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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  1. DanielBoyd - you are not going to get much joy (from people rushing to agree with you) by claiming the mainstream science based understanding of DNA's role is so wrong as to be unworkable. Not here anyway, and especially not objections based on some personal insight into theoretical constraints that somehow make what is happening in your body right now impossible.You've dropped a whole lot of arguments all together on us, each capable of inducing people with varying degrees of understanding of it to disagree with you. Seems like the objections you have are mostly those of incredulity - your not understanding how DNA could perform a particular function seems to be taken to be evidence that it cannot. I suggest that analogies, as useful as they can be to aid understanding, can be misleading and suggest something that can be shown to occur is not possible; DNA is not a blueprint or design as we usually think of them but the parts life is made of - even to individuals and different species as well as specialised cells and organs - are made of multifunctional components; they share more in common than they have differences. Perhaps DNA and associated biochemistry is akin to recipe (which you do mention) or perhaps a string of coded instructions, with a lot of "if-then" branches but it not a recipe either. I don't think every biochemical step along the way is anywhere close to being understood - and for abiogenesis and early evolution, may never be known with certainty - but currently some of the questions you ask (differently framed) are on the way to getting answered. If you are not seeing divine intervention, do you have any better alternatives for how living biochemistry does what it does? Or are you saying that not only do you not know, it is not possible for anyone to know?
  2. Less winter frosts here are getting hard to ignore - the longer term average is (was) about 40 frosty mornings a year and we have been getting fewer than 10 over recent winters, 2 so far this winter. Highly variable from year to year but when winter temperatures - both minimums and maximums - are breaking records in an upward direction it is hard to ignore. Those extra cold mornings, with a 'hard' frost are becoming quite rare. This has real significance; frost vulnerable perennial weeds that were previously held in check are becoming rampant, adding a burden of time and costs for weed control. Winter heatwaves - not necessarily 'hot' but much warmer than usual - have limited the opportunities for safe cool weather hazard reduction fires through the past several winters; burning off grass and leaf litter in order to reduce hot season fire intensity is becoming more difficult to do without risk of escaping past firebreaks. It used to be common to have cool overnight conditions slow and stop fires. Now we cannot rely on that and must be more vigilant and have more equipment and manpower to do the same job.
  3. Yet lots of homosexual people - identifying as gay - do have children. Some may find it impossible to have hetero sex but I think the majority find, perhaps using some imagination, that they can want to have children and can perform the required act. No homosexual gene, perhaps, but they still have a lot more than zero chance of replicating and even if there were a 'gay' gene unless it has a much more reliable effect that prevents hetero sex it is not going to be selected out of the gene pool, and either way homosexuality will persist. I can envisage circumstances where there are a shortage of available mates - alpha males laying claim to multiple women for example is likely to have been commonplace. Outlets for sexual urges in such circumstance, that are not socially disruptive - avoiding fights and injuries - aid the reproductive success rate of the whole group, and more so when they are useful contributors to group survival. In 'selfish gene' style, the childless will share most of their genes with most of the group; aiding their nieces and nephews and cousins along the way will ensure the genes they share will continue.
  4. I think at heart it is a hard nosed and short sighted business decision. A widespread desire by business owners and operators and broader commercial and industrial interests to not be held responsible and accountable for anything climate related is at the core of climate science denial - which I think is effect not cause; climate responsibility denial requires some kind of justification and denying the science is true is the most basic kind. Framing those who advocate for climate action as extremists with anti-capitalist ideological agendas and solutions as incompatible with free market democracy and prosperity have been powerful messages and the understandable concerns of political environmentalists and their being loud and standing tall on the issue - whilst the mainstream 'leadership' has avoided strong commitment of any kind but to the status-quo - made it easier to make that 'led by extremists' fear appear credible to the uninformed. I think this desire to avoid responsibility and accountability and ultimately to avoid liability flows downward through their companies to their employees, as fear for job security and lower pay - potent near term fears that tend to override any longer term concerns - and upwards to politicians and political parties as business leaders and associations lobby them hard to keep an enduring amnesty and de-facto subsidy on the externalised costs of emissions. Given how solid the science is, it takes something extraordinary to get people to distrust it, so framing it as about free market democracy versus extremist socialist ideology and prosperity vs poverty with so much pre-existing strong feeling and innate support for the former allowed them to bypass that trust in science by using alarmist fears. It has been extraordinarily successful. Pro- business politicians and parties (which tend to include all centrist as well as conservative right ones) put aside their greater obligations of trust and responsibility to their nations as a whole in order to act as advocates for those narrower interests - and those interests have developed a variety of techniques for inducing and influencing politicians, government policy and community opinion. PR, Advertising, Strategic Donations, Tactical Lawfare, Post politics career inducements, Lobbying and Tankthink are all used ruthlessly and with only minimal regard for the truth or ethics. The validity of the decades of science based expert advice governments have commissioned and received barely enters into their decision making.
