CHAOS MANOR MAIL
Mail 153 May 14 - 20, 2001
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May 14, 2001
Roland sends this as a take on Microsoft policy:
Hello Dr Pournelle,
Sorry if I am the 1,000,000th to inform you, but see this article titled " Microsoft Acknowledges Secret Code In Software" (secret code = dumbed down newsspeak for backdoor, I presume).
There is a backdoor in IIS with FrontPage98 extensions. Now, your site is running Apache, but some of your readers might not be so lucky.
--Fred Mora - fred at engineer com (Antispam address in use - hang the spammers!)
Good luck on hanging spammers. You are kinder than I feel just now. I had not seen this.
I am disappointed that it will take so long to get them; I would have liked to see them in my lifetime.
These time predictions have a nasty habit of sliding. I think fusion has been 40 years away from commercial use for the last 40 years. I know fuel cells have been 5 years away since I was in grad school.I notice fuel cells (air variety) are actually arriving now as the power source for some mobile phones (replacing the battery).
Norm Augustine said in his XXIIIrd Law that "Any task can be completed in only one-third more time than is currently estimated."
jim dodd San Diego
Actually, give me some money and get out of the way and I can have it done in ten years. But that won't happen.
Now, continued from last week:
I've done a little research now. The Nuclear Energy Institute has a lot of good information at www.nei.org including the following:
The Archaeological Record Nature also provides compelling evidence that high-level waste can be contained geologically for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of years. One of the best examples of nature's ability to safely isolate radioactive elements over millions of years is provided by the natural nuclear reactors discovered in 1972 at the Oklo uranium mine in the West African republic of Gabon. This deposit of ore, which contained from 10 percent to 60 percent uranium, constituted a natural nuclear reactor. Millions of years ago, it began a self-sustaining chain reaction. Like all reactors, this one created its own high-level waste-12,000 pounds of used fuel. The Oklo chain reaction occurred intermittently for more than 500,000 years. Despite its location in a wet, tropical climate, Oklo's uranium deposit and high-level waste have remained securely locked in this natural repository for the past 200 million years. Many of the waste products stayed where they were created or moved only a few inches before decaying into harmless products.
I thought I found information that disputed your assertion on the amount of waste generated; however when I reread your text, I found I had missed the "per person" portion. What can I say but that at 4am, my mind feels fully functional but isn't. What I found most interesting is that the fuel is recyclable. It just isn't. Carter ordered that the fuel not be recycled -- I didn't understand why! Reagan lifted the ban but recycling is not in our national policy.
So far, I have been unable to find information that confirms or refutes your assertion on how long the stuff is really dangerous. I hope it is 600 years. If we assume that the US will last as long as the Roman Empire then 600 years is within the time frame we can safe guard the repository.
I apologize for not doing the research yesterday morning like I should
Followed quickly by:
I feel even more foolish now. I found some French information on some successes in transmuting the long lived elements into elements with shorter half-lives. In particular Another class of radioactive wastes that can be transmuted into less hazardous forms are the actinide elements, particularly the isotopes of plutonium, neptunium, americium, and curium. When irradiated with neutrons in a nuclear reactor, these isotopes can be made to undergo nuclear fission, destroying the original actinide isotope and producing a spectrum of radioactive and nonradioactive fission products. Isotopes of plutonium and other actinides tend to be long-lived with half-lives of many thousands of years, whereas radioactive fission products tend to be shorter-lived (most with half-lives of 30 years or less).
One particularly challenging partitioning task involves the actinide and lanthanide (rare earth) elements. Actinide and lanthanide elements are chemically similar and, thus, very difficult to separate efficiently. Most lanthanide isotopes are nonradioactive, and the few radioactive lanthanide isotopes are long-lived, so there is little incentive to invest neutrons in transforming them into stable elements. However, lanthanide elements tend to absorb neutrons efficiently (they are so-called neutron poisons) and will prevent the efficient transmutation of americium and curium if they are intermixed. Improved methods of separating lanthanides from actinides are needed to reach the goal of actinide transmutation.
