Friday, October 15, 2010

Sock it to me?

Sharon Angle socks it to Harry Reid on their debate last night.  Check it out via Michelle Malkin right here.

Anybody remember Richard Nixon on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In back in the sixties?  Then candidate for President Richard Nixon goes on the comedy show and asks "sock it to me?"  The Democratic candidate in 1968, Hubert Humphrey, was offered a chance to go on the show too, but declined.  He regretted that decision and credits Nixon's appearance as helpful in Nixon's winning the election.

Angle nukes Reid by asking him how he got so rich in the Senate.  It's a killer question in my opinion.  She really socked it to him all right.   Here comes the judge!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Earthworm salad served at Kremlin dinner for President Wulff - The Local

Earthworm salad served at Kremlin dinner for President Wulff - The Local

Afghan peace council chief: Taliban ready to talk - Yahoo! News

Afghan peace council chief: Taliban ready to talk - Yahoo! News

O'Donnell v. Coons

In the last decade or so, I have become somewhat more active in politics.  What I
mean by that is that besides just voting, I have on occasion made some political
contributions.  These were pretty small in keeping with my rather modest means.

The thing that happens when you start contributing to politicians is that you
become a focal point for fundraising appeals.  Even though I didn't give very much,
I still get solicitations for contributions on a rather regular schedule.

And so I open my mail this morning and lo and behold, here is another one.  This
time it is a solicitation from Christine O'Donnell who is running for Senate from
the State of Delaware.   This is Joe Biden's seat, who is now Vice President.  This
is a special election to fill that seat, which currently in the hands of a guy who
is not on the ballot.

After all the garbage that has been happening the last few years, I am in no mood
to give money to any politicians anymore.  But this intrigued me.  I think she is
getting the usual liberal hit squad treatment in the media.  So I feel a little
more interested in her case than what I would normally feel.  And I opened up the
letter and read what she had to say.  It wasn't anything unusual, just another
run of the mill campaign donation request.

I looked her up on Wikipedia and there is a rather extensive article there.  I
feel overall that it is a fair article though.  It went over all the stuff the
media has been putting out about her.  Not a whole lot that was new.  But it did
give some of her views that leads me to believe she is conservative alright.  A
pretty solid conservative at that.  Nothing wrong with that.

Then I looked up her opponent and there wasn't a whole lot there.  The only thing
that sticks out was that Bearded Marxist thing.  Basically what I get from this is
that the guy is a reliable liberal.  Typical liberal mindset from the guy.  He
went overseas and became disillusioned with America.  Now he wants to change the
country into a different kind of country.  Sounds a little familiar.

He has a record in government office.  If he wins, it may be for that reason.
Unfortunately, that is not good enough these days.  I think the mindset of this
guy is part of what the problem is.  So putting him in there would be the same
as endorsing the status quo of the last two years.  If you like that, then vote
for him, because that is exactly what you are going to get from him.  I can't
vote for him, but I can donate to his opponent.

As of this writing, I haven't decided one way or the other on that.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sheriff says Mexican investigator was decapitated - Yahoo! News

This should show the doubters just who is the big dog in Mexico. Sheriff says Mexican investigator was decapitated - Yahoo! News

A Quantum Leap?

You know, space is a pretty interesting topic.  I think I will stay on that
topic, but not be a totally exclusive topic on this blog.  I'm interested in
other topics to be sure, but I think I will always return to this subject
because I think it is important.

Having said that, I will move on a bit and discuss something else that has
caught my attention from time to time.  And, yes, it can bear upon the subject
of space.  This would be the subject of quantum computers.  But even more than
that, the subject of quantum mechanics.

Let me start with the disclaimer that I am not at all well versed in the subject.
Not on quantum mechanics in general, nor in quantum computers in particular.

Another thing about this blog.  People may scoff at what I write because I am not
an expert.  And that is ok.  I'm not an expert, nor do I want to pretend to be.
Just an casual observer with my own twist to a subject.  You can take it as
you please.

While I was reading about quantum mechanics this morning, an idea came to me that
just blew my mind.  What idea is that?  The ability to communicate at great
distances using the concept of entanglement.  I know that there are those who
say it can't be done.  Just asking the question, "what if it could?".

What I read was this, you can't transmit information that way because it violates
relativity.  But I thought, not necessarily.  Let's look at how we all communicate
using the internet.  In order to send a message from one side of the world to the
other, we use the electromagnetic spectrum.  You don't attach a message to an
electron and send it across the world.  You merely manipulate the electromagnetic
spectrum in predictable ways.  By doing so, you can encode messages this way,
and decode them at the receiving end.  Nothing gets sent, only a representation
of it by a preestablished set of rules all established in advance.

Couldn't you do the same with the concept of entanglement?  According to what I
read, that answer is no.  But being a bit stubborn, I continued thinking about it.
I came across these experiments with teleportation.  Supposedly this has been done.
That is, the teleportation of quantum states, if I am not mistaken.  Also, if this
is true, then you should be able to construct a communication device.  It wouldn't
violate relativity, it would just manipulate the states in predictable ways as
in the example I gave above.

