Thursday, June 15, 2017

More marvels from space!

This weekend I will start a three part series on what must be a central tactic of the moderate-liberal-American alliance leading up to the 2018 elections.  But first, let's look up to space!

In August I will speak at both Science Foo (at the Googleplex in Palo Alto) and the Starship Congress in Monterrey. And in late September -- the annual NASA NIAC Symposium, this time in Denver and open to the public. Wowzer stuff! Stay tuned for details.

The Incentive Trap: When to Launch: An interesting article from Centauri Dreams talks about  the way that humanity has been – in jerks and starts – increasing the speed of our vehicles and machines, starting with the first railroad engine in 1804. There’s been a plateau since the 1970s, stalled “Voyager 1’s 17 kilometers per second as it leaves the Solar System. The Helios solar probes launched in 1974 and 1976 set the current record at 70.22 km/s. And looking forward, the Solar Probe Plus mission is to perform a close flyby of the Sun, reaching a top heliocentric speed of 195 kilometers per second, which works out to 6.5 × 10 −4 c

If Breakthrough Starshot realizes its goal, an interstellar lightsail may one day head for Proxima Centauri at fully 20 percent of the speed of light.” Note that I explore dozens of implications of Starshot-style missions, sending pellets or small capsules between stars -- in Existence.

The essay by Paul Gilster contemplates the Incentive Trap, in which launching an interstellar mission might be delayed by worries that another probe, dispatched a decade later, would pass it by!  See this whimsically treated in my story "The Avalon Probes," in my third collection Insistence of Vision.

== More gorgeous reasons to be proud! ==

These images from Jupiter were taken by the Juno spacecraft with a camera made by Malin Space Systems in La Jolla.  Unbelievable beauty. As if painted by Van God. (If you look closely at frame 5 and frames 10 and 11, you can see lots of these little white blobs sticking up above the cloud deck.  The immediate reaction from the atmospheric guys on the science team is that they are thunderstorms (there is evidence from one of the other instruments of lightning when we flew over these areas).

  Given their heights, they are probably a combination of water ice and ammonia ice.) And yes, someone else noticed the Van Gogh similarities.

And this image from Juno of Jupiter's south pole.The circular features are immense swirling cyclones, up to 600 miles in diameter. Wow. 

Juno will make a couple dozen more passes over Jupiter's poles... so more data and images await! 

And the Cassini mission has completed its sixth dive through the rings of Saturn -- as part of its Grand Finale mission before plummeting into the depths of Saturn's atmosphere. See 52 of Cassini's most beautiful postcards from the edge..

A free floating brown dwarf? Only 21 light-years from the Sun in Pisces, is SIMP0136  a well-studied brown dwarf star… or so folks thought. But UCSD’s Adam Burgasser has helped nail down that it’s more of a free-drifting planet, with mass of about 13 times that of Jupiter, right at the boundary between brown dwarfs and giant planets. Free-floating planets are easier to study because their dim light isn’t overwhelmed by the brightness of their host stars, which blinds the instruments that astronomers use to characterize an exoplanet’s atmosphere. That meant astronomers had already detected fast-evolving weather patterns on the surface.

 == Space technologies ==

SpaceX changes everything. This is so way cool.  They've never shown images like these, actually zooming in on the rocket as it falls, as the nitrogen puffs keep it oriented, as the stage re-ignites and as it lands.

Watch the whole thing while multi tasking!

When SpaceX launches the Falcon 9 Heavy - with three Falcon 9 cores (the Falcon 27?) - it will attempt to land and re-use all three first stages., Elon says. Hey ULA, you better get cracking.

Okay then... DARPA has granted approval to Boeing to build and test its reusable hypersonic military spaceplane XS-1 - the Phantom Express - which will launch vertically and land horizontally.

Sundiver? NASA to announce a mission to dive into the sun's atmosphere. 

Well, well, it seems that NASA has published a peer reviewed paper on their tests of the electromagnetic “EM Drive.” And – very tentatively – they seem to have found a very small effect.  I am hoping they had a few professional magicians on the evaluation team. And such things almost never scale up. Still, the effect is larger than a solar sail. So bring on the next stage of upgrades and tests!

Is weightlessness good for growing stem cells?

After circling Earth for an unprecedented 718 days, the U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B spaceplane touched down May 7 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral. And Elon won the next contract to launch it.

And construction begins on the 39 meter ELT -- Extremely Large Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert, which will be the world's largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. 

== Can we move outward, while not looking down? ==

NASA was spared - overall - deep cuts in the Trump proposed budget. Sighs of relief? Only look at what was meddled-out. All three of the satellite programs that would have helped to nail down the facts regarding climate change, all wiped out by those who shout (in effect) "If we don't look, then it doesn't exist!" (Object permanence is something most humans learn by the time they are three.)

Also gone, the Asteroid Redirect Mission, nailing in place the weirdest aspect of America's current Civil War... the fact that Republicans are obsessed with putting more dusty footprints on the Moon while Democrats (and nearly all scientists and space entrepreneurs) want to at least take a closer look at a likely bonanza of wealth available for the taking, from asteroids.

Why would our insipid political struggles extend into space? Because that asteroid bonanza could undermine prices for materials we currently tear out of the Earth, threatening the sunk costs of resource exploiters. One reason why that cult also undermines sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. (Too late on that one, fellahs. Too late, thank God.)

In 1973, the celebrated Nigerian poet Odia Ofeimun contemplated the moon landing with a poem that said, “We are annexing the kingdom of the gods.” Read about how Nigeria is passionate about their space program.

== Missions and marvels ==

Here is a chart  (by Olaf Frohn) of all deployed and future space observatories showing their orbits, spectral bands and a graph showing spectral coverage vs. angular resolution for many of them, plus some ground based telescopes for comparison. 

Evidence for a giant tsunami after a rock struck Mars billions of years ago, when it (hypothetically) had oceans. 

Witness the moment when two young stars in the Orion Nebula collided, creating a fireworks display of prodigious color.

Fascinating results from Earth-based observations of an eclipse… when Europa passed in front of Io, revealing how Io’s lava lakes roil, churn and change. 

A new theory proposes that Earth may have arisen from a synestia -- a donut-shaped disk of vaporized rock at some point in time

Does space radiation harm animals? Freeze-dried space sperm -- stored on the International Space Station for 9 months -- results in healthy baby mice. 

