The email that I added as an update to my leading post yesterday said of NASA that they "would rather kill astronauts than use Freon blown foam". That was not my wording but I think the substance of it is correct. It appears that the new "green" foam was not responsible for the Challenger disaster but it was involved in the near-disaster with Discovery.
As it says here (From August 3, 2005):
"Discovery's external fuel tank was the first to fly with a new insulating foam custom-made to satisfy environmental bans on chemicals suspected of depleting the Earth's ozone layer. NASA is investigating why a 1-pound chunk of the foam peeled off Discovery's tank two minutes after launch July 26, missing the shuttle's right wing as it climbed toward orbit. The incident prompted NASA to ground the shuttle fleet even as Discovery was on its way to the International Space Station. "We are treating this very seriously. We are going to fix this before we go fly," said John Shannon, a senior shuttle manager at Johnson Space Center.
Indeed, Discovery's tank shed four pieces of foam large enough to cripple the shuttle if the pieces had hit it, and NASA records show at least two of those pieces were applied manually using the new formula of foam.
NASA officials will not discuss any emerging theories about why the foam continues to come off the tank. A team of experts from NASA and tank-builder Lockheed Martin are studying possible reasons. The main focus is on a pillow-sized piece of foam that broke free from a ramp that runs next to fuel pipes and cables, protecting them from turbulent airflow on the violent ride to space. Alterations or repairs made to that ramp are being looked at as a possible contributor to the foam loss, as is is every other change made to the tank.
The change in the chemical make-up of the foam is unrelated to the redesign ordered by the Accident Investigation Board in the wake of the fatal 2003 Columbia accident. Instead, NASA made the change as part of an ongoing bid to meet U.S. and international environmental bans dating to the 1990s. That's when the federal government started trying to ban ozone-depleting types of freon present in the chemicals used to spray and mold plastic foam for everything from refrigerators to furniture to rockets.
Most of the inch-thick orange foam that covers the tank is sprayed on by robots at a sprawling factory east of New Orleans. A freon-based chemical is used in that process. For robot-sprayed portions of the tank, NASA's contractor originally used a formula called CFC-11, long since banned. By 1996, NASA had switched to a more acceptable chemical, HCFC-141b, for all but one of the four kinds of foam it was using on the tank at the time. Then, on three flights in the late 1990s, popcorn-sized bits of the new, environmentally safe foam flaked off in record amounts. A frightening number of dings and gouges on the orbiters' heat shields got NASA's attention.
The freon-free foam was blamed. NASA found a quick fix, changing the way the new foam was applied to the tank to reduce -- but not eliminate -- the popcorning. It's unclear whether the environmentally friendly foam remained a factor in the continuing loss of small fragments of foam on subsequent missions, but NASA records show the agency knew it did not stick to the tank as well as the original foam.
When Columbia disintegrated over Texas in 2003, some blamed the environmental change. That wasn't the case. The big piece of foam that smashed the hole in Columbia's wing was made from the old foam containing the long-banned freon blowing agent. The old substance was called BX-250. NASA and its contractors were trying to develop a freon-free version of that foam, which workers used to manually craft the aerodynamic ramps and hand-made patches of foam applied once the robots are done spraying that initial layer. The space agency was still flying the old foam because it had won exemptions to the EPA rules and was making only progressive steps in changing the foam.
In records obtained by FLORIDA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act, NASA told the EPA that it could not switch the foam formula faster "without jeopardizing the safety of NASA's human spaceflight program." Years of tests were needed on promising new formulas because "qualification testing must be performed to ensure that the material meets all of the requirements for mission success and human flight safety." The records note the agency's struggle with the initial change, and the resulting damage, as evidence it needed more time.
In 2003, as investigators were reviewing the Columbia accident, NASA did certify a replacement for the BX-250 foam that did not include the freon-based agent. The new foam, called BX-265, was ready for the fuel tanks for NASA's first two post-Columbia shuttle missions and is the foam under investigation.
So despite having record problems with the new foam, NASA still risked the lives of the Discovery crew with it and only good luck prevented another disaster.
LOW-DOSE RADIATION IS GOOD FOR YOU
Anybody who has ever heard of radiation hormesis will not be as surprised as these doctors were
Lung cancer patients were given new hope yesterday, thanks to an Australian breakthrough... The good news came in the form of a study published in the journal Cancer which found that low doses of radiation, given every weekday for one or two weeks, could improve outcomes for non-small-cell lung cancer. The cancer was one of the deadliest and most common forms of lung cancer, according to radiation oncologist Michael Mac Manus from Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
Associate Prof Mac Manus and his colleagues were amazed to find that some patients with advanced tumours lived for as long as five years with the new treatment. Usually they would have been expected to live less than six months. "All experienced doctors will have come across an occasional case where a patient has survived for a long time when they shouldn't have, so we thought we would look at a very large database of patients with incurable lung cancer to see how many of them survived," Prof Mac Manus said. "We were surprised to find that 1.1 per cent survived for five years. Some of them survived for 10 years and (one of) the patients appears to have been cured. "The long-term survival was an unexpected effect of the radiotherapy. "We expected it to be virtually zero."
