Ken Fabian

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About Ken Fabian

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    Climate Science: Climate Politics: Energy technologies: Human Evolution

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  1. Alternative to space suits

    Being able to work safely without holding on - and without a permanent tether - seems like a necessary threshold for serious construction work in space; much too limiting of work potential otherwise. I don't see that booted feet are that much use for holding on anyway. NASA added them to space suits (Manned Manoeuvring Units) , although they discontinued using them, because of that drifting off issue I suppose. I don't think the issues are insurmountable, whether with single person "capsules" or space suits. I still think that anything less than independent movement will limit a space worker's efficiency and effectiveness - and given the high costs of getting them there as well as the innate difficulties of working in zero gee anything that improved their effectiveness is surely important. Easily avoided - use soft jawed grabbers. Although I do wonder if serious in-space construction work would be best done within some kind of enclosed safety barrier, to prevent both workers and materials drifting away.
  2. Alternative to space suits

    I don't think an astronaut would use feet as well as hands on a ladder (why a ladder at all?) in zero gee - and I'm not suggesting a capsule that is much more massive than a space suit, that could not be pulled around by hands. But would much movement be done physically like that? I would think micro jets would handle most movements and do so more easily than clambering around. I read somewhere that most manual tasks in zero gee take about 2.5 times as long as in gravity - just on the basis of efficiency of movement jetting around would beat clambering.
  3. Alternative to space suits

    Swansont - I was thinking gyroscopic stabilisers for maintaining orientation - I would expect space suits to have those too - as well as grabbers of some kind to anchor with and give resistance to work against. I don't doubt there would be situations where booted feet would work or spaces would be too tight for even a smallish capsule - not that suits aren't bulky and awkward too - but wondered if it may be a requirement for being able to operate inside a space vessel, if only for emergencies, that has a real necessity for legs. Yet most outside work wouldn't need legs and working for long periods ought be easier and more comfortable in a "pod" or capsule, even if it's only just enough room to pull arms back in and deal with body's needs.
  4. Alternative to space suits

    Wouldn't a small capsule - that has external arm/gloves - be more practical for working in free fall than a space suit with legs? Seems like legs are mostly not used on space walks and having space suits with them adds complications that serve no real purpose. You could pull your arms back inside a capsule and scratch your bum - do all those necessary things like eat, drink, piss, blow your nose or wipe off sweat. Also you could have access to the essential hardware, in case. A capsule wouldn't have to have a lot of internal space. It would also be possible to have mechanical grabbers and tools operated by internal controls. Any designs for such a thing out there?
  5. Hardest word for you to spell

    Why the exception for pronouns? Anyway, usage is the final arbiter.
  6. Hardest word for you to spell

    Neighbour - which is often spelt missing the "u" - always had me struggling. I use "it's" when I'm informed it's supposed to have no apostrophe - ("it's apostrophe being both wrong and superfluous"). I dig my heels in and use it anyway, in line with apostrophe as indicator of belonging to; perhaps common usage - and I'm not the only one - will end up making it correct.
  7. Woodworking: Amateurs, Craftsmen, & In-Between

    Thank you. I've been pleased with the end results - and have enjoyed the learning process involved. I'd wrongly imagined that style of woodworking would be intrinsically easy and was surprised at the challenges it presents. I began with what grows on our own land, harvesting the poles - more demanding than it sounds to preserve the natural surfaces without bruising or blemishes. I was making the tenons with draw-knife and spoke shave, moved to using hole saws and cutting away the excess around - having to grind down spade bits to get the right fit - and only much later discovered there were such things as a tenon-cutters and forstner bits, which are like giant pencil sharpeners and clever hole cutters for larger diameters. Whatever you have in mind, it's likely there will be some kind of specialised machine or tool out there. Yet there is a lot of satisfaction working with hand tools - which is good because I've found myself needing them again and again.
  8. Woodworking: Amateurs, Craftsmen, & In-Between

    I enjoy working with round poles, only rarely sawn or dressed timber -
  9. Vertical Farms: Ethanol Fuel

    I'm not sure vertical ethanol farming would manage 3 acres per floor. Maximising the area exposed to sunlight would mean limiting the area to that which allows sunlight to penetrate. Where vertical farming makes effective use of sunlight it makes equivalent large areas that are shadowed; you can't pack them too closely or they shade each other. Light will penetrate mostly from the sides rather than above; no light coming from above will reach the floor below the top one. Ultimately no more sunlight is available than with horizontal farming. Replacing sunlight with artificial lighting would introduce a major energy input in a process intended to maximise energy output - and even if the lighting is high efficiency, plant conversion of light to energy is not - more than 2% of the sunlight converted is considered very good. That may be improvable by selection, breeding and genetic engineering - but enough? Artificial lighting is not so good; it has to use sunlight as it's principle energy source to deliver more energy than it consumes. The innate usefulness of biofuels has been based on the fact that ones like wood just grow, often on agriculturally marginal land, without cultivation and with minimal processing. I suspect the much higher efficiency of Photovoltaics combined with electrically driven chemistry has greater potential to produce transportable liquid (or gas) fuels. How well they can compete with (still improving) batteries will probably be revealed over the next decade or two.
  10. Stephen Hawking says we have 100 years left

