Thursday, April 05, 2012

Celebrating Space! Solar Tornadoes, Exoplanets 'n Micro Black Holes

12-4-12 Thursday is Yuri’s Night, an international celebration of human achievement and ingenuity, in recognition of mankind’s achievements in space exploration—with hopes of inspiring a new generation to continue looking upward and reaching outward. Fifty-one years ago, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to launch into space: “Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty – not destroy it!

Do something on Yuri's night.  Look up some local or online event. Or just step outside with someone impressionable, and infect them with a sense of wonder.  And determination.

How do we recapture our enthusiasm for space? Neil deGrasse Tyson examines America’s ailing aerospace industry and NASA’s shrinking vision -- and asks what it would take for America to remain the leading power in space: “In fact we may be entering a new age of geopolitics, in which economic strength wields greater power than military strength. If that’s the case, we shouldn’t need reminders that innovations in science and technology drive tomorrow’s economies. That’s been true since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. And so healthy investment in space exploration—something we saw 50 years ago, and something many other countries have just figured out—is like a new force of nature operating on a nation’s economic prosperity. As nothing else does, the frontier of space exploration, which draws upon a dozen fields of science and engineering, attracts the ambitions of those who are still in the educational pipeline. It is they who become the scientists and technologists. It is they who invent tomorrow.”

Hear hear. Every decade since the forties, some scientific breakthrough (or several) enabled the U.S. to stay rich and vibrant enough to then spend it all in the Great Buying Spree that propelled world prosperity and created a world-majority Middle Class. That is, every decade except the first decade of the 21st Century, amid the calamitous War on Science.

The possibilities are there! See my video: Grand Scale Reasons to Explore Space. I am on the board of advisers for the NASA Innovative and Advanced Concepts program. Last week in Pasadena we saw some outtasight and amazing proposals, some of them both groundbreaking and apparently eminently practical. All we have to do is rediscover within ourselves the kind of people who step outside and look up, now and then.

== Great Sci-Television ==

Is There an Edge to the Universe? This episode of Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole will blow your mind!
Our family liked the whole series.  Well. Except the episode about "The Sixth Sense." And the fact that they could have used a physicist sci fi- author pundit, now and then.

==Exoplanets and Runaway Planets==

Turns out there could be billions of habitable planets around faint red dwarf stars in our galaxy. Well... maybe.

An international team, including astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), has applied the technique of gravitational microlensing to measure how common planets are in the Milky Way, surveying millions of stars over six years. The team concludes that planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception.  How was it done? Beyond gravitational wobble and Kepler's occultation method, there's an added method by which exoplanets are detected - via the way that the gravitational field of their host stars acts like a lens, magnifying the light of a background star. If the star that acts as a lens has a planet in orbit around it, the planet can make a detectable contribution, warping the brightening effect on the background star.

Microlensing is a very powerful tool, with the potential to detect exoplanets that could never be found any other way. But a very rare chance alignment of a background and foreground star is required for a microlensing event to be seen at all. And, to spot a planet during the rare event, an additional chance alignment of the planet’s orbit is also needed.  Significantly, any one episode is likely never to be repeated, so you can't learn much about the planet.  This mostly helps by offering statistics.  In  six year's worth of microlensing data used in the analysis, three exoplanets were firmly detected... enough to suggest that planets are very abundant. (In fact, we astonomers always expected it to be so, because of angular momentum considerations; but it is good to see proof.)

In other news: Astronomers believe that runaway planets may zoom at a fraction of speed of light. When a solar system passed close to a black hole, all sorts of wild stuff can happen, including planets being expelled from the galaxy at relativistic speeds!

==Solar Tornadoes, Micro Black Holes & Civilization's End==

Astronomers present images of a solar tornado as much as five times the width of Earth, an event they believe triggers solar storms.  Cool images!  Reminding me of the days when I was a solar observer at the Big Bear Observatory and caught on film the Great Flare of ‘72.  Yep!  By crickey!

Should we fear collisions with micro-black holes? Scientists seem convinced that such a tiny singularity (black hole) would pass right through our planet without gobbling enough mass to slow down.  Fair enough.  But what if the singularity were local?  So in much lower-velocity orbit in the Solar system?  Or even (as I portrayed in EARTH) man-made?  One of ten thousand possible explanations for why we seem to be alone in the universe?

Noted author and futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing. “I think that [civilization] coming back would actually be a very big surprise,” he says in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

And see a  fairly wise article on SETI by my esteemed colleague Nick Sagan.

==Fusion Finally?==

Computer simulations of magnetically-confined inertial fusion, suggest we may be a lot closer to workable fusion reactors than previously thought. Sandia Labs will test the simulation experimentally in 2013.  To which frequent blog commentor Sociotard cogently replied: “A scientist performing a detailed simulation of fusion is as close to making a meatspace model as a middleschooler making out with her pillow is to actually reaching second base.”

==Tech Updates== 

Boston Dynamics does it again!  See the "sand flea rover"  prototype of a wheeled robot that can also (sproing!) leap actual tall buildings in a single bound.  Amazing... and highly relevant to our mission at the NASA Innovative and Advanced Concepts group. Watch the video.

Patent Bolt has discovered that Microsoft has been secretly working on a video headset since September 2010. A New Microsoft patent reveals that they’ve been working two styles of headset: an aviation styled helmet aimed at Xbox gamers, and one that resembles a pair of sunglasses for use with smartphones, MP3 players and other future devices.

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a camera that peers around corners. It can “see” objects hidden behind walls... via a non-imaging method akin to radar, bouncing off other walls. that are in-view. The system can produced recognizable 3-D images of a wooden figurine and of foam cutouts outside their camera’s line of sight.

Printing three dimensional objects with incredibly fine details is now possible using "two-photon lithography". With this technology, tiny structures on a nanometer scale can be fabricated. (I was involved in the earliest version of this technique, back in the 1980s!)

Visualizing light in motion at a trillion frames per second..

-----

Final note... I have written my novels on Apple computers since 1982 - around the time that I (Brin brags) bought some stock.  But I am disturbed by rumors that Apple is setting up the iPad as an eReader with some unpleasant aspects.  I would appreciate it if some folks out there would drop by the comments section below this blog and offer up their views.

78 comments:

bobsandiego said...

Tornadoes on the sun? Please don't tell the writers over at 'The Asylum." (Producers of classics of cinema such as Megashark vs Giant Octopus) It would be a very short period between telling them and the Solar Tornado Disater!

locumranch said...

If we wish to be immune from the natural cycle, including (HG) climate change, then escaping from our planet should be our number one priority as it represents the only sure way to guarantee species survival.

Otherwise, we remain at the mercy of global cataclysm, solar events and random chance, subject to an ill-informed political consensus built on lowest human common denominator.

BTW, how come you haven't pushed the development of the Tru-Vu goggle as it would either solidify public order or eliminate personal liberty, depending on the nature of your(our)perspective? Can you clarify your political views?

