Saturday, July 28, 2012

Watts: Book Review of “Super Fuel”

Posted on wattsupwiththat

This is a book review by a guest on watts' blog.


Like all warmers, his grip on reality is a bit weak. One example of this is on page 55 where he states “the container ship Altona, bound for China and carrying a load of 770,000 tons of uranium concentrate.” The biggest ship on the planet carries some 500,000 tonnes and the world yellowcake market is about 80,000 tonnes per annum. Perhaps he meant 770,000 lbs instead of tons, but nobody else in the editing and publishing chain picked up the mistake either


I may have my own review shortly.  As of the moment, I'm looking at other stuff that has been written about this book.  Unfortunately, this review is kind of the same thing I've been ranting about for awhile on this blog.  It is bashing the opposition instead of looking for a way to come to common ground.

Sure, there's a lot to argue about when it comes to global warming.  But the whole point of the discussion about thorium is that, when developed, it will make the whole argument moot.  So, why bother arguing?

It seems that both sides of the ideological divide are taking positions that are self-defeating.  You can't power an industrial society with renewables, insisting upon it will only bring ruin.  On the other hand, you can't insist on always doing things the same old way.   Otherwise, we'd all be driving Model T's, or even still be on horseback.  There's room for improvement and this is an improvement.  So, stop letting the ideology make people stupid.  Use your head, not your heart.

I cited the above quote because of the tendency to focus on some small point of error, as contrasted with treating the entire book as a serious attempt to explicate something complex, but very important.  Therefore this review is disappointingly petty in that regard. But not all of the review is negative.

As for the video cited, it has a few errors. But don't let that dominate your perception of it. It has some valuable points and those points were there.

Here's the video by a San Diego TV station KUSI:


Here's another review:

Book Review: Super Fuel: Thorium-Green Energy Source For The Future by Richard Martin

A review of the review is that it isn't too bad.


EGO OUT: SOME BASIC PRINCIPLES OF DEFKALION’S LENR TECHNOLO...: Prologue: My readers know that I am completely and irreversibly dedicated to LENR. I want LENR to be understood and to be used as a signific...


Defkalion may be worth watching more closely.

BECNF theory seemed pretty interesting for a time.  I was wondering though, if a quasi-particle assumes a BEC state, do the particles comprising the quasi-particle also assume a BEC state?  I checked back through the pdf file in Rossi's blog for an answer.  It is very technical stuff, and so I didn't get very far with answering that question.  The best I could tell was that it did.  Collectively the particles making up a quasi-particle may act like a boson, but individually they are still fermions.  How that allows the coulomb barrier to be overcome is not clear at all.

Towards a reusable rocket system with a fast turnaround, part 5

Speculation alert

This should be the last of the series, as I have probably gone far enough with this idea.

Incidentally, the idea does not seem so bad. The basic idea was that all attempts at Single Stage to Orbit are too ambitious. In the end, there'll be too much mass being carried to orbit, so the procedure of staging is actually pretty sound.

The problem to overcome is to make the two stages re-usable. The use of higher ISP engines should give enough margin to do that. For example, the Shuttle External Tank achieved near orbital velocity from the ground until main engine cutoff. The Shuttle itself weighed in at over 250k pounds loaded. The external tank fully loaded with fuel along with the shuttle put the launch weight ( not including external boosters) at nearly 2 million pounds. The Shuttle, therefore, was too heavy.

On the other hand, the Shuttle's would-be replacement, the VentureStar, was also a pretty heavy bird. It appears to have suffered the same malady as the Shuttle, too much ambition. The VentureStar was to be a single stage to orbit vehicle. But it could only deliver a little more mass than a Dragon Capsule even though its launch weight was as much as the Shuttle and fueled External Tank together on the launch pad.

In trying to get to some solution to this problem with equipment already produced or had been produced in the recent past, this is probably something that's totally impractical. Yet a configuration with 2 shuttle main engines in the first stage and 1 main engine in the second stage yields some interesting numbers.

For instance, the mass to thrust ratio is about the same with both stages and with the shuttle at liftoff. There's plenty enough thrust to get off the ground, but acceleration may be so ferocious that it may need to be throttled down the entire time it is firing. I don't know if the engine is capable of this. It can be throttled down, that much I do know.

