Chat Log: August 1st 2009

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[07:47] #knownspace> AlexA: .tim est

[07:47] #knownspace> AlexA: .t EST

[07:47] #knownspace> Outsider: Sat, 01 Aug 2009 06:47:33 EST

[07:48] #knownspace> AlexA: I've forgotten when 1st Sat chat officially starts

[07:49] #knownspace> AlexA: .g ICAO boscombe down

[07:49] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[07:50] #knownspace> AlexA: .w egdm

[07:50] #knownspace> Outsider: Couldn't get any definitions for egdm.

[07:50] #knownspace> AlexA: .g phenny

[07:50] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[07:51] #knownspace> AlexA: .weather egdm

[07:52] #knownspace> Outsider: Overcast ☁, 17℃, 1007mb, Mist, Moderate breeze 11kt (↑) - EGDM, 11:50, 1050Z

[07:53] #knownspace> AlexA: ^ a lovely summers day in the UK :/

[07:56] #knownspace> AlexA: tTel SeanS see you later

[07:56] #knownspace> AlexA: tell SeanS see you later

[07:57] #knownspace> AlexA: Brb

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[09:29] #knownspace> SeanS: hi hank

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[09:52] #knownspace> AlexA: Anyone in?

[09:56] #knownspace> hankster: hi there sorry, been watching Superman returns on telly and cleaning out the work emails.

[09:58] #knownspace> hankster: Don't usually make these as they usually occur early morning for Western Australia

[10:00] #knownspace> SeanS: I am always hanging out. About to cook a spot of breakfast.

[10:04] #knownspace> hankster: sounds good. My choices on telly tonight were football, Meteor or Superman Returns :)

[10:07] #knownspace> hankster: given the discussion about Meteor over the week, I decided Superman Returns was the better option,even tho I've seen it b4

[10:17] #knownspace> AlexA: Just eating a late lunch

[10:18] #knownspace> AlexA: The time here is...

[10:18] #knownspace> AlexA: .t bst

[10:18] #knownspace> Outsider: Sat, 01 Aug 2009 15:18:24 BST

[10:19] #knownspace> AlexA: Saw SR at the cinema

[10:20] #knownspace> AlexA: Ok, but nothing memorable

[10:20] #knownspace> hankster: time here in Perth is 1020pm Saturday 1st

[10:22] #knownspace> AlexA: Though the true identity of the kid was a nice touch

[10:25] #knownspace> AlexA: When does chat officially start?

[10:26] #knownspace> AlexA: Well into small hours for you hankster I guess

[10:28] #knownspace> AlexA: I'll pop back later

[10:31] #knownspace> hankster: if ok with you I'll pop back in a few hours. might go and get some sleep before then :)

[10:36] #knownspace> hankster: actually Superman Returns is on topic for a Larry Niven list isn't it? ObNiven, Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex

[10:41] #knownspace> SeanS: yep

[10:42] #knownspace> SeanS: official start time is 3pm eastern time US which is in 4 hours and 18 minutes

[10:42] #knownspace> SeanS: I wont be here... taking the boat to the lake.

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[11:44] #knownspace> hankster: What sort of boat Sean? I'm in a boat club with a number of vessels available.

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[14:22] #knownspace> NickE: evenin'

[14:34] #knownspace> NickE: k. bit dead then

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[15:02] senax has joined #knownspace

[15:03] #knownspace> senax: Hello.

[15:03] #knownspace> NickE: hi Frank

[15:04] #knownspace> NickE: brb

[15:05] #knownspace> dmac44: Hi everyone, seems like a quiet day out there

[15:05] #knownspace> senax: indeed

[15:12] #knownspace> NickE: hi dmac

[15:12] #knownspace> NickE: was dead for a while

[15:14] Dan has joined #knownspace

[15:14] #knownspace> Dan: Greetings, Programs!

[15:14] #knownspace> senax: Hi Dan

[15:15] #knownspace> Dan: Hiya, senax.

[15:15] #knownspace> Dan: What are you up to today, Frank?

[15:16] #knownspace> senax: Homework...programming stuff.

[15:16] #knownspace> senax: How bout you?

[15:19] #knownspace> Dan: Just got back from grocery shopping. Need to be outside trying to finish the trim work on my screened-in porch project. Got all the trim painted and polyurethaned yesterday - in between rain showers. Now I have to do a bit of sawing and attaching the parts to the wall studs. Should take a couple of hours, unless today's rain starts earlier than the Weather Channel says it will.

[15:20] #knownspace> Dan: The hardest part will be getting up on a ladder and attaching the upper sections. The ground isn't very level around the porch, so some bits of 2x4 will have to serve to keep the ladder legs steady.

[15:21] #knownspace> senax: That doesn't sound very stable.

[15:21] #knownspace> Dan: It isn't, but it's one of those A-frame folding ladders, and only about 5 feet tall.

[15:22] #knownspace> Dan: Only one corner of the porch will need the shims, thankfully.

[15:23] #knownspace> NickE: hi Dan

[15:23] #knownspace> Dan: Hiya!

[15:24] #knownspace> NickE: Was saying to Sean the other day that I might be coming over for Dragon Con next year. I gather Atlanta's not that far from you?

[15:24] #knownspace> Dan: Looking forward to finishing the porch and then making new window screens for three windows and the back door.

[15:25] #knownspace> Dan: Atlanta is about 90 miles/180 kilometers from my house.

[15:26] #knownspace> NickE: not that far then

[15:26] #knownspace> Dan: Not far at all, and there are some good, short routes between.

[15:26] #knownspace> NickE: plans entirely dependant on getting the cash togtether, but looking promising

[15:26] #knownspace> NickE: I smell list meetup? :-)

[15:27] #knownspace> Dan: Lyn and I would like to go to Dragon Con in the future, but until the economy picks back up a bit more, we can't afford it yet.

[15:28] #knownspace> NickE: I hear ya. This will be a bit of a once in a lifetime deal for me if I pull it off

[15:28] #knownspace> Dan: We could plan for a meet-up, sure!

[15:29] #knownspace> NickE: I'll keep you posted how it's going then and we can try and get something together nearer the time

[15:29] #knownspace> Dan: Either here, or at a resturant near Dragon Con, or whatever works best.

[15:29] #knownspace> NickE: sounds doable

[15:30] #knownspace> NickE: No sign of Larry earlier I don't think. He's usually around by 8pm my time if he's going to show

[15:30] #knownspace> Dan: There is a Waffle House on highway 316 that's roughly halfway between Atlanta and here, as a worst case plan.

[15:31] #knownspace> NickE: I won't have a car (or be likely to hire one)

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[15:34] #knownspace> NickE: wb

[15:36] #knownspace> NickE: hoping to be able to crash at a friend's for some of the time

[15:38] #knownspace> Dan: Steve Sloan lives near Atlanta, too. Although in Alabama.

[15:40] #knownspace> Dan: Don't we have one of those Frapper Maps of where Niven Listers live, online somewhere?

[15:42] #knownspace> senax: Sorry, got busy for a while. Carol from Houston pointed me to a set of those maps once, but I've forgotten where they were...

[15:42] George-C has joined #knownspace

[15:43] #knownspace> senax: Hi George

[15:43] #knownspace> Dan: I'll check my bookmarks... Hiya, George!

[15:43] #knownspace> George-C: Hi folks!

[15:45] #knownspace> Dan: Found a link, but it's taking forever to load so that I can see if it's the right one.

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[15:48] #knownspace> NickE: hi

[15:48] #knownspace> Dan: Hiya, Ben.

[15:49] #knownspace> NickE: (doing other things, so might take a while to reply at times)

[15:49] #knownspace> NickE: hi George

[15:49] #knownspace> BenScott: Greetings, all.

[15:49] #knownspace> George-C: How dare you do other things while -- uh, excuse me, brb

[15:49] #knownspace> George-C: :-)

[15:49] #knownspace> NickE: heh

[15:50] #knownspace> George-C: Hi Ben

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[15:50] #knownspace> NickE: going camping tomorrow so stuff to sort out

[15:50] #knownspace> NickE: <kzin voice> Welcome Louis! </kzin voice>

[15:51] #knownspace> Louis_Wu: Salutations! :)

[15:51] #knownspace> Dan: Not a problem. I'm going to switch to logging-mode when I finish my drink, so I can go outside and get started working on the porch again. I do want to finish it up today. The project has taked me almost a month to complete, dur to the weather, two vacations, and my work schedule.

[15:51] #knownspace> George-C: Camping sounds nice! Hi Louis

[15:51] #knownspace> Dan: Hiya Louis!

[15:51] #knownspace> NickE: Not in this pissing rain it doesnt!

[15:51] #knownspace> NickE: :-)

[15:52] #knownspace> NickE: Which would have been the case if we'd gone today anyway

[15:53] #knownspace> George-C: See, if I plana camping trip, and it rains . . I change my plans. I appreciate rain, but not while I'm trying to do fun stuff.

[15:53] #knownspace> George-C: I have friends who fish in the rain. Sure, you catch more fish, but, bleah.

[15:54] #knownspace> Dan: is the Frappr Map link I found in my list of Niven links, but it's taking forever to load and might be broken.

[15:55] #knownspace> senax: What an ad-infested mess!

[15:55] #knownspace> Dan: Indeed, looks like it's been invaded by some sort of dating website.

[15:56] #knownspace> Dan: OK, switching to an Away Nickname and going out to work on the porch. I'll be back in whenever I take a break.

[15:56] #knownspace> senax: The animated pink glitter panties add a touch of class, and that's more important than seeing the map, right?

[15:58] #knownspace> senax: I need to take off myself...I'll check in later. Bye!

[16:01] #knownspace> George-C: Do we have a topic today?

[16:03] #knownspace> BenScott: My screen says the topic is "Welcome to First Saturday Chat", does that help? ;-)

[16:03] #knownspace> George-C: Not a lot!

[16:08] #knownspace> BenScott: I'm actually taking the time to catch up on mail from the Niven list... I figure this will be a block of Niven time, be it IRC or email. :-)

[16:08] #knownspace> George-C: Yep

[16:09] #knownspace> George-C: Something took Louis -- ARM or Puppeteers?

[16:09] #knownspace> dmac44: ARMed Puppeteers :)

[16:10] #knownspace> George-C: Ooooo, nasty thought.

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[16:10] #knownspace> George-C: Hi Ed!

[16:10] #knownspace> dmac44: Hey Ed

[16:10] #knownspace> EML: 12Hi, guys

[16:11] #knownspace> George-C: What's new, Ed?

[16:11] #knownspace> dmac44: Slow day on the list.

[16:11] #knownspace> BenScott: Puppeteers don't carry weapons, they trick others into doing their dirty work. It would be right up their alley to trick the ARM into doing their dirty work. So I would indeed suspect ARMed Puppeteers before armed Puppeteers.

[16:12] #knownspace> EML: 12the java client is acting wacky. if I fall off, I'll try again in a new session

[16:12] #knownspace> BenScott: Acting wacky is what Java does.

[16:12] #knownspace> George-C: Puppeteers carry tasps. >:-) "Let's be bad guys!"

[16:12] #knownspace> EML: 12Umm, Puppeteers do carry weapson. Nessus had a flashlight laser way back in Ringworld.

[16:13] #knownspace> BenScott: I thought Nessus was an outcast because of behavior like that?

[16:13] #knownspace> EML: 12And, in Fleet, there were armed security guards

[16:14] #knownspace> BenScott: D'oh, there were? Phooey.

[16:14] #knownspace> EML: 12No matter how cautious and cowardly the average Puppeteer is, the fact remains there are a trillion Puppeteers. Some will be quirky or criminal or insane.

[16:15] #knownspace> BenScott: Ah, good point. The Law of Truly Large Numbers.

[16:15] #knownspace> BenScott: er, warily.

[16:15] #knownspace> George-C: So, some of the ones we've met were a bit elitist, trying to pretend they don't do "those things".

[16:16] #knownspace> EML: 12Do we have a topic today (or is thug Puppeteers the topic)?

[16:16] #knownspace> BenScott: So far the only topic has been trying to figure out what the topic is. :)

[16:17] #knownspace> EML: 12Ben, the thing is, Puppeteers, like humans (or Pac, or Kzinti, or ...) have personalities and personal experiences. They're not all robots, slave to a single racial trait.

