Dec 312012

The spectacularly-named physicist Friedwardt Winterberg of the University of Nevada has long studied nuclear propulsion and nuclear explosives. He has just published a paper describing a nuclear explosive that uses chemical explosives (HMX, specifically) to drive a Deuterium-tritium fusion reaction, without the use of a fission element. If it could be made to work, it would result in a nuclear explosion  with very little in the way of radioactive fallout… no radioactive heavy elements, mostly just a giant BANG and gamma rays, X-rays and some neutrons. Nothing you’d want to stand too close to, but also nothing that would cause any real environmental harm.

The explosions themselves are not described as being particularly spectacular by H-bomb standards. A sphere of HMX 60 centimeters in diameter, with a chemical yield equivalent to about 1/4 of a ton of TNT, would set off a small core of liquid D-T, producing a nuclear yield of about 25 tons of TNT (0.025 kilotons). By enriching the outermost 1 cm of the high explosives with 20% boron, the bulk of the neutrons generated by the fusion would be captured; the boron itself would explode due to the sudden addition of the neutron energy, sending a shockwave inwards which would aid in burning the D-T. Theoretically the radius of the high explosive could be reduced by about half and would still produce the same nuclear BANG. So a thirty-centimeter (11.8 inch) diameter ball would produce a 25-ton explosion… a gain of a factor of about 1000 from the yield of the chemical explosive alone.

Winterberg suggests using these devices to generate electrical power in MHD generators 60 meters in diameter. But their utility for space propulsion seems fairly obvious. Given the  spherical nature of the bomb and the resultant blast, these would seem to be perfect fits for Johndale Solems “Medusa.” They would also work for propulsion systems with parabolic “pusher plates,” though the structures would have to be either very rugged, or (like Medusa) extremely flexible, or equipped with extremely powerful magnetic fields. For use in a more conventional Orion vehicle, something would have to be done to turn them into more effective shaped charges. Perhaps wrapping them in carbon fiber or graphene cylinders… hmmm…

 Posted by at 10:51 pm
Dec 312012

Well, at least he’s honest:

Let’s Give Up on the Constitution

Where the opinioneer recommends that the US abandon the rule of law, and just do whatever the hell the people in charge want to do, Constitution be damned.

This is a common enough view on the part of many who Demand Change… banning guns (in violation of the 2nd Amendment) or banning this-or-that religion (in violation of the 1st Amendment) or requiring this-or-that religious belief be jammed into schools (again in violation of the 1st Amendment) or numerous other proposed changes. While these changes may be valid, we *do* have a process in place: if you want to ban assault weapons, it’s straightforward to do it legally: pass an Amendment that negates the existing 2nd Amendment. We’ve done that many times since the Constitution was originally enacted. That’s the process. That’s the law. The desire to bypass that is just downright… unAmerican.

 Posted by at 2:48 pm
Dec 312012

If this article is accurate, it seems the British government has found a solution to dealing with the increasingly expensive problem of non-productive old folks consuming large sums on government-funded health care: kill ’em.

60,000 patients put on death pathway without being told but minister still says controversial end-of-life plan is ‘fantastic’

In short, it appears that the BritGov euthanizes around 60K people per year, in many/most cases without getting the patients consent first. This is of course a Very Bad Thing. But it is also very likely a Pretty Much Inevitable Thing. As birth rates decline and life expectancy increases, societies will have more and more people who have ceased to be productive members of society (i.e. no longer taxpayers), who are now consuming vast amounts of resources (being old and alive while sick in the government hospital is I guess a spendy proposition). Continue the trend lines out far enough and the few actual workers you have will have to pay more than 100% of their income as tax in order to pay all the medical bills being racked up by the giant hospitals jam-packed with pensioners. And the system will simply *have* to collapse.
To me there don’t really seem to be a whole lot of good and/or practical answers to this.
1) Carousel: everybody dies when they reach a specific age. Not going to be popular.
2) Robots: Japan is going through this trouble sooner than most due to their low birth rate, aging population and essentially zero immigration. So they’re hoping that robots will be able to care for their old folks. Whether the Japanese can develop effective robot-nurses faster than they generate old folks is a good question.
3) Deportation: Germany, shockingly enough, is leading the world in getting rid of large numbers of people by shipping them to other countries. What it seems they’re doing is shipping some of their elderly to eastern Europe and east Asia because the cost of care there is far cheaper than in Germany. This seems like a reasonable enough proposition… I’m sure at least some of the elderly are fine with the idea of leaving rather cold Germany for warm Thailand. Additionally, I’m sure the German old folks money spends a lot better in those places than back home; so not only do they get to live a lot better, but they also enrich the local economies. But this would seem only a partial solution, as those regions will themselves eventually catch up in the “generating old folks but not so many young folks” game.
4) Privatization: get the government out of the “paying for everything” business. While this will, in the long run, lead to overall healthier and more prosperous societies, it’ll also lead to some people living longer than others simply because they have more money. And while that is perfectly appropriate, there will be lots and lots of people who will raise a ruckus at the perceived unfairness of it that Rich Guy gets to live to 100, while Poor Guy only makes it to 85.
5) Near Death Star: This would of course be the ultimate and preferred solution… stockpile the pensioners on a vast artificial world, hooked up to life support systems and immersed within virtual worlds of their own choosing. But the technology ain’t quite there yet.
So: given a society that is aging fast, where the life expectancy continues to climb but retirement age doesn’t, where all the latest and most expensive medicines and medical techniques and technologies are *expected* to be employed for as long as possible, where the young are having fewer kids (in no small part because they can’t *afford* kids due to the high tax rates needed to provide for the elderly)… if anyone can come up with a truly practical solution, I’m sure we’d all love to read it.
 Posted by at 12:09 am
Dec 302012

