We got to talking about space warfare last night, and I realized something pretty weird: FTL drives effect massive shifts in velocity.

Almost every FTL spacecraft, in fiction, is capable of moving between planets in different star systems. The ship starts out roughly stationary relative to planet A, and winds up roughly stationary relative to planet B. How fast are A and B moving compared to one another? How fast do stars move?

Proxima Centauri has a radial velocity (relative to the solar system’s center-of-mass) of -21.7 +/- 1.8 km/s. Its proper motion vector is -3.77530 arcsec/year in right ascension, and 0.76933 arcsec/year in declination. At 4.243 light-years away, its proper motion relative to sol is 23.777 km/s. Its total relative velocity to sol is somewhere around 32.19 km/s, which is just a little faster than the velocity of the earth, rotating around the sun.

So Technology Review published a summary of an arxiv article arguing for mass quantization in black holes. Looks like an ultraviolet catastrophe argument, which is fascinating in itself. But first, I have to address this journalistic clusterfuck:

Of course, the question of this kind of black hole production at the LHC once again raises the thorny question of whether the safety assurances we’ve been given about these experiments are valid.

No, it means the exact opposite. The article is prompted by the absence of black holes in experimental products. The implications of the model are that black holes are harder for the LHC to create.

Killing animals and eating them may be immoral, but can we please stop claiming humans are “naturally” vegetarian? We’re opportunistic omnivores, which probably has something to do with why vegans need to watch their diets carefully in order to have working blood cells.

Look at your teeth. Now back to me. NOW BACK TO YOUR TEETH. That’s generalized dentition, and appears in classic omnivores. Look left. It’s a chimpanzee, our nearest evolutionary relative. He’s killing and eating a Colubus monkey, their most frequent prey. Look down. What’s that in your gut? Oh that’s right; it’s a lack of a fermenting vat, efficient digestive enzymes for grasses, and inability to synthesize key vitamins and amino acids. Look again. THOSE DEFICIENCIES ARE NOW A COLONY OF SYMBIOTIC BACTERIA WHICH METABOLIZE ANIMAL TISSUES. I’m eating a horse.

I enjoy fruits and vegetables. I eat a lot of them. Probably more than most vegans. And don’t get me started on how amazingly delicious (and good for you!) vegan food can be. But we really are omnivores—PETA’s bad science to the contrary.

Some recent reports have suggested incidents of scientific misconduct in the climate science community. While that is not evidence of incorrect conclusions, it does cast some doubt on the findings of the organizations involved–and right so, I believe. The APS newsletters for December and January have been chock-full of climate discussion–arguing for the retraction of the APS’s climate change statement or alteration to reflect uncertainty, counterarguments, and so forth.

My personal take on it is this: climate is really effing complicated. I know a little about the scientific method, publishing, data analysis, and review, but basically have no awareness of the intricacies of modeling the world’s atmosphere and hydrology. I’m also aware that plenty of people have significant personal and economic interests in the matter, and an underabundance of understanding. The only reasonable conclusion I can come to is this: trust the people who spend their lives trying to understand climate, and maintain some awareness of their methods. It is my belief, from the limited reading I’ve been able to do, that the vast majority of climate researchers are doing good science, and working hard to understand and explain to others a very complex problem.

Anyway, that’s why I think RealCimate’s analysis of the recent challenges over the IPCC’s AR4 is a good read.

These are pictures of various transverse electromagnetic modes for the laser we’re working with.

Laser beams aren’t constrained to being nice little smooth dots, though that’s one of the possible modes (TEM00). Since TEM00 has the most tightly focused beam, and the fewest irregularities, it’s the one many laser manufacturers force their device to operate at. There are other possible solutions, with varying patterns. The subscripts here indicate the number of divisions in the beam—I’m guessing on some of the higher ones. There’s also a strange pattern which looks like it has radial, not rectilinear, divisions; I’m not sure what that is, exactly.

tem00_thumb.jpg TEM00 tem01_thumb.jpg TEM01 tem02_thumb.jpg TEM02
tem11_thumb.jpg TEM11 tem22_thumb.jpg TEM22 tem23_thumb.jpg TEM23
tem33_thumb.jpg TEM33? tem35_thumb.jpg TEM35? radial_thumb.jpg Radial mode?

You know what’s going to be awesome? When I have to get a normal job.

“So, why do you think you’d be great at Jimmy John’s Sub Shop?”
“Ummmm… I can compute first-order perturbations to degenerate Hamiltonians. Please hire me?”
“What else?”
“I can design your web site and ordering system…”
“Nope, already got one.”
“I can be thrown around safely!”
“Next please.”

I have the weirdest skill set on the planet.

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