[16:17] #knownspace> George-C: Ed, how's progress on the new book? >he craftily asks<

[16:18] #knownspace> EML: 12George: "new" begs a question. The next one out, Destroyer of Worlds, is on track for November release. The next book in the series, Betrayer of Worlds, is about half-written.

[16:18] #knownspace> George-C: Interesting that in (allegedly) untold generations, the uppeteers still have oddballs. :-)

[16:18] #knownspace> George-C: New = Next, mostly!

[16:19] #knownspace> George-C: Puppeteers, Uppeteers, same thing!

[16:19] #knownspace> BenScott: EML: Nuh-uh, I've learned from countless TV, movies, and pulp stories that all members of an alien race have identical behavior.

[16:19] #knownspace> George-C: And all cities on any one planet are the same!

[16:19] #knownspace> EML: 12and wear the same silver-lame (sp?) jumpsuit

[16:20] #knownspace> BenScott: George: Not only that, the entire planet has the same climate.

[16:21] #knownspace> EML: 12Here's something different -- I'm newly back from a NASA-funded astronomy program for authors.

[16:21] #knownspace> dmac44: How did you like Larime?

[16:21] #knownspace> George-C: Oooh, sweet!

[16:21] #knownspace> BenScott: Oh?

[16:21] #knownspace> EML: 12I didn't see much of Laramie, just the campus.

[16:22] #knownspace> dmac44: The surrounding area is mostly grassland but beautiful

[16:22] #knownspace> George-C: 'Ow'd you get that then? Invite only or open invite?

[16:22] #knownspace> EML: 12The program itself was great, both the astronomy material and the authorial company

[16:22] #knownspace> George-C: I don't doubt it!

[16:22] #knownspace> George-C: Who else was there?

[16:22] #knownspace> EML: 12Doug: do you live around Laramie, or just know the area?

[16:23] #knownspace> dmac44: I used to work in Fort Collins, Co about 60 miles away

[16:24] #knownspace> EML: 12The program is called Launch Pad and has open enrollment. See I wrote a bit about the porogram on my blog (as many other participants did on theirs).

[16:24] #knownspace> George-C: Cool.

[16:24] #knownspace> EML: 12Indeed.

[16:26] #knownspace> EML: 12Mike Brotherton, the astronomer (and SF writer) who runs the program was nice enough not to hassle me about the out-of-date science (like galactic core explosions) in Known Space. Mike understands canon.

[16:26] #knownspace> BenScott: Just red the blog entry now. Neat. So it's Launch Pad is basically a program to turn popular fiction into a marketing program for the sciences. I like it! ;-)

[16:27] #knownspace> EML: 12Hmm. Did I strike everyone speechless, or did Java client knock me offline?

[16:28] #knownspace> BenScott: EML: I'm getting your messages.

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[16:28] #knownspace> BenScott: EML: I was getting your messages.

[16:28] #knownspace> EML: I think I lost you guys.

[16:28] #knownspace> dmac44: What, no galactic core explosions? Next you'll be telling me you can't eject a mass of 1.6 earths from the moon with a machine

[16:29] #knownspace> George-C: Just been perusing the Launch Pad site. Looks like a great time!

[16:29] #knownspace> BenScott: It's been pretty quiet in this channel since I joined. I think it's just a slow day.

[16:29] #knownspace> EML: I ranted on my blog about that idiotic miniseries, IMpact. It made Armageddon look like a postdoc in astrophysics.

[16:29] #knownspace> BenScott: ROTFL

[16:29] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed: yeah, my comment was a reference to that

[16:30] #knownspace> George-C: Yeah, we kind of went off about it on list, as you may have seen.

[16:30] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed, any plans for a book of short stories of your own?

[16:30] #knownspace> EML: but the flickering of the tab with the java client is driving me crazy. I'm gonna close the browser all the way down and then start over. See you in a few.

[16:31] #knownspace> George-C: The ARM doesn't want him talking!

[16:31] #knownspace> dmac44: Then wouldn't they be supressing his books?

[16:32] #knownspace> BenScott: I thought it was the Puppeteers?

[16:32] #knownspace> Dan: Back, taking a break.

[16:32] #knownspace> George-C: Welcome back. Waiting for Ed to rematerialize.

[16:32] #knownspace> BenScott: Deviant Puppeteers toting machine guns and repelling down walls!

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[16:33] #knownspace> George-C: Ah, there he is.

[16:33] #knownspace> Dan: I got almost all the ladder work done. Not afraid of heights, just don't want to fall 8 feet to the ground and break yet another bone. :)

[16:33] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed, any plans for a book of short stories of your own?

[16:33] #knownspace> BenScott: "I'm not afraid of heights. Just of falling from them."

[16:33] #knownspace> George-C: If you were a little more afraid, you'd break less bones!

[16:33] #knownspace> EML: 12still acting up. I upgraded bnot long ago to Firefox 3.5 -- and been having problems. I'll be back soon from INternet Exploder

[16:34] #knownspace> George-C: :-)

[16:34] #knownspace> Dan: George, if I were afraid of heights, I'd have to pay someone to take my risks for me. :)

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[16:35] #knownspace> BenScott: EML: Is this better?

[16:36] #knownspace> EML: IE won't work at all.

[16:36] #knownspace> Dan: As it is, I'm only 51, in great shape for an ex-farm boy, and can take precautions to keep the ladder from shifting.

[16:36] #knownspace> EML: Huh! the flickering stopped. Thanks, ben.

[16:36] #knownspace> George-C: Good. I've seen ladders do some disturbing things!

[16:36] #knownspace> BenScott: LOL! Wish I'd done something! :-)

[16:36] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed, Just an FYI, I'm on Firefox 3.5 and aren't having any problems.

[16:37] #knownspace> BenScott: You might want to try a full IRC client. XChat is free, and is supposed to run on Windows. I've never tried it on Windows, but it's what I'm using on Linux and works well.

[16:37] #knownspace> BenScott:

[16:37] #knownspace> EML: 12about my short stories, Doug ... I have one collection already, called Creative Destruction.

[16:37] #knownspace> Dan: 95% of the rest of the work can be done with my feet firmly on the ground, albeit in my wife's flowerbeds.

[16:38] #knownspace> dmac44: Okay, thanks.

[16:38] #knownspace> EML: 12But full disclosure: the longest story in Creative Destructionm -- with beaucoup updates -- forms about one-third of my most recent novel, Fools' Experiments.

[16:39] #knownspace> EML: 12The client troubles are a surprise -- I've never had any difficulties before.

[16:40] #knownspace> BenScott: Ah. I've never had much luck with Java-based anything, so I was blaming that.

[16:40] #knownspace> EML: 12Has Larry been by today?

[16:40] #knownspace> George-C: Not yet.

[16:40] #knownspace> Dan: Java-based chat applets are notorius for crapping out at the worst possible times.

[16:41] #knownspace> George-C: Unless . . . who was Louis??

[16:41] #knownspace> Dan: That said. some actually do work well.

[16:41] #knownspace> dmac44: Dan: Software that takes advantage of Murphy's Law, inpressive :)

[16:41] #knownspace> George-C: >>trying to think of a "Worlds" question Ed can answer without giving much away<<

[16:42] #knownspace> BenScott: *All* software automatically incorporates Murphy's Law. It's built-in to the standard library.

[16:42] #knownspace> dmac44: George-C: I've tried that over time and haven't been successful

[16:43] #knownspace> EML: 12Larry & I decided, BTW, that the series name is "Fleet of Worlds" (just "Worlds" sounded too generic).

[16:43] #knownspace> Dan: Ed, about how much time do you spend researching for a novel VS writing on it?

[16:43] #knownspace> George-C: FoW it is.

[16:44] #knownspace> EML: 12Dan: research (n which category I include outlining and character summaries) can take a couple weeks to a couple months.

[16:44] #knownspace> BenScott: I haven't read /Juggler/ yet (it's next in my to-read pile once I finish "Dark Tower"), so if spoilers for that are coming, please do me a favor and warn me. :-)

[16:45] #knownspace> Dan: Thanks, Ed.

[16:45] #knownspace> EML: 12My next solo, Small Miracles (about medical nanotech) took months of research. And when I finished, I had a doctor friend read end-to-end to make sure I hadn't messed up anything.

[16:46] #knownspace> Dan: Sounds like the smart thing to do with thatsubject, Ed.

[16:46] #knownspace> BenScott: Wow. Due diligence in fiction. Nice. I appreciate that in books I read. :)

[16:47] #knownspace> George-C: It shows, too.

[16:47] #knownspace> EML: 12I've thrown a few books across the room in my time. One of my reserach goals is that no one be throwing MY books.

[16:47] #knownspace> EML: 12George: thanks.

[16:47] #knownspace> Dan: Books that are accurate are usually more fun to read, in my unsolicited opinion. :)

[16:47] #knownspace> George-C: Few things ruin a book like suddenly being knocked out of the tale with a "Huh? What?" speed bump.

[16:48] #knownspace> BenScott: Yah, it's hard to "get into a story" when blatant errors keep crashing into you.

[16:48] #knownspace> EML: 12I figure every book is allowed one exaggeration, extrapolation, or trope. Hence, FTL drives.

[16:49] #knownspace> BenScott: There seem to be certain standard-issue things we're expected to accept if they're presented up front and internally consistently. FTL, psi powers, ray guns, etc.

[16:50] #knownspace> George-C: As long as the bits make sense, even the fictional science.

[16:50] #knownspace> BenScott: To me, the worst sin is a story that's inconsistent internally.

[16:50] #knownspace> Dan: I've got one of the highest levels of "suspension of disbelief" of most folks I know - witness my fondness for Tom Swift Jr., Doc Savage, et al -but even I get yanked out of the narrative flow sometimes.

[16:51] #knownspace> EML: 12Yup, even the made-up science has to follow rules. That's the fun of GP hulls. In every FOW book so far I've found a new and consistent way to destroy one.

[16:51] #knownspace> Dan: LOL!

[16:51] #knownspace> George-C: Well, man's gotta have a hobby . . !

[16:51] #knownspace> BenScott: A story that forgets its own rules, or which introduces totally new stuff on the spur of the moment (usually when the plot needs it), that breaks the implicit contract with the reader that the author's word is good.

[16:52] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed, speaking of FTL drives, is hyperspace another brane?

[16:52] #knownspace> BenScott: Sheesh, even Larry only did that *once*, right? ;-)

[16:52] #knownspace> BenScott: Your insurance premiums are gonna go through the roof. ;-)

[16:52] #knownspace> George-C: I'd think H-space would be part of the other dimensions "around" us.

[16:53] #knownspace> Dan: General Products must employ Ed as a product tester. LOL!

[16:53] #knownspace> EML: 12I offer no theory what hyperspace is. I just accept hyperdrive as canon and move on. Until, someday, I find a plot advantage to thinking about how hyperspace works ...

[16:53] #knownspace> Dan: "It failed HOW?!?!?!!!!!

[16:53] #knownspace> George-C: Branes are "outside" our universe; our universe is a broken brane. Maybe.

[16:54] #knownspace> EML: 12If there's anything to brane theory, our universe IS a brane (within a higher-dimensional brane space).

[16:55] #knownspace> George-C: Thought current idea is that a brane ruptured to cause big "bang".

[16:56] #knownspace> EML: 12Brane theory offers one (of many) theories behind the meaning and origin of the bog bang.

[16:56] #knownspace> George-C: That's why we have only a few dimensions here, that we can realte to.

[16:56] #knownspace> EML: 12The October Analog has a short science piece that's relevant, by physicist John Cramer.

[16:56] #knownspace> George-C: relate

[16:57] #knownspace> George-C: Ah, the magazine from the future! :-)

[16:57] #knownspace> EML: 12if not an SF magazine, then what kind?

[16:57] #knownspace> George-C: Indeed.

[16:57] #knownspace> Dan: Ooooo, one could wish for an extra N in that typo, Ed. A Bong Bang could supply ammunition for hours of puns.

[16:57] #knownspace> BenScott: Dan: Dude... it's like... so cosmic...

