How Kodak detected the nuclear tests and the effects on all of us

Veritasium at his best! While there were 219 atmospheric tests in America alone and the fallout spread across most of the USA, it shows that dispersed fallout is not a civilisation ending event. Two hundred and nineteen nuclear devices were detonated in America’s own airspace! Where are all the mutant orange people? (Remembers Donald Trump and smacks forehead.) OK – there might be a few side effects.

Posted in Nuclear, Pollution | Leave a comment

Connectors from Graphics Cards to Monitors – can Monitors adjust hz?

Hi all,

can any PC geeks out there tell me what I’m looking for in a monitor? I’ll be building a computer around a RTX 3080 card that has Display Port 1.4 (*3) and HDRMI 2.1.

The goal is a maybe 32inch 4k UDH Monitor that actually runs at higher than 60hz? Say a 120hz or 144hz would be acceptable – they seem to be the speed increments out there (although I’ve only started looking.)

But according to the chart below the Display Port 1.4 connector would limit a 4k screen to 120hz. Would a 144hz monitor be able to downsize/downscale/adjust to 120hz? Anyone know?

Graphic from Rtings

This site says yes it can but it uses DSC – Display Stream Compression – but I’ve no idea how seriously that impacts on performance.

DisplayPort 1.2 can output 1080p and 1440p resolutions at 144Hz, while DisplayPort 1.3 and 1.4 increased bandwidth to manage up to 240Hz at those same resolutions and up to 120Hz at 4K. It can’t quite handle 144Hz at that resolution, at least without making sacrifices in chroma subsampling (typically 4:2:2) or using display stream compression (DSC).

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The energy efficient way to have a Bus to the Stars!

Imagine a bus timetable that arrived not every quarter hour, but every quarter century? The ‘bus’ is so big and the trip so long (maybe 20 to 30 years) that it’s less like buying a ticket, and more like immigrating to another country. Meet the Interstellar Cycler – a scaled up version of the Mars Cycler – but instead of being in an orbit out to Mars – this one is heading out to Alpha Centauri!

An O’Neil Cylinder is more like an island nation than a ship. Because it is so big, we usually think of it as a huge space colony in orbit the Earth or our sun. It’s 8km across and 32 km long, like a giant stainless steel beer can spun up so that people live on the inside. It’s so big that the atmosphere hugs the walls and the centre is vacuum like space. The image below seems to have the other end of the cylinder dark. (In night mode – but I cannot imagine why they would not all be on the same clock? Unless there turns out to be environmental, wildlife, or weather control reasons to do so? Or is it just temporary – like celebrating halloween or something down that end?)

Of course it would take phenomenal amounts of energy to accelerate something this big up to 20% light speed! But we’re often too linear in our thinking. Go exponential. Imagine a solar system with hundreds of trillions of people, most of whom are already living off earth in space-stations like this. A small fraction are in the energy business and operating huge Power Satellites or PowerSats that hover around our sun. It would only take a tiny fraction of that energy to fire on our space-station to use the gentle push of photons to accelerate the entire thing up to 20% light speed. See Interstellar Highways for a discussion about Stellar Lasers – below.

Rama

Let’s rename this thing. Interstellar Cycler is a six-syllable-salad, and I almost switched to using the blunter but far less elegant term Star Bus. But that’s too underwhelming for such a magnificent concept.

So why not just call it Rama, after Arthur C Clarke’s famous novel Rendezvous with Rama – a novel whose title itself beautifully expresses the concept anyway. SPOILER ALERT for the below!

SPOILER ALERT!

In the novel, Rama is an alien probe exploring the galaxy that does a half year sweep of our solar system before shooting out the other side. Humanity manages to prioritise one ship – just one little ship – to fire out and meet this monster. But we’re talking about eventually setting up dozens or even hundreds of these as the Space Liners of the future – and having hundred of ‘ferries’ to rendezvous with it. All of this on a vast but predictable timetable of decades and centuries.

