How Do We Get to Mars?

This is the kind of question, “How do we get to Mars?” that normally would take a lot of discussion and involve a whole lot of mathematics.

I’m going to try to explain it simply and to the best of my limited ability.

Mars is in orbit around the sun. Earth is in orbit around the sun. Earth, being closer to the sun, orbits faster. Mars orbits more slowly. So you have to wait until the two planets are lined up to launch, which happens about every 2 years or so. But it’s not a straight shot out to Mars. Everything works following the rules of orbital mechanics.

Essentially, we launch a spacecraft from Earth into a highly elliptical orbit around Earth. This orbit is so elliptical, that it extends all the way out to the orbit of Mars. You time it so just as this spacecraft reaches it’s farthest point from Earth before beginning it’s return journey, Mars comes along in it’s orbit. The spacecraft meets up with Mars.

Transferring of orbit. A Martian bound spacecraft launches from Earth in an Elliptical orbit, catching up to Mars at the moment when Mars goes by in it’s own orbit around the sun.

The image above from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory website of NASA illustrates how this transfer of an elliptical orbit from Earth catches up to Mars. This process takes about 9 months for a spacecraft like this to reach Mars, and can be accomplished only about once every 2 years.

Why aren’t humans drilling into the center of the Earth?

by Wayne Boyd

I’m a hypothetical billionaire, so let’s discuss financing this project and the chances of success, what we’ll need to get it done, and so forth. Theoretically, it would seem possible.

At the south pole the earth is 12,715 and a half miles in diameter, or about 7900 miles to the center, but at the equator the diameter is 12,756.32 kilometers or 7,926.41 miles to the center. The earth is thicker at the equator and it would take a deeper hole to drill from there. We can make a drill 12.7 miles shorter if we drill from Antarctica. So let’s start drilling there.

From Antarctica, our drill will need to be 3,950.5 miles long to reach the center of the Earth. That’s 300 miles longer than the distance between New York and Paris.

To build a drill like that we’ll have to use a modular design. We’ll start with a shorter drill bit and keep making it longer as we drill deeper until it reaches 3,950.5 miles long.

The drill would need to be really thick and made of some really strong stuff to get through granite and just generally tough layers of rock. A drill tip with diamond heads is probably the way to go. As we drill down, the bit will get dull from time to time and we’ll have to pull the whole drill bit out to replace the head. That might have to be done several times a day.

Can you imagine being 2,000 miles deep at some point and have to pull the whole bit out to replace the head? Sounds like a logistic problem that might slow us down.

Eventually, at some depth or other, we’re going to encounter molten rock. In the core itself is molten iron. Our drill bit will melt. All that trouble for nothing.

It doesn’t sound practical to drill to the center-most point of the earth by drilling from anywhere.

Is Time Travel Even Real?

Although I wrote a time travel novel once (Time Gods), time travel has many problems that most sci-fi authors don’t take into consideration.

For example, consider that Earth spins at the equator at about a thousand miles per hour and the Earth orbits around the sun an average speed of 29.8km/s or 65,000 mph (105,000 kph).

The sun also orbits the galactic center at about 225 km per second (140 miles per second) or about 486,000 miles per hour.

The Milky Way galaxy is moving toward the Andromeda Galaxy at about 2.1 million kilometers per hour, or 1.305 million miles per hour.

Now, get in a time machine and go forward (or backwards) an hour or so. Will you find yourself in the same place on Earth only in a different time, or will you find yourself floating in space, Earth having moved hundreds of thousands of miles away in the short period of your time travel?

Now wouldn’t that make an interesting idea for a time travel novel!

Aside from that, and disregarding the impracticality of string theory, time travel in reverse isn’t possible, but time travel to the future certainly is possible under special circumstances.

Consider that you have an identical twin and both of you are in a space ship orbiting a black hole. On your birthday, your twin sibling decides he wants to get in a shuttle craft and take a closer look at the event horizon of the black hole. So he gets inside the craft and travels near the event horizon and then comes back 20 minutes later, only to find you are a very old person and that you have aged many, many years. What you see, as your twin gets closer to the event horizon, is that he slows down until he is practically motionless. Years go by and you grow old. Your twin, down there in that shuttle, still seems frozen in time, then eventually he slowly rises up to the space craft and comes back inside. Although you are now old, you are looking at a young twin!

Another example was introduced by Albert Einstein. Consider two twins, named Biff and Cliff. On their 20th birthday, Biff decides to get in a spaceship and take off into outer space, traveling at nearly the speed of light.