One of these days I will learn never to underestimate an engineer. Doing the math, starting with 1 ton last year 2000/2000 -- 1000/2030 -- 500/2060 -- 250/2090 -- 125/2120 -- 52/2150 Your 600 years doesn't seem unlikely anymore.
---------- From: Jerry Pournelle Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2001 12:37 PM To: Gregory W. Brewer Subject: RE: nuclear power - the debate continues
Is it possible that before you send very long exhortations it might be worth while to find out some of what is going on?
But perhaps not; that appears to be the modern way.
Ortega y Gasset understood this thoroughly.
Subject: Someone seems to be listening to you:
Looking at the vague ideas put forth by our Rumsfeld here: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/space/20010509/sc/funding_prospects_for_pentagon_space_programs_still_unclear_1.html
it would appear that the military is going to be able to send their troops into space, between when combined with what the nasa chief said here : http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010508/sc/space_mars_dc_3.html
Hopefully we can bring back the manufacturing jobs and technology to make this happen. The military is a great source of the young bucks that we would need to build in space, and I for one would love to see that happen.
I can hope someone is listening, but it's not certain... I have readers in surprising places, though.
|This week:||Tuesday, May
Interesting problem I'm hoping one of your readers can solve. I'm about to start wearing hearing aids. Now, I've known this was coming for some years, so I'm not surprised. However, it presents a problem for a cardiologist. If I've got hearing aids in, I can't put a stethoscope into my ears without removing the aids. Minor detail if one does it once a day, but I put the scope into my ears up to 40 times some days. There are several companies that make stethoscopes which are electronic and allow one to plug headphones into the amp...problem solved...except the quality of the few I've tried is horrible. HP makes a fantastic device called the Stethos. Except they don't seem to have any ability to hook headphones to the scope. Email to HP has gone unanswered.
My requests, then. Do any of your readers know of anyone making a high quality stethoscope (call it cardiology quality) that allows one to hook headphones to it? Does anyone know someone I can talk to at HP? The ideal solution would be an induction coil which would allow the hearing aids to pick up the signal from the stethoscope without any earphones at all, but I suspect it would be too noisy in a hospital environment. Any of your readers care to comment.
I've spent hours looking for solutions on the net without any success. The odd thing is that I can hear heart tones just fine without hearing aids as the frequency is low enough.
Appreciate the help in advance and free cardiology advice given to any who respond! (grin)
Mark Huth firstname.lastname@example.org
The moral arc of history is long indeed, but it always bends toward justice. MLK
I used to know something about electronic stethoscopes but that was long ago; I thought they made one good one with decent quality. But I don't remember whose it was.
This following was said in STEP FARTHER OUT but it harms not to repeat it.
Re: Decay of nuclear waste
It's a mistake to analyze the decay of spent nuclear fuel using an exponential decay curve. This is because fission products, including spent fuel, comprise a mixture of nuclides, all with different half-lives.
According to _The Effects of Nuclear Weapons_, fission products, as a collection, decay according to the formula, I[t] = I^(-1.2t). I[t] = intensity at time t, with t measured in hours. The book itself has a graph showing the decay curve, and when plotted on log-log paper, it stays pretty close to a straight line, with the only exception being a "knee" at about six months out, where the slope suddenly changes from -1.2 to -2.3.
The net result is that, after about 600 years, spent fuel is about as radioactive as the original ore, and after that, of course, it's less. From the pont of view of those who fear radiation, this puts us ahead of the game.
The bottom line is that it's a non-problem and the nonsense about radioactive for thousands of years is mendacious: most of those saying it know better.
May 17, 2001
E3 and elsewhere
Roland send this with the subject "Beria Wept."
Am I allowed to say what my favorite Pournelle book is? No?
