Wednesday, June 30, 2010

U.S. Space Policy 2010

Here's a bit of reading material for you to go through. What peaked my interest is the section on Space Nuclear Power. Interesting change of thought that personally am all in favor of. It's about time we started implementing nuclear powered rockets for long duration missions.

The Commercial Space Guidelines are also of interest. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Algae Plastic

When I suggest to people that the end of fossil fuels is now, they generally raise two issues:

1. Energy needs

2. Material needs

The energy needs argument is somewhat comical and illustrates perfectly the lack of proper education and access to information that shows, without question, that the global combination of solar, space based solar, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal and fuel cell technologies are fully capable of supplying clean energy for the entire global population (such that they all have high standards of living) for the rest our existence on this planet, especially if we seriously do all we can to utilize energy efficiently and smartly, and not just give it lip service. For example, ensuring every building has some level of energy creation for itself (photovoltaic paint, solar panel tiles, built in wind generators, fuel cell systems, etc). This doesn't have to mean that every building is off the grid, but it can mean that some buildings are sources when at off-peak use, or less of a sink when they are running full tilt.

Now let's look at materials. Plastic is a huge argument by many to justify the need for fossil fuels like oil. Well step back and behold the power of innovation and science, because we are on the verge of replacing that idea completely...

The article above, in Popular Mechanics, covers this, and I want to make note of a few specific comments in the article that one should consider:

"The myriad companies running at algal biofuels today, for example, must first find and cultivate a precise strain of algae from among thousands, harvest and dry the stuff, and then somehow extract oil from the plant on a cost-competitive basis with now very cheap crude."

"But, like his comrades in the algae-oil business, the trouble hasn't been so much the science, but the supply of algae to his lab."

So let me get this right, by all technical accounts we have the technology to do this on a large scale, but costs make it "difficult" to compete in the market. Oh 'money', how I love the freedom you give us for innovation and doing the right thing. How stupid are we that we let a man-made construct restrict us so much in a time when we are capable of greatness?

Space Cooperation

One of the best things about space exploration is the fact that it's pretty much financially and logistically impossible for any one nation to do it alone. Space has been one of the best sources for global unification over the past 20 years or so.

Mr. Carl Sagan said it best, "The old appeals to racial, sexual, religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalist fervor are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet. One of the great revelations of the age of space exploration is the image of the earth finite and lonely, somehow vulnerable, bearing the entire human species through the oceans of space and time."

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Pitiful Path We Walk Today Article: Air Force Sees Hypersonic Weapons and Spaceships in Future

Nothing like a pithy comment by yours truly to start a raging debate...but a polite one. Not sure if it's really done yet, but hope it's not. I enjoy polite debates, key word here being polite. FYI, I am MasterSith. :) And for the record, my original comment has over 50 recommendations, over double that of the next closest, for whatever that's worth. lol.

As you'll notice, I do all I can to support my claims with links to solid sources. The only way to debate, intelligently, is to behave respectfully and support your claims. I still can't stand how we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on more unique ways to kill people, and pennies (relatively) on peaceful cooperative space exploration. What's wrong with this picture? Anyway, here's the debate thus far...
MasterSith wrote: "We could have in the future such things as hypersonic weapons that fly 600 nautical miles in 10 minutes."

-- Or we could actually fix our global social problems and completely eliminate 90% of the reasons why people fight in the first place, and actually elevate the standard of living of all the world's people.

Yeah, I know, how crazy is that in the 21st century with all this amazing technology, medicine, abundant food production capabilities, clean sustainable energy options, automated robotic housing construction techniques (a 2,000 sq ft home built in 24 hrs) and robust transportation systems based on clean tech, maglev train systems and GPS/automated safety foundations. Yeah, might as well just continue to blow sh*t up instead of bridging differences and helping people live in environments where being bastards is a pointless option.

I love the tech, but I hate the premise on which it is reasoned for use.
Ken_Forees_Forehead wrote: a paltry two recommendations for your post, one of them from me. sad state of affairs.
Windbourne wrote: It is easy to hate its use, BUT, the truth is that military RD has done a great deal to advance society, then to hurt it. Take the example of DARPA. Prior to W basteridizing it, it was devoted to long term RD that involves lots of money. Some of it was really on the edge WRT the military. Sadly, W perverted it, killed the majority of the university connections and then sent a lot of it to the commercial world, esp. in Texas. HOPEFULLY, Obama has restored what we had, along with the ppl that used to run it. To be honest, I am not in touch with them anymore, so, I do not know where they sit.

