Random notes and whatnot

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Somes J
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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Somes J » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:31 pm

I made up a table for laser effectiveness for my own uni. Assuming a high frequency UV laser with a maybe 10 meter mirror hooked up to a large nuclear reactor, you could easily get light-second effective range.
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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:50 pm

From sfconsim-l (snippage entirely my own):
Rick Robinson wrote:
Isaac Kuo wrote: [...]
For a military ship, the most prominent things in
the sky will be the other ships and drones in the
fleet. My preferred model is for one or two ships
to be large comfortable "passenger liners" where
the crews spend much of their time. However, the
warships are crewed using removable "crew modules",
which are themselves mobile shuttles. I envision
there being frequent traffic as crews swap shifts.
[...]
More important, and what I like a lot, is that we are breaking away from naval
models. The setup you describe is more like a mobile distributed fortress, with
headquarters/barracks ships and strongpoint ships. The 'garrison' normally
lives and sleeps in barracks, but reports to their gun emplacements for duty.
(Though in your case rather to disperse them than because they are needed as
hands on gunners.)

Incidentally, given the probable formalism of space combat, I am tending to see
a space battle as a bit like a battle between two 18th century Vauban forts,
except that they can adjust their geometry in response to each other. Think of
our discussion of projected formations when we were debating numbers v speed in
lancer combat.
I like this a lot too and have considered something similar for really long trips (and really short), but never thought of having it be standard procedure.

I've considered a model like the TNG saucer sep and a mobile base following behind, but always had the crews remain generally attached to their own spacecraft. This new model is pretty cool. Not quite a carrier, since all the warships are quite independent, and not quite a command ship since command is still decentralized - something pretty new. I like it.
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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Somes J » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:24 pm

^ I like that idea. I can't remember seeing it in any other SF I've read, it seems nice and original. Certainly much fresher than the usual (very unrealistic) "WWII in space" thing.
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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:28 am

The birthday thing at the site just made me think of something: with an annual mating cycle, everyone's birthdays would occur pretty close to each other.

If you have a mating season, it is logical that you would also have a birthing season.

Assuming plus or minus about one month on gestation and sexual activity means almost all birthdays would occur within about a 4 month span, with a distribution looking like a bell curve. Very few babies would be born in the other 8 months of the year.

"Let me guess your birthday.... sometime in May?!"

"Yeah, just like 80% of the bloody population!"



I kinda want to make a Mary Sue out of regular traits. Take things that would seem normal for us but are statistically unlikely among my creation; a birthday in September, for example, and just pile them all on.

Then proceed to justify it with those same stats. Well, sure, you are a one in a million freak, but that means there are still several of you in the kingdom!


"She had dark brown hair, which is already strange for a northerner, but moreover, she's only 5'3"! Rumor has it she was even born after the first snow. It is clear that Ms. Smith (even her name screams exoticness!) is not your everyday person. She JUST MUST have a destiny!"


What I should really do is make a character generator using these statistics. It could take population densities and age distributions for each of the duchies and cities so saying "given someone old enough to be in this position from the entire population, where is he/she from?" Flip a coin for gender of course. Then get physical characteristics randomly generated from what is common for someone from that area. Finally, throw in some random educational and family background, again with appropriate weights to the randomness given age and places lived. And get a random name from the parent's cultural background to top it off.

Given enough stats, I could randomly generate characters and then use those results to fill in enough of a background to add some people to each relevant position.

The population densities I have worked out partially by hand, but I could refine them with a mathematical model too, considering economic migration and such over the years, giving me more precision based on date of birth. A couple iterations through the stat machine could give me a really splendid model.

I could automate almost the entire process and get some nice diversity out of it.


That would be a million kinds of awesome. I think I will do this. (When I have the time of course.)
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Somes J » Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:32 am

There are all kinds of interesting possibilities for a species with a set mating season.

One thing that I always wonder about such though; what determines the mating season? Is it some natural cues, like say temperature and sunlight levels? If so, it will probably happen in different times in different parts of the planet (let alone on different planets). You'll probably get a bunch of different mating periods in different localities.

Another thing is that a significant obstacle to such a species might be areas where the climate or environment simply does not provide the right triggers, so it never happens.

