links for 2009-03-05

  • "I call it the Verne gun because frankly, a name like THE ATOMIC CANNON would just not go over well in certain circles. In any case, the principle is the same as Verne's original idea, but using modern technology: you set off a nuclear charge underground where the blast, heat, radiation and fallout can all be contained, and use Orion-type technology to direct its energy into orbiting a very big, very heavy spacecraft. This vessel would experience hundreds to thousands of g's of acceleration--you couldn't put humans in it. But Wang calculates that a 10 megaton bomb could put 280,000 tons into orbit with zero radiation escape into the biosphere."
  • "But while there was no real dissent from Culberson's view that federal spending on science is crucial and should be protected and even expanded, lawmakers and the hearing's lone witness, President Ralph J. Cicerone of the National Academy of Sciences, acknowledged that there would not be a limitless supply of money available for science programs, and that difficult choices about priorities would have to be made.

    And Cicerone and some lawmakers agreed that federal agencies and universities needed, as they managed the sudden, massive infusion of money from the economic stimulus package, to learn lessons from the doubling of the budget of the National Institutes of Health that the government provided a decade ago, to avoid repeating problems that emerged in the wake of that effort."

  • "[I]f Proxmire touched off the Golden Fleece tradition, lately conservatives seem to have been spouting the corresponding rhetoric. We all remember how John McCain and Sarah Palin mocked important scientific research on grizzly bears and fruit flies during 2008 election. In each caseâas with Jindalâexperts patiently explained that this research serves a purpose and is eminently defensible, or even innovative. But it seems those who lampoon individual scientific research grants rarely bother to find out what theyâre actually criticizing. Itâs a point and blastâor point and laughâtechnique that reeks of deep anti-intellectualism."
  • "He also points out that SN1987A is aspherical in exactly the way that might create this enhancement. So if SN1987A generated gravitational waves, Weber would have been perfectly able to detect them.

    Qadir concludes: âThe claim of Weber to have observed gravitational waves from [SN1987A] needs to be re-assessedâ."

  • "The Chinese internet is lots more complicated than you think.

    Thatâs the core message of Rebecca MacKinnonâs talk at the Berkman Center on the Chinese internet, deliberative government and internet filtering. Most of the models we have for understanding the Chinese internet are wrong, or at the very least, deceptive"


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This vessel would experience hundreds to thousands of g's of acceleration...10 megaton bomb could put 280,000 tons into orbit with zero radiation escape into the biosphere
10.4 megatonnes. Messy. Nasty local EMP, too.

A Remington .357 magnum 125 gr. (8.1 grams) semi-jacketed hollow point bullet goes from rest to muzzle velocity 442 m/sec (Mach 1.3) in 11.4 cm (4.5 inches). That is average 87,400 gees as a bullet rides down the barrel in 0.516 milliseconds. One presumes orbiting a 280,000 ton NASA boondoggle with a contained nuclear kick will require more extreme conditions.

Does somebody have a clever strategem to impart vectored orbital velocity as opposed to mere altitude?