Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hand feeding Hummingbirds

Ketchikan Alaska Tours

Jib-Jab: 2011, Buh-Bye!

Elon Musk: Why Is Making A Reusable Rocket So Difficult?

Uploaded by spacexchannel on Dec 20, 2011

The Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor: Why Didn't This Happen (and why is now the right time?)

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on Dec 22, 2011

Why didn’t it happen?

Short answer–because all of the political, technological, and financial focus was on the liquid-metal fast breeder reactor. Later on, due to fears about non-proliferation, the US cancelled plans to commercially reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, and the case for the fast breeder reactor was toast. Because there were no fast breeder reactors to take all the plutonium that had been generated from light-water reactors, in 1982 the US government passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and started collecting a tax that would be intended to pay for what would eventually become Yucca Mountain.[ emphasis mine]


Even shorter answer:  the fast breeder reactor was chosen over the molten salt thorium reactor because of politics and  then forgotten after the fast breeder itself became politically infeasible because of proliferation fears.  Nobody thought of molten salt thorium reactors because they had forgotten about it.

The 7 most illuminating economic charts of 2011

The Enterprise Blog

Ronald Reagan famously asked "are you better off than you were four years ago"? You can argue about charts and stats all day long, but your own situation is the one that should trump all of them. If things are really good and getting better, why change? If things are not good, why not?



Ron Paul is very, very questionable.  The only thing good thing about him is that his ideas to trim the government. Other than that, he might as well be a Democrat.



The polls are following the latest front runner, not Santorum.  This tells me that people are looking for a bandwagon, but can't find one that will stay together long enough that its wheels won't come off before the vote.  You can stop paying attention to the polls and think for yourself and that will solve that problem.  But easier said than done.

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

Marcin Jakubowski on the Global Village Construction Set

TED Talk 2011 - Open Source Ecology


I was just thinking a couple things
  1. 3D Printing
You see, if only you can put the blueprints on a CD, then take only that much to Mars and then use it to construct a civilization based upon the blueprints and locally obtained materials.


No more FARTS.

The Corruption of America

Published by Stansberry & Associates Investment Research
h/t PJMedia
  • The numbers tell us America is in decline... if not outright collapse.
  • So please... before you read this issue...understand I am only writing about the facts as I find them today.
  • My conclusions will not be easy for most readers to accept.
  • I am sharing these ideas with my subscribers because I know we have arrived at the moment of a long-brewing crisis.
Then he lays out the case... which isn't pretty.  Much recommended and appreciated.  Unfortunately, most people won't pay attention until the wolf is actually pounding on the door.  By that time, it will be too late.

By the way,  I've seen this video before.  Worth watching again.

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.

Would you buy an electric car from this man?

In short, then, the president is using political power to reallocate economic resources to make people adopt an inferior technology nobody wants. So much for his stellar performance as captain of the economy.

That's not the half of it.  He is also abusing political power in order to grant entitlements as opposed to not molesting profits gained from merit and accomplishment.

Occupy London Creates Kangaroo Court to Hold Trials of the 1%

Verum Serum

“The opening of Occupy London’s fourth occupation will see the movement conducting ‘trials of the 1%’ in the abandoned magistrates court building which has lain empty since 1996, despite its prime location and Grade II listing.”

Do they really believe that the 1% steal from the 99%?  It can be a seductive argument.  One man gets rich from the many.  You can then blame the rich man and take his wealth and give it to the "99%".  This is claimed to be justice.  But, I'm not convinced that it is.  One man's success does not require another man's failure- as a matter of principle, it doesn't.  It could, in a particular case, but not in the general.  Not as a rule. For example, a thief profits from his victim.  But is everyone who has something a thief?  It does not follow. Something has to be created before it can be stolen.  The creator is not a thief.  The creation of wealth is not, by definition, a theft of anything from anybody.

Then you segue from the Occupy stuff to this payroll tax cut controversy.  Why only two months?  I think it is so that the Democrats can bring up the millionaires tax again in order to pay for it.  They tried this on this last go round, but it failed.  In order to try it again, especially in an election year, they needed a means to do it.  That means is by way of the 2 month extension as opposed to a yearly one.  The point is that it is the same as the Kangaroo Court.  The millionaires aren't paying their fair share, so it is said.  Their wealth is prima facie evidence of guilt, so they must pay.