  5. It is not erring on the side of exaggeration to take those IPCC reports - and the numerous studies and reports that are summarised and referenced within them - very seriously. And those are consistently telling us that it is very serious and the consequences highly likely to take the world into dangerous territory ie more towards the 'alarmist' end of media reporting and climate advocacy; the proper balance is not between those who are saying it is serious and dangerous and those who say it isn't but between serious and dangerous and more serious and more dangerous. What the media says and what advocates say may or may not mirror that. 12 years to "save the Earth" or 12 years to stay below CO2 levels beyond which avoiding more serious and irreversible climate consequences becomes unavoidable? I'm not sure 'save the Earth' in this context is even truly exaggeration - losing the Earth as we know it and large parts of the remnant ecosystems still surviving looks highly likely, whilst interpreting it as 'no more Earth' certainly is exaggeration. But it looks like that claim it is alarmist exaggeration is as likely or more likely to be made as a criticism of those saying things like that than be the meaning intended. Certainly at the politcal advocacy level being succinct and impactful will continue to have priority over being precise - but those expert reports and studies are the bottom line here - not what advocates say or the slogans they use.
  6. I have similar opinions on this. I'm not sure what the minumum population would need to be but, yes, self-sufficiency requires a colony to be a working, advanced, industrial economy with a large population - likely more advanced than any nation we have on Earth. It needs thousands of technical specialties to support such a technology dependent economy - and I think the availability of resources will be a serious problem; every bit of equipment for mining and refining on Mars will be an exercise in serious innovation, even if the full range of mineral resources such an economy needs are even available as usable ore bodies. And I see advanced, high tech innovation as a luxury that only successful economies - Earth economies - can support. An economy where absolutely everything is very expensive and every activity is more difficult than anything we deal with on Earth is an economy that is in trouble - and whilst AI may help, robotics are another layer of advanced technological requirements that a remote colony will struggle to support and sustain - I don't see robotics so much reducing the technology requirements but increasing the requirements for technology to be developed and supplied by Earth. Unless we are talking about AI - rather than humans - colonising Mars. Can such an economy exist independently - and safely - on Mars? I'm doubtful but suppose it is probably possible. The biggest problem I see is that there is no sound economic underpinnings for the long process of such a colony's establishment - that between getting a base on the surface (or under it) and establishing mines and factories and farms and all the supporting infrastructure there are accumulating cost but an absence of means to repay the enormous Earthside investments needed in any form of material trade.
  7. Yes, the anthropogenic part is our responsibility. Seems to me the very susceptibility of our world's climate system to change is why adding lots of CO2 (our most abundant waste product by far) can cause a significant climate shift - it would take a climate system that resists change for it to not matter. et pet - whether or not some glaciers survive or the world still subject to future glacial periods does not change the seriousness of the climate changes we are inducing. Like the susceptibility to change, the extent of uncertainty about how it will play it is not a basis for complacency. Rather it is cause to be very concerned for unforeseen or unlikely consequences
  8. Some glaciers will still be glaciers. Some will be in deep valleys at high latitudes that never get direct sunlight - and would take more warming than we are expecting to melt. A bit like 'ice free Arctic Ocean' will still have some ice in inlets that never see the sun ("ice free" being a term that includes the presence of such ice). Predictions from leading glaciologists and specialist science agencies (rather than secondary re-interpretations and media reports) of how rapidly global warming causes glaciers to retreat and when they ultimately stop being glaciers have never been precise and have included a lot of clearly stated uncertainty. And considering a 'worst case' scenario will always give a very different answer to 'most likely' - and worst case outcomes are more likely to get the attention once the discussion moves outside the realms of experts talking with experts.
