What if Kurzweil doesn't make it?
What if all the switches get stuck on destroy?
When the shuttle goes, we won't take it
When the final counter-measures are deployed
All we'll have is all this time

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Linkee-poo always gets the replay, never seen him fall

Partial solar eclipse on Mars caught by Curiosity. It's really small, but OMG! If that just doesn't give you a geekgasm right there, I'm not sure you're getting the most out of these links. (Pointed to by Dan)

New adjustments to the Alcubierre warp drive concept reduce the power needed to warp space time by a dramatic amount, making it probable. Or, in other words, Warp 10, Mr. Scott! Of course, as with any great fall, it's the sudden stop at the end that's killer. So, yeah that with a portable mass we might achieve FTL travel, but because of the way the drive works, when we slow down, the release of energy would pretty much sterilize the space around us. But that'll make the Klingons happy, especially Capt. Kruge. (Pointed to by John)

First an artificial bladder, and now a "bioartificial" trachea. Just in case anybody tells you we aren't living in the future. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

"10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view." Lemony Snicket with thirteen ('natch) observations on Occupy Wall Street. (Grokked from Paolo Bacigalupi)

Boy it's a good thing that global climate change is a hoax. 'Cause if it weren't, all the things happening this summer, from the crop failures to the dead deer and disappearance of fish eating birds would be quite alarming. Oh, and because they're not discussing it for the presence of salt water in taps as the Gulf of Mexico attempts to replace the waters of the lower Mississippi, drinking salt water is not a good thing to do (exceptions made when directed by a doctor, but salt water is hypertonic and will draw water from your body instead of refreshing your parched tissues). Oh, and pay no attention to that sea ice in the arctic. Obviously the liberals in Greenpeace are just punking us and hiding the ice behind Greenland. Please note the part about how sea ice creates highly salted cold water (extra dense in other words), which sinks and helps drives the oceans currents. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Does Mitt Romney believe that almost half the citizens in the US are shiftless grifters sucking the government, and by extension the rich people who pay all the taxes, dry? Why yes he does. You know all those ubber secret, high priced fund raisers he held, the ones with no press allowed so they wouldn't sully the millionaires with their presence? Well, I guess someone there knew how to run their smart phone's video camera. Here you see the inside, Romney without the mask. If it doesn't make you upset, you're not listening to what he's saying and to whom he is saying it to and how this differs from what he says when he knows the cameras are on. Before these are attempted to be taken down by lawsuits, you should watch them. And that's what we call "shooting yourself in the foot." However, compared to how much you've heard about the video that ignited the protests around the Muslim world, I doubt these will get as much press attention. Also, this is another reason why I'm no longer a Republican, I've experience too many of these types of conversations with conservatives. The unfortunate result of this will probably be limited to the frisking of the help and metal detectors at the next event. (Grokked from Jason Sanford and just about everywhere now)

Or as I tweeted last night: @steve_buchheit: to my progressive friends, yes the Mittser suffered gun-to-foot disease today, let's not drink the champaign yet. It's a long way to Nov. Even now, not a lot of voters are paying attention.

A reality check on the Mittsters claims, the mind set of "makers and takers" and why it's Reagan and GW's fault. (Grokked from Morgan J Locke)

And now watch as the Romney Campaign tries the excuse of "I didn't state it as eloquently as I could have", as if it's the words that are offensive and not the thought process and belief systems behind the statements that is what is the problem. This has become "damage control 101, throw this statement out first" procedure. Like Rush believing we were upset that he called Sandra Fluke a "slut" and not that we were upset that he thought Sandra Fluke was a slut no matter what word he used. And they'll throw enough sand in the bull's eyes to try and distract us ("did you know they had sex parties at the same venue?"). Not to mention, "you have to watch the whole tape to see the real story." Unless there's Mitt saying, "And that's what those liberals believe we think, but we'll have to show them how were not elitist and care for the least among us," or a "gottcha, I'm just kidding folks" somewhere in there, I don't think the full tape will really help. But it'll be enough of a muddying the waters to keep the enthralled chattel from abandoning ship so that they'll have less work truing and regain their poll numbers between now and November.

