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.
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.
Sedate. The adagio (2nd movement) from his clarinet concerto.
And a bit…less sedate. Last movement of his Symphony #41 which is the last one he wrote.
(Don’t be fooled by the fact that there’s a Symphony #42, or 43, or…well up to #55 at least…as I explained last time the numbering isn’t really chronological. To the best of my knowledge he’s got at least 51 symphonies under his belt (though some are disputed), so if we were ever to renumber them, this one would be #51. But we never will renumber them; that would cause confusion for centuries.)
By the way, that sucker ends in a five part fugue. Not easy to write!
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).
So here it is, Friday after markets closed and we see:
Friday, 3PM MT close:
Everything down except for rhodium. Gold seems relatively solidly in the lower half of the 1900s, with the recent spike being history. Platinum, meanwhile, is going back on sale.
Apparently the James Webb Space Telescope imaging team has done such a good job with the initial mirror alignment that most of the instruments are properly focused.
The one exception to this is the MIRI (Mid InfraRed Instrument). Actually, it might be too. But this is the instrument that rounds out the bottom end of the JWST “visible spectrum” (quite a bit lower frequency than yours and mine, even with night vision goggles). In order to operate properly it needs to be cooled by liquid helium (!) which means a temperature of 4 K, or about 7 degrees Fahrenheit above absolute zero, or roughly -453F. There’s a special cryogenic cooling system for this instrument.
(On the temperature of warmth, relative to Hitlary Klinton’s personality, we’re talking about 14 degrees higher. And yes, I know that puts her at -10K which should be physically impossible…)
The other instruments are happy with a relatively balmy 33-44K (-400F to -387F) or so.
So MIRI is slowly being cooled. They didn’t bother doing anything with it before, so (ironically) it’s the toastiest-warmest instrument right now at 53K (-364F), but it is dropping fairly rapidly.
Where Is Webb? NASA/Webb If you click on the temperature plots button you can see what’s going on. And you can read the official statement from NASA here if I wasn’t clear enough:
(Of course sometimes I can write an entire post unpacking their release for non-geeks. But this one seems OK.)
Other Space News
We’ve got a double feature this week. Triple, if you count the JWST news.
First off, the Hubble Space Telescope ain’t dead yet! (Nor should it be so long as we have the will and resources to keep it going…it and JWST will complement each other nicely.) It has spotted a star–a big one, obviously–12.9 billion light years away. It has been named Earendel (the star, not the telescope), an obvious Tolkien reference. Well, it sounds like a name he’d make up; apparently you have to be nerdy enough to have read the Silmarillion to “get” it. The character became a star (literally).
So what’s the big deal? Well, if the star is that far away…then that light has been travelling for 12.9 billion years just to get to us. Which means the star itself was around only about 800 million years after the Big Bang. (It’s long, long, gone now–it probably blew up over 12.8 billion years ago. Big stars live hard and die young, burning fuel almost as profligately as Al Bore flying to a Global Warming summit.)
One of the goals of the JWST is to be able to see the very first stars that formed; we think those will generally be big honkin’ things that formed about the same time galaxies began to form. And since they will not contain anything other than the original hydrogen and helium that formed when the universe was a few minutes old. Among other things, for reasons I’m quite unclear on, stars made from pure “primordial” hydrogen and helium can likely be much larger than stars today can be. (We won’t know for sure until we can see them.)
Earendel is not one of these first stars, but it probably only had a couple of generations of predecessors. It’s certainly closer than we’ve come before. To do any better, we’ll need the (wait for it…) James Webb Space Telescope.
Meanwhile, if I understand correctly, the only reason we saw this star at all is it happens to lie in a place that’s gravitationally lensed; in other words, the curvature of space between us and Earendel is acting like a magnifying glass.
The other bit of space news is more on the “practical” side.
This is the most powerful rocket ever built. Even beating out the Saturn V which put Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and ten others on the moon over fifty years ago.
…As I described in the post above.
This rocket will be capable of putting 27 metric tons (spelled “tonnes”) of stuff in “Trans Lunar Injection” (in other words, to send 27 tonnes to the moon). Future versions will send over 46 metric tons Moonward. (The Saturn V did 43.5 tonnes at its best.)
This rocket will develop 8,800,000 lbf of thrust (39,000 kN) of thrust (versus Saturn V 7,891,000 lbf (35,100 kN)). The later versions will develop 9.2 million lbf of thrust. (lbf = “pounds force”, in other words a pound regarded as a unit of force, not a unit of mass…the English system is a hot mess when it comes to weight, force, and mass.)
The center stack (tan/brown) consists of liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen stages, similar to the shuttle. In fact it’s almost as if they simply stuck shuttle engines on the bottom of a shuttle external tank. (It’s more complicated than that, though.) The two boosters (HA!!! I can use that word for once without it being about f***ing slab jabs) are like the solid rocket boosters from the shuttle, only longer (an additional segment added); and they won’t be recovered after use.
Yes. It’s a moon rocket. An actual moon rocket, and is sitting on the launch pad. It’s either being fueled or IS fueled, today, and there’s a countdown in progress for a launch.
