I had been working on a post but the concerns I was trying to express and analyze are so far outside my bailiwick that the post was just going to be a demonstration of the Dunning Kruger effect.
I am not a computer expert.
I'm a Mac user...which, I think, is the opposite. Aside from my TI99, my first computer was an old Macintosh that I pulled out of a dumpster in '98. I've gone on via inertia since then buying iMacs.
Computers are black box technology to me, the only thing I know about how they work is that they need good industrial design to keep the magic smoke inside so they can access the ley lines that make up the internet.
(I exaggerate only slightly)
I'm trying to improve, but there's a lotta shit going down right now that's tech related. So I sent some questions to one of the blog's Crack Team of Science Babes, but the answers I got were non-specific and unhelpful.
"The internet was a mistake!"
However, several of my readers are tech savvy, to the point they make their living in IT or computer engineering.
I've often heard it said that "All the chips not made in China are made in Taiwan", but how true is that? I'd expect that Europe makes a lot and surely some are still made in North America. As Pixy noted 3 days ago, Foxconn is entering The Saudi Kingdom. I've looked and can't find a breakdown of numbers, or percentages and I don't know enough to know what constitutes "chips" for the purposes of the question. Without wasting too much of your non-existent free time, does anyone have any sources/resources on the subject you could point me to regarding who, where, and 'what quality/ capability?' regarding chip manufacture?
I am, as I've admitted....(looks both ways and whispers in shame)...a Mac user. I have very little experience with PCs and Macs are not tinker friendly...at all. I'm not, realistically, going to be aasembling one anytime soon. Can anyone recommend a good pre-built gaming/streaming PC?
Other than the looming food shortages (admittedly not a trivial issue) logistics, at least in the U.S. seem to have sort of stabilized. However, the tech sector logistics problems seem to be continuing and have multiple second order effects. Does anyone see any light at the end of the tunnel this year regards things like appliances and cars?
The cyber security threats we are seeing now are on a par with what was predicted for Y2K. But seem to be more substantive than Gary North ranting in his basement. Some of you do this for a living. Do you see any way to truly mitigate these vulnerabilities? Prior to the 1980s, many of these crucial functions that are so susceptible to digital manipulation now were handled quite adequately with manually operated or mechanically regulated systems. Is it just cost savings driving this transition to vulnerability or were regulations involved? Given that we used to operate refineries and power-plants without these vulnerabilities are there any hard engineering reasons distinct from political or cost/benefit reasons that we could not install manual/mechanical backups to keep from having some hacker blow up our stuff?
Russia is running out of cloud storage because of the embargoes.
Does this have any implications for non-Russians going forward? The internet was designed to survive, or at least fail gracefully in the event of a nuclear war. The cybersecurity issues and cloud storage seem to be glaring vulnerabilities that can't be mitigated by the users since at least in the case of the "cloud" all aspects of security, durability, and access privileges are completely out of the hands of the user. Is there anything to be done realistically other than "Buy your own damned servers and maintain them!" I confess I'm a little skeptical of the cloud on principle, but I've got a degree in History which doesn't give me a broad and deep understanding of the problem...if there IS a problem.
If you have a good handle on the happenings in Apple universe, you might want to take a look at running Windows on a Mac.
Otherwise, buying Dell consistently brought about a better result than buying HP for me. But you know, chasing a high-end PC seems like a whole another subculture.
I'll second Dell. My current computer... the one at Pond Central... was a no-longer top of the line system from them, and other than one ridiculously busy relationship chart, it's handled everything I've thrown at it. It played The Outer Worlds at max everything
(most of the time) in the 80-100fps range.
KSP is the only thing that's really made it chug, but that was with a 200+ part ship that caused powerful systems to weep and lesser boxes to play the game in spf, not fps.
Plus, y'know... pretty blue lights.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Fri Mar 18 21:50:27 2022 (DB9Lx)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sat Mar 19 01:47:34 2022 (PiXy!)
I'm having trouble posting a 1273 word/7827 character reply.
This is a test.
Posted by: PatBuckman at Sat Mar 19 21:12:08 2022 (r9O5h)
There are still a LOT of chips made in the US, I have a couple friends that were bunny suits for a living in portland and ca. I know Intel has been scrambling to bring more fabs online, and there are a lot of other chip makers still in the US
the most advanced chips all need tech from ASML, a Dutch company that makes the equipment to make the chips.
I use a mac for personal stuff, but I've used a lot of Dells, hand built PCs, and other brands (maingear, boxx, HP. Fujitsu, Sony, etc) for work over the years. the Dells are the most solid.
Posted by: punchyninja at Sat Mar 19 21:18:20 2022 (qnek2)
I do not understand just why the neon is being consumed. It really should not be. Of course the last time I worked with a gas laser was in the 1980s, so I may be 40 years out of date. But back then the gas was in a tube with two 100% glass (tilted) ends. It lasted basically forever.
Hardware: These are all basically electronic circuits. You can
learn more by studying electrical engineering, or going to a school
for electronics technicians.
engineering can work differently at higher frequencies than it does
at zero frequency (DC). At DC, you have your usual basic
electrical circuit theory, where you can put wires on a battery and a
light bulb, and make the lightbulb light up. Computers are one
of the many electrical engineering applications that involve periodic
signals at higher frequencies.
engineering makes a system out of a bunch of circuits, and electrical
engineers either make components, or buy components to arrange in
circuits and systems.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are a
composite laminate sandwich of metal and something like fiberglass.
