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Netflix: The Savior of Living Room Entertainment?

As someone that loves watching television shows and movies, I’ve been a subscriber to Netflix’s streaming service since the beginning. At that point, it wasn’t the most robust service, but I didn’t really care — it delivered enough entertainment value to make me happy.

But 2010 has been a great year for Netflix’s streaming service. Aside from adding every season of major hits, like Family Guy and The Office, the company’s offering has also added a slew of movies that make it one of the most compelling services in the space.

It also helps that the service is available on a variety of devices, ranging from the Apple TV to the Logitech Revue, and several HDTVs. Those products also include content from other streaming providers.

Simply put, streaming is huge nowadays. But as the space continues to grow, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: studios are unwilling to play nice.

The Apple TV’s content offering is a prime example of that. If you want to get content from NBC, for example, you’re out of luck. In fact, the device most notably features shows from ABC and Disney.

Google TV-based devices also suffer from studio negativity towards streaming content. Although they have the ability to connect to the Web from their device, Google TV users aren’t allowed to access television network content for free from the Web. That means Hulu is out, along with content on many individual network Web sites.

Similar limitations are placed on several other devices. No matter what product a consumer is using, they can’t access all the content they really want unless they hook a computer up to their television. And in many cases, that simply isn’t convenient.

To some, the studios’ reaction to the growth of streaming might be understandable. After all, they pay a lot to get their shows on the air, and they should be fairly compensated. But studios are taking it a bit too far. And they’re looking worse with every 28-day-delay deal they ink with providers.

However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all hope. Quite the contrary, I think there is a way around this problem. And I think it will be due to Netflix’s own efforts.

Nowadays, as the company’s CEO Reed Hastings has pointed out, Netflix is a streaming company first, and a by-mail rental company second. Because of that, Netflix will be investing heavily in the streaming space going forward.

Over time, I think it will be that investment, along with Netflix’s ability to attract so many customers, that will bring the movie studios and television networks around. They might not like the idea of it, but Netflix is quickly showing studios that the market is changing. And they can either join in or look like a bully, which will only continue to hurt their revenue.

I should note that Vudu, Amazon, and other streaming providers are helping to improve streaming for all of us, but when it’s all said and done, it will be Netflix that will either make or break our living room entertainment experience.

Netflix has the user base, cash, and vision that’s required to save living room entertainment for those of us who don’t want to toe the studio line. And although we’ll all be forced to continue to pay for the right to do what we want, it’s a fee worth paying.

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The Best Documentaries On Netflix

Also read: The best health and food documentaries on Netflix

We have included both documentary features and series covering a wide variety of topics. Whether you’re a political junkie, a nature lover, or a true crime fan, there is sure to be something for you. You can sign up for the service at the link below:

The best documentaries on Netflix:

Editor’s note: This best documentaries on Netflix list will be updated as documentaries leave and other new arrivals make their debut on the streaming service.

Wild Wild Country

This first item on our list of the best documentaries on Netflix is an original docuseries from the platform. It tells the story of the followers of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (A.K.A. Osho), who moved en masse to a rural community in Oregon. As the group grew in power and wealth, they began to assert their control in strange and increasingly illegal ways. What makes this series stand out is the extensive use of footage and interviews from the community itself, which were initially created as promotional materials.

There are six hour-long episodes in total, but at no point does it feel long. It’s engaging and binge-worthy, which is no small feat for a documentary.

Casting JonBenet

Casting JonBenet makes our list of the best Netflix documentaries not because of its topic, but rather because of the way it tells its story. It deals with the death of American child beauty starlet JonBenet Ramsey, who was found strangled in her home at age six. Instead of simply telling the story and playing existing footage, the filmmakers put out a casting call for a fictional film in Ramsey’s hometown.

The result is a strangely intimate look at how the story evolved in the minds of everyday people once the media got hold of it.


Shirkers isn’t about a global conspiracy or maniacal serial killer. It’s just a simple story of a group of young filmmakers in Singapore and their encounter with a strange man who would eventually run off with their film. That’s not a spoiler, it’s the premise of the entire documentary. What this documentary lacks in gravitas it makes up for in charm. Seeing how the group developed into adults and how it affected their professional and personal lives is fascinating.

If you’re looking for a lighthearted Netflix documentary that won’t leave you in tears, this is the one.

