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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  1. I'd put documentary above SF - they at least attempt (the ones I'm tempted by) to be factual, but I find I struggle to keep watching the doco's too; the last time I tried the overly dramatic background music and awestruck narration was just too much. And I was familiar with most of the content, so not much that was new. SF unfortunately presents a fantasy vision of Humans in Space that references the F of other SF far more than it references S. They get so much so wrong that I can't look past the mistakes. Whether back in my youth, when a space monster blocked the air intakes of the ship of Lost in Space - the Robinsons were going to asphyxiate (even then we thought it was stupid) - or my failed attempt to watch "Expanse", that others consider very good. Having the SF standard tyrannical and corrupt UN running Earth badly in Expanse was mildly irritating but I know most people who like SF will be Americans who have been taught to dislike and distrust the UN, so it hits their buttons (but annoy me) and there is an independent and powerful Mars (colonising Mars is inevitable, right?); these are the kind of tropes that get used to suit viewer tastes I don't share. But it was the water shortage on Ceres that lost me. Seriously? They are a major mining operation but they don't know you can heat carbonaceous chondrite material and get water? And don't they do recycling? There are some SF writers (of novels) that I enjoy a lot but very little of TV or cinema SF can grab me; it is the ones that don't take themselves seriously, that are unashamedly fantasy or comedy or both that are most likely to appeal to me.
  2. Just asking. Isn't Au (gold) a precious metal? It is good to see progress on better electrolyzers and I hope it flows through to renewable Hydrogen production. It won't become widely used without better electrolyzers. I see iron smelting and chemical feedstocks as the uses of most significance. I am less optimistic for H2 as transport fuel and as transportable fuel; iron production and chemical feedstocks can operate with on-site production and storage at low(er) pressure and therefore cheaper than bringing it from somewhere else. Battery electric looks better for vehicles - overall much higher energy efficiencies and piggy backs onto existing energy distribution networks. Hydrogen as transport fuel needs economy wide infrastructure built from zero. One more halving of battery costs will make existing type EV's unstoppable. One more doubling of energy density will make EV's unstoppable - and open up aviation to battery electric. Achieve both and it is game over for fossil fuels. Hydrogen won't be in that game. I'm cynical and think that, important as clean iron smelting and fertiliser production is too much is being made of Hydrogen - and the reason it has such widespread political support is that it can't do much any time soon. Those looking for empty gestures to follow up their empty gestures on zero emission targets like renewable Hydrogen sometime in the future, but so does the fossil fuel industry, that currently make most Hydrogen like it; it uses empty gestures on Carbon Capture and Storage to justify competing (with aid of subsidies from sympathetic politicians) against emerging clean Hydrogen and other clean energy.
  3. The more sophisticated the technology becomes the less likely that any repairs in flight by non-specialists will be possible. Reliability is the key, not repairability. Having a pilot along in an automated space vehicle because some passengers feel safer becomes a question of psychology and behavior of the passengers. The solution for the passengers will be confronting and overcoming fears of automated/remote flight control rather than the solution being the company's via the inclusion of an unnecessary pilot that will eat up payload and profitability whilst being unlikely to be able to save anyone.
  4. And I think there is nothing inevitable about it, nor see that space tourism, even as some kind of interim step, will deliver overall benefits to humanity. If you don't want people to argue about other issues around space tourism in this thread you need to avoid including big picture opinions that others can legitimately disagree with.
  5. Beecee, SpaceX demonstrated that crew are not necessary to fly a rocket carrying passengers, as is routinely done for rockets that don't carry passengers. Why aren't you celebrating this as a success? Actually this made me recall The Right Stuff, where the rocket scientists were planning pilot-less rockets but there were objections. Mostly around public perceptions - test pilots who actually get to fly them made for better PR than sending chimpanzees. Or scientists. Or pilots that had nothing to do. I don't know if that reflected the actual arguments that led to having pilots and giving them some controls to operate - as well as a viewport. But it does seem like it was always a choice, not a necessity. It may not be pilots or engineers that space tourist flights cannot do without - it could be the flight attendants.
