Why Mankind should conquer space

The last days with all these disasters in Japan made me think about an article I wrote nearly 30 years ago. I think it must have been about 2 years before the Chernobyl. I was studying physics and wrote an article in which I collected arguments why mankind should conquer space and how to achieve this goal.

The perhaps funny thing today is that at this time, despite the discussion and my personal engagement against nuclear power, this was not the original impulse for my desire to write this article. Actually I started thinking about our global situation after I read the book ‘Worlds in Collision’ from Immanuel Velikovsky. Not that I think our cosmos is as chaotic and dangerous as he writes in his book but there is a considerable chance that a huge meteorite might hit the earth changing everything here.

Once the first thoughts in this direction are done more and more pieces get visible painting an unsettling picture.

The scenario splits up into two groups of dangers.
First there are global catastrophes:

  • Nuclear war
  • Reactor explosions polluting the environment with highly poisonous Plutonium
  • A big meteroid hitting the earth
  • uncontrollable outbreak of a fatal disease
  • uncontrollable mutation as result of genetic experiments

and many more perhaps individually not fatal catastrophes which might boost each other when coming together (as we can just see in Japan).

Second there are the man made dangers:

  • Overpopulation
  • Waste of limited resources
  • Environmental pollution
  • loss of diversity of species on earth

only to name some of them.

Now we can start to argue about how to prevent these catastrophes from coming.

In my original article I started to develop a quite futuristic approach which was probably the reason why the article has never been published.

To leave Earth and go into space is not a technical problem, it is an economic problem. It needs a lot of money to build the first stations in orbit so that considerable amounts of people can start living in space. Money nobody wants to spend at the moment because there are always more urgent, political motivated projects which have to be funded. No politician and no economic leader is interested in plans which will take perhaps hundreds of years, will be a long struggle without immediate return on invest and low actual visibility to support their position.

So probably we will stay bound to earth until all needed resources are spent for other, more urgent, projects and we finally have to realize that we succeeded in making our earth inhabitable but have no means any more to go somewhere else.

What is to do? If our main problem lies in the economy perhaps we should start there. Rethinking how our society is built and which our common goals should be would be a good start. But after all the problem will come back to us personally. We have to change ourselves. Our attitude about fighting against each other to become the leader of the pack, our focus in economic success. We have to overcome our animalistic heritage. And it is exactly this point where mankind will be standing at a crossroads.

Recommended reading: Elena Filatova’s report about Chernobyl

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Politician denies global warming!

According to Senator Michin the global warming will not happen, it will become cooler. ABC news

It seems that signs like the flood and cyclone in Queensland cannot be result of the global warming. The sea level rising will only be a temporary phenomenon and the glaciers will start to grow again soon and the polar ice will become thicker.

I understand the problems of the science community to bring all facts into a model which finally can tell us what the future might bring.

But when I hear some of our politicians I really feel safe that nothing bad can happen to us or our children. They seem to know exactly what the future holds for us. I only wonder how they can be so far ahead of our scientists.

Posted in Environment, Misc | Tagged , | Leave a comment

House Spider

Our house is surrounded by trees and bushes which is normally a nice thing considering the temperatures during a normal summer. Unfortunately this summer is not really what it is supposed to be. Its cold and rainy. This has the unfortunate side effect the all that nice spiders which are normally populating the trees around the house are trying to share our shelter.

Here you can see our guest from last night, just digesting a big moth which it caught on the outside of our kitchen window.

Sometimes even I am impressed. This one had at least 12cm length even after embracing its pray. Luckily it was gone this morning or I would have had to convince it to search for shelter somewhere else. I don’t like spiders which are so big that they might be able to carry our little daughter away.

Posted in Around the World, Australia | Tagged , | Leave a comment

JRuby on its way up?

I am programming Ruby since a friend of mine pointed me to this language and I think that this language is even better then Smalltalk which has been my all time favorite since I learned it back in the late 80’s. The concepts are sound, minimal and powerful and don’t take too long to learn. All else you need comes either with the standard library or nicely packaged as ruby-gems.