The engineers call the fiberglass layer a 'dielectric', and you can
think of it as an insulator. The traces are made by etching
some of the metal layers. The PCBs in computers use many
many layers, and are complicated, difficult to design, and assume
that very specific components are available to attach to the PCBs,
and complete the working circuits/systems. These components are
ordered through places like Digikey, and Mouser, and sometimes you
can't assemble more boards if you can't get more of the same
component, like if the manufacturer has production issues or quits
One type of component that gets attached to a
PCB is an integrated circuit. (IC). An IC is made by etching
silicon wafers. A specific model of IC has a known set of
circuits on the wafer, and a known set of connections in a pin
out format. Some designs of IC circuit can be made on different
'processes', at very different resolutions. If the
available capacity for process A is maxed out, in theory you
can make some more with unused capacity for process B. Adding
IC process capacity requires building a building to house some
capital equipment that has a very long lead time. These ICs are
the chips being discussed.
The capacity for the best
processes is very limited, there are very few locations producing the
ICs for the latest CPUs. A CPU is a module that plugs into the
motherboard (a very fancy, expsensive hard to get PCB). Some
generations of CPU were PCBs with ICs on them.
There is an
extremely broad need for ICs that are made using simpler, older
processes. Here's a random one I
is built on a process that can be at least thirty years old.
You can buy 8 per dollar if you buy 2500. In quantity, you buy
them packaged so that your fancy PCB assembly machine can feed them
easily. It may show signs of a chip shortage. 35 days
until new inventory, c 750 in stock, and c 1400 in stock for a
All of these processes are
extremely delicate and sensitive. Some of them may have
alternative possibilities besides Neon, or the other expensive stuff,
but switching over an IC assembly line would at take time before it
was producing volume at quality again.
IC and PCB supplies
are important if you are building new stuff, or repairing or
replacing old stuff. If you have a good inventory of spare
parts, this wouldn't hurt you. So, this is basically a slice of
the broader issue of JIT making things fragile.
that, I dunno.
Posted by: PatBuckman at Wed Mar 23 20:20:49 2022 (r9O5h)
Actually, this is a bunch of fads, plus labor
cost, and a different set of skills.
You have fads
that are purely Big Tech. You also have broader
business/MBA/industry fads. Anything that a journalist
can boil down into a phrase, and speak loudly about without having
any understanding, can become an industry wide fad. Internet of
Things is probably such a fad.
control systems were put in for what seemed to be attractive
reasons. a) solid state electrical systems often break
less than mechanical systems, so potentially less down time from
repair b) range of behaviors that can be adjusted c) more data
collection d) not requiring people to be present for the system to be
There are a bunch of flavors of problems.
One, there are two different fields involved, and they do not think
in a very similar way. IT security, and plant
operations/industrial controls engineering are extremely different.
Walt Boyes, a controls industry trade journalist, used to say that he
knew how to teach people do secure this stuff, and that it was easier
to teach it to plant engineers. Two, a lot of implementations
are carried out without having a full understanding of everything
involved. Someone exposed to the basics of both IT security and
industrial controls engineering is rare; often implementors, or
organizations, are missing one or both skillsets. Management
making the decision tends to be ignorant of the real complexity, and
risks. Three, organizations can blindly push through changes in
IT that cause additional vulnerability to the industrial controls.
Suppose your industrial controls in scores of locations are
controlled from three sites, properly air gapped from the internet.
Supposed your HR decides that people are working from home, starting
yesterday. Can you say 'insecurely designed control system now
accessible through whatever internet gateway IT implemented in the
middle of the night before start of business today'?
we were doing bad stuff before, but the lockdown was insane
bullshit. We might not be fixing as long as management contains
woke people who consume mainstream media.
practice, generally, has a lot of security vulnerability.
PArtly because management is able to demand that things be done, and
fads be followed, partly because the people being trained often
have holes in their understanding.
Hardware isn't free, and you have to program the software. You
are typically tied to a vendor who sells stuff that can be programmed
using stuff that one of your engineers understands. PLCs are
one of the items that you may purchase for this. PLC is one
search term, and LabVIEW is another. LabVIEW is a weird
programming language that has some industrial applications along
There are also fundamental technical
vulnerabilities driven by Big Tech fads. As opposed to fads
within the whatever widget industry, of MBAs wanting /their/ company
to be the first to implement $technical_buzzword.
are still a lot of mechanical, etc., controls being used.
I've heard tell, inside the past five-ten years, of folks who still
have pneaumatic controls in place. a) wholesale replacement
with a different system is typically expensive, on
the budgets that these places have for that b) If you change types of
control, your work force needs different skills. This explains
why old methods are sometimes retained, but I meant it to explain why
changing back would at least take time.
always struck me as being dumbass ii) anyone who bought cloud
based PLCs probably deserves to hang. Cloud was a pretty
significant fad, so there are a bunch of people who are doing that,
and should have instead bought their own servers, and paid for the
I want to say that people running
factories of course had enough sense not to... Hearsay
suggests that this is manifestly untrue. The best effort to
understand broader trends in American society, suggests we are
maximum retard, independently of business hearsay.
We have been f&cking up a bunch of stuff for decades. It
took a lot of effort to pile up all of this staggering
incompetence. I didn't even mention that our foreign
policy weakness substantially contributed to hostile foreign actor
willingness to give us metaphorical swirlies. We will not
quickly be addressing matters.
Posted by: PatBuckman at Wed Mar 23 20:21:43 2022 (r9O5h)
The groundbreaking studio, known as SEE-1, comes from film producer duo Elena and Dmitry Lesnevskyâ€™s newly-launched Space Entertainment Enterprise (S.E.E.) and will dock with Axiomâ€™s world-first commercial space station Axiom Station, which is connected to the International Space Station (ISS).