He journeys around the cosmos at this speed for about 5 years, returning to the Earth when he is 25 years old.

Cliff, on the other hand, remains on the Earth. When Biff returns, it turns out that Cliff is 95 years old.

So yes, under certain conditions forward time travel is possible, but not reverse time travel, and certainly if you had a “time machine” then Earth might move away from under you while you are going 30 minutes forward or backward.

How to install a free SSL Certificate using cPanel

If you want to do this, the only hassle is that you have to redo it every 3 months. So if you’re willing to do that, you will never have to pay for another SSL certificate for your website.

Here it is the secret in easy steps. Bookmark this page.

Go to zerossl.com

zerossl.com homepage.

Click “Online Tools”

You will go to a page that says: FREE SSL Certificate Wizard. Click on the START button in the top section. See below.

This brings you to the following screen.

In this case we will ignore the left half of the screen. Type your domain name on the right side. Use both yourdomain.com separated by a comma and a space with www.yourdomain.com as indicated above.

On the bottom right there are two boxes, click them both. Then click NEXT.

This will now “Generate your CSR”. Just wait until it completes. It takes a minute.

Then you come to this screen below.

Here you download a copy of your SSL request and click next. Your account key will then be generated. This also takes a minute. Just wait until it’s done.

Then download your two keys. Once that’s done, do not close this page. You will still need it. Open a new tab and go to your cPanel. In my case I use GoDaddy.com, but whatever provider you use, the cPanel setup will be basically the same.

Inside your cPanel, open your File Manager.

  1. Find a folder called public_html and navigate into it.
  2. Inside public_html create a folder called .well-known [the dot in the beginning is important]
  3. Navigate into .well-known and create another folder called acme-challenge
  4. Navigate into that folder and then upload the two files you downloaded from zerossl.com. They will look something like this:

Once these files are uploaded with your cPanel, navigate back to your cPanel main page and scroll down until you see “Security”. Under that section click on SSL/TLS.

Then click on the last item below. It’s under Install and Manage SSL for your site (HTTPS) and it’s called Manage SSL sites.

Then you come to a page called “Manage Installed SSL Websites”. You must find your website for your certificate.

Then click on Update Certificate. This will bring you to a page with three boxes. You will paste information into these three boxes that you still have on your open zerossl.com page.

Information from the right hand side of the zerossl.com page is actually two keys. Copy that and paste it into the top box of your cPanel Manage SSL page. It will say it’s an invalid certificate because you have two certificates. You have to find the middle part and cut and remove it out, then paste that into the bottom (not the middle) of the Manage SSL page. Then you go back to the zerossl.com page and copy the information from the left side of the screen and paste it into the middle box of your Manage SSL page.

That’s it.

If a person fell from a plane and could land feet first on a steep downward slope could the person possibly survive?

In the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana, a woman and a kid jumped from an airplane in an inflatable raft, inflated it while going down, landed on a steep slope, and survived.

This premise was tested on Mythbusters and found to be feasible.

Now, your question is whether you could do it with your feet depends on three things. 1) That you land feet first, 2) the speed you are falling at the time of impact, and 3) how steep the slope is.

This takes it to a whole other level. I wouldn’t try it personally. It’s not likely you’d survive, but there is, undeniably, a very slight possibility you might.

What Color Are The Balls?

Your brain is tricking you. All these balls are brown. No kidding.

Our brain often interprets what we see incorrectly. In fact, all the balls in this picture are the same color, but we think they are different colors based on the lines in front of the balls.

At first I had trouble accepting this fact. I had to zoom in and look very closely at the balls. Here’s what the balls look like if we simply remove the color of the line in front of the ball.

In this image we can see that all the balls are the same color. However, all we have to do is change the lines in front of the balls to make it appear that the balls are different colors.

Plasma 5.14 Just Released – Here’s what to discover.

Virtual Desktops Have Changed in Favor of Activities

It doesn’t seem possible to switch virtual desktops with a programmable keyboard shortcut anymore, however, in my pure Archlinux KDE Plasma 5.14 install, it is possible to switch desktops by placing the cursor on a blank area of the screen and using the mouse wheel – if you have one. You can also switch to virtual desktops by pressing Ctrl-F1 / Ctrl-F2 etc.

Activities, on the other hand, can be programmed to switch with your own programmable keystrokes, AKA keyboard shortcuts.

