The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels finished the 2021 season on a high note, throwing a no-hitter on the final weekend of the season while winning three out of four games against the top team in the league.
Regi Grace Jr., Landon Leach, Brad Hanner and Matthew Swain combined to no-hit the Tampa Tarpons in the final night game of the season, allowing only two base runners in the entire game. It was the franchise’s first no-hitter since 2011.
“It was so cool to sit there and watch four guys who have overcome a lot this year,” Mighty Mussels manager Brian Meyer said. “The joy that all of the players had with it was special.”
The Mussels’ followed it up with an exciting comeback win 5-4 over the Tarpons on Sunday – wrapping up the season with a 60-54 record.
After the 2019 season ended early due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian and the 2020 season was wiped out entirely due to the pandemic, smiles were aplenty amongst all involved for the final weekend of 2021. Things felt normal again – and the stringent MLB COVID policies had done their job.
“It was a different year from a non-baseball standpoint between COVID and the testing,” Meyer said. “I’ll remember the players and where they are at this point of their career. We’ve had 20 guys promoted to Cedar Rapids and I’m happy that I was able to play just a small role in their overall development.”
The Mussels did not register a single positive test all season, unlike several teams around Minor League Baseball. They completed 114 games, two dozen less than usual but still a fair share given the season’s late start.
The 2021 season included many highlights – none greater than the September 18 no-hitter. Willie Joe Garry Jr. began the season with a home run in the first at bat of the season. The Mussels enjoyed three walk-off wins and several late comebacks – using the Hammond Stadium crowd to finish 34-24 at home.
Most importantly for the organization, the Mussels’ coaching staff pushed 20 players to the next level – working hard behind the scenes to get them to High-A Cedar Rapids.
“It’s an organization-wide philosophy that no one guy is less important the other,” said Meyer. “It’s a team effort to get all of our players trending in the right direction no matter how long it takes. There’s a never-give-up attitude and we do a really good job of collaborating and putting the player first.”
When the team got hot, it was led by pitching. The Fort Myers pitching staff led the league in ERA, posting a 3.96 mark. Pitching coaches Peter Larson, Carlos Hernandez and Dan Urbina all had a hand in developing a staff that had zero ranked prospects when the season began. Despite the lack big names, everyone on the staff was able to contribute and some pitchers dominated.
“They’ve really stuck to the script in terms of what our organization philosophy is, hammering that home from a development and execution side,” said Meyer. “Pete has been on top of things from day one – his drive, his passion and his resolve to see these guys grow and make sure they’re accomplishing their goals and pushing them to the next level.”
With three weeks left in the season, the Mussels were hovering around the five-hundred mark, teetering on the edge of a losing season. The Twins gradually assigned seven members of their 2021 draft class to the Mussels’ roster – a group of players whose drive and determination as newly-signed pros changed the course of the season. Two of those players really stood out to Meyer.
“(Christian Encarnacion-Strand) is relentless in his preparation – in the cage, with scouting reports and his defensive work,” Meyer said. “That’s rubbed off on some other guys. Cade Povich – you can just tell by his demeanor and how he goes about his business that he has a really bright future in this organization.”
In the end, the 2021 season ended with baseball – with weather and the pandemic in the rear-view mirror. The Mussels’ front office has already begun planning for the 2022 season – and can’t wait to announce a new lineup of daily specials and promotional nights. With the 2022 schedule being unveiled in the coming weeks, local residents and groups are always welcome to call (239) 768-4210 to offer feedback and recommendations on what they want to see next season.
Last week the Florida Department of Transportation made a presentation to the Fort Myers Beach Town Council about the future foot of the bridge design project scheduled to be completed in time with Margaritaville, sometime in the summer/fall of 2023.
The new design is raising a lot of concern due to the multiple Cross walks included in the design with 4 crosswalks on each of the incoming and outgoing traffic lanes at the foot of the bridge.
Many have suggested overpasses, but if you have ever been to Las Vegas, you know what a pain overpasses can be, and really require some way to prevent people from crossing where ever they like, which is the problem we have on the beach now. Most of the traffic backup that occurs is due to pedestrian crossing everywhere and anywhere they want to.
