Category Archives: Los Alamos

Disambiguating Phobos

phobos

If you’re like me you’re probably getting fairly impatient with all this shilly-shallying around that’s been happening with finding out what’s going on with the Mars moon, Phobos.  That thing has been out there making people who know everything feel less good about themselves than they want to almost since it was first discovered.  Forcing them to use terms such as, ‘poorly understood’, ‘not completely understood’, ‘not yet fully understood’, when they write things about the way it behaves.

Problem is the thing refuses to behave itself the way the people who know how objects in orbit ought to behave.  As I recall it’s the fastest moving object in the Solar System, and I mean FAST.  And it isn’t anywhere near as dense as it ought to be.  Just for beginners.

If there’s an ‘artifact’ anywhere in the Solar System, Phobos probably stands a better chance of being it than anything else anyone knows about does.

NASA Eyes ‘Hedgehog’ Invasion of Mars Moon Phobosby Elizabeth Howell, SPACE.com ContributorDate: 19 January 2013 Time: 10:35 AM ET

http://www.space.com/19342-space-hedgehogs-mars-moon-phobos.html

A daring, “Angry Birds”-like NASA mission could bombard a Martian moon with robotic “hedgehog” probes in the next few decades, scientists say.

The space hedgehogs are actually small, spiky, spherical rovers that form part of a novel mission idea called Phobos Surveyor. The rovers would take advantage of the low gravity on the Mars moon Phobos, its sister moon Deimos, or asteroids in the solar system. Engineers have designed the devices to work in concert with a nearby mother ship.  

The hedgehogs would work well in the low gravity of the 16-mile-wide (27 kilometers) Phobos, a force 1,000 times weaker than the gravity on Mars itself, where NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity rovers currently explore, said researcher Marco Pavone of Stanford University. Gravity on Mars is about one-third that of the Earth.

Okay, fine.  But the fact is, I’d like to see some questions answered about this thing before I get dead, or much more senile than I am already.  I want to know whether that thing is hollow.  And going about it in slow steps, using things that haven’t even been invented yet is going to take a long time. 

We spent all that money during the 1950s and 1960s inventing hydrogen bombs we never got any use out of.  Maybe it’s time to put them to some useful work.  We probably have the technology today to get a hydrogen bomb delivered right there dead center of Phobos within the next couple of years.

Time someone, hopefully the Chinese or the Japanese, launched a hydrogen bomb at phobos to see what happens when it hits.  And whether it shoots back.  Time for some serious disambiguation.

Just saying.

Jules

Edit:  The thing’s obviously not able to defend itself anyway and the chances of it shooting back are almost certainly not all that likely.  Whatever made all those dents in it, the impacts are bound to have generated a lot of heat inside and rattled the eye teeth of the might-have-been computers and defunct Buffalo Bills aiming rockets and pushing buttons of weapons systems.  Knocking a nice hole right in the middle a person could focus a telescope on for a looksee would improve things enough to make it worth the risk and the cost.    Easily enough to make it worth the miniscule risk of it raining down nukes on the Japanese or Chinese launch sites.

Mongolian Yahooan Wildfire Treasures

Okala

Now that Yahoo’s decided to protect us by making us agree to let them read, store, and use all of our emails any way they want to there’s not much point going over there.  Except to find out whether the sky’s going to drop some moisture.  But when a person finishes looking at drawings of clouds on maps it’s difficult not to peek at what’s going on in Mongolia, or Bongobongoland.

For what it’s worth, things appear to be okay in Mongolia.

But there’s a huge fire or two raging in upstate New Mexico.  As nearly as I can figure the Jemez Mountains might be getting another round of flames.  They mentioned Valle Caldera and some ancient sites threatened, which might mean it’s threatening the western end of Frijole Canyon upstream from Bandera National Somethingorother. 

That old guy in Santa Fe, wossname, Fenn, who hid a box worth some money if he’s to be believed, probably has those mountains crawling with people who believe him.  From Santa Fe north to Alaska.  The ones who know it’s in Colorado and New Mexico should be able to accidently start a few fires for their troubles.

If I find the time I might swing up that way and pluck the box right out from under them just to keep the townies out of the mountains for their own good.  I was going to have Jeanne’s kids swing by where it’s hidden and snag it when they go that way this summer, but it’s looking as though they mightn’t make the trip.

