Journey By Starlight

I ran across an interesting blog, Journey By Starlight, that deals with science in a way that is interesting. It is decidedly mainstream in the views expressed, a product of big-bangers’ and relativistic gravity, and I don’t mean to disrespect Einstein, but like Newton before him, his theories are incomplete; and honestly I expect that’s the way it will always be.

Personally though I’ve discarded the “Big Bang” years ago because despite all of the dogma, it just doesn’t agree, even with all the ad hoc fudge factors that were added to try to make it agree, with observation. I could provide a long list of discrepancies with observation but suffice it to say that I don’t believe the Big Bang theory.

Relativity also runs into a few problems, particularly in the realm of gravity. Gravity is better explained, in my view, through shadow theories, for the simple reason that they predict some phenomena which do in fact manifest themselves in nature.

For example, take the three body system of the Sun, Earth and the Earth’s moon. If bending of geodesic space-time coordinates were the explanation, then nothing special should happen when the Moon passes between the Earth and Sun. But in fact, during a solar eclipse, at totality, there is a slight dip in the gravity felt by the earth from the Sun and Moon. This is predicted by shadow gravity theories, but not by relativity.

Still, I think it’s useful to know the old theories and what lead up to what is current; and the old theories still make accurate predictions in most ordinary cases. We can use Newtonian physics for the majority of every day engineering tasks because, unless we approach the speed of light, it’s sufficiently accurate for engineering purposes.

Similarly, relativity fails at the quantum level, and as it happens also at the large scale universe level. However, it’s still useful for many near light speed but relatively local phenomena such as what happens in particle accelerators, nuclear reactors, atom bombs, laser communications systems, etc.

So I’ll just say take a look at this site; if you’re a mainstream big-banger you’ll love it, and even if you’re not it’s hard not to find the writing style fun, entertaining, and easy to comprehend.

Bussard Fusion Reactor Progress

As you may know by now, Dr. Bussard passed away after losing a battle with cancer, but his reactor lives on. Continued development is now being done by a five member team calling itself EMC2 fusion, with a navy contract (the navy funded the original research).

The next in the series after the WB-6 (originally to be called the WB7) has been built, and in preliminary testing, it has produced energy in accordance with Dr. Bussards calculations. So far, everything is going according to plan. It has not been operated at the full design power levels yet however.

If this unit lives up to expectations, the next reactor built will be a commercial power level reactor. The advantage of Dr. Bussards polywell inertial electrostatic confinement design is that only electrons have to be magnetically confined, and because they have 1/2000th the mass of a proton, this is much easier to accomplish. It does not require superconductive coils or exotic materials as with a Tokamak and the machine is physically much smaller and about 1/1000th the cost.

Further, it can operate with aneutronic fuels such as Be-11/Hydrogen and in so doing eliminate the need for heavy shielding and the neutron activation that comes with neutron producing fuels such as deuterium-tritium used in most other approaches to fusion.

That WB6’s successor is so far living up to design specifications provides optimism that inexpensive clean and abundant fusion energy may soon be available to the world. The small physical size of the machine will make it suitable for some transportation applications such as ships, trains, and possibly even large aircraft.

The economics of the machine will make cheap unlimited fusion power available even to the poorest nations on Earth. This single technological development may completely revolutionize life on this planet.

Gravity for the Masses

I ran across, “Gravity For The Masses“, doing a semi-random Google search looking for the latest and greatest in scientific breakthroughs.

I like this site; it’s kind of half-baked, but half-baked in a good way. A lot of thought in progress, which for me at least has the pleasant side effect of stimulating my own thoughts. I find myself agreeing with some things, disagreeing with others, but mostly I find myself thinking.

He seems to be on to some ideas, using completely different terminology, and actually some very different views, but some ideas that parallel some thoughts I’ve had.

For example, I think his take on how energy is connected, these connections are truly fundamental, well, I’ve had some thoughts along those lines but not exactly the same.

For example, the photon, usually it connects to electrons changing orbits; maybe billions of light-years apart. But, from the photons standpoint, it’s traveling at the speed of light, it sees infinite time compression, infinite length compression, so from it’s perspective, these two electrons are touching, and the time to get from one to the other is zero. From our perspective, maybe billions of light-years distance and billions of years time. So here is an area where I have had a similar concept though I’m sure I arrived at it entirely differently and we certainly differ in the details.

