Saturday, February 25, 2012

I support this project, please join me today!

Solve for X: Rob McGinnis on global water scarcity

h/t Next Big Future

Absolutely amazing.

Basically he uses a more saline solution to get the water ( from seawater) to go into it, but the more saline solution has salts in it that are more easily removed from the water in order to purify it.  The water is heated, but not to boiling point, which means less energy is necessary.  The salts are easily recovered and recycled.

If you have the time, it is worth watching this carefully.

Zubrin on Space Show

Very brief note about that show:

Zero growth, Malthusian philosophies antithetical to a space-faring civilization.  Obama destroys space program, is in sympathy with these harmful philosophies. Example: Ehrlich has been wrong about environmental alarmism.

US must push forward into space, or risk turning inward, which will enable these philosophies to take root.

Zubrin has a new book coming out soon, which details these ideas.

How scientists taught monkeys the concept of money. Not long after, the first prostitute monkey appeared

zme science h/t Instapundit

You may have thought things like currency or money are concepts known solely to man.

You mean that people may not be anything but smart apes?

Gov Moonbeam treatment of Newt Gingrich

I have to take exception to something that I heard on the Space Show, when Jeff Bell was guest on the program on Feb 20th.

Jeff Bell accused Gingrich of something he didn't say-- he didn't say lunar statehood as a proposal, to my understanding, it is just a process that may lead to a 51st state, not a proposal for a state when there's nobody up there-- Gingrich didn't say anything like admitting the moon as the 51st state.

The proposal was to create a Northwest Ordinance for space so that when enough colonists are up there, they can petition for statehood.  This does not commit the nation to building a colony, it just sets up a political framework so that if enough people did decide to do this, they can organize themselves into a state and join the Union.  What the heck is wrong with that?

Here's the speech in question on CSPAN

Northwest Ordinance for space, if enough colonists on moon, can apply for statehood

If you don't like Gingrich, fine. But this ridicule of a politician who champions space also harms the space program in subtle ways. Remember Governor Moonbeam? That would be Jerry Brown, the current governor of California. This moniker was attached to him for proposing an aggressive space policy. Now consider this: what if he had been elected President of the United States, and he made good on his proposals to lead the nation forward on space policy as opposed to the present course of going sideways or even backward? Wouldn't the space program and the country be better for it now? Or would it be worse?

I don't necessarily like Brown, but how could our space policy be much worse than it is now?

The person responsible for the moniker, Royko, felt regret for this later as this New York Times piece indicates:
But as any New Age Californian can tell you, such hate is probably cover for a deeper love. And so it was with Mr. Royko, who after many vicious gibes at Mr. Brown’s expense offered an outright apology to the governor, and spent years trying to erase the moniker.

In a 1991 column in The Chicago Tribune, he called the label, an “idiotic, damn-fool, meaningless, throw-away line,” and pleaded with people to stop using it.

“Enough of this ‘Moonbeam’ stuff,” Mr. Royko concluded. “I declare it null, void and deceased.”

Stop dumping on politicians who dare to propose bold ideas for space unless your intention is to destroy the space program. Those who do should be challenge to explain why they favor the end of the space program. Let them defend that position.

Be careful not to trash the space program while you are engage in a competitive political struggle.


More on Bell's appearance on the Space Show:
  1. He tends to take a Devil's Advocate role on Human Space Flight
  2. He doesn't get it.  He criticizes Elon Musk's new initiatives, but those new initiatives are consistent with Musk wants to achieve.  Therefore, he doesn't understand what Musk is actually doing.  Just as he didn't understand what Newt was saying in his speech.
  3. Doubts that space launch costs will be solved.  Says Musk's achievements aren't that significant.  He insists upon tearing down the champions, like Newt and Musk.
  4. How do you get the costs down unless you try?  If you say you can't do it because you can't do it, you are begging the question.
  5. Debate between Zubrin and Bell?
  6. He mentions the Agnew report in the late sixties.  Here's a writeup that mentions this.
  7. He says something like it takes a Saturn V to go to the moon.  Is this true?  If not a Saturn, then a lot of launches to assemble what it takes to go to the moon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Curious about the transition from Apollo to the Shuttle

With regards to the guest on the space show, a Mr.Muncy- my thoughts a) there exists heavy lift mindset, whose proponents believe that only a heavy lift rocket can enable significant missions b) he spoke of a frontier spirit as fragile, but necessary, or society will turn inward.

