atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1909: Actually, first Mars needs an ATMOSPHERE.

"What would it take to green the red planet? For starters, a massive amount of global warming," goes the lede for this National Geographic article.

Um, no. No, because Mars' atmosphere is actually just a really lousy vacuum; in order to make Mars habitable the first thing that needs to happen is for Mars to get an atmosphere.

The article suggests that "Factories spewing potent greenhouse gases...could start the thaw."


I think the people who wrote this nonsense don't know the first thing about Mars or the science fiction of terraforming.

In the first place, in order for "factories" to "spew potent greenhouse gases" there has to be a way to build the factories on Mars, and there has to be something for them to turn into "potent greenhouse gases" in the first place. It's true there are ideas about building robotic machines, powered by fission reactors, which process martian soil to release oxygen and other gases; but it's only half the story.

Mars doesn't have an atmosphere because of its low planetary mass--about 1/3 that of Earth--and if you don't produce a hell of a lot of atmosphere right off the bat, puny human-scale measures aren't going to cut it: you'll lose atmosphere, as quickly as you create it, the same way Mars has lost atmosphere all along...which is why Mars' atmosphere is a low-grade vacuum.

Drop a comet on it. Drop several.

No you don't just aim a comet at Mars and let it hit, because that'll throw up so much dust you can forget about "global warming" for several thousand years. You capture those comets and drop them "gently" onto Mars: bring it into an orbit which almost perfectly matches that of Mars around the sun, and let it just sort of "bump" Mars such that the comet hits with a relatively low closing velocity--under 1,000 MPH.

You'll have an atmosphere in no time. Certainly it won't take hundreds of years. You'll still need to seed the planet with bacteria and lichen and algae--and at first they'll have to be able to deal with cyanogen and other toxic chemicals--but you'll get your atmosphere.

...if you have the wherewithal to think about terraforming Mars, moving a comet shouldn't be too hard to manage. We're not going to do it with Ares rockets and NASA, let me tell you.

This is the most heinous part, though:
Only research outposts seem plausible to McKay. “We’re going to live on Mars the way we live in Antarctica,” he says. “There are no elementary schools in Antarctica.” But he thinks the lessons learned in terraforming Mars—a horrifying prospect to some—would help us manage our limited Earth better.
Then what the fuck is the point of terraforming Mars? If we're not going to live there--if it's just going to be a research station--why bother to terraform it in the first place? Just study the planet as it is.

No--the only reason to terraform any planet is so we can colonize and exploit that mofo. Nothing else makes sense.

Gadzooks, what idiots.

* * *

Memo to MC Sleepy: there ain't no such thing as a "really good one-term President".

But it's all BS, anyway. The weasel-in-chief is going to do his damnedest to be re-elected in 2012 unless he so royally stuffs the job that no one could possibly win the election. (And he's off to a flying start, really.)

* * *

President Gaffe-o-Matic also admits that the lack of transparency is a "mistake".

Well, sure it is, when you make all sorts of campaign promises that your administration is going to be so transparent it'll have a refractive index of zero.

(Hint for non-physicists: a refractive index of zero is only possible in a total vacuum.)

(My, what an apt metaphor for this administration.)

* * *

Boss Tweek's "deficit control" is BS, too. Dennis points out that Obama's attempt at controlling "deficits" takes aim squarely at a mere 17% of the total federal budget, and might save as much as $250 billion. In 2011.

Oh yeah, that'll save our bacon. Instead of a $1,350 billion (projected) deficit this year, we'll only have a $1,350 (projected) deficit. See? Democrats can be fiscally responsible!

And next year, when the deficit is projected to "only" be $1,100 billion, instead the deficit will be only $850 billion! We're saving money!


And notice the wording: "$250 billion would be saved over the baseline." Do you know what the "baseline" is in Washington, D.C.?

Last year's budget plus 10%.

So in fact many of the "cuts" will actually be "reductions in the rate of growth". Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, "business as usual" in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Malkin puts a finer point on the issue. It's term-limited to three years and it looks like it could only save $250 billion over ten years--meaning that in fact it would actually only save $75 billion at most.

The weasel-in-chief is using weasel words and weasel numbers. Why am I surprised by this?

...I'm not.

* * *

"Where's your Marxist Hungarian billionaire?" Dang, I think I left it in my other pants....

* * *

There are too many links in this Anchoress post. I'll look at it later.

* * *

Please believe me when I say there are indeed too many varieties of Corvette.

I like the sales figures: apparently GM sold a whopping 13,934 Corvettes last year.

In 1988, with no advertising whatsoever, Pontiac sold 26,402 Fieros. This was after selling a total of about 344,000 in the prior model years. GM had to cut the Fiero because it "wasn't selling".

Well, guys, by that standard, I guess the Corvette's days are numbered....

(Yeah, as if.)

...I could go on a big rant here about how the Fiero got a raw deal, but I don't really need to, do I?

* * *

Tonight Boss Tweek is going to deliver his STFU SOTU speech, the first one of his increasingly idiotic administration. I'm not going to watch it; I don't watch them.

This one will be worse than the usual: the Democrats are going to stand up and clap every time the man blinks, and the press is going to excoriate the Republicans for not getting up and applauding every time the man blinks.

The speech will be full of lies, half-truths, and twisted statements. It'll be 100% self-serving BS. (Possibly 150%.)

It will be, in fact, the "State of the Obama" speech.

I'll tune in to Limbaugh tomorrow, though, to hear him snark about it. That's always entertaining.

* * *

Best Buy sent an e-mail telling me my DVD recorder has been shipped. Well Shazam, it only took them 36 hours to process my order. I don't know if that's good or bad--I placed the order late Sunday night--but WTF, as long as the thing gets here intact I suppose I don't really care. I've waited more than a year for a new DVD recorder; what's a few days?

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