Of course, a technological society might try to enforce a universal mating time, for the sake of neatness. That reminds me; another issue is that in a technological society, it would be controllable. Would most people choose to skip it? Would some people want to rearrange it around their personal convenience? Might they perhaps find the sensations associated with it pleasurable and addictive, so the ability to control might lead to a social problem of "mating junkies"?
Participate in my hard SF worldbuilding project: The Known Galaxy. Come to our message board and experience my unique brand of terribleness!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:39 pm

Somes J wrote:One thing that I always wonder about such though; what determines the mating season?
I don't recall if I've written this out anywhere on the forums yet, but I have it pretty well determined for the A'millians....
Is it some natural cues, like say temperature and sunlight levels?
...And you nailed it. Their mating season is near the end of summer. Over the summer, the increased sunlight causes a number of chemical changes that build up over the months.

Once it reaches a certain concentration, this triggers sexual receptiveness through a somewhat convoluted biochemical chain.

Being sunlight rather than temperature leads to an interesting result: the cycle could occur during the winter, but is stopped mainly by the fact that everyone is wearing heavy clothes! The same thing prevents it in climates that are super sunny - they wear an extra layer to protect from sunburn in those areas, which also prevents the reproductive enzyme from being produced.


This also tended to reduce general sexualness as technology advanced. People would be inside more often, and thus wouldn't always build up enough sun exposure. The mating season became no longer annual for many, causing a demographic shift.
If so, it will probably happen in different times in different parts of the planet (let alone on different planets). You'll probably get a bunch of different mating periods in different localities.
Aye, especially changing latitude.

I sidestep this somewhat with the A'millians since the majority of their population lives within a couple degrees; the bulk all live on an island about the size of Scotland*, so my plus or minus one month should be in the ballpark.

* This might be a realism problem; such a civilization may be simply too small to advance greatly, but I'm not convinced nor overly concerned of that.

But I should indeed take this into account for my stats generator and the space city.
Another thing is that a significant obstacle to such a species might be areas where the climate or environment simply does not provide the right triggers, so it never happens.
Indeed. I like to see this as a benefit though: when out on those 5 year missions, you don't get gross gross sex fluids clogging up the starship's air circulation system!

(Well, you can; nothing in biology always happens the way it is supposed to, but it is quite rare.)

I pity the life support techs on human starships...


Anywho, this might be a mechanism for speciation in general. Suppose a tribe goes off somewhere where they stop having the trigger and thus no children. Those random freaks who do respond to this environment would no longer be random freaks; they would be naturally selected for survival.

Tribe A is triggered by a temperature that occurs in their homeland but not in the new land. Tribe B is triggered by the temperature in the new land, but doesn't often occur back home. After natural selection magnifies this in the new habitats, if the two tribes met again, they might still be chemically able to produce offspring, but the mating seasons never lining up, even when brought to the same environment, means there would be no natural interbreeeding, and thus could be classified as a different species.
Of course, a technological society might try to enforce a universal mating time, for the sake of neatness. That reminds me; another issue is that in a technological society, it would be controllable. Would most people choose to skip it? Would some people want to rearrange it around their personal convenience? Might they perhaps find the sensations associated with it pleasurable and addictive, so the ability to control might lead to a social problem of "mating junkies"?
The process was so poorly understood for such a long time (pure science research would often get shafted come budget time) that anyone doing this in the olden days would have had to have done his own research to learn to control it. Though anecdotes on the street may have been way ahead of formal science here.

Anyway, if anyone did take control, I'd imagine most would want to rearrange it, if anything.

Once the reproductive hormones build up, it doesn't cause immediate pleasure; it basically changes their state of mind from an asexual one to a more human like one - it primarily causes them to simply notice "gee s/he's hot", whereas normally this would be almost completely ignored. (Though the A'millians to this through pheromones, there's a wee bit more to it than that, and it changes a bit after you become pair-bonded (they are naturally monogamous, which has some basis in the chemistry), but that's the general idea anyway.)


This would be fairly irrelevant if you are single and the only one going through it at the time; you would be receptive to the "hotness" pheromone, but no one would be secreting it (or vice versa), so no actions based upon it would happen. Thus, random singles probably wouldn't bother.


This would be quite an annoying inconvenience if you are married but the spouse isn't up to it or is out of town or anything like that. Married people, if they choose to control it, would probably want to line it up with the spouse or skip it entirely and avoid the hassle.


