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#1 2015-10-14 07:00:09

martienne
Member
From: EU
Registered: 2014-03-29
Posts: 146

Scientists here?

Many people are writing fantastic articles (hesitate to call them comments!) and I am just curious whether we have lots of scientists and engineers here, or if Mars is more of a hobby with most?

I feel at a disadvantage, my background is IT/Systems and I am now doing management in this field.

I wish I could follow discussions of a chemical or engineering nature better than I actually can.
I don't feel like I can contribute with the kind of hardcore stuff that most others seem to be able to come up with.

Who really cares what software is running things... It's neither glamorous nor sexy - like designing a greenhouse or calculating launching orbits.

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#2 2015-10-14 09:58:11

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,862
Website

Re: Scientists here?

When I was a preschooler growing up in Canada, I watched the space race of the 1960s. From the TV in my parent's house. My mother was a science fiction fan since she was a child. I watched the last 2 missions of Mercury, all of Gemini, and all of Apollo through the Apollo 11 Moon landing. All live as it happened because home VCR had not been invented yet. There certainly wasn't any PVR or internet. I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. When I grew up, I wanted to be the engineer who designs the spacecraft for the first human mission to Mars. Most people looked at my enthusiasm with space and claimed that I wanted to be an astronaut; I said no, an engineer. They didn't understand that. I stopped arguing or explaining, and just ignored those who claimed I wanted to be an astronaut. But aerospace engineering was not a successful career in Canada. The Avro Arrow was cancelled in 1959, so everyone in Canada was jaded about aerospace ever since. When Avro collapsed, NASA was given first chance at job interviews with their engineers. And first chance to offer them jobs. The best and brightest did go to NASA; one devised the idea of splitting the Apollo spacecraft into a lunar lander and "mothership". He was given the job of designing the legs for the LM. A team from Avro designed Gemini. This allowed American engineers to focus on Apollo. The lead engineer who designed the air frame for the Avro Arrow was the lead engineer for Gemini. Many Canadian engineers who didn't go to NASA were hired by Europe to work on the Concorde. Remaining engineers were hired by American military contractors to design new fighter jets. But none remained in Canada, so everyone claimed I was a fool to even think of aerospace engineering. I repeatedly heard that Apollo was an American project, not Canadian. What we heard through the media was that Apollo was done for all Mankind, not just Americans. That got me excited. And my science fiction fan mother was certainly excited. The world was thrilled by Apollo, and yes the Russian space program too. It was amazing how much could be done. I wanted to be a part of that. But whenever I tried to study, to learn so I could become an engineer, many people actually obstructed me. By grade 10 I had to seriously decide my career. Classes chosen in grade 10 were prerequisites for grade 11, which were prerequisites for grade 12, which were prerequisites for university. I chose science in grade 10, but at "Career Day" at the end of grade 10, I had to decide my career path. Aerospace engineering didn't even have any representatives at "Career Day". The one physicist was excited about physics, but when I asked what jobs a physicist could get in Canada, he said to be a teacher or professor. So only to teach others, not actually do. Then I asked what job openings there were in Canada for a physicist right now (at that time). His face fell, and he said none. No jobs openings at all for the entire country. So I didn't go into physics either. But representatives from all the universities and community colleges told me employers came to their school to recruit graduates. There were 3 jobs for every graduate. So I went into computer science. Unfortunately so did everyone else.

The local university was flooded with computer science students. The computer science department head wanted to limit enrollment, but the university president said each student brought more money to the university than that student cost, so computer science students were profitable. He wanted to maximize computer students. The computer science department head didn't like this, so decided to abuse the students to force as many as possible to drop out. I could go into detail, but it became very bad. I got a job as a computer programmer half way through first year university. It only paid minimum wage, but it was full time and I did the kind of work a recent graduate would do. I wasn't a coop job. Great job experience. And intense! After getting up to speed at work, I found university agonizingly slow. What I did on the job during the summer between 1st and 2nd year was stuff taught in 3rd or 4th year. But I later learned the university targeted any student who had a job. That explained a lot of what I experienced. After learning this, and trying to fit in, but finding I was one of those the university tried to force to drop out, I quit my job so I could focus on my degree. But the university administration didn't stop, they continued to abuse me. I could go on, but it wasn't pleasant.

