Chaos Manor View, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
“This is the most transparent administration in history.”
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
If current rate of improvement continues, I should be up to working by Saturday.
Roberta has finished the antibiotics for pneumonia, but hasn’t recovered any strength. It’s not likely I had pneumonia, but I might as well have; I still do a lot of mouth breathing. But Sudafed and Tylenol have got me through even though I haven’t done any work. Recovering is slow. So that’s where we are.
There’s a lot going on, and I think my head works all right, but mit die energy es ist nicht. And my typing is clumsier than usual. Spell checking and autocorrect keep me from looking like a complete idiot – or am I not allowed to use that word any more? I get confused.
I have not done much with my stories, and I am deep into inequality, productivity, and IQ ,but I don’t trust myself to write the essay in my present condition.
But the good news is that the symptoms are all going in the right direction.
State of the Union tonight. We’ll get lots of Hope and Change. I can’t wait.
Perhaps of interest
And perhaps not. I have had no time to chase it down.
The subject of Cherenkov Radiation, which is caused when charged particles are going faster than the media speed of light, came up in an online conversation about something else. The first comment is from a TVA engineer (retired).
With regard to Cherenkov Radiation, I got to observe it once at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant in the Unit 1 containment during a refuel cycle. We had the head off the vessel and it was under 20 or 30 feet of water. I was kind of neat, but it took so long to dress out and go through radiation procedures I decided once was enough to witness this type of Radiation.
Really? I got to see it in high school when we toured a reactor plant. They took us though the…I guess you’d call it the “back room” where they had the spent rods stored in a “swimming pool” and you could see the Cerenkov radiation around the spent rods. But we didn’t have to do anything special.
Makes me wonder if we all got irradiated. Supposedly we were told it was safe because the rods were SPENT. We were NOT allowed in the main reactor room even though that particular reactor was down for maintenance. I dunno.
Cerenkov blue is my favorite color. It’s also where I got Skye Chadwick’s reaction in the Displaced Detective books.
(BTW for those not in nuclear stuff, there are two ways to spell the name. Americanized with ordinary letters is “Cherenkov.” European, especially if you have a C with the little caret in your font, is “Čerenkov.” I tend to swap up.)
I saw Cherenkov radiation in the storage pools in San Onofre; I was there as a journalist on assignment working on an energy story for American Legion magazine, and I got my friend Congressman Craig Hosmer to get me a VIP tour of the reactor and power plant. I had to wear a radiation detector badge — a square of film sealed in dark plastic so no light contamination, If it developed dark I’d have been overexposed. But other than a hard hat I don’t recall any other protective clothing. I suspect that TVA was a lot more cautious with employees? Obviously the tour did not include the containment where the reactors were; these pools held only spent rods. We went back to the control room after going through the plant. The article, from the 70’s, is probably archived somewhere on line. America’s Looming Power Shortage. I’m not up to searching for it, but I’d bet it’s out there. Half the words I type need correcting, and I just got up from a nap.
I am so looking forward to operational railguns…
While the U.S. Navy had announced last year that it would take a prototype railgun to sea onboard the expeditionary fast transport USNS Trenton (JHSV-5) in 2016, the service may have to scupper those plans.
If the Navy does take the railgun out to sea on a fast transport, it will be in 2017 at the earliest. In lieu of testing the prototype rail gun in an at-sea environment, the Navy might instead proceed directly to developing an operational weapon system.
WOW signal likely explained
“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
One fewer mystery to worry about.
“Even though it’s not me that’s the yellow guy, your officers are going to treat whoever comes out of that house in his boxer shorts as the yellow guy.”
Strange New State of Hydrogen Created
“Until now, a scientific advance like this was a dream of science fiction, but it could open up many new applications tomorrow.”
Politics and not just money
The Missouri legislature is considering additional reporting requirements for lobbyists:
Puns are committed in the comments.
Good health to you and yours, because ’tis the season to be snotty,
Russia’s anti-satellite program.
China comments that David Couvillon forwarded
The comments about China that David Couvillon forwarded aren’t quite accurate. It is not in fact the case that “China has not, ever since the Mongols in the 13th century attempted to invade Vietnam, has China attempted to invade or attack any country in Asia”. Even if we discount the Chinese 20th century invasion of Tibet and 19th century invasion of Sinkiang and Eastern Turkestan (Kashgaria) on the grounds that those were merely rebellious parts of China (which their inhabitants would dispute), we would similarly have to discount the Chinese 18th century invasion of Burma (Myanmar) – even though that invasion failed and so the facts on the ground today can’t be squared with the Chinese claims.
There is also “Historically, Korea has been one kingdom, one country”. Well … it depends how deep we are looking into these things, and in that part of the world deep history matters. Historically, Korea was once three kingdoms, one of which overcame and absorbed the rest – but there is some evidence, not altogether persuasive, that Japan’s ethnicity, culture, language and/or system of rule derived from one of the others, at least in part, which if true would make current relations and interactions between Japan and Korea stem all the way back to that deep history.
Thoughts on the Korean bomb
Hi Dr. Pournelle,
COL-R Couvillon’s correspondent, Dr. Samuel Kupper, may be a very good source for the purpose of understanding Chinese culture. However, he seems to have some difficulty with facts. There were a number of… shall we say interesting representations… in his thoughts on the Korean bomb. However, I just couldn’t let the following whopper go without comment:
“China has not, ever since the Mongols in the 13th century attempted to invade Vietnam, has China[sic] attempted to invade or attack any country in Asia.”