Look, I KNOW that you are not wild about the military (few really are; even in the core military). But the thing to keep in mind, is that a strong military prevents anybody from doing real wars with us. It takes a terrorists with nations like Pakistan/Somalia to take us on. HOWEVER, if we have a weak military, or if anther nations THINKS that they can take us on, then with the wrong leader in place, they will do so.

Also, keep in mind that a mach 10-15 weapon like this, is IDEAL for ABMs. If successful, then we can take out something launched from say NK, Iran, Burma, and quite possibly, Venezuela, or even China. That is why I think that this will be developed VERY quickly.
Windbourne wrote: BTW, what robotic system builds a home in 24 hours?
MasterSith wrote: Ken - I see 7 now, but I'm waiting for the accusation that I'm a wide eyed peace loving hippie Utopianist. lol. Which are typical accusations by people who are so well programmed that they cannot fathom actually using our technical capability to actually make the world a better place. Oh, and I am not that.

Then you get the "human nature" nonsense, which has already been proven to be a false notion. Human behavior is 90% environmentally driven. Not just parents, which is just one part, but also society, commercials, friends, what you see, how things are taught, etc.

Windbourne - Remember, I served in the Navy, so I was part of the military. It's not about weak vs. strong military. That idealism is archaic in today's world. What matters is figuring out WHY people are being aggressive in the first place.

Take for example terrorism. I strongly believe, and studies have proven this, that psychotic bastard terrorists would have very little recruiting power if the people of their nations lived amazing, high quality lives. Why the hell would one kill themselves for a twisted ideology when their real lives are actually amazingly good? In reality, the people are subdued, poor, uneducated, and live very difficult lives, so psychologically they are prime for conversion and brainwashing. To them, their lives are crap, so why not "fight" for something, and a persuasive psychotic is still persuasive. Better the environment, eliminate the cause by which people would even behave that way.

24 hour home: Look up Contour Crafting. It's a tech developed by a professor at USC. All he lacks is the funding to build the full scale prototype.
Windbourne wrote: Oh, I had not forgotten your service (thank you btw).

As to the terrorism, you hit it right on the head. We DO need to help all, come up in living standards. That was the idea of our doing Free Trade Agreements with so many nations. The problem is that nations, like china, SK, Iran, and Burma, are totalitarian countries in which the upper crust do NOT care about ppl since they already have it so good. In addition, those nations still see themselves at war with the west esp. USA. Our FTA will not work with them as long as they get to manipulate money, and ppl, at will.

I disliked our going into Iraq, while ignoring Afghanistan. Any nation that we go into, I believe that we NEED to re-build. Iraq at least is looking like they will do ok. Now that we have found minerals in Afghanistan, HOPEFULLY, we can help these ppl to rebuild their lives, and forget all about terrorism.

But in the end, we still need a strong military. It prevents nations like NK, Burma, Iran, and even China from pushing their will on others.
MasterSith wrote: Windbourne - The upper crust in America don't care about people beneath them either, else they'd not always prefer profit over people, and would gladly use larger percentages of their wealth for worthy causes that help build hi-tech sustainable systems, even for those in our own nation, instead of keeping their wealth in off shore banks and "buying" politicians to do what they want them to do.

The problem with Afghanistan's mineral finding is that powerful nations have historically raped and pillaged smaller nations of their resource wealth for their own benefit, the USA included. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ignoring history.

The USA is brilliant at masking this fact by suggesting we're "helping" other nations, but in fact it's our companies and our industry that infiltrates these nations and basically dominates their landscape. It would be nice if we'd stay out of it, and let Afghan companies work on Afghan resources, but I don't think that will happen. Mark my words, American companies will make their way into Afghanistan to mine the resources and the Afghan people will not benefit from it. Corporate hostile takeover is the American way these days.