Maclean's came out with a list of all universities in Canada and the US. It does not include non-accredited universities, it does not include community colleges or career colleges, it does not include junior colleges. It only includes fully accredited, full universities. It ranks universities on quality of education a student will get there. Some universities may specialize in one subject, but the rank does not include that. Some universities may have excellent research, but it doesn't include that either. It only evaluates universities on the quality of education a student will get there, overall, for everything that university offers. My alma mater was absolute dead last. And has been every year. I wasn't the only one with a bad experience.

I have been a computer programmer since that job in first year, beginning of February 1981. I have held important positions with fancy job titles, but my career has been halting, with starts and stops. I joined the Mars Society right after it was formed. In the spring of 1998 I read about the "Case for Mars" conventions in the book with the same title. But I didn't have money to attend, so didn't go. Too bad, that turned out to be the founding convention of the Mars Society. If I went, I would have been able to call myself a founding member. As it was, I joined in 1999. Since my childhood ambition was to be an aerospace engineer, I've studied ever since. I don't have a university degree in engineering, but have self-studied. My university education is in Computer Science.

Actually, when I went to university there was no university in this province that had an aerospace engineering program. My alma mater does now, but didn't then. And when I check the curriculum, aerospace engineering here is a joke. It's just a structural engineering program with a couple space structure courses tacked on as an after-thought. Is that to design a truss for ISS? Nothing else? I would never recommend anyone take that course. But when I enrolled in university, even that didn't exist yet.

When I was a child, my parents claimed that no one can ever make a difference. That even NASA employees are just a cog in a wheel. So I decided I wanted to found my own company, to be contractor. In the late 1970s, I predicted that computers would take off. So my plan was to establish a computer company, to earn my fortune, then switch to aerospace around the year 2000. I predicted the computer industry would shake down to a few multi-national mega-corps, that the little guys would be forced out. So I would get out at that time, and get into my real passion. In the early 1980s, I predicted that Digital Equipment Corporation would be in real trouble, that rising performance of microprocessors would squeeze out mid-range computers. All that would be left would be servers based on high-end microprocessors and mainframes. Since Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) specialized in mid-range computers, they would be in trouble. Everyone looked me like I crawled out from a rock. At that time DEC was the second largest computer company in the world, second only to IBM, and actually exceeding IBM in mid-range computers. But it turned out I was correct. In the 1990s they were in trouble. They were bought out by a joint venture of Compaq and Intel in 1998. Intel took the processor design team, Compaq took manufacturing and everything else. Did anyone listen to me? No.

My career has not gone as planned. I've struggled to remain employed. Soon after I joined the Mars Society, I decided to seriously bid on NASA contracts. I did get on their short list twice. The second one was replacement of a diagnostic computer for communication equipment on Space Shuttle orbiters. The old computer to be replaced was a 1989 VAX running the VMS operating system. I have a certificate from the education division of that manufacturer certifying me as a VAX/VMS system performance expert, dated September 1989. I thought this was ideal for me. I don't have a university degree in aerospace engineering, but do have a university education in computer science, and do have certification as an expert on this exact computer from this exact year. They'll never find anyone as qualified as me. However, that contract had the same problem: I'm not an American citizen, so I didn't get the contract.

I could give details of the first time I got on NASA's short list. But after that one, I made an effort to establish contact with the Canadian Space Agency. They have very little money. They don't have money for their own projects, they certainly can't fund NASA projects. NASA had expected me to do that, to get funding from CSA to pay for work on a NASA project. As if! CSA is so short of funds, they barely have money to pay for Space Agency headquarters, practical space projects like monitoring ice in shipping lanes of the arctic, and resource mapping. They do have some astronauts, who were mixed in with NASA Shuttle astronauts. Since Shuttle was cancelled, they fly on Russian Soyuz to ISS. But this means CSA does not have funds for interesting projects, like sending a rover to Mars. They try to get funding from other sources, like the National Research Council. They're set up to fund university research, so their first question is how many Ph.D.s do you have, and which university do you work for. If you only have a Master degree and don't work for a university, they'll consider you a kid who isn't really qualified, but grudgingly consider your application. If you don't have a Master degree, they won't even open your application. So I can't get anything from Canada.