Strong Island

Strong Island is yet another documentary focused on racial injustices in the United States. This time, the victim is the filmmaker’s brother, a 24-year-old African-American teacher, who was killed in 1992 by a white mechanic. The all-white jury ultimately accepted his claim of self-defense, leading to questions around the efficacy of the justice system.

The documentary relies heavily on pulling your emotional strings, so if you’re the analytical type it might not be for you. That said, the production quality alone merits a spot among the best documentaries on Netflix.

Tales by Light

It’s said an image can tell a thousand words, but the best photos can do more than that. A striking shot can bring out feelings, tell stories, and make history, but what does it take to produce such an important visual?

Tales by Light takes you through multiple photographers’ and filmmakers’ quests for some of the most impressive creative content out there. All creators come from different areas of their art and prove there is more than technical know-how to their success.

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness


This docuseries focuses on the “Son of Sam,” the name that the killer of six people in New York City in 1976 and 1977 gave himself in letters sent to the police and the press. In 1977 David Berkowitz was arrested for these crimes and was convicted of several counts of murder. This docuseries focuses on the investigations of these crimes by Maury Terry, who believes that Berkowitz didn’t act alone, and in fact was part of a cult.

The Sparks Brothers


Edgar Wright, best known for his fictional movies like Shawn of the Dead, Baby Driver, and most recently One Night In Soho, also directed this acclaimed 2023 documentary. It chronicles the career of Sparks, a pop and rock music duo comprised of brothers Ron and Russell Mael. If you have never heard of them, this documentary is the perfect place to start, as it goes into detail about Sparks and its very theatrical style with lyrics and with its live performances.


Icarus starts out as a simple documentary about how easy it is to fool doping tests in professional sports, but it quickly spirals out of control when the filmmaker enlists the help of head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov. Grigory is quite the character, and through his friendship with the filmmaker, he reveals the secrets of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program at great risk to his own life.

This thrilling Netflix documentary won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2023.


13th is easily the heaviest and most timely film on our list of the best documentaries on Netflix. The title is a reference to the 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which freed the slaves and prohibited slavery. While this was a major step forward at the time, it included an elephant-sized loophole by excluding criminals. This documentary outlines how that loophole was exploited by those in power to keep African Americans and other minorities powerless and imprisoned.

This is not a feelgood Netflix documentary for a weekday evening, but it’s an important issue that continues to plague communities all around the country. It was nominated for an Oscar and took home several other awards, including an Emmy for Best Documentary.

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer is one of the first original Netflix documentaries to gain popularity in the general public. It has a lot in common with other true-crime series like Serial and HBO’s The Jinx, so if you enjoyed those, this one’s for you.

The two-season docuseries tells the story of Steven Avery, who was a frequent target of local law officials in a rural country in Wisconsin. A concerted effort was made to convict Avery for a murder despite a lack of strong evidence connecting him to the crime.

The Social Dilemma


Remember when social networks like Facebook and Twitter were praised for bringing people from all over the world together to chat about, well, anything? As it turns out, that’s exactly the big problem with them. This Netflix documentary takes a look at the dark consequences of these and other online networks. Our addiction to social media is shown in scripted portions of this documentary as well, making it a very interesting melding of drama and real reporting.

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

Released in tandem with the film it covers, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead focuses on the making of The Other Side of The Wind, legendary filmmaker Orson Welles’ final film.

That project, The Other Side of The Wind, is about a respected (fictional) filmmaker (played by Jon Huston) who has fallen out of favor in Hollywood as he tries to make a film that will propel him back into the limelight.

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead chronicles the chaotic production, reconstructed in interviews with people who worked on it, including famous director Peter Bogdanovich. It’s a striking portrait of one of Hollywood’s most important filmmakers, and a pretty wild ride, to boot.

My Octopus Teacher


Winner of the 2023 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, this movie tells the story of oceanic filmmaker Craig Foster. During a filming session off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, he encounters a small octopus and becomes fascinated by it. As it turns out, the octopus seems to be fascinated by Foster. The two begin a unique relationship that allows Foster to see things about an octopus’ life that have never been documented before. This is both a beautiful-looking film and also a story of friendship and trust between two different species.

Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal, and Greed


The late Boss Ross has become a massive pop culture phenomenon, both before and after his death in 1995. The artist who gained fame with his lessons on PBS’ The Joy of Painting is perhaps more popular than ever. However, very little was known about the man himself. This 2023 Netflix documentary tries to peel away the mystery of Bob Ross, and even discusses the impact of his life after he passed away.

Best documentaries on Netflix: honorable mentions

There are countless great documentaries on Netflix that just didn’t make the cut. Here’s a look at a few other Netflix documentaries worth watching:

Evil Genius – The story of a bank heist gone wrong featuring some truly fascinating characters. From the producers of Wild Wild Country.

Quincy – A biography of influential music producer and composer Quincy Jones. Directed by his daughter Rashida Jones, the film provides an intimate view of his daily life.

Inside Bill’s Brain – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is one of the most interesting and successful men in the world, and this documentary digs into his mind, past, and goals.

What Happened, Miss Simone? – A biography of Nina Simone, one of the most famous singers of her era. Features previously unreleased footage.

High Score – This six-part series is an excellent look back at the early history of the video game industry.

The Last Dance: This ten-part docuseries takes a look at the Chicago Bull’s historic 1998 season. It’s one of the best sports documentaries of all time, and each episode is better than the last.

These are our picks for the best documentaries on Netflix, as of right now. We’ll add more as new documentaries come to the streaming platform.

The 49 Best Ipad Apps For News And Entertainment

Your daily paper is now an iPad. And the iPad is every newspaper, magazine, TV show, and movie you’ll ever need.

The iPad can deliver all that information faster and cheaper. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the 50 best iPad apps for staying informed (and entertained).

AP News iPad App

1) AP News (Free): The scrapbook-style user interface of this app isn’t for everyone, but some will appreciate the randomness and flexibility it brings to presenting the news. The app offers both articles and photos.

2) BBC News (Free): For a world-view of what’s happening, consult the BBC News app. It’s a reliable alternative to the more selective offerings of U.S. news organizations.

3) The Early Edition ($4.99): This app mimics the look of a traditional newspaper and lets you select the type of content that matters to you.

4) Financial Times (Free): Enjoy this while it’s free, because that only lasts through July 31. After that, you’ll need a $3.59 per week subscription.

5) Fluent News Reader (Free): This simple news aggregator gets it right, offering the perfect mix of stories and sources so that you’re on top of the important issues taking place.

6) Instapaper ($4.99): Ever see a great article online, but didn’t have time to read it? With Instapaper, you can save those articles with one touch, then have them sync to your iPad for later enjoyment.

8) Newspapers for iPad ($4.99): If you like to get your news from several different papers, you’re going to love this app. It’s a directory of thousands of newspapers with free online content.

9) NPR for iPad (Free): Better than a tote bag, the NPR iPad app lets you read or listen to the latest news stories and other programming from National Public Radio.

10) NYT Editors’ Choice (Free): The New York Times is tired of giving it all away for free, but at least you can enjoy this daily selection of top stories for no money. Just don’t expect the crossword.

11) Pulse News Reader ($3.99): This visual news reader takes up to 20 sources that you follow and creates a visual mosaic of the news. It now supports offline reading, so you can get the news even without an Internet connection.

12) Reuters News Pro (Free): Get the latest from the trusted news agency. Personalize the app with a geographic-specific view, so you see the top news for your area.

14) USA Today (Free): Get the latest from the United States’ most colorful news source. This app offers current stories from the news, money, sports, and life sections.

15) The Wall Street Journal (Free): Although the app is free, you’ll need to register to access all the free content. And to get absolutely everything, you’ll need to be a subscriber.

iCreate iPad App

16) iCreate Magazine ($1.99): Mac users, enjoy this creative Apple magazine on your iPad. Single issues sell for $4.99 each, with six-month subscriptions available for $26.99.

17) MacUser Magazine ($.99): America’s favorite Apple magazine is a natural fit for the iPad. The $.99 price includes the full current issue. After that, issues are $2.99 each or $29.99 for a six-month subscription (which, oddly, is not a savings over the single-issue price).

18)Zinio Newsstand and Reader (Free): A highly popular app because it aggregates content from many magazines – 2,000 titles by one count – and allows you to purchase what you want. Think of it as a “newsstand on your iPad.”

19) Newsweek (Free): Downloading the free Newsweek app gets you a special digital edition called “Politics in the Age of Obama.” If you want more, weekly issues go for $2.99 each.