As we look at the image to the below, we can see the footprint of the land at the corner of Fifth and Estero outlined in Blue, showing how this project would fit in the space allowed.
We see incoming vehicles come over the bridge from the top left of the image and there are four crosswalks, one for traffic that is going forward which has another crosswalk immediately in the same flow of traffic, one for traffic that is going right, towards the north end and one for traffic that is coming from the north end of the island with similar crosswalks for the outgoing flow as well.
This could be a traffic nightmare, it also could work but only if pedestrians are forced to use the crosswalks and wait for walk signals before they cross, in order to do that, guardrails would be needed, I don’t know about you but I do not like the images in my minds eye as I think about that.
Bushes and shrubs? They would need to maintained continuously and could end up a possible landscaping fiasco.
Then there is the option of enforcing Jaywalking, do we really see that as our future? I personally do not like the thought of visitors getting $50 jaywalking tickets.
So, what other options are available to us?
We already mentioned overpasses, but I would rather see underpasses, these have their own problems, there would be weather related closings. but the major obstacle being the actual construction of underpasses. Our roads being just above sea level makes the soil under the road, in the water table.
There are still ways to do this, many years ago in Downtown Boston during the Big Dig, they ran into soft muddy earth while trying to submerge the Route 93 Expressway, their solution was to freeze the soft earth and scrapped it a little at a time and then advanced the tunnel pieces slowly, it is costly but doable.
I believe this design as it now sits, will be discussed in depth and will meet with much opposition as is. (In the image above, traffic from the bridge
enters the picture from the bottom right corner.)
As you are aware, the FBI opens cases (investigations) when credible information is received from numerous sources. One source is the news media which has been and continues to be a source for new cases. Although I have been retired from 29 years of service in the FBI Violent Crimes Program, I am hopeful that the FBI continues to examine Media reports of criminal acts especially when it is an allegation of Treason against a high ranking General, like the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The following is such as allegation as reported by most main Stream Medias and quoted from the Washington Post;
“WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - The top U.S. general secretly called his Chinese counterpart twice over concerns then-President Donald Trump could spark a war with China as his potential election loss loomed and in its aftermath, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army on Oct. 30, 2020 - four days before the election - and again on Jan. 8, two days after Trump supporters led a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, the newspaper reported.
In the calls, Milley sought to assure Li the United States was stable and not going to attack and, if there were to be an attack, he would alert his counterpart ahead of time, the report said.”
If you haven’t already initiated an aggressive criminal investigation, I am herein requesting that you do so immediately. I would also like to note that if the Act of Treason is confirmed and neither Bob Woodward and/or Robert Costa of The Washington Post reported this information, in a timely fashion, to the proper, legal authorities, instead of a book, they are guilty of Misprision of a Felony…Treason.
J Gary DiLaura,FBI Ret
What's better than a great song from a Broadway show? Many great songs from many Broadway shows!!
Broadway Palm Dinner Theater's first production of this season is a great musical that performs highlights from smash hits such as Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, CATS, Oklahoma, Wicked, 42nd Street and more!
If you're a fan of Broadway Musicals.... You're going to love this show!
From its origins, the uniquely American art form of Musical Theatre has been a response and reflection of our culture and the changing times we have experienced. Exploring composers that have influenced musical theater through the ages from which modern day composers still "borrow" from and still learn from, this original concert style musical revue features the best of Broadway musical hits combining favorites from the past that became radio hits along with recently, radio hits that have become musical hit sensations.
The talented cast sings their way through decades of Broadway hits as you are brought back nostalgicaly to over a century of entertainment and magnificent lyrics and music.
The bright lights and hits of Broadway of this show, will shine on the Broadway Palm stage for only three weeks with this all-new musical revue that showcases some of the greatest Broadway songs of all time and with only three weeks or less left to enjoy this show (depending when you are reading this), better get your seats now!
The last show for this presentation will be on October 2nd.