It will allow, most obviously the filming of zero-g scenes in video without the constant interruptions involved with the "Vomit Comet".
It is set to become a free-floating facility in 2028.
One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes has thoughts.
"Oh noes! Jewish Space Lasers!"
Not useful or productive thoughts this time, but thoughts nonetheless.
For those who haven't heard about this star, it has been in the news for a couple of years, because of some anomalous dimming. The dimming was initially thought to be indicative of large 'objects' that weren't really shaped like planets orbiting the star. This caused....excitement....in certain circles. There was (and still is) some loose and irresponsible talk of "alien megastructures". However, subsequent observation indicated that the structures might be composed of dust...very fine dust with about the same particle size as cigaret smoke. So comets or a solar ring system were proposed, and, in any event it looked like it was probably soon to be figured out.
Now, 12 years after first baffling astronomers, there are a few theories, but nothing really fits. For one thing, if it IS dust something is replacing it at uneven intervals, leading to loose and irresponsible speculation that the dimming is caused by tailings from asteroid mining or something.
Current investigations are focused on trying to find some odd periodic collision of comets.
One scientist by the name of Dr. Edward G. Schmidt decided to look for other stars that were behaving in a similar way. No other's had been noted but no one had been looking for them. If it's happening in multiple systems, it probably is natural, and by observing multiple such stars, it might be possible to find a cause.
A search of the entire sky turned up only a few. They are ALL clustered in the vicinity of Boyajian's Star and only around stars of the same stellar type, namely G and F stars. Like Earth's sun, or slightly hotter.
This is EXACTLY what one would expect if the phenomenon were the result of alien megastructures or megaprojects that were associated with a civilization that was expanding to nearby systems...and if they were only choosing to do big projects around sunlike stars. Bigger and smaller stars tend to have flares or other problems so G and F stars would make sense in that context.
Of course it still could be a natural phenomenon that only affects a particular type of star in that little bit of the galaxy.
Explaining that would probably be a cosmological discovery of considerable note.
Scientists really don't know what this is.
But it's intriguing that the discovery of other examples actually strengthened rather than debunked the "It's aliens!" hypothesis.
Technology Ahead of It's Time
Many of you are familiar with Steve1989's YouTube channel. He collects and reviews survival rations and emergency kits, mostly military from various eras.
Steve's notoriety comes from the fact that, being a Florida-Man, he tries to eat the old ration kits if possible, and his deadpan commentary combined with childlike enthusiasm means hilarity frequently ensues. This is particularly true in the pre-1970s ration kits where at least some components are usually inedibly rancid resulting in his transcendental joy when he finds something like a partially edible K-Rat from 1943.
However that is not nearly as impressive as the video I blundered into today. Last year, he opened a U.S. survival ration from 1906. It consisted of three sets of vitamin fortified mystery beef, and three sets of chocolate.
While grim, the ration was completely edible after 114 years and held up MUCH better than much more recent rations. While the newer C-rats and MREs are no doubt vastly better for morale, the shelf life of the 1906 ration is unbeatable. This ration was a much more basic bit of sustenance, intended for in-extremis situations, and can be eaten cold or as a stew in one's mess kit. It is actually more advanced in some ways than the WW2 ration kits. The packaging involved is pretty sophisticated and elegant even by today's standards, and it actually has slightly more calories than a modern MRE in about 2/3 to half the volume.
On the debit side, it's...pemmican and chocolate, kinda grim, with no other menu options.
But it is not intended to be a general purpose meal, one had other options for that, like mobile canteens, rather this was intended for forced marches and traveling light for a few days.
And at least this one kept more than a century. It would be nice, in these interesting times, if these were still being produced. They are much more compact than the modern alternatives that are (dubiously) advertised as lasting a fifth as long.
It should be noted that this is a slightly more advanced and mechanically refined version of a British emergency ration from the 1890s, which inspired it. That one did not hold up quite as well, but even it was partially edible after 121 years.
To be clear the new TESLABOT is not technically a killbot in that it is not equipped with a keyboard command for terminating peons who offend the users of TESLABOT, but a workaround for that oversight is likely simple. If it comes equipped as advertised with such features as opposable thumbs, it will certainly be equip-able with phased plasma rifles in the 40 watt range or other items with similar functionality.
OK in all seriousness, this diagram notes what the "killbots" will kill...
...or in the polite language of the promo, "eliminate".
Those 'dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks' are what most of us call "jobs".
That is the prey of this killbot.
Of course for 200 years, jobs have been eliminated by advancing technology only to unleash by their increase in productivity a need for more jobs. This, new development, if it comes to pass may be more of the same, but there is concern that it might be different as it is not "the machinery" but is designed to move amongst and service "the machinery" and do the scutt work that the machinery couldn't.
Technology is generally double edged, everyone needs to stay on their toes.
