Wednesday, September 26, 2007

new media chew toy: Andromeda Strain!!!! ieeeee!

It had to happen.  Global Warming is starting to be shot to pieces (finally!) as bloggers and smart people discover where the Gaia worshipers lied.  What's the MSM response?  Find a new scare!  Gotta fill those column inches with something, why not make shit up?  Its cheaper that way.

So here it is, killer bugs from space!  I couldn't make this up if I tried, its just too mental.
Now there's a new kid on the inter-planetary catastrophist's block: superbugs. Super spacebugs. Scientists working on and with the space shuttle have found certain bugs, dangerous enough when earth-bound, will grow more powerful in space. Like salmonella, which acts differently, genetically, in space, making it stronger, more deadly.
The newsies have discovered that bacteria act different under zero G.  Holy crap, we're all gonna die!
This is my favorite bit right here.  What about the Man Made© bugs Batman?
...But what of the bugs that might be attached to all the space junk, the old satellites, rockets, probes, missiles constantly falling back to earth?

There's no shortage of outdated, second-hand space trash orbiting the earth while harbouring who knows what kind of mutating space bugs in the weightless environment so conducive to extraordinary growth and genetic variation. Do stories like Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain really give us an idea of what we might face as we dabble with space discovery and scientific experiments ostensibly aimed at furthering medicine and mankind's advancement as a civilisation?

Yes friends, lets start worrying about the Andromeda Strain and mad scientists brewing up superbugs on rocket ships in space.  Its never too early to jump on the Next Big Scare and make a million lobbying Congress to clean up all that deadly orbiting space junk.  Hey, if nematodes could survive the shuttle crash then so can the Bug That Ate My Face, only squared.

Oops, I used math.  Squared is like times two only different, 'kay?

The Phantom Bug Ignorer

Friday, September 21, 2007

Photon drive! Woo hoo!

The photon drive is now a reality.  No, I'm not kidding.
Part of the Photonic Laser Thrust's secret lies in amplifying and bouncing the photon beam.  The photon beam is bounced back and forth between a set of mirrors, creating a powerful net propulsion force.

Dr. Bae Young built the PLT using off the shelf components at the Southern California laboratory of the Bae Institute.  The patent pending device uses an egg-size laser head to produce a laser so powerful, only massive weapons and commercial grade lasers are able to match it.

The laser generates 35 uN of thrust and is scalable to much larger amounts of propulsion.  Dr. Young Bae has stated that the device could propel a spacecraft to speeds well beyond 100 km/sec.  He recently announced that a spacecraft utilizing the PLT could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.
As usual, Dr. Bae is NOT part of any big government brain trust, he's running his own shop.  Now that he's got the thing working, the brain trusts are happy to come rain money on him.

At any rate, this is a Big Deal in spacecraft technology.  You can use solar panels to generate as much electricity as you want (in principle anyway) and convert that to thrust with this laser.  No word on how efficient it is, but when the electricity is basically free, that's not too important.  The satellite or ground station with the laser is stationary, it blasts away at the object to be accelerated with the laser.  By bouncing the light beam back and forth between the source and target Dr. Bae gets much more thrust than one would by simply firing a laser. 

One of his ideas is to tie satellites together with a cable and keep them in position by firing the laser, keeping them pulling taut against the cable.  A very, very large telescope can be made cheaply using an idea like this.  Another is to boost small spacecraft (pop can size) to very high speeds, to get them to the outer planets much faster than usual.

Very cool.  ~:D

The Phantom

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So what ARE they there for?

A new report says that although there are tens of thousands of CCTV cameras in the Greater London area, 80% of crimes go unsolved.

London has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million, figures show today.

But an analysis of the publicly funded spy network, which is owned and controlled by local authorities and Transport for London, has cast doubt on its ability to help solve crime.

A comparison of the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.

That's because cameras aren't supposed to prevent crime.  They are like gun control.  They allow the politicians at the local and the national level to be seen Doing Something About Crime just by spending a little of your money, and they add another layer of control on the general populace.  CCTV sucks for solving general crime, but it rocks for collecting taxes and spying on individuals.

It also takes cops off the street and puts them in a nice warm, safe office where they can drink coffee all day and don't have to run around in the rain writing tickets.  That's why cops love CCTV.

Incidentally, the 200 million pounds was for just the cameras, not the control/recording network or the guys to watch them.  Imaging the storage needed for video from 10k cameras running 24/7.  Petabytes.

Just remember that the next time some ponce of a city councilor proposes cameras.  Its crap.

The Photographed Phantom