September 4th, 2017

#5836: Who the hell DOES that?

Neutronium as a structural material?

I must not be reading the right (wrong?) sort of SF, because that smells like horseshit to me.

So, you want to build a spaceship, and you need the super-strongest-gee-whiz-stuff ever, and you seize on neutronium as the perfect material because it's ultra dense and exotic!

...does the fact that it weighs millions of tons per spoonful not give you pause? If you were to compact Mount Everest down into neutronium it would fit in a shot glass, with room for a big slug of metallic hydrogen on top. (Most of the glass, in fact.)

Besides the problem of mass, neutronium isn't stable. The only reason there are neutron stars is that their immense gravity keeps them from evaporating, and you need a stellar mass for that. Our hypothetical shot glass with Mount Everest in it would explode the instant you let off whatever was keeping it together.

(I despair at quantifying the amount of energy required to keep a Mount Everest's worth of neutronium confined. Also to keep it from falling through the bottom of the glass, the bar, the floor, and the Earth's crust. It would probably require the output of a star.)

It would explode, and explode big. I'm talking "thermonuclear bomb". I once calculated that reducing Mount Everest to neutronium would result in a big blast, though not "world ending" big; the Himilayas would not be a good place to be vactioning when Mount Everest suddenly collapsed into neutronium and then exploded, and it would probably be inconvenient to be downwind of that event, but Earth would otherwise be largely intact.

The video cites the Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine", about an alien machine that destroys planets; it was supposed to be "made out of" neutronium. That's...impractical, but at least it would mass enough, as it's bigger than the planets it consumes and a typical neutron star is only about the size of the Earth. (How you make something that massive move, let alone fast enough to cross stellar distances quickly, is left as an exercise for the student.)

Even "neutronium plated" is a problem. When something masses a billion tons per cubic centimeter, even a thin film of the stuff--ignoring the problem of containement, here!--is impossibly heavy. Sure, nothing can get through it, making it the ultimate in armor plating, but how do you move?

Nah, bad idea. Neat ep of ST, but that's TV, not real SF.

* * *

Black stuntwoman killed trying to do a motorcycle stunt for a superhero movie. The stuntwoman needed to be black because reasons, I guess, but the trial runs showed that she couldn't do the stunt yet the producers insisted that she try to do it anyway.

It sounds as if the tragedy could have been averted had the producers not insisted on the stunt being done by a black woman.
From a technical perspective, the stunt was relatively straightforward. It called for a rider sitting astride a Ducati 939 Hyperstrada motorcycle to exit a building, descend a ramp over three small stairs and stop on a nearby landing. For a stunt professional, it would have been a cinch. But [the dead rider] had never even been on a film shoot before.
Instead of stopping on the landing, though, the bike continued down the stairs and across the street. It hit the curb, and the rider was thrown from the bike and through a plate glass window.

The rehearsals had not gone well, and in the first take this happened.

Of course the usual idiots are complaining that this happened because "there isn't enough diversity" in stunt performers. No, this happened because the producers wanted a specific sex and ethnicity to perform the stunt, when no stunt performer with that combination of characteristics was available--so instead of making do with what they had, instead they got an unqualified person to do the stunt.

I don't know about the rider's qualifications as a motorcycle racer, but those qualifications--while similar--are not the same as those for a stunt performer. Ditto for skills; it takes a different kind of riding technique to go very fast on a twisty racecourse than it does to ride down a set of stairs and stop on a specific point the same way every time you do it.

...why she ended up catapulted through a plate glass window is beyond me. Neither link describes what happened beyond the generic. One would think that a professional motorcycle racer would know how to stop a motorcycle short of running into something, but there are no good answers given for why she could not. And there must have been some speed involved, but the articles do not say how fast the bike had to exit the building and descend the stairs. Anyone could do it if the speed involved was a slow walk, but somehow I doubt that's the case here.

* * *

Today is the "official" end of summer, though in fact we have two more weeks of it at least before the autumnal equinox.

Yesterday we went shopping for paint, and got what we need for the family room, kitchen, hallways, and computer room. This coming week is going to be VERY VERY BUSY. Whee!