What Goes Up

It was only after the 3D experience of Gravity (a cast of two) that a friend told me that the scenario of cascading space debris–the movie’s crisis that creates the story–is based on a real-life threat known as “Kessler Syndrome.” See the “related articles” to come up to speed on this mess we’ve made in space–not unlike the floating ocean Garbage Patch below.

I am still reading, and some experts dismiss the risk of our earth-orbiting garbage reaching a density (perhaps soon) so that a single fragmenting event creates a chain reaction of space junk that knocks out all communications satellites, inhabited space stations and scientific telescope and sends it raining down on the planet.

Having just seen the movie, the next day I learn (again for the first time–what rock has my head been under?) that Google is seriously planning to provide world-wide internet service using balloons from within Earth atmosphere.

And I have to take a small step to the conclusion that this solution works, even when we’ve lost every satellite from space.

Makes for a plausible explanation for this retro-technology. I’m not saying it is the right one to explain the Google balloons. But I wonder…

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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