At times, you sound like a Heinlein libertarian. Other times, not.

Best

Robert said...

Ah! This came just in time for me to provide links to a couple science-related news articles! First, we have an article on a detailed study concerning carbon dioxide levels and temperatures on a global scale that found that, unlike in Antarctica, the rest of the world has temperatures climbing AFTER carbon dioxide levels increase... and also points out that the level of CO2 now in our atmosphere is as large of a jump in 100 years as the jump that brought us out of the last Ice Age. Though I doubt the die-hard Deniers will accept this, people who've been on the fence might start to put two and two together, especially with that last winter.

On a related note, many U.S. States are not prepared for climate change, with only nine U.S. states having taken comprehensive steps to address vulnerabilities to water-related impacts of climate change, while 29 U.S. states are unprepared for water threats to economic and public health.

And last we have an article about the use of infrared and x-ray telescopy to peer into the heart of the giant galaxy Centaurus A which has given us a truly striking image from the galaxy. It's not as in depth article as the first... but I always felt science and beauty go hand in hand and taking a moment to observe the sheer beauty of the cosmos is always worthwhile.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews

Anonymous said...

Oh, great. For generations, men have been hiding behind sunglasses to scope out the ladies. Now they'll be watching porn videos on the inside of their sunglasses.

Rob said...

With respect to the Apple license...

It's not the company I used to love. It all started to go a little sour a little after the iPad was released.

Paul451 said...

Anonymous,
"For generations, men have been hiding behind sunglasses to scope out the ladies. Now they'll be watching porn videos on the inside of their sunglasses."

Don't forget these allow augmented reality. So it'll be scoping out the ladies and incorporating them into the porn. Like celebrity "nude" photoshops, but live.

David Brin said...

Locumranch... I *AM* a Heinleinian libertarian. What you fail to grasp is that YOU are not one.

If they were here today, Heinlein and Adam Smith would both be voting Democratic (though with grumbles). Not because they were fans of the nanny-state, but because they were fans of sanity, pragmatic negotiation, science and human diversity of opinion. Above all, sanity.

Do you honestly think RAH would have ANY truck with the tightly regimented, disciplined, Murdochian undead THING the GOP has become?

Both knew what today's mutant-mad rothbard-rand fanatics (so-called "libertarians") have forgotten. That the #1 enemy of free markets and freedom across 6000 years was oligarchy.

Libertarianism should be about promoting creative competition, not licking the boots of oligarchs.

You have seen this stuff from me before. If you still don't grasp, it is because you will not see. But here's more: http://tinyurl.com/polimodels

===
Robert, I am upgrading my CERT qualifications to serve on California's Disaster Volunteer corps. A bit onerous for a 60 year old, and paperwork!!! But it is my duty.

Do you all recall my recommending CERT? The last dribbles of civil defense in America. Think about it. http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/

Great sci-links!!!

"Now they'll be watching porn videos on the inside of their sunglasses."

Relax, this will go away. As soon as holodecks are invented, no male human will ever be seen again.

Brian said...

Regarding the Apple license it has already be changed to make it clear what they intended, which is that iBooks formatted documents in the iBook format can only be sold via the Apple store. Other versions of the same material, i.e. a pdf, can be sold in other markets, or even, printed! Ed Bott's follow up is here: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apples-lawyers-clean-up-the-sloppy-ibooks-author-eula/4476

bobsandiego said...

Relax, this will go away. As soon as holodecks are invented, no male human will ever be seen again.
yeah, it seems that TNG never quite realized that the holodeck -- thrice be cursed that tool of lazy writers -- was a road leading to the Talosian Trap. {snark tag on}Why is there the great silenbce? Because as soon as a race develops such virtual reality ability they dissappear into their fantasies never to be seen again.{snark off}

Ian Gould said...

"At times, you sound like a Heinlein libertarian. Other times, not."

Speaking for myself, the two most valuable things I learned from Bob Heinlein's writings were the importance of empirical evidence and the need to question all sources of received wisdom.

Including Bob Heinlein.

sociotard said...

Dr. Brin, I was just rereading your bit on the Inspector General.

"Wouldn't it make sense to appoint, train, and pay our inspectors through a channel that is completely separate from each department's political chain of command? Indeed, a system that is detached and safe from pressure by the legislative, executive and judicial branches?"

How would you establish checks and balances with this branch of government? How would the IGUS get appointed?

Just curious. I reread it and imagined FDR appointing J. Edgar Hoover as IGUS and I shuddered a little at the possible abuses, or even the rise of praetorianism.

David Brin said...

Even if the same caste appointed them all, having a dozen separated centers of power helps divide and create rivalry.

But yes, the appointment process would pass thru a board of governors with several rival interest groups involved. And a path for civil servants.

Tony Fisk said...

Another piece of circumstantial evidence on exoplanets is stellar rotation rates. Most of a star sytem's angular momentum goes to planets, making star rotate more slowly.
Stellar rotation can be guaged from doppler shifts in approaching/receding limbs.

David Brin said...

Tony, that's what I meant when I said we astrolomers already were pretty sure.... ;-)

Tim H. said...

On iBook author, my understanding is Apple doesn't have a problem with ebooks being on more stores than theirs, their software only does the modified epub that Apple uses. You'll want to write in something else, then export it to iBook author to add that Apple touch, less than evil, but probably PITA.

Rob said...

No, what rankles is that Apple doesn't have two paths for iBook Author.

One, you pay them their $200-$500 or whatever makes sense, and you get an unlocked version and a year's support.

The other, free, with no real support, they recoup costs through an exclusivity arrangement.

You only get the latter, which means to me they're not necessarily the goodguys.

David desJardins said...

The complaint about Apple seems fairly silly. "The Work" just refers to this particular product, produced by their software. It just says you can't produce content using their software for their product but then sell it to customers bypassing their marketplace. It doesn't say you can't take the content from The Work and make any other works out of it that you sell however you want.

alanuk said...

re: the first decade of the 21st century.

Is it because no internet currency exists? Yet, at the same time, the consumer moved onto the internet.

I don't pay for internet services in a conceptually similar way to how I use money in the real world.

I don't pay for almost all services as they are "free". The payment is indirect, almost a tax, on all goods I purchase in the real world.

When I buy a can of baked beans in my local supermarket the implicit sales and marketing tax paid for a few google searchs, or 1hr of facebook? who knows?.

I'm not an expert on economics but its a perverse method of payment in my mind.

David Brin said...

Recent college campus shootings.
http://www.usatoday.com/NEWS/usaedition/2012-04-04-Oikos-list_ST_U.htm

ratio of red to blue America = 12:10

looks similar, a plague on all of us, till you take relative populations into account.

Ian said...

globally, I think the smartphone tablet computer will prove to be the great innovation of the first decade of the 21st century, especially since for the majority of the world's population they'll be the first computers people can afford.

Robert said...

