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Column: Heading for the stars? (PART TWO) – The Nelson Daily



The Third Promised Land: outer spaces and the star-colonizing project      

“We have to colonize Mars to ensure humanity’s seed will survive if something happens on earth, like a nuclearthird world war or asteroid strike that could end human life.”  — Elon Musk, owner, SpaceX

“Elon Musk says he plans to send 1 million people to Mars by 2050 by launching 3 Starship rockets every day and creating ‘a lot of jobs’ on the red planet.”  — headline, Business Insider, January, 2020

“The solar system can support a trillion humans… we do have to go out into the system. …That’s the kind of  future I want for my grandchildren’s grandchildren.”   — Jeff Bezos, owner, Blue Origin

I am simply going to assume, not without cause, that my readership is a typical Canadian audience conversant with the future projected by our scientists, our cultural and political elites, our science-fiction literature: humanity will become capable with our technologies to put homo sapiens on the moon and on our near planetary neighbours, Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, Venus. The solar system is rightfully and naturally ours to inhabit. We will colonize the system. On whatever planet we settle, we will alter the ecology there out of recognition from its original condition.

We will do this in the name of our rights as conscious beings who somehow must survive and expand because we mean something to the universe. Or, if the word “mean” makes you uncomfortable, we can do it, so because we can, it is natural, realistic, scientific. SETI is on the only course possible for a species like ours.

A list of sci-fi books: sampling the flavour of human ambition in space/time

For those who dislike science fiction novels and film, this section might be skipped over. But these novels and films are, for good or ill, the cultural foundation for how we imagine life on Mars and other planets. I am quite sure most readers will know of the Star Trek andStar Wars imaginary landscapes, but the novels I list here are less likely to be known. The common point made by all this fiction is the point of my former section. The human condition is a colonizing, expanding condition.

          The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.

          The Foundation and Empire series, a trilogy and additional volumes, by Isaac Asimov

          Floating Worlds,  by Cecilia Holland.

          Red Mars; Green Mars; Blue Mars,  a trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.

          The Expanse, A series of nine novels by James S. A. Corey.

          Thin Air,  by Richard Morgan.

The last three works cited are the best because they are recently published and therefore their authors were more conversant with the time we live in, 2021. I particularly recommend them for how they conceptualize politics on the planet earth when the colonies on Mars are established. The authors seem to fully comprehend that the competition for power among the great nations of earth do not cease when humanity reaches its new planetary colony; the rivalry of the USA, China, Islam, Brazil, and Europe continue, and play out in effects on Mars.

At time of writing this, humans have been very active in sending technological extensions of ourselves to Mars; the USA, China, and the United Arab Emirates [UAE, the fabulously-wealthy oil states of the Persian Gulf, neighbour of the Saudis, Iran, and Israel] — all have sent missions there that are active now. Competition is a word the media try to avoid, but the history of our species is being replicated off our planet, and the states of Earth with the power and wealth to send such missions, will do so, and will carry their political and cultural differences there. America, China, Islam, India, Europe, are at present in the race, and more will likely follow.

There are significant feature films one ought also to see to as part of one’s cultural education in the matter of humanity’s future as a colonizing species in space. They are Avatar and Blade Runner, Aliens [a series of five films] and The Martian.

I personally found the first Alien film brilliant in one small detail. The writer of the story had foreseen, in 1979, that corporations would be sending spaceships to mine distant worlds, when most of  us then believed only government agencies would be in charge of space missions. NASA was known to us all; the writer foresaw the power of private capital in a company like Elon Musk’s SpaceX to take on private missions.

Who sets the questions for the Human Condition? Who has prior “rights”?

“We are hydrogen and helium that has evolved for so long we have begun to ask ourselves, ‘Where did we come from?’ ”   — Jill Tarter, Astronomer, SETI  scientist

What are the rights our species asserts for our claim to land that we take? Who determines what questions we have to answer before we feel at peace with our consciences? Are the questions of religion manifestly inferior to those of science?

What strikes me as I listen to scientists working in the space-exploration industries of human invention is their lacklustre capacity for philosophy  — I mean, for saying something with deep feeling for the immensity of this moment when a terrestrial species is able to leave its home planet and put the species on another.

I have used some quotes from Bezos, Sagan, Musk and Asimov as epigraphs for this column. The sentiments are bland and lack a sense of history, a sense that we have to ask harder questions about our right to the solar system, to the galaxy, that we intend to claim. Yet these men are supposed to be worth listening to.

