Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

DARK MATTER PROPULSION Proposed

December 10, 2016

In  Sub-Quantum Patrice’s Reality (SQPR), Matter Waves are real (in Quantum Theory Copenhagen Interpretation (QTCI) the Matter Waves are just probability waves). There has been no direct evidence that Matter Waves were real. So far. But times they are changing as the other one, who got his Nobel today, said.

Both Dark Matter and Dark Energy are consequences of SQPR. So: Observing both Dark Matter and Dark Energy constitute proofs of SQPR.

The prediction of the deviation of light by the Sun was twice with “General Relativity” than the one predicted in Newtonian Mechanics. The effect was minute, and detected only in grazing starlight, during Solar eclipse of 29 May 1919 (by the ultra famous British astronomer and physicist Eddington). Thus, as 95% of the universe matter-energy is from Dark Matter or Dark Energy, my prediction carries more weight.

SPQR also predict “fuel-less” production, in a variant of the effect which produces Dark Matter in SQPR (also called PSQR below): 

Dark Matter Pushes, Patrice Ayme Says. Explaining NASA's Findings?

Dark Matter Pushes, Patrice Ayme Says. Explaining NASA’s Findings?

How does Dark Matter create propulsion? Well, that it does is evident: just look at galactic clusters (more details another day). A Matter Wave will expand, until it singularizes. If it expands enough, it will become so big that it will lose a (smaller) piece of itself during re-singularization. That  piece is the Dark Matter.

Thus visualize this: take a cavity C, and bounce a Matter Wave around it (there is plenty of direct theoretical and experimental evidence that this can be arranged).

Make a hole H in the boundary of C (this is not different from the Black Body oven the consideration of which led Planck to discover the Quantum).

Some Dark Matter then escapes. By the hole. 

However, Dark Matter carries energy momentum (evidence from Galaxies, Galactic Clusters, etc.).

Hence a push. A Dark Matter push.

The (spectacular) effect has been apparently observed by NASA.

Does this violate Newton’s Third Law? (As it has been alleged.)

No. I actually just used Newton’s Third Law, the Action = Reaction law. So SQPR explains the observed effect in combination with the Action= Reaction Law, “proving” both.

How could we prove SQPR? There should be a decrease of energy-momentum after a while, and the decrease should equal the observed push exactly.

Patrice Ayme’

***

Warning: The preceding considerations are at the edge of plausible physics. (A tiny group of dissenting physicists are even busy making theories where Dark Matter does not exist. The consensus is that Dark Matter exists, but is explained by a variant of the so-called “Standard Model”, using “Supersymmetry”, or “WIMPs”, or “Axions”. My own theory, SQPR is, by far, the most exotic, as it threws Quantum Theory Copenhagen Interpretation, QTCI, through the window.)

DARK GALAXY (Explained?)

October 1, 2016

A giant galaxy made nearly entirely of Dark Matter has been discovered. Theories of Dark Matter proposed by people salaried for professing physics cannot explain (easily, if at all!) why there would be so much Dark Matter in one galaxy. I can. In my own theory, Dark Matter is not really matter, although matter gives birth to it, under some particular geometrical conditions. In my theory, in some geometrodynamic situations, a galaxy will churn inordinate amounts of Dark Matter quickly. So I was not surprised by the find.

There are many potential theories of Dark Matter. Most are fairly conventional. They typically hypothesize new particles (some of these new particles could come from new symmetries, such as supersymmetry). I do not see how they can predict why these particular particles appear in some places, and not others. However, the importance of location, of geometry, is a crucial feature of my own theory.

I predicate that the Quantum Interaction (copyright myself) does not have infinite range. Thus, quantum interactions, in some conditions of low mass-energy density, leave behind part of the Quantum Wave. Such debris have mass-energy, so they exert gravitational pull, but they have little else besides (most of the characteristics of the particles they were part of concentrate somewhere else).

I Can Explain This Dark Galaxy, By Changing The Foundations Of Physics. No Less.

I Can Explain This Dark Galaxy, By Changing The Foundations Of Physics. No Less.

[From the Hawaiian Gemini telescope.]

In my own theory, one can imagine that the geometry of a galaxy is, at some point extremely favorable to the creation of Dark Matter: it is just a question of dispersing the matter just so. The Dark Galaxy has 1% of the stars of our Milky Way, or less. In my theory, once Dark Matter has formed, it does not seem possible to make visible matter again with it (broken Quantum Wave debris float around like a cosmic fog).

All past science started as a mix of philosophy and science-fiction (Aristarchus, Lucretius, Giordano Bruno, Immanuel Kant, Lamarck are examples). One can only surmise it will be the same in the future, and this is supported by very good logic: guessing comes always before knowing. Those who claim that science will never be born again from philosophy and fantasy are saying that really new science will never happen again. They say that all the foundations of science are known already. So they are into predication, just like religious fanatics.

It was fashionable to say so, among physicists in the 1990s, the times of the fable known as TOE, the so-called Theory Of Everything. Shortly after this orgasm of self-satisfaction by self-appointed pontiffs, the evidence became clear that the universe’s mass-energy was mostly Dark Energy, and Dark Matter.

This is an interesting case of meta-mood shared: also in the 1990s, clever idiots (Fukuyama, etc.) claimed history had ended: a similar claim from the same period, permeating the same mood of stunted imagination. The advantage, while those who pontificated that way? They could claim they knew everything: they had become gods, living gods.

I had known about Dark Matter all along (the problem surfaced nearly a century ago). I considered it a huge problem: It held galaxies and galactic clusters, together. But maybe something had been overlooked. Meanwhile Main Stream Physics (MSP) dutifully, studiously, ignored it. For decades. Speaking of Dark matter made one despicable, a conspiracy theorist.

Another thing MSP ignored was the foundations of physics. Only the most prestigious physicists, such as Richard Feynman, could afford to repeat Einstein’s famous opinion that “nobody understands Quantum Mechanics”. I gave my intellectual life’s main axis of reflection in trying to understand what nobody wanted to understand, that nobody thought they could afford to understand, the real foundations of physics. (So doing I was forced to reflect on why it is that people do not want to understand the most fundamental things, even while professing they do. It is particularly blatant in, say, economics.)

I have long discovered that the real foundations of physics are entangled with those of mathematics (it is not just that physics, nature, is written with mathematics, as Galileo wrote; there is a dialogue between the mathematics that we invent, and the universe that we discover, they lead to each other). For example whether the infinity axiom is allowed in mathematics change the physics radically (the normalization problem of physics is solved if one removes the infinity axiom).

Right now, research at the foundations of (proper) physics is hindered by our lack of nonlinear mathematics: Quantum mechanics, as it is, is linear (waves add up in the simplest way). However the “collapse of the wave packet” is obviously nonlinear (this is why it’s outside of existing physics, from lack of math). From that Quantum collapse, when incomplete from great distances involved, comes Dark Matter. At least, so I propose. 

Patrice Ayme’

Momentum, Force, Inertia, Middle Ages, Buridan

March 20, 2016

WHAT’S MASS? It is not an easy question. An answer for inertial mass was given seven centuries ago. Astoundingly, it’s still the foundation of our most modern physics. Let me explain.