Just a cynical little observation here showing that no matter what President Obama does, his detractors will claim he's got an ulterior motive or is actually working against "what's right for America." Case in point? Statistics show that there was a large increase in deportations of illegal immigrants, including those of illegal immigrants who are the parents of American citizens (ie, they came to America and gave birth). There's been some outcry against this by liberals as it's "breaking up families." The Obama administration defends it as "most of the people deported had criminal records" (and indeed 74 percent of the 46,486 parents of U.S.-citizen children deported had been convicted of crimes. Another 13 percent had been previously removed from the country, and 4 percent were fugitives who'd ignored previous orders to leave the country). These parents represented 22 percent of the overall 211,167 people ICE deported the first six months of 2011.

So. What do detractors claim?

Krikorian also said he believes the report was a political ploy aimed at gaining support for Obama's efforts to let more illegal immigrants remain in the United States through his new deportation policy in the short term and eventually through immigration reforms that would allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status.

"He is trying to create support for his administrative amnesty where parents of U.S. kids are allowed to stay," Krikorian said.

That's right. Obama increased the expulsion of illegals to increase sympathy for them so he could force immigration reforms through Congress. Nevermind the fact he did more to cut back on illegal immigrants than the Shrub did. He's doing it to allow illegals to stay.

I think I'm going to be sending Mr. Krikorian a bill for the repair of my wall where I need to replace the wallboard after repeatedly smacking my head into it out of sheer frustration at this level of blind partisanship.

Rob H.

Jumper said...

I wonder which politicians RAH would grumble least about voting for or supporting. I can only surmise. I think he would enjoy sitting down with Al Franken for the conversation, anyway. What did Heinlein say about monopolies or megacorporations? It's been too long for me to remember, exactly.

Re. Apple, I recently have been on a Mac notebook. I presumed a more ergonomic approach but it's not. I am unimpressed and think they bailed out on supporting their older machines (6 years is old?) too soon. The iphone looks like a great innovation but I expect other companies will surpass anything Apple will do with it; they seem lost.

Here musician David Byrne is disgruntled by Apple. His site is well worth reading overall as well.
http://journal.davidbyrne.com/2012/04/040212-technology-give-and-take.html

Jumper said...

Robert, the big construction companies profited hugely from illegal immigration. I searched some of the local owners out on their campaign contributions a few years ago during the boom. They were all to Republicans. I am not surprised.

Robert said...

On a more whimsical note, a violinist and a vocal singer got together and together created a fascinating and enjoyable duet duel cosplaying as players from the hit fantasy computer game Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. What is so amazing about this (well, besides watching a duel between a sword and a violin bow which included special effects for magic) is that all 114 tracks used were done by these two people. The large chorus? Was all by the gentleman, while the multitude of violins were done by the lady (who has also done medleys for the game Zelda and the movie series Lord of the Rings).

So. Does this count as the rise of the amateur? Especially as these two created something more enjoyable and fun than most of the crap put out by Hollywood these days....

locumranch said...

I apoligise if you take exception to my interpretation of your expressed political views, but you make similar assumptions when you stereotype me as some humorless unthinking neoconservative Koch-puppet.

Clearly, Dr. Brin and nearly all of the participants at this site are convinced in the existence of HGCC, including its empiric association with CO2. As am I. They say that 'TWODA' (aka 'the things we ought to be doing anyway') represent a reasonable response. As do I. Then, they say that all aspects of their HGCC-related projections are unquestionable. And I disagree.

As a prescribed response to scientific findings, TWODA may be based on scientific findings, but it is not the same as science. It does not 'equal' science. Rather, it represents a moral imperative. Moral imperatives, or a collection thereof, are defined as "the divine voice speaking through the human spirit (the dictates of which) are simply right and do not require further justification. They also provide the basis for theology (IE. If this goes on).

I am much more laissez-faire. Conserve, by all means. Develop other more environmentally-friendly energy sources, certainly. Invest in ecologically sound transportation as I have done. And don't worry so much because, IMO, the problem will most likely correct itself because we will run out of fossils fuels in < 100 years at our current rates of consumption. Probably. Ergo, the seas will not boil, the world will not end and humanity will adapt and survive.

So, why do you wish to deny me the right to disagree?

You behave in an authoritarian and non-egalitarian manner when you deny others the right to disagree. Furthermore, by insisting on a moral agenda established by a Scientific Consensus, you disenfranchise the population in general, set yourself up as an Intellectual Oligarchy (rather than the current military, monetary or petrochemical one) and veer toward tyranny.

I am neither neocon nor koch puppet. I am much more contrary. I watch CNN & Comedy Central for news; and I only watch Fox News for comic relief. I am a libertarian in the true sense of the word. I believe in free thought, self-determination and individual liberty, including the right to disagree.

A wise man once said that "“One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.” Guess who?

It is one thing to claim to be a particular kind of libertarian based on objective and/or historical evidence, yet it is another thing to assume that a historical figure would react as you react, or believe as you believe, if they were still alive today. Santorum recently made a similar claim, I believe, in respect to both Ronald Reagan and George Washington.

This so-called 'War on Science' is not 'new' by any means. It dates from the Schism of 1277. Nor is the 'War on Science' any more authentic then the neocon 'War' on xmas, family, terrorism or drugs. It is hyperbole. It is just another excuse to act badly and force others to adopt your personal worldview.

So, if we want to recruit others to the ranks of science, then we must provide incontrovertible proof that our approach is superior to any other. Give them paradise now; get them laid in this life rather than the next; and show them that the 'War on Climate Change' generates tangibly immediate benefits.

Only then will the world to beat a path to our door.

Best.

David Brin said...

Locumranch said "Then, they say that all aspects of their HGCC-related projections are unquestionable. And I disagree."

Um... would you kindly show us one... even one example of anyone here saying anything that could even remotely be considered as having even a scintilla's relationship with what you just strawmanned me and others as saying?

One example? Anywhere, at any time? Ever?

"As a prescribed response to scientific findings, TWODA may be based on scientific findings, but it is not the same as science. It does not 'equal' science. Rather, it represents a moral imperative. Moral imperatives, or a collection thereof, are defined as "the divine voice speaking through the human spirit (the dictates of which) are simply right and do not require further justification. They also provide the basis for theology (IE. If this goes on)."

Whaaaaaaaaaa?

What does this have to do with Taking pragmatic steps to follow the best advice of the people who know the most about a looming problem?

What the f%$#$k does that paragraph have to do with investments in practical science and technology to improve energy efficiency, so that we can stop sending trillions to Saudi Arabia, help middle class families afford energy, boost next-wave industries and reduce pollution... even if HGCC were overblown?

Your paragraph was utter mumbo jumbo.

"I am much more laissez-faire. Conserve, by all means. Develop other more environmentally-friendly energy sources, certainly. Invest in ecologically sound transportation as I have done. And don't worry so much because, IMO, the problem will most likely correct itself because we will run out of fossils fuels in < 100 years at our current rates of consumption. Probably. Ergo, the seas will not boil, the world will not end and humanity will adapt and survive."

