Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Heroic entrepeneurship after the Restoration

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

According to the Whig/Marxist version of history, the roots of the Industrial revolution were in the Glorious Revolution, which represented the rights of man and the rising political power of businessmen.

There are several problems with this story. One is that the rise of China decisively proves that the rights of corporations matter a whole lot more for economic development than the rights of man, and if you are looking for the origin of the rights of corporations, you are looking at the Restoration. (more…)

tasmanian aboriginal skull

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Tasmanian aboriginal skull

At least that is what the article says, though maybe they photographed a Neanderthal skull in error.

On the other hand, Erectus walks among us gives an example of an almost equally primitive looking aboriginal skull, and suggests that our most recent common ancestor with the Australian aboriginals is not very recent.

Human skull

The difference seems to be at least as great, as the difference between a human skull and a Neanderthal skull, and the cranial capacity of the Neanderthal skull considerably greater.  Observe the sloping brow and the ridges surrounding the eye sockets, very similar to what makes a Neanderthal skull Neanderthal. Indeed, I wonder if this is a Neanderthal skull somehow mislabeled.

If, as seems likely, Neanderthals had very limited interfertility with humans, we would, on the face of it, suspect that Tasmanians would have very limited interfertility than humans, assuming the skull to be correct, and, from cranial capacity, a substantially lower technological capacity than Neanderthals.  In fact, however, Tasmanian technology was better than Neanderthal.  Tasmanian art was about the same as Neanderthal art.

Race and species

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

One of the many politically incorrect aspects of Darwinism is that races are the origin of species.  There is no objective way of distinguishing a large race difference from a small species difference, any more than one can distinguish a large hill from a small mountain.

To say that two closely related kinds are two races of the same species, or two distinct species is a fact about scientific terminology, not a fact about the external world.  As Lamarck argued, we draw sharp lines on a world that lacks sharp lines.  For any two kinds, an intermediate kind likely exists, or once existed.

Everyone agrees that if two kinds are not interfertile, that they will not have sex, or cannot have sex, or if they have sex but no offspring ensues, then that is truly two species, not two races of the same species.  But if we said that two kinds that can and will interbreed, given the opportunity, must belong to the same species, then we would be in a world with very few species.  We would not only say that dogs and wolves are the same species, which most people would think pretty reasonable, but that wolves and coyotes are the same species, which is a bit of a stretch, and that lions and tigers are the same species, which is just silly.

Such a standard is also unworkable, because there is very commonly a kind in the middle, such that kind A is interfertile with kind B, and kind B interfertile with kind C, but kind A is not interfertile with kind C, in which case we would like to call all three kinds different species, since we obviously have to call A and C different species.

That blacks are the same species as whites is not a fact about human kinds, but rather the fact that Darwin declined to draw an arbitrary line through the Sahara, not a fact about human kinds but a fact about scientific nomenclature.

We will first consider the arguments which may be advanced in favour of classing the races of man as distinct species, and then and then the arguments on the other side.

The inferior vitality of mulattoes is spokenof in a trustworthy work as a well-known phenomenon; and this, although a differentconsideration from their lessened fertility, may perhaps be advanced as a proof of thespecific distinctness of the parent races.

Now if we reflect on the weighty argumentsabove given, for raising the races of man to the dignity of species, and the insuperabledifficulties on the other side in defining them, it seems that the term “sub-species”might here be used with propriety. But from long habit the term “race” will perhapsalways be employed.

Through the means just specified, aidedperhaps by others as yet undiscovered, man has been raised to his present state. Butsince he attained to the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct races, or as theymay be more fitly called, sub-species. Some of these, such as the Negro and European, areso distinct that, if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any furtherinformation, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as good and true species