I can't imagine anyone wanting to induce it for its own sake. Control would maybe be for the benefit of your husband/wife, but that's a personal affair and wouldn't lead to significant social problems.


Another species could of course be different, but I have a really hard time imagining it unless wanting to mate is its own reward and this reward is is desired during the off season ("I can't wait for mating season, it's so much fun!" as opposed to not really thinking about it until it actually happens.) This is possible but seems really weird!
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Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Somes J » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:11 am

Destructionator wrote:I sidestep this somewhat with the A'millians since the majority of their population lives within a couple degrees; the bulk all live on an island about the size of Scotland*, so my plus or minus one month should be in the ballpark.

* This might be a realism problem; such a civilization may be simply too small to advance greatly, but I'm not convinced nor overly concerned of that.
The population crunch on a planet with that little land area would be really brutal. Without supertech I doubt you could support more than a few tens of millions of people at the very most. Whether it's realistic to have an advanced civilization develop on such a world probably depends on how minerologically rich the island is.
Participate in my hard SF worldbuilding project: The Known Galaxy. Come to our message board and experience my unique brand of terribleness!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:31 am

Winchell Chung posted this link to sfconsim-l:

Quantum Setback For Warp Drives

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/23292/
"Warp drives were generally considered impossible by mainstream scientists until
+1994 when the physicist Michael Alcubierre worked out how to build a
+faster-than-light drive using the principles of general relativity."

"His thinking was that while relativity prevents faster-than-light travel
+relative to the fabric of spacetime, it places no restriction on the speed at
+which regions of spacetime may move relative to each other. So a small bubble
+of spacetime containing a spacecraft could travel faster than the speed of
+light, at least in principle."

"But one unanswered question was what happens to the bubble when quantum
+mechanics is taken into account. Now, a team of physicists have worked it out,
+and it's bad news: the bubble becomes unstable at superluminal speeds, making
+warp drives impossible (probably)."

--------
(me again)

Yet Another nail in the coffin of the Alcubierre drive. It already required impossible energy and matter that hasn't been shown to exist, and now it gets pwned on another layer.

Suck it, FTL weenies.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:09 am

I've got to rework the timeline a little; I need to more monarchs. If anyone has names to throw out, I'll take them into consideration.

I'm going to be slashing the old lifespan down a lot; in the olden days people died younger. Commoners probably bought it by about 60. Nobles might last to 100 or more.

To get 1200 years to pass by, I'm going to need like 15 kings and queens rather than the current three. They needn't be from the same line...

I've really gotta make up the medieval history too.

Lifespans start increasing with superior science. The upper limit of their natural lifespan will be something they never really know; few, if anyone, actually reach it.

They don't see getting old as being a problem, but rather getting disease. And with each passing year, science eradicates yet another threat to life.

This should all have social consequences.


The shorter lifespan also necessitates people having kids at a younger age. How does this influence the population growth throughout those years?

The math will be easy. The history will be fun.

The names will be hard.

Oh well, I'll come back to it on my next day off.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:55 am

Why was the princess off world at the time of the final attack?

She was attending a ceremony celebrating the restoration. (A handful of public figures get together, take some pictures, say trite, meaningless words for the umpteenth time, then go home. Actually, that's generally the story of her public life.....)

I love it because it puts the attack at a hilariously rude time (hey guys thanks for helping us out all those years ago. here eat death!) and gives a nice reason as to why she wasn't in the line of fire at the same time.

It is a long time after the restoration (~555 years), but it could still be happening. We still do Columbus day in the real world, after all.

edit: Thinking of Columbus, it would be perhaps more delicious if it was on first contact day. But first contact wasn't that relevant; I can't see a holiday coming up around it.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

"I still really hate those pompous assholes who quote themselves in their sigs." -- Me

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:06 am

Some talk about batteries:
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/06/ultima ... eries.html

LiO is interesting too that it gets heavier as it is used; the air bonds with the lithium causing it to gain weight as it is depleted.

I haven't read through the whole page yet, but pretty cool looking.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

"I still really hate those pompous assholes who quote themselves in their sigs." -- Me

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:12 pm

What kind of stuff would you see around the main space launch site on A'millia?

The launcher, obviously.

There would have to be accomodations for the launcher's crew. Since it is so far away from the rest of civilization, flying them back and forth from the mainland for their shift is going to be a pain in the ass; who wants to commute half way around the world and back every day?