So I have seriously studied and tried to get work in the space field. Lockheed-Martin has stolen several of my ideas, and gotten contracts from NASA for those ideas. One dramatic example was EMU battery. I noticed the battery on the EMU spacesuit, the white spacesuit used for EVA work on ISS, would only last 11 EVAs before it had to be replaced. I recommended replacing it with a lithium-ion battery. I found two battery manufacturers who made batteries the right size. They had the exact correct amp-hours, you only need connect 6 cells in series to get the right voltage. The French made battery was rated for 1,500 charge/discharge cycles, but was sensitive to temperature changes. The German made battery was more robust, but rated for 500 charge/discharge cycles. The battery module would have the same size and weight as the current battery, but last more EVAs than the life of ISS. Or one full duration 8-hour EVA every solar day on Mars. I made a bid at a symposium hosted by NASA where they invited members from the public. NASA made me their first presenter for the life support track. There was a representative from Lockheed-Martin at the back of the room, so I didn't mention the name of either supplier. NASA insisted each presenter put a copy of our presentation on their laptop before we begin, and recorded our presentation. Since this was a formal bid to NASA, I thought it was protected. But I didn't hear anything further from NASA until the announcement that Lockheed-Martin got the contract to make the new battery. Lockheed-Martin had bought the American subsidiary of the German battery manufacturer. How can a guy working out of his garage compete with a multi-billion corporation that can simply buy his supplier?

For a number of months I dated a woman who was an aerospace engineer working for a contractor for NASA. When she changed jobs and started working for Lockheed-Martin, and her manager learned she dated me, her manager asked her to call me for a referral for Commercial-Off-The-Shelf space hardened electronics for a satellite they were working on. I was able to answer that off the top of my head, as a favour to her. But that means Lockheed-Martin knows me by name.

But I'm still unemployed. In 2007 I tried to get involved in politics. I did win the nomination, but to use a phrase from politics, I have been "buried". I still haven't confirmed who is responsible. Bottom line: I'm unemployed. If you're a manger in IT/Systems, do you have work that I could do remotely from Canada?

Last edited by RobertDyck (2015-10-14 16:59:03)

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#3 2015-10-14 13:58:55

martienne
Member
From: EU
Registered: 2014-03-29
Posts: 146

Re: Scientists here?

Interesting to hear about your background! You are true space geek even though, for reasons of circumstances you could never work for NASA.
Sorry - I've not got anything. You know how it is - there is usually a special skill/language that's needed, and if it's outsourced it goes to India or Ukraine, not a place like Canada. I would if I could... And I can relate to your experience of not really having your heart in your existing career.
But if you are a programmer and unable to get a job, why not set up some websites to try to make a few quid?

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#4 2015-10-14 14:31:05

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,172
Website

Re: Scientists here?

As for me, I'm currently and open university student, mainly doing maths but adding in some biology and planetary science. Though after seeing The Martian, I'd like to add some botany into that mix...


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#5 2015-10-14 15:57:29

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,011

Re: Scientists here?

Not here.
I did work for a corporate research center as shall we say a "Servant" actually I took care of their equipment.

Surprisingly I found that they were some of the best natured people I have ever encountered.  However, I would not really be able to tell you which ones were run of the mill and which were exceptional.  Now and then there would be one with a very goofy personality however, which would make you wonder.  Nice people though.

Only ones who might have ever gotten slightly not nice might be some of the male newcomers, but that was rare.

Saying all that, I do suspect that I assimilated some of their mentality through osmosis, since I worked in that job for over 30 years.

As I say in general far nicer than the people I encountered when I worked in mining before that.  Mining cultures are rather rough.  Still some nice people there as well.

I am retired now, and still adjusting.  Mostly like it.

But anyone is welcome to ask me to get off a topic, if they think I am not qualified to make an argument.  I won't take much offense as long as it is done with reasonable respect.  I have been seriously telling myself that I should likely disappear from this place anyway, move on to other things.


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

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#6 2015-10-14 17:23:16

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,420

Re: Scientists here?

