Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The great beyond...

The Dark Energy Survey (DES)  has discovered 11 new streams of stars that originate from outside of our galaxy. These “stellar streams” (Asimov's "Currents of Space"?) are made up of the remnants of nearby clusters or dwarf galaxies, which were ripped or altered or destroyed by the gravity of the Milky Way. There are about 1,000 to 10,000 main sequence stars in each stream.

Yes, this is another review of recent news about SPACE!

So cool.  A video dive down into the Mutara… I mean, Orion… Nebula. Lower shields and enter at your own risk.

The Age of Amateurs at its best. An amateur astronomer catches (for the first time) a supernova in its early phase, alerting professionals to zero in and chart its youthful moments. We need all-sky awareness.

research team examined 355 stars that had a total of 909 planets, which periodically transit across their faces (as seen from Earth). The planets are between 1,000 and 4,000 light-years away from Earth. They found that a system with a small planet would tend to have other small planets nearby — and vice-versa, with big planets tending to have big neighbors. These extrasolar systems also had regular orbital spacing between the planets.

In our own solar system, however, the story is very different. The four terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) are very widely spaced apart. The team pointed to evidence from other research that Jupiter and Saturn may have disrupted the structure of the young solar system.

Note that these samples are biased by a huge selection effect, favoring very close-in planets that might occult their stars along edge-on orbital planes (as seen from Earth.) Still, statistical techniques offer major – if tentative – insights.

Fascinating. By studying the microlensing properties of emission close to the event horizon of the supermassive black hole of a background quasar, astronomers set a lower limit to the density of rogue moons and planets in interstellar space in that galaxy at roughly 2000 per star.  Very rough!  But if that proves universal, there may be a lot of “stuff” out there between stars, helping explain why travel is difficult.

Talk of using pulsars as navigation beacons! Wow? Well, in fact… the pioneer plaque of the 1970s was based on exactly this. Look at the "spray pattern." The dots and dashes are time marks for each pulsar's period.  I attended a 1971 talk when Carl Sagan unveiled this, at Caltech!

The Kepler Mission was an inexpensive endeavor of NASA Ames Research Center that proved to be one of the most miraculous and cost-efficient scientific experiments of all time, expanding the number of extra-solar planets known from a couple of dozen to… thousands.  So when loss of one gyroscope seemed to doom the spacecraft, clever engineers found a way to salvage a lot of observing ability, using the pressure of sunlight to replace that gyroscope and help the remaining two, allowing Kepler to continue planet-hunting in 4.5 patches of sky, per year. The result? Another 300 or so planets!  Continuing this marvel till spectacular successor missions are ready.

We are mighty beings! Our explorations are more successful that anything else we do… than any estimation of the odds would seem to merit. Every discovery, from genome to Mars Rovers and Pluto missions to ever-improving weather models, to vanquishing diseases should swell your chest with pride. (Watch the end of http://tinyurl.com/wrathaddicts)

I assert that there may even be theological significance to these fantastic scientific wonders we're achieving. As if it's meant to be. Our purpose.

== A lunar station? ==

What is our future in space? Michio Kaku takes a bold look at The Future of Humanity: Transforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth, which ranges over topics from AI and nanotechnology to astrophysics, terraforming and FTL, with a far-seeing eye on how we will survive as a species in a space-based civilization. Even so... there are those who oppose this vision....

Forget math in favor of dogma! “Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross talks about “turning the moon into a kind of gas station for outer space. The plan is to break down the ice [there] into hydrogen and oxygen, use those as the fuel propellant." Rockets would not need as much thrust leaving Earth if they only had to get to the moon, he said. "Then at the moon, you have very low gravity so you don't need so much thrust to go from the moon to Mars, for example, or another asteroid."

It sounds like something cool to help propel us forward with science, pragmatism and adventure, right?  Wrong. There are no levels and no ways that this makes sense, even slightly. This Republican fixation on “return to the moon” is a calamitous error and utter waste of time and resources. 

To be clear, I rejoiced when my friend and former boss James Arnold saw his theory proved true -- that there’s some ice in dark niches at the lunar poles. Indeed, a day may come when some lunar settlement or city might use that ice, recycling it carefully so that it lasts.  But that won’t happen if we squander it on making rocket fuel whose principal use is to blast out of the lunar gravity well.

Watch Republican eyes glaze over when you use… numbers, or terms like “delta V”; but here goes.  It takes 6.3 km/sec of velocity change to get from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to the lunar surface, almost all of which must be done at high acceleration, with chemical rockets. No high efficiency ion engines or sails.  And that leaves out the penalty-cost of going to the lunar poles.  In contrast, the large population of NEOs or Near-Earth Asteroids can be reached with delta V of about 5.5 km/sec.  That’s a small but significant advantage to asteroids…

… that expands a lot when you then add in the cost of launching from the lunar surface. Again, with low efficiency chemical rocketry, whereas much of the transit to-from NEOs can be done by ion-drive or sail.  And note, from a typical NEO, the added delta V needed, to reach Mars, is only about 2 km/sec.

Now, you pay a price for the easy energetics to NEOs, and that cost is TIME. It can take a whole lot longer to reach asteroids, which is why we must develop excellent robotic systems, first to access the copious amounts of water there (vastly more than at the lunar poles), and later for the hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of mineral wealth out there, from iron (for use in space) to platinum and gold. (This is one reason why legacy Earth-resource moguls in the GOP are desperate to divert us to the Moon, because nothing there threatens their monopolies and sunk costs in Earthly mines.)

So yes, asteroid mining will be mostly robotic. The moon is a better place for humans to use the scanty lunar water for the one purpose Andy Weir's Artemis speculates that dustball is good for, in the near term… tourism.  

Leave the dusty surface to others (for now.) Elsewhere, I explain why a lunar ORBITAL station has huge utility – in at least five ways – and the U.S. should concentrate its manned efforts there, not on imitating Apollo landings.

But it is asteroids where tech billionaires foresee our future in space, all getting rich together out there. And NEOs will prepare us to utilize Phobos! Possibly one of the most valuable places in the Solar System and our real gateway to the Red Planet.

No, Wilbur Ross, we are not fooled by the fact that you schooled yourself to say words like “hydrogen” and “oxygen.” Your incantations still distill down to waging war on science, reason, ambition and the United States of America.

See my postings elsewhere about the issue of Trump's science adviser and the destruction of OSTP.  This article explored the turn back to the moon and the reporter published my response. Thoughts that I updated here.

Oh, we can accomplish anything, if we shrug off gloom. Here, Bill Gates reviews Pinker’s latest tome “Enlightenment Now,” a vigorous defense of our stunningly successful civilization, against the gloom merchants seeking to wreck citizen belief in ourselves. The only thing that will make a difference, over the long run.  

As I wrote in The Postman, by the way.

172 comments:

Treebeard said...

Nothing will make a difference in the long run, because we, the earth, sun and the whole universe, will be dead.

David Martin said...

Hi Treebeard...have a nice day...

Jon S. said...

That's... a bit too long-term, Ent, old sport. (Although I do use the estimated lifespan of the sun when I need perspective on a mistake I've made - when the last of the sun's hydrogen flares out, and it expands briefly into a red giant before sputtering down into a white dwarf, and the scorched surface of Earth freezes in the darkness, will what I just did be remembered?)

Tony Fisk said...

"I have this terrible pain in all the phloem down my left side."

While we're waiting for the heat death of the Universe, some of the proposals I've seen for detecting mountains, and even 'tree-like' structures, on exoplanets are truly mind blowing.

I wonder if prototyping for 'Starshot' could trial launching microsats via laser to the outer planets, where they could spend a couple of years on ion drives to get them into orbital insertion? Next step, that region about 660 AU out?

Against that, I don't think the obsession with the Moon is a 'calamitous error' at all. Quite intentional. Ad abyssum.

Steven Hammond said...

YES!
I've been waiting for a science thread for a bit in order to see what folks think about the new papers published in Geography in February from the Firestone group presenting evidence for the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis which I've brought up before.

I'll link to a site where you can read the papers which I find fascinating, but I'm also very interested in all the drama around this topic--who wouldn't be? The injection of politics into what seems to be, en face, a non-political, purely scientific topic is interesting, as are the personalities involved pro and con. Seems the pro YDIH attracts a variety of somewhat obsessive people ("Wingnuts" may be a bit harsh) interested in Atlantis and some other fringe speculation as well as some that think cosmic impacts are a greater risk than climate change. I don't see evidence that the researchers themselves are particularly political, but their supporters may be, including the guy with the blog I'm linking to. On the other side are some very politically active and liberal scientists such as Mark Boslough and Jacquelyn Gill.

It's interesting to me as I generally agree with Boslough and Gill's politics and see the politics of George Howard, the owner of the blog and a Co-founder and Director of the Comet Research Group (when they leak out) as a bit right wing, but I find the actual research and science pretty compelling in favor of the YDIH.

In any event, I really wonder what others with unbiased eyes think of these papers and the evidence in regards to the YDIH and any commentary on the politics that seems to be bubbling through this scientific controversy would be welcome.

Here's the link to George Howard's blog page with links to PDFs of the articles: Burn Paper

Here's a link to the nemesis of the YDIH group's Wikipedia page. Mark Boslough

Unknown said...

If nothing will make any difference, why do you bother replying? Go bark at strangers outside! :V

Steven Hammond said...

Correction to my post above the jounral. "Geography" should be "Geology".

Tony Fisk said...

@Steven The tone of the Burn Paper site gives that sense of aggrievedness normally associated with embittered cranks (ie I backed off hurriedly). Still, who said scientific argument doesn't get political? As our host keeps pointing out, scientists are human too (with sophisticated BS detectors), and the YDIH is an example of an ongoing debate. If a strong claim can earn its chops with strong evidence, it is considered less outlandish.

It seems a similar bit of biffing went on when Svente Arrhenius published his proposals about CO2 and the Greenhouse Effect in 1894. Angstrom was unconvinced, pointing out that all the ground radiation was being absorbed by existing CO2 levels, so what effect could extra CO2 have? The argument went on for several decades, something today's climate deniers* are quick to pick up on. They're less quick to note that it was eventually settled in favour of Arrhenius.

* It occured to me to refer to them as 'amateur sceptics', but association with 'Age of Amateurs' would only encourage them!

Steven Hammond said...

Thanks Tony.

I do understand the presence of politics in science, especially when it was less professional, but I suspect I was naive in thinking that was pretty well tamped down these days in most branches of science.

I wouldn't even link to the site if the papers were available elsewhere, but the tone (as you mentioned) is quite striking and (from what I gather) the author of the blog is intimately involved in at least publicizing and, to some extent, financing the research. I think he was even involved in a crowdfunding thing for the Comet Research Group.

All seems a bit disreputable--and yet... Geology is a peer reviewed journal and the research seems to be well done, well presented and persuasive in the actual papers.

Alfred Differ said...

Blogs are where we are allowed to be aggrieved, so their style there doesn't bother me or trigger my crank alarm.

On top of that, Geology is a field that has had some serious knock-down fights over ideas. It wouldn't surprise me to hear another was underway.

What I was taught to do for these fights was take any single paper and start to build the social network implied by the references. From that, one goes from the other direction and see who references the authors of the paper and then the people they reference. One winds up with a tangle of relationships in a healthy community. There might be another tangle that is lightly connected to the primary one supporting the ideas in the paper and that would likely represent the people being refuted.

If the first tangle is too small, there is a risk of academic incest occurring. Find a paper arguing against the authors and do the same thing. If their social tangle is bigger and looks 'healthier', then the incestuous group might be cranks. Maybe. They might also be rebels with a valid point.

Social networks show where the ideas are having sex. Promiscuity is healthy here, but it isn't the definitive way to distinguish cranks from honest rebels. It's 'pretty good' though.

Tony Fisk said...

Alfred, as you say, blogs are not peer-reviewed in the formal sense. I meant the blog's tone was offputting, and doesn't welcome a casual visitor (my first thought is: why the defensiveness?). That attitude does reflect on the issue being discussed. Like you, that doesn't faze me (odor of crank doesn't mean crank theory), but it does mean I would look elsewhere for information about YDIH.

sociotard said...

I was having fun with Excel. I plotted "Killed by Police" against "Police Killed", with overall gun control legislation and ownership represented.

This shows that we won't be able to address our police violence problem unless we also address our violence on police problem. And yes, the states with more gun control tended to have less of both. I think this might be a useful chart to show Conservatives. They adore police. The same conservative who dismisses homicide charts as "mostly gang-bangers killing other gang-bangers" might pause when reminded of the effect on police.

sociotard said...

Oh, and it is fun to throw at #ACAB liberals too.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tony | Makes sense to me. 8)

My graduate professor had to do a subject-area change in the late 60's after publishing something his peers decided couldn't possibly be true. I couldn't figure out how it got published if that was true, but I didn't ask him for details. It was obvious the wounds still hurt over 15 years later. That event colored how he interacted with his current crop of students quite a bit and one former student advised caution to us all.

In the years after he passed, I DID begin to wonder if it had more to do with his wife's suicide and his alcoholism. Doesn't matter now, I suppose, but it all taught me to see the human in all of us.

The person writing that blog is definitely human. 8)

Tony Fisk said...

@LarryHart (from previous post) "Laurel" vs "Yanny". I hear "Laurel" as well, but someone found they got "Yanny" when they lowered the pitch. So I suspect it's to do with how well you hear in the upper registers.

donzelion said...

LarryH: continuing from earlier -

"One of those things is not like the other in that we as Americans do seem to expect doctors (like anyone else) to maximize profits."
We expect them to be well-compensated. If they wanted to maximize profits, they could simply demand "everything you own, and everything your family owns too." Sometimes, those demands still get made, but seldom from the doctors themselves.

"I'd add small-d democratic government offices"
Each office has it's own dominant set of ethical norms, and operates through a balance of the four playing different functions (as does society itself). VA (the second largest)? Healing. Commerce? Utilitarian. Energy? Ontological. Legislators? Ah...now that's where it gets tricky: the utilitarians are always the most common, and the bulk of the community is utilitarian, but the others are important too.

"and journalism" - some journalists work best as utilitarians (esp. business & sports), others as Aristotlians (the grittier side - the politics/crime/city beat), others as healers (the 'human interest' stories), and a small handful, as 'prophets' (editorials, among others).

donzelion said...

LarryH & Alfred: Personally, I found the whole 'Darmok' story non-credible: so many languages are thickly laced with idiom and metaphor that any 'universal translator' would have to be significantly adept at interpreting metaphors to provide anything approaching useful translation skills. I took it as more of a meta-story: a demonstration of how easily we (Star Trek fans) can learn a new form of communication.

occam's comic said...

Another post on space topics but not even one slight mention of the increasing militarization of space and the danger that poses to the "star trek" future Dave, Locum and so many others on this site want.

