Sunday, June 09, 2019

Space news! NASA. NIAC. Lunar landers and tourism.

I was in DC for a week, first to give a colloquium at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, then for three days of meetings with the staff and Phase One fellows of NASA’s Innovative and Advance Concepts NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, as a member of NIAC’s External Council.

(See the range of bold research endeavors, and pencil in September 24-27 to tune in to the NIAC Symposium, in Huntsville. I'll announce when/where.)  I also spoke at The International Space Development Conference and at a couple of future-concerned agencies.

In related news, NASA announced that it was hiring Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines and Orbit Beyond to carry its first modern set of science experiments and technology demonstrations to the moon. Astrobotic was stimulated in part by past NIAC grants and all three are pondering using NIAC-fostered technologies. Read about some of the target sites for the first wave of landers.

Grabbing some well-timed spotlight just before this announcement: Jeff Bezos revealed his own planned, much larger -- and likely human-rated lunar lander -- 'Blue Moon'... (Let's set aside the unfortunate vibe of the eponymous song -- no matter.) 


Most of you know that I'm not a big fan of near-term manned lunar expeditions down to that dusty-poison plain by the U.S. (see below). Oh, for sure HUMANITY will go back to that gritty-useless desert soon (and that’s fine!), because whole bunches of Apollo wannabes are anxious to have their rites of big-boy adulthood there... a "bar moonzvah" so to speak. And yes, some exploring will get done. I even hope they'll prove me wrong about Luna being a barren wasteland. 

(So far, it seems that except for a little ice at sunless depths (hence no solar power) down at the poles, there's simply no real (beyond arm-waving) evidence that anything of any immediate value is accessible down there, near term. Except tourism!  And as Andy Weir shows in ARTEMIS, that could have real value. The Chinese, Indians, Russians, and billionaires will spend for that.

Hence, I raise a glass and cheer for Jeff's new lander, a terrific money-maker that will get those Apollo Wannabes to pay development costs. Design, build and sell it, Jeff. Better yet, lease it to em!  Yankee industry. Sell it and free up NASA to do other things.

What other things? While continuing to keep our lunar hand in, with robots, NASA should join the Japanese and the smarter zillionaires heading off to do stuff that no one else can do.  And yes, Jeff has now completely undermined his favorite person, Donald Trump. Love it. 



== More space! More space! ==

An amazing find! Two galaxies that appear not to have any appreciable amounts of Dark Matter.  No, we’re not “seeing” the DM. But we can see that in nearly all galaxies, stars orbit the galactic center quickly, revealing the galactic mass is much bigger than the sum total of stars, planets and dust/gas. There are also measurable gravitational lensing effects. These galaxies show markedly different orbital speeds.  The implications are huge.

Offering a glimpse of Earth’s distant future, astronomers found a massive chunk of debris orbiting a white dwarf that could be a 125-mile round fragment of an Earth-like planetary core, leftover from the death of its original star. Periodic changes in the star’s spectra—repeating every 123 minutes—seemed to bear out a fairly substantially sized object, rather than dust.

In 1946 British engineers proposed a highly plausible sub-orbital, manned rocket that would have advanced spaceflight by a decade. Megaroc. SO? Have a glimpse of what might have been in my colleague Mary Robinette Kowal's recent Nebula Award winning novella The Calculating Stars, in which we urgently push ahead to achieve... by 1958... something incredible, led by a clade of women who are even more-incredible still.

As if from the pages of EXISTENCE...  meteor from another solar system may have hit Earth, and the implications are fascinating. 

Um, and speaking of alien objects. In 2017, the Pentagon first confirmed the existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a government operation launched in 2007 to collect and analyze info on “anomalous aerospace threats” from “advanced aircraft fielded by traditional U.S. adversaries to commercial drones to possible alien encounters.” … In some cases, pilots — many of whom are engineers and academy graduates — claimed to observe small spherical objects flying in formation. Others say they’ve seen white, Tic Tac-shaped vehicles. Aside from drones, all engines rely on burning fuel to generate power, but these 'vehicles' had no air intake, no wind and no exhaust.

To consider in context: It's been 25+ years since any new techs were announced from the various Defense Department Skunk Works. Used to be, we’d get some kind of revelation, e.g. stealth bombers, at least once per decade, showing something for our tax dollars. I do know things are at least marginally farther along than we are told, when it comes to hypersonics, lasers, and ABM abilities, though by how much? 

Another piece to the puzzle. Some years ago the National Reconnaissance Office gave NASA two Hubbles. Yes, two Hubble Space Telescopes. Well, not quite. They were the optics-guts of obsolete Earth observing spy satellites, and we thus discovered that the Hubble had been a “beard” for the spysat program, all along.  The gift put NASA in a bind – getting two billion-dollar spacecraft for free is nice, unless you don’t have the quarter of a billion it would take to repurpose them for real science.  One of them has been repurposed now and will launch soon as a great new mission -- WFIRST -- but it took a while. (I visited the WFIRST lab-correlate while at NASA Goddard, last week.)

But the lesson is clear. Stuff goes on, behind the scenes. Some “wasted” funding may have only been diverted (see my old novella “Senses, Three and Six” from my collection The River of Time). Some civilian events or endeavors may be (partly) “beards.” And yes, I have a theory about these "sightings" that you've likely not seen anywhere ;-)

Above all, we need to pray and hope that members of our defender caste really are (as I believe) nearly all devoted public servants and not how Fox-and-ilk portray them – as Deep State enemies of the people.


