Solar Power, Worth The Hassle?

In this piece of work that I am about to commence with I will discuss whether or not it is wise to convert or at least supplement your home electricity source with solar power. This is a worthwhile undertaking because there are many things in this world that are billed as cost or time saving and are actually the opposite when looked at with the right measurements or perspective. So the question is, “is solar power what it claims to be—a clean source of energy that is cheaper than other forms, or is it merely a fad that makes people think that they are being kind to the environment or cost effective.” So let’s talk about the claims. Number one: a clean source of energy. When you think about it the energy from the sun is about as clean and as natural as you get. There is no chemical reaction that creates an undesirable waste product, there is no burning, no smoke, no extra gases formed. So in this way—yes it is clean. But you also have to look at how you harness that energy. If you have to create undesirable waste such as plastic or other materials that can’t be naturally broken down; or you have to use energy that is not clean such as coal or other fossil fuel burning to create the product than you are at least decreasing the benefit of the clean power supply. In the case of solar power you do have to create the cells which are made of plastic as well as the wiring and the housings for these cells. So there is some unseemliness to the cleanliness of this power source. The question is, does the benefit outweigh the costs? And in the case of solar power, it does seem that if the units are maintained and last for a long time they eventually will come out ahead. Not like cloth diapers which would, it seems, be a lot better for the environment than their disposable counterparts from huggies. The fact is that the bleach used to clean the cloth diapers is much worse for the environment than the disposable diaper which will eventually (though it takes many years) break down almost entirely. Second solar power is a cheaper source of energy than other options. This again seems very true on the surface. After all everyone has access to the sun and the sun doesn’t charge does it? But then again the solar cells cost quite a pretty penny so it will take a while to pay them off with the cost savings. And you will have to maintain them paying a technician to come out and fix the units with expensive parts. So is it cost effective? Well again it seems as though over the long run yes solar power is a way to cheapen your energy costs considerably. Not like recycling which boasts of a way to save the environment and cheapen the cost of those materials that are being recycled. Well both may not be as true as stated prompting many communities to “recycle” the materials that they collect from well meaning residents right into the trash.

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Stress and the Immune System

Stress and the immune system play a vital role in your life and overall health. Day-to-day stressful events affect how your body responds to fighting illnesses. Stressful events that occur on a short-term basis can change the way your immune systems responds temporarily. Responses from the immune system to short-term stresses can actually be helpful in some cases, redistributing cells in a positive manner to help your body adapt as a quick-fix. Moderately stressful events, however, can have a damaging impact on your body’s immune system, while traumatic and chronic stress can compromise your immune system’s ability to perform. Individuals react differently to stressful situations: some experience more physiological changes when under pressure than others. Stress and the immune system can bring about conditions in which your body’s cells can actually be suppressed and rendered unable to engage in their useful functions of protecting your body against infections. From one stressful presentation you have to make at work, to the everyday traffic congestion that can turn into road rage, stress and the immune system play a significant role in your overall health. If your body’s immune system isn’t functioning properly, all sorts of germs, bacteria, viruses, and diseases have the opportunity to pass into your system to cause you more grief. Diabetes, ulcers, heart attacks, and asthma are just a few conditions made worse by the effects of stress and the immune system. Increases in chemicals produced by your body that help with nerve conduction cause changes in your heart rate and blood vessels, compromising the immune system's response when you enter situations that cause you stress. To help lower the chances that stress and the immune system will negatively affect your daily life, you can take steps such as eating right, getting regular exercise and getting plenty of rest. Your body needs you to take care of it so that it can help take care of you. Eating healthy and nutritious foods is a good place to start. Consumption of foods such as orange vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes) help with the Vitamin A your skin needs to help prevent bacteria from getting into your body. Lean, low-fat beef and certain types of mushrooms containing zinc promote the building of white blood cells to help fight infection. Tea, fortified cereals and yogurt also aid in keeping your immune system functioning well. You can also try to keep your stress levels at a minimum -- easier said than done for a lot of people. Practice deep-breathing exercises and other anxiety-calming techniques to try to reduce your stress levels. Stress and the immune system can negatively impact your body’s health and well being when stress gets out of hand and your immune system isn't up to its job. Stress is a physiological process, but you can take psychological steps to rein it in and get control over the situation before it gets out of control and causes an illness to befall you.