In other words, brush us all off and refuse to negotiate. Refuse to admit your ignorance about the science, or allow the slightest curiosity to improve your knowledge of a matter that might - just might - kill your children.

Shrug shrug shrug shrug shrug shrug shrug

"So, why do you wish to deny me the right to disagree?You behave in an authoritarian and non-egalitarian manner when you deny others the right to disagree. "

Utter bullshit and complete slander. I look you in the eye and call that remark an utter lie.

No one here denied you the right to disagree. You have not been banished. On occasion you show glimmers of insight and for those glimmers you are welcome here. But that statement is an utter-damned lie. BACK IT UP!

You claim to be a logical person. But there was not a single statement in that last posting that could be backed up by any examples or fact. You made up every single sentence.

bobsandiego said...

Locumranch said Nor is the 'War on Science' any more authentic then the neocon 'War' on xmas, family, ...
To compare these to the Conservative view on science, particularly evolution is quite a stretch. No one is passing legilation to ban xmas, or forbid its practice or observance. School boards and states across are teaching myth as science and refusing to accept the facutal basis for modern biology and medicine, I'm comfortable calling that a war on science.
On the isue fo what Papa Heinlein may or may not have said or done, no one can ever truly know, but the man was a Democrat before he was a Republican. (From what I gathered in Patterson's bio is that it was primarily the Democratic 'soft' position on communisim that he couldn't stomache.)

Ian Gould said...

"So, why do you wish to deny me the right to disagree?

You behave in an authoritarian and non-egalitarian manner when you deny others the right to disagree. Furthermore, by insisting on a moral agenda established by a Scientific Consensus, you disenfranchise the population in general, set yourself up as an Intellectual Oligarchy (rather than the current military, monetary or petrochemical one) and veer toward tyranny."

You are not alone in possessing "the right to disagree".

If I disagree with your dissent, I have just as much right to say so as you do.

Furthermore, your right to disagree is not a right to be wrong AND to be exempt from others telling you that you're wrong.

For example, you appear to have missed the whole point of No Regrets measures (AKA TWODA) which is even if the consensus is completely an totally wrong, these actions still have a positive economic rate of return above the hurdle rate.

Fro example, were you aware that Mercury from coal-fired power plants in the US cause several thousand cancer deaths a year and that there's strong epidemiological evidence linking exposure to Mercury from this source to retardation and other birth defects in children born near coal-fired power-plants?

Ian Gould said...

As for the claim that the War on Science is no more real than the War on Christmas: do department stare Santas regularly receive death threats, including threats to their children?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-06-04/death-threats-sent-to-top-climate-scientists/2745536

Ian Gould said...

Sorry to maintain the focus on politics but if this story from the Rachel Maddow show is correct, Michigan Republican legislators are abusing the legislative process in ways usually associated with sates like Zimbabwe:

http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/06/11060678-about-that-michigan-story

In brief - it requires a 2/3s majority vote in the lower chamber of the Michigan house to pass a bill with immediate effect. (Bills that don't receive that support come into effect about six months later.)

The Republican Speaker is denying Democrats a roll call vote on Bills and is claiming a 2/3s majority on a voice vote despite the fact that Republicans simply don't have 2/3s of the seats in the House.

http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/06/11060678-about-that-michigan-story

Ian Gould said...

While I'm on it:

The staggering hypocrisy of Republican farmers when it comes to Federal spending.


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-05/texas-sized-safety-net-supports-county-voting-83-against-obama.html

Paul451 said...

1981 paper by James Hansen (later of NASA) and others on Climate Change. Predicted warming out to 2100AD based on then-current data. Two researchers from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) recently compared the predictions to now-current data to show that Hansen & co's predictions were pretty good, if a little on the conservative side.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/04/evaluating-a-1981-temperature-projection/

And a non-paywalled PDF of the original paper, for those so inclined:
https://atmos.washington.edu/2003Q4/211/articles_optional/Hansen81_CO2_Impact.pdf

--

Notch, creator of Minecraft, is working on a new game called 0x10^c. (Not to be confused with his April Fools joke Mars Effect.) In a parallel time-line, space development accelerated from the 1960s. By 1988, a new sleep-pod device was being used for long duration space missions. Unfortunately, an implementation error in the first version (big-endian vs little-endian) meant that the timers were set for 0x0001 0000 0000 0000 years instead of 0x0000 0000 0000 0001 years. So people wake up in the year 281 474 976 712 644 AD. (The game's name means 16^12. The number of years the players were in sleep-state.)

But other technology is standard 1980's gear, so the ships are powered by 16bit computers. And Notch wants to actually simulate the CPU itself, allowing players/users to write code to run their ships. (Initially assembler, but people are apparently already working on higher-level compilers.) And trade code. And the game itself will not prevent viruses running on the in-game in-ship computers, so computer security is a part of game-play.

http://www.osnews.com/story/25765/Notch_unveils_0x10c_space_sim_with_custom_virtual_processors

--

Ian Gould,
" You are not alone in possessing "the right to disagree". "

I seem to hear this a lot from extremists. (Which means the far left and the mainstream right.) Somehow being criticised is "denying" free speech, rather than exercising it. It seems to be something of a meme.

Nyctotherion said...

Regarding the Apple thing, I seem to recall that at least one iteration of the MS Office suite had a similarly draconian bit in its EULA which had everyone understandably up in arms -- as everything written in MS Word might now be under MS copyright control.

MS claimed they never meant that and I think updated the terms rather quickly.

It may have been their hotmail service, come to think, but I've definitely heard this song before.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

After about three months (interrupted twice by other books on a strict library deadline), I finally finished "Glory Season".

And...well, I'm not quite sure what happened at the end. I mean, I just figured out that the communications from R (no spoilers) in the chapter headings were flashbacks, and I just barely kept track of Odo from those communications into the actual story. But I totally missed the significance of who Iolanthe is.

So I suppose I have to set aside another three months to re-read it?

I'm kinda joshing with you here (kidding on the square, though), and don't mean to unfairly criticize the novel, which all told was quite riveting, and seemed successful at depicting a kind of sustainable feminist alternative lifestyle.

But the fact that Maia's...er,...nickname hasn't yet been obsoleted by book's end? I'm not sure I can forgive you that one.

Too bad Tacitus seems to have disappeared already. I seem to remember him mentioning going off on a dig? I also seem to remember he was reading the book at the same time I was, so I'm curious if we got the same things out of it.

Anyway, it looks like some heated discussions going on (which I haven't read yet), so...Carry on.

sociotard said...

A fun graphic about all our many satelites and orbital space debris

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelpaukner/4314987544/sizes/o/in/photostream/

David Brin said...

