Camp Nanowrimo

So, everyone knows (or ought to know) that I am a major failed writer. I’ve not been published by most of the big names out there. I have a regular spot in the nanowrimo competition, which I also fail at.

I do have a book waiting for a read at BAEN, but it may be a century before the editor actually looks at it. Slush piles ain’t fun. So, I recommend everyone give up. (that should lessen the slush pile enough that I can get another book in.)

Nanowrimo is a book writing challenge in November. Camp Nanowrimo is in July. Not exactly the same challenge, but a good one. I’m planning on knocking out some good chapters, cleaning up some of my interludes, building a good book II to my unpublished book I.

I’d appreciate some help, comment. Maybe an edit or two. Mostly, just comment on here if you want to play with words. Set up a nanowrimo account and we go from there.

Oh, and don’t overthink it.

optimization

That bit of content is from XKCD.COM

Pandagators – The long joke I promised you.

So, the Pandagator joke takes a good long while to unwind, and no pictures, so relax and sit back. Several years ago, we had an “Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow, whether you like it or not” panel at Dragon Con. For those of you who have never been…why are you reading this? … it is a lot of fun. If anyone has pictures, I’ll post them, but I don’t have any at work.

First, imagine down at the bottom of the hill of Dragon Con, 2pm on Saturday in the Hilton Atlanta, downstairs in the Crystal Ballroom, 600 people in the audience, four guy up on stage. There was a range of personalities on the stage, but I was the regular, Dr. DNA was a regular, everyone else was there for a few years. We had a flock of assistants in lab coats making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, my big DOOM Box in the corner, flashing sparks and smoking lightly, JonnyX and his cattle prod. People screaming. It was a hell of a show.

On that year, we had a PhD Neuroscience guy (Evil Brain), a PhD Bio Chemist (Dr. DNA), a PhD Physicist (Evil G), and a Nuclear Engineer of no particular merit. (Me). Pardon me if I don’t get everyone’s degrees right, I can never remember my own, much less everyone else’s. Just remember that they’re much smarter than me. The fun of an hour variety show was that we each had a time slot where we took over the panel, did a few power point charts, some comments, a joke or two.

Well, to get to the joke, we had talked the previous year about “evil plots to take over the earth.” My plot, I think, involved black holes. Evil G was using a beam of charm quarks directed at your hometown.

“If the effects are good, send me money, I’ll keep it up. If the effects are bad, send me money, I’ll quit. If you’re not sure, I’d advise sending me money anyway, as it couldn’t hurt.”

So, for his presentation, Evil G brought it up again. He had a slide show for this year’s work.

“SO, Last year I talked to you about taking over the world using a beam of Charm quarks. I have since decided that using physics to take over the world is too hard. I’m using something easy this year, DNA Splicing.”

The two guys with PhD’s in biology, head desk simultaneously. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. I wish I had his power point. It had a variety of predators made by sticking together pictures of animals. an example is the EEL gle – an eel head with eagle body. The Apex Ambush Predator was the Panda Gator – Looks innocent from the bush, but when it jumps you, its got a big bite.

Dr. DNA, Supervillain, Found Dead in Lair

Dr. Paul Grigoli has died. He was found dead, suicide, on May 28th, 2016. Paul was better known, in Dragon Con circles, as Dr. DNA. I think he’d like the page title.

Dr_DNA

Dr. DNA strode around the Con in his trademark spotted lab coat, mouse lab-assistant in his pocket. He was one of the evil villains who manned the “Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow” Panel. He also won the “Who wants to be a Supervillain?” contest. His rants were epic. I was going to build a “DNA Mixer” for the next contest, but it involved alcohol (He loved Patron) and we were told to stop the booze on stage. I did get my wife to sew him a Pandagator. Head of a panda, body of an alligator. Apex ambush predator, very dangerous. (Just ask Dr. Granade about that one, long joke.)

I don’t really know what to say beyond that. He was a genius, a great guy and a good friend. Sure, he wanted to take over the world, but he promised me that I could have the first cloned T-rex. (Hey, I personally EVOLVED to eat that guy, I think I deserve at least a leg!)   jurassic

He had a lot to say, loudly, about all the time. But, at the moment you think he’s just crazy, he says something so amazing, science or philosophy, that you have to back him up to repeat it. Genius, on tap. One of the smartest men I’ve met, and I’ve met a lot. Maybe he wasn’t particularly adept socially, (he really worked at eccentric) but he had a lot of heart.