  9. It is an interesting question - the extent to which competing new technologies are bought out in order to prevent their use rather than to fully develop and commercialise them. Good ideas can be lost because of that as well as to inadequate funding and various forms of mismanagement. I once naively thought patent law was for making inventions and innovations widely available to others, with royalties ensuring a means for the inventors to be justly rewarded where it happens. It appear to be used more to prevent others using them - despite the potential for earnings from others succeeding at perfecting and commercialising them. It does appear that patents are for the big players - that without financial and legal resources the smaller players cannot defend against their theft of intellectual property.
  10. Externet - I don't think it it works like that - the overall braking force aligns with the road surface, where the tires contact the road - not through the centre of gravity. Applying the brakes applies a torque between those tire/road contact points, which are lower than the centre of gravity, and the rest of the vehicle. All of the vehicle mass is above the line of braking force. That torque from the brakes will try and rotate the vehicle around the axles - but because of the rigidity of the body the combined result is a single torque lifting the load from the rear wheels and transferring it to the front - effectively the front tire/road contact points become the pivot point. As that happens the braking ability of the front brakes is increased and the rear brakes is reduced. (As MigL points out, they have the means to balance the difference between front and rear brakes - less braking to the rear, so the rear wheels don't lock up). Having the centre of gravity lower than the axles does reduce that tendency of the torque from braking to force the vehicle nose down, by placing it closer to the road surface and the line of braking force, but does not eliminate it.
  11. I think the cases of very long hair are from people whose follicles don't go through the usual catagen (shedding) and telogen (resting) phases - they are stuck in the anagen phase (growth).
  12. FlyerDave - I disagree. The (getting old) "solar and wind can't work at large scale" claims are collapsing in the face of real world evidence to the contrary. Not suited to everywhere of course but most of the world's population lives in places where it can. Most new electricity generation being deployed in the world is now solar and wind. Long running electricity generators are investing in them in preference to coal or gas or nuclear for sound economic reasons, and because they do work - and to some extent to avoid potential liability for emissions in the future. Including in France. They are not stand alone technologies - not sure any technologies are - and backup based on various kinds of storage as well as network interconnections and demand management will increasingly be a feature of grid networks that have growing amounts of them. Being based around energy storage, EV's can be a useful complementary technology that moderates demand variability within such a grid and better aligns it with variable energy availability. It is not uncommon for current EV owners to charge them using their own rooftop solar. Obviously this has limitations - yet I can foresee having an electricity supply contract that accommodates EV charging elsewhere within a nation's electricity grid, effectively allowing me to use my home PV contributions (with some surcharge) wherever I am. Car parking with EV charging I expect. It is likely to be a source of reserve storage for PV fitted homes - and vice versa. And home and EV storage may well be an emergency reserve for grid management to draw upon, under suitable contractual arrangements. What a climate responsible low to below zero emissions grid will look like is still uncertain but for a number of sound reasons wind and solar look likely to be prominent. Some nuclear is likely to be a feature but closer examination shows it is not the simple or effective or low cost emissions solution it is so often presumed to be.
  13. Most current infrastructure will be replaced over that time as well as a lot more built - no matter which energy and emissions choices we make or fail to make. It is almost a given that whatever we do will be much more, at scales never seen before. Markets will reveal our limits as we approach them (even if foresight doesn't work) - if some important resources can't supply demand then the price goes up and other options will look better. Market forces (even without the conflicted politics) are against massive growth of nuclear - it is now cheaper to build solar and wind in most places; without clear overriding long range government policy plus lots of subsidy support it won't happen. The World Nuclear Association thinks we could reach 25% of global electricity with nuclear by 2050 - with strong US and other government backing for emissions reductions and strong carbon pricing to make it competitive with coal and gas; neither look likely and the same people who continue to claim we should build nuclear rather than Renewables tend to be the same ones who oppose strong climate policies like carbon pricing and policies that make fossil fuels less competitive. And even with strong government support, it is not the best and cheapest solution that advocates seem to believe. Wind and solar will reach that 25% target within the next decade, even with conflicted climate and energy politics. Electrification of transport - based around energy storage - complements intermittent and variable wind and solar supply, with charging cheapest when power is cheapest and an increasing ability to use smart management systems to take advantage of that.