Is the topic just too depressing for you guys?

Darrell E said...

Steven Hammond,

My interpretation / opinion of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, as a curious non-expert, is that it is pretty weak for a variety of reasons.

1)Nearly all of the evidence offered in support of it has been either shown to be in error, mistaken (mis-identification of samples) or has failed to be replicated (samples from the same sites taken by others not containing what was originally claimed.

2) Absence of Evidence that would be expected if the YDIH were true. For example very large scale fires that correspond to the correct time and that don't fit the pattern of normal wild fires.

3) Evidential claims not holding up over time. For example, platinum and nano-diamond levels in black mats claimed to be evidence for an impact event but over time it comes to light that black mats from all over the world and from all different times all show the same elevated levels, i.e. the elevated levels occur due to terrestrial processes involved with the formation of black mats.

4) Lots of existing evidence that doesn't fit the YDIH. For one example, megafauna extinction patterns don't fit.

It is of course possible that there is something to the YDIH. But I think the probability is low. There is a huge amount of evidence that it would need to account for, but so far it doesn't. Another possibility that is more likely, but still not very well supported in my opinion, is that there was an impact event at the right time in the right place that may have contributed to some degree to the extinction of mega fauna, but was not a primary cause of it.

The the YDIH claim that the impact(s) caused the collapse of Clovis culture seems particularly weak because the state of the art of ancient DNA collection and sequencing is good enough to find the bottleneck that you would expect to find if this claim were true, but no such bottleneck is evident.

Caveat, I haven't had the opportunity to review the new paper you linked to, but will when I can. But a single paper is very unlikely to change my mind because, as usual, one paper could not possibly address all of the current problems with the YDIH. It certainly may support it but even if the YDIH turns out to be accurate it will take much more science work to show that. And though sometimes it takes longer than it could have because of human nature, that's as it should be because the alternative is worse.

LarryHart said...

I missed the fact that there was a new main post yesterday, so I've got a bunch of comments at the end of the last one. Check if you're interested. But this one I needed to be sure Duncan saw:

Duncan Cairncross:

I can't get behind the drive to impose fiscal responsibility on the government by way of inflexible rules such as a balanced budget amendment

That is the LAST thing that I would advise!!


I didn't mean that to sound as if I was arguing with you. It's just something politicians propose to sound self-righteous without realizing what a terrible idea it actually would be.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Nothing will make a difference in the long run, because we, the earth, sun and the whole universe, will be dead.


True, and also missing the point entirely.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryH & Alfred: Personally, I found the whole 'Darmok' story non-credible...


We've discussed this before. Yes, when you examine the story elements closely, they don't hold up. Nevertheless, the story as a story "worked" for me in that the final scene produced the catharsis it was intended to.

Sometimes, fiction requires willing participation by the reader/viewer. This one affected me enough that I don't feel put upon. With some other stories (*cough* Atlas Shrugged), by contrast, I feel I have to do too much of the heavy lifting that the author should have done herself. Personal taste, so caveat emptor.

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

Although I do use the estimated lifespan of the sun when I need perspective on a mistake I've made - when the last of the sun's hydrogen flares out, and it expands briefly into a red giant before sputtering down into a white dwarf, and the scorched surface of Earth freezes in the darkness, will what I just did be remembered?


That reminds me of the young Woody Allen character in Annie Hall (and our host to the contrary, I'm sure it was Annie Hall) who wouldn't do his homework because "The universe is expanding!", and so, "What's the point?"

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"and journalism" - some journalists work best as utilitarians (esp. business & sports), others as Aristotlians (the grittier side - the politics/crime/city beat), others as healers (the 'human interest' stories), and a small handful, as 'prophets' (editorials, among others).


But news organizations (especially tv, but others as well) are increasingly pushed by their corporate owners to compete for eyeballs in the same arena as entertainment venues. The imperative is to grab viewers rather than to inform the public. And that's a bad thing for everybody except (in the short term) those corporate owners.

LarryHart said...

@Alfred,

There's also a longer response to you in the previous comments about "analogy all the way down" that you might want to see, if you haven't already.

Robert said...

Good to see Treebeard making sense. Ents, by nature, are extreme long-termers. Even better, he agrees with mainstream science. Given their history, there's also no reason Ents shouldn't be gloomy. Maybe it's the actual Treebeard this time.

As for YDIH, I'll stick with the obvious. Anatomically modern humans of all cultures are good at mass extinction, particularly each other.

A new top predator can be enough. Ask the extinct giant marsupials of South America, or the smiling, purring jaguars.


Bob Pfeiffer.

locumranch said...


It doesn't matter if a Moonbase or a Marsbase makes rational sense to David when it makes perfect psychological sense to the Earthbound.

Physical adaptions aside, our mental adaption to space will take time & frequent rest stops, and both the Moon & Mars are ideal locations for this as we travel out to the asteroid belts & beyond as described in Asimov's 'The Martian Way', published 1952:

"Earthmen can't (travel in space). They've got a real world. They've got open sky and fresh food, all the air and water they want. Getting into a ship is a terrible change for them. More than six months is too much for them for that very reason.
Martians are different. We've been living on a ship our entire lives.

"That's all Mars is — a ship. It's just a big ship forty-five hundred miles across with one tiny room in it occupied by fifty thousand people. It's closed in like a ship. We breathe packaged air and drink packaged water which we repurify over and over. We eat the same food-rations we eat aboard ship. When we get into a ship, it's the same thing we've known all our lives. We can stand it for a lot more than a year if we have to."


https://archive.org/stream/TheMartianWay/MartianWayByIsaacAsimov1950s_djvu.txt [for full text]

Now realise that the prioritisation of social justice & climate change amelioration is both an excuse & a rationalisation NOT to pursue David's dreams of space travel & the asteroid belt cornucopia, the argument being that we cannot, will not & should not attempt space travel until we put our terrestrial home in order, which means (in effect) that we will NEVER be ready for space & beyond.

Well, nuts to that!! Our culture has a clear choice to make -- to stay at home or go away -- and, by choosing NOT make this choice, we have still chosen to stay & decay upon this Earth.

Remember this as you waste your lives pursuing your perfect progressive 'fair-level-open-equal' will-o-the-wisps.


Best

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "We've discussed [Darmok] before."
I'm sure, but probably missed it; it's an unusually interesting episode, in how it demonstrates to an audience less how cool Picard is, and more how cool THEY are: they can learn and understand something that would otherwise be impossible. I have friends who are not SciFi fans at all who were deeply touched by this episode.

Few books, stories, or episodes achieve that: the goal of much fiction is to offer nothing more than 'interesting narratives' where stuff happens, characters do characteristic things, and interesting obstacles are overcome. Here though, the catharsis you feel is different from Aristotle's system: an emotional effect not connected to a heroic triumph, but to an audience's triumph. Outside of Scifi, the closet genre that approximates this feeling is probably mysteries (where the audience feels some joy in working out who is guilty, or why, using the clues the author put in front of them - a 'puzzle solving' pleasure) - and occasionally, high literature (e.g., the joy in decoding James Joyce's hidden meanings).

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "But news organizations (especially tv, but others as well) are increasingly pushed by their corporate owners to compete for eyeballs in the same arena as entertainment venues."

They always were, but many strove to offer something more intellectually nourishing than mere entertainment. Today's news often feels like much of today's food: cut the nutritious green veggies, offer instead processed fats and carbs deplete of nutrition, but so temporarily satisfying... If we learned to apply the same critical eye toward our news that we can to our food, we'd probably be less than satisfied with McNews and the rampant sale of 'unhappy' meals.

The corporate owners of news sell a product: when it makes audiences fat, stupid, and lazy, that serves goals of certain advertisers who aren't as interested in pursuing healthy viewers. Yet telling Fox viewers that in general, they know less about the world than someone who watched no news whatsoever tends to solidify their loyalty: one does not get far by fat-shaming.

occam's comic said...

Well, you know ...
the Earth is the only decent place to live.

Trying to live in outer space is dangerous, shitty, expensive and causes long term health problems. Manned space exploration should have been discontinued in the 1970's.


Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I went back and caught up just now. Thanks for pointing it out.

Sometimes I amuse myself by playing with words and phrases. It's fun and good for the ego. Afterward, I have to come back to the real world, though, were people look at what I wrote, scratch their heads, and wonder what planet I'm from. So... I'm glad you got 'analogies all the way down.' I keep paraphrasing McCloskey around here, but I think Hofstadter's book is more important. It gets to the heart of what we ARE at a social level. 8)

& @donzelion | I thought the non-credible thing was the universal translator itself. I felt that about Star Trek in general, but I got the need for it. One can't afford to go inventing new languages for every wrinkle-of-the-week alien race. When folks got around to inventing Klingon AS a language and it got used in canon stories, I felt a little better. I'm willing to suspend disbelief for a lot of things, but that translator was a big stretch.

... then I read in recent years how Google was tackling translations between natural human languages and I realized there might be a way at least for known alien races. Sometimes life offers up unexpected innovations. I was originally taught that translation was beyond computers until we had something close to a human-level AI. Turns out those folks who taught me that were wrong. Expert systems are doing a decent job of it even if they aren't perfect. We manage to follow winter7 well enough, right? 8)

Steven Hammond said...

@ Darrell E.

I look forward to your review of the paper I linked to which I think does a pretty good job as a response to most of the objections you've pointed out. Personally, I think even if a shower of comet fragments did initiate the Younger Dryas, I think the mechanism for it continuing so long is a bit unclear.

I find the various ice-core data pretty persuasive--the first paper. The second paper with data from terrestrial sites, lake sediment, etc is supportive but, likely due to inherent low resolution, dating problems etc, less powerful.

Thanks for responding. It's great to have such a broadly knowledgeable group to bounce this sort of thing off of.

Alfred Differ said...

occam's comic,

Heh. By that standard, we should never have left Africa.

We should never have left our nomadic HG lifestyle.

We should never have traded with strangers.


Humans gotta be human. 8)

occam's comic said...

Oh come on Alfred

Leaving Africa still left human on the Earth. Leaving the Earth means you don't get all those ecosystem services that keep you alive.

Humans are part of the ecosystem, if you take people out of that system you have got to replace all of the ecosystem services provided for free with techno systems that are expensive to develop and maintain.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Heh. By that standard, we should never have left Africa.


I certainly agree, but I think occam's point (to locumranch, no less) was that living somewhere other than Earth is many steps in the future. Deciding (for the moment) to live on Earth, decaying and rotting as it may be, is not a mere choice among many.


I'm willing to suspend disbelief for a lot of things, but that translator was a big stretch.


Sometimes, I think my calling is as a universal translator. :)

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Leaving the Earth means you don't get all those ecosystem services that keep you alive.


Did you happen to see Bill Maher's routine many months back about the differences between Earth and Mars? I think he was addressing Elon Musk and warning him that living on Mars (right now) would suck.

occam's comic said...

Larry,
No I did not see the Bill Maher's show, but isn't that just obvious?

and you said this
"I certainly agree, but I think occam's point (to locumranch, no less) was that living somewhere other than Earth is many steps in the future. Deciding (for the moment) to live on Earth, decaying and rotting as it may be, is not a mere choice among many."

No you misunderstand, I think living on the Earth then dying and have my body decay and rot away is awesome! I think that the best thing about my death will be that my body will get to feed other organisms. All my life I have sustained myself with dead bodies of many other living organisms, it is only fair to my dead body to provide some sustenance to other organisms.

Gaia invited me to a life long banquet in which I get to eat many many times but only get served up once. It is a great deal.

Jon S. said...

The series Enterprise, set in the days before the founding of the Federation, had an interesting take on the Translator - it's not so "magic" as supposed, apparently. One of the crew members was a linguistic genius, well-known for her ability to translate idioms between various alien languages; her main job aboard NX-01 was to listen to new alien languages, and with the computer's help construct a translation matrix so they could talk. There were a few episodes where she felt a bit harried, because her previous successes had been so good the captain started expecting her to provide complete translations as soon as the other guys started talking.

Basically, the Universal Translator of later series was an expert system based on Hoshi Sato's initial work in the 22nd century; and another point of the TNG episode "Darmok" was the danger of relying on such expert systems. These people had been demonstrated before to be highly intelligent, but they were so used to their system just handing them all the answers that when they were confronted by a tongue that required more than mere machine translation, they were stymied. It took the Tamarian captain and his repeated attempts to communicate with Picard to get the first human to look at the problem correctly.

reformed tourist said...

Alfred & Larry & Jon S. -

Aside from everything, you gotta give Menosky and LaZebnik a lotta credit and a little slack - took some big brass ones to bring Gilgamesh and Enkidu to the teevee masses and sell it in context...not to mention, getting it past the network as a sellable storyline. Even for TNG as a continuing successful series, that had to be an effort.

notes from the wikipedia entry: "This episode had the longest gestation period of any episode of TNG during Michael Piller's tenure, taking around two years to make it to the screen. Rick Berman hated the premise, but Piller thought it was interesting and was determined to make it work. Piller gave it to Joe Menosky, who completed the script and focused the story on the idea of two leaders attempting to communicate, as well as using the Epic of Gilgamesh as a plot device.[5]

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

No you misunderstand, I think living on the Earth then dying and have my body decay and rot away is awesome!


Ok, which is why I usually preface my paraphrases of someone else with "I think..." or "In my opinion...". Don't mean to speak for you.

That said, I think you have to admit that being alive when you have to breathe nitrogen sulfide would suck.


No I did not see the Bill Maher's show, but isn't that just obvious?


"Isn't it obvious?" was exactly the sense of Maher's routine. And I didn't mean you had copied him. Just that you would have enjoyed the bit.

reformed tourist said...

Now what mythic ode will be employed between Trump and Kim?

Something from the Icelandic Edda & Saga, perhaps? Possibly, one of the legends surrounding the fèng huáng (Chinese Phoenix equivalent)? Maybe straight to Babel (no, too biblical - need to keep it secular).


Absent a Universal Translator (in this case, maybe a good thing), if only there was some institution that was dedicated to staying abreast of and communicating effectively with different cultures, societies, and governments... a ministry for foreigness, or department of "other affairs," or something to do with "State." Of course, such a thing would have to be staffed with knowledgeable professionals...

Doesn't matter, one side is quite adept at playing this game better than the other. Put's one in mind of the elongated discussion about the size and shape of the table before the Paris Vietnam Peace talks, and then, we had Hank on our side determining strategy. Here we have..... Bolton?

locumranch said...


It's like engaging in the Dichotomy Paradox, arguing with a progressive who expects perfection before commencing even the simplest task:

(1) We can't live together until we perfect society;
(2) We can't leave the planet until we perfect the planet;
(3) We can't engage in space travel until we perfect the warp drive; and
(4) We can't create an artificial environment until we master the artificial environment.