"'I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.' Mitt paid some guy to write this insipid pap." I believe this is the point where CJ Cregg says Oh meo, oh mio, oh Cleveland, Ohio. But then there's a general murmuring about the competency of Mitt's team. But I agree that I don't think that's the real problem. "The Romney campaign has a messaging problem because it has a policy problem…The problem isn't the campaign leadership; it's the party's followership… But voters do care about the q: what will this presidency do for me? And 'dick you over' is not a winning answer." (Grokked from the Slactivist)

Ah Fox News. Here's a story about how after the titular President of Libya his condolences on the death of Christopher Stevens. But what is the headline on Fox Nation? "Obama calls Libyan President to thank him after US Ambassador murdered." That's what's known as framing. Or in other terms, they're lying because they can get away with it. Fuck Fox News. (Pointed to by John)

But then, when Fox News is desperate for the narrative, they don't care about anything else. Really, they didn't even do enough homework to find out he this guy wasn't old enough to vote in 2008? I mean, that's pretty basic stuff. Also note, they went out looking for this story with the spin already determined, and got what they deserved. They got punked. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, President Obama goes to the mat to defend indefinite detentions. Um, not what I voted for him to do. And while I'm thankful for his signing statement, it means exactly squat and only addresses the issue of while he's President, while the law will be "forever" (until we either repeal it, go out of business, or replace it with something else). (Grokked from Saladin Ahmed)

So now conservative leaders in conservative states are stuck between a rock and a crazy place when it comes to setting up health exchanges. Yes, it appears there's a stealth plan to have these states, which love their state's rights, set up state run exchanges to avoid having the federal government come in and do it for them. So that's avoiding the rock of the Nov. 16 deadline to show that they can set one up. There's still the crazy place waiting for them. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Tweet of my heart: @tnielsenhayden: Mitt Romney's the kind of guy who thinks motivational workplace posters are genuinely inspiring.

Alligator Quotient: They're agitated today, and swimming just below the surface.


Eric said...

I wonder, though, just how bad the gamma ray burst in front of a de-warping A-drive is? If stopping just outside a solar system is a sufficient safe distance, for instance, a years-long intrasystem journey still beats centuries spent in interstellar space.

That's assuming you're confined to Voyager-esque gravity-slung speeds intrasystem, of course. Maybe it's possible to operate an A-drive at very-fast-subluminal speeds intrasystem without endangering anybody--so you travel at 10c through interstellar space, slow down to, say, .5c at the termination shock boundary, and proceed to your destination in something like a day (I'm lousy at math, but I'm basing that on the termination shock in our solar system being something like 90AU from the sun and an AU being, IIRC, about 8 light-minutes, so the termination shock is about 11 light-hours away, right, and double that for half-a-c?). And even if an A-drive can't be operated intrasystem, it's still not unreasonable to suppose a civilization capable of making the power requirements nevertheless has other very-fast-subluminal tech available (maybe: there's still a reaction mass problem if they aren't warping, right?).

Fun stuff. But the Fermi Paradox makes me wonder if it's nevertheless futile. (Though impossibility of superluminal travel is obviously only one solution to the Paradox. Maybe superluminal travel is possible and we're improbable, and we'll be the first (or only!) sentients to pull it off).

I think we have the fodder for about eight novels and an awesome RPG campaign in there.

Steve Buchheit said...

Eric, I don't know enough of the mathematics, and at this point don't have the time to research it more fully.

There are two counter points. One, slowing down wouldn't help much as the action is sort of like the sound barrier. Once you're subliminal, that's when the shockwave occurs, and since it's caused by your superliminal speed (because the particles "can't get out of the way"), no matter what your final approach speed is, the energy gathered from your full approach would be released (or begin to travel at it's normal rate) once you drop below 1c. At least that's how I understand it. So even if you start out at 1c, hit 5c for most of the journey, slow down to 1C as you approach the outer system, as soon as you drop to 0.9999c, the energy is released, irradiating the space around you.