We are limited in our thinking by our perspectives, but a handful of people have been afforded the opportunity to step out of their ordinary perspective and I think that’s where breakthroughs come from. It’s probably also where psychotic behavior comes from and often there does seem to be more than a casual connection between the two.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “Reasonable men adjust themselves to their environment. Unreasonable men attempt to change their environment to suit themselves. Therefore, all progress is the work of unreasonable men.”

An unfortunate truth is that unreasonableness in and of itself does not guarantee progress, else this last seven years would have been presidential bliss.

I do feel this person’s site, “http://www.starpulls.com/“, is a positive contribution, it provides some new perspectives. So go have a look, lots of reading material there, and regardless of the scientific accuracy, and I think those who think they can judge that accurately are terribly egotistical, it’s thought provoking.

Asteroid and Mars

I first heard from someone that an asteroid had a 1-in-5 chance of hitting Mars on Jan 5, 2008, that it was the size of the asteroid that impacted Earth 65 million years ago.

Just went to look for details; far less exciting than that, the asteroid is the size that exploded over Tunguska in 1908. It would have been bad if you happened to be directly under the impact; but as it happens it was a remote region that mostly flattened a lot of trees. Not the major planet changing event of 65 million years ago.

The asteroid is also scheduled to possibly hit on January 30th, not January 5th, and the odds of an impact are 1-in-75 not 1-in-5. I am so disappointed but I imagine there might be some relieved Martian bacteria.

Fringe -> Mainstream

I’ve heard guests on Coast to Coast AM (formerly Art Bell Show) suggest that solar activity could increase the likelihood of earthquakes, that is where you have a fault that is stressed to the point where it’s ready to fracture and slip, a solar event could be a trigger. I’ve also heard guests suggest that HAARP or similar operations could induce earthquakes.

I used to dismiss these people as loony-bins but now I don’t know. I dismissed these things because of the magnitudes involved, HAARP operates with gigawatts of power, and even solar events perhaps terrawatts, but given the volume of Earth, that amount of energy seemed so minuscule compared to the masses involved that it seemed impossible for them to have any significant effect.

But today I ran across this article entitled, “Telluric currents add stress to siesmoactive zones and regulate earthquake activity“. I would have not thought the effects of telluric currents could be so great, and telluric currents are very much affected by things happening in the ionosphere. The ionosphere in turn is very much impacted by solar events, but can also be affected locally at least by HAARP and it’s ilk.

So all of the sudden what I thought was seemingly absurd now has a physical connection and plausible cause.

Telomeres

DNA strands have non-encoding ends called telomeres. Telomeres are a non-encoding G-rich repeating sequence of base units that tells the cellular DNA replicative machinery that it’s reached the end of the DNA strand and prevents the ends of different DNA strands from being fused together. In humans and all functional vertebrates, that sequence is TTAGGG.

You can read about the details of nucleic acid synthesis here. One of the DNA strands can not be copied sequentially. Instead, primers are attached and replication happens backwards from that location. The resulting DNA segments are stitched together by another enzyme. This method can not replicate the very end of the DNA strand. Were it not for telomeres, coding DNA would be lost with each replication.

The telomeres perform another function. If it were not for some marker, enzymes that repair double strand DNA breaks would confuse the ends of two different chromosomes for a broken DNA strand and fuse them. Normally, when telomeres are shorted beyond a critical point, replication stops. Occasionally this type of DNA mutation happens.

Telomerase is an enzyme that adds additional base units back on to telomeres restoring their length. Telomerase is not active in normal somatic cells. DNA which codes for telomerase is present in every cell but transcription is prevented by methylation of that section of DNA. However, telomerase is active in germ cells and in proliferating cells such as the bone marrow stem cells that produce red blood cells. Actually this oversimplifies things greatly, the regulation of telomerase is actually quite complex involving other genes and proteins and is not a simple all or nothing proposition.

Initially life involved either self-replicating proteins or single strand RNA. Double strand DNA offered a form of checksum. It offered additional genetic stability that probably gave it a competitive advantage. Initially, DNA was probably in the form of a ring which allowed full sequential copying of both strands. Telomeres evolved allowing limited copying of non-circular strands of DNA. Eventually telomerase evolved providing a method of restoring the length of the telomeres.