Way-cool artist depictions of many other-planetary scenes, based on best-recent news from space. 

Okay are you convinced yet that we have a dazzling civilization? A spectacular and worthy one, we should defend?  

Next time I will dive into how.


Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | If one starts with your $200 trillion estimate for the world’s real estate (reasonable enough), then one can also make an estimate on the amount of money that will get spent in the coming century maintaining it. Any group setting aside ~10% of their income yearly can fight the decay in value of their property, right? Obviously, they can do a lot more. If sea level rise takes a while to impact coastal property, I suspect insurance rates will adjust to reflect the need to plow more savings into these properties and that will alter the expected return rate on them. I’m inclined to let that happen even knowing that current property owners will try to sell them at some point to any sucker who will take them. Something similar will happen to fossil carbon reserves too when they don’t make good investment sense.

Your concern with cost shifting is more important, though. Whether my numbers hold or not, you are describing a classic game of commerce were we sell a sucker what he wants. Yah. I know it will be a mess. I’m hoping for a more transparent world where we can see transaction chains. My fellow libertarians howl when I argue for the end of commercial anonymity, but I think we have little choice about it. As Kelly likes to point out, the internet is a copy machine. If we do commerce over it, information about each transaction simply will get copied and someone is going to want to piece things together. Several someone’s will and they will have AI’s/Expert systems available to do it. In such a world, your fears about cost shifting will remain, but the battles will be waged in a much more complex space of possibilities. On top of that, there will always be people and their trumbrels. We may go after the wrong people, but even in that we raise the costs incurred by the people who should have been on the chopping block. They will have to work to hide in a very complex world where an arms race will drive the evolution of the AI’s.

[black swans] are statistically so highly improbable as not to factor into calculations of those professionally disposed to trying to account for every possibility

It’s worse than that. We don’t know how improbable/probable they are. They are the unknown unknowns. All we can be sure of is that they will happen. Often enough they will happen when we have our pants down around our ankles because we get complacent. There is nothing miraculous about them, of course. They simply represent what we can’t know in detail, but can know that we don’t know. What I’m arguing is that the professionally inclined folks who don’t try to account for them are being very foolish. Our host has argued for robustness in our institutions and I think that is a good start. I look at what Taleb points to regarding anti-fragile institutions, though, and prefer to lean that way. Plan for the swans to arrive as best we can by avoiding behavior that would kill off the ones we want.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | Donzelion has already answered you with some of what I was going to say, so I’ll avoid writing the book length version of this.

Black swans aren’t miracles. They are the unknown unknowns. It is unwise to bet on them, but equally unwise to ignore them.

Maybe the black swan of the 21st C will be in…

Ha! You think there will be only one? Not a chance. I don’t know how to predict them, but I DO know they are intimately associated with the efforts we make to innovate. Some are good. Some are bad. With our markets opening up wider to billions of humans who weren’t able to participate in them just a generation ago, I can’t see how they won’t arrive faster. From what I’ve witness in my own life, they already seem faster to me.

argue for inaction

I don’t want inaction. I want uncoordinated action that feeds into markets where natural selection is allowed to operate. Donzelion and our host have both pointed to market threats that make them unfair. My wording for these behaviors is ‘design is being forced over natural selection processes’. Please DO act and persuade as many as you can to act coherently with you. Please DO NOT act to enforce some kind of intelligent design on us. (I don’t think you will and I’m using purposely inflammatory terms not to dig at you, but to point out how strongly I feel about this.)

But Alfred is in the habit of arguing for non-interference, letting things just happen because having a plan is always bad, and assuming that some invisible hand will make everything work out just fine (if your tolerance for human misery is fairly high)

I argue for non-interference mostly when I feel our options under consideration could be worse than doing nothing. As for plans, feel free to plan. As long as it isn’t an intelligent design type of plan, I’m okay with it. I’m more worried about central planning as we simply aren’t that smart to get it right more often than natural selection would. Regarding invisible hands, there is nothing magical about them. That is just a symbol that stands in for how our selfish behaviors occasionally appear guided toward a collective purpose. It is an emergent order kind of thing and comes about through a natural selection process.

Finally, my tolerance for human misery isn’t very high, though I know it sounds like it is when I argue for natural selection instead of social engineering. It seems everything takes SO long. It doesn’t, though. It is far faster to use uncoordinated action and rely on evolution than it is to fumble around in our ignorance trying to design a better world.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion or any other Progressive | Progressives can benefit from listening to libertarian critiques when issued with good faith

Okay. Here is one from out of the blue to ponder then. Consider commodity A. In a world where the supply of A is relatively fixed, an increase in the price paid by demand for A will generally reduce the demand. Ignore fashion and other distortions for now. Some suppliers of A might sell at a lower price and others at a higher price. Some demanders will buy at a higher price or wait for a lower price. So, increases in price dictated by external forces will change demand in the same direction.

If the commodity is ‘relatively unskilled labor’ and the price paid is a ‘wage’, how can an increase to the minimum wage (the external force) not decrease the demand for that kind of labor? How is it that Progressives think it is a good thing to increase minimum wage as a way to help people who earn little at what they do?

No squirrel responses please.
I mean this in good faith.

Alfred Differ said...

...and since I should refer to the post in these comments... 8)

I'm lovin' the Juno images. Stunning!

yes. And SpaceX. Wow. 8)
(I'm a little jealous.)

Jumper said...

What happens to demand for minimum-wage level labor when that labor leaves that tier? That is, if construction booms, and burger flippers leave for jobs pouring concrete, what effect does that have on fast-food cash flow?

David Brin said...

Alfred many commodities are non-fungible. You will spend any amount to get the best doctor for a dying loved one. 2nd best is not an option. Likewise, a decent minimum wage puts money in the pockets of those who spend it the quickest, increasing money velocity and multipliers immensely... exactly what Supply Side promises but cannot and never has delivered.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter in the previous thread:

You called me Tom Wolter a few posts up! I have been called worse.

An easy typo, but the fact is that when we were e-mailing about my wife's medical issues, I somehow got it in my head that your name was Tom. Now, I'm stuck with it.

Look, I have zip influence on mass culture. My entreaty was simply that in this tiny microcosm of same where my voice is perhaps listened to I am suggesting that terms like Traitor, Monster etc have some potential to foment tragic actions.

