May 262015

As mentioned HERE I have some cyanotype blueprints that are available for a limited time, until May 29. Time runs short. As previously mentioned, only those sold in this period will be made, so the production run will be necessarily limited. In fact… I have so far sold none. So if you *do* pull the trigger on this, you will get something *extremely* rare.

 Posted by at 8:46 pm
May 262015

A photo (because I couldn’t be bothered to scan it) of a page from a 1967 edition of “TRW Space Data,” recently arrived in my mailbox via eBay. Shown here are current (1967) and projected capabilities and costs of American launch vehicles. The Saturn V is noticeably cheaper on a dollars-per-pound basis than anything else, with the Titan IIIC and the Saturn Ib coming in behind it. For the future, hypothetical fully reusable vehicles were expected to greatly reduce those costs further, with a recoverable booster expected to run somewhere about $50/lb by 1970. The graph leads me to believe that the data was dated even at this point; Reference 3 mentioned in the graph was from 1961. Further, the Aerospace Plane was an ongoing project in ’61, but was long kaput by ’67.

$50 would be about $354 in todays money; the $540 for a pound of Saturn V payload would be $3825 today.


 Posted by at 1:39 pm
May 252015

So I was watching “Futurama” a little earlier and it dawned on me that this show which looks entirely modern first aired nearly 16 years ago. In that time it had truncated seasons, got cancelled, got picked up as a series of TV movies, got picked up again as a series, and got cancelled again. But, I wondered, might there be some alternate timeline out there where Futurama never got cancelled in the first place and is working on it’s 16th season? If so… there are probably *other* timelines where Futurama is still going strong… but with completely different stories starting 12, 13, 14 years ago as different writers quit or got hired or had different ideas. Depending on how expansive you assume the multiverse to be, there could well be millions of completely different episodes of Futurama that all yet still fit together.

So… what if these alternate realities existed *and* someone invented a machine that allows access? Even if all it did was permit data to transfer across the boundaries, sort of a Multiverse-Wide-Web, it would allow the transfer of movies and TV shows and such to audiences that didn’t have them. But who would own them?

An episode of alternate-universe-Futurama would of course feature voice actors that exist here, writers who exist here, producers, technical people, etc. But of course… those people in *this* universe didn’t do a single thing to make *that* episode. And of course Futurama transferred from Fox to Cartoon Network; so who would claim ownership of alterna-Futurama episodes? Especially if the episodes were originally broadcast on a different universes CBS? If Doc Brown Enterprises has the sole interdimensional DSL line and is selling bootlegged DVDs, what do they owe *this* universes Futurama owners and staff?

And then there are other concerns. Hard-core dirty movies starring another universes adult film stars Dolly Parton, Christina Applegate and Barry O’Bama would very likely sell like hotcakes… but I’d bet good money that *this* universes versions of those folks would *not* take kindly to that. Could they sue to prevent the selling of movies starring people who were well-paid and fully consented? People who were not *them,* but just looked and sounded exactly like *them*?

And further… artistic concerns. Alternate universe versions of some works might well go in a different direction than happened here. Perhaps in 1984 George Lucas looked at his options and decided that Howard the Duck was a great idea, but maybe it’d be best to do the Star Wars sequel trilogy first. So Episodes 7, 8 and 9 came out in 86′, 88′ and 90′, leading to a massive Star Wars juggernaut throughout the 90’s and 00’s, with another dozen movies, three successful TV series, books, graphic novels, video games, etc. Or JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books as *adult* fantasy novels, going in a wholly different direction. These are copyright and trademark monsters in this universe as it is; try to publish fan fiction for profit and chances are good that some well-paid lawyers will jump up and down on you. But legitimately published works from another universe?

And there is the polar opposite concern to all this: collaboration rather than competition. Why make 22 episodes a year, when you can team up with your direct opposite numbers and each do 11? Or take my piddly publishing empire: with a million other versions of me out there, surely a lot of them will have written about different things than I have. Perhaps instead of a poorly selling issue of APR devoted largely to the X-20 Dyna Soar, alterna-Lowther wrote a poorly selling issue of APR devoted largely to the Lockheed L-2000. If we could communicate with each other, it’d make all kinds of sense to simply swap our data. Then we could each have two poorly-selling issues of APR for the effort required to make only one. But if someone *else* were to bring that L-2000 issue of APR into *this* market… even though *I* didn’t write it, their profiting from it would annoy me.

Granted, the chances that this will ever be a real concern are pretty slim. The closest to this idea that I can see actually happening will be advanced computers a generation or three down the line so smart and powerful that they can analyze all known data and can crank out fully realized literature and movies based on established works, modified per desired parameters.  But here I can see the situation being easier for the attack lawyers, since the sources of the new material would be entirely conventional and *not* initially covered in some other universes copyright laws.

Note: this post was not important. If you don’t want to waste your time on trivialities, don’t have read it.

 Posted by at 3:49 pm
May 232015

The idea of orbital mirrors to shine sunlight down onto the night side of Earth precede WWII; Hermann Oberth proposed such at thing in 1923. Today if someone were to seriously propose an orbiting space mirror the probably use would be to *shade* the Earth from sunlight in order to reduce insolation and very, very slightly cool the planet. Still, it might prove an interesting mathematical study… if an orbiting mirror is used to alternately shade the Earth and then light up the Earth, is it a net positive? When you factor in that the night-time sunlight beamed down would presumably offset artificially generated lighting – say, by lighting up a city, replacing streetlights – it may be that the result would be to reduce planetary temperature.

As recently as 1977, Rockwell International (after Krafft Ehricke) examined the use of orbiting mirrors called “Lunetta” to provide illumination.

rockwell 77 lunetta

 Posted by at 9:25 pm