The lack telomerase in some cells evolved not to promote the survival of the individual by providing a barrier to cancer, but rather to provide for programmed death and higher mutation rates giving our species an ability to more rapidly adapt to a changing environment. If the individuals lived significantly longer and the mutation rate was lower, genetic adaptation of our species would be slower. The suppression of telomerese in most cells was an additional evolutionary step promoting the survival of the species in a rapidly changing environment.

That our genes would posses sequences that promote the survival of the group over that of the individual is nothing new, we see examples of that in our behavior which is also genetically determined. We have a set of behaviors designed to promote the survival of the individual which we often consider primitive and which corresponds with the label, “The Id”, and we have a collection of behaviors that are geared towards the survival of the group which corresponds with the label, “The Superego”.

DNA which has the highest tendency to propagate successfully survives. Any quality that enhances the likelihood that a given DNA sequence will be propagated to future generations selects for that sequence. By programming the death of an organism, it can increase the survival fitness of the group, and thus itself.

Sharks have telomerase, an enzyme which lengthens telomeres, active in every cell in their body. Their telomeres don’t shorten and sharks do not have a genetically programmed life span the way humans do. Sharks keep growing throughout their entire life. The limit to their lifespan is the fact that they must keep moving in order for water to circulate through their gills so that they get oxygen they need to survive. Sharks rarely get cancer. Sharks also are exceptionally genetically stable, having changed very little in hundreds of millions of years.

In humans, telomerase is active in germ cells so that each new generation begins with a full length set of telomerese. The stem cells in the bone marrow that produce red blood cells has telomerase activity allowing them to reproduce the large number of generations necessary to replace cells that only live on average three days.

If the function of telomeres was to prevent cancer by limiting the number of cellular generations, we would expect to die within about a week of birth from leukemia, both because that protection afforded by telomere shortening is not present and because blood cells reproduce extremely rapidly. Telomerase introduced into human tissue cultures to allow the cell lines to reproduce indefinitely did not cause cancer.

Telomeres do protect against cancer by preventing the ends of DNA strands from being recognized as a double strand DNA break and fused with other DNA strands. It is also possible that the competition between telomerase and telomere shortening during reproduction provides a competition that limits the rate that cells containing telomerase can reproduce as opposed to an absolute limit on generations, and in that way limit potential cancer growth.

Leukemia and other blood cancers are relatively rare. Lung, stomach, co-rectal, prostate, liver, bladder, esophagus, and oral cancers are all more common than leukemia. In addition, in humans, we also find that as we age and the telomeres get shorter, DNA transcription errors increase and mutations and cancer rates increase with them.

If the cancer protectant theory of telomeres were correct, shorter telomeres would have the effect of putting the brakes on sooner, reducing the likelihood that a cell with a defect enabling uncontrolled replication would mutate into one in which the genes for telomerase was expressed and turning into full blown cancer. If not here to protect us from cancer, why then do most of our cells have the genetic machinery for creating telomerase turned off?

Picture this; there are groups of mammals, one group develops a mutation that suppresses the expression of telomerase maybe not entirely but to the point where it’s less efficient than others. This causes the individuals of this group to live a finite lifespan, where members of the other group live indefinitely save for accidents, predation, or starvation. That is to say the other group has no programmed lifespan.

The group with the telomerase suppression also has more mutations, more birth defects. The group adapts to these changes by reproducing at a higher rate enabling the group to maintain it’s population against environmental limits just as the group without the mutation does.

Now, imagine a rapidly changing environment. The group without the mutation live longer and have a slower reproductive rate. A generation takes more years to pass. They have lower mutation rates so adaptive mutations take more generations to occur.

The group with the mutations, new generations come more frequently and adaptive mutations occur more frequently. In a rapidly changing environment, they out compete the more stable group.

This, in a nutshell, is why I believe we have the genetic code that disables telomerase evolved, it provided a competitive advantage to the group, even though it limited the lifespan of the individual.

Arcs and Sparks from Marx

On that page I stumbled across the Marx generator. The Marx generator is a method of generating a high voltage pulse. It works by charging a number of capacitors in parallel (through resistors) and discharging them in series (through spark gaps).

This page from Penguins Lab has a good description and photos. Unfortunately, he does not specify where he obtained the capacitors from. A cursory search with Google didn’t yield positive results. I think it would be interesting to build one of these with a couple of hundred stages instead of twenty.

14 cm spark from Marx generator

The question becomes one of where to get the necessary components, and what to use as a support to build it on because few things are effective insulators when you’re talking several megavolts.