Paul hit some hard times, turned down for tenure at Vanderbilt and Murray state. He was finishing his exams to teach Physics in High School. I asked him to come out to DC, but between his dad, his kid, his ex-wife, his minions, and his friends, he didn’t want to leave Oklahoma. He didn’t want to leave his Lair.

He loved explosions. I was talking to one of his minions last night and she wanted me out in OK if just to blow something up, in memory. (They don’t really like it when you bring that stuff on planes, just saying.) But an explosion for old times sake.

Bikini Atol 1946

Oh, was THAT your secret superhero headquarters? Wow, you’re going to need a new one. yup.

Well, now the superheroes can sleep a little easier knowing Dr. DNA won’t be out to get them. probably. I mean, villains have been known to come back for revenge. I’d just beware of Pandagators, if I were you.

SuperVillainHandbook

Wherever Dr. DNA is now, his secret Lair will safe forever.

 

Year End Round-up

What is there to say? I’m here to vent my spleen at the science of the day.

  1. Elon Musk wants to put a man/woman on Mars. Well, we all want that. Can his ship land/take off again? Maybe. Looks like a good concept at least. Still, long way from here to trusting a rocket to set my butt down on the red planet. “Many a slip twixt the glass and the lip.”

 

2. Steven Hawkings wants to send sail satellites to other stars. The idea is terrible. I love his work, especially after he decided the Black Hole evaporation doesn’t happen. His current theory allows mini black holes, but enough about that. Let me trash his space probe idea.

Sorry, but just imagine that they do get the satellite up to 3000 km/s, a hundred times faster than anything we’ve done before. How far is a light year again? Look, 3 kklicks is a good number, it means you cross a light year in a hundred years. the CLOSEST target is about 3 ly away. So, the mission, launched in 2020, would arrive in 2320. Exciting, we’d get the return broadcast in 2323. Except, that is a boring dead system. The closest living world is about 10 light years away, so we’d get the broadcast in 3030. I ain’t waiting up. Besides, it’ll only be in that system for a few days. It’ll only be “near” the planet for about a minute.

Great, first principle of the light sail, it doesn’t have a breaking rocket. Not that you could slow down anything at that speed. We’re accelerating it using a super laser for a hundred years. Unless the aliens have a super laser, and want to slow down this beast, it isn’t stopping there, or anywhere. It will just keep going forever…buh bye.

solar_sail_spaceship-spl

3. NASA is getting a change in plan. It hasn’t had a plan in the last 8 years. Constellation, however you want to trash it, was a plan. It had some elements which may or may not have worked. I know, I was there, I worked on some of them. The radiation part, duh. I wrote, had my hands on at least, the majority of the environment documents. It was a plan. The Obama administration killed the plan. They didn’t have an alternate idea, didn’t really want NASA doing its thing. Whatever. Now hopefully a real plan for a Lunar Mission will be articulated. We’ll see.

4. I’ve got a paper to write. so I took a break to vent my spleen. Back to paper writing. I hope everyone has a good summer planned.

Vacation: I got hit by a tornado

Gulf Wars 2016, Lumberton Mississippi

Ok, it sucked. I got in one war point, some nice fighting there, but then we got hit by a tornado and pretty much folded the show. Sucked. Water everywhere. Horizontal rain. Plastic tents were all blown down, many destroyed. Most of the heavy canvas ones did well, but may need repair/dried out. Rough week.

I drove 2000 miles and spent a thousand bucks to sit under a damn tornado. well. maybe better luck next year.

 

Vacation Time! A week in the Middle Ages.

Hey Everyone I’m going on a vacation. Yes, you won’t be able to tell from post frequency. If I keep dividing by zero, maybe you’ll show up and there’ll be infinite posts here….

I’m a medieval re-enactor. Society for Creative Anachronism, SCA, to be specific. It is mostly a sport, partly a family party, when I was younger it was a way to pick up chicks, but I haven’t been younger in a while.  So, how is it a sport? I’m so glad you asked.

Camera test 029

I’m the fellow with the green shirt and yellow belt, off to beat on the big fellow with the red sword. I think he won, actually, but it went a lot like this.

fight 1

So, Gulf wars is a bit of this and a lot of ….

hobby

Vacation, where you sit back and relax, have a beer. (After a few hours of beating people with sticks, watching the baby, cooking meals for 25 on a grill, tent maintenance, and buying stuff for the wife.) Ahh, relaxation.

mad scientist rapier_and_dagger_2

So yes, a rocket scientist, a nuclear warrior, has a vacation as a history nut, a medieval warrior. Some days I’m a mad scientist, some days a renaissance man.

