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Dec 18, 2012

The Fabulous Spaceport Colorado (Part 3)

Posted by in categories: business, defense, economics, education, engineering, geopolitics, policy, space

Last month a colleague of mine and I visited with Dennis Heap, Executive Director of the National Front Range Airport, at Watkins, CO, the location of the future Spaceport Colorado, and Colorado’s contribution to getting into space. Here is Part 3.

In my last post I had mentioned that there were 2 business models for spaceports. I’ll name the first Sweden-America model after spaceports Sweden & America. The second, I’ll name Colorado-Singapore model after (yet to be) spaceports Colorado & Singapore.

The Sweden-America model basic premise is that spaceport ought to be built in remote locations, and then a hinterland economy is eventually built around the spaceport. This approach was originally driven by safety concerns and the need for a rocket range or vacant land for launching rockets to crash back to.

The basic premise of the Colorado-Singapore model is that launch vehicles are safe and that spaceports ought to be built close to centers of commerce and intermodal transportation networks. That is, spaceports are to be built in an existing hinterland economy.

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Dec 16, 2012

The Fabulous Spaceport Colorado (Part 2)

Posted by in categories: business, defense, economics, engineering, policy, scientific freedom, space

Last month a colleague of mine and I visited with Dennis Heap, Executive Director of the National Front Range Airport, at Watkins, CO, the location of the future Spaceport Colorado, and Colorado’s contribution to getting into space. Here is Part 2.

What is a spaceport?

Wikipedia gives a very broad definition of a spaceport, that anything and everything that is used to launch vehicles into orbit, space and interplanetary missions are now termed spaceports. ICBM sites are termed launch sites. There is, however, a distinction between a military site and a commercial site. In the aviation world a military site is termed an ‘airbase’ while a commercial civilian site is termed an ‘airport’. Similarly in the marine world the respective terms are ‘naval base’ and ‘seaport’. In that vein there are ‘spacebases’ and ‘spaceports’. So bear in mind that not everything that is labeled a ‘spaceport’ is one.

As far as I can remember the term ‘spaceport’ caught the public’s imagination only recently with the advent of Spaceport America at Las Cruces, NM. So let’s clarify. A spaceport is port for launching vehicles into suborbital, orbital and interplanetary space whose primary mission is to support and manage commercial activities, not military, not government sponsored launches. And therefore, in the United States there are only 10 existing or proposed spaceports. They are (1)Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Wallops Island, VA (2)Cecil Field Spaceport, Jacksonville, FL (3)Spaceport Florida, Cape Canaveral (4)Spaceport Oklahoma, Burns Flat, OK (5)Spaceport America, Las Cruces, NM (6)Mojave Air and Spaceport, Mojave, CA (7) California Spaceport, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompac, CA (8)Kodiak Launch Complex, Kodiak Island, AK, (9) Spaceport Colorado, Watkins, CO and (10)Spaceport Hawaii, HI.

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Dec 14, 2012

The Kline Directive: Technological Feasibility (3b)

Posted by in categories: cosmology, defense, economics, education, engineering, general relativity, particle physics, physics, scientific freedom, space

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts, Legal Standing, Safety Awareness, Economic Viability, Theoretical-Empirical Relationships, and Technological Feasibility.

In a previous post on Technological Feasibility I had stated that a quick and dirty model shows that we could achieve velocity of light c by 2151 or the late 2150s. See table below.

Year Velocity (m/s) % of c
2200 8,419,759,324 2808.5%
2152 314,296,410 104.8%
2150 274,057,112 91.4%
2125 49,443,793 16.5%
2118 30,610,299 10.2%
2111 18,950,618 6.3%
2100 8,920,362 3.0%
2075 1,609,360 0.5%
2050 290,351 0.1%
2025 52,384 0.0%

That is, at the current rate of technological innovation we could as a civilization reach light speed in about 140 years. More importantly we could not even reach anywhere near that within the next 100 years. Our capability would be 6.3% of c.

The Lorentz-Fitzgerald transformation informs us light speed would require an infinite amount of energy (i.e. more than there is in the Universe!), thereby highlighting the weaknesses in these types of technological forecasting methods. But these models still serve a purpose. They provide some guidance as to what is possible and when. The operative word is guidance.

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Nov 12, 2012

Our Youth, Thinking Outside the Box

Posted by in categories: business, defense, economics, education, engineering, human trajectories, military, philosophy, space, sustainability

Recently I attended the AIAA Rocky Mountain Region’s First Annual Technical Symposium, October 26, 2012. Link to Symposium Photos, here. Link to Symposium Presentations, here.

I must congratulate many of the presenters, our youth, our next generation leaders, for thinking outside the box. And I congratulate their supervisors, advisors and team members for facilitating a supportive environment that nurtures outside the box thinking.

