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Archive for the ‘economics’ category: Page 103

Aug 26, 2012

BEO-HSF again

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, finance, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, physics, policy, space, sustainability, transparency

This essay was posted last year, removed, and is back with small changes. Enjoy.

I became interested in Beyond Earth Orbit- Human Space Flight by way of a college paper I helped my wife research some years ago. Her project for an ethics class was nuclear weapons. I stumbled upon the book “Project Orion, the true story of the atomic spaceship” by George Dyson and was hooked. I had been a science fiction fan in my youth but like most people I thought space operas were only to be realized in the far future. Project Orion changed my worldview. Since then my made up mind has been unmade several times concerning most of the “common knowledge” floating around about space flight in this 21st century. Much of what is generally believed to be true about our space program is made up of recent hearsay used to hype products that further a business plan. When I read these infomercials endlessly repeated as fact I get pretty upset, mostly because exposing these “facts” as false advertising almost always results in vicious attacks. The private space cult fanatics disgust me and I will not apologize for my hard feelings about these people. They mislead, obfuscate, and insult and dogpile anyone who disagrees with their dogma.

It was a slow step by step process but I came to realize the path to the stars is a narrow one. I found the U.S. space effort, described as being on “the flexible path”, to be going nowhere. There is no Flexible Path. The path to colonizing the solar system is narrow indeed due to the laws of physics and materials science. Science fiction movies have conditioned the public to believe such natural laws can be violated and technology that breaks these laws is possible and immanent. This attitude has led to much waste and many tragedies in the past decades and there is soon to come great disappointment over breakthroughs that are far easier said than done. By way of political contributions and backroom deals, the flexible path scheme came into existence as a way of making money for a small group of investors looking to cash in on public ignorance of technology through influence peddling. It is a convoluted and confusing story and perhaps the best way to make the truth clear is to start at the desired end and work backwards.

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Aug 24, 2012

How to Build a Spaceship again

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biological, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, finance, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, physics, policy, space, sustainability, transparency

This essay was originally posted last year and is now back with small changes. Enjoy.

The first decade of the 21st century ended with human space flight nowhere near to fulfilling the predictions made at the beginning of the space age. Not even close. Just as the Vietnam war robbed the space exploration budget, the end of the century found vast public funds, a truly mind boggling amount of treasure, spent on the cold war toys that have yielded guaranteed huge profits for the military industrial complex. Many of these incredibly expensive weapon systems do not work as advertised and very few of them have any application in the present war on terror. 911 did not stop the money flowing to new super fighter planes and missiles designed to shoot down other missiles. The promise of space was in truth sacrificed for the profits of the weapons industry. The expected moon bases and colonies on Mars were never funded and no human being has escaped earth orbit since the last Apollo mission. The underfunded space shuttle completely failed to provide the cheap lift and multi-mission capability that was never really possible to achieve. The showpiece International Space Station is little more than a 100 billion dollar collection of tin cans flying in endless circles.

Over a quarter century wasted and the human race seems in large part to have accepted the end of the space age. Despite a collection of old and new inferior lift vehicles incapable of accelerating a spacecraft to escape velocity, there is endless hype concerning the privatization of space and the bright future these for profit enterprises will bring about. The single point of failure in these schemes is the false miracle of fuel depots in space. These orbital gas stations will supposedly enable all the missions that previously could only be accomplished by a Heavy Lift Vehicles like the Saturn V. Cryo fuel storage and transfer is at this time a myth and has never even been attempted due to the extreme difficulties involved. It is simply a smoke screen to disguise defeat. We are not going anywhere if we stay on this path. The only hope for human space flight is the realization that deep space travel may at any time mean the difference between humankind surviving or disappearing forever. If this truth cannot unlock the vast resources required then we are sealing our collective fate. The Spaceship is the only insurance against extinction. Safeguarding the entire human race is the ultimate military mission, yet is completely ignored by our leaders and the defense industry. The inevitable asteroid or comet impact and the threat of a 100 percent lethal plague are with us right now. We as a species are playing a game of Russian roulette. We truly do not know when, but we know what is coming.

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief when it is explained that disastrous impacts only occur an average of once every several million years. The key fact never discussed is impacts are random. An impact could occur tomorrow, and again the next day, and it would just be a blip on a curved line representing the immensity of geologic time. No one would be left to exclaim, “WOW! What were the odds of that happening?” In the same way the threat of engineered pathogens is ignored, overlooked, or scoffed at in the hopes it will just go away. Just as there is little than can be done to stop seasonal flu, there is very little that could be done to stop such an airborne plague once it begins. Naturally evolved pathogens always leave a certain percentage of survivors but an engineered virus does not follow that rule. We are led to believe there is no defense, but we are being decieved and there is nothing further from the truth.

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Aug 24, 2012

The Fermi Paradox and Silent Planets

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, business, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, finance, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, policy, space, sustainability, transparency

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823150403.htm

In a recent comment John Hunt mentioned the most probable solution to the Fermi Paradox and as more and more planets are discovered this solution becomes ever more troubling.

Whether civilizations are rare due to comet and asteroid impacts- as Ed Lu recently stated was a possibility- or they self-destruct due to technology, the greater danger is found in human complacency and greed. We have the ability right now, perhaps as hundreds or even thousands of other civilizations had, to defend ourselves from the external and internal threats to our survival. Somewhat like salmon swimming upstream, it may not be life itself that is rare- it may be intelligent life that survives for any length of time that is almost non-existent.

