Discover Magazine has excellent taste

By Phil Plait | December 16, 2007 4:00 pm

They like me!

This blurb for BA was also in their print mag from December, which came as a total — but very nice — surprise.

Hey Corey, are you listening? I write for print mags sometimes, too!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: About this blog, Cool stuff

Comments (6)

  1. Phil, you’re a star!

    A large, incandescent ball of gas?



  2. blizno

    I’m not sure that I’m willing to crow about this site. They have a story about methane-fueled rocket engines. That’s great, but they go on to say that Titan and other interesting places are rich in methane.

    Yes, that’s true, but there is no mention of the equally important part of the chemical reaction, the oxidizer. Actually, it’s much more than equally important. Oxygen has an atomic weight of 16. Carbon has an atomic weight of 12. The principle exhaust of a carbon/oxygen rocket is CO2 (There will also be H2O, if you manage to obtain hydrogen from somewhere, but H2O is much lighter, and therefore much less important for propulsion than the equally hot and energetic CO2). The oxygen part of the equation is much more than twice as important as the carbon part of the equation.

    There’s little or no free oxygen on Titan or Mars. Methane in the absence of oxygen is inert and useless as a fuel. There is a mention of converting the abundant CO2 of Mars into methane (with the possible importation of hydrogen from Earth – folly!) but no mention of the oxidizer. If you have abundant power from solar cells or nuclear batteries, getting oxygen isn’t an insurmountable problem. I’m just disappointed that this site completely ignores the issue of obtaining an oxidizer and concentrates only on obtaining methane, the much less important part of the equation.

    I get the impression that the authors assume that astronauts will carry all of the oxygen they need from Earth. The cost and energy required to hoist massive amounts of oxygen makes the waving-of-the-hands dismissal of the problem of obtaining sufficient oxidizer a very, very big problem.

  3. Mena

    Curse you, John Paradox, curse you! I just finally got this song out of my brain and now it’s back!

  4. Curse you, John Paradox, curse you!

    Tee Hee…. and I didn’t even remember TMBG did that song (though I AM a fan from their appearances on TechTV/TSS)

    Besides, don’t you need to believe in a deity for curses to work?


  5. She could always be trying to weight blind chance against you via some as of yet undetermined scientific phenomena.

  6. Mena

    I was speaking metaphorically. Yep, that’s it. :^)


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