  14. I suppose some people think grapefruit are delicious but I am tempted to call you strange for that! Not that I eat lemons, except mixed with other things - perhaps mixed with other things I would like grapefruit too. Only needed perhaps twice a week, so effectiveness is not an issue. More surmising here, that enough bacteria are killed from the acidity to have a lasting affect. Jona173 - I suspect finding appropriate chemicals was more trial and error than any understanding of the chemistry and physiology of how antiperspirants work. I hadn't realised they cause sweat ducts to be physically blocked. I would have thought sweat would push past a gel blockage. Whether the sweating itself is impeded by the higher pressure or it is reabsorbed by the sweat duct is a question that comes to my mind next - and those would be different for eccrine sweat glands and apocrine. And I wonder whether that is a potential trigger for skin irritation.
  15. The vinegar smell dissipates very quickly, but probably lemon juice would work as well. But why would anyone have grapefruit on hand?
  16. I don't have any idea why they work - but after years of skin rashes in my armpits I switched to using a few drops of white vinegar instead of antiperspirants. Technically speaking it isn't one; it doesn't suppress perspiration, but does prevent unpleasant odors. I surmise that is by suppressing the bacteria responsible.
  17. I don't think people frozen when they die will ever be revivable. Freezing healthy live people would seem to give more likelihood of success - the frogs that survive freezing were live and healthy, not dead when they got frozen. But I expect the process will kill anyone who tries it. Any volunteers? Until there are successful trials with mammals it is all speculation. I am not aware of any such successes. Science fiction themes using cryonics to make interstellar travel in a single lifetime possible are common enough - with healthy people. Not always freezing is used, sometimes induce torpor or hibernation - which seems to me (with zero real knowledge) more achievable.
  18. That makes it sound simple. Cheap and easy, even. But I think the devil will be in the details and I think those details will remain prohibitive. Every piece of equipment, which has to perform under extreme conditions, has to be developed and built and tested and deployed, all at enormous cost. Robotics adds a level of complexity - developed entirely by Earth based industry with Earth based resources - and has a very long way to go to be really be considered a durable and reliable means to run remote mining and refining and launch vehicle refueling and refurbishing on the Moon. Surface collecting or other mining of what? I see no evidence there is going to be much in the way of concentrated ore bodies apart from meteorite fall sites and those will be nickel-iron rich but poor in almost everything else. And doing all this will make operating a tourist destination in space cheaper and easier? Which will somehow thrive and support more Moon mining because of Moon mining - and people will want to live there and somehow they will thrive? Sorry I just do not see how this would or even could work.
  19. As I understand it the IR collected by the rectenna and converted to electricity would not be raising the temperature of the collector, and the re-radiated heat will be only from that portion that was not converted, plus diode or other heat loss - these are not converting 'heat' to energy but converting EMR. That should be independent of the temperature of the collector.
  20. Whereas I don't see how we can develop space resources except as economically viable commodities for trade with Earth. I keep coming back to minimum pre-investment thresholds being very large for things like space mining - that starting small, such as is suggested by mining initially servicing in-space activities may not be feasible. And I also keep coming back to what are they doing in those space stations that makes enough income to support that mining as well as itself? Because it would be such a big project to establish mining, refining and space launch facilities on the Moon and it is way beyond economically viable to do so I think it will remain cheaper and easier to keep sending stuff up from Earth. Launch and other costs will remain a huge impediment - so I don't think these hypothetical space activities will lead to a thriving space 'economy'.
  21. Perhaps 0ptical Rectennas (aka nantennas) could work as an alternative to air conditioning - in theory these should be able to convert IR to electricity and remove heat from the surrounds in the process. Like old style 'crystal' radios, they should convert EMR to electricity, independent of the temperatures of the radiant source and collector- the cooling would be from energy absorbed not becoming heat in the collector and not being re-radiated in turn. These currently don't work because diodes are not fast enough and are losing too much energy through heat loss - but that is not an intrinsic property of diodes and better ones remain a possibility . Of the many possible technologies we have not yet succeeded at, I rate Optical Rectennas as one with a lot of potential; they should be able to utilise bands like IR as well as visible light and be able to make use of ground heat that radiates up as well as atmospheric down radiation, ie will make power day and night. It may also have uses for energy recovery from low grade heat and make new kinds of thermal energy storage possible.