  6. Isn't one of the objectives to increase the delivery capability by avoiding the need for a crew? Isn't this an example of demonstrating that they are not required? If there is a problem maybe it won't be a pilot needed, but an engineer - or, I suppose, a pilot-engineer but I think the principle lesson that should be taken from examples of repairs done in space is to improve equipment reliability, not insist on taking a crew capable of doing repairs. Equipment reliability is paramount and anticipation of what can go wrong is an essential element of that. But, as an opinionated aside - I'm of the view that insisting on crews reduces overall capabilities of most space mission objectives... apart from the ones where the ability to take people is a principle mission objective... I suppose like space tourism, except space tourism without a crew can take more paying passengers. Which objective I don't see as either a great leap forward or in any way a necessary stepping stone to less self indulgent and more significant objectives.
  7. Part one is plant growth that takes up CO2. Part two is storing what is grown to prevent the decomposition that returns that CO2 to the atmosphere. That will be the case whether it is trees, grass, algae or cyanobacteria. Part two looks like the intractable part. Increased overall biomass within the carbon cycle stores carbon without it being stored in long term sinks - but making such an increase permanent looks difficult. Biofuels can theoretically be carbon neutral - the CO2 is taken up and burned again as fuel, to be taken up again. It can displace fossil fuel burning and prevent CO2 levels rising but won't reduce the levels of CO2 already there. I don't know if cyanobacteria are candidates for biofuel production I think shifting to low emissions/zero emissions has to be the highest priority - preventing the emissions rather than relying on taking up the CO2 after.
  8. I expect that most people who don't want to pay taxes for taxpayer funded community education still like being part of a community that gets educated - they just want businesses and people other than themselves to pay for it, ie they want to get the benefits without paying for it. Businesses are advantaged by the availability of educated employees - as they benefit from healthy employees. Similarly they also benefit from employees of other companies being well paid, via strong consumer demand - but not want to pay their own well. I suspect the wealthy get more overall benefits from the services governments support through taxes than any other demographic - law and order to protect their wealth, infrastructure to support their business activities, educated workers, healthy workers. Programs that reduce inequality don't only divert money from the successful (deserving) to the unsuccessful (undeserving) they also reduce the risks of crime and social disruptions that, if allowed to grow can lead to riots, terrorism and militant uprisings. Education is a key pathway to sustainably reducing poverty across generations and that not only benefits the individuals and their families directly but benefits their neighbors and businesses and their owners and the State and Nation. I think the illusion that governments are like companies and running them like businesses would do it better is widely promoted and feeds popular opposition to taxpayer funded education and other "social" programs - but governments are not companies; where companies fire unproductive employees and costs are avoided they stay on the government's books whether they are productive or not and those kinds of costs resist being avoided.
  9. The Vat - I'm happy to discuss these issues - and any issues with my arguments, but Doogles circling back to the same arguments won't keep me engaged here a lot longer. After having not really tried - a large part of mainstream politics trying really hard to not try - we get declarations of defeat. Makes me think of The Simpsons - "We've tried nothing and we're all out of ideas". Except that despite beginning as a combination of empty gestures and give em enough rope - getting government support because they were not expected to work and rocked no boats - wind and solar have exceeded all expectations and I think that success is the reason nations are now willing to at least say they are committed to zero emissions. Actual policies that have real ambition are only just emerging, so declarations of defeat look premature as well as being self-serving arguments by opponents of emissions accountability. Yes, there has been population growth and economic growth and growth of energy demand. Of course emissions are continuing to rise; most of the highest emissions nations have sought to do the least they can. They have almost always put near term economic growth and growth of energy availability and reliability and least cost (whilst excluding climate costs) ahead of emissions reductions. Less than 1 year ago the USA had a President and Congress that were fiercely opposed to climate action. My own nation still has fierce supporters of fossil fuels in charge of climate policy and demand others have a plan, with costings ("you care so much, you fix it" - and "NOT like THAT") whilst not doing their best to not have a plan. Less than 1 decade ago wind and solar were still more expensive than equivalent fossil fuels almost everywhere, but now they are not. Now more new solar and wind is being built each year than all new fossil fuel energy combined, much greater than new demand is growing but not yet enough to prevent new growth of fossil fuels in the presence of strong support for fossil fuels by people who don't care about global warming; the consequences of crossing that tipping point on costs take time to flow through but nothing is going to be the same. Even recent past performance of low emissions alternatives cannot give a clear idea of how they will perform in the future.
