Friday, May 31, 2013

Putting a Face in Space: Yours, Not the Lemming's

"Asteroid mining company wants to put your face in space"
Irene Klotz, Reuters (May 30, 2013)

"A privately owned asteroid mining firm, backed in part by Google Inc's founders, launched a crowd-funding project on Wednesday to gauge public interest in a small space telescope that could serve as a backdrop for personal photographs, officials said.

"Planetary Resources, based in Bellevue, Washington, plans to build and operate telescopes to hunt for asteroids orbiting near Earth and robotic spacecraft to mine them for precious metals, water and other materials.

"It also plans an educational and outreach program to let students, museums, armchair astronomers and virtual travelers share use of a telescope through an initiative on Kickstarter, a website used to raise funds for creative projects...."

This looks like a good idea. The 'your face here' idea reminds the Lemming of days gone by when folks paid for the privilege of sticking their heads through holes in a picture.

The point, as the Lemming recalls, was to have a photographer capture the moment. It was, in the Lemming's opinion, one of the sillier uses humans have found for their technology: but popularity of those boardwalk photos was very human.

The Lemming is more interested in plans for timesharing orbital property. Quite a few of the 7,000,000,000 or so folks living on Earth might want to use a modest space telescope without having the cash to build and maintain a satellite and ground support network. There's the little matter of getting something into orbit, too.

A few more decades, and humans might be raising families in low Earth orbit. But that's another topic.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday and a Rambling Lemming

Some lawyers are long-winded, but a mistral isn't that kind of wind: although a mistrial might happen during a mistral, although that's silly since although a mistrial seems to be a "mistrial" in French, when it's not a erreur judiciaire, but a mistral is French too, a French wind that's strong and happens in winter.

The Lemming definitely needs more sleep.

Posts, related or maybe not so much:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Warp Drive: Silly as Thinking People can Fly

"Warp Speed, Scotty? Star Trek's FTL Drive May Actually Work"
Jillian Scharr, (May 14, 2013)

"In the 'Star Trek' TV shows and films, the U.S.S. Enterprise's warp engine allows the ship to move faster than light, an ability that is, as Spock would say, 'highly illogical.'

However, there's a loophole in Einstein's general theory of relativity that could allow a ship to traverse vast distances in less time than it would take light. The trick? It's not the starship that's moving - it's the space around it.

In fact, scientists at NASA are right now working on the first practical field test toward proving the possibility of warp drives and faster-than-light travel. Maybe the warp drive in 'Star Trek Into Darkness,' the franchise's latest film opening this week, is possible after all. [Warp Drive: Can It Be Done? (Video)]...

NASA working on a warp drive? That's as silly as thinking people could fly - or walk on the moon. Building a spaceship with an Alcubierre-White drive is beyond today's technology.

Building a White-Juday warp field interferometer, which is what NASA may still be working on? That's well within what humans can do, mostly with off-the-shelf hardware.

Tech, Time, and Congress

Maybe it'll take a thousand years for tech to catch up with theoretical physics. Or maybe it's a matter of decades.

If the American Congress decides to save a few dollars by scrapping the White-Juday interferometer project, someone else will almost certainly build pretty much the same equipment. Discussion of Alcubierre's equations started as a global debate, and stayed that way.

It's the Lemming's opinion that today's fast communication gets partial credit - or blame - for the 'blink and you'll miss it' pace of change in technology and science. The Lemming likes the Information Age, some folks don't, and that's another topic.

Lots of "Ifs"

Then there's quantum entanglement. It  may be communication at infinite speed, only happen at about 10,000 times speed of light, or not be inter-particle communication at all.

If quantum entanglement involves signals that travel faster than light, and if the effect can applied to matter as well as information, and if it can be scaled up to include stuff that's big enough: warp drives might not be the fastest way to get from here to there.

And that is definitely another topic. Topics.

Related posts:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lemming Tracks: Yearning for a Nice, Quiet, Dull, Humdrum Weekend

The Lemming has never been on a cruise, Caribbean or otherwise: unless you count a short voyage across Leech Lake in Minnesota; a body of water is notable for the the size of its main body, and of its leeches.

On the other hand, the Lemming feels as if few weekends have passed of late without an expedition, peregrination, run, or trek of some sort.

The journeys were necessary: the sort of activity which, although pleasant in some ways, would not be done if a practical purpose prompted purposeful processes.

Alas! Alliterative assertions accumulate! It's time for the Lemming to call it a day. Or a morning, or whatever.

The Lemming is sincerely looking forward to a nice, quiet, dull, humdrum weekend. Wait a minute - - - Oh, dear. Maybe next weekend.

Not-totally-unrelated posts:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Quantum Entanglement and a Babbling Lemming

"Loophole in spooky quantum entanglement theory closed"
Tia Ghose, LiveScience, via (April 22, 2013)

"The weird way entangled particles stay connected even when separated by large distances a phenomenon Albert Einstein called 'spooky' has been confirmed once again, this time with a key loophole in the experiment eliminated.

"The results from the new experiment confirm one of the wildest predictions of quantum mechanics: that a pair of 'entangled' particles, once measured, can somehow instantly communicate with each other so that their states always match...."

Quantum entanglement is really quite simple.

If two photons are entangled and Photon A is in an up-spin state, Photon B is in a down-spin state, unless Photon A is in a down-spin state and Photon B is in Montana, in which case it would be in an up-spin state: even if it was in Siberia, which isn't all that different from Montana. In terms of climate, anyway.

This isn't really so odd, since the state of one thing can affect another thing. It happens all the time. What's odd about quantum entanglement is that it happens fast. Really fast. Really, really fast.

Maybe instantly. Except that's not supposed to happen, because the speed of light is the fastest anything can go. Except for whatever happens in quantum entanglement: which may not be instant. It could be only 10,000 time faster than the speed of light.

That's still fast.

This infographic should make the basics of quantum entanglement slightly less turgid. Or, not.

(Karl Tate, via LiveScience)

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