Now, stopping far enough outside of the heliosphere of the other system may help as that creates a double barrier. The gamma wave radiation would need to penetrate into the heliosphere and then it would need to penetrate the atmosphere of the planet where life may be (which would also probably have some sort of protection like the Van Allen Belts we have). Without seeing the math, that might be enough. (or, say, drop out of warp three-quarters of the way there to discharge the field, and then speed back up, so the final discharge is much smaller).

But let's say the energy is as powerful as the source of gamma radiation bursts. If that's the case, nah, everything within a heliosphere sized radius is fucked.

Although you are correct, from my reading this effect only occurs at >1c. In that case, traveling at 0.99c wouldn't cause this issue. That would still make some of the closest systems available.

The one logical problem with the Fermi Paradox is what makes us think an interstellar species would be interested in us? Why would they visit us, because us humans are so great and wonderful? Ants are much more interesting (and numerous). I've always been of the opinion that G. Roddenberry got it both right and wrong. Other species will only be interested once we show we're of their caliber (first warp signature). However, humans aren't all that special that the Q wants to mate with us. I think that was just a Q fetish, if you see what I mean.

Eric said...

The gamma ray burst is still traveling forward, if I understand the article; if it's a spherical burst, you may be toast unless you have some kind of shielding. If it's a forward-directed burst, the question is whether it's large enough to encompass your destination and intense enough to fry it, which I don't know. But that would be the point of stopping some distance away, perhaps. You drop out of warp where the burst will do less environmental damage.

Which I guess you covered: I just wanted to be clear I think we were on the same page.

I don't know if your argument re: the Fermi Paradox makes for a logical problem. Part of the problem the Paradox poses is that it seems like a technological civilization would be likely to make accidental contact or at least expose itself well before it thought about doing so on purpose. For instance, it's a bit possible that our first contact envoys were/will be Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo; that's sort of a joke--there are thirty-to-sixty years of audio and televisual broadcasts (respectively) predating I Love Lucy, obviously, but it's a neat thought to imagine some BEM with a radio telescope deciphering a staticky, heavily broken up American sitcom out of all the white noise and realizing its species aren't alone in the universe.

We don't see the extraterrestrial trash; there are objections to overcome that--maybe we weren't radio receivers during the window between another civilization's EM communications era and direct-laser comms (or whatever), when the faint, thinning, expanding shell of electromagnetic detritus washed over us. For example. Gamma ray bursts would be another form of alien trash we might be seeing; though it's also worth noting in that regard that we don't know what causes some bursts--so maybe some of the bursts we think are natural causes are, in fact, alien starships dropping out of warp.

(There's your ninth novel.)

(cont., because I'm too lazy to edit myself...)

Eric said...

(sorry, please forgive the length)

This relates to the main objection I'd have with your question about why would aliens visit us: they wouldn't, necessarily, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't know they were in the neighborhood. This is actually a bigger problem with Roddenberry, the Prime Directive and First Contact protocols, one that's I've been thinking about and getting some laughs from while playing Star Trek Online; Star Trek has the Federation parking these huge objects in orbit over pre-warp planets that are supposed to be left alone, when those ships are easily large enough to be obvious to the naked eye, much less through a telescope (this cool chart compares the ISS--which you can easily watch passing over on a clear night--with the Enterprise and the Galactica; the TOS Enterprise was nearly three times as long as the ISS, and the TNG Enterprise was more than twice as long as the TOS version (here's another neat comparison)). If the galaxy were full of spacefarers, we might reasonably expect to see "stars" regularly appearing and disappearing in the night sky, stars appearing and disappearing with noticeable Doppler shifts, and with the invention of even low-powered telescopes we'd inevitably notice that some of those stars had very interesting shapes--regardless of whether the passengers ever deigned to drop in and say "hi". (This was, IIRC, the insight that led to the Fermi Paradox in the first place: Fermi was talking with some colleagues about the UFO craze and he seriously wondered why we weren't at least seeing the passing ships.)