I get what you're saying. But I can't separate it from the fact that within the past week, one of Trump's sons said straight out that people who disagree with his father are not people. So could that have had something to do with Republicans being shot at? Or is the problem simply that "liberal rhetoric" has gone too far and has to be clamped down upon? Of course, when Gabby Giffords was shot and some suggested that right-wing talk radio rhetoric might have contributed, we were told how unfair that implication was, and how monstrous we were for politicizing a tragic event. So much as I don't blame you for mass culture, do you understand that I've been on the receiving end of a double standard for over 30 years now--a double standard that says, as someone here put it, "It's Ok When Republicans Do It." And I'm not inclined to concede that something bad happening to Republicans must not stand when the same thing has been treated as normal when it happens to the have-nots.

That's not anger directed at you. It is, however, an admonishment that if your side wants a de-escallation your side is going to have to de-escallate first.

donzelion said...

Alfred: Any group setting aside ~10% of their income yearly can fight the decay in value of their property, right?
Hmmm...are you suggesting we ought to put aside $20 trillion/year to deal with property value decay? How much of that would you be willing to put into possibilities our scientists are warning us about, like climate change? Even 10% of that 10% - 1% of the total - would be a huge increase.

But really, I don't believe that any metrics are reliable here: the sums are too large, the risks too unprecedented.

"...I suspect insurance rates will adjust to reflect the need to plow more savings into these properties"
I suspect insurance in the 21st century will go through a complete overhaul comparable to the adjustments to the securities system in the 20th century. Laws, markets, and many other actors interacted to instill some reliability into the system. It still errs. Often. But hopefully it is robust enough to be tweaked repeatedly to address problems when they arise.

"Your concern with cost shifting is more important, though. Whether my numbers hold or not, you are describing a classic game of commerce were we sell a sucker what he wants."
Fraud, by any other name, in any of its many forms...but while theoretically, markets can cure for it, in practice, this is a side of how markets operate that is quite predictable. Ask 99% of people who've gone bankrupt how it affected their reputation costs in future ventures, they'll give you a very different answer from the 1% that profited handsomely through the process. Yet that 1% that profited handsomely sits in the White House, and is still believed to be a successful businessman by millions.

Transparency doesn't hurt, BUT is not by itself the solution, any more than more guns on the street is the solution to crime: the folks who want to do something for their own benefit at the public's expense can deploy their own guns, and when they amass too much wealth, they can do that more easily than the public can. Who pays and develops most of the AI/Expert systems today? Perhaps an amateur can beat them - I'm sure occasionally in the sciences, an amateur is able to beat a scientific expert at his own game. But I'm also sure that's pretty rare.

"In such a world, your fears about cost shifting will remain, but the battles will be waged in a much more complex space of possibilities."
Agreed. I don't see this cycle coming to a conclusion. Transparency efforts take a step forward, opacity efforts take countermanding steps. My concern is what are the resources brought to bear by each side? Hoping for 'transparency cowboys' in white hats to save us...strikes me as a romantic throwback to the 19th century, hoping a good sheriff rides into town who cannot be bought like the last ones were.

"there will always be people and their trumbrels. We may go after the wrong people, but even in that we raise the costs incurred by the people who should have been on the chopping block."
I am thinking of the plight of the historically oppressed minorities here, Jews on the chopping block in several different European countries, Africans on the chopping block...raising the costs for the tormentors to execute other people isn't exactly an elegant solution.

More generally, when a set of feudalists dispossesses another, they'll often but not always put their predecessors on the chopping block - then take over and replicate the same processes they 'inherited.' Why did that start to change in the 16th century (if not slightly before)? Whatever it was, that answer may offer a key to changing this process and finding a better approach.

"Plan for the swans to arrive as best we can by avoiding behavior that would kill off the ones we want."
Wise. Perhaps we ought to start with shifting some costs back towards climate change prevention, which could indeed kill off many (all?) of the swans we hope for.

Kal Kallevig said...

For me, the choice to invest now or later is almost entirely about the numbers. Population growth is currently 1.1%/year and trending down. Gross world product is growing at about 3.5%/year.

Yes, it is all about the numbers, but which numbers?

Gross World Product is particularly suspect in that it considers a dollar spent on producing a bullet to be fired in Syria (or Virginia) to be the exact equivalent of a dollar spent to feed your child. And the value of the redwood forest near here is not considered at all unless it is cut and destroyed.

Equally suspect is the assumption that either population or GWP can continue exponential growth in a finite world. Just because we have not yet run out of a non replaceable input is no guarantee that it is not lurking just around the corner.

One non replaceable resource is land not under water. Near as I can tell the best case estimate is something on the order of 1 meter sea level rise this century. How shall we value the people who will no longer have a place to live or food to eat because of the loss of this non replaceable resource?

I recently came across the website of Jack Alpert Ph.D.,  Stanford Knowledge Integration Laboratory You will find interesting videos there. The most recent is called Underestimating Overpopulation

Humaun Kabir said...

I am deeply in love with every single piece of information you post here. Will be back often to read more updates!

Square and Stationary Earth Map

donzelion said...

Alfred: as to your question - "If the commodity is ‘relatively unskilled labor’ and the price paid is a ‘wage’, how can an increase to the minimum wage (the external force) not decrease the demand for that kind of labor?"

If 'unskilled labor' is a fixed commodity, then an increase in minimum wage will result in a decrease in demand for that labor. Conceded. Hope that's not squirrely. But that's not the end of the story.

The basket of skills possessed by 'unskilled laborers' evolves in response to the market, and most 'unskilled laborers' will educate themselves with the skills that are valued - unless something intervenes.

What can do that? Among other things, certain types of jobs - esp. in retail, dining, hospitality - depend on wages staying at a certain level; if they increase beyond that, the owners lose their anticipated profits (and default on the loans they used to replicate and spread these models). Since the folks owning those businesses tend to vote, and tend to be informed, they'll drive the entire development of communities in a way to advance their interests - providing infrastructure that benefits them (and nothing else), opposing anything that creates alternative possibilities (to maintain their large share of available workers). Entire business models exist to support a network of interests that seek to sustain minimum wage workers as minimum wage workers. Towns and cities can be built around them, dependent upon them, and prolonging and preventing people from advancing to a better career.