Momentum, force, and inertial mass were defined from trajectory deviation, first. This, I will show below, is incredibly modern (the idea is found in Riemann ~ 1860 CE next). This was all in Buridan’s work, in the Fourteenth Century (14C).  Jean Buridan postulated the notion of motive force, which he named impetus. Consider this, from Buridan’s Quaestiones super libros De generatione et corruptione Aristotelis:

“When a mover sets a body in motion he implants into it a certain impetus, that is, a certain force enabling a body to move in the direction in which the mover starts it, be it upwards, downwards, sidewards, or in a circle. The implanted impetus increases in the same ratio as the velocity. It is because of this impetus that a stone moves on after the thrower has ceased moving it. But because of the resistance of the air (and also because of the gravity of the stone) which strives to move it in the opposite direction to the motion caused by the impetus, the latter will weaken all the time. Therefore the motion of the stone will be gradually slower, and finally the impetus is so diminished or destroyed that the gravity of the stone prevails and moves the stone towards its natural place. In my opinion one can accept this explanation because the other explanations prove to be false whereas all phenomena agree with this one

 In 14 C, In The Late Middle Ages, Buridan Defined Momentum And Force By Considering Deviation Of Particle Trajectory

In 14 C, In The Late Middle Ages, Buridan Defined Momentum And Force By Considering Deviation Of Particle Trajectory

Just a word of the modernity of it all: the idea translates directly into defining force(s) with changes of distance between geodesics (in differential manifold theory).

Buridan states that impetus = weight x velocity (modern momentum). All the predecessors of Buridan thought one needed a force to keep on moving, but Buridan did not. Famous predecessors such as Hibat Allah Abu’l-Barakat al-Baghdaadi, who modified Avicenna’s theory, which followed John Philoponus believed in inertia NOT. They all followed Aristotle, who believed all and any motion died away, if no force was applied. (Not to say no Muslim ever invented anything scientific: the Uzbek ibn-Musa al-Khowarizmi crucially put the finishing touch on the zero, which he partly got from India, in the Ninth Century.)

Buridan’s pupil Dominicus de Clavasio in his 1357 De Caelo, pointed out that this extended to gravity:

“When something moves a stone by violence, in addition to imposing on it an actual force, it impresses in it a certain impetus. In the same way gravity not only gives motion itself to a moving body, but also gives it a motive power and an impetus, …”.

Buridan knew celestial bodies were moving from inertia: “God, when He created the world, moved each of the celestial orbs as He pleased, and in moving them he impressed in them impetuses which moved them without his having to move them any more…And those impetuses which he impressed in the celestial bodies were not decreased or corrupted afterwards, because there was no inclination of the celestial bodies for other movements. Nor was there resistance which would be corruptive or repressive of that impetus.”

By definition, inertial mass is what resists an applied force. The greater the resistance to a force, the greater the inertial mass of what it is applied to.

***

Buridan’s Revolution:

Buridan introduced p = mv, called it “impetus” and stated that it did not change if no force was applied. Thus Buridan buried the complete idiocy known as Aristotle’s physics. (That Aristotle could be a complete idiot at the mental retard level is philosophically, and historically capital, as Aristotle set in place the leadership system through celebrities, which we enjoy to this day).

Buridan’s Inertia Law is known as Newton’s First Law (because Buridan was from Paris, while Newton demonstrates the superiority of the English born three centuries later by attributing to him what Isaac did not discover).

More generally Newton asserted clearly his Second Law: dp/dt = F (where  F is the Force, by definition). It’s an axiom. (Weirdly the Second Law implies the First…)

***

Force = Deviation From Trajectory:

This is Buridan’s idea. It was taken over again by Bernhard Riemann, in the early 1860s (five centuries after Buridan’s death). In modern mathematical parlance, force is depicted by geodesic deviation. It’s this idea which is at the triple core of Einstein’s theory (with the idea that gravitation/spacetime is a field, and that it’s Newton’s theory, in first order).

So this is ultramodern: the idea got carried over in “Gauge Theories”, and, because there are several forces, there are many dimensions.

***

Thought Experiment Often Precedes Experiment: 

Yesterday I bought a (2015) book by a (British academic) historian of science. In it, the honorably paid professional asserted modern science started with Tycho in 1572. Tycho, a Count set his student Kepler onto the refined study of the orbit of Mars. Both Tycho and Kepler were 5 star scientists (differently from, say Copernicus or Einstein, both of whom too little inclined to quote their sources). So they were, because, differently from, say, Obama, they had strong personalities. Great ideas come from great emotions. Tycho believed the Ancients had lied. And he was right, they had lied about the orbits of the planets: observations with the same instruments gave different results from the ones the Ancients had claimed.

The preceding shows that this trite notion is profoundly false; the scientific revolution was launched by Buridan and his students (among them Oresme, Albert of Saxony), contemporaries and predecessors (including Gerard de Bruxelles and the Oxford Calculators). Some of their work on basic kinematics, the exponential and the mean theorem of calculus was erroneously attributed to Galileo or Newton, centuries later.

To believe everything got invented around the seventeenth century is not to understand how the human mind works. Experience has to be preceded by thought-experiment (even Einstein understood that). Buridan and his contemporaries did the preliminary thinking (while others were making clocks and hydraulic presses). All of this would become immensely easier after the invention of algebra and Descartes’ analytic geometry, true.

So let’s have a loving and admirative thought for Buridan, the main author of the scientific revolution, whose reputation was destroyed by the CATHOLIC STATE: Buridan’s astronomical reputation was destroyed by the Catho-fascists, more than a century after his death. That’s why the heliocentric system is attributed to an abbot from a rich family (Copernicus), instead of the master physicist said abbot was forced to read as a student.

Studying the history of science, and mathematics uncovers the fundamental axioms, in the natural order given by their obviousness.

Determining which ideas came first, and why is not about determining who is the brightest child, or most impressive bully in the courtyard. In 1907, Einstein made a big deal that he, Albert, was the discoverer of Energy = Mass (“E = mc2”). A careful inspection shows that this either reflects dishonesty, or misunderstanding on his part. Or both. I will address this soon, as I keep on studying mass and momentum.

Buridan put momentum at the core of physics, and thought-measured if dynamically. Momentum is still at the core: photons have momentum, but not mass.

It’s important to realize that many of the latest ideas in physics (all of “Gauge Theories”)  rest on an idea invented in Paris seven centuries ago. Not to slight it, or to heap contempt on all the noble Nobels. But, surely, the time has come for really new ideas!

Patrice Ayme’  

Gravitational Waves Directly Detected

February 11, 2016

How Were Gravitational Waves detected?

By two detectors in the USA, one in Washington State, the other in Louisiana (detecting in one place would have been enough; in two places at the same time, the finding is overwhelming certain; the National Science Foundation of the USA had spent $1.1 billion, over 40 years, on that research). The detectors were simplicity themselves in concept: just a light interferometer to measure the distance between mirrors: light is split, sent in two perpendicular directions, and then re-united with itself. If one of the branches vary slightly in length relative to the other as a gravitational waves passes, an interference will show up. However mirrors hanging from pendulum hanging from pendulums five times, the whole thing in an anti-vibration machine had to be realized in half a dozen places in a chain of reflections and interference.

