Should we be mining the Moon to solve our energy needs?
This was going to be a follow up on what I wrote yesterday ( Enlightened Nation - America is a product of the Age of Enlightenment) and at first glance today's topic might appear to be a strange follow up--but, in fact, solving our energy needs certainly ought to be one of the primary goals of an enlightened nation. Without the flow of energy there is simply nothing--and most people aren't ready to face nothingness yet.
Helium 3 is produced by the sun, from where it is blown off in all directions. The earth's athmosphere bounces this gas off into space, but the moon, without an athmosphere has been engulfed in helium 3 for billions of years and its rocky material has effectively absorbed this gas. Why is this of any importance?
It has to do with the possibility of producing safe, clean and inexpensive energy from nuclear fusion.
Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist who ever walked on the moon, has written a book which covers this topic--and from a book review by Paul D. Spudis (American Scientist Online - Mining the Moon ) I will quote the following:
Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space. Harrison H. Schmitt. xvi + 335 pp. Praxis Publishing, 2006. $25.
Of the 12 men who have walked on the moon, the last to set foot there, Harrison (Jack) Schmitt, is the only one with scientific training (he has a Ph.D. in geology). He has seen and done things most scientists only dream of. Schmitt's work on the Moon in 1972 ranks as one of the most exciting and productive episodes in the history of exploration. His memories of the three days he spent in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow are a priceless treasure trove of scientific and aesthetic insights. Unfortunately, those experiences are not the subject of his new book, Return to the Moon.
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Instead, the volume is structured as a legal brief, in which Schmitt makes the case for returning to the Moon to mine the isotope helium-3. He claims that because fossil fuels are limited in supply and because their extraction and use harm the environment, our rapidly industrializing world requires new sources of energy.
The ultimate solution, he suggests, is the generation of power by nuclear fusion—not of deuterium and tritium, as is usually proposed, but of deuterium and helium-3.
This reaction, which does not produce any fast neutrons, is clean and nonpolluting. There are, however, two drawbacks to its industrial use. First, the fusion of deuterium and helium-3 is very difficult to start and sustain, requiring roughly an order of magnitude more energy than the fusion of deuterium and tritium. Second, there are no plentiful stocks of helium-3 on Earth. Although the isotope is found naturally as a trace component in reservoirs of natural gas and also as a decay product of tritium (making our stockpile of nuclear weapons the best current terrestrial source), there is not enough helium-3 on our planet to support commercial power generation through fusion.
Enter the Moon. Because the Moon has been bombarded for billions of years by solar wind, which consists largely of ionized hydrogen and ionized helium, helium-3 is available in the dust of the lunar surface. Even there, however, helium-3 is present only in concentrations between 10 and 20 parts per billion. Hundreds of millions of tons of lunar soil (more properly called regolith) must be mined and handled to extract a ton of helium-3. Schmitt has looked at this problem in some detail, and he outlines a plan for mining helium-3 on the Moon to feed a commercial industry for generating power here on Earth.
This is no unrealistic pipe dream but well within the ball park of human ability within a few decades. The race to the moon is on, with at least three countries, the U.S., China and Russia busily preparing for a return to the moon by 2020. That would be 8 years after many people believe the earth, or at least humanity, will have been destroyed by a variety of visitations under the conjunction of galactic and and solar crosses, which look a bit like the Union Jack, but is also also known in the literature of its afficionadi as the eightfold cross. If you want to pursue this topic, feel free to click on:
Here are some blurbs from that lengthy article to give you an idea what it is about:
In 1996, the concept of the Solar System Zodiac (SZ) was developed as a natural affiliate to the Tropical Zodiac (TZ). By comparing these Zodiacs we see that at present days the Tropical Vernal Point comes to the sign of Capricorn in the SZ, and vice versa (Fig. 7). The obtained conclusion has allowed us to find the explanation for a wide spectrum of important world trends in Nature and society [1, Part 8].
By taking into account that the concepts of the Tropical and Solar Zodiacs are minutely described in [1, Part 8], together with a physical background and verification of the obtained results, in this article we concentrate on new results; the basic properties of these Zodiacs are given for clarity of discussion.
Though the general idea of the Tropical Zodiac is well-known, for the purpose of this study keep in mind the basic aspects of this concept, since it is used for synthesizing its generalization – the Solar System Zodiac (SZ, or Solar Zodiac, for short) instead of considering an uncertain concept of a Sidereal Zodiac.