20)Outside Magazine ($2.99): Get the best of the outdoor lifestyle magazine with this visually-impressive app. Individual issues also for $2.99 each.

21)Paris Match (Free): This app is meant as an introduction to the kinds of news and cultural content you can expect with Paris Match. Individual issues of the Gallic staple go for $1.99 each.

22) Popular Science+ ($4.99): Want to know what’s new and what’s next in the world of technology? This app gets you the current issue, with other issues selling for $2.99 or $4.99 each.

23) Time Magazine (Free): Although the leading newsweekly’s app is free, later issues will cost you $4.99 each. That’s pretty aggressive pricing, especially when you consider that Newsweek issues go for $2 less.

24) Vanity Fair Magazine ($4.99): As of this writing, purchasing this app gets you the full July issue, as well as photo outtakes and video. Later issues sell for $3.99.

25) Wired Magazine ($4.99): Purchasing this app not only gets you the current issue, but several iPad extras including videos, music, and slideshows. The store doesn’t list a price for later issues.

26) Women’s Health (Free): This magazine’s digital edition includes step-by-step videos, instant polls, and the ability to share favorite stories. Later issues cost $3.99 or $4.99.

27) GQ Magazine ($4.99): Downloading this app gets you the full current issue of the world’s best known men’s style magazine. Subsequent issues are $2.99 each, which is a nice savings.

28) X360 Magazine ($1.99): Xbox 360 fans will love having the premiere Xbox magazine with them. Single issues go for $3.99 or $4.99, with a six-month subscription selling for $21.99.

ABC TV iPad App

30) ABC Player (Free): Why aren’t there more iPad apps like this one? In time, there will be. Did you miss an ABC show and forget to record it? Then turn to the ABC Player, which lets you stream full-length episodes of current shows.

31) The Colbert Report’s The Word ($2.99): Purchase this app and you can stream the popular The Word segment from any episode of The Colbert Report. The only way this app could be better is if it streamed full episodes.

32) MTV News (Free): Keep current on everything in the worlds of music, movies, television, celebrities, and gaming. This app brings you video reports and print stories, including exclusives found nowhere else.

33) OrbLive ($9.99): You don’t need to transfer all the great content on your desktop to your iPad. Just get OrbLive and the Orb desktop application, and you can stream any local content you like. There’s also a free version that lets you sample the streaming quality before you buy.

34) TWiT Touch ($.99): Tech geeks need to have their regular dose of This Week In Technology, and this app lets you watch live and on-demand content from the whole TWiT network. You can even chat during live shows.

35) Yahoo! Entertainment (Free): You’ll never wonder what’s on TV with this app, which not only brings you current schedules, but also serves up news and entertainment videos.

Dailymotion iPad App

37) Disney Movies (Free): There are plenty of Disney-lovers out there, and this is the ideal app for them. Watch videos for the latest Disney films or find out what’s coming to theaters soon. You can also use the app to buy tickets.

38)Movies (Free): Not sure what to see in the theaters? Movies can help you make up your mind. Use this app to watch trailers, get reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, and look up show times.

39) Imax TV ($4.99): Watch visually stunning movies on your iPad. This app presents 12 films that were originally shown in Imax theaters. All of them present the beauty of nature.

40) Joost (Free): Entertain yourself with this app’s selection of online videos, on topics including news, gossip, music, action, and comedy. Browse by category or view the favorites of the Joost editors.

41)Movies Now HD ($1.99): Find out what’s playing near you with this app. Browse through movie posters and get info on new releases. You can also use it to buy tickets at over 1,000 theaters.

42)mSpot Movies (Free): Your iPad becomes a movie theater with mSpot, which lets you rent and watch full-length movies at any time. You can even pause a movie and start it again later. The description says it works over 3G, but you’ll probably want to limit it to Wi-Fi networks for best results.

44)Netflix (Free): Netflix Unlimited members now have one more reason to love Netflix. With this app, members can instantly watch anything available for instant streaming. You can watch titles as often as you like, and pause or restart anytime.

45) Sony Pictures (Free): Use this app to view HD trailers for upcoming Sony releases and even buy tickets through Fandango. Games including Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune make it a helpful time-killer.

