Friday, December 30, 2011

E-Cat Weekly -- December 29, 2011


I checked out one of the articles here, titled "Could Starships Use Cold Fusion Propulsion?"  Personally, I didn't think so when I started reading, so that is not what I'm posting about here.

No, it is that the article is quite skeptical about the E-cat, and actually does a good job of debunking it.  Yes, it is a good job, the best I've seen so far.  Actually, the article doesn't do the heavy lifting, but only links to it here.  A concerted effort to read through it all should leave some significant questions for Rossi to answer.

But I am not totally convinced.  I'll tell you what gave me pause, and that is the protection from gamma rays.  Not being well trained in this area, I can see why this got past me before.  It doesn't seem likely that Rossi's device is doing what he claims unless he has more shielding than what he has.  But the reaction chamber is really small ( only a little over 3 cubic inches (50 cm3)).  Shielding that shouldn't be too difficult, but how do you know that Rossi actually did that?  That something that could lead to a quick dismissal of Rossi's claims.  But it could also lead to a confirmation.

The other part that may be significant is the copper ash of the claimed reaction.  I worked through these myself.  Now, I can see getting to copper 63, but not to copper 65 in the amounts claimed.  I think this is a significant point, and it is another thing that got by me.  But I never claimed to be an expert.

No, I'm not totally convinced one way or the other.  But Rossi has to prove his point.  He has done so yet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Annus Horribilis: Space in 2011

  • A long established year-end tradition – for good or ill – is a review and analysis of the preceding twelve months.
  • few noticed or understood that without a replacement, the country’s capability for humans to access space had been discarded.
  • In other exciting developments, the agency announced their new “mission statement”...a mission statement for an agency without a mission.
  • NASA finally decided that they should probably go ahead and build a new launch vehicle...Perhaps even for less than its estimated $100 billion cost.
  • Robotic science missions...had their own share of difficulties this year.  The Goddard-run James Webb Space Telescope... is coming in late with a price tag of more than $8.7 billion and counting
  • all travel to destinations offering little scientific and exploratory benefit or variety; their main attraction seems to be the yet-to-be-explained agency imperative to cross them off some “been there” check-list.
  • The year 2011 was an annus horribilis for the national space program. Here’s to the forthcoming year and hopes for a return of sanity to space policy.

This story is about the government's role in space.  The private sector has not done quite so badly as that.   Besides a Paul Allen's new launch platform, there's a race on to mine the moon.  And if the government doesn't want to go back to the moon, they are acknowledging the strong possibility that someone else will.

E-Cat Weekly--- Source for E-cat news

My last post about the E-cat was on the 13th.   That's two weeks, my, how the time flies.  The last bunch of news came from the PESN site, so I went back there and found a weekly compilation of E-cat news.  It is dated on the 22nd of December, and the one before it was dated on the 15th.  That means the next should be dated in a couple days from today, which will be the 29th.

Looks like a good source of information.  I'll keep up with it.  Call it a New Year's Resolution.  Here's something interesting that I just found:
I do believe in basic science. I believe in participating in space. I believe in analysis of new sources of energy. I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with -- with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can’t figure out how to duplicate it.  ---- Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for President   [ emphasis mine.  Comment: If he's talking about Fleischmann and Pons, he needs to catch up a little bit on the news.]
I scanned through all the stories and there's enough reading material to keep anyone busy for a long time.


Cold Fusion Now has the interview where Romney says  "cold fusion"--- note the time
"cold fusion, if we can come up with it"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Russia's Dark Horse Plan to Get to Mars (nice try)

Discover: published online May 21, 2009

  • The same proximity to Mars that will one day doom Phobos makes it an extremely attractive staging post for human explorers. One side of Phobos always faces Mars, and on that “hemisphere” the planet dominates the sky. This makes Phobos a good place for monitoring most of the Martian surface. Moreover, any manned outpost on Phobos would be well shielded from space radiation—protected on one side by Mars and on the other by the satellite’s own bulk.
  • The total delta-v required for a mission to land on Phobos and come back is startlingly low—only about 80 percent that of a round trip to the surface of Earth’s moon.
  •  “Does Phobos contain any water, and if so, in what amount, form, and location? Answers to these questions will help determine how we will travel to Mars.”

Logically, it would make sense to occupy Phobos for awhile before moving on to Mars.  If water could be found, that would come in quite handy for fuel and life support.

Delta V budgets for various destinations

Unfortunately, the unmanned Phobos-Grunt spacecraft became stranded in orbit in November.  Since that has failed, what might be tried next?  Anything?

From the chart above, it would seem that a mission from L4-L5 to Phobos would possibly be less delta v than from Earth to LEO.  Launching from EML-2 could be even less.  While looking at Quicklaunch's home page, I thought up a Lagrangian space port constructed from the moon by using multiple launches from a Quicklaunch gun on the lunar surface.

It is probably getting ahead of oneself to propose such a project, but it is interesting to speculate about.  Let's say that at the fat end of each of these was an inflatable habitat which could link with its two neighbors.

The long end would telescope out far enough to enable it to be spun up for 1g artificial gravity.  That would take about 224 meters from the center.

The masses shown here according to this illustration, as launched from Earth, are 1000 lbs each.  To launch from the moon would require much less power ( 14 times assuming that its equivalent), which would mean a much smaller gun.  So the gun would be smaller and the masses would be equivalent.  The question is how much of a habitat can you make with each 1000 lb payload?  Probably not much come to think of it.  But there would be plenty of modules.  I would guess over a 100 launches to complete the circle.

There are two circular modules shown below.  Let's say make one for supplies and the other for habitat.

QuickLaunch webpage
You would need to get to the moon first, of course.  You will need to mine the moon for water and build your space gun.  You will also need to make each of the inflatable modules--- somehow.   Then stuff it all in a gun and launch it to a Lagrange point.  Assemble at the Lagrange point.  Start sending people to man the station and begin preparing a launch vehicle to go to Phobos.

The trip back would go to the Lagrangian station instead of Earth.  That presumably would save a bit of delta v.  Not to mention not having to land and take off again from the Earth itself.  With one g of artificial gravity, a crew could rehabilitate and then go off on additional missions before coming home to stay.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Elon Musk says he will put millions of people on Mars

Next Big Future

  • Musk doesn't just want to stop at one human. In his Heinlein prize acceptance speech, he said he wants to put 10,000 people on Mars.
  • Ultimately we don't really want 10,000 people on Mars," he says, after letting the pause linger a few seconds more. "We want millions."
  • In September Musk announced the company's plans for developing a fully reusable space launch system. 
  • Musk says that a reusable version of the rocket could deliver a payload of up to 15 tonnes to Mars at a cost of $100 to $200 per kilogram.
  • The price tag for a Mars mission varies as widely as the concepts for achieving it, from $20 billion to $500 billion
  • Would he consider going on that first trip? "If someone had solved the rapidly reusable launch system problem, then yes, I'd definitely go," he says. "But if it were simply a one-time flight, then no, because I'd need to stay and keep at the challenge with SpaceX.
Wernher von Braun's Mars Expedition (1952)
Das Marsprojekt was the first technically comprehensive design for a manned expedition to Mars. Von Braun envisioned not a simple preliminary voyage to Mars, but an enormous scientific expedition modeled on the Antarctic model.