Our naturalist would then perhaps turn t geographical distribution, and he would probabldeclare that those forms must be distinc species, which differ not only in appearance, butare fitted for hot, as well as damp or dry countries, and for the Artic regions. He mightappeal to the fact that no species in the group next to man–namely, the Quadrumana, can resist low temperature, or any considerable change of climate; and that the species which come nearestto man have never been reared to maturity, even under the temperate climate of Europe. He wouldbe deeply impressed with the fact, first noticed by Agassiz (7. ‘Diversity of Origin of the HumanRaces,’ in the ‘Christian Examiner,’ July 1850.), that the different races of man are distributed over the world in the same zoological provinces, as those inhabited by undoubtedly distinctspecies and genera of mammals. This is manifestly the case with the Australian, Mongolian, andNegro races of man; in a less well-marked manner with the Hottentots; but plainly with the Papuansand Malays, who are separated, as Mr. Wallace has shewn, by nearly the same line which divides thegreat Malayan and Australian zoological provinces. The Aborigines of America rangethroughout the Continent; and this at first appears opposed to the above rule, for most ofthe productions of the Southern and Northern halves differ widely: yet some few living forms,as the opossum, range from the one into the other, as did formerly some of the giganticEdentata. The Esquimaux, like other Arctic animals, extend round the whole polar regions. Itshould be observed that the amount of difference between the mammals of the several zoologicalprovinces does not correspond with the degree of separation between the latter; so that it canhardly be considered as an anomaly that the Negro differs more, and the American much less from theother races of man, than do the mammals of the African and American continents from the mammalsof the other provinces. Man, it may be added, does not appear to have aboriginally inhabitedany oceanic island; and in this respect, he resembles the other members of his class.

In determining whether the supposed varieties ofthe same kind of domestic animal should be ranked as such, or as specifically distinct, that is,whether any of them are descended from distinct wild species, every naturalist would lay muchstress on the fact of their external parasites being specifically distinct. All the more stresswould be laid on this fact, as it would be an exceptional one; for I am informed by Mr. Dennythat the most different kinds of dogs, fowls, and pigeons, in England, are infested by the same species of Pediculi or lice. Now Mr. A. Murray has carefully examined the Pediculi collected indifferent countries from the different races of man (8. ‘Transactions of the Royal Society ofEdinburgh,’ vol. xxii, 1861, p. 567.); and he finds that they differ, not only in colour, butin the structure of their claws and limbs. In every case in which many specimens were obtained the differences were constant. The surgeon of a whaling ship in the Pacific assured me that whenthe Pediculi, with which some Sandwich Islanders on board swarmed, strayed on to the bodies of theEnglish sailors, they died in the course of three or four days. These Pediculi were darkercoloured, and appeared different from those proper to the natives of Chiloe in South America,of which he gave me specimens. These, again, appeared larger and much softer than Europeanlice. Mr. Murray procured four kinds from Africa, namely, from the Negroes of the Eastern andWestern coasts, from the Hottentots and Kaffirs; two kinds from the natives of Australia; two from North and two from South America. In these latter cases it may be presumed that the Pediculi camefrom natives inhabiting different districts. With insects slight structural differences, ifconstant, are generally esteemed of specific value: and the fact of the races of man beinginfested by parasites, which appear to be specifically distinct, might fairly be urged asan argument that the races themselves ought to be classed as distinct species.

All spotted owls are obviously the same race and same species.  Californian spotted owls are no more a species than Californian blondes are a species.

Spotted owls differ from barred owls no more that whites differ from east Asians and, as with whites and east Asians, are connected by a cline.  The environmentalists want to exterminate the cline, to make spotted owls and barred owls conform to a plausible species definition.

Similarly coyotes and wolves.  The American government  exterminated the cline for political reasons.  Coyotes are pigmy wolves, and can freely interbreed with large wolves, and are fully interfertile.

Whites and East asians are fully interfertile.

Whites and blacks are interfertile, but *not* fully interfertile.

Whites and Australian mainland aboriginals are interfertile.  We don’t know if they are fully interfertile, because by the time Australia was settled, it had already become politically incorrect to study such matters.

Whites and Tasmanian aboriginals were not interfertile.  Tasmania was initially colonized by white males, and initially had zero single white women.  Very large numbers of Tasmanian aboriginal women were purchased or captured by lonely white males.   A fertile age Tasmanian woman cost about the same as a good dog. Not one mixed race child ensued.  Sex with white people was a substantial part of the reason that Tasmanian aboriginals became extinct.

[Correction some mixed race children did ensue. James Bonwick was there, and wrote a book about it “The lost Tasmanian race.” He tells us it was rare for half caste children to be born “even under the most favorable circumstances”, indicating dramatically reduced, but non zero, fertility]

All existing people who claim Tasmanian aboriginal ancestry and can plausibly trace it to someone who looks plausibly nonwhite (a very small subset of those who claim Tasmanian aboriginal ancestry), trace it back to one woman who is obviously (from her photograph and the date at which she had children) a mainland aboriginal who came over with the white colonists after the Tasmanian aboriginals became extinct.  If Truganini was the last Tasmanian aboriginal, and she was certainly the last person who looked Tasmanian, the Tasmanian aboriginals became extinct without the birth of a single mixed race child, despite massive fornication.