Directing A Night On Broadway is Victor Legarreta. Victor has directed and appeared in numerous Broadway Palm productions. In addition, he created Yesterday’s: The 50s and 60s Musical, Groovin’: The 60s and 70s Musical, Let’s Go To The Movies, Dino and Friends, Til Theft Do Us Part, and No Claus For Alarm, just to name a few.
Join Broadway Palm as they proudly raise their curtain and begin their 29th Season with this great show, playing only till October 2, 2021. Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees.
Broadway Palm is offering a Season Opener Special and all tickets are just $55 for dinner and the show, with the great value of their all you care to eat Buffet or the Ala Cart dinner menu available on weekend nights... it's almost like you're getting the show for free!
Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, by visiting BroadwayPalm.com or by stopping by the box office at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.
Tell them Bobby sent you!
After a one-year hiatus, the annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is returning to Southwest Florida Sept. 17 – 26.
The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest (IHSF) is a 10-day music festival featuring performances by the greatest singer-songwriters from Nashville and nationwide. The festival is broken up into three locations with the first weekend kicking off on Captiva Island (Sept. 17 – 19), then moving to downtown Fort Myers during the second weekend (Sept. 20 – 23), and ends with a weekend on Fort Myers Beach (Sept. 24 – 26).
IHSF is produced by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, BMI, iHeartMedia and Cat Country 107.1, and was recognized as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. It is an award-winning festival. The 2017 Island Hopper Fest received three SunSational Awards through the Florida Festival & Events Association (FFEA), and the Southeast Tourism Society named Island Hopper one of their “Top 20 Events.”
The diverse lineup is what makes IHSF different from almost any other festival. Along with seeing big-name headliners, you can also meet the songwriters behind the big hits. Their names aren’t always in bright lights, but if you’ve listened to chart-topping songs from Garth Brooks, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan or Carrie Underwood – then you’ve heard their music. These AMA-, CMA- and Grammy-winning songwriters are the heart and soul of country music, and we’re bringing them to the heart of Southwest Florida so they can perform the songs they love.
The lineup of songwriters changes every year, but performers say IHSF is among their favorite festivals to perform at. So you can expect to see plenty of familiar faces alongside new ones. So far, more than 50 songwriters have been scheduled for the festival with performances at 15 different venues, however only a few artists are scheduled to play certain location, the website still says to check back in late summer! Late summer? HELLO... there are about 3 weeks left to summer, when will this schedule be posted?
Meanwhile..... Most shows are free with the exception of the headliner shows.
This year’s headliners are Michael Ray. Three No. 1 songs – “Kiss You in the Morning,” “Think a Little Less,” and “One That Got Away” – plus “Get to You” and “Her World or Mine,” brings his tally to five Gold-certified singles. The poignant “Her World or Mine” from his sophomore album Amos also produced a video that has captured more than 23 million YouTube views since its debut less than a year ago. Now, two hit albums into that all-too-rare blend of critically acclaimed and commercially successful career, He is scheduled to be at Pinchers at the Marina at Edison Ford located at 2330 W First Street, Fort Myers on Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm... tickets required!
The other headliner is Jimmie Allen, signed to BBR Music Group’s Stoney Creek Records, he has already made history as the first Black artist to launch a career with two consecutive No. 1 hits on country radio – the first being his debut single “Best Shot” – which claimed the No. 1 spot for three weeks – and second being his latest single “Make Me Want To” off his debut album Mercury Lane.
He is scheduled to be at the Pink Shell Beach Resort located at 275 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach on Sunday September 26th at 4:30pm... tickets required!
Nervous Nellie’s received a special event permit for the use of Bayside Park for their Island Hopper Songwriter’s Festival event.
Nervous Nellie’s is one of six locations on Fort Myers Beach artists will be performing, they will have a an outdoor bar and stage set up on their property.
Their event will run on September 24th from 6 pm- 10 pm, September 25th from noon until 10 pm and September 26th from noon until 5 pm.
The Green Flash, Twee Waters, RC Otters, Key Lime Bistro, Doc Fords Rum Bar, Mucky Duck and South Seas Resort!