But that launch will be cancelled mere seconds before ignition.
This is a “wet dress rehearsal,” and it’s “wet” because that’s NASA/space travel slang for “with full fuel tanks.” Yes, they’re going to fuel it up, not launch it, drain the fuel, then take it back to the tall building where they assemble rockets (creatively named the Vehicle Assembly Building) and look it over to see if there are any problems. Because if there are problems caused by just filling the gas tank, you’d better address them before you launch the sucker for real!
Sometime in the future, there will be a real launch of an unmanned capsule. (Best guess, June.) Eventually…sometime around 2026…we go back to the moon. I’m going to repeat that, because the wokester Left is going to hang so much PC/CRT baggage on it that we risk losing sight of what’s important here while we vomit our lunches:
WE GO BACK TO THE MOON.
We talked about heat, as a form of energy last time around. Our discussion relied on the concept of temperature, which we’re all pretty comfortable with. It is, after all, part-and-parcel of any discussion of the weather, which nearly everyone likes to talk about and even plan their lives around.
But temperature is not heat. If it were, two objects at the same temperature would contain the same amount of heat.
“Wait, Steve,” you might say, “Of course a big boulder will contain more heat than a pebble, even at the same temperature, because it’s bigger!”
OK, not a bad thought. But as it turns out, two different substances, of the same mass, at the same temperature, will still contain different amounts of heat. In fact we can even hang a number on every substance, defining how much heat must be added to it to raise the temperature one degree (once we correct for the mass of the thing); that’s the specific heat. Water’s is unusually high, much higher than iron’s. (How we figured that out was largely covered last time.)
A very mundane observation comes into play here: If you put a hot object next to a cold one, or better yet, dunk one into a pool of the other, like hot iron into cold water, the iron cools off, and the water heats up. The process continues until everything is the same temperature. Then we’ve reached a state called “thermodynamic equilibrium” where heat is no longer flowing from the iron to the water. So temperature has to do with thermodynamic equilibrium.
Another clue came when chemists/physicists (pick either one: depending on where you draw the line between the two) investigated the behavior of gases in the 1600s through the early 1800s.
For instance, they found out that you could compress a gas, say to half its original volume, and it would both heat up and increase in pressure. You could then wait for the heat to dissipate (i.e., for thermodynamic equilibrium) and note the pressure was exactly twice as high as it was before the compression. (This is Boyle’s Law, from 1662.)
If you kept the gas at a constant pressure, heating it up would make it expand, cooling it would make it contract (this is Charles’s Law, from the 1780s).
And from 1800-1802, Gay-Lussac’s Law: Heating the gas while holding the volume constant would also increase the pressure. Cooling it would decrease the pressure.
But in order to go further with this, we need to be able to measure temperature. Here in the United States, we still use the Fahrenheit scale. It’s named after Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736), who developed a 100 degree scale, with 0 being the temperature of a particular kind of freezing brine, and 100 being tied to human body temperature. He did note that pure water froze at 32 on his scale. Of course hot water would bust the upper bound of this; by the 20th century the scale had been defined by setting the temperature of boiling water 180 degrees above freezing point, or 212 °F. (I must add here that this is the boiling point at sea level; it turns out to depend on air pressure.)
Of course when the metric system came along and defined a scale called centigrade (since renamed to Celsius after Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701-1744) who had had a similar idea in 1742), the tie to water became even stronger with 0 set to the temperature of ice water, and 100 set to the boiling point. (That hundredth of the difference is where the name “centigrade” came from, from Latin for “hundred steps.”) You can measure temperature on this scale, or talk about the difference between two different temperatures.
Now that last sentence is kind of odd; I seem to be pointing out the obvious there.
But there is a difference between Celsius being used to measure temperature, and (say) the meter used to measure length. For length, no matter what you do, you’re not going to find an object of negative length. But you can, apparently, measure the temperature of something and come up with a negative number. And because the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales have different starting points, an object can have a positive temperature in Fahrenheit and a negative one in Celsius.
Not at all like length, or mass, where it’s pretty easy to agree on where to set zero and the only thing you have to worry about is the size of the unit. Two different systems (English and Metric) both agree on what zero length means; it’s just the size of a foot versus a meter that’s at issue. You can compare the size of a Fahrenheit degree with a Celsius degree (and find that it’s 5/9ths the size of the other), but that’s not all you need.
Imagine measuring the distance from Washington D.C. to New York City, with a zero point in Baltimore. You’d have to travel a few dozen miles from DC to even get up to zero distance. Now that’s weird, even post general relativity. And honestly, it’d be a pain to plan trips, make maps or do anything like that if we had to deal with such a mess…especially if, when doing it in metric, the zero point was in Philadelphia instead!
