Black Holes, Stranglets and Oh My!

The builders of the world’s biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet.

This is serious. Globe Gobbling Black Holes? Destruction of the Planet? Stop the Presses!

Continue reading “Black Holes, Stranglets and Oh My!”

Response

Today my local congresscritter emailed me a quick survey.

Q. What is the best way to help lower gas prices and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil?

  • Invest in alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and hydropower
  • Increase domestic supply by drilling in ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf
  • Promote conservation
  • Invest in biofuel
  • Prohibit price gouging
  • Other

So, of course I chose ‘other’.

heh

Yes. All of these approaches are needed. We must invest in the future, while still meeting today’s demands.

Looking forward, a petrochemical based economy is simply unsustainable. If it’s peak oil, or Global Climate Change, or Mideast instability, it is irresponsible to assume that we can continue on the same path that we have been. Bio-fuels and Solar power would be a boon for Eastern Washington, as we have extensive agribusiness. Solar and Wind power both are interesting long term solutions to a growing energy market.

However, these technologies are neither cheap nor quick to implement. In the short term, using the technologies that we have at hand, we must find a way to drastically reduce our reliance on others to feed our growing energy appetite. Conservation is already happening. Market forces have realised that conserving energy saves them money. With a small nudge in the right direction, conservation could cut our total energy input needs dramatically.

Just look at the difference between a Volkswagen Jetta v6 and TDI‘s economy. The TDI gets better real world fuel economy then a hybrid. We must look at technologies that can help us in the short term, while still readying us for the long term.

Couple a reduced domestic demand with an increase in local petrochemical production, and we have a winning short term tactic. Drilling ANWR is not a pleasing though to me, however, if it would allow us to detach from the politically unsavory deals that we must make to feel the American need to drive, then so be it.

I do not believe that there is any one thing that we can do which will solve our energy problems. It’s going to take a multi-pronged approach to resolve this issue. It’s going to take a bi-partisan group, partnering with business and local concerns.

Peace. Out.

On Global Warming

Over on another site, there is an intresting discussion raging about Global Warming. Just thought that I would cross post my first response over here.

Let’s just stick to facts:

Over the last century the average temperature has climbed about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 of a degree Celsius) around the world.

(National Geographic.)

That’s from 2004. A lot has happened since then.

So, now we have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that global warming exists, is happening, is real.

The debate seems to be over two other points – 1) Do we have a global effect? and 2) What is it going to cause?

Let’s start with the last one… and go to the most extreme real world example we have.

Look at Venus. That is the classic example of runaway global warming – and some think that is where we are headed. Are we? Who knows. I don’t. However it is possible that we could end up with a Venus on our hands.

If you look at the theory about the gasses trapped in the permafrost, add in some basic albedo calculations, factoring the loss of ice (highly reflective to heat), the Earth just might become a pressure cooker.

Will it? There is a chance. What is that chance? I dunno. Should we try and do something to stop it? I believe that we should. Should the government do it? That is an entire other question, but suffice it to say, since they are taking our taxes, I would rather see that money spend on alternative fuels/energy research then some of the other silly pork barrel projects that are running amok.

Current theories believe that Venus might have been earth like at one time, however due to several factors, dumped all of it’s Carbon and H20 into it’s atmosphere in a horrific version of global warming.

So, with that in mind, do we contribute to the effects? Yes, with out a doubt we do.

World carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase steadily in the IEO2006 reference case, from 25.0 billion metric tons in 2003 to 33.7 billion metric tons in 2015 and 43.7 billion metric tons in 2030. Carbon dioxide is one of the most prevalent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions of carbon dioxide result primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels for energy.

(US DOE report, International Energy Outlook 2006)

I ask one simple question: How can 20 – 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide not have some effect?

Take, for example Volcanos…

On the Big Island, we have a significant natural source of greenhouse gas. Kilauea volcano emits more than 700,000 tons of CO2 each year, less than 0.01% of the yearly global contribution by human sources

(US Geological Survey)

And, that’s in 1998. Almost 10 years later, the anthropogenic emissions have steadily risen. Do we have an effect? You bet.

Is all of this correct? Possibly: that’s why they are called theories and not laws. A theory is a working set of assumptions on how something works. When a theory breaks because of new evidence or what ever, you either change the theory or discard it and start anew. That’s what science is, folks. Science is not about faith – it’s about proof and skepticism. It is grounded in empirical reality.

Pale Blue Dot

The BA brought this video to my attention. Fantastic stuff.

I really believe that we are on the cusp of a transcendence. Not really in a metaphysical way, but in a social way. People have been talking about it for a long time, because they could feel what was coming. Many have tried to wrap their religion or metaphysics around it. It’s simpler then that.

I think that we are going to see a move away from the old superstitions which hold us back. As we discover more and more about the universe, how it works, and our place it in, it becomes evident that we are not the center of anything.

We, however do have a great impact on the world which we live on. If we plan on living here much longer, we need to take steps, hard steps, to insure that the world will support us. We are not here to ‘dominate’ the world, we are here as guests of the world.

It’s far past time to realize that simple fact. We are not the reason that the world is here, the world is the reason that we are here. Once we shift our thinking away from dominance towards partnership, we will be in a lot better place socially, environmentally, and economically.

Windows Vista Content Protection specification

Peter Gutmann wrote an interesting article about Windows Vista’s content protection protocols that really deserves a good read…

Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called “premium content”, typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost. These issues affect not only users of Vista but the entire PC industry, since the effects of the protection measures extend to cover all hardware and software that will ever come into contact with Vista, even if it’s not used directly with Vista (for example hardware in a Macintosh computer or on a Linux server). This document analyses the cost involved in Vista’s content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry.

Some of the details in the article are down right scary, for example

Once a weakness is found in a particular driver or device, that driver will have its signature revoked by Microsoft, which means that it will cease to function (details on this are a bit vague here, presumably some minimum functionality like generic 640×480 VGA support will still be available in order for the system to boot). This means that a report of a compromise of a particular driver or device will cause all support for that device worldwide to be turned off until a fix can be found.

Read that last sentence again. This cannot be true, can it?

Yes, it is. According to Microsoft’s White Paper, Driver Package Integrity during Plug and Play Device Installations in Windows Vista

If users want to play next-generation premium content on Windows Vista, such as HD DVD and other formats that are licensed under the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) specification, all kernel-mode components on their system must be signed. That means that, if an administrative user chooses to install an unsigned or altered driver, the system is not allowed to play premium content

Wow.

Choose anything but Vista. Run as fast as you can from it. Microsoft of Borg is coming, and they think they own your hardware.

Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas!

Update

I was thinking more about this. I wanted to take a second and explain it more directly.

1) I buy a high end sound card, who’s manufacturer has not payed the Microsoft tax, so their driver is not signed by Microsoft.

2) I buy some Microsoft designated ‘premium content’ – say Jose and the Pussycats on Blue-ray.

3) I play my new Blue-ray disc on my computer with the OS that I bought.

No sound.

Microsoft has not blessed the folks who built my sound card with a certificate, so Microsoft decides that I cannot play the movie that I bought on the computer that I bought, using the OS that I payed good money for.

Uh. No. Sorry – I will not play that game. If I buy a freaking movie, I want to watch it on the hardware that I choose.