  10. Yes it is not just a dirty energy problem but that is the biggest part - and we have solutions that work now and can be made to work better; I think the growth of clean energy should be the principle response whilst still adequately supporting efforts to reduce GHG emissions from other activities like agriculture. Aiming to eliminate or at least greatly reduce methane as well as CO2 emissions from rice, livestock and other agriculture is necessary and whilst it can help to encourage less meat or rice eating, like with population control I don't see regulation of consumer food choice as a viable option. I do see carbon pricing rather than direct regulation as a regulatory mechanism - and more to encourage producers to use the options R&D develop rather than than to influence consumers directly; carbon pricing works when there are existing alternatives and the level of pricing imposed make the alternatives commercially viable. Greater policy ambition becomes acceptable option if Doubt, Deny, Delay style "climate policy" loses it's popular appeal and power to demotivate; people accept some level of sacrifice for the common good if it is clear and uncontroversial that it will do some good but even those who care will struggle to do so when led to believe such actions are pointless - as opponents of climate accountability encourage people to believe. I see the population issue being used like that - encouraging the view that climate action is pointless and or is some kind of slippery slope to tyranny. I think we are on a slipperier slope to tyranny by failing to address this profoundly serious problem than by seeking to evade and delay - tyranny becomes most popular when things are going from bad to worse. Nations of the world do make efforts to address population growth through their UN memberships and participation - they lead the UN, not the UN leading them. What policy responses nations make are entered into freely. Any regulation is their own, not the UN's, even where the UN (because nations want it) provides aid and assistance. I suspect that delay on doing the things we can do near term - like shifting to clean energy - may be a more serious risk of rising methane concentrations than near term agriculture emissions, because of warming feedbacks leading to large releases of "natural" methane. That being one of those hard to pin down "tipping points".
  11. Doogles - If the assumption is that fossil fuel burning is unavoidable then consumption of them and emissions appear directly linked to population - and in 1993 I expect that was an underlying assumption. It is only recently that it has been seen as both necessary and possible to shift to zero emissions - which makes un-linking of global warming solutions from population possible. It doesn't un-link other problems with large and growing populations but I suspect that an NAS report on population, if commissioned now, would acknowledge that global warming is primarily a dirty energy problem that can be treated apart from population.
  12. Doogles - I don't agree that the principle cause of the global warming problem is overpopulation; whilst true that less people relying on fossil fuel burning reduces the climate problem the same number of people using clean energy reduces the problem a lot more and doesn't risk crimes against humanity like population control does. It is a simplistic but incorrect view to blame overpopulation and that leads to the incorrect conclusion that effective climate action is not possible or else will require tyrannical levels of control over peoples lives, ie climate activism will lead to crimes against humanity. Wrong. A transition to zero emissions is the principle way on offer to fix global warming for the population we have and expect to have. We will do that at scales beyond anything before or else fail. Whatever climate policies we have must include the reasonable aspirations and expectation people have to have kids, even whilst promoting smaller numbers of them and providing easy access to contraception makes a lot of sense. Doogles - The last link is full of baseless claims. My response is that climate science got to where it could confidently say CO2 is causing global warming legitimately. The National Academy of Sciences report "Understanding Climatic Change: A Program for Action" in 1975 proposed a program for action (go figure) to develop sufficient quantitative understanding that predicting the course of climate change and a decade later that was showing that we didn't have to worry about imminent global cooling, but the reason why was just as bad or worse. At that time they already had a good qualitative understanding, like knowing what principle climate processes were in play. Climate change science had bipartisan support; back then if there were a real problem, people in positions of trust and responsibility wanted to know. Only later did a lot decide they preferred not to know. Doogles, try the US National Academy of Sciences or read the State of the Climate reports or the IPCC AR6 report. Try to read with the understanding that what they publish comes from competent, honest professional scientists doing their jobs. It really is the best available knowledge and no-one is making it up. And consider that police and intelligence services are competent professionals too, fully capable of uncovering patterns of falsification and exposing conspiracy where it exists. i don't doubt they have been asked, but their assessment was and is that global warming science and global warming are true.