Well then, ONE of my favorite Pournelle-edited books is "Can Freedom Survive", published lo these many years ago. The book included the short story "Lipidleggin", which re-emerged today on the freemarket network:
"In 1978, libertarian science fiction author F. Paul Wilson wrote a short story called "Lipidleggin'". In the story, a government agent sent out to arrest dealers of fatty foods is undone by his secret weakness for real, creamy, fresh butter.
"Wilson meant the story as a satire and as a warning. Now, in 2001, interest groups are pressuring the federal government to impose a "Twinkie tax," a surcharge on fatty foods meant to twist your arm, so you'll eat more food they consider healthy. Little did people 23 years ago imagine that fact would come to imitate fiction so closely.
"Defy the nanny state -- eat Twinkies!
"For our drawing this month, the Guest Choice Network will give one of you 500 Twinkies, so you -- and perhaps everyone you know -- can do just that. As Dave Barry says: I'm not making this up."
Dear Dr. Pournelle,
I hesitate to write because I am very much in awe of you and your experience. I have read your column for more than 10 years, I depend upon it like a vitamin of common sense. Even if you do those things so that I don't have too, I can still appreciate your efforts.
My mind is like a bookshelf: Each new memory or factoid causes an old one to fall off the other end.
Now to my point. About your broadband access - I know this is obvious, and the decision tree may be very short, but have you considered moving to a location where broadband is available?
Just a thought. My wife wouldn't move either. But on the off chance that it is a viable option for you, I thought you should at least consider it.
Can't wait for Monday to read another column. Keep them coming, please!
Rodney J. Wittler, Ph.D. Hydraulic Engineer US Bureau of Reclamation
That would be a bit drastic. After more than 30 years in the same house I don't think I CAN move. Besides, I have 50 square miles of park a block away, Studio City village to walk to for coffee, and the LA Opera a half hour away in rush hours. I don't think even broadband is worth giving all that up for. But thanks for the suggestion.
Jerry, the cardiologist should find an Audiologist colleague who dispenses hearing aides from Starkey Labs of Eden Prairie, MN.
Starkey has long been in for forefront of customized electronic hearing aides and may well have an in-the-ear solution for him that may allow use of a conventional stethoscope.
It's been a while since I followed their product line and research, but in the past Starkey has also worked on unconventional solutions including electronic stethoscopes. But I believe that an in-the-ear solution may be 'what the doctor ordered".
I'm not affiliated with Starkey in any way, shape or form, just have some familiarity with their products and research.
PS, any thoughts on the following:
a) a new administrator for NASA b) a new FBI director
The only person I think of for Administrator of NASA has turned it down. The other would be me and I'd turn it down too. I don't know anyone to recommend for FBI director.
InQuest wrote an article that said, among other things, that the Pentium 4 gets so hot it goes into a half-speed slowdown as a safety feature. They speculated that this could impact performance for the P4.
I was mostly annoyed that Intel has been touting the average-case heat dissipation rather than the worst-case, making the P4 look better than the Athlon when it isn't. I figured that people would just cool the P4 adequately and it would never slow down.
Here is a follow-up to that article, in which they find that the P4 does indeed slow down. And if you work the chip hard enough, *no* heatsink can prevent a slowdown, due to a really hot spot on the chip that cannot shed heat fast enough. Check out the graph that shows the P4 at 1.4 GHz running benchmarks faster than the P4 at 1.7 GHz, because at the 1.7 speed the P4 overheats and forces a slowdown for cooling and at 1.4 it does not.
This article also discusses how the Palomino was specifically designed to run cool: it seems that it is 20% cooler than current Athlons at equivalent clock rates.
They also extrapolate the heat dissipation of the P4 at 2 GHz: about 110 Watts! Intel had better get the die shrink to .13 done quickly. The .13 chip with 2.2 GHz speed should be a huge improvement over the current P4.
-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est" email@example.com http://www.blarg.net/~steveha
Fascinating. Anyone else know much about this?
Work and hiking and I took a day off.