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Comment: Think of blackmail possiblities (Score 1) 173 173

by Keith Henson (#49905597) Attached to: SF86 Data Captured In OPM Hack

Between the questions they ask on SF86 and the medical records that someone grabbed recently . . .

I don't see how anyone could fill out that form without missing something that could be exposed in medical records or a little PI work. Then they are threatened with exposing their error and 5 years in jail.

Comment: Re:Whats so repugnant? (Score 1) 183 183

Judge Robert H. Wallerstein, an unknown number of prosecutors in the Riverside DA's office, the cult's lawyers and perhaps the Riverside Sheriff's Department were engaged in a criminal conspiracy to entrap. Seven years after it happened, it came to light that the judge had been in on an attempt to entrap me for "failure to appear" on an indictment they tried to keep secret by not sending a notice to appear to me or my lawyer. Wallerstein signed an arrest warrant for the "crime" of failure to appear prior to when I did in fact show up. The arrest warrant was never made part of the court record, but the Sheriff's office kept a copy of it which they filed in Arizona when I was arrested there.

Copy here:

The cult's lawyers went to a huge effort in an unrelated case to have me in a deposition later the same day as the notice to appear. I believe I would have been arrested on camera at the deposition if the cult's lawyers had not screwed up by assumed something I put in a filing in the bankruptcy case to mean I knew about the notice to appear when I didn't.

If you wonder why I say something that could be considered to slander the judge (if it were not true), he is long dead, and there are a ton of legal precedents that you can't slander the dead. My lawyer and I would have tried to recuse Wallerstein had we known he had been engaged in a criminal conspiracy against me 7 months before the trial.

Comment: No good choices (Score 1) 298 298

by Keith Henson (#49887825) Attached to: G7 Vows To Phase Out Fossil Fuels By 2100

A solution by 2100 is about what I expect from the political world, i.e., put it off far beyond their term in office. Good reason actually. The existing renewable "solutions" are so expensive that coming down hard on carbon (that's coal for electrical generation and oil for transport) would kill the economy, the government that tried it would be replaced and the new government would repudiate the policies.

What's needed is a renewable energy source that's cheaper than coal. Then carbon emissions would fall fast and the economy would boom.

I can't say we have a solution yet, but we might have one. Here is a proposal to build solar power plants where the Sun shines close to 99% of the time. This video of transporting parts to GEO and building a thermal power satellite was recently made public. It was in a contest, but a team supported by the Chinese government won.

3000 of these could entirely replace the three cubic miles of oil (equivalent) of fossil fuel the human race uses each year. By the early 2030s if we got on it soon.

Cheaper than coal or oil too. Because Skylon is a UK project, the UK has the lead in fixing energy, carbon, climate and the difficult economic times due to expensive energy. Japan is paying close attention and actually spending serious money on power satellite development.

The most serious current problem is the NOx generated by vehicle reentry. Some atmospheric chemists are looking into the problem to see how much damage the traffic would cause to ozone.

Comment: Stopping the slide (Score 1) 293 293

by Keith Henson (#49706459) Attached to: Larson B Ice Shelf In Antarctica To Disintegrate Within 5 Years

There is a simple and relatively cheap way to stop the ice from sliding off into the ocean. It's well understood and has been used in large numbers for 40 years.

I refer to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline supports. There is a picture here of one of the thermal diodes that keep the permafrost frozen under the line. They are dirt simple, a pipe with a few gallons of ammonia or propane.

Far as I know, nobody has yet studied what it would cost or how to pay for it, but enough of them would freeze the glaciers to bedrock.

Comment: Re:Honestly (Score 1) 587 587

by Keith Henson (#49424985) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

The problem is science.

No space station? Well that's because people wrote those books, and books on moon colonies or terraforming Mars when they weren't really aware of how much effort it took just to get rockets off the ground. People thought going to Mars would be as easy as driving your car to Vegas, and over time people slowly became aware that it wasn't, and science wouldn't create any magical thing that would make it so.

I think you may be confusing science and engineering/economics. "Rocket science" has been around 202 years according to It's not as expensive to get into orbit as you think. If you just consider the energy it's around $2 a kg to GEO.

By combining Reaction Engines' Skylon and a method the microwave guru Bill Brown proposed, I think it is possible to get the cost down to less than $200/kg to GEO at a flight rate commensurate with the cargo requirements of a power satellite project. At that transport cost, energy from space can undercut electrical energy from coal--if you can get the mass of a 5 GW power satellite under 32,500 tons. Preprint here The one on getting the mass of a thermal power satellite down to where the project makes sense will be out in a few weeks.

But mostly you are right. I remember one place where Heinlein mentioned that "he and Ginny spent three solid days calculating on big sheets of butcher paper some of the Hohmann transfer orbits he was writing about . . ." Nowadays, you can run this off in half an hour with Excel (half hour to write, less than a ms to run) but how many of the current crop of writers would do even that?

Comment: Re:No they don't (Score 1) 226 226

by Keith Henson (#49383711) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space

Maury, if you want to attack a kind of renewable energy, you should pick a better way. It's cost rather than any other factor that makes the difference.