Posted by: cxt217 at Mon Aug 23 19:55:43 2021 (MuaLM)
a) Musk's work on the Tesla may possibly be an argument /against/ his ability to pull this off. Building an automated car with wireless updating of software is an invitation for problems. If you turn it into a commercial success somehow, you've stuck yourself with an architecture that you cannot secure. It's an invitation to get sued out of existence.
b) Modern AI techniques work in specific ways to get certain flavors of task done. Fundamentally, they have limits, and it is not hard to work out what a lot of them are. It seems unlikely to change the basic arithmetic of 10 or 20 years ago over what kinds of factory task make more sense for automation, and what kinds for human. The tech to replace fast food workers has been around for a while. What changed was the Democrats screwing with the labor market. Thing is, Democrats screwing around with the labor market is a temporary thing, and will be gone before we discover significantly more capable AI techniques.
c) There's an arithmetic of maintenance and design attention that prevents replacement of humans with equipment for all society sustaining tasks. Humans working on something directly are smarter than a bunch of engineers who aren't there, and who are trying to use a machine to do it. Farming in particular is a lot of varied tasks and thinking, and is one of my go to examples of where the maintenance would be prohibitive. A farmer is better doing maintenance on the heavy equipment than some robot would be. Also a good example of where modern AI would be severely problematic, and of a mental task that humans can do much better. (AI training aggregates. Humans can learn a lot about local weather, and the sorting aggregation happens by capitalism.)
d) Some engineering tasks can be automated, but engineering as a whole cannot be automated. To make robots take over all human tasks, you would need to be able to automate the engineering. Otherwise, human engineers at a distance cannot exceed humans at the spot. Same basic logic as why university lunatics with PhDs in telling 'those people' what to do, who are successfully telling 'those people' what to do would always be worse than people minding their own business.
e) There always will be more actual need for retards to do some work than there will be for so called intelligent people to spend their time in technocratic megalomania.
f) As a 'whatever discipline it is that understands this stuff', Musk may be an okay technologist. UBI is bad, because idleness means nothing to distract uninvested people from breaking stuff. You would expect more nihilistic destruction, perhaps of the sort produced by our so called elites, who we likewise have no real need for.
g) One task that we will never be able to completely automate away is fighting other humans. And I saw that as someone insanely optimistic enough to think it might be possible to develop technology sufficient to let us kill everyone in the world who isn't an American. Okay, that probably is not a good goal, but it is definitely a difficult thing to accomplish.
h) I'm pretty sure that one of the big things modern engineering is going to have to deal with is the overconfidence in AI. Lot of people are learning techniques to implement AI based automation. Not clear to me how many really understand that there are limits, or that they should be careful and cautious in what they do. This, /before/ considering the state of programming as an engineering discipline. Caveat, I'm still a pretty bad programmer.
Posted by: PatBuckman at Mon Aug 23 20:35:26 2021 (DHVaH)
This seems like cgi fantasy to me. How is that "robot" actuated? Right now, unless theres new technology im unaware of, theres nothing that really does what human muscle does in terms of rapidly contracting and expanding without extra side space. Hydraulics come closest.
As to UBI: Sounds like more "you eill own nothing and be happy" to me. We had pretty close to itopia in this country: it was everyone owning their own family farm or store. Ownership lead to dignity, lack of ownership to serfdom or slavery, everywhere i can think of.
Posted by: Madrocketsci at Mon Aug 23 21:32:39 2021 (SrNF9)
As to servicing machinery, thats an incredibly complex task. I was recently in the guts of my parents edm hole drill diagnosing a problem. (An actual "robot" btw). Just taking the panels off (upside down in a tight space, whete no one should have EVER put #$%^ screws) is so far beyond current robotics its incredible. Nevermind putting voltage probes on terminals, reasoning through problems, reading crappy korean manuals, etc...
Posted by: Madrocketsci at Mon Aug 23 21:40:55 2021 (bbnoI)
Strange that musk of all people is prone to these fantasies. Most people who work in industry very quickly appreciate how much tacit complexity there is in even apparently very simple processes. How much thinking has to go on to get anything that isnt absolutely mindless and rigidly routinized accomplished. Actual human thinking, which is lightyears beyond our toy neural nets. I would expect this of some commie college professor with a contempt and utter ignorance of the industrial world he wants to command or banish. Not someone running a space program and a car factory.
Posted by: Madrocketsci at Mon Aug 23 21:47:32 2021 (SrNF9)
Ehh, on reading the article, there are more constructive ways to take his proposal. "Come work for my robotics group and help build better/more robots" is certainly a worthwhile project - because (as far as I understand the state of the art) we *can't* build anything like the depicted machine right now. (Boston dynamics appears to have the most progress.) Only way to get there is to work on building robots.
The fear-porn/clickbait/petulant Tory-esque overlord take: And then we'll overturn society and replace you all with robots, ROBOTS, I tell you! And then you'll be sorry, you useless eaters! You'll all be on the dole because we won't NEED you anymore! > That attitude annoys me, but it also worries me (not for the reason of the implied threat). A technological society is one that can only exist if there's extreme respect (and remuneration) for the competence and skill that goes into building and maintaining it.
This: (removed image of jewler's lathe), antiquated though it is, was not created by nor operated by mindless drudges. Nor was this: (removed image of steelworks), nor this: () The idea that the maintenance of a civilization *capable* of building rockets is mindless drudgery, and that all thinking can be centralized in some design bureau is lunacy. Even the Soviets weren't that stupid, and they *were* that stupid in heading down that road.
Posted by: MadRocketSci at Mon Aug 23 22:38:23 2021 (hRoyQ)
With all the questions AI equipped robots bring about everything from Ethics to Engineering, the editors of InStyle magazine have come up with the single most pressing concern: "Why does the Tesla Bot have a thigh Gap?" Yeah, it was a model in a bodysuit on stage, but there's Bodyshaming to whine about.
Posted by: Mauser at Tue Aug 24 11:52:34 2021 (Ix1l6)
Given that the European Union has proposed taxing robots because 1) They replace people who they could tax; and 2) They need to tax someone to pay for their unsustainable spending....
