I’m a long-time fan of Howard Taylor and Schlock Mercenary. He has a kickstarter going for challenge coins, I LUV “Not my circus, not my monkeys” as an idea. Feel free to Kick in. (I’m out of money or I would, but babies ya know?) In any case, I’m giving him some pre-credit as I steal the image below from his webpage – you can now buy this as a 5X7 print and avoid being labeled a thief (like me).

I love being a scientist. I love reading and writing science fiction. (Yes, I write, but not well enough to get it published -yet.) Still, there is this abiding pain we have to deal with. As an example, if you write crime stories about New York, it shouldn’t be hard to visit NY, heck, it probably isn’t too hard to get involved in a crime there. Wow, I shouldn’t skip over CSI- Los Vegas, I bet you could end up dead on a streetcorner in an unsolvable murder mystery just about any day of the week…

But if you want to write about the planet circling Proxima Centauri (undiscovered as yet) you will be required to use your imagination. Not to get into the “planet discovery” craze, neither Alpha nor Proxima Centauri are likely to support any sort of life which would listen to a radio or watch color tv. But, our knowledge of space is limited to a single data point. We’ve dug a total of ONE (1) holes on another planet. That isn’t a lot more than zero, exactly one more, in fact. When Mars is full of holes, it will still not really bring us to a second alien planet. Mars’ “aliens” will be something like a microbe, or a dry algae, or … nothing as exciting as Edgar Rice Burroughs would have had us believe. 

When it is all said and done – if the best & most aggressive programs on Earth are successful, we may someday actually listen to an alien radio broadcast. We may someday receive movies broadcast from a robot orbiting Alpha Centauri. We may someday … wish we could live just another hundred years, in the hopes that mankind would wake from its terrible slumber and reach for the stars.

What happened? You’d be surprised. We were raised to believe that governments funded exploration. It turns out that governments may throw a bone to explorers now and then, with prizes and enticements, but in general, governments consume money to stay in power. Exploration does not help them and the rich men who fund it and the rebels that undertake it are destabilizing to worldly powers. Rich men, merchants, and those noble sons who are limited in inheritance have done most of the world’s explorations. We can only hope that they find reason to spend their wealth, risk their fortunes, and spend their lives in pursuit of new worlds. I just wish I could visit the stars with them.

Beer Review

I haven’t been negligent on drinking, but a bit on posting the results of my sampling. I really need to brew more, the more I drink the less impressed I become.

I tried a couple from Highland Brewing Company. Honestly they are good beer. The Gaelic ale was a bit weak for me and the Oatmeal Stout was about right. Neither one was much to write about, but good enough for the night in front of the computer. The Gaelic will run middle of the Light Beer pack. Way WAAAY above the minimum bar for a good glass of beer, but not memorable.

I guess that if you want my scaling on this, the Oatmeal Porter is about the bottom of the “Dark Beer” category … just about the middle of my “Brown Beer” category. It is pretty drinkable for a saturday night, not as heavy as the Sam Smith Oatmeal or the Guinness Stout.

I tried an Abita Turbodog. It achieved “Beer” by a reasonable margin. I could taste the “Brown Beer” elements, but the whole thing just tasted thin and sour. It beat Coors Extra Gold, but it was probably not worth the premium cost.

Sierra Nevada has a Ruthless Rye. I wanted to try it because I like Rye Beer. Ruthless is a hop head beer, not bad, but I couldn’t taste the rye. Look, not dissing SN, but there are enough hop head beers out there, work with your damn malts. It is a good beer, but not what I was looking for today.

Innis and Gunn Original is my current Comfort Beer. I love the malt, the oak bitters, roughly everything. It doesn’t rate very high for a lot of reasons. It is a solid Scotch Ale, which doesn’t use a lot (or any) hops. The Oak provides the bitters. Very different, very worth it, the best beer in the bunch. (The Rum cask isn’t bad, but I don’t like rum that much – I’d probably like the whiskey cask.)

Geeky Marriage Proposal

A marriage proposal in the form of a paper on a two body problem. She may accept, but frankly, the paper should be rejected from its lack of reference material. *super geek*

But yeah, I proposed to my bride while she was wearing an Elfquest costume. We got married in full renaissance gear. She is a history/fantasy/movie geek… She won’t get this joke when I share it with her, she will roll her eyes and groan … if she even lets me explain it. Her first comment will be to the affect of “You durn science geeks.” Yeah, well, too true.