They should be able to stay there, which means some kind of living area. There would be hotels for travellers waiting for a launch, so they might share those, but for longer stays, they would want to bring their families, and they would probably want a more regular house.


A naval port. When capsules fall back out of orbit, they are set to land in the ocean near the launcher. A ship would then pick it up and bring it back.

Ships would also be the main way heavy equipment and bulk goods are shipped into the city.

So we have ships that stay around locally, and ships going back and forth from the mainland. The local ships' crews would want some decent long term places to live too.

We now have probably about a hundred people just to work the local launch and retrieval operations, all staying long term. If they bring their families with them, we can expect the number to triple. That's a small village. Now, we're going to need people to tend to the people - shopkeeps, barbers, doctors.

We're looking at about 400 people living there already.


But, then you have maintenance crews. The ships around locally will need some work in port. The cargo ships coming in will need to be unloaded, and the stuff they carry needs to be moved around. The launch vehicles will need maintenance once recovered, and people will have to work on the launcher itself.

We can easily double the size of the population when we add these crews. The launch outpost has become a real village, with a population of about 1,000.


We also need an airport. People coming and going to the spaceport would probably fly to/from the mainland.

The planes would be long range passenger planes, but even so, need to refuel when they land. Ships on sea can carry jet fuel; it needn't be produced locally. But the crews to tend the planes will need to be there. Our population continues to grow.



So, the spaceport has at least these things:

a) A seaport with a full crew.
b) An airport with a crew.
c) The space launcher.
d) A hotel.
e) Roads connecting it all with maintenance crews.
f) A village for the local crews and their families. Population: single digit thousands.


Extensive overhauls of vehicles would be done on the mainland somewhere. The craft would just be shipped up when this is required, but regular maintenance is done locally.


Since we have this infrastructure down there, what else can we do? Well, there might be cool food growing there. Researchers can use it as a home base while scouting out more and more of the planet. Farmers might grow stuff in the different climate and ship it back - this increases the population yet more and provides some exports for the village.

(Of course, the climate could be artificially recreated up north too using greenhouses and such.)

There might be mining operations down there too. Some parts would be produced locally, and other raw material could be shipped back home.


The Queen's spaceport will easily take on a life of its own!


------

What kind of ships would we see down there? The obvious ones are

a) Bulk cargo ships coming down from the mainland, with small but high quantity goods, large objects, and fuel coming down.

b) Some kind of barge to pick up space capsules

c) Search and rescue ships carring helicopters - in case a capsule doesn't land where it is meant to land

d) Passenger and possibly civilian cruise ships, taking advantage of the warmer climate down there

e) Research ships, for mapping the ocean and general exploration. There might be some science subs too, to take a gander at the ocean floor.

(Geology would be a huge fun field to get into. Before first contact with earth, it would be somewhat poorly known, since so little of their own planet was mapped out. After first contact, you'd have shittons of data to get from humans, and the exciting prospect of comparing it to the new data coming in from local mapping efforts. And then, later, you get to study various other planets as space expeditions head out. There'd just be so much to learn. It might be even more exciting than biology, which also has exciting local data coming in from all over the world, Earth data, and later, alien data!)



But all in all, it looks like the seaport will be much more active than the spaceport. Almost every space launch means sending out a ship to retrieve the people coming down, and you have just tons of cool things to do out there.



----------------


If you head south from the village, you'll be heading into what is basically rainforest territory. Biologists would love this - small isolated teams of biologists may be camped out down there.

A research team may be physically cut off from civilization due to distance, but would never be really cut off. All research posts would have a radio tower, so they can keep in contact. Also, not too far away from their tower would be some kind of clearing for a helicopter.

If something happens to the people out there, they can call for help and be airlifted back to civilization in short time.

Indeed, it probably makes sense to radio in regularly. If you don't, expect a chopper to come in. This way, you'll be safe in the case of equipment failure or an accident that left you unable to actually call.



g2g ttyl
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:16 pm

Huge email dump time. All from sfconsim-l

On fire in space:
Luke Campbell wrote: >
> The fire in question is electrical in nature

In this case the first step is to de-energize the equipment. Pull the plug,
flip a circuit breaker, or do whatever you need to that ensures no electricity
is flowing to the burning apparatus.