The answer is in space. The resources necessary to leave Earth and establish off world colonies are available- but there is no cheap. Space travel is inherently expensive. Yet we spend billions on geopolitical power games threatening other human beings with supersonic fighters and robot missile assassins. The technology to defend civilization as a whole from the plausible threat represented by this “Great Silence” will cost us no more than what we spend on expensive projects like vertical take-off stealth fighters and hyper-velocity naval rail guns. But it is not the easy money of weapons; it is the hard money of vehicles and systems that must work far from Earth that is unattractive to the corporate profit motive.

Atomic spaceships capable of transporting colonists and intercepting impact threats are the prerequisites to safeguarding our species.

Aug 17, 2012

Ivanpah as the future

Posted by in categories: business, economics, education, engineering, ethics, finance, futurism, geopolitics, human trajectories, media & arts, physics, policy, space, sustainability, transparency

http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/solar/concentrating-solar/ni…tinue.html

Cover the deserts in solar energy plants and use electric trains for our transportation infrastructure; the best future I can imagine. A favorite Einstein quote is “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Perhaps the number we are counting that counts is the amount of energy it would require for a future population of 10 billion people to live like we do in the west.

I was surprised to find a statement to the effect that only one method of generating this energy is practical; solar energy beamed to Earth from the Moon; from wiki–

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Aug 16, 2012

GMO Armaggedon

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, finance, futurism, geopolitics, homo sapiens, media & arts, military, open access, open source, policy, transparency

http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre87f15x-us-california-gmo/

Filthy Lucre will certainly destroy us all if we cannot even pass a law that makes food companies tell us what they are feeding us.

Aug 14, 2012

Boom and Bust for Wind Energy

Posted by in categories: business, economics, engineering, ethics, events, finance, futurism, human trajectories, policy, sustainability, transparency

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120814121119.htm

Just as the tax incentives that expired after the Carter Administration destroyed a whole new industry, and just as bio fuels recently turned into the bio bomb, wind energy is poised to crash.

We just will not stop destroying our future.

A coal fired power plant runs for years with very little maintenance, without being shut down or started up- the boilers make steam and turn the turbines and we cannot see the stars because we might as well burn those city lights all night long. It is impossible to compete with black rock you dig out of the ground and put on a train and turn into dependable cheap electricity.

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Aug 14, 2012

Complex new world: Translating new economic thinking into public policy

Posted by in categories: complex systems, economics, policy

Over the years some of the themes I’ve touched upon in this blog have been about the outdated paradigms shaping public policy. The realisation came to our acute attention with the ongoing economic crisis since 2008. The crisis has precipitated and energised new thinking in economics, as evidenced by the creation of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. The Institute is a place to explore cutting edge ideas, and challenge calcified theories that have prevented the field from keeping pace with the intellectual advances in the natural sciences. However in the coming years the social sciences and humanities will also see great leaps forward in thinking that can potentially transform our political and socio-economic systems.

A book to be published by IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research contributes to bringing about this transformation. The book, ‘Complex new world: Translating new economic thinking into public policy’, explores various economic complexities that challenge traditional economic theory.

We live in uncertain economic times. The financial crash and subsequent downturn have shaken the global economic system to its core. If one thing is certain, it is that the events of recent years have thrown mainstream economic thinking into disrepute. In the aftermath of the crash, scholars and commentators are turning to new, heterodox economic theories as a way of better understanding how the economy really works and how the economic system might be managed more effectively. Yet although new economic thinking offers a far better account of how the economic system functions, we don’t yet have a clear idea of its implications for policymaking. In economic policymaking, orthodox economics remains the only game in town.

The shaking of disciplines is also evident in history as the field of cliodynamics attempts to apply scientific methods to understand human history. There are some historians who are deeply sceptical, which a Nature article highlighted earlier this month,

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Aug 13, 2012

The Electric Septic Spintronic Artilect

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, climatology, complex systems, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, homo sapiens, human trajectories, information science, military, neuroscience, nuclear weapons, policy, robotics/AI, scientific freedom, singularity, space, supercomputing, sustainability, transparency

AI scientist Hugo de Garis has prophesied the next great historical conflict will be between those who would build gods and those who would stop them.

It seems to be happening before our eyes as the incredible pace of scientific discovery leaves our imaginations behind.

We need only flush the toilet to power the artificial mega mind coming into existence within the next few decades. I am actually not intentionally trying to write anything bizarre- it is just this strange planet we are living on.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813155525.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813123034.htm

Aug 12, 2012

One Hundred and Eighty Impact Craters

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, military, nuclear weapons, space, transparency, treaties

http://phys.org/news/2012-08-impact-crater-arctic.html

They found yet another reason to build nuclear interceptors to deflect asteroids and comet impact threats.

Sooner or later something is going to hit us. It could be like Tunguska in 1908 and destroy a city instead of a forest in Siberia- or it could be like what hit the Yucatan 65 million years ago.

Except just a little bigger and nothing larger than bacteria will survive. There is nothing written anywhere that says it will not happen tomorrow.

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Aug 7, 2012

Party Like It’s 1912…

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, complex systems, economics, ethics, existential risks, fun, lifeboat, media & arts, rants

It’s the centennial year of the Titanic disaster, and that tragedy remains a touchstone.

The lifeboat angle is obvious. So is the ice hazard: then it was icebergs, now it’s comets.

But 100 years of expanding awareness has revealed the other threats we’re now aware of. We have to think about asteroids, nano- and genotech accidents, ill-considered high-energy experiments, economic and social collapse into oligarchy and debt peonage, and all the many others.

What a great subject for a Movie Night! Here are some great old movies about lifeboats and their discontents.

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