Well, here's some sad news for you:

No moment, no thing, no circumstance & nobody will EVER be perfect (or ideal), and if you insist on perfection in any way, shape or form than you will never accomplish much of anything apart from failure.

You'll just fiddle with petty & inconsequential tasks while Rome burns, incapable of engaging without absolute consensus, allowing little problems to become unmanageable obstacles, much in the same way that NASA choked itself to death with excessive health & safety regulations.

It would be hilarious if not so tragic.


Best
____
The NexGen Gilgamesh episode was 'meh', just another opportunity to allow the show's cast to emote & display their classic chops, much in the same way that the Original ripped off Shakespeare at every opportunity.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "We manage to follow winter7 well enough, right? 8)"

He (?) does tend to make more sense, even translated through a machine, than our Ent and some other routine contributors.

TheMadLibrarian said...

"I don't want to blow up the Earth; that's where I keep all my stuff!" The Tick
"If you choose not to decide / you still have made a choice." Freewill, Rush
"Good writers borrow. Great ones steal." T. S. Eliot

I've been following the YDIH from a slightly different perspective. I collect meteorites, and am subscribed to a listserv that discusses them. One of the members is a big proponent of the theory (impacts from space, yo!), and frequently posts articles from Firestone et. al. Thus far, I have yet to see an article that puts forward evidence for the impact that can't be or wasn't explained by other processes; at best, it is a collection of thinly related circumstantial bits. I won't say it is crackpot science, because the defenders do try to follow the processes, but thus far, neither is it well substantiated.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - The Clovis culture

The "Clovis Points" are the stone age equivalent of elephant guns
They are designed for large prey

For a short period when humans first invaded the Americas there were a lot of large dumb tasty beasts so the "Clovis People" rapidly developed the appropriate weapons

After a short period - possibly only 200 years - there were no more large dumb beasts - there were probably a few large beasts but they knew enough to run away from humans

So the "elephant guns" were replaced with "Folsom Points" - a much more appropriate tool for small to medium sized beasts

About the sole large animal that lived through this in large numbers was the Bison - and there is some evidence that Bison were familiar with humans and had come across from Beringia at the same time as humans so they had already developed their "survive the humans" strategies

Steven Hammond said...

@ Duncan Cairncross:

That's a nice summary of the Overkill Hypothesis for the extinction of megafauna in the Americas, but it's not universally accepted. I suspect that climate change+ or - extraterrestrial impact contributed significantly.

Tony Fisk said...

Straczynski used the tale of the final clash between Arthur and Mordred* as an analogy for the Earth-Minbari war ("A Late Delivery From Avalon")

* ICYMI, as the parties approached to parley, a snake caused one knight to draw his sword unthinking, which broke the truce.

Tony Fisk said...

The local extinction of boreal megafauna can be tracked quite precisely from the drop in the soil levels of a certain fungal spore that grows in animal dung. It follows the spread of neolithic humans fairly closely.

That *could* be interpreted as meaning either that Neolithics had hearty appetites, or that climate changes favoured their spread, while megafauna retreated.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Tony Fisk:

That organism-Sporormiella-has indeed been used as a proxy for megafauna populations, but there are some issues with this proxy as it has been found in the feces or animals like--squirrels. I also think that there may be some problems with the dating resolution of lake sediment used in many of the studies you mention. Here's the paper about Sporomiella: The Sporormiella proxy and end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction: A perspective

Steven Hammond said...

Ah, reading the paper I linked to more closely, I see the authors have some of the same dating concerns in reference to some of the studies using lake sediment cores and the Sporomiella proxy.

One of the big takeaways from the "Big Burn" papers I linked to upthread is the evidence for VERY widespread fires around the onset of the Younger-Dryas and not just regional fires attributable to humans or regional changes in vegetation from local megafauna decline leading to fires before the Younger Dryas. This widespread increase in carbon from fires seem to correspond with a similarly widespread platinum spike, even on the Greenland ice cap.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Steven
The problem that I have with the climate change idea is that it was about the seventh cycle of climate change - the other six did not have the mass extinctions

The impact theory suffers from a total lack of evidence - as an example it would have been evident in tree rings and ice cores - but nada!

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Steven
We crossed posts - maybe I should have said nothing that has been replicated (yet)

Steven Hammond said...

@ Duncan Cairncross:

The Big Burn paper draws heavily on ice core data--that's its strongest point IMO. Please read it. You obviously have some interest in this area and it may change your mind or you may have some valid criticism of the science and conclusions of the authors that will change my opinion.

Steven Hammond said...

Fair enough, Duncan! ;)

Alfred Differ said...

@occam's comic | I think you are vastly underestimating what we did as we spread across the planet. Earth isn't one big ecosystem in which we live. It is a series of ecotones and many are quite hostile for us. If you look at the climate during the last time humans left Africa in a wave that displaced our earlier cousins, many of zones were even more hostile. We've developed tech, domesticated plants and animals, and learned how to live in some really nasty places. In some of those places, even the air is hostile. Spend some time in the far north like I did as a kid and you'll see.

We did three things to accomplish our migration ON Earth. We brought some things with us. We adapted to what was there. We adapted what WAS there to make it lest hostile to us.

I'm not saying space will be easy. What I'm saying is it won't be different except as a matter of scale. Obviously we will bring some of what we have. Obviously we will learn and adapt to what is out there. Obviously we will alter what is out there to suit our needs.

Earth's ecosystem services will be partially brought with us. Human techno systems will be created, tested, and adapted. In situ resources will be used.

Of all the challenges I think we face in creating a space-faring civilization, the hardest ecosystem service to bring with us is ourselves. Plopping a colony on some distant outpost won't get it done. Trade is necessary 'service.'

Alfred Differ said...

@Steven | The paper suggested the burnt biomass added up to about 9% of what was available on Earth at the time. I'm not qualified to check their numbers, but I'm pretty sure that would not qualify as a casual fire. I doubt hunting humans could have done it either. There weren't enough of us.

The YDIH strikes me as plausible, but I'll stand aside and let more qualified experts debate the evidence. What I'll add to the debate is that smaller strikes should suffer a selection bias against their detection due to uncertainties that would be added to the data by weathering making a mess of the evidence. Lastly I would point out that calling an impactor a 'comet' might confuse. All it would really have to do is detonate in the air. Any icy body is just one of the things that could do it.

Alfred Differ said...

... then there is stuff like this which leaves me thinking icy bodies are quite plausible.

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-evidence-star-disturbed-prehistory-solar.html

Anonymous said...

donzelion:
“He (?) does tend to make more sense, even translated through a machine, than our Ent and some other routine contributors”
Yes? I thought that I had fallen into the classification of an anarchist (which I am not) because of my comment on the subject that the best punishment for serial killers was stoning. (50% joke). I support democracy. (real democracy, which is really a different concept for everyone, either because everyone wants a democracy adapted to their own needs, which is a situation that I find interesting).
If I said some nonsense, it's the google's automatic translator's fault. (I hope the Google Translator's AI does not get too mad at me) (It would not be fun to be chased by Google drones, like in the movie Eagle Eye).
Here in Mexico, I am a "little under fire" We are in the electoral period and the Mexican oligarchs have the firm conviction that it is a sacred duty to attack anyone who does not join them. Let's say that the followers of the Mexican oligarchs are collecting many points that in the future may be exchanged for a surprise prize.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@occam's comic | Gaia invited me to a life long banquet in which I get to eat many many times but only get served up once. It is a great deal.

Sorry. I missed this bit earlier. I think it is pretty cool too, but it does leave you open to similar arguments where Gaia invites some of my friends to be seeds to spread her further. Seeds carry something with them, use what is at the remote site, and adapt a bit. Sound familiar?

donzelion said...

Winter: didn't say I agreed with you, only that you're taking positions that are logically coherent and not cynical.

Anonymous said...


donzelion:
Yes. I try not to be cynical. Which is difficult in the electoral periods. Currently, all candidates for the presidency and other posts in Mexico are corrupt. There is no one to vote for. which is not a rare situation in Mexico. But I think that the political customs of Mexico are spreading all over the world. Something that at the moment I can not change. Not so.
  I'm watching a movie with an idea I did not see before. A movie called: A for Andromeda. With actor Tom Hardy (Mad Max's)

Winter7

David Brin said...


Occam, so we have to only talk about what you want to discuss? Ask a question about specifics! Lay out your case about militarization of space! Do some work and give us links. Put in the effort as a member of this community, instead of lazily (as always) dumping a demand on others.

Locum:” both the Moon & Mars are ideal locations for this as we travel out to the asteroid belts & beyon”

Will you ever, ever,ever cite numbers or credible links to back up wild-ass assertions? The moon is 2-3 days away, on a 6 month voyage. The “rest stop” ADDS stress and time to the journey. Heaps of both. More drivel to defend his tribe’s insane cult position that’s intended to protect the plantation lords’ Earthly mines.
Notice he concludes with a zero-sum, either or howl, knowing that everyone here is capable of pos.sum thinking and will only find it sad.

Hey Treebeard. A generation ago we knew nothing of the heat death of the universe. What, you don’t think our smarter kids won’t think up and perceive beyond our ken? Oh. Yeah. That’s what your cult fears most.

Funny thing. That answer also applies to Occam! The wooden ship sailors were stunningly brave and stoic. Later ocean voyagers went in luxury. Who are you to judge the choice of those early-gritty sailors? What the H###ck ever happened to your imagination?

Lloyd Flack said...

Winter7 which remake of A for Andromeda are you watching, the Italian one or the more recent BBC one? I saw the original television series, most of which has been tragically lost. Some of it is available along with its sequel The Andromeda Breakthrough. Alongside The Outer Limits it was one of the earliest great science fiction series.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Steven

The paper makes a good case for something happening then
The rise in NH4 and other materials is not however persuasably linked to the fire idea - if there were fires if that nature then I would expect a noticeable ash/soot layer in the ice cores and sediments

There was something very significant going on about then - we know that the sea levels were changing by a lot
And that the land covered by ice and by seawater was changing - thousands of square kilometers of land sea and ice changing places
We know of the the catastrophic Tsunami caused by the Storegga Slide in about 6000 BC

Something of that nature leaving huge areas of sea bed exposed or submerging huge areas of tundra would lead to the type of gas belch that is being detected
And would NOT leave the missing tell tale soot layer

I agree that there are signs of "Combustion" - but the signs are of low temperature "rotting" - NOT massive wildfires

The paper talks about soot and also fine meteoric particles being involved and actually causing the effects - but does not talk about actually finding these!!!! - they should be much much easier to detect in an ice core or sediment core than elevated levels of some trace gases

I recommend
The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America & Its Peoples by Tim Flannery
From when the dino killer hit!

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

We've developed tech, domesticated plants and animals, and learned how to live in some really nasty places. In some of those places, even the air is hostile. Spend some time in the far north like I did as a kid and you'll see.


I've often wondered things like, who first stumbled upon places like Norway and decided, "This would be a great place to settle down."

occam's comic said...

Alfred,
I completely agree with you on the impossibility of a universal translator. Every act of translation is an act of interpretation and paraphrasing in another language in which the words for different concepts don’t necessarily have the relationship to each other. So, the universal translator, the teleporter and warp drive were all great plot devices that are unlikely to be turned into real devices. (on the plus side we did get Star Trek doors, that slide open when you approach.)

And it seems like we agree that setting up an ecosystem (with technological support) that can sustain humans in space is an enormous unsolved obstacle to a space civilization. I see three major inherent obstacles to a space civilization.
1) Getting into space (not just cost in dollars but also in environmental damage.)
2) Living in space
3) Earning a profit to pay for expense of getting into space and living there.
In theory, all of the obstacles can be overcome but I think that in practice the 2nd and 3rd obstacles will be the killers.
But if you eliminate maned space missions the second problem goes away and the third problem is greatly reduced.

occam's comic said...

Dave
You are the one who wants a space faring civilization and I would think that recognizing the very real geopolitical obstacle that the militarization of space would be important to you. But if you don't want to think about how to handle that kind of issue, you don't have to.



"Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea," President Donald Trump said Tuesday March 12 to a large crowd of US Marines. "We may even have a Space Force, develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force."

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats also warned about threats from space at a Senate hearing in February.
"As if we don't have enough threats here on earth, we need to look to the heavens — threats in space," he said.

In his prepared statement, Coats said Russia and China, having recognized the value of space-based communication and reconnaissance, "will continue to expand their space-based reconnaissance, communications, and navigation systems in terms of the numbers of satellites, the breadth of their capability, and the applications for use."

To make matters worse, Russian and Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities are becoming increasingly advanced. Those capabilities include (ASAT) missiles, satellites capable of performing kamikaze-style attacks, jamming technology, and "directed-energy weapons" that could "blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors, such as those used for remote sensing or missile defense."

China and Russia continue to at least publicly promote diplomatic efforts to prevent the militarization of space. But as Coats pointed out, "many classes of weapons would not be addressed by such proposals, allowing them to continue their pursuit of space warfare capabilities while publicly maintaining that space must be a peaceful domain."

Coats estimated that Russian and Chinese ASAT weapons will probably "reach initial operational capability in the next few years." If those weapons were to take out American satellites, American war fighting capabilities would be seriously hampered.



"We need to deter, defend, and prevail against anyone who seeks to deny our ability to freely operate in space," Wilson said in her opening remarks, noting that the budget included an 18% increase in funding for space operations.

locumranch said...


I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

In his 'Martian Way', Isaac Asimov makes a much more persuasive argument for Lunar & Martian colonies as 'rest stops' than anything David has ever written (wherein the 'rest stop' concept refers to the absolutely necessary human cultural & psychological adaption to the small closed self-contained environment).

Notice how David fails to cite numbers or credible links to back up his own wild-ass assertions about how unadapted Earthborn humans 'should', 'ought' and 'are supposed to' live happily & functionally ever after in their small sealed environments in & around the Asteroid Belt because no credible reason.

This a recipe for disaster, the expectation of a favorable outcome after imprisoning the well-adjusted Earthborn individual into what amounts to a tiny sensory deprivation tank.

The "Psychopathological Effects of Solitary Confinement' have been exceptionally well-documented. This exactly why we NEED these Lunar & Martian colonies to allow for the gradual adaption of the human psychology to the rigors of space travel, or else the only thing we'll gain from star travel is stark-raving lunacy.


Best

occam's comic said...

Dave asks
“What the H###ck ever happened to your imagination?”
My imagination is not stuck in a 1950’s, old fart, space man view of the future. (maybe lead exposure explains why so many baby boomers remain stuck ;-)

Space just doesn’t have the hold on the future that it did in the past. Look at the difference between Star Trek and the Expanse. Star Trek – space is an awesome adventure,
Expanse – living in space sucks, it is way worse than being poor on earth.