As mentioned, fires do not spread well or grow quickly in zero G. Without
buoyancy-driven convection, fires tend to choke on their own waste products and
suffocate themselves - the oxygen they need is drawn in primarily by diffusion
or possibly by external air currents. Thus, the next step is to cut off
external air currents - turn off the ventilation.

[...]

> There are airlocks between major sections of the installation,
> so issolating the area is possible.

If a hand-held extinguisher does not do the job, this is the next step. Make
sure all ventilation to the area is shut off. Pump it full of carbon dioxide
or nitrogen, if you have any handy. Inert gases like nitrogen or CO_2 could
make a useful automated extinguisher system.

Evacuation is a drastic last step. Things take longer to cool in vacuum, so be
sure residual heat does not re-ignite the fire as soon as air is let back in.
Henry Cobb wrote: http://www.spaceref.com/iss/contingency.html
This 65 page document contains a varety of emergency procedures to be
followed in case of leaks, fires, and other emergency situations.


On material strength and space construction (specifically of habitats):
Anthony Jackson wrote: Unless you're using expensive building materials, the central compartment isn't
going to be anything like 16km. The required material strength of the hull is
equal to ((areal density*gravity)+(atmospheric pressure))*radius. If we totally
ignore atmospheric pressure and just look at mass, a hull with an areal density
of 1 ton per square meter requires material strength of (1e3 kg/m^2 * 1e1 m/s^2 * 1.6e4m) = 1.6e8/s^2 = 1.6e8N/m.

Now, cheap materials in space means steel. 1 ton per square meter of steel is
0.13m, and basic structural steel has a yield strength of 250MPa, so our
strength with cheap steel would be 3.2e7N/m, and we'd probably want a good
safety margin of, say, 2. Thus, for a 16 km radius, we'd need materials 10x
stronger than structural steel to simply be self-supporting (and it doesn't
matter how thick you make your hull; doubling thickness doubles strength, but
also doubles load that must be supported). If you want a sensible frame weight
of 25%, you'd go down to a 400m radius, at which point 3.3T/m^2 will allow you
to handle the atmosphere, and each additional 1T/m^2 will allow another 3T/m^2
of internal load. A likely actual figure would be 5-10T/m^2, which will give
adequate radiation shielding and somewhere between 5 and 20 tons per square
meter of supported load.

Yes, stronger materials are available, but even a small habitat is megatons of
materials, and your 16 km radius monster would be gigatons.
Anthony Jackson wrote: http://www.nas.nasa.gov/About/Education ... hapt4.html

has a fairly interesting (if old) discussion on the issue, but since a
lot of it is geometry, most of it remains valid. The 895m radius seems
fairly legit, and is comfortably within the range that can be handled by
steel (the study assumes aluminum); using steel structure, the sphere
and cylinder designs will basically be able to use structural mass as
shielding, while dumbbell and torus designs will need auxiliary shielding.

Of the configurations, the cylinder is probably the most desirable as
living space, but is also one of the more expensive to construct; the
structural mass per person is greatest, though shielding mass per person
is lower than any of the other designs so if you have integrated (rather
than stand-off) shielding it may wind up being the cheapest per person.
In addition, it has the problem that it's not really something you can
scale downwards very well, and a habitat for nearly a million people is
awkwardly large.

For structures that can be built piece-meal on a scale that's suitable
for private industry, the multiple torus and multiple dumbbell designs
look optimal. Torus designs have the virtue that they don't need to
occupy the center of rotation, which would normally be the preferred
location for your spaceport.



There's much more, but I'm out of time to edit for today.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:50 pm

Actually from a programming language design newsgroup, but nonetheless relevant to a general discussion of just about anything:

From digitalmars.D, bolding mine
Walter Bright wrote: Boeing's philosophy is that if the airplane cannot tolerate a particular
system failing abruptly and completely, then the design is faulty.
That's also the FAA regulations. Safety is achieved NOT by designing
systems that cannot fail, but by designing systems that can survive failure.


In particular, if the airplane cannot handle turning off the autopilot,
it will be rejected by both Boeing and the FAA. Name any single part or
system on a Boeing airliner, and if it vanishes abruptly in a puff of
smoke, the airliner will survive it.

There is no "the autopilot is receiving corrupted data, but what the
hell, we'll keep it turned on anyway". It's inconceivable.