Check out this simple video as an example:

"But in the end, we still need a strong military. It prevents nations like NK, Burma, Iran, and even China from pushing their will on others."

-- We'll need less of a strong military the moment we start actually giving a damn about people around the world and start doing what's right to better all lives, and not just the lives of a select few. And besides, how many more extravagant ways of killing people can we come up with? Between laser guided missiles that enter windows and global nuclear threats, I'm pretty sure we've reached the peak of killing efficiency. Time to start putting our amazing scientists and engineers to work on long term self sustainable systems that benefit the world. But then again, there's no profit in self sustainability.

As for pushing will on others...last I checked, the USA does a pretty good job of doing that too, but we mask it as governmental and economic freedom, when in fact our very practices are destroying the planet and are linear in consumption with no regard for the end game...which at this rate means nothing left for anyone...dead planet, dead humanity.
rreilly656 wrote: """" Then you get the "human nature" nonsense, which has already been proven to be a false notion. Human behavior is 90% environmentally driven. Not just parents, which is just one part, but also society, commercials, friends, what you see, how things are taught, etc. """""

Sorry Doug, you are making a false supposition to try to support your notions. Human nature is not the strict taskmaster that animal nature is, but it is an underlying natural phenomenon that well-meaning "enlightened" people, as well as hard-core totalitarians ignore at their peril. It is the ignoring of human nature that is at the root of a whole lot of the world's problems. Your dismissal of human nature is a recipe for disaster.

But keep in mind that accepting human nature for what it is is not fatalism. As you allude to, what distinguishes us humans is our capacity for choice and our ability to develop all sorts of new options for ourselves. The conceit comes when one assumes (as you seem to do), that "technology" will "save us." No. It. Won't. Technology will help, but wisdom will matter more, and one wise thing to remember is that there will always be human conflict, with the attendant miseries it creates. No utopias, ever. Utopian thinking is dangerous and deluded.

As to the pessimism about the human condition I see from your posts and some respondents, I've got some very good news, if you'll only accept it. It is indeed tha natural human condition to desire peace and peaceful pursuits than to desire conflict. It is also a fact that most humans most of the time spend, and have spent in the past, most of their time in peaceful pursuits. That there is too much conflict and upheaval is a given, and it is both rational and worthwhile to want to reduce the levels of conflict, violence, and upheaval. Appreciating human nature at its core is one of the most important elements of resolving world problems; these days most governments and institutions stubbornly and persistently refuse to do so. Well-meaning progressive solutions and technological advances aren't worth spit if the powers-thst-be ignore or show contempt for the way humans really act and think, and what ordinary humans actually want in their lives.
MasterSith wrote: rreilly656 - Thanks for the comment, because I see I need to be more clear. I appreciate that.

I'm not dismissing human nature, I'm properly defining it so that people understand the difference between what we can control and what we can't, nature vs. behavior. You can't do much about genetic defects or propensities or eye color as passed by parents to children, which is real human nature, but you can modify the living environment to help foster a positive and amazing life for people such that there is no need to steal, kill, or exhibit any other aberrant behaviors.

Human nature is very important, but far too many people "think" they know what it is, and unfortunately they're wrong. Most people suppose human nature to be fatalistic, as you mentioned. Ideas like, "Well, mankind is just aggressive and will always be that's human nature." Or, "Greed is natural," as if it's like breathing. Nonsense, and I don't just say things without being able to back it up with scientific study, so here's a lecture by an expert in the field that sites many other experts and studies in this field:

Another thing of serious note by a leading expert in the field:

"The conceit comes when one assumes (as you seem to do), that "technology" will "save us.""

-- Your assumption about me is incorrect. I wish you'd ask me instead of making assumptions. No, tech will not save us like that. Tech gives us the ability to save ourselves. Big difference. People starve around the world and many fight because of their desperate situation, yet we have the tech to build solar/wind powered self sustaining hydroponic farm facilities (10 story buildings) that can feed 200,000 people a wide variety of fruits and vegetables without any soil requirements. A one acre footprint would be the equivalent of 400 acres of farm land. One acre feeds around 500 people, and that's actually low balling it considering the tech used. And these systems could be made of the best materials so they last 20 years without need for maintenance, or at least very minimal maintenance. But of course, this would drive the big food industry out of business. Can't have that now, can we.