Shake that Etch-a-Sketch!
Sure enough, as expected, the day after poll figures showed him gaining in Pennsylvania - perhaps his last big primary fight to clinch the GOP nomination - Mitt Romney bagan his much-expected scurry-to-the-center. "We're Republicans and Democrats in this campaign, but we're all connected with one destiny for America...” and “We have a president who I think is a nice guy," Romney said, "but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps, or maybe just not enough time working in the real world." http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-romney-20120406,0,2076537.story

Not exactly the red meat he was tossing to the party’s hard core, till very recently. (Also, as the LA Times pondered It is a potentially self-defeating line of attack: Romney spent four years at Harvard, receiving a law degree and an MBA; Obama spent three years there, graduating from the law school. Also, three of Romney's five sons attended Harvard Business School.) Is his victory lap and center shift premature?

===
Yeah Larryhart I miss Tacitus too. Or tacitus2-too? 2-too twain?

Anyway, it's hard to remember every detail of a 20 year old novel. Shall I stop writing in order to re-read? ;-)

Rob said...

What you should do, David, is tell us what the F happened to Creideiki and Tom Orley, instead of just flashing us with ghost images every eight years.

Or sell the span of story time between Startide Rising and Brightness Reef to J. Michael Straczynski so he can do another good TV series.

Ah, who am I kidding? I'll pay full price for Existence anyway, so you can probably tell any story you feel like telling. :-)

Ian Gould said...

Further to my comment earlier about smartphones, a bunch of start-ups are looking to develop internet services to the four billion people worldwide who have basic mobile phones but no access to the internet.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120405-turning-dumbphones-to-smartphones

Paul451 said...

Not sure if this has ever been posted. The Idea Bird. Random plot ideas three days a week.

http://theideabird.net/

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I miss Tacitus too. Or tacitus2-too?


Well, I don't think he's gone for good. Just traveling.



Anyway, it's hard to remember every detail of a 20 year old novel. Shall I stop writing in order to re-read? ;-)



Heavens, no!

But some time soon, I may have to make a "spoiler warningz" post to talk about specifics. Because it's hard to discuss a lot of the book without giving it all away.

locumranch said...

I really like you guys.

You're all dedicated, intelligent, well-informed, rational and smart as whips; you are all so confident and certain about what you know and how you know it; and you're all willing to accept individual moral responsibility for the collective social actions (or inactions) of your species. Heavy emphasis on the words "moral", "collective" and "social".

Yet you are mistaken. You, we and the scientifically trained are in the minority, representing somewhere around 5% of the global (or 10% of the US) population; therefore, "we" do not represent the human collective or aggregate, nor do we represent society in general. We are statistical outliers who do not reflect the social mean.

Similarly, our ability to make scientific projections and our willingness to issue recommendations does not put us in command. It doesn't matter if scientists deserve authority because of our rational or intellectual abilities. It doesn't matter if our directives represent "the best advice of the people who know the most about a looming problem", revitalise a dying economy or represent a 'win-win" No Regrets strategy. The majority could care less. In their eyes, we are a minority and we are not in command because 'deserving has nothing to do with it'.

So, when I call "TWODA" a moral imperative, I mean exactly that. It is 'moral' because TWODA is "concerned with or relating to human behaviour, esp the distinction between good and bad or right and wrong behaviour". It is an 'imperative' because it expresses an urgent, important, essential, peremptory or authoritative command.

Likewise, when scientists claim to know more about the imminent threat that is climate change than the plebs, actual knowledge is beside the point. The majority could care less. So, when the 'Lone Ranger' scientist says "we are in trouble", the majority responds like Tonto surrounded by Indians, asking "What do you mean 'we' ?" And, when and if the scientist issues directives, the majority need not respond at all.

I am not challenging, nor have I ever challenged, your data regarding HGCC. I do not deny the existence of HGCC or its supportive evidence. I only challenge the interpretative act. I point out that the interpretation of this data set is limited by certain temporal, climatological, cultural and economic assumptions which weaken our ability to make accurate long-term projections. Not that I believe that my opinion matters to you or anyone else.

Finally, I believe I owe Dr. Brin an apology. Just because he expressed the opinion that the uneducated hoi polloi should defer to a scientific elite or intellectual aristocracy who know the most about any particular problem, I accused him of behaving in an authoritarian and non-egalitarian manner. I apologise for 'throwing rice' like a Looney.

Now that I am sane, I promise to defer to greater authority. I will sit in front of the TV while any number of annoited experts tell me the most appropriate how, who,what and why of living, eating, acting, loving or believing. I will allow them to think for me. Otherwise, we may 'Lose the Future" and my children (or my children's children) will surely die.

WTF !!??


Best.

Jumper said...

TV? TV??

Well THERE'S your problem! ;>]

RandyB said...

Larry,

(dragging this over from previous page)

"That's exactly what people were (correctly) calling you on. You tar anyone who criticizes the war as friends of the Taliban, but when cornered on the subject, you admit that SOME "critics of the war" have different motivations. So are you sole judge of which "critics of the war" pass muster and which do not? Our own personal version of the House Un-American Activities Committee?"

I thought I was explicit that I was mostly talking about groups. But at the same time, if someone claims to oppose the war, and wants people to believe they oppose such things as torture, it's incumbant on them to avoid marching in demonstrations beside people for whom brutality is a way of life. For the most part, the isolationists haven't collaborated with evil that much this time. Much of the left side of the "anti-war" movement has.

I didn't say many of these isolationists pass muster with me, but I know there is a clear difference between true pacifism, isolationism, and a partnership with the enemy. I had just said (in the previous page) that Vera Brittain was a genuine pacifist during WWII. I wouldn't have agreed with her on much, but I recognize that she wasn't like some others on the extreme left and extreme right who'd opposed WWII for different reasons.


Look at what's going on here: I post a link of "anti-war" protesters siding with radicals who clearly don't really oppose the war -- they're just on the other side. While you could have tried to say that it's an isolated case (even though it's not; I said there are other examples), I haven't seen anyone acknowledge that groups who do this are pretty bad. And all the while, almost everyone here is saying how much they oppose torture.


"This makes as little sense as accusing President Obama of being a Muslim AND a devotee of his Christian preacher at the same time."

Look at their actions. Listen to when they care, and when they don't. Code Pink and George Galloway made trips to Iran to express their support. On the "anti-war" far right, so did David Duke.

People who really want peace wouldn't do that. No one who truly opposes torture should stand for it.


"And in your opinion, what were those who protested that war? Were they conservatives because they were protesting against Carter? Or were they lefty-pinkos who were "friends" of the Soviets?"

As you were talking about the Soviet-Afghan war, I'm not aware of anyone on the right who protested Carter for that. I suppose there might have been a few but I recall hearing Soldier of Fortune magazine was collecting money for bullets for Afghanisan. (Don't know how serious they were, as I didn't see the magazine first hand.)

Some leftists who oppose Bush's wars were then supporters of the Soviets in that war (not much of a surprise).


"Jesus Christ on a pogo-stick! Everyone else is trying to convince YOU that sometimes motivations are complex and not so easily pigeonholed, and you're having none of it. Where do you get off preaching nuance at this late date?"

Here's the real problem.