What are these Gravitational Waves?

As far as existing gravitation theory has it, distortion in space (and, thus time: time and space are related by the speed of light, c).

A Field Carries Away A Wave Just As A Whip Does

A Field Carries Away A Wave Just As A Whip Does

What Was Detected:

Einstein’s Gravitation Theory says that gravitation “is” the deformation of space(time) it brings. It is this deformation which was directly detected: a part of space in one direction was made shorter than in another direction. That meant a huge gravitational wave had passed.

The formidable event that caused it was the crash and collapse of two black holes into each other, each around 30 solar masses (much more details are known).

Gravitational Waves Were Certain Theoretically, & Already Detected:

We already had evidence for the existence of gravitational waves, both theoretical and experimental. Einstein’s name was rolled out, naturally enough. Because Einstein contributed to the present Theory of Gravitation (I am not anti-Einstein, far from it, but he closely worked with a number of other people, including the towering mathematician David Hilbert, who published his own approach to gravity within weeks of Einstein).

Einstein tends to appear as the cherry on many a cake. Those who celebrate the photogenic cherry, and ignore the cake, will go hungry.

WAVES ARE PREDICTED BY FINITE SPEED FIELD THEORY:

Actually, once one has hypothesized that gravitation is a field propagating at a finite speed, the apparition of waves is automatic.

The reasoning was made first by British and French Eighteenth Century physicists, in the framework of electromagnetic force; the mathematics is exactly the same with gravitation, as both fields vary with the inverse square of the distance. This is what happens in a radio antenna, with electrons going back and forth: the electric field that those electrons create is deformed in such a way that it moves other electron at a distance, back and forth.

The Gravitational Energy Loss Detection Method:

Thus, how do the waves show up? By shaking things at a distance. Using conservation of energy, it means that the field creating system, by moving just so, loses energy to its waves. An obvious case is two neutron stars (“pulsars”) rotating around each other: as they move back and forth, because of said rotation, they create gravitational waves which carry energy away from their system, As this happens, their system loses energy, the two stars should spiral into each other, thus rotate ever faster, and this should be observable, and computable exactly. This, indeed, was thoroughly observed, so we knew the waves were there.

Einstein’s Gravitation Theory is a sleight of hand:

It affects to identify space(time) deformations with gravitation. The idea actually originated with the awesome German mathematician Bernard Riemann, who invented manifold theory in part to point out that any force could be viewed as convergence, or divergence of geodesics (this is an idea that physics has been milking ever since).

This, though, does not answer Newton’s deeper query about the nature of gravitation (see below). It’s a bit as if a creature asked:’What is an arm?’ And one answered:’An arm is what pushes things, and we can detect the deformation the arm brought.’

What is the discovery good for?

Well, first, one has to make sure. Science is about making 100% sure. The present experiment improved some technology far out what anything else required (but then it does open some possibilities!) Just an importantly, now we will be able to check the details of the Gravitation Theory (the big picture was not in doubt; the details are). Ultimately it may be possible to communicate through gravitational waves, etc (although right now the deformation are only of the size of the fraction of a nucleus, and we could detect them!)

Who were the originators of that idea? First Newton himself pointed out that his own theory of gravitation was grotesque (I am paraphrasing). Newton:

“that one body may act upon another at a distance thro’ a Vacuum, without the Mediation of any thing else, by and through which their Action and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it.”

There were actually two problems: that the action was instantaneous, and that it was at a distance without intermediaries. Newton paid attention to the second one, physics, in the last two centuries, solved the first (which was implicit in Newton’s observations).

As I mentioned in passing above, part of Newton’s worries were addressed by the invention of the concept of field. And then by the realization that fields carried energy away in waves. At that point, gravitational waves were automatic… Riemann’s introduction of manifolds, and how to conceptualize forces in them gave the manifestation of its nature to gravitation we presently have, a distortion of space metric (once again, time follows automatically).

It’s important to know who invented what, and contributed most. Because it unveils how ideas appear and evolve. Then, in turn, one can make theories of that, accelerating innovation (don’t forget there is a horse race between innovation and oblivion, on the scale of the entire biosphere!)

Curiously, this is all very useful; GPS with a precision of 30 centimeters has allowed to find out that baboon society is more democratic than ours, in fundamental ways. “General Relativistic” effects (the fact clocks run slow in a gravitational field) make crucial corrections to the GPS computations (otherwise GPS would be pretty useless). So this is not all academic. GPS will soon allow robotic agriculture… among other things.

We still don’t know what gravitation is. However, we can predict more things than Newton did… Even if he did not suspect they were there. This is just the beginning of what could be revealed, if our satanic impulses are kept in check.

Patrice Ayme’

Solstice Song

December 25, 2015

So this is the Solstice,

And what have we done,

We, the civilization of Humanity,

The only one there is,

Our Earth, her Moon, our biosphere,

Once more around the Sun: another year over, a new one just begun.

In this dark universe, we have brought our lights, our lonely lights,

Gentler than all others, peering through the night,

Dark Universe, Enlightening Humanity. Light of Moon, Enlightenment of Thinking, Throwing Light On A Fragile Future That Better Be Human

Dark Universe, Enlightening Humanity. Light of Moon, Enlightenment of Thinking, Throwing Light On A Fragile Future That Better Be Human

To our Moon, we may owe our life, the Enlightenment of Humanity, the snows of temperate climate, which helped.

Merry Christmas, Roman Saturnials, Celtic Yule,

Our northern ancestors celebrated that birth of the year, ever since they created edible plants, and took care of them,

Eons ago,

Well before their words could come to us.

I hope you have fun,

The far and the dear one, the old and the young,

A very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear,

To use your minds as much as,

This civilization needs to keep on going,

Minimizing pain, maximixing love.

And so this is Christmas,

Verily We are the Anointed Ones.

For weak and for strong, for rich poor alike

The world is so wrong, yet so right.

No doubt a heavy, confusing, exhilarating,

Cross for us to bear,

No need to go the gym,

Exercising our minds is plenty.

And so happy Christmas,

For black and for white, for yellow and red ones,

Let’s stop all the fighting, which brought nothing good

And start those Jihads we really need,

Smartly discarding those we don’t.

A Happy New Year, let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear, to assume what we are,

Anointed to pursue,

Thought in the universe.

We hope you have fun

The near and the dear one, the old and the young,

A very Merry Christmas, a happy new year, let’s hope it’s a good one.

Those wars we don’t need are over, if you want it,

New wars have begun, which we really need,

Just to save our biosphere, our sanity, our civilization.

Merry Christmas:

It’s not a question of never more wars over the horizon,

It’s a question of how we fight, and why.

Humanity never rests,

Thinking is a debate,

Debate is combat,

Humanity means ever more dashing,

Incomprehensible, yet enlightening thoughts,

Where gods never threaded before,

Made obvious for all to see.

Humanity means ever more science, and fiction,

Humanity means going to Mars,

And well beyond, Plus Oultre, as Charles V put it,

Humanity means going thermonuclear,

Humanity means never aging,

Humanity means ever anew,

Thinking through everything.

Humanity means never any return of the same,

Humanity means there is no horizon,

But for the next one,

And the one after that.