SETI is trying to find extraterrestrial intelligence, with the best tools humans have. We have not yet. Jill Tarter at SETI talks about why that might be. We may not have found an e.t. sign because we do not know what to look for, other than what our kind of intelligence produces.

There may evidence but we have only studied one tiny sample of information from the universe;  in its immensity, the universe is a space as big as earth’s oceans relative to a teacup.

We might never find the e.t. civilizations that have existed because, before we find them, they have already become extinct. They rose to a peak of power but then failed to survive the challenge of that power, and have ruined their home planet, and disappeared. This is one hypothesis for why SETI cannot find other intelligence.

If there are no other intelligent life forms and no other civilizations out there in the universe, despite strong mathematical evidence in probability theory – the Fermi Paradox — that  supports the existence of thousands of such star civilizations, what does that signify for our species? What does it mean, if we are alone?

Jill Tarter was asked this. Her reply was to me pretty unimpressive. “Then, every human on earth, every one of us, must be aware of the responsibility humans have, as the only intelligent life. Each of us, wherever we are on earth, share the responsibility to ensure that human life will continue because we are the only ones here.” Well, Dr. Tarter, do you know the record of our species? Who is this “we” you believe in? Is there really, and realistically, one voice to speak for humanity as it now acts and conducts itself and its common affairs upon our common home planet? If not, stop using that pronoun “we”.

It is one of the great qualities of the Tao Teh Ching that the pronouns used in its scant 5,000 Chinese characters are I, they, and it, but never you or we. “It” when used in the text refers to the Tao most often, and the Tao is not God — and not anything like Gods in religious teachings. This classic Chinese teaching nowhere assumes it can refer to humans as “we.” There are “the people” and various powerful types among them such as nobles or the emperor, but the writer never presumes to speak for humanity. I think this is a sign of a very penetrating intelligence in the teaching. The “person of Tao” or “wise soul” is described, but hard to grasp.

And, if you read chapter 80, you will see that the mind(s) behind this book has absolutely no respect for expanding human dominion. Rather, the writer is always inclined to making humans less-sophisticated and less-numerous. The text was compiled at a dark time in China, a time of many wars; that chaos is its origin.

The Tao offers the imagery of water as a kind of model for human behaviour that will bring peace to the soul. Water is soft and yielding, conforms to whatever shape it flows into, always finds its way to the lowest places, not the high – and water benefits all. It overcomes the hardest stone, in time. Water is a model of how Tao operates. Without water on Mars, or the means to make it, colonies are doomed.

Conclusions: hoorah for us? The dismal side of critical judgement

“Wow. We have come such a long way. Our technlogy is so awesome… Yay human race! Thumbs up, human race!”   — DJ on Castlegar radio, Feb. 21/20, referencing NASA on Mars

“When I was in middle school and watchin Star Trek, I imagined we were moving closer toward the show’s version of the future: egalitarian, democratic, creative. Now when I watch the show, I vacillate between hope and escapism. I want to believe that “Star Trek” is predictive of how things will turn out for humanity. I want us to wander the universe … I hope we will find our way to peace. But if that’s not what the future holds, if it’s more war and injustice and greed that we’re headed for then all I want is to watch Captain Picard hold court on the bridge one more time.”    — Patrick Stewart, who plays Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek

The history humans have made thus far, featuring war and greed and injustice as Patrick Stewart says in the quote above, seems to predict the future better than the utopian galaxies in Captain Kirk’s imaginary scenario.

As Kokanee salmon lay millions of eggs so that mere hundreds of fully-grown adult fish return to spawn annually, humans produce a plethora of individuals on our planet so that a minority flourish – that is one way to interpret the imbalance between the lives of the few in the wealthiest nations of earth and the lives of the many elsewhere (saying nothing about the miserable people living in those wealthy nations who never rise to the social-class level of the educated, profitably-employed few.) No one I have ever heard or read understands this imbalance that history has bequeathed to us; The Wheel of Fortune, the karmic theory, etc. all attempt to do so.

I can clearly recall, though I cannot find the source, reading that Patrick Stewart unequivocally declared himself opposed to the vast economic and material cost of sending humans to another planet while on this planet there are so many hundreds of millions of people living lives stunted by lack of access to some of the basics of life. The injustice he describes is simply the same one that already exists between the kind of lives some tens of millions of people enjoy in the most-advanced rich economies and democracies of Earth and the hundreds of millions who do not.

I live among the former, privileged and advantaged Canadian middle-class citizens, beyond understanding why the world I was born is so arranged.

