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Dayton-based 3D manufacturing leader Bastech, Inc., combines brands

In Business, Dayton Ohio News, Economy, Media, News Media, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on September 27, 2015 at 2:53 pm

BUSINESS NEWS …

Ben Staub, Jr., owner and president of Bastech, Inc.

Dayton, OH – Dayton-based Bastech, Inc., has combined its full range of manufacturing and consumer services under one brand. Since its founding two decades ago, Bastech, Inc., has grown into three separate divisions offering a wide range of services and products from manufacturing prototypes and end-use parts to professional and consumer 3D printing equipment solutions.

Bastech, Inc., is an industry leader in field of “additive manufacturing,” or what is now more commonly known as 3D printing. The company opened in 1994 and first applied the process to automotive and product design.

Today Bastech, Inc., develops revolutionary solutions for many applications including aerospace, medical device, jewelry, packaging, metal casting, injection molding, education and more. As more commercial opportunities arose the firm established separate companies to manage industry-changing niche services.

The first, Rapid Direction, Inc., was founded in 2006 to provide 3D printing equipment and supplies, meeting the needs of those manufacturers who wanted to have in-house, 3D part production capability. Next, the retail 3D printing service, GetPrinting3D, was established in 2012 and offers consumer-based products, ranging from desktop 3D printers to full-color, 3D figurines and custom bobble heads.

Bastech’s president and owner, Ben Staub, Jr., first worked with additive manufacturing during the early 1990s. During that time, he learned the complexities of programming and prototyping with stereolithography (SLA), one of several methods used to create 3D printed objects.

That experience, combined with his background from a strong manufacturing-based, entrepreneurial family culture gave him the tools to master the process and, more importantly, match advancing capabilities with industry demand.

As the technology becomes more accessible and the industry more fluid, Staub recognized that the division of these related products and services into separate entities might make for missed opportunities.

“Many times, customers of one company have no idea what the other has to offer,” Staub says. “Explaining why we have different business units has often been confusing, even to our own people.”

For example, an electronics manufacturer outsourcing prototype parts to Bastech might not be aware that Rapid Direction could actually provide an in-house solution.

More applications for 3D printing are being developed every day and Staub’s team wants Bastech to grow with the demand while giving customers the single, best resource. Over the next few months, a concentrated brand identity will be rolled out to present a clear, single solution under the name Bastech.

“Rebranding is never an easy decision, or an uncomplicated one to execute,” he said. “Nevertheless, it is the right time for that to take place and ‘Bastech’ will become the one solution for our customers.”

Bastech, Inc., corporate facility is located at 9233 N. Dixie Dr. in Dayton. For more information, contact Bastech, Inc., by calling the corporate offices at 855-890-9292 or go online to http://www.bastech.com.

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Amateur radio license classes start Sept 13 in Beavercreek

In Dayton Ohio News, Education, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on August 31, 2015 at 2:57 pm

radiosGREENE COUNTY, OH – Anyone interested in obtaining or upgrading an amateur (ham) radio license should sign up for one of the Amateur Radio license classes being offered by the Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (GCARES) starting on Sept. 13. The classes will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. each Sunday through Nov. 8.  A test for all classes of licenses will be given Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61, 2195 Dayton-Xenia Road.

There is no charge for the classes  which are supported by the Bellbrook  Amateur Radio Club (BARC), the Upper Valley Amateur Radio Club (UVARC) and the Xenia Weather Amateur Radio Network (XWARN) in addition to GCARES.

The entry level Technician Class course will be held in the Training Center at the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club Clubhouse, Room 1 Sugarcreek Elementary School, 51 South East Street in Bellbrook. No experience is required and there is no minimum age required to earn a Technician Class license. There is no Morse Code requirement.

The General Class course and the Test Session will be held in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61 located at 2195 Dayton-Xenia Road just west of Orchard Lane.