Weatherbug iPad App

46) WeatherBug Elite (Free): This must-have weather app is free for a limited time, so grab it now. It offers comprehensive weather information and the ability to personalize the report you get.

47) The Weather Channel Max (Free): The biggest name in weather brings you full screen weather maps, detailed reports for any location, and even local traffic cams for select cities.

48) Weather HD ($.99): No ordinary weather app, Weather HD puts the iPad’s large screen to good effect. It offers gorgeous full-screen high-definition videos that immerse you in current and future conditions.

49) WunderMap (Free): This app presents the weather as an interactive map. Scroll around and view information from over 16,000 storm stations. Zoom into an area to view animated radar reports.

Modern Dining Room Makeover Reveal

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Welcome to my dining room makeover reveal. For this makeover, I really wanted my dining room to have the same vibes as my living room, staircase and kitchen. I think I accomplished that. 

Dining Room: Before

Week 1 : Before Pics and the Plans

Week 2: Painting a Small Room

Week 3: Coordinating Rugs in Open Floor Plans

Week 4: MCM Inspired IKEA Besta Hack

Week 5: Didn’t happen. I was too exhausted from setting up my shop.

The Plans

The ceiling stencil didn’t happen.

Dining Room Makeover Reveal

This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through an affiliate link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Despite the bright colors in the mood board, the room is a very relaxing and tranquil feeling. I’m keeping it pretty simple because I desperately need a peaceful environment right now.

I’ve been too busy to actually enjoy it, but it sure does make me happy when I walk through it, even if the rest of the house is trashed.

The table was a lucky vintage find at a thrift store. It was the kind of find that you swipe up before anyone else sees it. I bought a set of chairs from my friend, Cassie, and then bought another set to match.

The chandelier was found at an antique market in Sicily. I love it so much. The roses are hand-sculpted and have imperfect fingerprints in them.

The curtains were dyed and trimmed out to match my living room curtains. I love the bit of softness they add to the room.

I added cabinets to the room surrounding the French doors. Shelves will be eventually be added so that my dreams of a library can be fulfilled. For now, the cabinets add so much extra storage. 

I painted the cabinets to blend in with the walls. This helps my small room from feeling smaller. The box on top is my solution to the never-ending paper problem.

I repainted my china cabinet and sold it. It was replaced with an IKEA besta hack. This cabinet holds a ton of board games. In the winter, we hibernate and play games a lot.

The wallpaper panel was my solution to needing a piece of art crazy enough to compliment my cabinet.

I used a hoarded roll of the Opalhouse paper. This was the perfect use for 1 roll of paper. We love looking at the design and seeing weird, unintended designs.

I love how the chairs fit around the table. So far, my card game-playing son has no objections to the table, so I’m happy.

I never thought I would be a rug-in-the-dining-room type of person, but it adds so much warmth to the room. Gracie is also a fan.

Doesn’t everyone’s dog match their rooms?

Marble Lazy Susan (similar)

I’m so happy with my new dining room makeover, even if it isn’t finished 100% to completion.





Coral game cabinet (tutorial)

Cabinets (tutorial)

Curtains (tutorial)

Paint Color: SW Cooled Blue

Marble Lazy Susan

Wallpaper – Target

Clock (similar)

Artwork (vintage)

Big thanks to HANDy Paint company for providing me with products to paint with. I have a few weeks off in December and there are a few walls that I’m thinking about painting at that time.

Pin for Later!

Emy is a vintage obsessed mama of 2 DIYer who loves sharing affordable solutions for common home problems. You don’t need a giant budget to create a lovely home. Read more…

The Big Chill: How To Cool A Small Server Room

Professionals in the computer business are used to dealing with the many challenges associated with cooling servers and other computing equipment. And even they have a hard time.

Now consider the plight of average small business owners. No matter what line of business they’re involved in, they’ve had technology thrust upon them. Servers, networking gear and storage hardware have become a fact of life for even the smallest firms. Most business owners typically set up these machines haphazardly as needed, and that can lead to trouble.

How wrong can a small business go when it comes to cooling its gear? Chip Nickolett, a consultant with Comprehensive Computing Solutions Inc. of Wisc, has seen it all: overheated computers systems locked in closets without ventilation; a fortune squandered on AC in an improperly sealed server room; and a beautifully cooled server room overheating every night because the building manager economized by turning off the AC in off-peak hours.

