Mail 742 Thursday, September 20, 2012
I can’t believe you haven’t commented on this. I had read about this concept before, but was completely bummed out by the energy requirements – with the realization that it might be possible to reduce them.
I remember when I was a teenager, and the internet was "National Geographic." I used to pore over every delivery to my dad’s house. I especially loved the space issues. There was one on the expansion of the universe, that as a 15 year old didn’t make sense – the way they described the expansion of the universe exceeded the speed of light! I wrote a letter, and got back a very nice explanation from the author of the magazine article, who explained that space itself was expanding faster than light, and that was allowed under Einstein’s theory. It wasn’t until I took relativistic physics in college that I understood the concept fully.
Of course, I went on to do plain jane engineering, fully resigned to the concept that interstellar travel was for kids. Yeah, when I first heard about it, the Alcubierre warp drive seemed cool, but it was something that I would never see.
But now I am actually excited. Now this is something they should be putting money into. To hell with the God particle. Make this happen and set us all free!
Reading it made me feel sixteen again…
All the best to you and yours,
I have been waiting for more information. Yes, it’s exciting. But then I have always thought that there was a way around that absolute speed limit. Thinking doesn’t make something so, of course.
link from realclearscience.com
Warp Drive May Be Possible, Scientists Say <http://www.space.com/17628-warp-drive-possible-interstellar-spaceflight.html> – Clara Moskowitz, Space.com
Gamma quadrant here we come.
Michael Montgomery, MD
We can hope so.
" concept for a real-life warp drive was suggested in 1994 by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre; however, subsequent calculations found that such a device would require prohibitive amounts of energy.
Now physicists say that adjustments can be made to the proposed warp drive that would enable it to run on significantly less energy, potentially bringing the idea back from the realm of science fiction into science.
But recently White calculated what would happen if the shape of the ring encircling the spacecraft was adjusted into more of a rounded donut, as opposed to a flat ring. He found in that case, the warp drive could be powered by a mass about the size of a spacecraft like the Voyager 1 probe NASA launched in 1977.
Furthermore, if the intensity of the space warps can be oscillated over time, the energy required is reduced even more, White found.
"The findings I presented today change it from impractical to plausible and worth further investigation," White told SPACE.com. "The additional energy reduction realized by oscillating the bubble intensity is an interesting conjecture that we will enjoy looking at in the lab."
White and his colleagues have begun experimenting with a mini version of the warp drive <http://www.space.com/9882-warp-drives-wormholes.html> in their laboratory.
They set up what they call the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer at the Johnson Space Center, essentially creating a laser interferometer that instigates micro versions of space-time warps.
"We’re trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million," White said.
He called the project a "humble experiment" compared to what would be needed for a real warp drive, but said it represents a promising first step."
Here’s hoping it isn’t a hoax. Perhaps we will go to the stars with an Alcubierre drive instead of an Alderson drive? Whichever, they both work for me .
Jerry, the last I’d heard, they were thinking that warping space would require several solar masses’ worth of energy to warp space to any appreciable extent, but it seems they think there might be a loophole?
I can find little hard data or much about the people who believe in this. I hope they’re right of course.
‘Arav’s theory is the first such claim that excarnation was practiced in the Holy Land in that era.’
Needless to say, the Chinese would dispute any claims they were behind in science in the Classical era. Anyway there have been many periods in which civilizations have fallen behind and then retaken the lead. These periods seem to me to have little to do with essential linguistic or cultural qualities and are more often contingent on historical events. Need one mention the European dark ages, or the Arab and Persian renaissance during the same period in which Byzantine advances came to a halt while the Irish were the leading custodians of learning in the West? The rise and fall of Athens and then Alexandria as centers of learning seems likewise to be based not so much on language as on accidents of history.
Also you quoted De Camp to say the "classical form of the language" which is not actually the one that is written or spoken anymore. Needless to say Chinese has an enormous number of multi-character words that are not mere adoptions of foreign terms. For many clusters of words with similar denotations, you will find there are a group of related terms which often share a particular character; that might perhaps have been the single character word from the classical literary form of the language, but in actual usage, the multi-character words are used to avoid ambiguity.
I don’t think that attempts to relate linguistic forms to ethos or history are very effective as a rule. You might as well say that Japanese favors what we would call "passive" constructions and that explains their historical pacifism — not.
For most of the history of China as we know it, language scholarship took up a large part of the scholar’s education. The civil service exams were based largely on linguistic abilities. I wopuld be astonished if the comparative lack of words in the language did not have an effect on culture. I have no idea how much.
The Chinese have adopted a lot of Western words, and they increasingly use online shorthand symbology.
Also note that classical written Mandarin is on the decline in favor of simplified Chinese <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplified_chinese>. In fact, the only place you can really go these days to learn reading and writing in classical Mandarin is Taiwan.
