Jun 292016

I was reliably informed that the Brexit vote would lead to economic catastrophe in Britain. I may have been misinformed.

FTSE 100 surges to end above pre-Brexit levels

U.K. stocks surged nearly 4% on Wednesday, helping the FTSE 100 erase all of its losses and then some in the wake of the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union. …  The midcap FTSE 250 index MCX, +3.22%  also leapt Wednesday, up 3.2% at 16,002.90. But that index is still below Friday’s close of 16,088, which marked the start of a two-day rout.

British banks also bounced back up.

Huh. How about that.

 Posted by at 1:46 pm
Jun 292016


Trying to come up with a practical application of that. The best I’ve got is as a weapon. Not to set things on fire, but to blind optics and enemy combatants. Imagine turning that on and sweeping it across an attacking force of Taliban; it would cause them to duck for cover perhaps even more effectively than a machine gun. Of course the soldier using it would have to wear a helmet that completely covers his eyes; I’m think that the best approach wouldn’t be lenses that selectively block the laser wavelength, but a mask that completely cut the eyes off from the outside world and replaces it with augmented reality vision. Anybody fighting alongside this laser weapon would have to be similarly equipped.

Of course it’s so bright that the air itself lights up via Rayleigh scattering, so it would serve as a dandy “here I am, shoot at me!” beacon.

 Posted by at 1:02 pm
Jun 282016

NOTE: Not the best photos, but… ehh, what’re ya gonna do…


I have a new batch of physical media… digital prints and old-school cyanotype blueprints. What sets these apart is that they are BIG.

First, a book: Space Transportation System Diagrams. This is a collection of 27 wide format (the standard 11 inches high… but up to *40* inches wide) Space Shuttle diagrams. They are all official NASA.industry diagrams, painstakingly cleaned, depicting all aspects of the STS. Includes numerous instrument panel diagrams as well as structural arrangements, general arrangements, insulation/tile layouts, etc. This is available for $75. Ten were printed. NOW SOLD OUT..

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STS Diagrams book: $75

Second, some very large digital prints of the Shuttle orbiter underside tile maps. Three maps provided… left wing, right wing and fuselage. They are all 20 inches high, with the centerline diagram being about 80 inches long. Shows you where every tile goes, all for only $30. This has sold out. If you are interested, send me an email and I’ll let you know when/if more are made available.

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Third: 1/72 scale cyanotype blueprints, handmade, of the Space Launch System Block 1 launch vehicle. This blueprint is 24 inches wide by about 67 inches long, based on a CAD layout of my own creation and is available for $80.

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1/72 SLS Cyanotype Blueprint: $80

All of these are likely going to be available for only a limited time. I’ve had ten copies of the STS Diagram Book printed; each is individually numbered. So far, one sold. The 1/72 SLS is also likely to be only limited print run; while undeniably awesome, it is kinda big, and I think I’d do better to replace the 1/72 diagram with a 1/144 version. So snap ’em up fast before they become collectors items!

As always with physical items, postage is required. A single flat fee is charged no matter how many items… if you’re in the US, you pay $10 in postage is you order one item or a dozen (so order a dozen). Elsewhere… costs a little more.

US postage: $10

Non-US postage: $18

 Posted by at 7:24 pm
Jun 282016

Huge helium discovery ‘a life-saving find’

In recent years a lot of people who care about such things have been quietly freaking out about the forthcoming helium shortage. Never mind party balloons… a lack of helium would be a *real* problem for anyone who needs superconductors… such as people who rely on MRIs and particle accelerators and the like, cooled by liquid helium. It seems, though, that new large underground reservoirs of helium may have been located, and may be economically tappable.

Sid note: from time to time I’ve seen it suggested in science fiction that all the helium we need could be produced through nuclear fusion of hydrogen in commercial fusion powerplants. A nice idea, but the problem if that very, very little helium would be produced. For example:

The energy liberated by the fusion of 1 Kg of Deuterium with 1.5 Kg of Tritium is therefore 2.82 X 10-12 X 2.99 X 1026 = 8.43 X 1014 Joules = (8.43 X 1014) / (3.6 X 1012) GWHours = 234 GWHours.

This energy appears in the form of heat. If it was used to generate electricity in a conventional steam turbine power plant with an efficiency of 38%, it would provide 88,900 MWH of electricity which is near enough equivalent to one year’s operation with a constant output power of 10 MWatts.

So a ten megawatt fusion generating plant would crank out about 2.5 kilos of helium per year. Yeah, not really floating the Goodyear blimp on *that.*

 Posted by at 12:30 pm
Jun 282016

Nigel Farage (of the UK Independence party, a leader in the Brexit movement) speaking before the EU bureaucaparliament. Apart from the accent, it sounds much like a speech that *should* be given before Congress. Notably, a lot of the reaction to the speech is, especially in light of the recent tantrum the Dems had on the House floor, also very familiar in tone and childishness. There is a whole lot of disdain when Farage says that the UK and the EU should not have tariffs, indicating that the EUniks want to punish the Brits economically.

“I know that virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives, or worked in business, or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job.”

 Posted by at 12:11 pm