The Extra Class course will be held in the Training Room at Fairborn Fire Station 2 located at 2200 Commerce Center Blvd just south of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road just east of I-675.

To register for a courses or for more information, please contact Bill Watson K8WEW by email at wwatson4@att.net or by phone between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. at (937) 426-2166.

Fragile life, one to a customer.

In Health, Local News, Opinion, Science, Senior Lifestyle, Technology on July 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGORecently, I was reminded again of just how fragile life really is for us. The human body is an amazing bit of engineering. Each of us is comprised of a mass of carefully balanced electromechanical systems that may seem at times indestructible but at others so delicate that the slightest damage could be catastrophic.

The adult body is supported by 206 bones, around 6 quarts of blood, a pair of lungs, two kidneys, about 20 feet of intestines, one heart and stomach, and 31 pairs of nerves. But for all of this, and more, the most important component is the brain, the body’s control center.

The human brain is incredibly resilient, resisting failure through high fevers, concussions, and countless other kinds of injuries. But, like an electronic circuit board, the brain’s delicate electrical system can “short out,” causing failure in other areas of the body, sometimes without warning.

Last week my brother, Gary Jr., was complaining of numbness in his right arm. He was having trouble gripping things or using simple tools. He worked through it, but over the next several days the symptoms advanced to become Parkinson’s – like tremors, causing his arm and hand to shake and flail.

IMG_3857

Gary Deer Jr. with brother Gery (left) and father Gary Sr. just prior to surgery.

At the emergency room, doctors first thought he’d had some kind of stroke and he was admitted for further tests which revealed some type of mass on the lower left part of his brain. At this point, they’re still not certain whether the spot is a tumor or some kind of infection, but any type of stroke has been ruled out.

During the first day at the hospital, he experienced several seizures similar to those caused by Epilepsy, each more invasive than the last; violent shaking of one side of the body, garbled speech and periods of unconsciousness. Medication settled the seizures but doctors are still waiting to figure out how to treat the lesion on the brain. Hopefully there will be something positive to report later on, but for now we wait.

Until his arm went numb and the tremors started it seemed like there was no warning to all of this, high insight revealed that the clues were everywhere. Most of his early symptoms were easily dismissed as fatigue or previous injury.
He had been more tired than usual in recent weeks, even falling asleep during conversations. He was having trouble with the right arm before as well, but attributed those issues with a car accident he’d been involved in a few months earlier.

So the point here is, if something seems out of the ordinary don’t wait until it turns into something more to get it checked out. At this point, there is no way to know if earlier detection would have made much difference for my brother, but, assuming a full recovery – and that’s the only outcome I can imagine right now – it might have helped decrease the yet to be known long-term effects.

For a guy in his early 60s, my brother is in relatively good health, having only ever gone to the doctor for severe cases, such as pneumonia or to be checked out after that car accident. Even though he eats like a teenager on a diet of hot dogs, popsicles and soda pop, he is usually energetic and on the move. Still, this thing snuck up and bit him when he wasn’t looking, as many serious illnesses tend to do.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept your own mortality or imagine that something the size of the end of a ball point pen could cripple you or end your life. We are incredibly fragile creatures. Gary Jr. and I joke often that we each should have died several times over from events we’ve experienced in life – a truck crash, lightning electrocution, something – but I never imagined either of us being taken out by something so small.

I survived serious health issues from birth, so I don’t play games with life – extreme sports, drinking, smoking, etc. – and this is one example of why. So if you’re experiencing odd symptoms, or don’t feel like yourself for whatever reason, don’t wait. Go get checked out. People need you more than you might realize.

