Book Review: The New Moon

You’ve watched Star Wars and Star Trek and you believe people are destined to live in space. Heck, we’ve even got a laboratory orbiting a few hundred kilometres over our heads so we must be on the way. But are we? Well, according to Arlin Crotts in his book “The New Moon – Water, Exploration, and Future Habitation” we need to take the next step. That step is to firmly place us upon our own Moon. Nope, it’s not Mars, not Venus, not some tethered asteroid from who knows where. If our species wants to grow, hey, even to survive, then according to Crotts, we need to be Moon-bound and the sooner the better.

So you ask yourself, “What’s so exciting about our Moon?” Start into this book and you will quickly find answers. Reading almost as a compendium of human interaction with our grand satellite, the book takes the reader on a journey through history, literature, geology, chemistry and politics. Whether considering the eloquent recitation between Romeo and Juliet while bathed in moonlight or xenophobic ranting about restrictions due to ITAR, the book shows that the Moon has had a significant impact upon both humans and the Earth.

In a sense, this is the strongest element of the book in that it is a very well referenced, directed resource from the time of Theia to today. Sometimes the details get very precise, as with its careful explanation of Precambrian rhythmites or the amount of KREEP in anorthositic crust. If you’re interested in the chemical composition of serpentine Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 or the wonders of Drake’s equation, you will find wonderful explanations in this book. Just take care, the index is somewhat light for the amount of factual information and you may find yourself asking “where exactly was that description of bright lights coming out of Aristarchus?”.

With all this detail, you’d be thinking that the book comes to some wonderful revelation or conclusion. Sadly, you will be mistaken, as the lack of purpose is one of the book’s major short comings. Most telling is the author’s explanation for writing the book, as provided on its jacket: “Having observed objects as distant as ten billion light years and as close as the Moon, he finds the problems of lunar science particularly intriguing.”

Well, yes, the problems are indeed intriguing but, as noted in the book, research for research’s sake is unlikely to get funding. So, this book doesn’t present the reason or way for funding lunar research, even if that is the presumed best way forward. Yes, the book has lists on why humans should return to the Moon and lengthy discussions on the respective values of robotic and human explorers, but it does not give any certain direction.

The second concern with the book is its nationalistic perspective. The book comes with the view of someone from the United States; the greatest space exploring nation of all as it says. Russia is considered a wannabe, while China and Europe are simply recent upstarts. There is acknowledgement that the International Space Station is a successful collaboration of nations. But the purported solution to the lunar enigma is presented as just needing Obama, the TEA party and the Republicans to play nice. The reader may not agree with this view.

However, for providing a huge amount of information for the Moon, a reader need look no further than Arlin Crotts in his book “The New Moon – Water, Exploration, and Future Habitation “. Reading it will make you a champ at Trivial Pursuit – the Lunar Edition. If you delve between the lines, you may also find yourself wondering just what the future has in store for humankind; a moribund future rocking in the cradle of Earth or a future prospering with greater challenges, higher technology and endless potential.

Book Review: “Our Mathematical Universe – My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality”

Mathematics seems to be the bane of many people, and especially many authors. Editors will often say that putting any mathematical equation into a book will sideline it to a destiny of either a textbook or dust collector. So what is an author to do? It appears Max Tegmark plays this line by continually talking about mathematics but never actually using any in his book ‘Our Mathematical Universe – My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality.’ From a publisher’s view, this is a keen gambit. From a reader’s point of view, there may be referrals to some fancy equations but the lack of mathematics serves to convey this author’s message very well.

Max Tegmark is a professor of physics at MIT and a leading expert on theories of the Universe. But he writes with aplomb about a subject of which few people have much grasp and fewer people can manipulate. In a nutshell, he runs through the tenants of extreme physics both in the time and size dimensions, that is, from quarks to galaxies and from the big bang to whatever string theory may have in store for us.