Musk believes that the window of opportunity to do this could close.  If it closes, the opportunity may not come again.  That should be a chilling thought, but there's all to many who don't seem to mind.  I guess if it doesn't affect someone personally, it doesn't matter to that person.  It's going to take someone like Musk to do this if it ever gets done.

Von Braun wanted to do it, but the cost was deemed to be too high.  Musk has gotten the price down, but there may still be too much resistance to the idea for the government to finance it.  That could mean further efforts must be undertaken in order to make it even more cost effective.

In addition to this, an economic rationale for doing it may be enough to push it over the finish line.  An economic rationale could be tourism and resource extraction.   Resource extraction can supply the basis for colonization, while colonization can encourage tourism.  A couple of side benefits would be science and planet defense.  If enough needs could be identified as being met by this endeavor, a case could be made for some government financing to support it.  The potential for profit could supply the rest.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Moon Mines: Visionary or Senseless?

National Space Society Blog h/t Instapundit


  1. a vigorous lunar mining system could be part of a system to deliver energy to Earth, build large structures in space, and even provide radiation protection, water and oxygen to those who want to spend significant time in orbit.
  2.  the evidence suggests that reorienting our space program to support commercialization and industrialization of space, as opposed to 100% government missions, may produce far greater results at much less cost.
  3.  Lunar mining could be a major component of such space industrialization.

I'd say this is just the beginning of what it could do.

Smalley Institutes' Grand Challenges

I wanted to write about War, well I found this link in the Wikipedia.  If I didn't know any better, this could have been written by me:
Top Ten Problems Facing Humanity Over the Next 50 Years
  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Food
  4. Environment
  5. Poverty
  6. Terrorism & War
  7. Disease
  8. Education
  9. Democracy
  10. Population

If the E-cat were to be effective, wouldn't it make sense to get it into mass production as soon as possible?  If it had a patent, wouldn't it be easier to determine if it is indeed effective?  This problem doesn't need a lot of money to solve, just somebody willing to take it on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MURRAY AND BIER: Create wealth, not jobs

Washington Times


False choice.  Wealth and jobs go together.  Don't get me wrong, I like this argument, but the argument is not about giving up one thing for another.  The argument is about creating economic activity, not government activity.


60% Favor Building Keystone XL Pipeline

Sixty percent (60%) of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor building the pipeline which President Obama has delayed until at least 2013 because of environmental concerns. Just 24% are opposed. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

The sixteen percent are not sure may be swayed by the fact that this has been studied for years now.  The question has been answered sufficiently already.  The fact is that the Democrats are dragging their feet on this issue hoping that it will go away before the clock runs out on this election.

NASA is moving towards the Space Launch System

Next Big Future

Read through the thread of links to that post and you are left with the inescapable impression that this is a big boondoggle that will never get off the ground.

NASA doesn't innovate anymore, if it ever did. The technology for SLS is half a century old. Imagine trying to open a new car dealership which markets Model T's. They won't sell because they're obsolete. The "dealership" won't shut down now even though that fact should be obvious, they will continue the subsidies because governments are slow to recognize realities. However, once it becomes clear that the taxpayer is subsidizing obsolescent hardware at great cost, the political support for its continuance will become untenable. The public can be fooled for the moment, but the moment is quickly coming to an end.

There are many improvements upon the current technology, but these are not as well known for the moment. Now that Spacex has launched, there will be many others, who will be able to offer much more for much less.

Here is a list of posts of future technologies which can drastically reduce the cost of launching into low earth orbit
  1. Refueling from LEO using the upper atmosphere:  LOXLEO
  2. Stratolaunch
  3. QuickLaunch
  4. Skylon
  5. Spacex's reusable rockets
  6. Vasimr and others
  7. Fusion propulsion concepts
Not to mention that a moonbase will cut the cost of launch by a factor of 14.  But you have to get there first.  A moonbase could also launch nuclear thermal rockets from the lunar surface.  That could cut the costs by another factor of two.  John Hunter of Quicklaunch says that it will take a million pounds of propellant for each crew member to get to Mars.  If you launched from the Moon, that may come down to just 35,000 pounds each! (assuming a Nerva type rocket using lunar INSR materials)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Propulsive Fluid Accumulator

Interesting concept, but a little difficult to execute.  It also lacks a way to get hydrogen from the atmosphere. Getting energy to it is a problem, since nuclear power is ruled out.  Beamed power may be a possibility.

Let's speculate a little. Beam the power from the ground to a satellite in GEO, then redirect to the satellite in very low orbit.  It would scoop up oxygen from the atmosphere and collect it.  Once filled up, it could lift itself to a higher orbit and deposit it in a depot.  Then go back down for more.

In case you are mystified, this is about propellant depots and INSR methods.


An impressive looking chart.  If you could pull this off, you can save a lot of money.

page 34, Klinkman and Wilkes


This project was classified by the US Government. Werhner von Braun took it seriously. This was no far fetched idea. It was and is a real possibility. But the power problem may be the show stopper.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Keystone Ultimatum

wsj online

The Keystone codicil is now being negotiated in the Senate, where at least eight Democrats have said publicly they hope the project goes forward: Jon Tester and Max Baucus of Montana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Lousiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Looks like Obama has stepped in it again.   But that's only 8 Senators.  They will need several more to pass it.

IBT: Cold Fusion: The Impact of Rossi’s E-Cat to the World

By ranina sanglap | December 15, 2011 10:55 AM EST

Ultra cheap energy would be a boon to the flagging world economy. Manufacturers will be able to provide cheaper goods. Households will have a cheaper utility bill which means extra cash to buy products on the market. Energy intensive industries will become more financially feasible.

That's what it all about, baby.


More here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Newt's Lunar Base Is a Good Idea

Ray Villard, Discovery News  via RealClearScience

This is where Gingerich’s moon mining moon base comes in. Humans would be needed to go to the moon to operate a large drilling rig to burrow thorough lava layers and take core samples with the telltale isotopic record from the sun's travels.

Perhaps only through the potential big bucks of commercial lunar mining could geologic science have an opportunity to hitchhike back to the moon's surface. The geological exploration would hit an unintended pay dirt far more valuable than helium 3 -- a history book of our sun's galactic odyssey.

Gingrich's name is misspelled, but that's ok!  I like moon base idea, of course.  I've been writing about it for months.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Video: Paul Allen Unveils New Commercial Space Program

Verum Serum

I like this concept. It can fly to its release point, and then fly back. The first stage could be positioned in a perfect location for return to launch site. Most likely, that could be Edwards AFB. It may look otherwise, since their base is actually in New Mexico.

But I think of it this way: if you are going to recover the first stage, what better way to do it than to fly out into the Pacific thereby setting up a trajectory that requires the least amount of maneuvering. Thus, it will use the least amount of fuel and could well be the least risky method of recovering the first stage.

You could even take off from Edwards mostly empty and fuel the rocket with airborne refueling technique. I say mostly empty because refueling with LOX while in the air may be a little too complicated.

Maybe they won't do it the way I've speculated, but it would seem to be the most logical path to me.


Stratolaunch Systems Press Conference 13.12.11

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Paul Allen, Spacex and Burt Rutan are teaming up for Stratolaunch

Next Big Future

Nothing was said about the reusability of the rocket part of the launch system. I presume that Spacex still wants to do that.  Here's a video

Aiming for manned orbital missions as well as for cargo.  Reusability is in the plan, but won't be initially.   This is a much bigger plane than what has ever been built before- An 225.  A commenter said that the A380 weighs more.