Humanity means love for us shall lead us,

Ever after.

So enjoy,

Enjoy your Earth and her Moon, ever rotating around their Sun.

Life has been an ever-changing journey,

Ever since it started to evolve, more than four billion years ago,

Ever faster,

Ever more potent,

The greatest change is upon us now,

Life, thought,

Will blossom across the galaxy,

They have to, just to survive,

And we are in charge,

So happy Solstice,

We are going to need ever more happiness,

To conquer all,

Starting with ourselves.

Patrice Ayme’

Nuke That Comet

October 2, 2014

Many are not held back about being strident. Why should not intellectuals do the same? After all, what they do is most important. So Nietzsche was strident, for example against German racist, anti-Semite, mediocre nationalistic, herd like aspiring bourgeois. Apparently that was not strident enough, and, somehow, the Nazis succeeded to make many believe that their worst enemy (Nietzsche) was their prophet.

The herd approves of those who are peaceful. So, to be taken seriously by the herd, to be a bovine intellectual, so to speak, one needs to be for peace, against conflict and anything violent. In particular, nuclear power, you know, from the nuclei which are all over matter, is not kosher.

Asteroid, 500 Kilotons, 17 Meters Across, 25 Miles Away.

Asteroid, 500 Kilotons, 17 Meters Across, 25 Miles Away.

The wall of a zinc plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, was damaged by a shockwave from the meteor exploding 40 kilometers away, in 2013. With a mass of around 10,000 tons, 50% more than the Eiffel Tower, its explosion at 30 kilometers altitude damaged 7,200 buildings in 6 cities, injuring 1,500 people. Just a warning. It was the fiercest impact known since the Tunguska event… That destroyed 80 million trees in a radius of around 30 kilometers… Yet left not even a fleck of dust we know of. But there may have been others over the oceans, or even… Amazonia in the 1930s, where an object brighter than the sun impacted!

A 100 meters across asteroid would explode with around 100 Megatons of TNT energy, around double the largest nuclear device ever exploded (the notorious “Czar Bomba”; see the picture inside “The Worst)

For years would-be wise men, in scientist clothing claimed that nuclear weapons would not be efficient against asteroids. That was obviously an idiotic, and even dangerous position to have. in most plausible scenarios of a bolide impact, we would have little warning. A typical case is that of a comet on an hyperbolic trajectory, falling at enormous speed from the Oort Cloud.

Such bolides are attracted by planets like flies to honey. After all, gravitation is not called “universal attraction” for no good reason.

One such comets is going to graze Mars. It may as well have headed straight to Earth.

And then what?

Nukes. Big, fat, thermonuclear nukes.

Indeed, soft options then don’t work. Forget “gravity tractor” and “impactor.” The former involves using gravitational tug from a large spaceship to tweak an asteroid’s course. The impactor would crash at high speed into the asteroid to effect the same purpose… both may well fail, as asteroid are bizarrely constituted. Some are little more than rubble piles.

Soft methods would only work if the asteroid were small enough and seen soon enough. Many, as the one above, come from the Sun’s direction, so cannot be seen from Earth, as they catch up with her.

For large objects, short response times, or a comet, a nuclear explosion “is the only option,” (said, for asteroids, Bong Wie, a professor and director of Iowa State University’s Asteroid Deflection Research Center).

I wrote entire essays on this in the past. Now I am happy to announce that this point of view has been heard.

Some U.S. nuclear-warhead components, scheduled for disassembly, have gotten a new lease on life. Reason: possible use in defending the Earth against killer asteroids, or comets.

The National Nuclear Security Administration manages the U.S. atomic-weapons arsenal. The warhead components, containing highly enriched uranium, are being retained “pending a senior-level government evaluation of their use in planetary defense against earthbound asteroids,” an April 2014 report reveals. (A reason to keep components is that particularly powerful H bombs may have to be fabricated quickly, in the case of a looming large object, such as a comet; bombs in present arsenals can be delivered precisely, so are not very powerful, although they would be effective against very small asteroids.)

Asteroids with a diameter of about a kilometer or bigger, could “produce global devastation,” said the National Research Council in 2010. Hundreds cross Earth’s orbit, yet none are expected to impact for at least 100 years.

However at least 100,000 or more asteroids at least 50 meters in diameter cross Earth’s orbit. Probably no more than 5% of these “Near-Earth Objects” have been detected. A 50 meter asteroid exploding over a large city could kill up to 30 million people.

Those beasts tend to explode in the atmosphere, leaving no material remnants, as happened in Tunguska. So the statistics we have about how frequently they come knocking, are suspect.

It’s a world of forces, a violent world, out there. Better be ready.

When flying a civilization, we have to assume that, if it may happen, it will happen.  Especially if it’s very catastrophic. That’s the essence of Catastrophic Calculus, fundamental to flying planes, and civilizations.

Patrice Ayme’

Cosmic Background Fanaticism

July 3, 2014

We have one experimental find: the Cosmic Radiation Background (CRB), a uniform light from all over the sky at 2.7 degree Kelvin. I will argue that, on the face of it, it has three possible causes. However only one is considered to be true, and is consequently explored to death. That is, as if the lives of physicists depended on it. In truth, it’s only their careers that depend upon it.

A theory nearly everybody believes in, is the “Big Bang”. After all, it’s in the Bible. The Bible is popular, thus, so is the “Big Bang”. As behooves something so big, it’s supposed to explain everything, for example why there is a Cosmic Radiation Background, why there is Helium, etc.

Pleiades Star Cluster: Close To Olbers Effect...

Pleiades Star Cluster: Close To Olbers Effect…

Skeptics will smirk: for centuries people searched for the Cosmic Radiation Background: then, it was called “Olbers Paradox”. The “Paradox” was that there should be a Cosmic Light Background (the light of distant stars)…

Olbers’ reasoning was simple: 1) suppose the universe is infinite. 2) thus looking anywhere around the sky, once gaze is bound to end on the surface of a star. 3) therefore the sky ought to be uniformly bright according to the brightness of the average star.

[Let’s forget modern subtleties such as Red Dwarf Stars and Brown Dwarves…]

However, pointed out Olbers there was no uniform brightness.

Now one such uniform cosmic light has been found, though, nobody seems to remember Olbers’ name. Olbers’ reasoning is inconvenient.

Indeed, ever since Maxwell, we have established that light is electromagnetic radiation. So the Olbers Paradox could very well show up, not as visible light, but as a weak radiation. Why? Well, suppose that distant parts of the Universe recede, as Hubble and his predecessors and colleagues observed: the light from distant stars would shift into the very deep infrared… As observed!

However, now that the Olbers Paradox has become the Olbers Effect, it’s used to explain something else completely different, and outright weird: the Big Boom. Instead of being the light of distant stars (or the like), as Olbers would have had it, the Cosmic Radiation Background (CRB) is viewed as the light from… an explosion.

We see the expansion, we see the stars, we see the galaxies, do we see the explosions?

And the question then appears: what happened to the initial Olbers Paradox? Why does nobody talk about it anymore? Could it not be that the Cosmic Radiation Background is even boosted the Olbers Effect with, say, tired light?

Why are these sort of natural, historically laden questions not addressed anymore?