The study looked at more than 2000 patients diagnosed with lung cancer who were at such an advanced stage their illness was considered incurable. All had received low doses of radiation to relieve pain and other symptoms but the average survival for such patients was generally less than six months. Prof Mac Manus was "very surprised and amazed" to find about one-in-100 actually lived for five years or more after radiotherapy.
He was now hoping to extend the research by comparing the molecular biology and genetics of the tumours in a bid to identify in advance the patients most likely to survive with less intensive treatment. "If we can understand what the mechanism is, we might be able to develop some new treatments based on that," he said. Although more research was needed, he said cancer specialists might be reluctant to leave radiation out of the treatment package for late-stage lung cancer patients in future because of the findings. "The bottom line is that even patients generally considered as having incurable disease have some hope," Prof Mac Manus said.
GREENS URGE MOVE AWAY FROM 'DOOM-AND-GLOOM' APPROACH
They would have nothing to say if they did
In a bid to restore popularity to the green movement, a coalition of British environmental groups declared this week that it was time for new attitudes and tactics. Speaking at the launch of an inaugural "Green-Engage" report, written by dozens of "key thinkers" in academia and politics, activists conceded they had achieved limited successes in winning over the general public or understanding how ordinary people think. Hence there was a need, they said, to move beyond a "doom and gloom" theme favored by their core audience, in order to bring about a mass swing in behavior world-wide.
Stephen Hounsham, a spokesman for Transport 2000 - a group working to reduce the environmental impact of transportation - explained that the green movement needed to retune its message, becoming more positive and more realistic in dealing with the public. On issues such as climate change, Hounsham said, groups like his had tended to be needlessly highhanded, or to relentlessly predict disaster resulting from global warming. While that approach may resonate with activists, it caused wider audiences to tune out or became apathetic. "We assume that everybody is like us, with a thirst for environmental disaster [A revealing confession!] and a thirst to do something about it before they go to bed at night," he said.
When dealing with an issue like reducing emissions from automobile use, Hounsham said activists focused on getting people out of their cars and onto public transportation. That failed to take into account how much people love their cars, valuing them for the freedom they offer and their boost to personal identity. "We're not appealing to their core values," Hounsham said. "We're asking them to drop their core values and adopt ours." The green movement should start adopting messages tailored for each issue, emphasizing how citizens can gain immediately from tackling a specific problem, he said. Activists could move away from the image of "lefty hippie people with beards."
Solitaire Townsend, managing director for Futerra, a London public relations agency that specializes in environmental issues, said much soul searching was going on among activists. A new generation of younger campaigners did not wish to be an alternative to the mainstream but part of the mainstream, she said. In the past, organizers had been comfortable with being in permanent "protest mode," constantly fighting those in power. Her generation was tired of being marginalized and wanted to be in power themselves. [Indeed!]
"We don't want to chain ourselves to things, we want to engage with our peers," she said. Adopting a negative attitude when dealing with the media often translated into unhelpful articles. When activists focused on bad news, reporters in turn produced depressing features. In a survey of 320 articles on climate change in British newspapers between August and November last year, Futerra found that 59 percent focused completely on the negative effects of global warming, and offered no possible solutions. As a result of going through this "meat grinder of guilt and recrimination," many people simply decided to ignore the whole issue, Townsend said.
Vigilantes let air out of Europe's SUV boom
European eco-vigilantes are fighting the popularity of four-wheel-drive vehicles - by deflating their tyres. They seem to be getting away with it. Having studied the law, the environmentalists concluded that it was legal if the vehicles were not damaged. The movement began in Paris late last year and has since spread to other cities in France, Belgium and Holland. However, Sian Berry, of the British Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, was worried about the tactic, saying: "If just one person needs to go to hospital in a hurry and their 4x4 has a flat tyre, the joke won't seem so funny. The campaign will be finished." The Association des Constructeurs Europeens d'Automobiles, Europe's leading motor trade association, says the number of 4WDs in the EU more than doubled between 1998 and 2004. The activists compete for who can let down the most tyres in a night. In December, 14 Belgians deflated tyres on 137 cars. To avoid the possibility of owners driving off with flat tyres and putting lives in danger, campaigners leave notes explaining what they have done.
Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.
Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists
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