Downtown Fort Myers,
City Tavern, The Barrel Room, Pinchers Downtown, Social House and Twisted Vine.
Fort Myers Beach,
Pierside Grill, Pink Shell, Cabanas, Matanzas, Nervous Nellie's and Yukatan.
There are a lot of artists listed on the website for the three weekend of events at :
but none say who is playing where, other than the headliners mentioned above.
There is also an app that you can download to your phone, and although it doesn’t have any more info. hopefully it will soon.
But Remember!! You can’t go wrong when you attend these shows! Call the venues directly and get their show times.
I need a distraction! The world is going to hell in a hand-basket and I just would like it all to stop, if even for just a few hours! Enter Baseball!!!
I grew up watching The Red Sox, ...Carl Yazkrempsi, Carlton Fisk, Rico Petrocelli, and the like, at home with my dad or listening to it on the radio at my dads barber shop on the weekends, there was no TV there.
I have to be honest, I haven’t watched a pro game since the whole MLB/Atlanta fiasco a few months back, but I have been going to watch our local Twins affiliate. the Mighty Mussels, play live!
At first I was just covering the games for articles in the paper, but the live action, watching these kids play their heart out to make it to the “Bigs” has rekindled my enthusiasm for the game, don’t know that I will be watching the pros any time soon but I do enjoy going to the games... at this level anyway! It’s a great distraction !
The Mussels are home again playing a 7 game series with the Marauders, last Tuesday's game was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for this Friday.
On Wednesday they played a doubleheader (a makeup game for postponed game on 8-12 at Bradenton)
The Marauders won the first game, 7-0, in the second game, Jesus Feliz’ hit a long home run which highlighted a 12-hit output for the Mighty Mussels Wednesday, as they took the second game of the doubleheader 12-1 at Hammond Stadium.
The Mussels, now 48-45, rallied for eight runs on seven hits in top of the seventh, matching their highest-scoring inning of the season. The entire inning occurred after midnight, as a two-hour and 41-minute rain delay caused Game 2 to end at 1:05 a.m.
Feliz’ home run left the bat at 104.4 miles per hour and cleared the left field wall by a large margin.
As we go to press both teams prepare to go at it again at 7pm Thursday. On Friday the two will play another doubleheader with the gates opening at 4pm, and the early game starting at 4:30pm. .... second game, no earlier than 7:30pm. (makeup game for last Tuesday’s PPD game)
There are only 4 weeks left in the season, with 3 home stands left, including this one, the Mussels will go on the road to Daytona for a six game stretch next week and then they are back home for their final two weeks of the season, Tuesday, Sept. 7th against Palm Beach and then on Sept 14th against Tampa.
The Mussels find themselves 15 games out of first, (to the Tampa Tarpons) but only 10 games out of second, (to the Bradenton Marauders) to make it to the playoffs the Mussels need to go on a winning streak to take second place from the Marauders and they can help themselves right now by winning the next 5 games....viola.. only 5 games out! but even if they pull that off, they will have to win 3 games for every 2 wins for the Marauders for the final three weeks of season and the Mussels face first place Tampa for their last week home stretch, and they are formidable!
So put the madness of the world on pause for a few hours and come on out to root for your Minor League Baseball home team, The Mighty Mussels, it's a good old
fashioned, all American fun time!
Home games are held at CenturyLink Sports Complex, (Hammond Stadium)
14400 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers, Florida 33912
Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased online at: www.milb.com/fort-myers
or at box office on game-days with very little wait!
You'll be glad you did!
In my opinion… as a retired FBI Agent with 30 years of experience, investigating major, criminal cases… there is more than enough Probable Cause to Indict both Barack Hussein Obama and Impeach and Indict Joe Biden for Treason, Espionage, Sedition, and a multitude of other crimes relating to the biggest conspiracy to overthrow our Constitutional Republic, our America…in the history of America!!
Obama said himself that he is a Muslim, who was not born in the USA, when he ran for the Senate. His wife said the same thing but that matters not. The Forensic Evidence alone, that he provided to prove his birth place, was proven to be Counterfeit and a Fraud, by every Forensic Lab that examined them including the most respected Italian Art experts who examined his latest, phony Birth Certificate. He was not qualified to be President…in more ways than one.
