WOW! A cool SETI theory…

Figure: The Wow! Signal. The peak is 32 times the signal to noise ratio of the observations. Courtesy of Sam Morrell. (From the article)

Not much more to be said so I post the intro to the article from Centauri Dreams, about an article/Theory by James Benford. Cool…

Was the Wow! Signal Due to Power Beaming Leakage?


The Wow! signal has a storied history in the SETI community, a one-off detection at the Ohio State ‘Big Ear’ observatory in 1977 that Jim Benford, among others, considers the most interesting candidate signal ever received. A plasma physicist and CEO of Microwave Sciences, Benford returns to Centauri Dreams today with a closer look at the signal and its striking characteristics, which admit to a variety of explanations, though only one that the author believes fits all the parameters. A second reception of the Wow! might tell us a great deal, but is such an event likely? So far all repeat observations have failed and, as Benford points out, there may be reason to assume they must. The essay below is a shorter version of the paper Jim has submitted to Astrobiology.

A little air, a bit of heat, some light

What Global Warming? 148 New (2020) Scientific Papers Affirm Recent Non-Warming, A Degrees-Warmer Past at WattsUpWithThat

Climate Change Horror Porn is another tool of the apparat to frighten us. In realty there is an objective truth out there…none of us know it. Two sides largely aligned Left and Right though not precisely have taken sides and because the liberal left is ascendant and deeply intwined in academia and the media they are trying to ‘scare us straight.’ It might be well intentioned in many cases, but ideologues, abusers, users and grifters have gathered around a powerful ideological tool that can be used to manipulate the population.