Yeah, I’m in all those pictures. (By definition, I know I’m in the Heavy Ravine War Point, the “Hobbies” picture, but maybe not in the frame, who can tell.) So, I should have some good war stories when I get home. HOPEFULLY.

I’ll see if I can write some science soon.

All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy

all work

Right, so I’ve not been blogging. I haven’t tweeted, facebooked, or frankly emailed anyone but one friend outside of work. Last few weeks have been busy.

Planning the family vacation, it’ll be a week away from all of the above, camping in Mississippi. I hope the weather is nice. Weather here stinks, pretty much all the time. (Washington DC, come for the terrible weather, stay because the traffic won’t let you leave.)

So, I’ll try to write some science these days. I’m putting in a bit of work on my current fantasy novel, but it is very slow. I’ve been working on spending more time at home with the wife and baby. Less at work. The guys at work appreciate that, but they have a lot for me to do as well. I’m pretty over booked.

Watched a movie, “Home.” It is great. For those of us with less than stellar records in human relationships, Oh is so us. Most scientists don’t think of themselves as scientists, just guys who do a job. We try to be happy, friendly sorts, but we’re the “not good” at social. Watch it. Of course it is a tear jerker, damn cartoons.

I’ll “the science” later.

 

 

North Korea tests a bomb

Obviously, I can’t say anything about what NK did. You can get as much on the news as I can. However, we should talk about how a Nuclear weapon and atomic bomb are done.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/05/asia/north-korea-seismic-event/

It isn’t as simple as stealing a bunch of “radioactive” materials and … boom! That is the good, ole fashioned, dirty bomb.

marathon-explosion-people-on-sidewalk

Frankly, nails do more damage. We can argue, but I’d win. I don’t feel like it today. Any bomb is bad, a “Dirty bomb” isn’t as bad as blowing people’s limbs off.

The reasonable fear we have is from Fission and Fusion bombs. Fission being the simpler, or Atomic Bomb. One simply holds two near-critical masses of Uranium close together and the critical mass generates heat. Hold it close enough, long enough, you have a bomb. (the techniques are well established, but very difficult to master.)

easy_buster_cropped

The United States, of course, has mastered them.

NK is claiming it produced a Thermo-Nuclear event. This means it heated Tritium, or Deuterium Tritium mix, to fusion temperatures. A Fusion bomb can be much larger than a fission bomb. Thousands of times larger. Or, they found a cool word in the dictionary, that they thought was a synonym for Atomic Bomb, and decided to use it.

Look ignorance is on both sides. We (US, SK, and China reported numbers) measure nuclear events with a seismic detector. An American reporter announced this reported event as an earthquake detected near the test site… I’m sure he can do traffic and weather together every hour, so he’s better than 90% of the public, but most people are ignorant of nuclear matters.

northkorea-nuclear

I’m not sure the NK “reporter” is much better.

Sure, a bomb in the hands of a crazy person is scary. NK is a scary place. Still, this wasn’t anything new or particularly interesting. Imperious Leader just figured that he had been out of the news too long. He needed to break the ISIS ISIS ISIS refrain. Heck, he didn’t know that Obama had already pivoted back to Gun Control. I doubt he’ll get as much time on the 6 pm news as Terry McAuliffe, my anti-gun governor.

vacuba

Maybe you should focus on Knife control.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/on-day-1-in-cuba-gov-mcauliffe-touts-his-states-pork-wine–and-seaport/2016/01/04/f062e9ca-b2ea-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html

 

 

Fermi Paradox – Why can’t we see aliens?

I’ll try to find my Dragon Con presentation from 2014, but here is the question and short answer, for those interested.

Fermi Paradox: With all the stars in the galaxy, there is a high probability of aliens. Why can’t we see them and why don’t they visit?

The first part is simple. We can’t see much of the galaxy. Most of our view is out of the galaxy. If you want to think of our galaxy as rotating around a Z axis,+/- Z is our long view. It is only a few tens of light years. (Still a lot of stars) If you look toward the other directions, we are limited to around a thousand light years.

quarters_general

How big is 100 light years? Imagine that the galaxy is a queen sized bed. Scale runs around 600 light years per inch.

Try an experiment: Take a bunch of quarters and toss them randomly all over the bed. Each quarter is an active, visible, alien civilization. Nice, big pile near the center, maybe a stack by the headboard. A lot of those quarters are touching, right? Those civilizations can see each other.

