View 838 Monday, August 11, 2014
Didn’t get much done last week. It was my birthday, and my son with two grand daughters is coming to town, was here all day today. Won’t be much done this week either. I am still working on a column summing up a lot.
Question: (serious question: write if you have ideas): What would it take to make you love Windows 9? I don’t know anyone who loves Windows 8, and many analysts including Leo Laporte who comes as close as anyone to doing what I used to do in writing about computers and high tech have compared Windows 8 to New Coke: an enormous blunder by a major corporation that will take years to make up for. But if you love Windows 8, please tell me. But more importantly, what would it take to make you love Windows 9?
One thing I will suggest is that Microsoft needs to start having WinHEC conferences again. There’s a lot happening in hardware and Microsoft isn’t keeping up. How could they? Big as they are they can’t stay on top of everything. They need those conferences to learn what’s happening, just as the people who come to them need to know what Microsoft is proposing – and to have a chance to say, Whoa! Wait a minute! Have you thought about …
I suspect that if Microsoft had continued WinHec they might have learned early on that there was something wrong with Windows 8…
Impossible, or Merely Highly Improbable?
I have been following the reaction-massless drive story closely, for obvious reasons. I’m also being cautious, for obvious reasons.
At this point, despite the crowd response, I’m not yet ready to dismiss the chance something interesting, and duplicable, is happening. Many of the objections I’ve seen to the NASA experiments seem to be misinformed.
Wired UK has a short summary clarifying a number of widely misunderstood points about the experiments, particularly the matter of the alternate device that "shouldn’t" have worked but did – it was not a dummy resistive-load control (they tested one of those too with no result) but an alternate configuration that by one theory should not have worked.
Obviously that one theory has problems… Also, they reversed the device and saw thrust in the reverse direction. Also, they did run tests in vacuum after all.
Meanwhile, I’ve seen the physicists make the point that if these devices in fact give the same thrust for the same power regardless of velocity, they imply perpetual motion, since in normal physics power required to accelerate is proportional to velocity squared. (Put such a device on the rim of a wheel on a generator shaft, spin it up fast enough, and voila, more power out than in.) I have no argument with this whatsoever, save that (assuming these things actually produce thrust) it’s not at all clear either what frame of reference they’re operating in, or that they indeed do produce the same thrust at any velocity.
My take: Duplicate the experiments, see if there’s obvious experimental error or if something’s really happening, and if it is, test the hell out of it under various conditions and then start figuring out what the appropriate theory might be.
If this effect is real, if, it might or might not give us the Solar System – see previous remarks about reference frames and possible velocity dependency – but it’ll almost certainly prove immensely useful for *something*.
I can think of worse things to spend money on; after all, lab techs need training projects, so you’re not wasting anything, really, and if it does replicate the payoff potential is very large… I’ll still bet that it doesn’t do reactionless drive, but I sure hope I’m wrong…
On the subject of dismissing impossible results out of hand- Back in the 70s Scientific American had a couple of sections at the end of each issue called Mathematical Games and The Amateur Scientist. In one of them (I forget which) they posed a puzzler that goes more or less as follows:
We all know what reverse osmosis is.. You take salt water and force it through an appropriate membrane with pressure, and the water will go through, leaving the salt behind. For seawater, the required pressure is something like 22 atm.
So imagine a pipe with one end closed by such a membrane. Stick it in the ocean and push it down to 330 ft (22atm x15PSI). The pressure will be enough to force a little water through the membrane. Push it down another foot. Water in the pipe will rise. But since the density of the fresh water inside is about 5% less than salt water, it will rise a little more than a foot to balance the weight of the foot of salt water outside. So keep pushing the pipe deeper and the level inside will keep rising about 5% faster than the pipe sinks. Eventually, it will reach the surface. Push it some more and it will rise above the surface. So you will get a free fresh water fountain in the middle of the ocean.
The question: Will it work? Why or why not?
The next issue of the magazine was to have the answer, but I missed it for some reason. So I thought about off and on for a year or two, and eventually came up with an answer that satisfied me. It wasn’t until quite a while later that I found a copy of the issue with the answer. Their answer was as follows:
It won’t work, because if it did, it would be perpetual motion, which is impossible.
You might be entertained by seeing if you can come up with something better.
I invite comments. Is it really a perpetual motion machine?
‘Science’ isn’t very scientific
Apropos the ongoing discussion of ‘impossible’ drives, and avoiding the discussion of the ‘nitty gritty’ of the experiments performed, I ran across this today that is very relevant to the reaction of ‘real scientists’ to the Sawyer and Chinese experiments.
The web site in question is focused on the theory that the universe is largely dominated by electric fields rather than gravitational fields, and claims that a lot of ‘Wow! We didn’t expect that! Wonder how THAT happened?’ reactions to recent astronomical observations are explainable by that theory. There is apparently a small community of educated folks who agree, and think that the evidence supports it.
I certainly don’t know.
The point is that entrenched science in general, not just ‘Climate Science’, is VERY antagonistic to challenges to dogma. And will go to extremes of inventiveness to avoid modifying ‘settled science’. Dark matter, for example. You can’t see it, smell it, taste it, or detect it with any instrument yet devised, but it has got to be there, because if it wasn’t ‘settled science’ would have to be modified. Can’t have that. I’m sure that other examples will pop to mind immediately.
Professional AND Ethical
Necessarily, military issues and politics have to mix; with attendant champions finding ways to influence the other. Even George Washington did yeoman’s work in cajoling, browbeating, and politics in gaining military needs from the Continental Congress. The enduring part of the American Military officer is that, in the end, he salutes and follows the civilian leadership.
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.