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Everything posted by KSK

  1. Also - and I think this is probably less likely here - it’s relatively easy to slide a magnet along a surface than it is to pull it off that surface. Having the heat shield buckle because the tiles start sliding and riding up over each other at max Q is probably a suboptimal outcome.
  2. Green button. One species (well two if you count the pond scum aftermath of pressing the red button) vs countless millions? That’s an easy choice even if the one species is mine. Get rid of the planet trashing murder hobos and hope something more intelligent evolves next time around. I find it telling that the green goo tastes of chicken.
  3. Why not stick with tradition and go with tulip bulbs?
  4. …expialiadocious. Even though its exotherm is something quite atrocious. Do try not to sneeze near it, or you’ll wind up on Venus… hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane… …expialiadocious.
  5. Bill & Ted I and II with my best friend's kids. Luckily, they enjoyed them rather than just rolling their eyes. Then we watched Bill & Ted III as well and... yeah. Two old dudes. Life didn't go the quite the way they figured it would but they're still hanging in there, still friends, still listening to the same music and enjoying the same stuff, even if the long hair is turning a mite grey. Only now with kids in tow. Talk about art mirroring life.
  6. That looks very interesting - cheers! Will give it a go and see if I get along with it. Finished Chapter 7 of Quenta last night. Suspect I'll need to find a map of First Age Middle-earth (and probably re-read whilst making notes) to make more sense of which group of Elves went where and what they've decided to call themselves. Also, Feanor needs a slap. Pity there aren't many around who would dare. Skilled and mighty he may be but he's also one arrogant SOB. Edit: Moving back on topic, I'm thinking that Meteor Man is a new character, probably some other Maiar, and will play a similar role in the Second Age to the one that the Istari did in the Third. He might be Gandalf but if that turns out to be the case, please remind me to take an internet break for a week or two because the commentary will be heading (further) south in a hurry.
  7. Nope - and thank Jeb that I've finally found somebody else who likes it too! I know Lord of the Rings reasonably well but the times I've tried to read the Silmarillion I bounced off it. Rings of Power has inspired me to give it another go. So no, I don't know all the First Age lore, but I do know, for example, how Celebrimbor is likely to fit into all of this. And incidentally, whoever is playing him in RoP has got the character down cold in my opinion. The Celebrimbor we see on screen seems like exactly the kind of person that would... well do the stuff he does in the source material. For that matter, I can totally see RoP's Elendil going on to do what he does in the source material. I thought the sets and CGI for Numenor were great. Very much their own thing but tying in nicely (aesthetically speaking) to Minas Tirith from the Peter Jackson films. Which makes sense of course but it didn't have to be that way and it's nice that it was. I liked the way the Harfoot storyline progressed in Part III. And yes, I thought it was entirely consistent with the 'everyone stays on the track, nobody gets left behind' mantra from the previous parts. I liked the reason why Durin was so salty in Part II and watching Elrond come to terms with that reason and apologise. I'm quite comfortable with RoP being an adaptation given the length of time that's passed since the source material was written and the amount that society has changed since then. Besides: "Yet some things there are that they cannot see, neither alone nor taking counsel together; for to none but himself has Iluvatar revealed all that he has in store, and in every age there come forth things that are new and have no foretelling, for they do not proceed from the past." If it's good enough for the Ainur, it's good enough for me. Thanks for the opportunity to enthuse about the show, folks. The wider internet has been distinctly depressing in that regard so far.
  8. Apologies for the messed up formatting - this site isn’t the easiest on mobile devices. Serious question though - assuming that a market for point-to-point human transport by rocket does open up - why bother going orbital? I’d have thought that a series of sub-orbital hops be easier? At first sight it would be a lot less operationally challenging in terms of vehicle design, be a lot more forgiving in terms of vehicle dry mass, and probably be safer because your vehicle (and passengers) don’t have to re-enter from orbital speeds on every journey. The decline (and failure to rebuild) of supersonic air travel is a pretty good indicator that there’s not a big enough market for ‘need to be there right this hour’ passengers to justify the costs. By analogy, I’m not convinced that there would be enough demand for true ‘anywhere to anywhere in one hop’ travel to justify an orbital point-to-point service.
  9. Yeah, it was the Civil War subs that I was thinking of, which seemed like deathtraps on a good day. I read a very interesting book (by Rachel Lance - it's referenced in the Wikipedia article) about the Hunley which succeeded in its mission but the crew died under mysterious circumstances, still at their posts with no obvious sign of panic or distress. Lance made the case in her book that they were killed by blast trauma from the torpedo detonation. I think the book referred to a couple of times where torpedo ramming did work but I'd have to re-read it to be sure. In any case, it's a pretty good warts-and-all popular science version of her investigation - can recommend if you're interested in such things.
  10. Ramming with submarines was a thing for a while too, back when a torpedo was a large explosive charge attached to a spar.
