In the first half, political commentator and economist John Lott reacted to the breaking news on the riots in Baltimore, which arose in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American whose spine was "80% severed" after being taken into police custody. "Even if it turns out to be correct that the police behaved improperly, what does that have to do with destroying all these little businesses that are around there-- what do those individuals have to to do with this?", he pondered. In response to the rioting, which has included arson and looting, police have been restrained, perhaps too restrained, he commented, yet this may be in relation to credible threats made by gangs such as the Crips and Bloods to "take out" law enforcement officers.
People complain about the militarization of the police, but much of what they are using is of a practical nature-- protective gear and vehicles that can shield them from attacks, such as rocks and broken bottles being thrown at them, Lott explained. There's been a building up of animosity and anger since the Trayvon Martin case, and incidents that followed such as what happened in Ferguson, Missouri with the police shooting of Michael Brown that has "really created a tinderbox," he remarked. In Baltimore, the rioters are destroying their own community, and will be bearing the long term costs-- instead they should be focusing on bringing to justice those who may have done something wrong in the Freddie Gray case, he argued.
In the latter half, space historian Robert Zimmerman reflected on the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space telescope which has reinvigorated and reshaped our perception of the cosmos, and he also offered commentary on current and future space exploration and research ventures. Before Hubble was launched, astronomers' vision of the cosmos was fuzzy. But after the space telescope began to orbit beyond Earth's atmosphere, it offered the first sharp look at the universe, he detailed. Even the naysayers to the project were won over by the edifying results that came back, he added.
Hubble is "the telescope that would not die," successfully being repaired in the 1990s when it initially launched with an out-of-focus mirror, as well as receiving new instrumentation in the 2000s to extend its lifespan, he continued. The James Webb telescope, now set to launch in 2018, is not a replacement for Hubble, as it's an infrared rather than optical device, and will study deep space, rather than yield fascinating images, he noted. Zimmerman is enthused about current private space ventures as opposed to government programs. "What I want is a robust chaotic aerospace industry of many companies competing, each having their own goals and dreams in space, and then what you get is unlimited potential," he said.
NASA's new initiative is bringing together scientists from different fields to work on the search for life on planets outside our solar system. Called NexSS or the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, experts in Earth science, planetary science, heliophysics and astrophysics will collaborate to better understand the data pouring in on the many newly discovered exoplanets. More here.
Bumper music from Monday April 27, 2015