Which, of course, has been true since the Great Cultural Revolution. Japan greatly expanded the number of words gthat could be written in the phonetic (syllabic) character set. I don’t know what China did about that. Compound words in spoken language is much easier than making compound words in a an ideographic language, and of course learning to read ideographs is much harder and more time consuming than learning to read a phonetic language.
What do we mean by energy independence anyway?
Jerry you write:
"In particular it is far better to invest in developing American resources than to fight wars overseas; it is better to invest in developing North American resources than to fight wars overseas. We are a maritime nation and we need a Navy, but we must not be dependent on overseas commerce for survival. Once again, it is better to invest in resources close at hand an under our control than to engage in foreign interventions."
What is our concern about Middle-Eastern oil? Are we expecting that oil producing nations there will stop selling it to someone in the industrialized world, thereby cutting off their supply of cash to buy laptops and drill bits? If for some reason this oil does become unavailable, the price on the world market will go up, and US oil users will pay more, whether or not their oil comes from the United States.
Suppose the US does manage to develop enough energy resources that can meet the entire demand with domestic sources, are we saying that the US would not allow the businesses that extract it to sell to foreign buyers (I believe Bill O’Reilly has suggested something similar)?
I’m not familiar with defense procurement, but is the US really able to build all of its high-tech military hardware without purchasing some materials and components over seas?
Presumably one tries to insulate against this as much as possible by maintaining stockpiles of critical materials sufficient for military purposes, and by not selling part of the stockpile at times of high prices to assuage voter frustration.
I would guess that foreign oil doesn’t represent as much of a security threat as the possibility of foreign powers introducing trap-doors into high-end semi-conductors used in weapon and communication systems. Perhaps the US should subsidize domestic semi-conductor fabs.
What I mean by energy independence is that we don’t have to send the Marine to protect the energy sources, and we don’t have to maintain very large armed forces to assure our energy supply.
The first news story I read today made me laugh pretty hard:
Old Glory strikes back.
In an apparent case of red, white and blue revenge, a Pakistani protester died yesterday after inhaling smoke from a burning American flag during an anti-US rally.
We can only hope this has some wheels turning over at CIA. =)
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Regarding your View at http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/?p=9602
I don’t disagree that we should be as independent as possible on energy production and strategic manufacturing (including all military electronics, but as the commercial shops moves overseas so did most military electronics and other critical manufacturing, much to our present regret). As far as commercial electronics, I don’t care where they’re made except I would prefer the jobs here, and I note that a lot more of them would be here if we had the regulatory environment that the Founders envisioned (no income taxes, no concept of environmental regulation, and most federal income from import duties and excises). No onerous environmental regulation (which is not the same as NO environmental regulation, but we should have tread very carefully after the rivers stopped burning; and it’s ludicrous to limit coal power plants to less than 50 tons per year of mercury emissions nationwide while mandating mercury-containing compact fluorescents in the home – though the Sierra Club says that’s a net decrease of mercury emission into the environment (http://sierraclub.typepad.com/mrgreen/2011/07/mercury-in-fluorescent-bulbs-how-much-and-how-to-clean-up.html) it concentrates the released mercury in the home.
However, I don’t think it’s possible to disengage from the world, or even the Middle East, that thoroughly these days.
Consider Israel. One could argue (I note, but do not make, this argument), with 20/20 hindsight, that the US and Britain supporting the reformation of Israel in 1948 was a mistake. However, NOT supporting Israel, breaking those promises, is tantamount to abandoning her people to a repeat of the Holocaust. This time, our souls would be just as tainted by that failure as the Nazi’s were. And even if we were to stop using Middle Eastern oil – and abandon Israel – it would not be sufficient to appease the resurgent Islamofascists (amusingly, my spell checker wanted to spell that sadomasochists). In particular, I believe that leaving a resurgent Taliban in power in Afghanistan, independently of all other considerations (and there are many) just means that we’re going to have another domestic 9/11 in a a few years. Abandoning Israel would also not leave us immune to the Iranian bomb. (And yes, I believe that we need domestic missile defense protection on a scale not heretofore envisioned, and absolute border control and inspection to stoop surface entry of WMDs. Full disclosure, I’ve devoted most of my career to those two objectives).
There are two likely consequences of a broad pullback from the Middle East – a resurgent Caliphate, or a Middle East firmly under control of China and supplying them with oil under near slave labor conditions. Neither consequence would be beneficial to the US in the long term.
We did not need to stay for years in order to avoid leaving the Taliban in charge. They were out in weeks after we enabled the Northern Alliance. Then we decided to make a centralized state out of tribal Afghanistan and to let the Mayor of Kabul’s writ run through the high country and the passes. This would not be cheaply done. In fact it was not done at all.