Ya being in the 50 plus club means we have seen or done quite bit in our life time thus far. Here is another page where Rob GW and Myself post about our past experiences and ya we hae done this in other topics as well.
http://www.newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=7157&p=2

http://www.newmars.com/forums/viewtopic … 88#p122488
http://www.newmars.com/forums/viewtopic … 92#p122492

for several posts, I am an arm chair Space engineer with majors in Electronics to the point of telling you what is wrong with a design circuit as to why the smoke came out of the parts that just fried.... I can not say what I do for work currently but it has simularities to how space uses a self contained vehicle that must have all the bells and whistles to protect life..

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#7 2015-10-14 17:24:34

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,862
Website

Re: Scientists here?

martienne wrote:

Sorry - I've not got anything. You know how it is - there is usually a special skill/language that's needed, and if it's outsourced it goes to India or Ukraine, not a place like Canada.

Give me a chance. I would email a resume, but you didn't put an email address on your profile. You can configure "privacy" on your profile to allow messages, but hide your email address. Send me a message.

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#8 2015-10-15 03:46:15

martienne
Member
From: EU
Registered: 2014-03-29
Posts: 146

Re: Scientists here?

Terraformer wrote:

As for me, I'm currently and open university student, mainly doing maths but adding in some biology and planetary science. Though after seeing The Martian, I'd like to add some botany into that mix...

Haha!

Do you have plans of trying to get into the space programme?

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#9 2015-10-15 03:48:19

martienne
Member
From: EU
Registered: 2014-03-29
Posts: 146

Re: Scientists here?

RobertDyck wrote:

Give me a chance.

Really - that kind of stuff is not my call, and I have my own challenges workwise right now. Sorry to have brought up the details of my job situation - it really wasn't much relevant to the discussion and may have given the wrong impression. I would have helped if I could, but I can't.

SpaceNut wrote:

Ya being in the 50 plus club means we have seen or done quite bit in our life time thus far. Here is another page where Rob GW and Myself post about our past experiences and ya we hae done this in other topics as well.
http://www.newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=7157&p=2

http://www.newmars.com/forums/viewtopic … 88#p122488
http://www.newmars.com/forums/viewtopic … 92#p122492

for several posts, I am an arm chair Space engineer with majors in Electronics to the point of telling you what is wrong with a design circuit as to why the smoke came out of the parts that just fried.... I can not say what I do for work currently but it has simularities to how space uses a self contained vehicle that must have all the bells and whistles to protect life..

Cool and I have found your posts very impressive. If I could re-do my degree, I think I'd go for electrical engineering, but it's of course not an option.

Yes, the world can be a small fish tank sometimes and if you are in a niche field, you had probably better not give too much away. Big brother is watching and even without that, privacy is valuable.   

The median age seems to be a lot higher than I thought and that probably accounts for the fantastic quality of some of the information I've seen here. The thought that this kind of info would come from a teenager was scary!


I'm not in the 50+ club but I remember the world before the internet very well. It's very cool how people from across the world who share an interest or a passion can find each other to have stimulating exchanges  that geography would normally prevent.

It's a shame that it's a solitary exchange in front of the computer, sometimes I think people spend too much time writing on the internet about what they'd like to do or what they think about things, rather than actually physically doing something.

Last edited by martienne (2015-10-15 03:57:48)

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#10 2015-10-15 05:04:10

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,172
Website

Re: Scientists here?

Nah, I want to set up a company doing life support and habitat design. Both on-world and off-world; at the moment, the market is almost all the former. Water filtration, waste reprocessing, food production... if it works in space, I should be able to make an affordable version that will work in sub-saharan Africa that I can sell to the would-be middle classes there, and also retrofit houses back in the west to take them off the grid (seriously, we mix wastewater with much dirtier water, pump it to a treatment station, dump it into the sea, only to take the water back out of the rivers, pump it to a treatment station, and then pump it to our houses...). Oh, and I think there's a lot of money to be made in quality pre-fab homes in the UK that are designed for 1-2 people.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#11 2015-10-15 05:23:51

martienne
Member
From: EU
Registered: 2014-03-29
Posts: 146

Re: Scientists here?

What about ESA - does that attract you at all?