I like it!

Shackleton Energy Company Crowdsource Funding Campaign

I'm in.


Mining the Moon, by William Stone.  More here.

A Week of E-Cat News Flurry

Pure Energy Systems News  November 29, 2011


I'm a little behind on these developments, this will help catch up a bit.  Here's a few tidbits
  1. Rossi replies to Josephson's call for another test. Rossi stated he cannot meet Josephson’s demands because it would reveal what he considers his trade secrets to a potential competitor.
  2. Uppsala University Eager To Test Andrea Rossi E-Cat
  3. Andrea Rossi E-Cat Will Soon Have Scientific Framework  quote: "Recently, we received update that the contracted research between Andrea Rossi and the University of Bologna will start in a few weeks."
  4. Quick Poll of E-Cat World Readers  Results:   -Rossi has discovered a new way to make useful energy (55%, 825 Votes)
    - Don't Know (21%, 319 Votes)
    - Rossi has nothing and is perpetrating a hoax/scam (13%, 191 Votes)
    - Rossi honestly thinks he has achieved cold fusion but is mistaken (8%, 123 Votes)
    - Rossi has discovered a form of energy but it is insignificantly small (3%, 32 Votes)

Comment:  Of course, if he had a US patent, his concerns for his intellectual property could be satisfied.

Cold Fusion Now has a post up about patents and the patent process.  Written by David French: David French is a retired patent attorney and the principal and CEO of Second Counsel Services. Second Counsel provides guidance for companies that wish to improve their management of Intellectual Property.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Newt’s Moon Mines - By Rand Simberg - The Corner - National Review Online

Newt’s Moon Mines - By Rand Simberg - The Corner - National Review Online

Proposal: Removing Earth's Radiation Belts

This is a similar idea I read in the book reported on this time last year.

One of many useful tasks could be the removal of the Van Allen Belts. Other tasks include removing space junk, repairing and removing non functional satellites, and guarding space from rogue asteroids. This is in addition to supporting exploration and development.

It is much cheaper to launch from the moon ( 14 times cheaper according to this). Wouldn't it make sense to do this or at least look into doing it? Gingrich appears to be interested. Romney's criticism is based upon the current paradigm. That paradigm has to be replaced with a new paradigm of cheaper access to space.  The current space program is not about that, to put it bluntly.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Truth About Fracking

Uploaded by ReasonTV on Jun 27, 2011

h/t Free Republic and Maggie's Notebook

The Administration is attempting a land grab into to stop this practice, which is harmless. It is the one true way that can lead to energy independence, which is not what the environmentalists have in mind.

Next Big Future posts on cold fusion

Brian Ahern talk on Energy Localization and Nanomagnetism as explanation for LENR/Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion in bulk, macroscopic systems is controlled by the overlap of the vibrational modes of the dissolved deuterium nuclei.

Once again, something that may be analogous to a "wave" gets connected to cold fusion. It may have little connection to this presentation, just an observation of mine.   Here's another observation just now:  "an overlap" of vibrational modes.  Question:  could these act like BEC's?

Magnetization textures in NiPd nanostructures

The NIST work further confirms the Brian Ahern theory that nanomagnetism plays an important part in low energy assisted nuclear reactions. The nickel and palladium electrodes used in many cold fusion experiments would have this nanomagnetic behavior.
But magnetism is not a part of the BECNF theory.  Palladium is paramagnetic, while nickel is paragmagnetic above the Curie point.  This appears to be something of a contradiction.  But this isn't BECNF theory, it is another theory altogether.  BECNF is my speculation in this instance.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Elon Musk: Why does space inspire us? QuickLaunch Interview

With John Hunter and Eric Robinson

Discusses history of the company, why aquatic basing, how Eric became the "spark plug" of the company, recent developments, moon and Mars concepts and advantages, 400 hundred meter entry level system does 100 payloads, John's career story, real world stuff, young kids love this project, Eric's career, his space projects (on Mars).

Bottom line: This is an enabling technology for space exploration and development.

In two parts
  1. Part One 
  2. Part Two

Inhofe to climate conference: Nobody’s listening any more

posted at 10:50 am on December 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Two years ago, the Obama administration practically staged an airlift of leading Democratic officials to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen. ...In the end, Obama could only produce a non-binding agreement that even he didn’t agree to sign,

If climate change activism was really about reducing carbon emissions, they'd support space solar satellites.  So where is that?   By the way, here's somebody who wants to lead an expedition to the moon in search of resources which could enable such an industry based on the moon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Life on other planets far, far away

I may be interested in space, but I am also quite practical.  Some may say too practical.  This bit of news about a planet in a habitable zone on a planet hundreds of light years away just doesn't do anything (practical ) for me.  That's because there is practical no useful value in this information.  Even if you find something, what do you do with it?

The distances are so great that even if you can go the speed of light, it would take hundreds of years to go there and come back.  Nobody could have any emotional connection to such a journey.  You can't even communicate with them because it would take a message that long to get back and forth.  What good is this knowledge?

All of this curiousity about Mars also isn't very useful either.  Even though we could possibly get there and back with today's technology, what useful value can be derived from it? 

This may all seem to contradict my interest in space, but if anyone thinks so, they aren't paying attention.  There are practical useful things that can be done in space, but looking for life on other planets either in this star system or in another-  is not one of them.

I suggest starting with the moon.  If can't do anything on the moon that is useful and practical, you probably can't do it anywhere.  The cost of going to far away destinations will be too prohibitive, the danger will too great.  It just won't happen in anybody's lifetime.  But we were on the moon over 40 years ago.  We haven't done anything with that knowledge either.  But getting there was a start in that direction if anyone would just bother to see it that way.

In this age of budget austerity, it would make a lot of sense to reorder our priorities.  There is too much waste, and programs like searching for earth-like planets is an example of that.  We need to concentrate our efforts on goals that are reachable, not on goals that can never be reached in our lifetimes.  We should concentrate on useful information, not information that we can't possibly do anything with.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cold fusion confusion

My latest study was of the muon catalyzed fusion and it appears to me to be somewhat doubtful proposition for commercialization.  The reason being that producing the muons is a bit of a challenge.  In fact, that is indeed the problem in a nutshell.  If muons could be produced in quantity and at low cost, this type of fusion would be feasible.  This has known that for decades, however.  It doesn't make sense to withhold that invention, should economical muon production had been achieved.  It is not like cold fusion, in that the science is pretty much mainstream.   You can't get a patent for cold fusion devices in the US, but you could get one for muon production, provided that you can prove it.

The thought that cold fusion is impossible is a bit of a semantic argument.  If muon catalyzed fusion is possible, it is already "cold" because it can take place at room temperature.  Maybe even below room temperature.  Therefore, the problem is in the semantics, not the facts.  Cold fusion is possible in this instance.  The question should be this: is there some other way around the coulomb barrier?  Somebody has thought of a way- or should I say many people have thought of ways in which this might be accomplished.  Yet, for some reason, mainstream science doesn't even want to consider the possibility of cold fusion.   How do you resolve this contradiction?  Perhaps you can start by agreeing upon a definition of what cold fusion actually is.