Also, this unit used 1 NF 20 KV capacitors:

1 nanofarad 20 kilovolt capacitors

The resulting unit takes approximately two seconds to charge and produces a relatively weak spark. I think I would like to use larger capacitor values so the resulting spark would be higher current and not so weak, lower value resistors and a higher current source so the charging of someone larger capacitors wouldn’t take forever.

Dealing with higher currents on the input side of coarse means you need to be real cautious. The amount of current you’re going to get from a computer monitor flyback like the setup shown on the Penguins Lab page is trivial and while capable of providing some physical pain, is not sufficient to be lethal and the only real injury threat is what you might smack when you rapidly withdraw your hand after getting zapped. Neither does the amount of energy stored in a 1NF capacitor represent a significant hazard but upscaling would change that.

Still, to scale this up to the megavolt range and use larger capacitors, if they could be afforded, is hard to resist.

Nasa Tether Experiment Video Follow-up

This is a follow-up regarding a NASA tether video I had posted earlier.

After the tether broke, this video gives the impression of living things swarming the tether. They seem to have internal structure, and they appear to be huge, given that the kilometer long tether is 88 nautical miles away by this time.

However, this video, which is widely distributed, is an excerpt of a longer video and in that longer video there is a point where the focus shifts from the tether far away to up close, at which point the dust particles come into focus and can be seen for what they are, then it shifts back to the tether.

The video when seen in full proves that NASA’s rather mundane explanation for these objects, that they are simply out of focus dust particles, is the correct one.

I am curious as to the nature of the cameras they use on the shuttle. I haven’t seen artifacts like that created by any camera I have ever used.

Earth’s Ionosphere, Magnetosphere, Auroras, LDE’s

I’ve been fascinated by radio since I was a young child. Radio seems to be a connection between our physical world and some sort of ether world outside of physical existence.

Speak into a microphone, modulate a transmitter, and if the signal is a high enough frequency to make it through the ionosphere, it goes out into space forever. Millennia after I’m gone from this worldly plain, signals, modulated with my voice, will still be traveling through space.

If the frequency isn’t high enough to make it through the ionosphere, well there is where some truly interesting stuff happens. There the signal may be absorbed, and since we know energy can neither be created nor destroyed, that means the signal is simply converted into some other form of energy. Or, the signal may be refracted back to Earth.

People commonly say the ionosphere “reflects” signals, but more properly it “refracts” them. The actual mechanics involve the interaction of an electromagnetic wave with free electrons in the ionosphere. In real terms the difference is that above a certain critical angle, the electromagnetic wave will not be directed back towards the Earth’s surface and there is phase shift and absorption. In the simplest of terms though it acts like a reflection if the frequency isn’t too high or the angle isn’t too steep.

There was a certain sense of immortality involved in radio. My voice will live on after I am long gone. There are phenomena involved that seemed to me, still seem to me, mystical and magical. One such phenomena that I occasionally encountered was something known as long delayed echo. Basically, one here’s an echo of the transmission delayed more than a simple reflection from the ionosphere can account for.

When I was operating my pirate radio station back in the mid 1970s, the frequency we normally ran on was 1200 Khz. At that time, there were a number of clear channel assignments, AM frequencies that only one station was permitted to transmit on at night, allowing reception of that station pretty much anywhere in the country (and many areas outside of the United States borders).

The only other station on 1200 Khz at the time was WOAI in San Antonio, Texas. We chose that frequency because WOAI’s signal was extremely weak in the Seattle area allowing our 100 watt signal to be heard over a fairly substantial distance. I never did receive any reports of it being received via skip however.

LDE, the phenomena of long delayed echoes is a truly strange one. When we operated our bootleg radio station, we had an off-the-air monitor (radio) to monitor our broadcast and make sure things were sounding good. When we’d turn the transmitter off, the AGC on the receiver would bring the gain up and you’d then here whatever noise was present on the frequency. Occasionally, I’d hear the last fraction of a second of our own broadcast repeat.

What made this possible? I don’t know but the ionosphere, magnetosphere, their interaction with each other, and with the solar wind, are all much stranger than commonly though. However, I do know that we received no reports of skip. Even if the signal had been strong enough to be reflected back to us, a trip around the Earth only takes about 1/7th of a second, the ionosphere and back only a few milliseconds, not long enough to account for the phenomena.