  11. I haven’t watched much Trek beyond Next Generation but ‘teching the tech’ does sound awfully familiar. I recall a lot of reprogramming the deflector array to emit the Particle of the Week. To answer the original question - I don’t think it would work because that absorbed heat has to go somewhere afterwards. So the good news is that the Enterprise survived the nuke. The bad news is that the crew were summarily cooked by the structural integrity fields.
  12. Go go, go go Fever! Mighty ‘Splodin’ go go Fever!
  13. Fair. Telling other folks what to spend their money on (or not) is a fools errand, even if I have... views, on what they're spending it on. In this particular example, I have definite views on overpriced designer gear, the fashion industry in general, disposable fashion in particular, and everything else that goes with that. But this is neither the place or the time for that digression. As for "it's the science fiction world I want to live in", I've read enough science fiction to find that a less than comforting reason for an arch-capitalist to do anything. Having a new life available in the off-world colonies didn't stop it royally sucking back on Earth. But hey - if the Mars colony runs into real trouble, there's always Soylent Green to fall back on.
  14. I know of a great many charities, NGOs, research institutes and other worthy causes who would be very glad of a piece of that chump change. I'm betting you do too, although we may well differ in our definitions of a worthy cause. And clearly, for those cases, governments aren't spending to do X, or at least they're not spending so much that they're squeezing out all the charities etc. in the process. But anyway - you're probably right re. the billionaire spending. A Mars colony though is going to require vastly more money than even Bezos or Musk can dig out from behind the couch cushions. And that level of money could, and should be better spent on Earth IMO. It probably won't be though.
  15. I respectfully disagree with this. The Apollo program had all of those psychological factors, plus a clear and present ideological motivation to underpin it. And yet, after Apollo 11, public interest in the program tapered off markedly, with a brief resurgence of interest for Apollo 13. More recently, New Shepard has been widely dismissed (at least in my country) as a billionaire vanity project, with many oh-so-hilarious comments being made about the shape of the New Shepard rocket and capsule. Based on the above, I think most of 'technical civilization' is going to regard space colonization as a government boondoggle or a billionaire vanity project, depending on who's driving it.
  16. Nope. Because the number of people moving is trivial (in terms of global population) and the effort and resources required to get them there - and keep them there - far outweigh any marginal release of population pressure.
  17. Yup. There are more incredible things per square metre on Earth than anywhere else in the universe that we can feasibly get to now or are likely to be able to get to in future. And once they're gone - they're gone. I might disagree on the details but I fully agree with the sentiment. Scientific exploration of Mars - sure. Making life multiplanetary... I guess? Making life multiplanetary as a 'not keeping our eggs in one basket' policy - I don't see it. A proto-Mars colony seems likely to still be heavily dependent on Earth for well within the timescale of human-caused disasters. As for cosmic disasters - well if our resident billionaires want to have a 'spending money in space' competition, I humbly suggest that asteroid defense would be a better insurance policy than a Mars colony. Other cosmic disasters (like gamma-ray bursts) - if Earth gets clobbered with one of those, the chances are excellent that Mars will get clobbered too. Also, having seen Musk's shenanigans outside of SpaceX, and Bezo's pure pettiness, not to mention the general geopolitical nonsense and profiteering around the Covid pandemic I'm pretty soured on the whole 'space as manifest destiny' thing anyway, Space - not so much the Final Frontier as merely a new frontier to make all the same old mistakes and indulge all the same old behaviours in. Unless we find some xenomorphs out there and learn from them. After all, as one famous ambassador from Earth noted - you don't see xenomorphs screwing each other over for a percentage.
  18. @Spacescifi You may already be aware but the Roton might be of interest here, although admittedly, it's more of a freak of engineering needs than a regular helicopter. From the article: "Bevin McKinney's initial concept was to merge a launch vehicle with a helicopter: spinning rotor blades, powered by tip jets, would lift the vehicle in the earliest stage of launch. Once the air density thinned to the point that rotary-wing flight was impractical, the vehicle would continue its ascent on pure rocket power, with the rotor acting as a giant turbopump.[5] Calculations showed that the helicopter blades modestly increased the effective specific impulse (Isp) by approximately 20–30 seconds, effectively only carrying the blades into orbit "for free." Thus, there was no overall gain from this method during ascent. However, the blades could be used to soft land the vehicle, so its landing system carried no additional cost." The Roton had (or was intended to have) a modest 3.2 tons of cargo, carried by a 181.4 ton (fully fueled) vehicle. On the whole, I would echo @razark's comment. Your forceblade SSTO sounds cool, so just run with it. I'm reminded of the ornithopters from Dune - giant metal dragonflies are about the least practical aircraft I can imagine but i) they looked great on the eventual big screen and ii) they really got across the notion that Dune is a far-future Clarketech setting where technology is sufficiently advanced that mundane practicality can take a back seat to rule-of-cool.