Posted by: cxt217 at Tue Aug 24 19:40:01 2021 (MuaLM)
Kinda like how they want to tax cars by mileage because electric cars are "depriving" them of gas taxes.
Posted by: Mauser at Wed Aug 25 20:50:00 2021 (Ix1l6)
It seems that NASA has been doing studies of the information gleaned from the various probes that have visited Jupiter and in the process of simulating the environment of Jupiter's moon Europa they have concluded that this is what it looks like on its night side.
The NASA/JPL article linked note that this phenomena has a lot of potential for analyzing the composition of Europa's ice and its subsurface ocean, via spectroscopy. However, there would seem to be other potential implications of this discovery.
Currently, any life on Europa is assumed to be based on relatively inefficient chemosynthesis and to be dependent on discharges from equally hypothetical volcanic vents.
NASA says the sea ice is literally glowing blue, and seems to imply that this light is visible to the naked eye..
So, if the sea-ice over the ocean is, in fact, glowing in blue light, then this light could represent another potential source of energy beyond the hypothesized volcanic vents. As happens on Earth, this would only be complimented by any black smokers spewing nutrients.
Using the vast depth and breadth of biological and radiological knowledge that comes with a History degree, I find myself asking, "Can you grow plants with Cherenkov radiation?" It seems likely, given that blue light is pretty high in energy, and that they make blue grow lights.
Additionally, life or no life, Europa's oceans might be well lit...in an eerie blue glow (dependent, of course upon the thickness of the ice and brightness of the glow).
There are a whole bunch of variables that need to be looked at regarding this, and I'm sure SOMEBODY knows if Cherenkov radiation is devoid of anything that plants need, but I'll be damned if I can find any info in the matter at the moment.
Photosynthesis aside, there is a model put forth by a Richard Greenberg (presumably, his degrees are not in history) that Europa's ocean may be as oxygenated as earth's if not more so, due to the creation of Oxygen and Peroxides created by the radiation bombardment of the icy surface.
Cherenkov radiation, IIRC, should just be an EM wave. Under the usual model for EM waves, the frequency would be the main thing that matters.
That would depend on there being a biochemistry that can photosynthesize at one of the available frequencies. Which probably isn't something we can theoretically or numerically calculate any time soon.
Greenberg was a planetary science faculty, and most of his doctoral students were in planetary science. With one in applied mathematics. Looks like he retired in 2015 or so.
Posted by: PatBuckman at Sun Aug 1 11:15:11 2021 (DHVaH)
Yeah, Given that Cherenkov Radiation is visible and blue I'd THINK it would just be blue light ie: fairly high energy visible EM radiation. It should be fine for plant growth, certainly if the plants evolved around it, but I'm not sure I'm not missing something in particular about it.
Spectral content, and power.
Sun is on a bunch of frequencies. Power, by the time it hits Earth, isn't entirely negligible. So, any photosynthesis chemistry operating in that frequency range of high intensity, has enough power to support a biological process. In fact, trees etc., use several chemistries to exploit sunlight.
The basic question is how much power does the cherenkov radiation output, and whether it penetrates deep enough into Europa for our otherwise undetectable life.
Posted by: PatBuckman at Sun Aug 1 12:42:02 2021 (DHVaH)
I think one of my favorite explanations for Cerenkov Radiation came in a reply to the original Can of Ravioli as a Relatavistic Weapon thread: "Cerenkov Radiation is the lightspeed police flashing their lights at you."
Posted by: Mauser at Wed Aug 4 00:54:28 2021 (Ix1l6)
It appears that a planet is entering the inner solar system.
It's technically a dwarf planet...but I don't think we can say dwarf anymore so revel in the clickbait.
It's also a part of the solar system, specifically the Kuiper belt and is just on a really long orbit that is bringing it into the inner Solar System, so, it's basically a comet. However, 2014 UN271 may be more than 200 miles in diameter and probably qualifies as a Dwarf Planet. (Oh, looky there, I said it.)
This appears to be a big Trans-Neptunian Object like Pluto, Eris, or Makemake, which scientists are eager to visit, but are so far away (much farther than even Pluto) that the expense and time required for such missions mean that they are unlikely to be visited in the foreseeable future.
2014 UN271 however, is coming to us! On Saturday, April 5 2031, the object will reach its closest approach to the sun, just inside the orbit of Saturn. 10 years is long enough that a mission can be put together and while Saturn is way out there, its much easier to reach than most of these things. This could be really cool.
There are a couple of things about this object that are speculative; one is its size, which is anywhere between 60 and 230 miles across, the reason for this is that it appears to be outgassing already even though it's beyond Neptune right now. If so, it probably is covered in very low melting point volatiles. This COULD mean that even being beyond Jupiter when it turns back, it could be a truly spectacular comet.
Leaving the staid realm of orbital mechanics and engineering for a moment to wandering into the whackadoodle speculations of history majors, it should be noted that in addition to the scientific bounty this TNO brings with it some spectacularly unlikely potential for hijinks.
These objects appear to be made largely of tholins, ice, and frozen nitrogen. Nitrogen is something that one needs a LOT of if one were (for some reason) going to, say, terraform Mars, and planetary quantities of nitrogen that are accessible are hard to come by. So I could see Elon Musk sending some rather desperate expedition to this thing to set up some mass drivers and frantically mine it for its nitrogen, water, and organics during the few years it is within shooting distance of Mars, all the while frantically hurling blocks of volatiles towards the red planet, maybe with foil screens around them to ensure they don't completely evaporate before impact. This is a dubious prospect for a whole host of reasons but it might make a great story.
