Warp Drives;Data vs. Big Science; Piracy; The Big Rain on Venus

Chaos Manor Mail Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I have many things to do, so this will be mail. I will try to deal with issues in a View. Got to run…


From my physicist friend:


Regarding the article http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/04/28/nasa-may-have-invented-a-warp-drive and linked science blog posted today:

1.  One person on the blog makes the point: nobody knows for sure what is happening, so talking about warp drives is a bit premature.

2.  Other than that, most of the posts are technobabble that might do credit to a Star Trek episode but not to real scientific discourse.


But I suppose there’s hope:

: NASA Warp Drive

Eh. This has been going viral on Facebook. I’ve answered a lotta questions from non-tech types. So what I’m saying is this: A couple guys do not equal NASA. And since it’s my understanding that the difference amounts to something like 10^-18 m/s, and that the tests were done in atmosphere, not in vacuum, I’m figuring it’s in the grass, and probably IS the grass.
Anyway, I’m going to just sit back and wait for some REAL evidence…which I expect to be at least as long in coming as a sustained fusion reactor, which as we all know is always “just 20 years away.”
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”

So, now they’re claiming the EmDrive is actually an FTL warp drive?


Roland Dobbins

But probably not.  This time.

Red Line

– NASA EM Drive and FTL


Second-hand thanks for the tip – off to chasing links down to the original stuff again, sigh…
Quick observations just from a few clicks down the road.
1) The observations of “FTL” are apparently being inferred from anomalies in the interference patterns when sending a laser through the cavity of the EM device. Send a laser through *any* EM field and you will get a different interference pattern than your null field control – I’ll have to look much further to see how these are other than would normally be expected.

2) The big problem is that they have apparently *not*, so far as I am seeing, repeated their experiment in vacuo. We’ve been (knowingly) “exceeding the speed of light” in atmosphere at least since the days of Cherenkov – so I must color myself skeptical at this point. Actually, we can do it these days even in vacuo – just get two plates closer to each other than the wavelength of EM you are using. That effect has a well-described cause that does not violate Einstein in any way, however.

3) Side note, all too many of the commenters seem to think that FTL automatically implies time travel to the past, and is therefore impossible. An instantaneous trip to Alpha Centauri and back is *not* “time travel.” It is simply observing the past, just approximately four years *sooner* than you would by obeying the speed limit. We observe the past *constantly* – from the femtoseconds it takes light to reach your eyes from your monitor to the Hubble imaging the appearance of galaxies many billions of light years away. You – and the Universe – are still older than you were before. (You may specifically be somewhat less aged than the Universe, if your drive requires moving within the framework you are relative to – but you are still older than before.)







No one in the media seems to understand that seizing a Marshall-flagged vessel is almost tantamount to seizing a US-flagged vessel.

I wonder if anyone in the Obama Administration understands this?



Roland Dobbins

And now it becomes clearer:

‘Iran’s seizure of the cargo vessel follows a maritime standoff between an Iranian cargo convoy apparently bound for Yemen and a group of American warships in the Arabian Sea. The U.S. is supporting a Saudi-led military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and commanders did not want Iran to resupply the Houthis with weapons or other assistance.

After several tense days at sea that included the movement of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt from the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Sea, the Iranian convoy and sailed east, in international waters, off the coast of Oman, according to defense officials.’


Absolute madness. The neocons are doing their best to get us into war with Iran.

Roland Dobbins

I will comment on this at length at another time.





By Christopher Booker

8:14PM BST 25 Apr 2015

Last month, we are told, the world enjoyed “its hottest March since records began in 1880”. This year, according to “US government scientists”, already bids to outrank 2014 as “the hottest ever”. The figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were based, like all the other three official surface temperature records on which the world’s scientists and politicians rely, on data compiled from a network of weather stations by NOAA’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN).

But here there is a puzzle. These temperature records are not the only ones with official status. The other two, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama (UAH), are based on a quite different method of measuring temperature data, by satellites. And these, as they have increasingly done in recent years, give a strikingly different picture. Neither shows last month as anything like the hottest March on record, any more than they showed 2014 as “the hottest year ever”.