The seductive argument is that, in order to get a tax cut, you take from someone else.  The premise is that this is justice.  The seduction is that is ruins the connection between something that is earned and replaces it with a corrupt practice which is hardly any different than theft.

When I was but 15 years old, my father became disabled, and got disability benefits from Social Security.  Less than a year later, he was dead.  But while he was alive, I gave my opinion that it was welfare.  He took offense at that because he said that he paid into that for all his working years.  Which was true.  I didn't understand it that way at the time, perhaps due to my youth.  But the connection seems undeniable to me now.  These days, with what the Democrats are doing with the payroll tax cut, they are severing that connection.  What has been earned up to now, is being financed not by earned income, but by stolen goods.  The theft is being justified upon the basis of justice which is not been established.  Just because somebody has something doesn't mean that they stole it!  They are reducing something from an earned benefit to something that is akin to welfare as I incorrectly understood it to be in my father's case.

One more thing, which I read this more in Barnhardt's site.  Something struck me there as well.  It is about the First Beatitude.  
Jesus isn’t saying that poor people are by definition morally superior to rich people. Not at all. What He is saying is that a person who is detached from their wealth and is willing to “push their chips all-in”, to use a poker metaphor, is truly blessed. So, given this, ANYONE within the wealth spectrum, rich or poor, can possess this virtue.
As I wrote before, money isn't the root of all evil.  It is only a medium of exchange.  It is what you do with the thing, not the thing itself, that makes it good or evil.

If the system is failing, it is because the people are being seduced by a false sense of injustice. Truth has to be at the core of justice, without it, it is impossible to achieve. Those who make such accusations so be required to prove them, then come up with a remedy. A 1% v 99% argument is indeed a kangaroo court, which means that it is unjust from the get go.

People are not to be judged guilty by virtue of being who they are. If that ain't prejudice and bias, there's no such thing.

Nothing is Sustainable  h/t Ace of Spades HQ

Here’s the ugly truth. It’s simple, blunt, and bitter. Nothing is sustainable. Oh, like the sailors say, the wind is free. As is the sunshine. But everything else we mine or extract to make everything from shovels to cell phones will run out.

Wasn't it Keynes who said: "in the long run, we are all dead"?   What did Keynes mean and what do these sustainable development advocates mean?  It seems from a certain point of view that it is okay to sacrifice something in the future in order to obtain something urgently needed in the present.

In the long run, the sun will burn itself out.  In the long run, the universe will die out.  One way or another, everything must come to an end.  Perhaps by careful management, we can extend the lifetime of what we have, but we can't perpetuate it forever.

The needs of the moment will trump the needs of the distant future.  If you aren't dead now, you will be eventually.  Nothing is sustainable after all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingrich: Please Don't Turn America Into Massachusetts

Great talk.  Gingrich wants to debate Romney, while Mitt runs negative ads against Newt.

World's smallest frogs discovered in New Guinea

Science Daily h/t EGO OUT

ScienceDaily (Dec. 12, 2011) — Field work by researcher Fred Kraus from Bishop Museum, Honolulu has found the world's smallest frogs in southeastern New Guinea. This also makes them the world's smallest tetrapods (non-fish vertebrates). The frogs belong to the genus Paedophryne, all of whose species are extremely small, with adults of the two new species -- named Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa -- only 8-9 mm in length.


I've seen some pretty small frogs in Houston, but that was many years ago. You don't see many frogs around here anymore, even the bigger ones.


One more from Science Daily via EGO OUT:

Beating superbugs with a high-tech cleanser

Now Dr. Udi Qimron of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine has developed an efficient and cost-effective liquid solution that can help fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria and keep more patients safe from life-threatening infections.

Plowing the back 40

Yuk, yuk.

But this isn't so funny. Farming in the old days must have been hard work.  It also makes you realize that to end the use of fossil fuels prematurely just might get a lot of people killed.