I realize none of these points are dispositive. E.g. maybe we have seen passing ships in orbit, but medieval astrologers called them "novas" and we've misidentfied them as natural phenomena. The main point, though, is that a technologically advanced species might have a very hard time hiding itself, even if it wanted to.

(Novel number ten? Maybe I should try writing four or five of these. No, that would require me to be satisfied with anything I get on a page....)

Eric said...

(Argh: correction: about thirty years of television broadcasts predating Lucy and about sixty years of wireless radio; you probably knew what I meant.)

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

For argument's sake -- Star Fleet's Standard Orbit isn't Low Earth Orbit. We know this because we can see a spherical-planet underneath the Enterprise. So the angular view would be much smaller than the ISS.

Also a larger orbit has a longer orbital period and a much slower orbital speed, so even if you could see the dot, it'd be slower.

Also gamma ray shielding is lead. Van Allen Belts trap charged radiation -- ions, charged particles, alpha and beta. Don't do squat for gamma.

Dr. Phil

Eric said...

Hooray for Dr. Phil! Thank you!

Re: Starfleet's orbital mechanics--what would be the apparent magnitude of a 289 meter (Enterprise, TOS) or 642 meter (Enterprise-D, TNG) ship showing up in orbit? D'ya think they'd be visible to the naked eye (as I suspect) and perhaps through binoculars or even a modest telescope?

Steve Buchheit said...

Hey Dr. Phil, thanks for clarifying the gamma ray thing. IIRC though, our upper atmosphere does shield us from some of the various radiation pouring from our own sun. So maybe not the van allen belts, but the various gasses and thickness of the atmosphere required for life (as we know it - sure extremophiles but while it would be fascinating for us geeks, most of the rest of the world aren't going to get excited for "yeah, we traversed 4+ light years of distance to find prokaryotes!")

Eric, actually there's a lot of stuff that comes through near earth orbits that until recently we didn't really notice. Sure, a big shiny Federation ship might show up like the ISS, but have you seen the ISS. It looks like a very long duration meteorite. Sure, if you put magnification on it you can see it's obviously man made, but unless you were prepared for it, how would you get some magnification trained on it fast enough?

For the radio signals, I can remember the guy's name who came up with the formula for how many potential civilizations are out there. But there's a part of his thesis where he talks about the window of opportunity as the civilization is polluting the universe with it's signals. At this point in our own evolution we are approaching a time where a signal won't leave our atmosphere unless we really want it to, and in most cases those will be direct point to point transmissions, not the general broadcasts. So if you take humans as your baseline of cultural development (and we don't have any other models to go from), that means the window of opportunity to "see" another civilization's transmissions will be about 200 years wide. At that point it becomes very difficult to find each other.

But it is my belief, and I've written shorts about this, that there are other ways to communicate that we really aren't looking for yet (heck, I think SETI only started looking in the "visual" range in the past 8 years or so - note, our visual range may not be another species visual range).

And then there is the possibility of cross membrane issues and the creation of pocket universes… there could be a whole number of reasons why we haven't heard from anybody else (yet). And, as I put in one of my stories, we may not have heard from anybody else because they know something we don't.

And I think it was just this year that SETI people were looking at other galaxies and noticing the "dark areas" and came to the thought, "I wonder if that could be evidence of of a Dyson Sphere civilization. And just imagine the time needed to verify that hypothesis. Even if a civilization could build such a sphere in say, a century, it would take an amazingly long time to observe for that (although the hope is with the size of the civilizations that there would be stars going dark on a regular basis instead of one by one).

And it was a few decades between the discovery of gamma ray bursts and directly identifying super nova as a source (although it had long been suspected).

However, there is an extremely high chance that even if our galaxy is particularly hospitable to intelligent life and that it's all around us that we just won't ever run into each other. Space is, after all, very big. It's not like the mall.