Some progressives (including me) believe raising the minimum wage disrupts the assumed negotiating leverage that the investors had when they initiated their plans and sought to capture and trap workers in dead end positions. While that will not ultimately improve the condition for the poor and unskilled, removing profits from people who benefit from lack of skills by denying them negotiating leverage will eventually benefit people displaced as retail outlets close, franchise restaurants shut down - and those structures will be replaced by alternate business models that can adapt.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Before I have a go at Alfred - those SpaceX videos are amazing!
The outside views - were they taken from a camera on the ground? - views of the rocket from over 160 Km away!!!!!
I assume that the camera was actually a small (or medium sized) telescope - bloody impressive

Hi Alfred
In a perfect world then raising the minimum wage would reduce the number of jobs

But that assumes a number of things that simply are not true -

(1) That the wages are the "Share" of the returns for that activity -
BUT they are often NOT it is not unusual for a company to be paying minimum wages and making out like gangbusters - huge profits going to the owners
In that situation increasing the minimum wage simply leads to a reduction in the profit and not to a reduction in the number of workers

That is not always true and in the rare situation where the company cannot afford the increased wages then the number of jobs will go down

But look at US businesses - do we have a situation with historically low profits??
NO - profits are at a historical HIGH

Now to your argument that a large number of different agents can produce a better path than a central planning agency

Again that would make sense except for the unfortunate fact that at the moment there is ZERO incentive for these agents to go that way

If we had a large carbon tax - then YES it is possible that the multiple agents would produce better ideas than a central planner
BUT we don't have that - what we do have is that the "costs" of certain activities are borne by all of us and the "benefits" are not

Historically the free market is very good at the final act - getting things to market and completely useless at the initial science and development

Paul451 said...

Flat Earther spam? Really?

(I was going to ask how flat earthers explain the south celestial pole, then I thought to go a look... jesus. Remind me not to do that again.)

Paul451 said...

(Ended up spending hours reading flat earther sites. No grade-8 student has so ever abused trigonometry as a flat earther.)

Anyway, from the last thread:

"Nonsense. Our decedents will steal the money when it comes time. If that tiny fraction does what you say, they will get their heads chopped off when the time comes as retribution for the large number of deaths that will occur before that."

{sigh} In a thread where people have been repeating over and over "violence is not the answer", can we perhaps advocate changes meant to stop violent revolution by the ripped-off.

Because, as the election of Trump shows, as nearly every revolution in history shows, it doesn't [expletive deleted] ever solve the [expletive deleted] problem. Violent anger is form of a madness, one just as likely to self-destruct, one easily manipulated by the devious and the sociopathic. Revolutions almost never result in improvements, the vast overwhelming majority of them have led to more suffering under a worse regime.

And I want to avoid that.

I want to change things now in a way that heads off the inevitable violent disintegration of the US. However, your assumption is always that when the situation is anything less than outright violent revolution, nothing should be done.

"I get your point about two economies."

I really don't think you do.

Imagine if the headline rates in the US for that last 30+years had been stagnant. No GDP growth, no per-capita income growth, no stock-market growth. Just stagnation. Because that is the real US economy. The one that affects over 99% of Americans.

Paul451 said...


"you are adopting as a baseline a position that has proven to be an extreme. The strong correlation you observe started mostly after WWII and continued until the financial shocks from WWI through WWII were complete."

A common, and honestly fairly predictable, argument. However, if it were true that the opportunity for the US was purely an economic aberration, and "by golly, that explains everything", then GDP wouldn't still be growing.

Because I'm not comparing mean-income growth between 1950-1960 and 2005-2015 and saying "oh noes, it is slower", I'm looking at looking at the changes in the distribution of GDP growth.

The "it was all coz of WWII" argument would explain a lower overall US GDP growth, but it does not explain drastic changes to distribution of growth within the US regardless of changes in GDP growth.

[Likewise, labour/manufacturing changes don't explain it: other nations have dealt with changes to manufacturing without impoverishing their workers. Likewise, China doesn't explain it: US manufacturing is at near-record highs, as is industrial output in general. Likewise, it isn't about technology: other technological nations haven't had the same 99% stagnation.]

"Asking us to return to economic policies relevant to that era is lunacy."

Not half as crazy as insisting on maintaining policies that have stolen half the potential wealth of 99% of your countrymen. (I mean, imagine an America where 99% of the population had double the wealth they do.)

Yes, you have made out well. And when the Grand Reset occurs, and it will occur, it always occurs, what is your preference? Do you want to pay a slightly higher tax rate, or have your family murdered by the thugs of whichever system violently overthrows this one? Because the list of possible outcomes does not include "keep going like this".

But hey, if both options are just "coercion", perhaps you really can't see a difference between them?

"I'm not willing to support 'stealing' at this point. I don't think we are in a dire enough situation for that."

Jumper said...

Finding a U.S. baseline from history is quite a challenge. Smoothing over market misbehavior, the results of 1895 - 1916 here in the States might be interesting... I'm too far out of my field to be of use.

Libertarian English climate scientist William Connolley is a long-time cheerleader for more direct carbon taxes. Being English he probably would prefer "liberal" over "libertarian" but a definite free-marketer type. He has persuaded me we need carbon taxes sooner than yesterday.

A curmudgeon full of scorn for deniers, he's worth a regular read to me.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

A carbon tax like the British Columbia Carbon Tax makes a lot of sense. Things must be paid for, and all so-called "negative externalities" should be subject to a tax. As in British Columbia, all of the revenues of such taxes should be paid to each citizen of the governed area that is subject to the externalities tax.

Markets cannot be maximally efficient if all aspects of a transaction are not paid for. Transactions often have positive externalities that are just one of the free benefits of an efficient market economy.

Transactions also very often have negative externalities, and those must be paid for, or else the general benefits of a market economy could go negative.

One of the most basic functions of government is to see to it that payments are collected for negative externalities (and that those taxes do not add more negative externalities), and, especially, that those revenues are efficiently distributed directly back to the citizens.

This has become a popular idea among some libertarians, including me. Even Gary Johnson advocated the British Columbia Carbon Tax for the United States for a few days during his campaign for President last year. Unfortunately, he was soon talked out of it by people who didn't know what they were talking about.

matthew said...

I'll believe taxing external costs fairly is part of libertarian thought when it appears in their party platform.

You may self-identify as libertarian and think such an idea is beneficial. Your party apparatus has been hijacked by interests that will never allow such a thing.

Leave the party and start a new one. Or take your party back from oligarchs. I don't care which.