His Selective service Card was proven to have been altered, his Social Security card is a fake that belonged to someone else…and that’s not possible because the Social Security Commission will not issue duplicate cards to anyone other than the ORIGINAL owner. Barack Hussein Obama is a Fraud from the word…go. He “changed” his religion to Christianity but never denounced his allegiance to Allah. That is completely unacceptable to Islam and is meaningless…he must denounce his allegiance to Allah…but never will. Read their book…the Quran…I did!
He surrounds himself with Weatherman criminals, murderers, like Bill Ayers, his wife Bernadine Dorn…cop killers, murderers and thieves.
Obama said he wants to change America, fundamentally, to a Socialist Society…a Muslim Islamic Socialist Nation. That is Treason when a President wants to eliminate our Constitution. He wants a Muslim nation and that is not possible with our First Amendment which separates Church and State. Islam is a one leader ideology of Church and state, an Ayatollah (Obama).
Now, how to complete Obama’s plan? Obamas’ efforts to get a 3rd term failed. But he had a plan…run his 3rd term from his basement…he freaking said that and now he is doing it. Get a puppet elected to be a Shadow President that is pretty much brain dead and control his every move. But who could possibly be that stupid?
Enter Joe “Obiden”…the “Howdy Doody” of Washington!
Obama is following the Cloward- Piven doctrine to a “T” to bankrupt and destroy your country and if they are not stopped, they will succeed! They were ,by his words, his favorite Professors at Columbia!
In an analysis by Conduit For Action published 7-6-18, the 4 steps to the Cloward –Piven strategy are;
How do I know that what Obama and Obiden are doing is Treason? Remember that Aiding and abetting our enemies by an elected official is Treason, punishable by death. By Islam’s own admissions, they are at war with the US and the rest of the Infidel world. Iran, ISIS, Taliban, and dozens more Arab countries have stated AND acted on their statements to destroy America!
They are at war with the US!
Would any of the following benefit (aid and abet) our enemies…
Shutdown of the Keystone Pipeline and prevent America from being energy independent as it was under President Trump…
Forcing the US to buy petroleum products from Muslim OPEC Nations.
Stop installing Border walls on the southern Border which walls are paid for and awaiting installation.
Open our Borders to allow millions of non US Citizens to enter and stay in the US contradicting Immigration and Naturalization laws pertaining to same.
Overwhelm our law enforcement Agencies on the Southern Border to the point that Covid infected aliens and thousands of illegal aliens are entering and remaining in our country.
Fail to enforce Federal laws regarding friends and relatives of elected officials beginning with Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden who has violated numerous Federal and local laws, such as the Federal Firearms Act, Illegal use and abuse of controlled substances, participating in a Hobbs Act scheme with his father and others to fraudulently obtain money from the Ukraine.
Withdraw from Afghanistan and LEAVE hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars of valuable, high tech, weapons, tanks, heavy armor, machine guns ,ammunition, radio equipment for the FREAKING TALIBAN to use against us! What? C’mon man, Biden, even you can’t possibly be that F------ stupid. TREASON…TREASON…TREASON!
It’s not too late, send in strike forces to retrieve those munitions, you moron!
There is no benefit whatsoever to the US by shutting down the Keystone. As an Engineer by trade and having established the FBI and EPA Environmental Crimes Program for the Western District of NY, I can attest that to move product by ANYOTHER means is in no way Environmentally safe nor economically better to anyone except those with vested interest in Railroad Transportation, like Warren Buffet, for example, a large contributor to Democrat candidates like Joe Biden.
Forcing the US to buy oil from OPEC benefits our enemies…period!
Open Borders aids and abets our enemies, allowing terrorists to enter untouched…
Handing them high tech weapons and munitions…if there is Treason…handing our enemies munitions to use against US… is Treason!
Intentionally preventing our lawmen to enforce the laws they swore to enforce is criminal negligence in the least and Treason if the purpose is to destroy our Rule of Law…which it is!
