Cosmic Nebula is Now on YouTube with 2 Projects Made at BCIT

TRAPPIST-1B “New Earth” is a student visual effects video that I created in BCIT’s New Media Design and Web Development program. It was later incorporated into a website project, an additional video and a 3 series poster for a fictional video game called Atomic Ascension: First Contact. Trappist 1-B is one of many potential planets that may contain alien or primitive life according to NASA. This project took several weeks to complete over the course of a very cold Canadian winter. After Effects is a very versatile tool and I tried to create an immersive science fiction experience in this two minute video. Furthermore, creating things like holograms was a very interesting thing to learn while also providing brilliant results.

2055 CE is a reveal trailer for a fictional video game that I came up with. This was created for my Portfolio 2 class in BCIT’s New Media Design and Web Development program. It serves as a visual effects piece to a larger project incorporating a website, 3 series poster and this video. This video was shot on location in Delta, British Columbia near the Alex Fraser Bridge.

Artificial Intelligence and the Possibility of Killer Robots:

A 3D image of a Artificially intelligent robot

May 20, 2018

Killer robots could spiral out of control and cause endless wars and create military targets around the world, even in areas of peace. That is why it is imperative upon humans to ban these robots before they become a presence on the battlefields here on Earth. If this is not done we may threaten our own existence in the form of quickly provoked wars throughout the world which could escalate into nuclear war if robots make mistakes or if the people controlling the robots become trigger happy. The proliferation of killer robots will also harm the future of the human race as more money could potentially be thrown into wars and this could further erode efforts to increase funding for space agencies around the world (funding which is already low to begin with).

Two great minds (one of which is sadly not with us anymore) have concluded that killer robots are an existential threat to the human race, one of these two men was the late Stephen Hawking as well as current Tesla CEO Elon Musk. To some people it may seem attractive to have killer robots on the battlefield in the sense that it will save soldier’s lives, I however disagree wholeheartedly with this notion because it fails to acknowledge errors that people can make while programming artificial intelligence. As my education is in New Media and I have some coding experience I can say for a fact that there will always be bugs, errors and glitches with any form of computer software, in fact I have noticed a few bugs on many popular computer programs and operating systems for example. When dealing with computers these bugs are often small and can be shrugged off or fixed with an update but with Artificial Intelligence these issues could possibly result in fatalities.

Killer robots therefore should be banned before they ever see the battlefields here on Earth. They should instead just be robots used for space exploration and have their military programs removed. Space is the future of the human race and it is best that we put our resources into building a better future instead of destroying what we have. Artificial Intelligence is a problem in and of itself but it can be limited to the functionality of virtual assistants and have its features limited. We should therefore make sure that Artificial Intelligence never possesses the ability to conduct war.

Faster than Light Travel: The Much Needed Imperative of Traveling to Distant Stars

A picture of a artists depiction of a fictional planet and solar system

May 13,2018

Science fiction has many profound examples of faster than light travel, yet developments in rocket propulsion systems have remained stagnant, very so reminiscent of the space shuttles of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. Our ability to dream up of potential solutions to traveling to distant stars such as TRAPPIST-1 remains vast but our scientific advances remain slow and in some cases stagnant. This is due to a variety of causes: a lack of funding for space programs, reduced funding for public science programs and funding for wars rather than in research and development in military’s around the world.

The lack of funding for space programs should be the first concern. Funding for NASA in the United States as a percentage of its federal budget has declined from an apex of 4.41% in 1966 to 0.47% in 2017. Not only is 0.47% of the U.S federal budget considered low but it is also the lowest it has ever been. NASA has effectively transitioned from an agency that undertook many exploratory missions to an agency that deals primarily with telescopes. The improvements and innovations in telescopes such as the Kepler, Spitzer and the soon to launch James Webb Telescope should be considered an accomplishment of scientists, not of government bureaucrats and private industry. A lack of funding in space exploration ends up putting a larger burden upon scientists to discover new things about the universe with seemingly fewer resources each surpassing year.

Public science programs (as well as public education itself) have taken a large hit in many western countries as a result of government funding cuts. In addition, the lack of curriculum coverage in fields such as astronomy at the high school level also makes the public disinterested in pursuing subjects such as astrophysics and astrobiology. A goal of governments should be to have more and more scientists emerge every year from their studies in colleges and universities in order to strengthen space agencies around the world.

Research and development in the military has given us the most advanced human communications network in history: the internet. The internet was originally confined to the U.S military before it later became public. It is now considered vital to be connected to the internet somehow to perform aspects of ones life such as work (especially in the Information Technology field). If more funding was put forward for research and development in military’s around the world (rather than in funding towards war) we might see some progress towards faster than light travel.

In the realms of science fiction we see faster than light travel being a characteristic of species that are “advanced’. However this advanced state of existence can only be achieved with strong funding for space programs, increased funding for public science programs and a greater investment in research and development in military’s around the world. After all, a species being ‘advanced’ is just a product of the investments they have made in themselves. Cutting funding and pursuing wars just prevents progress in a species such as ours. Faster than light travel should be a goal considered by all governments and industries around the world in a post Mars colonization human environment. Prior to this, the foundations of achieving that goal should be put in place.