[16:58] #knownspace> Dan: :)

[16:58] #knownspace> dmac44: four dimensional space seems to be incorporated in hyperspace since ships can travel through it so does this imply that hyperspace contains more than 4 dimensions?

[16:58] #knownspace> EML: 12typos R us.

[16:58] #knownspace> Dan: Happy to oblige, Ben.

[16:59] #knownspace> BenScott: "hyperspace" and "dimension", as used in fiction, generally don't seem to mean what "real scientists" mean when they use the terms.

[17:00] #knownspace> dmac44: I know that but it's still fun to try and find rationalityin it

[17:00] #knownspace> BenScott: dmac44: Well, in that case, carry on! :)

[17:00] #knownspace> EML: 12I tend to speculate more about tech we might see in our lifetimes, like nanotech and more advanced computers.

[17:01] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed, do you think we'll see AI in out time?

[17:01] #knownspace> dmac44: that's "our time"

[17:01] #knownspace> BenScott: dmac44: First you have to define "AI".... :)

[17:01] #knownspace> EML: 12AI? Maybe. We may need to work on our definitions, which are rather human-centric.

[17:02] #knownspace> dmac44: I leave that as an excercise for the student ....

[17:02] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed, how would you define it?

[17:02] #knownspace> EML: 12Such as, why is natural langiuage -- which is a mess -- supposedly an ability an AI shoudl have?

[17:03] #knownspace> George-C: Limited AI, something that does a better job of what we already have robots & computers doing. Now, if you mean autonomous thought, that's a different critter, and a ways off, I suspect.

[17:03] #knownspace> EML: 12I think of AI as sufficiently advanced problem-solving skills.

[17:03] #knownspace> George-C: Yes.

[17:03] #knownspace> EML: 12The more interesting challenge is self-awareness.

[17:04] #knownspace> dmac44: Based on your knowledge of software do you think computers will become self aware?

[17:04] #knownspace> BenScott: Yah, I've always thought the true definition of AI should be "the ability to synthesize new solutions to problems". Not just combining existing rules, but being ably to analyze and produce new rules.

[17:04] #knownspace> EML: 12(commerical announcement: Fools' EXperiments is all about AI, and artifical life, and developing a self-aware critter.)

[17:05] #knownspace> EML: 12Nothing in our current approach to software gives me any reason to expect self-awareness to arise. More and more isn't different. But if we try something different ...

[17:06] #knownspace> George-C: Saw something recently about a robot that can visually recognise objects, and learn new names for new things. It's a start.

[17:06] #knownspace> BenScott: On the subject of natural language: Curiously enough, natural language UIs have made significant practical improvements in the past few years, but as far as I know, not through AI, just though adding sufficient rules and processing power for pattern recognition.

[17:07] #knownspace> EML: 12what sort of intelligence asserts " I could care less" and "I couldn't care less" mean the same thing?

[17:08] #knownspace> BenScott: Heh, one which can copy with inconsistency well. :-)

[17:08] #knownspace> BenScott: s/copy/cope/

[17:08] #knownspace> George-C: True self-awareness -- I suspect not. Maybe never. But fake it? Oh yes.

[17:08] #knownspace> BenScott: Which is what those language systems do, as I understand it: They just have sets of rules about what humans mean when they make various noises.

[17:09] #knownspace> EML: 12Re faking it ... if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quackes like a duck ... at what point is it a duck?

[17:09] #knownspace> Dan: I'm waiting for a computer program that can honestly state "I think, therefore I anin't gonna watch Jerry Springer!" before I believe AI is possible.

[17:09] #knownspace> George-C: lol

[17:10] #knownspace> dmac44: So, you don't believe that someday every telephone in the world is going to ring at the same time ......

[17:10] #knownspace> EML: 12Now for those who consider AI possible, the next question becomes: do you believe in the Singularity?

[17:10] #knownspace> Dan: If they do, it'll be a telemarketer in India that pressed the wrong buttons.

[17:10] #knownspace> BenScott: Heh, that actually couldn't happen, the CO ring generators don't have enough amperage to ring all lines at once. :-)

[17:10] #knownspace> George-C: It can't be a true duck until it can surpass it's design parameters by achieving that which the design does not allow for.

[17:11] #knownspace> dmac44: Don't we already know what one form of Singularity looks like? Isn't that what civilization on this planet is?

[17:11] #knownspace> EML: 12intelligence must surpass the design parameters of intelligence?

[17:12] #knownspace> George-C: If a computer refuses to watch Springer, while people do, at that point we have a computer that surpasses human intelligence!

[17:12] #knownspace> George-C: Reaction and imagination would surpass the ability of the circuits and programs.

[17:13] #knownspace> EML: 12The Singularity defintion I'm used to (which, I believe can be attributed ot Vernor Vinge) is a phase change so abrupt and profound that those on one side can't begin to understand what it's like on the other side.

[17:13] #knownspace> BenScott: Is not liking Springer a matter of "intelligence" or a less well defined concept like "personal taste"?

[17:14] #knownspace> George-C: Good point. But intelligence should lead to better taste!

[17:14] #knownspace> EML: 12intelligence <> values <> taste.

[17:15] #knownspace> George-C: Mmmmm, yes.

[17:15] #knownspace> dmac44: can one person really undestand all of civilization? Elements yes, but not its entirety.

[17:16] #knownspace> BenScott: EML: Yah, exactly. While we seem to have a very rough understanding of intelligence, we seem to have even less understanding of what makes equally intelligent people think differently from each other.

[17:16] #knownspace> George-C: True.

[17:16] #knownspace> dmac44: Good point

[17:16] AlexA has joined #knownspace

[17:16] #knownspace> EML: 12it's not a matter of unserstanding all of civiliziation, but rather of being able to imagine living in it. A neolithic hunter could not imagine living in a modern city (I woud guess).

[17:16] #knownspace> AlexA: Hi

[17:17] #knownspace> Dan: Hell, I'm still trying to figure out why different people enjoy foods that other people detest.

[17:17] #knownspace> EML: 12Hi, AlexA

[17:17] #knownspace> AlexA: Hi EML

[17:17] #knownspace> BenScott: WRT singularity and understanding: If that's the case, doesn't that mean speculation about the singularity is by-definition futile?

[17:17] #knownspace> dmac44: Ed, so we've had at least one singularity in human history.

[17:17] Lensman_Free has joined #knownspace

[17:17] #knownspace> AlexA: No organlegger today?

[17:18] #knownspace> Dan: Nit yet, Alex.

[17:18] #knownspace> Lensman_Free: Nope, Larry is busy today.

[17:18] #knownspace> AlexA: Ah right

[17:18] #knownspace> Dan: OK, time to get a beer, so then at least I'll have *something* to blame my typos upon.

[17:18] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Does that mean you're going to start charging us? ;0)

[17:19] #knownspace> AlexA: Who'se been following Augustine Human Spaceflight Commiter meetings?

[17:19] #knownspace> Dan: Nah, it means that *now* he's subject to inertia.

[17:19] #knownspace> George-C: At least it's not New Lensman! ;-)

[17:19] #knownspace> Lensman: Do I need to explain? In the lensman series, starships were "free" when in flight, "inert" when landing or docked.

[17:19] #knownspace> AlexA: Ugh typo city^

[17:19] #knownspace> Lensman: Yes, now I am subject to inertia.

[17:20] #knownspace> BenScott: Ah. Haven't read those books yet.

[17:20] #knownspace> Lensman: HERETIC! HIE THE HENCE TO A BOOKSTORE!

[17:20] #knownspace> EML: 12I'd think we've had several singularities by now.

[17:20] #knownspace> George-C: HERETIC!! Neither have I . . .

[17:20] #knownspace> George-C: Oooo, weird.

[17:20] #knownspace> AlexA: Me neither :/

[17:20] #knownspace> George-C: Which ones, Ed?

[17:20] #knownspace> BenScott: I actually posted a small rant to the Niven list about how it proved difficult to find them.

[17:20] #knownspace> Lensman: Oh Hi Ed! What did I miss? Any new announcements or tidbits?

[17:21] #knownspace> BenScott: At least one publisher is publishing something labeled "Lensman" which isn't actually the Lensman text.

[17:21] #knownspace> EML: 12Those of us who write SF for a living can't avoid thinking about singularities.

[17:21] #knownspace> dmac44: Shouldn't we be able to learn from them to have some idea of the next one?

[17:21] #knownspace> Lensman: -/New Lensman/ was a semi-authorized pastiche by William Ellern IIRC.

[17:21] #knownspace> EML: 12too many questions at once. fingers knotted with the attempt to answer ...

[17:22] #knownspace> Dan: Ed, would you count AC electricity and the automobile as evidence of a singularity (or two)?

[17:22] #knownspace> George-C: Not comfortable with calling events singularities. I know, I know: Get over it!

[17:22] #knownspace> Lensman: Smith authorized Ellern to write stories set in the Lensman universe on Luna, but IIRC /New Lensman/ is not set on Luna.

[17:22] #knownspace> Dan: I think Indoor Plumbing might actually count if those two do.

[17:22] #knownspace> dmac44: indoor plumbing and cold beer, 2 more. :)

[17:22] #knownspace> AlexA: (coming into middle of the convo) How do you define a singularity EML ?

[17:23] #knownspace> George-C: Steam power. Electricity.

[17:23] #knownspace> Lensman: Seems like an overly broad definition of "singularity" to me. Doesnt

[17:23] #knownspace> EML: 12IMO, the so-called Ages: agricultural, industrial, informational ... are reaosnable approximations to past singularities.

[17:23] #knownspace> Dan: Beer=civilization... Beer & coffee = advanced civilization!

[17:23] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: This was labeled a book titled "Tri-planetary" but which did actually not actually contain the expected text. Apparently, there was an earlier text which lacked most of the connections to the series. They're publishing that. It even says "Book One of the Lensman Series" on the cover. But it has no connection. They even stuffer an un-related story at the end to make the page count look right. I was pissed.

[17:24] #knownspace> Lensman: Doesn't "singularity" in this context mean that it's impossible to foresee how society would develop after that event?

[17:24] #knownspace> dmac44: My definition of civilization: a hot shower and a cold beer.

[17:24] #knownspace> Lensman: Ben: I'd be T.O.'d too!

[17:24] #knownspace> George-C: And after the fall of civ, hot beer and cold showers!

[17:24] #knownspace> Lensman: Anyway, the Romans had indoor plumbing. Doesn't seem to have affected history too terribly much.

[17:25] #knownspace> George-C: The bow & arrow.

[17:25] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Yah. It's the only book I've ever actually returned to the seller for refund. It's one thing to buy a bad book or just not like a story. Those I might try and re-sell. This was blatant mis-representation.

[17:25] #knownspace> EML: 12doing things better (gas lights --> electricity) isn't a singularity (IMO). changing how and where we live (hunting/roaming --> farming/staying put) is.

[17:25] #knownspace> George-C: Well, the bow altered things, didn't change civilization.

[17:26] #knownspace> EML: 12there's progress/regress ... and there's radical change. the latter happens far more rarely.

[17:26] #knownspace> George-C: IOW, something that changes just about everything, forever. Agriculture. The industrial revoltion.

[17:26] #knownspace> BenScott: I wonder, could a hunter-gatherer understand farming? I imagine the idea of having all the food one normally needs to go find in one spot is something they could think of, even if they couldn't understand *how* to do it.

[17:26] #knownspace> dmac44: So Singularities are major economic changes too.

[17:27] #knownspace> Lensman: Well there was an earlier version of /Triplanetary/ which was not part of the Lensman series. It was re-written to shoehorn it in. Actually I just re-read it the other day. That was the first time I'd read my Old Earth Books edition of /Triplanetary/. Actually it was better than I remembered, but still my least favorite of the Lensman series including /The Vortex Blaster/.

[17:27] #knownspace> BenScott: singularities are *everything* changes, that much I get.

[17:27] #knownspace> dmac44: But everything doesn't change. We still have agriculture, we still manufacture things. We add something new and significant to what we had before.

[17:28] #knownspace> EML: 12Economics is how we manage the scarcities of life ... so it's hard for me to imagine a singularity that doesn't effect, or redefine, or create, some scarcity.