Back up a bit. I never denied that things are often complicated. At the same time, no one attempted to explain what the nuances were.

What nuances are you looking at that would explain the left? "Anti-war" activists making deals with terrorists who torture people (and I mean real torture). Is there ever a time the U.S. needs to deal with evil? Regrettably yes, if we're at war against an even greater evil.

What "even greater evil" are these "anti-war" groups fighting that they need to make such alliances?

Curiously, no one ever tried to say that there are nuances that would explain those leftists marching beside people who support torture and terrorism. Too bad. That would have been interesting.

RandyB said...

David,

"Show us this! Top to bottom, their priority was (1) sabotage energy research (and all research in general) and (2) take the remaining "research money and shovel it to friends who would do nothing useful with it."

It's funny you say that when, at the same time, liberals are now trying to pin the Solyndra affair on Bush (and I don't simply mean Ian's point about Bush not rejecting Solyndra).

http://abcn.ws/He5VqB

I dunno if that means we can say the Bush administration was pro-solar, but it is funny.


Not being an expert on the energy industry, I checked here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Policy_Act_of_2005

You're partly right in that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 concentrates on nukes and oil. More nukes than oil, though, which is pretty good for the environment as long as nothing goes awry. I don't think Yucca Mountain is owned by a Bush crony.


""Hydrogen power" is utterly impossible with today's materials technology."

That's similar to what I said about solar. It's the main problem with a lot of alternative energy programs. Some stuff just doesn't work yet, or it's just not practical yet.

But when it finally does work, I can't see how Bush cronyism will go into it. That family doesn't own enough to matter. I certainly don't think he believed he'd still be in office to sweeten things when it rolled out.

Ethanol is a big deal for both parties, including Obama. McCain's opposition was one of the few things he got right during the 2008 primary race.


I don't think there's any Cheney connection to Blackwater. As with Halliburton, they probably got contracts due to their stature in the business and their suitability to the task. Halliburton itself had no-bid contracts from the days of the Clinton administration. Gore was on record saying it worked out very well.

Had oil money really been the reason for these wars, we wouldn't have gone into Iraq at all. Saddam Hussein had secretly offered huge oil contracts in exchange for letting him stay in power. But even without that, there were many more business reasons to want peace. Halliburton would have done just fine.


You're right that the Saudi flight after 9/11 was not a "spare change" conspiracy theory. It was a Michael Moore conspiracy theory:
http://slate.me/yTr2E4

Hitchens says it was Bush-critic and Clinton-holdover Richard Clarke who authorized it.

But you're making an additional inaccuracy there. The flight itself didn't need special clearance. They didn't leave until after airspace was reopened for all charter flights. It was perfectly understandable for Clarke to want them out of there. The entire country was taking special pains to show that this wasn't a "war against Islam." We were going to need allies. The Saudis were scared that some kook was going to throw a bomb their way -- even though the country reacted far better than any ME country would have if the situation were reversed.

Should the FBI have questioned the Saudis better? Sure. But it was a judgment call during a tough time.

I'll take another look at "The Giving Plague" this weekend.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

Wrong link. Here is what I meant to post. (I got the link from William Connolley)
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-fireplace-delusion

I have a woodstove. Argh.

rewinn said...

"...Much of the left side of the "anti-war" movement..."

... is an amusing variation on the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

When one points to the vast majority of actual leftists who condemn torture fully and fairly, the response is that these aren't true leftists and/or they have not sufficiently condemned torture.

Friends: give it up. Debating torture with a fan of torture is asking for a monumental change of heart and soul that cannot be accomplished through intellectual process.

To prove that proposition, I offer the "How Many?" test:

"How many facts in contradiction to your claim would it take for you to state that your claim is false?"

Torture fans have, so far, resisted giving a number.
---

Meanwhile, in reality, there's a lot of great stuff going on. None of it has been achieved by abusing prisoners.

RandyB said...

Rewinn,

A couple of items:

I never said I support actual torture.

The post you're reacting to was about people who claim to oppose torture not caring when their allies do it.

People who stridently oppose torture will oppose torture no matter who does it. They will clean their own houses first.

Ian Gould said...

"Likewise, when scientists claim to know more about the imminent threat that is climate change than the plebs, actual knowledge is beside the point. The majority could care less. So, when the 'Lone Ranger' scientist says "we are in trouble", the majority responds like Tonto surrounded by Indians, asking "What do you mean 'we' ?" And, when and if the scientist issues directives, the majority need not respond at all. "

The problem with this statement is that "the majority" accept the need for action of global warming and accept the scientific consensus.

It'd be more accurate to say that when a scientifically illiterate minority try to claim that they know better than the overwhelming majority of scientists the majority respond with derision and disbelief.

The fact that one political party in the US has been suborned into supporting the minority position doesn't alter that fact.

I'm not going to go into detail here at this time but I'm an economist by profession.

Economists don't "do" moral imperatives.

Economics is the science of the allocation of scarce resources subject to rules of "equity" where equity is a set of rules about social objectives.

Equity is viewed essentially as a block box sitting outside of economics - it isn't our job to dictate to society what those objectives should be, it's our job to tell society the most efficient way to achieve those objectives.

David Brin said...

Thanks Rob! Ian, cool re dumb-phones using the web. Wish they had it here!

Larryhart, I am generally great with post-pub quibbles and storing rewrite suggestions. So go ahead. WHen they invent Universal Kilns dittos I'll assign one to do the fixes ASAP!

=====

Locumranch, your latest was calmer and much less whiney and so I will accept your apology, even if (see below) it was once again tendentiously deceitful.

As for your previous outrageous behavior, I will sum up in one sentence: You lied top-to-bottom about our behavior, principles and meanings here, accusing me especially of damnably false things.

Enough. Onward.

Your latest was slightly better, but it boiled down to a few key points which (as an adult) I will paraphrase:

1) Contempt for the masses. You assert that the educated and scientific part of the US population amounts to an impotent 5% of the population who are scientific, rational and motivated by the long view. You include yourself in that 5% and call it unlikely - at best - that we can persuade the masses to take a long view.

Fair paraphrasing? (Try it some time.)

I respond with "baloney!"

1a) The United States made rapid, astounding progress because the masses DID give credence and respect to what Toynbee called its "creative minority." Toynbee in fact said civilization fall exactly when that trust and respect from the populace breaks down.

That respect and trust made Jonas Salk by far the most popular man in America, in my youth. Today, asshole idiots at both ends of the spectrum denounce scientists and doctors and call vaccination a "hoax." A sure sign of decline... and supporting evidence that you are right.

One point for you! But it wasn't always so.

1b) In fact, the know-nothing movement is not simple. It is distributed. The anti-science fringe of the left is weak and pallid and is having only small effects. Putting them aside, there are two Americas, Blue and Red.

And Blue America is as forward-looking, science friendly and eager to take on challenges as ever.