If not ionospheric, then what else could it be? One theory of LDE‘s is that, under the right conditions, a signal is converted into acoustic energy in the plasma of the ionosphere, travels some distance as an acoustic wave (which travels at the speed of sound in the ionosphere), and then is converted back to an electromagnetic wave. Mmm, maybe…

I should add all of this was happening before we had HAARP muddying the waters further. A funny thing about HAARP, I have heard and read all sorts of rumors about it’s capabilities being far greater than originally documented. Originally, HAARP was looking at using RF “heating” of the ionosphere, to intensify ionization in a region, to allow the bouncing of VHF and UHF signals that normally would not be reflected, back to the Earth’s surface. This would allow things like over the horizon radar and military communications over the horizon.

Recently, it was discovered that acoustic waves, sound, within the Sun, is coupled into the Sun’s magnetic field lines. It is these sound waves propagating in the magnetic field lines heat the chromosphere to 20,000 °C, and the corona one to two million °K, and during extreme activity as high as 3.6 million °K.

Many of the Suns magnetic field lines loop back upon themselves, but some do not and travel out into space and past our planet. They interact with the Earth’s magnetic field lines, and charged particles of the solar wind traveling along the Sun’s magnetic field lines couple into the Earth’s and travel along the Earth’s magnetic field lines, entering the atmosphere near the poles, exciting atoms in the upper atmosphere causing them to glow which is the phenomena we know as the Auroras.

I believe this system allows the coupling of the acoustic waves into the Sun all the way into the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere, and even into the planet itself.

Magnetosphere
Image from Wikipedia Commons
This image is in the public domain.
Derived from an image created by NASA.

Because protons and electrons in the solar wind have the same magnitude of charge (opposite polarity) but differ in mass by a factor of 2,000, the electrons spiral along magnetic field lines more tightly than protons. I believe this creates a separation of charge that is the root of the charge between the ionosphere and the Earth rather than lighting. Lightning, I believe, is actually discharging this potential not charging it. That is evidenced by the increase in lightning activity during solar maximums.

What all this is leading up to is that I believe the Earth’s magnetosphere and the Sun’s are intimately
connected, and that coupling adds energy to the planetary system that results in climate changes as well as internal activity. I believe it is probably the this complex system that somehow accounts for LDE’s.

Some of the things I’ve seen on the net, like a proposal to alter the ionosphere to protect low Earth orbiting satellites during a high altitude nuclear explosion or a extreme solar event, suggest that our military knows a lot more about the workings of the ionosphere and it’s interaction with the Sun than the civilian sector.

Because the ionosphere is a non-linear medium, it is possible to transmit to high frequency signals, the difference of which is the desired frequency to be created, and by doing so create signals in the ELF range. The military sees this as a possible method of communicating with submerged submarines since ELF penetrates the oceans. It also penetrates land, and is a potential method of seeing underground structures.

The most interesting low frequencies are near the Schumann resonance where the resonant cavity formed by the ionosphere and Earth tend to amplify certain frequencies.

An interesting aspect of frequencies near the Schumann resonance is that these are also frequencies close to those of human brain waves, and it has already been shown that external fields will entrain the brain and by extension affect states of consciousness. It is possible to entrain the brain to a low frequency and induce relaxation, lethargy, or sleep, or to higher frequencies, and induce alertness, anxiety, excitation, and irritation.

The creation of these low frequency signals of high amplitude can also effect the Earth’s magnetic field lines, and in turn steer where particles from the solar wind penetrate the atmosphere. This has the potential to be used as an extremely destructive weapon.

Another potential use, and I can’t help but wonder if the military isn’t exploring this although I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere, is the potential to extract huge quantities of energy from the ionosphere in the form of a DC electric current.

In short, the ionosphere is conductive, the Earth is conductive. A charge of between 100 v/meter and
300 v/meter exists between the ionosphere and ground. The interesting thing here is that it is also claimed that the ionosphere has a potential to ground of about 300KV. The problem here is if this were true then the ionosphere would only be 1-3 kilometers above the Earth, so something is wrong with one of those figures. Either the field strength has to be lower, or the total potential higher. If one could create an ionized column from the ground to the ionosphere, a huge current would discharge through that ionized column. The amount of energy involved would be unimaginably huge.

Well, just a few thoughts, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this subject. There is so much more I could say about this subject, and will say in the future, but I’ve got to do some work so can’t spend all night writing.