Friday, 31 October 2014

Bantokfomoki in space, part 1

This is a response to the series of videos released by bantokfomoki on the subject of space travel, as depicted in the avatar movie by james cameron. Bantokfomoki has made four such videos so far, all centered on the performance of the starship known as the venture star. There is alot of good science in them, but they suffer from a certain absolutism. The message he consistently trys to push is that without some kindof reactionless drive, travel to other stars within a human life span is fundamentally impossible. Bantokfomoki is better known by his website EBTX, which stands for Evidence Based Treatment X. He is an expert generalist able to contribute insights on a variety of different topics. With regards to the avatar film, though, he may have jumped the shark.
Bantokfomoki (who we'll call EBTX for now) released his latest video on october 4th, 2014. Referring to the venture stars anti-matter engine, he lays down a premise: ''If it cannot be made to work in principle, then no reaction rocket of any sort is suitable for interstellar space travel.'' Geesh, talk about laying down the gauntlet. EBTX assumes that because this one star ship may not be feasible under one set of mission parameters, it cannot be feasible under any other set of parameters. Thats going to create alot of problems for him down the road: Even if the original specifications are at odds with the laws of physics, they can be altered and rearranged. Playing with the numbers until you get a desirable result is an integral part of what rocket science is!
Now, since this latest video builds upon the work of the others in his series, we're going to do a quick review of them to get up to speed. For the best outcome, readers should watch the videos in their entirety before going over the rebuttal here. The reason for EBTXs detraction of relativistic space travel is that, in order to accelerate to fractions of light speed, the engines will emit so much heat that they would inadvertently vaporise themselves and whatever ship they are attached to. He comes to this conclusion using a different approach in each video, building a cumulative argument that has befuddled most space-exploration advocates. We will check his work for consistency and see whether or not there are easy alternatives to this dilemma.
Video #1
[1] ...Travel to other star systems in time frames on the scale of a human life span are pure drivel.
He has a very strong conviction of his, as we will see.

[2] Lets first get a picture of what 4 light years really are. Imagine the sun is a pea on a plate in the middle of your dinner table. Then the earth will be a grain of salt at the edge of the table. Jupiter will be about as big as the printed letter o (small case) in a newspaper on the wall of your dining room.
The sheer distances involved with interstellar travel are often under appreciated. The swedish have a series of monuments which represent a scale model of the solar system, the center of which is the erricsson globe: Even at a 1:20,000,000 scale, neptune is located a breathtaking 229 kilometers away!
[3] Since the avatar website doesn't specify a mass, lets assume a mass of 100,000 metric tons for the mass of the craft. Thats the weight of a large aircraft carrier.
If EBTX is referring to its wet mass (I.E, after it is loaded with propellent), that seems like a pretty safe guess. The venture star was, after all, based on the design philosophy laid down by project valkyrie. You can tell because the engines are mounted on the front of the ship, whereas the payload is dragged behind it on a truss. This allows designers to use flimsier materials and skimp on radiation shielding, which results in a very lightweight craft weighing a fraction of what conventional starships would. What we cannot say with certainty is what the venture stars dry mass would be...
[4] The kinetic energy of this craft at 70% of light velocity is 2.2 x 10 24 joules. One half of a year is 15,768,000 seconds. Dividing that by 2.2 x 10 24 joules gives us the average power output we need to get from our matter anti-matter annihilation engine. This gives us 1.4 x 10 17 watts.
EBTX is going over the ships mission profile, which specifys an acceleration of 1.5 gs for half a year. This leads to a delta v (change in velocity) of 210,000 km/s, and a voyage lasting 6.75 years from start to finish. His estimates on the energy consumption are an absolute minimum, since they do not factor in the various inefficiencys that come with reaction engines. With this established, he then moves to the crux of the matter.
[5] But lets suppose that our engine is unbelievably 99.99% efficient, and only 1/10,000th part of our energy will end up as heat to effect our engine. But 1/10,000th part is 1/6th of the energy released by a hiroshima bomb per second. That amount of heat would destroy any conceivable engine in the 1st second.