The tentative hypotheses defining our future drive most of the original work in this book. Specifically starting from the Uncertainty Principle, the author argues that all possibilities can and indeed will occur. Just try following along with his argument about a quantum machine gun to determine life and/or death (but don’t try this at home). He then goes on to argue that an infinite number of universes are needed to enable all these options. Next, and apparently his personal purpose of the book, is his appreciation that given these probability states and the finite representation for basic physical entities in our universe, such as the dark-energy density, then our universe and indeed any universe is equivalent to a mathematical structure. This prognosis is his rationale for entitling his book Our Mathematical Universe. He then goes on to claim that this underlying mathematical structure should be the much sought after Theory of Everything. However, he readily admits in his book that he hasn’t got all the details just yet.

While Tegmark has presumably written this book for the lay person, there is a strong sense of an academic grounding in the writing style. The subject is solidly technical with only the occasional interpose of the author’s personal life. There’s a bit about his family, though not much more than that he has one. There’s much more about the physicists that have touched upon his career as well as conferences he’s attended and papers that he’s written. But still, the feeling of being near textbook like does appear. Perhaps this is what makes this book a bit more of a challenge to read. It’s not the difficult prose but the author’s many thought experiments usually based upon mathematical arguments. Reading it requires hard thinking that puts into question your very existence and indeed whatever you may think the purpose may be of your existence. But the reading can be very rewarding even for the lay purpose who’s looking for the latest in cosmology and physics.

So, this book is what we get apparently when a professor has become tenured. It’s a solid personal view that has more to do with what they feel is correct than what is the social or academic norm. Tegmark admits to and writes of some very off norm points in his life. His book ‘Our Mathematical Universe – My Quest for the Ultimate nature of Reality’ may be his most off putting. But equally, he shows the true value of universities, where the best and brightest can advance the knowledge of our species for all to share and from which all profit.

Falling to Earth

Falling to Earth

People have walked on the Moon. A lucky few. Most have readily shared their experience; some did so with a keen eye to making a personal profit. One who did not was Al Worden lunar command module pilot for Apollo 15. As he explains in his autobiographically styled book “Falling to Earth – An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to the Moon“, postal covers were much less than a tiny footnote to his accomplishments. Thankfully, this event is an equally tiny part of his enlightening book which takes the reader from a life on a farm in Michigan through to a Mississippi river boat ride.

Al Worden was the lunar command module pilot for Apollo 15, the fourth mission to land on the Moon and the first with a lunar rover. In answer to one of my unspoken questions, he writes that he preferred to remain flying in the command module while his crew members explored the area about Hadley Rille. They travelled only a few kilometres about the lunar module, while he orbited thousands of miles, often at a very low height. His descriptions about looking up at the mountains of the Moon and down at fields of cinder cones put the reader right there beside him.

While this book has some very eloquent and moving descriptions of the lunar surface and the surrounding star field, it is much like a biography. And, as put in the book, the few weeks in space were only a small fraction of Worden’s life. Much more happened and continues to happen. In a relaxed, open way, the reader gets swept along through his early years of growing hay, buying cars, attending college, training at West Point and general life in the air force. This time, while interesting, shows Worden’s life to be almost ordinary with very little indication of what was to come. Even his time with the air force appears to demonstrate a person with a natural bent toward mechanical items and a ready desire to do well.

Apparently this was sufficient, as Worden became part of the fifth tranche of astronauts. For the space minded, this is where the book becomes much more interesting. Here, the reader gets taken into the privileged astronaut club as a visceral member. Descriptions of pranks or gotchas abound, as well as joys of racing cars, buying new homes and keeping a family together. Not all were maintained, as the overall impression one gets is of an incredibly busy time filled with assessing, training and planning. Being a backup to Apollo 12, prime on Apollo 15 and temporary backup for Apollo 17, put a huge amount on Worden’s figurative plate. This book doesn’t gloss over the difficulties with its description of the end of Worden’s marriage, the accidental deaths of other astronauts and the constant need to ensure a successful mission. Nevertheless, the reader gets carried through this and joins Worden in the capsule as it journeys to the Moon and back again.

In a bit of a different tack, the book then sets upon a new course as it presents the postal cover issue. While obviously very important for the author to set the record straight, which he admirably does, it may seem to the reader that too much is made of it. The book says mea culpa but it also provides a background detailing the similar practices of other mission crew members and the specific actions of the author and his fellow crew. Fortunately, this is a brief portion of the book, but given that this event ruined the author’s career, the reader will understand the rational for its inclusion.