Being somewhat more careful than average about word meanings, if I am not sure about what the word means, I'll go look it up.  Okay, so let's do that for cold fusion and see what's out there:

Wikipedia isn't too sure about it, so there's a disambiguation page to clarify it.  Cold fusion seems to have more meanings than the ones I usually think of.  My understanding of cold fusion relates to the science.  But there are other meanings, which are not anything like the science.  Let's not go there and just stick with the scientific meaning. 

Even there, the wiki has four different meanings
  1. The low temperature low energy type usually associated with Fleischmann and Pons
  2. Muon catalyzed fusion
  3. Pyroelectric fusion , which is something I've never heard of before
  4.  Nuclear fusion at high energies  [ comment: that doesn't exactly qualify, does it?  It does break down this further into something called "generally cold but locally hot fusion"]
 The most controversial one is no doubt the first one.  The others seem to be well within the bounds of mainstream science.

A lot of the confusion seems to have started with a misunderstanding between Fleischmann and Jones at the time that they had agreed upon a joint submission for publication of their respective work.   Jones was working on muon catalyzed fusion:
"Cold nuclear fusion" that had been published in Scientific American in July 1987
Perhaps the confusion and controversy could have been avoided if the agreement had been kept.   It would seem that the whole thing deteriorated from that point on until "cold fusion" became known as a pathological science.  Any scientist caught working on this could be punished.

The curious thing about it all was that there were anomalies which should have been a good enough reason for continued study.  The unfortunate thing about it was that this continued "pathological scientific research" had to continue under a cloud of controversy.  The controversy continues to this very day.  Shouldn't the cold fusion confusion be laid to rest?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Making Muons - Backstage Science

Uploaded by on May 3, 2011

It wasn't stated in this video, but muons can be useful for fusion reactions.  If enough can be made at a low enough energy cost, you just might get to break even or better for fusion energy production.


I'm looking for a way that may have been found to produce muons in quantity, which would appear to be necessary for energy production via muon catalyzed fusion.   Perhaps Stephen Horvath has found a way to do that.


From Wikipedia:
As of 2011, no practical method of producing energy through this means has been published, although some discoveries using "hall effect" show promise

If a collider were used, how much energy for each particle?  I wonder if some other means of fusion which is not at break even can be used in order to obtain a relatively low cost source of alpha particles.

Pushing the envelope

Most people who follow the space program have heard of the term "the right stuff".  There was a movie made by that name, which I've had for awhile, but watched again just recently.  The movie setting begins in 1947 and that's about the time that the sound barrier was being challenged.  At the time, nobody knew for certain what would happen when the sound barrier was reached.  There were those who believed that this was impossible.  Over history, many things that were said to be impossible weren't impossible after all. 

The Wright Brothers' feat of heavier than air flight was once considered impossible too.   But less than a half century after doing that impossible feat, the sound barrier was next.   The men challenging the sound barrier were test pilots and it was in their spirit to push the envelope.  After seeing this spirit just the other night, I was wondering, what happened?   Less than a half century after the Wright Brothers the envelope was still being pushed, but nearly a half century after walking on the moon, why isn't the envelope being pushed today?

Perhaps it's because we have become something of a risk averse society.  Pushing the envelope is dangerous.  Many test pilots lost their lives pushing that envelope.  But the rewards were great.  If the envelope wasn't pushed by men like these, we may still be on the ground.  You could even say that without pushing the envelope throughout history, we may alll be living in caves.  Pushing the envelope is necessary to progress, playing it safe comes at a cost.  Even if lives are saved by playing it safe, the safety may impose a much greater cost in the future.

With respect to progress, there are more barriers that need to be overcome that do not necessarily mean the risk to life.  What about the risks to one's career or to one's financial well being?  In such cases, a risky move could be one that advocates an untried method or system which may or may not work.  I am thinking of cold fusion.  Many scientists pushed that envelope and some paid a heavy price for their refusal to back down to the dangers of researching that field.  It was a real risk because look what happened to Fleischmann and Pons, who were a bit too bold for their own good.  They claimed that the heat anomaly that they observed was due to a new and unknown process which came to be known as cold fusion.  They were accused of being frauds and incompetents and their careers were ruined.  Yet, in spite of this, research continued.  Now, with Rossi's E-cat, there may be a commercial product on the horizon.  But the catcalls continue.  The disbelief in this new form of energy seems to form a real barrier to progress.  Some boldness is required in order to overcome the latest barrier.

Maybe we don't need astronauts nor test pilots for this, but we do need that sort of courage.  Playing it safe just won't do.  The envelope must be pushed.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Methanol Wins - Robert Zubrin

Robert Zubrin - National Review Online

Comment:  I've been sold on methanol for a long time now.  At least since 2005 or so.  It is also handy in making hydrogen for fuel cell cars, if anyone ever gets around to building one of these on a mass production basis.  Curious that there seems to be a glacial pace in making a flex fuel standard.

Australian Star Scientific is probably the claimant of the 1 megawatt nuclear fusion device

Next Big Future

Comment:  Muon catalyzed fusion is cold fusion.  The trouble is the muons can't be produced easily, so it is impractical.  But these guys claim otherwise.

Could there be another way around the coulomb barrier?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Will The EPA Choke Oil Shale Production? (h/t Al Fin Energy and Instapundit)

The Gulf Coast energy industry has never fully recovered from a similar moratorium and a new glacial permitting process.

Similarly, the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline project to bring Canadian tar sands oil to American refineries is stalled on environmental grounds.

So, this administration is all about jobs?  Or destroying jobs?  As long as it is a government job that costs billions, they are all for that.

The Latest Destination for Human Spaceflight (Venus)

The Once And Future Moon - Paul Spudis

Space advocates are desperately looking for something people can do and somewhere they can go in space on timescales of less than multiple decades at costs of less than hundreds of billions of dollars.  If only there where some place we could get to within a decade or so, for a cost that doesn’t bust the latest budget. 

Comment:  From a link within the post: (no magic beans)
Talismanic thinking is common in much of the current discussion about the new path for NASA.  Other talismans include cheap access to low Earth orbit, commercial transport replacing Orion, and an “exciting space goal” to engage the public.

 He's a little too pessimistic about future technologies.  Could his thinking be similar to the thinking that resulted in someone saying that "everything that could be invented was already invented"?  Somebody said that over 100 years ago.  It was wrong then, and is probably wrong now.  For if everything than can be invented has already been invented, we should give up space altogether as a waste to money.

Andrea Rossi On Defkalion ( h/t Free Republic)


I'm not really interested in arguing the matter.  I'm interested in ending the arguments for good.  One way or the other.  Decide the issue and get on with it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Space Based Solar Power Status

  • the progress status of SSPS in Japan
  • the advantages of Japan's SSPS technology
  • Other Space Based Solar Work
  • Solaren and other small companies that have made big Space Solar promises
  • Space Island Group, Orbital Power Corp
  • National Space Society tracks Space Solar Power Developments

It may be useful to start small and ramp it up if you can make it work.  Let's say you want to power something the size of the ISS, which uses about a quarter Megawatt of power.  That something could be a VASIMR.  Put four or more of these in geosynchoronous orbit and beam the power down to an orbiting VASIMR in order to allow it to get to various places in LEO or to a higher orbit.