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#12 2015-10-15 07:06:44

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,172
Website

Re: Scientists here?

Only if they're offering me a contract...


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#13 2015-10-15 10:07:22

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,862
Website

Re: Scientists here?

We learn from each other. I had posted my list of requirements for a site, and tried to find some place that fulfills them all. After Mars Odyssey did it's initial scan for water using neutron and gama ray spectrometers, I noticed one spot that is flat/smooth, has hematite, and is right on the equator. The problem with that spot is high altitude. I attended a Canadian Space Agency workshop in an attempt to "schmooze", to make myself known so I would be considered for contracts. I talked to a scientist at that workshop, and mentioned the spot. I said no one knows why there's water there, but from my perspective it doesn't matter why, it's just good. His eyes opened wide; he then published a paper with one theory why. That spot was Meridiani Planum, where NASA later sent Opportunity. I later mentioned on this form my criteria and my frustration that there was no spot that satisfies them all. Then someone mentioned the frozen pack ice. I had forgotten the frozen pack ice, because when I attended the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference in 2005 (I attended a lot of things that year), NASA scientists dismissed it as lava. But members from Europe on this forum pointed out work done by the European Space Agency that indicate it isn't lava. I looked further and found published papers from ESA; their serious work to analyze the spot. I got excited, this does fulfill all my requirements.

When I first joined the Mars Society's first forum in 1999, one discussion was about space suits. A few members mentioned mechanical counter pressure. I commented that it's just science fiction, it could never work. One member was a medical doctor with a specialty in decompression sickness, and had a copy of Dr. Paul Webb's original paper published in 1968. He mailed to me (snail mail) a photocopy of the article from his copy of the Journal of Space Medicine. Wow! The fact he had that journal was impressive, but the paper was amazing! I've been a fan ever since. In 2005 (that same year again) I suggested to the spacesuit task force of the Mars Society that we invite Dr. Paul Webb to attend. My concern was that year was his 80th birthday; based on his published works his mind was still sharp, but based on his age I had to ask how much longer? The head of the spacesuit task force not only did that, but organized a spacesuit symposium at which he invited leading spacesuit developers for NASA and its contractors. So I got to meet the man. He was still sharp. After the symposium Dr. Webb organized a work group with leading researchers in MCP, and created a website for it. Unfortunately that website doesn't exist any longer; the Internet Archive shows it existed in 2009 & 2011.

My point is I've learned a lot from other Mars Society members. Much of that from this forum.

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#14 2015-10-15 17:47:36

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,420

Re: Scientists here?

martienne we are seperated by distance and not by mind or desire to bounce ideas off each other, with a few of us having the means and money to build what we talk about..much like Terraformer wants to set up a company doing life support, habitat design, Water filtration, waste reprocessing, food production... I have been doing simular reading to take care of my Mars like water supply, costly waste removal and it takes quite a bit of money to stay warm in winter. Burning the waste to create Co2 to use my dirty water plus solar panel to make Hydrogen in order to make Methane for winter useage and in turn getting clean water is a plus.

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#15 2016-12-03 12:43:06

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,798

Re: Scientists here?