That Tasmanian aboriginals were the same species as ourselves is not a fact about scientific nomenclature, but a lie.  And, if they cannot be classed as the same species, then if we apply to humans the same standards as we apply to other groups of kinds, we also have to categorize kinds that are comparably different as different species.

 

The really smart people

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

That nurses became sick “shows there was a clear breach of safety protocol” – but they are able to draw this conclusion without knowing what the breach was.

Ebola demon

The underlying reasoning is clear:

Quarantine is racist.

Therefore ebola is not very infectious.

Therefore business as usual.

Oops. Two nurses are infected with ebola.

Obviously the nurses’ fault. They must be racist. This is a tragedy because it makes people think forbidden thoughts about Africans.

leftism as cancer

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

“Leftism as Cancer” stopped being accessible through google in the course of a blog backup and restore, so reposting it.

Leftism is to memes as cancer is genes.

If the cells of the body mutate, cells that multiply at the expense of the body will be selected.  And cells that mutate to a faster mutation rate will be selected, since they will have more fast multiplying variants.

In a healthy body, each cell lives for the body, and performs its role in the whole body, making the body one. In cancer, each cancer cell lives for itself, at the expense of the body, parasitically, until the parasites devour the host

Left wing memes are selected by propagation through state power for propagation through state power.

In a healthy state the state is one, but there is large civil society, which is many. Following Marx”s definition, by capitalism and civil society we mean the “society of industry, of general competition, of freely pursued private interest, of anarchy, of natural and spiritual individuality alienated from self.”

The civil society, which is many, produces the wealth, the science, and the technology. The state, which is one, defends civil society from enemies internal and external.  For the reasons explained by Hayek and Mises, and colorfully dramatized by Ayn Rand, a unitary entity just cannot coordinate production very well.  It runs into analogous problems with technology and science.

For civil society to function, to create wealth, knowledge, and technology, it must be free, a hundred flowers. For the state to function, it must be one flower. Elements of the state apparatus cannot be permitted to use state power to pursue their own goals. Elements of the state apparatus must be profoundly unfree in their role of elements of the state, in their exercise of the powers of the state, so that the state can be one.

In anarcho tyranny each groupuscule of the state uses state power and state resources to pursue its own particular good, thus the state spends money it does not have, and taxes and regulates beyond the laffer limit, suffering the tragedy of the commons.  That is the anarchy.  Because the state regulates beyond the laffer limit, we also get tyranny.  Civil society, instead of having a hundred voices, has one voice, the voice of the state

That is the tyranny, a hundred supposedly independent voices of civil society speaking the same words.

Thus instead of the state being one, and civil society many, civil society is the voice of the state, one microphone heard through a thousand megaphones, while the state is many, and state resources suffer the tragedy of the commons, and the state is unable to pass a budget.

Elements of the state apparatus are free in their exercise of state power, thus everyday life of respectable people is subject to capricious tyranny, while criminals run free.

The left singularity is analogous to aneuploidy in a cancer.  Cancers get selected for a high mutation rate, and left wing memes get selected for a high mutation rate.

This results in rising time preference, as depicted by Konkistador, and affinity for r-selected behaviors, as depicted by Anonymous Conservative.

Thus left wing movements start out each quite different from each other, and converge more and more to the left archetype, under the selective pressure for the niche of state mediated propagation of memes, just as all severely aneuploid malignant metastatic cancers look pretty much alike, by convergent evolution, and not much like their various tissues of origin.

If you are going to have a state, you are going to have a state religion or state ideology.  The only way to avoid this is anarcho capitalism.

If you are going to have a state, you are going to have state official truth.  If you are going to have state official truth, you need to stop it from endlessly mutating to ever greater virulence.

To prevent the official belief system from suffering memetic selection, the only solution is to have bishops, rather than open entry to the role of “opinion leader”.  The Bishops need to maintain a monopoly on the state propagation of official truth, and any elements of the state that start free lancing need to be, at a minimum, excluded from the state, which is to say, at a minimum fired, and, in serious cases, convicted of apostasy from the official belief system, and imprisoned, sold into slavery, or executed.   If your official belief system will not sell William Wilberforce into slavery for apostasy from the thirty nine articles, his beliefs will win and the official beliefs will lose.  His beliefs may well be better than the previous official beliefs, but every man jack will proceed with further improvements, resulting in memetic selection for virulence and a high mutation rate.