The mass is about the same for both stages.  This is a bit odd and it may be a problem.  I can't answer that question myself.

There's plenty of wiggle room on the second stage.  I showed two possibilities-- a dragon capsule and a dream chaser.  In either case, the second stage has enough leeway to add stuff to make it back from orbit for re-usability.  The Dragon and Dreamchaser are already re-usable.  If, by any chance, this actually could work, you'd have plenty of extra mass available for some add-ons. For instance--- extra fuel, wings, landing gear, and so forth.

Therefore, as the results show that it may be feasible, but the Shuttle main engines weren't built for this type of service, and so this is probably not a solution after all.  But the overall idea was to show that re-usability is not some pipe dream.

Well, here it is

Errata: Final velocity: 17644 mph.  Lifting mass is more than 100k in the rectangular box.  It actually came out to 48k kg in the bottom box.  Note how much mass available at the bottom.  It can go back to the first stage or stay on the second stage.  The layout of this spreadsheet leaves something to be desired.    


This is getting pretty obsessive. I just did some more work on this thing. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Using the same performance obtained from the Shuttle flights and mapping it onto the two engines in the first stage and the single engine in the second stage, the numbers work out beautifully. So, a little over 8 minutes and you're in orbit.

In addition, I fiddled around with the propellant numbers and so forth. It is now staged out at about mach 7 or so. Two and a half minutes after launch, the first stage shuts off, and the second stage takes over for almost 6 minutes.

To top it all off, I started calculating volumes and so forth in order to get the dimensions of the stack. Maybe a 150 foot stack would do the trick.

Don't bet the farm on all this, though.

Update: 7/29/2012

Sorry, I know I said that I was done with this, but wait just one more little update.  The shuttle's main engines and external tank was all you needed to get to orbit with a small payload.  I worked out the numbers, so it's true.  As mentioned, the main engines fired from launch until 98% orbital velocity anyway.  The reason you needed solid rocket boosters was to lift the shuttle itself into orbit as well.  Take about that 250,000 lbs and replace it with a payload comparable to a Dragon capsule, and you'll get to orbit with room to spare.

To repeat, in order to have a chance at re-usability, you must break up the launch vehicle into stages.  The mostly empty fuel tanks and rocket motors are too much mass to lift together.  By splitting it up, you have enough wiggle room to make the rockets re-usable.

For instance, consider the JDAM bombs, which are launched from planes flying at 30,000 feet or more.  They can glide to their targets for 20 miles or so.  If you make a glider out the the first stage, it can come back that way.  The amount of fuel needed to decelerate- and re-accelerate towards the launch site- isn't as much as you would think.  That's because it isn't carrying all that much weight anymore since the payload and second stage is off towards orbit.

The second stage may be a challenge.  But consider that the shuttle came back as a glider, so if you can arrange that with the second stage, it could be done.

Now for the main point of all this.  It seems that the Shuttle program, with its stated goal of re-usability was a very limited success.  However, it failed if the mission was to make low-cost and frequent access to space possible.  It failed because it was too ambitious.  If the goal was to get people to orbit, or a small payload, then it would have been successful.  But it was asked to get a payload, plus astronauts, plus all of the other re-usability and low-cost access type of goals, and all that was just too much to ask.

This is what the system produced.  The system was to blame.  It failed and it failed the nation.  That's the whole point.

Update: ( Jan 7, 2016  Several years later ):

Musk has landed his first stage rocket on a pad near where it launched.  As of this writing, it probably has undergone a lot of testing and looks good.  By and large, Musk has achieved his goal.

So, who am I to criticize?  The next thing he wants to do is to send 100 people at a time to Mars.

Time for more speculation about how he will do that.

Towards a reusable rocket system with a fast turnaround, part 4

Here's where the speculation alerts are getting closer to the ending point.  The reason is that now is the time to look at more real world attempts to get a re-usable vehicle with a fast turnaround time and could get passengers and cargo to low earth orbit.

That would be the X-33 system that was canceled in 2001.  The final product of that development would have been the VentureStar system proposed by Lockheed Martin.  It would have been the next step up from the X-33 system that was under development.  The failure point was in the composite fuel tanks.  According to the Wikipedia entry, that problem has been solved since it was canceled.