The answer is simple: take Princeton University’s Physics Department. All professors there are string theorists. Problem: strings don’t exist. So these people are professors of inexistence. No wonder they can’t answer history.

It’s true that theoretical considerations can lead to phenomenological interrogations. But string theory had its chance. By occupying all the theoretical space, it prevents other theories to have their chance too.

Let’s change intellectual gears, and lift the debate into Meta.

What we have here is one experimental find: the Cosmic Radiation Background (CRB), a uniform light from all over the sky at 2.7 degree Kelvin.

We have three possible explanations, yet only one is pushed and pushed and pushed. That’s not the proper scientific method. To figure things out, we have to look everywhere, and make sure that logical branching points have been explored.

OK, governments do not give enough money to do that. They prefer hedge fund managers and Google clowns.

In the age when robots can replace most work, it’s time to reconsider this. Why? Why is it so important to get the universe right? Well, be it only because by doing so, we make our intelligence more subtle. In Bangladesh, the sea is now rising more than 16 millimeters per year, threatening one hundred million people. And nobody knows why.

Perfecting our ability to observe and make theories is our essence. And no better place there is to perfect it than the entire universe.

On a more aggressive meta level, to understand fanaticism, and the related intellectual fascism is urgently needed. In this respect the entire field of physics, as the self described most clever people in the world can be exposed to be complete fools.

Remember the TOE? The Theory Of Everything? Well, as we now know, physicists have theories on, at most 4% of the universe. And those are obviously incomplete. But that’s another story.

In the same vein, maybe they have only a 4% explanation of the Cosmic Radiation Background. Those who are honest enough, and clever enough, will admit that may well be true. No honesty in matters intellectual, no intelligence.

Patrice Aymé

Constructing TIME

June 3, 2014

How does one usually define time? Well, I will argue, it’s constructed by machines.

This has major consequences in physics, to be evoked some other time: Cosmic Inflation theory uses time, but has forgotten to define it. Thus a philosophical-historical review is in order.

The concept of time was developed experimentally over several millennia.  Time was important in agriculture: it allowed predicting when to do some specific activities essential to agriculture (planting, irrigation works, etc.).

Mayan Calendar: No Time, No Hydraulic Civilizations

Mayan Calendar: No Time, No Hydraulic Civilizations

The Mayas, and the Babylonians discovered that astronomy, observing stars and planets, allowed to predict the seasons. Thus, they defined time. The Mayan civilization depended upon highly technological seasonally constrained hydraulics, so time was of the essence. The Mayans thrived for millennia before an inordinate drought brought ecological catastrophe and the consequential mayhem (7C to 9C).

Shortly after the equal sign was invented (circa 1500 CE), time appeared in the equations of the Seventeenth Century physics. Time was fundamental to the equations of classical mechanics that described both how mechanical forces and gravitation-imparted trajectories: every dynamical phenomenon was a function of time, and its acceleration, the double derivative relative to time, was the force.

This classical time allowed to determine longitude in navigation. The more precise the time, the more precisely navigators knew where they were in the middle of the ocean. This (new) mechanical notion of time had grown from astronomical time, and was found, de facto, to be identical with astronomical time.

Mathematics and physics were deeply entangled. Time is truly an injection of the Real Line into the space(s) the equations are about. The concept of Real Line is implicitly central to calculus. Calculus was developed for physics.

However, in the Nineteenth Century, equations were derived for a force that was not found in Classical Mechanics, Electromagnetism.

(17 C) Gravitation is what one could call (until 1916!), a “point force”: a planet of mass M can be replaced by a point of mass M (that’s Gauss theorem; it caused lots of trouble to Newton).

Electromagnetism was more complex than gravitation.  Faraday drew lines of force lovingly (and was despised for it). Maxwell transformed them into “field” equations.

A “field”, just as a field of wheat. The Electromagnetic field could turn in circles on itself, or make lobes.

Sometimes, electric charges behave like “point forces” too. But magnetic charges could not be found: they were never like point (“monopoles” in modern jargon). However, electricity would turn into magnetism, and varying magnetism into electricity. Electromagnetism was exasperatingly complicated.

A journalist asked Faraday what use the fact that a varying magnetic field created electricity had. Faraday retorted: ”What’s the use of a new born baby?

All our industry now rests on this new born baby. (By the way, Michael Faraday was directly supported personally by the top plutocrat in Britain, the king.)

A field is non local. Whereas it looked as if gravitation did not need to be described by a field (an impression Einstein would change, but that’s besides the points made here), it was certainly not the case for electromagnetism.

Any force generates an acceleration, hence a dynamic, hence a trajectory. So classical mechanics generated a notion of time (it had turned out that time from a mechanical force, a spring, was the same as from gravitation).

Similarly for electromagnetism: it’s a force, so it defines a notion of time. However, even classically, electromagnetism was non-local. So the clocks defined by electromagnetism are non-local. I call them holonomic. (Adjusting classical time to electromagnetic time is called Special Relativity; it turned out that gravity needed to be made into a field, and that time needed to vary with speed so that physics was independent of speed.)

This notion of non-local time, it turned out, was another excellent torpedo against Cosmic Inflation, and the naivety that helped built it. More later…

Patrice Aymé

 

40 BILLION EARTHS? Yes & NO.

November 6, 2013

Up to twenty years ago, a reasonable opinion among scientists was that there might be just one solar system. Ours. Scientists like to project gravitas; having little green men all over didn’t look serious.

However, studying delicately the lights of stars, how they vary in intensity, how they doppler-shift, more than 1,000 planets have been found. Solar systems seem ubiquitous. Astronomers reported in 2013 that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy. However, consider this:

Centaurus A: Lobes Of Tremendous Black Hole Explosion Fully Visible

Centaurus A: Lobes Of Tremendous Black Hole Explosion Fully Visible

Yes, that’s the center of a galaxy, and it has experienced a galactic size explosion from its central black hole.

One out of every five sun-like stars in our galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone, it seems — not too hot, not too cold — with surface temperatures compatible with liquid water. Yet, we have a monster black hole at the center of our giant galaxy,  just like the one exploding above.

The Milky way’s black hole is called Sagittarius A*. It exploded last two million years ago. Early Homo Erectus, down south, saw it. The furious lobes of the explosion are still spreading out, hundreds of thousands of light years away.

We are talking here about explosions potentially stronger than the strongest supernova by many orders of magnitude (depending upon the size of what’s falling into Sagittarius. By the way, a large interstellar cloud is just heading that way, and astronomers hope to see fireworks soon, just like an avalanche makes sparks, but on an immensely greaters scale).

Such galactic drama has a potential impact on the presence of advanced life. The richer the galaxy gets in various features with potentially catastrophic developments, the lower the probability of advanced life to flourish. Reciprocally, the metallic content of stars has to be enough to develop life. Metals are found closer to the center of galaxies. Hence the galaxy itself is endowed with a potentially inhabitated-with-indigenous life zone (generally labelled by the misleading “habitable” adjective; the main point of this present essay is the distinction between what we could colonize, and indigenous life).

The profusion of habitable planets is all the more remarkable, as the primitive methods used so far require the planet to pass between us and its star.

