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Archive for the category “space”

Space In The Campaign

Want to hear all about the actual technology required for a Moon Colony and Getting There From Here (and just how available all that stuff actually is)? Tune in to Fast Forward Radio at The Speculist tomorrow night (2/1/12) at the special time of 11 pm eastern/10 pm central to listen to Rand Simberg and Brian Wang, two guys who actually know what they’re talking about and aren’t running for any political office (and aren’t indebted to anyone who is :)).

Yo, Phil, Stephen; I don’t give a damn what else is in the news for this show at least. Tell the nice people who these guys are and then get straight to it!


To Infinity … or not, maybe

Gunbloggers doing Space and Singularity.

This could get interesting once we settle on terms and such. One thing seems certain, the discussion in his comments won’t get too out of bounds, what with the other interest of the involved parties.

via Kevin Baker, who I didn’t know geeked in quite this way before now.

Shirley it can’t be this simple, can it? With Update

If I’m reading this at all correctly (as ever, not a given), then one of these Hyperion Power Modules ought to be sufficient for virtually any reasonable SSTO application short of a Pournelle/Niven novel. If that truly proves to be the case (and we ought to have a fairly definitive answer by next spring per Prof Yang), then a robotic mission to capture and deliver an asteroidal body to Earth orbit oughtn’t not be too much further into the near-term future I should think. Something small to start, on the order of a cubic mile say.

The above is my comment in initial reaction to this Brian Wang post regarding a potential EMDrive module to be tested in China later this year.

While reference is made to solar power being the energizing force, I suggest that an enclosed and stable power supply as part of any vehicle’s structure (whether space or atmospheric) is much more versatile and reliable (within design parameters, of course). Getting a mission to Mars in 41 days via solar power is all well and good, but powering any subsequent surface activity post orbital insertion is going to require something a bit more substantial and less subject to external debilitation, I would think.

I’ve forwarded this to Rand Simberg and Jerry Pournelle for their thoughts.

Update 8/25: Not a direct response to my e-mail, but on topic nonetheless, from Jerry Pournelle’s Current View for Thursday, Sept 25 entry:

For some reason there are a lot of recent reports of reactionless drives. I pay little attention to them, because if someone can build a working model, it is easy enough to demonstrate. After all it doesn’t need to work very well; just a tiny bit of hanging off center in a swing is all that’s needed to generate enormous excitement. If there’s any thrust at all, it is easy to prove. We have had many theories of reactionless drives, the best worked out being that of Col. Wm. Davis, Ph.D.; none of these have resulted in a working model. I have neither the time nor the competence to evaluate theories, and so far no one has offered me the chance to inspect an actual working model. I’d still love to see a working spacedrive. I doubt that I ever will.

Shaw drive – not workable

Regarding the reactionless drive the Chinese are wasting their money on: ShawyerFraud.

The short version: Shaw’s diagrams leave out the axial vector component of the force exerted on the slanting sides of the cone, which, added to the lesser force on the smaller end, precisely balances out the force on the larger end. There is no change in overall motion.


I have other notes claiming that the Chinese are working on reactionless drives. I doubt much will come of it, but I certainly wouldn’t stop watching them just in case…

[hyperlink edit mine]

Blissfully displaying my ignorance, I wonder if the Shawyer drive force is at all equivalent to the electromagnetic force? If a magnet is placed within the field of a larger magnet the smaller of the two moves without any measurable change of force on the part of the smaller magnet. If you substitute a variable current to an electro-magnet for the smaller magnet, wouldn’t the subsequent action be equivalent to that proposed by Shawyer? I don’t know obviously, but given the limits of analogy (magnetism for gravity) this seems to fit the description of what’s theoretically happening.

Whole Lotta Power In That Candle

“Come on Baby, Fire my Light … “

Hmmm, doesn’t trip very errr, lightly off the tongue (over the teeth?), does it?

(via James Hudnall)

In My Defense

This past Saturday, Al Fin wrote, “… Eric Pianka, a University of Texas ecologist who suggests repeatedly in public appearances that viruses such as Ebola should be modified so as to be able to kill off 90% of earth’s human population.”; see here:


I commented, in so many words, that if the professor or his friends came around my house, they could expect to get shot. A few things about that seem in need of a fuller reply.

I think it important to note first that the piece of legislation I referred to in my glibness doesn’t take effect until this coming September. That circumstance wouldn’t really effect my actions in an attack, I should point out, only those of the attorney I hire afterwards.

Secondly, while my reply was both honest and legitimate on the purely personal level, all the firearms in the world would, at best, be only a limiting factor in a gas or biologic attack. Which isn’t all that different a condition from any other form of attack, when you stop to think about it. Despite the commonly expressed intent of self-defense, I carry a gun to enable me to more effectively carry out a counter-attack should that necessity ever be forced upon me. I am well aware that my gun won’t stop his bullet from doing me harm. What it will do is provide me the means to shoot him in turn, and hopefully kill him first. That’s what practice is all about.

None of which, I should point out, actually deals with the legitimate societal concerns Al Fin raised in his post. Societal self-defense isn’t simply the aggregate of our individual efforts alone. Nor, despite the euphemism, should it be based solely upon our country’s military offensive capabilities, although that is essentially the reality. That’s the problem with euphemisms, people mostly ignore the underlying assumptions they’re built upon. The one about the “best defense”, for instance, is only true if you have a secure base from which to generate an offense.

This circumstance isn’t at all unusual as regards American defense preparedness, by the way. Mutually Assured Destruction may have worked out in the end, but it certainly wasn’t a defensive posture. In the event of an attack, we can hammer anybody flat. And, after any attack to date, we’ve demonstrated we can clean up and return to business as usual, too.

Which arguably works well enough for an attack from outside, but what about Professor Pianka’s “assisted suicide” scenario? I suggest Al Fin himself (and others earlier, this particular eco-loon has been a public embarrassment for some time now) provides evidence that we do have an effective means of defense; ourselves. Fin’s post is actually the most recent iteration of our civil defense system; public watchfulness, individual preparedness and societal cooperation for containment and necessary cleanup. Despite my enjoyment of fictional apocalypse stories, I much prefer actually living in the real world where babbling fools like Pianka aren’t a problem, they’re an active part of our defense, as a good tripwire should be.

There are excellent reasons for expanding human civilisation into space; fear of ourselves isn’t one of them.

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