Posts Tagged ‘genetic engineering’

We Are All Martians

November 6, 2015

The Life Giving Nuclear Reactor within Earth protects us with the magnetic field it energizes. The idea is that, otherwise, the atmosphere would be torn away, as it was in Mars. Or, if not the atmosphere, at least the hydrogen (and thus the water), as happened for Venus.

At least, such was my philosophy of the rocky planets’ atmosphere (exposed in prior essays). “Philosophy” can be educated guesses based on lots of physics and mathematics, intuitively understood. Philosophy can stand just at the edge of science. But then it’s good to have a scientific confirmation. Here it is. NASA’s MAVEN (= Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) in orbit for years, has measured that Mars loses around 100 grams of atmosphere per second, due to impact from the Solar Wind (protons going at 400 kilometers per second).

That’s not good. Still, back of the envelope computations show Mars should still have a thick atmosphere. Instead, its density is only 1% of Earth, and few of Earth’s most primitive lifeforms are hardy enough to survive in Mars CO2 atmosphere (even neglecting UV and low temperatures).

Once the atmosphere was going, the water followed, and so did the considerable greenhouse water vapor brought. Water vapor (H2O) is more greenhousy than CO2, meaning the relationship CO2-H2O is nonlinear: higher CO2 on Earth means higher H2O, hence even higher greenhouse than the simple rise of CO2 would naively bring).

Earth Has A Powerful Nuclear Powered Magnetic Shield. Mars' Shield Was Too Weak. The Solar Wind Tore the Martian Atmosphere Away MCE By MCE.

Earth Has A Powerful Nuclear Powered Magnetic Shield. Mars’ Shield Was Too Weak. The Solar Wind Tore the Martian Atmosphere Away MCE By MCE.

So, if 100 grams per second was not enough to strip the atmosphere why did it escape Mars as much as it did?

The Sun is an hectic thermonuclear engine shaken by internal explosions. Occasionally a Mass Coronal Ejection (MCE) occurs. Then an alarming eruption of inordinate magnitude, violently flings material off the sun, in a particular eruption. The last one to hit the Earth was in the Nineteenth Century, and it caused severe disruption to the then nascent electrodynamic industry. More severe ones went here and there in the meantime (sparing Earth for now).

However, one hit Mars, and MAVEN was there to measure what happened. What happened? The MCE driven Solar Wind smacked into Mars with great force, and robbed the planet of five kilograms of atmosphere per second.

So what philosophy to extract from this?

  1. Thank our nuclear reactor at the core, which maintains an iron ocean, hundreds of kilometers deep, below our feet.
  2. Life is fragile: it can get started easily, but  can get killed easily.
  3. With at least two planets where life started, in the Solar System, life, basic life, probably started all over the galaxy.
  4. Earth’s life has a very high probability to be of Martian origin.

Why the last point? Because Mars cooled down at least four time faster than Earth. The very latest news show that life started on Earth within 500 million years of our planet’s formation. At that point, Earth became cool enough to sustain life (in spite of the formation of the Moon, which, whether from an impact or from my own nuclear eruption theory, was characterized by great heat, and worldwide fusion of the crust). By then Mars had been cool enough for four hundred million years, at least, to allow life (I get that working backwards from the geological date of life start on Earth, and the factor 4, from the surface ratios).

How did life bearing material go from Mars to Earth? Martian meteorites are found on Earth: an object crashes on Mars and debris flung into space (Mars has lower gravity than Earth). Some documented trips took no more than 15 million years, and temperatures within would have preserved life. More than four billion years ago, the bombardment was extremely intense, and Martian meteorites may have penetrated the terrestrial atmosphere continually. And it would just take one meteorite.

A baby was dying in London, from leukemia. All usual treatments were tried, and failed. The doctors proposed to try an approach so far only experimented only on mice. Collaborating quickly with the French company, CELLECTIS Paris, designer cells made to attack specifically Layla’s cancer were engineered. The treatment was an astounding success, so far. To make war against all diseases is not just fair, it is the war which has to be waged, paying our respects to Mars. In particular, I am certain that, when the choice is between death and trying a treatment which seems to have worked on mice, one should chose the latter. If nothing else, it brings hope, and the certainty one is contributing to:

  1. Fighting back (the most human thing to do, facing evil).
  2. Science
  3. Treatment to all of humanity (other babies, etc.), another most human behavior to engage in: giving one’s life for others.