  22. Not at all, however to kick off those grand space dreams I think it is essential. There is existing and then there is thriving; economic success is the very definition of a colony thriving. Especially as the costs to do anything in space are very high, the need is for extraordinary opportunities to generate sufficient income and I don't see them in any base on the Moon or Mars. I am not seeing them anywhere much beyond Earth orbit. I think raw nickel-iron is the best resource with economic potential space has. My 'vision' of a space mining industry would try for an absolute minimum processing (can space cold Ni-Fe be shattered to be more manageable? Cutting it into manageable portions could otherwise need a lot of energy and equipment). It would need to deliver very large quantities at very low prices to Earth markets, on the order of a thousand US$ per ton, delivered; if someone can find a low cost way to extract the precious metals out of it, so much the better, but wouldn't count on that as the way to make the venture work. I can see how that might use facilities and a workforce in Earth orbit. I remain doubtful the costs can be brought down that far, but my instinct is that, if raw Ni-Fe metal is abundant, it is the best existing opportunity. And instinct again says only big scale could work - and that requires a business plan that investors have a lot of confidence in; the economics have to stack up. If there is no space mining to service there may still be industrial processes - although they would have to be exceptionally high value, multi-millions per ton high. Drugs maybe? I'm not really seeing anything emerging from ISS work. I've heard of batches of below spec micro processors being sent up, heated in zero gee, to have defects clear up, but not using the ISS or manned rocket. Given the constant advances in manufacturing that could be a short-lived opportunity. Use of space resources is a threshold that could prove very hard to achieve; Beyond that I can see meteor defense becoming a serious long term space project, sustaining a continuing human presence in space.
  23. In my view the renewed passion for going back to the moon is on shaky ground. My views on this are not secret - that I think there is no economic basis for such ventures and that without it it will struggle to be more than a feel good exercise in nationalist pride building through showcasing aerospace capabilities . It will be very, very difficult, dangerous, expensive and won't advance grand space dreams or advance humanity on Earth in any substantial way. If it does happen it will be reliant on continuing subsidised supply lines with transport costs that, even optimistically, be astronomical; it will still be multi-million US$ per ton to reach the Moon. The capital costs of a functional launch facility that can turn around, refuel and repair re-usable rockets is, well, astronomical. No mining will make sense except to reduce the huge costs for the most basic things like water and air - and if the most basic things are such a big deal the prospects of things growing from there are slim indeed.
  24. Do you include the externalised costs - climate and health - as part of the cost calculation? I don't think any estimates of the costs for various energy sources will be valid if those externalities are excluded; if, as some efforts to quantify those costs show, the costs are likely to be quite high (above US$40 per metric ton of CO2 emitted) then there are sound economic reasons for turning to alternatives. Do we consider the opportunity cost as well? If productive agricultural land is diverted to biofuel production the production of other things gets curtailed. None of this looks simple to quantify or the results anything but estimates with wide error margins. If we choose to leave aside climate and respiratory health costs and look purely at the highly misleading immediate monetary values and act like those other costs don't exist, then it sounds like ethanol from corn is still a lot more expensive than fuel from crude oil. Sugarcane based ethanol costs look better but are still high. Yet the difference is not so great that a price hike for oil could not change the balance in favour of ethanol - Brazil produces ethanol for around 80c per US Gallon, which in many parts of the world (but not the US) would be considered cheap. If we choose to look at Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI or EROEI) then oil looks like this (with rising costs as easy reserves get depleted and more difficult ones get exploited) - The losses are covered by using more crude oil and fuels made from it than hits the open market, times five - producing fossil fuels is a big source of global emissions. Add in climate change and we could choose to look at total energy, including the climate system's heat gain - in which case each MJ of energy from all sources (ultimately as waste heat) is eclipsed a hundredfold. If we faced an imminent ice age that might be useful heat - except the quantities of CO2 (arguably, it is more than any other substance we make) already exceed what would be needed to do that.
  25. Doesn't gravity connect what is inside the event horizon with what is outside?
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