Especially JRuby, designed to run on the JVM, gives you portability together with access to the huge fund of java libraries. An enormous powerful concept! I love it!

Last night I have been searching in Google a little bit about the usage of the different programming languages to see if the usage of Ruby is increasing. The good news is that Ruby seems to be constantly in the top 10 of the most used languages. But to be frank, I would have expected it before Python and fighting with PHP about its rank but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

There are plenty of sites which analyse the language popularity and the results differ depending of where they gather their information. Some of the major sites are: SourceForge, Tiobe and Langpop. Unfortunately I could not find any comparison about the usage of the different ruby implementations.

I asked myself: what does it need for a programming language to become successful?

  • an elegant, minimal, easy to learn and complete set of language elements.
  • the ability to add missing language features as natural extension of the language or in additional libraries.
  • a powerful infrastructure including IDE, build system, deployment, …
  • good frameworks for maximum momentum when starting a new project
  • killer applications

When I think about Smalltalk-80 and ask myself why did this language never get one of the top places in ranking even though it had undeniable a huge impact on all subsequent languages? I think it is because there are simply several factors missing which denied this language its broader success. Even though the language was elegant, powerful and extendable it had to fight with it’s, for that time, heavy weight virtual machine and the need to deploy the whole image. And I have never seen a so called killer application developed in Smalltalk.

When I come back to PHP, Python and Ruby I was wondering why PHP was clearly in front of Python and Ruby even though I think that the language concepts of Python and Ruby are sounder then the one of PHP.

They all have IDE support, good frameworks and powerful supporting infrastructure but PHP still has one big advantage. It nearly dominates the market of opensource CMS and Blogging products.

If we want to push Ruby into the first places I think there are only two ways to do this:

  1. development of killer applications
  2. bringing Ruby into the browser

For the first way we have the ideal starting point with JRuby. True Multi-threading and access to a vast fund of professional Java libraries together with the expressiveness of Ruby! I think that would qualify for a pole position.

The second way … OK, I don’t know how much would be needed to integrate ruby into a browser. But I think that Javascript is used everywhere on the client side in web applications in a lack of a better alternative.

While I was still writing I got some good news. It seems that there will be enough supporters to reconsider the Netbeans decision to discontinue the JRuby support. A good possibility to do something for the visibility of JRuby!

Let’s go for it!

Posted in All, JRuby | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Germany – Land of Opportunities

I lately found this picture in the internet. A tweet pointed me to it and I had a hard time to breathe normally again after I rolled laughing over the floor. This really contradicts every experience I made with ‘good old’ Germany.

About five years ago a friend of mine, Kenyan with an master in computer science from a well known Russian university, wanted to come to Germany for work because she had several friends in Germany. Another friend of mine who runs his own software development company was willing to see her. Because, like most of the time, everything went on short notice she didn’t have the time to apply for a business visa and came with a visitor visa to Germany. After the successful interview with my friend she tried to get a working visa but was denied and had to leave Germany again.

Everybody who is following the news should know by now that the demographic changes in ‘good old’ Germany are already leading to a lack of skilled workers because the Germans are getting too old. So how can it be that a civil servant can deny someone who is skilled and has a job opportunity in Germany the appropriate visa?

My wife is Chinese. We married in Switzerland and left for China because she wanted to pursue her career as judge. After a while and because her Chinese career was ended by marring a foreigner, we tried to go to Germany. Hahahaha … don’t worry I will never try to come back to Germany again. It seems that my wife only gets a visa for Germany when she is able to speak German. As it is she speaks fluently four languages but unfortunately German is not between those.

Luckily there are still countries in this world which really appreciate skilled workers who want to work in their country and contribute to their society 😉

Posted in Germany | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Flying in Australia

In Australia you are usually flying when you want to see another city because the distances are quite big and the speed on the roads not very high. My favorite airline is Virgin Blue. The prices are reasonable and they cover nearly all of Australia.

The only issue I have are the delays. Nearly every flight I take at the moment is delayed due to some reason. To make it clear, I do not object against a delay when an error in my plane is found and they have to bring another plane from somewhere to arrange the flight. But to sit at night on an empty Canberra Airport without dinner, all shops already closed and you don’t even get a free Coffee … I think in this point Virgin should reconsider their strategy of keeping their customers happy.

