Nov 122017

Not a new idea, but one sure to rile the conspiracy theorists and panic mongers:

Nasa’s [sic] ambitious plan to save Earth from a supervolcano

Basic idea: drill down towards the magma chamber, pump cool water down; water sucks heat from magma and races back up the system as 600-degree steam, which is then used to turn turbines to generate electricity. Energy is created while the risk is reduced. So goes the theory.

The basic idea is reasonably sound. The biggest problem is simply the scale of the problem:the amount of heat in the magma chamber is *vast.* And the depths they’d need to drill are equally vast… on the order of ten kilometers (which is ha-ha-ha-no level of depth). The cost of the project is estimated at $3.46 billion…. peanuts, really, compared to FedGuv spending. The power generation potential is also vast, on the scale of 6 gigawatts of thermal energy. Thousands of years would be required to actually cool the magma chamber to where it’s safe.

And there are detractors…

No, NASA Isn’t Going to Drill to Stop Yellowstone from Erupting


 Posted by at 11:48 am
Nov 092017

So, a supernova is a star going *BANG.* It’s either a supermassive star undergoing its final collapse and rebound, or a white dwarf of neutron star stripping atmosphere off a co-orbiting regular star until enough hydrogen has built up on the surface to undergo a fusion flash, or two neutron stars colliding… something like that. it’s supposed to be a relatively quick flash, then a fade into some kind of dimness. What it’s NOT supposed to be is an explosion brighter than a billion suns that lasts *years.*

Bizarre 3-Year-Long Supernova Defies Our Understanding of How Stars Die

The event occurred in a small irregular galaxy some 500 million lightyears away. interestingly, another supernova was detected in the same spot in 1954, but it’s difficult to suggest that they are necessarily the same object… might have been another supernova within the same galaxy. But *this* event has had an extremely unusual light curve, indicating something horrifically powerful and ridiculously long-lasting:

Compare the areas under the curves. Not only is this thing five or so times brighter than it should be, it’s lasting perhaps five or ten times longer. But the spectrum of the light curve indicates it’s a standard Type II-P supernova, which shouldn’t act like this.

To me this event seems like an atomic bomb. Not, y’know, like an actual atomic bomb, but instead one of the atomic bombs described by H.G. Wells in his 1914 novel “The World Set Free.” his atomic bombs were utterly unlike what actually wound up appearing. His A-Bombs were more like magical reactors: they burned for *years* emitting heat, light and radiation. In essence, his atomic bombs were reactors in meltdown. Perhaps that’s what’s going on with this supernova… instead of “bang” and its done, there’s some sort of “meltdown” going on. What that could possibly be, I’ve no idea.


 Posted by at 9:48 am
Nov 092017

In all the stories, the robots rise up and try to wipe out mankind because they’ve been treated poorly. So you’d think that mankind would learn from a century of literature, movies an TV on the subject. But NOOOOOOO.

So a self-driving shuttle bus service starts up in Las Vegas, and what happens? Within a day a human driver plows into the thing.

And so it begins.

Human at fault in accident with Las Vegas driverless shuttle

 Posted by at 9:16 am
Nov 062017

Theoretical evidence suggests that the fusion of two quarks could be a substantially more energetic event than the fusion of two hydrogen atoms.  Two “bottom” quarks release 138 million electron volts when fused to create a nucleon, while the fusion of deuterons/tritons to produce helium nuclei average out to about 18 million electron volts.

That’s cool and all, but the problem is that the lifespan of a free-roaming bottom quark is about one picosecond, while a halflife of tritium is 12.3 years. This means you can’t actually build up any of the stuff. If you posit some near-magical advanced technology that can crank out a kilo of bottom quarks in much less than a picosecond and mash them all together, you’ve probably posited a technology that can make a bigger bang without going to the bother of fusing the quarks… just the process of turning barionic matter into a pile of quarks is probably damaging enough (imagine if the Death Star didn’t just fire a boring old laser beam, but emitted a magical field that converts the baryons that make up a planet into free quarks).

Still, it’s always interesting when science comes up with new stuff that allows science journalists to kinda freak out a bit and produce clickbaity article titles…

The Subatomic Discovery That Physicists Considered Keeping Secret

 Posted by at 11:27 am
Nov 022017

Using technology seemingly straight out of Star Trek, scientists have confirmed the existence of a pretty sizable void in the Great Pyramid on the Giza plateau. The discovery was made by, kinda using muons generated by cosmic ray impacts to map out density anomalies in the structure of the pyramid. At this time the resolution is insufficient to tell if the void is a true “chamber” or if there is Interesting Stuff in it (be it dead pharoahs, gold goodies, or relics from Atlantis or Chulak). But three things are certain:

1: This is Damned Interesting.

2: Physics is awesome.

3: The woo-ists are going to go monkeybonkers over this.

Stunned Scientists Detect Suspected Hidden Chamber Within Great Pyramid of Giza

 Posted by at 7:02 pm
Oct 282017

Here’s an odd thought:

Did Ceres once have an ocean?

The dawn spacecraft has detected minerals that seem to indicate that there was once liquid water on the surface. By “once,” that means “4 billion years ago.” The evidence indicates that there is still substantial water bound upon the surface “rock” of Ceres, with the possibility of meaningful amounts of liquid water still existing under the surface.

But with a surface gravity of only 0.029 g, back when it had an ocean it must have been a bizarre place. That’s far too low a surface gravity (more specifically, far too low of an escape velocity) for Ceres to have retained any sort of atmosphere. Air would quickly just… drift away to space. So the ocean must have been in a constant state of near-boiling, with an astonishing evaporation rate. The atmosphere must have been largely water vapor; the atmosphere would blow away, forming a cometary tail likely to have been pretty impressive. This would have been while planets like Earth were still in the process of being formed, so the entire solar system would likely have been a busy place, with *lots* of giant comet-like objects like Ceres.


 Posted by at 8:44 am