  13. No, the IPCC reports were more conservative in the past, not less, with more care to emphasise uncertainty over confident and unequivocal statements. The hockey stick "controversy" was never a real controversy and Mann's early modeling has been confirmed as close to the mark. Multiple independent studies confirm the fundamental nature and existence of global warming, including hockey stick like change. Al Gore - not a scientist - speaking of worst case possibilities that haven't eventuated is not good reason to doubt the veracity of mainstream climate science - not when the most likely possibilities have eventuated, and those are as serious as was claimed. Questioning whether climate change has a net positive or net negative or where some kind of sweet spot between harms and benefits might lie has been tried. But you will struggle to find conservationists/environmentalists - and a great many ordinary people - for whom the remnant natural ecosystems and species have high value who will accept economic modeling that says the losses will be worth it. Adding 4 or 5 C degrees to already very hot and dry regions that experience serious droughts and heatwaves will have very serious consequences - adding that much to any region will have profound and serious and not entirely predictable outcomes. That kind of not being predictable doesn't make it more likely that no harms will occur greater, just makes the seriousness of the worst ones greater. Cost vs benefits studies have also been done in purely economic terms and the answer from credible ones appears to be the same; the disruptions from change will have costs impacting people now living, in their lifetimes, that no far future "better climate state" after they are gone can compensate for. And the potential for extreme outcomes with catastrophic outcomes remain real and in risk assessment terms, very high. So, if you find one claim - say that fires can't be clearly tied to climate change - does that make all the claims that have turned out right, like ice loss, ocean heat content rise, temperature rise, more frequent and severe heatwaves, more new hot temperature records broken and less new cold records - do you count the one claim as significant but all the rest not?
  14. I'm not sure it works like that. It isn't a new species until there is a population. An individual with the characteristics of a new species isn't a new species it is a variant within the existing species. That may seem a technicality but I don't think so; he/she needed to successfully breed within that existing population and the subsequent new species will be descendants of a lot of other individuals besides that one even if the whole new species counts that individual as a progenitor. Whether the traits are recessive or dominant will matter too; an individual with traits of the yet to come new species could need the combination of recessive mutations already part of the population, originating from an individual who did not have those traits; the population has the genes. I'm inclined to think two healthy humans could go on to found a viable population if they were lucky and began free of deleterious mutations. Incest taboos would have to be set aside. Australia's problem rabbit population began with the release of 13 individual rabbits; they went on to populate and overpopulate a continent. I seem to recall an island overrun with moose or elk or something that began with 5 individuals. These may not do well in competition with other related populations - they may well be outcompeted and displaced by healthier, better adapted populations - but may do well in isolation. But perhaps founder effect will see important traits emerge that ultimately let them outcompete the species they came from - maybe low probability, but possible.
  15. It is not that renewable energy tech has no problem waste, but that fossil fuel use makes so, so, so much problem waste - without any real way to reduce it. Even leaving aside CO2, the waste from fossil fuels is enormous, such as 1 billion metric tons a year of heavy metals contaminated coal ash alone. But there is no leaving aside CO2; that is the point of shifting away from fossil fuels. We might visit municipal landfill sites and think that is a lot of waste but coal ash (fly ash) waste pits and ponds are much larger - just out of sight and usually off limits to the public. And leaving enduring problems. The wind power (and solar and battery waste) problem looks small in comparison; the RE industry would have to try hard at being dirty to come anywhere close. The renewable energy sector in most developed nations support the development of recycling as safe waste management - even willing to include pre-payment provisions in purchase contracts to support it. The fossil fuel sector still fiercely opposes any accountability for their waste.