Only a moron would not realize that opening our borders is Treason…how does it benefit any US citizens or America?
Allowing 20% of the illegals who are reported to be infected with Covid 19 into the US is, criminal negligence and Treason…it benefits our enemies as a Biological Attack would…how is that any different?
People…things are going to get much worse as Obama and Obiden move closer to taking over America.
Do you really believe that the disruptive withdrawal from Afghanistan was totally unexpected, a surprise? Think about that.
This President didn’t know that the Taliban would move right in. He didn’t know that their President loaded trucks with US cash and fled? Is our intel really that piss poor?
In O'Bidens own words...."C’mon man…"
This is another way to put us deeper in debt, spending billions to “help” people who refuse to help themselves…a ploy at the expense of Americans stuck there and thousands who helped us. It's Obama,…
That’s right, Obama, he’s running things and don’t forget it… Obama didn’t care about the Embassy in Benghazi and the Americans there…(Remember Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's "What does it matter?")
How is this different?
The TPI Hospitality FMB team has announced its groundbreaking ceremony for the Margaritaville Beach Resort is officially set for 3 p.m., on Friday, Aug. 13, at 1160 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach.
After years of delays caused by issues out of TPl's control, the 254-room Margaritaville Beach Resort will be located at the foot of the Matanzas Bridge. The development will consist of four buildings that will include the resort, restaurants, and retail shops on both sides of Estero Boulevard. A pedestrian walkway will be built over Estero Boulevard, linking the two sides of the resort. Construction is set to begin on Monday, Aug. 16.
Friday the 13th 2021 will mark 17 years since Hurricane Charley hit in August 2004. The powerful storm devastated parts of Southwest Florida and Fort Myers Beach, which was the impetus for the TPIFMB economic reinvigoration project.
"Many of you will recognize that on Aug. 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley swept through, leaving behind in its wake, enormous physical and economic damage on this part of the island," said John Gucciardo, spokesperson for TPI Hospitality. "We are so proud to be part of the long overdue revitalization of this part of the island, and hope that we can be a catalyst for future prosperity for all."
Since the property is currently an active construction site, access to the actual groundbreaking ceremony is limited to invited guests only; however, the general public will have access to the public beach in front of and on either side of the construction area.
"We hope to see many of our loyal supporters there that day to share this momentous occasion with us," Gucciardo said.
Casual-Luxe island lifestyle coming to Southwest Florida
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/TPIFMB, or www.tpihospitality.com.
China launched the core of its space station in April, and sent three astronauts up in June. But although the space station probably won’t be complete until late 2022, there is already a long queue of experiments from across the world waiting to go up. Scientists in China told Nature that the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) has tentatively approved more than 1,000 experiments, several of which have already been launched.
Before April, the International Space Station (ISS) was the only space laboratory in orbit, and many researchers say Tiangong (or ‘heavenly palace’) is a welcome addition for astronomical and Earth observation, and for studying how microgravity and cosmic radiation affect phenomena such as bacterial growth and fluid mixing.
However, others argue that crewed space stations are costly, and serve more of a political than a scientific purpose.
“Increased scientific access to space is of scientific benefit globally, no matter who builds and operates platforms,” says Julie Robinson, chief scientist for human exploration and operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC.
“We need more space stations, because one space station is definitely not enough,” adds Agnieszka Pollo, an astrophysicist at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Warsaw who is part of a team sending an experiment to study γ-ray bursts.
OPEN TO THE WORLD
The ISS was launched in 1998, as a partnership between space agencies from the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. It has housed more than 3,000 experiments since then, but China is barred from it because of US rules that prohibit NASA from using funds for collaboration with China.
Although most experiments slated for Tiangong will involve Chinese researchers, China says that its space station will be open to collaboration from all countries, including the United States.
In June 2019, the CMSA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which promotes collaboration in space, selected nine experiments—in addition to the 1,000 that China has tentatively approved—to go up once the space station is complete. Simonetta Di Pippo, director of UNOOSA in Vienna, says these involve 23 institutions in 17 nations.