This made me curious about why the Shuttle program was adopted, as opposed to continuing with the Saturn rockets.  A nuclear capable Saturn could launch more than twice the payload of the conventional Saturn rocket.  Given that heavy lift mindset, it is curious to me why the Shuttle was adopted.

I am coming around to the opinion that heavy lift is only needed for specialized missions.  You need to get stuff up there and a big rocket is necessary for those missions that need specialized equipment.  However, it should not be used for all missions.  Smaller rockets can get people up there, as well as limited amount of supplies.  Basically, you get people and routine supplies up there frequently on smaller rockets, and use the big rockets to get big payloads that can't go on smaller rockets.

Could it be that the Shuttle had too many requirements?  Was the Shuttle the right way to go after Apollo?  What were the options?  What could have been different?  Are there any lessons to learn from this?

There are those who are against heavy lift as well.  But how do you get big stuff up there without it?  Constellation was cancelled along with the heavy lifter that was planned for it.  Now, the government is funding a new heavy lifter.  But it is not clear what the mission is for it.

The fragility is with respect to a poll that Dr. Space mentioned.  People seem to evenly divided on the purpose of the human space program.  Nearly half don't think there should be one, if that interpretation is correct.  More failures only compound the fragility.  People may consider it to be too dangerous and expensive.  This is a problem, because it could lead to the end of human space flight.

Having the government produce a heavy lift rocket is likely to fail.  There are already smaller rockets, but these are not man rated.  Clearly, the alternative of using smaller rockets with fuel depots can be considered in lieu of a heavy lifter.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Maslow Windows

A new concept to me.  This is a period of rapid change and progress.

These are said to happen about twice per century and we are due for one.  The last one was in the sixties with the Apollo project to the moon.  According to the theory, they have always happened-- but there really aren't that many data points over two hundred years.

If you consider all of the ideas that are percolating these days, such as:
  • SpaceX and Elon Musk's proposal to colonize Mars, and his ideas for reusable rockets
  • Gingrich talking about Moon bases by the end of the decade
  • Commercial space initiatives, ie Virgin Galactic, XCOR, amongst others
  • Quicklaunch, which is a large gas gun, which can put materials in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) cheaply
  • Stratolaunch, which is an air launched rocket that can reach LEO safely with quick turnaround
Not to mention other ideas, such as nuclear thermal rockets and LOXLEO.  So many of these ideas could be revolutionary, so a Maslow Window could open up, after all.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nuclear Rockets with James Dewar - Live Show 3.25

Uploaded by spacevidcast on Jul 31, 2010

I found this in connection with a Space Show broadcast with James Dewar as guest.  This was a fairly recent broadcast sometime this month.  I had to Google the name and that is how I came up with this video.  Dewar has a book, which Dr. Space mentioned, which was an aid in finding this video.

I also found the uploader, which was a bonus.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Renewable Green Nuclear Energy: Here, Now

Renewable Green Nuclear Energy: Here, Now

Raising the level of civilization may be a pipe dream

After getting back into the world for the last few weeks, I realize the difficulty of the concept of raising the level of civilization. Progress doesn't come easy, and it is also not guaranteed to continue with the gains that have been made.

People are not that civilized. I see it every day.

Are people really just smart apes after all?

Civilization has outraced biology. Human beings may not be ready for the high tech living we now enjoy, nor for any further advances.

This is not in any way considering the Luddites as correct. I would prefer continued progress, but progress may not be easy against the headwinds that also exist.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Billionaire Sidney Kimmel to Donate $5.5 to Fund University of Missouri Cold Fusion Research

h/t Free Republic , E-cat Now! , E-Cat World


Rob Duncan, vice chancellor for research at the university, has been a leading proponent for trying to fully understand the phenomenon of cold fusion. He featured in the 2009 60 Minutes TV program in which he expressed surprise at evidence he examined in favor of cold fusion in experimental results he examined.
Here's the video of Duncan:


I think Duncan is an honest scientist. That implies something, which may offend some folks. I call 'em the way I see 'em.

