Feb 212018

Oh, boy! Who wants to fill up your tank of stupid today?

The patriarchal race to colonize Mars is just another example of male entitlement

NBC News is actually promoting this rubbish.

These men, particularly Musk, are not only heavily invested in who can get their rocket into space first, but in colonizing Mars. The desire to colonize — to have unquestioned, unchallenged and automatic access to something, to any type of body, and to use it at will — is a patriarchal one.

Rather, the impulse to colonize — to colonize lands, to colonize peoples, and, now that we may soon be technologically capable of doing so, colonizing space — has its origins in gendered power structures. Entitlement to power, control, domination and ownership. The presumed right to use and abuse something and then walk away to conquer and colonize something new.

You know, I’m starting to wonder if perhaps there might be something to the recent line of thinking that the recent spate of school shootings really does have something to do with there being something wrong with the male of the species. But note that this, indeed, does refer to a relatively recent development. And I’m thinking that perhaps the rise of third wave feminism, the man-hating, matronizing, screeching-about-the-patriarchy-at-every-opportunity sort of insanity that has it that colonizing and bringing to life a dead world is not only a bad thing, but that the drive to do so is specifically male and thus any male who wants to make life better – which would be just about every male – is a terrible person… this rise of insanity is filtering down to boys and messing with their heads. You tell a boy that his natural instinct to build, to improve, to make things better, is bad and wrong, what does that leave him?

So, who’s with me: anyone who opposes the conquest of space is  an enabler of school shootings. Is that a crazy position to take? Sure is. Is it more crazy than the position taken by the anti-space nuts? Not by a long shot.

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
Feb 192018

The NERVA nuclear rocket, studied throughout the sixties into the early 1970’s, would have been a great way to propel spacecraft. But a nuclear rocket is not the same sort of reactor as is generally designed for use in space to generate electrical power. A NERVA can produce *gigawatts* of thermal energy, energy which is carried away with the high mass flow rate of the hydrogen propellant. Power reactors, on the other hand, are generally designed for several orders of magnitude lower thermal power… a few thermal megawatts, perhaps, to produce a few hundred kilowatts of electricity.

However, the fact remains that a nuclear rocket *is* a nuclear reactor. For most missions it would burn for a few minutes, at most perhaps few hours, out of a mission lasting perhaps years. It is thus a bit of a shame to waste all that potential. So over the decades many studies have been made for using a nuclear rocket as a power generator .

One such study was reported by Aerojet in 1970. The abstract is HERE, the direct PDF download if HERE.

In this study, the NERVA would pump out 1,500 thermal megawatts during the propulsion phase(producing 75,000 pounds of thrust), dropping to 250 to 505 thermal kilowatts during the power generation phase, enough to create 25 kilowatts of electricity. This would be a very low-power, low-temperature use of the reactor, reducing system efficiency… but still, making use of a reactor that was already there, and not noticeably using up the fission fuel in the reactor. The reactor would be run at very lower power levels and hydrogen would flow through a closed loop built into the reactor; the warmed gaseous hydrogen would flow through a turbogenerator to create electricity; the warm hydrogen would then pass through a radiator built on the outer surface of the hydrogen tank itself.

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 Posted by at 3:26 pm
Feb 102018

If’n ya want details of the Tesla Roadsters orbit…


The resulting wall-o-data is below the break. Useful for astronomers, but not very enlightening for the layman. Anybody know of a site that cranks out orbital trajectory plots, showing the arrangement of selected elements for whatever date in the future? The JPL Impact Risks site used to be really good for that sort of thing, but it requires a Java applet that makes my computer security system just go “nope.”

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:48 pm
Feb 072018

Let me know when those who are fighting against the cis white supremacist patriarchal system of engineering can come up with something like this:

Watching those two boosters plummet from the sky and dual land like that? That’s some sci-fi sh!t, right there.

EDIT: And then there’s this one, shot from the ULA Delta IV launch pad at SLC-37. I believe you can see the Apollo 1 launch table in the foreground, which I’ve been to and highly recommend in much the same way I recommend the Viet Nam Memorial Wall in D.C. This video has some subtle sounds that are interesting and important, so crank up the volume to 11.



 Posted by at 9:45 am
Feb 062018

The Falcon 9 Heavy flight went off seemingly without a hitch (as I write this it’s not yet clear if the core booster landed right on the barge EDIT: Whoopsie, the core smacked into the water near the barge at a stately 300 miles per hour due to a failure to ignite two of the three braking rockets). But the two boosters landing simultaneously, side by side… that is hands down no BS the coolest, awesomest, most hopeful thing I’ve ever seen. I’m beyond jealous of the people who work at SpaceX.