Being set in the future – it probably has fusion energy and an oil-tanker’s worth of hydrogen to power the thing for thousands of years. (If we can’t crack fusion, it will have a bunch of uranium breeder reactors to warm it for the long cold of interstellar flight.)

It uses ‘ferming’ instead of farming to feed the food needs of the passengers on board – along with some vertical salad and herb gardens for flavour.

That’s a huge amount of energy to feed and house and warm the hundreds of thousands or millions of people on board – but it’s nothing compared to the energy required to push Rama up to 20% C!

A Star Bus just keeps on going

The whole point of our Rama ‘Star Bus’ or Space Liner is that we don’t have to waste all that energy slowing something this big down again. After it is accelerated up to 20% C let’s just keep it that way! Why accelerate all this matter up and not just save all that energy to push smaller ships? In one word, redundancy. It has the resources for many hundreds or thousands of backup life support systems – maybe even (with fusion power) a natural ecology on board. It has huge thick walls to protect from cosmic radiation. It has the space and energy to not only take on board more passengers and cargo but even various ores to send to their manufacturing districts to smelt and build everything from the next spanner to the next computer chip. It’s a mobile civilisation – and all the multiple redundancies that implies. It’s a spacious and beautiful lifestyle choice for those passengers on board. It’s simply the safest, most beautiful way to travel between the stars that we know of. So we accelerate this monster up once, and then use ferries to load and unload it.

But how do we accelerate all those ferries up to 20% C? This is why Rama is most probably set up after target stars are already settled. It takes a settled system to have the huge PowerSat lasers to accelerate the smaller ferries up to meet Rama and decelerate disembarking ferries.

Isaac Arthur explains in the video below that a Rama can use long metal drag lines to tether to the magnetic field of the target star to steer. It can turn corners and even do a 180 degree turn – but at one gravity of turning stresses that’s still a 2500 AU turning circle. That’s 2,500 Astronomical Units – the distance from the Earth to our sun. That’s 370 billion km’s – 1.2 times the width of our solar system. That’s a big turning circle at 1g sideways thrust.

So it’s easier to tether in a much smaller angle change. Tether to the star’s magnetic field with those drag lines to make a tiny correction and our bus might visit say 26 star systems – one for each letter of the alphabet – before returning home. Then each course correction just drops the metal drag lines in system and Rama stays at 20% C.

How long would a round trip take? The average distance between stars in our galaxy is 5 years. That’s five light years, and as we are travelling at 1/5th light speed we need to multiply it by about 25 years or a generation per star system. Times 26 systems, and you’re looking at something like 700 to 800 years for a round trip. With life extension this may not matter so much. But even without it, if you want to spend a third of your life reaching the next star system, this is the best way to do it.

Remember, we’re talking about a future that might involve hundreds of trillions of people in our solar system alone. The further ahead we imagine, the more Rama routes would be established. Planning a trip really might start to look like a bus timetable. One that ran over decades. And 20% C is worth it! Alpha Centauri is 4 light years away. At 20% C, that’s ‘only’ a few decades to get to the next star – 20 to 25 years in a beautiful little man-made world.

It could be a colony ship, but hitting the breaks is tricky!

There are also tactics to use Rama to colonise a new star system in the first place. But it’s tricky – as that means hitting the breaks. How do we do that without already having a huge Interstellar Highway PowerSat Laser system set up to catch something the size of a mountain range hurtling in at 20% C? ‘Easy’. Push some ships ahead to deploy that system!

Rama is so big it can use its own lasers to push smaller ships ahead. Their job is to deploy the giant catching lasers a year or so before Rama even arrives. But how do these smaller ships slow themselves down? First they deploy solar sails, and use the target star’s solar wind to slow themselves down. A bit. There are also a mix of strategies where they bounce lasers between them to slow down the fleet. There might even be one or two sacrificial drone ships that go ahead to use the energy of the star to gather solar power and fire it back to slow down the fleet. Sacrificing one or two drone ships is a small price to pay to plant human civilisation in a new star system!