Update: July 18, 2015 – My brother’s case has changed since this column was first submitted. Surgery on July 15th revealed no tumors or cancer but instead a serious bacterial infection which created a tumor-like abscess in the brain. The infectious mass was removed but the overall infection will have to be treated with intravenous antibiotics for several weeks followed by many months of continued antibiotic therapy. At this time, he is still in the hospital but recovering and is expected to be released soon to home care.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Vent maintenance key to dryer fire prevention

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Home Improvement, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on April 15, 2015 at 5:07 pm

dryer_vent_3_ductzDayton, OH – According to the United States Fire Administration nearly 3,000 clothes dryer fires are reported each year, causing an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries and more than $35 million in property damage. Statistics show that the most common cause of those fires (some 34-percent) was failure to keep the traps and dryer vents clean and free of lint.

Many people proceed from the incorrect impression that the dryer’s removable lint trap will protect prevent major lint build up. Dryer lint can blow right past the trap and end up packed around the machine’s internal components and clog the entire length of a vent pipe.

Click to watch the TV interview with Larry Phillips on WDTN-TV2

Click to watch the TV interview with Larry Phillips on WDTN-TV2

Larry Phillips is the owner of DUCTZ of Southeast Miami Valley, a professional duct and vent cleaning service. “The most important reason to have the dryer vent cleaned is safety,” Phillips says. “There are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of a dryer vent fire.”

dryer_vent_2_ductzFirst, Phillips suggests paying close attention to the dryer’s operation. “If you notice that your clothes are taking longer to dry, especially if it’s more than 50 minutes, you should probably have your dryer vent cleaned, or even replaced,” Phillips says.

“Your dryer vent should be made of flexible aluminum and never a PVC pipe or plastic material. Plastic vent pipe materials may add to the fire hazard. Your dryer vent should also vent to the outdoors – never indoors, especially natural gas units. Gases vented during the dryer’s operation can be harmful to people and pets.”

Critters can be cause problems for dryer vents as well. “Outside dryer vents should be free of debris and any louvered cover must be able to open easily. Also, be sure to check the outside vent often, as small animals and birds often see the vent as an ideal place to make a home.”

dryer_vent_1_ductzFinally, Phillips advises to never use duct tape on a dryer vent, but metal foil tape. Most building codes restrict the length of dryer vent pipes to no more than 25 feet. Longer pipes with sharp turns or raised and lowered sections can be of particular concern because lint gets trapped in the elbows and is difficult to detect and remove.

For those who rent a home, Phillips offers this advice. “Ask your landlord what their dryer vent cleaning schedule is. Most landlords are required to have the dryer vent cleaned each year by their local government.”

For more information on dryer vent safety, contact Larry Phillips at DUCTZ of Southeast Miami Valley, (937) 399-8500. Online at http://www.ductz.com/contact-us/location-map/ohio/ductz-of-se-miami-valley/.

Duct cleaning reduces indoor air pollution

In Economy, Education, Health, Home Improvement, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on February 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm

According to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air may be as much as 70-percent more polluted than outside. Much of that contamination can be attributed to bacteria and mold growing inside residential and commercial air handling systems.

Allergies, asthma, and other illnesses may be aggravated by microbe-laden air circulated through a building’s duct system. Larry Phillips, owner of Ductz of Southwest Miami Valley, is a professional residential and commercial duct cleaning specialist. A 30-year veteran of the health care industry, Phillips chose a second career that offered the opportunity to continue improving the well being of the community.

Air duct before cleaning.

Air duct before cleaning.

“A thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the air ducts can minimize pollution-causing agents lurking in the air system,” Phillips said. “Cleaning the air system at a seasonal change, such as when switching over from heat to air conditioning, is ideal.”

Phillips also cautions consumers to make sure the duct cleaning service they hire is well qualified. “Duct cleaning technicians should be well trained and follow the guidelines of the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA), the professional organization that sets the standard for air system cleaning,” he said.

“It should take 4 to 5 hours to clean an average size home’s duct system,” said Phillips. “If done properly, the cleaning should not have to be done annually, but instead only every few years.” Phillips suggests that, in addition to a high efficiency filtration system, air duct sanitization and ultraviolet germicidal disinfection equipment can maintain the air quality after cleaning.