China previously launched two small space labs—Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. These hosted more than 100 experiments, circling Earth for a number of years, but are no longer in orbit.
The space station offers brand new facilities, and China is encouraging experiments not attempted in space before, says Tricia Larose, a medical researcher at the University of Oslo, who is leading a project planned for 2026. “They’re saying, yes, build your hardware, make it brand new, do something that has never been done before, and send it up to us.”
Even though most projects approved so far are led by Chinese researchers, many have international collaborators, says Zhang Shuang-Nan, an astrophysicist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing, who advises the CMSA.
‘THE PLAYROOMS OF SCIENTISTS’
The first section of Tiangong to arrive was a core module known as Tianhe (‘harmony of the heavens’). In late May, a cargo ship named Tianzhou-2 (‘heavenly ship’) was sent up and docked, delivering fuel, space suits and experimental equipment. In June, three Chinese astronauts—or ‘taikonauts’—aboard Shenzhou-12 (‘divine vessel’) also docked, entering the 17-metre-long chamber that will be their home for the next three months.
Over the next year or more, the CMSA will send another eight missions to Tiangong. Two will deliver the Wentian (‘quest for heavens’) and Mengtian (‘dreaming of heavens’) modules, which will mainly house scientific experiments.
These will be “the playrooms of scientists”, says Paulo de Souza, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, who develops sensors used in space.
The space station will have more than 20 experimental racks, which are mini-labs with closed, pressurized environments, says Yang Yang, director of international cooperation at the CAS Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization in Beijing. Outside, there will be 67 connection points for research hardware facing Earth or the sky, says Yang. A powerful central computer will process data from experiments before beaming them back to Earth.
ORGANOIDS AND DARK MATTER
The experiments being sent up to the new space station encompass numerous fields. Zhang is the principal investigator for HERD (High Energy Cosmic-Radiation Detection facility), which is a partnership involving Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Germany, slated for 2027. This particle detector will study dark matter and cosmic rays, and will cost some 1 billion to 2 billion yuan (US$155 million to $310 million), says Zhang.
Zhang and Pollo are also involved in POLAR-2, which will study the polarization of γ-rays emitted from large and distant explosions, with the goal of clarifying the properties of γ-ray bursts, and possibly even gravitational waves.
Larose plans to send up 3D blobs of healthy and cancerous intestinal tissue, known as organoids. She wants to find out whether the very-low-gravity environment will slow or stop the growth of the cancerous cells, which might lead to new therapies.
Other projects from scientists in India and Mexico will study ultraviolet emissions from nebulae and infrared data from Earth, to study meteorological conditions and what drives intense storms.
Despite many of the projects being partnerships between Chinese and Western scientists, geopolitical tensions have made collaborations more difficult, notes Larose. She says Norway has yet to sign a bilateral agreement with China that would give her project the green light. Merlin Kole, an astrophysicist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, who is also working on POLAR-2, adds that stricter adherence to export regulations means there is added bureaucracy around sending electronic hardware to China.
But Di Pippo says that tensions have so far had no impact on the progress of projects selected by UNOOSA, adding that the agency is discussing plans with the CMSA to send more experiments to Tiangong by the end of next year.
SCIENTIFIC BANG FOR THE BUCK
Some scientists have argued that crewed space stations are a waste of money—the cost of Tiangong has not been made public, but the ISS cost some €100 billion (US$118 billion) to build and maintain for its first decade.
“You’d get a much bigger scientific bang for the buck with robotic missions,” says Gregory Kulacki, an analyst on China security issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Within China, as within the United States, there has been a tension between scientists who want to do the best science they possibly can and who prefer robotic missions, and governments who want to use human space-flight programmes largely for political purposes.”
But other researchers point out that although satellites offer an alternative for some observations, for many experiments, particularly those requiring microgravity, crewed space stations are essential. They provide a home for long-term observations, data-processing capacity and access for astronauts who can perform maintenance tasks and run the experiments.
Furthermore, as well as housing experiments from researchers, Tiangong is intended to test human space-travel technologies to support China’s space-exploration goals, says Zhang.