If you use levelized cost of electric power for electrical from space it turns out that the cost depends entirely on the capital investment since there is no fuel.

Capital investment depends on the cost to buy the parts and the shipping to get them to GEO. Cost of parts, including the rectenna is about $1100 per kW. This is based on steam turbines, which are about three times as efficient as current low cost PV. Analysis of the mass indicates they will mass about 6.5 kg/kW. That includes the concentrators, boilers, turbines, condenser/radiators, the transmitter and a frame to hold it all together.

This paper (preprint, but it's been published) shows how a substantial parts flow to GEO would cost less than $200/kg. That makes the whole thing come in at less than $2400/kW or 3 cents per kWh.

Coal costs 4 cents per kWh, so power from space (if this analysis is correct) would undercut coal.

Fastest this could happen is 2023 assuming Reaction Engines delivers as promised in 2021. On the kind of fast growth you would expect from something making a very high level of profit, power from space would completely displace more expensive fossil fuels by the early 2030s.

If you think that's a good idea, you might want to analyze power satellites from the end point of producing power for less than electricity from coal.

Comment: Re:Instilling values more important (Score 1) 698 698

I know it is off topic for your request, but if you have money well beyond what your wife and daughter need, you might consider cryonics. There are two companies out there, Alcor and CI. CI is lower cost, Alcor froze Hal Finney last year.

It may be a long shot, but in your condition, there are not many options--especially if you want a chance to see how your daughter does.

The last person I helped process for Alcor, Dr. Jim Stevenson, died of pancreatic cancer.

Comment: Re:Um, duh? (Score 1) 224 224

by Keith Henson (#48955159) Attached to: New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

"But putting the collectors in space will be stupid and uneconomic for the foreseeable future."

Maybe and then again, maybe not.

I don't think there is any point in making the investment for power satellites unless the cost of power produced from them is less than that from coal.

If you can get the cost of power down to $2400/kW, then the cost of power gets down to 3 cents, undercutting coal at 4 cents per kWh.

The cost of the parts and the rectenna is expected to be around $1100/kW. That leaves $1300/kW for transport. I *think* the mass of a kW reference to the ground will stay under 6.5 kg/kW (a thermal, not a PV design). That means the cost to lift large amounts of cargo to GEO can't exceed $200/kg.

Reaction Engines thinks Skylon will put cargo in LEO for $120/kg, leaving $80/kg for the cost of the LEO to GEO leg. That can't be done with chemical propulsion, but it looks like a ground powered arcjet tug that moves about 15,000 tons at a time could get the cost down to perhaps $65/kg. The arcjets exhaust velocity for this cost is around 25 km/s.

There is an IEEE paper that goes into the details here

Comment: One time pad (Score 1) 93 93

by Keith Henson (#48435939) Attached to: WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption

"End-to-end encryption is easy - you just need to send a courier with a one time pad."

Key management is a PITA. Still, making pairs of DVDs filled with random noise isn't that hard. If you seal them with glitter nail polish and send a picture of the sealing back, then you and the recipient can be fairly sure it wasn't intercepted and copied.

USB sticks are larger, but you need to completely erase the USB or DVD after copying to disk. Then the program needs to enforce that used blocks on the disk are erased.

Phil Z and one other name in the crypto biz thinks this is unneeded.

It doesn't work well for encrypting pirated movies, but for most stuff it's really secure.

Comment: Re:BLINDED BY SCIENCE !! (Score 1) 315 315

by Keith Henson (#47637577) Attached to: Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science

A simple thought experiment will tell you that if this thing works as stated, it's a source of free energy. I was amused by a post from a power satellite fan saying that the thing could be used to get parts from LEO to GEO to make power satellites economical.

It might make stuff cheaper to move in space, but the near free energy these things can generate eliminates the market for energy from space.

Comment: Re:And today (Score 1) 211 211

by Keith Henson (#47504521) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

I was in my last year of college when they landed. It's still one of my most intense memories.

It's worth keeping in mind that NASA is not the only game in town. The most interesting work right now is Skylon by Reaction Engines in the UK. Japan has the most interest in a commercial product, power satellites. Between them with China or Norway picking up much of the tab, we could see the first power satellite by 2023.

Artwork of a microwave ground station and and a vehicle to take 1000 15 ton Skylon payloads from LEO out to GEO to build power satellites.

Ground transmitter size

Microwave rockets 3 pixs

Comment: In the old days (Score 1) 125 125

by Keith Henson (#47490043) Attached to: FTC To Trap Robocallers With Open Source Software

In the long, long ago when telemarketers were humans and more often known as telephone solictors, I listed my phone number under a high school nickname, Heimdallr the Watcher., or Watcher, H.T.

That made it easy to sort out the telemarketers, it was a legit call if they asked from "the Watcher," but a dead giveaway if they asked for Mrs. Watcher.

So the standard rap would be, "Sorry, Mrs. Watcher is here but she can't speak to you."

Sometimes they would bite and ask "Why?"

"Well, you see, Mrs. Watcher used to be a telephone solicitor." [Dramatic pause]

"Until someone caught her." [Another dramatic pause]


Usually this got a laugh, but at least once the telemarketer said she was calling the cops.

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."