And as far as space tourism goes – just another way for wealthy, over privileged A-holes to stomp on the earth with their giant carbon footprints while pretending that they are some sort of vanguard for the future.

Jim Satterfield said...

I've been thinking lately that as exciting as new propulsion systems for spacecraft is that what we could really use is real innovation in getting out of our gravity well. A major innovation in reducing costs there would have the biggest impact on exploration, discovery, and making resource extraction and colonization feasible, IMO.

David Brin said...

Occam that's better! But all you quote is (1) a bit of right wing blather and (2) Chinese ASAT travesties which harmed everybody, including their reputation. If they militarize space like those SC Sea islands, are you saying do nothing? You cite only an immature nation's solitary acts and some confederate hot air.

gregory byshenk said...

Regarding 'Darmok'... I found the alien language somewhat unbelievable - or at least the idea that the aliens would be unable to communicate with those using a different form of language - largely because I think their language as portrayed would be unworkable as a means of technical/scientific communication.

Then came the thought that the aliens would only want to establish a relationship with another civilization that somehow could come to understand their own language.

occam's comic said...

Dave said
"
1) a bit of right wing blather and (2) Chinese ASAT travesties which harmed everybody, including their reputation. If they militarize space like those SC Sea islands, are you saying do nothing?"

That right wing blather is coming from the president and his cabinet and comes with a 18% increase in space based military expenditure. (and the congress is filled with folks who love the right wing bather and think it should be policy)

And from the Chinese perspective, I am pretty sure they see their ASAT activities to be a response to the American militarization of space. And when they evaluate the capabilities of emerging American launch technologies, like the BFR, they would be fools to ignore the military implications.

This sets up what looks like an unstable space based arm race. One side with a clear lead in launch technology and the other side developing the ability to deny everyone access to space based assets. All we nee is growing tensions between the US and China.

donzelion said...

Occam: the story goes that Reagan saw some 007 flick, saw how cool mission control was, and wanted to know where the button was for the lazer beams that shot down missiles, only to be disappointed that there was no such button. Perhaps Trump also heard of Moonraker, found it too cerebral, decided to go straight to the moon instead, and train some space marines with lazer beams of their own (I doubt he was worried about sharks or starfish, since Myers was also a bit high-brow and elitist).

The thing is, if anyone militarizes orbital space for real, we all lose. Rubble on Earth can be repaired fairly easily; wrecked countries repaired. But space is far harder to clean up, and trash collection there may prove immensely expensive, with the losses disrupting everything from shipping basic food to comms to everything else. Worse still, the folks making a mess up there can be the ultimate free riders, forcing everyone else to shoulder the burden for the messes they make.

We shall see how these negotiations play out. We have a president who habitually neglects to pay his bills and make others bear the cost of cleanup. For him, something can resemble a win temporarily, that looks like a long term loss to the cities and communities screwed by such shortsighted self aggrandizement.

Anonymous said...

Lloyd Flack:
Yes. I think it's the BBC version of A for Andromeda. TV series? On YouTube they present it as a movie.
It seems that the story is of the astronomer Fred Hoyle; science fiction writer and astronomer, who like me, rejects the Big Bang theory. By the way, that writer wrote a novel similar to "The Mailman" by David Brin; both novels speak of a post-apocalyptic world behind which a feudal social system and brutally fascist customs are established. (I'm not making a spoiler of the story because from the beginning of "The Postman" that post apocalyptic situation is established).
What surprised me about the story of Hoyle, is that the hero, Cameron, upon encountering a barbarian world, decides to adopt without any ethical problem a violent and barbaric attitude (instead of freeing a young woman that a feudal lord had as a slave Sexually, Cameron gives it to one of his lieutenants, adopting the barbaric and immoral customs that reign as his own, and Cameron, of course, wants a more civilized future and goes to war to achieve it, that is, Cameron is an anti-hero for which the end justifies the means.
And moving on to another issue: The money that NASA will spend on returning to the moon, should certainly be used in the exploitation of asteroids. But I suppose the Russians do not want the Americans to get ahead of them. Hence, the most effective Russian agent in the West: Donald Trump, is doing an efficient job to twist the objectives of NASA. And I'm still impressed by the KGB's ability to put an agent in the US presidency and keep it there even after everyone knows what's going on. But the most impressive thing is how the American people could never get rid of the Russian agent, which will probably change the future of the United States forever.
Maybe all human beings are like autumn leaves, carried from one place to another by strong winds.

Anonymous said...

Hups. I forgot to add my signature to the previous comment:
Winter7

occam's comic said...

donzelion said
"The thing is, if anyone militarizes orbital space for real, we all lose. "

Bingo! that is why I think that all you "space is the future" guys should be a lot more worried about space based arms race. It is an avoidable problem (I think) but only if work to prevent it.

Berial said...

One of my favorite anime/manga is Planetes about 'space trash'. I find a lot of the ideas about how to better collect some of that garbage to be fascinating. I should go and look up what's been suggested since that show came out.

Anonymous said...

I heard that someone discovered that a medication for diabetes turned out to be the source of youth. (Metformin) Since it is a cheap medication, I decided to play guinea pig and I am taking a pill every day for fifteen days. I'll let two weeks pass and then restart the treatment.
The doses are low compared to the usual treatment, so I do not expect adverse results. (some extra fatigue upon waking) Also, I read all about the medicine and a plant that contains the molecule that was synthesized. I think the medication is safe. The worst that can happen are strong pains in the stomach for some risk of lactic acidosis, if I consume alcohol. (I do not drink, except for two beers at parties, and that sometimes)
Hummm If I increase the dose, I may become Dead Pool ... No ... Well, lactic acidosis sounds like something dangerous ... I must get rabbits to experiment. Maybe the rabbits get smarter than me. (apparently metformin also causes neurogenesis).
Link to the data:

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-42273362

Winter7

raito said...

Berial,

Get Andy Griffith to pilot the Vulture.

Anonymous said...

Berial:

I wonder if the Russians; Chinese Europeans and Americans would be upset if a new aerospace company takes all those satellites that stopped working and use them for their own construction projects in space. I would not be surprised if many of those satellites had nuclear warheads hidden behind lead shields.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@Occam’s comic |
1) Getting into space (not just cost in dollars but also in environmental damage.)
2) Living in space
3) Earning a profit to pay for expense of getting into space and living there.

Twenty years ago, the first was highest on our list of difficulties. I worked with more than one team on that issue. We had conferences, collaborated as amateurs and then eventually as professionals, and we even had our own jargon. Before the X-Prize there was a small one called the CATS prize. CATS is Cheap Access To Space if you weren’t paying attention to us back then. Some wanted it to be CHATS so it was obvious we intended for there to be human access, but it turns out human access isn’t the cheapest way to get started. All we needed was to get things going… and we did.

CATS doesn’t work unless one also looks at the environmental impact of one’s operations. Toxic fuels, for example, are a bad idea. For some strange reason, our neighbors don’t want us operating that way in their backyards. Fortunately, one doesn’t need the toxic stuff. One just needs to look at this all from the perspective of a business that doesn’t have enough cash to cheat the legal system and do what donzelion watches for in shifting costs.

So… Now we are on to the second one. Turns out that cheap access to space will go a long way toward working out how we can live up there. It’s all about experimentation and there is no way that is going to happen rapidly until costs come down enough to make the budgets feasible. I know a few people working that angle, but they have their work cut out for them.

The third one really isn’t an issue IF one relies upon private money to fund projects in the first place. There are a large number of ideas out there that are honest-to-goodness business problem solutions that MERELY need to be proven. Heh. Turns out that a business with a serious problem will usually consider paying to have it go away. If that solution involves space, it’s just a matter of convincing them that the people starting the business are not starry-eyed nuts AND that the solution might actually work. Occasionally we manage to pull off that combination and money gets invested. As our experience grows, therefore, the third one will take care of itself.

Alfred Differ said...

For those of you worried about the militarization of space, I'll point out that it has already happened. Much like the 'heat death' fate of the universe, it has already happened.

The US exercises a great deal of control up there. The only reason you don't see fortresses in orbit is we don't need them... yet. When we do, the first will likely be a US built one. That won't happen until the next big war drives the need, though. It will be stupidly expensive, but the US will sneeze a couple of times, loose track of a few trillion dollars, and it will get built. Maybe 2040 or so.

In the mean time, we will dominate near-Earth space by projecting our power upward from the ground and oceans.

Anonymous said...

Great news the eruption of Kilauea volcano. That eruption will release millions of tons of sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere, which will cool the planet a bit. I hope that the volcano maintains a strong production of gases for some time more. That way maybe the hurricane season is not so catastrophic this time.

Winter7

LarryHart said...

@Winter7,

With all due respect, if that constitutes great news, I'd hate to see what makes up "grievous bodily harm with intent."

Anonymous said...

Larry Hart:

Larry; let's remember to be positive. Yes. Thousands will be displaced ... But in reality, the Hawaiian government should never have granted construction permits near an active volcano. It is always the same cycle: The volcano sleeps and people return to build houses there. Retired seniors who moved there must have been more rational. Yes. It is terrible to lose a house. But there it is possible that affected families could sue the state for an irresponsibility driven by greed.

As for the "serious bodily harm with intention"; that depends on the circumstances: War, criminal trial; Justice morally correct and not legal; etc.

Winter7

Treebeard said...

Come on Occam, surely you know that America’s military satellites are up there spreading peace, democracy and progress and preventing the Russkies and Chicoms from stealing our freedoms?

Star Trek was powerful propaganda; the best peak Pax Americana could produce. It’s hard to break that when you’re raised with it, just like it's hard to break visions of Heaven and Hell for a fundamentalist Christian. It took me a long time to get over it, and I’m not from that generation. But I hear (not owning a TV) that the latest Star Trek dispenses with idealism and is all about the militarization of the galaxy, as an intersectional Federation force kicks the asses of reactionary, monoethnic, fanatically religious Klingon Confederate/ISIS-types in space, or some such silliness. It sounds like it could have been written by the people who scripted Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And of course, this has always been the nature of the show: American imperial liberal propaganda at its finest. But rather useless and counterproductive if you actually want to colonize space, since it's so scientifically inaccurate.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "For those of you worried about the militarization of space, I'll point out that it has already happened."

One might have said the same about the skies in the 1870s - already militarized. But three generations later...they would look at balloon based observation as a joke.

Let us hope to avoid the same error for space. A fortress in space strikes me as inherently more vulnerable than on land, and the cost to render it serviceable seems extreme, even if we have significantly improved our booster capabilities.

And there is a vast difference between 'presence' and 'control.' By NASA's statements about space junk, seems that a lot of presence in space indicates things may be nearly out of control.

donzelion said...

Treebeard: Current Affairs has a comment from their latest issue that meshes neatly with your own -

"It sounds like it could have been written by the people who scripted Hillary Clinton’s campaign"

- largely because the whole message of the latest season seems to be, "since the other guys are worse, what we do is justified..."

But I disagree here: "this has always been the nature of the show: American imperial liberal propaganda at its finest." Liberal propaganda of that period focused on ending poverty, racism, and warfare - the original series and most of its successors did keep the anti-racism bent (mostly), but omitted the rest fairly directly.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Winter, do you remember the popcorn flick 'Space Cowboys'? Among other things, it suggested a defunct Soviet 'communications satellite' was actually a missile platform.
Also: many of the people who built on the slopes of Kilauea were fairly cognizant of the thought that they were building on an active volcano. Among other issues, they were unable to get insurance for their property. Doesn't make it any easier for those displaced when the land goes poisonously pear-shaped.

Russell Osterlund said...

@occam's comic:

"Gaia invited me to a life long banquet in which I get to eat many many times but only get served up once. It is a great deal."

A wonderful sentiment and very share-worthy! But, do you think going the cremation route cheats Gaia?

Steven Hammond said...

@ Alfred Dilfer who said:

The YDIH strikes me as plausible, but I'll stand aside and let more qualified experts debate the evidence. What I'll add to the debate is that smaller strikes should suffer a selection bias against their detection due to uncertainties that would be added to the data by weathering making a mess of the evidence. Lastly I would point out that calling an impactor a 'comet' might confuse. All it would really have to do is detonate in the air. Any icy body is just one of the things that could do it.

First of all, thanks for reading the paper and discussing this. I value your thoughts and insight. I think you're absolutely right about the selection bias with smaller strikes and, as you alluded to, fragments of a comet would behave very differently than the K-Pg asteroid strike. Airbursts are certainly possible as are strikes on the ice sheets at the time.

@ Duncan Cairncross who said:

The paper makes a good case for something happening then
The rise in NH4 and other materials is not however persuasably linked to the fire idea - if there were fires if that nature then I would expect a noticeable ash/soot layer in the ice cores and sediments


Thanks for reading the paper and your input. :) I appreciate it!

As far as the NH4 data and wildfires go, I think the authors are on pretty solid ground and reference multiple other papers that used NH4 as a proxy. It's also interesting that cooling periods are typically associated with a decrease in wildfires while we see the opposite at the YDH. The authors do mention that the NH4 coinciding with the platinum spike may be due to the Haber process such as the Tunguska air burst caused in addition to burning biomass but attribute the prolonged increase in NH4 following this to wildfires.. I do think think there is plenty of evidence for wildfires around the time of the YDB (the timing of this is an issue with lake sediment but not so much with ice cores). Might some of the late NH4 be due to "rotting"? Maybe, but this would also fit with the YDIH.

You point out, though, that there is no mention of ash/soot/impactor debris in the ice core data at the YDB which might be expected if there was an "impact winter". Of course they may not have looked for it. I'm not sure how much debris might be expected from an event much smaller than the K-Pg event. The YDIH people have found nano diamonds, microspherules etc but finding them (or not) probably involves a certain degree of bias. They may have decided to rely on less observer dependent proxies.

Steven Hammond said...

Cont.


That being said, there may be mechanisms aside from particulates that can lead to a brief impact winter Could impacts on ice lead to stratospheric ice crystals reflecting solar radiation? I have no idea. Alternatively, immediate violent effects of the impacts or airbursts could have caused considerable environmental damage and the shutdown of the thermohaline conveyor by whatever mechanism (meltwater, calving icebergs, rerouting of glacier melt drainage?) led to the thousand pus year climate change.

I really don't think the authors present the data and their theories as explaining every detail. Much of the ancillary postulates regarding this such as the megafauna extinction and the end of the Clovis culture are side points and meant to gather interest in the popular and scientific communities.