Posted in Australia | Tagged , | Leave a comment

HP Region code for printer

While I was living in France I needed a new printer/scanner and decided to buy a HP Photosmart Premium, a combined office machine with everything you need for your home-office. It was not really cheap but it was said that buying directly from the internet would give a 50€ cash-back.

The machine itself runs fine apart some minor problems while scanning but …

The first problem I had was to get my cash-back money. I tried to contact the support via mail and received the answer I should try to call a certain support line. I tried but could not get anyone on the phone so after some tries I just gave up and thought I might as well live with the price I paid. Anyway, the ink for the printer cost quite a fortune and you learn fast where HP makes its real money!

Now I moved to Australia and naturally I moved my printer too.

Lately I ran out of yellow ink and went into a shop to buy a replacement cartridge of yellow. In the shop I was already astonished that there were no 364 cartridges to buy but 564 cartridges which are described as valid replacement for my HP Photosmart Premium c309a.

Back home I got shocked. Not that the cartridge didn’t fit. It was looking exactly like the 364 one which I wanted to replace … but the printer denied to use this original HP cartridge which is the right one for my printer !!! (in Australia)

I called the support and learned that each HP printer has a region code which can be altered three times only and that because I moved to Australia I have to change the region code now. But they could not help me directly and I cannot change the code myself as it seems, the passed the issue to a second level support which should call me within 48h. Naturally I didn’t get any calls.

Since then I had about half a dozen mails exchanged with the support and each time I got a phone no. to call where I am promised that I will get a call from someone who can change the region code of my printer for me.

So far I am still waiting (about 2 week now and several attempts!).

In the meanwhile I learned from the support hotline that if I change the region code my other (nearly full cartridges) will not work any more because they are bought in France! A full set of cartridges cost about $100,- AUD … are they insane?

My conclusion … after so many years of buying HP notebooks and printers from laser to office machines I am extremely disappointed and will not buy anything from HP any more.

And I can only warn everybody to reconsider if he wants to buy from such a Producer because this is purely rip-off of their customers.

Posted in Computer | Tagged | 2 Comments

Finally Moved

Hey everybody!

It took some time but I finally made it, to move my blog to a new server, update to the newest WordPress version and also update my plugins.

Hopefully I will have some time to write new articles as well 😉

Posted in Internet, Misc | Tagged | 1 Comment

Big Brother is watching You

It is about 4 week ago that I switched from my favorite browser Firefox to Googles Chrome. On my Windows 7 system Firefox simply used too many resources.

Today I updated my Spybot installation which protects my registry and made a system scan. What shall I tell you it found 26 tracking cookies on my computer which I caught during only the last 4 weeks. My main usage of the internet is to search for programming informations.

Perhaps I am a little naive but I see no evidence that a session cookie must remain on the computer of a surfer after the user is logged out. Personalization of a website like on Amazon is a nice thing but I think that I should be able to surf in the internet anonymously and only get a personalized view once I reveal my identity intentionally as by logging in.

Instead of anonymity even the browsers reveal more and more informations so that these can already be used as identifying fingerprint as shown in the EFF Panopticlick project.

If you think that all this doesn’t matter to you it is perfectly OK with me but be aware that the companies who are tracking you and your behavior are making a lot of money with your data. What do you get in return? Databases full of tracking data which, connected to a real person, will make you and your doings completely transparent.

What will be the logical next step after connecting you as a person with the sampled data …. ? I don’t think that needs much inspiration.

Be aware when you surf in the internet that many eyes are watching you!

Posted in Internet, Misc | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A dream within a dream

I just came back to the idea that the whole world is just a simulation on a nice super-computer like in the old science fiction film “Die Welt am Draht” from Fassbinder oder in the film “the 13th Floor”.

All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

There is always the problem how to hide from the simulated entities that their world is quite limited. I believe in our world they found a nice solution to this problem, they made it round! 😉

Posted in Misc, Thoughts | Tagged | Leave a comment