But to claim any fair accounting for external costs is a libertarian ideal is to flat-out lie about what the party is doing.

It's like Republicans saying they want to increase the franchise.
Utter bullshit.

David S said...

It seems to me that when employers pay less than a living wage someone else in the society has to make up the difference (pay the minimum wage earner's health care bills, or subsidize food/housing etc.). So I'm in favor of raising the low end wage rates to make employers bear their full labor costs.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Matthew, I was a libertarian before the Libertarian Party was formed. I think that I have prior rights to claim what is libertarian that supercedes the rather crazy Libertarian Party platform.

I was holding a libertarian discussion group at a local college in 1971 when on of the founders of the Libertarian Party came in to invite me to a meeting to found the new Libertarian Party. That founding meeting of the LP was being held at the home of the late Luke Zell, which was only about a ten minute drive away. I knew both Luke and the LP founder who invited me to the meeting. In fact, Luke Zell had been at my libertarian meetings prior to the founding of the Libertarian Party.

I declined the invitation because I had several misgivings about the formation of a Libertarian Party, especially at that time. Among those misgivings was my fear that a Libertarian Party would appear to be the "official voice" for libertarianism, which would be a great tragedy for libertarian philosophies.

Matthew has proven that I was correct in what I stated 46 years ago about the formation of the Libertarian Party.

I was using the term "libertarian," including in publications that can still be found in libraries, years before the formation of the Libertarian Party. "Libertarian" is not a word that can be copyrighted. But there is lots of proof available that I was using that word in publications before the Libertarian Party was formed. I have just as must right as they do to say what libertarianism is.

matthew said...

That's a "no true Scottsman" argument.
There exists a Libertarian Party. It does not accept your definition of what you say it should believe.
Either change what it believes to match your opposite thing. Or call your ideals something different.

But to claim "I was there at the start, so I get to say what "libertairanism" is all about" ignores the 40 years of jibbering loonyism that is the Libertarian Party.

donzelion said...

Love the Juno images.

Two interesting monopoly stories for science-interested: one will be told at length, one will not.

Amazon buying Whole Foods? "Ah, Jeff Bezos...always experimenting! Good luck (maybe)! Viva la technologie! Internet uber alle!"

Dow buying DuPont? Far more interesting for this space, and more likely to be overlooked. Perhaps not here though. What family better models the family trust Dr. Brin had in mind for the McClennon clan in 'Earth' than the DuPonts?

Romanticists fixate on Napoleon's genius; but why did his artillery perform better than any rivals? DuPont scientific methods for testing black powder made them the largest supplier, but the rivals had excellent scientists of their own. DuPont's innovation was in the subsidiary/joint venture process: by sharing their tech through corporate forms, many manufacturers could adopt 'best practices' (while the family profited handsomely). Why did the North have superior industrial base by the Civil War? Those subsidiaries were the secret.

That model was tested at length in Delaware's Chancery Court, and became the uniquely American feature of industrialization. Managing them in Delaware created the Delaware system of corporate ownership. By the 20th century, nearly every state adopted at least some form of the 'Delaware' process.

Moving from arms to other science fields, the DuPont Corporation used this methodology to capitalize on innovations in drugs, seeds, plastics, solar power, always capitalizing through subsidiaries and joint stock companies, always in the epicenter of every materials-based revolution of the 20th century.

Having helped build "the establishment," DuPont's leaders skewed 'conservative' (with any number of fringe extensions). Yet until the last 20 years, 'conservative' meant something different, often pro-science. The DuPont-backed Republican establishment is now sidelined by a Walton-Koch-Murdoch-Mercer (Trump)-backed, evolution-hating ignoranti. But none of those dynasties will ever be remembered for very tangible, meaningful contributions to America, with a hand in everything from the Louisiana Purchase to the actual foundations of American industrialization.

Perhaps Bezos will...

Just another $70 bn merger? Shrug, roll eyes, judge them as 'good/evil' - what was the latest Trump tweet? Oh look, a squirrel!

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Matthew, I don't claim to be the spokesman for libertarianism. I claim that there is no spokesman for libertarianism (especially when spelled with a lower-case "l").

You are still proving the claim that I made 46 years ago that the formation of a Libertarian Party would damage libertarian philosophies by claiming to be the sole voice of libertarianism, or at least being widely perceived as the sole voice of libertarianism.

I will not give up my claim to be able to use the word "libertarianism" on the grounds that it was "stolen fair and square" by the Libertarian Party. I am still a libertarian, as I have been since I was a young teenager. I will continue to use that word to describe many of my ideas. I have just as much right as anyone who is alive today to say what libertarianism is.

Jumper said...

Like the big difference in republicans and Republicans.

Catfish N. Cod said...

I seriously get the vibe from some self-proclaimed "Libertarians" that tragedies of the commons should be encouraged and externalities are opportunities to be exploited.

Whereas I have this crazy idea that since [A] the power of freedom comes from the ability of distributed decision-making to outcompete centralized decision-making, that [B] the distributed decision-making should be provided with data as accurate as possible.

Crazy, I know!

donzelion said...

Duncan: While I concur with your conclusion, I see some flaws in your reasoning. It is interesting to disagree with someone on a fine point, when you ultimately agree with the outcome, and not a common experience in internet forums. But let's stop for a second here -

"it is not unusual for a company to be paying minimum wages and making out like gangbusters - huge profits going to the owners...But look at US businesses - do we have a situation with historically low profits?? NO - profits are at a historical HIGH

For firms earning record profits, your analysis is spot on. But many firms depending on minimum wage workers - fast food, retail, hospitality, low-end manufacturing/textiles, low-end health-care (mostly cleaners) - are struggling. Retail is facing quite a collapse, and results are uneven (at best) in hospitality/fast food.

Tech companies (largely profiting through near-minimum wage ad placers, call centers, and warehouse operators) and banks/insurers (largely profiting through near-minimum wage sales & tellers) are players with most profits in 2016 and 2017, yet their minimum wage contingent is small and far less central to their business model.

For struggling sectors (esp. retail), I would expect fairly major job losses as vast numbers of stores opened in the boom period that were only viable because of public assistance to employees, state/local community assistance (esp. to developers), tax subsidies, etc. Either removing those subsidies, or raising the minimum wages, would destroy those cheap'n'easy business models, and the jobs resulting from them.