Besides older, existing structures, it’s also a good idea to clean the air systems of new construction before the space is occupied. In new buildings, duct work, filters and vents can be layered with dirt, sawdust, and drywall dust from the construction process.

Air duct after cleaning.

Air duct after cleaning.

Home owners and operators of commercial laundry facilities should also pay close attention to the condition of clothes dryer vents. Lint that escapes the trap inside the dryer accumulates inside the vent tube creating a fire hazard. According to statistics provided by Ductz, an estimated 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 310 injuries are associated with the lint in clothes dryers annually.

“Cleaning the ducts and dryer vents is also good for the environment,” Phillips noted. “Regular maintenance of the air circulation system improves the efficiency of heating and air equipment which helps to save energy, and reduce operating costs.” For more information contact Larry Phillips at Ductz of Southwest Miami Valley by calling (937) 399-8500.

Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service offers licensing class

In Entertainment, Health, Local News, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on February 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm

The Greene County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (GCARES) is offering classes to help in obtaining an FCC amateur radio license. radiosStarting February 8, GCARES offers classes for all three levels of amateur radio licenses. The classes will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. each Sunday except Easter through April 12. A test for all classes of licenses will be given April 19 at 6 p.m. in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61.

There is no charge for the classes and Morse Code is no longer required to obtain any amateur radio license. The classes are supported by the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club (BARC), the Upper Valley Amateur Radio Club (UVARC) and the Xenia Weather Amateur Radio Network (XWARN) in addition to GCARES.

The entry level Technician Class course will be held in the Training Center at the Bellbrook Amateur Radio Club Clubhouse, Room 1 Sugarcreek Elementary School, 51 South East Street in Bellbrook. No experience is required and there is no minimum age required to earn a Technician Class license.

The General Class course and the Test Session will be held in the Training Room at Beavercreek Township Fire Station 61 located at 1298 Dayton-Xenia Road just west of Orchard Lane.

The Extra Class course will be held in the Training Room at Fairborn Fire Station 2 located at 2200 Commerce Center Blvd. just south of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.

To register for a course or for more information, please contact Bill Watson K8WEW by email at wwatson4@att.net or by phone between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. at (937) 426-2166.

Water: Here’s to your health.

In Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on February 9, 2015 at 1:37 pm

DIH LOGOHi, I’m Gery and I’m a recovering soda-holic (or “pop”-aholic if you prefer). There was a time when I would drink a 12-pack of soda (generally Cherry Coke) within a couple of days. I was an addict – sugar and caffeine were my drugs of choice.

Since I come from a family with a propensity for diabetes, I’d have to guess that drinking that much soda would only push me closer to the Insulin fan club. But all of that changed for me when I was helping to care for my mother and discovered, first hand, the health-promoting properties of water.

My mother, Lois, had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia when she broke her hip and entered a local nursing home for physical therapy. During her stay, her dementia symptoms seemed to worsen more quickly than anticipated.

Soon she more anxious and unresponsive and always seemed to be suffering from some kind of urinary infection. Most of these issues were waved away by the staff as “normal” for a medicated, bed and wheelchair-bound senior with Alzheimer’s disease. Not in my book it wasn’t.

I paid closer attention to her daily care and noticed that she rarely drank anything. Once in a while a staffer would fill a plastic hospital-style pitcher with water and place it on the night table. But that was all; they just sat it down and left.

By this time dementia had diminished Mom’s awareness of hunger or thirst and even if she had wanted a drink she wouldn’t have been able to get it herself. Unless I, or another family member, poured it for her, the water usually sat there, untouched.

Gery and his family used the green tumbler in the photo to measure the amount of water Lois Deer received. It was filled twice per day - apx 0.5 gallons total.

Gery and his family used the green tumbler in the photo to measure the amount of water Lois Deer received. It was filled twice per day – apx 0.5 gallons total. (Photo Copyright 2015 GLD Enterprises Communications.)