EBTX doesn't provide any calculations on what the heat capacity of the ship might be, so hes basically just speculating on this. We'll need to do some basic math in order to find out how much heat the engines can handle. Lets start off by assuming that the engines weigh 10,000 tons, and are made of mere carbon steel. This substance has a specific heat of 490 joules per kilogram, I.E, you have to input 490 joules to raise its temperature by 1 celsius. If the temperature before ignition is 0 celsius, and the safe operating limit is 600 celsius, this gives the engines a heat capacity of 2.94 x 10 12 joules. Unfortunately, the heat load from the engines (even at 99.99% efficiency) is 1.05x13 joules, too much to handle. It would seem that EBTX has a valid point. But wait, he didn't merely say that the venture star was unworkable under the circumstances given in the movie: He made the much stronger claim that it was unworkable under any circumstances whatsoever! According to him, a journey from sol to alpha centauri in a human lifespan is out of the question. Well, lets put that assumption to the test.
What we have to do is reduce the velocity of the ship to something more realistic. Instead of .7 C lets try just .07 C, which is 21,000 km/s. By decreasing the velocity by a factor of 10, the kinetic energy (and hence the energy needed to propel the ship) is decreased by a factor of 100. Since the ship is going to be in transit for a longer period of time, we might as well reduce its acceleration by a factor of 10, too. Instead of a 6 month engine burn, the venture star will be accelerating for 60 months. So now, the total energy budget of the craft has been reduced to 2.2 x 10 21 joules, at a rate of 1.4 x 10 14 watts. Thats more like it. And while we're at it, we'll need to ditch the 99.99% efficiency rating EBTX suggested (as a reductio ad absudem), and determine a more plausible rating. Anti-matter engines normally have an efficiency of over 90%, but when you throw room-temperature super conductors into the equation, you can probably get up to about 99% efficiency. If so, that implys the total heat transference would be 1.05 x 10 12 watts. Thats low enough that we don't need to worry about the engines melting, especially when they are being assisted by the radiator panels. Voila, problem solved!

[6] In point of fact, an anti-matter propulsion system is simply ludicrous for high-g accelerations or even moderate ones, because though propulsion by means of electromagnetic radiation alone is the most efficient possible, it does not provide the acceleration produced by throwing out gobs of matter at high speeds.
Thats quite true, which is why the acceleration phase should be drawn out as long as practical. AMAT engines cannot provide nearly as much thrust as chemical or nuclear engines, and they must be given as much time as possible to get a starship up to speed. 60 months is better than 6, in this case. But its curious that EBTX limits his criticism to the venture stars engine (which is only used to decelerate upon reaching alpha centauri, and then to accelerate back to sol), and not to the titanic laser batterys that propel it at the same rate. Does he even know that the ship uses a photon sail?
[7] There is no plan for going to other star systems under the presently known conservation laws in a human lifespan time frame as anything but idiotic.
Such an optimist we are :o)
 Video #2
This (silent) video starts off from a shaky premise. Whereas his previous estimate for the venture stars wet mass was a slim 100,000 tons, EBTX trys to up the scale by comparing it alongside an aircraft carrier. Bizarrely, he suggests that the radiator panels each have as much mass as the ocean going behemoth, whereas the two engines combined are only as massive as one aircraft carrier. Who knows how he came to that conclusion... Adding in the propellant tanks and the tensile truss, he arrives at a final mass of 500,000 tons. But wait, thats not all: EBTX actually has the gaul to claim that this is merely the ships dry mass! There are so many things wrong with that, its hard to articulate. Aircraft carriers are a dense lump of metal that float on water via buoyancy, whereas the venture star is just a spindly rope of carbon nanotubes and containers flying through space. The designs have nothing in common, and its obvious he is just trying to inflate the ships mass. Complementing this deception, EBTX then uses a hopelessly backward method to try and determine how much propellant is needed to accelerate the ship up to 70% light velocity.