Here is why. Several remarkable papers were presented. For example, Tom Joslyn (Lt. Col, PhD) presented “Use of Liquid Droplet Stream Momentum Transfer for Lunar and Interplanetary Missions”. By using liquid droplets to conserve and transfer momentum between the momentum storage spacecraft and the lunar landing spacecraft, one could reduce the LEO mass from 200,000 kg to 24,500 kg. The presentation wasn’t about theory. It was about the how such a concept would be Engineering Feasible. The type of liquids required, and the ejection and capture systems required. That is impressive.

Second, “Cockpit of the Future” by the Capstone Team. They presented many new concepts like Palm Piloteer, haptic feedback suits, wrap around displays and seat designs.

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Oct 21, 2012

The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 4)

Posted by in categories: business, cosmology, defense, economics, education, engineering, nuclear weapons, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts, Legal Standing, Safety Awareness, Economic Viability, Theoretical-Empirical Relationship, & Technological Feasibility.

In this post I have updated the Interstellar Challenge Matrix (ICM) to guide us through the issues so that we can arrive at interstellar travel sooner, rather than later:

Interstellar Challenge Matrix (Partial Matrix)

Propulsion Mechanism Relatively Safe? Theoretical-Empirical Relationship?
Conventional Fuel Rockets: Yes, but susceptible to human error. Known. Theoretical foundations are based on Engineering Feasible Theories, and have been evolving since Robert Goddard invented the first liquid-fueled rocket in 1926.
Antimatter Propulsion: No. Extensive gamma ray production (Carl Sagan). Issue is how does one protect the Earth? Capable of an End of Humanity (EOH) event. Dependent on Millennium Theories. John Eades states in no uncertain terms that antimatter is impossible to handle and create.
Atomic Bomb Pulse Detonation: No, because (Project Orion) one needs to be able to manage between 300,000 and 30,000,000 atomic bombs per trip. Known and based on Engineering Feasible Theories.
Time Travel: Do Not Know. Depends on how safely exotic matter can be contained. Dependent on a Millennium Theory. Exotic matter hypotheses are untested. No experimental evidence to show that Nature allows for a breakdown in causality.
String / Quantum Foam Based Propulsion: Do Not Know. Depends on how safely exotic matter can be contained. Dependent on a Millennium Theory. String theories have not been experimentally verified. Exotic matter hypotheses are untested. Existence of Quantum Foam now suspect (Robert Nemiroff).
Small Black Hole Propulsion: No. Capable of an End Of Humanity (EOH) event Don’t know if small black holes really do exist in Nature. Their theoretical basis should be considered a Millennium Theory.

It is quite obvious that the major impediments to interstellar travel are the Millennium Theories. Let us review. Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize 1965) & Sheldon Lee Glashow (Nobel Prize 1979) have criticized string theory for not providing novel experimental predictions at accessible energy scales, but other theoretical physicists (Stephen Hawking, Edward Witten, Juan Maldacena and Leonard Susskind) believe that string theory is a step towards the correct fundamental description of nature. The Wikipedia article String Theory gives a good overview, and notes other critics and criticisms of string theories. In What is String Theory? Alberto Güijosa explains why string theories have come to dominate theoretical physics. It is about forces, and especially about unifying gravity with the other three forces.

Continue reading “The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 4)” »

Oct 17, 2012

The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 1)

Posted by in categories: business, cosmology, defense, economics, education, engineering, events, finance, human trajectories, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts:

1. Legal Standing. 2. Safety Awareness. 3. Economic Viability. 4. Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. 5. Technological Feasibility.

In Part 1 of this post I will explore Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. Not theoretical relationships, not empirical relationships but theoretical-empirical relationships. To do this let us remind ourselves what the late Prof. Morris Kline was getting at in his book Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty, that mathematics has become so sophisticated and so very successful that it can now be used to prove anything and everything, and therefore, the loss of certainty that mathematics will provide reasonability in guidance and correctness in answers to our questions in the sciences.

History of science shows that all three giants of science of their times, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton & Christiaan Huygens believed that light traveled in aether medium, but by the end of the 19th century there was enough experimental evidence to show aether could not be a valid concept. The primary experiment that changed our understanding of aether was the Michelson–Morley experiment of 1887, which once and for all proved that aether did not have the correct properties as the medium in which light travels.

Continue reading “The Kline Directive: Theoretical-Empirical Relationship (Part 1)” »

Oct 14, 2012

The Kline Directive: Economic Viability

Posted by in categories: business, complex systems, defense, economics, education, engineering, finance, military, nuclear weapons, philosophy, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space, sustainability

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts:

1. Legal Standing. 2. Safety Awareness. 3. Economic Viability. 4. Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. 5. Technological Feasibility.

