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Saturday, February 01, 2014

How Space Offers Hugh Economic Potential

   This is up on ThinkScotland. Please put any comments there

    The European Space Agency probe Rosetta was recently switched on and is going to land on a comet, a rock which was old when the planet Earth was new.

    The Chinese space agency recently landed its Jade Rabbit probe on the Moon, though it has now malfunctioned and it may well be unable to complete its mission.

    NASA's Mars probe continues to send back data from that planet.

    Less newsworthy but perhaps more important for opening up space to humanity generally is that SpaceX recently put their rocket in geosynchronous orbit. This is a much more difficult task than putting it in low Earth orbit, around 200km up, because geosynchronous is at a height of 36,000km. On the other hand it is commercially much more valuable because satellites in geo are constantly in the same spot in space and any spot on Earth it may want to transmit to is also on the same spot from its vantage. SpaceX has already resupplied the International Space Station and

    India has managed to annoy those British politicians and leader writers, of "left" as much as "right" by having the presumption to prepare a probe to Mars which their erstwhile British rulers can't, or at least can't be bothered, doing.

    A recent paper in Nature says that there are enormous amounts of water in Ceres the 2nd largest asteroid in the belt beyond Mars  perhaps more than in all Earth's oceans. If so, particularly since this is just 1 asteroid, we have enough water to supply a virtually unlimited human population in space, certainly larger than Earth's population.

    Richard Branson hopes, hopes by the end of the year to have taken himself and  his family into suborbital space., though to be fair this has been real soon now for some time.

    And companies have been set up to mine the asteroids and settle the Moon.

    Unlike the first space age of the 1960s the diversity is obvious. We have very expensive space programmes from NASA ($18 billion a year), ESA ($11.2bn including the closely connected French, German and Italian ones). The intermediate Chinese ($1,3bn) and British ($414million). And the commercial ones which come out ahead (or go bust). Even NASA is not spending remotely as much as it did in the 1960s and NASA and ESA appear to be getting rather poor value for money.

    Smaller countries may well have an advantage in the new space race because relatively little land area on Earth is needed as a launch pad to achieve an unlimited footprint in space. For commercial space smaller countries are ideally placed to set an attractive tax regime.

    Thus it is sometimes said the Isle of Man is going to be the 4th country to put a man on the Moon, through space companies registered there. But they have competition for that title from California who are also proposing such tax breaks. Also from Singapore and Dubai who have both built their own space centres. When we are dealing with an industry growing at least 10% a year the attraction of getting in on the ground floor and becoming an industry hub is obvious. Well obvious to some - Virgin chose to set their northern launch site in Sweden after finding nobody in the government of Scotland, their first choice, was interested.

    In the long term, permanent human settlement of space must make money or it is ultimately a fashion, subject to being closed down at any time by politics. However it long has made a profit. Space industries (mainly communication and weather satellites) were worth £160 bn a year in 2009 and has been growing at 10% a year.

     It is not now about making space profitable it is now about making deep space industry (ie not linked to Earth) profitable and with one asteroid, out of 10s of thousands containing $195bn worth of ores that looks unlikely to be a problem for long.

    The sky is considerably short of the limit for space industrialisation. The amount of cheap energy from solar power satellites is unlimited; mineral resources far beyond everything on Earth; real estate also unlimited; satellite TV and communications may look like a mature industry but in fact, since the amount of information is directly proportional to the signal power and communication satellites now are powered by a few metres of solar cells, transmissions can still be increased several 10s of times at least.

    That's the conventional stuff.

    Now I'd like to talk about a couple of fairly new ideas, which have the chance to take humanity, or at least our engineering, anywhere in the Solar System. And the major Scottish contribution to it.

    Over the last few years we have seen the development of very small modular satellites in a 10 cm cube. Known as cubesats these are the economic equivalent of shipping containers, except small. Units of self contained materials.

    These work because of Moore's Law. This is the observed fact that computer capacity, and thus also a lot of instrumentation, has been doubling every 2 years since the 1940s. That means a million times since the 1970s. You can buy a mobile phone now that has more capacity than all the computer programming available to NASA for the Moon landings. And you can put it in a device the size of a mobile phone - or several times more in a cubesat. The first Voyager spacecraft, which sent us the first pictures of the outer planets and moons, was launched in 1977. It was 9ft x 21 ft x 57 ft  (a mere 300,000 times the size of a cubesat, well actually much less because it doesn't fill most of that space). A box 4 inches on a side can now hold far processing capacity.

    And a Scottish firm (if I were being chauvinist I would say Glasgow firm) have a major component in 40% of the world's cubesats. Theoretically that is potentially comparable to the time at the beginning of the 20thC  when 90% of all the world's metal hulled shipping tonnage had been built on Britain and 90% on the Clyde. That was when such shipping was at the technological cutting edge.