To me, this is the more elegant manifestation of Alfred's frequently invoked 'bring out the pitchforks!" Yes, a minimum wage hike will hurt some people who are not the intended target. But the worst hurt will be the 21st century equivalent of 'sharecroppers' (who (a) OWN most of rural America, and (b) embraced Trump in desperation).

Paul451 said...

"I will not give up my claim to be able to use the word "libertarianism" on the grounds that it was "stolen fair and square" by the Libertarian Party. I am still a libertarian, as I have been since I was a young teenager. I will continue to use that word to describe many of my ideas. I have just as much right as anyone who is alive today to say what libertarianism is."

The problem is that you want to assert that right in every conversation that's clearly only about the other Libertarians (capital L). In doing so, you are actually trying to claim to speak for Libertarianism (capital L).

If I'm trying to talk about the Democratic Party and its supporters and policies and tactics, "Those democrats all be crazy when they say X", and you interrupt every single time and insist, "That's not what democracy means, democrats like me actually believe...", then you are the one missing the point. Just as you are missing it when people are obviously talking about the LP and the Mises-school of libertarians, and you insist "that's not what I believe and I'm a libertarian".

If the ambiguity bothers you, then use another term for what you believe. Alfred called his brand of libertarianism "Classical Liberalism". If you are too attached to the term to change, then the burden is on you to deal with the ambiguity.

Paul451 said...

Speaking on nomenclature, Tim2 has criticised David and the forum for using terms like Treason to describe the behaviour of certain players.

What term would you suggest we use to describe efforts to undermine democracy, steal the wealth of the vast majority of Americans, and people who appear to have sold their influence in the US to foreign political dictators?

Treason seems like the right word, but if you have another term...

LarryHart said...


At the risk of speaking for another, I think Tim's issue is that "treason" is most typically punishable by hanging, and he's afraid that this extreme liberal rhetoric is what causes people to shoot at the "traitors" while they're practicing baseball.

My problem with his problem is that we liberals have been called "traitors" for decades, and it was deemed ridiculous to suggest that such extreme right-wing rhetoric was responsible for Gabby Giffords being shot, just as it is deemed ridiculous to blame right-wing rhetoric for abortion clinic shootings or attempts to start a race war. Just last week, a member of Trump's family declared as fact that anyone who disagrees with his father is not really a person.

I wonder rhetorically why rhetoric rises to the level of extreme and dangerously influential when liberals make the case.

donzelion said...

Larry, Paul, Tim: I find Dr. Brin's use of the term 'Confederate' to be an intentional, and contentious (contrarian) synonym with 'traitor.' And very likely to annoy precisely the sorts of people who need to be annoyed.

To many Southerners, calling Robert E. Lee a 'traitor' is...well, a sign of being a Yankee outsider. But on a rational level, that is precisely what Lee was - a traitor who killed orders of magnitudes more Americans than Osama bin Laden - not even Hitler killed as many Americans as Robert E. Lee did. Yet they've embraced a Lee myth that Lee himself would have had no time for, converted him into a figure who stands for resistance to civil rights, education, and anything 'northern' (elitist). Then after perfecting the art of mythologizing, they replicated precisely the same pattern with "St. Reagan."

What can one do to these myths by slap the adherents in the face? Wake up! Lee was a traitor! Those embracing him endorse treason. Those embracing the system he fought to defend guessed it.

"What term would you suggest we use to describe efforts to undermine democracy, steal the wealth of the vast majority of Americans, and people who appear to have sold their influence in the US to foreign political dictators?"
Some, yes. And some who hear the term 'treason' will feel pushed away, and unsettled by an immoderate term. Bandying it about lightly is surely a sign of frustration and fury. Most Republicans do NOT want to undermine democracy, steal anyone's wealth, and despise influence peddlers (indeed, the fact they perceived Clinton as doing precisely that was a fixation of their fury). But most of them also disbelieve in evolution: their core beliefs are dictated by sources unrelated to science and evidence.

David Brin said...

Again and again... political theory is less important than what has pragmatically worked. Feudalism, stifling criticism, autocratic rule all govern STUPIDLY!

Freedom, transparent reciprocal accountability, regulated competition, science, error-discovery... these have led to successes that are like the sun, next to the flickering candles of 6000 years of feudal lords.

Libertarians who stand up for COMPETITION and realize who destroyed it, deserve the name. Those who suck up to lords and rationalize excuses for those enemies of freedom and competition... they are no libertarians. They are lickspittle shills.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Paul 451, even though I've made a couple of minor typos in my recent comments, I've been quite consistent and accurate in distinguishing between upper-case "L" Libertarians and lower-case "l" libertarians. The distinction is especially important today in the case of libertarianism because, until December of 1971, libertarianism was only a philosophy. There are immensely more "libertarians" than there are "Libertarians."

In the past, I have tried to refer to my ideas as classical liberalism, but that suffers from a similar problem. People hear or see the word "liberal" and they tend to think of liberalism as currently portrayed in popular culture. The word "classical" had to be added to the word "liberalism" because some people had stolen the word "liberal." How often must I change the name of my ideas?

In the last U.S. presidential election, Gary Johnson had some very significant disagreements with the Libertarian Party platform. Gary Johnson was a strong supporter of the Environmental Protection Agency. Does that mean that Gary Johnson was not a libertarian?

Earlier today, I was just trying to suggest that having the parties to a transaction pay for negative externalities was a good idea, and that many libertarians agreed with that idea. Somehow, that devolved into a discussion over whether I am a libertarian. It is rather creepy that the discussion should wander that far off track on a forum as intelligent as this one.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | ...are you suggesting we ought to put aside $20 trillion/year to deal with property value decay?

Goodness no. We put aside 10% of our income, not 10% of our capital stock. The savings go to a lot of other things too. Some communities save much more and some a lot less, but we all do it to some degree. If we are willing to take the (risky) step of including human capital in the mix, even the poorest among us engage in some form of savings near that level. If insurers do what I think they will do in an environment where we do NOT promise to bail them out, I suspect capital owners of sea-side property will have to devote a bit more of their savings toward preservation in a world with rising seas and that will change property values. It’s just the rent calculation procedure. If I have a $500K property and expect 5% return on it each year, I have to charge a monthly rent near $2.1K. If insurance goes up, I get less, or I charge more. If rent values are fair, I might even be motivated to game the rules in ways you’ve described. I’m a small fish, though, so I’d probably sell it and buy somewhere else where I could make 5% again. (Yah. I know the average return rate is lower right now.) Insurance would push me to sell or accept the lower property value associated with running the rent calculations backwards. If net rent falls to $2K, property value drops to $480K if buyers are basing value on a 5% return.