Hello to all here, as I'm new to this forum. Space travel, and principally travel to Mars, has been of interest to me ever since I read the articles in the old "Colliers" magazines authored by Wernher von Braun. My parents thought I was nuts to take this seriously, but I was already something of a science geek. Through my high school years, I took every science course offered as well as the necessary math courses supportive of a science career. After graduation, I entered the University of Colorado Engineering School, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. I did pretty well for the first 2 years and began to flounder, as engineering was neither as easy as I had assumed, nor as pure science oriented as suited my interests. I took a break from school, which in the early '60s, meant a stint in the military. After returning from 3 years in the U.S. Army, I re-enrolled as a Chemistry major at Colorado; I completed a B.S. in Chemistry and worked a year in industry with the Biochemical giant, Sigma Chemical Company in St. Louis, MO. I became somewhat dissatisfied at the pigeonhole drudgery of a low level industrial chemist, and entered graduate school at the University of Wyoming; after 4 1/4 years, completed my Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, with a strong orientation towards Biochemistry. I managed to win a competitive Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NIH at the University of California, Santa Cruz Campus where I continued the research I had begun in Wyoming--working on the chemistry of the visual process, or the chemistry of energy transduction to neural impulses.
During this time period, NASA was achieving at a fantastic scale by putting men on the Moon, and I never really lost sight of what was happening w/r space travel. But, I soldiered on in my chosen field of physical chemistry related to biological systems. Unfortunately the academic area was clogged with far too many Ph.D.s with great credentials for far too few positions. It was then back to industry for me, but as an entrepreneur. My skills in synthetic organic chemistry of biochemically important compounds came into play here, and my wife (also a great chemist) and I built a nice company manufacturing peptide hormones, building block molecules for peptide synthesis, and polymeric resin supports for the Merrifield synthesis of peptides. I became something of a self-taught polymer chemist and amino acid chemist as a result. I attempted to retire and sell my business in 2005, but the business was purchased by another company with the proviso that I work for them for several (3) years, which I did--another learning process which expanded my background in synthesis of non-naturally occurring amino acids and peptide hormones. Today, I'm fully retired, going nuts, and watching in a frustrated manner, the travails of those in the aerospace industry being unable to deal with problems where I may have some solutions at hand...

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2016-12-03 14:21:52)

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#16 2016-12-03 13:48:28

Terraformer
Member
From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,172
Website

Re: Scientists here?

Welcome to the forum.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#17 2016-12-03 19:12:31

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 5,359

Re: Scientists here?

Fascinating CV! smile  Do you have any thoughts on the needs of an early colony?..I'm think in particular of the ability to manufacture polymer plastics on a small scale (some here have argued here before I think that the extrusion process would require large facilities whereas others deny that). Also, what about soil manufacture on Mars?  It seems we have the basics there to create a good soil for crop growing - but does your background give you any insights regarding that. 




Oldfart1939 wrote:

Hello to all here, as I'm new to this forum. Space travel, and principally travel to Mars, has been of interest to me ever since I read the articles in the old "Colliers" magazines authored by Wernher von Braun. My parents thought I was nuts to take this seriously, but I was already something of a science geek. Through my high school years, I took every science course offered as well as the necessary math courses supportive of a science career. After graduation, I entered the University of Colorado Engineering School, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. I did pretty well for the first 2 years and began to flounder, as engineering was neither as easy as I had assumed, nor as pure science oriented as suited my interests. I took a break from school, which in the early '60s, meant a stint in the military. After returning from 3 years in the U.S. Army, I re-enrolled as a Chemistry major at Colorado; I completed a B.S. in Chemistry and worked a year in industry with the Biochemical giant, Sigma Chemical Company in St. Louis, MO. I became somewhat dissatisfied at the pigeonhole drudgery of a low level industrial chemist, and entered graduate school at the University of Wyoming; after 4 1/4 years, completed my Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, with a strong orientation towards Biochemistry. I managed to win a competitive Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NIH at the University of California, Santa Cruz Campus where I continued the research I had begun in Wyoming--working on the chemistry of the visual process, or the chemistry of energy transduction to neural impulses.
During this time period, NASA was achieving at a fantastic scale by putting men on the Moon, and I never really lost sight of what was happening w/r space travel. But, I soldiered on in my chosen field of physical chemistry related to biological systems. Unfortunately the academic area was clogged with far too many Ph.D.s with great credentials for far too few positions. It was then back to industry for me, but as an entrepreneur. My skills in synthetic organic chemistry of biochemically important compounds came into play here, and my wife (also a great chemist) and I built a nice company manufacturing peptide hormones, building block molecules for peptide synthesis, and polymeric resin supports for the Merrifield synthesis of peptides. I became something of a self-taught polymer chemist and amino acid chemist as a result. I attempted to retire and sell my business in 2005, but the business was purchased by another company with the proviso that I work for them for several (3) years, which I did--another learning process which expanded my background in synthesis of non-naturally occurring amino acids and peptide hormones. Today, I'm fully retired, going nuts, and watching in a frustrated manner, the travails of those in the aerospace industry being unable to deal with problems where I may have some solutions at hand...


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#18 2016-12-03 19:29:46

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,420

Re: Scientists here?

