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Moon astronaut Jim Lovell says Earth is his idea of going to heaven

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earthrise apollo nasa AS8 14 2383HRThe famous “Earthrise” photo taken by Apollo 8 astronauts during their trip around the moon on Dec. 24, 1968.NASA

It seems like the world has caught a case of moon fever.

On February 27, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk announced that two unnamed people are paying his rocket company, SpaceX, to send them on an auto-piloted trip around the moon in 2018. Later The Washington Post revealed that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and his own rocket company, Blue Origin, had circulated a 2020 moon colonization plan around Capitol Hill.

But it’s not just a gaggle of billionaires who’ve set their sights on Luna. On Tuesday, Congress passed its first big NASA budget in nearly 7 years. The bill calls on NASA to reach the moon by 2021.

To bring everything back to Earth a little, we called up Jim Lovell: an astronaut who visited the moon twice, once during Apollo 8 (the first crewed lunar mission) and again on Apollo 13 (which required a storied effort to rescue from disaster).

During a wide-ranging interview, we asked Lovell if there was a moment on Apollo 8 that he wished he spoke more about — and his response floored us.

james jim lovell astronaut apollo 13 nasaJim Lovell’s formal portrait for the Apollo 13 mission in 1970.NASABut first, a little setup.

Apollo 8, which launched aboard a gigantic Saturn V rocket on December 21, 1968, took off during what Lovell called “a hilarious time” for the planet.

“There was the Vietnam War going on, it was not a popular war, especially with the younger people,” Lovell told Business Insider. “There were riots, there were two assassinations of prominent people during that period, and so things were looking kind of bad in this country.”

And yet at the end of the year, he said, NASA was working toward its commitment, made in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, to send people to the moon before the end of that decade.

“And it happened. So in the last few weeks or days of 1968 we accomplished something that we set out to do that was favorable and approved by just about every body in this country,” he said.

However, Lovell said that he and his two crewmates, Frank Borman and Bill Anders, soon realized it was more than “just” a spaceflight.

“You have to remember we brought back a picture of the Earth as it is 240,000 miles away. And the fact is, it gives you a different perspective of the Earth when you see it as three-dimensional between the sun and the moon, and you begin to realize how small and how significant the body is,” he said. “When I put my thumb up to the window I could completely hide it, and then I realized that behind my thumb that I’m hiding this Earth, and there are about 6 billion people that are all striving to live there.”

Lovell said this moment was a seed being planted, and one that would germinate into full blossom once he was back on Earth.

“You have to really kind of think about our own existence here in the universe. You realize that people often say, ‘I hope to go to heaven when I die,'” he said. “In reality, if you think about it, you go to heaven when you’re born.”

By this Lovell meant the remarkable situation we find ourselves in: floating on a cozy rock that is drifting through the seemingly endless void of space.

moon earth space china castA rare view of the far side of the moon, taken by the China National Space Administration’s lunar probe.Chinese National Space Administration/Xinhuanet

“You arrive on a planet that has the proper mass, has the gravity to contain water and an atmosphere, which are the very essentials for life,” he said. “And you arrive on this planet that’s orbiting a star just at the right distance — not too far to be too cold, or too close to be too hot — and just at the right distance to absorb that star’s energy and then, with that energy, cause life to evolve here in the first place.”

 “In reality, you know, God has really given us a stage, just looking at where we were around the moon, a stage on which we perform. And how that play turns out is up to us, I guess,” he said.

Trapped on a cosmic stage together, and at a time when the US is again painfully divided, Lovell’s words are ones we could all take to heart.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post and is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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