Smoke Screening

Vanity Fair  h/t Behind the Black

  • As you stand in endless lines this holiday season, here’s a comforting thought: all those security measures accomplish nothing, at enormous cost. That’s the conclusion of Charles C. Mann, who put the T.S.A. to the test with the help of one of America’s top security experts.
  • Since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion on homeland security.
  • “The only useful airport security measures since 9/11,” he says, “were locking and reinforcing the cockpit doors, so terrorists can’t break in, positive baggage matching”—ensuring that people can’t put luggage on planes, and then not board them —“and teaching the passengers to fight back. The rest is security theater.”
  • Security theater, from this perspective, is an attempt to convey a message: “We are doing everything possible to protect you.”
  • “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this—and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”
From an earlier post, I quote yours truly:
the government invents a problem, suggests solutions that aren't likely to work, and enacts a solution that is least likely to work and costs the most money.

At least Krugman should be happy.  It's like digging a hole and filling it up and then doing it again and again and again...  At least it is better than nothing.   We will have jobs!!!


Another story from Behind the Black, the video and a comment


It is said that we don't have the money for this, but there's plenty of money to waste on ineffective and wasteful projects like security theater. Beam me up, Scotty!

Peter Schiff interviews Ann Barnhardt Dec 21, 2011

link via Barnhardt's site

The markets can't work without integrity.



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.

Morning Summary 12/22/2011

Time for an administrative post.  This morning, I've changed some of the category labels around and adding some new ones.  The idea of adding new labels was to set up a type of philosophical foundation for the blog.  The new major category is called Basic Concepts.    The sub categories are Morality, Humor, Scarcity v Abundance, and Solutions v Problems.  The intent was to bring a bit more organizational coherence to the blog.  Hopefully, this will help the blog "make sense"during those times when it may seem not to.

Sidebar entry category is been changed to Sidebar Entry Evolution of the blog.  This post will be one of those type of posts also.

I wanted to write something about War, but that has been put off for now.  There has to be some groundwork first, and that is what this post is about.  You see, the blog is supposed to be about peace, prosperity and freedom, as well as how to achieve those ends.  Perhaps the message is good, but the form is bad.  If this can improve the form, maybe the message can be better delivered.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Englishman says: Football Is Better Than Soccer

Like a Chess Match—With Violence, he says.

In its energy and complexity, football captures the spirit of America better than any other cultural creation on this continent, and I don't mean because it features long breaks in which advertisers get to sell beer and treatments for erectile dysfunction. It sits at the intersection of pioneering aggression and impossibly complex strategic planning.

Soccer is for wusses.

Dog eat Dog world

Sometimes you just can't win.  (But he does figure it out eventually.)

Spanish title means "most stupid dog in the world".

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

So whodunit?  I wrote this yesterday, and here's this today.
But Powerline didn't copy my line, Real Clear did it.  Or maybe they came up with it on their own and it is just a coincidence.



Bad government

I wrote before that we are being herded like sheep.  The government is full of wolves and we, the people, are the sheep.  There's not a lot that protects us from the wolves anymore.  We, for the moment at least, still have freedom of speech, but the government may be working overtime in order to restrict that as much as they can.  Take away freedom of speech, start jailing people without due process, and disarm them, and pretty soon you are left with a totalitarian government.

If the government was faced with security threats and with no other means of securing itself, one may be willing to understanding about some of this.  But what if the government is just plain incompetent and corrupt?  It is only protecting itself from a justifiably angry populace that is sick and tired of the government's failures and dishonesty.

I've written constantly about solutions here because I think the solutions exists for our problems.  Yet there is so little interest it seems in actually doing anything constructive about the problems.  Hence the debt negotiations fiasco during the summer.  The recent failure to come to an agreement just cements that failure all the more. What we ended up with is a government that is growing just as fast as before and running up the debts just as fast as before.  Nothing useful has been accomplished.

I write about space, and about how this government insists upon spending billions on useless activities while ignoring and suppressing other ideas that may actually be helpful.  We will spend billions, for example, on a new rocket, which most likely never get off the ground.   But we won't spend peanuts on ideas that might be revolutionary.  The idea of getting liquid oxygen from the edge of space isn't even new, but it could work.  Any attempt to do this though will likely be blocked.  You got to have that heavy lift rocket even though refueling in space would make such rockets unnecessary.  Any government that suppresses the good and promotes the bad is itself not so good.

