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Comment: Re:Maybe 40k (Score 5, Informative) 389

by catchblue22 (#47932225) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

Except that these cars ARE CO2-emitting cars, unless you have arranged to get the power for your charger from renewable sources (difficult and expensive in most parts of the country). Here in Texas, these actually become a combination of coal, natural gas and nuclear burning cars.

I addessed this issue in this post. Short answer: even if the electricity is produced by coal, the large efficiency of electric motors, thermal power plants, and the electricity transmission system will ensure less emissions caused by an electric car than from a gasoline powered car. And my calculations didn't even take into account the emissions from processing oil into gasoline, which are especially high if the source is from tar sands. My calculations are referenced and I believe them to be reasonable.

Comment: Re:Decisions, Decisions... (Score 4, Interesting) 123

by catchblue22 (#47876237) Attached to: SpaceX and Boeing Battle For US Manned Spaceflight Contracts

As an astronaut, I wonder which would appeal to me more? The "Exciting Choice" or the "Safe Choice?" On one hand, I'll be strapped to it as it launches it (and me) into space. On the other hand...I'm an astronaut! My choice of car is probably NOT a fucking Volvo.

How about the tested choice. Space X has a built capsule, whose first version has returned from the space station several times. They are quite close to flying...they just need to test the launch abort system and the capsule will be almost ready to fly. From what I understand, Boeing hasn't built a capsule yet. They only have a paper/electronic design and a few "mock ups". Given the capsules are supposed to fly in 2016, I think the capsule that has actually been tested is the "safe choice". The article seems to me to be Boeing propaganda.

Comment: Is contributor Loren Thompson trustworthy? (Score 1) 123

by catchblue22 (#47876157) Attached to: SpaceX and Boeing Battle For US Manned Spaceflight Contracts

From the article:

“Boeing is the safe choice, SpaceX is the exciting choice and Sierra Nevada the interesting choice,” Loren Thompson, an analyst with Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Virginia-based research group, said in a phone interview.

Loren Thompson, as the COO of the Lexington group has a notorious history of "advocacy" for big air force contractors according to this article from Harpers Magazine. The title of the article is "Mad Men: Introducing the defense industry's pay-to-play ad agency". Here is a quote from the article:

Lexington claims to "shape the public debate" on a wide array of policies (including "the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation"), but its priority is clearly defense. "By promoting America's ability to project power around the globe", reads its mission statement, "we not only defend the homeland of democracy, but also sustain the international stability in which other free-market democracies can thrive", Lexington does not publicly disclose its donors, but much of its funding - about $2.5 million in 2008 - comes from defense giants, including at least three whose prospects are evaluated in this brief. Lexington's free-market pabulum, then, is underwritten by an industry that is beholden to government planning, direction, and money, and that operates entirely outside the constraints of supply and demand.

Loren Thompson, Lexington's chief operating officer and the author of this report, played a supporting role in a 2003 scandal involving Boeing's attempt to secure a lease-to-buy agreement with the Air Force for one hundred aerial-refueling tankers. The contract - which at $24 billion would have cost the Air Force significantly more than simply buying a new fleet outright - was canceled when Senator John McCain discovered that an Air Force procurement official had fixed the deal for Boeing while negotiating a job for herself with the company. McCain also unearthed emails showing that the Air Force had used Thompson to help sell the deal to the press. As a senior aide to Air Force Secretary James Roche put it in one of the messages: "We've got Loren doing the Lord's work again. '3rd Party' support at its best."

Comment: Re:Hooray for Space-X (Score 3, Interesting) 32

Some days, I honestly think the MBA must have been a Soviet plot to destroy the West.

Amen. I have been thinking something like that for years. MBA programs are like pernicious cults. So many failures and yet MBA's just keep on hiring clones of themselves.

The idea that a company can be run by someone who knows nothing about what the company does is a prime example of MBA delusion. I know of a food manufacturing plant who hired an MBA whose previous experience was in running a train assembly plant. All he could do was to sit upstairs and stair at graphs. Meanwhile the plant function decayed and profitability disappeared. The person he replaced had started his career from the plant floor, and had run the plant profitably for many years. Bring in an MBA and within two years, the damage was done. He was fired.