Using an exhaust velocity of .693 C (a figure seemingly made up on the spot), and a dry mass of 500,000 tons, he concludes that 500,000 tons of propellant would be required to accelerate the ship to .7 C. But if you input all the numbers EBTX used, this bloated ship would only reach a final velocity of .48 C. A word of caution: In order to correctly use tsiolkovskys rocket equation, you need to know the ships mass ratio and exhaust velocity. You can't just pull numbers out of your a$$. If we return to our previous assumptions about a wet mass of 100,000 tons, and a delta v of 7% light velocity, we can proceed with far more clarity than our host. Using an exhaust velocity of 59,000 kilometers per second (which is what the valkyrie engine was supposed to max out at), we get a dry mass of about 70,000 tons. This means that just 30,000 tons of matter-antimatter propellant are required to get underway, a very comfortable mass ratio that allows lots of safety room. This is important because some of the byproducts in a matter-antimatter reaction cannot be redirected through the engine chamber, and hence cannot be used to generate thrust.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Americanised canada

This has been a really lousy week for canada. In the wake of the shootings on parliament hill, this nation has adopted exactly the posture it shouldn't have. Instead of breathing a sigh of relief that only one person was killed *, canadians are puffing themselves into a panicked frenzy, debating whether or not police should be given the authority to detain people without probable cause. The prime minister wants to have an escort of RCMP wherever he goes. And some dip$hits are actually surprised that michael zehaf-bibeau managed to get his hands on a rifle, in spite of his prohibition from owning firearms. Christ, how many times do these people need to be told? Firearm laws only apply to law abiding citizens: Criminals pay no heed of them. A gun ban wouldn't work even if every firearm in existence (including those used by the state!) is tracked down and destroyed, because the knowledge and machinery needed to create them is universal. Small engine mechanics, metal fabricators, and plenty of other careers require an understanding of the same principles upon which firearms are based.
In order to enforce real gun control, we would need to revert back to pre-industrial times, which would make us easy prey against more militaristic nations. So please, liberals, shut up about firearms already. There is nothing you can do about it but accept the fact that citizens have the right to self defense, and that people will occasionally die as a result of this. Canada needs to take a gulp of fresh air. We have adopted the american belief that turning towards a police state will make us safer, and that achieving this safety is worth the cost of relinquishing our civil libertys (well, the few libertys that remain after 911). This is a preposterous notion and it needs to be shot full of holes. As for the parliament hill shooting being perpetrated on behalf of ISIS, who cares? It was a minor incident on behalf of a minor terrorist organisation on the other side of the planet. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see that this is not exactly on our list of national prioritys. And yet stephen harper (who was calmly drinking wine during the 'crisis') is now attempting to use the shooting as a pretext to expand government power. Like it or not, it seems we're on a dangerous path to americanisation.
*Chrissy teigen had it right when she said: ''Active shooting in canada, or as we call it in america, wednesday.'' Better ammend that to friday, too.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The convergence: Existential threats to mankind

Three years ago, I released a video on youtube which told of a monumental threat that civilisation would someday have to confront. This threat is a series of man made and environmental disasters which will overlap and amplify into something resembling a great filter. I was supposed to have followed up this warning with a full length video, but was unable to do so due to a serious illness. Before I knew it, 2011 rolled into 2012, then 2012 rolled into 2013, etc. The mistake I made was assuming that men more educated than myself would be able to connect the dots, create a hypothesis, and get it out to the public. Suffice to say, that didn't happen. It is now my challenge to try and explicate the complex nature of this crisis, at a time when global warming has totally ensnared the worlds attention economy. Please bare with me!
Now, exactly what is the convergence? It is a collusion of more than a dozen existential threats which not only exist, and continue to worsen, but will peak in intensity sometime in the 2030s. Their relative dangers and receptivity to change varys. Some of the threats have quite minor effects, but are hard to fix, and dangerous because they exacerbate and amplify the other threats (like how overpopulation forces us to find more sources of energy and food, or how pollution ruins arable land and makes it harder to create that extra food, etc). Other threats would have devastating effects if left to build up, but can be quite easily fixed before they reach critical mass. Each of these tendrils acts as a stress point in the foundations of our global society: A fissure in one can quickly spread to others, leading to an unpredictable domino sequence.
In this article, I will content myself simply with naming the specific threats, and describing the backgrounds of the more nefarious ones. It would also be useful to have a simple typology through which we can classify their nature. For now, this can take the form of three categorys. #1 will determine the disasters potential for collateral damage. #2 will determine whether or not countermeasures are practical against it. #3 will determine whether or not the threat is an adjuvant (I.E, if it negatively affects the other disasters). What I will not do is attempt to offer a comprehensive solution to these looming disasters. Because the connections and interplay between these threats are not well understood, I would also caution anyone who thinks they can enact treatments in isolation: That would be like trying to stop a volcanic eruption by plugging up the holes to the surface!