Some humans get to Mars. Human DNA survives because we do, and that is the objective, scientific statement, requiring no other observation, and certainly no moral judgement. I want more, but there is no more. Thinking about human life on other planets is not something I have to do, there is plenty to think about for the humans I know on this one. That is likely true for my readers.

The crux of this essay’s concern is simple. I ponder the injustice of a few of the greatest powers on earth, governments, individuals, corporations, and whomever they choose to employ in the space-colonization project, leaving so many behind, and on a planet plundered by our capitalist economic structures that build the materials for the project. It is impossible to apply a standard of justice to the question, is it not? It is not just, but it is reality, and seems to be the future.

Once again, Shakespeare has the apt phrase: “And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.”

This conclusion is not what I want to write. But I am not going to use the default way out, the “solution” to leaving readers depressed that I see in all the writing on political, economic, social and environmental issues in the magazines and newspapers I most often read. I mean, I am not going to write a paragraph full of exhortations for “us” to do this or that, and what “we” must do to improve whatever condition is under study.

I address myself to individuals, and I offer no advice. You’re wise enough to find your own answers to the challenges of your particular life, I trust.

Wisdom alone is not enough; you and I know that too. Not good intention, not prayer, not intangibles of any sort. Acting, behaving, is what will make your life feel … however it feels to you. It works for me. That is the best I can offer. After all, I am an historian, not the Dalai Lama or the Pope, who are supposed to guide you.

So, all else failing me, I will end with a quote from the Dalai Lama:

“Spirituality is water, religion is tea. Tea is stimulating and tasty, yes. You can live without tea, but you cannot live without water.”

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Breathtaking NASA Image Shows a Magical ‘Sea of Dunes’ on Mars



On Thursday, NASA released a stunning photo of a sea of dunes on Mars.

It also shows wind-sculpted lines surrounding Mars’ frosty northern polar cap.

The section captured in the shot represents an area that is 31 kilometers (19 miles) wide, NASA said. The sea of dunes, however, actually covers an area as large as Texas.

The photo is a false color image, meaning that the colors are representative of temperatures. Blue represents cooler climes, and the shades of yellow mark out “sun-warmed dunes,” the US space agency wrote.

Sea of dark dunes surrounds Mars’ northern polar cap.(NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

The photo is made of a combination of images captured by the Thermal Emission Imaging System instrument on the Mars Odyssey orbiter, NASA wrote.

Captured during the period from December 2002 to November 2004, the breathtaking images have been released to mark the 20th anniversary of Odyssey.

The Mars Odyssey orbiter is a robotic spacecraft circling Mars that uses a thermal imager to detect evidence of water and ice on the planet.

It was launched in 2001, making it the longest-working Mars spacecraft in history.

Source:- ScienceAlert

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Humans actually hunted large animals and ate mostly meat for 2 millions years: study – CTV News



Despite a widespread belief that humans owe their evolution to the dietary flexibility in eating both meat and vegetables, researchers in Israel suggest that early humans were actually apex predators who hunted large animals for two million years before they sought vegetables to supplement their diet.

In a study recently published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, academics from Tel Aviv University in Israel and the University of Minho in Portugal examined modern biology to determine if stone-age humans were specialized carnivores or generalist omnivores.

“So far, attempts to reconstruct the diet of Stone-Age humans were mostly based on comparisons to 20th century hunter-gatherer societies,” one of the study’s authors, Miki Ben-Dor, a researcher at Tel Aviv University, said in a press release.

“This comparison is futile, however, because two million years ago hunter-gatherer societies could hunt and consume elephants and other large animals – while today’s hunter gatherers do not have access to such bounty.”

Instead, the researchers looked at approximately 400 previous scientific studies on human anatomy and physiology as well as archeological evidence from the Pleistocene period, or “Ice Age” period, which began about 2.6 million years ago, and lasted until 11,700 years ago.

“We decided to use other methods to reconstruct the diet of Stone-Age humans: to examine the memory preserved in our own bodies, our metabolism, genetics and physical build,” Ben-Dor said.

“Human behaviour changes rapidly, but evolution is slow. The body remembers.”

They discovered 25 lines of evidence from the studied papers on human biology that seem to show that earlier Homo sapiens were apex predators at the top of the food chain.

For example, the academics explained that humans have a high acidity in their stomachs when compared to omnivores or even other predators, which is important for consuming animal products.

“Strong acidity provides protection from harmful bacteria found in meat, and prehistoric humans, hunting large animals whose meat sufficed for days or even weeks, often consumed old meat containing large quantities of bacteria, and thus needed to maintain a high level of acidity,” Ben-Dor said.

Another piece of evidence, according to the study, is the structure of human fat cells.