(The research, started on the ground in Europe, expanded with dedicated satellites, the French Corot and NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.). Sun-like stars are “yellow dwarves”. They live ten billion years.

From that, confusing “habitable” and “inhabitated”, the New York Times deduced: “The known odds of something — or someone — living far, far away from Earth improved beyond astronomers’ boldest dreams on Monday. “

However, it’s not that simple.

Primitive bacterial life is probably frequent. However advanced life (animals) is probably very rare, as many are the potential catastrophes. And one needs billions of years to go from primitive life to animals.

After life forms making oxygen on Earth appeared, the atmosphere went from reducing (full of strong greenhouse methane) to oxidizing (full of oxygen). As methane mostly disappeared, so did the greenhouse. Earth froze, all the way down to the equator:

When Snowball Earth Nearly Killed Life

When Snowball Earth Nearly Killed Life

Yet volcanoes kept on belching CO2 through the ice. That CO2 built up above the ice, caused a strong greenhouse, and the ice melted. Life had survived. Mighty volcanism has saved the Earth, just in time.

That “snowball Earth” catastrophe repeated a few times before the Earth oxygen based system became stable. Catastrophe had been engaged, several times, but the disappearance of oxygen creating life forms had been avoided, just barely.

Many are the other catastrophes we have become aware of, that could wipe out advanced life: proximal supernovas or gamma ray explosions.

Cataclysmic eruption of the central galactic black hole happen frequently. The lobes from the last one are still visible, perpendicularly high off the galactic plane.  The radiation is still making the Magellanic Stream simmer, 200,000 light years away. Such explosions have got to have sterilized a good part of the galaxy.

In 2014 when part of the huge gas cloud known as G2 falls into Sagittarius A*, we will learn better how inhospitable the central galaxy is for advanced life.

Many of the star systems revealed out there have surprising feature: heavy planets (“super Jupiters“) grazing their own stars. It’s unlikely those giants were formed where they are. They probably swept their entire systems, destroying all the rocky planets in their giant way. We don’t understand these cataclysmic dynamics, but they seem frequent.

Solar energy received on Earth fluctuated and changed a lot, as the Sun itself changed. Maybe the energy received from the Sun doubled over the last five billion years. But, as it turned out, just so, that Earthly life could survive. Also the inner nuclear reactor with its convective magma and tectonic plates was able to keep the carbon dioxide up in the air, just so.

This looks like a double miracle, and maybe, it’s all what it is. If it’s really a double miracle (that is the square of two very low probabilities), advanced life could be very rare, indeed.

The Goldilocks zones, the habitable zones, that astronomers presently consider seem to be all too large to allow life to evolve over billions of years. They have to be much narrower and not just for those around red dwarves.

Red Dwarves are (by far) the most frequent and long living stars. But they seem prone to X Ray flaring, inimical to life as we can imagine it, and possibly eroding planetary atmospheres.

One of our Goldilocks, Mars, started well, but lost its CO2 and became too cold. The other Goldilocks, Venus, suffered the opposite major technical malfunction: a runaway CO2 greenhouse.

Mars’ axis of rotation tilts on the solar system’s plane enormously: by 60 degrees, over millions of years. So Mars experiences considerable climatic variations over the eons, as it goes through slow super winters and super summers (it’s imaginable that, as the poles melt, Mars is much more habitable during super summers; thus life underground, hibernating is also imaginable there).

Earth’s Moon prevents this sort of crazy hyper seasons. While, differently from Venus, Earth rotates at reasonable clip, homogenizing the temperatures. Venus takes 243 days to rotate.

It is startling that, of the four inner and only rocky planets, just one, Earth has a rotation compatible with the long term evolution of advanced life.

Earth has also two striking characteristics: it has a very large moon that store much of the angular momentum of the Earth-Moon system. Without Moon, the Earth would rotate on itself once every 8 hours (after 5 billion years of braking by Solar tides; the braking by Moon tides is much stronger).

The Moon used to hover at least ten times closer than now, when Earth’s days were at most 6 hours long.

The tidal force is the difference between gravitational attraction in two closely separated places, so it’s the differential of said attraction (which is proportional to 1/dd; d being the distance). Hence the tidal force is inversely proportional to the cube of the distance.

Thus on early Earth tides a kilometer high were common, washing back and forth every three hours. a hyper super tsunami every three hours, going deep inside the continents. Not exactly conditions you expect all over the universe.

Hence biological material fabricated on the continental margins in shallow pools  would get mixed with the oceans readily. That would guarantee an accelerated launch of life (and indeed we know life started on Earth very fast).

Acceleration may imply existence, though: life, once started for real, is very adaptable. So the tremendous mixing of the kilometer tides may be a necessary condition for life!

If such is the case, it goes without saying life is exceedingly rare. (I’m exaggerating the point a bit here; yet, it’s entirely possible that the tides made the difference between bacterial life in a few dozens of million years, and having it in a few billions. Incubators where life starting processes are engaged work better with mixing.)

The theory of formation of the Moon is wobbly (recent detailed computations of the simplest impact theory do not work). All we know for sure, thanks to the Moon rocks from Apollo, is that the Moon is made of Earth mantle materials.

Somehow the two planets split in two. (Fission. Get it? It maybe a hint.)

Another thing we know for sure is that Earth has, at its core, a giant nuclear fission reactor, keeping Earth’s  core hotter than the surface of the sun. An unimaginable liquid ocean of liquid iron deep down inside below our feet undergoes iron weather. Hell itself, the old fashion way, pales in comparison.

Could the Moon and the giant nuclear reactor have the same origin? This is my provocative question of the day. The Moon, our life giver, could well have formed from giant nuclear explosions, of another of our life givers, what became the nuke at the core. I can already hear herds of ecologists yelp in the distance. I present the facts, you pseudo-ecologists don’t decide upon them. It’s clear that nuclear fission is not in Drake equation: if nothing else, it’s too politically incorrect.

All the preceding makes this clear:

Many are the inhabitable planets, yet few will be inhabitated by serious denizens.

This means that the cosmos is all for our taking. The only question is how to get there. The closest stars in the Proxima, Beta and Alpha Centauri system are not attainable, for a human crew, with existing technology.

However, if we mastered clean colossal energy production, of the order of the entire present energy production of humanity, we could get a colony there (only presently imaginable technology would be fusion).

Giordano Bruno, professor, astronomer, and priest suggested that there were many other inhabitated systems around the stars. That insult against Islam Christianity was punished the hard way: the Vatican, the famous terrorist organization of god crazies, put a device in Giordano’s mouth that pierced his palate, and having made sure that way that he could not tell the truth, the terrorists then burned him alive. After seven years of torture.

The horror of truth was unbearable to theo-plutocrats.

Now we face something even worse: everywhere out there is very primitive life. It is likely gracing 40 billion worlds. But, if one has to duplicate the succession of miracles and improbabilities that made Earth, to earn advanced life, it may be just here that civilization ever rose to contemplate them.

Congratulations to India for launching yesterday a mission to Mars ostensibly to find out if there is life there (by finding CH4; while life is presently unlikely, Mars has much to teach, including whether it started there). That’s the spirit!

The spirit is to have minds go where even imagination itself did not go before.