CubeSats, with their advantages of modularity, are predicted to do for satellites what PCs have done for computing. It's now possible to buy components and assemble them as a kit, and Clyde Space already provides an online credit card purchasing system for items....

Clyde Space is also expert in the design of miniature power systems for CubeSats, for which they have around 40% of the global market.
   And as all new ideas generate new ideas of their own, an engine to power such a cubesat is now being designed.

    Benjamin Longmier, Michigan University, is developing the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT), a new rocket propulsion system powered by the Sun and propelled by water, which will push small spacecraft like CubeSats around and far beyond the Earth.

 * interplanetary missions to Mars and Europa for about $1 million
* Ten interplanetary cubsats for a solar system wide internet
* Cheaper satellite wi-fi around the earth
* Future combination with Spacex reusable rockets, Planetary resources cheap space telescopes, Googlex low cost space robotics for radical lowcost space exploration.

   If you can land a cubesat on one of the asteroids, and we can, then we can use ground based sonar to build up a geological (asterological - the language hasn't caught up with our capabilities) picture of what each one contains and how it is made up. For $1 million - oil explorers on Earth wouldn't get out of bed for that.

   If the 1960s space race was the first generation project and SpaceX making commercial trips to orbit and these other things are the second then what is now being worked on - the ability to send thousands of probes to each of the asteroids and moons and comets too, across the Solar System is the opening of the 3rd and it is opening now.
3 modules combined approach Saturn - drawing - so far

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Friday, January 31, 2014

What More Can Anybody Say About Global Warming?

        John Brignell has what looks like the last word on the alleged catastrophic global warming fraud. Unless some alarmist can dispute any of it in any factual way:

bulletGlobal Warming was a scientific hypothesis, but it has been thoroughly tested and falsified. It is now a dead theory. [Insert Monty Python parrot sketch here].
bulletThere is no scientific theory of Climate Change. It is just a political and commercial slogan. It means bad weather.
bulletThe baseless demonization of that stuff of life, carbon, and its wholly benign dioxide is one of the most destructive perversions in the history of human thought. It has brought Europe, for example, to the edge of the economic abyss.
bulletThe theory and models for global warming rested almost solely on putative positive feedback mechanisms.
bulletThere is evidence that the modellers searched almost exclusively for potential positive feedback mechanisms.
bulletPositive feedback makes models unstable, so that the outputs always ramp up regardless of inputs. The unscientific secrecy surrounding the modelling programs makes this impossible to investigate.
bulletThe primary input to the weather system, the Sun, is routinely ignored.
bulletThe observed stability of the climate indicates that actual feedback mechanisms are negative and that Le Chatelier-Braun Principle applies.
bulletThe claimed temperature rise over years is very small and inconsequential, also probably below the practicable level of detectability.
bulletSmoothing processes, such as averaging, preserve low frequency noise, which is often mistaken for trends.
bulletThe attempts to measure and calculate global temperatures have been fraught with dubiety; including ramshackle instrumentation systems, unexplained data adjustments and, frankly, downright fraud.
bulletThe history of the subject  closely follows Langmuir’s laws of bad science (more accurately symptoms of pathological science, I originally wrote “laws” as I did not have a section on symptoms).
bulletThe debate has now reached Langmuir’s symptom number 5. (Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment). Searching for the “lost” heat in the deep oceans, for example, is nothing more than a pathetic joke.
bulletClimate change was symptomatic of the gross intrusion into science by politics. The grotesquely corrupt practices revealed by Climategate, for example, were only exceeded in sleaze by the crudity of the subsequent political whitewash of that sordid episode.
bulletIt has all become extremely boring.

Not holding my breath waiting for anything like factual debate from our ruling parasites. Their record of refusing to debate says it all.

John is the compiler of the very amusing Warmlist of things the media have promised us global warming is causing. Looking at it shows how very far from in any way honest our MSM are.

AIDS, Afghan poppies destroyed, African holocaust, aged deaths, poppies more potent, Africa devastated,  Africa in conflict, African aid threatenedaggressive weeds, Air France crash, air pockets, air pressure changesairport farewells virtual, airport malaria, Agulhas current, Alaskan towns slowly destroyed, Al Qaeda and Taliban Being Helped, allergy increase, allergy season longer, alligators in the Thames, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream endamphibians breeding earlier (or not)anaphylactic reactions to bee stingsancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, animals shrinkAntarctic grass flourishes, Antarctic ice grows, Antarctic ice shrinks, Antarctic sea life at risk,   anxiety treatment, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic ice free, Arctic ice melt faster, Arctic lakes disappearArctic tundra lost, Arctic warming (not), a rose by any other name smells of nothing, asteroid strike risk, asthma, Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty,   atmospheric circulation modified, attack of the killer jellyfish, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased,

and so on (read it here) to zoonotic diseases

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Energy Storage Capacity Increasing At 23% A Year

   From Next Big Future:

Ideas on a Finite Planet, recently explained that lithium-ion batteries have a fifteen year history of exponential price reduction. Between 1991 and 2005, the capacity that could be bought with $100 went up by a factor of 11. The trend continues through to the present day.