== Inspirational perspectives ==

I'm a fan of Isaac Arthur’s series of podcasts about the vast range of ambitious endeavors we might pursue… if we manage to get past the mewling panic of ankle-grabbing troglodytes in our own species. He’s covered a vast range of topics, including “uplifting animals to sapience.” And there are times when I find he makes unwarranted assumptions – e.g. the silly concept that the Moon has copious “resources” readily accessible with current technology. (Baloney.) Still, it’s amazing stuff, vividly delivered, sometimes inspiring and even eye-popping.  Here’s one of the most-amazing, from a science fictional perspective, on Orbital Rings.

Plywood delivery drones that cost just a few hundreds of dollars may soon be deployed for re-supply missions for the Marines.

Wanna personal flying machine? “GoFly, the $2M+, two-year global competition to create a safe, quiet, and ultra-compact personal flyer, just awarded prizes to five teams across the globe for their winning prototypes. (via Peter Diamandis.)

I’ve long touted the Age of Amateurs — the skyrocketing of hobbies and avocations that prove the very opposite of the “decadent-lazy” accusation often hurled at modern citizens. See now these citizen science expeditions.

British system pre-cools air that’s been compressed during hypersonic flight so it can safely be used in a hybrid jet-rocket engine, potentially paving the way for a single flight to orbit space plane.


== Not just another anti-loony rant, but a forecast! ==

Okay, I can’t help myself. Here is a reprint of my earlier prediction that a jingoist, flag-waving, U.S.-only-yay! Mission to repeat Apollo would very soon become international’d.

Look ahead for what's intended, downstream, by those pushing the U.S. to "race back to the moon." Some dismiss the Pence-Trump lunar-declaration as pompous jingoism without scientific or national merit, misdirecting U.S. space resources and efforts toward copycatting past glories. But I'm astonished anyone believes that potemkin farce, that isn't even proposing a tenth of the needed funding. It won't and cannot remain a "race." Here is what’ll happen, if Republicans remain in power, prioritizing a moon-race over heading out to prospect and rake-in asteroidal wealth. 

As costs mount, suddenly, at a politically opportune time, the White House will announce:
"Huzzah, rejoice! We negotiated making the moon landing mission a joint-international project!! 

It will be more efficient, spreading costs!!! It will set an example of international cooperation and a spirit of pan-human accomplishment!!!! 

One giant step for humanity and peace!!!!!!"  (One accomplishment will be a ratchtting of exclamation points.)

Unspoken will be: No one in the U.S. wanted to pay a hundred billion to "win" a "race" against the Chinese and other Apollo wannabes, desperate to prove themselves on that dusty-useless plain.

Unspoken also: We will pay all right, by transferring all of U.S. technology to our new "partners."

Make no mistake, that’s the end game for the jingo-competitive "race"... as it was for "U.S. Space Station Freedom." Our money and space tech to help them get their glory moment in dust, while our chance to gain actual wealth-value out there gets tossed away.

 But I was wrong about how long it would take. Administration officials are already hinting at this, while echoes from the "moon race" announcement haven't even faded. Ah.

And a coda: Space is poised for explosive growth - let's get it right!

86 comments:

scidata said...

I and Mike Pence were born on the exact same day. We couldn't be more diametrically opposite in philosophy, ideals, and life outcomes. Astrology is bogus. QED

Thank you for the citizen science love. It's what the world needs bigly.
http://www.scidata.ca/?page_id=217

Bob Neinast said...

Regarding the dusty-poison and dusty-useless plain of the Moon, here's an article from Wired a few weeks ago, Moondust Could Cloud Our Lunar Ambitions.

"In the public imagination, the American astronauts who landed on the moon five decades ago were square-jawed superhumans, not the types to worry about something as banal as housekeeping. But they did, obsessively. Each time they got back to the Apollo Lunar Module after a moonwalk, they were shocked at how much dust they'd tracked in and how hard it was to banish. This was no earthly grime; it was preternaturally sticky and abrasive, scratching the visors on the astronauts' helmets, weakening the seals on their pressure suits, irritating their eyes, and giving some of them sinus trouble."

As our host says, leave the dust to the wannabes and we'll do the hard stuff in the asteroids.

Ron said...

British manned V-2 - There was a similar proposal in the Soviet Union (VR-190):
https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/vr-190-stalins-rocket/


David Brin said...

scidata... what TIME of day? An astrology person will say that matters. Bogus of course. But bogus bullshit has deep-layered defenses.

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: what TIME of day?

And where geographically (stars overhead), etc. But popular astrology doesn't ever take those variables into account. Newspapers and zodiac listings are by date only (what's your sign). Whenever I deal with a real astrology nut, I remind them that the precise alignment of stars overhead changes with the millennia too. Certainly significant change since astrology was developed and first written down. That disturbs them. A little science is good for credulity (and thus business). Too much science tips the apple cart, and requires accurate charts and computers - goodbye easy profits. Even worse, I'm sure that many an astrology apprentice went too far down that road and became an actual astronomer. There's that 'stealing our children' thing again.

sartar said...

One possible use for Lunar regolith might be a sun screen in our L1 position. Rather than pushing gases into our troposphere to decrease the amount of IR radiation on the ground, I'd prefer to have that stuff somewhere where it cannot start catalyzing chain reactions we don't expect yet (as did the chlorinated hydrocarbons with the ozone layer).

Rather than inserting dust that would be hard to clear out again should we find that we overdid our sun screen, I would like to see ceramic disks that might be produced by just using mirrored sunlight to sinter, and possibly some remote-activated gyroscope to adjust the edge to surface ratio once positioned there.

Such a sun screen might be our only chance to keep our planet inhabitable. Using Lunar matter might provide net cost savings compared to earth-launched stuff.