My take aways from these papers are as follows:

1) A cosmic impact likely occurred at the onset of the Younger Dryas period with the best evidence being a spike in platinum in Greenland ice cores at that time and platinum spikes at the YDB at terrestrial sites. The platinum data from the Greenland ice cores is from a Harvard researcher, Petaev, unaffiliated with the main YDIH proponents. The terrestrial data at the YDB (in the second paper) is from a researcher that IS associated with the group

2) There is evidence of wide-spread wild fires at the onset of the YD with increasing wild fires after a brief lull following that

3) Increasing wildfires at the onset of a global cooling period is highly unusual and supports the "impact", airburst etc idea.

There is a lot of room for further research. I suspect measuring platinum with a machine is far less observer dependent than looking for nano diamonds etc in a sample. Would love to see independent researchers trying to replicate those results from terrestrial and ice core samples. This is the key, I think. Working out the climate changes from a comet fragment shower etc is a whole other can of worms, but if the platinum spike is reproducible, then I think attention to this will be fruitful.

Oh, and I'l definitely get the book you mentioned. I have an immense love for the Cenozoic era and particularly the Pleistocene epoch. Not sure why? I think the YDIH is fascinating as well, but if proved to be correct, I'll be disappointed the the moral force behind "Pleistocene Rewilding" will make that project extremely unlikely. Not that it ever was very likely in its full sense, TBH.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Steven

Some further thoughts
The idea of an "Impact Winter" still seems to be good to me
BUT the mechanism is a lot more doubtful

I believe that this started from the Nuclear Winter idea - the problem is that we have had some natural "experiments" that appear to show that it simply would not happen

The idea was that a large fire (city fire) would propel thousands of tons of material into the stratosphere where it would have a major effect and take years to come back down

We have had a LOT of very large wildfires and the Iraq oil field fires - none of these had any more than a very small and short term effect

We have also had some volcanoes putting literally Billions of tons into the upper atmosphere - these have had a measurable - but not large - effect

The Volcano "experiment" puts a floor on what would be needed to make a difference

A large impact that put tens of billions of tons of dust into the upper atmosphere would cause the "Impact Winter" - but it would also leave an impact crater

Smaller impacts would not put enough to make a real difference and even if they caused extensive wildfires it may cause a "Nuclear week" of cold but not a longer event

I could see a comet impact - lots of "little" bits causing a wildfire - or even lots of wildfires - but I don't see them propeling that much up into the stratosphere

Steven Hammond said...

@ Duncan Cairncross:

I'm thinking along the same lines you are, I think. There has to be more to it than blocking out solar radiation as far as mechanism with an impact or airbursts so much smaller than the K-Pg event. There is speculation that the ozone layer could have been nearly destroyed by airbursts (not clear what that effect would be on veg and fauna) and I've mentioned the potential effects on the theromhaline conveyor safari as the long term effects. It remains quite mysterious to me.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion } Put the fortress up high enough and it has a wonderful moat. You'd have to sneak stuff up toward it as some kind of regular traffic if you wanted to do much harm. [This notion was thought out by Friedman at Stratfor, so I'm not making it up out of bad science fiction movies.]

What I'm pointing out, though, is that our DoD already understands the advantages of holding the high ground. They are barred from doing certain things by treaty, but those were mostly about not ticking off the only other big nuclear power at the time. The treaties won't last anymore than the opponent did.

I assure you the USAF and USN get it. They won't sit on their hands.

Anonymous said...




@occam's comic:

"Gaia invited me to a life long banquet in which I get to eat many many times but only get served up once. It is a great deal."
¡Dying only once? ¡And what about your copies in other parallel universes? ¡And what about the recycling of your essence over and over again through eons? (Now, that the cremation could hinder the process, perhaps) But I suspect that in more than one way, we are involuntarily recycled.

Winter7

yana said...

Just 30 years ago, nearly exactly, saw Dyson talk. Was expecting visionary revelations, instead he used his hour on a slideshow (with actual, you know, slides) about what a foolish endeavour the Apollo program was. For what it cost to tag-team the Moon with a dozen guys for a couple days each, we could have sent a house and put 4 guys up there for a year. Yup, "guys" because it's the 1960's after all.

Here's the rub, it escaped Dyson: they most likely would have died. We know now, that not only are there pebbles and atoms flying around out there at incredible speed, but just plain old nuclei, which are hungry buggers, and the vicious kinds of photons too. You've gotta have a good faraday cage to live in, out there. In the 1960's, it was simply too early to drop a house on the Moon.

We are fortunate that some things don't happen too early. We know that Archimedes made the instrument dredged up off Antikythera. He was into hydraulics and probably knew all about Heron's work. "Greek Fire" obviously made use of the concept of adding heat to increase pressure. If Archimedes wasn't left bereft of breath by a legionnaire on Sicily, humanity might have invented the steam engine much earlier.

But what would that have looked like, so far ahead of the discovery of petroleum? It could have meant rapid deforestation of Eurasia and Africa, desertification and a disappearing Caspian 1,500 years early. Coal, you have to dig for, but wood is everywhere, it literally grows on trees. You mean I can just burn wood to irrigate vast tracts of hard land? I'll be rich!

It's probably a good thing that we don't have relatives on the Moon today, whom we visit atop fiery rockets. Gravity wells are a bitch. One would hope, if Dyson were still with us, that he'd propose not a sphere but a slender equatorial LEO cable with a frictionless fixture, which can't help but follow the Moon. A 787 can't get you there, but maybe the 797 can. A way-station.

Pooh-pooed here as a waste of energy, or even as a mad oligarchic plot to protect mining moguls, my feeling is that way-stations are not just psychologically comforting to people raised on Earth, but they are strategically crucial. If something goes wrong on the LEO station, help is a Brazilian launch away. If something goes wrong on the Moon, quicker help is already up in LEO. If we need to get to Mars with a parcel quickly, it's easier to mail it from the Moon than from Florida.

Baby steps. Caution. That's really the hallmark of modern science, right? The higher into academe one flies, the more caution, the more consideration of one's reputation, the more carefully one relies on pure data + logic. Way stations, as a tool of career. Gotta fix on Mars before the asteroids. That's the way it's gonna work, because people are people. Some of us need tethers, some of us hate tethers.

Must accommodate both kinds of people, to make anything worthwhile happen.

Tony Fisk said...

The point, Yana, is that it's cheaper to mail a package to Mars from LEO than the Moon.

dennisd said...

@yana
FYI, Freeman Dyson is still alive at 94 years old. Not sure what he's working on.

occam's comic said...

Treebeard,
I wish they would have went with a bold, grounded, re-imagining. Something like

SKY TREK

The starship enterprise has been replaced with a solar powered air ship.
The crew travels around the world exploring diverse environments and the couple of hundred different human societies that live on the earth.

Rather than the air ships being part of a global or near global Air Fleet, they are more like a cross between gypsies – cirque du Soleil / theater group – emergency rescue. The members of the crew come from the outcasts, freaks, unwanted, and those with wanderlust or a desire for adventure. You get a hermaphrodite as captain, the engineer has Aspergers, the costume designer is color blind, the young recruits with a lot to learn, so you get a fair amount of internal tension for the stories.

With the many diverse different human communities, you get to tell many kinds of sci-fi stories.
How do the Oneidas make group marriage work/ what kinds of issues does it cause?
Why are there so few boys in the polygamist society?
What the hell is going on in Woman’s Country?
What kind of theater appeals to the Yamamomo?
Are the SETIans making any progress in deciphering the alien messages?
What is life like on the floating ocean cities?

LarryHart said...

Paul Krugman tells us what we already know:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/opinion/trump-china-bribe-national-security.html

...Trump and his family, by failing to divest from their international business dealings, have basically hung a sign out declaring themselves open to bribery (and also set the standard for the rest of the administration).

And the problem of undue influence is especially severe when it comes to authoritarian foreign governments. Democracies have ethical rules of their own: Justin Trudeau would be in big trouble if Canada were caught funneling money to the Trump Organization. Corporations can be shamed or sued. But if Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin make payoffs to U.S. politicians, who’s going to stop them?

The main answer is supposed to be congressional oversight, which used to mean something. If there had been even a whiff of foreign payoffs to, say, Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter, there would have been bipartisan demands for an investigation — and a high likelihood of impeachment.

But today’s Republicans have made it clear that they won’t hold Trump accountable for anything, even if it borders on treason.

All of which is to say that Trump’s corruption is only a symptom of a bigger problem: a G.O.P. that will do anything, even betray the nation, in its pursuit of partisan advantage.

donzelion said...

Alfred: lol, re bad scifi flicks, I'm sort of sad that nobody even chuckled at my claim that 'Moonraker' was too cerebral for a certain president.

But as far as space fortresses are concerned, it seems likely to me that whatever anyone puts up there can be destroyed up there at a small fraction of the cost of the initial construction/placement. We stop building castles after gunpowder crops up, not because we cannot build walls that withstand gunpowder, but because we can build still bigger cannons to breach or bypass the walls at lower cost than the walls themselves. Normally, you're better off getting more troops with guns and cannons of your own than you would be building fortresses.

I believe the USAF and USN get it. I also believe they're as likely to embrace new budget lines as anybody else. What I fear is the thinking of those who create those lines. They disdain treaties and enjoy making others pay for their lunch. Bad combination. In this context, the threat of them mucking up the legacy for our species is potentially quite serious.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I'm sort of sad that nobody even chuckled at my claim that 'Moonraker' was too cerebral for a certain president.


I noticed. It just didn't seem as if anything else needed to be said.

Anonymous said...

The explosion of a supernova could be the origin of metal debris in the ice core layer. It occurred to me the day before yesterday, and coincidentally, there was an article that supports my theory:
Link:
https://phys.org/news/2018-05-supernovae-responsible-mass-extinctions.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

They are massacring a huge number of candidates for political posts in Mexico. It is a massacre and they are threatening and attacking the families of the candidates. Many candidates were kidnapped. (In Mexico, abducted women are killed 98% of the time, so these women are certainly dead). The majority of the murdered candidates are "left". The candidates for the presidency are the only ones who have a large number of guards and are safe for the time being.
Already before the journalists who dared to speak were persecuted and massacred. (see Aristegui, who had to leave the country and faces a million dollar claim that he may lose, because Mexico is "the country of never again".
This confirms what I said before: Mexico is hell.
Americans, watch what happens in Mexico, because the United States is sliding downhill in that direction. I'm not saying they are signs of the apocalypse. I say they are signs that hell is expanding over our world, which is very different. A hell on earth.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

The translator failed. I wanted to say that Aristegui is at a disadvantage in the trial because Mexico is the country of Alice in Wonderland, with the red queen cutting heads everywhere and Mexican politicians very insane as Donald Trump.

Winter7

Steven Hammond said...

Winter 7 said:

The explosion of a supernova could be the origin of metal debris in the ice core layer. It occurred to me the day before yesterday, and coincidentally, there was an article that supports my theory:
Link:
https://phys.org/news/2018-05-supernovae-responsible-mass-extinctions.html

Winter7


From what I gather, Iron-60 is the hallmark of a near-earth supernova--though platinum would be evident as well, potentially. Plus there is impact evidence at the YDB (nano diamond, microspherules and such) along with the spike in carbon/NH4 in conjunction with the platinum spike that shouldn't be seen if a supernova caused the platinum spike.

That being said, and reading the article you linked to, much of the damage a supernova would cause is damage to the ozone layer and resultant death, injury to many plants etc and a comet swarm hitting the atmosphere is postulated to do the same thing. I'm really starting to wonder if ozone layer damage might have resulted in widespread death of vegetation leading to later fires etc. Could severe damage to the ozone layer be confined to only one hemisphere? Are there proxies to examine in ice cores to determine the state of the ozone layer at any particular time in the past? I'll have to do a bit of searching.

Anonymous said...

Donzelion:

True; Jaaa Ha Ha ha ha. Donald Trump is very silly. But he is still a silly supervillain.

Space, as a place for wars, is a very broad and interesting topic. And one fact in that issue is that it takes a lot of money to play those games. Consequently, only some countries can play that game.
It is clear that some Republican millionaires with dens in volcanoes and sharks with laser beams in the head, can also play that game secretly. (but they can now use NASA's resources and not spend a single cent.) Proof of this is that Republicans are using NASA's budget to create a lair of supervillains on the moon. (The lairs for supervillains on the volcanoes they are already outdated) (One moment) In the Austin Powers movie, Dr. Evil has a base on the moon... Haaa, now I know where Donald Trump got the idea from, by the way, it seems I made Donald Trump mad With my comments, he now hates the Hispanics more. He called us "Animals." (Coming the insult of a mentally ill person, that insult does not bother me.) Seeing Donald Trump causes me the same sad emotion, that seeing a madman in the asylum, with a straitjacket and screaming incoherently as he bangs his head against the wall, his mouth full of foam) Jaaa jaaa jaaaaa.

Winter7

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I noticed. It just didn't seem as if anything else needed to be said."

;-) I don't pun all that often, but when I do, I'll lampshade it and drive it into the ground. As for Krugman -

"All of which is to say that Trump’s corruption is only a symptom of a bigger problem: a G.O.P. that will do anything, even betray the nation, in its pursuit of partisan advantage."
I am not convinced. The GOP will definitely betray any biblical principles they claim to believe in (all those 'Clinton threatens the moral fabric of America! How dare he lie and cover up what he's done?!?!' claims they made 20 years ago are now gone, forever, only to be revived for a Democrat and abandoned once more for a Republican), and one might conclude based on that, they're also willing to abandon any other principles they also claim to believe in.

donzelion said...

Yana: "We are fortunate that some things don't happen too early....what would that have looked like [if steam engines were developed], so far ahead of the discovery of petroleum?"

Actually, petroleum in some form was known even in Archimedes' day, as the 'ever burning fires' of the Zoroastrians attest. It's possible steam engines might have been transformed from toys to tools in the 2nd century; had they been, it's possible coal and petrol would have been discovered as more efficient fuels than wood. Demand reflects actual usages based on needs and wants in a system. Of course, 18th century chemistry and metallurgy offered significant improvements upon 2nd century BCE chemistry and metallurgy: getting to petrol in the 2nd century BCE with the know-how available at the time would have been difficult in the extreme, but we should also assume new know-how would have developed if a need arose as well.

"my feeling is that way-stations are not just psychologically comforting to people raised on Earth, but they are strategically crucial."
Anything that is 'strategically' crucial is crucial within a context: in this case, the question is more 'where are we going, how do we get there' - and psychological crutches aren't particularly helpful in solving that. Refueling ports in a coal age were strategically necessary at certain fairly fixed distances; in a petrol age, those distances changed, and in a nuclear age, changed anew.

It does seem to me that we have a limited pool of funds available for all space exploration - spending that foolishly could exhaust the pool, send us into cul-de-sacs, rather than producing useful results. Who do we ask to tell us 'what's a good use' of our money? Generally, we want to look for folks who are experts in the field, and rely upon them.

"If we need to get to Mars with a parcel quickly, it's easier to mail it from the Moon than from Florida."
Is it really? On Earth, quite often, it's cheaper to send a parcel from China to Florida than from Georgia to Florida.