  • The science such as it is….which is a lot…but not what you are told it is by the media and the ideologues who want to use it.
    • Climate science
      • What climate was/is/will be:
        • Is based on models of how the whole atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere work.
          • Early simple models were very illuminating.
          • Complex models are horribly sensitive to incorrect knowledge and unknowns.
        • A lot of it is based on prior history comparing things like plant and sea life growth vs temperature, CO2 etc.
          • But most of this knowledge is based on proxies up until a decade or at most two ago.
          • Plus sparse and non technical accounts up until the modern era
          • Has a sparse and erratic technical record from about a century and a half.
          • Decent deep record for a couple of decades.
          • Can see what it is today in fair but not omniscient detail.
        • We model the future based on models that we ‘test’ against the past. Like the stock market sometimes these models can do an ok job. But that is only because of parameter fiddling to ‘match the curves.’ The models are by necessity highly simplified and often just plain wrong. For example:
          • recent discovery that cloud impact on surface temperature can increase not decrease surface temperature. And that it may depend on where you are in the world.
          • Recent discovery that CO2 concentration’s affect on green house is not linear and tapers quickly at higher concentrations.
          • That the planetary heat balance is highly affected by cooling at the poles, and that the magnetosphere/sun link into the climate also is highly linked at the poles.
          • Etc.
        • While the first climate models that brilliant men and women came up with less than a century ago have been proven to be largely correct, the details are practically, hardly better modeled today than they were in the 1950’s.
        • Today there are literally hundreds of complex computer models and that are run many times with many different start parameters. They generate families of predictions, effectively at random. Those predictions are never even close to right at a rate greater than chance.
  • Why?
    • Properties of matter
      • As noted above the actual response of a complex system of gasses and aerosols at any particular pressure, temperature, insolation etc is highly variable and not easily modeled in any way.
    • Ocean models:
      • The oceans are a huge thermal reservoir and also a/the major thermal transport system. The heat can be pulled into the ocean moved from the tropics to the poles. This can take decades and it varies year to year, decade to decade. While the basics are well known the variables and even the magnitudes are not fully understood.
      • Temperature and CO2 could cause acidification, maybe this kills coral, maybe the majority types of coral polyps just shifts, maybe the tiny shelled algae have thinned shells maybe not. Maybe more plankton, maybe different distribution. Maybe more fish maybe less…most likely more.
    • Lithosphere models
      • Volcanos emit CO2, CH4, H2O, various other gases and dust all of which affect the weather/climate in ways that are far more complex than modeled and while these events tend to be limited and episodic their magnitude in the moment is immense.
      • Subduction pulls out sequestered limestone etc as well as water and this is not dealt with by the models.
      • The weathering of uplifted rocks and the soils etc have impacts that are not fully understood. We don’t even quite understand the affects of the Tibetan uplift which looks like it had the reverse effect to what was originally theorized.
    • Surface ecology/economy models
      • The effect of higher temperatures and more CO2 can be good, great, bad. The affects could cause desertification, or greening. More trees are good, oh hot trees may be worse, hot climate plants not as good, oh maybe not…
    • Insolation and Solar heating:
      • Do not even fully understand the details of the link of solar radiation into the atmosphere, oceans, land. Do not understand cloud formation, CO2 effect, CH4 effect, H20 (beyond clouds) effect. Knowledge today is orders of magnitude greater than a decade ago but we also know that we understand the interactions far less well than we thought we did and these interactions are complicated.
      • The suns energy output does vary and it is not all about radiation. Sunspots are indicative of a very active solar surface and atmosphere, where our heating comes from. The visible atmosphere is vastly hotter than the surface of the sun due to magnetic energy effects. This is seen in the sun spot activity. More sun spots, more magnetic activity, hotter atmosphere…more radiation….but also vastly more particle based energy pouring off the sun. So radiation varies by some amount but also the earth’s poles are bathed in extra heat from the sun as well and when the sun spot activity is low for extended periods this has an effect at least on the northern hemisphere. Affects in the order of a degree or less are immensely important when talking about billions of tons of atmosphere.
    • Historical records
      • History can be a science and getting at physical data can have a lot of technology but then you have the human element. History is very clear that in the early industrial era there was a period when the Thames in London froze multiple years in a row. Their world was much colder. But the data for the rest of world is much more sparse and so this is discounted as local.
      • The Roman Empire appears to have flourished in a period when the earth was 2C warmer in general. It perished as the temperatures began to fall towards the medieval minimum. Was it local….not very it affected the whole Mediterranean basin and all of Europe.
      • The Mayan civilization collapsed because of changing weather.
      • The birth place of north wester civilization, Mesopotamia, what we call Iraq, the dust bowl we wasted so much blood and angst over, was a tropical tidal marsh only 4000years ago. Why did that change, was it worldwide…
  • So what does science know? Nothing Science is about facts and theories and discovery, it lays out data (facts) and theories about why but each fact is in isolation and a Story has to be created around those nuggets, a logical consistent Story, but a story not Science per se.
  • What we know from a historical perspective with limited understanding of the climate system is :
    • The climate has been INCREDIBLY stable for MILLIONS of years, we could have lived on this Earth any time in the last 500,0000,000 years and probably for the last Billion Years.
    • That includes collisions with small country sized asteroids, the eruption of volcanic rock in the trillions of tons. Changes in CO2, water CH4 and others much greater than today.
    • The system of the world is vast and we are now a player but we are arrogant narcissists if we think we are on the same scale as prior events in planetary history.

The problem this brings into focus is that the Climate Elite, many of whom should know better, wrap any new findings in Public Relations flakery and Narrative that is in general pointed in a certain direction.

Why is that? Because we are humans and we like horror stories and bad news because it gives us an adrenaline charge we are addicted to.

There is a level of truth to the mantra that climate change is bad, but the reality is that we are quite a few centuries away from Dangerous at the current rate. It is also clear that natural variation in the climate is bigger than what we see today, and it is not clear that we are having any significant affect, yet, but its reasonable to worry.

We should also be be aware that the effects that the most reasonable of the ClimateHorror peddlers put out could happen due to natural variation though human inputs are likely to have some effect.