Building craft able to transport humans to the moon will also enable us to get into the L1 region, something we cannot do with manned spacecraft right now.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi sartar
Not a bad idea - except for using the wrong moon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3753_Cruithne

Would be a much better bet for building material

Tony Fisk said...

If you want your astrology doing properly, go to experts like Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler. It was how they made ends meet.

Andy said...

Looks like Trump is listening to your advice regarding the moon, David!

"For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!"

scidata said...

Andy: Looks like Trump is listening to your advice regarding the moon, David!

F ... F#

Bob Neinast said...

The comic "Arlo and Janis" also has something to say about returning to the moon:

Arlo and Janis, June 10, 2019.

Larry Hart said...

Off-topic question for the Wisconsinites, Tim W or raito:

Is this really a thing? Really? And if so, does the Democratic governor now wield that same power, or was it stripped away in the lame duck session?

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Jun10.html#item-9

Most states do have line-item vetoes, with various levels of scope. The most expansive is undoubtedly Wisconsin, where governors can cross out pretty much whatever they want, often allowing them to completely switch the intent of a piece of legislation. For example, deleting the word "not" can flip things around very quickly, indeed.

jim said...

Just to be really contrarian,

Astrologers knew about precision many centuries before Astronomy was a science.

There is evidence that the 11 year solar cycle is caused by the alignments of planets Venus, Earth and Jupiter. ( https://www.newsweek.com/suns-solar-cycle-governed-alignment-planets-scientists-discover-1441753 )

There is a practice in astrology called mundane astrology that tries to predict what will happen to a nation over the next six to twelve months (depending on the position of the planets). John Michael Greer has been doing them for the US for a couple of years now and the results are a little vague but still kind of interesting.

Here is the mundane astrology prediction for the US from April of this year to September of this year,

“To sum up, the people who keep on insisting that any day now we’ll see a final showdown between President Trump and his enemies are once again going to be disappointed. The next six months will see another round of angry social media wars between pro- and anti-Trump factions, more bluster from the Oval Office and more tirades from the Democrats, none of which will go anywhere or do anything, and all of which will begin to lose whatever interest they might have had for most of the American people. The Democratic Party establishment will be at loggerheads with its party’s radical wing, and will make no noticeable attempt to reach out to the working class voters it used to represent. Meanwhile the Mueller investigation will wind down inconclusively, leaving Trump unscathed.

The economy will be a mixed bag, with a troubled manufacturing sector and major disruptions in the service and information sector partly balanced by good times in farm country. Foreign policy will get the bulk of the administration’s attention in the months ahead, with very equivocal results, and foreign trade and investment will take a serious hit for reasons that will likely be political in nature. Finally, we can expect some kind of international mass movement to seize the media spotlight for a while and give people something to do other than make the changes that matter, before it fades away in the usual fashion. “

Larry Hart said...

@jim,

Doesn't that seem like more of a prediction based upon rudimentary psychistory rather than anything based on the stars and planets?

jim said...

Larry
It seems that way doesn’t it.


But he goes through 3 steps to get the prediction.
1St is the position of the planets on the spring equinox /or fall equinox for a particular year

2nd is the traditional understanding for the meanings of the planets, their locations in the sky and the relationships to the positions of the other planets.

3rd is his own understanding of how current events fit into the framework provided by the traditional astrological understanding for the current arrangement of the planets.

matthew said...

@Jim
Step 3 as you describe above should be written as
"3rd is figure out how to monetize his con."

In case *anyone* was tempted to check out the so- called Archdruid, the bogus claim to astrological prowess should demonstrate his bonafides.

Grifter. Con man. Fraud.
Ashamed such a parasite gets mentioned here.

jim said...

Mathew that just does not seem to be true at all.

He makes his living off of the books he has written. The astrological stuff seem to be just a hobby.

All of his mundane astrological readings are given out freely and he seems to be making those readings public to see if the traditional astrological lore is of any value.

matthew said...

He is monetizing his public persona, same as our host here. Difference is monetizing mysticism versus monetizing fiction (marked as such) and expertise in science / good governance.

To the charlatan, mysticism is the original long con, going all the way back to the first shaman, I suspect. Astrology is a fine field for building the "wise man" persona since it is endlessly mutable for the target audience of rubes.

I have a reputation as an amazing tarot card reader, built among my acquaintances over the years. Truth is, I hadlessons in how to perform a cold reading from an excellent psych professor. I'll do a reading and then after the mark is blown away by my occult powers then I'll explain how I did the reading. Funny thing is, even after I explain that the whole reading was a demonstration, I still get a percentage of people that refuse to believe that they were manipulated. They'd rather believe I was magic than believe that they were caught in an act.

Reminds me of a lot of politics, hmm.

Tim Wolter said...

Larry

The Governor of Wisconsin still has those formidable partial veto powers. Here's a recent discussion.

https://madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/how-could-gov-tony-evers-use-his-partial-veto-authority/article_235c335d-9e64-5227-8ee7-132b6e0eb8bd.html

This does make the WI Governorship pretty powerful, but actual shenanigans have in general not been over the top ridiculous.

TW/Tacitus

Alfred Differ said...

Astrologers knew about precision many centuries before Astronomy was a science.

Well... Yah. Of course. That's where astronomy comes from. It's origin is as the astro-metrics component of astrology. Old 'astronomers' knew about Earth-axis precession and lunar orbit precession. They knew the Earth was a sphere and the Greeks knew how big it was. The Arabs used astrolabes that corrected for precession too.

Astrometric precision is old. What's weird to a modern ear is how they modeled it all and related it to us. Aristotle's cosmos is finite with a center and composed of stuff that 'knew' its natural motions. Really Weird. Animistic.