For example, on my computer I set up four virtual desktops and four Activities. I also set up so I can switch to any activity on the left with Ctrl-Alt-Left or on the right with Ctrl-Alt-Right. I used to do that with virtual desktops, however, now activities behave much like virtual desktop switching used to but each activity has it’s own set of virtual desktops completely separate from the other virtual desktops. Therefore, I have 16 virtual desktops! These things are relatively easy to figure out how to do in the new KDE Plasma 5.15 release.

Since each activity can have a diffent keyboard shortcut, unlike KDE Plasma virtual desktops which all share the same wallpaper, it’s more like XFCE in that sense. The default (and perhaps only) animation in switching activities is sliding. I hope they change that. I like the cube.

Every time you set up a new activity you have the same setup of virtual desktops you had in the original. That’s probably a flaw that could be corrected, but who cares? I like four virtual desktops, so I set that up. Then I set up four activities, and each has four virtual desktops, and I can now switch from activity to activity with CTRL-ALT-LEFT (or RIGHT). It gives me 16 virtual desktops, if you follow me. Mind you that configuring how to switch activities is up to you.

I now have a super easy way to switch activities and a super easy way to switch to desktops within that activity. Essentially, I have 4 x 4 desktops, or 16. You can have as many or as few as you want. I think some projects might get buried or lost – like this article. I lost which activity and/or virtual desktop out of my 16 contained my article while I did research. Fortunately, I found it again!

KDE is still under development

KDE is still changing and I’m an old school Linux user. I used to use KDE but then abandoned it in favor of Cinnamon and Mate until years later. I’ve tried, of course, Gnome, XFCE, etcetera, but now I’m back examining Gnome after 21 years of Linux experience.

KDE is improving all the time. It is resource heavy, unlike XFCE which is lighting fast, but it’s prettier and more functional if you don’t mind the lag. Of course, if you’ve got a modern computer, there’s no lag. Go with KDE Plasma 5.14.

Remember, my personal recommendation? Kde Plasma 5.14!

The First Day of Spring

Never happened.

There is no first day of spring. There is a spring equinox. This spring of 2019 it will be March 20th at 4:58 PM Central Daylight Time (future tense as of time of writing). Adjust accordingly for your time zone.

Equinox is when the days and nights are of equal length. There’s two equinoxes: Spring and Autumn. It happens to be when Earth passes a particular point in orbit around the sun. This year, that moment will be at March 20th and 4:58 PM CDT. After that moment we enter the spring season, and days in the Northern Hemisphere will officially be longer than nights.

I recognize this is the Internet and many will read this after the fact, but the principle remains the same. There is no official first day of spring. There is only the moment of the spring equinox.

Learn how to type

Touch typing is one of the most useful skills you can learn in modern life.

It’s called the QWERTY keyboard because those are the letters across the upper left of any modern, English language keyboard. They were put in that order for a strange reason. (For some strange reason the keyboard pictured above has three Y and Z reversed.)
Back in the days when we had mechanical typewriters, like the one I learned how to type on, there was an issue of the keys getting jammed. So somebody came up with this design.
Typing should be like walking. You shouldn’t have to think about it, you shouldn’t have to look at the keyboard, and you should be able to type with 9 fingers, not “hunt and peck.” (The left thumb is the only finger not used when touch typing. Thus we type with 9 fingers.)
They call that touch typing. There are two keys on any modern keyboard, F and J, that have little bumps on them. Go ahead. Check it out. Those bumps are there for your two index fingers to find them. That sets up your two hands on the “home” keys, which for the left hand are: a,s,d,f. For the right hand its: “j”, “k”, “l”, and “;”.
There are many free typing tutor programs out there. Go find one and learn how to type properly, for Pete’s sake. You’ll find it an indispensable life skill that you will wonder how you did without.

GPS Block III on Hold

Since GPS achieved Fully Operational Capability on July 17, 1995, GPS has become an essential navigational tool for civilians and military alike. Keeping the system up-to-date has proved to be a problem. Originally the system was supposed to be up and running in February of 2016 but has been delayed at least until 2023.
The latest iteration of the GPS satellite array is called GPS Block III. These satellites must be launched (and will greatly increase navigational accuracy) in order to keep the Navstar global positioning system operational.
The satellites have already been built by Lockheed-Martin and consist of ten new, advanced satellites to be launched into orbit by SpaceX Falcon rockets. The hold up is the U.S. government wanting to make sure the hardware actually gets up there as they independently seek to confirm the safety and reliability of the SpaceX rocket systems.
The new GPS satellites will boost additional easier to track signals for civilian navigational uses and a Military code (M-1) providing anti-jamming security use for the military.