"Gotta fix on Mars before the asteroids."
Perhaps: but is there anything of exceptional value on Mars that we must reach before seeking after asteroids? And even for asteroids, if one has $10 trillion in platinum but costs $10 trillion to reach, the value of that platinum isn't very impressive. If new technological means become available which reduce the cost to $5 trillion, it's still important to measure the then applicable value of platinum anew - it could be that we have better uses for our exploration dollars even then. Seems to me the better question is, "who are we, and what is it we really seek?" Only with reference to that question can other questions like, "what's the best bang for our buck?" even be raised meaningfully.

My argument for a moon base has always been that I cannot say what we will develop along the way - and it is POSSIBLE that we will make breakthroughs in the effort that justify the entire endeavor. However, if it is PROBABLE that we'll make still larger achievements in other pursuits, I'd prefer to focus our limited resources there instead.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"All of which is to say that Trump’s corruption is only a symptom of a bigger problem: a G.O.P. that will do anything, even betray the nation, in its pursuit of partisan advantage."

I am not convinced. The GOP will definitely betray any biblical principles they claim to believe in (all those 'Clinton threatens the moral fabric of America! How dare he lie and cover up what he's done?!?!' claims they made 20 years ago are now gone, forever, only to be revived for a Democrat and abandoned once more for a Republican), and one might conclude based on that, they're also willing to abandon any other principles they also claim to believe in.


Your paragraph belies your topic sentence. What exactly aren't you convinced of?

If (as I presume) you mean that while they have no moral principles, they still fall short of betraying the country, then I suppose it depends on what one means by that concept. Their version of what America is is so different from what I learned in school that I suppose they might believe they are saving the America they believe in (a blood-and-soil country dominated by white Christianists and which dominates the world through force and threats) rather than betraying the America I believe in (rule of law, equality, justice, an good character, example to the world of what mankind can aspire to).

They might not consider that to be betraying the nation, but I do.

LarryHart said...

This column is even snarkier than the excerpt makes it sound. And it's dead-on:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/18/opinion/trump-europe-moral-rot.html

...
A universe where morality ceases is the one Trump is most comfortable in. “Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?” Trump’s answer, on April 5: “No, no.” Except, as the president clarified in a recent financial disclosure, he did know.

This is Trump’s Ministry of Truth, the new American normal. It’s impossible to overstate the enormity of it. That’s why the Alliance is collapsing and Germany finds no basis for cooperation: Trump’s America stands for nothing. As Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, told recent graduates in a speech, going wobbly on the truth means “we go wobbly on America.”

There is only one core task before everyone in Trump’s America: Keeping the Republic, despite him.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Winter 7:

Alas, it appears that currently there are no good proxies for the state of the ozone layer to be found in ice caps and thus provide a chronological record of the ozone layer over time. I suspected as much or the YDIH people would have presented the data in their papers.


It appears to be a big interest for researchers, though, especially climate scientists. Probably can't expect much federal funding right now for that research, I suspect.

Anonymous said...


Steven Hammond:
¿Could a supernova outburst orbit billions of micro asteroids and medium-sized asteroids, causing a sudden asteroid rain on the earth? If the supernova was close enough to our system; Maybe it's possible We know that the solar wind can move objects in space. Then the explosion of a very close supernova could create an even more powerful stellar wind.
And another possibility is those plasma jets; and various types of energy released by black holes every time they are fed. (those jets of energy that can have lengths of millions of light years, even the width of some galaxies) If some supermassive black hole was pointing to us when it was fed with a giant star; perhaps its energy jet hit us with enough force to move light asteroids, moving billions of them, so that our planet had to move in the middle of an asteroid field that then dispersed. (And if the black hole keeps pointing at us, we could receive another dose someday, when the black hole is fed again)

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I’ll admit to missing the Moonraker reference. You put it to close to Trump and my mental screener obliterated the whole sentence. 8)

Destruction of constructions is often cheaper than building them, so that’s nothing new. Look at the cost of any particular navy warship or submarine. It doesn’t take much to make them non-functional. Speed boat, suicidal pilot, and a spar-torpedo can do the job in the right setting. I’d argue that a high orbit for the space fortress would make it pretty difficult because they’d see things coming from much further away than the typical navy warship can. Establish decent controls on the neighborhood like we do for ships and the fortress could probably take care of itself at least as well as a ship could.

Obviously for that to work, the fortress would have to be able to fire upon someone else. That could involve projectiles, but might involve simpler things like counter-electronics and counter-optics hardware. Charged particle weaponry aimed at your vehicle’s brains would make a mess of things. Lens fogging lasers would be useful too.

I understand that arms races are a concern, but it is useful to remember that the race is already pretty much over for control of Earth’s oceans. Add up all the other navies and they don’t surpass ours. The only plausible way to fight us is in an asymmetric manner and we do NOT ignore that possibility.

I’m not a big fan of weaponizing space, but I don’t see how it won’t happen. I’d rather discourage people from doing it, but not rely on winning that argument.

Friedman’s argument for the US doing it in this century (the fortress and other supporting capabilities) involved our final war with Russia. It would be a land war in Asia which is typically a stupid, costly thing for us to do. However, having an option to beam power down from space changes everything. We can project force into any nation that the USN can reach, right? Essentially? Space is effectively the same as a littoral border IF we can operate up there. Nothing and nobody would be out of reach or out of sight.

This is where we are supposed to say ‘bwa-ha-HA!’

Anonymous said...


Steven Hammond:
¿Are you Professor Philip Steven Hammond; of the United Kingdom?

Winter7

Steven Hammond said...

@ Winter 7:

Ha, ha! :)

No, I'm Steven Hammond MD, a physician in a small city in Montana, USA. (Go ahead and google it...I just did and a very cheesy photo of me come up associated with the hospital I am employed by)

donzelion said...

Alfred: "Look at the cost of any particular navy warship or submarine."
The cost works completely differently though: blow up a hundred warships, and the 101st will not be harmed by the others that were sunk, nor will the cost of putting it to sea be raised by all the others destroyed before (most likely, the costs will actually be lower, as a result of new technologies being developed to produce the warships).

Not so in space, where if even a few nuts and bolts of leftover debris fly about at 20,000 mph, they threaten other satellites that others put up there - a threat that would persist indefinitely.

"I’m not a big fan of weaponizing space, but I don’t see how it won’t happen."
I see it more like I see biological weaponry: we can always develop weapons of things we ought not use as weapons - but any such effort requires gambling with the prospects of future generations, a gamble that we simply should not tolerate anyone ever choosing to make (unless we wish to emulate a certain silly Bond villain, ahem, Drax).

"Space is effectively the same as a littoral border IF we can operate up there."
Not at all. Should we treat it as though it were a littoral border, or a literal border, or any other borders on Earth we're familiar with from our history - including all the incidents of violence at our borders, the rubble and debris - we risk destroying a uniquely useful set of possibilities, denying them not only to ourselves, but all humans (and any others) still to come.

This is one of the most attractive aspects of space: we either treat it as a 'new' thing, and deploy what is best in ourselves in exploring and 'mastering' it (to the extent we can master it) - or we destroy our access to it, hurting all of us, missing out on a wonderful one-in-a-species-lifetime opportunity.

Anonymous said...

China's exploited natural gas and oil for a long time:

https://csegrecorder.com/articles/view/ancient-chinese-drilling

http://oilnow.gy/featured/first-oil-wells-drilled-with-bits-attached-to-bamboo-poles/

350 CE for oil wells. 400 BCE for natural gas.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: Ah, oops. Yep, your presumed meaning was my actual intent; cut in a mistaken snipping for sake of brevity. Even the most determined hypocrite probably loves something enough to refuse to betray it.

"...I suppose it depends on what one means by that concept."
Really, that is the only question. Confederates might fight and die to defend "the South" - and refuse to accept that they're really just fighting for slavery and committing treason in its defense - but unless we can perceive them as part of us, somehow, we can never move past those wrongs and actually become what we meant to be.

"They might not consider that to be betraying the nation, but I do."
As do I; but I do not think we've reached that point. This article will make you cry with fury - http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/05/obamas-legacy-has-already-been-destroyed.html - yep, in barely 17 months, just about everything Obama did is destroyed, or put on a nearly unstoppable death spiral (the Affordable Care Act? watch as the finances spiral out of control...).

BUT BUT - even a brute shooting up a high school or pissing on the White House will get his trial, and if not in a court of law, then at least mortality will silence him some day. How much useless, senseless harm will be done along the way? Magnitudes. But the stars will shine on, and we will press on.

Anonymous said...


Steven Hammond:

¿Are you a gastroenterologist? What do you think of an older adult who almost does not want to eat and is so weak that he can hardly walk? Blood pressure 170 / 89. I have given the patient aspirin and enalapril.

Winter7

Steven Hammond said...

Hi winter 7,

Those symptoms are certainly concerning.

Anorexia (not wanting to eat) is always a worrisome symptom especially in an older patient. It's very non-specific however, and an evaluation by an internist would be the first step to look for metabolic and and electrolyte disorders as well as delving into psychosocial factors that could cause this.

In America, I would expect that CT of the chest/abd/pelvis would follow if there is significant documented weight loss and no clear cut answers on the internist's evaluation. I generally get involved in these types of cases if the workup by the PCP is unrevealing or if findings on imaging or the patients symptoms warrant endoscopic evaluation (upper endoscopy or colonoscopy most commonly).

Hope this is helpful.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Donzelion/Alfred

I see the next military step a "Battleship" - in high orbit but with significant delta V available

Equipped with kinetic impact weapons able to hit anywhere on earth while detecting and avoiding or killing anything sent up against it

Could be constructed in orbit with a few hundred Falcon Heavy launches - totally vulnerable while under construction - close to invulnerable once complete

Donzelion - the orbital debris problem is overrated - there is a HUGE amount of space out there and the cascade problem is close to non existent - if you hit a piece if metal it does not shatter into lots of pieces!

Bits in similar orbits have much lower relative velocities - think rifle bullets
The real high velocities are only in the parts started off in a completely different orbit - and in that case the volume is much greater

The "natural" background level of debris is probably more than two orders of magnitude higher than the debris that we have contributed - the earth catches about 60 tons of natural debris every day

Anonymous said...

Donzelion:
“Really, that is the only question. Confederates might fight and die to defend "the South" - and refuse to accept that they're really just fighting for slavery and committing treason in its defense - but unless we can perceive them as part of us, somehow, we can never move past those wrongs and actually become what we meant to be”
Star Wars version of the previous concept:
Actually, that is the only question. The Sith can fight and die to defend the "Galactic Empire" and refuse to accept that they are really only fighting for slavery and committing treason in their defense, but unless we can perceive them as part of us, in some way, we can never move on from the past those mistakes and in fact they become what we wanted to be.
There is the problem. The Sith consciously decided to defend the dark side of force. Should we try to merge our ideals with those of the Sith, only by empathy? What if the Sith see that as a profitable weakness? In my country, the feudal Sith lack empathy and they enjoy torturing for fun. The feudal Sith of Mexico, seem normal people. But believe me. They are not. And making a mistake in that can be a fatal mistake.
I admire your positive attitude. Yes. It is better to try to unite the nation. No matter if it works or not. Who knows ... maybe I'm wrong. After all, my country is gloomy and on the other side of the world, it is another reality. An alternate reality.

Winter7

donzelion said...

Duncan: "the orbital debris problem is overrated - there is a HUGE amount of space out there and the cascade problem is close to non existent"

NASA believes there's a risk and the Johnson Space Center has been on the case for decades. This isn't a 'new' problem in the sense that they haven't put good people on it to try to handle - it's 'new' in the sense that humans haven't had to grapple with this sort of problem before. NASA's best are pretty impressive; but America's worst can undo the work of our best fairly quickly - unless we stop them.

"The "natural" background level of debris is probably more than two orders of magnitude higher than the debris that we have contributed - the earth catches about 60 tons of natural debris every day"
So far, only one satellite has been intentionally destroyed, yet after a few thousand launches and hundreds of satellites, we have about a hundred million objects in Earth orbit (according to NASA), including 21k larger than 10 cm: they calculate that the most likely impact rate would be about 10 km/s (or 22k miles per hour).

Now change the assumption: instead of NASA (and other space agencies) scrupulously striving to avoid putting new debris into space, say someone undertakes a mission to wreck other satellites (and ultimately, increase the measure of debris). Will that increase by one order of magnitude? Two? Three?

This isn't one of those 'humans are hopeless' sorts of problems, but it is surely one where unless we arrest our worst instincts, we may suffer pretty egregious consequences.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Donzelion
Lets look at this
As Dr Evil I decide to set up this orbital barricade
Lets have a look at what that would take - just how much volume are we talking about?
Lets go from 100 km altitude to 1000 km altitude
That gives us 610,000,000,000 - 610 Billion cubic kilometers
So what is dangerous amount? one ten gram “bullet” per cubic kilometer?
That is one bullet per cubic KILOMETER
That would be 6,100,000,000 kg - or 6,100,000 tons of bullets
That is 100,000 Falcon heavy launches at $90 Million a launch

9 Trillion Dollars!

And you have ended up with one bullet per cubic KILOMETER
That is deliberately setting out to block space

In practice what happens when I hit a satellite with a bullet? - it's knackered - but it does not split into lots of 10 gram bits so the "Cascade" is not going to happen

Natural objects will hit at your 10km/sec - because they are not in orbit - just passing by!

Stuff we have put into orbit won't - it will be in a similar orbit so it will hit at rifle bullet speed - difference between the orbital velocities -
as Dr Evil I would put my 6 million tons of bullets in polar orbit so that they would hit hard! - but that is the extreme

Somebody at NASA has got a hair up his bum about this - but the numbers don't show that it is a big problem - worth keeping at the back of your mind but not a big issue

Jon S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donzelion said...

Duncan: Let's stop here. I am not talking about a 'cascade' - just a problem, and one that NASA has already put a lot of good people on. I'd rather keep them on the problem, and rely on their judgment, as I am merely an amateur here reading what they write and suggesting that when they see a problem, they know better than I do.

If you think they're just lobbying for more money for useless missions, Dr. Brin is a better person to assess that view than I am. But I stand by my contention: for the foreseeable future, and pending some massive technological breakthrough a la kinetic repulsors, the debris is a challenge that the experts are tackling, which will certainly become a much bigger challenge should we willingly apply in space the same destructive tendencies we've applied on Earth.