As the smaller ships slow down they scatter across the new system to set up giant lasers on various moons and planets and asteroids. They would all turn and target Rama, getting ready to catch her in an embrace of lasers as it came screaming in at 20% C. It takes a LOT of energy to decelerate something that big. So this is a risky strategy – as they need all those smaller craft to set up the huge Lasers ahead of schedule to catch Rama as she comes shrieking in.

But if the smaller craft had a bunch of bad luck, like freakish accidents or even some kind of rebellion – we have already said that Rama can turn corners. If something goes catastrophically wrong, she will use the target sun’s gravity and magnetic field to do an emergency turn and either head back home or at least angle backwards, even if it takes a few extra systems. (Rather than plough on in a straight line forever – a doomed ghost ship sailing on into the night – a Sci-Fi trope that gets dished out now and then.) It has some control and ability to turn – maybe even turn right around. Otherwise we wouldn’t be suggesting it as a Star Bus in the first place!

If it has fusion tech, it would even have the hydrogen on board to run its own lasers to slow itself down, even if that takes all the way to the next star system. Hey, a whole new star system. Something to go get! An O’Neil Cylinder is a mobile space-civilisation anyway. Once decelerated into an orbit around a nice planet or asteroid belt, it can start devouring the local resources to build more ships and one day even replicate itself into another Rama!

Economics – the travelling oil tanker

Rama is huge and charges to take passengers and cargo to the stars. But also think of it as a travelling oil tanker. Laser light is the ‘oil’ of the future. It has it’s own reactors and solar farms and mirrors and lasers, so Rama can easily push smaller ships around the target solar system as it takes a good part of a year to travel in system and then out the other side.

And in a fusion powered, AI driven robot post-scarcity future, there simply may not be economic concerns as such. If you’re paid a few hundred grand a year by the state simply for being a citizen of the earth, and the robots are doing all the work, and you have life extension out to a thousand years and beyond – why not catch a bus to Alpha Centauri?

And now, after that introduction, it’s time for me to hand you over to the man himself – Isaac Arthur.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

News monopoly in Australia is harming our democracy

James Murdoch speaks out in the NYT against the Murdoch Newspaper Empire – and it isn’t reported in one Australian Murdoch News Corp paper. He is disillusioned with the alt-right fake news cycle that Fox and kin are. As the NYT reports:

“I reached the conclusion that you can venerate a contest of ideas, if you will, and we all do and that’s important,” he told me. “But it shouldn’t be in a way that hides agendas. A contest of ideas shouldn’t be used to legitimize disinformation. And I think it’s often taken advantage of. And I think at great news organizations, the mission really should be to introduce fact to disperse doubt — not to sow doubt, to obscure fact, if you will…

…In 2017, President Trump’s praise for white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., as “very fine people” spurred James Murdoch to give $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. In an email to friends obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Murdoch rebuked Mr. Trump and wrote: “I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists.” The email stood in sharp relief, given Fox’s fetid racism-by-night routine…

In January, James and his wife, Kathryn, expressed “frustration” about News Corp’s peddling of climate change denialism in the face of apocalyptic Australian wildfires that incinerated 46 million acres. Fox nighttime anchors picked up a false story line about arson from The Australian, a Murdoch-owned newspaper in Oz.

New York Times: October 2020

The cancer is growing here as well. Australian news media are dominated by Murdoch (64.2%) and Nine (26.4%) – and now the main news empire in this country is unreliable and unscientific in its reporting on climate change and runs a protection racket for itself. Their control of Sky News has degraded their evening segment to being on par with Fox news, and this toxic propaganda sometimes drips down into their daytime and morning schedules as well. It’s time for a Royal Commission into media freedom and diversity in Australia. Even if you disagree with former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on other matters – please watch this short youtube.