I can’t swear to it, but I’m fearful I’ve drifted a bit from my original intent with this post, whatever that might have been.

Philosophy by Limerick – So Damned Certain

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle:
All those who believe it’s invincible
Are certain it’s certain
To question it’s flirtin’
With blasphemy indefensible.

Old Jules

Old Jules

Let Big Daddy Fix It

Good morning readers.  I appreciate your visit and read.  I hope you won’t consider this frivolous.

It’s Daddy Day, and there’s a growing body of shrill opinion being expressed on the Web concerning those out-of-control nuclear reactors in Japan and how Big Daddy United States needs to step up to the plate to fix it.  Even though Big Daddy has no more clue than anyone else how to go about doing it.

First off, those reactors haven’t reached their full potential yet, so it’s probably too soon to have the Lincoln Memorial try to jump a motorcycle across them. 

Even though PT Barnham’s loose in Washington and trying to perfect that method of solving historical difficulties, jumping a motorcycle across the problem is still considered extreme, untested, uncertain, at best.

Probably it would be better to try time-tested methods first.  Some of the ways Big Daddy US has solved other pesky difficulties.  Homeland Security and attempts to deal with illegal immigration might provide a model.

Or failing that, there’s always the old airbag fix:

Anyone strangled to death by an airbag isn’t going to be worrying about mutants, teeth falling out, that sort of thing.

Sending some crews of jailbirds out to pick the fallout up before it can do any damage offers some hope.  Got lots of jailbirds and not-all-that-much radiation yet.  If the radiation increases, hell it won’t do it faster than our number of prisons.

People who never learned to program a VCR, [including me] might find radiation detection instruments confusing, so sniffer dogs trained to detect it could answer the question of where it is and where it ain’t.

Naturally they’d have to be provided facilities.

And protection from reckless drivers.

Failing that, a little magic might help.

Or just an acknowledgement there’s a problem.

If everything else fails, this worked for grandaddy and there’s no reason to think it won’t work again.

The Japanese have never been all that receptive to allowing imports from the US, but I’ll bet they’d welcome a few shiploads of those signs.  And there’s potential for a new manufacturing industry here to replace what went to Asia.

It ain’t as though there’s nothing to do in a fallout shelter.

Big Daddy’s tour d’force is entertainment.  Still is.  Never been better.

You can’t argue with a history of success.  I say, “Let’s go for it!”  What are we waiting for?

Old Jules

Talking the Walk – Higgs Boson and ‘Science’

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/9307672/CERN-director-says-LHC-will-find-God-Particle-by-end-of-the-year.html

“Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director of CERN where the LHC is based, said he was confident that by the end of the year it will be possible to say whether the Higgs Boson, the particle which is responsible for giving mass to the universe, exists.

“The theoretical particle, nicknamed the God Particle due to its central role it has in explaining modern physics, has never been detected and scientists have been working for decades to prove its existence.

“Scientists hope that high energy collisions of particles in the 17 mile underground tunnel at CERN will finally allow them to create the conditions to allow them to spot the elusive Higgs Boson.

“Dr Heuer, who was speaking at the Hay Festival, said the LHC is scheduled to be closed down at the end of this year for up to two years in order to carry out upgrades that will increase its power and allow it to continue with more experiments.”

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Those guys over at CERN need to think of something else to call themselves.  They’re inadvertently allowing their use of language to act as a confession booth.  “. . . scientists have been working for decades to prove its existence,” says just about everything needs saying about the difference between science and engineering.  Or whatever it is they think they’re doing.  “Got me a theory, now I’m going to PROVE it,”  ain’t science.  But the difference is too subtle to penetrate the ice surface those folks are skating on.

For several years now they’ve been bragging about creating ‘baby black holes’ that ‘dissolve’ [they say the little guys dissolve because they don't know what the hell happened to them - spang lost track of them].  There’s a body of opinion among outcasts and heretics from the ‘science’ religion that some of what’s going on stands a shot at creating black holes that don’t do any vanishing.  Black holes, or something else nobody anticipated. 

At CERN, though, they’re got things to prove and they’re not going to let anything stand in the way of proving it.  When a physicist somewhere raises his hand to suggest they mightn’t know what the hell’s going to come out of this or that, they shout him down.  “There’s an extremely LOW probability of it.”