The remainder of the book is a very quick summary of Worden’s life after Apollo. While he stayed within NASA for awhile, he eventually retired, tried many opportunities and rebuilt a relationship with the astronaut corp that remains to this day. The final section has a most moving personal thought on why humankind explores, our need to continually advance into space and the effect of seeing the finite Earth floating in space. While occasionally the book has passages that feel like a transcribed log book, this section must have come completely from the author’s heart.

As the miracle of the early space age wanes into history, we can benefit by reconsidering what it was all about. With a personal view as provided by Al Worden in his book “Falling to Earth – An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to the Moon“, the reader can go back to that time, relive some grand moments, and realize just how far humankind has advanced in the last few generations.

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Around the World in 84 Days – The Authorized Biography of Skylab Astronaut Jerry Carr

Around the World in 84 days

Flying into space requires money, good fortune and desire. Some astronauts relied upon the government for money, had good fortune when luck was needed and felt the desire to push themselves ever onward. One such astronaut is Jerry Carr whose biography, “Around the World in 84 Days” by David Shayler demonstrates the validity of these requirements as well as the costs and benefits of becoming an astronaut.

Jerry Carr commanded the third and final crew of the Skylab mission. While doing this, he accumulated a number of records, including the longest time in space at 84 days. As well, he and his team effectively closed the book on the Apollo story, as the next manned flight by the United States was via the Space Shuttle. While this was a highlight of his life, it required lots of preparation. Hence this biography starts well before Carr’s application to NASA in 1965 and extends well past his final days at NASA in 1977. In so doing, this book shows a lot of the person that made up the astronaut, the husband, the father and the engineer.

Shayler’s book begins by setting the scene of Carr’s application and acceptance to be a NASA astronaut. The next chapter skips back to his early years as a boy scout, going through school and then trying to identify a future. The following chapters follow the unfolding of Carr’s life; as a pilot in the marine corps, as an Apollo astronaut candidate with NASA, as a trainee and then a participant for living on Skylab, as a technical expert after Skylab and last as a technical expert through to retirement. Aside from a life spent mostly in the field of aerospace, the flow of Carr’s life, its trials, tribulations and exultations appear as common place as any other middle income bread winner.

The distinctive feature of Carr’s life and the compelling aspect of Shayler’s book is, of course, Carr the astronaut. Here, it is mostly of his preparation for and occupation of Skylab. Living in an enclosed space the size of a three bedroom bungalow gave Carr and his two crew mates lots of opportunity for experimentation and research. Shayler, however, gives due deference to the general reader and stays away from technical descriptions. Rather, he considers more the human side; a spontaneous Christmas tree from can labels, a weekly shower, and adaptations due to weightlessness. Shayler’s choice to keep the vein of the book along the emotive rather than technical will give the reader a powerful appreciation of the human spirit enduring and flourishing in a completely foreign environment.

While Shayler keeps the biography principally upon Carr and his involvement with Skylab and NASA, he does branch out to other aspect of his life. The book shows Carr extending his awareness from military applications out to human factor design and on to art appreciation. He is seen to keep in contact with his six children, his step children and the appreciating number of grand children. While he did provide appreciable consulting work for the design of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Stations, this book shows that there was indeed life for Carr after being an astronaut, and the life was well flavoured.

To further embellish his book, Shayler has included a brief list of Carr’s records and awards, a brief narrative of other, related astronauts and a DVD with original videos from the Skylab mission. This portion, and some other sections, read dryly as if a direct transcription from a flight diary. In recognition of this, Shayler has kept them well balanced with emotive quotes from direct interviews. Thus, “Around the world in 84 Days – The Authorized Biography of Skylab Astronaut Jerry Carr” by David Shayler is a pleasant recap of an astronaut with a very accomplished life.

