Peter Riva of Gila has offered his many years of columns for this online newspaper. His writings have been published in East Coast newspapers, and he decided to share them with the Beat and you, our readers.
Currently there are five companies building and strategizing rocket systems to go and mine the asteroid belt. Anything bigger than a tennis court that they dislodge – that could fall out of orbit and impact the Earth – would take out a large city. Anything the size of a NASCAR oval could spell the end of life on Earth as we know it. And to mine the minerals and resources on these asteroids they need to move them close to Earth.
Now, why should you care? It's good free-enterprise commerce, no? Well, perhaps, but as we all know, until regulations are put into place, new experimental procedures – good commerce or not – cause disasters. The Titanic comes to mind. As does the Hindenburg. As do hundreds of people trapped in sub-standard buildings that pancaked down when an earthquake hit.
Date: March 29, 2018
New World Requires New Controls
We invented the Internet. It is about time we controlled the beast we created. We have to face facts: the world today cannot continue without the Internet, without the sharing of ideas (communication), control of industrial processes (commercial utility), and, perhaps above all, the cross platform reach into every aspect of our lives and commerce – from television, telephone, manufacturing machines, shipping, construction, transportation, politics, appliances, exploration, science, and office productivity.
Date: March 21, 2018
Physics and a Bigger Car
When Henry Ford was asked about the Model T, one of the first things he spoke of was how far it drove on a tank of gas: up to 500 miles at 31 miles per gallon! It was small, light, go-anywhere, carried 1,000 pounds and, most of all, was affordable. How far we've come. In the search for a faster, bigger, more bulletproof car, for all the car manufacturers it's now a case of "Beat the Joneses" or "Mine's Bigger Than Yours." Some of these so-called personal vehicles have exceeded the axle limit for trucks in the 50's. I remember the size and weight of some of the cars then, when gas was 35 cents a gallon: Big fins, big engines (everyone wanted a V8 under the long hood), exemplified by the Cadillac of 1959 with the pop up taillights to reveal the gas cap.
Date: March 9, 2018
The Silk Trade Route
There is something incredibly romantic about the Silk Trade Route – you know, the one that Marco Polo “discovered” and that brought silk and pasta to Italy from China. In this day and age, it is hard to peer back through the fog of time and realize the incredible marvels that suddenly appeared in the hands of the early explorers. Yes, now we know the Egyptians had trading outposts on the western shores of India, the Greeks had trading posts on the west coast of Africa in Benin (and taught them how to smelt bronze). And Anna Roosevelt, great-granddaughter of Teddy, is probing the mouth of the Amazon and finding Phoenician, Roman, Greek and Egyptian remains.
Date: Feb. 23, 2018
Space Travel Excitement
There can be no doubt that commercial interests are beginning to take over space exploration. Huge multi-national consortiums, many US-based private corporations and inventors, and, never least, some publically held companies are all expanding their technology and interest in the benefits of space exploration. What? You thought all the results from space travel were hardly worth it? We’ve covered all that before, from the printed circuit board, the flat screen, the microchip – all these came out of space exploration development programs. Your world, whether you realized it or not, is a direct result of space exploration. Nowadays, you can add medicines, stem-cell research and a host of other vastly financially beneficial discoveries to that list. In fact, according to scientific study groups, 95% of all current inventions, coding, medical breakthroughs, and pure science discoveries come from, benefitted from, or are based on space exploration and experiments.
Date: Feb. 16, 2018
The Legacy of Duck & Cover
I had hoped never to see kids terrorized again, especially terrorized by the authority. I grew up in Manhattan in the '50s 'til I was 12 (in '62) and remember well the drills practicing Duck & Cover. At first kids were bemused by a break in routine and classroom discipline. But after the first drill, concern radiated around the room – not least with teachers – and left an impression either of bravado (often false) or fright for what could happen or the need to think of others first (which for a kid of 6 was a change in innocence and freedom). Duck & Cover was not a benign exercise, it was not a simple thing to execute for teacher or children. All you had to do was see images in LIFE or LOOK magazines to know that the aftermath of any nuclear explosion was terrifying.
February, 9, 2018
First, what's a Tomahawk? A Tomahawk is a subsonic cruise missile. Long range capability plus all-weather deployment make it a Navy favorite. You've seen them being fired from destroyers, submarines, and other vessels towards Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Hard to detect, with ground-following capability, they can sneak past defenses and pack a huge explosive punch.
February 2, 2018 – Unless you are a news junkie, you probably don’t know (but need to) what’s happening around the world. The US military knows and is making plans, as always: