SPECIAL SECTION: Message For Our “Friends” In The Middle Kingdom
I normally save this for near the end, but…basically…up your shit-kicking barbarian asses. Yes, barbarian! It took a bunch of sailors in Western Asia to invent a real alphabet instead of badly drawn cartoons to write with. So much for your “civilization.”
Yeah, the WORLD noticed you had to borrow the Latin alphabet to make Pinyin. Like with every other idea you had to steal from us “Foreign Devils” since you rammed your heads up your asses five centuries ago, you sure managed to bastardize it badly in the process.
Have you stopped eating bats yet? Are you shit-kickers still sleeping with farm animals?
Or maybe even just had the slightest inkling of treating lives as something you don’t just casually dispose of?
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!
And here’s my response to barbarian “asshoes” like you:
OK, with that rant out of my system…
Biden Gives Us Too Much Credit
…we can move on to the next one.
Apparently Biden (or his puppeteer) has decided we’re to blame for all of the fail in the United States today.
Sorry to disappoint you Joe (or whoever), but you managed to do that all on your own; not only that, you wouldn’t let us NOT give you the chance because you insisted on cheating your way into power.
Yep, you-all are incompetent, and so proud of it you expect our applause for your sincerity. Fuck that!!
It wouldn’t be so bad, but you insist that everyone else have to share in your misery. Nope, can’t have anyone get out from under it. Somehow your grand vision only works if every single other person on earth is forced to go along. So much as ONE PERSON not going along is enough to make it all fail, apparently.
In engineering school we’re taught that a design that has seven to eight billion single points of failure…sucks.
Actually, we weren’t taught that. Because it would never have occurred to the professors to use such a ridiculous example.
The So-Called Vax
I think I can actually make sense of the Vaxers now. (And I’m going to call it the “treatment” from here forward.)
Everything they do makes sense (from their point of view, that is), if you assume that they believe the purpose of the treatment is to prevent the recipient from infecting others. It’s not to protect the recipient from others, it’s to protect others from the recipient.
(Now it is true that an actual vax helps slow the spread of the disease. I know you can sometimes transmit a disease if vaxed, but it’s more difficult if you don’t actually don’t catch it. But I am not talking about the side-benefit of a real vax; I’m talking about what they think of THIS treatment, where, apparently the only benefit it confers is to prevent people from transmitting it.)
Under those circumstances, they can consider you selfish for not wanting to protect others. After all you refuse to take a treatment that will prevent others from catching the disease from you. And, indeed, they do consider you “selfish” and not in the positive way that Ayn Rand used the term.
But it’s yet another one of those things where ONE non-compliant individual ruins it for everyone else–at least, that’s what they think it is. ONE untreated person could infect the entire human race, because they aren’t protected from him.
Never mind that this is not what a vaccine is supposed to be doing. If you assume that the motherf*cking toilet licker in front of you shrieking about how you’re Satan Incarnate for not being jabbed believes that the sole purpose of the treatment is to prevent the recipient from spreading the disease–not to prevent the recipient from catching it–suddenly his behavior makes sense, at least based on what he believes (and you can’t expect anyone to behave in accordance with things they don’t believe).
So perhaps the best way to argue with these people is to simply point out calmly that a vaccine (their word) is supposed to protect the recipient from those with the disease [which of course we say] not prevent them from giving it to other people [identify their false premise and face it head on] they might actually feel like they’re being argued with, rather than talked past.
If you don’t confront their actual premise, arguing with them can accomplish nothing.
Justice Must Be Done.
The prior election must be acknowledged as fraudulent, and steps must be taken to prosecute the fraudsters and restore integrity to the system.
Lawyer Appeasement Section
OK now for the fine print.
This is the WQTH Daily Thread. You know the drill. There’s no Poltical correctness, but civility is a requirement. There are Important Guidelines, here, with an addendum on 20191110.
We have a new board – called The U Tree – where people can take each other to the woodshed without fear of censorship or moderation.
And remember Wheatie’s Rules:
1. No food fights
2. No running with scissors.
3. If you bring snacks, bring enough for everyone.
4. Zeroth rule of gun safety: Don’t let the government get your guns.
5. Rule one of gun safety: The gun is always loaded.
5a. If you actually want the gun to be loaded, like because you’re checking out a bump in the night, then it’s empty.
6. Rule two of gun safety: Never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
7. Rule three: Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
8. Rule the fourth: Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
(Hmm a few extras seem to have crept in.)
All prices are Kitco Ask, 3PM MT Friday (at that time the markets close for the weekend).
This week, markets closed for the weekend at 3:00 PM Mountain Time
Gold tried to break out yet again; apparently it got to $1810 yesterday. But it’s being smacked down again.
The James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a likely source of future developments in astrophysics. That thirty part series just concluded was historical developments in physics (with a healthy dollop of chemistry and astronomy to go along with it), but this column is about how we are going to do future developments.
JWST will be a big part of it.
That is, of course, if things go well. They’ve already gone over budget and longer than scheduled. But a LOT of things can still go wrong.
A couple of weeks ago I read that it was finally supposed to launch today, the 18th of December. Then I checked again as I wrote last week’s post and the launch date had been slipped to the 22nd, this time because of issues with the booster. (Thursday the 16th: It has now slipped to the 24th and it says “not earlier than” so clearly they expect to slip it again.)
That must be the 1,432,491,315th schedule slip for this project, though someone will no doubt tell me I miscounted slightly. I probably forgot one from back in 2015.
In any case once it launches, the telescope is not out of the woods!!! It must move to a location well beyond any ability to send people to repair it, and then literally hundreds of mechanical devices have to work perfectly as the telescope deploys. They ground team that has to manage this process (to the extent that it can, rather than watching helplessly if something goes wrong) is sweating bullets.
They remember Hubble, whose mirror didn’t have the right curve, which was made useful–gloriously so–by Space Shuttle astronauts retrofitting it with “glasses.” If that, or some similar thing requiring “on the spot” repair happens to JWST, they are Shit Out of Luck because we can’t send people to where JWST will be.
And they remember the Galileo spacecraft sent to Jupiter, whose main antenna didn’t deploy because some widget stuck in place. The spacecraft could collect data…but sending it back to Earth was very difficult because the backup antenna was much smaller, with lower gain.
About a month after launch, we’ll know if it all deployed. Until then, reloaders might just want to hang around the ground crew to catch some of those bullets.
What Is It, And Why Does It Matter?
OK, so what IS the James Webb Space Telescope?
This thing looks like a radio dish antenna on some sort of weird four-deck toboggan, but it’s actually an infrared telescope. It will be sensitive to light from a wavelength of 600 nm all the way to 28,300 nm. (A nm is a nanometer, one billionth of a meter.) This is basically the lower half of the visible range (600nm to about 800nm), and then way down into the infrared.
This is exactly the sort of thing we will need to see further back in time, looking at galaxies and the first stars, the sorts of phenomena we think happened more than 13 billion years ago. Those things are simply redshifted too far for Hubble (which is quoted as only going to 1000 nm wavelength, but I’ve seen other things that indicate it can see further into the infrared) to even see.
Being able to see very early galaxies will shed some light on the question of how they develop into the shapes we’re used to seeing today (spirals, ellipticals, and so on.)
It will also be helpful looking for colder objects much closer to us, like extrasolar planets, debris disks, and Kuiper belt objects similar to Pluto, only much further out. Those debris disks will help answer the nagging questions about planetary system formation.
And it’s quite likely that JWST will be able to look at existing planetary systems and provide a lot of data there as well. If it’s able to detect oxygen atmospheres, that could even be a sign of life Out There.
I haven’t done a post on extrasolar planets, largely because when they were seen it wasn’t really a surprise. (It’d have been much more surprising if no extrasolar planetary systems had been found.) Except that some things we saw were indeed surprising. Perhaps some future Saturday.
OK, so let me describe the telescope itself.
The mirror is 6.5 meters–about 21 feet–across, and it’s made of those gold-colored hexagons. They’re actually gold-plated beryllium (and beryllium was chosen in large part because it is extremely light). Compare to Hubble’s single 7 foot mirror. This thing is designed to capture a lot of light. Or actually, it’s designed to capture as much very faint light as possible, to make up for it being faint. (That’s the ultimate reason to make telescopes larger. Their main purpose isn’t magnification, it’s capturing as much light from faint objects as possible.)
Any spacecraft has to fit inside the “fairing” (the cylindrical or conical compartment at the nose of the rocket), and 21 feet is wider than any fairing out there. Thus the three hexagons on the left, and the three on the right, are actually going to be folded back and will unfold in space. That’s just one of the many mechanical elements that has to work perfectly, Out There.
Since this telescope is designed to work in the infrared, there are a couple of important considerations that mean we can’t just stick the thing into low earth orbit (LEO) like the Hubble Space Telescope is. The first is that the sun, moon, and earth all glow in the infrared range. I don’t just mean that the earth and moon reflect infrared light like they do visible light from the sun, I mean that they themselves glow in infrared. Black body radiation means everything glows at some frequency. You glow in infrared, too. Night vision goggles work because they can see people (literally) glow in the dark.