If we sit back, and look at the universe we have now, from Dark Matter, to Dark Energy, to Sagittarius, to the nuclear reactor below, to billions of Earths, to a strange Higgs, to Non Aristotelian logic, we see a wealth, an opulence of possibilities inconceivable twenty years ago.

Progress is not just about doing better what was done yesterday. It’s also about previously inconceivable blossoms of entirely new mental universes.

***

Patrice Ayme

Nuke Bad Comets

March 10, 2013

IT’S THE ONLY WAY (TO FULL EMPLOYMENT, AMONG OTHER THINGS).

Abstract: Appropriate use of technology is paramount, as civilization tremble, and the Earth turns into a gas chamber. The way drones have been used to kill extra-judicially in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is deeply inappropriate. Yet, drones can be used very appropriately on a battlefield. But to use them to bomb millennia of Western morality, is definitively inappropriate. Our technology is turning us into gods, but we better be smarter than the Greek ones of lore. Remember what happened to the Greeks.

The way nuclear energy has been used has often been inappropriate. Yet, nuclear energy shortened up World War Two by several million deaths. Nukes could also save billions, should a bad comet suddenly appear.

Comet Pan-STARRS Visible This Weekend

Comet Pan-STARRS Visible This Weekend

The comet pictured above was detected by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawai’i. It’s a “sun-grazer” comet with an elliptic orbit of 106,000 years (so it’s predictable). Perihelion: .302 AU, March 10 (today!). So it is getting as close to the sun as Mercury gets periodically.

Guess what? By a troubling coincidence one such bad comet has precisely just surprised us. OK, it’s not coming for us, but how many of those are there out there? Obviously more than we thought.

Space faring nations with the appropriate technology, nuclear, military, electronic and ballistic, such as France and the USA, should make well financed contingency plans to prepare to engage such a giant object with a nuclear bomb upon very short notice. This is not trivial, because of the unusual speeds and energies involved. The technology would also allow to intercept “city killer” asteroid, even with only a few hours’ warning (after dialing down the megatonnage of the bomb).

Only nuclear energy would work to deal with large impactors, forget big tales for small children, about painting them blue or something. One does not deflect comets with brooms, or firecrackers, but with an explosive energy a million times greater than what Genghis Khan used. That we fortunately have mastered. If we are masters of our souls, we can be masters of fusion.

***  

A BIGGER BANG:

Cosmic warnings are piling up. On January 3, 2013, a comet was discovered. It’s called C/2013 A1. It is on a hyperbolic trajectory, and moves in a retrograde orbit. That means it may be extra solar, and should be leaving the solar system. Maybe it is coming from outside the solar system.

Comet C/2013 A1 is on a collision course with Mars.

October 2014?

October 2014?

Even The Economist, the rogue free market magazine I subscribe to, in “Hits Keep Coming”, thinks that the big governments’ program promoted by the present essay is a good idea, and would give something meaningful for NASA to do

A crucial articulation of the present Greater Depression is that people in Western countries are running out of meaningful things to do, as the plutocracy has deliberately robbed them of employment and power, thus meaning. This essay speaks of struggling against comets, but that will not happen, before a bit of class struggle.

C/2013 A1 is a completely different style of comet from Pan-STARRS. C/2013 A1 is hyperbolic, not elliptic. It means that the comet has so much kinetic energy that, should it not collide this something first, it will escape the Solar System.

C/2013 A1 will come so close to Mars that it may well hit it (comets, because they emit jets of steam, behave a bit like rockets: they can go sideways). Should C/2013 A1 collide with Mars, the event should be most remarkable.

The current estimate of the absolute magnitude of the nucleus M2 = 10.3 indicates a diameter from 10 to 50 km. Worse: the energy imparted is proportional to the square of the velocity, and that velocity is very high, much more than what is needed to escape the sun. C/2013 A1’s speed would be approximately 56 km/s by the time it approaches Mars. By comparison the Solar System’s escape velocity in the vicinity of Mars is 34km/s! The comet has more than twice the energy needed to go visit other stars.  

The energy of impact on Mars, should it happen, might reach the equivalent of staggering 20 billion megatons of TNT!

***

SPACEGUARD NEEDED:

We are lucky that C/2013 A1 is heading towards Mars and not Earth! One has to understand that big planets are for comets like honey strips for flies. They attract them.

That effect protects us. Jupiter is our existing Spaceguard system: it sucks in comets. Jupiter has 318 times the mass of the Earth, making it literally 318 times more attractive for comets (from the gravitation law that Isaac Newton reminded us a scientifically minded French priest had found earlier; often misattributed to Newton nowadays, in a spirit of manifest Anglo-Saxon, hence Wall Street-City of London supremacy).

Two large comets collided with Jupiter in the last two decades. That changed the mood among professionals.

Pre-Socratic philosophers would have been fascinated by all the understanding we have gathered on all these celestial bodies. They were already fascinated, as all this astronomy shook their metaphysics to the core. Before Socrates, it was thought that thinking had to do with learning about what was out there. (After Socrates-Plato-Pluto, it was thought the universe was all about what was in one’s heads. And, sure enough, within a century, plutocracy, Macedonian backed plutocracy, had won all over… Except the Roman republic. Who said metaphysics had no impact?)

In 466 BCE, Halley’s comet passed by for the longest time, 75 days. Simultaneously, an enormous meteor (perhaps associated to the comet) crashed into Northern Greece. A piece, as large as a wagon, landed on the ground and stayed a tourist attraction for more than 5 centuries. That shattered the ancient theories of the Greeks about the heavens. Anaxagoras’ science came to the fore.

The Greeks would  have been fascinated by Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. Irresistibly attracted by the giant planet, that 15 kilometers diameter comet came too close to Jupiter. Shoemaker-Levy, quartered by Jupiter mighty gravitation, broke in 70 pieces or so, and went back to space. Still irresistibly attracted, the comet, now a train of comets of all sizes, hit the gas giant on its next pass. The pieces entered the Jovian atmosphere, making giant black impacts in it.

Each of the largest 7 fragments’ explosion was bigger than Earth herself. One explosion made a giant dark spot over 12,000 km across, and released an energy equivalent to 6 million megatons of TNT. That unreal succession of impacts into Jupiter in July 1994 blasted smugness about the stability of heavens to smithereens. Astronomer David Levy stated: “The giggle factor disappeared after Shoemaker-Levy 9”.

As the comet would pack 20 billion tons of TNT, something packing a few million tons of TNT may help Earth to negotiate with it. I want pacifists munching grass placidly in those vast, awesome Elysian fields in their heads, to meditate upon that.

***

JUST ONE SOLUTION. NUCLEAR ENERGY:

Nuclear energy, because of the basic reason that, by a factor of a million, nuclear energy is the greatest energy source we have. This is why the main problem of our civilization has become the problem of nuclear energy. How to use it appropriately, and not freak out.

If the comet were heading towards Earth we would be scrambling to put together a giant thermonuclear weapon. It could be done. The French republic, by itself, could do it, using in-house equipment. The chance of success, though would approach 100% if, and only if, one were to prepare well, in an international program.