Nice going Oldfart1939 with inital post, welcome to the forum and keep it coming. Do not make this the last one as you have described quite a few of us geeks here as well....Just saying from one Space Nut to another SpaceNut welcome.....

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#19 2016-12-03 21:03:27

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,798

Re: Scientists here?

There are 3 areas where my background may be of some use: (1) problem of bone decalcification during travel to the Red Planet, should not the spacecraft Zubrin artificial gravity system be utilized; (2) manufacture of construction materials from locally obtained materials; (3) improvements in fuels for boosters here on Earth.

Many of these areas probably have had lots of input prior to my arrival here, so I'm somewhat handicapped by not knowing where to begin looking in the myriad threads in existence. But I'll stick my toe into the conversational pool here. In reverse order.

(3) The problem of fuel densification when using RP-1 (kerosene) is limited by the physical properties of phase change at cryogenic temperatures. At one point, Rocketdyne was looking at utilization of 1,2-diethylcyclohexane but abandoned this project. There are probably better options that come to my mind. I have in mind some other similarly energetic compounds with lower melting points (some may object to this and say freezing points, but not the correct nomenclature). I've actually done quite a bit of literature research on this problem.

(2) The plastic of my preference would be polycarbonate, since it could be utilized for greenhouse manufacture. All the components are available from the Martian atmosphere other than phosgene.

(1) Has anyone some information whether there has been any attempt to slow bone decalcification by hormonal regulation of the process? At one point (2007) I was doing some work in this area with the hope there would be an SBIR solicitation for some developments in this area. Sadly, NASA seems to have ignored this area of endeavor..

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2016-12-03 21:08:49)

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#20 2016-12-03 21:35:04

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,420

Re: Scientists here?

I did a search with the button at the topic of the pages for each category below

Topics that meantion Kerosene either in title or within them

Lots of them for Plastics


Discusions with Bone of which those with ISS and Artifical gravity would contain the most within them as well

Hope these will help as we have many topics that do not stay with the title very well.

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#21 2016-12-03 23:39:56

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,798

Re: Scientists here?

I live within driving distance of the CU, Boulder campus, and plan to begin attending any meetings or gatherings with the Rocky Mountain Mars Society group, weather permitting.

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#22 2016-12-04 09:31:03

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,420

Re: Scientists here?

Crossing fingers for you..... and good luck at the meetings


The home page website for the chapter if you have not found it yet is http://colorado.marssociety.org/

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#23 2016-12-04 09:36:48

elderflower
Member
Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,149

Re: Scientists here?

Welcome, Oldfart.
Would you care to turn your attention to elastic sealants and thermosetting resins, you being a chemist and all. I still haven't found any that can be made from Mars ingredients using fairly simple processes, except maybe, polybutadiene. So far nothing to bind my basalt fibres....

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#24 2016-12-04 12:19:56

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,798

Re: Scientists here?

elderflower-

What is the ultimate purpose of the thermosetting resin? To manufacture construction materials? What about flexibility?

Setting up a plastics industry for in-situ use of the products seems to be one of the earlier possibilities in early colonization. Problem with ethylene, propylene, and butadiene is they're gases. I have in mind conversion of Martian atmosphere to styrene(s) which is (are) liquid and thus pourable into molds for subsequent polymerization. Consider manufacture of ABS plastics as feasible.

Added as a P.S. ABS is useful in 3D printers!

Louis-

What we know so far about Martian regolith is a high perchlorate content on the surface. Not good for agriculture. Until we have more information regarding soil chemistry after digging down a bit---this question is almost a wild goose chase. I also own a cattle ranch, and am quite familiar with what works for plant growth: manure.

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2016-12-04 12:29:41)

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#25 2016-12-04 12:52:06

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,756
Website

Re: Scientists here?

Hi Oldfart1939:

Welcome to the forums. 

I am another old fart myself.  Spent 20 years doing new product development engineering of defense-related rocket and ramjet stuff.  When that kind of work disappeared for folks over 45,  I did some civilian work and a lot of teaching of math,  physics and engineering.  Retired now.

Live on a small cattle ranch,  and invented,  build,  and sell a farm implement that kills prickly pear cactus out of cow pastures and hay fields. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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