You have to kill or enslave William Wilberforce.  If he is visibly holy, ironically check the body after three days.  If he did not rise, not holy enough.

Non state apostates are harmless, since their belief systems are not selected for propagation by power.  The problem is state and quasi state apostasy. Apostasy, in the sense of the sort of apostasy that the state should worry about and suppress,  is mutation in the state meme system, mutations in the memes propagated by power.

Late stage leftism is the memetic equivalent of aneuploid maligant metastatic cancer.  In cancer, the genes are selected for virulence within somatic growth, in leftism, the memes are selected for virulence within the state propagation of official memes.

Alien memes need to be excluded from participating in state power, thus the list (antibodies) of forbidden thoughts (antigens) needs to be updated frequently, while the list of required thoughts should be kept short, unchanging, and immune from empirical falsification by the facts of this world, to minimize memetic selection for propagation by power.  This suggests an Archbishop to ensure that official memes do not mutate, to propagate the official and unchanging list of official memes, the archbishop having final responsibility for the propagation of the official list of unchanging official memes, and a Grand Inquisitor, to detect entryists and the undercover use of state power to propagate unofficial memes, or to furtively mutate official memes.  The Grand Inquisitor should deal with endless change by ever changing conspiracies like that revealed by the Climategate Files, the Archbishop with unchanging official truth.

People who are in the position to deploy state power to propagate their beliefs need to be severely unfree in what beliefs they may espouse, just as police are not free to make up their own laws.  To constrain such people, to constrain the state apparatus, we need the traditional thought control apparatus of Bishops and Inquisition, just as the courts are supposed to constrain the police.

If, however, that apparatus were to be applied to civil society, science, technology, and capitalism would be destroyed.  The only penalty applied to people thinking unapproved thoughts should be exclusion from state employment and high status universities, exclusion from teaching jobs in the government education system, and the resulting lower status.  We need to avoid penalties for thoughtcrime from pervading the civil society through regulation the way they do now, because that adversely affects the creation of wealth and knowledge.  The state should be one being, and should therefore hold one set of official beliefs.  Civil society should be many beings, so that the truth will out.  To avoid potential conflicts between state and civil society, official truths should be either demonstrably true, or difficult to falsify.

It follows that the state cannot directly sponsor science, cannot be the sort of entity capable of directly sponsoring science.  What the state can do to sponsor science is pay for impressive technological feats, and those who are successful in providing impressive technologies will sponsor science.  Galilean  kinematics was developed to land cannon balls on targets out of sight behind city walls, and the telescope with which Galileo saw the phases of Venus and the moons of Saturn was developed to spy on enemy fleets at sea.  Should the state directly sponsor science (a most dangerous practice, for it is likely to wind up sponsoring apostatic religion dressed in the robes of science) it needs to forbid and severely criminalize peer review, and any form of science by consensus, especially consensus behind closed doors.   If the state finds itself funding “science” that discovers scientific truth through scientific consensus behind closed doors, it is funding apostatic religion.  Apply the same remedy to state funded or sponsored peer review as to William Wilberforce.  Ideas are more dangerous than guns.  We need a free market in ideas that are not backed by state power.  We dare not have competition between ideas backed by state power, and need to deal with such competition in the most drastic fashion, for the natural result of such competition is ever more extreme ideas propagated through an ever heavier hand of the state.

If you will not execute William Wilberforce, who swore to be faithful to the thirty nine articles while applying state power to overthrow them, you will lose to William Wilberforce.

Consensus is for bishops, not scientists.  Scientists should form their opinions on the basis of public and replicated evidence, not on the basis of discussions behind closed doors, discussions which will inevitably lead to wanted evidence being published, and unwanted evidence being suppressed or “corrected”.

Restating in slightly different words:

Cancer cells are selected for rapid multiplication.  They run into various limits that are supposed to stop body cells from multiplying out of control.  In escaping these limits, they become aneuploid, thus develop a very high mutation rate.

Those mutants most apt to multiply rapidly and to penetrate other tissues are selected, thus cancer progressively becomes more cancerous, eventually becoming aneuploid metastatic malignant cancer.

If one is going to have a state belief system, and this seems unavoidable if one is going to have a state, then one needs an archbishop to ensure that all elements of the state apparatus stay on message – that in the cancer analogy, all cells of the body display stable and unchanging self antigens, and a grand inquisitor to detect hostile entryist belief systems.

