Monday, September 21, 2009

New and Noteworthy (JAXA and Space Solar, "Drones to End Era of Fighter Pilots"?, Menacing Space Rock, Paul Krugman and Intellectual History)

Updates have been few in the last month or so, but Raritania-fast approaching its one-year anniversary-remains very much alive.

Noteworthy recent items include:

* An update on Japan's space agency's interest in space-based solar power, which will be the subject of an experiment scheduled for next February.

* A relatively long and comprehensive article about the planned roboticization of the U.S. armed forces from Edward Helmore of The Guardian, focusing on the shift from manned aircraft to drones. (There is some exotic stuff here, but readers should remember that the most radical bits of futurism here refer to developments anticipated for the 2040s, three to four decades from now-and apparently premised on Ray Kurzweil-style hype for what the technology can do.)

* Several news reports in the last month regarding the shortfall in funding for NASA's mission of identifying and tracking potentially dangerous asteroids in Earth's vicinity, including these pieces from Wired.com, Space.com, and New Scientist. (Given the sheer volume of defense spending, that the $800 million needed for the program should be so hard to come by strikes me as nothing short of appalling.)

* Paul Krugman's presentation of a bit of intellectual history in his recounting of the course the conventional wisdom in the economics profession has taken up to its present state in the New York Times. (While well worth a read, I have to qualify my recommendation by saying it gives too short a shrift to the push and pull of real-world politics on the profession-in my view far more important than the "aesthetics" of free market theory.)

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