atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#1479: Maria Conchita Alonso on Sean Penn.

She's not got nice things to say about Sean Penn's politics. A woman who was raised in Venezuela has, I would think, a better appreciation for Hugo Chavez's politics than the son of a Hollywood communist.

* * *

Hearken ye:
[Boss Tweek's] stimulus package is little more than a down payment on a socialist economy. It raises taxes on the successful, brings back the welfare state, hands out favors and cash to friends of one political party, while imposing government control over the entire free market in ways that just a year ago would have seemed unimaginable.
You can't get away from that nasty "S" word, Boss!

* * *

It surprises me that the Democrats allowed a school voucher program in Washington, D.C. in the first place.

But this is how it is: Democrats won't give you the choice to send your kids to the schools Democrats send their kids to. They'll make you send your kids--and your tax dollars--to a school they would never send their kids to.

The liberal double-standard, as always.

The article quotes Boss Tweek:
"The biggest source of resistance [to reform]," he said, "was rarely talked about . . . namely, the uncomfortable fact that every one of our churches was filled with teachers, principals, and district superintendents. Few of these educators sent their own children to public schools; they knew too much for that. But they would defend the status quo with the same skill and vigor as their white counterparts of two decades before."
But it's already obvious that Boss Tweek is too beholden to the teachers' unions to do anything about the sorry state of public education in the United States.

* * *

"Genius in action" department: apparently Boss Tweek is talking with Russia about discontinuing the ballistic missile defense system we've got, in order to get the Russians on our side to do something about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

...the same Iran which recently put a satellite in orbit, thus demonstrating its ability to put a warhead anywhere on the planet in a couple of hours. To the non-brain-dead among us, Iran with ICBMs and A-bombs is a big flashing warning sign that says "KEEP YOUR BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM!" But to Boss Tweek, ehh, it's just another bargaining chip.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't Russia been helping Iran with its nuclear program? Or am I confused?

* * *

And now for a heavy physics rant.

One of the biggest problems with having a spaceship zooming around the cosmos is one of heat dissipation.

Let's take, as a first example, the starship Enterprise.

When we see a mighty space battle in Star Trek--any of its incarnations--the assailants always target "vital spots" such as engines, shield generators, weapons hardpoints, and so on.

They never, in my experience, target radiators.

If you want to render a ship utterly helpless, all you need to do is ruin its ability to shed heat. By virtue of the laws of thermodynamics the radiators will be visible and easily targeted; you can't shield them or mask them and have them work efficiently. So during a big space battle the Enterprise would have several white-hot points on its hull which--if destroyed--would result in the ship overheating badly enough either to cook the crew in their seats or to force the ship to stand down before that happens. Either way, you win.

But the Enterprise doesn't obey the laws of thermodynamics. If the Star Trek universe cared about that, the entire freaking "transporter" concept would be nonexistent because it's completely impossible.

The laws of thermodynamics can be summed up succinctly thus:
1) You can't win.
2) You can't break even.
3) You can't get out of the game.
These rules reduce the equations into relatively simple concepts that even the least mathematical among us can grasp.

1) You can't win: it is impossible to build a device which--absent any input--makes more energy than it consumes. We have devices which generate power but they require fuel of one sort or another, and ultimately that fuel is the actual energy source; the machine just converts it into a more useful form of energy.

2) You can't break even: in the process of converting fuel into useful energy it is inevitable that some of the energy will be wasted. It cannot be otherwise. If you have a fuel which produces 100 kW of heat, your machine will not produce 100 kW of useful energy. (In the case of, say, a typical automobile engine, 70% efficiency is the absolute upper limit. In practical terms, though, 50% is probably the maximum efficiency you'll ever see from an internal combustion engine.)

3) You can't get out of the game: there is no way around the first two rules. Ever.

* * *

But, I thought, wait a minute. In my SF universe I have alternate spaces which are used for faster-than-light travel and information exchange, and the properties of these other spaces rather nicely allow them to be enormous heat sinks.

And it's already in the canon that it's no problem to make and maintain a wormhole into these alternate spaces.

This, I realized, is a solution to the radiator problem: I can make big fancy starships with no external radiators. The physical plant is called the ship's heat sink for obvious reasons. It consists of a generated wormhole with some kind of device which dumps the ship's waste heat into that alternate space.

It raises as many problsm as it solves, though. The alternate spaces must be thermodynamically connected with normal space--how?

I recall reading some half-assed treatise on the notion that waste heat is "quantum chaos" and that one could use a laser to dump the quantum chaos overboard--but that sounds like double-speak to me, which is probably why I don't remember it very well: it didn't make a lick of sense.

No, I realized, the obvious choice is for the "heat sink" to be a big tub of slurried helium which outgasses through the wormhole--and if you're doing that, why the hell do you need the wormhole? Just put a pipe through the hull and be done with it--the helium fog around the ship in battle will help attenuate energy attacks to boot.

So I'm still noodling through the problem. Since hyperspace (in my universe) is a "timelike" space I can't just hang a radiator through the wormhole--objects in a timelike space have an imaginary rest mass and cannot be stationary, ever--it wouldn't work. I'm hoping that things will gel, eventually.

In the meantime, though, I can do what any self-respecting writer does: make a noncommittal remark and change the subject.
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