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The Role of Private Enterprise in Putting Man into Space

Has NASA, the monolithic space agency, failed in it's quest to put man out into the cosmos? Will profit coupled with man's need to explore be the driving engine which sends man into the cosmos? Think about what has moved technology forward within the American society over the past 100 years or so. Was Orville and Wilbur Wright employed by the government. Of course not. Most of their research and development for the invention of the airplane took place within a small bike shop in western Dayton, Ohio, the birth place of aviation. Thomas Edison, who is accredited with 1,093 patents earning him the nickname "The Wizard of Menlo Park" used his own money to build the Menlo Park research labs in New Jersey. In 1889, Thomas Edison established the Edison General Electric Company. Thomas Edison is considered the most prolific inventor of our time and his inventions were created within the realm of private enterprise. Did the seed for the invention of the personal computer germinate within a government lab? The invention of the personal computer came from an assortment of various inventions and from the tinkering of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Job's garage in an area now called Silicon Valley, the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. Their tinkering led to the development of Apple Computers. The story of Bill Gates and the development of the Microsoft family of operating systems took place within private enterprise. The Windows family of operating systems is the most widely used on earth and has been a major player in bringing information technology to the developed world. Examples of major technological advancement within the realm of private enterprise are numerous. Most major technological advancements within society have occurred outside the purview of government intervention. Governments were intended to govern the people. The governments role is to preserve the environment of freedom and democracy so that intellectual curiosity can flourish within this environment. The governments role is also to provide funding, and should not be in the nuts and bolts operation of putting man into space. The ingenuity of man within the realm of private enterprise has resulted in most of the technological advancements we enjoy today. The cosmos will be explored by man operating from the base of private enterprise and the technology needed to explore the cosmos will be developed within that enterprise. Why is this so? NASA is an agency driven by fear of tragedy. More mishaps will decrease the probability of sufficient government funding. This cycle of fear, mishaps, and the hope for continual funding is one that seems to have no end. But mishaps are part of the business of putting explorers into space. What can better withstand the expected mishaps. A government agency or private enterprise. If a private enterprise fails, it's competitor can step in to fill the gap and the engine of private enterprise can continue to push man into space. NASA is not a private enterprise competing within the world market place. NASA is not what it used to be during the Apollo days. Given it's current mind set and culture, it will be difficult within this framework to send man out into the cosmos as true explorers. They have given the nuts and bolts of putting man into space to private contractors. But these NASA contractors have the same NASA mind set because they are under the dominion of NASA. There is a fear of mishaps within contractors without true competition within the market place. NASA awards contracts to the lowest bidder. Does the lowest bidder provide the highest level of safety. Once a company is awarded a contract, they remain a NASA contractor for many years and simply become an extension of NASA. NASA has become a autocratic agency with it's arms extending outward to many companies. NASA's manned space flight program can do no more then low earth orbit. Year after year of low earth orbit does not excite the American people. Astronauts today are no longer household names. An American president here and there will give a speech saying we are going to Mars. Even President Bush's January 14, 2004 speech seems to have already been forgotten by the American public. When we went to the moon this was the start of an exploration. A goal was set on May 25, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, during a speech before a Joint Session of Congress, to reach the moon before the end of the decade. NASA kicked into high gear and achieved one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of mankind. We took the first step into space and then just stopped. Since then all of the manned space missions have never gone beyond low earth orbit, and the American public becomes bored easily. To gain the American interest and support of the Apollo days, we must send true explorers out into space. NASA wants to take such small, time consuming incremental steps that by the time comes when the really exciting work begins, the American support and interest may be eroded to the point where NASA may no longer have the financial means by which to accomplish such an endeavor. Hence, the need for private enterprise to accomplish such an endeavor. If we are going to go into the cosmos, then lets do it and stop the futile activity. A private enterprise is not a bureaucracy. If safety issues arise from qualified personnel within a bureaucracy, these issues may not resonate to the proper people within the organization. A case in point, the knowledge of a strong potential for a O-ring failure at low temperatures between the segments for the solid rocket boosters of the space shuttle, existed within the bureaucracy of NASA before the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. More specifically, this critical information in terms of probability of O-ring compromise was expressed by engineers at Morton Thiokol, the contractor for the development and production of the solid rocket boosters. This information never percolated upward from Morton Thiokol to the proper people within the NASA organization. In private enterprise, which is non-bureaucratic by nature, a relatively small group of people are working toward a common goal. In this situation, safety issues which arise will be known by all members of the organization. Safety issues will not get lost in a bureaucracy. NASA depends on it's contractors to deliver a high level of safety. A private enterprise depends on itself to provide a high level of safety. The structure of a private enterprise is more suited to the endeavor of sending out explorers into space. The government should award grants to the most promising companies with the understanding that the sending out of explorers into space does indeed benefit mankind. Americans are at their best when they compete. Competition is an integral component of American society. What was the driving force that put us on the moon. It was the competition with the Russians. At the present moment in time, this type of competition does not exist. Although, it appears as if China may be a future competitor. Americans need to compete to accomplish something. It is competition which drives the advancement of technology. Why not let companies compete for government funding and let the research and development occur within these companies, and most importantly let them compete. Space companies can have the same characteristics of any company that wants to produce a viable product. They will not be under contract from NASA and will operate as a separate private enterprise entity. A company can make money from space tourism and the same company can be involved in sending explorers out into space. Government grants can be awarded based on how strong the potential exists for space exploration. A company can be involved in space tourism, exploration, or can provide a research and development platform. This is the future of man's endeavor into space. Man will be exploring the cosmos with private enterprise being the driving engine. If one enterprise fails, one of the competing enterprises will win out. Sure there will be some disasters and risks will be taken because