But on the other, other hand, that effect might be mitigation not acceleration…if Earth were starting into an ice age right now(not unreasonable given their cyclical nature and the timing) our excesses might be stopping or slowing a huge die off…because cold kills many more and much more surely than heat…

The main issue with the ClimateHorror is that it is peddled by ‘the elites’ as a Horror story when in fact it is just the world going on about its business. The big problem with this is that ClimateHorror appears to many to be a way to sell Government and Elite intervention in the economy and the world on a huge and on going basis.

The above, the ClimateHorror propaganda and its ‘evil’ element may well not be intentional. It certainly (I think) did not start out that way. The reality is that the various types of folks involved have a broad range of motives for propounding or accepting what is put out there. What I see is that a significant ideological class has taken hold of the Climate as a possible road or part of the path, to power.

These are the ‘types’ of people I see. These are all ways of looking at people, but only in a very narrow view. Few if any people are explained by one issue. But when talking about Climate and ClimateHorror, and What to Do, these are the types I see:

  • The credentialed: Generally PhD level…I have known a lot of PhDs they are generally technically smart sometimes generally brilliant but their training is focused on focus and can discount counter facts with the flip of a neuron: (The following can also be used as sub classes for other classes)
    • True believers: Have convinced themselves that for some reason man’s epoch has some special quality that is leading to doom.
    • Ideologues: Those who want to believe because it fits their model of the world. The actual ‘data’ and ‘models’ are outside of their expertise but they are all in anyway.
    • Fools and Tools: Generally not very smart outside their narrow field but are easily convinced by those they look up to for one reason or another.
    • Grifters: Probably one of the largest groups, there is big, big money in Climate Catastrophe, the reality is way to mundane to make money so lets go all in on the hype.
  • Abusers: They hate mankind while loving ‘people’ and wanting to help. Anyone outside of their circle is evil, anyone on the in, are perfect. This is essentially a cult like group the heads of which are rock hard ideologues willing to kill billions.
  • Users: Grifters who can see that this is a way to power and money. Put the word out in the right way and you can get in with the woke and grind down the deplorable.
  • Useful idiots: A big group, Want to get along but generally believe what the in group believes.
  • Get alongs: A big group ,who just do not want to make waves. May or may not feel ‘it’ much but certainly want to be with the woke.
  • The led: WAY TOO MANY: Who believe what they hear in the moment and get all het up then forget about it till the next time, except as some kind of base, ‘we need to do something!’
  • The immune: A LOT (I hope) Despise those ‘pushing’ stuff and wouldn’t believe them if they said water is wet. Can be quite annoying but a buffer against the ClimateCrud.
  • The OCD: Me i think…hear the story, think it may be right, go and look for themselves, discover that there is another side and that while the basis is real the Crud Storm is an ideology.

Nuff said for now.


Icy moons, exciting targets of exploration

The Interior of Enceladus Looks Really Great for Supporting Life
Article in UniverseToday on one of Saturn’s moons

In the early days of space exploration it was the rocky planets, particularly Mars and Venus that held some hope of significant life. Though those with the tools of observation and analysis were pretty negative and life in the rest of the solar system looked impossible. But as our knowledge and tools expanded the icy moons quickly became of interest because as cold region natives know, ice is not a bad insulator and a couple of miles of it would protect a lake. These days it seems pretty clear that Icy Moons often have oceans, seas or lakes inside, and the heat that melts the ice from underneath (from orbital stresses and or radioactive decay) could quite conceivably support life.

The article linked discusses model based research based on data from earlier orbiters and flybys. It shows that notionally their are several mechanisms that could be feeding nutrients and energy sources into the ocean of Enceladus, at a rate suffient to support a significant biome.

There are lots of other interesting articles on space at universe today website, take a look.

Photovoltaic…as I said, it’s real and getting more real.——Why the Price of New Solar Electricity Fell an Incredible 89% in the Last Decade

Our World In Data chart, via SingularityHub
By Jason Dorrier – Dec 13, 2020
This has been in the news but discounted in some ways utility side issues still make this a success story the utilities could do without. A couple of general downside views. Solar modules are a troubling refuse stream until recycling tech hits new highs. The cell modules wear out over time, the wear out and $payback often overlap in the wrong way. Both of these issues should ease in the coming years but you cannot discount them yet. Still this is amazing and it seemed obvious at least 5 years ago, nice that it kept on trend.