If teleportation of quantum states is real, then you know how to get a quantum
state from one location to another.  According to what I read, this can only be
done for short distances.  But what if it could be done at great distances?  There
is one estimate that this entanglement can take place at 10,000 times the speed
of light.  Now, I don't know if I got that right, nor do I know if that is true
or not.  I can't evaluate it one way or another.  But if it is true, then could
you have the basis for a communication device that can be used to communicate
in interplanetary distances and maybe even interstellar distances?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hey, Big Spenders

When it comes to politics these days, I am reminded of a line from Cool Hand Luke:
"What we have here is failure to communicate."  Evidently, the political class no
longer thinks they have to listen to the public.  Take the recently passed health
Care Law poll which shows that the public doesn't want and hasn't wanted this all
along.  But they pass it anyway.  Obviously it didn't improve public confidence in
the Direction  of Country which shows most of the public still thinks we are on the
wrong track.  I am reminded of the aftermath of the 911 attacks.  After this debacle
of national security, it came to light that the government knew enough to stop the
attack, but failed to connect the dots.  The government failed to listen to itself
then and it seems an awful lot like the politicians aren't connecting the dots
now when they don't listen to the people.  Again, from USA Today, the latest
polls say "From right and left, differing views of the government's proper role".


Why aren't the politicians connecting the dots?  Could it be that they are getting
bad advice?  One influential voice in the left's camp is Paul Krugman.  In a most
recent editorial "Hey, Small Spender", Krugman repeats his oft stated opinion that
the government isn't spending enough money.  Let's take a look at that with respect
to the Space program, shall we?  Do you know what the International Space Station
(ISS) cost to build?  Our part of this program cost 100 billion dollars.  Yet,
despite all this spending, they could have used parts from the Apollo program
and the Shuttle program to save billions of dollars and accomplished much more
than what has been accomplished to this date.  Some of this can be found in the
book "Mining the Sky".  That and more from that book.  But what they have now is
no manned space program (the shuttle gets shut down very soon) and no heavy lift
capability.  This even though the Apollo and Shuttle programs did both.  As of
now, Uncle Sam has gotten very little from all that money.  

As for Krugman, another one of his articles- "Running Out of Planet to Exploit"-
repeats the claim that we are running out of natural resources.  But the planet
isn't running out of resources as seen here:  Ocean Floor Mining Equipment.  
The ocean has hardly been explored.  If it was up to the left, it will never be.
The problem isn't a lack of resources.  The problem is that the left won't let us
have access to it.  But what about space?  In Mining the Sky, you can see that space
has virtually unlimited resources.  But we can't access space either.  Obama
cancelled the Constellation program.  Bush cancelled the Shuttle program in favor
of the new Constellation program.  Now we don't have either.

Where does Krugman believe all this money will get paid back? You can't get it from the Earth or from space. Or does Krugman believe that it doesn't matter if it ever gets paid back? You have to earn it before you are allowed to spend it. Can the government be put on a paying basis? Why does space exploration have to cost money? Can't it make money instead? Perhaps better questions are in order. Is politics more about ideological battles than getting results? Is the government "by and for the people" being perverted into a government by and for the political class? The US Debt Clock keeps ticking upward and upward while the US Manned Space Program is stranded on the ground. Uncle Sam can spend more to get back into space, but we were already there before and now NASA has to reinvent the wheel.

Sometimes you just feel like you are being scammed. Evidently some scientists think that way. Here's the story of a physicist who resigned over the Global Warming Scam. Who hasn't heard about Climategate? It seems that The Climatic Research Unit email controversy is a mild way of putting it. It seems like a whitewash. The truth is not being allowed to get out there. Debate is being suppressed. But then you just get back into the political wars.  Politicians don't want the debate, but it's the debate that's really needed.
Politicians should stop serving themselves and serve the people instead.  Allow debate.

You can't fix the problem if you don't know what it is.  And you can't know what it
is until you start to communicate better.  Throwing money at problems doesn't solve
any problems.  An intelligent approach begins with better listening habits.  You 
just have to stop yelling at each other and start listening.   The US is borrowing the Russian
space program to service the ISS.  Perhaps they should borrow one of their ideas: glasnost.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Requiem to the dinosaurs

Today is Columbus Day, sort of.  It is October 11th and a Monday,
so it is more convenient to have a 3 day weekend, and set the
"holiday" on the wrong day.  Columbus Day is the 12th of October.
In case anyone bothered to notice.  Note that I used scare quotes
on the word holiday because Columbus Day is not exactly a holiday
in some quarters these days.

Tomorrow is the real Columbus Day, but does anyone remember what
happened 10 years ago?  The USS Cole was attacked and nearly sunk
on that day by terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda.  It was probably
no accident that the terrorists chose this date.  In their worldview, that
day was the day that Western Civilization was on the ropes and managed
to get off the ropes.  Not only that, Columbus Day was the day that
Western Civilization began its ascent to dominance.  And their world
began its own descent into near irrelevance.

