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Odd Lots


  1. Jason Kaczor says:

    If you like Raspberry Pi’s and SDR, have you seen the “Stealth Cell Tower” article?

    1. Boy. I wonder how many felonies that little item could generate? The scary part is how easy it was to put together, assuming you knew the underlying tech.

  2. Larry Nelson says:

    The reactor on a barge photo bumped a memory for me.

    There is a lot of commercial barge traffic in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland, OR. Twice when I’ve been driving the Gorge I’ve seen an east bound barge loaded with a huge black cylinder . . . maybe 35′ in diameter and 30′ tall. The barge/tug was accompanied by a couple of Navy ships. It is unusual to see the Navy 100 miles into a river.

    Took me a bit to figure they were old submarine reactors headed for burial at Hanford.

    It would have been a lot of fun to watch the fleet squeeze through the locks at Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day, and McNary dams.

  3. Alan S says:

    “There is NO solution–and I mean NO with a capital NO–to global warming that is not based on nuclear. If you do not enthusiastically support nuclear energy, don’t talk to me about global warming.”

    Solar energy power generation in space used to be the next big thing a few years ago and it was my understanding that such systems could provide 24/7 base load power. Of course like all such things there were going to be downsides. I’m sure you are aware of Jerry Pournelle’s urging us to use space resources.

    1. My problem with systems like that has been the same since the 1970s: You’re gathering gigawatts in space and sending them to Earth in a tight beam. Anything like that is bogglingly dangerous compared to nuclear on the ground. We can’t even keep network crackers out of our entirely-too-smart thermostats; can we keep them out of orbital ray guns capable of setting whole cities on fire? I’m unconvinced, especially because there is simply no real reason not to go with nuclear.

      1. Alan S says:

        Yes, nuclear is certainly going to be the quicker and easier solution. I thought I’d just mention for reference that other solutions were thrown around back in the day – showing my age here.

      2. TRX says:

        There’s a trilogy by a guy named Alexis A. Gilleland, from 1981-82. Revolution from Rosinante, Long Shot for Rosinante, The Pirates of Rosinante. They’re about a space colony that gets abandoned due to economic/corporate upheaval among its sponsor nations and corporations and has to make some interesting political adaptations.

        They needed a weapon, and used their spare mirror array (several million independently-steerable small mirrors) to pump a gas laser fourteen meters in diameter and a couple of kilometers long. Due to optical effects when it was in operation, it became known as the Purple Shaft…

        Gilleland didn’t write much, and the Rosinante series was a bit rough around the edges, but I enjoyed it thoroughly when it came out, and the three slim volumes have made the cut through numerous reductions in my library.

        Most of the proposals I remember for orbital collectors talked about some kind of microwave power transmission to the ground. I always wondered what the losses would look like at the receiving end.

        Any way you do it, to track the ground antenna from orbit, you’re still talking about an orbital platform with a steerable weapon. And we thought Mutually Assured Destruction was in the “dustbin of history…”

      3. Mithral says:

        “You don’t need no oil, nor a Tokamac coil
        “Solar stations provide Earth with juice.
        “Power beams are sublime, so nobody will mind
        “If we cook an occasional goose.”

        (c) Higgins and Gehm, 1978

        Ah, the 70s.

  4. jimf says:

    That spinning disk TV is pretty fascinating…amazingly crude, but a very good first effort.

  5. jim f says:

    regarding carbs…

  6. No'am Newman says:

    I followed the link about fatty foods to the Evening Standard – but they don’t provide a reference to the actual paper supposedly published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Who knows, they might have invented the entire story (“alternative facts”) – so disseminating this “information” is somewhat dubious. I would be very interested in reading the actual paper, but couldn’t find it.

    1. Well, this was a failure on my part; I usually chase links down and was just in a hurry this time. I looked at the most recent issues of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and didn’t see anything that matched the description of the study.

      Dr. Sultan is well-known, and kind of a maverick on the issue of treating high cholesterol with statins. I found his list of peer-reviewed publications, but given the jargon level it’s unclear to me if the paper referenced is one of these:

      I’m thinking not. He may have been commenting in a news release about papers written by colleagues. That said, the same conclusions are being reached by many research teams around the world, and a consensus seems to be forming around the idea that carbs (sugar especially) not fat, are what gives us cardiovascular disease.

      Thanks for pointing this out; I’ll check a little more carefully in the future.

  7. Bob says:

    I like the video on the full auto crossbow, especially the maniacal cackle at the end. I noticed that he uses good scientific notation for the torque of the electric drill: newton-meters. I still remember my physics prof in freshman physics working out the “real units” equivalent to a newton. It turns out it’s about a quarter pound–or more precisely pound-force since “English” units incorrectly conflate mass with weight. Anyway, a meter is ~3 feet in “real units” so a newton meter is about 3/4 foot-pound torque.

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