I have a preference for letting those forces work, but I hear you and your concerns about fraud. I don’t know what to do, though, and suspect we are caught between a rock and a hard spot and have been for ages. I have personal experience as a founder in a couple of start-ups where some of us didn’t know each other well. There is a certain dance we all participated in to learn what we needed to know of each and then have enough trust in the team to risk our investments. Two of the start-ups failed with accusations of fraud and a lot of finger pointing. If there had been anything to fight over, lawyers would have been paid. I suspect one of my partners DID pay, but I went limp because I already had my revenge. Sigh. One learns from these things and gets tempted to do full background checks on one’s future partners. Sigh^2. Do I want fraud protection, though? Not really. I lost money and a lot of time, but it was mine to risk and no one got rich. If I have too much protection, I can see how this would put a chill on entrepreneurs. If I have none, that is a disaster of the other extreme. Sigh ^3.

Regarding transparency cowboys, I think you underestimate the amateurs. Given your training as a progressive warrior of sorts, that is understandable. If you want to see things a bit more like I do, consider watching James Burke’s 70’s Connection series (again?) and pay special attention to the fears he expressed in the last episode. They didn’t materialize, but it is interesting to ask why they did not. As with the historical changes that started in the 16th century, something big happened and I suspect few get it. Burke didn’t understand computers then the way we do now, but that isn’t the issue. He expressed a reasonable Big Brother fear that simply failed to materialize. I strongly suspect it was the uncoordinated actions of amateurs that prevented his alt.future. If you watch his ‘The Day the Universe Changed’ series from the mid-80’s, it ends with a similar episode and a different fear expressed in a less pessimistic manner. In that one he provide two broad possibilities, one rather dark and the other much brighter. The dark one failed. Miserably. Why? His later series (Connections sequels) from the 90’s didn’t end with darkness at all. By then, it seems, he got it even if only at an unconscious level.

I suspect we DO need to put some money into climate change prevention, but I’m inclined to tap the savings we already reserve rather than force more. One exception, though, is I AM willing to support a fossil carbon tax to put a price on an otherwise negative externality.

matthew said...

Are the Republicans still "the party of Lincoln?" No, not since Nixon's southern strategy

Are the Democrats still the party of union power? No, not since Jimmy Carter attacked the unions.

Are Libertarians interested in anything other than Randian property - worship? Nope, not since a Koch ran for VP on the ticket.

Using political definitions 40 years out of date is a sure way to get yourself tarred with some one else's brush.

Alfred says he is "a Smithian classical liberal" but also maintains that "taxes are theft." The second statement is incompatible with the first.

Jerry doesn't comment here enough for me to have a feeling for what his internal mental model of libertarian is precisely. But he is still using the no true Scotsman fallacy to try and define a political movement as something it is not. "I was there first and that's not how it was when I started it." doesn't work when the terms you are laying claim to have been defined otherwise by millions.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. I’m still willing to fight for the ‘liberal’ term in the US. I use ‘classical liberal’ as a way to point to the theft that occurred when progressives took a liking to the term… in the US. For people out in the wider world, I can claim to be a liberal and they don’t get confused. They already know we see socialists as cultural traitors since many of the intellectuals who became socialists over a century ago did so as defectors from liberalism.

I am a registered Libertarian, but not because I agree with the party platform. There are whole sections of what they profess that I think is nuts. I joined the California party because the CA Democrats don’t need my vote and I wanted a place for ‘classical’ liberals that wasn’t infested by social conservatives. Some CA GOP folks in the past came up with the genius idea of cultural warfare between our English and Spanish speaking peoples and got lunatic ideas passed. I want those people politically flogged, but that won’t happen unless there is a home around here for classical liberals outside the GOP. That motivated me to check out the Libertarians who already provide an alternate home for many former GOP voters.

For my neighbors who lean progressive, don’t fret. You have a party here in California. Enjoy. The task I’ve adopted is to give you a saner opponent. Please don’t erect strawmen, though. Of the Libertarians you hear about, many are among the nutty clade. They are a minority even among registered Libertarians. If we could get libertarians to join up instead of hiding in the GOP, though, you’d have a saner opponent that would help curb some in YOUR nutty clade. We would both benefit.

Alfred Differ said...

I waffle a bit on 'taxes are theft.' What I actually claim is that I understand and appreciate the argument used by those who don't waffle on it. Taxes CAN be a form of theft, but I'm not convinced they always are. If I was, I'd be much more combative on the topic.

Alfred Differ said...

@Kal Kallevig | I’m with you on the issue of what gets folded into GWP. The more I learn economics, the more I see what they do as sausage making. Don’t ask to see how they are made if you don’t want to be disillusioned. 8)

Population growth is already showing that it isn’t growing exponentially. Growth rates topped out in the mid-60’s a little above 2%/year. They’ve been dropping lately, but our current rate near 1% is still huge. It is big enough still to demolish assumptions made my old feudalists. When the population is growing fast, savings and the income we derive from them don’t account for a large percentage of total income. Growth in the supply of labor does instead. As population growth diminishes, therefore, one could reasonably fear a return to the old feudal assumptions being correct. This is Piketty’s position in a nutshell.

Structural growth of the economy is the total growth with population growth subtracted out. Many predict that will shrink too. Piketty certainly does. I don’t think the argument for that is as good, but I don’t see a way to resolve the range of possibilities until the future arrives and we can examine what happened. For now, we are stuck with the scenarios technique. What CAN happen combined with a Bayesian sense of probabilities for the alt.futures is about as good as it will get.

Regarding irreplaceable land, you might want to take note of the contribution land values make to our total wealth. The percentage has been dropping over the long haul. What matters to value is how we improve it. More and more, it is what we DO with the land that is the real source of wealth. There is no reason to believe we can’t pick up some of what we do and escape to other land further inland. It would be expensive, but so is keeping up property values. Depreciation isn’t an illusion especially for properties near water.

Alfred Differ said...