Proof of this:

So as you can see, right away we can eliminate a stress just with food. And stress leads to irrational and improper mental states, making people prone and susceptible to aberrant behaviors. Same goes for shelter, transport, communication, energy...especially energy which is the driver of all other things, etc. It's not that we can't relieve these stresses, it's that we don't.

And here you go throwing out the Utopian statement, which I knew would come. Another assumption you are projecting on me as if you know what I'm thinking, and I even mentioned this earlier. lol. Utopia is fantasy. There is no such thing as perfection. The only constant in the universe is change. What is possible is developing a system that is better suited and capable of utilizing that change, embracing that advancement (not restricting it), and properly evolving itself as things progress. It's not Utopian, it's just a better method that's adaptable for change.

I actually fully accept that people are more prone to peaceful pursuits and cooperation than they are of violence and selfishness. We would never have survived as a species if our neanderthal ancestors didn't work together for survival. For another example, the human being was not designed for war, because if it were, our veterans would not have so many mental and physical issues after returning from combat. We'd not be so traumatized by seeing death and destruction and we'd have little or no empathy. We're not designed like the fictitious Klingon's, who actually revel in violence. Quite the opposite, we suffer serious mental and physical hardships when exposed to or having to participate in violence.

However, we live in a system that promotes and glorifies selfishness, greed and aggression. When war is profitable, who the hell will stop it? I guarantee if the government conscripted companies to fund wars, and no profit was to be made from it, we'd rarely be in war and spend most our time actually bridging the differences in peaceful manners.

When the pharmaceutical industry actually profits off people being sick, who's to think they'd actually want to heal everyone?

When using money to make money off of others is glorified, why would people stop doing it?

When cutting corners and making the least common denominator products for the maximization of profit is standard practice, what stops people from continuing the practice?

So to recap, we can use our tech to better our world, better our living environment, better the natural environment, and live high standards of quality life, thereby enabling us to save ourselves from our self inflicted negative traits, but we need a better system to accomplish that, and the current system and its practices cannot do this.
rreilly656 wrote: Doug,

Thanks for your reply to my reply. We are not as far apart now, but still separated by matter of degree: I give more value to human nature, which is not just about genetic traits, but much deeper and more pervasive in how it affects human interactions, than you're willing to believe.

It's OK, because I also know you're not a utopian, and should have left those references out.

The other thing to note is we're not that far apart on the notion that technologies can have huge beneficial effects for humans, including on the individual level. We may only differ in that we come from different directions on how technology helps, or not.
AirSpaceMan wrote: Doug - I haven't seen you this exercized about something in quite a while! Who put the burr under your saddle?
Windbourne wrote: The burr was probably from me. Doug has total belief that we can solve these issues, and get all nations to work together. I do not believe that.

It is easy to solve the terrorists. They are typically a group of ppl that count on the majority of the population to look the otherway, while they push their way. They also count on hard times. If they did not have that, they could not recruit. Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. are PERFECT breeding grounds for these areas.

That really is why we MUST re-build these nations, and give them hope and a future. Without that, we can not solve it. BUT, terrorists also know that, and will work hard to block progress while blaming the other guy.

Totalitarian nations are a very different creature. The heads of North Korea, CHina, Burma, Iran, etc live MUCH better than their own nation does. They have a very different motivation. They are not into ease of living. They are into POWER. And there is not enough in the world to satisfy that desire for those kinds of ppl. Basically, no matter what we do, they will want more.

Doug is frustrated because ppl like myself support the military on this. BTW, doug, I agree with much of what you say. I have no issue with most. The thing is, that you try to apply logic to a situation that is not logical: the desire to seek power.
MasterSith wrote: rreilly656 - Quality discussion is always awesome to me. :)

I value human nature too, but I guess what matters is how we define it. As I mentioned, it's not just about genetics, but I think people put too much stock into the genetic part. It's more about environment than genetics, and science is proving that (nature via nurture, not versus nurture). They are complementary, not competitively exclusive. It's more like 90/10 or 80/20 in favor of environment over genetics as far as what molds our behavior.

