In the USA, at the time of this writing, our Government is pretty good at moderate but pervasive oppression. Oppression that isn’t really bad enough for people to complain too loudly. I mean, it’s a lot worse other places, but oppression isn’t something you want in moderation.
I think this pervasive oppression stems from a blindness we have developed over the past hundred and fifty years, and which I’d like to explore. This article is an inversion of my previous pondering on policy, where I made excuses for why I haven’t thought deeply on the ideal government. In the interim I’ve been thinking, in some areas deeper than others. I’d like to share these thoughts with you, and the first is about oppression. Continue reading →
Every time I hear outcry over the tragedy of a school shooting, it reminds me about self-driving cars. Yes, the road is a bit long, but I’m prepared to do all the driving for you. As long as you don’t jump out along the way, we’ll end up passing through education, gun control, and abortion as well. So, buckle up or whatever? Really, it doesn’t matter if you wear a seat-belt. This is a purely intellectual journey, and you won’t be badly hurt if my driving ends us in a collision.
Or will you? Perhaps intellectual injuries are worse than physical ones? Certainly they are harder to detect, diagnose, and treat. If the analogy has any merit, the danger of throwing yourself bodily from this mental journey while it is half-finished and hurtling along could be even more deleterious, in the long-run, than the equivalent physical action. On the other hand, if you don’t like where I’m going, perhaps you will feel you have no choice.
So here’s my proposal. I’ll take this article slowly and carefully, making plenty of stops along the way so you can safely leave if you feel like it. In exchange, please strap in, and keep your arms and legs inside the reasoning at all times. Comfy? Good. We’re ready to begin. Continue reading →
I noticed that the density numbers were missing from the Plutonium isotope pages on Wikipedia. If we take the Pu244 density of 19.816 g/cm3 from the wikipedia page as veracious, the other isotope densities are easy to derive. Since the chemical density is essentially identical, due to the proton identity, all that is left is to scale the density linearly with atomic weight. This gives us values of:
Now that there is a reference, we can add this info to Wikipedia, thereby completing the process of citogenesis.
XKCD by Randall Munroe, used without permission.
In order to perform a check against the veracity of this data, let’s figure out how much the released energy will alter the mass of the isotope. For a gram of Pu238, we get 0.568 W, which, over double the half-life period of 87.7 years, yields 3.1 GJ of energy. From E=mC^2, we find that this will reduce the mass of one gram of plutonium by 0.35 μg, seven orders of magnitude below our threshold of accuracy. So the binding energy of the Pu nucleus can not significantly influence the density, which confirms our calculations as valid.
Since “worth his weight in gold” is a common phrase, I wondered what would happen if one was made of their weight in plutonium. Since plutonium is about 20 times denser than water, that gives us a person 2.71 times smaller than a normal person. Since this would also be far above the critical mass for plutonium, this person would promptly explode.
Ever played the Civilization series? Maybe Endless Legend? If not, these are both examples of what are often called “4X Games“: they’re turn-based strategy games focused on “exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination”. This sort of game can also be called an “empire building” game, and the general premise is that the player is an external guide for a people group of some description that usually fits with the modern idea of a nation. Typical examples of this game will be played on a more-or-less 2D map, feature some sort of development mechanic (usually in the form of one or more research trees designed to model scientific progress), and a unit-based movement mechanic that usually comprises both combat and exploration. Units can generally build cities and destroy cities and other units. Cities build more units, and can improve themselves and (by some mechanic or another) improve (“exploit”) the land around them. In these games, the player seeks victory through one or more forms of dominance: the classic victory condition is total military conquest, but over the years more options have been added, ranging from scientific victories (where the player’s nation is the first to achieve some developmental milestone) to diplomatic victories (where the player is essentially elected “king of the world”) and more.
Perhaps the most recognizable example of this sort of game is the Civilization series. Started by Sid Meier at Microprose back in 1991, the Civilization games have long set a standard of quality in the genre and are commonly emulated, cloned, and adapted. Continue reading →
Nerved out on exterior duty today. Something about EP-61, the dark all around, and the weightlessness triggered my dive-abort reflex. Came out of it in a few seconds, but had to call it in and get help gathering all the tools I scattered. Good news is there’s no coronal scarring on the vac-side power nodes, so the in-flight tweak seems to have worked.
Cathy gave me a check-over after, says it happens to the flight crew during training too. Might be just trying to make me feel better. Appreciated all the same; Earl is going to make sure I remember. I was never this jumpy before. I wonder if the nerve re-balance has anything to do with it.