September 17th, 2014

#4382: I don't know what I'm doing out of bed

It's a day off, I don't need to get up, and so of course I naturally woke up at 6 AM feeling well-rested, which I otherwise NEVER DO. Even the "waking up feeling well-rested" part NEVER FREAKIN' HAPPENS.

What will happen--if I try to do anything constructive--is that I will start to feel exhausted and fade right the hell out. I have been here before about half a million times; I know that this feeling of being well-rested is an illusion.

Argh etc.

* * *

There is so much money in pharmaceuticals, this kind of thing is to be expected. It's not surprising that companies are faking data. A successful drug is worth tens (or hundreds) of billions, and the patent expires after twenty years.

Speaking of which--

When I lived in Cedar Rapids my doctor tried to mitigate my annual sinusitis by having me take Nasacort. Nasacort is an antihistamine that is delivered nasally; you take one puff up the schnoz every day. A dose was a whisper of a very fine powder delivered on a puff of Freon, and it worked fairly well for me. Problem was, it was expensive, something like $90 or so per month.

The other day I saw name-brand Nasacort as an over-the-counter drug, and it was under $20 for a two-month supply.

I need a time machine, and I need it fifteen years ago.

#4383: I have to wonder how cold the room would get, though.

The other day, during some downtime at work, I had a thought about a balloon full of helium suddenly turning into lead, and how big the piece of lead would be.

So I looked up the densities of helium and lead and worked it out.

Now, if you assume that the components of the helium atoms just suddenly rearrange themselves so that they're lead atoms, and further that the energy budget is irrelevant, then a cubic meter of helium will turn into a sphere of lead about three centimeters across. This lump of lead weighs 116.4 grams, the same as the cubic meter of helium (at one atmosphere, 20° C).

Of course that's not the whole story, because that assumes a magical process where the protons, neutrons, and electrons just magically rearrange themselves. What happens if we pay attention to the energy now?

Fusion of atoms releases energy until you get to iron. From hydrogen to manganese, fusion is a net producer of energy; once the atoms have fused and things have settled down, you have a heavier element and some excess energy. So to get from helium to manganese you've released quite a bit of energy, making the immediate environment quite toasty, and of course you don't have 116.4 grams of manganese because some of that mass got turned into energy.

But from iron onward, fusion requires an input of energy, and we have quite a way to go to get to lead (element 82) from iron (element 26). If we assume we can use the energy we had previously emitted to help out with the fusion reactions, even then we still don't end up with 116.4 grams of lead because now we're using up mass to power the fusion reactions. If you don't, you're sucking energy from the surrounding environment, and in that case I imagine the room would get chilly. I just wonder how chilly it would get.

I was satisfied with the 3 cm ball of lead answer, though. The rest of it was just fiddling. Of course, it's all about the binding energy; iron fusion (for example) is a net consumer of energy because the larger the atom's nucleus gets, the more binding energy (strong force) is required to hold the thing together, and the energy that's released from fusing the nuclei is insufficient to provide all the binding energy required for the new nucleus. Further, when a uranium atom fissions, the energy that comes out is largely that binding energy being released via one mechanism or another.

...which is why fission is "downhill", by the way. An unstable nucleus is trying to find a more stable state--a state with lower potential energy--and that's like a rock rolling down a hill. (Almost literally, as it turns out.)

And so my idle curiosity about how big a certain volume of helium would be if converted to lead somehow taught me a little bit about how and why fusion and fission behave the way they do. Whee!

(Afterthought: fission doesn't have the same sort of limit that fusion does. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen--one proton, two neutrons--that has a half-life of about seven years. It's much easier for the rock to spontaneously roll downhill.)

#4384: Well, at least they were fast about it.

Castalia passed on #RELEASE_CANDIDATE_ONE. *sigh*

Next I'll whip it into shape for Baen and send it to them. That will mean a 9-12 month wait while it flops around their slush pile.

It's a little depressing. Yesterday I dared to let myself think a few happy thoughts about the submission, because no one who has read it has had anything bad to say about it.

Castalia didn't say anything other than "we'll pass" and "feel free to submit again", but their submissions page mentions that they don't offer advice or reasons, and they also promise to have an answer to the prospective author as quickly as possible. And to be honest a rejection is a rejection, whether or not the editor explains why he rejected the story. It still stings, regardless.

The rejection letter for "The Fallers" explained their decision to me, and in some ways was worse than the terse rejection from Castalia, because it sounded like they almost decided to publish it...where Castalia just said "No thanks, maybe next time."

Still, *sigh*. Well, nothing worthwhile is accomplished easily.

#4385: STAY HOME, MITT

I saw musings about this over at AoSHQ a few days ago, but other than an eyeroll it didn't prompt much of a reaction from me.

The idea that Mitt Romney might try a third time to be President just makes me want to retch. Okay, he tried in 2008 and again in 2012, and he failed both times. The first time he lost the nomination; the second he lost the election. It is time to let someone else have a go, Mitt.

Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he is not actually electable--no matter how much the GOP elite loves him--and because the GOP wasn't paying attention the first time Romney had a chance to demonstrate it twice.

If the GOP is actually interested in, y'know, winning the next election, it ought to front someone who hasn't already failed of election twice, sequentially, in as many Presidental contests. The GOP therefore also should not front John McCain, which is another name I've seen bandied about, because John McCain is just as bad as Romney on most issues and the "electability" spectrum.

The last thing the GOP leadership wants is for a conservative to win nomination, because if he does he'll win and that will show that the GOP can win by (horror of horrors!) actually listening to its base and fronting conservatives. I mean, what does the base know? They think it would be smart to reduce government spending and taxation, and to let the banks fail if they go bankrupt, and to prosecute the Wall street bigwigs if they break the law--but if we did that, where would the big election campaign donations come from? Huh? Answer that one, smart guy!

If Romney runs again, I expect him to win the nomination, which will again put me in the position of voting Libertarian rather than vote for "Obama Lite"...and I will not be alone, and Romney will fail of election a third time. (I'd like to say that after a third loss it ought to be obvious even to the GOP that Romney is simply not electable, but I don't think the GOP is that bright.)

If Romney were to win, his presidency would be four to eight years of exactly what we're getting right now, except that the press would be adversarial and not cover for all the stupid crap. It'd be more economic depression, more malaise, more undeclared demi-war in the middle east, more government, more taxation, more spending, more unemployment, more national debt, more inflation. Nothing would change except the occupant of the White House.

Well, we've got two years. Hopefully there is someone out there right now who is getting ready to run for President who will knock everyone's socks off and blow Mitt Romney's doors off, so he'll get the f-ing hint and retire, and we can finally be rid of his dumb ass.