Is This The Extinction Event We Were Warned About?

Geologists have been talking about peak oil for quite a while now. Yet, there are still oil deposits that haven’t been tapped. And in some places fracking has been implemented to squeeze more out of the ground.

But, even if we use up all the oil in the world, it won’t be the end of life as we know it. There are substitute fuels and technologies waiting in the wings, waiting for that day when the powerful oil companies become redundant.

But there is another natural resource that is reaching its peak, and there are no substitutes for this resource, and most importantly, without it, all life on earth would perish.

If ever there was a potential extinction event it would probably be the depletion of phosphorus. Why is phosphorus so important? Every living thing (whether plant, animal, or human) needs phosphorus to produce healthy cells. So, the fact that the world’s reserves of phosphorus are dwindling fast is really bad news. Unlike oil, which is found in many areas of the globe, phosphorus is not as ubiquitous.

An estimated 85 percent of the globe’s phosphate reserve is controlled by Morocco’s royal family. Much of it is located in the Western Sahara. Jeremy Grantham, cofounder of the prominent Boston-based global investment firm Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., called this “the most important quasi-monopoly in economic history.”

Oddly, peak phosphorus doesn’t get the attention that peak oil gets and yet it is far more important. In a recent essay in Nature, Grantham, who also runs an environmental foundation, put the case bluntly: Our phosphorus use “must be drastically reduced in the next 20-40 years or we will begin to starve.”

The United States imports about 10 percent of our phosphate from Morocco. We also have some phosphorus mining operations in the U. S. The largest mining operation is in Florida.

Florida's strip mining operation solves one problem adn creates another.

Florida’s phophorus  mining creates a huge environmental problem.

Mining for phosphorus is environmentally devastating. It requires stripping large areas of land. It also creates massive amounts of phosphogypsum, an undesirable and toxic waste product. Phosphogypsum contains low levels of radiation and several heavy metals.

To date, these waste products have not been dealt with. There are huge piles of the stuff  in mining regions. The EPA estimates that central Florida houses nearly 1 billion metric tons of toxic phosphogypsum and it keeps growing to the tune of 32 million metric tons each year.

As the toxic waste piles grow, the phosphorus reserves dwindle. It is estimated that within 25 years Florida’s phosphorus will be depleted.

Is this a hopeless situation? No, there are ways to extract phosphorus from waste products, but to date no one is recycling waste products. Currently, phosphorus is allowed to fallow in the fields or wash away into waterways and eventually into the ocean. Animal manure and human urine are excellent sources of phosphorus. But there isn’t any infrastructure in place to recycle these waste products.

There is no simple solution, but its crucial that something be done soon because our other option is to pay outragious prices to the King of Morroco,  and eventually use up all the phosphorus.

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Next Step, Transhumanism

Last year, Rachel Dolezal was elected president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. However, last week she resigned that prestigious position because she was caught in a lie.

She lied about her racial heritage. There is absolutely no African-American ancestry in her family tree, yet she has been parading as an African-American for years. She claims to identify closer to that ethnicity more than her actual Czech-German blood line.

But, race in itself is not the bigger story. I’m looking at this in a totally different way than most people.

Consider another recent story that has been making headlines and magazine covers. I’m referring to the former Bruce Jenner. According to him, throughout his life, he felt there was a woman inside that desperately wanted out. As he grew older, medical advances and social attitudes had progressed to a point where he felt it was time to release the woman trapped inside. Bruce is no more. Caitlyn lives.

And then there are those who desparately desire to change, but will never be able to. Society is not ready for them, but neither is science. No, I am not talking about race or gender. No this goes even deeper. I’m talking about species.

Gary Matthews, of Pittsburgh lives much of his life as a dog. He first got this idea when he was a kid of seven years old and saw the Disney Movie, the Shaggy DA. At that age, his parents just assumed it was a child’s wild imagination when he barked and dug holes in the backyard with his bare hands. But when he continued these behaviors as a teen and then as an adult, his parents would scold him and forbid his dog bahaviors.

So he stopped—in front of them. But it went underground until his parents died.