  16. This study of Solar in Switzerland (in part a response to another study in support of nuclear that claimed PV used more energy than it produced) came up with 7-10 times more energy produced than energy used, in less than ideal Swiss climate. That includes associated equipment, installation etc, not just solar cells. Other studies have come up with higher than that and lower. Currently home solar is heavily advertised in Australia, with 6kW grid tied systems for around AU$4,000 (maybe US$3000) installed. I don't see how it would be possible for manufacturing to support costs that low if EROI is low, even given lower power costs for Chinese manufacturers; manufacturers elsewhere, with high power (as well as other) costs are usually more expensive but not by that much.
  17. I suppose it will happen that - following a cold day - it will be warmer before 9am the next morning than any time over the previous 24hrs but that would be rare and unusual. Maybe you should contact them and ask how (or if) they deal with that should it occur. For climate change purposes - averages and trends - it probably doesn't occur often enough to make much difference but it probably does need to be considered. Maybe it is. That any maximum records would be broken when it occurs will be even less likely - not impossible but possibly so rare that it has never occurred. Do you think temperature records and averages/trends derived from them are invalidated by the choice of a 9am to 9am "day" for record keeping purposes? I don't.
  18. No, the actual maximum and actual minimum temperatures are recorded for each day by thermometers that keep a record of what those were, no matter what time of day they occur and irrespective of when the station keepers report those to the record keeping agency (if not automated). In Australia that agency is the Bureau of Meteorology. If daily maximums are recorded as lower than minimums or vice versa they will have been errors. From the description of a max/min thermometer suitable for weather stations - (my italics) - Rainfall is recorded for each 24 hr period, with a 9am to 9am 24 hr period used in Australia. That was for convenience, so people don't have to do it at midnight. If we were starting now it likely would be automated and could align with a midnight to midnight 24 hrs.
  19. As someone who plays guitar a bit (I play a homemade 1 string box bass too) I appreciate Marc's (Enthalpy) point that it takes time playing instruments to fully appreciate their qualities - and it doesn't come down to any one thing. I had a guitar maker "adjust the intonation" - which involved small changes to the bridge (on the guitar body, that the strings go over) to change the precise active length of each string, compensating for differences between each string (thickness of strings, wound vs unwound). It means the frets line up more precisely to the required notes when you hold the string down. The differences were small but real but I needed to warm up my fingers and play for some time to notice a difference. I suppose the test will be if such chemically treated woods get made into violins and in a century or two we will be able to know... except there is much less highest quality specialist timber than ever before and a lot more instruments are being made; sourcing the same kinds and quality of wood as Strativari used adds another impediment.
  20. I've heard variations of this - treating the wood with rotting fruit was one I'd heard of. Plums if I recall correctly. I've also heard claims that blindfolded violinists prefer the sound of modern instruments and can't tell which is Strativari's. I also wonder what Enthalpy thinks.
  21. I am not sure "Why?" is a valid question - babies with large heads in comparison with other mammals is how humans are when born; it is in our developmental genetics. "How?" might be better - which may answer why the balance between pre-birth and post-birth development shifted during evolution, which simply means those with the bigger heads at birth went on to survive and reproduce but those with smaller heads didn't. It is not just about the baby but the carrying mother; it is safe to assume those with heads too big/mothers too small did not survive. It does not even follow that those with smaller birth size failed because of their smaller birth size; the crucially significant baby born with genetics for smaller births size but capable of growing a big brain may have gotten eaten by a hyena and all human evolution after that was altered forever. Those that were born better able to function more independently at birth and needed less parental care somehow did not go on to thrive - and not necessarily because of any direct relationship; other factors can and will be in play. We can list the advantages and disadvantages and hope we haven't overlooked some but it cannot really give a definitive answer
