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Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

Currently I am an adjunct professor at the City Colleges of Chicago and the College of DuPage. My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and... Read More »


In December of last year I made some predictions for 2019. So how did I do? Those predictions spanned science and technology and followed from things which were in the works in 2018.  When it comes to space flight we were all perhaps a bit too optimistic in 2018 going into 2019.  When it comes to technology we haven't seen a fundamental change to how most of us compute in a very long time. 

  • Human space flight from American soil thanks to Space X but not on the time table they say.

After months of delay the construction of TMT will not be able to start in 2019.  With the start of construction on hold for an indefinite period.  Some take this as a win for the protest, striking a blow against inequality, homelessness, underemployment and overincarceration of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) by stopping a telescope.  Others who know that at the altitude of that telescope, where it is snowing and inclement, that building a modern building is ten times more difficult. 

Physics, and STEM are fundamentally neutral but the human beings who do them are not, including the ones that write about how biased everyone else is.  Who gets funding, who gets a job, and who gets a better student review, are all things which race, gender, class, and other sociological variables play a role in.  Just as they play a role in everything human beings do.  Science itself, however, is in the end all about the data and which theories fit it b

Our bizarre solar system has no hot Jupiter.  XO-7 b is a hot Jupiter which orbits its star once roughly every 3 days (1). Of all the solar systems in the heavens ours seems to be most unusual.  Our solar system has orderly circular orbits, with rocky planets near the Sun, and gassy icy planets farther out.  That order and stability seems to be the exception not the rule.   Humanity has now observed numerous solar systems and found one type to be very common.  A solar system which contains a hot Jupiter like planet orbiting much closer to the star than Mercury does to the Sun.

Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese (1).  That is the new unhealthy normal and as always being outside of the normal range leads to backlash.  The fact so many comments on the ad were “she’s already thin she does not need to work out,” speak to so many problems with health and body image in this country.  The acting really didn’t help.  The actress plays the role a bit less excited and more terrified that her husband will slice off her head.

We are living in the future of our past.  Tesla has had the guts to unveil a truck that looks futuristic and paid the price.  If in 2040 we still drive cars that look like they do now, and work like they do now we’ll know why.  It will be because we have chosen not to embrace change.  From building or not building a telescope in a non-sacred area of a very large mountain, to a likely failure to advance mans presence in space we will know the reason why.  We are living in the past of our future.  What we choose to buy or not buy, build or not build, do or not do will determine what we have tomorrow.