Robert Zubrin's last few books give a VERY cursory overview of terraforming techniques for Mars.
This short paper has some hyperlinked citations that may be of interest.
A post over a Crowlspace has some figures, but few citations.
A paper on Terraforming...uh...Ceres...is here.
Theres a bit on settling Venus via cloud cities here and in the links to this old post.
Note that while I tentatively support terraforming Mars as a sort of modern cathedral and vanity project, I'm much more in the Dandridge Cole/ Gerard O'Neal camp in that I think the long term and superior way of settling space is by big habitats like the Stanford Torus and the Island One cylinders.
Note too that I've got a bachelors degree in History, which is a degree exquisitely untainted by any practical expertise in such matters.
From a "harvesting the riches of space" argument, I agree it makes very little sense to expend massive amounts of energy to get out of one gravity well... only to go down another.
I skirt this by noting population pressure: in two generations my Earth is in a full-out Maunder Minimum, if not ice age, just as the Russians and Japanese were able to turn about their demographic implosions. The people of the nations of the Polar Alliance need a place to go and Mars fits the bill.
Thanks for the links; much appreciated!
If we could land a probe on it, we could get a free ride to wherever it's going.
Posted by: Mauser at Wed Jun 30 19:37:39 2021 (Ix1l6)
8From a "harvesting the riches of space" argument, I agree it makes very
little sense to expend massive amounts of energy to get out of one
gravity well... only to go down another.
Problem is, most of the "riches of space" that haven't been collected down a gravity well are spread out in tiny pieces across vast distances. Any sort of "Belter" civilization would be less "Carribean pirates in space" and more exceedingly patient and foresightful collectors of metals and volatiles (usually different types of asteroids in different orbits), since it'll take them years and kms/sec delta-V to hop from rock to rock.
Ceres might be one location it makes sense to establish a colony though for collecting volatiles. The gravity is light, it's in the inner solar system, and it can provide hydrogen reaction mass for arc-jets for inner-system transportation systems.
Posted by: MadRocketSci at Fri Jul 2 21:22:30 2021 (hRoyQ)
Isaac Arthur mentions a light-saber video. It is here and it is awesome! There are follow-ups here and here, where they demonstrate that Styrofoam is a sub optimal armor material, and mobile homes are weak to light sabers as well as tornadoes.
There is a moment in the video where Mr. Arthur predicts that hacking will be viable for only a short period as cybersecurity is becoming much better.
One of out Crack Team of Science Babes has called our attention to happenings in Ukraine.
"I guess it's true then. 2020 won."
Uh. She seems dismayed. Well, lets look at her tabs...
Thirty-five years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded in the worldâ€™s worst nuclear accident, fission reactions are smoldering again in uranium fuel masses buried deep inside a mangled reactor hall.
A quick perusal of the article indicates that rainwater leaking into the sub-basements of the stricken power plant was acting as a moderator and facilitating increased nuclear reactions in the solidified mass of uranium that constitutes the now solidified melted-down fuel pile. To combat this, the powers that be erected a rain-proof shelter over the highly radioactive ruin. Unfortunately there has recently been a spike in neutron emissions from a particularly isolated room where the formerly molten mass solidified. There are concerns that the water had been acting as a moderator there as well, but in such a way as to prevent chain reactions rather than facilitate them, and now that the water has drained/ evaporated out this area is getting all fissiony.
Pouring water into the catacombs paved with uranium risks causing chain reactions in other areas.
This is a mess. While a runaway chain reaction would not cause an actual nuclear bomb equivalent, it could cause a steam explosion and possibly fires which would spread radioactivity.
Or not...because these are counterintuitive neutrons and scientists are unsure of what is actually going on.
There is more coverage of this here, here, and here at the U.K. Sun, which manages to work the word "zombie" into the headline.
One of the first things that popped into my head was: imagine if Ukraine had spent the money they wasted in 2016 trying to swing the election to Hillary (Something the Ukrainians actually admitted to trying.) and used it for more constructive purposes...
Posted by: cxt217 at Sat May 8 14:47:46 2021 (4i7w0)
One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes brings us the latest on the oldest.
(Dinosaur looking thing is unrelated.)
Scientists have used X-Rays, a watchmaker, fine manipulation tools, previous reconstructions and a Greek-English dictionary to come up with the latest, most accurate reconstruction of the oldest known mechanical calculator, the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient Greek device that was discovered in 1901 and was vastly more advanced in concept and construction that had been thought possible during that age. One of the big breakthroughs on this latest attempt was the discovery, via X-Ray that there were, inside the device, a much more complete set of instructions on how to use it than had previously been known.
One of our Crack Team of Science Babe's has some commentary on the matter.
Apologies to everyone who viewed the post in the first two hours that it was up.
I was surprised when I saw the "live feed", but figured that it was a test flight ,and, being quite busy today just linked the previous embed as part of a particularly perfunctory post and ran out to run errands. A few minutes ago I came back and checked for any more info and realized that there was none and then a comment by "David" which confirmed my unease.
I replaced the "live feed" with a recent video on Ingenuity.
The different embed retroactively makes the post technically correct...(the best kind of correct).
It's rather interesting that You-Tube, the company that claims to care greatly about fact checking and yeeted with prejudice anyone who mentioned the Hunter Biden story have let this chlickwhore stay up for (checks Youtube) WOW this has been up for THREE DAYS and it is still up.