Blogger Expert said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


Then they are worried about space junk ...
I do not think it is difficult to create a 200-kilogram ship, capable of trapping scrap inside a cone-piston, which catapults down the scrap, in a downward trajectory, but diagonally. The scrap falls into the atmosphere and the ship uses the recoil impulse to propel itself into the next piece of scrap metal. Of course, the device would have a certain magnetic maneuvering engine from the doctor Chen? I think, and maybe a small re-folding solar sail. And if we add hydrogen peroxide maneuvering motors and a rectenna that charges the piston of the catapult and .... Si. In many redundant ways it is possible. In my opinion.
I do not think it's an exaggeration to worry about the problem of space junk. Any astronaut who enters orbit automatically enters the game of Russian roulette. (No, I'm not talking between Russian lines). If no astronaut has died from the collision with space junk, it is a matter of luck. But it could happen. Imagine that you are floating in space, and you see that a small point of light gets bigger quickly. And it's too late to get out of the way of that screw. Puffff The air escapes; accompanied by a sensation of intense heat in the torso. Then comes the decompression, that intense and paralyzing pain that spreads throughout the body, the anxiety of suffocation ... With a last breath you turn towards the earth, trying to cling to something known, before the darkness falls on you.

Winter7

David Brin said...

Back home, phew.

Huh. Gotta wonder if we have some statistical flukes in professions on Contrary Brin. Seems we have several quasi rural medical doctors?

Anonymous, The Sith never express an ideology worth fighting for. That’s one reason why even SW:PD - Post Disney - is stunningly stupid.

Alas, Duncan, you are wrong about orbital debris. I know some of the guys.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
Wrong is usual!
But so far nobody has told me what is wrong with my numbers - 100 million objects from the size of paint flecks sounds like a lot- but that is one paint fleck per 6,000 cubic kilometers
And if it's where your spaceship is then it is in a similar orbit - hence doing a similar speed - not the same - but rifle bullet speed difference - not orbital speed difference

Worth putting some effort into avoiding

And then we have the "natural" junk - 60 tons a day hits the earth - so that all zips past our LEOs - and I would assume some more (a lot more?) would zip past our LEOs but not hit the atmosphere

At the moment the natural junk looks like it outmasses our junk - by a lot

Does that mean that we need to be able to "dodge" either rather than try to clear up the smaller one?

Once somebody moves an asteroid into earth orbit THEN there will be enough mass up there for the more extreme cascade and blocking scenarios

Seriously if I have dropped a couple of zeros somewhere can somebody tell me

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the continent. Chinese food tastes good. Probably China is a fun place. The prohibited city; the Chinese wall; the Jiuquan space center. Yes. A country that is worth visiting. And many Chinese women are very beautiful. The actress Zhang Ziyi is a rude girl, but she is Waww. I imagine that there are many fans of science fiction in China. But I do not know.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

As for the matter of the Disney Sith .. Right! I have never seen the Sith in orgies in the style of Donald Trump in the Playboy mansion. I have not seen them in bacchanals in the style of the parties at the top of Donald Trump's tower. I have not seen the Sith in anything resembling those strange ceremonies of the Republican Skulls and Bones.
But I suppose that the Sith simply seek total power because that allows them to have fun crushing others with impunity; and of course, I suppose that the scenes of bacchanalia and orgies are omitted because that should not be seen in a film produced by the Disney company. But I imagine that Disney expects us to imagine that the Sith bacchanalia are a fact. (Unless the Sith only feel pleasure in tearing people apart with a lightsaber)
In any case; Certainly, all the philosophies created by the right-wing groups are stupid philosophies. Those philosophies and rituals just something with which to impress young people to make them believe that they are part of something sacred. And the trick is, because young people are usually politically ignorant.

Winter7

donzelion said...

Winter7: "Then they are worried about space junk ..."

I'm not 'worried' about it - this seems like a manageable problem: so long as the players agree on the rules of the space lanes, and the 'good guys' keep working on it, rather than being sidelined by players who really don't care about keeping the lanes useful to us all.

As for Star Wars, well, it's a space fantasy. The "good guys" and "bad guys" are determined by fixed reference points. The "feudal Sith of Mexico" are actually, quite often, other Mexicans - some do pretty heinous things, others do not, and Mexico has to make space for them all somehow. The way to do that, the ultimate trick, is not to hunt down and kill the 'evil doers' - but to impose a 'rule of law' that binds everyone (much more forcefully than the Force). Transparency MAY help (if it can be brought to bear, and the worst offenders found out and held accountable). Other tools MAY help. But they have no secret death star, no super-soldiers, no vast fleet of star destroyers and cloned or enslaved or programmed troopers - only guns and thugs. That makes them beatable: even a thug with a gun has a family that he will probably want to protect - and he'll probably lay down his gun if so doing is the best means of protecting that family.

"my country is gloomy and on the other side of the world, it is another reality."
It seems to me that Mexico in 2018 is a far cry better than Mexico in 1918. Start with that, and there's grounds for hope even if the problems seem momentous.

Anonymous said...


donzelion:
Thank you. Yes. Maybe Mexico can be improved, but in reality, I would prefer to find a way to move with my whole family to some quiet place, like Japan or Iceland. (Yes really). I used to think that the United States was an ideal place to emigrate, but with Donald Trump and the Republicans on the rise, I do not think that option is viable.
I remember that after I saw the movie "Titanic" I thought. "But what fools those who were left without a lifeboat. I would have ripped the decorative wood from the boat to make large rafts "
Now that Mexico is sinking like the Titanic, I searched for all the available "wood" to create a "big raft" (metaphors). But quickly I could see that all the available "wood" was rotten or imitation and could not float.
Of course, I continue to devise solutions, while the new "Titanic" begins to tilt, causing thousands to begin to slide down. Ho, I'll think of something. I always have strange ideas. It's the advantage of being a little crazy.
Winter7

Tim H. said...

Concerning the Sith, did you note that in the prequel trilogy Palpitane wears the guise of a youth minister, or colporteur, quite innocuous.
On more positive subjects, off-world habitats seem likely to be thick-walled hollow rocks rotating on their axis, at least until more of Star Trek or B5 comes true.

Anonymous said...

And the Russians now thrive in a world with less ice. Here is the project "preparation H" of Vladimir evil:

https://phys.org/news/2018-05-russia-unveils-world-nuclear-power.html

Treebeard said...

Actually Winter, in the Star Wars universe the Sith were the radical progressives and the Jedi were the religious traditionalists. The Jedi wanted to maintain their traditional theocratic control of society and defer to the will of the Force like monotheists defer to God. The Sith wanted to subject the Force to their will, break all limits on the human enterprise and become like gods—pursuing immortality, transhumanism, the conquest of space, advanced robotics, genetic engineering, etc. In other words, they sought the same things that the edgier leaders of this society seek. So it’s not conservatives who are pushing toward a Sith empire, but the “we are in the process of becoming gods” prometheans and Faustians like Darth Musk, Darth Bezos and our host here, Darth Brin.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Hey Woodchips!
The Sith wanted to enlarge their personal power, and anyone who got in their way was lightsaber fodder. Claiming anyone who wants to advance humanity as a whole is Sithlike requires a tar brush the size of the Moon.

Treebeard said...

Hey CrazyBookDude! That's Jedi propaganda. The Sith offered the galaxy greatness and the peace of Pax Imperium Galactica. Darth Sidious was a selfless agent of the Dark Side who liberated the galaxy from the reactionary tyranny of the Jedi and their insipid Light Side religious grovelling. Did he not get two Death Stars built in 20 years and restore a sense of pride and purpose to the demoralized citizens of the Republic? Imagine how much more the Empire could've achieved if Vader hadn't betrayed it to that deplorable confederacy of regressive religious terrorists fanatics, the Jedi!

Treebeard said...

After a thousand generations of Light Side darkness and religious feudalism, it took men of vision and greatness to bring about a Novus Ordo Seclorum for the Galaxy. Some Jedi were killed in the processs? What else are you going to do with religious feudalists, traditionalists and terrorists? They were too dangerous to be left alive. The biggest mistake was not killing that green oven mitt Yoda when we had the chance.

Anyway, I for one am donning my black robe in support of the Sith revolution, and will fight to my last breath to keep the galaxy free from the brown-robed feudalists who want to return us to 25000 years of darkness!

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | a threat that would persist indefinitely

No. Not really. It would persist until someone like us was willing to spend a gazillion dollars to clean it up. Imagine us on a war footing and maybe having been recently suckered by a surprise attack. We go bananas in those situations and spend stupidly large sums of money... which we HAVE.

Orbital debris IS a problem, but the solution is pretty straight forward. Spot it. Degrade its orbit. Spotting it requires good optics and being able to look almost constantly. Degrading it requires a number of strategies that range from Earth bound lasers for the low altitude, small stuff to messing about with the Earth's magnetic field and contents of the radiation belts for stuff up high. Lots of us have give thought to the mixed bag of problems that debris presents and the one fundamental barrier to all of them is cost. We are NOT at a loss for ideas to try that would have a reasonably good chance of succeeding with certain types of debris.

Since the fortress we were discussing would be a DoD asset and likely built with heaps and gobs of money due to a war, I'm pretty sure some of that would get spent on the debris problem. We all might find the capabilities of such a future USA wicked scary today, but those kinds of projects are already underway because they make geopolitical sense. Whether existing leadership gets it or not, the 'nation' does and we are hard at work.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | Dividing by the available volume isn't the right way to go about it. Remember that assets on their way up have to pass through a relatively thin shell to get to where they are going. They also launch through only a piece of that shell. For example, launch sites in the US have known latitudes, thus orbital inclinations for their vehicles can be narrowed. For another example, anyone intentionally targeting observation satellites would consider finding them in sun-synch orbits. Targeting communication satellites would be like aiming at sitting ducks. Same for GPS and the Russian equivalent constellation. The villain would make a mess of certain orbit families.

Then there is the equivalent to a 'Denial of Service' kind of attack. Before the debris density gets real high, it would be high enough to discourage launches from certain sites at certain times in certain inclinations. Nation-states would fight back by establishing other launch sites around the world, so our remote military bases would take on a space capability eventually. Aircraft carriers would morph into mobile launch sites and so on.

Debris IS an issue, but one we can solve if we are willing to spend enough. Right now we aren't.

Anonymous said...

Treebeard:
Actually, to be completely accurate. The Jedi are literally nonexistent in Mexico. (Maybe I'm the only thing like that in Mexico).
All of the feudal elite in Mexico are Sith disguised as proud Pálpatin. Almost all those who resembled the Jedi in Mexico were exterminated. (literally, cowardly and without any kind of compassion) 8(
I guess the only thing I can do at the moment is keep the secrets of force. 8)

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | I used to think that the United States was an ideal place to emigrate, but with Donald Trump and the Republicans on the rise, I do not think that option is viable.

Please don't write us off yet. We will need you all soon enough and this idiotic fever WILL break. When we come to our senses, some of us might even apologize to the world.

I've been to Iceland. Interesting place if you like history, cold & dark in the winter, and no dark in the summer. Interesting if you like volcanos too. Not many people there, though.

WE are where things will happen. Come see California if you can.

Anonymous said...

By the way. All the feudal Siths of Mexico are fanatical Catholics. So the Mexican Sith do have a religion, a religion where pedophilia and torture are a legendary tradition.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

Is not there a lot of racial discrimination in California? Because if California is a quiet place, maybe one day I will move to that state. (But I really hope that Californians solve the problem of the legal violations that police officers make when reviewing teenage girls who go out to parties) (I am surprised that the offended relatives did not take revenge on the police)

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | Some parts of California are pretty 'white' and not adjusting well to the fact that we are going to be a minority in this state fairly soon. In much of the south end, we already are. 8)

Think of us as a moderate sized nation. We have issues like other nations do, but we are the happening place of the future. We are also where it is very expensive to live, but emigration is never easy. If you have the courage to make your own future with your own hands (and mind), it CAN be done.

As for the police, they vary by where you live.
As for the offended relatives, I'm sure some of them do.

Steven Hammond said...

Winter 7 said:

(But I really hope that Californians solve the problem of the legal violations that police officers make when reviewing teenage girls who go out to parties) (I am surprised that the offended relatives did not take revenge on the police)

Hi Winter 7,

I'm not familiar with the problem you mention regarding girls/party/police, but the part I bolded is very interesting to me. I may be wrong, but if you are indeed surprised at the fact that family did not take revenge, it implies that "Honor-Shame" is a big part of your culture.

Am I correct? And if so, what do you think about that? Is this Honor-Shame aspect something that might keep the rule of law from really governing things in your country? I'm interested as Honor-Shame is not really a big thing in the US currently--except maybe in parts of the South. (I may be just remembering that bit in Huck Finn, though. )

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

I have never been to California, but I have walked through Google maps (satellite view and street view) I went through all the beaches and some other interesting places (skating rinks, shops, old docks, etc.) I already have an idea of which places are appropriate to buy a house (some distant day) ... Is it true that it is possible to buy citizenship?
You should start a project on Kickstarter. A company that tries to launch rockets to give some bites to the asteroids. You seem to be the right person to run an aerospace company.

Winter7

donzelion said...

Alfred: LOL, I do not think we are saying a different thing. Suggesting a 'threat will persist indefinitely' is not saying 'eternally' - only, it will persist until some other force acts to remove the threat.

But there is one other consideration to bear in mind: if it costs a gazillion dollars to clean up the mess, can we be certain that amount will be available after a land/sea/air/space war? Don't we usually spend a gazillion to fight and win first, then worry about the cleanup afterward?

And in every war we've ever fought before, the vast costs of cleaning up and rebuilding could be borne by a relatively small population/hectare of arable land (population of Earth in 1945 v. 2018), subject to climate conditions that had been studied and known with a fairly high degree of predictability, all independent from modern infrastructure (including space infrastructure). America could afford to finance Germany and Japan post-WWII (and had strong strategic reasons to do so) - our domestic capabilities weren't particularly hurt by the war. Would the same apply after a global/orbital war? Even if our national territory isn't hurt, our space tools might be crippled...

Would obtaining the resources to make it worth the cost to clear the space lanes take a decade? A generation? A millennium? Would our population revert to where it was in the pre-satellite age? Such a loss has occurred historically...Black Death, and other similar incidents...

"Since the fortress we were discussing would be a DoD asset and likely built with heaps and gobs of money due to a war, I'm pretty sure some of that would get spent on the debris problem."
In which war did the warfighters spend vast sums of money to clean up debris strategically while in the middle of fighting? Tactically, sure: as with any minefield, sometimes you gotta clear stuff out of the way to hold ground. But clearing mines on the ground will always be easier/cheaper than doing so in space, and even that is quite a challenge.

I do not think I am exaggerating the risk, only underscoring why using space as a 'theater of war' is fundamentally different from air, land, and sea - and why we really don't want to see it this way, nor tolerate those who propose giving it a try. If Trump builds a thousand towers on Earth and they all go bankrupt, he will in no way threaten the thousand and first tower. But in space...at least, in orbital space, dumb things we do will have repercussions. So we cannot tolerate dummies trying to do them.

donzelion said...