Friday, February 10, 2012

MIT suggests new physical model for condensed matter

Free Republic

There's a link to a pdf, if you're interested.

From the comments, there's this excerpt:

Motivated by many observations of anomalies in condensed matter systems, we
consider a new fundamental Hamiltonian in which condensed matter and nuclear
systems are described initially on the same footing. Since it may be possible that
the lattice will respond to the mass change associated with a excited nuclear state, we
adopt a relativistic description throughout based on a many-particle Dirac formalism.
This approach has not been used in the past, perhaps due to the difficulty in separating
the center of mass and relative degrees of freedom of the nuclear system, or perhaps due
to an absence of applications for such a model. We recently found a way to separate
the center of mass and relative contributions to the Hamiltonian for the many-particle
Dirac model, which leads to somewhat different expressions for the kinematic mass,
Newton mass, and deBroglie mass of the many-particle Dirac composite. It is not clear
at this time whether such a difference is reflected in experiment. This separation allows
us to reduce the condensed matter and nuclear Hamiltonian into a more manageable
form. In the resulting model, there appears a new term in which nuclear transitions
are coupled to lattice vibrations.


It is quite abstract, alright.  Some people have trouble with abstract thoughts.

That's a bit of snark as in fighting fire with fire.  Comments were of the type that I've noticed recently in political discussions- they tend to ridicule ideas and topics for which they have little knowledge nor understanding.  This to make themselves appear feel better, I suppose.

My reaction is that a scientific explanation for cold fusion may be in condensed matter and quantum mechanics.

Too bad there isn't any honest attempt to understand the ideas, though.

It is only our future that is at stake.  What's the big deal?  /snark

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rossi Says E-Cat is Absolutely Safe — “There Will Never Be” Gamma Rays Emitted

E-Cat World  h/t E-Cat Weekly

  • Rossi has said that his Leonardo Corporation is in the process of seeking certification for from Underwriters Laboratories in the US and are in the process of submitting the E-Cat for safety testing.
  • “we have found traces of fusion because we have found 511 kev gamma rays at the output, which is the emission of a positron and an electron, and a positron is the product of a proton turning into a neutron, so we have some kind of fusion inside, but I do not think this is the main energy source.”

The issue of gamma rays is a difficult one to reconcile with theory.  It is one of the main reasons for skepticism of the device.  It will end up changing theories if the device works.

Incidentally, if he can show the 511 kev gamma rays, that would be a significant finding in itself.  How else do you get from nickel to copper, but by a beta decay?  If there's a beta decay, there must be some type of fusion.  The reason why this doesn't produce significant amounts of gamma radiation would be quite a puzzle to solve.

Nuclear thermal gaseous core reactor rockets

Intriguing concept.  A lot of the links have been broken.

I looked it up on the Wikipedia and found some interesting links
  1. Gaseous fission reactor
  2. Updated:  Nuclearspace message board

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Use of robotics in space

I made a comment on Transterrestrial Musings a couple days ago about using robotics as a precursor to human settlement.  The post was about Elon Musk's idea of settling Mars.  It was a short comment, but drew a few negative responses.

There seems to be doubt that robots can reach the level of sophistication needed.

My recollection could be fuzzy on the subject, but human level intelligence may not be all that far off.  As early as 2028, according to the earliest estimates.

In my opinion, human level intelligence wouldn't be necessary.  Just some specialized programming in order to prepare the way for humans.

The advantage in using machines lies in not having to keep them alive.  This means an easier task of getting them there.

Rovers have been successfully landed and operated on Mars.  The next step would be to automate a few tasks, such as propellant manufacture, shelter manufacture, and farming for food production.

Some tasks may be combined.  Such as growing something on Mars, like algae.  Algae can be made into biofuels.  Let's say you make some carbon based fuel and the algae will produce the oxygen and propellant.

It is not too much more complicated to grow food, if you can grow algae.

For shelter, you can begin with a means to produce plastics from microbes.

For a water source, Phobos might do.

You could scout Phobos for water, and then decide if it is possible to set up a mining operation there for the purpose obtaining water for life support and making plastics.  From there, you can start working your way towards the surface.  Robots and teleoperation could prepare the way.  If you can subsist on Phobos for months at a time, you could set up a base there so as to control the machines on the ground.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sorensen: Save U-233, explore space video

Selenian Boondocks

I didn't know that Sorensen blogged here.  Not very many posts, but very interesting.

