Gene Expression quits (not yet)

A bit off topic, but after ten years blogging Gene Expression quits.

I have a few websites as bookmarks I regularly visit. One of them is a science blog called Gene Expression run by a guy called Razib. His posts are mainly about genetics, hereditary of genetic material and the effects of population movement on the genetic make-up of humans (and sometimes other creatures. No doubt this is a poor summary of his writings since I’m quite inept to understand most of his posts (they involve a lot of statistics about genetical traits and genes).

gene expression Razib

The beauty of his blog, besides being very informative about subjects I’m interested in, is that Razib kept a very short leash on his commenters. He ruthlessly punished any comments which reflected unfounded oppinion or lack of solid scientific arguments. This not only kept the amount of comments in check, but also maintained high level of quality of the responses. He also refrained in turning is blog into a long rant on whatever political pet peeves he might have, a problem which makes so many blogs unreadable.

Though Razib is quite succesful in keeping his personal life out of the website as much as possible, this doesn’t mean he hasn’t a life. In fact he recently became a father of a daughter and in his last blog post he mentioned an increase in personal obligations. Maintaining a good blog along a full-time job and family life must be very hard to do, especially if the blog is of such a high standard of Gene Experssion

So that’s the end. I was hoping it was just an April fools day joke, but it would simply a too poor one to be true. It was fun reading his articles and I hope he’ll keep is website as an archive. I wish him good luck and I hope that one day they he’ll find the time again to write articles for the interwebs. And for all other, please visit his site and brows his articles.

UPDATE.
As I feared, a poor April Fools Day joke. If you open up to your loyal public and lament your increasingly heavy obligations, they will tend to take it seriously. His articles may be of a high standard, his humour needs some honing. Anyway, gene expression quits, but not right now.

Water on the Moon. Finally?

Probably everybody interested in space affairs has already read the good news about the confirmation of water on the Moon. The results of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) were in and they found 5.6 per cent water in the material ejected by its companion LCROSS (Lunar Crater Remote Observation and Sensing Satellite). LCROSS and a rocket stage impacted on the moon in order to create two visible plumes of Moon material.


Image by the LRO Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment
Now, during the decades the discussion was whether the Moon contains water or not. For future long term manned Moon missions that would be a big plus. The rocks from the Apollo missions indicated to a bone dry Moon. Hope was put on the eternal shadows of the Lunar poles where water could be deposited by the solar wind and remain there. An idea that was difficult to proof and until the LRO mission for the pro Moon lobby something like grasping at straws.

Large quantities of water and other volatiles are now pretty certain, so what’s the big deal. Well, remember the little capsule on top of the Saturnus Moon rocket? That was the only thing that returned to earth of this huge spaceship. Most of it was fuel. Now what if you could produce the fuel for taking of the Moon and returning to earth on the Moon itself? That would save an enormous amount of expensive lift-off mass on earth. A moon-base could get to be much more affordable and it could produce fuel and consumables for other kinds of space missions.

With this confirmation the attention is getting back to the Moon. Bush’s Moon-plans died pretty much under Obama and Obama aims at the Mars. But without real commitment. It looks that the future manned space plans of Obama will be dead on arrival. No concrete plan and no good and solid long term goal. It would direct and waste efforts of the US space community into a dead end for decades to come.

With plenty of volatiles on the Moon (one suspects billions of litres of water in a radius of 10 km from the impact of LCROSS) this satellite becomes interesting again. Especially for the private industry. In my opinion a small space industry near earth is more important for the future of manned space-flight than the Apollo style missions of politicians. The Moon as producer of fuel and consumables would be a good step in the right direction.