“Most people haven’t experienced a major failure and just believe that somehow everything will be fine,” said Nickolett. “Usually they don’t pay attention until they experience a big outage, lose data, or have to replace an entire system – only then are they very receptive to best practices.”

Cooling Best Practices

There are, of course, a litany of best practices that data centers have applied for years, many of which apply to small server rooms and closets. This includes: arranging servers in rows so that the cold air comes in the front and is expelled out the back; keeping the doors to the room closed; ensuring that the flow of cold air makes it to the equipment; having redundant AC – if one unit fails, another takes over; and more.

Bob Spengler, product manager for Liebert Precision Cooling, at Emerson Network Power, laid out specific tips relating to equipment rooms under 500 square feet. Number one on the list is to avoid using AC systems designed for humans – known as comfort AC. This, he said, is probably the number one failing in small business cooling – next to not having any cooling at all.

“Cooling equipment needs to be specifically designed for computers and have adequate temperature and humidity controls,” said Spengler. “If you don’t control the humidity level you either end up with damaged equipment due to static electricity or servers dripping with water due to condensation. Also, it can cost about 50 percent more in operating costs if you try to make do with a comfort cooler.”

Another best practice is to seal off the space where equipment operates. That means: no open windows or doors; no missing ceiling tiles: no cracks where air can escape such as between ceiling tiles, under doors or where piping comes through a wall; and shutting off the ducts and vents from the existing comfort AC system – you don’t want the two AC systems mixing. The more control you exert over the air in your server room, the fewer surprises you will experience. 

“Opening a window to let the heat out of a small space that contains a few servers is wrong since you have no control over the humidity,” said Spengler.

Tight control of temperature is also a vital factor in equipment uptime. It isn’t common knowledge, but temperature changes affects equipment reliability. For every 18 degrees F above 70 degrees, electronics reliability is reduced by 50 percent. Therefore, it is best to set the AC to run at around that level or just a little higher – no more than 77 degrees. 

The next point to avoid, if possible, is mixing people with a lot of computers. That adds heat to the space and puts a lot of strain on the AC and the servers. So place your servers and other equipment in a closet or small room in order to create a tightly controlled environment.

For companies with several server racks, it is vital to ensure the cold air actually gets to where it is needed and doesn’t mix with the hot air being shoved out the back of the server. You can have a situation, for example, where you are pumping enough cold air into the room, but it isn’t getting to the top of the racks.

“Eighty percent of failures due to heat will be found in the top third of the rack,” said Spengler.

He recommends the use of blanking panels on the front of the rack to cover the spots where servers are missing. Without this, cold air runs through to the back of the rack and into the hot air at the back, rather than making its way up to the top of the rack. In situations where there is a whole rack sitting empty, you can put blocker panels at the front to prevent any cold air getting in.

Growing Threat

International Data Corp. (IDC) has been tracking data-center power and cooling issues for years via an annual survey. And small businesses are suddenly in the spotlight.

“Smaller installations such as server closets and rooms register highest in terms of cooling issues,” said Jed Scaramella, an analyst at IDC. “There are some very easy solutions customers can adopt such as blanking panels between racks to improve air flow.”

He recommends that small businesses call in outside help to figure out their cooling needs as there are too many ways to get it wrong. And the results can be disastrous. “Consider the expertise of a third party service provider,” said Scaramella. “With space and thermal issues, it is somewhat of a science that goes into running a computer room.”

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology and engineering. Originally from Scotland, he graduated with a degree in geology from Glasgow’s Strathclyde University. In recent years he has authored hundreds of articles as well as the book, Server Disk Management by CRC Press.

This article was first published on chúng tôi

We Could Be Living On The Moon In 10 Years Or Less

Mining lunar water could pave the way to human colonies on the moon and Mars . But is the Space Act of 2023 up to the task?.

“You are here to help humanity become a spacefaring species.”

So said the opening line of a brochure for a workshop that took place in August 2014. It was a meeting of some of the greatest scientists and professionals in the space business and beyond, including gene editing maverick George Church and Peter Diamandis from the XPrize Foundation. The workshop’s goal: to explore and develop low-cost options for building a human settlement on the moon.

“You are here to make this moonshot a reality,” said the brochure.

One giant expense for mankind

The history-making Apollo missions would have cost $150 billion by today’s standards. With new ways of thinking, it might be possible to set up a lunar station for $10 billion.

NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay helped organize the meeting, and then he edited a special issue in the journal New Space to publish the papers that came out of the workshop. Those papers just came online this morning, and Popular Science had exclusive pre-publication access. Together, the 9 papers help to build momentum for an idea that’s growing throughout the planetary science and commercial space communities. The details differ between papers, they all say roughly the same thing: that we can set up a permanent, inhabited base on the moon, soon, and without breaking the bank.

Of course, this isn’t the first time scientists have talked about returning to the moon.

“The reason all the previous plans for going back to the moon have failed is that they’re just way too expensive,” says McKay. “The space program is living in a delusion of unlimited budgets, which traces back to Apollo.”

The Apollo program that put the first men on the moon would have cost $150 billion by today’s standards. For reference, NASA’s entire budget for the year of 2023 is $19.3 billion.

“The space program is living in a delusion of unlimited budgets, which traces back to Apollo.”

The New Space papers, by contrast, conclude that we could set up a small lunar base for $10 billion or less, and we could do it by 2023.

“The big takeaway,” says McKay, “is that new technologies, some of which have nothing to do with space–like self-driving cars and waste-recycling toilets–are going to be incredibly useful in space, and are driving down the cost of a moon base to the point where it might be easy to do.”

Why go back to the moon?

Currently, NASA has no plans to send humans back to the moon–instead it’s focusing on getting to Mars in the 2030s. But McKay and others think we can’t possibly go hiking on Mars if we don’t first learn to camp in our own backyard.

“My interest is not the moon. To me the moon is as dull as a ball of concrete,” says the astrobiologist. “But we’re not going to have a research base on Mars until we can learn how to do it on the Moon first. The moon provides a blueprint to Mars.”

A lunar base would provide a valuable opportunity to test out new propulsion systems, habitats, communications, and life support systems before astronauts bring them to Mars–a 9-month trip away, versus just a few days to the moon.

The trouble is, NASA tends to think it can only afford to go to either the moon, or Mars. If McKay and his colleagues are right, we can afford to do both–it just takes a new way of thinking about it.

“The moon provides a blueprint to Mars.”

There are other reasons to go back. We’ve explored only a tiny portion of the lunar surface, and a permanent base would certainly fuel some interesting science.

Mine on the moon

Extracting water from the moon and breaking it apart into hydrogen and oxygen–i.e. rocket fuel–could turn a moon base into a profitable investment.

Plus, everyone else is doing it. China, Russia, and the European Space Agency have all expressed interest in setting up a base on the moon. Instead of getting left behind, cooperating with other nations on building a lunar station would lower NASA’s costs, much like in building the International Space Station.

Private space companies are also ready and raring to go back to the moon. Many hope to extract water from the moon and split it into hydrogen and oxygen–i.e. rocket fuel–that can be used to top off the gas tanks of spacecraft headed for Mars. Lunar tourism could also become a hot market.

“And if private industry goes, NASA’s going to go just to establish the rule of law,” says McKay. “The fastest way to get NASA to the moon is to get other people to go.”

How do we do it?

The exact strategy for building a lunar base differs depending on who you ask.

After the habitat modules arrive, robotic “Lunar Surface Mules” could help set them up so they’ll be ready when the humans arrive.

Home sweet home?

Another artist concept of a moon base.

Human occupation of the moon would likely begin slowly, with a few short stays by a small crew. The missions would get longer and larger over time, until you have a permanently occupied station, much like the International Space Station. Eventually the station could evolve into a complex, multi-use settlement with hundreds of people, and their children, living there permanently.

Some teams imagine the lunar station as a scientific base, while others picture it evolving into something more commercial.

“Some of the possible export options include: water from the permanently shadowed craters, precious metals from asteroid impact sites, and even [helium-3] that could fuel a pollution-free terrestrial civilization for many centuries,” writes one team. “As transportation to and from the Moon becomes more frequent and cheaper, the lunar tourism mark should begin to emerge and could become a significant source of income in the future.”

What technologies do we need to survive?

At a basic level, we already know how to survive on the Moon, because humans have been living on the International Space Station for years.

“PLSS technologies have been proved in space for the past 14 years on the International Space Station,” writes one group, referring to the life support system that recycles the water on the space station and balances out the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. “[W]e have access to sufficient life support technologies to support implementation of the first human settlement on the Moon today.”