Tibet, 1959? India, 1962? Vietnam, 1979? The same China which regularly threatens to annex areas which are the internationally-recognized territory of neighboring nations?
“In the United States, we have forgotten. We have never taught the real history of what happened. We have not taught Corregidor, the Bataan Death March, or the use of chemical and biological weapons against captured Americans.”
Dr. Kupper must have attended, and sent his children to, some very poor schools indeed. I don’t think there’s many Americans that have never heard of the Bataan Death March, or at least have some vague idea that the Japanese committed atrocities. Netflix seems to be full of historical documentaries about them. Perhaps that does not have as great an impact on present-day U.S. policy as the government of China would like, but that’s not the same thing.
In short, Dr. Kupper for the most part appears to be simply regurgitating PRC propaganda, not setting forth an honest evaluation of the situation in Asia.
I’m in no condition to comment on either comment, but I have met few school children who knew of the Bataan Death March
Of course the documents exist, but in California, at least, it would be racist and jingoist to talk about Corregidor and Bataan. We do teach about the US internment camps. I can practically guarantee that Japanese and Korean children en masse know about comfort women, but have never heard of the subject being discussed in schools.
Castle Bravo went wrong because the fusion fuel was a mixture of lithium 6 and lithium 7. The designers considered only the lithium 6 to be active in the fusion process and hence calculated a yield around 5MT. What was not understood by the designers was that, under the conditions of the detonation, the lithium 7 was rapidly converted to lithium 6, which quite obligingly fused, too, sending the yield to around 15MT. As you said, not a healthy outcome for the testers.
There was lot of nuclear physics that was not well understood in those days, but a lot was learned VERY quickly…
Castle Bravo was the nuclear test of a hydrogen bomb. It produced far more fallout than expected, and was expected to yield 6 megatons; it actually yielded far more. The Fortunate Dragon, a Japanese fishing boat, was hit by fallout and a crewman was killed. Fallout rained on many other islands. This was March, 1954.
I would suggest that people exercise some caution in analyzing the alleged NK Nuke test based on early US nuclear weapons developments.
Traditionally, US nukes are manufactured using either enriched Uranium-235 or Pu-239 as fissile material. Uranium was enriched using the gaseous diffusion process and high purity Plutonium was bred in special reactors where unenriched Uranium was irradiated for only a few weeks to limit the concentration of undesirable isotopes such as Pu-238 which is hundreds of times more radioactive than Pu-239. More problematic are excessive concentrations of Pu-240 and heavier isotopes which undergo spontaneous fission. At too high a concentration, the neutron flux produced by these isotopes causes the release of significant fission energy before the fissile core can be compressed into a critical mass. Even with bomb grade Plutonium, the neutron flux is high enough to require the more sophisticated implosion design rather than the simpler gun assembly that can be used with Uranium bombs.
Much of the consternation over North Korea’s nuclear program has been inspired by their reprocessing of spent fuel rods from their nuclear reactors. One is tempted to suggest that this concern is excessive because the Plutonium in spent nuclear fuel has very high concentrations of Pu-238 as well as Pu-240 and heavier isotopes. The one successful test by US weapons labs of a device using reactor waste grade Plutonium was reputed to have been very low yield and required a device the mass and volume of a railroad locomotive. However; given the proliferation of gas centrifuge technology which was perfected by Pakistan then aggressively marketed to rogue regimes such as Iran and Libya by A Q Kahn, it is plausible that North Korea might be employing gas centrifuges to enrich Pu-239.
Consider the physics. While the mass differential between Pu-239 and the most critical undesirable isotopes is smaller than the mass differential between U-235 and U-238, the level of enrichment that is required is much smaller. A two or three level cascade of centrifuges should suffice to produce super pure Pu-239 which US nuclear weapons designers can only dream of. Given the fact that Pu-239 has a much higher fission cross section for prompt neutrons than Uranium-235, it would be possible to construct much smaller, much lower yield devices using the simpler gun assembly design. While not quite as compact as the devices that could be constructed from certain Californium isotopes, such Plutonium devices would be an impressive advance in nuclear weapons technology.
While NK might be claiming credit for a natural earthquake, I would not ignore the possibility that they have tested a device that utilizes super pure Pu-239 in a gun assembly device that can in turn be used to initiate a fusion bomb. Since the yield of fusion weapons can be increased almost arbitrarily high levels simply by enlarging the assembly of Lithium-Deuteride fusion fuel, it is possible to confirm the function of the weapon by testing the fission trigger in combination with a low yield fusion component.
The bottom line is that it is quite possible that NK just tested a nuclear device that has such a low yield because it is in some respects more advanced than US weapons.
Only $299 to become a wirehead.
Send for ARM…
‘Trained as Marxist-Leninists, China’s leaders should know that the contradictions within their confused system of state-controlled capitalism are heightening, well beyond their capabilities to control.’
I do not think Marxist economics is a required belief in China today. They are pragmatists of the first order, I would think.
The Bacteria That May Be Causing Your Nasty Cold:
“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
I just want it to go away.
Microwave Thermal Rockets.
Wait, I thought the science was settled . . . ?
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.