We might actually be debating the wrong thing here. I'm more interested in human behavior than I am in human nature. How we interact with each other, the values we hold, are directly representative of the environment (culture) we live in. Better the environment and, by default, you better the people.

Not perfect, as you'll still have a small percentage that will be mentally unstable for no reason whatsoever, and it's hard to address that unless you adequately solve real mental illness (not fake illness like A.D.D. in 10 yr olds, when all they are is 10 and loaded with energetic boredom). lol.

"We may only differ in that we come from different directions on how technology helps, or not."

-- Very well, I would ask you then, in what ways do you see tech as being a benefit, or detriment? And a follow up, (hypothetical thought experiment) assume money is gone and there are no longer financial restrictions to what we can do, our collaboration, and our purpose. In what way then would you envision the role of tech?

AirSpaceMan - lol. The burr was placed when I woke up and realized that we are capable of so much good, but are doing so much wrong, and that it's not really the fault of the people, but the fault of the system under which the people are reared.

Our potential is being squandered by archaic principles that should have long since been allowed to go extinct.
MasterSith wrote: Windbourne - Ah, but I maintain that the desire to seek power is programmed into us, and cultivated by the very nature of the system we've created for ourselves. It's profitable (financially and otherwise) to be a power seeking selfish bastard. This is what we teach, this is what we cultivate. Change the system, change the outcome, change the value system from self to others because of abundance.

Before the 21st century...totally not possible. No instant global communication for the sharing of information, no means of highly efficient abundant production with zero human labor requirement for sustainability, no clean energy options, no method by which to supplant a monetary exchange system, etc. So for all time prior to the 21st century, that status quo made sense, and bred status quo thinking. But today...ah today...things are very, very fundamentally different.

The situation is logical, and can be fixed, because the problems are technical in nature. Technical problems warrant technical solutions, which are logical. From your statements, you see mankind as fated to be as it is, distraught and constantly defensive. I see mankind as stuck in that scenario by its own devices, so if you change the devices, you change mankind and its behavior toward itself.
AirSpaceMan wrote: Windbourne - Yup, that was the burr. I don't remember a time that MasterSith got this excited since Bill Wright would post about about perchlorates from the SRB's for the shuttle.

Talking about human nature will set all sorts of people in various directions.
MrcACrl wrote: I'm with the Sith on this one.
motie wrote: Have you noticed that as our weapons technology becomes more expensive and advanced, our success in war decreases? Where is the return on investment? Have you ever suspected that the big weapons contractors may exert undue influence over war policy? What other nation is stupid enough to spend millions on each "enemy" killed?

I'm amazed that some of you are still talking about "terrorism". Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden will never be defeated, because the US needs a bogeyman to justify its endless wars in central Asia. Do you think it's a coincidence that central Asia, including Iran, is the "center of gravity" for the world's oil and gas supplies, and major pipelines from/to Russia, China, and Europe? Have you ever wondered why Saudi Arabia is our "friend" even though most of the 9/11 suspects came from there, and Wahabi fundamentalism is based there, and Saudi Arabia exports its brand of religion all over the Muslim world? Have you ever wondered why the mainstream media never explores these issues in any depth, and almost never talks about the relationship between our wars and oil?

Our wars are dictated by our total addiction to fossil fuels. And I don't see a way out. Without fossil fuels, our industrialized western civilization, as well as Russia and China, collapses. Think about this: the third world supports a huge human population with almost no wealth and almost no artificial energy sources. When fossil fuels and uranium are gone (in roughly 50 years), the third world may have the right set of survival skills. That's assuming that the industrial world doesn't start the mother of all wars, and "cleanse" the planet with their nuclear-armed hypersonic playthings.

Think about this: the world's wealth is being concentrated in the Middle East, China and Russia. If the US continues to pursue its arms race (even though it is nearly broke), who will ultimately come out on top? Hint: follow the money, always follow the money.

All the information that you need to understand this is accessible via Google. Or read "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet", "Globalistan", or any of the many other books on the subject. Please note that I have not mentioned global warming. My argument is based solely on resource dependency.
MasterSith wrote: AirSpaceMan - Nope, I mentioned the cause of the burr already. :) It's not Windbourne, although he does spawn lively debate, but that's a good thing. :)

motie - "Our wars are dictated by our total addiction to fossil fuels. And I don't see a way out."