    I think space is a lot harder to colonise successfully than people like Pr Hawking are saying. I also don't think "preserving the species" or preserving our civilisation is a motivation that will work; colonies will arise as a flow on consequence of economically viable exploitation of space resources by a successful, not a failing, Earth economy; those economic activities have to be the enabling motivation and some form of self reliant colonisation may, in time, be an emergent outcome. Outposts are one thing - everything they rely on is a product of a large, successful, resourceful Earth economy. Self sufficient colonies are something much larger and more comprehensive - they need to be the large, successful, resourceful economy. If they aren't then they won't be able to make the high tech essentials survival in such places requires and they won't thrive. If they aren't economically viable outposts - and I don't think there is any resource on Mars that cannot be mined, refined and delivered to customers more easily and cheaply here on Earth - then they won't become the successful economy they need to be to survive without support. And I wonder if even a multitude of space colonies would still be more at risk of extinction than people on Earth and besides being reliant on a lifeline from Earth, there is a strong likelihood they could end up calling upon Earth for rescue; we cannot ignore just how extremely harsh and unforgiving the destinations on offer really are. Unlike the historic examples of colonisation, this grand dream relies on exceptional, purpose built - yet to be achieved - technology, rather than the thoroughly proven sort that was in every day use. With some extraordinary technological leaps, perhaps the economics of using space resources will shift from being prohibitive to become compelling but I'm not sure it's something that can be achieved incrementally; the giant steps require a huge pre-investment and that level of investment is unlikely without the compelling economics of a compelling business plan.
  11. Magnetic Reconnection & Atmospheric Currents

    Any presumption that climate scientists are incompetent and that the science linking greenhouse gases to global average temperatures and climate is fundamentally flawed is going to fail - because they are not incompetent and there is no evidence they dismiss or reject any genuine and demonstrable influences on climate. Take care that you do not fall into the mistake of dismissing out of hand any genuine and demonstrable influences - like Greenhouse Effect and atmospheric aerosols and surface albedo changes in order to support your hypothesis, which you have not yet demonstrated to be a significant, let alone more significant influence than they are.
  12. Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    Perhaps it's a cunning plan - fan the flames of conflict around the world in order to fix the US deficit by increased exports of military hardware.
  13. Of course the doctor tells the patient; if the PSA levels are indicative of potential prostate cancer then it's important that follow up tests are done. To withhold such information would be negligence/malpractice. I suspect anyone who has gone through the sex change thing would be well informed about the medical implications, including the ongoing potential for prostate problems.
  14. Origional solution to Achilies and tortoise paradox

    Well, I wouldn't hire Zeno as a running coach! "See where the competitor in front is? That's your finish line... no, where he is now! Dammit, he keeps moving! Where he is now, Now! Now, now, no-, n-, n- ... Oh, you've passed him! And I thought that wasn't possible!" I never thought it was much of a paradox - more an example of a mis-stated problem leading to a mis-taken conclusion.
  15. The North Korea Problem

    TenOz - I'm not serious in the sense that I doubt anyone who has any actual responsibility in this is interested in or will be influenced by my 2c worth. I freely admit to a lack of relevant expertise and, usually, I prefer to defer to experts who know a lot more than I do. No doubt there is an element of Dunning-Kruger in my simplistic alternative solutions - that if I knew a lot more maybe I might see why they can't or won't help. And yet it doesn't take an expert to see there is an enduring absence of expert solutions that do work. Where there is a high level of disagreement amongst experts I suspect there are things that are, if not overlooked are overshadowed - most of all that there are competing and incompatible motivations at play; retaining power and keeping up appearances internally are not the same as securing enduring solutions. Kim Jong-un's posturing is for internal consumption, as is Donald Trump's. I suppose helping North Korea economically in order to ease them towards more normalised international relations is too counter-intuitive despite the regime having come to depend on the existence of outside enemies for legitimacy and solidarity. I doubt there is any genuine plan to attack the US or, with the exception of South Korea, it's allies - although I suppose passing on WMD's to crazies that would use them is a real possibility - yet that threat would also be reduced by improved economic circumstances and more normal relations.