So we do not want the moon and earth in the field of view; compared to the faint objects this telescope is designed to see, those will be zillion candlepower searchlights. So the idea is to put the telescope at the Earth Sun L2 point.
This is a point about four times as far away as the moon, but directly opposite of the sun (as seen from the earth). So the Sun, Earth, and JWST will all be on a straight line. JWST will actually orbit the sun, not the Earth, a bit further out from the sun than Earth is.
If it’s further out, won’t it orbit more slowly?
Under normal circumstances, that would be true, but if the spacecraft has both the earth and the sun in the same direction, it feels the gravitation from both at the same time, and in the same direction, so it will behave as if it were orbiting a slightly more massive body than the sun is, and that will speed it up. At a certain precise distance from the earth, it works out that the satellite will also orbit in one year, even though its orbit is larger. This only works, though, if it’s right on the extended line from the sun to the earth.
Here’s a GIF (not to scale) showing the sun and earth, and objects at all five Lagrange points. L2 is the one of interest here.
Note that at L2, the three obnoxious sources of infrared interference are always on the same side of the spacecraft (the moon will be fairly close to the earth, closer than L2 is). So it always has most of the sky to look at.
It will actually orbit about L2, in a ring perpendicular to the plane of Earth’s orbit (as shown in the video below).
But it will be four times further away than any astronaut has ever gone, and that was back in 1972 as part of Apollo. We are not going to be sending astronauts up to fix this thing if it goes FUBAR, like we could with Hubble.
It’s bad enough that we have to hope those mirrors unfold, and that then we can get them all aligned precisely to behave as one big mirror. (We have telescopes on earth that work like that–no more big, one-piece mirrors like at Palomar.) But then we have to deploy the heat shield. That’s the four layer toboggan in the diagram above.
Why does it need a heat shield?
In order to function properly, the telescope must be cold. 50K or 370 below zero Fahrenheit. That’s because if it’s any warmer than that the telescope itself will emit infrared radiation that would interfere with its observations.
This might confuse you. After all, it’s beneficial when walking around outside at night to have a headlamp on. Why not have the telescope illuminate what it’s looking at? Well, in the first place, what it’s looking at will be billions of light years away, so the illumination won’t reach it in our lifetimes and won’t matter a bit even if it did. (In fact, the illumination will probably never reach those distant galaxies; they’ve moved further away since they emitted the light we’re hoping to see, and are probably unreachable now even in principle.)
And in the second place, we’re not talking about a headlamp glowing, we are talking about the sensor itself glowing. Imagine if your eyelids, your corneas, your irises, and the very fluid inside your eyeballs was glowing brightly. And on top of this your retina were glowing brightly. In reality. the eye prevents most light from hitting the retina, just admitting enough to create the focused image–it cannot work, otherwise. But if light is coming from inside the eyeball, well, you’d be blind.
That four-layered toboggan is a heat shield; it’s made up of four layers of very thin reflectorized plastic that should act to prevent sunlight from heating the spacecraft. But it has to unroll and deploy into tight sheets that aren’t touching each other. And in certain ground-based tests, that thin film tore, which caused years of delay as they worked to fix that problem.
So those sheets will face the sun. On the underside of the sheets, not very visible in the picture, are solar panels, the downlink antenna, and so on. The solar panels will use the sunlight to power the JWST, and of course the antenna is there so we can download data and upload commands.
So here’s another picture of JWST showing the underside. This is the side that will face the sun, and Earth.
All of this has to deploy perfectly a million miles away…and that’s on top of the spacecraft actually having to reach its destination without the (comparatively simple, but still literally rocket science) rocketry going haywire.
I took a couple of classes on engineering things for space, not nearly enough to be qualified to work on something like this, but I do remember having them beat it into our heads to make the mission as simple as possible. The simpler it is the fewer things that can go wrong, and a mistake is very expensive.
Hundreds of things must go right once the spacecraft has launched. The complete unpacking and deployment should take about three weeks. Then the telescope has to cool.
This video claims a total of six months from launch, to doing work. Most of that time will be taken up with calibration and mirror alignment after the spacecraft “unfolds” in space. But as you watch this video keep in mind that all of the mechanical motions you see have to happen flawlessly, with nothing getting “stuck.”
It has been tested in labs on Earth, but those laboratories can’t duplicate everything in the space environment, and there’s always the chance that the last lab test of some part was the last time it’s going to work before it breaks.
That is why they are sweating bullets. Successfully launching the thing will only be the beginning of operational worries, and it’s the last time we will have full physical control of it.