that is the nature of the business. But when unfortunate disasters or mishaps do occur, the private enterprise engine will not grind to a complete halt. Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites team have taken the first steps toward this archetypical dream of exploring the cosmos, and they did it with a fraction of the budget that NASA uses and with a team of 130 or so people to boot. They won the Ansari X-Prize by sending a man into space and returning him safely to earth and then they repeated this within two weeks. An absolutely unbelievable accomplishment given the facilities and resources which were available to them. This could only occur within a society where freedom and democracy are regarded as a right to all individuals. The United States is such a society. Burt Rutan has said that he has never worked a day in his life. He only plays. His passion for his work is what produces results. Burt Rutan and his team represent the core of what makes the United States the greatest country in the world. May be terrorist can get it through their thick heads that freedom does work. Most importantly, Scaled Composites has shown the world what private enterprise can accomplish. Even if Scaled Composite's endeavors never go beyond earth orbit, they have taken the first step within the proper mind set and culture, and this is what will put man into the cosmos. This mind set and culture of pure unadulterated intellectual curiosity is what really will put man into the cosmos. Not NASA's mind set of fear. NASA has played it's important role by lighting the torch in sending man to the moon. We are now at a point in the history of mankind where that torch should be passed to private enterprise. The developer of the Ansari X-Prize I'm sure shares my thoughts. God has placed the planets and all the stars within the universe there for a reason. It is God's intention for us to move outward into the final frontier. We do this to fulfill the natural curiosity that God has given to us and in the process we better the lot of mankind. Lets go...

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Great Astronomical Observatories of the World

The great observatories of the world are responsible for many of the prolific astronomical observations of the twentieth century. Telescopic photograpy, radio dish data collection, and infrared imaging are among the many different techniques observatories have been able to employ to learn about the heavens. The Palomar Observatory may be the most famous of all. With five telescopes operated by Cal-Tech’s graduate and post-doctoral students, the 200-inch Hale telescope is the most famous of all Palomar’s telescopes. Built in 1949, it was intended to overcome the onset of the southern California smog problem. Other noteworthy telescopes operated at Cal-Tech include a telescope to search for supernovae, a comet hunter, a trio of sky cameras looking for planetary and other celestial phenomena, an interferometer capable of detecting the slightest wobble in the orbits of a planet, and a sixty inch telescope responsible for spotting the first brown dwarf circling a companion star. Cal Tech is also directly involved in the operation of the Keck and Lick Observatories. The Keck Observatory, located on top of Hawaii’s dormant Mauna Kea volcano contains the world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes. Its twin Keck telescopes stand eight stories high and weigh 300 tons each. Lick Observatory is located on 4200 foot Mount Hamilton east of San Jose, California. It contains nine research telescopes with the largest being the Shane 3-meter Reflector. This telescope is used to observe everything from our local solar system to faraway galaxies. The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is known for its12-inch Zeiss Refracting telescope. This telescope’s fame is largely due to the fact that it has been used to allow public viewing of the universe since 1935. More than five million people have looked through its lenses since under the guidance of experienced Telescope Demonstrators. The Griffith Observatory was also known for its laserium light shows in previous years although they have been discontinued at present. The Hayden Planetarium in Boston is more than just a planetarium. It is also a museum. Along with its Gilliland Observatory, laser-light shows and a rotating star simulator are among some of the different multi-media astronomical experiences available to the public. The Greenwich Observatory in Cambridge, England was established in 1675 by King Charles II in order partially to fix longitude readings. It currently fixes the origin of the worldwide time reference point of Greenwich Mean Time. An observatory in Portland Maine is being restored as a famous architectural monument. Another observatory of note is the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory with its five telescopes. All of these observatories have added to the vast array of knowledge now known about the universe. Their importance to the history of astronomy, as well as their continuing usefulness, can not be overemphasized. 1) Palomar observed: For more than 50 years, science above and beyond; Scott LaFee; San Diego Union Tribune; November 2, 2005 2) CalTech Astronomy Website; 3) UC Observatories Website 4) Yerkes Observatory Website; 5) Griffith Observatory Website; 6) Observatory view worth preserving; by John Alphonse. 7) Hayden Planetarium Website. 8) The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh: A Guide to Edinburgh's Popular Observatory

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