The other obvious examples: Apple - started by Steve Jobs (not an MBA). Makes Schully (an MBA) CEO. Almost goes bankrupt. Rehires Steve Jobs and becomes one of the world's most successful companies.

Space X, Solar City, Tesla, Paypal started by Elon Musk (not an MBA). All four are remarkably successful and disruptive businesses.

The lesson: People who actually understand the nuts and bolts of the businesses they run make far better leaders than those who don't have a clue what their businesses do. Surprise, surprise.

Comment: Re:You could just use Salt... (Score 2) 245

by catchblue22 (#47803553) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

Does anyone know if this ever got off the ground?

To quote the wikipedia page on molten salt batteries

Magnesium–antimony cells

In 2009, Donald Sadoway and his team proposed a very low cost molten salt battery originally[20] based on magnesium and antimony separated by a salt[21] that could be potentially used in Grid energy storage systems.[22] Research on this concept is being funded by ARPA-E,[23] Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Total S.A.[24] Experimental data showed 69% storage efficiency, it had good storage capacity (over 1000mAh/cm2) and relatively low leakage (

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 1) 848

by catchblue22 (#47778807) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

Both in Korea and in Vietnam, there were plenty of Soviet advisors in the communist forces, and in some cases they were troops actively engaged in fighting - in particular, fighter pilots were often Soviets. So yes, US and Soviet troops did actually shoot directly at each other as part of Cold War.

But it was not a formalized declared "shooting war" in which Americans explicitly targeted Soviets and Soviets explicitly targeted Americans. What we saw were undeclared skirmishes. There was no fanning of Soviet public opinion that Americans were killing thousands of Soviets and that Soviet citizens had to enlist to revenge those killings. If Americans were explicitly and publically killing Russians today (or the reverse), it would be the beginning of World War III. Any policy that puts us unnecessarily close to such an incident is reckless.

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 4, Insightful) 848

by catchblue22 (#47777289) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

Im not 100% clear why we wouldnt want to get involved here, if ever there were a time to get involved.

Ukraine disarmed itself in 2006 at our urging, with the understanding that we would come to their aid if ever it were needed. At the same time, having a superpower like Russia going into full imperialism mode is good for noone but Russia. A tepid response like the one theyve been given will only encourage further aggression.

Assuming that you are implying American boots/bombs on the ground in the Ukraine, are you crazy? I mean seriously. Are you? There is in my opinion a dangerous detachment from reality in some circles of American political discussion about confronting Russia. Perhaps you may feel my language is inflamatory. But I get kind of disturbed when so many people, including those in power, put forward actions which would likely lead to thermonuclear war.

Looking back at history, there has never been a shooting war between the Soviet Union and the US. Never. The Cold War? It was always fought between proxies of the great powers. We would sell arms to pro-US or anti-Soviet interests (like in 1980's Afghanistan), or we would directly confront pro-Soviet interests (like in Vietnam). We came close to a shooting war with the Soviets more than once (the Bay of Pigs in Cuba). But such a war never happened, because those in power knew that such a war would inevitably decay into a thermonuclear war that would likely end western civilization with the press of a button.

The proper response to this is to strengthen military forces in new NATO member states surrounding Russia, including US boots on the ground. This will make a clear line that Russia knows it cannot cross without provoking all-out war. Unfortunately Ukraine is not part of NATO. We might be able to sell arms to Ukraine, but there are risks and limitations to this. What must be made clear to Russia is that if it enters Ukraine, it will face profound economic isolation. If it goes further it must be clear that it will result in WWIII. Thus we end in a stalemate. Not unlike the Cold War.

Comment: Re: Public cynicism about fusion (Score 1) 147

by catchblue22 (#47749839) Attached to: Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

Here is the PhD thesis of Thomas J. McGuire who is designing the compact fusion device mentioned in the parent comment. This 2007 thesis argues for the need to build compact fusion devices and surveys some options with their strengths and flaws. I don't think it describes in detail the high beta reactor he is currently designing at Lockheed Martin. Still, it shows the idea of him designing this reactor is plausible.