But that’s the way the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales work. The zero point isn’t at anything that might be considered a real zero, because you can get below that point. (That’s why you have to multiply by 5/9ths and then subtract 32…or was it subtracting 32 then multiplying by 5/9ths…or adding and multiplying by 9/5ths…or whatevertheheck. [OK, I’m clowning here. To get from Fahrenheit to Celsius, you subtract 32…to get a number that is zero when water freezes; it’s the number of Fahrenheit degrees above freezing. Now your number has the same starting point as Celsius, and you can multiply by 5/9ths to account for Celsius having “bigger” degrees. Invert the process to go the other way: multiply °C by 9/5ths, then add 32.])
So now lets return to our gas laws. Gay-Lussac’s law says heating a gas increases its pressure (keeping the volume constant). And Charles’s law says heating a gas makes it expand (keeping the pressure constant). In both cases, how much?
It’s not a neat proportion like Boyle’s law, where you can halve the volume and double the pressure (holding temperature constant). Heating a gas from 20 to 40 °F doesn’t double its volume (if pressure is constant), or its pressure (if volume is constant). And it doesn’t work going from 20-40 °C either (in fact it works a bit worse).
Aaah, but remember, temperature measurement is goofy! Zero seems to be picked at some unnatural point. Boyle’s law works as a proportion because neither quantity is temperature. The other two don’t work as a proportion.
Actually, as it happens, if you measure temperature relative to -273.15 °C or -459.67 °F, instead of the scales’ zero points, it does work. Doubling the temperature measured from this point does indeed double the volume (or the pressure).
But working in reverse, if you were to cool your gas to -273.15 °C, then you’re at zero on the adjusted scale, and the volume of your gas should be zero. And so should its pressure.
It can’t shrink any more than that, and it can’t exert less pressure than that. So have we found an absolute lowest temperature?
It turns out we have. And so the modern metric unit…the real one, not the one people outside of the US see in their weather reports, which is still Celsius, is the kelvin, named after William Thomson (1824-1907). [Not a typo. Yes, “kelvin” and “Thomson” are distinctly different words, but he was named first Baron Kelvin by Queen Victoria in 1892 and used that name henceforth. In fact, he was the first scientist to be elevated to the House of Lords.]
Kelvin has the same degree size as Celsius. And it starts at absolute zero. So we don’t even bother with the word “degrees.” We don’t say “50 degrees kelvin” (unless by mistake), we just say “50 kelvins” or “50K.” And we skip the cute little circle: °. Water melts at 273.15 K, and boils a hundred kelvins higher, 373.15 K. And physicists think in kelvins. And so, especially, do astrophysicists, who will always quote the temperature of an astronomical body in kelvins. (If it’s something hot, they’ll just double that to give the science “journalists” Fahrenheit…it’s fairly close, and let’s face it, you and I don’t really know what 10,000F means other than “damned hot.”)
There is a similar scale using the Fahrenheit degree. It’s called the Rankine scale, symbolized with °R or °Ra. (And we’re back to the little circle.) It was proposed by Macquorne Rankin, using similar logic with the kelvin scale. But this is something you can safely forget about, as even English and American scientists and engineers stick with kelvins and no one but a scientist or an engineer cares about absolute zero.
As for the gases? Well, no they don’t shrink to zero size at 0K. Because long before then they liquefy or solidify, because the molecules of which they are made have a size greater than zero. Helium, it turns out, remains a gas all the way down to a bit over 4K. So the gas laws are an idealization, they work pretty well when the gases aren’t close to condensing or freezing.
The three laws I’ve mentioned so far can be combined into one rule. In fact, even better than that. If you work with moles of gas (i.e., accounting for the differences in molecular weight), you can bring in Avogadro’s law, which states that one mole of gas, at standard temperature (25 C) and pressure (one atmosphere) occupies 22.4 liters. So you can, if your name is name is Benoit Paul Emile Clapeyron and it’s 1834, tie all these other laws to that (double the temperature and leave pressure constant and that mole occupies 44.8 liters; leave the volume constant and the pressure doubles to 2 atmospheres, etc.) and write:
PV = nRT
Where P is pressure, V is volume, T is temperature, n is the number of moles…and R is the fudge-factor constant. Without it, the law becomes a bunch of “is proportional to” statements, much messier to deal with and harder to nail down.
I once had to pressure-test gas piping, in winter. I’d pump a bunch of air into the line, measure the pressure and seal it off. Then come back a day later and hope the pressure had stayed the same.
But this was winter, in Colorado, and the temperature can change a LOT, day to day. Which would mean the pressure would change even without a leak. It could go up (which would confuse the ignorant and make him suspect a prankster was pumping more air into the system), or down (which would make him think he’d messed up the pipe work). But I knew better. Volume, of course was constant, so was simply dealing with Gay Lussac’s law. I’d convert the temperature to the absolute scale (for this I did use Rankines since I was starting with Fahrenheit), and see if the pressure I had initially measured dropped or rose to what it should be. (And of course, there really were a number of leaks…and it didn’t help that the pressure gauge was one of them!) But at least once I got a new pressure gauge and fixed my work, I knew it was good and didn’t get thrown off by the 30 degree temperature one day dropping to -10 the next day (which is enough to reduce the pressure almost seven percent all by itself).
Well, there are two possible directions to go from here…and I’ll take them both. See you next time.
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 !!!