Ultimately, you could have solar power device manufacturing on the moon and launch it from the moon.  The moon requires much less energy to get out the gravity well.  In addition to that, there's no atmosphere to contend with.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Has Repeatable Power Pulses

Next Big Future


Sounds like great news.  By the way, I favor this concept for powering rockets.  I think it may be a perfect application for Dense Plasma Focus.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hope, skepticism for cold fusion

Boston Globe  By D.C. Denison


  • The Italian scientist who says he has developed the world’s first cold fusion reactor ...visited the State House last week ...Andrea Rossi made the trip at the invitation of the Senate’s minority leader, Bruce Tarr
  • Tests have been scarce and secretive, perhaps because Rossi has said that his technology is still unpatented. [emphasis added]
  • Tarr, who is active in alternative energy legislation, said he invited Rossi to put the state in line for hosting any prospective development of cold fusion.
  • After the meeting, Rossi, who paid his own way to Massachusetts, was enthusiastic about a possible partnership with the state.
  • “I’m already planning to come back soon,’’ he said. “We are all hoping to get something started in a matter of weeks, not months.’’

Hard to assess, nobody in Massachussetts seems to willing to go out on a limb.  The sticking point could be the patent, which isn't forthcoming unless something unusual happens.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Boeing Tapping Heritage Programs for Space Taxi Design

“For this program, we’re going to be pulling heavily off of our human space experience and our commercial aircraft experience to develop a safe, reliable and affordable system,” Chuck Hardison, Boeing’s production and ground systems manager for the CST-100
Comment:  That's a four year lag with no US based manned launches.  Was this necessary?

By the way, I wanted to speculate further on the Quicklaunch system.  An idea came to me to launch carbon into LEO by this method.  It won't melt or present a problem if it gets thermalized.  A rigid tungsten alloy can encapsulate it.  Subsequent missions could be determine if a fuel can be made in space from this carbon and additional fuels sent up by other methods, or by Quicklaunch.  The idea is to practice in situ resourcing.  By using a rather sturdy material, such as carbon, and combining it with hydrogen, one might gain the  benefits of cheaper access to space for the bulk of the material.  Hydrogen, being lighter, should not be as costly to lift in great quantities, should it not be feasible to send it up by Quicklaunch.

Note: Carbon and Tungsten have the highest melting points of all the elements.  It could survive a hot ride up.

Highly efficient oxygen catalyst found

Rechargeable batteries and hydrogen-fuel production could benefit

ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2011) — A team of researchers at MIT has found one of the most effective catalysts ever discovered for splitting oxygen atoms from water molecules


I found this from the comment section of the Nuclear Ammonia post referred to in an earlier post.  Here's a reference to a pdf file which describes Nuclear Ammonia as a killer app.  The final cost over a 30 year period would not be insubstantial.  However, it should be kept in mind that the cost of what we are doing now may be an order of magnitude higher.  In other words, this would be cost effective, not to mention, cleaner.

The Thorium technology and ammonia ideas are not new.  Thorium fuel cycles were experimented with decades ago.  The same is true of the an ammonia powered auto, in which an updated version can be seen in this video below:

Rossi is not a threat to the 99%, but is a threat to the 1%

Before anybody jumps all over me for the title to this post, let me say straight up that I don't approve of Occupy Wall Street. I know I'm using their terminology and maybe even some of their thinking, and no, I have not turned Commie pinko.

It is a simple observation and logical conclusion based upon fact. Rossi claims he has a cold fusion device that works, but the US Patent Office will not grant a patent to his device or any other cold fusion device. Those are the facts. It is also a fact that the efficacy of the device doesn't matter at all. Cold fusion has been proclaimed to be impossible, no matter what evidence there may be to the contrary.

Cui bono? Who benefits from this? Lets take the two possibilities- that Rossi is a fraud, and the other- Rossi is not a fraud.

Let's take the fraud case first. If Rossi is a fraud and he gets a patent anyway, what happens? He sells a few devices that don't work and everybody will find out that he is a fraud. Who is harmed? There are a few people who can be harmed in this case, but on the whole, only a few people will be harmed. There's a process that may enable them to redress their harms, but let's say that not all harm can be made whole. At the worse, a small minority will be harmed. The amount of harm to each of these people will be relatively small. The device is not terribly expensive. It is true that it isn't cheap either, but at the worse, it won't bankrupt the buyers, in all likelihood. Therefore, the threat to the public is small and manageable.

On the other hand, let's look at the possibility that Rossi is not a fraud. Who benefits? Rossi does of course. But in addition to Rossi, millions, or perhaps even billions of people can benefit from his device. Who is harmed? The people who have a stake in the status quo. Those people are most likely rich and powerful, and will not be happy to have this new competitor who will take a significant amount of market share from them. Their properties will no longer be as valuable. Their harm will be permanent and irreversible in terms of their current situation. The only way for them to benefit is to stop Rossi. Or buy him out. In this case only a few are harmed and a great many people stand to benefit.

The ratio may not be 1% vs the 99%, but the principle is the same. The great majority are being denied an opportunity to better themselves and it is the "powers that be" who stand in the way of progress. The risk is small and the potential benefit is huge. So why not grant a patent?

I leave the answer to that question to you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nuclear Cement

Energy From Thorium

  • In the recent Nuclear Ammonia article post, ammonia was illustrated as a fuel that could propel vehicles in a zero carbon era.
  • Using nuclear heat and power, chemical engineers can design plants to synthesize CHx fuels from any carbon source.
  • Project Green Freedom is conceived by Jeffrey Martin and William Kubic of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The idea is to use a nuclear power plant to provide the energy to synthesize fuel, and use the air flow of the cooling towers as a source for carbon from CO2 that makes up about 0.035% of the atmosphere.
  • The lime cycle has been used to make mortar for construction for millennia.
  • This process is the conception of Darryl Siemer, a retired nuclear chemist from Idaho National Labs. Heat from a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) would be transferred to the kilns to heat the sand and limestone.
  • The process would be carbon neutral, because the fuel synthesized and eventually burned would release CO2 into the atmosphere that would be absorbed by cement hardening as it is used in construction.
Comment:  This reminds me of what I wrote about before.  You can do better than carbon neutral with this, you can go carbon negative if you can recapture the carbon and recycle it.  Thus you will close the carbon cycle and be more efficient in the use of energy as well.

I'll have to look up the post on nuclear ammonia.  I wrote about using ammonia in fuel cells as well.


Here's another video with Kirk Sorensen discussing a lot of the history of nuclear power and Thorium's place in it. He explains what went wrong and how it might be corrected.

The title of it is called "LFTR in 5 Minutes - THORIUM REMIX 2011", but it is about 2 hours long, so watch the first 5 minutes if you are in a hurry. On the other hand, if you have the time, it is well worth watching the entirety of the video.

The Boron Swan: Unleashing Unexpected Breakthroughs

Uploaded by FocusFusionSociety on Oct 13, 2011

LPP's lead scientist Eric Lerner discusses the need for diversity in clean energy and in particular fusion research, during the lunch panel at the New Jersey Tech Council's Clean Tech Summit, October 4th at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. The panel's full title: "Life After Fukushima -- What happens after a "Black Swan" event? What is the impact of innovative technologies?"

Commet:  The video is short in duration, unfortunately.

Rossi will meet with state of Massachussetts for two days

Next Big Future

Comment:  The title of the post may seem misleading, but bear with me.  Check the comment section where Brian Wang (presumably) makes that comment.  I don't see it in the post, but evidently the reference is in the link or somewhere.  You'll have to look for it.  As of this writing, I have not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plan to establish first lunar base and gas stations in space

gizmag  h/t Transterrestrial Musings

Comment:  Amazing talk.  Here's somebody who wants to do it privately and he is raising money.  He wants to do it in seven years.  Wow.