Lots of Uranium 235, and Lithium 7, for a bigger bang, in the monster fission-fusion-fission thermonuclear device we would be hastening to prepare. One of several (because we would need back-ups). If we were really pressed for time, we could rigged together several conventional nuclear warheads, packed together to explode simultaneously. 

As NASA puts it in 2012: For non-technical reasons, this would likely be a last resort, but IT IS ALSO THE MOST POWERFUL TECHNIQUE and could take several different forms, as discussed in the report. The nuclear option would be usable for objects up to a few kilometers in diameter. http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/news_detail.cfm?ID=183

The efficiency of a thermonuclear explosion is augmented by an order of magnitude if it happens three meters below the surface rather than on contact, one centimeter above the surface. So NASA (2012) has proposed to extend the Nuclear Explosive Device with a frontal penetrator which would create a three meter crater. Easy computations show that, had the hyperbolic comet headed towards Earth, the interception speed would have been at least 80km/s, meaning that the thermonuclear fusion sequence would have to be started just before first contact.

Fast Electronics Required @ 80km/s

Fast Electronics Required @ 80km/s

Of the shelf H bombs could take care of comets a few kilometers across.

The power of nuclear devices is hard to fathom. The Castle Bravo device made a crater in the atoll reef. Although it was exploded 7 feet above the reef, the crater  had a diameter of 2 kilometers (6510 ft), with a depth of 80 meters (250 ft). It would have been much worse if it had been buried by 3 meters (five kilometers across, 160 meters deep).

For larger comets, a true bomb from hell would have to be devised: a fission-fusion-fission with a powerful third stage. A third stage is simply a Uranium envelope around the thermonuclear bomb. When it gets hit by “fast neutron” from the H bomb, it fissions in turn. The largest bomb ever tested, Tsar Bomba, over the arctic island of Novaya Zemlya, was 58 megatons TNT. It was deliberately made with NO third stage. (And the second stage may have contained some lead, instead of uranium.)

It’s not that a third stage is hard to make; it’s just uranium metal. But Soviet physicists computed that, with a third stage, Tsar Bomba would have been too powerful. The plane dropping the bomb and its parachute would have been destroyed, to start with. As it was windows were broken more than 1,000 kilometers away, in Finland and Norway. Because so little uranium was used, relative to the Lithium Deuteride fusion fuel, the mightiest bomb ever was also the cleanest, ever, at 97% pure fusion. (Fusion is cleaner because it fuses light elements to create slightly heavier, but still light, elements, and light elements tend not to be fission, or then not for long.)

By enriching the third stage tamper with U235, one could probably go beyond 200 Megatons (and such a tamper could be rigged around conventional warheads, too!).

Thus, contrarily to urban legend from luddites in denial, the largest thermonuclear bombs could take care of the largest comets.

Man-Made Fireball 8 Kilometers Across.

Man-Made Fireball 8 Kilometers Across.

The largest comets are 60% larger than the entire picture, if one uses the fireball as a measuring unit.

Even the largest comet would fragment and the pieces would rocket away. If done a few weeks before Earth impact, clearly all the pieces would miss (another rocket or two would be in back up, just in case).

***

BACK TO THE CATASTROPHE SCENARIO:

So let’s suppose again that C would be headed towards Earth instead of mars.

The next Ariane V would have to be modified hastily. Why Ariane V? First, that flight is already being assembled. It is Flight VA213, signifying the 213th launch of an Ariane from French Guiana since the family’s maiden liftoff in 1979. Its Automatic Transfer Vehicle, named Albert Einstein, would have to be modified with a booster, interception electronic package and basically a boom system in the front to detonate fast enough the nuke in the back, at the staggering speeds involved, so that the bomb can explode at 3 meter depth in the comet… 200 megatons against 20 billion megatons. Fun. Unreal reality.

In general, Ariane is the most dependable, most frequently launched rocket in the West’s arsenal. So it should be part of the quick reaction force to be assembled, as one would need to fling a hefty load.

***

IS IT ALL REAL?

When “experts” come, and talk about the frequency of impacts, the truth is that we do not have any idea what it is, up to a factor of ten, or more. It is certainly higher than what experts used to believe. three cometary impacts, or near impacts of comets on planets close to us in 20 years is a bad omen.

I was listening to National Public Radio where some scientist from John Hopkins pontificated that the asteroid strike in Siberia (which, a few tens of seconds off could well have annihilated a  major city) happened only every century. In truth, on land three impacts about ten times bigger are known in the last century. Scaling with the ocean, one gets nearly ten of these ten times bigger impacts. Not to say that this is the long term average: it could be a fluke. The same stupid guy was saying that, if we had only 6 months warning, we could not do anything.

And he works on preventing impacts! NPR said.

But what he forgot to say is that his program strictly uses the explosive technology Genghis Khan already had at his disposal. (And what happened? After a costly victory in Hungary, the Tumens had to turn back, them and their fancy black powder rockets.)

(Scientists should stop pontificating, or talk as if they knew, when they don’t, reserve that to the Pope.)

There may have been other impacts in historical times. Unrecorded.

Strange events happening in the Sixth Century, recorded by Chinese and Romans (the only civilizations recording anything reliably at the time) could be explained by impact(s) at sea. (Or then a large volcanic eruption, unidentified so far.) Those events, whatever they were, altered the climate.

Some will smirk, and ask to see the craters. Celestial bodies colliding with the Earth are not on any kind of trajectories. They are ruled by the sun, that is they tend to have trajectories similar to the Earth, but at an angle. So a typical impact will involve a low angle atmospheric entry, spreading death, fires, shock waves and devastation for thousands of kilometers. A crater will not necessary form (elongated craters have been found in Argentina). And remember, 2/3 of Earth is water.

Speaking of which, a proposed impact, the Mahuika impact, 1443 CE, off the south coast of New Zealand, would have been gigantic, typical of a mini comet 500 meters across. There is some evidence for such a cometary impact, from the existence of a crater, from Maori evacuation of the area, to suspected tektites, to suspicious ice cores in Antarctica, to megatsunamis, up to 220 meters high in the region (and 143 meters high in Australia). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahuika_crater

So much for these things being rare.

***

CHANGE THE MOOD ABOUT MOODS:

In recapitulation: learn to do what you can do about what matters.

Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, Nobel Laureate, etc. in Science Mag. editorial “Denial of Catastrophic Risks”, March 8, 2013: “In a media landscape saturated with sensational Science stories and “End of the World” Hollywood productions, it may be hard to persuade the wide public that real catastrophes could arise as unexpectedly as the 2008 financial crisis, and have a far greater impact. Society could be dealt shattering blows by the misapplication of technologies that exist already … we should be more concerned about events that have not yet happened but which, if they occurred even once, could cause worldwide devastation.”

What Rees is saying is that we should change MOODS. We should change our system of mood. Preparing for a comet impact, and how to defeat it would help to change the mood we have about moods.

We need to learn to deny our Denial of Catastrophic Risks.

And we learn to do something about catastrophic risks we have identified (I call this new way of thinking catastrophic calculus). Having an active Spaceguard program against asteroids and comets of all sizes and origins, hyperbolic or not, would be a good symbol of the new attitude we need to adopt. Besides, it would reduce unemployment, and push technology forward.  That’s appropriate.

***

Patrice Ayme