Anyway, in previous posts, there were a few details that got overlooked.  One detail was the loss of ISP at sea level.  In order to overcome that, a special rocket nozzle, called the aerospike, is necessary to get that back.  The X-33 would have had such a nozzle.

Another detail that was overlooked was the greater thrust needed at launch.  This means more engines and more mass, unfortunately.  Ultimately, this will limit how big of a machine that you can get to orbit.  Secondly, perhaps one should drop the idea of a single stage to orbit altogether.  The reason is that the VentureStar was going to be too darned big for the amount of work that it could do.   By going back to the Elon Musk model of staged re-usable rockets, a lot of that mass can be saved, and the rockets can become more modest in size.

Now, here's the proposition.  What if you could modify the existing X-33 concept to deliver a second stage with payload to a delta-v of about Mach 5 to Mach 7, and about 100, 000 feet-- then return to launch site?

The X-33 could be modified to save mass as it was designed for re-entry with an all metal fuselage.  Since this wasn't going to go orbital, this can be replaced with a lighter configuration.  If the tank problem has been solved, this will also help with mass.  Otherwise, you can use the type of tank that the Shuttle used.  The savings in mass for the fuselage can go for the tank, if necessary.

Let's look at what we've got with propulsion:
The RS-2200 Linear Aerospike Engine[3] was derived from the XRS-2200. The RS-2200 was to power the VentureStar single-stage-to-orbit vehicle. In the latest design, seven RS-2200s producing 542,000 pounds of thrust each would boost the VentureStar into low earth orbit.

The X-33 was to use only two of these engines.  The above specification is greater than what is listed for the X-33, as can be seen.  So, what if we cut it down to just one engine?  Having two will give you the same configuration as the X-33, though.  But you would be overpowered, I would think.

With a million pounds of thrust, you could lift a half million pounds with some spare capacity.  If you were to cut that down to 1 engine only, you would have no spare capacity, and an engine loss would mean a crash.  Let's stick to two engines for this discussion.

Here's a few calcs from a spreadsheet.  Have to run, got a busy day ahead.  This is only a rough draft as I am out of time.

The spreadsheet above has an error: There's more mass fraction available to launch, about 9k kg to be exact.  This is therefore considered to be a more conservative estimate than what it appears to be


Hate to say this, but there are some more errors in this post. Back to speculation mode after all.

The ISP of the X-33 engines are not as high as I thought when I made the spreadsheet calculations above. Those are out the window now. The ISP is not as good as I thought, so can this idea still fly?

I mean, is it still worth it? Perhaps I can look at that next.


Next in Series, Part 5

Friday, July 27, 2012

Towards a reusable rocket system with a fast turnaround, part 3

Speculation alert

A small, but important detail was left out in the previous discussion. The Falcon 9's ISP leaves a lot of room for improvement. The will occur once SpaceX goes with an all LH2/LOX rocket in both stages.

Let's look at the first stage of the Falcon 9:

255 ISP on First Stage, 345 for second stage
Now compare this with the main engines of the Shuttle.  You have a considerable discrepancy in performance there.  This will make a big difference when calculating masses in the rocket equation.

I am guesstimating upwards of 350000 pounds of wet mass can be shaved off the Falcon 9 by using liquid hydrogen instead of RP-1.   The mass savings could be applied in making the Falcon 9 fully re-usable.

Based upon this, I think SpaceX's odds of success at being 100%.   They will succeed.


Next in Series, Part 4

Obama’s Ratings Dive

Dick Morris

Rather the cause of his decreased likeability is his negative campaigning, both in person and on the air. He is now no longer the sunny, optimistic, friendly person he portrayed himself as being in 2008. Instead, a nasty, surly, angry image has taken over.

If Romney goes positive soon, the outcome of this election could become a foregone conclusion.

David LeBlanc - Molten Salt Reactor Designs, Options & Outlook @ TEAC4

Published on Jul 20, 2012 by gordonmcdowell

A ton of information here.

He has a few cautions about being too enthusiastic, and letting it get out of hand.  On the other hand, there's even more reasons to be enthused- don't let that discourage you.

Just keeping it real is the idea.  Come for the Thorium, and Stay for the Reactor.