His plan is a lot cheaper than Paul Spudis' plan.  Who wins that race?

Oil and gas wells find new life with geothermal - environment

22 November 2011 - New Scientist  h/t Al Fin Energy

Comment:  These could be like stranded wind- too far away from anywhere that can be useful. It may be useful to use these to make energy on the spot.  That's in contrast to actually trying to plug these into the grid.  However, these may work better that way since it is a predictable and constant source of energy, albeit a modest amount per well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

E-Cat and cold fusion, open letter to Andrea Rossi

Brian Josephson adds that he doesn't necessarily looks up to Celani's offer (which, for secrecy reasons, doesn't match the refutability standards DECC have indicated), but highlights the matter of the benefit that could follow a scientific test.

- Brian Josephson, Nobel Prize Laureate

I agree that a scientific test would dispel doubts.  It doesn't have to be a threat to Rossi's interests.

George Nield speaking at ISPCS

I found this from the Quicklaunch Facebook Page. I have a question and answer posted there, in case you're interested.

Frankly, I wasn't familiar with the ISPCS!  Helluva note, I tell you.  I've been blogging on this subject for over a year now and my ignorance of this astounds me.

Quicklaunch was at this conference, so I was looking for some videos to put up here of that conference.  I first one I found was of George Nield.  Nield was a guest on the Space Show on several dates listed here.  If you are like me and are amazingly ignorant of a so many things, a great introduction can be had from Dr. Space, as he does an outstanding job of introducing his guests.

It is an interesting talk below and if you have the time, I recommend watching it all the way through.

Incidentally, ISCPC has their own YouTube Channel here.


Robert Bigelow remarks at the conference

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quicklaunch series: Sprint rockets

I've just added this as a new category because I think it is an interesting concept which I want to explore further.

In order to follow this thread, click on that label which follows this post.  All posts on that subject will come up and you can easily follow it there.  At the moment of this writing, I've not attached all the labels yet.  By the end of the morning, that task should be complete.

I'll write a post for today on this subject, and I've already updated the previous post.  I'm adding it again on the top post because I want to emphasize the point.

On the recent Space Show, John Hunter spoke of Sprint rockets, which were part of an operational program, albeit short lived, which were designed for missile defense.  The program was discontinued almost immediately, which, in retrospect, appears to be another one of the inexplicable actions of our failing government.  If there was one program that definitely should not have been scrapped, it was this one.

But that is beside the point of this post, but the point is well taken in connection with the rest of this blog.  As long as I'm referring to my dissatisfaction with this ridiculous decision making process that we seemed to be afflicted with these days, I'll remind anyone interested that I have a entire category dedicated to that subject.

No, the point is that these rockets were very, very fast.  Since "Charles"  (Pooley) of Micro Launchers called to challenge John Hunter of Quicklaunch on  this concept, a bit of devil's advocacy led to investigate the feasiblility of the idea.    Sprint rockets are fast, but not as fast as Hunter's Quicklaunch vehicle.  The top speed of the Sprint was Mach 10, which it reached very quickly.  Thermal issues appeared to be of concern, so Charles' objections need to be answered, I would think.  Running some numbers that's about 7600 mph for the Sprint and 13000 mph for the Quicklaunch.  Hunter needs to explain how he can protect his payload when the thermal issues are going to me much greater than the Sprint.  Hunter responded to Charles by asking him to prove it on the blackboard, which Hunter says he's already done.

The Sprint webpage, referred to above, does not rule out the possibility of Quicklaunch.  That's key.  It only says that:
Within seconds, the missile reached a speed of Mach 10+, and the extreme thermodynamic heating demanded sophisticated ablative shielding (the nose was already glowing red-hot less than a second after launch).

This is probably a similar technology which the shuttle used upon reentry.

Hunter's idea is to put his payload inside, but that may be a problem because of the intense heat, and the extraordinary amount of high g acceleration.

As for the blackboard component of this discussion, Hunter mentioned Johns Hopkins, which I will go to next.   However, I'm probably not qualified to get very far with that.  My math skills are not that advanced.

Update: approx 2pm

I found one pdf file associate with John Hopkins.  It did indeed have John Hunter included amongst the authors.  One thing that I found was that his numbers appear to be much better than the ones mentioned in this file.  The report does say that this method of launching satellites- using gas guns- is technically feasible.

Unless Hunter knows more than what was reported in this 1999 file, I'd say his claims run the risk of being overblown.  It will fly, most likely, but for what purpose?  If the costs really are as attractive as he claims, which I can't see in this report, this could be a viable new option.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Electric bus charges wirelessly at University of Utah

A new transit route through the heart of the campus will feature a full-size city bus, operated with an electric motor. But it will never need to be plugged in. Instead, it will get its energy wirelessly thanks to a magnetic field emanating from the pavement.
 Comment: This technology appears to have advanced greatly over the last several years.  With this much progress, it bears watching.  The significance of electricity is not only in its cleanliness and quiet operation.  Electrical motors are much more efficient than internal combustion engines.   Even if the electricity is produced using fossil fuels, economies of scale and the superior efficiency should make the concept economically worthwhile as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kenneth Murphy on Nov. 8th Space Show

This show got my attention, so I downloaded it on a mp3 format file and listened in.

The reason that I'm interested, is of course, that I"m so focused upon going to the moon first.

Unfortunately, for those such as myself who would prefer to go the Moon first, this current resident of the White House has determined that we don't need to go there again since we have been there before.

That's true, that we have been there before, but only for flags and footprints. If the only point is to go to the Moon, then we are really done with it. But what if the Moon has plenty of good economic reasons to go there? Why not go there for economic reasons, besides just going there to look cool and take pictures? If there was an economic reason to go there, the incentive would in place for cost controls that would make it profitable as an economic enterprise.

The last part of the show, which was over 2 hours long, was that same gloom and doom about America that has turned me off in the past. But the warning is definitely there, for anybody who is bothering to look. One point is that none of the young generation wants to study science and engineering for the purpose of space exploration and development because there's not proper incentive for them to do so. As mentioned above, the one incentive to go there was pulled right out from under them when Obama canceled the Constellation program.

Mind you, this is not just political bashing. Obama didn't just modify the program, he canceled it outright. What would it have taken to make things just a little differently than what was already scheduled? Like keeping the Ares I and canceling the Ares V type rockets. You could then slightly modify the shuttle and make it for cargo only.

The Ares I could be close to operational now if it hadn't been canceled. The lower stage has been tested already. The second stage could have been what has just been tested recently and now will probably be canceled itself. The J2X could have been that second stage with the only remaining thing left as the capsule itself, which is nearly ready now.

Murphy wants to go around NASA altogether. If that happens, those in government have nobody to blame but themselves. Not only that, but the government is failing us, and this is but one example of how they are doing it.

We now how a heavy lift rocket on tap, but will be quite expensive. The trouble now is that same rocket will itself be canceled before it ever gets built. What if it was just a plain old Shuttle C, with minimal modifications and need for research and development?  Could that not have been done?  But it won't be and now this latest incarnation is vulnerable.