[17:28] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: That was the text in this book. But labeled as "Book One of the Lensman Series". And with a completely unrelated story added. Which just happened to make the page count about right.

[17:28] #knownspace> Lensman: The bow was just a way of throwing a small javelin farther and harder. I wouldn't call that a singularity event or even close. You can argue the automobile was, or more precisely mass-produced relatively cheap automobiles coupled with good roads.

[17:28] #knownspace> Dan: I'm still willing to believe that Tesla's AC electricity was a singularity because it did change everything from steam power to electric power, but I stand willing to be corrected.

[17:29] #knownspace> BenScott: I think the automobile is *part* of a change from relatively separated regions of the world to a world where "everything is close". Telecomm would be in there, too.

[17:29] #knownspace> BenScott: Like a poor man's version of transfer booths, basically.

[17:29] #knownspace> George-C: The Internet. Changed a great many things, the world is still reeling, trying to adapt. Look at Oz.

[17:29] #knownspace> Dan: Hmmm... Good pont, Ben.

[17:30] #knownspace> George-C: Total free exchange of communication and ideas.

[17:30] #knownspace> Lensman: Electrification of houses did far more than change from the gas lamp to the light bulb. Electricity makes it easy to supply power to small appliances, and that *has* changed our world fundamentally.

[17:30] #knownspace> dmac44: So, in Clark'e 2001, the ape-men learning to use bones as weapons was a Singularity event. I can buy that.

[17:30] #knownspace> BenScott: When the swine flu hysteria was going full-blast, I speculated with friends that "pandemic" vs "epidemic" is an obsolete distinction. With modern travel, any epidemic *will* become a pandemic.

[17:31] #knownspace> EML: 12The singularity as used in SF anticipates self-replicating technologies, like AI and nanotech, and much smarter humans. To me, those are much bigger changes than better/faster weays of doing the same old things.

[17:31] #knownspace> EML: 12Once things strat self-replicating the phase change happens FAST.

[17:31] #knownspace> AlexA: Why is the 'singularity' a useful concept or label?

[17:31] #knownspace> BenScott: It seems reasonable that the next "singularity" might be the really hard-core human augmentation. Be it genetic engineering or man-machine hybrid or whatever. Significantly changing actual humans.

[17:32] #knownspace> BenScott: AlexA: It's fun to speculate about, or, it sells books.

[17:32] #knownspace> Dan: I wonder if we don't need a definition of different *levels* of singularity for this discussion. Or is the idea of a small VS a major changing event too goofy?

[17:33] #knownspace> BenScott: A relatively small world-changing event? :-)

[17:33] #knownspace> EML: 12AlexA: singularity as a term is (perhaps) valuable because it makes us think about how fast significant changes can hit us.

[17:33] #knownspace> Lensman: Dan: Sure, it's a matter of degree not kind.

[17:33] #knownspace> AlexA: I always think 'so what' when I've come across it

[17:34] #knownspace> EML: 12But if the singularity (AIs or augmented humans) makes the Mark I human obsolete, it IS a big deal.

[17:34] #knownspace> EML: 12Not to say I personally see it coming -- but it is fair grist for a story.

[17:34] #knownspace> Dan: Hand-held calculators and electronic dictionaries were a world changing event for me, personally. They meant that my dislexica was no longer a handicap, but had mutated into a minor inconvience. :)

[17:35] #knownspace> AlexA: The call it 'humans mk1 becoming obsolete'

[17:35] #knownspace> Lensman: I can remember when my grandpa's house finally got an indoor bathroom, so we didn't have to use the outhouse anymore. It was nice, but not exactly what I'd call a life-changing event. Of course the house already had hot and cold running water in the kitchen, so that's one reason it wasn't that big a deal.

[17:35] #knownspace> AlexA: Then^

[17:35] #knownspace> dmac44: Singularities seem to be related to how effectively we use the resources around us be they energy, material or information.

[17:35] #knownspace> Lensman: Radical gengineering of humans would indeed be a singularity event.

[17:35] #knownspace> AlexA: Not sure calling it the 'singularity' adds anyhthing

[17:36] #knownspace> Lensman: Alex: I agree, "singularity" seems to be a buzz word.

[17:36] #knownspace> BenScott: My understanding is that Vinge popularized the term because he was looking at the pace of technological change, and observed (like many others) that it is ramping up asymptotically. So he wondered: What happens when the time axis crosses the singularity?

[17:37] #knownspace> George-C: Might not be a genetic change one would pass on, but computer augmentation, for example, would split humanity into the plugged-in and the Great Unplugged.

[17:37] #knownspace> Dan: Singularity VS "revolution" might be the thing to argue. The Agracultural revolution, the Industrial revolution, the coming of the information age... Earth-shattering or just rapid development?

[17:37] #knownspace> BenScott: George-C: That's already happened. Those who are "wired" and those who are not. We're not literally plugged in yet.

[17:38] #knownspace> BenScott: ... but those who aren't "connected" miss out on a lot.

[17:38] #knownspace> Dan: Ben, I know folks who are almost non-functional without their Blutooth phones or Blackberries.

[17:38] #knownspace> EML: 12the name singularity comes from an analogy (tho not a good one): black holes are singularities. You can't see inside a black hole, and you can't see what life will be like after the socio/techno/economic singularity.

[17:38] #knownspace> BenScott: Exactly. But there are people who don't have computers or Internet or any of that stuff.

[17:39] #knownspace> Lensman: I found it very strange in /Oath of Fealty/ where one of the plugged-in characters discovered that someone had altered data in a computer memory. She reacted as though someone had messed with her *own* memory! I thought that was self-evident. Anyway, in the age of the Internet, anyone who thinks that electronic info is reliable is a fool.

[17:39] #knownspace> dmac44: technological curves are usually "s" shaped. Early on they look asymptotic.

[17:39] #knownspace> BenScott: People who like to talk about things like "the disadvantaged" call it "the digital divide".

[17:40] #knownspace> EML: 12at some point (different for each of us) the rate of change becomes more than we can handle. Think of your parents or grandparents and computers.

[17:41] #knownspace> EML: 12I, for one, do not get Facebook.

[17:41] #knownspace> Dan: LOL! I just entered the Cell Phone Age this year, myself.

[17:41] #knownspace> Lensman: I don't do Facebook or Myspace. My gf does do LiveJournal.

[17:41] #knownspace> BenScott: Facebook is easy to understand, it's just the latest manifestation of gossip.

[17:41] #knownspace> BenScott: 100 years ago, people were passing notes in class or gathering around the village general store.

[17:41] #knownspace> Lensman: I still have no electronic umbilical cord.

[17:42] #knownspace> BenScott: Today, they log on.

[17:42] #knownspace> Dan: Ed, I just this week allowed my wife to talk me into joining Facebook. As far as I can see, it's for people without the attention span necessary to read blogs.

[17:42] #knownspace> George-C: I think the Internet must qualify as a singularity, then. Almost no one predicted it, or it's massive sweep of changes, nor what the world would be like with it. Now, how would we do without it?

[17:43] #knownspace> BenScott: Lots of people predicted something *like* the Internet.

[17:43] #knownspace> EML: 12Clarification: I know how Facebook worls. I don't see any reaoson why I would use it.

[17:43] #knownspace> dmac44: so people have gone through at least 3 Singularities and people are still here. It doesn't mean we're history.

[17:43] #knownspace> Lensman: Yes, the Internet is indeed a singularity. Reading old SF stories where the characters don't have any instant access to info now seems quaint.

[17:43] #knownspace> Dan: There is a character limit on Facebook status updates, VS an unlimited amount of text one can include in a Live Journal blog post.

[17:43] #knownspace> dmac44: Internet = Information Age

[17:43] #knownspace> George-C: Lens: Ditto for old movies with no cell phones!

[17:44] #knownspace> BenScott: I recall reading /Ender's Game/, and thinking of Ender's electronic "desk". Today we'd call it a web browser.

[17:44] #knownspace> Lensman: It was a jolt in "Fly-By-Night" to have the eponymous character refer to virtual mail. That was a first for Known Space!

[17:44] #knownspace> EML: 12Nothing in the singularity concept requires that people beocme obsolete, only that we couldnt' see the change coming. But IF the next singularity builds our successor, that might be more disruptive even than past singularitieis have been.

[17:45] #knownspace> Dan: OK this is incredibly fun, but I need to go back outside and do more on the porch screening job. Going back to logging-mode. See you all when I take another break!

[17:45] #knownspace> dmac44: change or die out?

[17:45] #knownspace> BenScott: Hmmmm, so maybe it's not that literally *nobody* sees a singularity coming, just that *most* don't.

[17:45] #knownspace> Lensman: George: I don't have any problems with old movies lacking cell phones. Every film has to be taken in its historical setting. Or do you mean old SF movies?

[17:46] #knownspace> EML: 12change or die out? that IS the question about the hypothetical next singularity).

[17:46] #knownspace> BenScott: Lots of futurists and SF authors predicted something like the web, but most of pop culture did not. Even /Trek/ and "Dick Tracy" had something like cell phones, but most movies did not.

[17:47] #knownspace> EML: 12I see dinner time approaches. I'll be toddling off moementarily.

[17:47] #knownspace> AlexA: Cell phones can be a problem for plotting. Why don't protagonists just call for help/backup/police

[17:47] #knownspace> BenScott: Cheers. Thanks for joining us! :)

[17:47] #knownspace> George-C: Lens: Pretty much any film. I keep thinking, if they only had a phone on them . . ! :-)

[17:47] #knownspace> Lensman: Adapt to change or become obsolete *always* happens with a singularity event. Like someone mentioned about grandparents and computers. Mom is always asking me about stuff and I reply "Why don't you look it up on the Internet" and she always replies "I never even think of that."

[17:48] #knownspace> George-C: Have a pleasant evening, Ed!

[17:48] #knownspace> BenScott: Occasionally I catch an old /Law and Order/ episode. It seems *so weird* to see them stop the car, get out, and use a pay phone.

[17:48] #knownspace> EML: 12ttfn.

[17:48] #knownspace> dmac44: there's a web site that some of you may have seen: that's a touts itself as a hard SF world, interesting.

[17:48] #knownspace> Lensman: Bye Ed, bye everyone else leaving!

[17:48] #knownspace> AlexA: Convenient battery failure / lack of signal etc are used

[17:48] #knownspace> George-C: Hey, I saw a pay phone last week! made me look twice.

[17:49] #knownspace> BenScott: I happened to stop in a highway rest area the other day. They had a pay phone shelter with space for about 10 phones. All but one had been taken out.

[17:49] #knownspace> Lensman: Most of my friends have cell phones. So why do I need one? I just sponge off them! :)

[17:50] #knownspace> BenScott: I hand a land line phone at my home until I moved to a new apartment. That made me realize that the only people who called me on my landlind were telemarketers.

[17:50] #knownspace> BenScott: Everybody I want to talk to calls my mobile. They don't really want to talk to my phone, they want to talk to *me*. So mobile makes sense; it's where I will be.

[17:50] #knownspace> AlexA: I have one - main reason would be in case of car breakdown

[17:51] #knownspace> BenScott: And, of course, these days, I don't know *anyone's* phone number. I type a few letters of their name into my phone.

[17:51] #knownspace> BenScott: I used to know dozens of phone numbers by heart.

[17:51] #knownspace> George-C: Yeah

[17:52] #knownspace> AlexA: Changing topic - no ones following Augustine Committee?

[17:52] #knownspace> Lensman: ?

[17:52] #knownspace> BenScott: Not really. I figure someone on the Niven list will post a summary. ;-)

[17:52] #knownspace> AlexA: On (us) Human Space Flight

[17:53] #knownspace> Lensman: Is this a NASA conference, or who's sponsoring it?

[17:53] #knownspace> Lensman: us = U.S.?

[17:54] #knownspace> AlexA: No Obama set up a review of Nasa Human Spaceflight plans

[17:54] #knownspace> Lensman: So I heard, and good for him. Hope they axe the Ares I.

[17:54] #knownspace> AlexA: Chaired by Norm Augustine

[17:55] #knownspace> BenScott: Could be a really good idea. I suspect NASA has way too much politics in their decisions.