  19. If you don’t mind only transporting very small things, then a plain old laser could make a serviceable ‘tractor beam’. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_tweezers
  20. I would also question how applicable an analysis of the Apollo ejecta is to HLS, given that they’ll be caused by two different engines with different exhaust velocities and different temperatures. With that said, if some rando on the internet (which would be me) can think of these questions, then I imagine they’ve already been considered in substantially more detail by the actual experts. Finally, a quick search https://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/lunar/letss/regolith.pdf finds a regolith density of 1.5g per cubic centimetre. So 470 tonnes of ejecta has a volume of approximately 313 cubic metres, or an area of landscape a little under 18m by 18m down to a depth of 1m. For reference, the LM was about 9.4 m across with landing legs deployed. I know that 470 tonne figure was scaled up for a 40 tonne lander, but that volume of ejecta seems wildly out of kilter with Apollo flight experience. 72,000 tonnes of ejecta would seem to be a rather unfeasible volume of material to be ejected by one lander.
  21. Regarding the ejecta issue, I can think of one source of data for more directly quantifying the amount of loose regolith available to be ejected, and that’s the core sample tubes taken during Apollo and the mission transcripts describing the depth to which they could be pushed before hammering was required. There’s also been experimental thermal cycling work done on Earth, aimed at understanding the structure of the regolith and how it got to be quite so compacted. I’d be surprised if either approach would give an exact answer but they might help constrain the model or assumptions used to analyse the plume images. As it is, that paper acknowledges that they’re using the worst case scenario in the absence of anything better.
  22. Going to have to be a wee bit careful here - and if you don't subscribe to these views then I'm cool with that. We can agree to disagree or take this to private messages. Quite a lot to unpack here but in general though, I would say no. Very often the achievements of individuals - which is a bit of a loaded term anyway in my view, as I'll come on to in a moment - are only accidentally aligned with societal needs anyway. And that's without all the documented stories of bad corporate actors such as tobacco companies, or the more recent opioid scandal in the US. Sadly, discrediting evidence of harm, or outright FUD to safeguard profits is, if not a standard corporate tactic, then a depressingly familiar one. Then we get onto the, admittedly subjective, question of what constitutes 'advancement of society'? No good answer there and I suspect we'll both have different ideas on the topic. I think your riposte is a good one though - is space colonization an advancement? Then we get onto the 'propping up those less able or fortunate' point. The problem with that statement, as I see it, is that very often those less able (and 'able' is kind of subjective here too. Able or unable to do what?) or fortunate are doing valuable and socially vital jobs that, for whatever reason, aren't as well paying as they could, should, or flat out need to be. I'm thinking of junior medical staff - or hospital cleaning staff - in a capital city, for example. They absolutely need to be there (unless society is cool with dirty, understaffed medical facilities) but the chances of them being able to afford to live in a capital city is low to zero unless they're financially supported in some way. There's a side question of what exactly society is for if not for helping those less able or fortunate, but that gets us into very hairy political stuff. Definitely a topic for private messages! Finally - and it's a little bit snarky - but a so-called captain of industry is no damn use at all without a crew of industry to go with it. That's not intended as a dismissal - if a company is going to go anywhere, it needs good leadership, a clear sense of purpose and vision, and for any company that requires substantial investment, an executive team who can go out, sell that vision to investors, and raise the financing to make it happen. No bucks - no Buck Rogers, as the saying goes. There's a whole bunch of skills in there, none of them are easy, and, for what its worth, they don't overlap much with my personal skillset at all. But without a team behind them to execute that vision, all those fine investor pitches are just puffery and hot air. So, at a corporate level, I would personally question the notion of 'individual achievements' at all.
  23. Can’t speak for anyone else but for me, the future looks less like Star Trek and more like Blade Runner 2049. Which makes it kind of hard to get enthusiastic about. If the last couple of years have taught me anything it’s that, collectively, humanity is a bunch of dumb, squabbling apes whose first response to any sort of crisis is ‘how can I make a fast buck from this.’ So yeah. Pick up some new and interesting rocks on Mars. That’s cool - all the more so if you happen to be into rocks. If there are any microbes to be found under an icy moon somewhere, then they’d be worth knowing about too - especially if we can avoid wrecking their ecosystem in the process. But all the manifest destiny, expanding into the solar system stuff? That just sounds like an elaborate way of putting even more power and wealth in the hands of even fewer people at the expense of everyone else. What’s the point of space exploration if the end result is ‘same mulch, different day, on a different planet’? Put a different way. The future didn’t turn out to be flying cars and moon bases. The future turned out to be Facebook, YouTube comments, TikTok influencers, and ordering takeaway online, to be delivered to you by a courier that the courier company is doing their level best to pretend is not an employee.
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