Murphy says that we need to bring value to the space program, or it won't survive.  There's no value in developing hardware and then scrapping it and never using it, or under-utilizing it.  It happened with the Saturn V, it happened with the Shuttle, and it has happened with Constellation.  Even the ISS was going to be canceled before Obama rescued it.  It isn't just Obama, it's the entire political class who do not have proper incentive to get value for the taxpayer.  The space program is a high profile example of why governments incentives are skewed toward inefficiency and waste.  The excuse is that they never have enough money, but if they didn't waste so much money, they'd be able to get more done.

Murphy says we need to develop cis lunar architecture.  This would save money, but the incentive, as mentioned, is in another direction.  The incentive is in making heavy lift rockets, which are expensive.  Super rockets as opposed to the use of a refueling infrastructure, which would be more economical.  Value, as Murphy suggests, is not properly incentivized in government, as it is in the private sector.

Another problem is cultural.  Too many people out there don't see value in space.  Even those amongst the religious sort, there is some "uncomfortable" feelings associated with the idea of settling or exploring space.  They actually fear the threat to their belief systems with regard to the settlement of space.  This doesn't show much faith, but the very opposite.  Why would anyone fear that unless one is really insincere in one's belief?  Great confidence and faith are incompatible with fear.  Frankly, I don't believe that a truly Christian person would feel any threat whatsoever with space exploration and settlement.  In this respect, I think the leadership in this segment of our society is also to blame.  Fearful people do not belong in leadership positions.

In sum, what it would take to get back on track would be to improve incentives.   To achieve that, the space advocacy community must do a bit of evangelizing upon the opportunities and values of space.  That community is small, so it needs to be expanded.  The public needs to be educated and motivated, so as to be steered away from irrational fears.  Provided that the community can reach enough people, and properly expanded, the politicians will be incentivized into paying and attention and making the proper decisions in the future that will assure a future for mankind in space.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

John Hunter of Quicklaunch is interviewed by Sander Olson (June interview )

Next Big Future

This was an interview done back in June this year, about the same time that Hunter was on the Space Show.  Looks like I missed this interview at that time, since it isn't referenced in the post indicated in bold.

I'm writing this post in connection to the nuclear Jules Verne post, which I spent some time this morning thinking about.  That particular concept doesn't appear to be a project that anybody is actually working on at this moment, unless it is the Chinese, but Quicklaunch appears to be a going concern.  I got curious about his progress, so I listened to the space show broadcast once again.  There was a Facebook page mentioned, in which I found a link to Quicklaunch's webpage.  There's not a whole lot of information there, which is a bit of a let down.

Quicklaunch has figured in the speculative couple of posts here titled "The Elements of a Space Exploration Infrastructure".  It looks like one of these can be emplaced on the moon so as to facilitate moving goods around the lunar surface.  It would be advantageous to do so, at least at first, since this method of transport would require the least amount of infrastructure.  As the lunar colony gets built out, a lunar transportation system could be substituted in its place.

By the way, the nuclear Jules Verne most likely would not work because of the atmospheric drag would be too great.  You need as little surface area as possible, plus you'd need something that could withstand the enormous amount of heat, which isn't likely.  A small scale nuke, like a suitcase nuke, may be workable in the technical sense.  However, everyone knows what the no nukes will do to that idea.  Suitcase nukes can get as small as a half a kiloton, if memory serves.  That's about a million pounds of tnt.  Aside from the anti nuke types, you'd have other problems as well, such as destruction of your launch site after every launch.  Better get it right the first time.

Hunter's business angle is to launch a lot of fuel for space exploration.  He says it will take a lot of fuel in order to get each astronaut to Mars.  He means to get that business. 

What if he used it to make a moonstalk instead?  It would take an enormous number of shots to do that though.  You need about 6000 tons at EML-1 for a moonstalk ( don't quote me on that).  Either you get it there from the lunar surface by a lot of launches from there, or from the Earth.  It would seem to be an easier task on the moon because of its lack of atmosphere and shallower gravity well.

A VASIMR could be used to take a lot of mass to EML-1.  It would be like a tug.  The Earth based Cannon could get mass to LEO and the VASIMR could take it the rest of the distance.  Let's say you were to take a smaller version of the cannon to the moon, then use it to build up the moonstalk.  That would simplify getting the matter in place at EML-1, or so I am speculating.

There are smaller versions of the Cannon, which can be set up on solid ground.  The Quicklaunch system, by the way, is emplaced in the ocean, or deep body of water.  These smaller versions could do the job on the moon, or so I speculate.  Hunter said on the space show that these things need to be muzzle loaded.  That may be tricky on the moon, therefore complicating the matter.


I'm listening to this show for the second time today.  There are some fine points that I'd like to make note of:

  1. He says that you only have to heat the hydrogen to 1500 deg K in order to get the 6 km/sec velocities.  This temperature is reachable by using concentrated solar power.
  2. Length of the gun is proportional to the mass desired to be shot cubed.  For example, if you double the length, then cube the payload deliverable.
  3. Small payloads are possible, as small as 200 lbs.  Start up costs for that is only $50 million.  Sweet spot is between 100-1000 lbs.
  4. Million pounds per person propellant to get to Mars : comment- if you launch from EML3, you could do a lot better than that (I think).
  5. First shots goals will be 3 clicks per sec ( 3 km/sec I gather).  comment: Faster than escape velocity of the moon.
  6. Recommends John Hopkins and SHARP to "Charles".  Charles likes to be challenging.  Hunter also recommended one of Andersons books on hypersonics.
Update: 11/17/11

Hunter mentioned his challenges with social media, which reminded me that I'm on Facebook too.  It sometimes doesn't occur to me to use that, but this reminds me to use it more in the future.  Let's see what that does.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Cold Fusion Now: Citizen’s Petition calls for open support of cold fusion technology.

    by Ruby Carat


    The government has looked at this twice in the past- cold fusion, that is.   A petition might work, but probably will be ignored.   It won't help that the name is written Energy "Catalizer", which is misspelled.  This will give the impression of being non serious, since catalyze, with the letter "y", as opposed to the letter "i", is the correct spelling.  It may seem nitpicking, but that's probably how it will be seen.

    I don't like signing it.  It won't make any difference and besides, if it did, Obama gets the credit, and I don't like Obama anyway.  Ok, I just signed it.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    The New Space Race?

    TCS Daily

    Comment:  Assuming the Chinese are actually trying to use nuclear explosions for propulsion, what exactly can anyone do about it?  Do we join in and start doing it ourselves?  There are better ways.  This isn't necessarily something that we should emulate.

    Besides, we already had NERVA during the Apollo Era.  This was a nuclear powered upper stage for the Saturn V rocket.  It was already tested and found space worthy.  Like the Saturn V itself, it was canceled.  Our problem is that we've got an active bunch of opponents to space.  They believe that space is just an expense, not an asset.  It is this manner of thinking that's the problem- not the Chinese.

    h/t Instapundit


    Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, has a different take.


    Brian Wang of Next Big Future posted on a variation on that concept here.  It could be in compliance with treaty obligations since it wouldn't involve atmospheric explosions.  A Jules Verne type nuclear powered space gun.


    This may be only a coincidence, but here goes anyway.  It so happens that the masses referred to here could be enough to be an anchor weight for a moonstalk.  Simply launch the mass to the Earth Moon Lagrange point and use that as an anchor for a moonstalk.  This would greatly simpify access to the lunar surface.  You wouldn't need any new nor exotic materials.   Just the will to get it done.