In college, I developed a similar paper for a lady on “Excited states and potential functions of charm and strange geeks.” … it wasn’t exactly a love poem, but it worked well enough.

Not Quantum Physics

So apparently, some professor decided to give the most surreal lecture of the year for a Quantum Physics class: stripping, ninjas, 9/11 scenes, stuffed animals, etc. The sort of thing you might expect from Columbia Political Science class, not their SCIENCE class.

Weird Report w Video

“in order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain and start over again. … Everything you do in your everyday life is totally opposite of what you are going to learn in quantum mechanics.” This is complete hogwash.

Let me be clear: Quantum Physics Isn’t Weird – Ok, people who study it might be on the forefront of geeky-ness, but that doesn’t make Quantum Physics/Mechanics/etc. weird. Sure, the rules at the quantum level appear to be different than those at the macroscopic level, but I assume that Physics majors at the Senior level may have been exposed to these thoughts sometime before their teacher decided to go surrealist.

QP has some hard math. Freakishly difficult to idiots like me. (Thank you Eric Black and Jeanne Digrazio, without whom I would never have passed. Last I heard, Eric had his PhD in solid state physics and was teaching Math at a California University. Jeanne wrote a thesis on Chaos Theory and became a lawyer.) But Math isn’t “crazy” it is just a set of rules you have to learn. (and apply consistently and correctly.)

The best explanation I can have for a teacher like this is New Religious Convert or NRC. This was a common phenomenon of my youth, maybe you recognize it. Somebody told an alcoholic/lost soul/druggy/whatever that “Jesus Saves.” The NRC went to a couple services and saw the light. He doesn’t really have a theory of how God or Jesus or any of that works, he just says random lines from the service and tells you that it “Changed his life!”

Here we have a professor from a good school. He never actually worked in the field of Physics, he just went from undergrad, to grad, to associate professor. He learned theory from a book and regurgitates it to the masses, but he doesn’t really understand it. He has internalized the “Weirdness” and the “wacky contradictions” without really grasping any of the internal workings of quantum that make our universe an emergent phenomenon of atomic forces.

Honest to God, when somebody at a SciFi Con talks to me about Quantum Weirdness I just smile and nod along. QW is great for newbies, uneducated, non-physicists. But, I caution physics majors about trusting the math too much. Understanding Physics requires you to actually grasp the implications with your mind, not just follow the math and laugh about the weirdness. It leads to believing Uncertainty means “Unknowable” instead of “Spread Potential but Unified action.” (The electron’s potential is present throughout the orbit, but if you poke it, you never get 1/2 an electron.)

A professor should know how to explain these difficult concepts, not just perform surreal stage shows. This is pitiful behavior from a physicist. I had heard Columbia’s education was in the toilet, but this is clear evidence that science education at Columbia is approaching worthless political statements. These people fund Political Anti-Science like AGW, I’m not surprised that the crap works its way down to the students.

Not a Global Warming Paper

Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change

This is a very interesting paper which describes how scientists/politicians build consensus. It isn’t really favorable to either side, but in terms of how politics caused certain framing elements, I’d say it was damning of the Anthropogenic side. Frankly, large numbers of scientist, meteorologists, geoscientists, and others have always been strongly sceptical of Athro Global Warming claims. Of course, since I was educated by students of Drs John Christy and Roy Spencer, I started off with a sceptical attitude. The only “proof” I was ever provided was a model. As a professional modeler – yes, I am a pro at modeling – I couldn’t grasp a model of an unknown system as a “proof.”

Models of a known system are … tricky. Look, if it were easy then everyone would do it. Of course, some of my co-workers would add in that if I were smart I’d do better. Ok, so I could be smarter. Heck, my mom will tell you that if I could learn to spell, I could start a blog!

In any case, it appears that the AGW people defined a scientific field such that there was nobody in it but their own people. Anyone who wanted in had to publish a paper following their viewpoints. Opponents were blocked from publication, vilified, and shut out of funding. 

Around 10 years ago, 2003, AGW peaked at about 55% of scientists backing it. Today it is down to about 36%. AGW sceptics are now able to publish, AGW scientists are now subject to peer review from non-AGW scientists, and the house of cards will not long stand. 

Why? Because the basic science is sound. You can test minor elements of it. The history if global temperature was lied about for a while, blocked from the media, but it really shows warmer temperatures during recent – 2000 year – history. Finally, no model has come close to the temperature lack of variation over the last 10 years. Sure, AGW may have occurred, may still be occurring, but if your model shows 0.2 degrees C which haven’t occurred, and you can’t explain that, then why should we believe a 5 degree rise over the next century?