[17:55] #knownspace> AlexA: They seem to be seriuosly considering all options

[17:56] #knownspace> AlexA: The problem will as ever be money

[17:56] #knownspace> dmac44: I hope they put the new manned craft on something other than a big firecracker.

[17:56] #knownspace> AlexA: .wik human spaceflight committee

[17:56] #knownspace> BenScott: Ares in particular was reportedly chosen because the NASA administrator at the time suffered from NIH syndrome.

[17:56] #knownspace> Outsider: "The Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee (also known as the HSF Committee or the Augustine Commission) is a group reviewing the human spaceflight plans of the United States." -

[17:56] #knownspace> Lensman: It would be really nice if they could design and build spacecraft strictly from engineering concerns, not influenced by politics or by the need to keep people employed.

[17:57] #knownspace> Lensman: Not gonna happen, of course.

[17:57] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Indeed.

[17:57] #knownspace> AlexA: They've held several public meetings

[17:57] #knownspace> dmac44: To cut down the cost of any manned space flight you have to have many fewer people involved.

[17:57] #knownspace> BenScott: dmac44: What if a "big firecracke"r is the "best" way to get people into space with current science?

[17:58] #knownspace> BenScott: Everything NASA has done has ended up costing a lot and involving a lot of people. That's not a good trend.

[17:58] #knownspace> dmac44: BenScott: I think a manned rated version of one of the heavy lift launchers we currently have makes more sense.

[17:59] #knownspace> Lensman: I've read an analysis which says we could build a ramp for launching capsules by linear accelerator using carbon fiber, with *today's* technology. Problem is we no longer have the vision for Big Engineering Projects, like the Panama Canal.

[17:59] #knownspace> BenScott: dmac44: Okay, I guess I'm misunderstanding. I thought you were using "big firecracker" as slang for any conventional rocket. That seems to be the popular usage.

[17:59] #knownspace> Lensman: So I don't agree that a rocket is still the best way to get into orbit.

[17:59] #knownspace> AlexA: The politicos have been lobbying about jobs, but hopefully will be ignored

[17:59] #knownspace> dmac44: No I meant it to mean the solid fuel rocket.

[18:00] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Plus big engineering projects have gotten more costly over the years.

[18:00] #knownspace> BenScott: dmac44: Ah. Okay.

[18:00] #knownspace> Lensman: I agree that solid fuel rockets are not the right approach for manned spaceflight. That's why I think the Ares I should be axed.

[18:00] #knownspace> dmac44: Maybe a man rated Delta IV.

[18:01] #knownspace> AlexA: The concept of using current launchers plus orbital fuel depots seems to be getting some attention

[18:02] #knownspace> AlexA: Fuel depots create a market for cemmercial luanchers to ship fuel

[18:02] #knownspace> Lensman: SpaceX is developing a lower-cost approach to orbital rockets. That tech could be man-rated, too. If we must stick to rockets, that's the way to go. Not solid rockets.

[18:02] #knownspace> BenScott: I raised the question of liquid vs solid on the Niven list a few weeks ago. I basically got one reply, from someone who claimed to be a rocket scientist. He said that solid rockets have an engineering advantage for early stages of flight, where higher thrust-to-weight is good. And they are cheaper to make, and make reliably, vs a liquid fuel engine of the same capacity. Now, that's one guy, so I'm not taking it as ultimate tr

[18:02] #knownspace> BenScott: uth, but it's interesting.

[18:03] #knownspace> AlexA: And as fuel is infinitly divisible even small newspace players could have a role

[18:03] #knownspace> dmac44: My guess is that, from what little I've read, that the Augistine committee will go for axing the solid fuel rocket and recommend a man rated Delta IV, at least one more shuttle flight (and maybe more until 2015 depending on shuttle safety issues)and than a trip to an asteriod before the moon.

[18:04] #knownspace> Lensman: Ben: But we've learned to trust Wallace's posts on rocketry. Analysis of rocket systems is his *job*. Doesn't mean he's always right, but he certainly is in a better position to judge than the rest of us.

[18:04] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Yes, Wallace, that was it. Thanks, I'm horrible with names. :)

[18:04] sigmund has joined #knownspace

[18:05] #knownspace> AlexA: Solids have some pretty big downsides

[18:05] #knownspace> BenScott: I guess I can see that a rocket which is basically just a hollow tube filled with solid fuel, no pumps or controls, maybe thrust deflection for steering, would be more robust (in theory) that a complicate liquid fuel engine.

[18:05] #knownspace> George-C: Siggy!

[18:05] #knownspace> AlexA: Can't be shut off

[18:06] #knownspace> dmac44: I read a report about solid fuel safety for the Aries. If there's an explosion the manned capsule would be pulled away but then it would return to earth among the burning solid fuel killing all aboard. This was a newspaper report so I don't know how acurate it was.

[18:06] #knownspace> BenScott: dmac44: I saw the same on Slashdot, I think. It's published by the AF.

[18:06] #knownspace> BenScott: USAF, that is.

[18:06] #knownspace> dmac44: That's the reference

[18:06] #knownspace> sigmund: @George-C: I may not be who you think. I'm a total newbie and just picked the nick because I like the character. If a regular is using it, I'll change it to something else. But a friendly hello anyway!

[18:06] #knownspace> AlexA: dmac44: Thats based on USAF range safety analysis

[18:07] #knownspace> Lensman: Certainly solid rockets have certain advantages. But they have insurmountable disadvantages, too. They cannot be throttled, and that's close to being a fatal flaw for manned systems. Another serious problem is vibration, much worse than liquid fueled rockets. The Shuttle got away with it because the solid boosters were mated to a liquid fueled rocket, which moderated the vibration. For the...

[18:07] #knownspace> Lensman: ...Ares I, there's nothing to absorb the vibrations.

[18:07] #knownspace> Lensman: Siggy: I don't think anyone is actively using it.

[18:08] #knownspace> Lensman: Siggy: And welcome to the Niven chat!

[18:08] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: I've been told that, technically, solids can be throttled by varying the combustion surface and material, but the decision has to be made at design time.

[18:08] #knownspace> sigmund: Lensman: Okay. Thanks!

[18:09] #knownspace> Lensman: I mean, they can't be throttled in flight. If there is a problem at launch, you can't shut the rocket down.

[18:09] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: I've also been told that something called "thrust venting" or "thrust equalization" can be used to cancel out the thrust of a solid rocket. You basically open the top and so propellant leaves both ends equally. Net zero thrust.

[18:09] #knownspace> AlexA: Ares 1 may be topical, but other issues to decide include: how long to keep ISS going. Is Moon then Mars best route?

[18:09] #knownspace> BenScott: You can't stop it burning, and you can't control the throttle during flight.

[18:10] #knownspace> BenScott: Given that Orion is sitting *on top* of a solid rocket, thrust venting seems to be... not an option. :)

[18:10] #knownspace> Lensman: Return to the moon is a waste of money, altho if there's another space race with China that's certainly to the good of manned spaceflight.

[18:11] #knownspace> BenScott: I suppose thrust venting might have been feasible for the shuttle system, if it wasn't for the need to have chutes in the nose cones.

[18:11] #knownspace> George-C: Sigmund: no problem, I was just reacted favorably to the character name. I like Siggy. :-)

[18:11] #knownspace> Lensman: ISS seems to me to be a waste of money too. I think we learned all we need to about the long-term effects of weightlessness on Mir.

[18:11] #knownspace> dmac44: re the ISS, we've got it now, let's do something with it.

[18:12] #knownspace> BenScott: But then again, I think the whole "we want a reusable spacecraft" is a millstone around the shuttle neck, anyway.

[18:12] #knownspace> Lensman: Pre-/Fleet of Worlds/, Siggy was my favorite character. The paranoid raving lunatic is not.

[18:13] #knownspace> George-C: What's in the rocket the Russians are using to reach the ISS? that works well. Bigelow Aerospace likes it.

[18:13] #knownspace> BenScott: re the ISS: They always talking about during science on the ISS. Do you think the experiments could be just as easily done using short term trips, or just that the experiments are not worth it, or...?

[18:13] #knownspace> Lensman: What we *should* be doing with a space station is experimenting with rotating the station for artificial gravity, and developing a radiation shield good enuff for solar flares.

[18:13] #knownspace> sigmund: Lens: So, you're saying you like Sigmund's creation: the non-paranoid-appearing character he plays for the benefit of others. I think he'd be complimented! :-)

[18:13] #knownspace> AlexA: ISS taught orbital assembly techniques which could be applicable to Mars missions SBSP etc

[18:13] #knownspace> Lensman: I wish I could remember the exact quote, but paraphrasing "The purpose of a spacecraft is to go somewhere, not to hang out in space and observe the effect of that on the human body."

[18:13] #knownspace> BenScott: I don't think the current ISS has the structure for being spun for gravity, does it?

[18:14] #knownspace> George-C: I like Siggy in all the tales he's in. He's . . . different.

[18:14] #knownspace> AlexA: NASA & ESA didn't have capabilities before iss

[18:15] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Not all the ISS experiments are observing the effects of weightlessness on the human body. :)

[18:15] #knownspace> Lensman: I have not heard of any significant science coming out of the ISS. Has anyone here heard of such?

[18:15] #knownspace> sigmund: George: I particularly like the way the omniscient narrator gets drawn into his thought so that the narrative gets warped to whatever he is speculating about.

[18:15] #knownspace> BenScott: *That's* what I'm interest in.

[18:15] #knownspace> BenScott: It could well be that the ISS is just bullshit science. *That's* a reason to either (1) find out if there's anything useful it can do, and (2) if not, get rid of it.

[18:15] #knownspace> sigmund: They found out how toilets work in space, didn't they?

[18:15] #knownspace> AlexA: .g iss science

[18:15] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[18:15] #knownspace> BenScott: sigmund: How they *don't* work. :)

[18:16] #knownspace> sigmund: Yeah . . . bullshit science.

[18:16] #knownspace> Lensman: I heard that they couldn't figure out how to rotate part of the ISS for gravity because they couldn't engineer a reliable spin decoupler.

[18:17] #knownspace> BenScott: Could be. You *really* don't want the bearings on that sort of thing seizing up. I suppose such a failure could conceivable cause the whole non-rotating part of the station to break up from unexpected forces.

[18:17] #knownspace> Lensman: But a spin decoupler won't be necessary for a Mars mission; you just rotate the entire spacecraft by putting a heavy weight on the end of a long tether, so that the spacecraft is the counterbalancing weight at the other end, then rotate the entire system.

[18:18] #knownspace> AlexA: Lensman: There was a centrifuge iss module planned, but was cut to save money :(

[18:18] #knownspace> Lensman: I agree you really, really don't want the bearing seizing up.

[18:18] #knownspace> dmac44: the ISS became just an employment platform. NASA used a variation of a technique used by the aerospace companies for military contrats to ensure its continuit. Instead of having construction contracts in a lot of different states they got other countries to sign up for it and the US government was commited to finishing it by international agreements.y.

[18:18] #knownspace> sigmund: As a total newbie, I have a basic operations question: When does the first Saturday chat occur? I couldn't(or didn't) find a regular start time on the web site. Is it just an informal, all-day thing or is there a start time? Thanks ofr any help!

[18:18] #knownspace> AlexA: .g iss centrifuge module

[18:18] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Just curious, why are you in favor of a manned mars mission but not another manned moon mission? I've heard lots of reasons, don't really have a strong opinion; I'd like to hear yours.

[18:18] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[18:19] #knownspace> BenScott: sigmund: Appears to happen on the first Saturday of every month, starting at 1 PM US Pacific time (3 PM US Eastern).

[18:19] #knownspace> sigmund: BenScott: Thanks!

[18:20] #knownspace> dmac44: noon pacific time, 3 eastern

[18:20] #knownspace> Lensman: siggy: The official start time is noon in California. Then there is a second one at 5 pm California time, for our antipodal members. But in general, people show up starting about an hour before that, and go until they get tired. There may be people here until 10-11 pm, altho often it ends before that when everyone leaves.

[18:20] #knownspace> BenScott: Er, right, yes. Noon.

[18:21] #knownspace> AlexA: .t pst

[18:21] #knownspace> Outsider: Sat, 01 Aug 2009 14:21:00 PST

[18:21] #knownspace> sigmund: Ben: Stick to your guns. You can just claim you're from a parallel universe where the continental U.S. has only three time zones!