The X factor--- the human element

When probing the reasons for why great ideas don't take hold, one may want to consider the NFL draft.  Each year, the National Football League holds a draft in order to select the most promising young players to develop into the next stars in the American game known as football.  The success in the draft is a key determinant in a team's success.  Millions of dollars are spent evaluating prospects.  Despite all this probing and measuring of talent, the process is hardly foolproof.  There some elusive factor in success which is not so easy to probe and measure.  It is this elusive quality that often gets missed during this expensive process.  As a consequence, many prized prospects don't make it, and some players become superstars, but are initially overlooked in this process.  It is this elusive quality that could be seen as an X factor-- an unknown and unpredictable quality that can go undetected.  It is a distinctly human element seen not only in sports, but in life in general.

So, when asking why the LFTR hasn't been adopted, this can be a reason given.  It is like the NFL draft.  Sometimes the best players get by the evaluation process.  Sometimes a highly touted player doesn't succeed as expected.  The same can be true for ideas.  The liquid thorium reactor may well be a superstar that has gotten overlooked.  It's failure to get noticed should not be seen as a failure of an idea, but instead, it is the failure of those who evaluate ideas to see the potential in it.

Back to the NFL draft, there's a player right here in Houston that wasn't even drafted.  Arian Foster is now considered to be one of the best running backs in the league.  He has made All Pro two years in a row.  But this same team spent a number one pick in the draft for David Carr, who never made it as a great quarterback in the league.  Other examples are Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. He was drafted in the sixth round, but should have been rated much higher.  He will be in the Hall of Fame some day.  Clearly, the process to pick the best players failed--- and you can't blame the team.  It failed Houston with Carr and failed again in the case of Arian Foster.

Besides the NFL, are there other examples in life where a highly rated person or idea fails, or an underdog succeeds surprisingly?  Consider presidential politics.  Harry Truman v. Thomas Dewey in 1948 could be an example.  In sports, perhaps the 1969 New York Mets could be another.  Or the 1980's Olympics, where the American hockey team beat the Soviet Union team.

In studying the idea of the LFTR, one can be amazed at the continual failure for good and accurate information to be communicated to the public.  The public is misled on the risks of nuclear power, as it can be seen in previous posts.  The public is also misled about the ability of solar and wind to provide the necessary amount of energy needed to power an advanced technological society.  Consequently, billions of dollars are wasted on solar projects like Solyndra, yet LFTR technology goes begging for money needed to complete the commercialization of LFTR technology.  It is not the amount of money that gets spent, but the quality of thinking behind the spending of the money.  How can the public make the best possible political decisions when there is so much false and misleading information being put out?  Success in evaluation is difficult even with the best possible information, as can be seen with the NFL.

Besides false information, there could also be the hostility of the incumbency.  The Tiberius Syndrome comes to mind.  During the Roman Empire, the Emperor Tiberius had a man beheaded for bringing him an idea on how to commercially mine aluminum.  Tiberius saw the new metal as a threat to his interests.  The superiority of the invention was not in question.  Clearly, under some circumstances such as this, a superior idea does not get adopted.  The commercialization of aluminum had to wait for 2000 years.

So, if it isn't just simple human error, it could actually be something more serious, like outright hostility.  In either case, it is the human element that leads to a failure--- not the idea itself.  Even with an active means of finding the best possible outcome, like drafting the best possible athletes for a professional football team, you could still go wrong.  But life is not just a game.  It could be a matter of life and death.  We have to do better than the Romans, unless we want to be like the Romans.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alexander Cannara--- The effects of Radiation on our health-- not quite the horror show that is depicted.

Nature evolved mechanisms in single cells that repair radiation damage

Every second, every cell in our bodies does self repairs

Radiation is everywhere, in our bodies, and in the food we eat.

Theory about radiation dosage and disease it causes is false

False information is disclosed to scare people-- motivation?  To harm nuclear energy?

Full video is below:

To Move Polls, Romney Needs to Go Positive


...among independents -- who are almost certainly the lion’s share of those who have not yet formed a strong opinion of Romney -- 42 percent say they want to know more about his record as governor, 37 percent want to know more about his record as CEO of Bain Capital, and 35 percent want to know more about his tax returns. Just 21 percent of independents want to know more about his wealth, 19 percent want to know more about his family and upbringing, and 16 percent want to know more about his religious beliefs...these are parts of his biography that simply must be filled in if Romney wants to win, along with his activities turning around the Salt Lake City Olympics. (Does anyone outside of the political world even know about that?) If Romney can do this, he’ll have an excellent shot at winning this race. 