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Blogging the Moon

Blogging the Moon

The Earth’s Moon beckons just above us like a seductive siren. For some it’s the next step in humankind’s journey into space. One such advocate is Paul Spudis who has written the book “Blogging the Moon – The Once and Future Moon Collection“. Within it is a compilation of short essays together with rejoinders that collectively put the reader into the midst of today’s arguments about where or even if our future extends beyond the Earth’s surface.

This book’s main argument in support of using the Moon as our next step is that in so doing, we can use non-earth resources while accruing more knowledge. Yes, we would need to build the infrastructure to acquire and process material on the Moon. But, conceivably we could take this capability and the extracted resources to continue elsewhere. Potential follow-on locales might include asteroids, on to Mars and beyond. So the argument goes. Central to the book is the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration presented by President Reagan. The principal antagonist is NASA, described as an organization that exists to complete isolated programs and nurture self-absorbed bureaucracy. This is heady stuff for a blog and a book.

While the argument about which is the best next step into space remains current and ongoing, this book’s presentation makes almost as much a statement as the contents. Traditionalists expect a non-fiction book to present a claim resulting from cohesive, comprehensive supporting evidence. This and a conclusion would serve to convince the reader that the author’s claim is reasonable and worthy. A blog on the other hand is more a personal daily journal based upon an individual’s experience and interest. When a blog includes responses then it becomes a much more fluid venue like an open ended discussion. Hence, this book about blogging the Moon is as if the reader is a fly on the wall while various avatars in a virtual room espouse errors and preferences for space exploration and development.

If the reader accepts this approach then this book has some great material. One benefit is that apparently the author is well known in the aerospace community, especially with regard to selenic geology. Thus, his essays have got a lot of appropriate detail as well as many online references. The book presents each essay as a chapter usually a couple of pages at most. The chapter then concludes with presumably lightly or unabridged rejoinders from the blogosphere. Again, with the author being well known, many of the responders are also well known in the community, assuming that they used their real names. This makes for interesting reading as a large amount of disparate material gets introduced. Each essay thus has many pro and contrary views, sidebars and verbal ripostes that say as much about consensus forming as they do for using the Moon next.

Should you prefer books the old fashioned way then this book is likely not for you. Aside from each essay being related to the Moon as our next step, there is little cohesion. Much is made of water/ice kind of being detected on the surface. Much is also made of the need (or not) of heavy launch vehicles, flexible exploration paths, fiscal accounting and hot nights in India. Taken together, yes, they all relate to the Moon and humans using it as stepping stone into space. But, on completing the book, there’s no reason to go jump into the street yelling eureka as no conclusion is apparent. Further, the blog is still live on the web so there’s nothing stopping you from visiting and providing your own comments to current posts.

Yet, the Moon still beckons. Almost every night it presents a different face, enticing, scintillating, inviting. We’ve been there and as Paul Spudis well declares in his book “Blogging the Moon – The Once and Future Moon Collection“, we need to go back. The book describes why we can and need to make an impression there that goes beyond planting a flag. The Moon will continue to beckon; it is up to humanity to respond.

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The Wright Stuff

The Wright Stuff

Space holds the future of our species. While we’ve been flying for just barely over a century, we’ve also been rocketing upward for nearly as long. As these technologies advanced so did related opportunities. Space tourism is one such and Derek Webber in his book “The Wright Stuff– The Century of Effort Behind Your Ticket to Space” shows how it was such a logical progression and holds such promise from where we stand today. Through his words we see how private citizens may soon be able to enjoy and contribute to our specie’s future.

The Wright brothers first flew their human controlled aircraft in December of 1903. The author uses this as the starting point and the namesake of his book. In a lively, active voice he carries the reader along a quick, somewhat routine history of flight and rocketry. However, where most historical journeys, especially in the field of aerospace, focus upon events and technology this book espouses the individual or sometimes a couple as with the brothers Wright.

In somewhat jocular fashion, the author anoints a ‘Wright Stuff Award’ to individuals that he thinks have most significantly contributed to space tourism. Some recipients are obvious such as the Wright brothers and Sergei Korolev who respectively advanced flight and rocketry. Other recipients may cause a few surprises such as former President George Bush and Chesley Bonestell. Yet, it is clear the author’s intent is to show that major contributions to the field of space tourism have arisen from a disparate source of promoters and nurturers.