Obama finally got new automobile mileage standards passed. The GOP delayed this vital TWODA measure for 15 years, predicting it would "kill Detroit..." Ironically, THEY tried to kill Detroit, but Detroit is roaring back, under the new mileage rules. Proving that the opponents were asshole troglodytes...

...but the point is that YEARS before Obama got the new Cafe rules, New York and California had passed mileage standards. The lesson? Blue American AVERAGE CITIZENS are willing to move forward, listen critically and carefully to expert advice, and move ahead. You redders are the ones who are not.

David Brin said...

1c) "Us???" "We???" Locumranch, you are welcome here, but your attempts to list yourself among the "scientific minded" are hilarious.

FIRST: you operate entirely evidence-free. You follow the incantatory reflex of today's right, to substitute argument with ASSERTIONS.

SECOND You show zero curiosity, only an intense and articulate need to wave WORDS and make the words you do not like go away.

THIRD you clearly skim missives you do not like, instead of reading them, word for word. We all tend to do this. DIsagreeable input goes to the emotional amygdala instead of the rational cortex. That is where THESE words are passing through your brain right now... if you are reading them at all. Mostly, you skim.

You are warned. This is the last time I will pen an extended response to you, only to see you ignore every key answerable point and wave it all off with assertions.

"Likewise, when scientists claim to know more about the imminent threat that is climate change than the plebs, actual knowledge is beside the point. The majority could care less. So, when the 'Lone Ranger' scientist says "we are in trouble", the majority responds like Tonto surrounded by Indians, asking "What do you mean 'we' ?" And, when and if the scientist issues directives, the majority need not respond at all."

No... sorry... the people you are describing above are... you. That paragraph was about you. It was a soliloquy in which the honest part of you made a public confession. So there's hope for you.

"I point out that the interpretation of this data set is limited by certain temporal, climatological, cultural and economic assumptions which weaken our ability to make accurate long-term projections. Not that I believe that my opinion matters to you or anyone else."

Bull. You know no science. You clearly do not understand the scientific process. You are making assertions about it that you hope will glide on by. But not here. Take them to the right's "assertion-incantation sites."

They are laughable, especially in the utter absence of curiosity.

"Just because he expressed the opinion that the uneducated hoi polloi should defer to a scientific elite or intellectual aristocracy who know the most about any particular problem, I accused him of behaving in an authoritarian and non-egalitarian manner."

Strawman. A contemptible lying strawman. Next time you have a medical problem, choose your best advisor and healer at random from the street. Ignore expertise. Seriously. Live by your standards. Or else admit hypocrisy.

Doctors don't know everything about your disease but they are the best chance you've got. STudy your disease yourself and get 2nd opinions, but wise people save their own lives by talking and listening to experts. (Steve Jobs delayed... and died.)

Likewise, 95% of the folks who gave us ten day weather reports and studied climate on TEN PLANETS have diagnosed a potentially lethal problem that we could address with reasonable measures. They never claimed perfection. But your side CUT THEIR RESEARCH FUNDING for political reasons. You are preaching to ignore them.

You are fools.

"I promise to defer to greater authority. I will sit in front of the TV while any number of annoited experts tell me the most appropriate how, who,what and why of living, eating, acting, loving or believing."

Ah so you admit it! You admit this is what you have been doing! I told you there was an honest core inside you, trying to break out. Good luck.

David Brin said...

Here's the Google Tap commercial.

Pleeeeez someone tell me they actually implemented it?

My son is one of maybe 1000 teens on the planet who could use it!

David Brin said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KhZKNZO8mQ&feature=player_embedded

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Larryhart, I am generally great with post-pub quibbles and storing rewrite suggestions. So go ahead. WHen they invent Universal Kilns dittos I'll assign one to do the fixes ASAP!



I'm getting the idea that I'm coming across as demanding of changes to your existing novel.

No, what I have are questions. Not that an author would necessarily want to provide direct answers, but you may be interested in the fact that a reader has them.

Aside from that, yes I was mentioning some specifics of the book I wish were different, but that's just me trying to cleverly impsersonate the type of reader who would seriously suggest an author make those sorts of changes.

The biggest question I have--and I CAN ask it without spoilers, but you can't answer it in that same condition--is that there seemed to be a major connection between the extra-Stratoian visitor and a person named Iolanthe, yet even after Iolanthe is shown in the book, the connection between the two never seemed to be explained.

LarryHart said...

...also, it's possible a second reading will reveal much. And as I've read most of your novels twice, I'm sure I'll get to that. But not for at least a year or so.

Rob said...

I've read Glory Season three times. No storyteller can include all the details. Witness, for example, the number of blanks Suzanne Collins' fans have filled in for Panem.

Jumper said...

Strawmen. I find we, all of us, find them universally bastards.

David Brin said...

I am fine with BOTH questions AND suggestions/complaints, Larryhart, so fire away.

You can do it publicly or email me via http://www.davidbrin.com

I just can't promise tons of time.... or to remember every character and nuance.

Paul451 said...

Jumper,
Re: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-fireplace-delusion

He left out how inefficient it is. Because of the need to vent smoke and draw in fresh air, a standard open fire-place will bring in more cold air, creating continuous cold drafts throughout the house. Particularly when first lit, it will actually make the house colder. While it will warm the room it's in, and eventually the house, it will take a lot longer than many other systems such as electric heaters, or central-heating via oil radiators.

And I say this as someone who has sat outside at night around an open-pit fire rather than go inside where it's warm.

[I know it was just an analogy, I know it was just an analogy, I know it was just an analogy.]

David Brin said...

The Franklin stove partly solved this but had to be installed and maintained JUST right.... so never caught on

Rob said...

Jumper,

It was an interesting read, but if Mr. Harris has honestly thought he has an allegory for understanding a religiously motivated person...

Then he has deluded himself.

Roger Kent said...

Perhaps we are on the verge of creating commercially fusion. The question I ask is when will we develop the material for the fusion reactor that will not turn brittle from the from those neutrons? In one interview, when Sec. of Energy Stephen Chu was asked about when we will have reactors, he said our current metals would turn too brittle after only one year of operation. I am not saying this is an insurmountable problem, but I feel skeptical fusion will be viable anytime soon.

David Brin said...

There's a method that might have worked... SQUIRTING the mag-confined plasma into a mountain, where the coolant coils are protected by granite. But everyone is obsessed with more complex Tokomaks. foolish.

BCRion said...

The biggest problem with materials in a deuterium-tritium fusion reactor is neutron damage, not the plasma itself. It may not even be possible to make a material that will last long enough; I'm not very hopeful that it is. The alternatives are using liquid walls, which have many engineering challenges as well, or to switch to a different fusion reaction, which would be very hard from a keeping the plasma together point of view.

Ian Gould said...

"There's a method that might have worked... SQUIRTING the mag-confined plasma into a mountain, where the coolant coils are protected by granite. But everyone is obsessed with more complex Tokomaks. foolish."

My 100% viable plan for fusion now.

1. Pump an underground cavern full of water.

2. Detonate a Hydrogen bomb in it.

3. run the water through a heat exchanger.