I write about energy, yet there could be a new form of energy which only needs to be recognized in order for it to start being used.  Even if the government granted a patent for the E-cat, and the E-cat was a fraud, what harm would be done?  Yet the government refuses even to consider cold fusion patents.  Meanwhile, the government also blocks the XL Keystone pipeline, which would employ thousands and make the country more energy secure.  The Congress gets a solution, but wait!  It stops in mid stream because of some political disagreement that hasn't got anything to do with anything.  But that isn't all.  We have all the energy we need from new ways to get natural gas, but a process called fracking, which has been used for decades, is now all of a sudden unacceptable.  What gives?  Does the government hate its own people?

Who protects the interests of the people?  And if the people aren't interested enough to protect themselves, what's to become of us?  I don't think you can trust the media.  They lie, to put it bluntly.  The government and the media just seem to work hand in hand in making sure nobody knows enough to do anything useful about anything.  People, according to the polls, are aware that something's wrong, but who do you believe and who do you trust to get things back on track?  The usual sources of moral authority have lost their credibility, so where do you go now?  It seems that we are all cut loose from our moorings.  How to get it back?

Power requirements in space

Speculation alert:

This is about the LOXLEO concept and how it might be made to work.  The main problem seems to be getting power to it.  Previously, I thought of beamed power.  There was a project that proposed to do this from the ground into space, but was deemed to be too expensive.

There may be another way to do this by way of fuel cells.  The idea is to generate enough electricity to provide thrust and to collect the oxygen from the edge of space.  The fuel cell would power a VASIMR, which would provide the thrust.

From the video in the fuel cell link above, it may well be that the size and mass of the fuel cell device will be too big.  So another thought came to me.  Put the fuel cell in a higher orbit, but synchronized with the LOXLEO satellite.  Then beam the power down to it from a relatively short distance in space.  That would allow a larger satellite in a relatively higher and stable orbit which would power the smaller satellite down below.  The smaller satellite would collect the oxygen and be powered by the VASIMR, which would be powered in turn from a higher orbit.

The fuel cell mentioned in the link is 1 MW.  The need is for up to 6 MW, so a much bigger device is needed.  I couldn't get the mass of the 1 MW plant, nor do I know if such would be feasible in space.  But if it were to be feasible, an array of six of these would be enough.  Then the power could be beamed down, possibly.

Perhaps you could break up the functions.  The collection of the oxygen seems to be the most intense use of energy.  You could put a smaller fuel cell on the lower orbiting satellite in order to power the VASIMR, and beam the higher power from above from the bigger satellite, in order to collect the oxygen.  That would enable you to make the lower satellite smaller and have less drag to overcome.


This is the second in a series of posts which are titled LOXLEO.  Another name for it is PROFAC.  There could be other names, but the one that sticks with me is LOXLEO.

By the way LOXLEO means Liquid Oxygen from Low Earth Orbit.  Profac is a similar acronym, but it eludes me for the moment.

I'm going to link the rest of the series from this post as follows:

Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Note Part 6 and 7 are also on Kardashevian Aspirations blog.  You can reference them there.

There's another post that revisits the series.  I suppose that could be part 8.

Yet another revisit occurs a little later.  Call that Part 9.

Part 10 discusses how a reusable rocket can set up the refueling stations for extended trips to space.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Housing starts highest since April, 2010

American Thinker


Dow is up 330 points, gold is higher, oil higher, dollar weaker.  What does it all mean?  The linked article above suggests a one time euphoria over short term improvement in certain numbers.  Overall, the housing market hasn't improved much at all.  This is just a momentary spike.

There has been large movements back and forth since the summer.  This isn't an indication of a healthy market.  It is probably better to err on the safe side and not be in this situation, but obviously some are in it.  For me, I don't trust the markets anymore.  It seems like a rigged game to me.