The real relevance of the book comes with its final chapter entitled Tourists. In it, the author introduces the reader to non-government individuals who have taken advantage of a spare seat or two and used government equipment, principally the Soyuz spacecraft, to journey into space. Their flights were principally for personal pleasure. The first few were sponsored. Most of the later used personal fortunes. Nearly all are still alive today. These, the book says, are the original tourists and they are the ones shown to be as much benefactors as champions of human space flight.

While the early part of this book stressed the individual and their accomplishments, the very last section extends tourism into the future. In it, the author runs through a cacophony of current companies, developers and pioneers who are vibrantly competing against each other to offer reasonable and attractive space travel packages. Some seem to have much promise such as Virgin Space with its new space port and White Knight 2 vehicle. Others have just started test flights while still others are in the planning stages. All however show themselves to be part of a busy business sector aiming to offer, at a reasonable cost, a few hours travel into or very close to space.

With the historical progression and the review of current organizations, the
author has shown that space tourism has solid groundwork and that supporting infrastructure continues to flourish. The book doesn’t however address some base questions. The principle one is that so much of the current industry is still Earth focused. People fly up to the edge of space, see the curvature of the Earth and fly back down. As such it would be a small step in moving our species spaceward but space travel would still be a long way down the road. As well, the book doesn’t deal with much substantiation of the business case for space tourism. There is mention of the Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. But, placing the future of our species at the vagaries of discretionary spending seems at best opportunistic. Thus while the book shows progress, the progress may be fleeting rather than a permanent capability.

This book does present a brash, bold and optimistic view of space tourism. Derek Webber’s “The Wright Stuff– The Century of Effort Behind Your Ticket to Space” looks at positive contributions through humankind’s brief history of flight and insights a positive feel into space tourism. There would be no surprise if after reading this book, the reader began saving for their own future ride into space.

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Live TV from the Moon

Live TV From the Moon

Acting as a surrogate umbilical cord between society and its offspring, live television emissions connected the family’s living room to the first human footsteps upon the Moon. Dwight Steven-Boniecki’s book “Live TV from the Moon” faithfully details the technical marvels that kept this connection functioning and the families entertained.

As much as the lunar program was a huge new endeavour for humankind, broadcast television was also making an impact. Where the family room was a place for well acquainted friends to come together, with television’s introduction, the room had to accommodate visitors and images from anywhere on planet Earth. Soon, people learned to love Lucy even though they had never met her. Behind this expansive connectivity was a marvel of electronic transmission that was needing to be extended to the Moon far above Earth.

The marvel of electronic emissions had barely been introduced into the world and people were already building space ships. Such a challenge didn’t slow up our forebears as this book shows with its presentation of the technical marvels of the in-flight camera system and the Earth bound scan converters. Principally the book’s a redoing of the engineering challenge of meshing the space capsule’s physical requirements (e.g. low mass allowance, high light contrast, poor heat rejection) with the existing, nascent Earth transmission service. While perhaps at times a bit dry and overly descriptive, the descriptions show the advancement in technology from low fidelity black and white of the early parts of the Apollo program through to the full colour high contrast remote control units of the later parts. The technical details aren’t overly complex but as this is the focus of the book you will see a fair amount.

As well, this book includes other, societal aspects. These mostly are the efforts to have television be defined as an essential part of the lunar flight as well as the extremely variable public interest given to the results. It shows that dramas as with Apollo 13 certainly kept people’s interest fixated; but recall that the event was extended over many days and with very little changing on the video. This and others are seen as quite dry for the average television viewer as little to nothing happened in front of the camera lens. Hence, the television camera and its emission are seen to have a love-hate relationship with the viewers. Nevertheless, this book does push the reader to contemplate the advantages of live television and the appreciation and attention span of the average member of society.