An adjusted graph from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies


Back in January and February, two items in this column attracted more than 42,000 comments to the Telegraph website from all over the world. The provocative headings given to them were “Climategate the sequel: how we are still being tricked by flawed data on global warming” and “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest scientific scandal”.

My cue for those pieces was the evidence multiplying from across the world that something very odd has been going on with those official surface temperature records, all of which ultimately rely on data compiled by NOAA’s GHCN. Careful analysts have come up with hundreds of examples of how the original data recorded by 3,000-odd weather stations has been “adjusted”, to exaggerate the degree to which the Earth has actually been warming. Figures from earlier decades have repeatedly been adjusted downwards and more recent data adjusted upwards, to show the Earth having warmed much more dramatically than the original data justified.

FINALLY. That’s a pretty decent board of investigators, and NOT all comprised of climatologists — which is to say, it isn’t the foxes guarding the henhouse. IIRC from reading, there’s actually only one professional climatologist on that investigative committee; the rest are stuff like data reduction and statistics experts.

This should get very interesting, and pretty fast.

Also the two graphs, composed of raw data and “adjusted” data, taken together are pretty damning. I went through ’em last night and ascertained that the earlier temps were shoved downward by some 1.25C, and the most recent temps have been pushed upward by the same amount. I’d need to sit down and dink (and preferably look at the actual numbers, not just charts) to figure out the “grading curve” they used to create the “adjusted” chart across the entire timeframe.
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”

Perhaps there will be some adult supervision?


Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI)

“PASADENA, Calif. – April 20, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has signed a sponsored research agreement with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). Under the terms of the agreement, Northrop Grumman will provide up to $17.5 million to the initiative over three years.
Working together, the team will develop the scientific and technological innovations necessary to enable a space-based solar power system capable of generating electric power at cost parity with grid-connected fossil fuel power plants. SSPI responds to the engineering challenge of providing a cost-competitive source of sustainable energy. SSPI will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission.”
Well, other than the fact that you and others have been promoting this for decades, it is a step in the right direction. When you can get a major corporation on board to start spendng money to make this happen, someone has to be thinking this might actually work. Spending just $17.5 million might seem a bit small, but for a university this will help enable some very big experiments. I think most of the technology is already done so just putting it all together in a proof of concept that could be shipped to the space station for testing might be what we see come out of this. Hopefully, it will lead to a full-sized station being built.
Braxton Cook

You do understand that there tax subsidies at work here?


There Will Be War vol 1 & 2

Dr Pournelle

Thank you for making There Will Be War vol 1 & 2 available for Kindle. Bought ’em. Posted notice to the Heinlein Forum on Facebook.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

Thanks for giving me another excuse to promote them. I’ll slow down on that now…




Re: “Hinky” in Action


A quick little article in which Schneier makes the point quite well.

“This is what works. Not profiling. Not bulk surveillance. Not defending against any particular tactics or targets. In the end, this is what keeps us safe.”





Dear Dr. Pournelle,

It appears NASA has some interesting ideas for colonizing Venus:


NASA researchers have come up with a plan to send piloted, helium-filled airships cruising through the Venusian atmosphere. The idea, called the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC), could eventually lead to the permanent settlement of Earth’s hellishly hot sister planet, its developers say.

Venus is another potential target for human exploration, say Jones and his colleague Dale Arney, also of NASA Langley. At first blush, this assertion may seem surprising; the planet’s surface temperature is about 860 degrees Fahrenheit (460 degrees Celsius) — hot enough to melt lead — and its atmospheric pressure at ground level is a staggering 90 times that of Earth.

But HAVOC would avoid the surface, instead hovering about 30 miles (50 kilometers) up in Venus’ thick, carbon-dioxide-dominated air. Up there, conditions are much more manageable; atmospheric pressure is roughly what we’re used to, and the average temperature is 167 F (75 C).

Venus, which is about the same size as Earth, is also the closest planet to our own, making it the easiest (or at least the quickest) to get to.

I find the idea charming. If nothing else, it would make good novel fodder.


Brian P.

See Poul Anderson’s Big Rain novelette from fifty years ago…  Or my speculation about terraforming Venus with catalysts and genetically engineered forms.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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