     That is a growth rate of  18.7% annually. However inflation also means the $100 is less so make it about 22% a year.

      That is not Moore's Law for computers (doubling every 18 months is 59% growth a year). However it isn't that far away either - 22% means doubling every 42 months.

     There is also a similar improvement going on in solar cell efficiency.

"In 2014, the highest efficiencies have been achieved by using multiple junction cells at high solar concentrations (44.7% by The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin"

     The efficiency of energy conversion cannot obviously reach much more than that - as one gets closer to 100% there is less room for improvement. However the cost of manufacturing cells is dropping fast. One of Kurtzweil's prediction was that by 2014, ie now, solar energy would become cheaper than energy from oil  though that would be the oil price before shale gas was available so the current oil price is also cheaper than oil then. Even so he seems to be a few years behind but only a few.

      Nonetheless a world where in individual collection of energy is easy and we can store and even carry large amounts of it is going to be a very different world. And unlike very large stationary power generators, which bit is easy for government parasites to batten on and legislate out of existence, this small stuff is difficult for them to prevent.

    The era of cheap energy and therefore of massive wealth has not yet dawned - only political parasitism is preventing it.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BBC Caught Lying Again, To Hide How Corrupt & Useless Our Ruling Class Are

    This is an email I sent to the BBC. They haven't answered it and today, have not acknowledged Richard Bacon's "error" so I guess that means it was deliberate and they have decided to maintain the lie.

Dear BBC,
                  On the Richard Bacon show today (Tues 28th) he made the astonishing claim that despite having opposite policies Britain and the US have "the fastest growing economies in the world".
     Clearly Bacon is either wholly and completely ignorant of our and the world's economy or deliberately lying and wholly and completely corrupt, or both.
     As you will be aware the truth is that the US is not only not the world's fastest grower it is well below even the world average of about 4 1/2% (nearly 6% if the EU isn't counted).
    Britain of course is well below that well below average figure.
    Clearly the BBC as an organisation cannot excuse themselves as being wholly and completely ignorant. Therefore, by definition, if there is any slightest possibility of the BBC being able to claim to be in any slightest way honest, or one which any individual who was in any slightest way honest could ever work for, you cannot continue to maintain this Orwellian lie.
   I look forward to seeing if he retracts the lie on Wednesday's programme with the same emphasis he told it with. If not then that is a BBC acknowledgement that you are indeed wholly and completely corrupt totalitarian fascist propagandists.
    In which case I must ask for an assurance that you will never under any circumstances suggest that anything I ever say is less than millions of times more truthful than the most honest thing anybody in your fascist propaganda organisation ever says. I await your explanation &/or confirmation.
   I have mentioned this on Left Foot Forward where one can always be guaranteed replies which will prove the ignorance, totalitarianism and foolishness of professional "socialists" and descend into ad homs as their claims dissolve.
Yesterday Richard Bacon on the BBC stated that this meant that \Britain and the US have "the fastest growth in the world". Of course nobody pretends that the BBC is anyhing other than a wholly corrupt, totalitarian, fascist propaganda organisation, that will tell absolutely any lie and censor absolutely any fact to promote the thieving parasites in Westminster. Nobody with the slightest trace of honesty can, by definition work for these whores.

Nonetheless that that is a remarkable lie by even BBC standards. The truth is that far from being the fastest growth in the world - the US is growing more slowly than the world AVERAGE of 4% (with the EU in recession the non-EU average is near 6%) and Britain, of course, is below the US's below average performance.

One can see why the Westminster thieves are so keen that the BBC lie to support them. It is obvious that if our ruling parasites really wished an end to recession they could at least match the non-EU average.

Nonetheless, cynical as I am about our Ministry of Truth broadcasters I am surprised that the BBC told and have decided to publicly maintain a lie so gross and easily checked.
         (US #116, UK #173)

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If They Agree Barriers To Entry Are Bad In Other Businesses, Why Are TheWestminster Cartel Keen On Them For Themselves?

  "Barriers to entry" are a bête noire for anybody who supports free markets. Basically this means anything which stops a new competitor entering a market, which thus makes it easier for the current dominant companies to maintain a monopoly or more often oligopoly. Examples would be the difficulty of getting together skilled workers and managers in an area where neither are established or decades of government regulation effectively mandating designs and processes common to established players.

    Douglas Carswell correctly takes a stand that the lack of such barriers has been very beneficial to the supermarket industry and the Lidl & Aldi's entrance has been possible and beneficial because of it.