“In the bodies of omnivores, fat is stored in a relatively small number of large fat cells, while in predators, including humans, it’s the other way around: we have a much larger number of smaller fat cells,” Ben-Dor said.


In addition to the evidence they collected by studying human biology, the researchers said archeological evidence from the Pleistocene period supports their theory.

In one example, the study’s authors examined stable isotopes in the bones of prehistoric humans as well as their hunting practices and concluded these early humans specialized in hunting large and medium-sized animals with high fat content.

“Comparing humans to large social predators of today, all of whom hunt large animals and obtain more than 70% of their energy from animal sources, reinforced the conclusion that humans specialized in hunting large animals and were in fact hypercarnivores,” the academics noted.

Ben-Dor said Stone-Age humans’ expertise in hunting large animals played a major role in the extinction of certain large animals, such as mammoths, mastodons, and giant sloths.

“Most probably, like in current-day predators, hunting itself was a focal human activity throughout most of human evolution. Other archeological evidence – like the fact that specialized tools for obtaining and processing vegetable foods only appeared in the later stages of human evolution – also supports the centrality of large animals in the human diet, throughout most of human history,” he said.

This is not to say, however, that humans during this period didn’t eat any plants. Ben-Dor said they also consumed plants, but they weren’t a major component of their diet until the end of the era when the decline of animal food sources led humans to increase their vegetable intake.

Eventually, the researchers said humans had no choice but to domesticate both plants and animals and become farmers.

Ran Barkai, one of the study’s authors and a professor at Tel Aviv University, said their findings have modern-day implications.

“For many people today, the Paleolithic diet is a critical issue, not only with regard to the past, but also concerning the present and future. It is hard to convince a devout vegetarian that his/her ancestors were not vegetarians, and people tend to confuse personal beliefs with scientific reality,” he said. 

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Marimaca Copper: First Drill Hole Intersects Broad Zone of Sulphide Copper Mineralization at Marimaca – Junior Mining Network



VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Marimaca Copper Corp. (“Marimaca Copper” or the “Company”) (TSX: MARI) is pleased to announce the assay results of the first drill hole of a five-hole program targeting extensions of sulphide mineralization below the Company’s flagship Marimaca Oxide Deposit (“MOD”). Drilling encountered a broad zone of chalcopyrite and minor chalcocite, indicating potential for economic sulphide mineralization.


  • Drill hole MAR-125 intersected 116m (expected approximate true width) at an average grade of 0.51% CuT from 162m, including two higher grade zones of:
    • 20m with an average grade of 0.77% CuT from 162m; and
    • 42m with an average grade of 0.92% CuT from 236m.
  • Intersection represents a significantly broader zone of mineralization than anticipated from earlier, nearby, sulphide drilling intersections
  • First drill hole of an initial five-hole campaign to test for extensions of mineralization at depth
    • First hole designed to extend mineralization closer to sulphide zones identified in historical drilling
    • Remaining four holes designed to test the limits of mineralization with step outs of approximately 300m at depth and between 400m and 700m along strike to the north and south of the first hole
  • Sulphide drilling to be completed shortly, with assay results on remaining holes expected by the end of April 2021
  • In response to escalating COVID situation in Chile, the Company has initiated a break in drilling which is not expected to impact the original target of testing all identified targets by the end of 1H 2021.

Sergio Rivera, VP Exploration of Marimaca Copper, commented:

“The results of the first hole of this initial campaign are extremely pleasing, exceeding both the widths and grades we had projected for this zone based on earlier drilling completed nearby. The broad intercept of chalcopyrite mineralization shows good continuity downhole, with potentially economic grades, especially at the bottom of the intercept.

“The drilling has also provided additional geological information, which we are using to refine our understanding of the controls of mineralization and to inform future drillhole locations, targeting mineralized extensions at depth and along strike.

“The next four holes are significant step outs from the known mineralized zones outside of the Mineral Resource Estimate area and are designed to test the limits of the mineralized body, both at depth and along strike. The second hole will be collared approximately 350m to the east of MAR-125, targeting mineralization up to 300m below the current deepest mineralization. The third, fourth and fifth holes will be located between 400m and 700m to the north and south of MAR-125, aiming to test for extensions along strike.

“This first hole has provided encouragement that there is potential for economically interesting sulphide mineralization at Marimaca, while the next four drill holes are designed to better delineate the tonnage potential of this.”