The previous embed is impressive and does look for all the world like an actual live stream with black and white video supplemented by color corrected video with an additional time delay. The vistas looked very much like Mars indeed, but it's completely fake. If you are very curious about the video that was previously embedded it is here. I'd rather not give the people-shaped-colostomy-bag who posted it any clicks though.
Again, I'm sorry. I'll strive to do better in the future.
First flight of the helicopter isn't planned until about two months from now, someone is scamming for views.
Posted by: David at Sun Feb 21 15:09:15 2021 (aT8ji)
It's actually fairly common for people to exploit that "live" tag. I see it all the time with space stuff, there were "live" videos of most of the SpaceX Starship tests days after they met there "missed it by that much!" ends. I believe you can still find "live" video of Starman and his Tesla roadster. And of course youtube doesn't care, because they get the lion's share of any ad revenue generated.
Posted by: David at Sun Feb 21 21:49:52 2021 (aT8ji)
Meanwhile: At Alpha Centauri
This story actually transpired a couple of weeks ago but I have been waiting for the inevitable debunking. Now one of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes is here to inform us how that went...
"The debunking is not going quite as smoothly as expected".
Allow me to explain...
A few weeks ago, radio astronomers detected an odd radio signal that seemed to come from from the nearby Alpha Centauri system, the 3 closest stars to Earth.
That's bloody coincidental, so while the press was being their usual calm selves, the scientists did what they always do when they hear an 'extraterrestrial signal', they set about trying to figure out what Earth radio signal they had mistakenly picked up.
Well, weeks later there have been some developments...sort of.
Basically all known terrestrial radio signals have been eliminated as being this.
As I understand it, the signal hasn't changed much in bearing (relative to the sun), which one would expect if it to do if it were being broadcast from inside the solar system. Moreover, this turns out not to be a particularly weak signal by the standards of radio astronomy, quite the opposite in fact, and after adjusting their readings and analyzing their parallax, they've narrowed it down to coming from the direction of Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf that is the closest of the three stars in Alpha Centauri and the closest star to Earth.
The chances of the first SETI success involving the closest star in the sky is....well, the odds of THAT seem dubious.
However, this signal is strange, and is stubbornly defying debunkery. An inability to, as of yet, debunk something that is vanishingly unlikely is NOT the same as confirmation. However, this has slipped out of the realm of press hype and into the realm of 'interesting'.
There's a good overview of this conundrum here:
Interestingly, the signal doesn't appear to be data...it's a monotone signal, like a dial tone...or a beacon.
Proxima is now known to have at least 2 planets and an asteroid/dust belt.
One of the planets, (Proxima Centauri B) is in the theoretical habitable zone from the star. However that habitable zone is very close to the star. Proxima's a small star, a tad bigger than Jupiter (though much more massive) and it's not a calm star like ours. It flares quite spectacularly. In fact it has flares that are bigger than those spewed out by our sun.
Any planet in the "habitable zone" of this dinky little star is going to get bombarded by star farts, and would require a massive atmosphere similar to Venus, and/or a terribly strong magnetic field to keep its atmosphere from being stripped away.
Note too that "habitable zone" is a bit of a provincial and vague term. Venus, Earth and Mars are in our sun's habitable zone, but only one of them is habitable by humans.
The planet in that system which has gotten the most attention is the aforementioned Proxima Centauri B, in part because it is in the habitable zone and in part because it was discovered first. It has a mass somewhere between 1.7 and 1.6 times that of Earth and an estimated surface gravity, according to Wikipedia of between .95 and 1.1 g. It's a bit bigger and somewhat more massive than Earth. Assuming it has an atmosphere, it's probably colder than Earth...but that's a big assumption, because it's so close to its star that its getting blasted by solar wind and radiation, that, in the absence of a strong magnetic field would have stripped away the atmosphere long ago and sterilized the husk.
We have some experience with the magnetic fields of roughly Earth-size rocky planets, having no less than four of them in the general vicinity. Only one of them, has a useful magnetic field. Mars has one that only extends above the planetary surface in the tropics. Venus has a weak magnetosphere caused by the impact of solar wind on its upper atmosphere, Mercury, which is about the size of the moon (but as massive as Mars) has a very weak field, and Earth has about the second strongest magnetic field in the solar system after Jupiter. Earth's anomalously strong field is actually on par with the other gas giants like Saturn. It is hypothesized that this is due to tidal forces coming from the moon and the fact that Earth still spins on its axis fairly quickly.
As we noted a while back, any planet orbiting as close to its star as Proxima b is likely to be tidally locked, that is, it's likely to orbit once per rotation (like the moon is to Earth). However, In the embedded video there is speculation that it might be in resonance, perhaps with the other, recently discovered, planet (Proxima Centauri C) much as Mercury is in resonance with Jupiter. It is unclear if this is based on models or wishful thinking, but this would at least mean that it would have a day/night cycle. However, even generously granting that possibility, it likely still does not rotate fast enough to generate a sufficient magnetic field to protect it. There is also a data artifact noted in passing on page 8 of this paper that opens the remote possibility that the planet might have a moon (how that could possibly work so close to the star is unclear). There is a video discussion of this planet and the solar system in general here.
The study confirming Proxima b also indicated there might be another, smaller planet with an orbital period of 5.15 days (Noted on page 7 of the previous paper) but Proxima d is, as yet, unconfirmed.
The only other planet confirmed to be in the system in the system, Proxima Centauri C is either a small ice giant (would that be an ice orc?) , or a big rocky world. It is quite frigid and fairly far from the star, being outboard of what appears to be a dust or asteroid belt. This is all based on inferences from the wobble and red-shift of the star, but, recently astronomers were actually able to take a direct picture of Proxima C. While this dark frigid world elicits little interest from those looking for life signs, the ability to directly take a picture of a planet in another solar system is cool indeed. So what does this boring thing look like?