Dream space missions

Three dream mission discussed at Popular Mechanics.  ( via Instapundit)

  1. A mission to the Saturn moon Titan
  2. A mission to Pluto
  3. A mission to the asteroids
Of the three, the most serious one is number 3:
Sykes says, all you need is a spacecraft and orbital refueling stations. "The goal is to set up infrastructure to go anywhere we want to go. The surface of moon, Mars, wherever. We'd have the freedom to move around," Sykes says.  "The nation or nations that do this? The future is theirs."

The most absurd one is #2.  What possible reason would you have to go to Pluto?  The mission to Titan is a scientist's dream.  Not practical, but you'd learn something.  If you did #3 first, #1 would be possible, maybe even likely.

The Tale of Falcon 1

The Tale of Falcon 1 ( a cautionary one)

  • Elon Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) in 2002. Its stated business objective was the development of launch services for a fraction of the cost of the then-available commercial launch providers – to the greatest extent practicable, they would create reusable pieces of its launch system, thereby greatly lowering the cost of space access.
  •  a point repeatedly voiced by critics of the heralded vision of “New Space” replacing “government” space – a company like SpaceX is not actually commercial in the traditional free market sense, but simply another government-funded contractor using a different procurement model
  • In July 2009, six years after Falcon 1 development had begun, SpaceX achieved its first (and so far, only) commercial space success with the launch and orbit of the Malaysian RazakSAT imaging satellite on a Falcon 1 launch.
  • Falcon 1 launch is no longer available for purchase [ comment :  WHY NOT] For a company to spend six years and start up money developing a needed launch system, only to abandon it just as success and profit is at hand, is difficult to sort through. 
  • Meanwhile, customers in need of low-cost options for launching small payloads are out of luck. 
  • Now, SpaceX holds court to advance their founder’s Mars fantasies and plans for a Falcon “heavy” launch vehicle – designed and marketed as sending very large payloads into space, at unbelievably low prices. (As an aside, I thought that a New Space article of faith is that heavy lift is a boondoggle and that fuel depots are the way to go beyond LEO.)

It looks like Musk may have screwed some people in order to further his Mars dream.  This article is critical of Musk, and quite skeptical of his Mars dream.  But Musk's accomplishments thus far can't be overlooked, nor dismissed.  It may be a bit of a risk to put all of the nation's space eggs in the SpaceX basket, though.

Secondly, the aside part discusses fuel depots as a boondoggle.  I would agree if all you are doing is to launch fuel from the Earth.  If you find fuel out there, then put it in a fuel depot, then you've got something.  That mitigates the high cost of launch from the deep gravity well of Earth.

Nuclear waste: Back to Yucca Mountain?

Nuclear waste: Back to Yucca Mountain?

This link is about a year old and discusses the closure of Yucca Mountain.  Yucca Mountain was to be a repository for nuclear wastes from the nuclear arms industry and nuclear power industry.

An idea struck me was this:  what if you were to take Thorium, which is a byproduct of mining waste for rare earths, and put it in this repository instead?  Thorium, is much less hazardous and may be a useful resource in its own right when LFTR technology is developed.  Frankly, to me, it is hard to see the downside to a strategy such as this.  The repository already exists.  Thorium can't be mined because of the problem that it poses in its disposal, so this strategy will solve that problem while allowing the mining of rare earths.  In other words, the thorium advocates will have their thorium "bank" and the world will have a new supply of rare earths.  How can we lose?

Alex Cannara's environmentalist critique of low density energy sources and appeal of thorium @ TEAC4

Published on Jul 23, 2012 by Thorium Remix

Alex Cannara on the importance of nuclear power's high energy density, and the advantage of thorium as a source of nuclear power.

Low energy density energy sources such as solar and wind have a significant environmental impact unless deployed on land already being used for other purposes.