With current ISS funding running only until sometime between 2024 and 2028, it’s also possible that Tiangong will eventually become Earth’s only space station in operation.
Tiangong is projected to operate for at least a decade, and China already has plans to launch other spacecraft to work in tandem with it. The China Survey Space Telescope, or Xuntian (‘survey the heavens’), is a two-metre optical telescope that will rival NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and will periodically dock with Tiangong for refuelling and maintenance. Set to launch in 2023, it will have a larger field of view for peering into the deep Universe than does Hubble.
I’ve been offering comments about tolerance and intolerance for several years, all the while thinking my approach was somewhat original. A little research and my prideful feelings were suddenly threatened.
lmost 2,500 years ago, Plato proposed the possibility of tolerance inevitably leading to intolerance. I gave up reading that dissertation after getting tangled up in a Platonic discussion of “benevolent dictatorships.”
Karl Popper’s 1945 book “The Open Society and its Enemies” dealt with unlimited tolerance and the inevitable destruction of tolerance by intolerance. The “Stand to Reason” website dealt with the subject “When Tolerance is Intolerant” in 2013. In 2017, a Psychology Today article, “Is Teaching Tolerance the Solution or the Problem,” offered the idea that “the only difference between tolerance and intolerance is political correctness.” Humbly, I must admit my lack of originality.
What brought me back to the topic is our society and its politics. No serious observer can avoid uttering the word “intolerance,” often doing so quietly so as not to “stir the pot.” We’re in the middle of stringent conflict and hard feelings. This follows a perfect storm of disagreement formed by two presidential impeachment hearings, 2020 election issues, and a world-wide pandemic. Garnish for this toxic “societal soup” is a generous sprinkling of subjective suffixes, i.e. “isms” and “ists,” along with a laundry list of “phobias.”
Recently, the use of “phobia” seems to be growing exponentially. It has saturated our society as an emphatic expression of disdain associated with an accusation of something close to evil. A friend observed that perhaps this is a result of the gradual corruption of society’s use of another word – intolerance.
I decided to pick up on that theme after reading scathing opinions about the various phobia labels being assigned to republicans and conservatives. I’m not going to debate those opinions, however. Rather, I’ll focus on the concepts of tolerance and intolerance, and the recent proliferation of the terms associated with “phobias”, “isms” and “ists.”
It wasn’t long ago that the term “phobia” simply reflected extreme fear of things like flying, insects, heights, or small spaces, etc. A related term, but one used more exclusively to describe interpersonal feelings or relationships, was “intolerance” – and the “flip side” of intolerance is “tolerance.”
Retreat in time a couple decades and you would find that tolerance was a feeling about a person, group, organization, opinion, policy, etc. It reflected feelings that while not enthusiastic, were more positive than negative. Tolerance of something meant one would not take a stand against it. Tolerance was true acceptance, but not necessarily agreement or approval.
By contrast, in recent years, the definition of tolerance evolved and expanded – now, not only is acceptance required to qualify as tolerant, but also agreement, approval, and often vocal endorsement. A willingness to just peacefully accept something is no longer enough to be considered tolerant.
Individuals once praised as patiently “tolerant” are now criticized for their “intolerance.” These recently labeled intolerant folks never really wavered in their traditional liberal views or attitudes, yet have earned a “bigot badge” in progressive minds.
Perhaps a progressive pundit decided that a term like “phobic” might serve their purpose better than “intolerant.” The pundit may have considered it an understatement and confusing to call these formerly tolerant bigots merely “intolerant.” Hence, many formerly acceptable societal attitudes are now assigned “phobic,” and even “racist” labels.
Author and educator Ibram X. Kendi writes that a traditional civil rights goal, one that earned liberal backing, was racial neutrality in attitudes. This ideal of “colorblindness” is now declared to be racist.
It’s becoming inescapably true that if tolerance is taken to a radical extreme, it can easily morph into a new and insidious form of intolerance - one in which mere acceptance is no longer adequate. Is this more than just a gradual shift in attitudes? Is it an attempt to materially disrupt and reconstruct our society?