Back before they detonated the A-bomb at the Trinity Site a group of the physicists there expressed similar concerns.  “We oughtn’t do this.  There’s a minute chance it will set fire the atmosphere of the planet.”

“Why hell, the probabilities for that are low.  How the hell can we know whether it will without TRYING it?”

So guess what!  Trinity didn’t set fire to the atmosphere.  All manner of other great things grew out of it, though.  Hiroshima, Nagasaki.  The Cold War.  Mutually Assured Destruction.  ICBMs.  Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and a lot of potential today for more drama in the North Pacific centered around Japan.  Countless people born deformed downwind from the low-probabilities that became high-probabilities with Chernobyl.  Arms races all over the world and weapons of mass destruction used as an excuse to invade any country with something worth stealing.

As nearly as I can figure, those Higgs Boson particles [or something rhyming with them] are out there doing their thing all by their lonesome selves without needing permission from physicists.  They do what they do without needing some airhead calling them God particles, Higgs Boson particles, or anything else.

The people at CERN are doing something they’re calling ‘science’, throwing up their hands calling it the innocent pursuit of knowledge, wanting to prove things.  Hopefully one of the things time will prove is they were right about those baby black holes dissolving instead of going into orbit around the sun.

Hopefully they’ll prove the human species wouldn’t have been better served hanging them upside down from lamp posts when they had the chance.

Old Jules

The Skins We Change

Note from Jeanne:
I’d like to thank those of you who commented on yesterday’s art work. I appreciate it. It has been a while since I’ve worked on large drawings (spending more time recently on jewelry) and just getting the feedback from you has been an encouragement to follow through on some other ideas I’ve had.  I’ll post a drawing here every once in a while and I’ll try to fix the categories so you’ll be able to find them all easily.
 Old Jules has been spending a good deal of his time cutting cedar and working on a huge erosion control project for Gale and Kay and hasn’t been online much. I’m sure he’ll update you at some point, but I have some posts  scheduled ahead since I don’t know exactly when that will be.  Thanks again for visiting, reading,  and commenting here, we both appreciate it very much. ~Jeanne

Previously posted June 7, 2005  (Placitas, New Mexico)

Out in the currently vacant chicken house I found a rattlesnake skin the other day.  It was in one of the layer boxes, so I don’t know how long it was there before I noticed it.  But it caused me to do some thinking about old brother rattler and what manner of nuisance he’s likely to make of himself if he’s still around.

I’m a man who holds rattlers in fairly high regard, but with a lot of respect for their clumsy bad manners when it comes to getting underfoot.  I usually try to keep enough of an eye on the places they like to show up unexpectedly to avoid offending them, and when I can corner them I’ll carry them off into some likely spot well away from humans.  Mostly they’re just minding their own business, trying to make a living the same as everyone else and don’t have the good sense to keep themselves out of harm’s way when humans are around.

This one looked a lot bigger last year (I’m assuming it’s the same one) when I lifted up a piece of plywood in a pile of debris in the corner of the lot and let out an involuntary yelp as I jumped backward in time to avoid his strike.  That skin shows him to be about two feet long, but I’d have called him an easy four from my brief look at him.

Rattlers are few at this altitude, and the one who slithered off into the cane leaving me to to decide whether to just breathe a while and let my pulse slow down, or take another tug at that plywood is almost certainly the previous owner of that skin in the chicken house.

Rattlers are lucky where it comes to changing their skins.  Happens year after year, but generally they don’t change much.  People aren’t so lucky in that regard.  We change our skins a lot of times in this life, and in a sense we leave the old ones lying around to be examined by everyone with an interest in who we are, making assumptions based on the old skin.

The other night I was down at the Range Cafe in Bernalillo …. met a bunch of old guys my age down there… retirees from the Los Alamos labs…. nuclear physicists who’ve shed their old skins and discovered they’ve let their lives slither off into the bush without doing a lot of things they wish they’d done.  Now they’re all off living other places, but decided to rendezvous down here for a hurrah into the mountains, looking for a lost gold mine.

I have a notion I’d have barely been able to tolerate those men in their younger days.  There’s a nuance about value judgements involving working on nuclear weapon development that would have influenced my thinking about them.

But these guys had left all that behind, shed that skin and now just wanting to slither off into the canyons, spend some time chewing the fat over a fire and stomp around looking for a lost mine and taking joy in being around one another again.

Strange place we’ve chosen to spend a reality, thinks I.

Old Jules