Space Tourism

A picture of Mark Shuttleworth a space tourist

February 28, 2018

The space tourism industry began in 2001 with the first space tourist ever: Dennis Tito. Tito said that space was a “paradise”. He was helpful and his behavior was good as he spent some time on both the Russian and the American portion of the International Space Station. He paid $20 million to get out into space. Of note was the fact that the Russian space agency and NASA disagreed on having space tourists on board, NASA believed that extra precautions had to be taken place which they vowed to bill the Russian’s for as they had to ensure that he did not break anything. The cost is also increasing for space tourism as Guy Laliberte paid $35 million to get into space in 2009. Charles Simonyi another space tourist went into space two times, the only civilian to do so in both 2007 and 2009. Some people also think they it may be possible to have space tourists go near the moon sometime in the future. In 2010, there was a report from the Federal Aviation Administration that said that space tourism could become a billion dollar industry in 20 years by the year 2030.

Bruce Murray a professor at Caltech said there should a purpose to get people to Mars and that that would be more of a business boom and would serve an actual purpose, the question is when humans can successfully get people to Mars in order to make that a reality. Richard Branson stated that he would refund the $250,000 that people paid for their tickets aboard Virgin Galactic. No one considered the refund and they are still considering going up in space even after SpaceShipTwo crashed in a desert. Some celebrities that bought tickets include Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Justin Bieber and Russell Brand. Richard Branson believes that there will be a day in the future when tickets aboard Virgin Galactic will be affordable for the masses. Most likely, future space tourism will be undertaken by private companies as Russia has indicated that they need to focus on providing transportation to astronauts following the conclusion of NASA’s space shuttle program.

Space tourism could provide many opportunities for people to experience what it actually feels like to be in space. However, it will be a few decades before it becomes viable for the average person. It would probably need to be priced at around double the cost of an international flight on an airplane to be in any way feasible. Some have also suggested that the technology that companies like Virgin Galactic are using could be used to send people to different places here on Earth in just a couple of hours thereby significantly reducing the time that one would typically spend going on an international flight.

JFK’s Proposal of a Joint U.S -U.S.S.R Mission to the Moon

A picture of John Fitzgerald Kennedy speaking at Rice University in Houston about the Apollo Moon mission
February 27,2018

The United States may have won the space race, however it is clear that John F Kennedy did indeed proposal a joint U.S-U.S.S.R mission to the moon. The main reason for this was that it would save the U.S money if they could split the cost of the trip to the moon between the two superpowers. Nikita’s Khrushchev’s son, Sergei Khrushchev said in 1997 that his father thought about Kennedy’s proposal again after initially rejecting it. Perhaps if President Kennedy had not been assassinated a joint U.S-U.S.S.R mission could have taken place. If that had happened scientists on both sides could have shared some of their findings opening the possibility of a greater understanding of what it takes for humans to get on the moon. Furthermore, combining both groups knowledge of rocketry could have propelled human spaceflight technology further than what had actually been accomplished during the period.

The prospects for this mission would have also been good for the Cold War era in terms of the economics and politics of that era. Perhaps the Cold War could have ended sooner and perhaps we would have reached Mars at a sooner date than what is currently planned. The separate missions that both powers eventually undertook with the U.S being the only one of the two to successfully land a human on the moon resulted in a lot of squandered time, resources and money. The approach of two separate missions remind me of what I learned in high school science textbooks about there once being a dark age in science. Early on in human history scientists were very secretive and did not share their works with peers. It’s unfortunate that this approach also came to fruition during the Cold War and resulted in us probably learning less about the moon and the universe in general.

Human Missions to Mars

A picture of Mars on a transparent background

February 26, 2018

Wernher Von Braun wrote a book called The Mars Project in 1962 discussing an elaborate plan on how a human spaceflight to Mars could be accomplished. The Soviet Union also had some ideas such as the Mars Expeditionary Complex. Former U.S President Barack Obama indicated that NASA will achieve a landing on Mars in the mid 2030’s. The Dutch based MARS ONE has a plan to have a base in Mars in 2023 and the mission would be a one way trip to Mars. Some MIT scientists have pointed out that it would cost more for a one way trip than a traditional two way trip and that the astronauts sent on the MARS ONE mission would most likely die in a couple of months.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order for NASA to land a team of astronaut’s in Mars by 2033. Currently among all world governments the United States has the earliest set date for the landing of astronauts on Mars. Red brick houses using pounded Martian soil may serve as the homes of those that want to become inhabitants on Mars in the future according to some engineers. A lunar space station could also be built in the future by 2027. This is called the Deep Space Gateway and will serve to facilitate missions to Mars and later eventually to the rest of the solar system. The promise of the Deep Space Gateway is vast as it could be the key to reaching other star systems and planets beyond the solar system if it is successful in helping launch missions to the rest of the solar system.