    Go to this website, hit control-f to bring up text search.  Highlight "The Thunderwell Story" in the usual way, plug it into the text search box (control-v) and the result should put you squarely in the part of the text about nuclear rocket propulsion- ie. "space gun", which was actually an underground nuke test in 1957.  It sent a concrete plug into space ( maybe) at a speed calculated at 5 to 6 times the escape velocity of the Earth.

     This may be a plausible way to send large masses into a location, such as EML-1.  You'd have to figure out how to keep it from burning up in the atmosphere, of course.  You'd have to figure out a lot more than that.  But it may be possible.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    A limitless power source for the indefinite future

    Kurzweil Blog

    • The basic concept, invented in the late 60s by Dr. Peter Glaser of Arthur D. Little: a large platform, positioned in space in a high Earth orbit continuously collects and converts solar energy into electricity.
    • Its findings include:  Space solar power appears to be technically feasible within 10–20 years using technologies existing now in the laboratory;
    • It appears to be economically viable in the next 1–3 decades under several different scenarios for future energy markets, including potential government actions to mediate environment/climate change issues;
    • Low-cost Earth-to-orbit transportation systems appear to be technically feasible during the coming 20–30 years using technologies existing in the laboratory now;
    • Flight experiments are needed, and policy-related and regulatory issues must be resolved.
    • “Without any doubt the components technology for space solar power as well as various system concepts have been developed and tested successfully,” says Dr. Neville I. Marzwell, NASA-JPL Advanced Concepts and Technology Innovation Manager (recently retired).
    • Space-based solar power is a technologically ready path over the wall to sustainable high tech civilization on Earth

    Why launch from the ground when it is a lot easier to launch from the moon?  Most of the materials needed to make the solar panels are available on the lunar surface.  It only lacks a will to do the project.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Bussard Fusion Update

    New Energy and Fuel

    • As of September 30, 2011, the WB-8 device has generated over 500 high power plasma shots.
    • The newest device has an eightfold increase in magnetic field strength compared to prior WB series devices, with the expectation of higher performance.
    • So far as we know, the group is led by Richard Nebel and Jaeyoung Park. The latest report has Mr. Park leading the group.
    • What is known is that the experimentation facility is a fully outfitted to measure the confinement and the details needed to design the next step in the scaling of the machine to match the theory.
    If anyone wants to knock Rossi for being too secretive, they ought to look at these guys.  Not to mention it is a publicly funded effort.  If it were private, it would be nobody's business.  Since it is public, you'd think it was everybody's business.  However, it is Navy, and they want to keep it secret.

    It is harder to find hard information on this than with the E-cat.  But nobody's calling these guys frauds.

    In general, I like the concept because it doesn't require heat.  This was the hardest part to get my mind around.  Everybody knows that fusion requires heat.  But this doesn't require heat, it uses electrons.  The electrons are confined and form a "well" deep enough to impart enough energy for fusion to take place.  Beats constructing a huge building in order to house a tokomak which confines the plasma, which is hot enough to melt anything it touches.  As opposed to melting your reactor, the Polywell's trick is to keep those electrons under confinement so that it will provide the energy necessary for fusion.

    I look at the Polywell as a type of capacitor.  A capacitor confines electrons and releases them when you need them.  A capacitor is like a battery, but it doesn't hold nearly as much energy.  If somebody can figure out how to hold as much energy as a battery, it would be a great step forward.  A big technical problem seems to be in keeping the magnets cooled down.  The magnets confine the electrons, and the magnets cannot be allowed to get too hot.  I don't why, but it probably has something to do with their effectiveness.  If they "thermalize", it is a show stopper.

    I've spent a little time browsing the Talk Polywell forum.  I don't like forums much.  I guess it is a matter of taste.  Not my bag, baby.  A little Austin Powers lingo there.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    What's new on the fusion front? (Rossi on top of list)

    What's new on the fusion front?

    • Efforts by the Italian-based Leonardo Corp. to harness low-energy nuclear reactions (the technology formerly known as cold fusion) have reawakened the dream of somehow producing surplus heat through unorthodox chemistry. Today, Pure Energy Systems News reported that Leonardo's Andrea Rossi signed an agreement with Texas-based National Instruments to build instrumentation for E-Cat cold-fusion reactors.
    Well, at least MSNBC did one thing right, anyway.  (H/T Instapundit)


    I'm a bit late with this story as it was covered yesterday:

    National Instruments signs to do E-Cat controls: Next Big Future

    Comment:  If you check the comments section below the story, the big time skeptics are snorting their disapproval.  I suppose Rossi could be pulling everybody's leg, but I still don't get what he gains from doing this.  If this is a fraud, it will be discovered in time.  But these guys are so damn sure that it is a fraud.  Let's see where Rossi goes from here.  I'd like to see where it ends before judging it all in advance.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The Obama administration postpones XL pipeline decision – probably until after the 2012 election

    Keystone XL pipeline delayed: Does that help Obama?

    excerpts from The Christian Science Monitor
    • The Obama administration announced Thursday that it is delaying the Keystone XL pipeline, a Canadian-backed project that promised to create thousands of American jobs, generate billions in annual state tax revenues, and increase Canadian crude oil imports to America by as much as a quarter billion barrels per year.
    • While the project’s promised benefits seem to make its eventual go-ahead virtually certain, delaying it would rescue President Obama from having to make a politically difficult decision a year before he stands for reelection.
    • According to the pipeline operator, TransCanada, the pipeline extension is designed to bring an additional 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, the largest crude reserves in North America, across America’s heartland to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.
    Radical Environmentalism trumps jobs.  This was a project that would cost no taxpayer funds- in fact it would help economic growth and create new revenues.  This was a concession to the environmentalist lobby.  The Republicans should remind voters every day until election day of what Obama has just done.  That makes his jobs rhetoric just a lot of empty meaningless words.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Obama’s Keystone XL Kops

    Rich Lowry - National Review Online

    Well, at least there's somebody over at NRO who hasn't lost their minds and let themselves be led around by the nose with this sexual harassment BS.

    Use of Supercritical Water Could Cut Costs for Ethanol

    Technology Review
    h/t EGO OUT

    • Renmatix, a startup based in Kennesaw, Georgia, is using water at high pressure and temperature to transform wood chips into sugar, which can then be fermented to make biofuels and other chemicals. The company says the process can produce sugar for the same price as making it from sugarcane, which has led to profitable biofuels production in Brazil.
    • Instead of using enzymes or acids, Renmatix employs supercritical water—water at very high temperatures and pressures. [ comment:  Doesn't this seem like Thermal Depolymerization?  Technology that Andrea Rossi worked on in the seventies?]
    • Turning biomass into sugar using supercritical water involves first grinding biomass into small particles, then dissolving cellulose in water.
    It would be better to use the hydrogen in a fuel cell.  Fuel cells are more efficient than burning it in an internal combustion engine.  Here's a process to reform ethanol into hydrogen.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    NASA prepares for moon tourism

    USA Today

    some day space tourists may be on the way to the Apollo mission lunar landing sites

    And you know the one thing that tourists love to bring home.


    So, the space agency released guidelines this summer on protecting lunar landing sites and artifacts.

    Comment:  Good luck on that.  Unless you set up some kind of enforcement mechanism, how are you going to protect the sites?