The only reasonable thing a program can do if it discovers it is in an
unknown state is to stop immediately. The only reasonable way to use a
program is to be able to tolerate its complete failure.

>Why should I use D for production code if it's designed to segfault?
>Software isn't used for important things like autopilot, controlling
>the brakes in my car, or dispensing medicine in hospitals. There's no
>problem allowing that stuff to crash. You can always recover the core
>file, and it's always trivial to reproduce the scenario...

It's not designed to segfault. It's designed to expose errors, not hide
them. The system that uses the autopilot is designed to survive total
failure of the autopilot. The same for your brakes in your car (ever
wonder why there are dual brake systems, and if your power assist fails
you can still use the brakes?). I don't know how the ABS works, but I
would bet you plenty that if the computer controlling it fails, the
brakes will still function. And you bet your life (literally) that if a
computer dispensing radiation or medicine into your body better stop
immediately if it detects it is in an unknown state.

Do you *really* want the radiation machine to continue operating if it
has self-detected a program bug? Do you really want to BET YOUR LIFE
that the software in it is perfect? Do you think that requiring the
software be literally perfect is a reasonable, achievable, and safe
requirement?

I don't. Not for a minute. And NOTHING Boeing designs relies on
perfection for safety, either. In fact, the opposite is true, the
designs are all based on "what if this fails?" If the answer is "people
die" then the engineers are sent back to the trenches.

Hospitals are way, way behind on this approach. Even adding simple
checklists (pilots starting using them 70 years ago) have reduced
accidental deaths in hospitals by 30%, a staggering improvement.
Mr Bright is a mechanical engineer and long time computer programmer. He worked at Boeing doing airplane design in the 80's (IIRC).


He gives some examples in a different post:
Walter Bright wrote: Please give an example. I'll give one. How about that crash in the
Netherlands recently where the autopilot decided to fly the airplane
into the ground? As I recall it was getting bad data from the
altimeters. I have a firm conviction that if there's a fault in the
altimeters, the pilot should be informed and get control back
immediately, as opposed to thinking about a sandwich (or whatever) while
the autopilot soldiered on. An emergency can escalate very, very fast
when you're going 600 mph.

There have been cases of faults in the autopilot causing abrupt, bizarre
maneuvers. This is why the autopilot must STOP IMMEDIATELY upon any
fault which implies that the system is in an unknown state.

Failing gracefully is done by shutting down the failed system and
engaging a backup, not by trying to convince yourself that a program in
an unknown state is capable of continuing to function. Software simply
does not work that way - one bit wrong and anything can happen.



Another interesting post about engineering things to survive failures comes from another computer post, this time the blog of Raymond Chen at Microsoft. (One of the best blogs on the 'net, btw. It is more than just interesting Windows history!)

http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archi ... 98400.aspx

Edited by me
Raymond Chen wrote: [...]
That's why I'm skeptical of people who look at some catastrophic failure of a complex system and say, "Wow, the odds of this happening are astronomical. Five different safety systems had to fail simultaneously!" What they don't realize is that one or two of those systems are failing all the time, and it's up to the other three systems to prevent the failure from turning into a disaster. You never see a news story that says "A gas refinery did not explode today because simultaneous failures in the first, second, fourth, and fifth safety systems did not lead to a disaster thanks to a correctly-functioning third system." The role of the failure and the savior may change over time, until eventually all of the systems choose to have a bad day all on the same day, and something goes boom.

These are general principles that I think anyone should keep in mind when designing a uni or writing a story. Any one failure shouldn't actually bring something down!
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Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:10 pm

I just had a funny thought. What if sanitation became widespread due to an influential person's OCD?

"everything must be washed it is law"
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Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Siege » Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:21 pm

You mean like way back in the days of yesteryear? I imagine it'd be pretty difficult to pull off, actually, considering 'sanitation in every house' would require a pretty humongous investment of time and resources even in a mid-19th century environment. Anything earlier I suppose a King could order it to be made so, but it'd be a pretty hollow decree because it could never be actualized without bankrupting the kingdom...
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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:43 pm

Yes, in the past.

The most realistic way of implementing it would probably be to invest in the infrastructure - indoor plumbing primarily - and hope people follow your example. Though, this doesn't really fit into the obsessive state of mind.