In this post I will explore Economic Viability. I have proposed the Interstellar Challenge Matrix (ICM) to guide us through the issues so that we can arrive at interstellar travel sooner, rather than later. Let us review the costs estimates of the various star drives just to reach the velocity of 0.1c, as detailed in previous blog posts:

Interstellar Challenge Matrix (Partial Matrix)

Propulsion Mechanism Legal? Costs Estimates
Conventional Fuel Rockets: Yes Greater than US$1.19E+14
Antimatter Propulsion: Do Not Know. Between US$1.25E+20 and US$6.25E+21
Atomic Bomb Pulse Detonation: Illegal. This technology was illegal as of 1963 per Partial Test Ban Treaty Between $2.6E12 and $25.6E12 . These are Project Orion original costs converted back to 2012 dollar. Requires anywhere between 300,000 and 30,000,000 bombs!!
Time Travel: Do Not Know. Requires Exotic Matter, therefore greater than antimatter propulsion costs of US$1.25E+20
Quantum Foam Based Propulsion: Do Not Know. Requires Exotic Matter, therefore greater than antimatter propulsion costs of US$1.25E+20
Small Black Hole Propulsion: Most Probably Illegal in the Future Using CERN to estimate. At least US$9E+9 per annual budget. CERN was founded 58 years ago in 1954. Therefore a guestimate of the total expenditure required to reach its current technological standing is US$1.4E11.

Note Atomic Bomb numbers were updated on 10/18/2012 after Robert Steinhaus commented that costs estimates “are excessively high and unrealistic”. I researched the topic and found Project Orion details the costs, of $2.6E12 to $25.6E12, which are worse than my estimates.

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Oct 10, 2012

The Kline Directive: Legal Standing

Posted by in categories: business, complex systems, defense, economics, engineering, ethics, finance, philosophy, physics, policy, space

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts:

1. Legal Standing. 2. Safety Awareness. 3. Economic Viability. 4. Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. 5. Technological Feasibility.

In this post I will explore Legal Standing.

With respect to space exploration, the first person I know of who pushed the limits of the law is Mr. Gregory W. Nemitz of The Eros Project. He started this project in March 2000. As a US taxpayer, Nemitz made the claim that he is the Owner of Asteroid 433, Eros, and published his claim about 11 months prior to NASA landing its “NEAR Shoemaker” spacecraft on this asteroid.

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Oct 9, 2012

The Kline Directive: Introduction

Posted by in categories: business, complex systems, defense, economics, engineering, ethics, finance, philosophy, physics, policy, space

Science and engineering are hard to do. If it wasn’t we would have a space bridge from here to the Moon by now. If you don’t have the real world practical experience doing either science or engineering you won’t understand this, or the effort and resources companies like Boeing, Lockheed, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corp, Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic, and the Ad Astra Rocket Company have put into their innovations and products to get to where they are, today.

If we are to achieve interstellar travel, we have to be bold.
We have to explore what others have not.
We have to seek what others will not.
We have to change what others dare not.

The dictionary definition of a directive is, an instruction or order, tending to direct or directing, and indicating direction.

Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, US Department of Defense 2005, provides three similar meanings,

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Sep 28, 2012

The Social Sciences Revolution

Posted by in categories: biological, complex systems, economics, geopolitics, philosophy, policy

Scientific discovery in the natural sciences has proceeded at an exponential rate and we are now seeing the social sciences experience a profound transformation as a consequence of computational social science. How far computational social science will reinvent social science is the big question. Some of the themes I’ve explored in my own work have been about the relationship between political philosophy and science and whether the computational sciences can help formulate new conceptions of societal organisation. Many in the field seem to think so.

These three things—a biological hurricane, computational social science, and the rediscovery of experimentation—are going to change the social sciences in the 21st century. With that change will come, in my judgment, a variety of discoveries and opportunities that offer tremendous prospect for improving the human condition. It’s one thing to say that the way in which we study our object of inquiry, namely humans, is undergoing profound change, as I think it is. The social sciences are indeed changing. But the next question is: is the object of inquiry also undergoing profound change? It’s not just how we study it that’s changing, which it is. The question is: is the thing itself, our humanity, also changing? (Nicholas A. Christakis, A NEW KIND OF SOCIAL SCIENCE FOR THE 21st CENTURY)

A biological understanding of human nature combined with new insights derived from computational social science can potentially revolutionise political, social and economic systems. Consequently there are profound philosophical implications. Secular political philosophy specifically emerged out of the European experience of Church and monarchical rule, and socialism emerged out of the experience of industrialisation and capitalist ideology. Therefore is it possible that a new political philosophy could emerge out of the reinvention of the social sciences?

One question that fascinated me in the last two years is, can we ever use data to control systems? Could we go as far as, not only describe and quantify and mathematically formulate and perhaps predict the behavior of a system, but could you use this knowledge to be able to control a complex system, to control a social system, to control an economic system? (Albert-lászló Barabási, THINKING IN NETWORK TERMS)

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