerer of old had set a cold fire into the ice to trap lonely wanderers. It took an effort to get up and keep moving."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mars Exploration Invention

In press for publication in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (world's oldest organization dedicated to space flight and space exploration), an invention worked out by me and fellow explorer Louis Philippe-Loncke: a 'Mars-Cart' to facilitate exploration of the surface of Mars, independent of mechanized ATV's (all terrain vehicles); there will be many reasons to use ATV's, but also many to explore without them. Just working on correcting proofs this weekend, will be off to the printer 17 December! A few photos from the article, which I first worked out in 2008, applying what I'd learned in Iceland to the concept of Mars exploration.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

New Pressure Suit!

Our Mark V 'Zaphod' suit tested today by me, Ben Wilson (in suit) and new crew member Mathew Lippincott, a professional scientific balloon builder. Complicated proceedings, but we had great C02 numbers, well within all safety margins!

Friday, December 4, 2015

An Adaptive Paradigm for Human Space Settlement

Off to the printer at Acta Aatronautica, the technical journal of the International Academy of Astronautics! This article (link) derives from research 2009-present and will be included in expanded in my forthcoming technical book, Principles of Space Anthropology: An Evolutionary Framework for Human Space Settlement.

Abstract: "Because permanent space settlement will be multigenerational it will have to be viable on ecological timescales so far unfamiliar to those planning space exploration. Long-term viability will require evolutionary and adaptive planning. Adaptations in the natural world provide many lessons for such planning, but implementing these lessons will require a new, evolutionary paradigm for envisioning and carrying out Earth-independent space settlement. I describe some of these adaptive lessons and propose some cognitive shifts required to implement them in a genuinely evolutionary approach to human space settlement."

Summary / Conclusions: "The cognitive shifts noted above would largely place humans and evolution at the center of human space settlement, moving away from technocracy and towards a paradigm of space settlement based on the evolutionary and adaptive principles that have served for long-term success in many forms of Earth life. Implementing these shifts in core concepts requires attention to the way we communicate about space exploration and settlement, and inclusion of these concepts in space-education materials. Implementing these shifts on the policy level will take time as students educated in this atmosphere themselves become the policy-makers. I am happy to see that some are already underway, and I will continue to familiarize space planners with evolutionary principles as my own contribution to the larger goal of the Extraterrestrial Adaptation.