While the written portion of the book does great justice to the topic, the included
DVD is off the mark. I greatly expected to see many of the historical film clips perhaps doctored up to look better with current technology. Rather, aside for the launch of the last few lunar modules from the Moon’s surface, there’s little historical video. The book includes many pictures (frame grabs) and the DVD has some slide shows of stills (other grabs) but given the topic, I would have valued some additions along these lines rather than searching the Internet.
Still, this is a book about the television technology that had to grow up very quickly as more and more demands were placed upon it. Dwight Steven-Boniecki doesn’t let the reader forget this. In “Live TV From the Moon” he keeps you in the laboratory seeing the equipment tests, with the managers choosing formats and functions and with the viewer enjoying the enthrallment of human space travel. With such demands, it’s no wonder that space travel and television have matured so quickly.

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Voyages of Discovery

Voyages of Discovery

[/caption]The end of the space shuttle’s service life lies nigh before us. There’s no surprise then that reviews are coming out as with Robert Adamcik’s “Voyages of Discovery: The Missions of United States Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103) 1984-2011“. This book’s faithful compilation of the shuttle, mission by mission, reminds us that we are a successful space faring species with high potential.

Billed as the first production orbiter, Discovery was optimized to haul cargo from the Earth’s surface up to low Earth orbit. Its somewhat extended 5 year build time from about 1979 to 1984 was followed up with 27 years of service. During its operational time, the shuttle will have flown to orbit a total of 39 times. The future tense is appropriate as the shuttle awaits it final flight in early 2011.

The book’s account of this shuttle’s operations is succinct and thorough. The author allocates a chapter to each mission and each chapter lies in chronological order. Each chapters’ format is routine; the mission title, a paragraph or two on noteworthy issues, then crew identities, shuttle payload and usually a paragraph describing each day in orbit. While not particularly imaginative, this makes for a business like rendition of this shuttle’s flights.

Many small black and white pictures greatly add to the prose. Most are of the Discovery whether taking off, in flight or landing. Many exciting pictures of roving astronauts or drifting satellites demonstrate the business end of the orbiter. As well, each chapter includes a copy of the mission patch and many have a posed picture with all the crew members or with a crew member working in the low gravity environment. Often the pictures serve to demonstrate a point in the adjoining text whether a woodpecker damaging the shuttle before flight or a flat tire experienced after landing. In all, these visual treats wonderfully spice up the pages.

Yet, this book does leave some questions. Paramount is “Why prepare a book compiling all the missions when this shuttle has at least one more to do?”. And, “Why was a synopsis created for the Discovery rather than any of the other shuttles?”. Most of perplexing of all though is the book’s lack of a summary. With the shuttle’s service life ending and having completed 39 missions, it needs an all-round perspective on the shuttle’s contributions to humanity. Rather, the book makes for an effective reference for the mission of Discovery but not for a consideration of the shuttle’s over-arching value.

Currently, we are seeing many new opportunities arise in space travel; whether private launch vehicles or newly successful national space agencies. Changes will continue as we learn from our experiences and profit from new capabilities. The shuttle Discovery, ably presented by Robert Adamcik in his book “Voyages of Discovery: The Missions of United States Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103) 1984-2011” shows how one vehicle was a robust link in the change. Even as the shuttle program winds down, changes present new opportunities for us to adventure into space.

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Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative

Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative

What if you believe in something with all your heart and it still doesn’t come true? If you’re Krafft Ehricke then you tell everyone that you can and hope that all together you can make it happen. At least that’s the message from Marsha Freeman’s semi-biography “Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative“. Though reading this book may tell you only a bit of Ehricke’s life, it will tell you a lot more about his dreams that he apparently worked toward, with all his heart.

Krafft Ehricke was a compatriot of Wernher von Braun. Both were Germans who brought the V2 rocket into production. After the war, Ehricke joined the German rocketeer group that travelled to the US. There he made significant contributions to the US space program especially with the Centaur upper stage. It, together with the Atlas rocket, made the solar system accessible to humankind. It was also a crowning achievement of Ehricke’s.

While this book provides a little more description of Ehricke’s life, it’s mostly a collection of Ehricke’s efforts to keep space exploration alive. With the Apollo program funding starting to decrease in 1965, Ehricke apparently took it upon himself to advocate for continued and even augmented expenditures.