If there is an attractor more pernicious than the one our host identifies as 'feudalism', I think it is 'animism.'

Alfred Differ said...

If you are going to do the astrology con correctly, you need to get sun, moon, and rising signs with the mark's participation. If you are going to do it in front of people, you MUST have cold reading skills.

I think everyone should be taught cold reading. Parents should make damn sure of it to inoculate their children. When you can't detect it later as an older adult, it's time to hand over some of your financial independence and decision making rights to your children. It's not a perfect vaccine, but it helps spot the weakest of the practitioners.

David Brin said...

Every time I fly to DC an odd thing happens... I hear a pretty good joke! I won't share this year's here. But last year's bears repeating. It had a table of a dozen top officials at a federal agency snorting beer and choking/guffawing.

All right, the topic was political, sure. But the punch line wasn't!

The setup: One fellow commented on all the hurrow over how President Obama, inexperienced amid his first months in office, bowed a bit too low when greeting the Saudi King.

"You don't see the same fuss over pictures of George Bush, walking hand-in hand with Saudi princes. Heck there's even a picture of Bush actually kissing the Saudi king... on the lips!"

To which another fellow replied: "Well... in fairness... have you seen him?"

One beat. Two beats. And we all fell apart.

David Brin said...

I was appreciating Tim's contribution till he got to: "...actual shenanigans have in general not been over the top ridiculous."

Cough-sputter um Walker? Just sayin.

Tony Fisk said...

Could the Saudi king be a 'wry bet'?*

@scidata said:

Andy: Looks like Trump is listening to your advice regarding the moon, David!

F ... F#


Trump in the Time of Failed TDDs.

* The more the beats the further you can run.

Tim Wolter said...

David

You misinterpret my contribution on WI budgetary policy.

Yes, Walker actively used the substantial power that the WI constitution gave him. Here is a summary of his late term use of it.

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/20/gov-scott-walker-put-his-powerful-partial-veto-work-wisconsin-budget/683053001/

He reduced or eliminated funding for some programs, redistributed money within others. This was his prerogative as it is now Governor Evers'.

When I said there was not a lot of "over the top" abuse of it I meant that while you do see governors modifying the state budget in various ways you don't see them inserting commas, the word NOT, that sort of thing.

I would not rest easily if I were a citizen of say, Illinois, and the governor had such sweeping powers. But here they have generally been used as intended.

In my opinion. Matthew will likely provide another perspective, and one worth listening to.

TW/Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

Tim W:

I would not rest easily if I were a citizen of say, Illinois, and the governor had such sweeping powers.


Yeah, Bruce Rauner would have done a lot of damage that way.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/06/10/trump-made-get-well-call-to-jerry-nadler-in-hospital/23746185/

On May 24, [Representative Jerry] Nadler was at an event promoting speed cameras at a school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when he appeared to grow faint, slumping slightly forward. Sitting next to him, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offered Nadler water, but the 71-year-old congressman remained apparently dazed. Medical professionals were summoned, and an ambulance transported Nadler to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he spent the night.


Polonium?

Larry Hart said...

To me, this reads like the desperation of hopelessness--not much different from my tactic of pretending to wake up and going, "So, it was all a dream!"

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/10/opinion/astrology-occult-millennials.html

...

We’re living in the middle of a religious revival; it’s just that the movements that are rising are not what we normally call “religion.” The first rising movement is astrology. According to a 2018 Pew poll, 29 percent of Americans say they believe in astrology. That’s more than are members of mainline Protestant churches.

...

Another surging spiritual movement is witchcraft. In 1990, only 8,000 Americans self-identified as Wiccans. Ten years later there were 134,000, and today, along with other neo-pagans, there are over a million. As Tara Isabella Burton put it in an excellent, deeply researched essay in The American Interest, “Wicca, by that estimation, is technically the fastest-growing religion in America."

...

During the Kavanaugh hearings, 13,000 “resistance witches” cast a hex on Brett Kavanaugh. There is now a plethora of guidebooks for how to use astrology and witchcraft to advance left-wing causes. They have names like “Magic for Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change” and “The New Aradia: A Witch’s Handbook to Magical Resistance.”

...

scidata said...

@LH Before coffee, I misread your earlier url as "trump-made-get-well-card-to-jerry-nadler-in-hospital".

I pictured the Cheeto at the Resolute Desk with crayons writing:
Hope Jerry SADler gets wel soon so he can continnu the coo.
FAKE NEWS - NO COLUSSION - INVESTIGATE THE ORANGES

Re: TIME of day
Being neither an astrologer nor an astronomer, I've always wondered about the fixation on longitude. At the risk of sounding like Jimmy Buffett, attitudes seem more like a function of latitudes to me.

Andy said...

@scidata

F ... F#

What does this mean? I've been puzzling over it and have no idea.

scidata said...

Re: F ... F# (Jaws played on a low octave of a piano or better yet a cello)
This is how the sorrowful plunge into the Cheetonic black hole begins: dopamine hits from a perceived hope of influence or redemption. He spends the most precious schedule on the planet rage-tweeting, golfing, and stealing trifles like a pitiable cleptomaniac. Meanwhile, his puppeteers steal bright-eyed little ones' future. He does a sometimes-passable imitation of a man, but he's a voodoo doll only. There's nothing there to either influence or redeem. He (it) quite literally devours souls.

America now has its very own heart of darkness. Maybe it had it from the start (perhaps our host's civil war narrative). Homo double-sap is one scary critter at times. I suppose that's the reason I've long gripped onto AI so tightly.