How awesome is this? It’s all the awesome. Give it up, Star Wars. There’s no awesome left for you.

Now would be the time for trump to get on live TV and say, in effect, “USA! USA! USA! This is what free men in a free market can do. It’s hyuuuge. It’s beyootiful. And I’m’a gonna take all the moneys the US current sends overseas and instead will pay SpaceX to launch a Trump Casino And Resort to Velles Marinaris.”

 Posted by at 2:07 pm
Feb 062018

Negative mass/negative matter is a theoretical substance that appears in sci-fi and scientific speculation. It would be a difficult substance to deal with, if it actually exists… negative mass means negative inertia. Which means if you push on it, it pushes back, just as hard. This is why it’s considered probably necessary for stable wormholes: somehow, you line the “walls” of the wormhole with negative matter, and if the wormhole tries to collapse, the negative matter resists the collapse.

The video below explains some of the head-scratching consequences of the existence of negative matter. Not explained in the video is the idea that negative and regular matter would mutually annihilate if they came into contact. But unlike a matter/antimatter annihilation, a matter/negative matter reaction would release… nothing. Literally, nothing. One gram meets negative one gram, the end result is zero. The two substances would disappear like nothing was ever there. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. You’d probably get atoms partially torn apart… the electrons disappear but the nuclear scoots away, or the nucleus is partially eliminated, releasing a flood of suddenly liberated protons and neutrons and elementary particles. It would be nowhere near as energetic an event as a M/AM reaction, but there would seem to be a distinct sort of signature to a M/NM reaction.

 Posted by at 1:26 pm
Feb 042018

John D. Clark’s “Ignition!” is  basically *the* book to read if you want a readable history of modern rocket propellants. The problem has been that it has been *long* out of print and the only ways you could read it were:

  1. Interlibrary loan of a tattered copy
  2. Online purchase of a *minimum* of a $200 copy
  3. Crappy free downloadable PDF.

Fortunately, Rutgers University is going to re-release printed (and electronic) versions in May. And it’s available on Amazon for pre-order, which is awesome because if you buy it through a link in this blog post, I’ll get a small fraction of a pittance and thus “Ignition!” will help feed some cats. It’ll be available in paperback, hardback and Kindle. I’m’a get me the paperback.


 Posted by at 8:37 pm
Feb 032018

Not a new theory, but now with a bit more evidence:

New research suggests toward end of Ice Age, human beings witnessed fires larger than dinosaur killer, thanks to a cosmic impact

There is one bit that has me raising a skeptical eyebrow:

The KU researcher and his colleagues believe the data suggests the disaster was touched off when Earth collided with fragments of a disintegrating comet that was roughly 62 miles in diameter — the remnants of which persist within our solar system to this day.

A 62 mile diameter comet would be many times bigger than the one that whacked the dinosaurs. So *perhaps* they mean that it was 62 miles in diameter before it fragmented, and Earth only hit a fraction of it. On the other hand if it fragments sufficiently, so that the chunks were reduced in size enough that they would all burn up in the atmosphere, there’d be no cratering. The total amount of energy dumped onto Earth might be many times greater than the KT impact, but it would come in the form of a quick flash of light and a series of mighty booms rather than a cratering event throwing gigatons of ash and tectites into the sky.

An important point for future discussions of planetary defense: it’s better to be ht by a cloud of little bits than a single giant impactor, even if the cloud hits with more total energy. The atmosphere serves as a bit like a bulletproof vest for the planet, and if someone if going to shoot you with a 12 gauge while you’re wearing such a vest, you’d rather they shot you with a mass of birdshot than a single deer slug. So arguments that planetary defense strategies should avoid energetic systems like nukes in favor of soft, slow processes like solar sails and gravity tractors and the like because nukes might fragment the impactor… not terribly good arguments.

 Posted by at 6:36 pm
Feb 022018

Well, now, this stuff sounds like fun.

The acid is often said to contain “naked protons”, but the “free” protons are, in fact, always bonded to hydrogen fluoride molecules to make the fluoronium cations (similar to the hydronium cation in aqueous solution).[5] It is the fluoronium ion that accounts for fluoroantimonic acid’s extreme acidity. Fluoroantimonic acid is 10^16 (10 quadrillion) times stronger than 100% sulfuric acid.


Like most strong acids, fluoroantimonic acid can react violently with water, owing to the exothermic hydration. Consequently, it cannot be used in aqueous solution, only in hydrogen fluoride as solvent.

Acidity (pKa) = −31.3

Not to be taken rectally, I guess.

 Posted by at 1:04 am