atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#7018: Well, none of that is encouraging

The Chinese efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus are now being characterized as "desperate". It's Arse Technica saying that, of course, but apparently some a hundred million people are under quarantine now. Whole cities.

Saw this little joyful tract and was not encouraged by what I read.

Let's make a few conjectures here and see where they lead us. None of this has any evidence behind it; I am merely exploring possibilities.

1) 2019 novel coronavirus is a bioweapon. It was meant to be a bioweapon that ignored Chinese/asian people, but instead it has a preference for them. Experimental strain and somehow it got loose, and China is trying to contain it because they know it will kill 15% of their population otherwise, and which 15% is totally random. It's not so bad if you lose 15% of your proles, but you can't risk losing 15% of your college-educated workforce and you definitely can't risk losing 15% of your elites.

2) 2019 novel coronavirus is a bioattack precursor. Chinese government releases it into its own populace. It has the preference for Asians because it somehow provides immunity against a much worse biological agent to be released later that will infect and gravely sicken anyone who didn't get the coronavirus infection first. Maybe they're panicking because the fatality rate is higher than they anticipated. Maybe because they hadn't intended to release it yet. But the plague that this one confers immunity to, that one kills a hell of a lot more than 15% of infected people.

3) The numbers from the communist Chinese are accurate and they are using the outbreak as an excuse to clamp down on everyone. It's a violation of civil rights to place strict controls on the movement of people--but if there's a disease around, why, a strict quarantine is laudable!

But it doesn't have to be a bioweapon to be bad. "...[E]ating fruit bats is a perfectly reliable way to get dreadful new diseases."

We're probably not going to have any really good information about it until it's over.

Meanwhile, of course, the economic effects are starting to be felt. The natural gas market is in flux, copper futures are falling because so many factories in China are sitting idle, parts for cars, airplanes, computers...all kinds of stuff that's made in China that goes into making other stuff is not being made, and it's forcing other factories to shut down for lack of parts.

* * *

It's really not looking good for Starliner, either.
Although an independent review team remains in the midst of an investigation that will not conclude until the end of February, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he convened [a teleconference with reporters] in the "interest of transparency."

The call followed an explosive revelation on Thursday, at a meeting of NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, that the Starliner spacecraft encountered a second major software issue that could have resulted in a total loss of the vehicle. At the outset of the media call, Bridenstine acknowledged that Starliner's flight had "a lot of anomalies." The agency published a summary here. At this point, it seems that NASA and Boeing do not yet know what they don't know about the problems, and it will take some time to sort all of this out.
Practical upshot of all this being that Boeing is not going to be flying men in Starliner for the foreseeable future because they have a lot of problems to sort out.

And further?
NASA's chief of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, indicated this may be a lengthy process, as he's not sure whether there were two coding errors in Boeing's software or many hundreds.

... Notably, he said, NASA is doing this not only because of software problems related to Starliner, but also because of "press reports we've seen from other parts of Boeing," presumably a reference to the company's myriad problems with the 737 MAX aircraft.
Because it's worrisome when the company supplying spacecraft has suddenly begun to turn out shitty vehicles.

* * *

Meanwhile, SpaceX is pursuing Big Damn Cheap Rockets. Starship is currently planned to make a circumlunar flight in 2023.

...which will probably be about the time Starliner flies again. No, that's a cheap shot. That'll be when it finally flies with people aboard. Ooh, no, also cheap.

Oh well.

* * *

Moria Greyland does not think Pete Butt-edge-edge has a prayer of winning the election. I agree.

* * *

How do planes fly? I never bought the "pushing air down" explanation for one important reason: the Wright brothers had to experiment to find a good shape for the airfoil they used.

At the time they were trying to build their box-kite planes, they were using established designs for airfoils, only to find that they were inefficient. They worked...sorta, but not good enough. So they built themselves a wind tunnel, and then experimented with airfoil shapes until they figured out what worked and what didn't--and with that knowledge they were able to build aircraft that flew.

If all a wing did was to divert air downward, and that was why planes flew, then the cross-section of the airfoil would be irrelevant. A suitably stiff piece of cardboard would be enough. Yet no less a luminary than Bert Rutan subscribed wholly to that theory...and he designed some of the most efficient aircraft in history.

The actual explanation probably is somewhere between. The lift of a given wing is highly dependent on its angle of attack. You need an airfoil shape because that allows the least amount of drag for a given angle of attack. But that airfoil shape allows you to get lift out of moving air even at a zero angle of attack. And even if you have a plain piece of cardboard, you still get lift from the Bernoulli effect as well as the deflected air.

* * *

NASA found a planet orbiting a binary star. So there we are: it's possible.

* * *

Been binge-reading Good Ending, obsessively. The artist draws magnificent eyes.

The story is an emotional rollercoaster, though. This artist puts the characters through hell, making up, breaking up, all so noble and selfless of course. "I just want [person] to be happy!" But the art keeps me coming back.

* * *

The Touji beach live cam is back! It was only down for a day or so. Woohoo!

I guess it is indeed the little things, isn't it?
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