This footage was shot for use in future THORIUM REMIX iterations, and/or other thorium documentaries. YouTube's 1080P MPEG-4 can be used (if you're in a hurry) otherwise contact for access to all camera angles.
Note: Cannara is a member of Sierra Club, which is anti-nuclear.  He strongly supports development of LFTR technology.   Thorium can't be all that bad, if a fervent environmentalist supports it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jim Kennedy - Link Between Thorium and Self Reliance in Rare Earths & Energy @ TEAC4

Published on Jul 20, 2012 by gordonmcdowell

Kennedy advocates the creation of a Thorium Bank.  A responsible and safe way to ensure rare earth supplies.  Without a mechanism of some type, such as this, or another, the Chinese will continue to corner the market on rare earths.

Thorium is an alpha emitter.  It so happens that alpha emissions are the easiest form of radiation to shield against.  It has very limited penetrative ability, as the video below demonstrates:


Here's some info on the risks of Thorium-- minimal.

While the emitted alpha particle and beta particles may be hazardous if they get into your body, the risk will be negligible, if even measurable. Simply handling the bare metal would not cause the radioactive metal to come off. A greater risk exists with the handling of solvents and cleaners.

I would gather that this means the use of solvents and cleaners on the metal- some metal may come off with a strong solvent or cleaner.

Governor Romney’s Big Foreign Policy Address: The First Can’t Be The Last

Walter Russell Mead's Blog

Not a ringing endorsement.

From a policy perspective, the most striking fact about the speech was the degree to which it was dominated by the geopolitics of the last decade.

Obama is beatable, but Romney is stumbling a bit, if this is any indication.

Negs Won’t Defeat Mitt

Dick Morris TV: Lunch Alert!

But Romney needs to start answering the attacks and answer them aggressively.

Towards a reusable rocket system with a fast turnaround, revisited

Speculation alert

Even though Elon Musk has tweeted that he has a solution for his re-usability goal, the attractiveness of this idea still fascinates me.  Not likely that this would ever happen, but fun to think about.

So I played around with the numbers a bit.  It may be desirable to use the beamed energy only as a booster stage, or a first stage standalone.  I figured that a 150 ton wet mass rocket would be all that it would take to get to orbit.  That's less than half the mass of the Falcon 9 with full re-usability and flexible design potential.

The first stage would accelerate to about 4000 mph and then release the second stage which would take it to orbit.  I figured about 100 tons for the second stage and payload.  There aren't any hard numbers for the second stage Falcon 9 masses, so I guessed that it would be less than 100 tons.  One hundred tons would be over 25% of the full wet mass of the entire Falcon 9.  The second stage probably doesn't weigh that much.  The additional margin provided by the device would go toward making the second stage re-usable.

All of this is a wild guess since I don't have the numbers.  But with the additional capability- a thrust to weight ratio comparable to a chemical rocket, and an ISP of 850- the amount of additional leeway allows for a lot of room to adjust the numbers.  Those kind of numbers give design flexibility, thus feasibility in this regard shouldn't be the issue.

I'm guess that the current configuration separates at 4000 mph, so this mythical configuration could do the same thing as far as trajectory is concerned, that's all I'm saying.

The first stage would fly back as a RTLS module, probably as a glider, or a lightly powered aircraft.  Since the numbers for Parkin's device allow for a 20% structural margin, this should pose no difficulty.  The device allows for 35% payload fraction, if you count the flyback module and remaining wet mass of the second stage and Dragon capsule.

It would liftoff and land like the Shuttle did.

Would it look like the Shuttle?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  One thing that may give some unease is to have a powerful microwave aimed at a rocket stack.  Maybe you'd like to have the first stage shielding the second stage and payload.  That would mean a sidemount configuration.  If that is not desirable, then some other configuration may be employed.

Those details are probably too speculative even for this speculative post.  So, I'll leave that discussion at this point.  The main point is the wet mass of the entire configuration and the available of design flexibility to make it re-usable.

A second point is by using the beamed power only as a first stage, the power requirements would be a lot less.  You'd be less ambitious in altitude and acceleration than Parkin's original proposition, so it would take a lot less energy to get to 4000 mph than to orbital velocity.  You'd stay well within range of the microwave beam.  That part poses less of a challenge.  Not to mention that the design would allow for manned flights, as the original configuration didn't.