Calculemus!

jim said...

Larry
it seems to me that in the 19th century the Christian God was starting to be replaced in the minds and actions of elites in the West with the worship of the great god of Progress and possessed by the demonic spirit of the Wendigo ( that shows up in the never ending greed and hunger for ever more that motivates our economic system) And as the 19 and 20th century proceeded these beliefs spread to much of the rest of the world. The followers of Progress and the Wendigo have been richly rewarded for their service while the costs were born by other people and the living world.

But we have now come to the situation that many people have begun to conclude that the God of Progress is not really delivering on the progress anymore and that the costs of society being possessed by the Wendigo is a livable world. I expect to see a lot more value being placed on non-scientific view points in the decades ahead.

Treebeard said...

The occult revival was inevitable, wasn't it? When the two great Western systems, Christianity and scientism, broke down and failed to provide people with meaning, what did you think would fill the void? There was always a third way, but the two systems conspired to exclude it—material questions for science, spiritual questions for religion, etc. Paganism, Hermeticism, astrology, alchemy, witchcraft, druidry, animism—the West has a rich heritage of mysticism that was nearly buried by the two systems, but which has been rediscovered. Of course, by the rather totalitarian logic of fundamentalist Enlightenment cultists and monotheists, people who promote this third way are “parasites” and “con men”, if not outright heretics. But it doesn't matter, because as long as science can only describe the motions of atoms and planets but can't tell us what any of it means, astrology and the like will always have a huge market that won't go away.

Alfred Differ said...

(carry over from last time) (late... I know)

matthew,

Some of us libertarians can point to 'our' work in the sense of work from economists from our side of the debate. Some of us even understand what the papers are about, so it isn't all axiomatic statements. No doubt you are correct about many libertarians, but you aren't in my case and I doubt you are in Jerry's case either.

If you want to 'see the work', I'd bring my books by Hayek and von Mises and you can bring stuff from your side. If we actually enjoy doing it, I'd probably tap our vice-chair of the local party since he is a von Mises nut and knows his material much better than I do. I know Hayek's material better. I'm not sure we should be filling up comment space here on David's blog, but between us I'm sure we can find a space. Who doesn't have a blog nowadays? 8)

I think you'd be a worthy opponent, but I'm not throwing down a gauntlet. It's quite possible both of us have better things to be doing. IF you are interested, I'm tempted just enough to give it a try. If not, I'm perfectly fine with that... and will still respect you in the morning. 8)

Seriously, though, I'm fine either way.

Alfred Differ said...

Don't blame enlightenment fans for the excesses of Christianity. Many toiled hard against the temporal power of the spiritual elite. The first organized opponent of The Enlightenment was The Church in Rome after all. They understood the threat noticeably before The Nobles did.

Enjoy your nonsense, though, if it does no harm to my child and family.
I'll expect reciprocal tolerance in return.

Deuxglass said...

jim,

There are good marks everywhere. If you have the gumption you can spot them and rip them off fairly easily but I am sure you know that already.

jim said...

Deuxglass,
I don't look for marks, I don't rip people off, I don't do divinations for anyone.

I was just pointing out misconceptions about Astrology.

Treebeard said...

People aren't being "ripped off" if you give them what they want, which is meaning and magic in a disenchanted world. People who consider others nothing but marks for buying a little magic are the ones who have been ripped off, imo. I'm sure you find more value in dead rocks in space than astrology readings, but that just makes you a mark for Musk and company, right?

jim said...

Alfred said
"Enjoy your nonsense, though, if it does no harm to my child and family.
I'll expect reciprocal tolerance in return."

unfortunately believers in Progress (and possessed by the Wendigo) have already done global damage. The total amount of greenhouse gases has crossed over 500ppm CO2 equivalent that means at least 2.5 C increase in average temperature is in the atmosphere already. Not to mention the massive extinction event going on.

Larry Hart said...

@Treebeard,

Whence comes your snark toward comic books? You obviously consider fantasy to be vastly superior to reality, so what's wrong with people who find meaning and magic in Spider-Man or The Avengers?

David Brin said...

The difficulty of maintaining a civilization of empowered citizenship -- the "diamond-shaped social structure" about which I often speak -- was well described by the famous historian Will Durant, in The Lessons of History.

"…the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.” http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2674733-the-lessons-of-history

Consider the efficiency with which Durant conveys multiple ideas there! First, that an open, citizen based system that I call "diamond-like" may have many of the advantages that Adam Smith wrote about -- e.g. vigorous competitive-creativity and the rapid delivery of positive-sum outputs. But such enlightenment systems as markets and democracy and science are inherently unstable. Unless carefully tuned and maintained, competitive systems inevitably get suborned by cheaters. Those who may have gained power or position through legitimate competition, but who then connive and use that power to warp all further competition in their favor.

Durant and Smith knew the natural outcome of such cheating, which happened so often in human history that it is the default -- that flat diamonds of egalitarian-competitive citizenship collapse into traditional pyramids of inherited power -- e.g. feudalism.

Durant went on to say, however, that the people themselves can choose to resist! When they see this slump taking place, they can either choose calm deliberation or simplistic anger. Reform or revolution.

History shows far more cases of the latter. And the vast majority of emotional, violent revolutions do not turn out well for Smithian Enlightenment. Dogmatists rage and raise the ante of ideological fervor, stoking heat instead of light. The French, Russian, Chinese and most African revolutions followed this pattern, and one result was to spread misery for benighted generations.