Global warming
According to the EPA, average global temperatures are expected to increase by 2 to 11.5 degrees fahrenheit by the year 2100. Depending on how high the temperature ceiling is, this would aggravate storm systems, raise sea levels, and damage ecosystems. Government agencys allege that this will happen because of the sheer quantity of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere by gasoline and diesel engines, and that the only way to prevent this is through a carbon tax. While scholars like david m.w evans have managed to punch holes in their climate model, and prove that it is inconsistent with data collected by the ARGO system, that only serves to debunk some of the more hysterical claims put forward by the global warming alarmists: This includes the belief that the earths climate system has already passed an insurmountable tipping point, or that the rate of warning is happening faster than at any point in earths history.
There are other problems with the AGW narrative, at least with regards to how it will be solved. According to ryan dawson: 'The carbon tax and the climate controls and security bill, regardless of what you think about global warming, doesn't do a thing to prevent it. All it does is divide up greenhouse gases into allotments which can be traded and sold and even invested in by third parties, just creates a market environment which lets the larger government subsidized agrobusinesses to gobble up allotments from the smaller farms and ranches and create tighter virtual monopolies. It also put control of industry into the hands of a small group of government hacks and threatens property rights all under the guise of being green. The only kind of green here is envy and money.' Carbon taxes are the wrong answer to this problem. We should pay more attention to bjorn lomborg and his studys on marine cloud whitening, which could mitigate global warming for a relatively small price tag.
Depletion of arable land
Peak water
The misandry bubble
According to one theory, feminism (which had its roots in the 'free love' movement of the 60s) is a social virus which destroys the marriage system. Nuclear familys are formed by beta males and their women, who enter into marriage chaste. It is a very stable unit which caters to the needs of the man, the woman, and their children. All advanced, patriarchal societys depend upon the nuclear family: Since they all work together to support the man, the man can devote his full effort to the job. This high productivity is what has allowed the west to outcompete all other cultures, and the marriage system itself is airtight. The only vulnerable link is the young woman herself, often before she becomes sexually active. Girls are told that its okay to delay marriage and engage in casual sex, and that this will not have a negative imapct for them in the future. Television paints an unrealistic ideal for them to emulate, and sure enough... Women get stuck in the lifestyle of sleeping with men whose only lot in life is seduction.
These men only comprise a small portion of the population, which gives them nearly unlimited options: They can pick any woman they want, and treat them however they want, with scarce few consequences. As a result, women spend years and years chasing men who are out of their league and have no intention of making a commitment, while they pass up relationships with men in their own social groups. But a womans beauty has a brief shelf life, and by the time of her 30th to 35th birthday, she will find herself kicked off the carousel by the alphas. Even the betas will not desire her as much, since men instinctively distrust women with high n-counts. This phenomenon destroys the pool of marriageable women, and consequently diminishs the incentive of men to work. With no wives or children to care for, they are able to live a more convenient, spend thrift life. Of course, this has the consequence of slowing down economic productivity, which is a death sentence to patriarchal societys.
Ozone pollution
Ocean acidification
The energy crisis
Global supplys of fossil fuels are dwindling at a rapid rate. If consumption patterns continue as they have indefinitely, there will only be enough oil reserves will last for 40 to 50 years, while gas reserves will be depleted in 70 years, and coal will disappear in about 200 years. Of course, these are just the official figures... One must remember that this crisis is partly artificial, since the US government not only supresses alternative energy sources, but has also concealed the existence of massive oil fields like those in prudhoe bay, alaska.
Military defense death spiral
The singularity
Demographic crisis
This also ties in with feminism to a certain extent. With most children now being born out of wedlock to single mothers (many of them the product of miscegenation), the indigenous populations of north america and europe are being culturally and genetically weakened. Without the benefit of growing up in a nuclear family, they will be unable to compete at home and abroad with the 3rd world, leaving them vulnerable to a takeover by baby boom. Within a generation from now, formerly strong western nations will have devolved into balkanised hellholes with low productivity.
Economic collapse
Natural disasters
One thing that should be obvious by now is how most of the threats are of very different backgrounds, and have ambiguous taxonomys (kindof like the seven deadly sins). Take natural disasters, for example. No one would consider everyday occurrences like volcanism, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and solar storms to be an existential threat in an of themselves. But if their magnitude could be amplified by things like global warming? And if they were to be assigned under a single category? Then they would definitely make the cut. Now that I have assembled something resembling a hypothesis, it is up to you the public to digest and critique. Comments of all kind are welcome. If you think there were any threats I marginalised, exaggerated, or forgot to even include, now is your time to speak.