[18:21] #knownspace> BenScott: (I don't know why, but I always confuse myself when trying to convert between time zones. You'd think it wouldn't be possible to screw up subtracting three from three, but there ya go.)

[18:21] #knownspace> Lensman: I should say, *some* people show up as *much as* an hour before official start time. But certainly not regularly.

[18:21] #knownspace> dmac44: I'm heading out, see you all next month.

[18:21] #knownspace> sigmund: Everybody else: Thanks also!

[18:21] #knownspace> George-C: If Larry shows, it's usually around 1PM Californian.

[18:21] #knownspace> George-C: Bye dmac

[18:22] #knownspace> BenScott: Yah, that's it. I'm reading "The Dark Tower

[18:22] #knownspace> BenScott: " series right now. Time is iffy.

[18:22] #knownspace> Lensman: I always have trouble with that. I have to think "7:30, 6:30 central time" to remember which way it goes.

[18:22] #knownspace> AlexA: I often look in early as Im 5 hours ahead of EST

[18:22] #knownspace> AlexA: .t bat

[18:22] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA: Sorry, I don't know about the 'bat' timezone.

[18:23] #knownspace> AlexA: .t bst

[18:23] #knownspace> Outsider: Sat, 01 Aug 2009 23:23:09 BST

[18:23] #knownspace> George-C: I just try to remember to show around 3:30 PM my time (in Philadelphia), if I'm even home, which is unusual for a Saturday.

[18:24] #knownspace> George-C: Supposed to go for a hike today, but my wife crashed & burned. Late night last night!

[18:24] #knownspace> sigmund: Are all the transcripts posted to the site or only ones where Larry shows? (Was wondering since there didn't seem to be recent ones but the chat is clearly still gong.)

[18:24] #knownspace> sigmund: gong=going.

[18:25] #knownspace> George-C: I think they all get posted . . .

[18:25] #knownspace> AlexA: Getting back to space: I think whatever is done it should be sustainable so as to start a space-going civilisation

[18:25] #knownspace> Lensman: siggy: They all get posted sooner or later. On "fan time" :)

[18:25] #knownspace> George-C: I'd like to see some industrial experiments.

[18:25] #knownspace> AlexA: Not an Apollo-like one-off

[18:26] #knownspace> George-C: Fan time: Real Soon Now!

[18:26] #knownspace> sigmund: George: Thanks. Lens: Understood.:-)

[18:26] #knownspace> Lensman: Exactly.

[18:26] #knownspace> AlexA: .g ISS salmonella

[18:26] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[18:27] #knownspace> BenScott: I agree. Whether it's a rocket or a spaceplane or a giant freaking slingshot, it should be designed to be sustainable. It can't cost so much it isn't worth it.

[18:27] #knownspace> sigmund: AlexA: Isn't the start of a space-going civilization (barring alien encounters or planetary existential crises) the ability to make money in space? Is that on any government's agenda right now?

[18:27] #knownspace> Lensman: Yah, that's why I'd like to see the space ramp linear accelerator built. It would be very expensive to build, but after that investment each individual launch would be cheap. So you can pretty much launch as many as you want, and only pay for electricity.

[18:28] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: I thought the problem with ramp launchers is that they either had to be (1) absurdly long or (2) accelerate with such force you pancake the crew?

[18:28] #knownspace> George-C: Folks, I have to get to the store and fire up the grill. See you all later!

[18:28] #knownspace> AlexA: sigmund: The fuel depot idea would give commercial entities a waybto make money in space

[18:28] #knownspace> BenScott: Clear skies!

[18:28] #knownspace> George-C: :-)

[18:29] #knownspace> Lensman: Unfortunately the "killer app" for making spaceflight profitable eludes us. Solar Power satellites aren't economically feasible, "perfect" ball bearings turn out not to be.

[18:29] #knownspace> BenScott: ObNiven - What about magnetic monopoles?

[18:29] #knownspace> AlexA: Hopefully competitionnto deliver fuel would drive down launch costs and make non-government projects feasible

[18:29] #knownspace> AlexA: Such as SBSP

[18:30] #knownspace> Lensman: Ben: Yes, it needs to be "absurdly long". Like 500-1000 km long, and at least 50 miles high at the launch end. Build it as a carbon fiber structure. A mega-engineering project, like the Panama Canal.

[18:31] #knownspace> Lensman: Magnetic monopoles are still theoretical, are they not? And if not, why would they be more commonplace in orbit than on Earth?

[18:31] #knownspace> AlexA: Lensman: I thought recent studies showed SBSP to be more feasible

[18:31] #knownspace> BenScott: "At the Bottom of a Hole" had that as one of things that made space exploration worthwhile. :)

[18:31] #knownspace> Lensman: What is SBSP?

[18:31] #knownspace> sigmund: My guess, unless there is some big civilizational threat, is that it will be commercial interests that finally get us into space on a permanent, growing basis.

[18:32] #knownspace> sigmund: Or one could hope for a massive cold war on earth that leads to a massive cold war across the solar system.

[18:32] #knownspace> Lensman: Right now it seems to be space tourism driving innovation in spacecraft.

[18:32] #knownspace> BenScott: re: ramp launch: Ah. Neat. Of course, funny you mention the Panama Canal. There's a strong economic incentive to build another one of those. It's too small by today's standards. But still nobody can get the money together needed to build it.

[18:32] #knownspace> AlexA: Space based solar power Lensman

[18:33] #knownspace> BenScott: I often wonder if the US government wouldn't be better of just funding private sector initiatives, grant style, than doing the whole-hog approach NASA is.

[18:33] #knownspace> Lensman: SBSP is not going to happen. As they said on the LiftPort forum, even if launch costs were zero the SPS (Solar Power Satellite) system could not compete on cost with ground-based power generation.

[18:33] #knownspace> Dan: All but one of the full-length uprights are nailed up now. Time for a break, and back to here.

[18:33] #knownspace> sigmund: Ben: You mean government control may be choking the natural development of the market? Who would have thought that! ;-)

[18:34] #knownspace> BenScott: sigmund: I speculated recently that it's too bad the USSR couldn't make it to the moon. That might have driven the US to *stay* there.

[18:34] #knownspace> Lensman: Yes, let's cheer on the Chinese because they are our best hopes for a revival of NASA innovation!

[18:34] #knownspace> AlexA: Lensman: Fwiw UK government is going all-out for wind power and that isn't economically competitive either

[18:35] #knownspace> Lensman: But seriously, NASA is now the old fart who's set in his ways. Bigelow, Scaled Composites/Rutan and SpaceX are the young Turks doing the innovation.

[18:36] #knownspace> Lensman: Don't get me started on wind power! The two Kansas wind farms only generated 15% of their potential over their lifetime... and are now shut down because their output could not be scaled back.

[18:36] #knownspace> AlexA: Lensman: Id like to see the calculations behind that SPS cost calc

[18:36] #knownspace> Lensman: SPS system overall is about 0.5 percent efficient.

[18:37] #knownspace> Lensman: That is the problem.

[18:37] #knownspace> BenScott: A lot of government-sponsored power development projects are funded on the assumption that they're not cost effective *now* but will be some day.

[18:37] #knownspace> Lensman: If you assume cutting edge tech and very optimistic figures, you might boost that to 2% efficient.

[18:37] #knownspace> AlexA: Where are the losses Lensman ?

[18:38] #knownspace> BenScott: I'd hazard a guess that it's the hundreds of miles of atmophere between the power and the power-users.

[18:38] #knownspace> Lensman: First loss is that solar cells don't capture 100% of solar energy, or even 50%. But main loss is in the fact that a geostationary SPS has to transmit its energy... what is it, 22,000 miles+ to the rectenna on Earth?

[18:38] #knownspace> sigmund: Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I've always really worried about space-based solar power with the idea that the resulting power would be microwaved back down to earth. Wouldn't that, like, *kill* a lot of people or something?

[18:39] #knownspace> AlexA: I thought microwave transmission was pretty efficient?

[18:39] #knownspace> Lensman: Then of course, there's the loss from converting microwave power back to electricity on the ground.

[18:39] #knownspace> BenScott: sigmund: Go read /Fallen Angels/. :-)

[18:39] #knownspace> sigmund: Or at least run the risk of cooking a lot of people or giving them cancer if things get misaligned?

[18:39] #knownspace> AlexA: .wik space solar power

[18:39] #knownspace> Outsider: "Space-based solar power (SBSP) (or historically space solar power (SSP)) is a system for the collection of solar power in space, for use on Earth." -

[18:39] #knownspace> Lensman: Alex: Microwave transmission can be reasonably effective for short ranges. Not for 22,000 miles!

[18:39] #knownspace> sigmund: Ben: Will do! It's on the reading list! Thanks! :-)

[18:42] #knownspace> BenScott: sigmund: Microwaves don't cause cancer. As far as cooking people alive, I suppose that could be possible in theory, but as Lensman notes, you can't transmit enough power through the atmosphere anyway.

[18:42] #knownspace> Lensman: *Sigh* The myth of the Orbital Death Ray continues. SPS systems will focus their rays over about 1 km at the narrowest. Maybe up to 4 km. You just can't focus it narrower than that. The focus is dependent on the size of the transmitter. The larger the transmitter, the tighter the focus can be.

[18:43] #knownspace> Lensman: So to get the Orbital Death Ray from microwaves, the transmitter either needs to be in low Earth orbit, or be the size of... heck I dunno, somewhere between Alaska and Luna.

[18:43] #knownspace> sigmund: Okay, good. Glad to hear the good news. But you know . . . I'm paranoid. So good news isn't where I start. ;-)

[18:44] #knownspace> BenScott: Hell, the military has been really interested in death rays, and generally been quite annoyed to find out they're so hard to build.

[18:44] #knownspace> AlexA: Lensman: That wikipedidia article mentions 85% efficiency for power reception

[18:45] #knownspace> Lensman: Alex: I trust my many month spent arguing just that point on the LiftPort forum much more than I trust a Wikipedia article.

[18:46] #knownspace> BenScott: The Wikipedia article is talking about the efficiency of the *receiver*. So of the 3% of the original sun power that makes it to the receiver, they only get 85% of *that*.

[18:46] #knownspace> BenScott: The rest is presumably lost as heat in the ambient surroundings.

[18:47] #knownspace> Lensman: Ben: Thank you. I didn't think my understanding was that far off.

[18:48] #knownspace> BenScott: I'm edit at Wikipedia a lot, so I wanted to see that claim and tag it {{citation needed} if it was there. :)

[18:48] #knownspace> sigmund: I have a Niven-related publication question: I know Destroyer of Worlds is coming out in dead tree form later this year. (November, if i'm remembering right). But I'm really wanting the audiobook version. Does anyone know if the audio versions of this series are being released with the first print edition?

[18:48] #knownspace> Lensman: Oh, I didn't say you couldn't get Orbital Death Rays! But please, stick to lasers not microwaves!

[18:48] #knownspace> Lensman: Or you can use a maser (microwave laser) if you like!

[18:49] #knownspace> BenScott: They've tried to build kill-lasers; they dissipate too quickly in the atmosphere for most purposes. Current efforts focus on doing things like blinding people or sensors.

[18:49] #knownspace> Lensman: I don't follow audio book announcements, sorry. Check would be my suggestion.

[18:50] #knownspace> BenScott: Or so I'm told. Maybe there's a classified death ray they're keeping under wraps. :)

[18:50] #knownspace> Dan_Outside: One more upright to go, but it looks as if I'll be buying more wood tomorrow at the hardware store to finish up the trim work, as well as the window screens.

[18:50] #knownspace> BenScott: Dan: Ah, you're building a *screened-in* porch?

[18:51] #knownspace> AlexA: BenScott: The wikipedia article doesn't seen to quote actual transmission losses. Where is your 3% from? Perhaps you should add it to the article?

[18:51] #knownspace> BenScott: I made that up. :-)

[18:51] #knownspace> sigmund: Lens: Okay. Thanks. Haven't seen it there. I'll just be really annoyed if I have to wait for the audiobook once the print is out.

[18:51] #knownspace> Lensman: To expand on the audio book thing: lists the release dates for books, and I suppose for audio books to. So check the history of the release dates for FOW and JOW, and the audio book versions of those.