Politics sold shoddy science to the world. I think that they wanted taxing power or state ownership of all power generation. This didn’t occur in the US, but most of Europe is paying carbon taxes. If they had had their way, the UN would collect a trillion dollars in carbon taxes from the US this year.   

Videos of Russian Meteor

Ok, to a large extent I’m only accumulating video here.

But lets be clear, there is a big asteroid passing close. This make is possible that this meteor is actually a chunk of a big iron asteroid, not a chunk of a dirty snowball comet.

After the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, this is an interesting concept. I need to track down some tracking data on the visiting rock, but I believe they said that the incident velocity was less than 8 kilometers per second. That sounds like a good clip, but honestly a space tug could catch it in a few days.

What kind of space tug? Well, I would suggest a nuclear rocket, direct thermal rocket. Basically a uranium core and a hydrogen fuel tank. That sort of fellow could find 8 kps in a couple hours of high ISP thrusting – low g’s lots of clean hydrogen gas at 3000k leaving the thruster. With a good design, it could be relatively fuel efficient, especially as it wouldn’t be battling gravity like the space shuttle. It could catch that rock, dock with it, and put it into orbit around the Earth.

Ok, so why do we want a swimming pool sized chunk of nickel – tungsten – iron? Parts man. The same nuclear core could run the foundry for purifying the big rock into a few tons of pure metal. A proper 3D cutting facility, and we can generate parts on orbit. In time, with more big rocks, a long term foundry, printing press, cutting facility, and some tele-operated robots – we could be building most of the spacecraft in orbit. Ships that come up from the ground would carry 1) people, 2) fuel, 3) electronics, 4) creature comforts.

Remember, most of the trouble with spacecraft comes from getting them onto and off of the ground. Space Ships aren’t designed the same way at all.
Take a Big Can, put an engine on it. Ok, that’s most of the work. Strap on some fuel tanks and balance the engine so it is pushing along the center line of mass. (otherwise you fly in circles.) Not tricky yet, but how do you do all the living quarters? Send up inflatables and inflate them INSIDE the giant can. They are protected from the evil “outside” the people inside have a safe air environment, and you don’t really want them messing with the engines anyway, let the robots and teleoperation crew do most of that work.

Many spacecraft designs: Solar sails, Nuclear engines, Plasma Propulsion, inflatable habitats, etc. don’t work on the ground. (or are scary to normal people.) Get them into space where we can use them, and let the folks on the ground ignore them. Space construction is key to that, so lets rope some asteroids.

NASA has issued the following statement:

“The trajectory of the Russian meteorite was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object. Information is still being collected about the Russian meteorite and analysis is preliminary at this point. In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14′s trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north.”

Global Warming – Time To Sell your Stocks

Global Warming, everybody’s favorite topic. Even at the Interstellar Workshop, people are trying to sell their ideas through “we can stop global warming” nonsense. Before we get too far, I want to get clear the “what everybody knows” portion of our program.

The UAH Temperature Record – guys I trust who do good work – shows the following graphs for the temperature record. Temperatures these days are roughly 0.2 degrees C higher than baseline. Maybe, Maybe, we are going to see an increase to 0.4 degrees C above baseline.
I think everyone agrees that the climate is IMPROVED by an increase of up to 0.5 degrees C, but some models show a feedback mechanism which causes a 0.5 degree increase to become a 5.0 degree increase. I think that is hogwash, but that is the “Tipping Point” people are screaming about.

Did the human race cause this increase? I have no idea. Frankly, it doesn’t seem likely. Yes, CO2 levels are higher today than in the past and since humans contribute to CO2 there is a link, however, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere doesn’t appear to be a direct driver of temperature. In human history, the Earth has been hotter than it is today and considerably colder. The regular upswings and downswings in temperature had nothing to do with us in the previous 10,000 years, it isn’t likely that we’ve just found the temperature switch.

This is the standard Hubris of humans. Our actions are the ones that displeased/pleased the gods. That is why the city was destroyed, the cattle ran away, the tornado destroyed the church, and Greenland was covered in ice. Release the Kraken! In reality, this is just humanities way of dealing with randomness of nature. We see patterns, then we conjure a god who’s hand is causing the pattern, then we make sacrifices to that god to appease him. It doesn’t make sense to those outside the religion, but it makes sense on the inside.