But ,yeah, it's pretty absurd to try to actually enforce it. We couldn't even pull it off today.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:08 pm

I was writing this in the OZU OOC, but it is too off topic (I wander topics too much), so it goes here instead:

--
Of course, even if I took the high tech from ASE, it wouldn't be at all that powerful compared to most other settings. A personal H-L shield collapses in a matter of seconds under small arms fire. (Like mundane body armor, it is meant to protect you from near misses or quick mistakes, not make you a walking tank.) And like its namesake in Dune, you can slip a knife right through it. That's what chain mail is for, but it is also a bit heavy to lug around. And you can brute force it with a warhammer; that's what the padding under the mail is meant to mitigate.

Anyway, and like its namesake from Mote, it glows when ditching energy. A rifle bullet is ~2 kilojoules. A 60W equivalent CFL draws 13 joules per second, and lights an entire small room. That 2 kJ is a lot of light.

This is something I think I've overlooked before: if around a shield, you should probably be required to wear eye protection. This light could be pretty dangerous.


Whoa, that just gave me an idea for new tech. Fuck LED strings, just take a shield and a bell hammer. The hammer strikes it, the shield glows - efficient bright lighting! Even if the spectrum generated isn't ideal, you could wrap it in another material to absorb and reemit it. (this is actually how CFLs work anyway)


Fucking soft tech always creating these unintended consequences. I'm better off without it.

--

But shields are cool! I'll just say the absorbtion layer eats efficiency and the cost is prohibitive to be common anyway.
His Certifiable Geniusness, Adam D. Ruppe (My 'verse)
Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:45 pm

This is pretty fucking titty.

It is an animation of what Earth's rings might look like in the sky from various points in the world.

http://www.videosift.com/video/What-if- ... ike-Saturn
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Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:55 am

My stupid cat has me thinking about random things.

As you might know, the A'millians have a pretty restricted revenge instinct; in most cases, their instinct is to run away from things.

This is a very different state of mind than the typical human. When wronged, humans (and other primates) tend to get their friends together and beat the living shit out of the perpetrator. Or, at least, they want to do that.

But, while it isn't typical in humans, it is fairly common in other species. For example, cats.

If my stupid cat digs her claws into me for any reason, I get all steamed up and chase her down to kill her. She can run and hide, but that just makes me madder at her insolence; more resolved to flush her out and exterminate her.

Contrast that to if I wrong her somehow; say I step on her tail. She just jumps and runs out of the way, generally hiding under the bed for a while.

Even when she's angry, she tends toward an attitude of "just leave me the fuck alone!" rather than "I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!"

The only time she actually attacks is if she wants to initiate it, such as hunting or playing, or if she is left with little choice - running has failed or isn't an option to begin with (defending territory for example), and she's forced to fight.

Now, there's other scenarios that I don't know about; I've never murdered her friend, so I'm not sure if the cat would seek revenge in that kind of situation, but I doubt it.


This is a very different state of mind than what I have inside my own brain. It makes staying in character quite a bit harder, and complicates some stories. There are historical and evolutionary changes too, but since this kind of behavior seems common among animals in the real world, I'm not concerned about the plausibility there.


But, story wise, imagine doing a cop show with A'millians (trust me, I have been :P). What kind of motives would be common for the crimes? What kind of crime would we see?

If you list common motives for murder, what comes to mind?

Revenge is probably the first one that comes to mind. This might be my twisted brain (I'm willing to murder someone for looking at me wrong on the street; I might be excessively violent, even for a human!), but we see it very often in television too.

Counted in revenge would probably be most cases of extreme emotional disturbance, too.


Money - sure, that can happen. It will hopefully be less common there, thanks to things like the guaranteed income, but it wouldn't be eliminated. (Indeed, saying greed is gone brings on a whole pile of unintended consequences that I wouldn't want to touch anyway.)


Sex - eh, asexual 11 months of the year and naturally monogamous really takes this down too (seduction too!). A sexually based murder would probably still happen (the guy she didn't pick of course! Actually, this is potentially compelling courtroom drama material. The hormones made me do it - You don't know what it's like to be pair-bonded then discarded! It's in-universe reason enough for severe depression and suicide, and has thus been enshrined in law as invioable rights. What if it leads to murder?), but it wouldn't be as common.


There's plenty of good motive left, but taking revenge out still is a pretty big change.


What about on the "order" side of the fence? How does this affect punishment from crime? One aspect of justice in the real world is fulfilling the need for revenge with the victim and his/her family.