This is a video I found there.

SpaceX Dragon's ultimate mission is Mars colonization h/t Transterrestrial Musings

  • Musk said that he wants to see 10,000 people living on Mars in the near future - preferably, millions of people.
  • private enterprise takes over space exploration in a manner not seen since the early days of the Hudson's Bay Company. Over half a dozen companies are working on sending tourists on suborbital pleasure flights while others are testing orbital hotels.
  • The Falcon 1 booster was built with an eye on the much larger Falcon 9, which was was built looking forward to a Falcon variant that will be larger and more powerful than NASA's famed Saturn V booster that sent the first men to the Moon. 
  • Musk hopes to achieve this is by taking proven rocket designs, simplifying them and streamlining them as much as possible in order to build them quickly and cheaply
  • Musk believes that the key to making spaceflight cheap is to make the flight components reliable and that means reusable
  • This program of reliability, reusability, reduced cost, mission endurance and an attitude of "why engineer when you can over-engineer?" certainly fits in with Musk's vision of opening up the Solar System to colonization. 
  • It also has eerie echoes of the Age of Exploration when Europeans set out on voyages of discovery in off the peg merchant and war ships
Note: all emphasis added were mine.


In the end, it won't be governments that do this.  Incentives for governments are to spend the most money possible, with no need make profits.  But private enterprise cannot exist in the midst of such inefficiency.

When it comes to space, as with most everything else, the "government is not the solution, it is the problem".

Another observation is that nothing like this can be undertaken without someone who has the vision and the courage to do it.  When a politician, like Gingrich proposes it, he will be mocked.  Thus, for politicians, such an ambition is greatly discouraged.  It may take a "Sputnik moment" to rouse the politicians into action- with one fear as the motivating factor being replaced by another.  Even then, the result will be like Apollo- a one time project that only becomes something of a circus that will entertain the public.

Read it all.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Japanese android eats fried rice

This is not very nice. See why in the video below:

Seriously, if you want to have robots doing the work in space, they are getting quite good. Here's an example below:

If a robot can be developed which can do things that require some intelligence and autonomy, and for doing things that are too inconvenient or dangerous to use people, why not? But this shouldn't preclude humans in space. It would be like all machines. It would help augment your capabilities and make those things that are too expensive and difficult- less so.

By using tele-operation and semi-autonomous robots, you can save the expense of having to provide life support on a constant basis or as large a basis- in space. A smaller contingent of humans can supervise the machines and do plenty of work.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thorium Energy Alliance

A short update on that post recently, which has some actionable material in it, just in case you wanted to, you know, DO SOMETHING.

Well, one thing that can be done is actually follow up on what was in that video. There is an organization, called the Thorium Energy Alliance, which looks like a non profit corporation.  As of this moment, my knowledge of this is limited, but I am looking it up.


Some screenshots of highlights of the video

Weinberg with President Kennedy.  Weinberg invented Light Water Reactor and Thorium Molten Salt Reactor
Weinberg and Seaborg favored Thorium Molten Salt Reactors

So, what happened to the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor? It was so promising, yet it wasn't adopted. To put it succinctly, and it may be seen as unfairly, the Nixon Administration killed it. The administration at that time wanted to go in another direction. That direction led to a dead end. The Thorium Molten Salt Reactor was forgotten about until recently.

Wireless power that is 97 percent efficient could revolutionize highway transportation

Highway recharging may be too ambitious, but this idea could find a useful application for parked vehicles.

A couple more intriguing videos which I found via Next Big Future:
21st Century Job: Asteroid Miner
A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors

Friday, February 3, 2012

Andrea Rossi about E-Cat prices and warranties

Money back guarantee! h/t

Money talks, BS walks.

Near space Armadillo Stiga rocket launch to 140,000 feet super wide angle

News Archive h/t Transterrestrial Musings

First time I've seen one of these.  Interesting how you can hear the sound, but as you get at the end of the ascent, it gets real quiet.  As it comes back down, you can hear the wind again.

It's is called a stig rocket, which is shown being tested here.  It is rather small.  It can only carry small payloads.