Principally, the Tropical Zodiac (TZ) is determined by the Ecliptic and (Celestial) Equator.
The Ecliptic is a great circle on the Celestial sphere along which the Sun appears to travel in its journey around the Earth, taking one year to do so (here, the Sun presents the direct Hierarch for the Earth).
The Celestial sphere is an imaginary sphere around the Earth on which the stars in the sky are projected.
The (Celestial) Equator is also a great circle on the Celestial sphere; it lies in the plane being perpendicular to the Earth's own axis of rotation.
The North Pole is the point where the Earth's axis intersects the Celestial sphere in the Northern hemisphere.
Since the rotation axis of the Earth is not perpendicular to the Earth’s orbital plane around the Sun but makes an angle ε of about 23 degrees, known as the Obliquity of the Ecliptic (Fig. 1), the Equator and Ecliptic intersect on the Celestial Sphere. The two opposite points on the Celestial Sphere where they intersect are called (the points of) the Vernal and Autumn Equinoxes; the former one, the Tropical 0 ° point (TVP, or the First Point of Aries), is that where the Sun's path along the Ecliptic crosses the Equator from South to North. The Equinoxes define the start of the spring and autumn seasons when the day and night equal in length (Latin: Aequi = equal, Noctium = night).
The line on the plane of Ecliptic which connects these two points is called the axis of Equinoxes; it presents the intersection of the planes of ecliptic and Equator .
Astronomically, the axis of Solstices presents the projection of the Earth's axis of rotation on the plane of Ecliptic; the respective points on the Ecliptic are called the Winter and Summer Solstices (Latin: Sol = Sun Stitium= stand still). For the Northern Hemisphere they define the moment of the year when the noon Sun has the lowest (highest) elevation. Note that in many mythologies the Winter Solstice is associated with the death and re-birth of Nature and various gods.
Mathematically, these cardinal axes of Solstices and Equinoxes are perpendicular one to another. For this reason they form a perfect cross on the plane of Ecliptic; call it the Terrestrial Cross.
This cross, as well as its cardinal points are of great importance in astrology: every object that arrives at any of these points acquires especial importance.
The examples which show the physical importance of the cardinal axes of the TZ are given in [1, Part 8], whereas the esoterical significance of these axes is described in Supplement 1.
By its structure, the sphere of influence of the Tropical Zodiac (TZ) is initially limited to the Earth: it is associated with the aura envelope of the Earth, through which, as via an inhomogeneous filter, different space objects exert their influence on its internal elements – from separate human beings to social structures and natural processes. The accuracy of parameters defining the mathematical model of the TZ is very high and bounded just by the exactness of astronomical measurements that specify the Earth’s orientation and orbit by the Equator and Ecliptic planes, respectively. Use of these two planes supplies both astronomy and astrology with conjugate Ecliptical/Equatorial coordinate systems  which uniquely define the place of the Celestial objects with respect to the Earth’s orientation in Space (Fig. 1). The first of them is used in astrology and theoretical astronomy, while the latter one is more convenient for astronomical observations as it adjusted to the daily rotation of the Earth.
Fig.1. The Equinoxes and Solstices in the Ecliptical coordinate system
By the way, 'Crycifying' is not my typo, just so ya know. Nor is it my view that there is a whole lot to be gained from this theory, except that astrologers of old from many cultures have made a note of this rare conjunction about to occur when I turn 70, in 2012.
Hmm--is that a coincidence or what? Just don't blame me. Anyway, I should live that long.
Should my seventieth year pass without the destruction of the earth or humanity, then I hope to make it until our species has in fact set up a moon base and finds itself well on the way to strip mining that august lunar body for our energy needs. If that sounds a bit callous, well, don't blame me, I don't drive an SUV, or any kind of gas guzzling vehiculum. But if there be any investors among you, keep an eye on the moon.
Since this is still a sequel to 'Enlightened Nation' ( http://forthuyse.googlepages.com/enlightenednation ) I may as well refer you to the movement for a new Enlightenment, something just about due, if not overdue, after the years of unenlightened despotism under the current administration.
Mind you, there are crazies on the left as well as on the right--and since I gave you a taste of the right wing crazies (actually they get a whole lot crazier than what I showed you yesterday) I will balance this by providing you with some craziness from the left. Now please fasten your seatbelts and make sure your pacers are functioning.