She seemed to get worse so we decided to take her home and care for her ourselves. First on the agenda was to increase her water intake to around a half-gallon a day. That may not sound like much but, since water makes up approximately 60-percent of a person’s body weight, at 78 pounds the volume was significant.

Mom was given water regularly throughout the day and at meal time. With proper hydration and more consistent, personalized care, her physical and mental health improved more than I can adequately express.

Alzheimer’s disease continued its rampage, but we cared for her full time until her death in 2011. Still, I am convinced that better hydration increased her quality of life over those last two years in ways no medication could have achieved.

I’ve also since learned we had been right about the relationship between her behavioral deterioration and dehydration. In seniors, dehydration can lead to serious health problems, such as constant urinary tract infections, skin deterioration, and even present symptoms such as confusion and behavioral changes, much like classic dementia.

Many seniors resist drinking water, but I couldn’t tell you why except there may be a generational component perhaps related to quality. My parents, for example, grew up in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio where most of the drinking water came from creeks and shallow wells where the water probably wasn’t too palatable.

While I was caring for Mom I nearly eliminated soda from my diet and quadrupled the amount of water. It was an acquired taste, to be sure, but now my glucose levels are much lower and I genuinely “feel” better. It may not seem like much but I consider this achievement significant, particularly since it was pretty much the only major change I’ve made.

I still have a Coke a couple of times a week (which I rarely seem to finish) but I’m convinced that more water has made all the difference in improving my overall health. Hopefully by starting now, I won’t be so hard to convince at age 70 when any level of dehydration could cause more serious problems.

As for how much you should drink, the typical recommendation for adults is 8 glasses of “fluid” each day. But there really is no precise amount. You’ll have to judge for yourself based on the needs of your own body. Either way, you’ll feel better.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is provided by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Emotions must yield to fact in vaccination debate.

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science, Uncategorized on February 2, 2015 at 1:25 pm

DIH LOGOFar more than scientific fact, emotion seems to drive the debate surrounding the relationship between autism and the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (M.M.R.) vaccination. In 1998, a British doctor released a study which tied M.M.R. to instances of Autism in vaccinated children. Although that particular report was discredited shortly thereafter, it continues to affect parental decisions regarding vaccination here in America.

Before being debunked, however, the British study went viral (pardon the pun) and many parents became convinced that, for children diagnosed with autism shortly after receiving M.M.R., the vaccine must be the cause. Once the power of suggestion took over and the British findings accepted as gospel, the damage was done and more people than ever began to insist that vaccines, the M.M.R. in particular, were causing higher instances of autism.

In most states, the M.M.R. vaccine is required before children can be enrolled in school. With so many students now enrolled who were never vaccinated, measles is starting a forceful comeback, to be followed, one could only expect, by rubella and mumps.

Fear of the spread of these illnesses has officials warning that unvaccinated students would not be allowed to attend school. But while the vaccination debate goes on, autism numbers are still climbing unabated. So what exactly is Autism and what really causes it?

Centers for Disease Control photo of a child with measles.

Centers for Disease Control photo of a child with measles.

According to the National Autism Association, “Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social and cognitive impairments, communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors. It can range from very mild to very severe and occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups.”

As for what causes it, well, therein hangs a controversy all its own. The short version is that no one, absolutely no one, really knows for sure.

A long list of factors related to the development of autism includes a combination or individual instances connected to … environment, genetics, chemical exposure, parental age, food preservatives, freeway proximity, pharmaceuticals, and prenatal vitamin deficiencies, just to name a few.

Although autism is treatable, it is a difficult condition that now affects 1 in every 68 children. People with autism often suffer from a host of other medical conditions including allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders and increased susceptibility to viral infection. It is clear that research must continue in order to isolate the exact cause(s) of the disorder. But allowing potentially crippling or deadly viruses to regain a foothold is not the answer.