In the cancer analogy:  The Archbishop enforces mandatory unchanging self antigens, the Grand Inquisitor searches out and prohibits ever changing non self antigens.

Of course, if the Archbishop enforces self antigens on absolutely everyone, intrudes on the civil society, this is horribly oppressive, and as, as in Spain, wrecks the economy (Ayn Rand’s heroic entrepeneurs are the first to be repressed) but it is reasonable to enforce self antigens on everyone who matters in the state apparatus.  Thus, in restoration England, if one wanted to be a member of parliament, be a professor at the best universities, have senior government employment, etc, one had to subscribe to the thirty nine articles.

Once in a while, in restoration England, heretics got their houses burned down by hostile mobs while authority looked the other way, but as far as I can tell this was only when their heresy pursued state power, engaged in entryism.  You could be a Jew, a Puritan, or a Roman Catholic in Restoration England, and suffer no very great disadvantages other than lower status and exclusion from the state apparatus and the most prestigious universities.

No matter how badly the official belief system stinks, if it is subject to furtive mutation and selection for virulence, it will in time stink even worse.  To prevent this, the Archbishop should prohibit spontaneous memetic mutation, the Grand Inquisitor should detect hostile memes and eradicate them from the state apparatus.

Moravec’s paradox, RNA, and uploads.

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Moravec’s paradox is the hard problems are easy and the easy problems are hard. A computer can beat the world’s greatest chess player at chess, but it cannot beat a spider at getting around. If humans have been working on a problem for a thousand years, you can program a computer to do it. If evolution has been working on a problem for a hundred million years, not so easy.

It turns out that the vast majority of the functional human genome is information processing.  A small proportion of the human genome codes for proteins, but most of the important genes, most of what matters, does not code for proteins.  It is RNA world data processing, RNA genes, RNA generated primarily to process RNA.

Given  that twelve to sixty percent of the human genome is data processing, is software, is programming, that is a lot of information processing – seven hundred megabytes to four gigabytes of software. A lot of this software is instructions on how to build a human being – where and when to express the proteins of which a human is made.

If, however, you have a massive system for processing data, seems likely that the brain is going to use it.

Particular RNA genes are expressed in particular kinds of neurones, often a particular RNA gene being expressed in few hundred or a few thousand very specific neurones in the entire brain,  Protein expression is considerably less specific.

Most of the genetic complexity of the brain consists of very large numbers of very specific RNA genes being expressed in very specific neurons.  Protein enzymes for editing RNAs are most highly expressed in the brain, and a disproportionate number of RNA genes are expressed only in the brain, and only in very specific neurons in the brain.

The human brain does thirty five times as much RNA editing per unit mass as the mouse brain.  The smarter the animal, the more RNA data processing in neurons.  Smarter animals not only have bigger brains with more neurons, they have substantially more RNA software expressed and running in each neuron. This is the missing complexity.  Humans have about the same number of protein coding genes as a sponge or a flatworm.  They have substantially more RNA genes, a large proportion of which are expressed only in quite specific neurons in the brain.

This suggests that neurons process data at the RNA level – that a large part of the evolution towards intelligence occurred in RNA world creating smarter individual free living cells, before cells got smart enough to gang up for attack and defense, and likely before they developed protein synthesis.

If brain data is processed in complex ways in RNA, there is no way that this can be emulated in silicon.  Likely we have software that evolved over billions of years, which software is designed to run on RNA molecules in water solution and can only be efficiently run on RNA molecules in water solution.

So, if RNA world data processing, no possibility of emulating the human mind in silicon.  Silicon consciousness would have to be built from scratch, rather than by copying existing software, which looks to me like a very hard project..

The great silence

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

There seem to be no great obstacles to intelligent life devouring the galaxy.  So why are we here.

If life on earth arose on earth , and produced humans in a few billion years, why not on some other planet ten billion years ago?

Simplest and most likely explanation is that life is unlikely – requiring a stupendously improbable assemblage of molecules to form.

No one has constructed a plausible high probability origin of life.

Indeed, it looks to me that water based life just cannot form spontaneously. The minimum complexity of life in water is just far too high.  RNA based life just does not work without DNA and cell membranes, and you don’t get RNA and DNA spontaneously forming in water.

Here is what I think happened:

There is some environment, perhaps a mixture of liquid cyanide, liquid formamide, and polyphosphoric acid with star tar dissolved in it, in which life can form spontaneously.