[18:51] #knownspace> sigmund: Hmmm. I see what you mean. I'll try that!

[18:52] #knownspace> Lensman: Er, audio books TOO. Darn homophones, that's a sign I'm getting tired.

[18:52] #knownspace> AlexA: .g microwave power transmission efficiency

[18:52] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[18:57] #knownspace> sigmund: Got work I gotta do. Thanks for a nice welcome, folks. Hope to see you next month!

[19:00] AlexA has joined #knownspace

[19:01] #knownspace> Lensman: This looks like a good study, but I'll be darned if I can find any specification of the percentage efficiency of the actual microwave transmission:

[19:01] #knownspace> Lensman:

[19:01] #knownspace> AlexA: Oops

[19:01] #knownspace> Lensman: <Lensman duct tapes AlexA to channel>

[19:01] #knownspace> AlexA: I was reading up on micrawave transmission

[19:02] #knownspace> BenScott: Another use for duck tape.

[19:02] #knownspace> Lensman: test

[19:03] #knownspace> BenScott: test?

[19:03] #knownspace> AlexA: Reference 4 of wikipedia microwave transmission article gives total losses of .18 db for 2.4 ghz

[19:04] #knownspace> BenScott: per what? It's got to be distance dependent, no?

[19:04] #knownspace> AlexA: Thats total from geostationary including oxygen & rain

[19:05] #knownspace> BenScott: Oh.

[19:05] #knownspace> AlexA: .g microwave power transmission

[19:05] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[19:05] #knownspace> BenScott: .18 db ain't much in radio terms.

[19:06] #knownspace> AlexA: Reference 4 ^

[19:07] #knownspace> BenScott: Yah, yah, I could have gone and looked, but it was easier to ask you. :-)

[19:07] #knownspace> AlexA: The big issue (excuse the pun) seems to be the total mass of SPS system

[19:08] #knownspace> AlexA: Total aunch costs are humunous at current rates

[19:08] #knownspace> AlexA: ^launch

[19:12] #knownspace> AlexA: That reference 4 actually says transmission losses are so low they can be ignored, but they do give the figure I quoted

[19:14] #knownspace> AlexA: As Ive said before I think it's a pity huge sums are spent on tokomak fusion when none are spent on SPS

[19:16] #knownspace> BenScott: That's always the way, isn't it? I bet Ares has already gotten more funding than any number of interesting projects, like the DC-X (a personal favorite of mine).

[19:16] #knownspace> AlexA: A power beaming experiment could be done from ISS - it's only LEO but above almost all the atmosphere

[19:16] #knownspace> BenScott: It's not about merit, but marketing.

[19:17] #knownspace> Lensman: Hmmm well if it's not the transmission loss that's the problem, why is the conventional wisdom on the LiftPort forum that SPS is too expensive to compete economically? Maybe it's the cost of building the system as compared to the cost of ground-based power plants.

[19:18] #knownspace> BenScott: You mean an Internet forum has inaccurate information? That's inconceivable! ;-)

[19:18] #knownspace> AlexA: Lensman: Maybe 'conventional wisdom' was wrong?

[19:18] #knownspace> BenScott: Anyone have figures on how much it would cost to build the needed "stuff" for SBSP?

[19:19] #knownspace> AlexA: Ground based solar power stations exist

[19:20] #knownspace> AlexA: What, apart from launch costs, makes SPS expensive?

[19:20] #knownspace> BenScott: I seem to recall that ground-based solar power hasn't been terribly successful, either. But I don't know causes; it could just as easily be politics or market forces, nothing to do with efficiency of the technology.

[19:20] #knownspace> Lensman: No, sorry, it's not conceivable that the conventional wisdom on the LiftPort forum was wrong. Sure like any forum it had its share of nitwits, but some of these guys were engineers and professionals in areas relevant to the subject. I may be confusing efficiency of transmission losses with their studies of laser beam power, tho.

[19:21] #knownspace> Lensman: Ground based solar power has two problems: (1) High cost of solar cells, (2) only provides power during daylight hours.

[19:22] #knownspace> AlexA: I think all non-conventional power isn't economic without tax breaks or other incentives

[19:22] #knownspace> Lensman: (1) problem is going away, with NanoSolar selling low-cost solar cells. But their production is very limited. I expect that to change within a few years, as the demand is very high for low-cost solar cells.

[19:23] #knownspace> Lensman: (2) Needs a way to cheaply store electric energy. Hope EEStor delivers, but that's very iffy.

[19:23] #knownspace> BenScott: The ground-based solar power plants I'm familiar with (both of them) don't use direct solar-to-electric. They use mirrors to focus the sun on a steam generator.

[19:24] #knownspace> Lensman: As I understand it, that's a fairly expensive system.

[19:24] #knownspace> BenScott: That would explain the commercial failure status. :)

[19:25] #knownspace> Lensman: I think the future of ground-based solar power is with cheap "spray-on" plastic solar cells. Not as efficient as more expensive solar cells, but as long as you've got plenty of cheap real estate, far better than more efficient but very expensive silicon cells.

[19:25] #knownspace> BenScott: Regarding the forum: I'll take your word for it. (Seriously.) But at the same, it's worth remembering the engineers are humans, too. They can be wrong, or misinformed, or have bias, or let their personal preferences sway their arguments. But like I said, if you think they're not doing that, I'll accept it. :)

[19:26] #knownspace> Lensman: Well I wish I could remember the details. But it's been a long time, and I really don't feel like spending hours wading thru old forum threads to refresh my memory. So don't take my word for it, by any means.

[19:27] #knownspace> Lensman: Believe me, it was not a bias against SPS on the LiftPort forum. Far from it! These people were space enthusiasts.

[19:27] #knownspace> BenScott: The sign of a true engineer: They'll say something, and honestly believe it. If someone disagree, they'll argue. But when someone says "I'll take your word for it", they'll offer disclaimers! :-D

[19:28] #knownspace> AlexA: I'm not convinced that, given same tax breaks or other regulatory incentives as other renewables and zero launch costs, SPS wouldn't be viable

[19:28] #knownspace> Lensman: LOL Well I'm not a degreed engineer, but I plead guilty to the mind-set.

[19:28] #knownspace> Dan: Back for the evening. I'm out of wood and need to go get some more tomorrow. Damn... I wanted to be done with this job tonight.

[19:28] #knownspace> BenScott: Lensman: Likewise here. :)

[19:29] #knownspace> AlexA: But hey, I'm only a physicist :)

[19:29] #knownspace> BenScott: So, you believe in spherical cows? :)

[19:29] #knownspace> Lensman: lOL

[19:29] #knownspace> Lensman: LOL

[19:31] #knownspace> BenScott: Professionally, I'm an IT weenie. Computers teach you the engineering mindset, or you get out of the field. :-)

[19:39] #knownspace> AlexA: It should be possible to come up with a reasonable estimate of SPS cost based on large TV satellite costs

[19:39] #knownspace> AlexA: They have solar arrays & microwave transmitters

[19:41] #knownspace> Lensman: Yah, I'm a programmer by training if not by trade.

[19:42] #knownspace> Lensman: One reason I say "Don't take my word for it" is that this was a *cost* analysis, not just a tech analysis. Cost analysis can change if someone starts selling something that makes the engineering a lot cheaper.

[19:43] #knownspace> Lensman: And my knowledge is a few years out of date by now. Cheap "spray-on" solar cells may make an enormous difference for an SPS system.

[19:43] #knownspace> BenScott: Good point.

[19:45] #knownspace> Lensman: But before I joined the LiftPort forum, all the articles I'd seen on SPS were very optimistic, sounded like it was just the high launch costs preventing deployment of working SPS systems. My time spent on LiftPort was a real eye-opener.

[19:46] #knownspace> Lensman: BTW LiftPort was/is for a company that claims it's going to build the first Space Elevator. So I'm the Niven list expert on space elevators.

[19:47] #knownspace> BenScott: Yah, I recognized the name. When heard of LiftPort, I thought, well, more power to 'em, and I hope they succeed, but forgive me for not investing. :)

[19:48] #knownspace> Lensman: They initially projected to complete the first SE in IIRC 18 years, which I thought was rather optimistic, but after awhile they announced that a new analysis caused them to push back that by another 13 years. That's when I pretty much lost interest. Doubtful it will happen in my lifetime.

[19:49] #knownspace> Lensman: I mean, I lost interest in the forum, not the subject.

[19:49] #knownspace> BenScott: Yah, I took your meaning.

[19:53] #knownspace> AlexA: Re cost analysis Lensman, what was the assumed oil price? :) Just one examplevof how things change

[19:55] #knownspace> AlexA: Re liftport: I doubt a space elevator will ever be built on Earth. Moon or Mars maybe

[19:55] #knownspace> Lensman: Not sure how oil price is going to affect competitive cost of SPS. Very little ground-based power is generated by burning oil.

[19:55] #knownspace> Lensman: "Never" is a long time. I think a SE will eventually be built. Multiple ones, actually.

[19:56] #knownspace> Xenovalent: A lunar space elevator would probably be a good test bed

[19:56] #knownspace> BenScott: I think it ultimately depends on materials science. If they can make something strong enough to work in Earth gravity, yes. If not, it won't happen, no matter how cool it would be.

[19:56] #knownspace> Lensman: We could build a lunar SE with a Kevlar tether. So could do it now if we were willing to foot the cost.

[19:57] #knownspace> AlexA: But (at least in Europe) natural gas is major power source and I believe gas & oil prices ate closely coupled

[19:57] #knownspace> Lensman: Carbon nanotubes are sufficiently strong for an Earth SE. But they've had trouble developing a cable with the stuff; it's not stable over time. Fortunately there have been experiments showing CNT can be self-healing, so I remain hopeful.

[19:58] #knownspace> AlexA: ^are not ate

[19:58] #knownspace> Xenovalent: I don't think we want to replace our space elevator every ten years, though!

[19:58] #knownspace> Lensman: Not sure why high oil prices are going to have much effect on natural gas prices. That could only happen if people can choose to use one or the other, which isn't true in most cases.

[19:58] #knownspace> BenScott: Yes, I'm aware that some of the latest cabon-based materials show promise. But I hesitate to call it a "sure thing" based on what is very early technology.

[19:59] #knownspace> BenScott: Atomic power was going to be too cheap to meter, too. ;-)

[19:59] #knownspace> Lensman: The material exists. It's merely a matter of developing the manufacturing process. At worst, every CNT fiber will have to be stabilized by coating it with something.

[20:00] #knownspace> AlexA: .g natural gas oil wholesale price

[20:00] #knownspace> Outsider: AlexA:

[20:00] #knownspace> BenScott: Many a technology has been killed because it didn't prove practical to manufacture/distribute/use/whatever.

[20:00] #knownspace> BenScott: I'm not saying I don't think it can happen, just that I don't call it a sure thing. :)

[20:04] #knownspace> AlexA: Clicking through to natural gas prices from that link, they do mirror oil prices

[20:04] #knownspace> BenScott: Okay, I'm off to get a bite to eat and finish book 6 of "The Dark Tower". Nice chatting. Clears skies, everyone!

[20:08] #knownspace> AlexA: Re SPS costs I'll try and do some research & post something to LNL next week

[20:09] #knownspace> Lensman: Thanx Alex. I'll be interested to see what you find. Which is another reason I said "Don't take my word for it!" If you come up with solid references, then I can quote those.

[20:10] #knownspace> AlexA: I'll try to get Jerry Pournelle's opinion too

[20:11] #knownspace> AlexA: He's working on a new book like 'A Step Further Out' which will probably cover SPS

[20:12] #knownspace> Lensman: Re power generation costs: In the USA, nearly 50% is generated from coal-fired plants. IIRC something like 20% comes from nuclear. Hydroelectric... I don't remember. 7%? 12%? There is a significant percentage of CNG, and if that mirrors oil prices then it will affect the price *some*. Transportation costs obviously are greatly affected by oil prices, too. Even the price of coal went up...

[20:12] #knownspace> Lensman: ...significantly because transportation costs went up.

[20:13] #knownspace> Lensman: Oh, and I guess we're now exporting coal to China in large amounts, which is another reason coal prices went up.