I think it would actually not be that much different. While there might not be an emotional drive for it, there are still social benefits to punishment. (Probably why the instinct evolved in the first place.) The law can include retribution in punishment as a thought out, rational method of keeping the peace. That said, there would be some differences. Would you still want consent from the victim when arranging a plea bargain? Maybe, but not necessarily; the answer wouldn't be "I want to see him pay for what he's done!". Probably more along the lines of "just keep it from happening again", which is already a main goal of any criminal justice system.


-----

My dumbass cat made me think of something else earlier today too. It isn't much, but it being nothing is exactly what I found significant.

When she wants something from me or just wants to look at me, she tends to look at my face. My body is much larger than her's; she could watch my legs much more easily and still know where I am and what I'm basically doing, but she looks at my face.

This is nothing special; it is the way all humans, from the littleist babies right on up, communicate. But it is interesting because she isn't human, but still acts in a very similar way.

I wonder if this is a learned behavior she got from living with us, or just a common instinct that we all share. I figure it is the latter, which is potentially interesting with an alien.


A realistic alien (which I have *not* done here, of course) wouldn't share a common ancestor with us. Little things we take for granted, even with our animals, wouldn't necessarily be present. I think the most alien thing wouldn't be their appearance or culture or anything. It would be those little things that we all share, but they don't, that would really irk us.

Yes, I'm Captain Obvious, but well, yeah.
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Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:14 pm

Just because cats run away from things that are way bigger than them that they can't hopefully outmatch or hurt doesn't mean they don't have the instinct for revenge or something, man. I've heard that cutting off a cat's whiskers, or something, will make them hate you forever.

On most occasions, people WILL try to GTFO from things. It's not always fight, there's also flight to consider.

Besides, just because KITTENS run away doesn't mean HUEG KITTENS are the same way. Would your observations apply to TIGGERS and LIONS? :D
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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:22 pm

Good question. A sample size of one isn't all that great too, so I'm going to ask Comrade Tortoise on LibArc for his thoughts on the subject (he's a big animal behavior and evolutionary psychology guy). I'll post a summary of what he says when he responds.
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Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:32 pm

I am sure the cats' flight or fight reflexes, their instinct to flee or to wreak revengeance, might have something to do with whether or not the other party is larger than them and man-sized, or just as big as them and cat-sized, or even smaller. :)

We all hear cats bitching and hissing and scruffling with each other. Of course, they might have just been in heat and having cat sex.
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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Destructionator » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:46 pm

Hissing and fighting could be due to other reasons too: territory, showing dominance in their social order, maybe fighting over food or a mate, just defending themselves from a misunderstanding, that kind of thing. Greed and power rather than revenge specifically.

The thing which I suspect is fairly unique about our revenge is we'll go out of our way to get it, willing to put ourselves in additional danger in the process. Such as when the cat is sleeping on me, gets spooked, and claws my legs as she jumps down and runs - I want to get up, chase her down and beat her to death, even if I was in the middle of doing something else.

If some asshole on the road honks at me, I want to chase him right down on foot, pull him out of his car, and bash his face into the pavement until it is an unrecognizable pulp - being on time to my destination becomes quite secondary.

Moreover, my normal fear of being easily killed by other humans (I'm little and pathetic) doesn't really apply either. The desire for payback is bigger than anything else.


I'll be surprised if this remains in cats, even when dealing with someone their own size. But we'll see what the Comrade has to say (and if he is too busy to answer, I'll check out the googlez, though a quick look this morning turns up bullshit even less substantiated than my own post).

On most occasions, people WILL try to GTFO from things. It's not always fight, there's also flight to consider.
The rub with this specific thing is that people might run away at first, but then want to get their buddies and go back into it, or meditate up some convoluted plot to bury the other guy alive; animals generally seem to let it go once the danger is gone.
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Marle: Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! ... Oh, um...I mean...
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!

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Re: Random notes and whatnot

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:57 pm

It is perhaps not fair to compare the rather well developed emotional-mental-whateveral behaviors of humans to that of the not-so-developed faculties of a cat also as they are not even as brain as apes. Certainly human distant-distant ancestors with the faculties equal to cats, like say species of monkeys, would nowhere be as revenge-prone as humans and would be as vengeful as KITTENS! Maybe.
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