Damnit, I was hoping that it might be the real life equivalent of Ellis from 2300AD - a habitable planet orbiting around a red dwarf that is oddly not tide-locked, and where Americans can move to without being trapped in a high tech security state.
Posted by: cxt217 at Sat Jan 9 12:46:59 2021 (4i7w0)
So if they've been listening all this time, what happened 8.8 years ago that prompted their "head up" dial tone?
So if they've been listening all this time, what happened 8.8 years ago that prompted their "head up" dial tone?
Radio astronomers are generally looking for interesting astronomical phenomena (phenomenae?) They point their radio telescopes at interesting things and Alpha Centauri consists of basic bitch versions of G,K, and M class stars, which are themselves basic bitch versions of stars.
Also, SETI does not have a lot of funding in comparison to other aspects of astronomy which get billions of dollars to spend on space origamis. SETI is full of serious researchers, but I get the impression that it is mostly professional astronomers who are basically pursuing their hobby. Not a lot of grants come to those who find nothing year after year and I imagine that the research doesn't generate a lot of peer-reviewed research.
" Having reviewed Professor Skippy's analysis suggesting that he'd heard nothing, we have concluded that, in fact, he heard nothing."
Also, Radio Astronomy and SETI in particular listen to a small chunk of the sky at any given time and since Radio Astronomy was a thing there has always been a LOT of radio signals to filter out. A lot of the work with SETI and RA in general is just trying to eliminate all the Top 40 and CB broadcasts. That takes time.
Finally, I suspect it is a matter of geography. Most radio telescopes are in the northern hemisphere. The constellation Centarus, despite being named by the Greeks, is now only visible from the southern hemisphere year round and south of Florida in the Summer.
So there was a star system, that was not interesting except because of its location, that wasn't really viewable with the best equipment, and a signal that was hard to filter out from the background noise and sounds like a dial-tone or radio test.
It's still probably nothing, but given how odd the signal is, whatever it is should at least be amusing.
6Mars, some asteroid, or Callisto would be a better bet.
Unless terraforming technology gets a LOT better, I rather a place that is both far away and whose residents will not be immediately vulnerable due to their life support systems being destroyed by planetary bombardment (a la what happened to Hochbaden in the 2300AD setting - yes, I have been reading old gaming modules.).
Posted by: cxt217 at Sun Jan 10 14:47:29 2021 (4i7w0)
Terraforming is outre' tech to be sure, but FAR less so than traveling 4.6 light years. In contrast to the Hochbaden scenario you mention, most any space settlements aside from Spaceports are going to be buried, either in asteroids or underground, presenting any attackers with the thorny issues the Earth faced in Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Hochbaden was, IIRC, a Bavarian vanity project with the pressurized habitats all exposed for reasons of artistic whimsy, and big open windows the size of football fields to facilitate tourism. In 2300, most other closed-ecosystem colonies were much more sound architecturally.
Even assuming that orbital bombardment is not a consideration, and frankly its not high on the list of realistic design concerns, mitigation of radiation and meteors is going to require subterranean placement of most habitable areas, with periscopes bringing light in for farming.
Sunlight looses the bandwidths necessary for terrestrial photosynthesis past the Trojans, so, Jupiter is probably a hard limit on how far out we could go in the absence of fusion power. Jupiter is also the extreme limit of practical solar power (see Juno).
I've been seeing those 1" cubes in a lot of videos lately, I wonder where they come from?
There's also a 4" Tungsten cube that's been making the rounds of the GunTubers and others.
Posted by: Mauser at Mon Nov 30 00:10:11 2020 (Ix1l6)
Search for "density cubes"; they're all over Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc. I think they're for teaching ranged combat to homeschooled kids. :-)
Posted by: J Greely at Mon Nov 30 00:46:49 2020 (ZlYZd)
My mother works at a place called "The Institute for Physics of High Pressures", which is basically centered around a giant press. They were the first to make synthetic diamonds, long time ago. These days they're trying to create a metallic hydrogen. Basically scientists were so preoccupied with the question if they could, they forgot to ask if they should. Metal hydrogen is not a quantum state, so who cares? Maybe they should start a Youtube channel too.
A friend of mine, Rex S., is a leading seller of some kind of "model cube". He was a teacher in a high school and started it as a hobby after he had a brain cancer and became unable to teach due to seizures. He was selling all sorts of garbage, like miniature steam engines, polished stones, and geodes, until one day he sold these cubes to some industrial place. I think he makes them mostly out of tungsten.
Now, in 2020, astronomers looked at the space rock's most recent pass and amended their amendment to their calculations with the result that they think this dollop of deep-space detritus has a 0.00067% chance of impacting the earth with the force of 1.2 gigatons of TNT in 2068.
This is not a high probability event, but if it comes to pass it is a very consequential, as a blast yield of 1200 megatons is a, shall we say, impactful, event no matter where on Earth it happens. Furthermore, this asteroid tends to have close calls frequently, meaning that in the long term, an eventual impact is almost certain.
The good news is that we've got plenty of time to mitigate this and try, fail, and try again to deflect the object and still have time to reflect upon and learn from mistakes made and lessons learned.
The Brickmuppet's Crack team of Science Babes begin training to take care of business.
For instance: The next time one discovers an Earth crossing asteroid, name it Fluttershy or Snorlax rather than after some ancient Egyptian god of chaos and death.