Click on the e-petition

It will send you a confirmation email you need to sign to CONFIRM your signature.



Posted in Activism, Media, Politics | Leave a comment

So what if the BLM founders were communists – the movement isn’t!

There’s the BLM website founders – and what most Americans mean when they say Black Lives Matter! Learn the difference between a website and a popular movement, a few ideologues trying to set up a Communist revolution and a catchy phrase that ricochets through the culture, a few girls with a website and the MAJORITY of Americans that actually think the next 3 words are true: Black Lives Matter. Here’s the New York Times on the numbers.

“Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History”

The American National Academy of Science has determined that white cops kill black people 3.5 times more than they kill white people. If you are black, you have a 1 in 1000 chance of death by cop in your lifetime. That’s ten times higher than their chance of being killed by a car crash which seems to be about 11 in 100,000.

Now – the Alt Right will go on and on about the views of the founders of a BLM website years ago. That’s the right-wing way – ignore what the majority of people are actually saying, and use the logical fallacy of ‘tainting the pool’ by finding the one or two nutters in the crowd – and quoting them till the cows come home. But here’s the thing. It’s a huge movement with a number of organisations – not just those communist girls the Alt-Right salivate over quoting to death. Indeed…

“The broader movement and its related organizations typically advocate against police violence towards black people”.

From the wiki

Organizations – plural. Not everything BLM started with Communist girls setting up a website. Indeed, how many BLM activists have even been to that website? They’re too busy drawing up their own banners and getting out on the streets in their local neighbourhoods to bother trying to find a manifesto. They just want to say what they mean – “Black Lives Matter!” Now the overall “Black Lives Matter movement is a decentralized network of activists with no formal hierarchy.” 

I hear the concerns about the street violence and burnings – I really do. I’d hate to see my local suburban shops and restaurants on fire. It’s not just the thoughtless economic damage – they’re part of my childhood memories and heart – part of our social fabric.

But what if my chances of being shot by a cop were 10 times greater than being killed in a car crash? What if I were black? (I’m a white Australian male – with privilege coming out my ears.) What if I experienced the negative effects of generations of economic deprivation, from my great great grandparents being slaves, then Jim Crow, and then even the racist highway schemes of the 1950’s that forcibly moved entire black neighbourhoods ‘out of the way’. This broke up whole communities that were just becoming functional integrated societies that could help each other.

What if I watched videos of my police force kneeling on the necks of people that looked like me until they died – even though they cried out – repeatedly – “I can’t breathe!” If that were the case – I can imagine myself out there protesting. And if my education levels were not that great due to the generations of economic segregation and disadvantage my neighbourhood had left for me – who knows how that protest would go and what I would end up doing? I’m not excusing anything – just trying to empathise. Perpetrators of violence and vandalism should be arrested and convicted. But they shouldn’t be suffocated to death by cops in a street execution or lynching! No wonder the BLM movement has grown amongst mainstream Americans!


“Whereas public opinion on Black Lives Matter was net negative in 2018, it grew increasingly popular through 2019 and 2020.[15] A June 2020 Pew Research Center poll found that the majority of Americans, across all racial and ethnic groups, have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.”

From the wiki

When the average American chants “Black Lives Matter” they’re not even AWARE of the silly BLM founder’s website once being communist. (I’m glad you’ve admitted that stuff has been taken down – it seems the flood of money coming in has spoken – and they’re getting real about what can actually be done in a more Ordo-Liberal economic sense.) When the average American chants “Black Lives Matter” they mean just that – that cops shouldn’t shoot unarmed Black Americans or kneel on their necks until they die or force them to cry out “I can’t breathe!” So now that we’re talking about the mass movement, why can’t the right just agree that Black Lives Matter? To leftist for them? Too partisan in an election year? Might offend their republican neighbours? How about the right learn some nuance for once and rise above all that?

Posted in Activism, Politics, Poverty, Social Justice | Leave a comment