Cold temperature origins seem most likely, since cold temperature life can easily spread from planet to planet, because cold temperature planets with liquids are smaller and lower gravity than warm planets with liquids.  Volcanic eruptions etc can easily spit rocks into space.

This low temperature, non water based, life evolved, over ten billion years or so, to adapt to environments increasingly alien to its origins, eventually becoming water based life living in hot deep rocks on asteroids.

From which it infected earth. To produce complex life, you need an oxygen environment so that cells will gang together for defense and attack.  For an oxygen environment, you need a water environment.  We are the first, because it just took that long.  And, in due course we, or some other earth species if we fail, will devour the galaxy.

 

Dysgenic fertility

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Chateau Heartiste, always a great source for the Dark Enlightenment, reports:

Convicted criminal offenders had more children than individuals never convicted of a criminal offense. Criminal offenders also had more reproductive partners, were less often married, more likely to get remarried if ever married, and had more often contracted a sexually transmitted disease than non-offenders. Importantly, the increased reproductive success of criminals was explained by a fertility increase from having children with several different partners. We conclude that criminality appears to be adaptive in a contemporary industrialized country, and that this association can be explained by antisocial behavior being part of an adaptive alternative reproductive strategy.

Moral: For civilization to continue, female sexual and reproductive activity has to be placed, legally and socially, under the control of fathers and husbands. In actual practice, we tend to treat fertile age women as children, as their bad behavior does not have the legal and social consequences it would have for adult, but whereas a badly behaved child will be hauled off to the responsible adult, and the responsible adult asked to keep him in line, the badly behaved female is not hauled off to her father or her husband.

Hormones and obesity

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

There is an epidemic of obesity, and no one knows what is causing it.

One item, however, is worthy of investigation. Females with early andrenarche, (early pubic hair) in addition to going boy crazy at a disturbingly early age, tend to become obese when they finally reach puberty and their figure finally catches up with their behavior and further enables their behavior.

And these days, pretty much all girls have what once would have been called early andrenarche. So, abnormal hormones first, abnormal fat later.

So, could be that whatever is causing the obesity epidemic, is the same thing as in causing declining masculinity in males and early sexual behavior in females.

Note that the absence of a father is risk factor for early andrenarche, suggesting that the problem might not be estrogen in the water supply, but metaphorical estrogen in the metaphorical water supply.

In the ancestral environment, early sexual behavior in fatherless females would have been a survival mechanism. In the absence of a father, and the absence of Uncle Sam the big pimp, need a sugar daddy. So, when the state makes fathers weak, that weakness tends to make their daughters into fat sluts.

If early andrenarche correlates with obesity, the interesting question, to which I don’t have the answer, is: Does late (by modern standards) andrenarche correlate to less obesity? Obviously it correlates to less promiscuity.

Andrenarche can be delayed by the drug spironolactone, (safe for girls, unsafe for boys) and parents alarmed by early sexual behavior sometimes treat their daughters to delay andrenarche – the humane and reversible alternative to clitoridectomy. Perhaps all girls should have andrenarche delayed to what used to be normal. Pubic hair is an indicator of sexual interest – you probably don’t want your daughters developing pubic hair earlier than their other secondary sexual characteristics.

Technological decline

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Konkvistador has drawn my attention to the Pu238 shortage. We stopped making Pu238 in 1988 You need Pu238 for nuclear batteries. The 2006 New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt was launched without enough Pu238 to keep all its equipment live during the Pluto flyby, and without enough Pu238 to do its Kuiper belt mission, from which I conclude that since 2011 we have been totally completely flat out of Pu238, just as the Fed is totally completely flat out of gold. For the last few decades, the government has been acting as if we are very very short of Pu238. For example, no allotment for pacemaker batteries, so people with pacemakers have to have major surgery every couple of years. The Europeans are using (dangerous and expensive) americium based nuclear batteries for their space program.

Supposedly we can simply make more Pu238, just as supposedly when the two towers fell, we could supposedly build buildings just as tall or taller, just as we can supposedly still build warplanes that can cruise at supersonic speeds, we just supposedly do not want to. Today’s businessmen are supposedly so secure in their masculinity that they do not want a higher corner office with a bigger view than the next businessman.

Maybe.

But I rather think if we could do that, we would not have run out in the first place. we would not have launched New Horizons with a half flat battery. We have been mighty short for at least a couple of decades, and since 2011 the cupboard has been just flat empty.