Discussion of Campaign Objectives and Results

The current five-hole drilling campaign at the Marimaca Copper Project is designed to test for extensions to mineralization below the MOD. Based on the structural controls of the mineralization, the results of previous geophysical campaigns and earlier drilling, which extended beyond the current Mineral Resource Estimate (“MRE”) area, the Company believes there is the potential for extensions of the mineralized body at depth across the full strike length of the MOD. All drill holes will be drilled at an azimuth of 270o and at -60o, roughly perpendicular to the north-south striking, easterly dipping mineralizing structures. Intercepts should, therefore, be relatively close to the true width of the mineralization.

The first drill hole (MAR-125) encountered a broad zone of dominantly chalcopyrite mineralization with some pyrite and minor chalcocite over a down hole width (expected to be equivalent to approximate true width) of 116m with an average grade of 0.51% CuT. This includes two zones of higher-grade mineralization including 20m with an average grade of 0.77% CuT and 42m with an average grade of 0.92% CuT at the end of the mineralized intercept. The hole was collared to test mineralization approximately 100m to the east of the earlier hole ATR-82, which intersected 44m of sulphide copper mineralization with an average grade of 1.05% CuT, and 200m and 300m east of holes ATR-93 and ATR-94 respectively, which both intersected mineralization with true widths of around 40m with average grades above 1.0% CuT. MAR-125 has demonstrated an extension to this higher-grade mineralization and provides further areas to target for follow up drilling.

MAR-125 is located in the center of the current MRE area, proximal to a zone of relatively high-grade sulphide mineralization intercepted in several drill holes over widths of between 30m and 50m. The remaining four drill holes have been located to test the limits of the mineralization by stepping out significantly at depth and along strike beyond the current MRE area. The collar of the second hole, MAS-03, is located approximately 100m to the south and 350m to the east of MAR-125 and is aimed to intersect mineralization approximately 300m below MAR-125. MAS-02 and MAS-04, located approximately 400m and 700m, respectively, south of MAR-125, and are planned as significant step outs along strike, targeting the conductivity high noted in the IP survey completed across the MOD

Figure 2

Sampling and Assay Protocol

True widths cannot be determined with the information available at this time. Marimaca Copper RC holes were sampled on a 2-metre continuous basis, with dry samples riffle split on site and one quarter sent to the Andes Analytical Assay preparation laboratory in Calama and the pulps then sent to the same company laboratory in Santiago for assaying. A second quarter was stored on site for reference. Samples were prepared using the following standard protocol: drying; crushing to better than 85% passing -10#; homogenizing; splitting; pulverizing a 500-700g subsample to 95% passing -150#; and a 125g split of this sent for assaying. All samples were assayed for CuT (total copper), CuS (acid soluble copper) by AAS. A full QA/QC program, involving insertion of appropriate blanks, standards and duplicates was employed with acceptable results. Pulps and sample rejects are stored by Marimaca Copper for future reference.

Qualified Person

The technical information in this news release, including the information that relates to geology, drilling and mineralization was prepared under the supervision of, or has been reviewed by Sergio Rivera, Vice President of Exploration, Marimaca Copper Corp, a geologist with more than 36 years of experience and a member of the Colegio de Geólogos de Chile and of the Institute of Mining Engineers of Chile, and who is the Qualified Person for the purposes of NI 43-101 responsible for the design and execution of the drilling program.

Mr. Rivera confirms that he has visited the Marimaca Project on numerous occasions, is responsible for the information contained in this news release and consents to its publication.

Contact Information
For further information please visit or contact:

+44 (0) 207 920 3150
Jos Simson/Emily Moss 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Forward Looking Statements

This news release includes certain “forward-looking statements” under applicable Canadian securities legislation. These statements relate to future events or the Company’s future performance, business prospects or opportunities. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the impact of a rebranding of the Company, the future development and exploration potential of the Marimaca Project. Actual future results may differ materially. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Forward-looking statements reflect the beliefs, opinions and projections on the date the statements are made and are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that, while considered reasonable by Marimaca Copper, are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties and contingencies. Many factors, both known and unknown, could cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from the results, performance or achievements that are or may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and the parties have made assumptions and estimates based on or related to many of these factors. Such factors include, without limitation: risks related to share price and market conditions, the inherent risks involved in the mining, exploration and development of mineral properties, the uncertainties involved in interpreting drilling results and other geological data, fluctuating metal prices, the possibility of project delays or cost overruns or unanticipated excessive operating costs and expenses, uncertainties related to the necessity of financing, the availability of and costs of financing needed in the future as well as those factors disclosed in the Company’s documents filed from time to time with the securities regulators in the Provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Marimaca Copper undertakes no obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking statements contained herein whether as a result of new information or future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

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