Monday, January 13, 2020

Can This Deadly New Virus Destroy the Human Race?

Many of the recent scary diseases have come from China, which makes sense given the large population base and population density. More than half the world's population lives within a circle in Southern Asia including China and India.

The original Game of Life was incredibly dark

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Ringworld - Wikipedia

Just finished the audiobook for this on YouTube.  Great book.

I read the novel around 30 years ago. The YouTube version of this is a little uneven on quality.  I suspect that it was copied from audio tape. 

I already have listened to the next two books on Audible.  I may listen to them again.  I started with the 4 prequels on Audible and I'm slowly  working my way through the entire series. 

Multiple authors have contributed to the "Known Space" universe that Larry Niven created.  There may be as many as 40 books. 

Best wishes,

John Coffey

7 World Cities Most Likely to Experience an Earthquake | Travel Trivia

Thursday, November 28, 2019

You can launch a balloon mission to the stratosphere for about the cost of an iPad. | Space

I have been wondering for a long time why couldn't you have a space capsule that is lifted by multiple hydrogen-filled balloons, and when it reaches the maximum altitude, it would pump the hydrogen out of the ballons and use it for fuel to continue its journey upwards?  At the maximum balloon height, air resistance would be minimal.  The temperatures would be cold making it easier to store gasses under compression if you need to.

I assume that ordinary balloons will break or be fragile.  Perhaps tougher materials can be devised for this.

You will also need oxygen.  The only question is if you can get enough from the atmosphere when you need it, or if you have to store it.  I'm thinking that maybe you could work out a process to acquire and store it as you rise.

To get a better technology, we need a really dense energy source, such as nuclear power, nuclear fusion, or antimatter.  The last two are beyond our capability, for now.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Mad Queen Chess

Between the years 1475 and 1500, a new variant of chess arose called "Mad Queen Chess." The previously weak queen suddenly became the most powerful piece on the board. This made games more exciting and allowed them to finish faster. This is the version of chess we play today, with only minor differences.  

I thought that "Mad Queen Chess" originated in England during the reign of Queen Mary I during the 1500s, but it actually originated in Spain in the late 1400s because Queen Isabella was a very powerful Queen.

I think that chess is being played now more than ever, but it has shifted to online.  When I first got on the board of the Utah Chess Association around the year 2000, the membership was down to 500's, compared to the heyday of around 800 to 900. By the time I left Utah, it was 350.  Some of this decline happened while I was President of the Utah Chess Association.  If it wasn't for the kid's tournaments it would have less than 100.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

M&M's - Wikipedia

The candy-coated chocolate concept was inspired by a method used to allow soldiers to carry chocolate in warm climates without it melting.

During World War II, the candies were exclusively sold to the military

Saturday, September 7, 2019

What Will We Miss?

This is a very interesting video.

It would seem impossible for humans to survive billions of year.  If we have any descendants billions of years from now, then they would be dramatically different in form and function.  They would also have to survive many worldwide extinction events.

Due to plate tectonics coming to an end, the Earth is predicted to be cold, dry and dead in 500 million years.  Maybe our more advanced descendants, if they are still around, will find a way to terraform the planet  

I think that machine intelligence will eventually replace biological intelligence.  I see this happening through our own actions as we slowly modify ourselves.  I think that the beginnings of this will start in our lifetimes.

Here is another very interesting video from the same source, called "Last Words."

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Friday, August 9, 2019

Planet Earth

I think about things that maybe most people wouldn't worry about. We live in a violent universe. Earth recently had a near-miss with a bus-sized asteroid that could have wiped out a major city with a ten megaton blast. However, chances are it would have just exploded over an ocean someplace. It is unlikely to hit a city. However, there are also more asteroids out there.

The last time the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park erupted 640,000 years ago, it destroyed life in several nearby states. By comparison, this makes the asteroid look like small potatoes. These explosions are so big they create their own weather over hundreds of miles. We are "overdue" for another eruption, which could wipe out half the country, but the experts say that it will not happen any time soon. I heard that NASA is trying to find a way to relieve some of the pressure below the park.

In 535 AD, multiple volcanic eruptions, and possibly a supervolcano, blackened out the sky everywhere on earth, creating an 18-month winter.

A couple of times in Earth's history the whole planet froze solid with a layer of ice a mile thick.

Over hundreds of millions of years, there have been several mass extinctions on planet Earth. At least one may have been caused by a gamma-ray burst. Gamma-ray bursts are massive amounts of deadly radiation from space given off by black hole formation. Although such events hitting Earth are extremely rare, they have the potential to wipe out all life on Earth.

The Earth was hit by an object the size of the planet Mars 4.5 billion years ago. This is how we got the Moon, which is made of material from the Earth's crust.

These catastrophic events are fortunately very rare.

We have been technically living in an ice age for 2.5 million years. There have been several periods of massive glaciation in human history. These usually had devastating effects on the human population. The human race was almost wiped out 50,000 years ago. All of human civilization, such as farming, writing, working with metals, building cities, occurred during a "brief" 10,000 year warm period after the last period of glaciation. We have been fortunate to live in a "brief" time of very stable climate. No matter what humans do with CO2, and we are going to run out of fossil fuels in 100 years anyway, we expect another period of glaciation 10,00 years from now.

The Earth's orbit around the sun is not entirely stable. The slow precession of the orbit causes dramatic effects on the climate.

Although you could argue that rising CO2 is an issue in the short run, over the long term the decline of CO2 has been very dramatic and looks very bleak. Over the last 40 million years atmospheric CO2 levels have been in a nosedive. This is because natural processes sequester CO2 in the ground. During the last period of glaciation, CO2 levels got down to a record low of 180 parts per million, which is just barely above the level where all terrestrial plants die off from a lack of CO2. If humans are around for another 10,000 years then we will have to deal with this problem.



Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Math problem.

This kind of thing causes huge arguments on the internet, but I think that engineer types should get easily get the answer...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

(28) Luciano Pavarotti sings "Nessun dorma" from Turandot (The Three Tenors in Concert 1994) - YouTube

There is a new movie about the singer, Pavarotti, which describes him as a playboy.

That made me wonder, what is the big deal about Pavarotti?

Pavarotti was the most commercially successful tenor ever.  At the time of his death, he was worth 472 million dollars.  That is a sum that would put most successful rock bands to shame.