Vaccinations have been acquitted of being the cause of this awful condition and people should listen to the experts who are trying to help them understand that.  While definitive evidence for the cause of autism is still elusive, one fact is difficult to dispute. Without proper vaccination, more of the population will fall victim to serious, communicable illnesses that are known to be preventable.

Is it right then to put entire populations at risk of dangerous disease on the mere possibility that vaccinations might be one of the dozens of potential causes of autism? Most experts say no, but that doesn’t seem to slow the argument.

Once the British study was discredited, it seems in the best interest that children continue to be vaccinated as recommended. Keeping children safe is never an “us” or “them” concept and no one should have to take sides to preserve the health of any population when there are methods proven effective to do so.

As with any emotionally charged issue where facts and anecdotal information are confused or interchanged, the M.M.R. and autism debate will likely continue for some time. In the meantime, more people are contracting measles which means it is spreading beyond the “tragic kingdom,” as one New York Times writer referred to it.

If a solution is to be found on either side of this debate, emotions and “crunchy granola” thinking need to give way to real science. Until that time, these diseases will continue to spread and autism will be no closer to eradication.

For more detailed information on the relationships between vaccinations and Autism, please visit AutismScienceFoundation.org and nationalautismassociation.org.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is provided by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com

A short discussion of time.

In Entertainment, history, Literature, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on January 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm

DIH LOGOTime is a concept, at least on Earth, unique to humans. No other creature has a sense of time nor do they seem to miss it. When deprived of its constant ticking, however, humans do indeed miss it – sometimes to the point of madness. People can go insane without the ability to follow the hands around the clock, chasing them as if to pursue food or shelter.

But time simply doesn’t exist. With all due respect to clock makers and the people who force you wait incredulously for an hour after arriving on punctually for a doctor’s appointment, time has no basis in reality; none, whatsoever. Oh sure, early man followed the sun up and down and watched moon phases to generate a calendar with which he soon began measuring the march of days. But he (figurative “he,” not intended to slight the fairer sex) is the only creature on the planet that has done so.

Contrary to the beliefs of theoretical physicists and science fiction fans, the “space-time continuum” is, for lack of a better word, hooey. Time travel will never be possible, forward or backward, regardless of whether one climbs into a souped-up DeLorean or a Frigidaire. It’s just impossible to physically move through a “concept.”

GLD_DIH_JAN15_TIMEThe great physicist, Albert Einstein, couldn’t have said it better when he theorized that time was relative to the position of the spectator. Time exists only in a single instant and even then only in the mind of the observer. There is no yesterday; no tomorrow. Man has no future and no past.

“History,” as it is referred to, is merely the recorded experience of one onlooker in a particular moment, captured in human memories, cave paintings, crayon, photos, writings, and now selfies. One cannot pass to and fro through history and every moment is affected by whom or whatever is present at that instant, without exception; otherwise referred to as “causality.”

For creatures with such a self-confident understanding of the passage of time, human beings certainly spend a great deal of it wastefully, ignoring the precious moments that can never be revisited or repeated. Mankind can be so caught up in his own affairs that important lessons whiz right by his primate-anchored brain cells, forcing him to forget to learn from his recorded past.

In youth, human beings tend to feel, somewhat accurately, that time is endless. In fact, since it is nothing more than a concept, time is endless, but the lifetime of the person is what turns out to be far more limited.

Young people burn up their early years in the ridiculous pursuit of high school glory, good grades, the first of a string of hopeless romantic partnerships, and, eventually, trying to get into the latest night spot by claiming to be older. Sadly, none of these efforts generally result in a fortunate use of time, mostly ending in yet another suitcase on the ever overstuffed baggage cart of life.

As the cart grows, letting go of some of that baggage is something with which humans have an incredibly difficult time. Resolving the past often requires thousands of dollars and hours on the analysts couch, but to no end. Life is cumulative, but time isn’t.

Eventually, humans created machines to measure time’s conceptual passing. Clocks are designed to offer a graduated visual representation of the passage of conceptual time based originally on the movements of the sun. In reality, it was the movement of the earth that was being marked.