Maria Conchita Alonso: An Open Letter to Sean Penn Maria Conchita Alonso

My intention isn't to convince you, but to let you know what is truly happening in this beautiful country of noble people, Venezuela. I would encourage you to investigate in depth the "inside story" and realize for yourself the dark side behind the person you choose to idolize.

and this video ( actually audio, no pics) :


You may learn a few things about Penn that you may not have know before. I did.

Legend in his own mind

Blogs bash Obama's historic claim

Dirty Harry may beg to differ with Obama.

You're a legend in your own mind.

Errant Bullet Travels 1.5 Miles, Kills Amish Girl

Cincinnati News Story - WLWT Cincinnati

Reminds me of the movie Witness, in which an Amish boy saw a murder in progress.

Have we? We’ve Crossed the Rubicon

By Eric Peters

The National Defense Authorization Act will make it official. It will confer upon the executive branch and the military (increasingly, the same things) the permanent authority to snatch and grab any person, US citizens included, whom they decree to be a “terrorist” — as defined or not by the executive or the military — and imprison him indefinitely, without formal charge, presentation of evidence or judicial proceeding of any kind.


Admittedly, that is a very chilling bit of news ( the new law).  He brings Newt Gingrich in his estimations, but Gingrich says he's for limited government.  So, Gingrich is all rhetoric, not to be taken seriously?  This author slimes everybody equally, it seems.  Probably a Paul supporter.

But I do agree that this law needs to be toned down considerably.  We should jail Al Qaeda and anyone else who is of like mind.  But there is this thing called civil rights and the Bill of Rights.  I think a challenge to this law is in order, and regardless of whether of not the Congress says it can be reviewed or not.



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.

Down in a "Blaze of Glory"

Rockstar Jon Bon Jovi (John Francis Bongiovi, Jr) was pronounced dead today after paramedics found him in a coma at his Empress Hotel

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.

60 Minutes Fails to Note Why Invasive Lionfish Dominate Cuban Coral Reef

Castro regime banned all commercial fishing.

Not so in Cuba. As you can see in the video at the 15 second mark and later in their full broadcast, the lionfish at the Jardines de la Reina are both quite large and numerous. Why? It seems that Anderson Cooper shied away from asking the question that would have a politically very uncomfortable answer.


One gets the impression that from watching this that Castro did a good thing. Okay, assuming that you agree with that, should the whole world do the same? If the whole world did, what would that mean?

Hulk Hogan v Kim Jong-il, Epic Rap Battle of History No. 5

"History" is right, the Nork's dear leader is dearly deader than hell. Bwa ha ha.

Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable?

Kenneth Rogoff - Project Syndicate

with the world’s population surging above seven billion, and harbingers of resource constraints becoming ever more apparent, there is no guarantee that this trajectory can be maintained. [ emphasis mine]

I wonder why it never seems to occur to these people that you can get all these resource constraints handled if you were to get off the Earth.   The presumption is that limitations that exist must always exist, and that there is no way beyond the current limits.  But if that were really true, we'd all still be living in caves.

This is the failure of the imagination, and the failure of will.



Comment:  That topic was discussed in the last debate in Iowa.

How good are long term predictions?

Some of the predictions made 80 years ago for today were quite good.  I think the one by William Ogburn was the best of the bunch.  But he was off on the population figure, though.  In contrast, the one by Robert Millikan wasn't particularly close.  It is a reminder to me or anyone else that science may not solve our problems.  But it is a persistent belief.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Local Bank: Concealed Carry Keeps Crooks Away

Two banks in College Station have been robbed at gunpoint in the past two weeks. The person responsible for robbing a bank in Snook is also still on the loose. [ emphasis mine]


I know Snook.  That town is so small that you have to wonder if it is big enough to have its own bank. Seriously. This is a small, small town.  Right outside the door of the one bank they had back when I went there a lot was a cornfield.  Really.

Maxine Waters wants to take over the oil companies

A slip of the tongue, but the intention is clear. The left is not usually so frank and open about their intentions.


Why Free-Market Economics is a Fraud and the comments upon the post.  I put this up not because I believe it or not, but to look at the proposition honestly.   Honesty is a rare thing, one must admit.  Truth is a slippery thing.