Next in Series, Part 3

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are the Polls Skewed Toward Obama?

Jay Cost, Weekly Standard  via Free Republic

  • Conservatives regularly complain that the polls are tilted against their side, and thus favor the Democrats.

    They have a point.
  • polls tend to oversample Democrats in a systematic fashion
  • or five elections in a row – from 1984 to 2004 – the GOP fell within a very narrow, 5-point band between 34 percent and 39 percent. Meanwhile, the Democratic band was even narrower, from 37 percent to 40 percent.
  • I do not see a substantial shift in the partisan balance within the electorate in 2008, at least not on net. Certainly, Barack Obama attracted a much larger number of the non-white public to the polls (especially African Americans), and he also drew a larger share of this vote than prior Democrats. But these gains were countered by significant declines in Democratic support among whites. Obama lost the white vote by 12 points; while in 1996 (an equally good year for Democrats) Bill Clinton lost it by just 3 points.
  • A final point: Presidential job approval polls are usually reported among all adults, aged 18 or over. These tend to have an even larger skew toward the Democrats than registered voter polls...So, the CBS News / New York Times poll had Obama’s net approval at -2, suggesting that among the electorate it’s perhaps around this back to my consistent argument that presidents rarely win a share of the electorate larger than their job approval 
Obama is in trouble politically.  I wouldn't bet the farm on his re-election.

Political Challenges of Thorium Molten Salt Reactors @ TEAC4

Baroness Bryony Worthington

She is a member of the House of Lords in the UK.


What it would take to get politicians on board. Going to have to make it work economically in a capitalistic society. Emphasized staying positive. Make friends and allies on both sides on a controversy. Keep the message simple. Win the media over, need celebrities.

John Kutsch

Founder of Thorium Energy Alliance.

Wants an industrial policy for the US, but that idea does not appear to be well-received at the moment.


The two above are kind of like a comparison and contrast. Kutsch may be more like a bull in a china shop, and the Baroness is gently warning not to do that.

If I may interject something here: you have to stay aware of where the wind is blowing in politics. Going after public funding in the current political environment is probably not going to get you too far. Trying to get an industrial policy is also not likely to work, especially if the Republicans win big in November. On the other hand, deregulation is a good buzz word for Republicans. There does seem to be a need to deregulate in a few places. So, the regulatory scheme for nuclear energy is definitely cockeyed in this country, and could use some reform. That may stand a chance of success in a new administration. In short, you need to know where and how to marshal your best efforts and resources.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Magdi Ragheb - Thorium Fuel Cycle Using Electrostatic & Electrodynamic Neutron Generators @ TEAC4

One of the ways to get neutrons for thorium breeding could be a Polywell device. Or a fusion device like Dense Plasma Focus.  It would use a neutronic fusion process as opposed to an aneutronic fusion process.  The goal for fusion energy production is an aneutronic process.  Neutrons thus produced from fusion may be thought of as bad, but that's not necessarily so in all cases, since we can use them for fission.

I recall Dr. Bussard mentioning that a Polywell could be used to process radioactive wastes.  I had forgotten that.

Good show.

Obama and gun control in wake of Aurora shootings

He wants to appear as nonpartisan and reasonable as he can while pursuing a radical anti-gun agenda.  When Secretary of State Clinton signs the treaty, the US will be bound by its terms.  This is gun control by treaty.

Dick Morris identifies the way to beat this strategy.

TEAC4 videos

Published by gordonmcdowell

Stuart Henderson - Thorium Energy from Accelerator Driven Reactors @ TEAC4

Subcritical neutron generator which can burn wastes and generate energy as well.

Darryl Siemer - Vitrification of Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycle Radwastes

Darryl runs inexpensive vitrification experiments in his basement on how to best prepare nuclear waste for storage.

Glassification is simpler & cheaper to fabricate than hot-pressed ceramics.

Direct vitrification of fluoride-based salt wastes (as one would associate with LFTR) generates an inferior product because H3PO4 doesn't displace enough of the F - the product is multiphasic "glass ceramic" containing F salts which would rapidly leach in moving groundwater.

Consequently, most of the fluoride should be removed before vitrification, possibly by boiling the waste salts to dryness with dilute nitric acid.