Clocks and calendars are man’s way of trying to wrangle time to behave the way he wants it to. The fact is, since he created the idea of time, he has had complete control of it all along but never realized it.

Whether it’s being measured or not life goes on. Human beings would be far happier if they spent less time wallowing in the past or worrying about the future.

As hair turns grey and bones go brittle, the clock continues to tick down the conceptual passage of time. But real or not, the most important thing anyone can do is try to appreciate that one, amazing, wondrous moment of time within which everyone exists.

 

The Jamestown Comet.com Publisher / Editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

Space flight really is rocket science

In history, National News, Opinion, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on November 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

DIH LOGOBy now, most have heard about the failed test flight of Virgin Galactic’s “SpaceShip Two,” which crashed in California’s Mojave Desert on October 31st.  One of the spacecraft’s pilots died in the crash, the other critically injured. While this is Virgin’s first fatality during the development of their “sight-seeing” spaceship for the super rich, perhaps it is just another sign that the pursuit of more money and fame may not be adequate reasons attempt another small step for (rich) mankind. Space travel really is rocket science, and then some.

After a successful flight and ocean landing in July of 1961, astronaut Gus Grissom’s Mercury space capsule sank after a premature detonation of explosives blew the hatch. Grissom managed to escape, only to die six years later in a fire during a “plugs out” test of the Apollo 1 capsule on the pad at Cape Kennedy. Astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee also perished in that tragedy.

Other terrible accidents followed during America’s “space race” to beat Russia to the moon and meet President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man there before the end of the decade. America did finally put men on the moon, several times. But, as space travel became more complex, the dangers increased exponentially, and so did the cost of human life.

Space flight is hard! It should be left to the experts.

Space flight really is rocket science!

Famously re-created by Ron Howard on film, Apollo 13 was, in short, a miracle of human survival. By all odds, three guys trapped in a freezing pop can, 240,000 miles from Earth, should never have been able to make it home. Fortunately, thanks to the skill, ingenuity and experience of the crews both in space and on the ground, the movie managed to get a real-life happy ending.

More than two decades after the Apollo 1 catastrophe, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, marking the first time a civilian had died in a space travel accident. In February 2003, the shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry over Texas after insulating foam from the main fuel tank had damaged the heat shield as it left the launch pad.

No matter how far technology appears to have advanced, space flight is now, and will always be, experimental. The engineers and pilots at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) learned a great deal from the catastrophic failures mentioned earlier. But as more, privately developed, manned space flights are attempted, it is important to keep in mind that all of these disasters happened under the watchful eyes of some of the smartest, most experienced aerospace experts in the world. Yet people still died.

At our present level of technology, space flight is not something that should be left to over-privileged billionaires with fancy English titles. It’s dangerous, expensive and the drive for national security and scientific achievement does not exist in these endeavors. Virgin Galactic’s efforts are about money, pure and simple. Upon further reflection, however, cash may not be any less a humanitarian reason to get into manned space flight than beating the Communists to the moon.

After mothballing the last of the space shuttle fleet, America seems to be all but out of any residual space race that may still exist. Massive budget cuts enacted by the Obama administration have stripped NASA to its bare bones, its government money now subsidized more often by private companies using facilities and personnel to launch communications satellites. Without the space shuttle, the International Space Station depends more and more on private industry – and the Russians – to remain manned and supplied.

Lacking a more pressing need to funnel billions of dollars back into government-sponsored space flight, private organizations will eventually be the only way Americans go to space. For more companies like Virgin to get involved in the endeavor, however, there would need to be some kind of return on investment to motivate them.

Perhaps one of the space probes will find gold or platinum on Mars or one of Jupiter’s moons, inspiring a space-age gold rush. Until that happens, people should probably keep an eye open for more rich kids’ toys dropping out of the sky.
The Jamestown Comet Editor/Publisher Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com.