He describes the Moon as Earth’s seventh continent. He continually vouchsafes space as being a resource to counter the limits to growth dogma of the 1970s. He also wrote of three Laws of Astronautics; the first being that the only limits of humankind are ones placed by himself. The book’s author uses lectures, documents and letters to support this impression of almost frenzied desire to get humankind space bound.

Accompanying these are many illustrative examples of technical solutions; fusion reactors to support life on the Moon, automated vehicles to prepare landing surfaces on the Moon, and, a fictional account of a trip from low Earth orbit to the Martian surface, and back of course. Together, these show a person keenly interested in and technically capable of getting humanity space bound.

This book does great credit to Ehricke’s extraterrestrial imperative. But, it reflects only on this part of his life. As we know, this part, to have humans space bound, remains for humanity to accomplish. As well, the technical capability remains. Still humanity looks for the necessary desire to make it happen. This book has many logical, reasonable, rational arguments for putting people into space.

Yet, these are from a person writing them 40 years ago. Many of the arguments remain and we are still Earth bound. So while the book has some description of Ehricke and a lot of Ehricke’s passion, it is a reflection of what was and adds little to current initiatives to return people to space.

It is surprising to many that the Apollo program began winding down long before a human stepped upon the Moon’s surface. Yet, many recognized the implication of this retreat and sought to do something about it. Marsha Freeman’s book “Krafft Ehricke’s Extraterrestrial Imperative” describes one man’s passionate efforts to keep this dream alive. Sadly, it is still a dream, shared by many but no more real than from many years ago.

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Moon 3-D

Moon 3-D

As Earth’s Moon gently passes across the night sky, Earth bound planners try to make it a more immediate part of our future. NASAs two recent lunar orbiters will bring us wonderful new information but there are still lots of benefit that we can derive from the earlier Apollo missions. Jim Bell’s book “Moon 3-D, The Lunar Surface Comes to Life” is one that can provide just that and still appeal to a large audience. And, everyone may just come away with a big, happy, knowing smile on their face.

As the title boldly states, this book has three dimensional images within its covers! The technology is simple. Red is for the left eye and blue-green is for the right. Thus, the reader can simply hold the specially designed cover up to their face, look toward the full page pictures and a sense of three dimensions leaps out. Though the ‘special design’ may sound exotic, it is simply three well placed holes; the top left for the left eye, the top right for the right eye and a very handy lower centre hole for the nose. This works amazingly well, even while wearing glasses.

So, with the simple yet effective technology, what about the pictures? Well nearly all are of the lunar surface. There are craters, ridges, and rilles to show off the wonderful vista. And, sometimes the scenery includes astronauts, landers and equipment. Aside from being in chronological order, there’s no real sense of meaning or understanding. Each is superb, at least for the Moon buff, but it’s apparent that the pictures were originally meant for scientific study. Hence, while the author has chosen ones with great appeal, the reader will likely get an impression that they’ve reviewing the results of a small scale geological survey.

Of course with the special cover being fixed to the book, only half the pages have 3-D images. Opposite pages have a normal picture that relates to the 3-D image. A couple of paragraphs of explanatory text complete the presentation. The only exception is for the first forty or so pages that contain brief essays recalling the Apollo missions and one on current endeavours.

Now you can blame campy cinematic movies but 3-D usually equates to feelings of silly and fun times. Sticking your face into the cover of a book while looking at the pictures in the book is kind of silly but it is also fun. Not surprisingly, this is the first book that I’ve had youths ask to borrow from me. They were attracted by the silly, fun, odd presentation. They laughed about the way the depth appeared from nowhere. They were intrigued and they stayed with it, at least for awhile. So, if you want to include a bit of silly, fun in your home library or beguile youngsters into space sciences, this is the book for you.

Having probes from Europe, Japan and the United States recently or currently visiting the Moon builds our anticipation. Sometimes it helps to put the whole surface into perspective and Jim Bell enables this through his book “Moon 3-D The Lunar Surface Comes to Life“. Though looking through a book’s cover may seem somewhat silly, it certainly puts the Moon into wonderful view.

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