The White House Petition Experiment will, I’m pretty sure, come to an end soon.

Eliminate armed guards for the President, Vice-President, and their families, and establish Gun Free Zones around them

Currently: 10,976


Create ‘Gun Free Politician Zones’ for all politicians who support ‘Gun Free School Zones’ and strict gun control laws.

Currently: 5,931


Not INFRINGE upon 2nd Amendment rights by instituting any new form of firearms ban, legislation, or regulation.

Currently: 11,343


Try Senator Dianne Feinstein in a Federal Court For Treason To The Constitution

Currently: 16,883


Impeach Sen. Diane Feinstein for violating her oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, re: AWB

Currently: 18,363


Ban Dianne Feinstein.

Currently: 7,458


To recognize the second amendment in accordance with the founding fathers original intentions.

Currently: 7,202


Repeal Unconstitutional Gun Laws

Currently: 7,251

 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Dec 302012

The General Electric XNJ140E nuclear turbojet was proposed in March 1960 to meet then-current DoD guidelines for the nuclear aircraft program. It utilized a single X211 turbojet mated to a beryllium oxide reactor, a change from the prior XMA-1 engine standard which had one reactor powering two X211 turbojets. Ground test for the XNJ140E was scheduled for December 1962, with flight testing to begin in a Convair NX-2 in 1965.

The XNJ140E was designed for a lifespan of 1000 hours under power, at which point it was to be removed from the aircraft and overhauled. The XNJ140E-1 was to be the developmental model, and would have had an estimated dry weight of 60,600 pounds. Of that, 18,320 pounds were turbojet, while 42,230 pounds were reactor, shield and controls.

The reactor assembly was 33 inches long and 62 inches in diameter, formed from 25,000 hexagonal tubes made from yttria-stabilized beyllia containing uranium. Peak operating temperature was to be 2530 degrees F. The reactor was capable of at least 121 megawatts for a nuclear-only runway takeoff, providing 35,310 pounds of thrust at Mach 0 and at sea level. For cruise at 35,000 feet and Mach 0.8, 50.5 megawatts would provide 8,120 pounds of thrust.

 Posted by at 3:40 pm
Dec 302012

… to not knuckle under to the gun grabbers:

Deport me? If America won’t change its crazy gun laws… I may deport myself says Piers Morgan

Where we can read some real whoppers:

1) I have fired guns only once in my life… our group were let loose on everything from Magnum 45 handguns

.45 Magnum? Hmm.

2) After the shootings at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, in July – where 70 people were hit, the worst victim-count in such an incident in US history, and 12 people died – sales of guns in the state rose by a staggering 41 per cent in the following month as people bought into the theory that if everyone in the theatre had been armed too, they’d have stopped the shooter.

Sure. That‘s why people are buying guns now. Not because they’re afraid that Morgans fellow travellers might succeed in getting them made illegal.
3)  I can saunter into Walmart – America’s version of Tesco – and help myself to an armful of AR-15 assault rifles and magazines that can carry up to 100 bullets at a time.

Umm. A) Does Wal-Mart carry 100-round Betamags? I’ve never seen ’em. B) As a foreign national, can he simply help himself to an armful of AR-15’s? 
4) The AR-15 looks and behaves like a military weapon
A) The AR-15 “behaves?” Wow, he really does think that guns have minds of their own. B) Since when is an AR-15 select fire?
5) No member of the public has any need for a death machine
A) No member of the public has any need to watch Piers Morgan. Does that lack of need mean he should be banned from TV? B) There are hundreds of thousands of AR-15s owned by members of the public that are used with some regularity… and are not “death machines.”
6) Obama should follow up by launching a Government buy-back for all existing assault weapons in circulation (as worked successfully in Los Angeles last week). I would go further, confiscating the rest and enforcing tough prison sentences on those who still insist on keeping one.
The LA buyback gave, IIRC, $200 per long gun. The AR-15 starts at a *minimum* of about $600. So Piers is starting off by saying that the government should steal at least $400 from its citizens. Then he wants to imprison millions of people who have harmed *nobody.*
> The ‘more guns, less crime’ argument is utter nonsense.

Except, of course, that it is not. See: Chicago.
 Posted by at 12:42 am