A Long Road
The James Webb Space Telescope is actually a collaboration between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency. In fact, it will be launched from Kourou, in South America, which is the ESA’s launch facility. (It was shipped there recently under high security and secrecy.)
This telescope was first conceived in 1996. Twelve years later it passed its preliminary design review. In 2010 it passed another review indicating that as designed, it would achieve its mission. Launch was tentatively scheduled for 2015.
By 2010 it was suffering cost overruns (insert surprised face here) that were forcing cuts in other programs. (This is a high-priority item!) Add a lot of NASA-typical scheduling delays, and the JWST finally left California on a boat bound for French Guiana in late September of this year. The US share of the cost of building the thing was almost nine billion dollars.
And now we get to see if that money will pay off, or whether we’ll be looking at a very expensive failure.
If it does work well, it will advance our understanding of the universe by leaps and bounds. This must be an exciting (and nervewracking) time to be an astronomer or astrophysicist.
So Who Was James Webb?
Personally, I think a better name for this telescope would be for William Herschel who, after all, discovered infrared light. However, he also discovered Uranus (and tried to name it for a historic-level asshole, George III), so perhaps they’ll name a Uranus orbiter (not, so far as I know, even in planning stages right now) after him instead. That would work.
James Webb was the administrator of NASA from 1961-1968; in other words he oversaw the agency during the days of Mercury and Gemini, and the start of the Apollo program. He left shortly before the first manned Apollo flight…but had already had to deal with the aftermath of the tragic Apollo 1 fire. (Remember the names Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee, the three astronauts who died in that fire on January 27, 1967.)
Before he was at NASA, he served as Undersecretary of State from 1949-1952.
The “Next Generation Space Telescope” was renamed for James Webb in 2002.
Webb is an attempted target of “cancel culture.” Apparently while at State, he was active in an attempt to purge homosexuals from the department, so there have been a recent barrage of suggestions to rename the JWST, even including Harriet Tubman as a suggestion. A less ridiculous suggestion would be to name it after Sally Ride, who at least had something (quite a bit in fact) to do with space exploration.
With that current meat puppet in the White House, strings being pulled by every brand of leftist turd there is, who knows if anything will come of it. The other countries who are involved would probably have to approve a name change since they are footing part of the bill. I could see them maybe approving changing it to another NASA pioneer or scientist, but not Harriet Tubman.
Bonus Section: How Big Is the Universe?
The short answer is: Who knows?
We literally cannot know the answer to this question, because we simply cannot see anything further than 13.8 billion light years away; the light hasn’t had time to reach us. And you can subtract a few hundred thousand years from that as the Cosmic Microwave Background was generated that many years after the big bang.
Scientists talk of the “observable universe” for that reason. The entire universe is at least as big as the observable universe, but we don’t know if it’s one inch larger…or trillions of light years, or perhaps even infinitely large.
But it’s a mistake to figure the observable universe has a radius of 13.8 billion light years. Because since the light from the CMB and early stars and galaxies was created, they have continued to move away from us. By the time you account for this, the things we can (in principle) see today are now located within a sphere 92 billion light years across. And the items furthest away are already receding at a speed higher than that of light, which means that even though we can, today, see the light they emitted in the past, the light they are emitting today won’t reach us, ever.
If light speed is the speed limit, how is it that these things can be receding from us faster than light?
It’s true that you cannot move through space faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, but space itself can certainly stretch faster than that. Since it’s uniformly stretching, objects far enough apart will see the distance between them rise faster than light speed.
There are suggestions that the (total) universe must be at least 250 times the size of the observable universe; if I recall correctly this is from the error margins on the measurements that show space is flat. If it’s not quite flat but in fact is very slightly curved, our measurement method wouldn’t detect it; this comes from considering how curved it could be and still not be detected to be curved.)
My personal suspicion is that it’s infinite, but it’s very possible that we won’t ever know for certain.
Obligatory PSAs and Reminders
China is Lower than Whale Shit
Remember Hong Kong!!!
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!
China is in the White House
Since Wednesday, January 20 at Noon EST, the bought-and-paid for His Fraudulency Joseph Biden has been in the White House. It’s as good as having China in the Oval Office.
Joe Biden is Asshoe
China is in the White House, because Joe Biden is in the White House, and Joe Biden is identically equal to China. China is Asshoe. Therefore, Joe Biden is Asshoe.
But of course the much more important thing to realize:
Joe Biden Didn’t Win
Qiáo Bài dēng méi yíng !!!
Joe Biden didn’t win !!!