As to energy independence I will continue to assert that if the $Trillion or more poured into the Iraqi sands and the Afghan mountains had been spent on development of US resources including building nuclear power plants, we probably could have afforded the wars. Or if we had simply taken the Iraqi oil we might have been able to afford Afghanistan. But we are not good at empire.
Incompetent Empire is not a good foreign policy. Nation building in Pakistan and Iraq and Afghanistan is expensive at best and requires more skills and stamina than we are likely to have.
It is hard to see what we have gained from those long and expensive wars. It is not hard to see what we might have gained from a national TVA project.
Out of the Balkans
I don’t think America has so much successfully got out of the Balkans as that there is no shooting currently going on there.
Camp Bondsteel, with facilities for 7,000, is a sizable military base in Kosovo, a territory to which Yugoslavia still has nearly as good a claim as the US has to the Alamo. Bosnia remains not so much a state as a genocidal war frozen in place, requiring endless western subsidy, at least for the Moslem zone.
Basically it all depends on the Serbs not being prone to the sort of loony attacks the Arabs engage in (or indeed that happened there in 1914).
And behind the Serbs are the Pan-Slavic Russians. We had no business in the Balkans and we still have no reason to have troops there. It is involvement in the territorial disputes of Europe. There is no gain in it for the people of the United States.
NASA study: The Economic Impacts of the U.S. Space Program
Turns out it was a good investment. I worry about anyone who is surprised by this fact.
No surprises there
Saw this and thought of "Oath of Fealty"
Thought you might find this interesting:
Bruce F. Webster
“The entire arsenal was built with less computational power than what’s inside an iPhone.”
"Animial" may not be exactly accurate, but still very interesting.
Survive in space indeed…
Subj: Time to re-read James Burnham’s _Suicide of the West_, alas!
>>Burnham’s thesis is straightforward. "Liberalism," he writes, "is the
>>ideology of western suicide. When once this initial and final sentence
>>is understood, everything about liberalism-the beliefs, emotions and
>>values associated with it, the nature of its enchantment, its
>>practical record, its future-falls into place. Implicitly, all of this
>>book is merely an amplification of this sentence." That is not to say,
>>Burnham adds, that liberalism is "’the cause’" of the contraction and
>>probable death of Western civilization. ("The cause or causes have
>>something to do, I think, with the decay of religion and with an
>>excess of material luxury; and, I suppose, with getting tired, and
>>worn out, as all things temporal do.") Rather, "liberalism has come to
>>be the typical verbal systematization of the process of Western
>>contraction and withdrawal; liberalism motivates and justifies the
>>contraction, and reconciles us to it." Liberalism’s hold, furthermore,
>>on public opinion and policy makes it ext
remely difficult for the Western nations to invent-and even to imagine-a strategy equal to the challenge to its existence by which the West is presently confronted.<<
I also remember Burnham describing liberalism as functioning as an _anesthetic_, desensitizing the West to the pain of its decline and eventual demise.
It is no secret that I have long been a Burnham fan.
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.
Gingrich: ‘It is inconceivable that there just happened to be attacks in Egypt and Libya on Sept. 11.’
Which is to state the obvious. In Libya they brought crew served weapons to a demonstration
US consulate in Benghazi ‘did not have enough security’
"But sources have told the BBC that on the advice of a US diplomatic regional security officer, the mission in Benghazi was not given the full contract despite lobbying by private contractors."
At best, criminal negligence. The British decided the city was too hot for a consulate and pulled their out months ago, there have been attacks since. The country was recently in civil war. The region supplies many jihadis to the war against the forces of civilization.
Frankly, I’d have planned on evacuating the personnel to the actual Embassy for the whole calendar week of 9/11 and most other holidays with patriotic or religious significance.
Rioting and demonstrations extend from Morocco to Bangledesh, including London. Best case, the other targets are alert enough that the attacks which are likely ready now get cancelled or delayed until after the main body of useful idiots get bored again.
Economy in trouble
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I was recently in the Rockville Barnes & Noble and saw a great crowd of people on the second floor surrounding a guy with glasses at a desk. I snapped a blackberry photo of it.
I asked if it was a book signing. I was told that, no, these were job interviews. All of these people — some 20 or 30 by my count — are here for one purpose: to get a minimum wage job as a bookstore clerk.
The person I spoke to pointed at the first floor of the bookstore.
He said it had been like this all day. Few shoppers, but lots of people desperate for a minimum wage job.
The economy is in real trouble and needs fixing. Unfortunately, it is looking increasingly as if, barring an unforeseen miracle, we will have to do so in spite of the administration and not look for any help from the government.
Comment is not really needed.
Was Pournelle prescient? – ProfessorBainbridge.com
This is precisely why the US was founded as a Republic and should have remained a Republic.
Most of Obama’s constituents are precisely the people who never should have been allowed to vote.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.