Those who are pushing hard to smash our Smithian diamond into a feudal pyramid should take note, and consider that they are not as smart as they think they are, if they are blithely ignoring the possibility of tumbrels.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Drin,

DARPA has been very active and if even though nothing like stealth has caught the public eye recently but that does not mean that they are absent. They are very present. Before I talked about the importance of deception using all of the electromagnetic spectrum but most even informed people have no idea how far this idea has come from fiction to fact. If we take the example of the original MALD program started by DARPA in 1995 and completed and tested in 2001. It was 7 foot 250 pound missile "decoy" carried by any fighter and it could mimic the radar and other electromagnet emissions of any airplane from the B-52 to the F-117. The Air Force loved it and ordered 1,500. The project was "cancelled" the same year before any delivery. It went deep black. In 2010 it came back doing essentially what it did back in 2001 with improvements. Now fast forward 20 years with all the advances in electronics and everything else since 1995 and extrapolate. Look up the MALD program and just imagine what we can do now. In the last year there is more talk about it just as it happened when stealth came out.

It is the flip side of stealth. When DARPA realized what stealth could do they also realized what the opposite could do. Make the enemy not be able to see you but also make them see what isn't there on radar and visually. Put them together and bingo! You dominate.

David Brin said...

A.D. I have indeed, oft enjoyed libertarian debates. At Freedom Fests I've relentlessly pushed how today's LP throngs frantically ignore the "C-word" that should be at the center of all libertarian thinking. Because competition truly is the greatest creative force in the universe. How to maximize its many positive effects, while minimizing the worst? Most LP ravers ignore that fundamental... as well as the other c-word... the thing that always wrecks competition. Always.

Cheating.

And yes, though Smith and the American founders zeroed in on cheating (I just stood in front of a 2nd-printed Declaration of Independence) Hayek gave it lip service and Mises made excuses.

Given that 99% of the cheaters were owner-lords who conspired and killed to repress those below who might compete with their sons, we have modern libertarianism's top quandary... which I show Rand wriggling around, in my Atlas Shrugged essay. Were the movement to confront those 2 c-words head on, then their skepticism toward socialism might have credibility, instead of utter hypocrisy. They could then parse which liberal interventions help INCREASE THE NUMBER OF COMPETITORS, and which are efforts to equalize outcomes or new forms of cheating. That'd actually be useful.

---
The ent pathetically posits that our ancestors -- suppressed in muck and parasite-swarmed filth and misery by almost-equally itchy-miserable lords -- lived marvellously "meaningful" lives. Ignoring the blatant likelihood that *all* children in those days were buggered and traumatized by sadistic priests, he sees our drift from rigid orthodox catchisms into a vast diversity of free explorations as REDUCED access to meaning! OMG what it must be like to live in such a head. I am saddened and moved... but also intrigued.

David Brin said...

Deuxglass good post. Can any of you tell me who posted (here?) about the 'cat laser" explanation for recent news?

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

I am the one who posted the "cat laser" explanation.

David Brin said...

Okay, well, it did not go unmentioned in my DC wanderings. I watched for dilating pupils! Embellished it, a bit.
I think I know how it could be done. Which raises my probability estimate to maybe 20%. Huh.

jim said...

How can you turn a pyramid shaped distribution into a garlic blub shaped distribution? (we do not have a diamond shaped distribution.)

All you have to do is dramatically increase the flow of resources into the system to move the distribution from a pyramid to a garlic blub.

Deuxglass said...

You see how it could be done? Then I would say that it has been done already since there are minds that have been working on it for quite a long time now and have good a head start.

David Brin said...

jim, I feel free to blab about the macro concept because there's no way the Chinese haven't thought of that. The implementation concept I'm only 90% sure they know. So I won't say. Sorry. But IU'm sure you'll figure it out. Or else this is a MENTAL cat laser!
;-)

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Reagan's Star Wars was a mental cat laser but a certain naval operation in 1981 and 1983 which was
stone cold real lead the Soviets to believe that just maybe the U.S. did have unexpected capabilities and that therefore they could not win the arms race. This was verified after the fall of the URRS. Where does the reality stop and the PSYOPS begin?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

The French, Russian, Chinese and most African revolutions followed this pattern, and one result was to spread misery for benighted generations.


South Africa was the exception that proves the rule, and for that reason, a wonder to behold at the time.

TCB said...

Dr Brin hath said: Jim, I feel free to blab about the macro concept because there's no way the Chinese haven't thought of that.

I realized this about ten years ago: if I have an idea, ten Chinese people had it this morning.

Yep, I checked out the wiki on the MALD decoy program. It seems reasonable to me: new decoys spoofing radar contacts, I get that. But how in the dickens can a decoy spoof a visual object? Which tracks closely with the spoofed radar image?

..actually, I can think of a way, tho I am not sure I buy it. Mmmmmmmmmmmmaybe.

Watched half of the video on an orbiting ring. That's a lot to think about, I'll say.

scidata said...

Visi-sonor.

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

While I don't think we've hit 500 ppm CO2, I don't view your opinions as nonsense. Overly worried at this point? Yes. Nonsense? No. Warnings about things we shouldn't let happen? Yes.

I was referring to Treebeard and should have said so. 8)

HOWEVER, I did have a partially constructed response for your line about some who believe the God of Progress isn't delivering for them anymore. I got distracted and had to do some 'real work', though, and now my comment would be rather out of place. The nutshell version of it is that they are in error. Perhaps they've moved the goalposts? The 'God of Progress' is rapidly remaking the world and us with it and I wonder how someone could be so blind as to miss it. Evil chaos? I doubt it. Ignorant choices being made? Obviously. Time to figure out how to survive our ignorance? Maybe. 8)

David Brin said...

" if I have an idea, ten Chinese people had it this morning."