Now as a 50-year old man, he lives much of his life as a dog named Boomer. He wears a shaggy dog costume, eats dog food from a bowl on the floor, chews on dog treats, and even sleeps in a doghouse he built himself. Not surprisingly, he is a member of a Pittsburgh Furry group.

In case you are unaware, Furries are people who dress up in animal costumes and socialize together. To many in the furry community it is an obsession as it is for Gary Matthews. Furry role playing was introduced to the public at large in a 2013 music video entitled “What Does The Fox Say

Vastly different as these three stories are, there is a common thread. Some people are willing to give up the person they are to become something totally different, taking the chance of being shunned by society.

Being born one thing (be it race, gender, or even species) is now becoming optional and changeable. With enough cash, creativity, and/or courage, we can transform ourselves into whatever we desire.

But should we? Are their limits? Where will this lead us next?

I believe that the next thing down the line is transhumanism. This involves augmenting humans with technology to enhance our mental and physical abilities.

People who are old enough, might remember the popular TV show “The 6 Million Dollar Man” starring Lee Majors in the title role. In this series, his sight, strength, and running speed was way beyond normal human ability. We didn’t have a name for it then, but that is the definition of transhumanism.

Many people who suffer now, could benefit greatly. Those who have lost limbs could have some of their normal abilities restored.

But, I predict that people with normal abilities will also be taking advantage of these technologies, to become super humans. And these super humans may become the soldiers of our future. Because, as we know, every time a new technology is developed, it eventually ends up on the battlefield.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory May Have Just Stumbled Upon Warp Drive

Mr. Sulu, take her to warp two. — Captain Kirk

Those of us who grew up watching Star Trek dreamed of a future when humans would explore strange new worlds; seek out new life and new civilizations; and boldly go where no man has gone before.

But, until very recently, that future seemed out of reach, or at least, not in our lifetimes. According to the Star Trek back-story the Warp drive would be invented by Zephram Cochrane in the year 2063. Good try, Star Trek writers, but you might be off the mark by almost 50 years. Because NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory may have just taken the first important step toward the development of the warp drive.

NASA scientists have been working on a project called EmDrive. During a recent test they shot laser beams through the EmDrive’s resonance chamber and took measurements. The readings from that test caught the scientists by complete surprise. The indication is that the EmDrive’s resonance chamber sent these laser beams faster than light speed. This, my friend, is the essence of warp speed.

The word spread fast around NASA. Scientists are buzzing about the discovery on a NASA discussion board where they discuss current projects. Therefore, the announcement that laser beams may have breached the speed of light traveled almost that fast to the engineering community.

True to the nature of engineers and scientists, they admit more study is needed. They want to perform the same test in a vacuum to rule out the possible false reading due to atmospheric heating. But they are still scratching their heads and wearing silly grins on their faces.

One commentor in the forum wrote, “This signature on the EmDrive looks just like what a warp bubble looks like. And the math behind the warp bubble apparently matches the interference pattern found in the EmDrive. Seems to have been an accidental connection. They were wondering where this ‘thrust’ might be coming from. One scientist proposed that maybe it’s a warp of the spacetime foam, which is causing the thrust.”

In a 1994 paper, Physicist Miguel Alcubierre, A Mexican Theoretical Physicist, proposed the concept of a warp bubble that would warp spacetime around an object. A space ship would be situated stationary inside the bubble. The bubble would squeeze spacetime in front of the ship, while expanding from behind. Since the ship is stationary within the bubble, space travelers would not feel any movement. The theory was never proven feasible until this recent EmDrive finding.

If the warp speed is achieved in the vacuum test, some on the NASA Spaceflight forums are even imaging the possibility of time travel. You could conceivably, take a trip to Alpha Centauri in 2 days, look out the back window and observe Earth as it was four years ago. Try to wrap your brain around that.

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In the TV production, “How William Shatner Changed the World”  Miguel Alcubierre made a special appearance where his warp bubble theory was discussed. If interested, you can hear this theory at timestamp 1:07:00 in the video below.

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The link below takes you to the NASA discussion board where the conversation gets interesting on April, 20, but as of May 21 there are now 203 pages devoted to this topic alone. This time it really is rocket science and its happening in our lifetime

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36313.1860