4. Repeat 2 as required.

locumranch said...

I've been trying too hard.

Go to -- http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/06/nasa-scientist-climate-change -- for evidence supporting Climate Change as a moral imperative.

Also, scientists are not required to agree. I disagree with some climate change assumptions & conclusions but I am still one of you -- or I would be -- if I wasn't so damn tired of mob mentality.

Or, should we all agree with Ian and say 'Boom'?

Jumper said...

As Rob noted, the Harris article was about the uncomfortable feeling regarding one's own actions and beliefs when they are pointed out to be wrong. Not so much about fireplace efficiencies, really. It would compare better to the love of a big truck or SUV, I supposed.

(In any case, it applied to me. My wood stove is built on the Franklin model. And provides a significant portion of my heating bill. And a significant part of the air pollution around my neighborhood, which, granted, is mostly woods on two sides and industry on others, but people do spend their workdays near here. I'm guilty. It contributes in an outsized manner, both in CO and particulates.)

Re. other conversations here, I too am thinking about subsurface shielding for nuclear heat management. See Borehole Nuclear Reactors
http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/search/label/alternative%20energy?max-results=100

Ian Gould said...

Jumper: another idea I think would appeal to you:

Cover about a square kilometre of desert with some black material that's highly effect at storing heat- asphalt comes to mind.

Then cover an area outside that about a kilometre wide with limestone or another cheap highly reflective surface.

That should sufficient to create a strong and fairly constant updraft over the central area.

Now build fixed axis wind turbines (no need for expensive turning gear) on the boarder between the two areas to take advantage of the constant wind from the cooler outer area into the hotter inner area.

Jumper said...

Ian, such as this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower

I have been checking in on their development over the years, and now is a fine time to update, so I will go do that!

David Brin said...

Guh... I said I would not answer Locumranch anymore, till he started actually reading what I wrote, considering actual answers to actual question, expressing some curiosity...

...and above-all stopped lying about what I said.

Sigh. I am forced. Compelled. He said:

"I disagree with some climate change assumptions & conclusions but I am still one of you -- or I would be -- if I wasn't so damn tired of mob mentality."

Will you STOP looking at your own traits and ascribing them to others? You did it dozens of times, earlier. You just did it again.

Let us be very clear: there have never been any human beings in the history of our species who were more inherently and fiercely COMPETITIVE than scientists.

If you knew any scientists... if you were remotely curious enough to actually meet any ... you would know this to be true. When you get four scientists in a room, you have SIX theories, all of them eagerly tested, with wagers and bets flying in every direction.

Your entire "yes, master" set of incantations, cooked up by the oligarchy and it paid think tanks, is based upon the opposite premise, that scientists are timid little grant-hugging herd lemmings. It is diametrically opposite to truth.

Again, if you were diagnosed with cancer, you would read-up and seek competing opinions... but you would also take precautions and preliminary practical measures based on the best advice of the smartest experts in medicine. Your contempt for expertise is political, hypocritical and entirely based on dogma.

If 95% of the experts in a scientific field agree that something is worrisome enough to merit preliminary, practical precautions and negotiated solutions, then something pretty big is up. And TWODA is called for. Your side is the side absolutely refusing to even start negotiating. Stop claiming to be the reasonable one. You are the fanatic here.

Shrug shrug shrug shrug

David Brin said...

A final note, Locumranch. You can go on with what you are doing, here. I may stop answering... (in fact guys, KICK me if I rise to the bait again)... but you are polite (if a liar) so you are welcome here.

But if I ever learn that you have gone elsewhere and repeated the horrible things that you have said here about me... despicable outright lies about my repressing free thought... then you had better have a good attorney.

David Brin said...

Jumper thanks for showing that experiments are finally moving ahead with solar updraft power towers... of a kind that I mentioned long ago in Earth.

These systems use a very large surranding “greenhouse” - many square km of clear plastic or glass - that heats air to flow up a tall chimney while driving generators. Efficiancey is much lower than solar thermal, but startup simplicity and load balancing are attractive, as is mixed use of the land below the sheeting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower

Jumper said...

I wasn't happy with that efficiency rating. Ugh. It's Wiki, so it could be wrong. In any case, smaller scale it might power a nice whole-house fan. I used to eschew the air conditioner and my summer bills were substantially devoted to my attic fan. I still use it in spring and fall when needed.

I used to work in construction and I'd watch them build up one side of a site with fill - soil - placed up to 20 feet deep. As the major investment cost of residential geothermal heat pumps is the burial of the pipes, I mourned that no one would put the pipes in before covering up the lots: a lost "free" installation. I mentioned it, and a few folks with foresight perked up their ears, but construction planning is very conservative. (not in the political sense, although there is a lot of that in some contexts.)

Jumper said...

Re: global warming, has anyone figured out what the costs will be? It's either abandon Miami or rebuild it on stilts, for example. (I have read silly people propose dikes, but dikes made of sand... and sand soil all underneath - well, forget it.) So multiply Miami by some large number.

Then there is crop loss. Species extinctions is the hardest to put a price on, as I mentioned previously in another line of thought about pollinators going kaput. I suppose alligator and venison will be around a while.

These are things that are going to happen regardless, in 40 - 50 years. The costs of dumping more CO2 are another matter.

I suspect carbon taxes are substantially less expensive.

My favorite proposal is to cover everywhere there is asphalt with elevated photovoltaics, store the excess in car batteries, and as automotive hybrid fuel switch to propane for now. i also wouldn't mind a bus bar lane on the interstate, with an automatic arm on my vehicle which rolls along the bus bar, using electricity, with a credit card reader in my own dashboard, whereby the power co. sends me a bill for using the bus bar lane. Not to mention I leave the interstate with batteries charged, not depleted.

locumranch said...

As you say, "there have never been any human beings in the history of our species who were more inherently and fiercely COMPETITIVE than scientists".

They can also be obsessive, brilliant, uncompromising, egotistical backstabbers and I have to work with these bastards regularly.

Please stop ascribing political motivations to a distrust built on experience.

So, when you imagine happy scientists working side by side to build a better tomorrow, remind yourself that you're thinking of 'technicians'...

Everybody loves a competent technician.

Jumper said...

Hmm. Apple is announcing some sort of fuel-cell plant to generate hydrogen from methane. I immediately realized the old water-gas conversion route involves oxidation - a poor conversion ratio per energy is guaranteed. Yet any other technique -such as directly breaking the H-C bond- would involve also generating carbon - either a more heavily weighted carbon product, such as propane (compared to methane), extracting the H2 only a bit, or extract more of the hydrogen and be left with a heavier carbon content material such as oil or even asphalt or soot, heavy paraffins, etc.

Then I Googled some general principles and landed on this old story:
http://www.evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=11375

David Brin said...

Interesting.



... and onward...

David Brin said...

Oh... he doesn't actually read or think about a single thing I say. All reflex, top to bottom. I am done.

No more replies to that fellow.



... onward...