Um actually no. You should see how Chinese students are treated, in the classroom. I lectured 150 of their very brightest university students and came to realize how constrained human thinking can be, when children were bullied as youths.

ghostbusters. And if you get what I mean, just say so or don't. Do not get specific.

Larry Hart said...

A question for Dr Brin, or for anyone who can point out what may be obvious...

As I've said, I'm on my fourth reading of Existence. There's a section of the book in which characters refer continually to "terrorists and reffers", the latter of which seems to be something very much like a terrorist, but different enough to warrant a separate designation.

In all the times I've read the book, I haven't been able to identify the source of that particular term. I usually "get" that kind of extrapolated language, but this particular one eludes me. As I'm not likely to come up with the answer after failing to do so on three previous readings, can someone help a guy out?

David Brin said...

reffer = RF'er. Now dig into Watergate lore. Donald Segretti. There's a scene in All The President's Men. Get it? You're the 1st to ask.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

"Rat-****er?"

I never would have thought of that if I lived to be a million. My brain was going more toward "reversion" or "referential" or "Reverend". Even "re-fried" beans might have seemed more likely.

jim said...

Alfred,
Just to be clear there is ~415ppm CO2 in the air, when you add in methane and the other greenhouse gasses you get to 500 ppm equivalent CO2.

David,
I guess you are saying that the US military is secretly developing giant marshmallow men. Watch out the Chinese will develop backpack sized particle accelerators for their proton beams.

Alfred Differ said...

urgh. reffer finally makes sense in that context.

I think I know a few to whom the label would apply.
Now I have a word for it.


Further proof that it is the authors who grow the language. Speakers shift it around and occasionally add words, but authors do it intentionally. 8)


jim,

Thank you. I get your point now. I still split them out mentally, but Mother Earth wouldn't care how I see it.

Deuxglass said...

I would prefer that we go straight to the asteroids but politically it is easier to get funding to go to the Moon so be it. We will still have to develop vehicles and methods that will serve us well for going further out when that time comes. As I see it we have not yet developed the Caravel and that is a necessary tech-step to making the asteroids really work for us. Going back to the Moon will at the least force us to build viable spaceships.

There is one thing about the Moon that really excites me. Build a big enough dome and you could fly! Strap on your wings and take to the sky. That is about the coolest activity I can think of and to do it you need the Moon. Also one could build an elevator from the Moon out to its L1 using materials we know how to make now. That opens up some interesting near-time (relativity speaking) possibilities.

We are in the West experiencing a weakening of the monotheistic religions coupled with an appreciable increase of polytheism which are what many of these new "religions" are when you look into them. Since we no longer burn or otherwise prosecute people to force them to worship in the accepted way a proliferation of alternate beliefs is the expected outcome. I for one welcome it because having only one religion can be boring. It does reinforce my belief that the epoch we live in closely ressembles the Hellenistic Age with its experimentation and progress in science, religion, art, commerce and government. It was an age where diversity was the driving factor. Monolithic empires bring stagnation where diverse and competing cultures bring constant stimulation.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Did you find any dilating pupils in D.C.?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Further proof that it is the authors who grow the language. Speakers shift it around and occasionally add words, but authors do it intentionally. 8)


Well, to be fair, the novel takes place in the future. So Dr Brin was speculating on language rather than growing it in the here and now. In fact, if we use the term in 2019, we're probably creating a time paradox. And then, I'll never be born! :)

Deuxglass said...

Larry Hard,

I love wordsmiths. I like the interplay of language with meaning and especially how slang becomes mainstream and then what once was mainstream becomes slang again. It's pure beauty and although I am incapable of producing it, like Antonio Salieri, I am can appreciate it.

scidata said...

Gosh that Falcon 9 is a sweet machine. It's becoming the DC-3 of space.
https://www.canada.ca/en/space-agency/news/2019/06/canadas-next-generation-radarsat-satellite-constellation-successfully-launches-to-space.html

Larry Hart said...

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Jun12.html#item-6

...
Meanwhile, the "friendship tree" that Trump and Emmanuel Macron planted when the French president visited the White House has died. If that's not a metaphor, we don't know what is.

Deuxglass said...

Larry Hart,

The tree did not die naturally. It was incinerated along with dirt in the hole not long after. Transcontinental pests are a real menace. The "friendship tree" idea could only have been hatched by a PR expert who although knowledgeable in publicity stunts has no comprehension of what potential harm that tree and its ecology could have done. Fortunately agricultural experts immediately stepped in to limit the damage.I am amazed that this still comes up.

David Brin said...

So cool they are so assured that they launch from Vandenburg even in dense fog. And so routine I first heard of it here!

Favor to ask! My latest Facebook post is approaching 1000 shares. Help me get over the top?

https://www.facebook.com/thedavidbrin

Tim Wolter said...

Asteroid mining news...

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7419

TW/Tacitus

A.F. Rey said...

Just finished Jim Wright's latest Stonekettle Station essay.

http://www.stonekettle.com/2019/06/remember-maine.html

He seems to imply, with all his references, that the attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East may be an American false-flag attack. As he says at the end:

Who benefits from attacks on these particular targets?

Who has the capability to carry out these attacks. Who has the ability to carry out an attack on oil tankers, underway at sea, in one of the most heavily trafficked sea lanes and thus one of the most heavily surveilled areas in the world, on ships that are specifically on the lookout for such an attack.

Who can carry out that attack and do so in such a manner that the methodology and origin is not immediately apparent?

Who has that capability?

Not only has that capability, but also believes they will directly benefit from a war between Iran and the rest of the world.