Another way to look at it is a business. If you can … whip of a frenzy against Pool (Trouble in River City, Trouble with a T that rhymes with P that stands for Pool!) Yes, child, life is a song cue. (If you watch enough musicals. That one is the Music Man, if you haven’t heard it.) So, with the town beating their breasts about kids playing pool, you can encourage their parents to buy a Band. You take your cut as the salesman, a modest recompense. When every last penny has been scraped from the poor natives, you jump a train and head for the next town. At some point, the natives have stopped worrying about Pool, won’t buy a Boy’s Band, and all you have is a ticket book and a stack of catalogs. Well, the next thing you sell is your business. Some fool will jump on your train for you, with your ticket in hand and a stack of catalogs. He won’t make a cent, but you’ve made one more sale.

Al Gore just sold his business. Current TV was a platform for Global Warming Hysteria, which gave him a ticket to Hollywood gala and Davos pseudo-intellectual parties. Selling to Al Jazeera? Who cares. He could have sold to anyone willing to pay his price. He couldn’t justify selling out, but (since he’s a liberal) no one will call him on it in 5 years. In 5 years there will be other business opportunities, government positions, U.N. Organizations. Whatever. He had to unload his GW stock while the getting was good. He took two soft ball interviews, just to preserve his “name stock” in the Democrat groups. They’ll say “He explained his positions.” and since they honestly don’t care, they won’t ever call him on his actions. They said Al Gore was visionary. Ok, he made nearly 1/2 a Billion dollars on Global Warming companies, investments, etc. He has seen the end of the GW stock and he sold while he still could. There will be a handful of true believers and rear-guard fighters who will try to keep the FRAUD label from being appropriately applied to their actions. How far out was he projecting? 5 years? maybe less. Trillions of dollars thrown away, the global economy pushed into recession, and no one will ever be held accountable.

Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop

I don’t know where to start on this, I could talk about it for weeks. Probably will without regard to your preferences. Sorry.
1) We need to promote in-system architecture. ie. Refueling Depots, Oxygen Generation, Space Tugboats, Dry Docks, etc.
2) On fellow promoted One Orbital Terrawatt, which I agree facilitates discussion, but isn’t the right idea. (And has a horrible acronym – OOT) The project promoted a giant single power generation – beaming facility. How about a smaller facility. 1 Megawatt. Given the usual 60% losses in system and 90% losses to the ground, say 4% delivered on target. – 40 KW continuous power. 20 of these in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) would produce a continuous delivery anywhere you wanted…though admittedly not a huge delivery. 

People have suggested that solar panels weigh about 20 kg per kwatt… so the basic load only runs about 10 tons, plus a reasonable sized microwave facility, some focusing mirrors, a storage capacitor to store the solar energy for an hour and a half, then release it in the 5 minutes it is overhead. etc. Call it a 20 ton load. Pretty reasonable by modern standard of launch.

Sure, it is a hundred million in design and launch. Probably a 20 or 30 million for the Rectenna array. So each launch is another chunk, but each purchased satellite is a buy of 20+ years of electricity. Sure, there are a lot cheaper sources of power, but this one is green and off the Earth. I can see a lot worse uses of a dollar.

Oh, side note, if we needed to geoengineer a loss of a 0.1 degree of temperature, the satellite orbits could easily add a small amount of shade to our day. You wouldn’t be able to see them, but they should reduce net solar irradiance – if they were orbited between the day side and the sun.

They are easy to move. Sun synchronous orbits with large solar arrays would have to be designed to have constant force from the arrays against the sun. If the arrays were turned perpendicular to the sun, the orbit would precess a few tenths of a degree per day around the world. In less than a year, the array could be lined up anywhere and the arrays turned back to work. A nearly zero-energy solution for moving the power to any location on the globe. Obviously, if they were powered, or the size/weight ratio different, this could be accomplished in days not months, but that is a design decision.

What would we call this? I’m currently calling this: First On Orbit Transmission of Satellite Electrical Power to Ground Antenna. ok Footsepga is kinda rough, so Footsteps.

I’m real positive about Footsteps, I think it can be the next big thing. I’m moving this to the group for further discussion.

3) Not like I’m at the halfway point here, I’m barely breaking the ice. Inflatable structures, sports in space, direct brain control of teleoperated machines, construction machines on the moon, on mars… This just isn’t stopping soon.

4) DRAGON CON 2013! Space Missions for the Masses!!!
Dragon*Con Membership - 2013 ($85)