Use of nitric acid has been experimentally verified - a single boil-down of AlkF salts with a slight stiochiometric excess of dilute nitric acid invariably volatized most of the fluoride.

Recovery/recycle of fluoride in a deNOxed off gas should be simple & cheap.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A motive for a heinous crime?

Here's a quote from the movie Batman (1989) where the Joker says this:

Joker: I now do what other people only dream. I make art until someone dies. See? I am the world's first fully functioning homicidal artist.

If somebody who's a nobody wants to make a name for himself, he can copycat that character.  That's what some of these mass murderers must be doing.  Making a name for themselves by doing some performance "art", like the Joker in the Batman movies.

First Look: China’s Big New Rockets

americaspace  via Transterrestrial Musings

Rand Simberg doesn't like heavy lifters.  But it seems that China may be building a Super Saturn V:
The new Long March 9 details were revealed by Liang Xiaohong, the Communist Party Chief at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), China’s largest rocket contractor. Vick at Global Security did an extensive review of Liang’s revelations.

Liang outlined several new Long March versions, virtually all of them testing elements that would eventually find their way into the Long March 9 that has 4 million lb. more of liftoff thrust than the 7.5 million lb. thrust NASA Saturn V.

I agree with Rand Simberg.  If you consider the American space program, the rockets don't have to be as big as they once were.  The Saturn V massiveness was unavoidable though, for the mission that was given to it.

It can be seen that with an advanced rocket design concept, launch mass can be reduced to one fourth of a Falcon 9 launch mass.

If you were to launch several of these, you could assemble enough stuff to make a more ambitious mission.  Maybe even landing on the moon.  The amount of mass needed would be reduced proportionally, and so the total mass needed to get to the moon would be far less than the Saturn V needed.

That's before considering fuel depots and in-situ resourcing.  You can mine the moon surface for oxygen, for example. You could mine the upper atmosphere for reaction mass as another example. Mass is the big enemy.  The less you launch off the surface of the Earth, the better.

Governor Welcomes President Obama to Texas By Demanding An Apology

abcnews via Instapundit

The Republican governor of Texas today welcomed President Obama to the Lone Star State by asking him to distance himself from comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder comparing the state’s 2011 voter identification law to a “poll tax,” the Jim Crow-era laws that were declared unconstitutional in 1937. 
Perry is probably right about the incendiary language, but the Holder may have a point:
While the voter ID itself is free, the Obama administration argues that the documentation required to obtain an ID – such as a birth certificate – is not.  [emphasis added]

In his remarks, the attorney general specifically said that the Texas law would be “harmful to minority voters” because 25 percent of African Americans lack the required identification needed to obtain a voter I.D., as opposed to eight percent of whites. 
If you have to obtain a birth certificate for this voter ID, and you have to pay for it, Holder can win this argument.

But there's a big caveat though in all of this.  The US Constitution does not require popular vote in order to elect a President.  If a voter ID is required for a Presidential Election, it may not be unconstitutional because the state has the plenary power in how to delegate its electors to the Electoral College.  Since the popular vote is something that a state can determine as part of its powers in who wins their electoral votes, it can also decide how those votes can be qualified, I would think.

Very interesting day blogging yesterday

Perhaps I should include a speculation alert since I'm not qualified to make the following judgments:  

A couple things that I figured out yesterday:

One of those things is that reusable spacecraft with a short turnaround time will definitely be feasible.   If Stratolaunch doesn't make it, then something else could.

It could be something like a powered beam contraption that would enable a spacecraft to avoid having to carry as much mass onboard, which would greatly assist it in getting to orbit.

The second thing is that the SSTO spacecraft called the Skylon is probably going to be feasible.  There was July 2nd Space Show I listened with Mark Hempsell, who is connected to the program.  He didn't say that the most recent tests were a failure.  Therefore, I gather then that they were a success.  The tests involve a pre-cooler which would enable the spacecraft to fly up to Mach 5 before going to rocket mode.  This is a critical finding which could lead to some revolutionary aircraft if nothing else.  The next thing is to have a dual mode air-breathing conventional rocket motor.  If that is invented, the rest appears to be well within reach.  He predicted something will be flying by 2020, if I am not mistaken.  Exciting.

Space will be conquered soon.  The effects upon society could be dramatic.