YouAreHereGalaxy

Good, now put a quarter one foot toward the center from the lower left corner. Did you throw another quarter there? Well, apparently God didn’t either. The Fermi Paradox. There may be intelligent aliens out there, we just can’t see them.

As to why they don’t visit? Because space travel is hard. Star Wars is awesome, Star Trek is sufficient, but both break basic rules. Frankly, if those rules could be broken, they would have been. I expect that we’re always to be limited by light speed. Which basically means our top velocity is 0.1 C. We might plant a colony at 14 light years, but it is a several hundred year trip. The only aliens we’ll ever see with share our DNA.

AC75-1086f

http://blog.longnow.org/02010/01/04/generation-starships-theyre-not-fast/

Weather and Global Warming – Heavy Clouds but, No Rain

global_warming-758157We all want to be proven right. We want to argue with someone and put the evidence in their face. To paraphrase an argument I had on Facebook the other day, over Global Warming.

AGW: “It is December and Warm! Clearly Global warming!”

Science: “It has been this warm in December many times.”

AGW: “But more heat in a system means more bad weather!”

Science: “Cool Magic system you’ve created there. Non-science.”

Of course, this is ironic. Heavy rain does not mean they get their proof of global warming. Unseasonal heavy rain is just that, unseasonal heavy rain. Unseasonal things happen all the time, seasons are, to mis-quote a famous movie pirate: Weather is more of a guideline, really, than a rule.

Ok, so what if the basic premise is correct. We agree that the temperature is 0.3 to 0.4 degrees C higher than in the 70’s or early 80’s. Is the weather worse?

Well, lets look at hurricane statistics. We’ll look at the late 70’s and Early 80’s:

1974 Sep LA, 3 3 952 —– Carmen
1975 Sep FL, NW3; I-AL1 3 955 —– Eloise
1976 Aug NY, 1 1 980 —– Belle
1977 Sep LA, 1 1 995 —– Babe
1978 None
1979 Jul LA, 1 1 986 —– Bob
1979 Sep FL, SE2, NE2; GA, 2; SC, 2 2 970 —– David
1979 Sep AL, 3; MS, 3 3 946 —– Frederic
1980s
1980 Aug TX, S3 3 945 100 Allen
1981 None
1982 None
1983 Aug TX, N3 3 962 100 Alicia
1984 Sep * NC, 2 2 949 95 Diana

10 Hurricane in 10 years. Compare to current values:

2004 Aug * NC, 1 1 972 70 Alex
2004 Aug FL, SW4, SE1, NE1; SC, 1; NC, 1 4 941 130 Charley
2004 Aug SC, 1 1 985 65 Gaston
2004 Sep FL, SE2, SW1 2 960 90 Frances
2004 Sep AL, 3; FL, NW3 3 946 105 Ivan
2004 Sep FL, SE3, SW1, NW1 3 950 105 Jeanne
2005 Jul LA, 1 1 991 65 Cindy
2005 Jul FL, NW3; I-AL 1 3 946 105 Dennis
2005 Aug FL, SE1, SW1; LA, 3; MS, 3; AL, 1 3 920 110 Katrina
2005 Sep * NC, 1 1 982 65 Ophelia
2005 Sep FL, SW1; LA, 3; TX, N2 3 937 100 Rita
2005 Oct FL, SW3; FL, SE2 3 950 105 Wilma
2006 None
2007 Sep TX, N1; LA, 1 1 985 80 Humberto
2008 Jul TX, S1 1 967 75 Dolly
2008 Sep LA, 2 2 954 90 Gustav
2008 Sep TX, N2; LA, 1 2 950 95 Ike
2009 None
2010s
2010 None
2011 Aug NC, 1 1 952 75 Irene
2012 Aug LA, 1 1 966 70 Isaac
2012 Oct * NY, 1 1 942 65 Sandy
2013 None
2014 Jul NC, 2 2 973 85 Arthur

Wow, 2005 and 2004 were huge. 11 hurricane in 2 years – 20 in 10 years. Hugely more. Of course, had I conveniently started at 2006, there would have been 8 hurricane in 9 years. Slightly less. We had a couple bad years, then things returned to normal.

Weird, so if you change your starting dates to useful numbers, you can completely change your answer? Again, the excitement isn’t that the world has warmed. The argument is that the warming is unusual. We Deniers, believe that the warming is natural, not man-made. Will the warming affect climate? That is an interesting subject, but not a politically useful one.

 

 

Let me check my notes