So kudos to the doctors in London (and the British government for allowing experimentation, plus the two parents for having encouraged it).

Our species celebrates Mars as a god, because war is one of our oldest instincts. Anglo-Saxon media generally scrupulously avoided to mention that this was FRENCH technology (from a French start-up, of all things!). Not mentioning France is part of the war of Anglo-Saxon plutocracy against France. We are all Martians, in more ways than one. And yes, we need to cultivate the better angels of that Martian side of us.

Patrice Ayme’

AGRICULTURE WITHOUT SCIENCE IS RUIN OF THE SOUL

April 25, 2008

BRING ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED BIOFUELS.

***

Americans and Europeans seem to enjoy paying taxes for $300 billion of farm subsidies, and their main victims are the poor farmers of the poorest countries.

Morality would call to divert some of this exhuberance towards agricultural research, including genetically engineering plants that would allow to lower the fertilizer loads (which contribute heavily to the greenhouse). Corn is especially unsuitable for biofuels, requiring, as it does, lots of water, and fertilizers (biofuels from corn augment the CO2, those from cane sugar do not, but barely so). In general there should be a world law saying: NO FUEL FROM FOOD (except in remote islands converting say coconuts, but only with special authorization).

But the idea of biofuel is good. Simply, really interesting biofuels will have to be genetically engineered. They probably will come from some sort of hybridized algae .

In other words, a lot of genetic engineering is needed ASAP, although that is not popular in some places (which profit heavily from past agricultural practice: France). Erroneously so, factually and morally: nearly all the food calories consumed around the world come from genetically engineered organisms. Pigs, corn, rice, wheat, even potatoes have all been obtained by heavy selection. In some cases, it is not even clear where some of these species come from: apparently the ancestors of rice lived on land, not in water, and corn is such a man made species that its ancestors are a matter of speculation (it seems genes from different species were mixed, maybe up to 12,000 years ago. Neolithic man should get the Nobel prize in biology and medicine posthumously, for the invention of genetic engineering!)

We have come to a point where agriculture without more science is ruinous for soul and planet.
***

P/S 1: Nowadays the economy of food is not that of the Middle Ages, even in the poorest countries. Food is heavily dependent upon transportation (of the food itself, and/or water, and/or fertilizers). This all uses energy. Gasoline and diesel have the highest energy density. Europe suffered extreme deforestation around 1200 CE, due to the fact people got all their energy from that biofuel known as wood.

The poorest people on earth eat grain, and they are not cattle. That means, they cook. It used to be the largest part of their budget. These poor people deforest, because they need biofuel.

Some people who evoke lovingly electric engines apparently forget that their pet electric car is at the end of a cable at the extremity of which other super gigantic electric engines working in reverse (aka turbines) convert violent rotary motion from massive heat into electronic agitation.

Electric power comes from centralized energy generation, in other words, in practice, a huge fire. Those whining poetically about fuel cell technology should spare a thought for Apollo XIII (the O2-H2 fuel cell exploded, and the astronauts survived with lots of in extremis, miraculous brainwork). Advanced prototype batteries, because they pack so much energy, tend to explode.

So how do we generate all this centralized energy electric lovers need? The planet is dammed out (and tropical dams can create massive quantities of methane, besides drowning the landscape). OK, we could, and will, put maglev wind turbines one kilometer high everywhere windy…The only clean energy (carbon wise) deployable now in enormous amounts everywhere is nuclear energy (no screaming about the bad news, please!). Solar towers and photovoltaics could be deployed massively in the US West (which has exceptional insolation far from bin Laden). It’s starting, but way too slowly: it takes 50 years to deploy a new energy technology to have economic preponderance.

Coal and the tar sands should be tarred, feathered, and run out of town (they ruin the atmosphere, and the sea, and the earth). They surely will be when sea levels start to rise real fast, a few years from now.

 

P/S 2: Roger Cohen wrote an article weighing diverse observations on biofuels (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/04/23/opinion/edcohen.php). The preceding was a complement (in Cohen’s blog, www.iht.com/passages, some readers pointed out some shortcomings of his work (especially regarding water usage, and displacement of agricultural land by biofuel, one more reason to go towards algae)).
Patrice Ayme