Lasers and rail guns oh my

So linked at the bottom is a file by the congressional research service regarding the progress the Navy is making on laser weapons, rail guns and hyper velocity smart munitions. Not the best topic for Christmas Season but oh well.

A series of articles in the Drive and elsewhere have discussed the progress in laser weapons over the last few years. To recap, a technology that was discovered as a fairly early practical application of quantum theory evolved into an important digital communications tool where the demand for longer distance between repeaters drove the power up to a point where cutting material like paper was practical that evolved into cutting steel which provided the basis for weapons grade systems although the military R&D complex had been exploring alternative paths for decades.

Now real systems (in the sense of shooting down light weight drones or setting outboard motors on fire, as well as dazzling or spotting) are being deployed and fairly aggressive plans are being made. There still remain problems with the technology though many of them are resolvable. And like earlier many pieces are being worked on for civilian reason, not the least in the field of astronomy where light transmission through the atmosphere is important and the brain power is deep and unfettered by military R&D issues.

In the end it is not clear that at sea is the best place to locate a laser weapon but ships are (relatively) big and have (relatively) large power systems so they are a good early trial. If lasers can be of value there they are going to make it other places as the technology improves.

Rail guns…what can you say (I could say a fair amount but won’t) they are the technology of the future and have been my whole adult life. I spent a couple of years involved with them and that is enough to tell me that there are a lot of fundamental problems that appear surmountable in early hand waving but are practically insurmountable as you get closer and closer to reality.

The ‘rail’ part of the gun has most of the problems of a powder gun barrel of erosion, fatigue, stress, compounded by huge electromagnetic forces in the metal itself. Vastly more complex than a simple bang tube. The energy required is huge but not only that it has to be released in a controlled manner at several times the rate of an explosion since the energy and the power are both higher than the propellant ‘burn’ of a powder weapon. Modern power electronics can handled this but they are not light and the resultant waste heat instead of exiting the barrel in a plume of plasma is retained in the energy storage device and switching system, none of which can be dowsed with water like you can do with a gun barrel.

Every 5 years or so since the seventies the rail gun has popped up as a candidate to replace the powder cannon of the day. Each time more of the hurdles identified in the last round are knocked down. But then new hurdles appear, often more complex than those dealt with and hidden by the earlier barriers.

And at the end of the day is the result worth the price? In WWI and WWII guns of prodigious range were developed but made no difference in the end. Mostly filling in for fighter bombers when the weather was crappy or the target too diffuse to be worth risking a pilot/aircraft.

In the early days (the 1970’s) of the rail gun its potential range and rate of fire appeared very attractive especially for Naval support gunfire. 100 miles and 10 rounds a minute of lethal kinetic punch were very much of interest to the amphibious forces. Since they were powered by electricity and fuel is relatively cheap + plentiful and the rounds compact, the ‘depth of magazine’ was fantastic. And all of this is still deeply interesting. But. In the end is this really what you need? In WWII through Desert Storm this capability set would have been game changing. Today? Maybe not.

The round designed (successfully) for the rail gun, can fit in any of our current 155mm class cannons. These guns with their 52 caliber barrels can punch the round out to 40 miles or more. The round is guided and has shown the ability to shoot down a cruise missile ! So it is as accurate as you like. It’s ‘shortfall’ in modern ops game theory is that it is a bit slow for shooting down ballistic missiles or reaching the outer theater to shoot down other high performance targets. But there are missiles that can do that and the attrition cost of a missile on that sort of target is worth it.