-- Under the current system, I completely agree. Change the system and you change the outcome significantly. This is what the Venus Project is trying to do, and it's not just about energy, but everything else as well.

Your notion regarding resources...natural ones, not artificial ones like right on. It has always been about resources. Sadly, people are blind to the fact that our current socioeconomic system is the destructor of resources in a linear fashion. Nature doesn't work that way, and no matter how technologically advanced we become, if we don't use that tech properly in accordance with natural law (the ultimate law) then we're dooming ourselves.

This is what the Resource Based Economy is all about. It's always been about resources, but throughout history, we've never had the tech to actually manage global resources effectively or efficiently for all the worlds people. Now we can. The paradigm has shifted so drastically that we can now not only manage the resources wisely for the whole human race, but also ensure that the whole human race lives amazing, high standards of life.

Billions of dollars spent on missiles, bombs and guns would be better served building solar/wind powered automated self sustaining hydroponic farm towers, 10 stories tall, that can feed 200,000 people a variety of fruits and vegetables, yet only take up 1 acre of land space to do it. You solve conflict by resolving the problems that cause the conflict, not by just spending money on more weapons. Yet our current system is predicated on the latter of those two, and it needs to go.

Whew, what a discussion. lol.

Come Sail Away

So JAXA's Ikaros, short for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun, is now gliding its way through our solar system.

This may be slow, but it's cool. And ya know, the idea of using this as a big power collector is good, because maybe it could power VASIMR rockets. :)

Who knows, but I love science, engineering, collecting new data and space. :) Beautiful combo package!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dark Matter Challenged?

Ah, little does my heart fonder than a good old scientific counter punch on a controversial topic. The article I'm referencing is here on And my comments are as follows:

Consider this: What if the premise (theory) by which all other measurements are made is in and of itself, wrong, and that other "ludicrous" ideas might actually have merit, but are ignored? Just something to chew on.

Anyway, a quote form the article interests me. "Yet other astronomers, particularly those who first analyzed the WMAP results, remain unconvinced."

Well of course they are. If they were convinced they were wrong, their funding would stop and they'd all have to find another gravy train to study on. As altruistic as I'd like scientists to be, money still drives the boat, especially in today's world, so you don't bite the hand that feeds you...or at least you allow that hand to blind you just enough to conflicting data that you hold steadfast to your position.

I'm not saying astrophysicist Tom Shanks of Durham University in England is right or wrong (although I personally can't stand this Dark Matter/Energy dogma), but I do like his position that he hopes future measurements of the microwave background radiation from new telescopes will help clear up the issue. At least he's not saying, "We're right. You're wrong."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

SpaceX Launch Afterthoughts

It's been a few days since SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 test. I didn't post anything on this immediately on purpose, just so I could see how the mass media would digest this, and follow the blogs, and see what people thought.

News: Small quick blip on their radar. Typical.

Blogs: Loaded with mine. Some informed, others not.

Reactions: Generally good. I guess all the SpaceX and Commercial Space haters went into hiding.

In summary, I wouldn't call this a victory, nor would I minimize the accomplishment. It was awesome! It was special, and it was vastly cheaper and better than the Ares-IX test launch. At least this went to orbit. There, I got my jab in. :)

Nevertheless, it's time to turn things around, check the data, do another launch, then ramp up for bigger and better things. All things considered, it was a good day for NewSpace and Government space, as one proved it's worth and the other probably gave a sigh of relief.

Now if we could just get the government to commit to a real plan with a serious deadline, like building a Moon Base in 10 years. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Student Probe Goes Kaput?!

Alright, so the story is pretty simple, but my 2 cents are thus: It's still pretty sweet that students are working on designing and launching real systems into space. More of this needs to happen, especially probes to other planets, whether they're landers or orbital platforms doesn't matter. The point is getting young minds actively involved, building things, doing things, and contributing to science.

As noted in this article, this student built system piggybacked on an existing mission, so it's not like there was major expense or infrastructure needed to make it happen. I'd like to see things like this launch on every rocket we send into space. The more we have out there, the more we learn.