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It Takes MADMEN to Deflect an Asteroid

If you believe Hollywood it’s easy to deal with an asteroid heading for Earth: simply blow it up with nuclear weapons. In practice that’s unadvisable, since shattering an asteroid, even if it was possible, would leave a large number of…
February 24, 2004

If you believe Hollywood it’s easy to deal with an asteroid heading for Earth: simply blow it up with nuclear weapons. In practice that’s unadvisable, since shattering an asteroid, even if it was possible, would leave a large number of small bodies still on collision courses: in essence replacing a single bullet with a shotgun blast. This week in southern California attendees of the AIAA 2004 Planetary Defense Conference: Protecting Earth from Asteroids will discuss various alternative techniques that could be used divert an asteroid or comet. One concept, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, is called Modular Asteroid Deflection Mission Ejector Nodes, or MADMEN. The concept is simple in design: construct a large number of small spacecraft that would fly to and land on a threatening asteroid, then drill into it and hurl away chunks of rock. The force that each ejected rock fragment would impart on the asteroid would be small, but multiplied by hundreds of spacecraft, and carried out over a long period of time, it would be enough to nudge the asteroid’s orbit just enough to prevent a collision with the Earth. MADMEN is only at the conceptual stage, with no plans by NASA or the Defense Department to actually fund the development of actual hardware for this or other projects.

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

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lucid dreaming concept
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I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

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panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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