Thursday, April 16, 2015

3-D Printers on Mars and Your Faith in God

Scientists are investigating using 3-D printers in space.  The idea is to use raw materials found on the moon or Mars to build shelter and other structures needed to sustain life [see article here] .  The 3-D printers can stuff or they can make other 3-D printers that can make more stuff.

3-D printers can already self-replicate, sort of.  They can make many of the parts, just not the electronics and other key elements [see article here].  These would have to be supplied from Earth.

But there are already self-replicating machines that are microscopically small, called nanobots (Nano for "very small" and bot for "robot").  These nanobots create a variety of tiny structures that can be assembled into larger machines that can perform almost any task.  For example, these machines can search for the raw materials they need by:

  • Digging in the ground
  • Autonomously roaming around on the ground
  • Self-propelling in water
  • Flying in the air
They use the raw materials they collect for energy or to make other machines (via the nanobots).  It's amazing that these nanobots already exist and scientists have absolutely no idea where they came from.  What are they?  They're called "DNA".  DNA is a microscopically small "machine" that makes cells (tiny structures) that together form various living things (plants, animals and us).  The living things can dig, walk, swim, fly.  And they can make copies of themselves with no extra spare parts required.

Once again, scientists have no idea where DNA came from, but many do know one thing for sure: there is no God.  I'm not sure how they know that when they have no idea where something as amazing as DNA came from.  But they do.


Friday, April 10, 2015

The Flight (A parable)

Steve and Karen lived in a remote trading post in the Alaskan wilderness. Steve was taking his last trip into town to get supplies for the coming winter. By trip into town, I mean a flight in his plane over two mountain ranges separated by a desolate valley. As he prepared to leave, Karen said "Steve, do you have the list?". Yes he replied. "You need to stick to the list". Steve ignored her. "Did you hear me? you need to stick to the list". Steve turned, looked Karen in the eyes and said "I have the list, don't worry". With the engine roaring, the plane zipped down the runway and jumped into the air. Gravity disappeared and Steve felt renewed freedom. Steve reminisced about his flying adventures. As he climbed altitude to the first mountain range, Steve could hear the words of his flight instructor saying "The Minimum Safe Altitude is 1000 feet above the ground. That means if there is a mountain, you need to be 1000' ABOVE the highest peak". Steve ignored this advice as he flew as close as possible to the mountain ridge. The snow capped jagged ridge was spectacular up close. He passed into the quiet valley. He thought again about Karen. She had given him an envelop with their meager savings and THE LIST. "I'm giving you more than you need, in case prices have gone up. We need everything on that list." He wondered why he never got to put stuff on the list. "Just the necessities" he could hear Karen's voice in his head. "What about my necessities?", he thought in reply. He felt his blood pressure rise so he dropped into the valley and buzzed a herd of caribou. He felt in control again and climbed again to the next range. He soon was on decent and landing at the small airport. Time to go shopping. Steve was surprised to find prices the lowest he'd ever seen. He purchased everything on Karen's list way under budget. He mulled over buying some extra "necessities" Karen left off the list. He heard her voice in his head "Stick to the list". He rationalized that what she was really saying was "make sure you get everything on the list", which he had done with money to spare. He bought what he wanted and still had money left over. He looked at the cash in his hand and thought "This cold cash will do me no good on the long winter nights. I need something to keep me warm". So he purchased more "necessities". Back at his plane, with his cargo loaded, he prepared for takeoff. The plane barely responded to the throttle. It slowly increased speed and was weight off wheels just barely before the runway ended. The ascent was slow. Steve soon calculated that he was climbing too slowly, so he went to maximum throttle. The engine strained and the only thing that climbed was the needle on the temperature gauge. Steve sweated as he realized he had to do the unthinkable. With the plane in autopilot, Steve wiggled to the cargo hold, took out a bottle, opened it, took a drink, then opened the door and threw the bottle out. Then he started pushing boxes out until the engine quit straining. Half of his extra cargo was now gone. Back in the cockpit, Steve again pushed the throttle and the plane climbed slowly. He barely cleared the mountain ridge and wished it was a safer 1000 feet clearance. As he entered the valley, he kept a steady altitude. No buzzing caribou this time. He saw ugly black clouds in the distance but new he could beat them. About half way across the valley, the cross winds from the storm buffeted the small plane. Each bout of turbulence pushed the plane downward. Once again he pushed the plane to the limit with the same results. Steve practically cried as he realized what he needed to do. Once again he wiggled back, opened the door, and started pushing out boxes until the engine purred again. Once again, he narrowly cleared the second ridge. The weather was now calm and it was an easy decent to his home. Relieved, Steve regained his composure and thought what he'd tell Karen. The first part of the trip was entirely his fault. He had too much cargo. He couldn't tell Karen about that. The second part was not his fault, but couldn't tell Karen about unloading the supplies he wasn't supposed to buy. Had he done anything right? He still had everything on the list. That's the story he would tell Karen. As he landed and taxied towards the house, Karen ran out to greet him. Her face was white and she looked worried. "I heard on the radio that a storm was coming. Steve, I was so worried". Steve, grinned, said "I'm fine. And better than that, I got everything on your list". They unloaded the supplies and the color returned to Karen's face. "I'm so glad your okay". Steve repeated "I'm fine, and I got everything on your list". Then Steve let slip that he "also got a good deal". Karen looked pleased and said, "Oh good! So where's the change?"