Here goes--just click on this: The New Enlightenment , but after getting your kicks on that route 666, please turned to the far more benign website at: www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/kurtz_24_3.htm
Paul Kurtz, founded the Council for Secular Humanism and I will reprint the following article he wrote:
The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 24, Number 3.
The term Enlightenment refers to a unique set of ideas and ideals that came to fruition in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It began with Bacon, Descartes, Locke, and other philosophers who sought a universal method for establishing knowledge. They looked to science as the model for knowledge and debated whether reason or experience was most important (actually, both are equally important). No doubt they took impetus from the remarkable discoveries of Newton and Galileo in mathematics, physics, and astronomy. The Enlightenment culminated with the French philosophes-Voltaire, Diderot, Condorcet, and d'Holbach-who popularized its ideas in Parisian salons, pamphlets, and books, enabling those ideas to spread to a wider educated public.
The philosophes criticized the ancien regime of religious superstition and dogmatism, hidebound social traditions, and repressive morality. They wished to use science and reason to understand nature and solve social problems. They were optimistic that in this way human progress could be advanced. In politics, they developed social contract theories, defended the secular state and the rights of man, and advocated economic liberty. The American Revolution was influenced by their ideals (through Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Paine). They influenced the French Revolution also, though many of them were opposed to its excesses. They wished to reform the penal code and end cruel punishments. They were anticlerical, castigating the corruption and hypocrisy of the churches, especially Roman Catholicism ("Écrasez l'infáme," cried Voltaire). Most were deists; some were atheists. The Enlightenment defended a humanist outlook that drew its values from the Renaissance and Greco-Roman Hellenic culture, which had also extolled the role of reason.
In his influential essay "What Is Enlightenment?" (1785) Immanuel Kant, a key figure of the Enlightenment, sought to define Enlightenment as follows:
Enlightenment is the emancipation of man from a state of self-imposed tutelage. This state is due to his incapacity to use his own intelligence without external guidance. . . . Dare to use your own intelligence! This is the battle-cry of the Enlightenment.
In conclusion, let me simply say that without the enlightenment, there would have been no American Revolution, no Declaration of Independance, no American Constitution as we have it today--we would still live under the sway of clerical or political dictators, be they called Pope or Emperor, King, Knox or Calvin.
In fact, we might still be burning witches. So let's thank that unknown God in whom we not only trust, but in whom we dwell and of whom we are a part, that we no longer have to live under the tyranny of such a deity as was worshipped in the Middle Ages and even during the Reformation--let alone in the days of the Old Testament. Let's thank that God for granting us enlightenment and life in an enlightened nation. But let's by all means do what we can to keep our country enlightened, keep it from sliding back into another dark age.
Oh Jeez, I never answered the question, should we really be mining the moon to solve our energy needs?
Well, it certaily would be enlightened to do so within the proper safeguards and legal framework.
Credit for setting up the legal framework that governs the law of the oceans goes of course to Hugo de Groot, or Grotius, that famous Dutchman also known for having escaped his enemies from Fort Loevensteyn hidden in a book trunk. But he never wrote about space. International space law may be credited, at least in its inception to an old acquaintance of mine from my wild days in New York, Ted McWinney. Ted was a law professor at McGill when I knew him, but he made frequent visits to NYC (he was among other things a member of the board of the Ford Foundation) and we used to hang out at the Russian Tearoom together.
When space came to be an issue between the US and the USSR, three people were dispatched to Moscow.
One was Buckminster Fuller, the famous inventor; the second was John Kenneth Galbraith, the famous economist, and the third was Ted McWinney, who had a reputation in international law and later became a Member of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.
Ted McWinney was responsible for ironing out potential conflicts in space--i.e in establishing a legal framework for human activity in Space. That makes him kind of the Grotius of space.
So let's hear it for my old friend Ted McWinney--a fine gentleman whom I still remember fondly. And here's his biographical information Ted McWhinney - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
and a picture:
Oh, and here's a picture of the famous Russian Tearoom, which unfortunately closed in 1995 I think:
The place is therefore now no longer in existence, but here's what their website once looked like:
http://www.russiantearoomnyc.com/Gallery0.aspx - It was quite a trip!
It is getting close to the time for me to go home, watch Jim Lehrer and work on my enlightenment.
From now on, at the bottom of my various pages will be a link to my Forthuyse home page
from where you can navigate to my other Forthuyse pages and other websites.