  22. @Peterkin (re way back) - I included biofuels to be more complete but I'd need to see some cost and land-use effective examples to become enthusiastic. Other biofuels than ethanol for cars would include: biodiesel - mostly waste vegetable oils but can be purpose produced: algal diesel - I struggle to find any working commercial examples but would be pleased to know they exist: bio-gas - I'm sure someone will be doing sewage gas somewhere in place of fossil gas, because they can, but it isn't leaping out as something being done at big scales. None of them stand out. So, not withstanding the role that mass transit and autonomous taxis as well as the part good urban planning and design can play it seems to be between Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Battery EV and EV's are winning. Even if Hydrogen were the better clean transport solution in the long run (it is a question) EV's are the solution we are getting. I think Hydrogen takes a lot more commitment, more planning, more pre-investment and funding - that has not been forthcoming. Whereas most EV charging was and is at home, when garaged - early adopters could tolerate a sparse charging network because you can charge at home but Hydrogen absolutely has to have the fueling stations up front, ie a big pre-investment and commitment. And Hydrogen remains expensive to produce and transport. Even the few cars that are made for Hydrogen are expensive. EV's are closing in on ICE on cost - saving on running costs but suffering for being expensive up front. In a sense we've gotten EV's despite no serious demands that there be low emissions transport - credit to Mr Musk and his Tesla team. That success has emboldened policy makers in the face of climate concerns and given the established auto industry a shock but I suspect battery tech was catching up on the practical EV problem anyway. There were and are too many drivers for battery R&D, but Tesla might have gained us a decade. Or perhaps we got EV's because there were no serious demands for low emissions transport; without the deep commitment the planning and funding and implementation of Hydrogen infrastructure could never happen. Maybe Hydrogen can find a place in the road freight space but I suspect even there battery electric will get there first and will prove hard to beat. The way I see it (when I'm feeling optimism) if Li-Ion and equivalent battery costs can be halved EV's will win on cost across most road transport modes. If battery weight can be halved I think that would seal the deal and open some battery electric air transport possibilities. I think both of those look achievable. There has never been more R&D targeted at better, cheaper batteries than there is now and I suggest the tools of science have never been better fitted for the task. Bill Gates suggested a fivefold increase in clean energy R&D, but I think we've already got that for batteries. Whoever invents the best of possible batteries will get richer than Bill and Elon put together.
  23. An ICE using petro-chem fuel that is 100% energy efficient is still making CO2 emissions. An EV or biofuel car built and running off 100% clean energy doesn't make CO2 emissions. It doesn't have to have 100% energy conversion efficiency to do so, just zero emissions energy; even wasteful energy and inefficient energy use will have zero emissions. Efficiency is a slippery concept; in a world where fossil fuels are abundant, cheap and there is no accountability for climate and other externalised costs (climate, health) the energy conversion efficiencies don't really matter. What people pay matters but not conversion efficiency. Where fuels are expensive conversion efficiency matters more. Where fuels come with externalised costs (climate, health) greater efficiency reduces those costs but only a shift to clean energy can eliminate them.
  24. Big yes, but to me, not so scary. That doesn't mean I would try to pick a spider like that up, although I did once encourage one to walk onto my hand to get it off someone who was freaking out. It did. I stepped outside and it stepped off to the post I offered it as a way off me, all done peacefully, almost politely, without violence on it's part or mine. Frankly I think spiders are not nearly so scary as some people are.
  25. Spiders don't bother me because the ones I mostly encounter are not dangerous. Anyone with a fear of snakes would not like living where I do - although again, they are mostly not dangerous, but some care is needed around them, especially the venomous ones. There are a pair of carpet pythons in our roof space as I type - they come out to sun themselves, snuggling together contentedly between their amorous exploits. Another time we had a female python "in heat" she attracted males from far and wide - I counted 5 different males sniffing about and they were less timid than usual, ignoring people and going places they normally wouldn't. And there were some fights - which were more like arm (neck?) wrestles that seemed quite civilised; no-one gets injured and the loser accepts defeat and moves on. It was a bit alarming but not panic inducing; we had to watch our steps. They aren't aggressive but like any wild animal you have to be careful. Carpet pythons are not usually considered dangerous but they are capable predators always on the lookout for an easy meal; I suspect large ones could target unattended babies or toddlers. I would be a lot less apathetic about their presence if we had little kids here and the snake had ready access. My video of two male pythons arguing over a girl - sorry, the dialogue is a bit... disjointed -
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