@David | Some commodities are non-fungible. Sure. I certainly will spend a lot of money on doctors, but I won’t on burger flippers. Since doctors aren’t usually minimum wage earners, I think you are (unintentionally) dodging the point I’m making. This isn’t about supply-side voodoo. It is about whether the good intentions of progressives harm the very people they mean to help. I believe them when they say they want to help, but economic theory as I understand it says they are doing harm to them instead.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | The basket of skills possessed by 'unskilled laborers' evolves in response to the market…

Looks to me like you are saying you are willing to do a little harm to the lowest paid people in order to prevent a bigger harm. Is that close?

If so, I applaud.

My solution of choice is to educate the prey, but I see no reason why both tracks can’t be worked simultaneously.

David Brin said...

interesting points, all.

But the next blog is important. Please spread word about it!


Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | A wage isn’t a share of the returns for an activity. It is a price to be paid by an employer for labor to do the activity. If an employer begins to think of it as a share, they are hiring a partner instead of an employee. That means raising minimum wage WILL cut into profits and the employer will respond as the Demand side of the transaction. If the owners want to maintain a particular rate of return on their investment they will cut demand, re-engineer work, or do whatever makes sense. Raising the minimum wage does not force an employer to pay it IF they have the option to alter their demand for labor. They could, but they might not. It depends on the tolerance their investors have for diminished expectations.

Profit margins are not at an all-time high. They were higher in the 19th century when labor could not field the human capital it can today. Where unions have done right by their members is helping them learn everything involved. An employee bringing useful human capital to a task can justify a higher wage even if they can’t negotiate as a member of a union. If the employer wants the skill and thinks it adds extra value, the higher wage makes sense.

Now to your argument that a large number of different agents can produce a better path than a central planning agency
Again that would make sense except for the unfortunate fact that at the moment there is ZERO incentive for these agents to go that way.

Ha. Nonsense. I’ve seen R&D at the entrepreneurial level. It happens and then larger corporations buy it along with the founding company. It is one of the exit strategies for early investors that doesn’t involve going public. I’m with you on the need to tax fossil carbon, but not in your belief in the need for central planners here. That makes no sense to me.

Alfred Differ said...

oops. that's what I get for saving up posts for the end of the day. It's been a busy day here.

moving onward.

phann son said...

Looks to me like you are saying you are willing to do a little harm to the lowest paid people in order to prevent a bigger harm. Is that close?


Robert Clark said...

At the distance of the Parker Solar Probe, a 1 km sq. mirror could collect a
terawatt of power for beamed propulsion or space solar power beamed to

But could we put the mirror actually on the surface of the Sun? The Sun puts
out 3.86X10^26 watts of power,

Given its 700,000 km radius, this amounts to over 60 terawatts per sq. km.
This is 3 times the total energy usage of humans on Earth from all sources.
Could we have a station on the Sun’s surface that would persist long term?
The Sun’s surface is at about 5,500 C. The highest temperature ceramic we
have is at about 4,000 C:

Rediscovered ceramic Hafnium Carbide can withstand temperatures three times
hotter than lava at 4050 celsius and could help enable hypersonic planes.
brian wang | September 17, 2014

However, there are cases such as with rocket engine combustion chambers
where the operating temperature is well above the melting point of the
material composing the engine. The reason this is possible is that in order
for a material to undergo a phase change from solid to liquid not only does
it have to be at the melting point but a sufficient quantity of heat known
as the heat of fusion has to be supplied to it.

So with high performance rocket engines such as the SSME’s a cooling
techniques known as regenerative cooling is used that circulates cool fuel
around the engine to draw off adequate heat to prevent melting from

However, with rocket engines this cooling fuel is burned or dispensed with
after being used for the cooling. So this wouldn’t work for a power station
existing long term on the surface of the Sun. You would need something like
a refrigeration system.

The Parker probe will use a refrigeration system to lower the temperature of
the components of the spacecraft from 1,400 C to room temperature. This is
about the same temperature drop as the temperature drop from the Sun’s
surface to the maximum temperature of our high temperature ceramics. So it
should be possible to do this temperature drop on the surface of the Sun
using our highest temperature ceramics.

Still, we might not want the extra difficulty of landing on the Sun. If we
make the distance to the Sun of our beaming station about 1/3rd that of the
Parker probe we would be at 10 terawatts per sq. km. Two of these would
provide the entire energy requirements for the entire human population, and
the surrounding temperatures wouldn’t be so extreme.

Bob Clark

Robert Clark said...

Just saw this mentioned in the comments to an article on the Parker Solar
Probe on

April 6, 2017
Solar Surfing
Robert Youngquist
NASA Kennedy Space Center
We propose to develop a novel high temperature coating that will reflect up
to 99.9 % of the Sun’s total irradiance, roughly a factor of 80 times better
than the current state-of-the-art. This will be accomplished by leveraging
off of our low temperature coating, currently being developed under NIAC
funding. We will modify our existing models to determine an optimal high
temperature solar reflector, predict its performance, and construct a
prototype version of this coating. This prototype will be sent to our
partner at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory where it will be
tested in an 11 times solar simulator. The results of this modeling/testing
will be used to design a mission to the Sun, where we hope to come to within
one solar radius of the Sun’s surface, 8 times closer than the closest
distance planned for the upcoming Solar Probe Plus. This project will
substantially advance the current capabilities of solar thermal protection
systems, not only potentially allowing “Solar Surfing”, but allowing better
thermal control of a future mission to Mercury.[/quote]

At a solar radius of 700,000 km away from the Sun, based on the light
intensity going inversely by the square of the distance, and with 1,360
watts per sq. meter (in space) at the Earth’s distance, or 1.36 gigawatts
per sq. km., I estimate this should give 60 terawatts per sq. km. when only a
solar radius away from the Sun.

But in the calculation in the above comment, I had estimated that fully on the Sun’s surface we could collect 60 terawatts per sq. km. of power. Anyone have an explanation of this discrepancy?

In any case, if this research team succeeds in producing this ultra high
reflective, high temperature material, then a mirror smaller than a
kilometer across a solar radius away from the Sun could collect enough
energy for the total energy usage from all sources for the entire human population of the

Also, interesting is 16 solar collectors a kilometer across could provide a
petawatt of power. But these are power levels long dreamed about in science
fiction for doing beamed propulsion of large-scale, *manned* spacecraft on
relativistic, interstellar flights.

Even more remarkably we might be at that stage within just a few decades.

Bob Clark