Has the capability, is willing to use it, wants a war, and will benefit from the results even if latter reveled -- starting with a massive increase in the price of oil.


But another suspect comes to mind from reading your blog, Dr. Brin.

Russia.

Although perhaps that is who Jim had in mind, too.

A.F. Rey said...

Oh, and if you need a laugh, you can hear Peter Navarro tell Steve Inskeep who to believe, when the President says that he has a secret trade agreement with Mexico, and Mexican officials deny it:

"The President always tells the truth."

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/13/732287427/what-has-the-u-s-gained-from-tariff-talks-with-mexico

Does Pete really believe we're that stupid??

David Brin said...

Thanks Tim. Metals, in particular, are unlikely to be a “lunar resource.” Want to know where to find them out there? See how NASA has given go-ahead to the Psyche Mission! “While most asteroids are rocky or icy bodies, scientists think Psyche is composed mostly of iron and nickel, similar to Earth's core. They wonder whether Psyche could be the nickel-iron heart, or exposed core, of an early planet maybe as large as Mars that lost its rocky outer layers through violent collisions billions of years ago.” And a lot more than nickel-iron.

Larry Hart said...

A F Rey:

Does Pete really believe we're that stupid??


No, he believes Trump's supporters are that stupid.

He doesn't care what we believe.

Treebeard said...

That stonekettle post is obviously fingering the USA, where false-flag wars are an old tradition. The quotes about the Lusitania, Maine and Gulf of Tonkin incidents should have been tip-offs. Saudi Arabia and Israel stand to benefit the most if they can get the USA to obliterate their biggest enemy, so they would also be leading suspects. Russia? Maybe attacking a friendly country so your biggest adversary can destroy them makes sense in your world, but in the real one, not so much.

Alfred Differ said...

The benefit to Russia is the US becoming further entangled in wars over there. It costs us money, draws our attention, and @#$%'s with our relationships. If they have to toss a 'friend' under the bus to arrange this, I'm sure they'll still be able to sleep at night.

Tim Wolter said...

Lets hope Psyche turns out to be the mother lode!

Has anyone put together specs based on current or plausible near future technology that would allow us to mine it? Crushing, refining, casting into ingots....I figure nuclear power would be the only way to do it. Coal and oxygen are a bit scarce out there.

It would take a more sophisticated unit to then make the raw materials into something useful, some habitat or better still, space craft!

Suggestions, either for a go to source or your own blueprints?

TW/Tacitus

Treebeard said...

LOL Alfred, as if the USA needs Russia's help to get further entangled in wars in the ME. The neocons, Israelis and Saudis do more than Russia could ever dream of on that score. It's uncanny that people like you can't look at the historical record, notice how much chaos the USA has been spreading in that region, who promotes and benefits from it the most, but conclude that Russia is who you should be worried about. I blame media propaganda, exceptionalist mythology and ignorance of the rest of the world; they make fools of even the smartest Americans. As Morris Berman likes to say, in America even the smart people are stupid.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin, re: "reffers",

I'm wondering if you were thinking not so much of the actual swear word, but of the milder euphemism, "Rat-Effers". It's even funnier that way.

Larry Hart said...

@Treebeard,

What's your point? I'm willing to blame Saudi Arabia and Israel rather than Russia. How does that affect anything that Jim Wright said. I don't think he even mentioned a particular adversary. He just said it didn't make sense that Iran started this. And he's right.

David Brin said...

The ent remains loco: "Saudi Arabia and Israel stand to benefit the most if they can get the USA to obliterate their biggest enemy."

Obliterate schmiterate. A hundred little pippety-poppety TV-gosh tomahawk hits is "obliteration?" That's how much Putin would allow, showing the world a US bully and driving the mullah's into Putin's arms for protection. And getting high oil prices along the way. You ... can't... even... read.

Saudis and Israelis who think that helps are idiots. As are you sir.

"in America even the smart people are stupid." Well okay. Yes, our smart people aren't smart at polemic, which they need in order to pry power out of the hands of the insanely moronic.


scidata said...

Kind of crazy tonight in Toronto, and in the city of Oakland which has been annexed by Canada for one night. Raptors again roam the Earth.

Just a word about Americans as smart or stupid. I spent much of my career working down there. They have a very unique form of intelligence - practical, pragmatic, industrious, yet dreaming as big as any people in history. More than polemic, what will secure the future is widespread scientific literacy. Indoctrination and tribalism are no match for a strong community of engaged, vibrant, diverse, (and yes, competing) individuals.

Tell me and I forget
Teach me and I remember
Involve me and I learn.
- Benjamin Franklin

smitpa said...

You realize that the samples we have of moon rocks all come from one major formation, the Procllarum basin. Me l'ed like to see what highland material from the middle of the far side is like and then some from the south pole Aitkens basin. But i suppose that manned missions aren't cost effective for some thing like this.

TheMadLibrarian said...

@smitpa, don't forget that we have more Lunar samples than you might realize: meteorites. The meteorite strikes on the Moon that blast loose chunks which will (good Lord willing and the creek don't rise) after millennia make their way to Earth are randomly scattered all over. There's no definitive way to say a lunaite came from a certain place on the Moon, but educated guesses say there's nothing preventing lunar meteorites from coming from virtually anyplace on the lunar surface.

TheMadLibrarian said...

eta: http://meteorites.wustl.edu/lunar/moon_meteorites.htm

David Brin said...

And how are major ores even possible? Metals SANK into the early Earth. Some water processes concentrated them in our crust. Um, water processes. The moon formed from depleted Earth crust and THEN what metals were left sank into its core. What's left is in tight oxides or some scattered meteorite droplets.

David Brin said...

onward

onward