With those essentials taken care of, the team estimates that at today’s launch prices, SpaceX could deliver the rest of the food and essential supplies for a crew of 10 for $350 million or less per year.

“Self-driving cars and waste-recycling toilets are driving down the cost of a moon base to the point where it might be easy to do.”

Other technologies could be adapted to lower the costs of a moon base. Virtual reality, for example, could aid in the planning efforts.

3D printing could replace small components that break on the lunar station, shaving down launch costs.

The era of NASA’s spinoff technologies may be coming to an end. Instead of developing highly specialized (and expensive) technologies for spaceflight that later turn out to be everyday products, everyday products could be adapted for spaceflight, says McKay. “One of my favorites is the Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.” The program encourages new ways to clean human waste and recycle it into energy, clean water, and nutrients that could be used in farming.

“NASA could spend billions developing a space-rated toilet,” says McKay, “or we could just buy the blue toilet developed by the Gates Foundation.”

Next generation technologies

Many of the proposals for an affordable moon base rely on technologies that don’t quite exist yet. But neither are they far from reality.

Inflatable Habitat

Bigelow Aerospace’s BA-330 inflatable habitat could one day provide lodgings on the moon. In 2023, a smaller version of the habitat will be tested on the International Space Station.

Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable habitat is a top contender for future moon lodgings. These flexible living modules could be folded up to fit in a rocket’s cargo bay, then expand like a pop-up tent on the lunar surface. The company plans to launch a test version of the habitat to the International Space Station this year. However, the larger, pill-shaped “BA-330” modules won’t launch until 2023. And since Bigelow is mainly focused on using these habitats to set up commercial space stations in Earth orbit, the design might have to be adapted to operate on the moon, where radiation levels are considerably higher.

Where should we live on the moon?

There are four fundamental things to consider when choosing real estate on the moon, according to one paper: power availability; communications; proximity to resources; and surface mobility.

The sun will likely be the primary source of power for future lunar stations. Trouble is, most places on the moon have “nights” that are 354 hours (about 15 days) long. That’s a long time to rely on battery power. By comparison, the poles receive much more sunlight, with nights lasting closer to 100 hours (4 days). So the first lunar station will probably have to be at one of the poles.

Communications would be easier from the moon’s near-side, which constantly faces Earth, compared to the poles, but a relay station on the moon or in orbit should provide a reliable connection.

And it’s lucky the poles receive so much sunlight, because they’re also expected to contain large amounts of frozen water in their deep, dark craters. That water could be extracted to provide water and oxygen to the lunar station, or to turn into rocket fuel for a profit.

“The cost is getting so low, maybe we don’t even need to think of NASA doing it.”

And although the lunar north and the south poles receive similar amounts of light, the north pole came out ahead of the south in this survey because it has a smoother terrain that’s easier to travel across.

In particular, the paper singles out the rim of Peary crater as being the top spot to develop a low-cost lunar station. Radar and remote sensing indicate it may contain water or other hydrogen-bearing molecules, and it has a relatively smooth floor, making it easier for robots to roll through its icy depths to extract resources.

Some upcoming missions–including NASA’s Lunar Flashlight and IceCube aim to map the distribution of water on the moon, which could help to further refine the lunar real estate options.

How much would it cost?

Overall the consensus in these papers is that NASA could build a lunar base for $10 billion, with upkeep costs of about $2 billion or less per year, which is about as much as NASA puts toward the International Space Station every year. These are estimates that, with a little rearranging, could fit inside NASA’s current budget.

And NASA wouldn’t have to foot the bill alone.

“The cost is getting so low, maybe we don’t even need to think of NASA doing it,” says McKay. “It could be a private company.”

A study from last year estimated that if water exists in large deposits on the moon, a base could pay for itself, generating $40 billion in rocket propellant per year.

What’s more, such a base could potentially be up and running within the next decade.

Actually making it happen will certainly take longer than that, requiring political changes and technological developments. But McKay thinks the psychological barrier is the most significant.

“The biggest obstacle is getting everybody together, and getting a vision of a low-cost base as the starting point. If people think it’s going to kill the budget, that just stops the conversation and brainstorming. If we can change the mindset, that starts the conversation and gets people thinking about how to make it a reality.”

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