[20:13] #knownspace> SeanS: i tried to log on from the lake but the iphone i borrowed would not do java

[20:14] #knownspace> SeanS: fun chat?

[20:14] #knownspace> AlexA: I'm genuinely integued by liftport 'opinion'. Everything Ive read has said SPS is viable given low enough launch costs

[20:16] #knownspace> Dan: Was a great chat, even thought I had to catch up whenever I came back in the house from working outside. Hmmm... Was it a better chat *because* I was outdoors during most of it? How depressing! LOL!

[20:16] #knownspace> AlexA: SeanS: You need to install Colloquy IRC client (tricky on a borrowed phone -it's nota free app)

[20:20] #knownspace> Dan: Sean, I ran out of wood for the trim work before I could finish the screened-in porch! I'll have to go to Lowe's tomorrow and get some more 1x2s for the trim. I'll need a couple of 10 footers and maybe 4 8 footers.

[20:21] #knownspace> AlexA: My initial SPS cost analysis would probably look at cost of large telecoms/TV satellites in terms of $/W transmitted power

[20:22] #knownspace> Lensman: I dunno, I got here late but what I saw was disappointingly free of any Niven related discussion.

[20:22] #knownspace> Lensman: I need to keep an eye on my spaghetti boiling, so I will be AFK for a bit.

[20:23] #knownspace> AlexA: Yeah when I arrived the 'singularity' was being discussed - which doesn't interest me much

[20:23] #knownspace> AlexA: I moved things on to Space policy and thats where viability or not of SPS came up

[20:24] #knownspace> AlexA: Anyway, gotta go as it's late

[20:24] #knownspace> AlexA: Bye

[20:24] #knownspace> SeanS: later

[20:25] #knownspace> Dan: How was the lake?

[20:25] #knownspace> SeanS: i hope to get my own iphone at some point... till then i will borrow when hooked up with some that has one

[20:25] #knownspace> SeanS: waaaaayyyyy ahead of you dan

[20:25] #knownspace> SeanS: choppy

[20:25] #knownspace> Dan: Hey, just tryin' to be neighborly. LOL!

[20:25] #knownspace> SeanS: we mostly hung in a no wake zone

[20:26] #knownspace> SeanS: river is fucked again due to excessive global warming

[20:26] #knownspace> Dan: When you catch a fish, it's already breaded and fried?

[20:26] #knownspace> SeanS: i mean wow.. first time in recorded history that we had a july without a 90 degree day

[20:26] CubesForsythe has joined #knownspace

[20:26] #knownspace> CubesForsythe: Hey everyone

[20:26] #knownspace> SeanS: hi cubes

[20:27] #knownspace> Dan: Hiya, Cubes.

[20:27] #knownspace> CubesForsythe: I suspect that I've missed EML and/or Larry?

[20:27] #knownspace> Dan: Larry never showed, Ed left a while ago, yeah.

[20:27] #knownspace> SeanS: as soon as julie gets done eating a bit, taking a cooler full of beer up to a buddy's to watch the race from earlier today

[20:28] #knownspace> CubesForsythe: Anyone able to send me a chatlog? is the address

[20:28] #knownspace> SeanS: knownspaceARM logs the chats and it should be available on in a day or two

[20:28] #knownspace> CubesForsythe: o_0

[20:28] #knownspace> CubesForsythe: okay

[20:29] #knownspace> SeanS: if you want me to personally send it to you, email me at

[20:32] #knownspace> SeanS: heading to regular shaun's to watch racing... will try to log back in from there.

[20:32] #knownspace> Dan: Have a good time, Dude!

[20:32] #knownspace> SeanS: the kids call shaun regular shaun and me they call river sean

[20:32] #knownspace> SeanS: no distinction in voice as opposed to text

[20:33] #knownspace> Dan: Papa Sean, I'd call it. LOL!

[20:34] #knownspace> Dan: 4 more months until I become Grandpa Dan again.

[20:35] #knownspace> Dan: Michelle finally got medicade in Virginia, so she can start going to her prenatal doctor visits again, up there.

[20:36] #knownspace> Dan: 21 days left until Lyn and I host our regular Summer party on the 22nd.

[20:39] #knownspace> Dan: Spaghetti doing alright, ens?

[20:39] #knownspace> Dan: Lensman?

[20:40] #knownspace> Lensman: Yup.

[20:40] #knownspace> Dan: Good!

[20:41] #knownspace> Lensman: Yes it is!

[20:41] #knownspace> Dan: :)

[20:42] #knownspace> Lensman: I use Prego's big plastic jugs of spaghetti sauce. Wal-Mart usually just carries the "Traditional" sauce in that size, but yesterday they had Mushroom variety. I like mushrooms in my spaghetti sauce, so I figured I'd try it. I can't say I like it as well tho.

[20:43] #knownspace> Dan: I use the Classico brand, usually the mushroom and olive version.

[20:44] #knownspace> Lensman: I used to make my own, but I like Prego better.

[21:00] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Well, I'm going to multi-task, so if I don't answer right away that's why.

[21:02] #knownspace> Dan: K

[21:03] #knownspace> Dan: Got music playing, so I guess I'm through with making sense for the night. :)

[21:06] #knownspace> Lensman_free: "Stop Making Sense". Isn't that a song? Or a band?

[21:06] #knownspace> Dan: Song by the Talking Heads.

[21:07] #knownspace> Dan: Sorry, music trivia is one of my weaknesses.

[21:08] #knownspace> Dan: That's one reason I love Weird Al so much- His stuff is a living music trivia contest.

[21:10] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Why apologize? I asked.

[21:11] #knownspace> Lensman_free: I'd like to see a collection of Weird Al parodies preceded by music videos of the thing he's parodying. My taste in pop music is rather limited, so generally I don't get the joke.

[21:11] #knownspace> Dan: -listening to a Weird Al parody of a Frank Zappa song, and if that don't blow yer mind, I dunno what to say.

[21:12] hankster has joined #knownspace

[21:12] #knownspace> Dan: Hiya, Hankster.

[21:13] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Hi Hankster

[21:14] #knownspace> Dan: Weird Al is an aquired taste, but once aquired, there isn't a vaccine.

[21:14] #knownspace> Lensman_free: I have certainly acquired the taste. I have "UHF" on DVD.

[21:14] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Not looking for a cure, either.

[21:15] #knownspace> Dan: UHF is a pretty good sampler of his work.

[21:16] #knownspace> Dan: The album on my player now is "Poodle Hat" and this is the first time I've heard it. Trying hard not to fall out of the chair and hurt myself rolling on the floor, laughing my a$$ off.

[21:17] #knownspace> hankster: hi ther guys, came in early this morning but had to get some sleep so left for a while.

[21:17] #knownspace> hankster: assume Weird Al Yankovic is the topic?

[21:17] #knownspace> Dan: Missed the important part of the chat, hamster. We're in the cool-down/freeform part of the chat now.

[21:18] #knownspace> Lensman_free: We once played a "Beverly Hillbillies" episode for my Laser Rangers film buff & videophile group. On the DVDs the theme song has been replaced, because of a music rights tie-up, so I played Weird Al's version of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" instead.

[21:18] #knownspace> hankster: figured so, unfortunately main chat happens ~3am oour time :)

[21:18] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Hank: We're just hanging out hoping someone will suggest an interesting topic.

[21:18] #knownspace> Dan: Sort of. It seems that Lensman and I share an interest in Al's music. Though I seem to have a bit of seniority in that matter.

[21:19] #knownspace> Lensman_free: My tastes in music are very limited, I don't claim seniority in anything in that regard.

[21:20] #knownspace> Dan: I've been a fan of Al since he first hit the radio, but there are still a few things I haven't heard yet. I'm playing some stuff that's new to me at the moment.

[21:20] #knownspace> Lensman_free: I probably only have 200 CDs or less. And a lot of those are movie soundtracks.

[21:20] #knownspace> hankster: sort of topical at the moment given that Weird Al did a great riff on Beat it.

[21:21] #knownspace> Dan: Lens, I have 4k of vinyl records and roughly 1k of CDs of various artists.

[21:21] #knownspace> Dan: Hell, I even have a few 8-Track tapes!

[21:22] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Ah, you still have a vinyl collection. A connoisseur indeed!

[21:23] #knownspace> Lensman_free: But 8-tracks? Tsk, tsk. Surely the quality on tapes that old isn't worth preserving?

[21:23] #knownspace> Dan: Oh no! Now he's doing a bio of Spider-Man as a Billy Joel song! ROTFLMAO!

[21:23] #knownspace> Lensman_free: "Play me a song, I'm the Spider-Man..." ?

[21:23] #knownspace> Dan: GPIUVG>*&LKJ... Sorry, can't type well from the floor...

[21:24] #knownspace> Dan: Exactly!

[21:25] #knownspace> Dan: First time I've heard it. My wife is laughing as hard as I am.

[21:26] #knownspace> Dan: The exact title is "Ode to a Superhero" and the tune is "Piano Man."

[21:26] #knownspace> Dan: Gadzooks! That was great!

[21:28] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Time to head for YouTube...

[21:29] #knownspace> Dan: Or Al's own website.

[21:30] #knownspace> Dan: Sorry, but I find more things funny than sane people uoght to admit to doing.

[21:30] #knownspace> hankster: yes I find it is easier to laugh than take things seriously :)

[21:32] #knownspace> Dan: Seriousness is over-rated. A good sense of humor will get one through hard times easier than anything except unlimited money or funky non-toxic drugs.

[21:32] #knownspace> Dan: Actually, a good laugh is better than drugs.

[21:34] #knownspace> Dan: Oh, my ribs hurt from laughing so much.

[21:35] #knownspace> hankster: For example, an Australian group called the Chaser, have just finished their last show, but they punctured the pompousness of Australian politicians on a regular basis, you may have heard about about their stunt at APEC

[21:35] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Wow. That was fabulous! Actually more melancholy and thoughtful than funny, I thought.

[21:35] #knownspace> Dan: Haven't heard about that, hamster.

[21:35] #knownspace> Dan: Lens, glad that you liked it!

[21:36] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Yah, Hank what's up with that?

[21:36] #knownspace> Dan: Oops! My dislexia has struck again! Sorry, Hank.

[21:37] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Well I guess the melancholy aspect was Billy Joel's tune, not the lyrics.

[21:37] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Hank is not a rodent! :)

[21:38] #knownspace> Dan: I *said* I was sorry. My disability got in my way again, that's all.

[21:38] #knownspace> Dan: :)

[21:38] #knownspace> hankster: At the APEC forum (back when GWBush was Pres) they got through a number of checkpoints in Sydney by pretending to be a Canadian delegation.

[21:38] #knownspace> Dan: Oh dear! The actually managed to bullshit their way through?

[21:39] #knownspace> Lensman_free: So is that the whole story? They didn't put on any demonstration or stunt before getting thrown out?

[21:40] #knownspace> hankster: their ID badges were faked up but clearly stated that they were fake. At the last checkpoint they had a guy dressed as Osama Bin Laden in the car.

[21:40] #knownspace> Lensman_free: ROFL

[21:40] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Now THAT is great!

[21:41] #knownspace> hankster: The humour came from the fact that the Government had declared a total lockdown in Sydney

[21:41] #knownspace> Dan: Lens, the Zappa parody is titled "Genius In France" if you want to search for it. Not a specific Zappa song, but more his style of writing songs that's been parodied.

[21:41] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Oh dear, oh dear...

[21:42] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Well I happened to know "Piano Man" so that was great. Not sure I know any Zappa songs.

[21:44] #knownspace> Lensman_free: Put it this way: If they don't play it on the "easy listening" or classical music radio stations, I probably haven't heard it.

[21:44] #knownspace> hankster: should be some footage on You Tube.

[21:47] #knownspace> Dan: I sometimes forget that other people don't have as large an addiction to eclectic sorts of music as do I.

[21:51] #knownspace> Dan: Oh dear, a Tommy James & the Shondells parody... "Alimony" for the song "Mony, Mony."

[21:52] #knownspace> hankster: see you guys on the list. I have t go now.

[21:54] #knownspace> Dan: OK, I'm outta here before I kill the bot from boredom. See ya, Lensman!