Columbus Day amongst our multiculturalist liberals is also a dark day,
a day that the noble savages had their paradise taken away from them.
To them, it is an ignoble celebration of American triumphalism.  It
was the beginning of the destruction of the environment.  It meant
slavery, colononialism, and world subjection to Western Civilization.
To them celebrating Columbus Day is approval of racism, bigotry, and
chauvinism.

But that almost didn't happen.  The Vikings were in the New World.
Some Polynesians got pretty close.  In Mining the Sky, John S. Lewis points
out a that not long before Columbus set sail in 1492, the Chinese explorers
were on the move.  But the Chinese suddenly stopped their explorations, and
Columbus got his chance.  But Columbus was a failure.  He wasn't trying
to find the New World, he was just looking for a shortcut to China.  If
you look at it that way, Columbus just got lucky.  What's so triumphant
about that?

Was there anything good about the discovery of the New World?  Or is it
bad because of who did it?  Or is it bad because of why it was done?

If you honestly look at it at all angles, you have to believe it is more
good in it than bad.  And therefore, it is worth celebrating.  The New World
wasn't a Paradise.  The Chinese are more triumphalist than Western Europe
ever thought about being.  Finally, if Columbus didn't discover the New
World, Islam would have conquered Western Europe.  Does anyone believe
that Western Civilization is really worse than the rest?  Only those who
are just as triumphalist themselves would have such a notion.

Rather than being triumphalist, why not celebrate the progress that was
achieved?  But there are those who don't believe that there has been any
progress.  Those would be the radical environmentalists amongst others.
They would have us living like the horse cultures of the American plains.
In harmony with nature.  Except the horses didn't arrive until the Spanish
arrived.  And the noble savages weren't so noble as we are led to believe.

Even if you don't think it is progress, then what about just staying alive?
If we try to go back to the past, a lot of people would have to die.  The
world just won't support this many people unless we have the technology.
If the technology is bad, and is rejected, the world will sink into a new
dark age.  But would there be a new Renaisance?  We may not get the chance.
This is a theme of Tsiolkovsky's Imperative.  We must go forward with space
exploration.  The alternative that awaits us could be the fate of the
dinosaurs.  An asteroidal collision wouldn't just be the end of Western
Civilization, it could be the end of life on this planet.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Don't reinvent the wheel

Why does the government keep reinventing the wheel for
new spacecraft?  Why not use what we already have?

I got this idea to put the Bussard device on a space
shuttle and use the shuttle to travel to trips in the
solar system. Perhaps even to bring back samples and
ores from the asteroids.

How would a working Bussard device help do this?  Why
would you want to keep the external tank and reuse
the shuttle?  The shuttle would be used for life
support, tranport of certain materials, and getting
a crew back home.  The external tank could be used
to store large quantities of useful stuff like ores
and ore processing equipment.  The Bussard device can
provide the power you need to get back and forth in
deep space and any other power you need to do useful
tasks.

The shuttle can keep the fuel tank on as opposed to
releasing it. This puts the fuel tank in orbit.  This
is feasible.  Nothing new needed to do this part.  The
part that gives trouble is what to do with it when it
up there.  This idea about using the external fuel tank
has already been debated.

The Bussard device might fit into the cargo bay.  Attach
it to the external fuel tank, and you may have a craft
that can be sent into deep space and bring stuff back.
The cargo tank has more internal space than the space
station now in orbit.  You can put a lot of stuff in
there.

How do you attach the Bussard device to the external
fuel tank?  I am sure there is a way.  According to
my conception of the thing, I would put it back away
from the crew and the shuttle.  This would be on the
bottom of the tank while it is on the launch pad.  You
wouldn't do it on the ground, but while it is in orbit.

The device would be attached to the bottom with the
shuttle also still attached.

Just keep the shuttle attached to the tank and use
the shuttle for life support in transit.  There is
a lot of cargo space on the shuttle.  You might fit
the Bussard device as well as a significant amount
of other stuff.  Once you get home, land the
shuttle in the usual way.  Keep the tank and Bussard
propulsion device in earth orbit.

Additional shuttle missions may be need to turn it into
a mining ship for the trips to mine asteroids.  You can
put a lot of stuff in there to process the ore while at
the asteroid.  Then you can store the processed stuff for
the trip home.  You can put an awful lot of stuff in
there.  The launch weight of the space shuttle is
mostly fuel which is inside the tank.  The ore and
finished products can be stored in the massive tank.

Heavy metals would make the thing much heavier (while
in space) but while in space, it would be weightless
of course.  Getting off an asteroid wouldn't take a
lot of power and the Bussard device would generate
plenty anyway.

The Bussard propulsion device could get all that material
back home.  Then it would be a matter of getting it
on Earth.  The shuttle could take some of it, or perhaps
all of the finished products.  This would assume processing
of ore on the trip home.

On subsequent trips, just take along the additional
stuff you might need to make this work even better.