Comment: Re: Public cynicism about fusion (Score 4, Interesting) 147

by catchblue22 (#47749333) Attached to: Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

The Skunkworks high beta fusion reactor seems very interesting. 100MW reactor the size of a semi trailer and the complexity of a jet engine. Uses radio waves to heat the plasma (like a microwave oven). Confines plasma in a cylinder as opposed to a torus. In a tokamak reactor the confining magnetic field is created by the motion of the plasma. Thus the strength of the field decreases further from the plasma, creating an inherent instability. This creates a negative stability feedback because if the tokamak plasma expands the confining field gets weaker. I believe this is one of the reasons tokamaks need to be so huge to function.

The high beta reactor has a confining field that increases in strength as you move farther from the plasma, making confinement inherently stable. The machine was designed by Dr. Thomas McGuire who did his PhD thesis on fusors at MIT. It may be possible to build a full reactor by as soon as 2017 for a cost measured in millions, NOT billions.

Comment: Re:Makers! (Score 5, Informative) 108

by catchblue22 (#47740577) Attached to: Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

What "rocket engine" is 3D printed?

The nozzle for the Superdraco engine is 3d printed. The alloy is too hard to machine, so 3D printing is the only practical way of manufacturing them. It will be the landing thruster for the propulsive landing Dragonfly crew vehicle. It will land with the accuracy of a helicopter. Here is a video of it being cycled through its various thrust levels. Very cool.

Comment: Problems with SLS (Score 3, Informative) 53

by catchblue22 (#47724351) Attached to: NASA's Space Launch System Searches For a Mission

Aside from the horrific cost of the SLS (18 billion dollars) it is worth considering the fundamental flaws of it. If you use it to launch astronauts with the Orion spacecraft, you are using somewhere around a quarter of the SLS's lift capacity. If you want to use it to send things to Mars, you will need to add another stage, which is non-trivial. Overall, this seems like a giant corporate welfare program for NASA's contractors.

Comment: Watch out for ULA Propaganda (Score 5, Interesting) 393

by catchblue22 (#47659789) Attached to: 3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

I have posted before that there is evidence that ULA has initiated a propaganda campaign against Space X. From what I have read, Shockey Scofield Solutions, which is a PR firm hired by ULA is tightly linked with congressional lobbyist culture...they know how to pull particular strings in Washington. This seems to have their fingerprints all over it.

We should really be aware of the reason why ULA was formed in the first place. A few years ago the government decided to bring competition into launch procurement, by creating a bidding process. The dominant/only American players, Boeing and Lockheed responded by merging their launch products into the United Launch Alliance so that in almost all cases there would be only one bidder for American launches. This resulted in an increase in launch costs.

Enter SpaceX, which looks to be a real competitor. ULA can't absorb Space X, so they seem to be doing everything they can to sabotage them instead. From proposing financial rules on bidding companies that are biased against smaller players, to focussing on trivial "anomolies" that put uncertainty in the (simple) minds of Congressional lawmakers, to floating fanciful speculative stories about future vaporware "Space Planes" that will leapfrog SpaceX's cheaper launch platforms, to calling Elon Musk a corporate welfare bum (as if ULA wasn't the queen of queens of welfare queens).

The simple fact is that Space X has taken older proven technology and molded it into what promises to be a robust and reliable launch platform. ULA knows this, and the only thing they know how to do is to make this a gutter fight. They are despicable.

Comment: Re:What about a coal powered Tesla? (Score 1) 122

by catchblue22 (#47590349) Attached to: Elon Musk Promises 100,000 Electric Cars Per Year

Don't forget the processing and distribution costs associated with liquid fuels... including the ethanol.

Yes. I think my calculations are conservative. Especially if we are relying on fuel from the tar sands, which are MASSIVELY inefficient in terms of CO2 emissions. They have to melt the tar in order to separate from the sand and refine it. They use natural gas and a large amount of fresh water. Think about that water, Californians. Now much of that wonderful fresh water is languishing in huge pools, mixed with a toxic slew of organic chemicals and heavy metals.

The tar sands are madness. When I think of Alberta tar sands, I think of Mordor.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project