Winter7: "Is it true that it is possible to buy citizenship?"
Not exactly...certain countries (which I believe includes Mexico) have treaty relations with America by which investors in America investing $1,000,000 (or $500k for special projects) and which create at least 10 jobs in America (and have several other checks and verification processes) can obtain a residency visa (a 'green card'); there's a limit on the total number of investors who may qualify each year, and the program is known generally as EB-5. Once you get a residency visa, you can put yourself in the pathway toward citizenship. It's a long, involved process, but it is doable (unless the laws change...which may just happen soon).

"Is not there a lot of racial discrimination in California?"
There is, BUT the folks who are primarily responsible for it have a tendency of getting run out of California (many of them wind up in Texas, Oregon, Arizona, and other states). I am currently helping a Latino (Mexican ancestry) run for Senate; if he wins, he will take Richard Nixon's home district, and what was once ground central in California for anti-Latino discrimination. The irony makes me chortle with joy.

"Because if California is a quiet place,"
California is many things, and you can even find quiet places in California (mostly in the desert), but few folks come here for the quiet. As Alfred put it -

"WE are where things will happen. Come see California if you can."
BUT do not expect to be able to spot where the things that will happen are actually about to happen. In California, our revolutions occur in forest streams and glens, in garages and basements, on mountaintops, in drive-through restaurants, and inside gated communities.

Anonymous said...



Steven Hammond:
Maybe you should ask William Wallace what he thinks of the subject.
You say you do not know what I mean? I have already published in this blog several links to many of those news. For example:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/16/charnesia-corley-houston-texas-police-dashcam-video
But I remember a video from a police station where three police officers subject a minor and perform a compulsory vaginal and anal check to find out if she brought drugs. Of course. I did not have them. Despite that, the girl was crying aloud, shattered. To reassure her, they tied her feet to a cable and pulled him under the door, to immobilize her. The girl was arrested because she was traveling in a car with other teenagers who had drunk alcohol. She had not even drunk. Do not you remember that? The mother sued the state. The video was deleted from TouTube.
But it is curious that you consider matters of honor as confederate behavior. Actually, it is a personal opinion. And in my country, certainly almost all take into account the honor (poor class) As for the elite, they have no honor, so they simply ask the rest of the pack of wolves what to do, with the consequent legal complaint. The poor also proceed with legal demands, but almost always, if it is a matter of honor, they try to get revenge in a street style fight.
That honor is not the cause of the ills of Mexico, because the evils of Mexico come from corrupt and perverse elites. (I know them well). So your theory is not correct. But you made me think about the matter! Thank you. I am not someone common in my country. In fact, they say I have a strange accent. (I guess that happens when a person spends more time reading books than in social activities) (in northeastern Mexico, the accent in speaking is similar to that of the mountaineers.) Rudo and with the extended final phrases. When I want to be taken seriously, but usually, my voice has no accent.

Winter7

donzelion said...

Winter7: One last thing I just noted (as I read backwards in reverse),

"Maybe Mexico can be improved, but in reality, I would prefer to find a way to move with my whole family to some quiet place, like Japan or Iceland."
Perhaps you will be among those who help bring about stability - tranquility? America is vast, and I love California immensely - but so is Mexico, and sometimes, all that is needed to build a patch of something beautiful, and then help it grow.

"But what fools those who were left without a lifeboat. I would have ripped the decorative wood from the boat to make large rafts "
Case in point: there may be things you can do there, which you cannot so easily do here. If the available wood is rotten, perhaps there's plastic around? Shucks, even concrete boats can be built...

Not that I'd want to discourage you from emigrating if that is your desire, only to try to see what is around you and explore possibilities first: build, strive, have faith that for all the rot, there is also lots of good. If you do emigrate, the skills you develop by closely looking at what is near you, learning to build with others and mastering some field, will also help you anywhere else you go, even if you never use them precisely the same way again.

"I continue to devise solutions, while the new "Titanic" begins to tilt"
Then you are already doing it. Keep on, and fight off despair. Despair cannot possibly help you build your lifeboat. (I say that to you, but also to myself: I know it can be hard.)

Anonymous said...



Donzelion:
EB-5 Program Take note. Thank you.
Yes. I know that the big companies in california started in a garage or a warehouse. Innovation is always a solitary affair, from writing books to creating a new rocket engine. (Which by the way I have an idea for a new type of rocket engine) (And two new rocket launch systems) But obviously those projects will probably never be built.
In Europe they do not ask for a visa, as far as I know. Maybe they are more neglected in Europe.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Donzelion:
“Case in point: there may be things you can do there, which you cannot so easily do here. If the available wood is rotten, perhaps there's plastic around? Shucks, even concrete boats can be built...”
Yes, it is certainly a matter of trying to discover the opportunities that exist around me. And as Alfred says: Try to innovate a new product or service.
As the phrase says: If we have lemons, we have to make lemonade.

Winter7

Steven Hammond said...

@ Winter 7

Thanks for the link to the case you're referring to. I hadn't seen mention of that particular case before.

I wouldn't say I consider Honor-Shame culture particularly confederate as the Mafia have a similar culture as do gang members and perhaps other sub-cultures such as certain military units. It was probably wide-spread in the USA in rural areas, the South and areas without a robust law-enforcement community in the past, but has largely withered away for the most part.

I'm also not saying that Americans don't value honor, but that they, (like the girl's mother in the case you mention, seek justice through legal channels and not private vendetta. That's the point I wanted to make.

I'm glad I made you think as your posts make me think as well.

Anonymous said...

If the aliens see the Pioneer10 badge; probably think that humans are nudists. Or that it is about advertising a business of bad reputation.
If the ship is found by a civilization of Puritan religious fanatics, they may be offended.
And the star with graduation gives our location. Of course, the ship has not even moved twice as far from the diameter of the outer asteroid belt. So by the time the ship reaches the vicinity of some distant world, probably ten generations have passed.
If you really want to send a message to another world and receive an answer in a few months. It is necessary to send the messages from the past.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

winter7 ,

Steven has a good point about Honor-Shame around here. It IS one of the contentious points making tolerance of new immigrants difficult. Only some of us tolerate the practice as we consider it a violation of the Rule of Law. Those police you mention were probably violating it too, but the solution we prefer holds to the Rule of Law. Honor-Shame does not.

William Wallace (the movie version) had little choice but to do as he did. We do. In fact, our choice is FAR more powerful than the violence depicted in that movie. Our option brings down oligarchs. It's not easy to do and not easy to believe in, but those of us who advocate for it are quite the zealots about it. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

winter7,

You seem to be the right person to run an aerospace company.

I used to. One of the things I learned is innovation is NOT a solitary activity. It works far better if you can find others willing to try crazy ideas and grant each other the dignity necessary when inevitable failures happen. To Fail IS an option. It must be. Learning requires it. Sometimes it even requires embarrassing failures. Find decent people who support each other in the effort and the team will innovate far better than the individuals could alone.

Go it alone and you'll most likely wind up talking to yourself leaving others near you wondering if you are sane. You might be, but after a few years of trying, that is doubtful. 8)

I occasionally think of getting back into that game, but there are many people doing it now and with far more money than I had. I'm inclined to think some of them will succeed and that I did a decent thing by helping draw attention to business problems that needed solving by people who had the money to buy the solutions. So, rather than aerospace right now, I'm back to looking at an old academic problem that intrigued me in my younger years.

Anonymous said...


Alfred Differ:

I see that today you have insomnia. I am aware of a patient. Another night without sleep. I learned that the crew of the boats that hunt giant crabs (crabs) spend days without sleep to make the most of the trip. They stay awake by eating high doses of carbohydrates. I believe that, perhaps, extreme insomnia can bring a state of fusion with the universe, causing visions of the future or of other places.
Regarding the issue of revenge as an option in the absence of fair laws ... What good are the police if they are an imminent danger to families? The founding fathers initiated a war incited by the robbery of forests on the part of the English and the increase of the price of the Tea. (Who likes tea?) But apparently, in modern times, everything is very different. And having a different point of view is something completely valid. Maybe it's just my imagination, but I have the feeling that American policemen like to use excessive force as a routine option.
You say that this is a problem in immigration matters? Do you mean that if immigrants get upset about being shot down and subjected to electric shocks by throwing a piece of paper in the street, that would be maladaptation? . Well, I'm not saying that all Mexicans react violently to an injustice. But certainly, many Mexicans like to argue with insults and threats. (I do not) But that varies. There are all kinds of characters.
You say Wallace was not really violent? but I remember reading that, in Scotland, almost all the clans participated in bloody wars. (Yes, now I remember that those were other times) But the feudal procedures seem to be a vice of all times. And I guess it's a matter of circumstances. If this happens, then you must react in X mode. Which varies from person to person and certainly 98% of people will respect the laws.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

I am falling asleep. I close my eyes for a moment and see women in bikinis. A premonition?
That reminds me that Edison tried to have ideas while on the brink of sleep. He thought that in that way he would get ideas from his unconscious. (I have unconscious ideas while awake.) 8)

William .. Oh sorry, I wanted to say:

Winter7

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

As the phrase says: If we have lemons, we have to make lemonade.


Or as my young nephew says, while mixing ice water*, sugar packets, and lemon slices in the restaurant, "Why does anyone pay for lemonade when they give you all of the ingredients for free?"

* I know that in California, you might not get free ice-water at restaurant meals. Here in Chicago, you typically do.

locumranch said...


Winter7 admits that his nation is a corrupt kleptocratic crapper, but instead of improving it, he would prefer to find a way to move with his whole family to some quiet place, like Japan or Iceland, as his fellow countryman have already done to California, converting these locations into similarly corrupt kleptocratic crappers by identical process:

It's called 'Brazilification' and, throughout the EU & the USA, it results from open borders & unrestricted immigration.

The process has become irreversible in California, resulting in (1) a middle class exodus, (2) economic impoverishment, (3) runaway inflation, (4) confiscatory taxation, (5) a collapsing infrastructure and (6) a two-tiered society of Haves & Have-Nots.

(1) https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/26/800000-people-are-about-to-flee-new-york-california-because-of-taxes.html
(2) http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-jackson-california-poverty-20180114-story.html
(3) https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/11/housing-gasoline-push-southern-california-inflation-to-fastest-rate-since-2008/
(4) https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/18/bill-maher-threatens-leave-california-due-high-tax/
(5) https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasdelbeccaro/2017/02/22/ca-the-physical-collapse-of-a-social-state/#4c93fd7f6bdb
(6) http://www.limitstogrowth.org/WEB-text/two-tier.html

Brazilification: The end result of social progress, the consequence of the fair-level-open-equal playing field and a one-way ticket into a crapper devoid of stars.


Best

donzelion said...

Locum: California WAS a "corrupt kleptocratic crapper" for centuries - until immigrants (from both the USA and other corners of the globe) worked their butts off here, broke the kleptocracy, implemented a series of revolutions.

We're the state where the perpetrators of some of the most egregious episodes of kleptocratic cruelty can be rehabilitated: those who expropriated entire nations of land can found universities to reach for the stars, and those who masterminded Japanese internment in WW2 can be reinvented and do great good for civil rights (Earl Warren).

Toward our Latino communities: where once we deported them by the thousands, now they break through, one by one, displacing the lazy and corrupt with diligent work and shrewd economy.
Even our native tribes, long the victims of the most intense cruelty, can discover means of prospering here as never before, and proudly display their marks and banners from Dodger Stadium.

We err. We acknowledge our errors. Then we clean them up. This is the California way: more Christian than any Bible Belt enclave - a light to the world offering more than Israel ever will - an example of a well-managed successor of norms and rules better than any Muslim fanatic will ever concoct - and more, far more, because here all the deep-rooted traditions of the past can show their splendor, and compete and contend with bizarre and sometimes beautiful upstarts never witnessed before. Occasionally, horrific upstarts as well - oh yeah, we have that too. And then we clean them up as well, where they can be redeemed, or dispose of them where they cannot.

"The process has become irreversible in California,"
Let us hope so.

"Brazilification: The end result of social progress, the consequence of the fair-level-open-equal playing field and a one-way ticket into a crapper devoid of stars."
And yet...despite having a mere 10% of the national population, a MAJORITY of the new stars shining in America are still forming HERE, far away from the feudal bastions and entrenched wealth of our country's other corners. Where others build gated castles of vainglory, we build gated COMMUNITIES - and then break down the gates to let others in.

Anonymous said...

locumranch:

“Winter7 admits that his nation is a corrupt kleptocratic crapper, but instead of improving it, he would prefer to find a way to move with his whole family to some quiet place, like Japan or Iceland, as his fellow countryman have already done to California, converting these locations into similarly corrupt kleptocratic crappers by identical process”
I am not "corrupt kleptocratic crapper". In fact, given that I am the only one who knows a very cheap and efficient method of neutralizing CO2, perhaps in the long term I will be the one who saves your life and the rest of the planet (if I get financing for the project) (You're welcome. Yes, I know, it's great, it's enough, I do not do it for me or for you, I do it because it's the right thing to do) 8)
If I were corrupt, I would have accepted the proposals of the Mexican Sith, who wanted me to join them. Obviously, I said no, and I have fought those parasites for decades.
Is it strange that you prefer to leave the country instead of fixing the disaster?
Mexico is totally different from the United States. Any efficient attempt to solve the problem is quickly crushed. (And that situation has been supported for almost a century by the US government) ("Escuela de las americas")
I would be a useful immigrant. (If you want to solve the problems of Mexico, go ahead, some things must be experienced directly)
So we can deduce that in reality your government is the culprit of that migration of people escaping the hell your government helped build with multimillion-dollar support to corrupt politicians of México.
Winter7

Anonymous said...

Mexicans even participate in Star Trek:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo_VXl5cb00


Winter7

Treebeard said...

LOL @ donzelion’s child-like California-worship. I knew about British-Israelism, but this is the first time I’ve encountered such California-Israelism. Isn’t it funny how religious concepts never leave the minds of people raised in a religion, they just take new forms?

BTW, we get a lot of refugees from California up here in WA state and they’ll tell you the other side of the story from your liberal moralist lawyer tale of California utopia. Some of them talk as if they left Mordor. But that's the problem with Christians and Jedi: they love their happy stories more than reality, and live in denial of the Dark Side.

Anonymous said...

The poor scientists of the EPA; now they are forced to shut up under the mandate of Donald Trump:

https://phys.org/news/2018-05-epa-secret-science-alarms-health.html

Winter7

David Brin said...

" they love their happy stories more than reality,"

Um, hey ent, how about we use um, statistics? Actual poll and outcome comparisons? Oooops. Yeah, your species only understands zero-sum, supported by cherrypicked anecdotes.

No wonder your cult wages war on all fact-using professions.

onward

onward