I took the money quote from his remarks and built a comment about the oligopoly of Westminster politics and their reliance on the corrupt first past the post electoral system:

"After years of faux competition, the customer is starting to see some real bargains. And it makes us realise quite what a cartel we've had all these years.

It's not just supermarkets, either. It’s much the same with energy providers and retail banks. Cliques of providers provide on their, not necessarily the punters, terms.

Part of the problem is that the barriers to entry are high. It's hard to start a supermarket, retail bank or energy company from scratch"
Yes but the most outrageous and damaging cartel is in Westminster.

The first past the post electoral system is a massively high barrier to entry, deliberately maintained by the ruling cartel. Which is why Cameron would clearly much prefer the next government be a Labour one, wholly within the cartel, on 30% of the vote, than a deal between UKIP & the Tories, with 55%.

If it is useful that we get a choice in supermarkets it is vital that we get one in who runs the country. I simply do not think any democrat can disagree. Our current electoral system is obviously and undeniably corrupt.

  Note that the entire argument of politicians of all parties that the "energy producers" rather than them depends on their being such an oligopoly there (their comparatively low profit margins say there isn't or at least they don't use such power)  caused by a "market failure" (the reduction in power suppliers is because of government pressure and the prevention of new nuclear players entering is because of a government veto) and that barriers to entry are a bad thing (correct). Except they enthusiastically support such barriers in Westminster, even implying that supporting electoral reform is unpatriotic.

 I could also have mentioned how the state broadcasting monopoly, or at least the way it is used in despite of the legal requirement that it be balanced, to censor dissent is equally destructive but I believe I have made that point before.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Things Can only Get Better - Except When The Politicos Are Involved

   Bjorn Lomberg has a listing of the 10 signs of how our problems are changing over time. On most of them - health, environmentalism, longevity etc etc we are doing very well. Here are 2 on which we are doing better than recently but in the first not as well as in the period up to WW1 & in the second the same as then.

   Trade barriers is not the whole story since the main factor in trade is shipping cost which has dropped enormously with the advent of shipping containers and keeps dropping as ship design and their increasing size keeps making them more efficient. The non-political cost of shipping something from China to Liverpool is now often less than driving it from Liverpool to here.

    Nonetheless it is important to remember that even though anything driven by technology is getting much better, politically driven stuff, of which war is the most obvious, is more equivocal.

    Our political systems are not only backward compared to technical ones, they are barely improving.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Criado-Perez Threatens Violence - Only In A Police State Would Police Arrest Other But Not Her

   The BBC have been making a massive case of the prosecution of a couple of people, and now their imprisonment, for making death threats to the unknown celebrity feminist  Criado-Perez, so extreme that the judge said "it is hard to imagine more extreme" ones.

   Brendan O'Neill on Spiked wrote it up and the unimaginably extreme death threat is "Fuck off and die" which is clearly not even a death threat of any sort and could not have been claimed so by any judge who was not wholly corrupt.

   Brendan is pushing the obvious fact that this prosecution is harsh and an overreactive threat to free speech. In comments I go further to say that the difference between a free society under the rule of law and a police state is that in the latter the law is, or is not, applied according not to what you have done but to whether you are politically approved:

So expect to see James Hansen locked up for saying anybody who expresses doubts about catastrophic global warming should be imprisoned.
George Moonbat for threatening to murder airline executives.
The BBC for saying climate sceptics should be treated like paedophiles.
Well OK no they shouldn't for precisely the same reasons this pair shouldn't.

But more important is the differential treatment. The law is distorted in one direction to imprison people for not liking "feminists" and even more in the opposite to protect state funded totalitarians. If the law, for political reasons, is not applied equally on everybody this is the difference between the rule of law and a police state. That this pair should be treated humanely is important but that they should be treated the same as Moonbat and BBC executives is vital.


    Your first example epitomises the "thought police" mentality. The second, if true, is incitement and is already illegal, the third is plain idiocy, which whilst annoying if criminal would condemn most of us to incarceration or worse.
        in this conversation
      • "every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned" G Moonbat
        Clearly illegal indeed, certainly as the law is applied to the politically unapproved.
        But that means we do indeed live in a police state where Moonbat, BBC executives (I was thinking of Helen Boaden who perjured herself in the high court in relation to 28 gate, and was immediately promoted to Head of Radio) and ecofascists generally who are allowed to vandalise and intimidate with approval of police or courts like brownshirts outside Jewish shops.
      However this was topped and my point about the differential application of "the law" proven by anither commenter who showed that the "frightened" (as she seems to have said under oath) member of our fascist nomenklatura was engaged in precisely the "threats" others are imprisoned for using against her. She has not yet been imprisoned.
    • If "fuck off and die" is a death threat then that is a rape threat (though our state owned media who said the former certainly won't claim the latter)(& of course it won't be treated as criminal that she said it)

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