40 miles is not 100 miles, some targets are out of reach, you cannot stand off as far or reach in as far to destroy targets. But in reality is that an issue? If you think that you are going into amphibious war against hostile beaches maybe. But you have to assume that you can destroy the enemies area denial defenses (Because otherwise why worry about 100mile standoff?) so you can get the amphibious forces in close enough to get on and over the beach at acceptable cost. None of that appears realistic today. While some kind of Eurasian Fascist Empire and air tight anti strategic defenses might create an existential threat that triggered WWIII and the concomitant bloodbath this scenario is simply not on the table now or foreseeable in the next twenty years.

For now we have Taiwan and the South China Sea as the most likely battleground for near peer conflict. ——— OK no one ever really KNOWS what is coming next, the Med, the Baltic, maybe somewhere in Oceana might go south with zingers but none of those have the deep resources required to cause an existential threat or survive an attrition campaign long enough to make the rail gun a potential player——

To continue, while T and SCS are both in their way an argument for that extended range neither is going to be resolved in any way by one weapon. Neither are any other scenarios one might game other that EFE+ATSD above and that ain’t goin to happen (yet.)

So? Lasers…full speed ahead, look to the sky, 150kW on a fighter is a game changer. Rail guns…spend some money, let the Chinese trial their barge, see if they have solved the problems, they haven’t but what do I know? Hyper (or High) velocity smart munitions,…go, go, go power rangers !

Congressional Research Service Report on Lasers, Rail Guns and Hyper Velocity Rounds, via the US Naval Institute Proceedings website.

German / Euro Green Dogma vs Cold Green (eyeshades, cash) Reality

At energy giants pull plug on conventional power
by Mathilde Richter20130818-201745.jpg

Lightning fills the sky above a wind farm near Jacobsdorf, eastern Germany in May 2013. With political clout firmly behind renewables, priority is given in the national power grid to so-called “clean” electricity.

Technology Review-high Frequency Soft Switching inverters could be a breakthrough enabler of small and mid scale Solar PV

Novel Electronics Could Speed Adoption of Solar Power – Technology Review.

Not a new technology but if these guys can bring it to market at a significantly lower total cost of ownership number they are going to ignite the market.

Biggest issue with SftSwt has always been complexity and consequent reliability issues.  If these guys have reduced the parts and interconnect count (in other words integrated the controls and sensors)they are on the right path.

Charge Your Phone (and Your Car) from Afar

Charge Your Phone (and Your Car) from Afar – Technology Review.

This has been coming for some time but as the tag line says at the end, “…It’s going to catch on superfast…”  This may well be the technology that electric cars were looking for. Think about it coils at stop signs and stop lights, etc, or even in charging lanes.  With the technology of the battery and electric propulsion at its current level this should make the electric car a reasonable investment.  The problem is the deployment, investment, but spread out over time and geography and with the expectation that you’re going to have diesel, gas and LNG vehicles around for a long time I think you can see a realistic road to electric nirvanah.

A few chemicals and a microwave and see what you get

Zapping raw materials in a microwave oven and drying the resulting solution produces a black powder (top) made of hexagonal bismuth telluride nanoplates (bottom).

High-efficiency thermoelectric materials could lead to new types of cooling systems, and new ways to scavenge waste heat for electricity. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, have now developed an easy, inexpensive process to make such materials.

The materials made by the RPI team already perform as well as those on the market, and the new process, which involves zapping chemicals in a microwave oven, offers room for improvement. “We haven’t even optimized the process yet,” says Ganpati Ramanath, a materials science and engineering professor at RPI. “We’re confident that we can increase the efficiency further.”

What caught my eye here is that the material is a form of nano particulate, its produced in an evidently very simple process and it has a very high efficiency.  This type of technology as the article notes could have a great number of applications.  In a car one could conceive of replacing the mechanically driven alternator with something like this or supplementing it, this would essentially be using waste heat to provide electricity and would increase gas mileage.  There are many other places where heat scavenging would make sense and have an impact if the materials and system were cheap enough.  This goes back to a fundamental issue, energy efficiency costs money and if the cost of burning a tiny fraction more fuel over the life of the system (which can add up to biggish $) is less than the energy scavenging equipment then the equipment will not be installed unless the added cost is passed on to someone.